Castle Loch Writing Workshop

On Wednesday 31 May 2017, Lockerbie Writers were lucky enough to visit Castle Loch once again – but this time, we opened up the invite to writers everywhere! The event was fully booked, and excitement levels were high amongst our little writing group as we prepared for the big day.

On arriving at Lochfield Cottage, the weather was perfect: sunshine (but not TOO hot!), and the cottage surrounded by the beautiful scenery that we remembered from our event there in 2016 (click here for more details).

The day began with several writing exercises designed to help loosen everyone up and get those creative juices flowing. Writing exercises were delivered by Lockerbie Writers’ members Steph Newham and Kerrie McKinnel, whilst Darren Flint of Castle Loch provided an interesting and informative talk on the area’s history and geography.

Castle Loch provided an interesting and welcoming venue, perfect for our group of twenty, and with so many opportunities to spend time outside. For more information on Castle Loch, click here.

After a delicious lunch provided by Pink Flamingo Vintage Tea Room, the group headed outside to enjoy the sunshine. Darren spoke about the local wildlife and then led a guided walk into the woods to help inspire our writers for their afternoon session, while some participants chose to remain at the cottage and enjoy the peace and quiet.

Afterwards, it was back to the cottage to brainstorm about what we’d just experienced. The focus was on the use of every sense to paint as full a picture as possible – smells, sounds and textures were all noted. The group then settled down to one final writing exercise inspired by everything they’d seen and heard during the day.

DARREN 02.JPG

The workshop finished in high spirits as everyone headed for home feeling proud of what they’d achieved, and having enjoyed the rousing discussions and supportive feedback provided by other writers. It had been a varied group with many participants who were happy to read out their work as we went along, which made for a fascinating experience for all of us.

Participants were invited to edit and polish any of the work which had come out of the workshop, to be sent to lockerbiewriters@hotmail.com by 30 June 2017. This work will be compiled and displayed on this blog page, and at the cottage at Castle Loch. Watch this space!

Thanks again to everyone who attended. It was a fantastic day, and we can’t wait to start planning the next one!

Children’s Short Story Competition

CASTLE LOCH AND LOCKERBIE WRITERS CHILDREN’S SHORT STORY COMPETITION

Deadline: Sunday 27 August 2017

Do you know a child aged 5 to 13 years old who likes to write?

Here’s the challenge – in 500 words, can they make up a story inspired by Lochmaben’s Castle Loch?

We have some fantastic prizes on offer kindly donated by Waterstone’s and Tesco, with winners and runner-ups in two age categories. In addition, to celebrate the very first children’s writing competition to be run by Lockerbie Writers, the group are funding a trophy for the overall winner. Our hope is to make this an annual event and to have the trophy passed on through generations of young and aspiring writers.

What are you waiting for? The only limit is your imagination …

Full details including entry form – http://www.castleloch.org.uk/

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Writing Challenge Results – May 2017

Last month, Lockerbie Writers gave you another photograph prompt, and once again you rose to the challenge! I’m delighted to be able to share some of the best entries with you now.

Enjoy – and if you like them, please remember to share!

I’d like to take this opportunity to say an enormous THANK YOU to everyone who has been inspired by the writing challenges over the last three months, whether or not you got around to writing something and sending it in. The idea has been to connect with writers everywhere and provide a platform for celebrating new writing, and I think that’s what we’ve done. I’m now passing the blog across to Lockerbie Writers’ chair Steph Newham, but I will be keeping an eye on these blog posts every month, and I look forward to seeing what new work it produces. Happy writing everyone!

Inspired? Keep an eye on the blog or our Facebook page for details of our June Writing Challenge, and to find out how you could see your own writing here on our blog.

Missed the original post? Click here for more information.


Challenge: Write a story (in 100 words of less) which is inspired by this photograph.

13-12-13 01 Little fingers holding onto daddy

Two Halves of One Whole by Deborah Redden

I loved you before I saw you. Imagined your face, your eyes, your cheeks. I even thought I heard you once; convinced I heard you whisper whilst resting. I could be wrong, of course, I’m so tired these days. But I am, in effect, a growing machine, so I suppose that’s to be expected.

The day I met you was a strange one; a magical concoction of fear and excitement.

