Apr 2nd

My Nightmare

By Mat

‘By God,’ cried the bugler.  ‘The lifeboat has arrived.’

‘Stand aside, child.  Yonder vessel is reserved and exclusive.  Only passengers in the third trimester are invited.  They are writing their novels.  Elderly types with bank accounts to pump dry, our role is essentially to attach a drip pipe, lead, I dunno the word, the sandwich maybe.’

The crewman sniggered into his palm.

‘These passengers - all aboard - they  watch videos and they take all the feeled, and the sensed, and the looked out of their stories.  In my role I remove a had or two.   Oh and plot also, it’s a book from 1913, you should read it. Then on to the next stage -  the dry cleaner places them into stables of the old romantics.

Other old romantics come along and they purchase three copies each.  It’s a dream.'

‘Thank goodness,’ said the cabin boy, the bugler.  ‘I thought you were leaving me behind, thank you daddy.’

Apr 1st

Searching the Cloud - and other places

By Athelstone

One of our members had a previous cloud life and the old profile has been deleted. He was wondering whether he could recover any old posts from that time. Well, in general, posts such as "wall posts" that are linked directly to your profile will have gone. This also applies to your blog posts. For some other posts, such as those linked to another member's profile or to a group profile, the situation seems to be a bit more hit and miss and this also goes for posts made on the general forums such as critiques where much of your past life may remain, and some may have been purged. The situation is complicated because there are different levels of deletion within SocialGo and I've no idea how these work.

However, what is clear is that the site search facility is limited. Sometimes, rarely, it will find just what you want so "Hooray" for those occasions. It does seem to try to follow the site's rules about deletions, so it will seldom find anything interesting for a deleted user or group.

All is not necessarily lost. Google (they say) is your friend. Apart from providing the web space whereon the new Jericho Writers site is hosted, Google has a fine search engine. Once upon a time Google was just a search engine known only to a few and used with numerous switches and keywords. Many of those still work. One of the most useful for Cloudies searching for lost posts is the "Site" prefix.

To limit your search to a single site (domain) you type "site:" followed by the web site address, then a space, then what you want to search for. Here's an example showing a search for my user name.

site:http://writing-community.writersworkshop.co.uk Athelstone

Note that there's no space between site: and the site address. This whole string of words is typed into the Google search prompt. Then hit enter and see what appears. If you can remember unique words or phrases that will narrow down your search then all to the good. Put exact phrases such as "My dog Barky" in quotes to reduce the chances of losing your wanted results in a million hits for "my" and "dog".

Some of your results may still disappoint you and may show you snippets of "raw" results that suggests data is there but when you follow the link you find that it has still been deleted. Immediately below the header link for each result you will see the URL address where the results are located. If at the end of this address there is a cache icon, a little solid triangle with point down, click on this and then on the word "cached" that pops up. This may give you what you want, but not always. In addition, the Google search methods are complex and although the returned results may show you odd pieces of text that are still there on the site, what I called "raw" above, keep in mind that the posts you want may only be available in a sensible readable format if the Cloud's cookery can happen - which it can't if the associated profile is deleted.

Hope this is some help. You can use the same method for any site and if you're interested in refining Google searches, have a look here: https://support.google.com/websearch/answer/2466433?hl=en

P.S. You may occasionally hit security warnings around invalid certificates when searching old results. I'm happy to chat about this but it's a bit much for one blog.

 

 

 

Apr 1st

Mentoring

By mike

There was a mention of a mentor.  My mother had been a war bride.  She had one -  if not two - musical degrees.   She studied in Holland during the second war.  Her father had run a music school and also a composed music.  I think these were religious choral works but they were never published. When his daughter came to England, she continued to take lessons, even though my father was not rich.

   These lessons were at a London College with a professional pianist.  I think these  lessons are now called master classes.  Although the piano had been my mother’s  instrument she also played the violin.   She said that she could have got as job in an orchestra but raising a family was a priority.  I think, if you go to one of these master classes, you are already on a professional path and are performing in public.

     My mother’s mentor has a wiki.  I remember his name.  John Vallier.  

      An aunt told me that, when she first came to England, my mother had gone for a job playing the piano at a working men’s club,  The working men were not enamored by her performances of Chopin.  

    My father died suddenly of a heart attack.  My mother soon got a job accompanying ballet classes and, a few years later, started giving piano lessons from home.  Although they might not have realized it, the kids were taught by a professional.

   I don’t know if the same applies to literary mentors?  I wonder if taking an advanced degree at a university might be an option as you could look for a course which is run by a writer you admire? 

