Thanet Writers: A general Statement

I need to discuss, publically, a very difficult topic. This post is not about writing and if you came here for a writing post can I suggest this or this.

Normally when I write for this blog, I do so as Matt – a guy who loves writing. Today I am writing as Matthew Brown, chair of the Thanet Creative Writers charity. With my chair hat well and truly on, I have to point out that I am speaking only for myself – this is not an official proclamation by the charity, just an expression of sadness.

We recently updated our listing of Thanet based writers’ groups. Almost immediately there was aggression and abuse over content relating to one of the many groups called Thanet writers’ (or something similar). Someone actually went to the trouble of registering a new WordPress blog just to express their hate.

To clarify which Thanet writers’ group jennykettle was trolling for: I am not talking about this Thanet Writers who (as far as I know) launched their website at the same time Thanet Creative Writers formed and I am not talking about any of the Thanet (insert word here) writers’ groups (honestly, check the listing, there are a lot of similarly named groups). Back when we were the same group we met in the chapel. That specific Thanet writers’ group, which might or might not meet in the chapel now, is the group in question. They, like others, go by the name Thanet Writers.

In the year since they parted from Thanet Creative Writers, individuals have periodically taken it upon themselves to attack us on their behalf. That’s not good for anyone. The trustees of Thanet Writers have written to assure us that they are not behind the attacks and it is nothing to do with them.

I have said it before and, because it apparently needs saying again, I will say it again. I wish Thanet Writers all the best. Anyone working to support local writers is doing a good thing. If those who wish to enjoy writing are helped then this is a win. I’ve even recommended that particular Thanet writers’ group to people I’ve met who live in Broadstairs. There is no war to fight here, people. I am at a loss as to what else to do.

The entirety of the trustees of Thanet Creative Writers are at a loss to explain why some local people have gotten a bee in their bonnet about our two groups but please leave us (both groups) out of it. We have had to endure spiteful rants from local creatives on Facebook; a hate filled diatribe published on the blog of a local publisher filled with all sorts of misinformation and non-facts; and now, trollish comments on our blog. Even giving the first question of the ask us hard questions series the benefit of the doubt, enough is enough.

I have no idea who is out there trying to stir up hate but at Thanet Creative Writers we are all about peace, kindness, and respect. Thanet Creative Writers exists to foster creativity, to enable people, and to help those that want to enjoy writing to jolly well enjoy writing. We are pretty sure that this is what Thanet Writers are all about too. All this other nonsense is doing no one any good. Please stop.

Yes, I know that the details (in our listing) for Thanet Writers is sketchy at best. This is because their website (at least what was their website when we were the same group) does not load for me. All I have to go on what I remember, hear on the grapevine, or find on other websites.

Clearly, this was not good enough for jennykettle. A user who is now the sole occupant of the site’s blacklist.

I’m at my wits’ end with this. This website exists to raise awareness of the good works of Thanet Creative Writers as a charity and support writers in the joy of writing. The aim of publishing a listing of writers’ groups was to help people connect with other writers. It is not here for petty individuals to start fights. Take your school bully mentality somewhere else – it is not wanted here.

In light of this ongoing abuse, I have come to an editorial decision to carry no further information about this particular Thanet based writers’ group. Thanet Writers, I truly am sorry that your loudest fans seem to be loud and obnoxious but I cannot keep dealing with this aggression from parties unknown. It is really not worth the hassle.

This policy will stand until such time as the board of trustees directs me to change the policy or another, better, approach presents itself. Future editions of the comprehensive listing of writers and poets groups and events will carry a link to this post but no details at all. Unless the trustees want to write to me with definitive details of when and where they currently meet in which case I will include that information.

So if in the future, there is no information at all about Thanet Writers, it is because of the bullies and the trolls. Congratulations I hope this makes you happy, mean people.

Seriously, though, I do not want to disadvantage one group because of a hate filled minority but I cannot and will not keep putting up with this bullying.

I appeal to the trustees of Thanet Writers to join us in taking a stand against bullying and aggression. The aims of our two groups overlap extensively – work with us so that the trolls cannot win.

