Books! Wonderful books!

Here's your chance to peek behind the doors at the historic Devon and Exeter Institution - No 7 Cathedral Yard - and buy lots of lovely Christmas presents by local authors. Say hello and they’ll sign them too!

Christmas Hat Trick for Angela!

If you read any of the Women's magazines (or 'Womags' as they're know in the trade), there's a good chance that you'll have read a story by Exeter Writer, Angela Wooldridge.

Angela has two Christmas stories in different issues of My Weekly. The most recent, in a 'Christmas Special' edition, is one of twelve specially commissioned stories based on each line of The Twelve Days of Christmas.

Angela also has another Christmas story due out in The People's Friend, later in December.

Angela says; "The funny thing is that they make me think of swimming pools now, as I wrote them while on holiday in August!"

Continuing the festive theme, Angela is taking part in the Indie Authors Advent Calendar. Each day of Advent, as you click on a window, you can read a short 'flash' story. Then, on Christmas Day, you receive all the stories bundled together as an e-book. (And it's free!)

Winners' profiles: Christopher Allen

Now that the 2018 Exeter Writers Short Story competition is open for entries, we thought we'd get you chomping at the bit with a series of blog posts around story craft. 

Today we're profiling last year's 3rd prize winner, Christopher Allen, whose story 'Fences' can be read here.

Hello, Christopher! Thank you for letting us profile you. Tell us, what do you write?

A lot of my stories are flash fiction. My debut collection of flash fiction, Other Household Toxins, is coming out later this year from Matter Press. In terms of style, I write literary fiction leaning often towards magic realism, surrealism, and absurdism. But I also write realistic stories and travel articles. I blog at where I sponsor an annual travel writing competition.

When and where do you write?

I used to write better in the early morning hours – 4:00-7:00 – but that’s changing. I often write late at night now or on the train. Sometimes if I have a few hours in the middle of the day, I’ll sit in a coffee shop and write until I drift off to sleep. My handwriting is horrible, so I write best when I have a keyboard.

Best writerly moment?

When a sentence clicks and feels perfect, when I get the rhythm just right, when a story punches me in the gut and I love what I’ve done regardless of who else does – that’s a great moment.

How did you come up with the idea for your winning story?

Difficult question. I suppose it was when someone told me that most of the Indian restaurants in London were run by Bangladeshis, but I’m not sure I thought of writing the story that ultimately developed then. The story “Fences” developed over a period of three or four years.

Not a lot of people know this...

Unfortunately, I’ve kept very few secrets. Quite a few people know quite a lot about me. I used to be a singer. But I’m from Nashville where everyone’s a singer.

Was there any particular author or book that made you want to be a writer?

Yes, Virginia Woolf. In graduate school, I read almost everything she wrote. She changed the way I thought about the cadence and emotional impact of my own writing. Of course there have been lots of other writers who’ve made me reconsider how I write, but Woolf was the first who made me think I could write.

What's the best writing advice you've ever been given?

There is so much advice out there. Maybe the best is not to make your characters’ lives easy. Keep the level of conflict and tension high as long as you can before resolving it. I think that’s good advice. In terms of very short prose, I think the best advice has been to begin as close to the major conflict as possible (avoid excessive scene-setting) and give the reader a satisfying ending that does not try to tie up the story neatly.

If I were giving advice, I would say write the story that’s important to you. If you’re writing just to satisfy the need to craft a clever narrative, it will probably leave the reader cold. Once the reader sees you trying too hard, it’s all over. Colin Winnette is one of my favourite writers because he manages to create memorable, original narratives with bold, simple language – like a gymnast who makes that quadruple backflip look effortless.

Give us a few last lines about yourself.

I’m on the editing team at SmokeLong Quarterly, an online journal devoted to flash fiction. This year I’m also a consulting editor for The Best Small Fictions.

As I mentioned up there at the beginning, my debut flash fiction collection, Other Household Toxins (Matter Press), may already have been published by the time this interview comes out. I’m super excited about it and can’t wait to share it with the world.

On July 21-22, 2018 I’ll be conducting a workshop at the Bath Flash Fiction Festival held in Bristol this time. I hope to see some Exeter folks there.  

Thank you, Christopher!

Winners' profiles: Sharon Boyle

Now that the 2018 Exeter Writers Short Story competition is open for entries, we thought we'd get you chomping at the bit with a series of blog posts around story craft. Today we're profiling last year's first prize winner Sharon Boyle, whose story 'Celluloid Job' can be viewed here.

Hi Sharon! Thank you for letting us profile you. Tell us, what do you write?

Short stories, flash and the occasional poem. I have two finished YA novels in a drawer which when written were destined for Kindle but when recently reread were demoted to kindling. 

When and where do you write?

