What is The Night of Writing Dangerously?

Our poster you'll sign on the night

Our poster you’ll sign on the night

The Night of Writing Dangerously is a cross between a raucous dinner party and a write-a-thon. Bring your glad rags and your lap tops to Lunar Hare and we’ll provide food and a drink to help you write the night away. We’ve also got some fun party games for your 15 min stretch times. This is a Hampshire Scribblers event to raise funds for the young writers program.

This Saturday from 2-3.30pm at Andover Library we’ll be continuing our novel preparation and Cat Randle will be going over some ways you can fund raise money to attend The Night of Writing Dangerously and other fun events we’ll be putting on during National Novel Writing month.

And we’ll have the Travelling Bookstall ready for you as well.

Nanowrimo sheild

What do you get from National Novel writing month?

Our new secretary was having trouble understanding what we won if we took part in National Novel Writing month.

“How do you win?” he says

“You win by writing a 50 thousand word novel.” I said.

“How do you get prizes?” he says.

“By registering. If you win you get discounts and cool writing stuff from people like Scrivener. If you don’t you still get discounts,” I said.

“How do they choose a winner?” he says.

I am beginning to see a problem here. Is he thinking its a competition when its actually a huge support group?

“Well you win when you upload your novel to the Nanowrimo site before Dec 1st, they’ll declaire you a winner” I said

“Do they read the novel?” he says

“No,” I said

“So I could just copy out a Sun newpaper into the registration and I’d win,” he says.

“Yes…you could but THE POINT IS you write an orginal amazing novel with a bunch of people who will help you finish,” I said.

“Ah its a support group,” he says.

“Yes but with fun things like cakes and blankets. No loneliness of the long distance writer for us this year. That’s why we have the ‘Come write in sessions AND a night of writing dangerously,” I said.

“What do you do get when you write danerously?” he said.

At this point we will walk away dear reader. Remember our goal is to help you write your first draft of your novel. So pop down to the library every Saturday between 2-3.30pm so we can help you win! (And have loads of support)

Nanowrimo sheildCat Randle is Chair of Big Up Words. She’s had loads of poems published in NZ and the UK and children’s short stories published by Scholastic and Random House. Her novel for Nanowrimo is Martial Arts Mama. 

Come to Andover Library and plan your novel

How do you start a novel? Is it an idea you have like “What if Batman and Superman had a bake off? Do you have a character in your head who just keeps going round and round like Rincewind? Or do you need a little help?

This weekend from 2-3.30 pm Beth and I will be co-running a planning or pantsing workshop to help you get ready for your Nanowrimo run.

I will be basing the workshop on the Nanowrimo’s workbook ‘Ready, Set, Novel!’ Craig Batty, Lindsey Grant and Travia Stewart-Street have put together a fantastic kick starter to making sure your ready to start novel on November 1st.

We will look at 3 areas, what am I going to write about, who am I going to write about and how do I plot the story. I’ve created those 3 sections as I’m sure some of you will come with an idea already formed. We’ll work on writing excises. Bring pens, scrap paper and laptops and pad if that’s the way you write. I’ve checked and you can bring your work back next week to finish!

Oh and Beth has these totally cool story generator dice if you’re really really stuck. So come along to the library a bit before 2 so we can get you settled down so you can be ready to get that novel going.

Cat Randle is Chair of Big Up Words. She’s had loads of poems published in NZ and the UK and children’s short stories published by ScholasticNanowrimo sheild and Random House. Her novel for Nanowrimo is Martial Arts Mama. 

What is National Novel Writing Month?

Nanowrimo sheildNational Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing. 

On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 PM on November 30.

Valuing enthusiasm, determination, and a deadline, NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever thought about writing a novel.

It doesn’t matter if you finish and it doesn’t matter if you’ve never written before. Beth Hanson has founded Hampshire Scribblers to help you reach your goal.

On October 17th at Andover Library between 2 and 3.30 Beth and our chair Cat Randle will be holding a workshop on how to get ready to write your 50K words. Practical advice, fun games and demonstrations on how to register. All for free.

So come along and find out what its all about….

Glee and Cake fundraiser with open mic at Chapel Arts Studio

Glee & Cake!

Saturday September 12th, 2015 at September fundraiser at Chapel Arts Studio, St Mary’s Cemetary, SP10 1DP from 1pm to 3pm.

