We are writers in Somerset
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We call ourselves Somerset Writers, which is a little pretentious for the three of us, John, Lois and Richard, but we hope to earn that description as time goes on. It is only ‘Somerset’ because that is where we happen to live.
This blog is to talk about writing, write about writing and to display our writing – yours and ours.
Send us a piece of your writing, a comment or anything else you fancy and we will post it here on our blog with the usual caveats about defamatory, obscene etc. work which we will refuse.
Your work will then be public for others to discuss, critique. We will remove any defamatory etc comments.
We are slowly learning this WordPress malarky so we may ask you to give us a bit of leeway to start with.
Will you join us? All are welcome. Please contact us at
To give you some idea who you are dealing with, we have some of our biographies below.
I am a writer living in the west of England; my most recent e-book is ‘Earthquake’, the 5th of my Radwinter novels. The stories in this series are genealogical mysteries and investigations which Thomas Radwinter undertakes – missing people, found people, an elusive Tibetan lama, a haunted hotel, people trafficking…
All my books are available on Amazon, including my first paperback ‘Radwinter’. My next novel, ‘Saltpans’ and my next paperback, ‘Magick’, will be available in the late autumn 2017.
You can also find me on WordPress, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. All my books can be found on Amazon:
I hope my writing in our blog will engage you with my other interests, music, family history and food… Most of all I hope you engage with our writing and our thoughts on the process.
I am a founding editor here on our blog
We are hoping to interview our writers, here is the first in what we hope will be a series, Lois Elsden’s thoughts on her own writing… and more!
Q: When did you start writing as a hobby? Did anyone particularly encourage you?
Lois: I told stories before I ever could write them down; I guess I got this from both my parents who were wonderful story-tellers, imagined tales as well as incidents from their own lives, vividly told to me and my sister. I can’t think of a time when I didn’t have stories running through my mind!
Q: How is your working day structured?
Lois: The first thing I do in the morning, fortified by tea, is sit here and write… maybe blogging first and then onto my current ‘project’, or maybe if I’ve been puzzling over it, straight into my actual writing. I continue through the day, in between going out, meeting people, teaching my writing classes, doing housework, shopping etc., and then most evenings I work until bedtime… which maybe 1 or 2 in the morning!
Q: You write one blog, and are involved in another—does this not distract you from your main writing?
Lois: I started my blog as a way of publicising my work – as a self-published author, I don’t have anyone else but me to try and get my novels ‘out there’. However, I have found that writing blogs has been a great way of practising my craft (if you want to call it that) and writing in different ways and on different topics; I have also ‘met’ some great fellow-bloggers! It has forced me to get over ‘writer’s block’ – which has a positive effect on my other writing.
Q: What is your current project?
Lois: While I had my day job, before I was liberated, writing was tucked in odd corners and at odd hours and although I write several novels, I wrote them in bits and pieces – they need a lot of editing! I am at present working on an unfinished novel from that time… but I also have other plans in mind too!
Q:There are now five Radwinter novels. Do you have plans for more?
Lois: Yes indeed! When I have finished the editing of the novel I was telling you about, I will get going on the next Radwinter book – to be honest, I can’t wait! Very excited about the new one! One other thing, I am shortly going to be republishing all the Radwinter novels as paperbacks – they will be available on Amazon
Q: Many of your leading characters are women—are they based on yourself?
Lois: No, not at all. Some of them share aspects of my character, quite a few are teachers because that is what I was and it’s a world I know. Most of my characters are much more determined and focused than I am, and don’t have a silly side to their personality, which I definitely have. In actual fact, the character nearest to me in personality isn’t a woman at all, but a man – Thomas Radwinter!
Q: Which of your published works has given you the most satisfaction ?
Lois: I’m proud of all of them; however I am proud of my first published novel, Farholm, because it was my first, and my Radwinter series because I never ever imagined I would write a sequel, let alone a series!
Q: Why do you self-publish on Kindle? Is there a problem with conventional hard-copy publication?
Lois: Like many, many writers, I have sent off scores of manuscripts to dozens and dozens of publishers and agents; I have entered competitions, I have done all I can to get my stories into print. I have never had any luck (because I’m sure luck is the main part of the business) and have been ripped off a couple of times. KDP allowed me to put my books out in the big wide world, and I really appreciate it… however my continued dream is to be taken up by an actual publisher and to see my name on the shelves of bookshops!
Q: As well as being a writer, you are also a keen reader. What kind of books attract you, and what are you presently engaged in? What type of book repels you?
