Monday, December 20, 2010


It's been a great writing year for me and many friends, both on the page and on websites. See Kent Sadly, earlier in the year, we lost our friend Dennis Rookard (pictured above), broadcaster, film maker and writer - see him playing Father Christmas last year), but he lives on forever in some of our books, in particular Elizabeth Wallace's CHRISTMAS PAST IN ESSEX - F A B U L O U S book!

Friday, December 10, 2010


Super do on 9 December at the New Cavendish in London. Catherine Quinn was our lovely visiting judge who joined us and presented prizes to winners of the HOME FOR CHRISTMAS essay. I've added more pictures taken of prizewinner Jennifer Pulling whose play THE HOMECOMING was performed during the party. Fabulous line-up of actors with the talented Martin Cort (end right) taking a bow.

Also pictured is SWWJ's talented Anna Milford with the award for her winning entry for the HOME FOR CHRISTMAS Competition. At the top we see Catherine with Dorothy Pope, and Mary Rensten with Jean Bowden.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010


Joan Moules is one of our most prolific and popular writers on the SWWJ membership list. Joan’s first taste of success was in 1979 when her book STRAND OF GOLD was published and her love story set against a music hall background, is still a winner. Since then, she has written numerous books across many genre. Last year, this versatile author chose a different writing path, celebrating her first exciting ‘who-dun-it’ entitled SCRIPT FOR MURDER and when it hit the bookshops – she once again had another success!

But it was Joan’s interest in the great music hall and filmstar of the 1940s, Dame Gracie Fields, that brought this author on to our television screens and into the publicity columns with her biography of Dame Gracie. Her memoir published by Summersdale Publishers in 1997 is still sought after.

This year, Joan’s latest book FRAGILE MEMORIES has been published and is doing well. Her 20th book TURN OF THE TIDE will be published in June 2011. Joan’s publisher these days is Robert Hale. Do visit our author at

Monday, November 29, 2010


Congratulations to my friend and colleague PIPER TERRETT, whom I've mentioned on my weblog in the past. She's a journalist and author of non-fiction books. Well, she has just published her first crime fiction novel Victim Support. The novel, set in the fictional town of Norsey in Essex, loosely based on Billericay where I live, features Detective Inspector Sam Cree. Here’s the description at Smashwords:

When twin boys go missing, DI Sam Cree and her colleagues on the Norsey Force are already overstretched. Then, a student and an elderly woman are gunned down and evidence suggests a sniper is at work. In the background of each murder is an unsolved crime. Is revenge the motive or something deeper?

It’s published online at – you can download a 50 per cent sample for free by clicking on this link and the rest is $5.99 to buy (about £3.74 at current exchange rates).

Piper's cover is the original artwork of hugely talented graphic designer and artist John Kontos. For more information on John, visit his website Incidently, Piper has just been interviewed for our brand new interactive Billericay on-line website Her rendition will appear soon.

Monday, November 22, 2010


Here are some images from the launch of Saturday's Billericay Archive Group in the local library. Chairman of the new history group, Jim Devlin is pictured with chairman of the Town Council Peter Bowditch. A great surge of people joined us who seem to like the idea. We have Iris Yoemans and Joan Shirmer who were both interviewed and their memories are magical. James Shrubb, our super Town Crier was there in full colourful regalia. This is one important gentleman who never fails us in all our town endeavours. Trained interviewers were collecting individual stories and eventually (with their interviewees'permission) we can read about this historical town with its links back to Roman times. Centuries later, in 1620, the town could boast of six of their residents who travelled on board the Mayflower that sailed America in 1620.

One intriguing aspect of the site is that of Professor Wynford P Grant, who - as an 11-year-old - started his own BILLERICAY OBSERVER newspaper in the late 50s. He also wrote some excellent historical books when he was fourteen. Some of the most eminent journalists and film crews from around the world came to interview him. On our website you'll see the Pathe clips live.

Our much loved Cater Museum at 74 High Street was well represented, as was the Essex Record Office and local organisation. Enthusiasm for this new project was high and I suspect that particular story will run and run!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


What goes round comes around - so the old saying goes and this is certainly the case with Oral History. Twenty years ago when I lived in Brentwood, I formed a Memory Club for retired Essex Regiment soldiers who wanted to tell their personal stories of the war. Many of my aspiring writers produced memoirs for their families and some veterans were pleased to see their work published. Yet the academic historians showed little interest at the time.