The room was so bright and busy. I never expected such pressure, such endless commotion! Did you, Mummy? I’m amazed by what we achieved…we make an awesome team, don’t we?

 

The Ultimate Conception by Kath J Rennie

The race has begun and we’re off

Nameless millions try passing me by

Attempting without thought, to succeed:

Many cannot and die.

I swim frantically – for I am strong

I am, the mightiest Sperm of all

Ducking and diving against all the odds

To reach, your enchanting call:

And once reached, my awaiting Ova,

Feel my presence. Accept me in

And we’ll make a beautiful baby or two

Or maybe, we’ll have Quinn’s.

 

Once Upon a Time by Rosemary Cook

Once upon a time there was an old night-elf named Amethyst, her hair was as purple as a violet, and she sat on a chair by the fire with her granddaughter sitting on her lap. Amethyst took Iona’s hand in her hand and peered over to the window. “One day Iona all this land will be yours.” Iona cooed as she drank out of the bottle.

Years later, Amethyst died and she was buried in the grounds of her castle. Iona grew up to be a lovely night elf with sapphire hair who ruled the kingdom and married a prince.

 

Spread a Little Magic by Deborah Redden

‘Not another blooper, Pickles!’ Pickles is the name given to me by the other storks, due to my unusually high error rate whilst delivery the babies.

But what my colleagues fail to see is, I don’t make mistakes! I simply deliver the infants to those most in need, those who show love and warmth, those in need of a little magic. Every baby goes exactly where I intend, there are no accidents.

So, next time you’re feeling blue, don’t fret. Simply lift your head skyward or look under the nearest cabbage leaf, because magic is everywhere … you need only look.

 

Peace and Quiet by Kerrie McKinnel

Liz presses her thumb into the tiny palm; sleeping fingers instinctively wrap around hers. This is peace: snuffly newborn snores and the occasional bubble blown from the baby’s lips.

The front door slams.

“I’m back,” calls Georgia. “How’s the new granny coping?”

Ten minutes later, Georgia and the baby have left. Liz settles back onto her sofa and closes her eyes. The letterbox rattles in the summer breeze. Next door’s dog barks, but only once. The living room clock tick, tick, ticks. Quiet, but no longer peace.

 


About the Writers

Deborah Redden is the proud mother of two young boys who inspire her everyday. For her, a day without writing/sketching is a rare commodity-ten minutes can always be snatched from somewhere. She has been interested in writing and illustration for as long as she can remember, and attributes a sizeable chunk of her passion in this area to the magical marriage that is, Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake.

Kath J. Rennie: After a visit to Lockerbie in 1984, Kath decided to move to the town, with her family, finding rural-life more in keeping with her love of nature, which inspired many pieces of published poetry. In 2015, Kath joined Lockerbie Writers’ group, where she was inspired to write short stories and continues to do so … She is a mother of three sons, a step-son and five granddaughters.

Kerrie McKinnel is a writer, and graduate of the University of Glasgow’s MLitt Creative Writing. In 2016, her writing was published in magazines including Gutter and From Glasgow to Saturn. In March 2016, one of her poems was awarded third place in the University of Glasgow’s Alastair Buchan Prize, and she recently compiled, edited and published Lockerbie Writers’ Anthology on behalf of her local writing group. Kerrie writes a blog about her experiences of writing and her upcoming publications, which can be found at: http://www.kerriemckinnel.wordpress.com

Writing Challenge – May 2017

Writing prompts come in all shapes and sizes, from photographs and old documents through to lists of seemingly unconnected words. After the wonderful results of our March and April writing challenges, once again we’d like to provide the prompt – all you have to do is write the story in less than 100 words!

Those of you who know me will be aware that I am expecting my second baby in July this year. As this will be my writing challenge before I hand control of the blog across to another Lockerbie Writer, I’ve chosen a suitably cute photograph for this month’s prompt! I can’t wait to read the results!

The best ones will be published here on our blog at the beginning of June. Entry details and terms are at the bottom of this page. Entries will be accepted until midnight, Wednesday 31st May 2017.

There’s only one question – are you up to the challenge?

 

Writing Challenge – May 2017

Challenge: Write a story (in 100 words or less) inspired by this photograph.

