Thursday 18 December 2014

Writing Workshops

The Dorset Writers Network will be launching their e-book competition in the New Year, and in order to kick things off will be running a series of short story writing workshops across Dorset.

For full details and to book your place visit The Dorset Writer's Network Website.

Monday 15 September 2014

Bridport Story Slam 2014

The Bridport Story Slam will take place on Tuesday 14 October at the Beach & Barnicott, South Street, Bridport at 19.15 for a 19.30 start.

This event is part of Bridport Open Book Week and provides an excellent opportunity for Dorset prose writers to present their work.

Register in advance ( or turn up on the night. The names of all those wanting to read their work will be put in a hat, and ten drawn during the evening. Each time slot is five minutes maximum - roughly 750 words. To ensure fairness to all competitors, this time limit will be strictly enforced! All genres and styles of original prose fiction are welcome. Please note this is not a poetry event.

Tickets available only on the door at £5.00 each. Any profits from the evening will go to charity.

Event compere is Declan Duffy with two judges deciding on the best entries, giving feedback and awarding prizes including tickets for a future event at Bridport Arts Centre and publication on the Dorset Writers' Network website.

The Beach & Barnicott is renowned for good food, so come early and have something to eat before settling in for a brilliant night's entertainment.

Further information from Frances Colville (e-mail as above or phone 01297 480833) or from Bridport Arts Centre.

Wednesday 27 August 2014

Local Publisher: Roving Press

 Roving Press is a small Dorset-based publisher producing local interest and travel books for those who like to get out and explore.

Owned and run by husband and wife Julie and Tim Musk, it is very much a family concern, born of a desire to publish books that are down-to-earth, helpful and with a travel and/or local interest slant. If you love exploring Dorset you’ll love Roving Press books.

 The company was set up in 2008. Julie and Tim grew up in Dorset but then moved away and travelled widely, Tim being in the RAF. When Tim was due to leave they decided to set down roots in Dorset. Julie had always worked in the publishing industry and more recently had been (and continues) freelancing as a copy editor for several major publishing houses. They decided to expand on the publishing aspect and set up their own company to focus on an area that both felt passionately about.

But no sooner had they set up Roving Press than their plans were put on hold when Tim was given his final RAF posting to the US. It was during this time that Julie wrote A Slice of Apple Pie – an excellent and useful guide book for any Brits venturing across the pond for the first time.

This was to be Roving Press’s first book and, although not typical of the books that followed, it enabled Julie and Tim to put all the systems in place, contracts, marketing, etc. that would be necessary to succeed in the technical world of book publishing.

On their return from the US, Roaring Dorset – Encounters with Big Cats by Merrily Harpur was their first Dorset-focused book. This was followed by the first in the Lesser Known series of guidebooks. So far this series consists of Lesser Known Weymouth, Lesser Known Swanage and Lesser Known Lyme Regis and is an ongoing series with more to come.

There are plenty of authors writing about Dorset who approach Roving Press with ideas. These cover many diverse subjects but always relate to Dorset. Roving Press believes it is important to keep its focus tight; all its books have a Dorset theme and are promoted widely within the county. Although they have published some fiction, notably The Portland Chronicles series by Carol Hunt, they are moving away from this and will be focusing on their non-fiction in future.

Roving Press has kept itself deliberately small to offer a bespoke service, building a close personal relationship with its authors and promoting their books locally.

As well as the publishing arm of the business, Roving Press offers an editing service (using Julie’s expertise) as well as a full or partial publishing service for those wishing to bring a specific project to print.

Roving Press is very much a business born out of love, and both Julie’s and Tim’s passion for the industry is clear. They have branched out into social media and can be found in the usual places – facebook, twitter, and pinterest – so do follow them there and see what is happening in their specialist field of local interest, books and authors.

For more information visit

Wednesday 13 August 2014

Interview: Author David MacPhearson

Today the Cyder Scribes would like to welcome author David MacPhearson  who has kindly agreed to answer a few questions.

To start, please could you tell us a bit about yourself and your writing.

My name is David Macpherson.  I live in  Portesham near Weymouth. I was a History teacher and since moving to Dorset I have become intensely interested in local history. I have written four books and all are historical fiction, but with as strong a regard for historical fact as I can manage. As an ex-teacher I hope my books will be instructive as well as an enjoyable read.