MC Dan Hooks will be hosting an afternoon of poetry, music and comedy sketches for all the family. Guests include local poets Bobbie Coelho and Damian O’Vitch; comedy sketches from prize winning young author Isaac Randle,poetry from Ella Simmons and music. Tea and cake included in the ticket price  will be served. We are child friendly and have disabled access at the venue.
Open mic.
Places are limited so we recommend booking early!

You can book via emailing BigUpWords@gmail.com or event brite



Dan Hooks posing a few questions

Andover Poetry Cafe has moved!

Yes the last ever poetry cafe will be at The Snug at The Lunar Hare, SP10 3AN.

We decided  to move because our poetry community doesn’t need another poetry cafe. What we need are poetry workshops, critique sessions and a support group.

Alan and Helen at The Lunar Hare have a background in theatre. They understand the arts at the grass roots level needs support to thrive. Everyone one had to have started somewhere. As long as support them with tea, coffee and cake then they are happy to have us use The Snug.

The Snug 2

What this means for Big Up Words is a little less fundraising and it will allow us to ask groups like Test Valley Arts foundation to bring up people like Dave Hubble and Matt West, who run excellent writing workshops. Plus Jonathon Jester of Yo Yo Goblin has offered us a workshop on how to perform in our Time Ring.

So our move makes sense…join us next Saturday for a intimate session of wonderful afternoon poetry.

Ben Lawrence the beard that never gave up!

Ben Lawrence

Last night I saw something amazing happen. Last night I saw an ordinary guy do something extraordinary in his own clever way. It was very satisfying and inspiring!

Want to know more dear readers well here are the players. The ordinary guy is Ben Lawrence  an is an excellent poet. He’s also fashionable, with his wonderful Rumpelstiltskin style beard and winged trainers.

Archimedes Screw showcase is a poetry event run by Matt West. It’s held at Art House Cafe in Southampton. Archimedes Screw runs an open mic and the winner wins  a paid gig at Apples and Snakes 451.

Apples and Snakes is the leading organisation for performance poetry in England, with a national reputation for producing exciting and innovative participation and performance work in spoken word. Peter Hunter is our man in the Southwest.

The story so far. Archimedes Screw has been running a showcase with a paid gig prize for over 2 years. We go along and Pete pops in to say hello and keep up with the amazing performance poetry scene..

Ben has been competing in the slam for over 2 years. He has been pitted against the brightest and best of Southampton. But he’s never won a showcase

Why? I believe that the ‘old’ system had a flaw. Note I said ‘old’ system dear readers. The ‘old’ system was 8-10 slam spots. Two winners would be picked to go head to head next show and the winner of the head to head got the gig and was declared the winner.

The problem was poor Ben got through to the second heat TWICE! TWICE he was good enough to win and TWICE he had to fight it out with another of his peers. It seemed like a good idea at the time but we the audience did not like it. Silly old Matt Smith made us choose between our favourite friends. One terrible night, I’ll never forget it, I had to refuse, refuse dear listener, to vote because Carrie Carrie and Jenn Hart were head to head and they BOTH deserved to win.

I even wrote and performed a protest poem at which I performed at the 2014 Ejector Seat Slam called Tempest. I didn’t win, but I wanted to make a point. Some systems are broken.

The solution is a sea change. Two sea changes. Busy sea. First change 1) The system. Clever old Matt West listened and now when you compete in the slam, you win! No faffing around with ahead to head, no choosing between your best mates the next time. No loading the audience with your friends, (not that we’d do THAT dear readers, no we would not). Clever old Matt West arranged individual judges, which means that you don’t feel utterly rejected by your peers if you don’t win, its more a ‘I will do better next time’ feeling. And if you want, you can get excellent feedback from your judges.

2) Ben got personal. Our bearded hero and champion poet, can write very clever poems. Some are shaped like teapots. (As  teapoet, I love that poem). Some are amazingly clever word plays. Last night, he performed a poem about being caught in a very hot train in the summer. We were in the train carriage with him and he was vulnerable, relateable and used subtle clever word play. My friend, ,cheerleader and muse Sarah Taylor said something clever to me. Just lost Ejector Seat and she said.  “That was a good poem, Cat but we want to know about the real you.” Well we meet the real Ben, he did an extraordinary thing and we liked it. And he won. FINALLY! 

The extraordinary thing Ben did. 
Ben didn’t give up. After 2 losses he could have called it a day. He could have walked away. Takes a lot of courage to keep throwing yourself on the black volcanic rocks of slam competitions. They are not easy. I was inspired and I am very excited because one day, I’ll have a clever poem you’ll all like and I might win. One day my friends will have their clever vulnerable moment and they might win.I will be there cheering them on. Last night Ben got so many pats on the back because we were all very very very pleased for him. We’re those sorts of poets.

