7 December 2018

Christmas Traditions (Giftmas 2018)

J.S. is participating in Giftmas 2018, an Advent Calendar styled blog tour featuring a new story a day from participating writers from 1st - 25th December. Its aim is to raise funds for the Edmonton Food Bank (Edmonton in Canada, that is). For ways in which you can get involved (there's a free raffle), or donate please go to Rhonda Parrish's fabulous blog. If you can't afford a donation, but have enjoyed this or other stories in the blog tour, please help us to raise the profile of the appeal by sharing the stories and/or blog-tour details on social media.




J.S.'s contribution for 7th December is a basic and earthy tale about how some of our favourite Christmas Traditions may have come about...





Christmas Traditions
By J.S.Watts 


Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house nothing was……...
What do you mean, you’ve heard it before? Ungrateful bugger! You said you wanted a Christmas story. This was going to be a nice traditional one. There ain’t enough respect for the old traditions if you ask me, but no one does; I’m part of the traditions no one respects.
Happens I’m not “sexy” enough. These days it’s all sexy vampires and hot werewolves. Even shapeshifters get a look in. There’s one in that TV show “First Blood”, along with those too cool for their fangs vampires and, I admit, some pretty tasty goings on, but me and mine we’re not sexy at all, even though I can manage a bit of shapeshifting myself on a good night.
There was a time when it was traditional to placate me with cakes and a saucer of milk. Now I have to make do with Santa’s leftovers and look what they’ve done to ‘im: primeval demi-god to cartoon character in less than a thousand years. First they demote the poor bugger to a saint and then they hand him a Coke, stuff him into a red romper suit and make him work with children. Talk about cutting off his……
Balls! That’s what did it. The final nail in the solid oak coffin of a traditional Yule. A perfectly decent pagan festival that survived all the church stuff that got dumped on it, received its fatal wound when mass manufactured deccies ushered in the commercial Christmas. Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve nothing against commercialism per se, the me, me, me ethos is all very admirable, but when they sold off the mid-winter festival it lost its dark hued soul. Too many traditions have been thrown out with the baby, including me. Some of you ain’t even certain yet as to what I am. Back in the day you’d have known.
Anyways, I’ll ignore the disrespect – for now. Would you like me to tell you a properly traditional Christmas story? One with a bit of sex and violence in it, like in the old days; things that go bump in the night and make the wheel of the year turn a little faster? What d’yer mean, something nice and seasonal and suitable for family reading? We’re talking Mid-Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year. You can’t fill up that sort of dark with cutesy robins and day glow reindeer. Even the Victorians liked a decent ghost story at Christmas. They knew there’s a need to give the dark a decent send off if you want the sun to come round again.
Alright, alright, I ain’t got time to argue. It’s a busy time for me too. ‘Oo d’yer think has to burn the turkey, break the brand new toys and help Grandma choke on them mincepies? Look, I’ll tone down the sex (a bit), head butt the violence out completely and tell you the story of how the fairy got on top, err… of the Christmas tree. Ok?
