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News of last week’s meeting, next month’s rather different one, and the Science Festival in between.

Stranger Than Fiction March 2014
Very much by accident rather than design we had a really interesting double bill last week, two strong pieces illustrating the power of words to heal and to tell truths, in poetry and in therapy. Thanks to Sarah and to Simon for showing us their work, and to everyone who managed to get along to give them constructive feedback. Thanks to Vin for stepping up to chair proceedings when I knew I was going to be arriving late from a book launch.

Stranger Than Fiction April 2014
We meet next on Thursday 24th April 2014, at the usual time in the usual venue – 7pm, the Jolly Judge Bar. At Vin’s suggestion, and following the successful open discussion about science writing which we had in January, we’re going to take another break from feeding back on members’ work. Instead we’d like to hear from anyone who has had feedback at STF in the past. Where is your project now? In print? In a box in the attic? In the bin? Our supportive comments are always appreciated at the time, and the pieces we discuss invariably interesting – it would be nice to know what happens to them afterwards. (I’m not thinking of a great long report on everything, just a quick update on progress, changes in the light of useful STF feedback, new problems thrown up, old problems solved.)

… and beyond …
We have already been offered some pieces for comment at the May meeting (Thursday 22nd May 2014) – again an accidental double bill, memoirs of two very different lives. It’s surprising really that we haven’t had more memoir to consider over the years – but we haven’t, so this should be an interesting chance to discuss approaches to the genre. Planning ahead, and in case you want to get some constructive and supportive comment on your own work, we are also meeting on Thursday 19th June 2014 and Thursday 24th July 2014. We take a break in August, although we usually meet socially one evening during the Book Festival.

STF at the Edinburgh International Science Festival
Stranger Than Fiction‘s public debut is only three weeks away now. As already announced, we are hosting a discussion about science writing at the EISF this year, appropriately in the Summerhall Anatomy Lecture Theatre. The event, “Who Should Write about Science?”, is at 5.30pm on Tuesday 15th April 2014. The panel consists of:

  • Sean Martin, whose proposal for his current project A History of Disease we discussed at STF a few months ago
  • James McCarthy, whose piece on botanical fieldwork you may remember from STF in January
  • Barbara Melville, writer in residence at the MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine
  • Mhairi Stewart, a molecular parasitologist and expert in public engagement with science.

For my sins I’ll be in the chair trying to keep track of the conversation. I hope you can come along, enjoy the debate and join in the Q&A session at the end.

Other literary gatherings
The monthly Edinburgh Literary Salon is on Tuesday 25th March 2014, from 6pm onwards in the Wash Bar on the Mound. I’ll be there all evening from 7pm and hope to see other STFers in the course of the night.
The next Weegie Wednesday is on Wednesday 23rd April 2014 (the day before the next STF) at 7.30pm in the CCA on Sauchiehall Street. Having spent months encouraging STFers to go, I missed last month’s when Vin at last made the trek westwards. I hear it was good!
If you find yourself in the north tomorrow and unable to go to the Edinburgh Salon, you could always catch the Highland Literary Salon instead – now entering its second year. It meets at the Glen Mhor Hotel, Inverness at 7.30pm usually on the third Tuesday of the month. April’s is on Tuesday 15th April 2014. But of course you’ll be in Edinburgh at the the STF SciFest event that day …

Hope to see you at one or other of these events As ever, good luck with all your non-fiction writing.
Colin

STF March 2014
Spring, as the princess said to the mattress-maker, is sprung; and here comes Stranger Than Fiction March 2014. We’ll be discussing contributions from Sarah and Simon who are looking for feedback when we gather next Thursday 20th March 2014 at 7pm in the Jolly Judge bar. If you’re on our mailing list you’ll have received their pieces; I hope you’ll have time to read them all and give the authors the benefit of your wisdom, insight and mutually supportive non-fiction writing experience.

STF at the Edinburgh International Science Festival
We are hosting a discussion about science writing at the EISF this year, appropriately in the Summerhall Anatomy Lecture Theatre. The event, “Who Should Write about Science?“, is at 5.30pm on Tuesday 15th April 2014. The panel consists of:
Sean Martin, whose proposal for his current project A History of Disease we discussed at STF a few months ago
James McCarthy, whose piece on botanical fieldwork you may remember from STF in January
Barbara Melville, writer in residence at the MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine
Mhairi Stewart, a molecular parasitologist and expert in public engagement with science.
For my sins I’ll be in the chair trying to keep track of the conversation. I hope you can come along, enjoy the debate and join in the Q&A session at the end. It’s STF’s first venture into public events.

STF April 2014
Our April get-together is on Thursday 24th April 2014, same time same place. We’re still open for submissions if anyone would like feedback on their current work in April. If you are unsure about whether to put something in, why not come along to the March session and see what happens? It’s painless, and without exception everyone who has ever sought feedback from Stranger Than Fiction has gone away afterwards having found th experience incredibly useful. If you’re sure you would like to put something forward for discussion, but April is too soon, get in touch about booking a slot in a future month.

I hope to see you next week at STF, or the following week at the Edinburgh Literary Salon in the Wash Bar on Tuesday 25th March 2014. As always, good luck with all your non-fiction writing.

Colin

STF JANUARY 2014
Thank you to everyone who came along to the Jolly Judge this month, especially the many new faces. Quite a crowd! and a rich evening of conversation about science books and the art and process of writing. It was really exciting to hear the exchange of ideas between so many fellow non-fiction writers.

STF FEBRUARY 2014
Our next meeting is at 7pm in the Jolly Judge on Thursday 20th February. (For newcomers trying to figure out why, it’s always the Thursday before the last Tuesday of the month, the last Tuesday being the date of the Edinburgh Literary Salon. We’ve just always done it that way …) If you’re working on something at the moment and would like to get some constructive feedback from your fellow non-fiction writers, get in touch with me. Submissions are usually a chapter of roughly 3,000-10,000 words or something comparable, and we try to get them circulated by email a week before the meeting to give members time to consider them. So if you want to put something in for next month, and would welcome a deadline to do so, your deadline is Thursday 13th February. Or Thursday 13th March. Or 17th April. Or … go on, you know you want to. There’s usually time to discuss a couple of submissions a meeting. We encourage members to come along to another author’s feedback session before submitting something of their own, just so they see how we do things round here, and so that there’s a sense of giving as well as getting the feedback so helpful to us all.

OTHER LITERARY GATHERINGS
… are available. I hope to see you at the Edinburgh Literary Salon next Tuesday 28th January. It’s a drop-in networking evening in the Wash Bar on the Mound, from 6pm to closing time. There’s free wine until about 6.05pm, and usually a couple of informal talks to get the evening’s conversation rolling at about 6.30pm.
Glasgow’s equivalent is Weegie Wednesday, usually on the 3rd Wednesday of the month in the CCA on Sauchiehall Street. There’s surprisingly little cross-country traffic between the two events, which is a pity because they both have their strengths. I THINK (but do check) that the next Weegie Wed is on 19th February at 7pm. There’s also a very active Highland Literary Salon which meets in Inverness, with a talk or workshop from a visiting author followed by a general networking session.

Once again, thanks for coming out in such numbers on such a cold night this month. I hope we see you again soon, here, there, or everywhere. Good luck with all our non-fiction writing,

Colin Salter

(STF coordinator)

STF January 2014
This month’s meeting is on Thursday 23rd January, at 7pm in the Jolly Judge. We have no contributions to consider yet, but I’m sure with nothing else to do over the last few weeks we’ve all moved on in leaps and bounds with our various projects! If anyone would like to submit a chapter or so from their current work for feedback from fellow non-fiction writers, please get in touch.

More diary dates
The first Weegie Wednesday of 2014 is in the CCA, Sauchiehall Street, from 7.30pm on Wednesday 15th January.
The first Edinburgh Literary Salon of the year is in the Wash Bar from 6.30pm on Tuesday 28th January.
The February session of Stranger Than Fiction is on Thursday 20th February.

STF at the Edinburgh International Science Festival 2014
We have been programmed! We have been incuded in the program for this year’s Science Festival. Here’s what it says:
Stranger Than Fiction
5.30pm, Tuesday 15th April 2014
Anatomy Lecture Theatre, Summerhall
WHO WRITES ABOUT SCIENCE?
Who best to write about science for the general public – scientists, who know what they’re talking about; or writers, who know how to express ideas clearly and readably? Our panel of distinguished authors have written books about botany, chemistry, alchemy and scientific history and biography. Join them for a conversation about knowing and communicating. Are they scientists, or writers, or both? Hosted by Stranger Than Fiction, Edinburgh’s only organisation devoted to writers of non-fiction. Or, as we like to call it, fact.
Furthermore, we have a general entry in the programme:
STRANGER THAN FICTION
Stranger Than Fiction was formed in May 2010 in Edinburgh, UNESCO’s first designated City of Literature. Under its auspices, writers with a serious interest in non-fiction meet every month to discuss approaches to the genre and review each other’s work. Non-fiction consistently outsells fiction in the bestseller lists, yet in a city full of groups for fiction writers and poets, Stranger Than Fiction remains the only organisation devoted to authors of non-fiction. Or, as we like to call it, fact.

Any Edinburgh non-fiction writers with experience of science writing, get in touch!

Last parish notes of the year!

November 2013 STF

We finished the year with an extremely well-attended last formal session last week in the Jolly Judge. On behalf of Richard amd myself, and indeed of everyone who has submitted their non-fiction work for discussion at a Stranger Than Fiction meeting this year, thank you to everyone who has contributed to the conversation. The chance to get supportive feedback and criticism from your fellow non-fiction writers is so useful, and my head has been buzzing ever since last Thursday with the suggestions of all those who turned out.

December 2013 STF

As advertised, there will be no formal Stranger Than Fiction meeting in December – we’ve all got too much else to do, I’m sure. Instead, there will again be a Christmas get-together, to which STF mailing list members only are invited. Get in touch if you’d like to be added to the mailing list for future events – we try to limit ourselves to a couple of emails a month, so you won’t be inundated, just gently reminded about forthcoming meetings.

January 2014 STF

The next regular session of Stranger Than Fiction will be on Thursday 23rd January 2014, as usual at 7pm in the Jolly Judge (although if our numbers get any bigger we may have to start looking for a bigger pub). Nobody has offered a piece of their work for feedback yet, so if you’d like to put something forward, get in touch. Ideally you’ll have been to an earlier STF session so you know what to expect.

Edinburgh Literary Salon

A reminder that tonight, Tuesday 26th November, is the last Edinburgh Literary Salon of the year. Drop in to the Wash Bar any time after 6pm and meet lots of interesting people, all with a serious interest in the published word. It’s like Stranger Than Fiction with added fiction and less feedback.

 Hope to see you at the Salon, or at the Stranger Than Fiction Christmas get-together in a couple of weeks, or at a future STF session. Season’s greetings, and good luck with all your non-fiction writing now and in 2014.

It was National Non-Fiction Day on Thursday 7th November! Of course WE know that EVERY day is a non-fiction day, but it’s nice to let others in on it once a year.

 November STF

Our last formal session of the year falls on Thursday 21st November, and as always it’s at 7pm in the Jolly Judge. A couple of pieces of members’ work have now been sent round, so that everyone has time to read and contemplate before the meeting itself. If you haven’t been to a meeting before, come along and see what goes on.

 December STF

Things get a bit busy around Chrxxxxxs time, so there’ll be no formal Stranger Than Fiction meeting in December. But in the last few years we’ve had a social event, oh alright a Christmas party, and the chances are good that we’ll have another this year, to which all existing members are invited.

STFers at large

A couple of STFers have lives of their own outside our monthly meetings! Sian Mackay is launching her book The House on the Chine on the Scottish PEN website on Monday 11th November. The book charts a year in the life of Robert Louis Stephenson, and STFers may remember it being discussed at a previous Stranger Than Fiction session – it’s the first book to give Stranger Than Fiction a mention in its thank-yous! The launch comes just two days before Robert Louis Stephenson Day, celebrating RLS’s birthday. Good luck Sian!

AND – on Wednesday 20th November, Jenni Calder, whom some of you met at the October STF meeting, is giving a talk as part of Previously – Scotland’s History Festival (which itself runs 13-30 November). Her subject is the subject of her recent book, Lost in the Backwoods: Scots and the North American Wilderness. The talk lasts an hour from 3pm, in the Scotland’s People Centre on West Register Street. Tickets are free, but you need to book here. Good luck Jenni!

Dates for your diary

Weegie Wednesday this month falls on Wednesday 13th November, starting at 7.30pm in the CCA on Sauchiehall Street. I’ve got into the habit of going to this regularly now, and it’s been a very useful networking event.

The next Edinburgh Literary Salon is on Tuesday 26th November, a drop-in networking event from 6pm in the Wash Bar. Like us, the Salon takes a break from official proceedings in December.

After the Christmas festivities, Stranger Than Fiction gets back to normal with its first session of 2014, on Thursday 23rd January.

 

If you have a current project on which you’d like some feedback from fellow non-fiction writers, why not submit it for the January meeting? Hope to see you at some or all of the events above, but especially at Stranger Than Fiction. Good luck with all your non-fiction writing.

Colin

September 2013 STF

We had one of our best ever sessions last month to kick off the autumn season. Two really interesting and thought-provoking submissions to discuss, and a presentation from a new non-fiction e-publisher looking for authors. Thanks to all who came, new faces and long-lost ones among them.

 The Art of Proposing

We looked at two different book proposals from STFers this month. One was based on the “Nicola Morgan formula”, which is included in her book Write to be Published (Snow Books, 2011). 25 out of 28 reviews on Amazon for it are 5-star, so it must be doing something right. A friend of mine (sshh, a fiction writer) very kindly sent me some submission guidelines for both fiction and non-fiction, courtesy of the Andrew Lownie Agency, which I’m happy to link to here for your interest. Personally, I find that writing the book is the easy part – it’s the proposal which terrifies, baffles and defeats me. If you’re the same, then maybe one or other of these will help. If anyone else has any helpful resources like these, do please share them with us.

 New non-fiction venture

Noel Chidwick spoke briefly about his new e-publishing venture. In brief, he’s looking for 15000 word introductions to any subject, with the unifying title/brand of “Curious About …” You can find out more from his website, http://www.newcurioshop.com/write-for-us/

 October 2013 STF

Stranger Than Fiction next meets on Thursday 24th October. We already have a submission by one STFer for feedback, but there’s certainly room for at least one more. Let me know if you’d like it to be you – contributions get circulated a week before the meeting, which in October means Thursday 17th. That’s your deadline!

See you this month, or at the Edinburgh Literary Salon on Tuesday 29th October. And good luck with all your non-fiction writing.

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