And finally people to watch.

Olivia Tan from ANDOVER who came down and did an amazing job for her first slam performance. Oliva delivers very heartfelt poems. She will be guest poet at April at Andover Afternoon Poetry Cafe.

Alice Rose Watson. Beautiful emotional slam style poet. The way she uses pauses in her work is breathtaking. She’s supporting Dizraeli fund raising gig at The Art House on 20/01/2015. Go see her.

Rightyo off to find my vulnerable, clever personal poem…no pressure.

Cat Randle is the current chair of Big Up Words and writes occasional reviews of live poetry events. In her work time she is a social media consultant and blog writer. You can find her at https://www.facebook.com/CatRandle







Editing a must for self publishers

Lunching with a friend of mine who has a lovely little self published children’s book.

“It’s time I got some more printed,” he said. Alarm bells went off in my head. It was a good first effort but it had some major flaws. It was selling well on the Travelling Bookstall despite its problems but the book needed ‘work’. My author had written his stories and not edited them.

It is the most common mistake a budding author makes. Then instead of editing, they rush off to the new story/book/screenplay.

If you are serious about being a professional self published author you have to do at least 5 edits, many do 10. Here are the 6 edits suggested by Chris Jones, Director of the London Screenwriters Festival.

  • Dump draft-just write everything. Do NOT send this manuscript to anyone.
  • Now you know what your story is about go back and correct any and every mistake, including SPELLING. If you are picking a cheap option for publishing, ask ALL your friends to help. Don’t accept your computer spell checker.
  • Give it to a trusted friend and listen to what they have to say. What works, what doesn’t work. Make those changes because they ARE your audience
  • Copy Edit, go through with a fine tooth comb, line by line for SPELLING mistakes
  • Give your work to a friend who is working in your industry and listen to what they have to say. Make those changes because you want your work to SELL.
  • One last edit and then send to agencies, say this is your first draft.

Every time you are rejected, find out why and rework you book/screenplay/article before sending it off.

And if you decide to be self published, this is the copy you send to the editing agency, proof reader or copy editor.

Our reading public has some negative views about self published books. We don’t want to stop them from picking up the book and a solid edit, with no spelling mistakes will help you get across that hurdle.

Cat Randle

5 performance tips to help improve your reading.

A poetry reading is a great honour and it can scare you silly if it’s your first one. I spend a lot of time talking to professional poets like Peter Hunter from 451, Angela Chicken and JnZ Hart collecting tips on stage performance. Here are 5 to help you to make your poems ‘zing’

1) Time your sets, including the links.
If your set is only 10 minutes, then make sure it runs to 10 minutes. I make mine run under because I lost a slam by 2 mins and was told I would have won.What pushed me over the time limit was the introduction so time your links as well.  I work by the rule leave the audience wanting more.

2) Practice your sets
Practise, practise, practise so you are comfortable with the work and you know what you sound like on stage. If there is a mic, practice using a mic, will you hold it, leave it in the stand, do without it if the audience space is intimate enough.
3) Have a mix of tones, length and styles.
If someone kept reading the same style of poem to you for more than 2 mins you’d get bored pretty quickly. Make a list of your poems, their subjects and how strong you think they are and collate from there.
4) Only your best.
I keep my sets in Evernote and after the gig I give them a rating. That way if I get caught on the hop, I can pull out a set I know will please the audience. Poems that are shortlisted, poems you fans like or get good feed back after an open mic.

Cat isn't holding anything but you can see her searching for the audience

Cat isn’t holding anything but you can see her searching for the audience

5) Make eye contact
Have your poems to hand in a way that you can make eye contact as much as possible. Look at these three pictures. Songil is smiling and although she’s holding a folder we know she’s looking at us.

Songil Bekir looking at her audience

Songil Bekir looking at her audience

Graeme has a big folder but he is still looking at you

Graeme has a big folder but he is still looking at you


Graeme has a huge folder but we know he’s looking for us and Cat Randle doesn’t hold anything. Her face isn’t smiling and we suspect Songils smile draws you in.  At Not The Winchester Poetry Fringe, I saw Rob Casey with a tiny folder, reading but still interacting with his audience.

Bonus extra Last tip: Practise at open mics! If you are in Hampshire check out the poetry calendar for all the events you can find and go test your material out as much as you can.