   Although my family background is in the Kent farming community, i have printers ink in my blood. Genetically i would be the sixth generation of a writing family.  To research this, I really needed a mentor but I think a university course would have been sufficient.  

 

    If you are Australian you might stand  a chance.  There is little Australian music or Australian theatre performed in London - though there were a few art exhibitions - particularly of colonial art.   There is a pub in Soho that is frequented by Australians and a few outfitters selling Australian outdoor gear. 

    The majority of shows in the West End are of American origin.  An English musical started a few months ago and one reviewer wrote - a few days ago in the London commuter paper  -“Do people really spend £80 to watch this crap”  The review seems a bit extreme.  I might have gone to see it when it opened, when the seats were cheaper.   

Apr 1st

Thee, Thou, and Airtah Orlreet? Part Two

By Dolly

To carry on further with Lancashire dialect and accent, from some reason or other, Wigan was singled out as having the broadest, though this wasn't true. Anyway, some years ago, someone had written down a number of words as they were spoken, as a bit of fun and the entrance exam for Wigan University. The idea was to translate. After a search I managed to find a copy I was given, and I've written most of them out below. To give you an idea, I'll translate a couple. 'Tintintin', means it isn't in the tin. Likewise, Eesezitsnoriz burraberritiz, means, 'He says its not his, but I bet it is.' Before that though, I'll give you another idea of the dialect and accent in the form of a joke.

Two lads from Wigan went to work away from home. At the end of the first week they were sat in their digs, and one of them decided to write home. After few minutes, he stopped, looked up and said:

'How do you spell uzle?'

'What?' said the other.

'Uzle,' said the writer. 'How do you spell it?'

'There's no such word,' said the other.

'Of course there is,' insisted the writer.

'What have you written down?' frowned the other.

'Dear mam,' said the writer, 'Have been here a week. Digs are ok. Money's good, 'ave found a pair of boot uzle fit our Bill!'

The other regarded him with scorn. 'You idiot,' he sneered. 'Its not uzle. its wottle!'

Here then are the words. Have fun, and see if you can guess what they are!

 

  1. 1.Thamun gerrit thissel. 2. Intitot. 3. Guiusit. 4. Gerritetten. 5. Supitup.

  2. 6. Asseegetniteer. 7. Ismiatonreet. 8. Eezgooinwom. 9. Astgettenit reet.

  3. 10. Issit thimam. 11. Purrimineer. 12. Thallefta gerra newun.

  4. 13. Lerrus gerra answasht. 14. Sumovus wilafter gerrof. 15. Owzeeno.

  5. 16. Buzztop. 17. Aberitzinere. 18. Thagawmlus bugger.

  6. 19. Eenowz nowta bertit. 20. Lerrer gerontbus.

  7. 21. Rtowdim burree wudentlisen. 22. Lerrim purrisaton.

 

There are some more on the list, but I think this is enough! But if gives you an idea how language can change. I came across this way of talking in the mid nineteen fifties. Ten, fifteen years later it had all but gone.

Mar 31st

Will the last one to leave please turn off the lights?

By RichardB

The Self-editing Your Novel course is a wonderful thing. It will do much more than teach you how to knock your first draft into shape. It  will revolutionise your writing, giving you a set of skills that will stand you in good stead as long as you continue to write. And the exchange of critique and comment with your course-mates will inspire you and impel you upward and onward.

 

And there's more. The course group remains on the Cloud for ever after, so you can continue with that so-valuable interaction with your old course-mates. From time to time you will see people mentioning this here, saying what a help and a pleasure this continued fellowship has been and what lasting friendships they have made.

 

Sadly, that has not been my experience.

 

I did the course five years ago, in January 2013, and it was all it promised to be. I have never enjoyed anything to do with my writing so much before or since, and that was due not just to the brilliant teaching team of Debi 'n' Emma but also to the intense interaction with a tight-knit group of like-minded souls. At least, I thought we were tight-knit, but as soon as the course ended, and despite vows from several of us to keep in touch, about half of its members promptly vanished, never to be heard of again. Others posted less and less frequently until, about eighteen months after the course, there were only three of us left: me, one active Cloudie, and one person who never posted on the main Cloud at all.

 

Interacting with these two friends (for such I counted them) remained a special part of my Cloud life, but then they began to fade away too, even the once-enthusiastic Cloudie, for whom life rather got in the way. The group has been dead as a dodo now for over two years, and going there I feel like Miss Havisham in Great Expectations: sitting alone in a vast empty space surrounded by cobwebs and brooding futilely on old memories. But at least I change my clothes occasionally.

 

The relevance of all this to the here-and-now is that I foresee something very similar happening here on the Cloud at large.