Thanet Creative Writers and Thanet Writers are siblings and that, in so far as writers’ groups go, makes us family. Family should stand together. Between us, we must surely have more than enough active supporters and volunteers to pack out many of the smaller functions rooms at local venues. Imagine the kind of events we could run if we work together.

Let us write a new chapter in which the small-minded and mean-spirited have no place and writers new and established can work together.

To avoid ending this post on a downer. Here is a fun video about not feeding the trolls.

Do unto others as they should do to you…

Anyway, this is me signing off and wishing you all peace, love, and a joyful writing experience.

Update

What do you know, commonsense has prevailed.

Screenshot from 2017-04-23 20:15:08.png

Thank you for your change of heart.

Lots of Winners

Is it Friday already? Wow. Where did my week go? I honestly figured I would have the winners list published by Wednesday at the latest. This week’s theme of what stops us writing seems oddly appropriate now.

Last week we switched things up and pushed you to start using new social media outposts.

Best Post

Oh ye gods, this is the bit I do not find easy. You are too talented by half. Seriously, very few of you had ever written a blog post before much less ran an entire blog and written for it each week. I am so impressed with all of you that words fail me. Really they do. And, if you know me, you know that words rarely fail me.

This week, I have given up trying to pick one winner and have selected a handful. One overall winner and several category “prizes”.

In the category of most meta post

The award for most meta post of the contest so far goes to Artimis Blake who writes:

I will finish this later…

We have all been there, I think.

In the category of best reflective post

The award for the best reflective article (with a meta twist) goes to Night of the Hats. [1]

[1] Spoiler: I have read the entire thing.

In the category of experimental writing

The award for experimental writing goes to Braidy Spice. Along with this award, comes a link to our guide on linking.

In the category of Romance and Relationships

The award for best post goes to Kentish Rambler. I’d say Kentish has what it takes to write for the large women’s magazines market. This is a top quality entry in this category.

In the category of crime drama

The award goes to ProfBenJ. A great example of well-paid-off foreshadowing. There were some Dirk Gently moments there.

And the overall winner is…

The overall winner this week is Jess Joy with a well-executed sequel to her lady of letters. I am reminded of Irene in “A Lady of Letters” from Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads.

Best Comment

For best comment this week I am going to award the prize to the most prolific commenter: ProfBenJ. Seriously, you seem to be everywhere. Well done.

Reddit voted top post

This is the feature that replaced the “most comments” section. The idea is to vote for what you liked best. The community voted top post was a tie between Niel, ProfBenJ, and JessJoy who all got two votes.

Either you loved each other equally or no one voted for anyone else. I’m going to go ahead and assume the love was flowing freely.

I’m feeling talkative right now and am going to let you in a little secret. After the 12 weeks of this contest are over, there will be one grand winner. The final winner will be chosen by you out of all the posts written for the contest over the entire time it was running. Even ones that were written by me (I’d love to know how you think I stack up).

This final contest will take place here. That is a special Reddit set up just for us and this contest. You may post as many of your entries as you wish, vote for as many as you want, and you may do so from now. (Let’s see who was paying close attention, eh).

Over to you

Everyone who took part did a great job and deserves as much comment, upvote, like, and share love as you can give. Go show these amazing bloggers some serious love.

The one piece of advice I feel qualified to give

The advice I feel qualified to give today is this: Don’t run a competition. Actually, that’s not entirely true – competitions are fun but they are also taxing and this week’s theme is up late.

Competition Theme

This is the theme for this week. Closing date to have posted it online is midnight on Monday the 24th.

The one piece of advice that
I feel qualified to give

You can write anything you want that fits that theme. As little or as much as you feel you need to. If you are new to this and joining us late welcome, thank you for joining us, please see week one’s post and the FAQ if you need more information.

Details

There will still be a “best post” and “best comment” but there will not be a winner for the most comments. Instead, there will be a “most votes on Reddit” section. This week, the Reddit section will be Writers of Thanet. Entries that take part in this new section will be given preference in the event of a tie (and let’s be honest, you are all very good). You will need a Reddit account for the grand finish so if you have not yet joined, it might be time to push yourself again.