Four of my books have very strong connections with Dorset,  The first Defenders of Mai-dun was published by Roving Press and is a novel about the Roman Army's attack and capture of the Iron Age Fort of Maiden Castle.  Although (like all my books) it is written with a young-adult readership in mind, it is certainly enjoyed by adults who want to find out more about local history. Ideally this can be bought from Roving Press.

My second book, The Black Box, is about Monmouth's invasion of 1685 and his subsequent defeat at Sedgemoor, capture and execution. The story revolves round a Dorset farming family who get mixed up in the turmoil of the invasion and their involvement with Judge Jeffreys and the Bloody Assizes in Dorchester.  This book has not been published  on paper but can be down loaded from Kindle.

My most recently completed book called A Zigzag path is about Smuggling in the 19th century.  Unusually the hero is a young Revenue Officer rather than a smuggler, but I found it impossible to write without some sympathy for the 'Gentlemen of the Night'. There are references (not least in the title) to J Meade Falkner's Moonfleet, and considerable information about the state of smuggling in the early 19th century.  This also is only available to those with Kindles.

At present I am working on a novel about the Portland Spy Ring of 1955-1961.  I am trying a different and more difficult writing technique in this and at present the enterprise is proceeding with difficulty.  I expect to complete it by the end of 2014 and will also publish it electronically.

I have one other novel called Nomad which is about a Tibetan family's escape from the Chinese and flight across the Himalayas.  This was written from my personal experiences in Nepal and has no Dorset connections. It can be downloaded by those with Kindles.

Are you a member of a local writers group?
I am not a member of any local writing group, but feel I ought to be.

Who are you favourite local authors?

I have to say Thomas Hardy is my favourite local author, not least because he used to walk across my garden to visit a girl friend in the School House at Coryates.

Do you have a favourite book set in the local area?
Of all Hardy's books I like Wessex Tales the best.

Thank you David for joining us today.

Wednesday 30 July 2014

Interview: Author Sarah-Jane Forder

Today the Cyder Scribes would like to welcome author Sarah-Jane Forder who has kindly agreed to answer a few questions.

To start, please could you tell us a bit about yourself and your writing.

I grew up in rural Dorset in the 1960s and 1970s, enjoying a childhood of relative freedom and outdoor pursuits that many of today’s youngsters are denied. When I moved from London six years ago with my daughter, who’s now 14, I decided to write about the magical and simple things on offer in Dorset for kids and their families: and so my book Kids’ Dorset was born. I enlisted the help of local children and their parents to test the activities and places I featured: from crabbing at West Bay to kite flying on Maiden Castle, to fishing on Chesil Beach and dressing up as Tess of the d’Urbervilles in Dorset County Museum.  My wish is to reconnect modern, technologically savvy children with the natural world, with all the pleasures and benefits that can bring – to individuals and to society.

What was your journey to publication like?

Perhaps because of my background in magazines (I’m a former editor of The National Trust Magazine and The Wildlife Trusts’ national magazine, and currently consultant editor of and writer for Broadleaf, the Woodland Trust’s members’ magazine) and books (I edit literary fiction and non-fiction for a suite of London publishers), I was lucky. Local publisher Roving Press were happy to sign me up when I approached them with my idea.

To what extent does your local area (Dorset/Somerset) influence your writing?

Where I live – and the place where I was born – infuses everything I do. Dorset is rich in landscape, culture, history and lore. It never ceases to beguile and amaze.

Are you a member of a local writers group?


Who are your favourite local authors?

Thomas Hardy, John Fowles

Do you have a favourite book set in the local area?

On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan, The French Lieutenant’s Woman by John Fowles, Moonfleet by John Meade Falkner, almost anything by Hardy

Where can people find out a bit more about you and your writing?

Amazon, Roving Press

What are you working on at the moment?

A novel, part of which is set in Dorset

Where can we buy your books?

Local outlets, including bookshops and Tourist Information Centres;  Amazon

Thank you Sarah-Jane for joining us today.

Wednesday 16 July 2014

Interview: Author David Leadbetter

Today the Cyder Scribes would like to welcome author  David Leadbetter  who has kindly agreed to answer a few questions.

To start, please could you tell us a bit about yourself and your writing.

I have lived and worked in Swanage most of my life and consider I am very fortunate to be in such a beautiful part of the country. My main work was teaching, but I have also led guided walks for many years. I love books and one of my aims was to become a writer myself.  One subject I have always found fascinating is the paranormal as it provides us with insights into an area I would term the 'elusive fringe' of human experience and how this may connect with certain aspects of science and religion, so it was appropriate that my first book,'Paranormal Purbeck – A Study of the Unexplained', should be on this theme.

What was your journey to publication like?

I spent about a year conducting local research into the paranormal, which took the form of personal interviews with as many people as possible. It soon became apparent that a lot of local people had had paranormal experiences and my material began to grow considerably. I then approached Julie at the Roving Press and sent her a synopsis of my proposed book, which she liked. After that it was a matter of completing my research and putting the book together for publication.  The whole process took just over 2 years and was a very interesting experience.  There are chapters on ghostly phenomena, near death experiences, time and UFO sightings. It soon became clear to me that much of what we term 'paranormal' is perceived intuitively through the right side of the brain – the area that inspires artists, musicians and writers – and that many of us have these experiences. In fact, in the month prior to publication I had three paranormal encounters myself!

To what extent does your local area (Dorset/Somerset) influence your writing?

Dorset is a lovely county and Purbeck is a very inspirational place - perhaps because there is so much variety contained in a relatively small geographical area. There is also a good mix of people among the locals and the added benefit of significant numbers of visitors being attracted to Purbeck. It was therefore important for me to be able to write about some of the local people and places in 'Paranormal Purbeck' from an unusual angle.

Are you a member of a local writers group?

No, not at the moment.

Who are you favourite local authors?

I have always been quite a fan of Thomas Hardy, despite his rather melancholy approach, and I have read many of his novels and some of his poetry. 'Far from the Madding Crowd' is one of my favourites and part of the screen version with Julie Christie was actually filmed in Purbeck.

Do you have a favourite book set in the local area?

'Out of Time' by Pamela Rowlands Smith, which is set in the village of Tyneham. It's a poignant ghost story that spans four centuries, but with the historical background of the Second World War and the village about to be evacuated by the military, never to be returned to its people. I like the juxtaposition of the two time streams and the fact that the author experienced some strange synchronicities in the writing of the book.

Where can people find out a bit more about you and your writing?

The Roving Press and also Amazon, where I have an author profile.

What are you working on at the moment?

I am writing a book on walking in Purbeck, with the focus on natural history and local history(especially prehistoric features). There will be 10 circular walks, covering a range of locations and habitats, plus introductory chapters on the natural history and history.

Where can we buy your books?

The Roving Press, Amazon and a range of local outlets in Purbeck and elsewhere in Dorset

Thank you David for joining us today.

Wednesday 2 July 2014

Interview: Author Maria Strani-Potts

Today the Cyber Scribes would like to welcome author Maria Strani-Potts who has kindly agreed to answer a few questions.

To start, please could you tell us a bit about yourself and your writing.

I am Greek/British and I write in both languages. My inspiration comes mostly from the sea and island life.

What was your journey to publication like?

Hard work, great persistence and, most important, discipline

To what extent does your local area (Dorset/Somerset) influence your writing?

Through local literature. Thomas Hardy, William Barnes and Jane Austen have been a great inspiration and education. I was also inspired by many of the Dorset writers who contributed to the anthology "Dorset Voices" (Roving Press), which I co-edited (in fact the original concept and initiative for the anthology were my own).

Are you a member of a local writers group?


Who are you favourite local authors?

Thomas Hardy, William Barnes

Do you have a favourite book set in the local area?

There is one in the making...

Where can people find out a bit more about you and your writing?

On the internet, by typing Maria Strani-Potts on   or

What are you working on at the moment?

1.    The biography of Diamantina Roma,  (Lady Bowen, Contessa di Roma) a 19th century 'trailing spouse', who left the Ionian Islands to help her husband , Sir George Bowen, to represent Britain in Australia and other colonies

2.    Short stories

Where can we buy your books?  or (Maria Strani-Potts)

Try Waterstones in Dorchester for my novel, "The Cat of Portovecchio, Corfu Tales"

Thank you Maria for joining us today.