 

Yes, Harry says that the Cloud will stay open just as it is, and nothing will change. But something will change, because there will be no new members, and with no infusions of fresh blood the Cloud will inevitably wither and die a slow, lingering death as people lose interest and drift away to somewhere more vital.

 

When the news about Jericho Writers first broke, and we assumed that the  Cloud was soon to vanish, it was suggested that another forum to replace it could be started, and the idea was received with some enthusiasm. But that seems much less likely to happen now, because what I didn't know then was that there is already another forum, populated largely, it would appear, by Cloudies and ex-Cloudies. This may well explain the uneasy feeling I've had of late that the Cloud is not as lively as it used to be. More relevantly, it may also mean that, to many, yet another forum for refugee Cloudies would appear to be superfluous.

 

But that's okay, because there's the solution to my problem, ready and waiting, yes?

 

Nope. Afraid not.

 

I had never heard of this place because, unlike some here, I was not invited to join. That doesn't matter to me, because if I had been I would have declined. I can't go into my reasons because I'd have to dredge up history that everyone here would rather forget; but it is not, I must emphasise, a personal grudge, more a matter of moral principle and my personal choices about the company I wish to keep. My feelings are, however, deep and heart-felt, and they are not going to change.

 

I must add that I'm not rubbishing the place. I have no quarrel with you, dear reader, if you wish to go and sign up, or indeed if you already have. It's just that I won't be joining you there.

 

I could go looking for another forum to join. But I'd have to leave behind my seven-year history here and start all over again from scratch among strangers, and I very much doubt if any other forum has the wonderful ethos that makes the Cloud so special, and which I've never encountered anywhere else on the net. Indeed, I've heard rumours of bitchery and in-fighting that make anything that's ever happened here look positively sweetness-and-light. No thanks: that doesn't really appeal.

 

No, from here it looks like I shall end up repeating my Miss Havisham act. Maybe there'll be a few other lost souls wandering through the cobwebs.

 

So where's the light switch?

Mar 30th

Of Jericho, clouds, and community

By Harry

Hi folks

I just wanted to talk to y'all directly about the Cloud and the (Good Friday themed) death of the Writers' Workshop and its rebirth as Jericho Writers.

So:

The Word Cloud is staying.

Just as it is. No changes. No cost. No nothing.

We WILL close it to new members, simply because the software isn't up to scratch as it is. The system was never really designed to handle as much traffic as it already has, and outages are already too common.

We've looked to upgrade the software with the same supplier, but they can't do that without erasing all the data and starting from scratch. We've looked at shifting to a different supplier, but it's the same story.

And, truth is, that the supplier we picked way back when is basically comatose. They exist only to pick up ongoing subscriptions from people like us, but any active development/support work has long ceased.

Closing the site to new members is probably the one thing we can do to save it for existing members for the indefinite future.

I hope that is reassuring - or at least as reassuring as we can be, when the words "comatose" and "software supplier" live in such disturbing proximity.

But what about Jericho Writers?

What's with that?

OK, so here's the thing.

Nothing that we used to do as the Writers Workshop is changing.

The Festival will still be the Festival. Editorial crits will still be available to one and all. We're not changing any prices anywhere. (Except people in the US, for example, will see prices in USD, and those prices may not be exactly the same as the GBP equivalent at any particular moment.)

So anyone who wants the same-old same-old can have it, with not a whisker of difference.

Except . . .

We realised that an awful of what we do - or could do - could be delivered online. So yes, there'd be a set up cost to creating something (a video course, say, or a filmed masterclass), but the actual distribution of that thing would be effectively free.

So if we could just find a way to collect a BIT of money from a LOT of people, we could create a genuinely amazing service for gazillions of people.

Better still, if that service was meaningfully profitable, then we could take a chunk of the money that came in every month and just build new stuff.

Another video course. More filmed interviews. Huge extensions to our Agent Hunter database. And more.

So that's what Jericho Writers is all about.

Yes, there will be a community element (more about that in a mo), but that's not quite the centre of the whole idea.

Membership of Jericho Writers will cost £30 a month - but without lockins, so if you want to just buy a month's membership, gorge yourself silly, then cancel, that really is completely fine by us.

And what do you get?