It was the night before Christmas (see – told you so) and I was poking the fire for the Gingko fairy, if you catch my drift. She likes her fire roaring, does that one. The family I was lodging with had just put up one of those new fangled German things that came into fashion about then and we were keen to see if the branches were as bouncy as they looked.  We had knocked more than a few pine needles off that tree, let me tell you, when the Fairy Queen comes along and catches us at it. She was mightily unhappy with us and we was on the receiving end of a long tirade on immoral conduct and what not to do with candles. This was all a bit rich coming from her. I’ve seen what she gets up to with Oberon, we all have; she likes things al fresco. Then there’s all those human boys she makes off with. They certainly ‘ave to earn their keep before they get dumped back, a shadow of their former selves, in the mortal world. Plus, I tell you, there was this incident with a donkey, though that was midsummer and you wanted a Christmas tale.
Anyway, I thought Titania was being somewhat hypocritical and I told ‘er so in no uncertain terms, which, with hindsight, was probably not such a good idea. She got into a right royal temper and waved her wand about like she wanted to behead somebody. So I backtracked a bit and tried to get us off the hook by claiming that we ‘ad been overcome by a surfeit of mistletoe. When that one didn’t work I tried pointing out that we was re-enacting the male – female symbolism of the holly and the ivy, but she was ‘aving none of that either. If anything, all my excuses ‘ad made her angrier.
“You nasty little boggart. Think you can lie your way out of this like you do out of everything else?”
It’s at this point that I should probably explain that me and her Majesty ‘ad played Christmas party games ourselves in the past, until I had blotted my copybook by lying to ‘er over something she considered important. I may not be that good looking, but I’m in demand for my dexterity with me poker. I suspect that part of the reason for her fury at me and Gingko was jealousy, pure and simple. Trouble is that by now she had got ‘erself into such a rage that things were far from simple. She was determined to mark my card.
“You are going to pay for this. If you’re so keen on Christmas symbolism let me help you become a part of it. The mortals haven’t finished decorating yet. I’ll have you stuffed and mounted on top of this tree you’re so fond of. What do you think of that, then?”
Not a lot, I have to tell you. It wasn’t going to be much fun if she was planning on having me executed before the stuffing and even less fun if she wasn’t. She was easier on Gingko. She just threatened to exile her to the royal kitchens every Christmas for the next two hundred years. Is that fair, I ask you? Clearly my lovely little Gingko didn’t think so.
“Please ma’am, don’t do that to the boggart. He’s just put a silver bit in my pudding and I beg you not to have the father of my New Year’s babies immolated on a tree. Also, he’s really very ugly and would scare the human children something chronic.” 
Even Titania had to concede that last point. In the end she relented and agreed to commute the sentences. Gingko was allowed to use magic to perch herself, harmlessly, on top of the Christmas tree until twelfth night and I was consigned to kitchen duties. It was hard work, but I spend a lot of my time in kitchens anyway, so I coped. I was given the sprouts to peel and cook and have done so in my own special way every Christmas since.
So there you go. Now you know not only how the fairy got on top of the Christmas tree, but also why the sprouts always taste so ‘orrible and blow through you so handsomely. Plus, of course, you’ve had yourself a merry little Christmas story. Please note though, I’m not a firkin Christmas elf, I’m a boggart. My activities are not purely seasonal like the bleak mid-winter snow. So if you wants to keep in with me regular saucers of milk all year round are just the thing. Remember, a boggart is for life, not just for Christmas.