Just like last week, to get “best post” you need to have linked to this post (unless you write something which is unequivocally orders of magnitude better than all the rest combined. If you need help with links see this post and if you need general WordPress help see this post.

What stops me writing?

This week our competition hits the half way mark and comes with a twist in the tale. If you are new to this and joining us late welcome, thank you for joining us, please see week one’s post and the FAQ if you need more information.

As with every week, there is a theme. As with every week, there will be three winners. This week, however, things change a little.

There will still be a “best post” and “best comment” but there will not be a winner for the most comments. Instead, it is time for us to push ourselves and enhance the platform we have been building with our blogs. Entries that take part in this new section will be given preference in the event of a tie (and let’s be honest, you are all very good).

Additionally, to get “best post” you need to have linked to this post (unless you write something which is unequivocally orders of magnitude better than all the rest combined. If you need help with links see this post and if you need general WordPress help see this post.

But first the theme, this one is a sequal:

Competition Theme

This is the theme for this week. Closing date to have posted it online is midnight on Monday the 17th.

What stops me writing?

You can write anything you want that fits that theme. As little or as much as you feel you need to.

A bonus will be awarded to any writer that manages to link back to their own “What gets me writing” post (week one) in a way that fits with the post and seems natural. If judging is as hard as it normally is, that bonus could help.

How to really win this week

In preparation to our big finish, you will need to step out of your comfort zone once more. This time, however, it is not such a big step. If you can sign up for Facebook, then you can do this too.

Have you ever used Reddit? You will need an account there. It is free to sign up and free to use (just like Facebook or Twitter).

On Reddit is a section called Thanet Blogs. I created it a few months ago and it has been mostly dormant for a while now. That makes it perfect for our new competition element.

Once you have published your blog post, you will need to post a link to the Reddit. WordPress users, that means making sure you post the public URL and not your private one.

The winner will be the post with the most up votes (down voting by competition entrants is not allowed). Aside from us, anyone who uses Reddit could come and vote. You could, for example, get your friends to come and vote for you. You might want to be sporting and vote for each other too.

If you use WordPress (or Google analytics on Blogger) you may see traffic (that is visitors) being sent to you from Reddit. This is good. Once you are comfortable posting on Reddit you might feel like extending out from the sandbox of this particular subreddit and finding larger communities. Writers of Thanet, for example, or the global Writers, if you are feeling brave. There is even a Thanet Creative Writers (which is just about Thanet Creative Writers).

Getting your links out into relevant places is part of establishing and growing your platform. (The opposite of getting your link in irrelevant places – which is spam).

The answer to the question “what stops me writing?” might now be “reading reddit”. You have been warned.

You will be needed your Reddit account for the total lack of grand prize and the Overall Winner selection at the end.

Writing Competition: If I had wings and could fly

Another week, another great theme for our writing competition that also builds your author platform. If you are new to this and joining us late welcome, thank you for joining us, please see week one’s post and the FAQ if you need more information.

Competition Theme

This is the theme for this week. Closing date to have posted it online is midnight on Monday the 3rd 10th (oops).

If I had wings and could fly

You can write anything you want that fits that theme. As little or as much as you feel you need to.

Take flight with this open-ended theme

This theme is designed to be very open-ended. If you have been writing biographically for the competition then this might be a time to talk about your dreams or, equally, a chance to engage in some fiction. The sky, literally, is the limit this week.

As always, we strongly encourage you to link to this post. This lets your readers know why you are writing this but also lets us know (most of the time) that you have entered this week’s competition.

For winning that coveted most comments award, your best bet is to publish early and then to share it on your Facebook and Twitter feeds.

I wish you all the best of luck and look forward to reading what you write.

Last week’s winners

All things being equal I will be compiling a list of last week’s winners. as you might have realised, this is really hard as you are all very good. I will try to publish that list as soon as I can. That said, this is a busy week for me so there may be delays. If I keep on top of everything, the winners will be posted today. If not… Well, they will be published eventually.