Now Oral and Community memories and chronicles are highly regarded as a rich source of local history. Martin Astell at the Essex Record Office has a superb store of the county’s history narrated in the people themselves. Many of the tapes were recorded in Brentwood and Billericay.

Now, of course, we have funding available to set up seven Community Archives in this part of Essex. The one I am especially interested in is Billericay. Local volunteers will be gathered at Billericay Library on Saturday, 20 November from 10.00am to 4pm to launch their Community Archive. That splendid Town Crier, Jim Shrubb who has officiated at many Brentwood events, will be in ceremonial dress, ringing his bell to launch this special event.

We owe much to the Essex Record Office, the National Lottery Fund, and Heritage Lottery Fund in helping the volunteers to be trained in IT, digitally copying photographs and documents, then making the whole collection available on the internet. It will be possible to add further memories and comments to each item on the website so that, over time, a vibrant picture of the community’s past will be created. Photographs and documents can be scanned on the spot. Do come and support us. A display of photographs from the past, along with interesting local books will be on show, together with trained interviewers should anyone wish to contribute their stories on Saturday. It should be an interesting and fun day and a chance to tell YOUR story! For more information contact www.billericay,

Town Crier Jim Shrubb and resident Katie Pearce

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Saturday 13 November is going to be a big day for both Reg Haynes and Jim Reeve who will sign their new books at Waterstone's Bookshop at 63 High Street in Brentwood at 11.00am. Do come and wish them well and maybe buy one of their books - you will receive the warmest of welcomes from members of the SWWJ and their local Brentwood Writers' Circle. Reg's two books are VENTUROUS SPIRITS and FOR ALL - OUR TOMORROWS. Jim's latest book is A SCHOOLBOY'S WAR IN CORNWALL to complete his trio of books all of which are selling well.

Both authors have been interviewed for local and regional radio, with the lovely Ed Wellman from Phoenix FM coming along on Saturday to record live from the bookshop and naturally they have both been the topic of my latest column with the Brentwood Weekly News. We look forward to meeting you.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010



Great news for our very good friend and colleague Wendy Hughes who is the founder of the STICKLER SYNDROME SUPPORT GROUP.

On Thursday 11th November at 11am the Surrey firm Broadoak Construction will be presenting Wendy with a cheque for £4865.00 raised during 24 hours on 11-12 September 2010 when members of the staff took up the gruelling "Three Peaks Challenge" in aid of Stickler Syndrome.

Emma Sykes, who works for the company put together a team, Iain (Project Manager) Jeff and Joss (Site Managers), Emma (Health & Safety), Carl (QS) and Lukas (Site Security) to climb Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon all in a period of 24 hours, a total of 3400 metres in height, The challenge began on the Saturday with a five hour climb up Ben Nevis, then the team drove down to Scafell Pike for a 4 and a half hour climb, through the night, ending at 3am! and finishing off with Snowdon at 8am through to mid-day on the Sunday.

They are supporting the charity because Emma's son is registered blind and has been helped immensely by the Stickler Syndrome Support Group. All the proceeds will go towards the next SSSG weekend conference to be held at Daventry in June 2011. Help is needed for the wonderful people who help those with this disease. For further information please go to

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Fay C Marshall is a rather special poet. She joined the Society of Women Writers & Journalists in 1988 and her work output is enormous. She is a superb 'all rounder', with work published in the Arvon International Poetry Competition anthology selected by Seamus Heaney & Ted Hughes. Her work has been broadcast on BBC Radio Four's 'Poetry Please' and much of her poetry has been translated into Russian. A well known poet, she is always busy working with workshops, poetry events and adjudication.

Fay's third and latest collection 'After the Battle' has a distinct European flavour, with translation from French, Russian and German written in collaboration with her late husband.

Fay's poetry collection carries ISBN 978-O-9562494-1-8 and is published by SCRIPTORA - price £6.50. Sales enquiries to

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


The Women's Press Club in downtown Denver, Colorado is a special place for writers and one I wish I could visit on Friday 22 October. Elizabeth Wallace, the broadcaster and author invites you to a wine, cheese and hors d'oeuvres party to celebrate the launch of her latest book FORBIDDEN which is receiving great attention both in the US and Europe and is set to be a best seller.