Lois: Yes, an addicted reader. I like books which contain some mystery or puzzle, so often they are crime books and police procedurals; I particularly like Icelandic authors such as Viktor Arnar Ingólfsson and Yrsa Sigurðardóttir. However at the moment I am reading autobiographical writing by Lucy M. Boston and Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton and ‘Success and Luck: Good Fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy’ by Robert H. Frank… So no fiction! The last fiction I read and really enjoyed was ‘The Red Tent’ by Anita Diamant. I’m really not very keen on ‘women’s literature’, and I am very intolerant of pretentious writing – and novels written in the present tense!
Q: Many people are convinced that they have at least one book inside them. What advice would you give them?
Lois: Don’t worry about the first sentence and the beginning – especially with the technology we have now, it is so easy to go back and change, alter, rewrite – not like it used to be with a pen or a typewriter! Just start – even in the middle! Get something down on paper and keep going. Joining a writing group can be really helpful – there are plenty of on-line groups if you aren’t able or are shy of meeting others. There is no set way to write, everyone has their own style so don’t try and write like anyone but yourself, but at the same time if someone offers kindly constructive criticism, listen to it, think about it and then either take it or forget it! The main thing is to write! Just that! Sit down at your computer, laptop or desk, with your keyboard, pen or pencil and get writing!
To read Lois’s books, including the Radwinter series, follow this link:
I am a founding editor here on our blog.
Interview: John Watts
How and when did you start to write?
I think I always had a modest ability in my youth which was never pursued until on a cruise 10 years ago. Then on a whim I entered the Ships poetry competition – and won it. I enjoyed the experience and was hooked.
What is you main writing interest?
I tend to stay with poetry because I find that easier than grappling with the many strands of a novel .Knowing a little about many things and being master of none, I write about many different themes but Nature and Science, past and present, are favourites.
Do you always enjoy writing or can it be a chore?
I always enjoy it, if it becomes a chore then I stop. This is in the quite unlikely event that there is a more pleasurable thing to do, or just that the muse has deserted me; but that always comes back eventually because the enjoyment you get from it is addictive.
What success have you had, have you published anything?
No, apart from an items on Humanism, a special interest of mine, in the Taunton Advertiser news paper and on the BHA website. I have entered several poetry competitions but haven’t got passed the short-listed list. Yet !
What ambitions do you have?
Ultimately to create something that would earn a measure of success. Preferably this would be to leave behind me something that makes humanity even the tiniest bit happier
Would you recommend others to write?
Yes. You will soon know if it is for you or not. If you like it you will never suffer from boredom again. Because at such times you can escape into any world you are contriving and be quite happily absorbed. I also believe that the creative act of writing which requires you to be precise and become acquainted with any subject you write about is great for the mind. I am sure I have noticed in myself a boosting of morale and confidence.
How do I start?
It is probably best to experiment on your own first, so I suggest try to write a simple poem. If you did not enjoy it, give up. If you did then you will wish to continue and at that stage you can join a writing group. Do not be daunted, there are many who will welcome beginners. If you are elderly the University of the Third age will have a suitable one.
I joined the Royal Navy from school, following this with an engineering career in industry.
I studied geology and creative writing with the Open University from 2008 until I graduated with a BSc in July 2014.
I live in Somerset, where I enjoy writing, hill walking and practical geology.
I was among the ten prize winners of a writing competition called ‘Shine’ with Pan Macmillan. My winning entry is at:-
I have recently published two new books, ‘Distance and Other Poems’, and ‘A Selection of Surreal Short Stories’; they and all my other books are available on Amazon
Interview: Richard Kefford
- When did you first start writing, and who inspired you?
I can remember enjoying English and especially writing ‘essays’ at school so I think that started it off. I then joined the Royal Navy – I was the editor of the ship’s ‘newspaper’ for 2.5 years. There was a then a lull of many years until I decided to take a geology degree with the OU. Half through there was a gap so I filled this hiatus by taking a short course, ‘Learn to write fiction.’ I was instantly hooked. I went on to take ‘Creative Writing’, then ‘Advanced Creative Writing. Loved every minute. What could be better than “making up lies and writing them down?” Yes, you’re right – getting paid for it. I haven’t got there yet.
- What is a typical writing day for you?
I usually wake up with some sort of idea in my head for a story. I lay there for about half an hour turning it over in my head and then get up and start writing it on the computer. After an hour or so, it is time for breakfast, household chores and then back to the computer to edit what I had written in such a hurry before it all faded. I would then hope to have time to do some more relaxed writing, perhaps a blog post or jot down things that have occurred to me in my on-line journal. Tit bits for later use. ‘Nothing written is ever wasted!’ There may then be time for some writing during the evening. This will probably be geological writing.
- You are involved in a blog… does this not take you away from your ‘real’ writing?
