Thursday, 26 March 2015

A Feast for Readers and Writers

Not only does the Finchley Literary Festival support Barnet Libraries but it's very important to us that we also support local writers. To close this year's festival we have a very interesting event for readers and writers. Some writers from the North London Writers group - Lily Dunn, Tasha Kavanagh, Evie MillerZoe Gilbert - , as well as Irenosen Okojie and local poet, Dennis Evans, will be joining us to celebrate the wealth of talent in North London. The event takes place Sunday 24th May 3-5pm, afternoon tea time, and where better than Cafe Buzz in North Finchley, for a feast of not only fabulous readers but also delicious cakes and drinks. See more details here.

Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction nominee, Jemma Wayne, will also be joining us. Jemma graduated from Cambridge University. Working first as a reporter at The Jewish Chronicle and later as a columnist for The Jewish News, she is now a regularly featured blogger at The Huffington Post and continues to contribute to various publications including The Evening Standard, The Independent on Sunday, Standard Issue and The Jewish Quarterly, amongst others.

Jemma’s first full-length work, Bare Necessities – a tongue-in-cheek guide to being a grownup – was published by Piatkus Books in 2004. Her play, Negative Space, ran at The New End Theatre, Hampstead, in September 2009 to critical acclaim. And her short stories have appeared in a variety of publications including Ether Books, 33 West by Limehouse Books, and Kerouac’s Dog Magazine.

Jemma’s first novel, After Before, was published by Legend Press in 2014. It was long-listed for the Guardian’s 2014 Not the Booker Prize and for the 2015 Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction. 

Find out more about Jemma here:

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Festival Tasters

Zombies Wanted for the Finchley Literary Festival:

An exciting event with author Mike Carey that features zombies in Finchley! Dramatization of scenes from Mike Carey's spectacular book The Girl With all the Gifts. 

The second half of this event sees J.P.O'Malley join us to interview Mike. 

No charge but we would appreciate donations to help keep the zombies under control. More details here.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Barnet Libraries Short Story Competition

Calling all competition enthusiasts - Barnet Libraries are becoming hubs of creativity (we think we may have influenced them a little) and they're hoping Greenacre peeps and other writing enthusiasts will enter the short story comp. Details below:

Cityread “Mysterious Metropolis” writing competition

Terms and Conditions
 This competition is organised by Barnet Libraries to complement our Cityread programme 2015 which features Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London, so our competition is on the theme of “Mysterious Metropolis”, and your story should have a London setting.
 Stories must be no more than 2000 words.
 The competition is open to writers aged 16 or over.
 No entries can be received from Barnet Libraries staff or their relatives.  Entries must be an original piece of fiction and not an account of real events.
 Entries should be received between 16 March and 1st May.
 Entries should be emailed to or posted to

Cityread Writing Competition
Service Development Librarian Team
Building 4
Oakleigh Road South
N11 1NP

 Entrants must provide their name, address, email and/or phone number and age.
 Prizes will be awarded approx. 28 days after the closing date, and winners will be notified.
 The judge’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.
 Winner’s names will be featured on our social media @BarnetLibraries on twitter and Barnet Libraries on Facebook and our website.
 All winning entries will be published on our Ebook platform and on our facebook page.
 Entries cannot be returned so please remember to retain a copy. Unsuccessful entrants will not be contacted in respect of their entry and no feedback on any entry will be provided.
 Entries must not contain defamatory, obscene, offensive, or any other unsuitable material.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Finchley Literary Festival

This year Finchley Literary Festival runs from Wednesday 20th to Sunday 24th May 2015. 

We love our libraries and we are pleased that following on from last year's participation in FLF, our three Finchley libraries and our community-run Friern Barnet Library will host several events this year.

Each year we try to provide something a bit different while including the best of previous years' events. We think we've got something very different and exciting for 2015!

We are delighted that Mike Carey, a British writer of comic books, novels, films and author of The Girl With all the Gifts, will be taking part in this year's festival. If you've read the book you'll know that our local artsdepot is mentioned. Never mind that it features zombies in the same scene! We're not quite sure if there are going to be zombies running around Finchley at the end of May but it's quite possible.

Watch this space!

We also have some workshops confirmed, including a practical workshop for writers who read at literary events to make the best of their vocal skills. We have a literary walk, a panel and discussion evening, a Poetry and Music Palooza and some author readings. There are a number of other events under discussion and we'll update you as soon as we can.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Barnet Libraries Festival 2015

Beyond the Book 

Barnet libraries have some fantastic events as part of their Barnet Libraries Festival* 
Monday 2 February - Sunday 15 February
For booking details click the links provided above, ask at your local library or email
Check here regularly for updates, and follow Barnet Libraries on Facebook and Twitter using #BarnetLibFest. 

*Coming soon: details of the Finchley Literary Festival - our theme this year is supporting Barnet Libraries.

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Greenacre Writers Round up of 2014

Greenacre Writers has had another busy year, with the year kicking off with a Writing Retreat at St Katharine’s in Oxfordshire in March.

Josie Pearse ran a new teleconference group: Getting it Written, for writers with a longer piece of work underway. The sessions lasted 75 minutes once a week on a Wednesday evening.