When not working or involved in family life, I write at the dining room table surrounded by washing, homework and other mess. The dining room is a thoroughfare to the kitchen so I am bothered by other folks’ chitchat - a lot. O, for a heated shed.

Best writerly moment?

Winning the Exeter Writers Short Story comp, of course! Apart from the kudos it is my most lucrative win. 

How did you come up with the idea for your winning story?

My nana (93 and still going strong) loves watching B&W films and tells ‘during the war’ stories on a loop. (She never drove a tank but she did dance with dashing Americans.) I like injecting a bit of quirkiness or humour into a story and Stanley came naturally as a stooge to Mrs Dewhurst.

Not a lot of people know this...

My first dream job was not to be a writer but an astronaut. I told my secondary school guidance teacher of my plans and, after completing a questionnaire, left his office with a piece of paper suggesting chiropody. 

Was there any particular author or book that made you want to be a writer?

CS Lewis. I adored the Narnia series as a child, especially The Voyage of the Dawn Treader and wanted to write a stonking set of books like that. I’ve always had the romantic notion of sitting at a desk overlooking an enviable view, sipping wine and gently tapping out a novel that needs no revision or editing. That fairy-tale bubble burst in the first year of serious scribblings.

What's the best writing advice you've ever been given?

To have a few writing projects on the go at once.  That way, if I get temporarily frustrated/blocked/fed up with one project I switch to another.

Give us a few last lines about yourself. 

I’m very reticent on the self-promoting front, a mix of laziness and cluelessness, and have only just started a blog (really, there are just four posts). It can be found at:

Thank you, Sharon!

An Evening for Readers and Writers, Tuesday 7th November

Join Margaret James and Cathie Hartigan for an evening of lively conversation, inspiration, hints and tips about reading and writing. 

Do you love to read? Learn more about your favourite authors from Margaret James, journalist at Writing Magazine, whose author profiles have entertained readers for the last twenty years. 

How has the world of publishing changed? Have you ever wondered about becoming a writer yourself? Wherever you are on your writing journey, we can help you on your way, from first steps to publication. 

Margaret and Cathie are successful authors, writing competition organisers and teachers of creative writing.

Good for your NaNoWriMo!
National Novel Writing Month
Ask the library for more details

St Thomas Library
01392 252783
35 Church Rd/Cecil Rd - Exeter -EX2 9AZ


Did you know Exeter has a Grand Bard?

The current Grand Bard of Exeter is Jackie Juno, a multiple poetry slam winner, including the 2017 Glastonbury Festival Poetry Slam and the Plymouth LitFest 2017 poetry slam!

In 2011 Jackie won the competition to find Exeter’s new Bard. Contenders had 7 minutes to perform something of their own material (song, story or poem) and read out their manifesto of what they would do with the title. This was judged by the audience. After holding the title for a year, she held the competition to find the new Bard. The Grand Bard at that time, Mark Lindsey Earley, wished to bestow his title upon her, so after some deliberation, she decided to accept his kind offer of the seven year role.

“It is up to each individual what they want to do with the title of Bard or Grand Bard - I oversee the competition each year and support the Bards, but otherwise it is open to what the individual feels is their role."

Of winning at Glastonbury, Jackie says; “It was a nail-biting competition. After the first two rounds I was head-to-head with Lisa Goodwin, former chaired Bard of Glastonbury who had blown me away at the Glastonbury bardic Trials a couple of years earlier. It was incredibly close and I am very proud to have won the title, a free ticket to the next festival, and a ludicrously large and heavy handmade medal which I get to keep for life!”

Jackie’s way with words has taken her as far afield as Ireland, Amsterdam and Italy, plus she regularly gigs all over the southwest. She runs several monthly poetry events in Totnes, Chagford, and Bovey Tracey.

Jackie has won several awards for her poetry and has three poetry collections published – THIS MUCH I KNOW (2014), HISTORY’S WHISPERS (2011) and OUTSPOKEN! (2009). She runs creative writing classes in Devon, Cornwall, Italy and beyond… and is also a celebrant, painter, singer, compere, tarot reader, workshop facilitator and events organiser. 

She is soon to be launching her new multi-media solo show called SPELLBOUND – Being the True Tale of a Reluctant Witch Unable to Escape her Destiny. Appropriately, these debut performances are around Hallowe’en; in Cornwall and Devon, with further dates to be added. More details can be found on her website

Plymouth Literature Festival

There's lots going on at PlymLit 17 from October 21st to 29th.

(And the Exeter Writers are joining in!)


Elizabeth Ducie will be talking about her new novel, Deception! on Saturday 21st from 3-4pm.

Richard Handy will be discussing how he turns science facts into fiction on Sunday 22nd from 2-3pm.

Both events take place at the Plymouth Athenaeum and are free.

Getting ready for Nano?