I started my first blog purely as an on-line store for my writing – mostly short stories and poetry in 2011. Three of us started setting up a joint blog in June 2016 to promote not just our own work but to encourage other people to write and then post their work on the blog. This has been successful as we now have ‘associate authors’ working with us. It does take some time but we haven’t allowed it to take us away from our writing. That is still our main priority.
- What are you working on at the moment?
1 – Postings for the blog as they occur to me, usually short stories or poetry
2 – Posting other authors work on the blog
3 – Episodes of a serial for the blog
4 – Two novels – that tend to go on the back burner
5 – Two short stories a month for the two U3A writing groups I belong to.
6 – Two geology books about the local area
7 – A chapter for a Bristol Geology book being produced by BRERC
8 – Handouts for local geology walks with Bristol U3A Geology group.
9 – A paper for the Bristol Naturalists about Tufa
10 – Personalised story books for my four Grandchildren
11 – My autobiography
12 – Anything else I feel like writing that occurs to me.
- You ofttimes have a woman as a lead character, do you find this difficult
I don’t think there is a great deal of difference in introducing male or female characters – they usually end up doing what they want in spite of me. I have written a longer story and then converted it into a stage play with a strong female character.
- When will you publish your two novels?
Probably never. I have used some of their chapter as short stories. I don’t think I have the application to write novels, I end up having too many ideas that deflect me from them into short stories.
- Why do you self-publish with Kindle Direct Publishing?
It costs nothing. It is simple. Everyone tells me that I would be wasting my time sending work to agents or publishers – you have to be a very good writer and very lucky to succeed. I am neither so i just sell the odd copy through Amazon and then get a few copies printed via the Lulu print-on-demand site for my bookshelf.
- You’re a writer – are you also a reader, and if so what do you like to read and what are you reading at the moment?
Like most writers, I am a voracious reader. I usually have several books on the go at one time. Now it is ‘Rewire your anxious Brian’, ‘The brain’s way of healing, ‘Reality is not what it seems’ and ‘Feral: Searching for enchantment’ for learning and ‘The Straw Men’ for entertainment.
- What advice would you give to anyone who says they think they have a book in them but don’t know how to write it?
I don’t give advice as I don’t think I am qualified. I’d just say go for it – just write if you need to. It is not enough to just want to.
Q What part of writing do you enjoy most?
Getting a new idea and working out how to turn it into a story. I also enjoy editing to try and improve the piece.
Q What part of writing do you enjoy least?
The drudgery of rewriting a long section when I realise that it just doesn’t deserve its place and taking out puns – I like puns, play on words and alliteration, but not many people do.
Eorðdraca had an idyllic childhood with Edwards Circus after being born at their winter quarters in Exeter. His parents taught him general circus skills but he excelled at the trapeze. His Ukrainian father, Sergei and his French mother Maria were the ‘Flying Colours’ so he naturally dropped into a catcher’s role and became part of their act which they often performed outside in the adjacent arable fields so he became the catcher in the rye.
His parents ensured he grew up multi lingual so he stayed with the Ballet Rambo in Paris for seven years after passing the audition, without flying colours. His writing skills were honed by producing the programmes for their performances around the world.
He defecated to Russia during a performance there with his mentor Rudolf Nureyev and then became the BBC Moscow correspondent for some years.
He now divides his time between hunting wild boar in the forest surrounding his luxurious dacha outside Moscow and his bed sit in Exeter, over the Indian takeaway in Mary Arches Street. He still enjoys the occasional trapeze performance when the circus is in town.
His novels have been translated into Albanian. His fame in that country is second only to Norman Wisdom. They have not sold well in England, possibly because they are only available in Albanian and the original Serbo-Croat. It is early days in his writing career, however, as he has only just celebrated his 90th birthday
His interests include early Polynesian architecture, a fascination for quantum physics, research into the periodic table and other early furniture and cataloguing his extensive collection of circus programmes. He keeps fit by playing table tennis and darts.
He now feels at home on this blog with the other dragons
Gillian contributes poetry and short stories to the Blog.
Hello there! I live in the NW of England, not far from Manchester, on the edge of the Peak District. My earliest writing success was with a story for my Writer’s Badge as a Brownie! I must have been about 9 years old, and I still have a copy of that story!
Since then I’ve always written, for local newspapers and for magazines. If I didn’t write what would I do with all the compositions in my head?
My interests are very wide, but alas, only from my armchair nowadays. I read New Scientist, Landscape magazine and the Guardian (which just about sums me up!)
Oh, and I’ve got a husband, a very creative daughter, two wonderful grandsons and a sparky great-granddaughter.