You get this:

  • Our How To Write course that we were selling for as much as £650.
  • Our Getting Published course, that we were selling for as much as £295
  • An excellent Self-Publishing course which will compete directly with, for example, Mark Dawson's $499 Self-pub course.
  • Tons of filmed one-hour masterclasses, which are basically filmed versions of live events. So if you couldn't get to London for our Getting Published day recently, you can get the whole thing on video.
  • A new-look version of Agent Hunter, except that the literary agents database is about to expand from UK only, to worldwide. Once we've got a proper handle on the agents, we'll start adding other things in too - cover designers, proof-readers, and so on and so on.
  • A free advice line, which we'll staff. There'll be no salespeople on the end of that line, just people (like Nikki Holt, for example) whose only brief will be "Help that writer."
  • You get the Townhouse community, which, Deo volens, will have some scrap of the loveliness of the Cloud
  • Discounts on every service (editorial, events, courses, Festival) that we offer.
  • First dibs on York places
  • And so on

The idea is just to offer so much crazy value that the whole thing is a no-brainer. I mean, you might not want to sign up forever, I get that. But if there was stuff you really wanted to learn and get to grips with, you could spend as little as £30, £60 or whatever and just fill your boots.

For me, the win will be if writers come away thinking, "Wow, that's just incredibly helpful. Thanks." It won't mostly be measured by whether we make money or not.

And if the idea basically works, then our mission is just: "Make this good thing even better."

Like: maybe we could offer a live, online slushpile submissions process every month with real, live, engaged, hungry, communicative agents?

Or twice a month, once with London agents, once with New Yorkers?

And what about a "Here's everything you need to know about the world of books" news-type email? So that you're permanently in the know, not peering into the world of books, a puzzled outsider.

And what about regular, regular webinars involving top experts in different areas with the ability to ask questions of them all?

And what about a two hour film that enters the doors of a major publisher and just picks apart in detail how they publish books?

And what about . . .?

Well, everything really. We have plans for many of the items on the above list, and our ambitions are basically limitless.

Again, the core idea is twofold:

Build something so cheap that it's accessible to almost anybody (remember, you can take out membership for just a month or two if you want to)

Build something so amazing, it'll blow people's brains.

Then make it better.

It's sort of easier to show you this than tell you this, and we're not quite ready for the Big Reveal.

But that still leaves a couple of questions.

What about people who are really short of even that £30?

Well, honestly, I think nearly anyone can scrape together that kind of dosh. I think the real issue is more with people thinking, "I don't belong in that community. Those kind of things just aren't for people like me."

So again, I don't have specific news on this yet - we've been rather busy all round, to put it mildly - but we want to work with outreach organisations (folks like Creative Futures) to actually find the excluded voices. People from minority backgrounds. People from working class or ill-educated or underprivileged backgrounds. People in jail, or care, or whatever else. And to those folks, we'll just give our stuff away if we have to. The brilliant thing about digital is that (as long as you have a model that brings in a regular income from regular people) you can just give it away too.

So we will.

And because we are now thinking more globally than we used to, I hope that outreach will start to operate more gloablly too. It'll take us a long time to roll out every last detail, of course, but the intent is certainly there.

OK, and what about the Townhouse Community?

Well, OK, this is and remains a little bit uncertain for us.

There are two alternative options for us.

Option 1:
Make the community free and hope that people feed from the community to proper membership of Jericho Writers itself. That, obviously, was how we conceived the Word Cloud.

Option 2:
Wrap the community into the whole JW offer, so the "you get all this for £30" pitch becomes that little bit more compelling.

I don't actually know which one of those is the way to go, but I DO know that the choice isn't symmetrical. If we make Townhouse a paid service from the start, then we can always go free if we want to. We're not letting down our existing community users, because they still have access as thhey always did.

Conversely if we start with Option 1 - making the Townhouse free from the start - we can never change track, because we can't tell all those free users, oh, by the way, pay us £30 or we're going to delete all your data.

So while I'm genuinely uncertain about the right long term course of action here, I do know that we need to start off with Option 2. Then, I think, we'll need to bed things in, see how they go, and take stock in a few months time.

So? What do you think?

That's it from me.

We've spent well over £100,000 building Jericho Writers, and the basic WW team has gone from 2 permanent employees this time last year, to 7 today, and more joining soon. To say that this is a big move for us is to understate things. It's giant. We've bet the shop, and then some.

I honestly think this has the potential to be the biggest and best thing we've ever done for writers.

I also rather hope that it'll prove itself financially. (For two reasons. One, I haven't had any income for a year. Two, if the things goes well, we can just go nuts making it better.)

But y'all know us.

What do you think? What are your thoughts?

I'm a bit less crazy busy today - although our tech team is still hard at work through the bank holiday - so I'll be around for questions, comments, rotten tomatoes . . .

Let me know!