Thanet’s Writers

Creative Writers of Thanet and nearby areas have a lot to say about all sorts of things. I thought it might be an idea to experiment with creating a semi-regular post giving an overview of what other writers of Thanet are saying.

So as we amble gently past the 50 posts count, let’s go through the list of local writer’s blogs (found in the directory) and see what everyone has been saying (that’s not a competition entry).

There is a lot of good writing going on in and around Thanet and by in and around, I mean linked in some way to Thanet if only by virtue of participation. Location, when it comes tot he web, is as much a state of mind as a state of location.

Writer’s Tea and Chat regular, Artimis Blake has not posted anything on his blog aside from his competition entries but he has been vlogging, or video blogging.

His last post was about procrastination. Something we writers all suffer from sometimes. If you follow this blog (or my other blogs) you will realise I have a huge procrastination problem myself.

Jess Joy has been posting some very emotive fiction. Most recently Wave Cloud which I have struggled and failed to describe without spoiling. Just read it. When you are done with that, leave her a comment and then read Russian Doll. Anything I say will fail to do it justice so, again, just read it.

Nestled among the competition entry posts on Kentish Rambler’s blog is a poem: Home. It is not about what you think it might be about.

Brady Spice takes a look at the topic of the hook within a story. The hook is a vital part of the story crafting art. Hooked on reading is a good introduction to hooks and how they affect a reader. Some solid advice for writers there.

Local Author, Matthew Munson, last blogged about his fire walking experiences. So if fire walking was something you wanted to write about in your fiction, but you have never tried it, this very well written report on Matthew’s experiences may be valuable research. If you’ve not read his blog before, remember to leave a good comment so he knows that you were there.

Night of the hats looked most recently at the question of solving 3,000 year old crimes. Neil takes us through the steps of constructing a mystery plot and examining the science and logic of the solution. He also dishes up some solid advice on removing coincidence and unexplained unlikely events from a plot. After all a story, unlike real life, has to make sense.

These are not the only great posts on the blogs I have linked to. Get in there and see if you can’t find some more. Perhaps write about your five favourites in a blog post of your own.

A question for you “Thanet” writers.

So what do you think? Did you like this little review of the local writer’s blogging scene? Should this be a somewhat regular post that we make here?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Everything you ever wated to know about sharing links

During the competition, I have had a lot of people direct questions to me on the subject of sharing links. I am going to try and explain everything I know in a way that I hope will be useful.

In my opening paragraph, you might have noticed some differently coloured clickable text. The word “competition” links to the competition overview from week 1 while the word “links” leads to the jargon buster (which tells you what a link is). Pretty nifty right?

You can also share links on Facebook. I have no doubt that you have seen friends sharing news and funny blog posts every single day. You can also share your own content too.

Sharing links on Facebook the easy way

Take a look at almost any blog or news site and you will see things that look something like this.

Screenshot from 2017-03-17 14:27:44.png

That is from one of our competition entries.

Do you notice the button that says “Facebook”? This is what that link looks like on this blog.

Screenshot from 2017-03-17 14:29:59.png

You can see that three shares have already been detected. Is that not awesome?

Give the “Facebook” button a click. And this happens.

Screenshot from 2017-03-17 14:31:34.png

That box is all ready for me to share that link to my Facebook wall. There is even a box which invites me to “say something about this”. When I am done I can press “Post to Facebook” (bottom right).

That is all well and good but I want to share this link to our group. Do you see where it says “share on your own timeline”? Let’s click that and change it.

Screenshot from 2017-03-17 14:32:45.png

I chose “share in group”. And then when the group box appeared I started typing until the group I wanted was in the list. Then I gave that a click.

Now I get to share the link to the group instead.

Sharing links to Facebook the advanced way

That was the easy way to share links. Now we are going to learn about an advanced way to share links that will also help you learn something about blogging.

It’s actually almost as easy. However, this link sharing method is just a touch more fiddly.