At the end of May, the third Finchley Literary Festival exploded into a week-long event. There were fund-raising activities beforehand, including a quiz and Bettina the Abseiler who abseiled down the side of Church Langley Water Tower in Harlow.

The festival kickstarted with a Poetry and Music Palooza organised by Anna Meryt at Cafe Buzz where we were treated to some moving poetry and music. We launched our third short story anthology and were delighted that Alex Wheatle had agreed to be our judge. Two of our winning authors, Sal Page and Andy Byrne, were able to attend the launch to receive their prizes. We enjoyed the hospitality from Café Buzz owner, Helen Michaels, who plied us with coffee and cake! Read more here.

Finchley libraries and especially, Steve Saunders, at Church End, supported the festival. We held various events including CliFi for Kids with Sarah Holding, How to Kill your Darlings with Bettina Von Cossel, Charles Dickens: Walking and talking in the green lanes of Finchley, Hendon and Barnet with Theresa Musgrove aka Mrs Angry. Paul Higgins and Ruth Cohen from The Reader Organisation, ran a couple of their excellent reading sessions. Maggie Butt ran a How to get your poetry published. The popular Dragon's Pen* with Gillian Stern, Cari Rosen and Mary Musker gave writers the opportunity to showcase their writing. Most of the events were fully booked including Getting Started with Allen Ashley.

A Spoken Word event took place at Friern Barnet Community Library and they also hosted, a children’s workshop with A.L. Michael; Ally Pally Prison with Maggie Butt; and The Story of Private John Parr with Mick Crick.

As well as workshops there was also a YA event held at Waterstones Finchley with Miriam Halahmy, Lil Chase and Gina Blaxill. This proved so popular they repeated it at Camden Waterstones. Paul Baker organised A Literary Finchley Guided Walk. Mr Greenacres organised A Finchley Literary Slide Show with muses who read poems and literary extracts.

The final day began with a Develop your Online Author Profile: A Blog & Twitter Workshop with Emily Benet. The day was rounded off with a lively panel discussion on Men Writing as Women and Women Writing as Men. In between, GW writers read from their works in progress. Guest speakers were Alex Wheatle, Caitlin Davies, Rosie Fiore and Miriam Halahmy. You can read more about the final event here. Moderator was Allen Ashley who kept the passionate writers in line.

Hot on the heels of the Finchley Literary Festival, Rosie Canning, ran a WW1 writing workshop at Stephens House & Gardens WW1 Centenary celebrations. A.L. Michael also ran a WW1 writing workshop for children and Sarah Harrison, invited readers for afternoon tea. Sarah read from her bestselling WW1 novel, The Flowers of the Field.

In October, Rosie Canning and Mr Greenacres led The Walking Writer. Writers were encouraged to concentrate on sight, sound, smell, touch and hearing and there were some poetry readings. Mr G organised morning coffee at the Finchley Golf Club. Later after more walking, writing and poetry, the writers stopped for lunch at the Redwood Cafe in Swan Lane Open Space.

Our members have been busy with their writing and we are always pleased when they achieve success.

Katie Alford, finished her novel and has been published. Atlantis and the Game of Time, Kristell Ink, Grimbold Books (Aug 2014). When Katie first joined Greenacres and brought along some of her Steampunk writing for critiquing, it ended up Katie explaining how the writing should be read rather than the other way around. You may ask, as we did, What is Steampunk?

Rosie Canning led a spring and autumn writing retreat at St Katharine's, Parmoor. See here for the 2015 Early Spring Retreat.

Linda Dell wrote a guest blog about self publishing for GW. In November, following on from their successful self-publishing talk at the Finchley Literary Festival, Linda, and Eliza Jane Goes, also a Greenacre Writer, went on to give another talk about the merits and pitfalls of self-publishing at Mill Hill Library.

Anna Meryt was one of eight members of Highgate Poets who read with a group from Aberystwyth, the Word Distillery Poets, at the London Welsh Centre as part of the centenary of Dylan Thomas. Anna organised a Poetry and Music Palooza, event for the Big Green Book Shop in April where she launched a second collection of poetry by Tambourine Press called Dolly Mix.

Mark Kitchenham has been concentrating on six word stories (which is good practice for writing short stories) and every month has a batch of them going out on the Morgen (with an E) Bailey website.

Kate Wong is the newest member of Greenacre Writers. The FLF Dragon’s Pen event kick-started her to distil her ideas onto paper for her historical fiction novel in progress “The Authentic Voice” which is about a boy born with a supernatural gift for music but at the wrong time in history.

GW ran a couple of monthly short story competitions leading up to Christmas, you can see November’s winning story here.

Our regular groups continue to meet regularly, there is also a new monthly Writers Meet-up. We look forward to more achievements next year.