Christmas Traditions by J.S.Watts was first published in October 2010, in issue 9 of the much missed Ethereal Tales magazine.


The 6th December Giftmas 2018 story was contributed by Pamela Fernandes — Letters From Bidbid

The Giftmas 2018 story for 8th December will be posted by Amanda Wells — http://www.wellsaj.com/blog/


For full details of Giftmas 2018 go here or use the link at the top of this post (it's the same one).
To donate please click on this link It will take you straight through to the Charity's giving pageYou’ll notice the link doesn’t go to a PayPal account or anything like that. None of this money comes to the writers. It all goes to the Edmonton Food Bank via Canada Helps. That means you can donate with confidence, knowing there is no chance your money won’t go where it’s intended. 






28 November 2018

Questions I Don't Like Answering Part II

It's almost a brand new month (we're probably escalating for Christmas) and Mark Meier has rashly allowed me to play with his blog yet again (I now realise he hasn't learnt).

Most writers will tell you there are questions they don’t like having to answer: often they are the ones we get asked the most. I'm writing an occasional series of lighthearted blog posts looking at some of my “oh no, not again!” questions and exploring why I, personally, don’t enjoy having to respond to them.

This month sees the second question in the series: “Why Do You Write?” You can read my response to this thorny writerly issue here

27 November 2018

Giftmas 2018

This December J.S. will once again be participating in the Giftmas Advent Blog tour to benefit the Edmonton Food Bank (that's Edmonton Canada, if you're reading this in the UK).

Each day there will be a brand new story from one of the participating writers, starting with S.G.Wong on 1st December. A list of those participating is given below. J.S.'s Christmas story will go live here and on her Goodreads Blog on 7th December.



9 November 2018

Autumn Songs

This week has seen an unprecedented amount of blogging activity.

Today, Ali Jones is kindly sharing J.S's words and photos on her blog, Green Fire Poetry. In particular, J.S. muses on the poem, Song For Autumn by Mary Oliver and on her own approach to seasonal writing.

You can see and read the results here.


To see more of J.S.'s photos go to her photography blog Random Acts of Would-be Photography.

8 November 2018

Why I Do Like Blogging


For people who don't like blogging, this is a recycled blog post about J.S.'s conversion to writing blog posts. It is brought to you by Mark Meier and The Author Hub at Meier Writers and with thanks to Vagabondage Press for initial publication. Click here to read the post

5 November 2018

Questions I Don't Like Answering

It's a brand new month and Mark Meier has rashly allowed me to play with his blog again (you'd think he'd learn).

Most writers will tell you there are questions they don’t like having to answer: often they are the ones we get asked the most. I thought I’d write an occasional series of lighthearted blog posts looking at some of my “oh no, not again!” questions and exploring why I, personally, don’t enjoy having to respond to them.

This month sees the first question in the series: “What are you working on currently?” You can read my response to this thorny issue here

30 October 2018

Horrifical

Issue two of View from Atlantis, a webzine of speculative poetry, is now available to read for free online. In honour of the approach of Halloween, it is horror themed.

The issue contains a poem by J.S.Watts, Dream of Ceridwen. You can read it here

26 October 2018

Christmas Book Signing



10.00 a.m. to 4p.m. David's Bookshop, 14 Eastcheap, Letchworth Garden City, Hertfordshire., SG6 3DE

21 October 2018

Questions and Answers

J.S. Watts has been chatting to poet Neil Laurenson over on his blog about her favourite room and the mistreatment of sweetcorn (amongst other things).

You can find the resultant questions and answers (and those of some other poets Neil has likewise been grilling) by clicking here.

15 October 2018

The Waterlight Project

Waterlight is a project inspired by a chalk stream in South Cambridgshire. Waterlight began as a collaboration between poet and writer Clare Crossman and filmmaker James Murray-White, and the project team has now grown to include local expert Bruce Huett.

The website includes content by a wide variety of people including poetry by Clare and a range of local poets, one of whom is J.S.Watts. J.S.'s two poems are based on recorded conversations between local people about the River Mel (which you can also read on the Waterlight website).

To read J.S's two poems go here and scroll down until you find Life Line and Time Flows Through.



4 October 2018

The Data Dump Files


J.S. is honoured that her poem "Steelyard Sue Builds a Baby" has been included in "Small Press Voyager: The Data Dump Files", a selection of verse in commemoration of Steve Sneyd (1941 - 2018), who has been hailed as "one of the most influential voices in and proponents of modern genre poetry".

"Small Press Voyager: The Data Dump Files" is produced in pamphlet format by Atlantean Publishing.


3 October 2018

Slenderness as Strength

Over on her blog, the poet Emma Lee has reviewed J.S.Watts' most recent poetry publication, The Submerged Sea, concluding that:

“The Submerged Sea” may be slender but the poems explore multi-facets of the sea with a strong sense of rhythm and sound patterns. The collection asks readers to look again at the familiar in a different light and question assumptions without repeating an idea. Its slenderness becomes a strength and a selling point.