November is National Novel Writing Month, when writers around the globe strive to write 50,000 words in 30 days. 
To find out more, go to where you can browse the forums and look at the FAQs to get an idea of how it works. This year, Devon has a Municipal Liason; someone who has volunteered to be a point of contact for the region. Having somebody in place to organise events and generally cheer everybody on could be a great opportunity to make contact with other writers from the Devon area.

October is also known as 'prep'-tober. When Nano-ists get ready for the writing marathon to come (unless, of course you're a complete pantser and choose to start with a blank screen on November 1st), and it's the ideal time to find out what to expect.

And where better to look than in this month's Writing Magazine, which has an article featuring Exeter Writers, Elizabeth Ducie, N. Sian Southern and Angela Wooldridge as they talk about their experiences of last year's NaNoWriMo.
Elizabeth Ducie
N. Sian Southern
Angela Wooldridge

We wish you the best of luck if you're planning to take part, and you never know - you may bump into us in the Devon forum!

Story craft with Jo Cole

Now that the 2018 Exeter Writers Short Story competition is open for entries, we thought we'd get you chomping at the bit with a series of blog posts around story craft. Happy reading (and writing)...

 Ten Ways to use ‘Find and Replace’ to Edit your Writing.
 By Jo Cole
When I first started editing my own work, I didn’t know where to start and would often rely on my gut feeling. But the more I write, the more systematic I have become; a strict editing procedure results in writing that is stronger, cleaner and more dynamic. And for a rigorous self-editor, ‘Find and Replace’ is immensely useful. Here are my top ten ways to use it.

Exeter Writers Short Story Competition 2018!

The Exeter Writers 2018 Short Story Competition is open for entries!

Our annual short story competition began in 2009 and is very popular. We receive entries from all over the world.

First prize £500
Second prize £250
Third prize £100

Plus a prize for writers in Devon of £100

Closing date 28th February 2018 (Midnight)

EW Member Returns To Scene of Near-Death

Back in 1992, Elizabeth Ducie nearly died in Brazil. Or to be
completely accurate, she nearly died on a plane about to land in Sao Paulo.

“I collapsed in the loo (not the most glamorous of locations, admittedly) and had to be hauled out by the air crew, not breathing. It totally disrupted breakfast service in First Class, as that was the only place there was room to lay me out on the floor. Then, when the inevitable call went out for a doctor, there were seventy-six on board, cardiologists flying home from a convention in Europe. My colleagues told me later the doctors were surrounding me, waving syringes in the air and arguing about whether I was having a heart attack or not!”

What have the Exeter Writers been up to this year?

Every year, at about this time, we review the achievements of our merry band over the last twelve months. This year we decided to share it with you.

Chudleigh Literary Festival

It's the time of year for festivals, and it's 

Chudleigh LitFest 
on Wednesday 5th July.

All writers are welcome to join the morning workshop, there's an open mic opportunity over lunch and Exeter Writers, Angela Wooldridge and Margaret James are involved in the FREE networking session in the afternoon.

Tiv Lit Fest what to do at TivLit Fest while waiting to see Su Bristow and Cathie Hartigan on the Female Author Panel?

Local author, Jenny Kane is joined by Alison Knight for a workshop on writing technique. Jenny and Alison run a range of workshops, don't miss this opportunity to see them in action!

Tiverton Literature Festival 2017: 22nd - 25th June

There's lots going on at the 
from Thurs 22nd to Sunday 25th June.

Short Story Competition 2017: The Final Results!

Exeter Writers are delighted to announce the winners of our 2017 short story competition:

1st prize - Celluloid Job by Sharon Boyle from East Lothian.

2nd prize - Selling Fans in Haliville by Jason Jackson from Bristol.

3rd prize - Fences by Christopher Allen from Munich.

Devon prize - Bye Bye Birdie by Orlando Murrin from Exeter.

Exeter Writers Short Story Competition 2017: Shortlist

We are delighted to announce the shortlisted entries for the 2017 short story competition (in no particular order):

Exeter Writers Short Story Competition 2017: Longlist Announced!

Thank you to everyone who entered this year's short story competition.

We had hundreds of entries from around the world, so don't despair if you didn't make it this time. Maybe next year could be your turn?

The longlisted stories are shown below. Authors names are not listed at this stage as we are still going through the judging process.

Cover reveal for The Girl in Red Velvet

The latest novel by Margaret James; The Girl in Red Velvet is out on 25th April. Here's a peek at the gorgeous cover, and you can read more about it here.

Margaret is published by Choc Lit, and recently co-hosted an event at Exeter Library along with some of her fellow choc lit authors, Victoria Cornwall, Linda Mitchelmore and Laura E James (pictured below) talking about their journeys to publication whilst editor Lusana Taylor gave local writers the opportunity to pitch their novels.
Left to right; Margaret James, Victoria Cornwall, Linda Mitchelmore and Laura E James