Mar 30th

A stormy word clouded

By mike

 I have a dozen or so ‘printed’ books by world cloud members and they are all well written.  I would be sorry to see world cloud go as it does give me some idea of what goes on in the literary world.  I have very few friends but I am sure many world clouders share the same interests that I do.   I saw Pinocchio last night at the NT.   I went on my own but many world clouders could have been in the audience.  There seems no other way of keeping in touch than the site.

    I had posted a longer blog but it disappeared.  It was only about a performance of St Matthew’s Passion and that Bach is telling a story.   It is Easter. 

    Few people in England will see this performance as the text is in German and the approach was historic reconstruction.

 There is nothing in my own writing that could offend anybody but my research is a different matter and, although I would be very interested in people’s opinions, I did not post or posted a highly edited version.  

   You see, already the post is too long.  My last big project in which I had posted and asked opinions on was about blindness and memory.  However, anything about the middle east is problematical so best left out.

   

   

Mar 28th

To Cloudy Friends

By Tony

As I have, on occasion, been referred to as the Lauriate of the Cloud I thought the present situation should not pass by without alusion in verse.

 

To Cloudy Friends

(With apologies to William Wordsworth.)

 

I wandered, lonely in a crowd,

All seeking to be published Now!

When all at once I saw a Cloud,

A host, that let me ask, ‘But how?”

‘Twas free to join, I signed my name

And countless others did the same.

 

The site continued, growing strong,

It gave support along the way,

It’s members moving it along,

Their numbers growing day by day.

Ten thousand saw I at a glance –

Word Clouders, all, being giv’n a chance!

 

Critiques and edits, lots to say;

Advice from friends would welcome be.

A writer could not but be gay

In such jocund company.

I played my part, but little thought

What wealth this site to me had brought.

 

But now, I know that this must cease

Eventually, I fear my mood

Will never let my mind find peace.

I must revert to solitude,

And when the Word Cloud finally ends

Must bid farewell to Cloudy friends.

 

And on a lighter note:

 

Word Cloud has been such a splendid creation;

Helped writers through many a tough situation.

But the bright silver lining,

As the Cloud is declining –

We’ll lose the temptation for procrastination!

Mar 28th

Beta Testing, Sci Fi RPG

By babblefish2

It began in the cradle, the first world, long ago.
There was no Chimera, no immortals, no Gods.
Only Humans.

On the backs of slaves we ventured out into the
great dark void between worlds
The Second world was brought to life. From glass
and steel we forged worlds of our own amidst the
void. We began plans for a great voyage...


And then we created the gods.

 

 

Hey lovely cloudies. I've spent the last couple years working on a tabletop RPG on and off... and am now at the stage of wanting to Beta test it (On people who haven't seen it before).

The setting is full space opera grade Science fiction.

Each character is based on THREE classes- players are expected to mix and match, with such combinations as  "Pilot/gunslinger/conartist" and "Engineer/infiltrarotor/martial artist".  Character classes are simplified (compared to other RPGs) so as to maintain a slightly lower complexity level.

Combat is still a thing, but slightly more emphisis on Social and engineering than most RPGs I've encountered.

 

If anyone is interested in taking a look, comment here or flick me a PM and I'll send you the PDF.

 

Thanks heaps,

Babblefish.

Mar 27th

The Walls of Jericho

By Tony

There has already been some comment on the front page about the Writers' Workshop's re-branding plans.

The first thing to be said has to be what a tremendous service Harry Bingham and his team have provided over the past years to all of us writers, at whatever stages we may be. I speak as a founder member of this free forum, the WordColud, which quickly took on a self-perpetuating life of its own, but relies, nevertheless upon the generosity of the WW to provide its home and some of the professional writers who give regular input.

It has been a rich source of help to many of us over the years, and, I guess, a usefull recruiting ground for WW to attract paying customers for its courses and other services. But it seems that WW feels it can no longer continue to support the Cloud as a free recruiting pool for itself and a brilliant free resource for all its members.

So be it. We've had a good run for our money - or rather for free! and thank you, Harry, for that.

What happens now, or in April, actually? Everything is supposed to continue the same under the new name of Jericho Writers - the Oxford didtrict where WW's office is located. Except...

Jerico Writers will not be a free site. It will cost £30 a month to be a member and avail ourselves of all we have been enjoying free up to now. That's £360 a year, or about 300 paperback sales of your book if and when you get published, or about 800 sales of your ebook, if and when. A year.

Sadly, I don't think I need say anymore. It's the end of a happy era for me. You know what happened to Jericho in the Bible. I really hope WW don't suffer the same fate but that somehow they will make this new regime work.

Although I and, I suspect, many of us will no longer be a part of it, we really don't want to see the walls come tumbling down.

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