13-12-13 01 Little fingers holding onto daddy.JPG

 

Entry Details and Terms

  • To enter, simply add your entry as a comment on this post, send it in a private message to our Facebook Page (Lockerbie Writers – www.facebook.com/groups/lockerbiewriters), or email it to kerrie_mckinnel@hotmail.com. ***Please note, this email address will be different for next month’s entries.*** Entries will be accepted until midnight, Wednesday 31st May 2017.
  • The challenge is open to everyone, including members of Lockerbie Writers.
  • Entries should be fictional, maximum 100 words, based on the prompt. You can enter as many times as you like. All entries must be the entrant’s original work, must not infringe on the rights of any other parties, and should not contain anything which might be considered offensive.
  • By entering, you agree to allow Lockerbie Writers to publish your entry on this blog and on their Facebook page. You will retain the copyright to your work.
  • All entries will be read by at least one member of Lockerbie Writers group, who will decide which entries to publish here/on Facebook. Entries will be judged on criteria such as originality, plot, and enjoyment.
  • If you have any questions, please get in touch!

Writing Challenge Results – April 2017

Last month, Lockerbie Writers set you a new writing challenge, and the response was overwhelming. I’m so thrilled to be able to share some of the best entries with you now, in no particular order – and my only disappointment is that I don’t have the space to share all of them!

Enjoy – and, if you like them, please remember to comment and share!

Inspired? Keep an eye on the blog or our Facebook page for details of our May Writing Challenge, and to find out how you could see your own writing here on our blog.

Missed the original post? Click here for more information.


Challenge: Write a story (in 100 words of less) which is inspired by this photograph.

01-04-14 06 Ancrum Cemetery

Wonder and Loss by Daniel Gillespie

Seeing a man chatting to his wife.
(He is telling her how much he loves and misses her and how he can’t wait to see her again).

Memories come to him in the breeze.
(Sobbing into his handkerchief she had got him as he remembers her, the wind cuts his face).

Reminiscing of days gone by.
(Remembering the first kiss, the proposal and the way she smelt).

He puts his hand on her shoulder and tells her he loves her.
(Resting his calloused hands on her grave and says “I will be back tomorrow and the next…”).

Alive
(dead inside).

 

Grave by Richard Sharp

Here in the graveyard he thought about playing here as a boy. With friends playing hide and seek amongst the bumps other graves and the shadows of the elms. Catch below the shadow of the spire and marbles on the flat gravestones.

He remembered the story that the older boys had tried to frighten him with. “Fall asleep in a graveyard and you’ll stay there for ever.”

But now all he could think about was “It’s been two hundred years. It say so on my headstone above me. Can I have been asleep so long. When will someone wake me up?”

 

‘Much Missed’ Mary by Mark Morris

‘Much Missed’ Mary rolled over within her casket. “Is it just me or has it gone quiet?” she said.

“No, it’s like the grave out there.” ‘Beloved’ Brian laughed, his voice slurred and guttural. He’d been dead longer than most of the residents at Serenity Meadows – his jaw had fallen free from his skull a decade ago.

“Do you think we’ve been forgotten?” Mary continued, looking upward in the dark, trying not to imagine the earth pressing down.

“Of course not. Just ask them … after all, isn’t everyone who ever knew us both down here too …?”

 

Never Cross a Dead Man by Paula Nicolson

The woman knelt at her husband’s grave holding a forlorn bunch of daffodils. She showed no remorse when she regaled her tales of holiday romances, a newly purchased diamond ring and fur coats. But her laughter turned to screams when she saw a hand rise from the freshly tossed top soil; it grabbed her wrist and another, her ankle.

Only the dead were a witness to her demise as she was pulled sobbing and kicking to an untimely and suffocating embrace. Her disappearance became a local mystery, punctuated only by her fur coat and diamond ring found on his grave.

 

 

Hidden Treasure by Kath J. Rennie

They hunched together, as a pack of wolves, waiting for the demonstration to begin. Hopefully, mother would come through the universal veil and give the answer they sought after.

They knew she hadn’t been buried wearing ‘The million pound diamond necklace’. They had checked her over, two days before-hand, when in the chapel-of-rest.

They are chosen by Madam Cattrel, to receive a message.

“Remember, my loving step-daughters, where I used to keep my money? Down, inside my brassiere. Hahahahahaha…..I knew you would not dare, be so invasive. Revenge is sweet, darlings!”