To read the review in full please see Emma Lee's Blog

2 October 2018

Grilling Again - The Author Hub


Today, in a further question and answer session, J.S. is subjected to a little more grilling over on The Author Hub of Meier Writers. You can read it for yourself here

Her first session on the griddle back in August was flagged up here

1 October 2018

Gardening Tips - The Author Hub

Writer Mark Meier has rashly allowed J.S.Watts to play with his blog again.

This month she considers the benefits of gardening in the life of a writer, as she continues to write the latest novel in the Witchlight trilogy, "Elderlight".

You can read the blog post here.

30 September 2018

Fiction Fix - A Glimmer of Elderlight


J.S. will be reading some brand new fiction. This is a one off opportunity to hear an extract from Elderlight (the third novel in the Witchlight Trilogy) as it is being written - genuinely "fiction in the making".

23 September 2018

Poets' Supper

In celebration of National Poetry Day






The Plough, 12 High Street, Shepreth, Cambridgeshire, Nr. Royston, SG8 6PP - 01763 290348

22 September 2018

Acumen 92

The September issue of Acumen (#92) is currently being sent out and about. J.S. is delighted to have a brand new poem in it - "The Door Ghost at Halloween".

For further details about Acumen and its 92nd issue please see the Acumen website.

14 September 2018

An Evening in Lavender

J.S. will be performing a brief (and, until very recently, somewhat unexpected) poetry set at Hitchin Lavender tonight
https://billetto.co.uk/e/hitchin-lavender-literary-evening-…


3 September 2018

Getting a Grip

J.S. is very pleased to have a brand new poem published in the autumn edition of London Grip. You can read the poem, "Photo", and the whole magazine for free by clicking here

25 August 2018

Who Said Pigs Can't Fly?

J.S. Watts will be performing some of her poetry at Cambridge's The Flying Pig on Sunday 9th September. There will also be excellent real ale and some fantastic music, so you'll be coming, won't you?


17 August 2018

Progressing This Week - The Author Hub

It's the end of the week and the last of J.S.'s current run of blog posts on Meier Writers - The Author Hub.

Today she is talking about her multiple works in progress and especially the sequel to her novel Witchlight, Old Light. There is also the third novel in the Witchlight trilogy, Elderlight, which she is writing even as you are reading this, honest, she really is.

Anyway, you can read all about it here

15 August 2018

Editing - This Week on The Author Hub

Despite already hosting one blog post and an interview, Mark Meier has let J.S. Watts back on Meier Writers - The Author Hub to blog some more. This time she is pontificating on the subject of editing. You can read the post here

14 August 2018

Grilling This Week - The Author Hub

Today J.S. is being grilled (just a little) as part of Q and A Tuesday over on Mark Weier's blog, "Meier Writers". See for yourself by clicking here

13 August 2018

Blogging This Week - The Author Hub

With big thanks to Mark W Meier, I'm having a bit of a rare blogging moment over at "Meier Writers - The Author Hub" this week, starting with some musings on my novel, Witchlight. More posts to follow, but you can read the one about Witchlight here


3 August 2018

Write Poetry On The Radio

A new independent online radio platform is coming to your computer, tablet or phone. It's called Write Radio and is hosted by the writer Jane Holland. You can find out more about it here               https://www.writeradio.co.uk/

One of its very first programmes is WRITE POETRY: 2 hours of music, poems, poets and more! One of the many super poets on this first show will be J.S.Watts.

You can listen to the programme at the following times starting from MONDAY 6th AUGUST:

Monday evening 7-9pm GMT
Wednesday evening 7-9pm GMT
Sunday afternoon 3-5pm GMT

Please note, it's not a podcast and can't be listened to on demand at any time. You will have to listen in at the stated times.

You can listen via the website at https://www.writeradio.co.uk/ or direct stream at        https://stream.radio.co/s5e0a112db/listen

Needless to say, Write Radio is also on Facebook and Twitter . Go check them out.


1 August 2018

Hello August

It's August already. J.S.Watts is doing a number of readings and workshops this month. Here is a flavour of some of them.




See also http://www.jswatts.co.uk/p/readings-and-events.html for details of all of J.S.'s forthcoming events. 

31 July 2018

Silver Apples

J.S. is delighted to have a new poem, "An Invocation", published in issue 10 of Silver Apples.


For the next month you can download an electronic copy or purchase a hardcopy here

24 July 2018

Chilled Out Sunday Folk



J.S.Watts will be one of the poets performing as part of the "...and  there will be some live poetry readings" section. A chilled out afternoon of folk music, poetry and pints (and possibly Pimms, who knows?).

17 July 2018

Reviewing "Our Beautiful Child"

J.S.' s most recent published review is now available to read on the Meier Writers site. To find out what she made of Annalisa Crawford's haunting and lyrical Our Beautiful Child, click here.

16 July 2018

A Rather Special Fiction Fix

And another event in August. This one is rather special as J.S. will be providing the first ever sneak preview of her new novel, "Old Light", (the sequel to "Witchlight") before even the date of publication is announced. This is very much, "fiction in the making."



5 July 2018

In Person - My Writing life

This will be happening towards the middle of August. It is FREE to attend, but as places are limited you will need to contact Hitchin library in advance to book a place.


2 July 2018

Go With the Flow?

This will be happening at the beginning of August:


21 June 2018

Luck and Bubbles and Sea

Issue 54 of the Saboteur Awards nominated magazine, The Journal, is now out.

In it you can find two new poems by J.S.Watts: Just Luck? and Bubbles. There is also a rather lovely review of J.S.'s new pamphlet, The Submerged Sea.  To read the poems and the review in full, you'll need to buy a copy of The Journal, but to give you a taster, here are the concluding lines of the review:

"On finishing I kept weighing the book in my hand, surprised by its lightness, seems a far bigger book than its 30 pages: a watery, many-faceted jewel of a collection."




17 June 2018

Echoes in The Glass

J.S. has had a brand new story published in Scarlet Leaf Review this month. It's called "Echoes in The Glass" and is a literary tale of magic realism: two writers, separated by time and death, grow strangely closer. You can read it for free here.

9 June 2018

Guildford Reading of Poems from "The Submerged Sea"


J.S.Watts reads some poems from her new pamphlet, "The Submerged Sea" at The 1000 Monkeys poetry night in Guildford

1 June 2018

Bus Stop Weekend

Invitations to perform can be like buses: you don't receive any for ages and then they all come along at once. Take this coming weekend...

Between 2nd and 4th June (that's three days in total) J.S. Watts will be reading at or involved in four different events in four different towns: Cambridge, Bishop's Stortford, Peterborough and Guildford. It's going to be a busy weekend.

If you want to catch J.S. as she drives frantically round the south of England, these are the details:


Sat 2 June 12.55pm (Poetry)              Strawberry Fair                                         Wild Strawberries Stage, Eastern Bloco, Midsummer Common, Cambridge
FREE 

Sun 3 Jun 2-4pm (Workshop)               'Writing Tips' - Writers' Club                                      Waterstones, 12 South St, Bishop's Stortford, Herts., CM23 3AT
FREE

Sun 3 Jun 8pm (Prose)                            Fiction Fix                                                                      The Draper's Arms, 29-31 Cowgate, Peterborough, PE1 1LZ. 
FREE

Mon 4 Jun 7.30pm (Poetry)                    The 1000 Monkeys                                             Castle Lounge at THE KEEP, 29 Castle Street, Guildford GU1 3UW 






20 May 2018

Fiction Fix in June

J.S. will be reading from her novel Witchlight at June's Fiction Fix.






19 May 2018

Peeking Into Peeking Cat poetry

J.S.Watts has been interviewed about her writing over on Peeking Cat Poetry. Want to know what she has to say for herself? Of course you do!

Read the interview here

18 May 2018

1000 Monkeys in June

J.S. is pleased to be performing her poetry at The 1000 Monkeys in Guildford on Monday 4th June



12 May 2018

Ravens in Picaroon

J.S. Watts is delighted that her new poem "A Float of Ravens" has been published in issue 12 of Picaroon Poetry and that the magazine has been released early! There are some swashbuckling poets and poems in this edition and you can read it for free here

4 May 2018

Saturday Series - Society of Author Talks

Location: Hitchin Library

Address: Hitchin Library, Paynes Park, Hitchin, Hertfordshire SG5 1EW

Event time: 11am


Event details


Join writers from the Society of Authors for our monthly series of Saturday talks. The series kicks off on 26 May 2018 with Hugh Bicheno - The Real Game Of Thrones: The Wars of the Roses in Hertfordshire . All talks start at 11am and are free to attend.

Full 2018 events programme:

26 May - Hugh Bicheno: The Real Game of Thrones - The War of the Roses in Hertfordshire

9 June - J Davies: The Pleasures and Perils of Writing Nautical Fiction

23 June - Simon Michael: A Life in Crime

28 July - Julie Stock: How I come up with the stories for my contemporary romance novels

11 Aug - J.S. Watts: My Writing Life

25 Aug - Patricia O'Sullivan: Writing family history - from a family tree to stories to share

8 Sept - Jane Dismore: Other People's Lives: the Thrills and Spills of Being a Biographer

22 Sept - Chris West: Boom Bang-a-Brexit – how the Eurovision Song Contest tells us all we need to know about modern Europe

13 Oct - Jane O'Reilly: Using character to build your plot, and using plot to build you character

23 Oct - Owen Knight: Writing Speculative Fiction

3 May 2018

Sawbo Writers' Club is Dead. Long Live Writers' Club.

The next and final meeting of the Sawbo Writers' Club at Sawbridge Words Bookshop is taking place on Wednesday, 9th May. The shop is sadly closing down. We want to thank Neville for his kind contribution to the local writing and reading community and wish him well for the future. 

Emma Vandore will be leading the session and we'll be discussing building and maintaining tension.

Please come at 7.30 pm and make the last meeting of Sawbo Writers' Club a joyous occasion.

£10.00 for the evening (£5.00 students, pensioners and unwaged), including refreshments. Rumour has it that there will be champagne.

Venue: Sawbridge Words Bookshop, 47 Bell Street, Sawbridgeworth, Hertfordshire (Opposite the Café of the Angels)



Waterstone's in Bishop Stortford have kindly offered us a new home, and from June we'll be there on the first Sunday of every month in our new guise as the Writers' Club. Our first meeting will be free and we'll be considering writers' tips - our own, those we've filched from other writers, and we'd like to hear yours too. Sunday, June 3rd at 2-4 pm. More details below.





 

30 April 2018

The Submerged Sea Rides the Radio Waves

J.S. recently had great fun recording an interview with the lovely Leigh Chambers of Bookmark on Cambridge 105 Radio regarding her new poetry pamphlet, "The Submerged Sea". The interview was broadcast on Saturday, 28th April, but if you've missed it, don't worry. You can now listen to it via a podcast.

It's a grand programme and you are recommended to listen to the whole show, but if you want to go straight to J.S.'s section to hear her talking about why she wrote "The Submerged Sea" and to listen to her read some poems from it, you'll find it around 11.00 minutes into the podcast.

You can listen to the podcast by clicking here


Writing It Down in Bewildering Stories

J.S. has a new and somewhat experimental short story out in issue 759 of Bewildering Stories. It's called "Writing It Down". It's a piece of dark fiction. You can read it for free here: http://bewilderingstories.com/issue759/blurb.html#top

29 April 2018

Peeking Cat Poetry

J.S. is very pleased to have a new poem, "The Balloon Poem", included in #37 of Peeking Cat Poetry.

You can download the magazine for free here