Look up right now. At the top of your screen – you can probably see a long bar. Something like this:

Screenshot from 2017-03-17 14:34:19

Do you see the text inside the box? That is the address of the page you are looking at. As you did not have to log in or enter any magic passwords to see this post, if you were to give this link to someone else, they would see this article just the same as you would.

copy-url

Now, let us copy that. You can highlight the text, right-click, and press copy; or you can highlight the text and press control+C; on an android device long press and choose copy.

If you take that text and go over to the facebook group you can paste it into a message. You will see exactly the same stuff appear as when you shared it from the button.

However, there will be this big bit of ugly text. You can go ahead and remove that from your post – facebook is done with it now and understands that you want to share the link.

This technique allows you to share almost any page on Facebook. You can even use it to share the group, pages, and events too.

How to share links in a blog post

Links on blog posts are formatted using the a tag and the href attribute. Don’t worry – you don’t need to know about that if you are using WordPress. If you are interested you can check the HTML view of your post later and see what I mean.

WP-post

If you have posted on a blog before then you have probably seen something like this before. If you have yet to get that far check out this guide which will talk you through everything you need to know about getting started with posting on WordPress.

Take a close look at the toolbar. After the B for bold and I for italics, there are two links for bulleted and numbered lists. After that is an icon which is supposed to look like links in a chain. That’s for linking with.

First, you highlight your text that you want linked and then you press that link button. You should get a box like this:

Screenshot from 2017-03-17 14:43:11

You will probably notice that there are a list of our blog posts in the big box. That’s a helpful tool to help you make links to your own stuff. Linking to related content that you have already posted is a great idea but that is a story for another time.

Right now we are interested in the first box that says URL. URL is another name for the link text that we copied before. Paste the link text in the URL box. Then press “Add Link”.

That is all there is to it. While you are getting used to adding links I highly recommend that you give your links a test click after you publish to check they are all working. If one has gone wrong you can always hit edit and have another go.

Using links for pings

If you link to the current competition post from the competition entry, you will ping our blog and (once we’ve checked it is a true ping) someone (probably me) will okay it. Then your link will appear in the list under the competition post.

On WordPress, you do not have to do anything special. It will take care of everything for you.

Over to you

I hope that this has proven to be a helpful tutorial. I did not expect to ever write a WordPress tutorial in my life and so far I have written three just for this blog. Please let me know if I was clear enough and if you could follow what I was saying – I am still quite new to writing introductory tutorials.

Do you have anything to add? What neat things have you found to do with links?

Week Two Winners

Late but arriving as fast as I can format text, are the winners for the Week Two competition. The theme was time travel which reminds me, if I don’t hit publish soon I will need a time machine because guests are about to arrive for

The theme was time travel which reminds me, if I don’t hit publish soon I will need a time machine because guests are about to arrive for Tea and Chat. The irony of getting a post out late during Time Travel week is not lost on me.

As always, there were three winners to identify:

  1. Best Post
  2. Best Comment
  3. Most Commented upon

I am aware that one or two of you are still tinkering with WordPress or trying to figure out how to get started. I have also learned that things that I take for granted like adding a link to something specific is not at all clear for everyone (yet). I promise to write about linking specifically as soon as I can. I put together a WordPress FAQ for those that need it.

Things that particularly impressed me

The quality of the work this week was really astounding. What was I thinking, imagining that I could pick out just a few winners?

Congratulations to everyone who was using WordPress and dealt with the sudden change to the editor this week.

Unexpected plot twists. I saw a real handbrake turn of a plot twist this week. It was so good that I felt it was worth a mention.

Everything I look for in a time travel story was found in one perfect short story. Despite a snafu with the linking making the text a bit hard to read (all blue from links and my dyslexia, not so fun) it was nevertheless perfectly told.

A poem that almost sets up a story not told was the tease we had this week. I want to read the story of good intentions derailed by temptation.

A very honest reflection. Ine of the best ways to write is to be brutally honest. This is a post that typifies that honesty perfectly.

A perfect insight into a writer’s mind. What more can you say? This was a fantastic reflection on the engine of writing. Asking “what if” and filling in the blanks of unknowns. Loved it.

A novel approach to an old topic. This read like some old school sci-fi, a bit rough around the edges, but what a story!