*14 writers who attended the Finchley Literary Festival Dragon's Pen event were kept on edge for some time while the Dragons decided which writer they intended to mentor. We were delighted when they made the announcement that Lindsay Bamfield was the winner of this year's Finchley Literary Festival's Dragon's Pen for her novel-in-progress Do Not Exceed Fifty. Lindsay will now have the opportunity to be mentored by Gillian Stern, an editor and writer for Bloomsbury, Orion and Penguin.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

First Prize Winner in Greenacre Writers Short Story Competition

Shirley Golden - The Mad Schemes of Morris

Morris posed the question a month after he’d retired from the Post Office.  ‘If you could transform into to any sort of animal, which would you choose?’
Karen was at the sink, Marigolds submerged in dishwater.  She gave him a sidelong look, eyebrows raised, but no, she hadn’t imagined his question; he waited in earnest for her answer.  She glanced out of the window and saw Felix, grooming himself with feline precision on the patio. 
‘Oh, a cat, definitely.’  She often daydreamed about spending her days strolling around the lawn, sniffing the Geraniums, and snoozing whenever she felt the urge.
‘Aren’t you going to ask what I’d like to be?’
Karen stacked the last plate on the draining board and pulled free the plug.  Retirement seemed to be having a funny effect on him.  ‘Okay, why don’t you tell me?’  She rolled off her gloves and set them aside. 
He observed her from over the top of his newspaper and cleared his throat before announcing: ‘A hamster.  I’d like to be a hamster in a cage.  And this rag,’ he shook the paper, ‘could serve as my shredded bed.’
She shuddered.  ‘Oh, I’m not keen on rodents,’ she said.

A couple of weeks later, Karen heard hammering and other DIY thuds coming from the spare room.  Morris never did much of anything these days, so the flurry of activity made her squint at the window uneasily as she watered her roses.  She hoped he was not embarking on another scheme that involved dragging her onto windblown heathland in makeshift tents. 
When he was on a mission, it was best to leave him be; she decided to pop round to Marg’s.  Marg was recently divorced and thinking about setting up coffee mornings to get to know the neighbours better.  Morris had absorbed that information with his usual snort, and said it would attract a flock of clucking hens.  Karen suspected Marg planned on roping in some single gentlemen.  But she didn’t tell Morris that.

When Karen returned, all was quiet.  She fed Felix, who brushed around her legs, and then she went to face whatever Morris might have in store.  The spare room door was closed and she knocked as she pushed it open. 
‘Morris,’ she said.
A quarter of the room was sectioned off by vertical, wooden slats.  She wondered if he was considering buying a pet.  She didn’t want any more fuss over the impossibility of keeping a dog.  She stepped further into the room.   Morris was curled up in the corner, naked, on a huge bundle of shredded newspaper.
‘Morris?’  She thought he must have collapsed. 
He raised his head.  ‘I’m hungry.’
He looked fine, at least, not physically ill.
‘I’m sorry I’m later home than I thought…’  She brought a hand up to cover her mouth and tried to stop laughter from bubbling out.  ‘I’ll get started on some tea,’ she managed to say.  ‘Perhaps you should get dressed and come downstairs.’
‘I’d rather eat in here,’ he said.
She stared at him and thought it must be a joke; except Morris wasn’t one for jokes. 
He raised his hands to either side of his face and began to lick, smearing saliva from hands to chin.
‘Would you like spaghetti bolognaise, or do I need to buy hamster food?’
‘Bolognaise is fine,’ he muttered into his palms.
‘Funny diet for a rodent,’ she said.
She returned to the kitchen as if in a dream.  She wondered if she should call the doctor.  She busied herself heating up the sauce and opened the back door.  It was nice to do so, Morris would never usually allow it; he said the cooking smells would attract flies.  She hummed and smiled to herself.  Felix settled on the threshold, and looked out into the garden.  When she fed him morsels, he meowed in disbelief and pleasure.

Karen took charge of the key to the cage door because Morris said he felt safer that way.  She fed him twice-a-day.  He liked to eat cereal in the morning and pie with two veg at night.  She ensured fresh veg was always available as a side dish and he’d cram his cheeks with raw carrots. 
He said he was sick of clothes but agreed to the golden-furred onesie she sewed together and referred to as his “coat”.  She bought a treadmill, set up a circular wire frame around it and said he should exercise.  She drew the line at cleaning up his mess, and insisted he used the chemical toilet and emptied it when she instructed him.  She poked the tube of a sports bottle through the bars for him to sip water.  No, she wouldn’t fill it with whiskey, not even at the weekend; perhaps at Christmas. 
Once they’d established a routine, he said he’d rather not speak anymore because of the difficulties with the carrot and cheek situation, and that suited her just fine.  Sometimes she’d sit and watch him running on his treadmill, and she found it oddly stimulating. 

The coffee mornings proved to be a success, she made many new and interesting friends.  When it was her turn to host, she didn’t have to worry about Morris causing a disturbance as he’d become nocturnal.  Without him frowning when she spoke her true opinions, she felt unfettered.  She spent less and less time tied to the house.  Her afternoons were peaceful; she’d stretch out on her new sofa, watching recorded episodes of “QI” or “Autumnwatch” without his objections.  Sometimes she’d curl up beside the hearth with Felix, splaying her fingers and filing her nails to a point. 
Now that Morris’s conversion was complete, she felt composed and more inclined to nap without guilt.  When awake, she felt totally alive, more determined than ever to pursue her desires.  And able, at last, to pounce if required.