Join Elizabeth in this unique Victorian home where she will give a short reading from her latest novel which is a fascinating read. Set in England and Scotland in the mid 1600s, Elizabeth's story has all the ingredients of an intriguing tale that keeps those pages turning. She will also discuss the historical context of the main characters and events.

Also present will be Michael Adams, classical guitarist.

Where: Denver Woman's Press Club at 1325 Logan Street, Denver.

When: Friday, October 22nd from 5:30 until 7:30 PM.

PleaseRSVP to: or call 303-359-7445

Monday, October 18, 2010

Ørjan Nilsson's visit to England

Brentwood folk welcomed the Norwegian journalist, Ørjan Nilsson last Saturday who paid a flying visit whilst in England. He had heard many unfair stories about 'Boring Brentwood' and I simply had to change his mind about this ancient town.

I took him on a whistle-stop trip around the town showing him evidence of amazing history and some notable residents, including John Fryer, Museum curator and various other well known folk. Both Ørjan and I enjoyed being interviewed by Phoenix FM radio presenter, Alan Johnson who is the favourite presenter of the Saturday morning show. Although Ørjan had come to interview us, I managed to get a full set of pics and learnt about life in his home town of Bergen. With thanks to Brentwood Weekly News for permission to publish my column.

Monday, October 11, 2010


Celebrations in the air yet again on 2 October with the 80th anniversary of the founding of the famous Dagenham Girl Pipers' Band. This famous band, known throughout the world, was started on 4 October 1930 by the Rev Joseph Waddington Graves.

Grace and Leon Simmonds and members of the Veteran Association greeted guests and current members of the band with their families and also veterans from past years. Lord Petre and the Mayor of Dagenham, Cllr J Gill and many other visitors were present. Wonderful party atmosphere, as you can see from the images, particularly when the pipers made their entrance playing their bagpipes and swirls of tartan. The band is successful even today, although now part-time. Near the top of the blog is our very own Lord Petre talking to Grace Simmonds who organised this memorable evening.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010


Shame that yesterday's London tube strike occurred on Eileen Mayer and Rodrigo Costa's long awaited exhibition and book launch reception. This was at the Anglo-Portuguese Society's Canning House in Belgrave Square. With stoic patience, we allowed extra time to travel, using main line, bus and walked for a couple of hundred miles, arriving with time to spare. Only joking - we had a wonderful evening viewing Rodrigo's paintings and met scores of their admirers, many of whom had flown especially to attend their friends' special evening. Rodrigo's paintings are beautiful and, linked to Eileen's poems, their joint book entitled THE LANDSCAPE AS THE PLACE OF EVERYTHING is extraordinary.

Sunday, October 03, 2010


Our SWWJ Membership Scretary Wendy Hughes is once again welcoming members to A SPECIAL DAY FOR JOURNALISTS AND NON-FICTION WRITERS TO BE HELD FROM 11.00 TO 16.00 ON TUESDAY 5TH OCTOBER 2010 AT THE WRITERS’ HOUSE, 13 HAYDON ST. LONDON. EC3N 1DB (Tower Hill Tube)

* This fourth day for Journalists and Non-Fiction Writers is designed for beginners as well as more experienced non-fiction writers. A factfile on marketing, and developing those ideas, will be handed out on the day. In this workshop Wendy will cover:

* Markets and pitching ideas - would each delegate attending this day PLEASE bring along at least one magazine, or details of a publisher that you write for or wish to write for and be prepares to talk - for about five minutes on your chosen market - the type of material this publisher or magazine publishers.

* Developing your ideas for a feature or a non-fiction book – You have a great idea, but what do you do with it? We all have different methods of developing an idea, so after a short introduction from me, over to you to share your methods. A chance to learn from one another.

* Problem sharing Forum – The session at the last day went well, so please come along with a problem or a query to share and between us we SHOULD come up with some suggestions. Rest assured that NO problem is too trivial, as we are all at different stages with our writing. We ALL had to learn how to layout a manuscript, submit a query once!

The cost of the day is £18.50 per person. (Cheque made payable to SWWJ). Please bring a packed lunch and pen and paper. Further information can be obtained from Wendy email: or telephone 01903 785771

Saturday, October 02, 2010


Monday evening is going to be great for two artists, the Portuguese artist Rodrigo Costa and Essex poet Eileen Mayer, who is also a talented stone carver. Together they will be celebrating the launch of their book THE LANDSCAPE AS THE PLACE OF EVERYTHING at Canning House in London's Belgrave Square. Rodrigo has now arrived in London and his wonderful paintings, some of which are portrayed in the book, will be on display for ten days. Let's hope the looming tube strike doesn't prevent us getting there on Monday.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

ESSEX POETRY FESTIVAL 2010 - 23rd September - 9th October

At the top is Victor Tapner, Derek Adams and Anita Marie Sackett, all are well known Essex poets. Anita, is back home from the SWWJ weekend conference to take part in the National Poetry Day which has the theme of 'Home' this year, and poetry is making itself at home in Essex for the sixteen days of the Essex Poetry Festival. Here are a few of the great poets to be seen in Essex during the coming month. George Szirtes and Annie Freud are also appearing. Many of the poets taking part already call Essex home, twenty-three of the thirty five featured poets either live or were born in Essex.

The festival started with a double whammy on September 23rd. At the Greyhound Pub in Wivenhoe, the hugely entertaining André Mangeot (Cambridge) performed with local poet Peter Johnson for poetrywivenhoe. At Rayleigh library five Southend based spoken word artists, Simon Blackman, Stuart Bowditch, Jo Overfield, Ray Morgan and Cherryl Scott, known collectively as the Sundown Poets delivered an evening of stand-up poetry.

The festival plays away from home on October 1st. Three poets, Susan Grindley, Katrina Naomi and Victor Tapner will take a taste of this year's festival to Lumen in Kings Cross, one of London's major poetry venues.

From October 2nd until the 8th, Essex libraries will be home to a series of readings and poetry writing events. Harlow (John Steer) and South Woodham Ferrers (Anita Marie Sackett) will have poetry writing activities for children (7 to 12 years). Events with local schools will take place at Colchester (Sally Festing & Caroline Phillips). Shenfield (Anita Marie Sackett) and Witham (Anne Welsh). There will be readings from poets at Canvey (Adrian Green & Denis Ahern), Hullbridge (Derek Adams & Tim Cunningham) and Rochford (Clare Harvey & Mervyn Linford). Poets will be reading from their work and leading poetry writing workshops at Billericay (Tim Cunningham), Dunmow (Alex Smith) & Walton (Roz Hall).

October 6th, award winning poets Judy Brown and Katrina Naomi (recently poet in residence at the Bronte Parsonage Museum), will be guests of the Southend Poetry Group, at the Naval and Military Club, Southend.

The Essex Poetry Festival culminates with a day of events on October 9th at the Cramphorn theatre in Chelmsford. In the morning the Mayor will be handing out the prestigious Essex Young Poet of the Year Award.

In the afternoon there will be the chance for you to perform on the festival stage at the popular open Mic spot. Poet Clare Crossman and singer-songwriter Penni Mclaren Walker together with musician Bryan Caulston are Fensong, with their unique mix of poems and songs that tell modern folktales of the Fens. Victor Tapner from Billericay will be reading from his new book ' Flatlands' in the Essex poets slot, along with Susan Grindley (Leigh) and Kayo Chingongi (Dagenham). The evening starts with competition judge Kathryn Simmonds handing out the £1000 first prize to the winner of the 10th Essex Poetry Festival Open Poetry competition, and reading from the prize winners. The evening is rounded off with performances from three of the countries best contemporary poets, expect lyrical dexterity, sly erotica and absurdist humour from George Szirtes, Annie Freud and Luke Kennard.

Ask for a festival leaflet at you local library or visit the festival website Further info: email Tel 07985 617559

Monday, September 27, 2010


So many of our SWWJ friends are recovering this morning from one of our best Weekend Conferences. It was exhilarating, but exhausting! This was organised by Jean Morris, Pamela Birley and her team for this extra special event which included the centenary celebration of Joyce Grenfell's birth (our former president), the Guide Guide organisation and the launch in 1910 of our super magazine, then called The Woman Journalist. Here are a few images taken over the weekend. Our chairman, Jean Morris is pictured with the President of Lucy Cavendish College, Professor Janet Todd. Also pictured are Felix Francis (son of Dick) with Zoe King and Jean Morris, Patrick Forsyth with SWWJ Secretary Pamela Birley, and Frances Clamp, Pat Pound and Marina Moffatt, plus more delegates. We loved Jenny Rose who judged the Joyce Grenfell competition, producing a winner of the Monologue Competition who was Robbie Grieve.