Sci-fi and comedy delivered with a comfortable ease. I liked the way the author self-inserted their own writer persona as the main protagonist. Also, coffee powered time travel.

Poetry with a plot twist. I love the way, in so few lines, this poet plays with several tropes of time travel.

Some constructive criticism

This is aimed at no one in particular but are just some observations that I hope will help you. To be honest, there was so much to praise about this week’s batch of entries that I struggled to find anything to write in this section.

Don’t forget to post

First, and most obviously, don’t do what I just did – promise a post and then utterly fail to get it published. I feel like I should still apologise some more for that. Such a silly mistake.

Centre aligned paragraphs

I saw a lot more centre align text this week than last. It is a topic I address to businesses fairly frequently. This is probably because I have something of a unique perspective on odd text. I am dyslexic and centred text (and a few other unusual formattings) plays merry hell with my ability to read it. (Don’t worry, I am a geek and can get my browser to correct my view for me).

Generally, people centre text when they want it to look balanced, appear to be different, or just want to make it stand out or look “nice”. It might look okay to you but if you raise the reading difficulty of the text by quite a bit.

WordPress users have the Block Quote option which looks like a pair of opening quote marks. That will definitely make the text appear to be different. Other options include italics, bold, a different colour, or full justify. Our WordPress FAQ has more details on how to use these features.

Links

Links are great. Links are how the Web works. Linking to something is like sharing love. It is a great way to build the community around you. I have promised to try and produce a guide to linking. I will be doing that soon.

If you can figure out linking then try to always link to what you are talking about. Some of you do – this is to your credit.

As a side note, links work best if they are added in after the text is written. Put them in at the end, is my advice. This can also help avoid situations where the editor tries to make everything one giant link.

Please note that I never knock off marks for not linking but you will not get as much out of the contest if you do not link out when it counts.

The Winners

Best Post: Ansteysp

OMG, you writers! I honestly had a good reason to give each and every last one of you the prize for “best” post. The batch of posts this week was amazing. Each one typified a great post in some way. It almost came down to my simply drawing names out of a hat – that’s how hard it was to pick a winner this week.

Best Comment: Kentish Rambler

There were several great comments to choose from this week. I spend ages go back and forth between them all trying to make up my mind. You have all really gotten into the whole constructive feedback groove this week. This was a hard call to make.

Post with most comments: Irving Benjamin

The runaway winner for most comments was Irving’s post. You all did a good job of picking up comments and commenting on each other’s work but this post just picked up a few more.

And Now: Week Three

Why not congratulate the winners (and other participants) by giving them some comment love.

Best of luck to everyone who takes part with this week’s theme. It’s not too late if you want to join in now – there are 10 themes left to go.

You can find out about the Week Three theme here.

Writers’ Writing Competition: If I invented my own religion

Here is the theme for the writing competition that also builds your author platform. For full details please see week one’s post.

But first, an apology

I admit I dropped the ball this week. I honestly thought I had everything set up and scheduled but I failed to realise where we were in the week. That is my fault and I apologise. Winners to be announced shortly too.

Week Three: Competition Theme

This is the theme for this week. Closing date to have posted it online is midnight on Monday the 20th. However, if you need more time because of my mistake say so and I will delay judging by a day.

If I invented my own religion

You can write anything you want that fits that theme. As little or as much as you feel you need to.

Ideas

This theme was invented to allow you to show how your twisted mind works as a writer. Although the intention was that it be a biographical topic, feel free to write fiction, poetry, essay, you new cult manifesto, or something entirely crazy.

Don’t forget

Don’t forget to link to this week’s post so your entry is (much) easier to discover. You may find it easier to get more comments if you also share your post to your Facebook friends or on Twitter.

It is important to realise that unless you link to this post, then ou ping may not show up, and if it does, it will show up in the wrong place.

Week Two: posts for you to comment on

As you know, I have been watching with great interest as the Week Two Theme posts are going up.

This is a list of all the posts for this week’s theme that I have seen so far. I will update this post as more show up.

More to come as you publish them…

Opps, I missed one.

And there’s more: