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….

What’s coming up in winter! Part 1

We’ve got a fun year coming for Big Up Words. We’ll need you to come and play of course. First thing is

National Novel Writing Month

Nanowrimo sheild

Some of you may have heard of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) but for those of you that haven’t, here’s the low down. NaNoWriMo is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing! Writers begin on November 1st and work towards the incredible goal of writing a 50,000 word novel by 11.59pm on November 30th.

The Hampshire Scriber’s writing sessions are all on Saturdays in Andover Library from 14:00 – 15:30 and each has a unique theme:

  • October 17thPlanning or Pantsing what will I write about?
  • October 24th – How to attend the Night of Writing Dangerously
  • October 31st – Official NaNoWriMo Kick Off Party! (Halloween themed!)
  • November 7th – Blanket Fort Building
  • November 14th – Steampunk/Fantasy themed afternoon
  • November 21st – #Writefit
  • November 28th – Teddy Bear Picnic
  • December 5th – Thank God We Made It (TGWMI) Party! (Crowns and stars theme!)

All ages are welcome! Beth Hanson is now Hamshire’s ML. Our job is to prove we’ve got enough keen novelist to create Hampshire as its own part of the Nanowrimo verse. So Big Up Words will be helping Beth run fun FREE workshops in Andover library over from October 17th until December 5th. We’ll also be fundraising, our goal is £1,500 via sponsored writers and business sponsorship.

How can you help? Grab a sponsor and write a novel, help us fund raise or come along and help us help the novelist reach their goals.

See you all in October!


Digital Sabbath

We take lovely time out along Long Bay beach

We take lovely time out along Long Bay beach

Social media is frenetic and changing constantly. The weight of the information passing through can be over whelming.

I spend a lot of my time as a social media consultant educating my clients on how they can reduce or manage their social media marketing in balance with their other small business needs.

Social media is a lot like being a manager of a student radio station. You need to make sure the station is ‘on the air’ at all times. Everyone does a lot of listening. We weren’t designed to work 7 days a week.

So I started having a no social media, no computer, no interactive on line electronics day. A day off from devices.

Thanks the The School of Life video’s on You tube, I’ve learnt its called a digital Sabbath. It helps me stay grounded and I’ve learnt if something really important happens, then my friends will tell me, to my face. Try it. Turn off your phone, such down your computer and switch off your Ipad one day a week and just relax.


Bobbie Coelho inspirational poet.

Bobbie Coelho winner of the Andover section

Bobbie Coelho winner of the Andover section

When Bobbie was 11, she wrote a poem about a cowboy. Her teacher said, “There’s real feeling here.” Bobbie comments “I got a good mark for it.”

As she enters her third age, Bobbie’s poetry is helping her educate people about another passion, Parkinson’s disease.  In her poem ‘Control Freak’ she says;

She comes and goes when she pleases
and never makes life easy
It’s usual for hijackers to be jailed
Mrs P not easy to curtail

Bobbie was working in Tidworth Library as a library assistant when she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2002. Parkinson’s disease is progressive neurological condition.

People with Parkinson’s don’t have enough dopamine because some nerve cells in their brain have died. The chemical dopamine is produced naturally in the body and functions as a neurotransmitter. It is part of the pleasure and reward pathway of the brain and is involved in memory and motor control. Symptoms of Parkinson’s include depression, shaking, moving slowly and stiffness.

Bobbies first reaction to her diagnosis was a private prayer of “God don’t make me bitter,” She decided to become a good finder. Bobbie is adamant poetry has helped her retain a sense of who she is and it has not let the Parkinson diagnosis eat her away.

At a difficult time where a lot of people would be afraid to go out in public Bobbie became a staunch crusader for people suffering from Parkinson’s. She has written two poetry books “Finding the light” and “Reflecting the light” to raise money to fight the disease.

Bobbie’s poetry crusade started in 2003, when an intuitive friend said ‘I’ve a vision of you as a poet.’ Bobbie went home, wrote a poem and just left it on the computer.  But after writing her second poem ‘Freak’ she realised life had changed.

“I’m quite proud of the book. The best part of putting the book together was choosing the cover. I write when I feel like it, so it’s not every day or every week. I tend to write about things that inspire me.”

Bobbie’s poetry is accessible, connecting with her audience at a visceral level.  She is very good at capturing emotionally charged moments in time. Her poetry is easy to understanding, using rhyming schemes that her fans enjoy. Bobbie’s audience can read her poems and immediately connect with the subject or character she is writing about.

“I started showing people my poetry and the more I showed, the more I wrote. Then I did some little booklets and handed them out. But I wanted to reach a wider audience.”

Bobbie has been through a major change and acknowledges she’s gained as well as had things taken away.

“It’s given me a deeper insight into human nature. I’d like to think I’m more compassionate. When you met someone all you see is their clock face, you don’t’ see the real person. People are very quick to judge but don’t know the whole story. I have seen people look at the blue disabled badge on my car, and they watch me step out in high heels. I can see them thinking ‘why does she get a badge if she’s got high heels?’ but they don’t see the days I’m crawling around the house because I can’t walk.”

Andover and Hampshire audiences enjoy her poetry. She is a regular speaker at WI groups. You can find her books in many varied places around Andover as diverse as Beaker Button wool shop in Weyhill Fair to the Vine Trust Christian bookshop in central Andover as well as Amazon.

“It’s important to promote the books but it’s a double edged sword. I’m raising money for Parkinson’s and spreading awareness. I hope I’m not too pushy but on the other hand it’s the most important thing in my life.”

Bobbie has been a consistent supporter of the Andover Poetry competitions when it ran from 2011 to 2014. In the first competition she placed second overall and in the last she was 1st in the Andover section. You can still buy her 2011 winning poem as a post card on the Travelling Bookstall.

Bobbie will be performing at Andover Poetry Cafe on February 14th at the Rendezvous Cafe, 8 Union St, Andover SP10 1PA. The cafe starts at 1.30pm. She will also be performing at Books and Words at The Lights Andover on February 14th between 12 and 12.30 pm.


One Afternoon poetry cafe-December 13th at the Rendezvous Cafe

Graham explaining about modern day Tarzan

Graham explaining about modern day Tarzan

One the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me…an awesome poetry cafe! We have now found our permanent home at the Rendezvous Cafe, 8 Union St, Andover, SP10 1PA.

We will be starting at 1.30pm on Saturday 13th December with our new guest MC Damien O’Vitch. Open mic either email us here at or tell us on Facebook or turn up on the day.

Our guests are going to be Graham Brown, an exceptional poet who has heart stopping, poignant poems and breath taking funny poems. We also have our first poetry show, with Bryn Strudwick and Brenda.

There will be tea, cake, a book tombola and a chance to browse our Travelling Bookstall for last minute presents.

After wards we will be having a small writers workshop and explaining how Sally Startup will be holding workshops at the Poetry cafe in January.

See you there..

Click here to see Bryn Strudwick Diamond Jubilee show

Roy Chatfield, Cat Randle, Bryn Strudwick, Marion Chatfield, John Secluna

Roy Chatfield, Cat Randle, Bryn Strudwick, Marion Chatfield, John Secluna

Breaking news: Afternoon Poetry cafe secures grant!

YES! We can now relaunch the poetry cafe!
The first one will be on November 22nd at the Wellington Centre SP10 2EG, starting at 1.30 pm.and our guest is Jenny MC ROBERTS. She read an amazing award winning poem ‘Elanor Rigby’s Dream’ down at ‘Not The Winchester Poetry Festival’ in October. This is her first guest so she is perfect for us.

So what are going to do with the money? Buy ads, put up posters, pay for volunteer expenses and hire the rooms.

We are going to make a couple of changes.

Voting for your Andover guest created some ugly scenes last cafe so we are going to follow the Teapoets routine and have lots of reading, one guest with a 10 min slot and 10 mins of music from a guest in the MTV ‘umplugged style’.

We are have had ALOT of requests for a venue that has NO ALCOHOL for the kids, teenagesr and other people who would rather drink tea. Plus our chair has been working with an amazing poet called Kane who has Cerebal Palsy so we are going to make sure our venues are disabled friendly.

We also would like to run a writers group before the cafe itself. What do you think about that idea?

So lots of fun stuff. If you’d like to book a slot email us or talk to Elwyn on the Rendezvous Cafe on Friday morning.

We will tell you all about the dates when they get booked.

Looking forward to seeing you on the 22nd!

Our first audience choice winner

The reason we do what we do

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