 

A Life and Death Situation by Deborah Redden

Death, met Life online. It was a tentative acquaintance at first, but eventually things progressed and Death felt bold enough to ask Life out.

As far as Death was concerned, the date was a conundrum: On one finger, he adored Life, and on the other … he shuddered. ‘Why can’t you savour the moment?’ he’d said. ‘Take things as they come, what’s the rush?

He’d watched as she ate; Appetiser. Main. Appetiser. Main.

‘You know, Death,’ she hissed, her eyes smouldering, ‘you really are a bore! We’re over! Death smirked, all knowing. ‘But you’re mine, you know! Don’t you? We’re one.’

 


About the Writers

Daniel Gillespie is a young poet/writer from Dumfries. Inspired by his passion for outdoors and his loving family, he had various poems published in 2016 after only starting to write again late in 2014 on the day his son was born. Daniel founded D&G Poetry and self published Issue 1 in 2016 and has hosted 2 poetry readings, so far. He often publishes his own work on his blog: www.danielgillespiepoet.wordpress.com 

Mark Morris is a mature born-again writer who discovered his Muse the second time around. In previous incarnations, he’s been a star student, a minor athlete and an obsessive hobbyist but he’s lately begun to find a modicum of writing ability and now specialises in writing flash fiction. He’s currently working on a handful of novels but is striving to limit this to no more than two or three at once. One of these is a Noir-styled dieselpunk thriller which he hopes will be snapped up by a literary agent next year and then immediately become a worldwide genre bestseller.

Paula Nicolson is a scientist by day, but a writer by night. She loves creating poetry and making up stories for her daughter, and finds her inspiration from the Dumfries and Galloway countryside, contemporary art and her eccentric family history. Paula hopes her stories and poetry will bring a smile to your face and fire the imagination of children. Paula also writes a blog on life in Dumfries and Galloway which can be found at: www.facebook.com/deckywriting

Deborah Redden is the proud mother of two young boys who inspire her everyday. For her, a day without writing/sketching is a rare commodity-ten minutes can always be snatched from somewhere. She has been interested in writing and illustration for as long as she can remember, and attributes a sizeable chunk of her passion in this area to the magical marriage that is, Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake.

Kath J. Rennie: After a visit to Lockerbie in 1984, Kath decided to move to the town, with her family, finding rural-life more in keeping with her love of nature, which inspired many pieces of published poetry. In 2015, Kath joined Lockerbie Writers’ group, where she was inspired to write short stories and continues to do so … She is a mother of three sons, a step-son and five granddaughters.

Richard Sharp has no ambitions whatsoever to be a writer but likes playing around with words and seeing what happens. An avid reader whose favourites range from Charles Dickens to Thomas Pynchon. He is an occasional angler and is desperately trying to learn how to play the piano after a lifetime wishing he could.

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Upcoming Workshop – 31 May 2017

Lockerbie Writers are working in conjunction with Castle Loch, Lochmaben, to bring you our next exciting creative writing workshop!

This workshop is open to all. It’s free, and lunch is provided. All you need to do is book your place!

Full details and how to book can be found below, or please get in touch for more information.

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Writing Challenge – April 2017

Writing prompts come in all shapes and sizes, from photographs and old documents through to lists of seemingly unconnected words. After the wonderful results of our first writing challenge in March, once again we’d like to provide the prompt – all you have to do is write the story in less than 100 words!

The best ones will be published here on our blog at the beginning of May. Entry details and terms are at the bottom of this page. Entries will be accepted until midnight, Sunday 30th April 2017.

There’s only one question – are you up to the challenge?

 

Writing Challenge – April 2017

Challenge: Write a story (in 100 words or less) inspired by this photograph.

01-04-14 06 Ancrum Cemetery.JPG

 

Entry Details and Terms

  • To enter, simply add your entry as a comment on this post, send it in a private message to our Facebook Page (Lockerbie Writers – www.facebook.com/groups/lockerbiewriters), or email it to kerrie_mckinnel@hotmail.com. Entries will be accepted until midnight, Sunday 30th April 2017.
  • The challenge is open to everyone, including members of Lockerbie Writers.
  • Entries should be fictional, maximum 100 words, based on the prompt. You can enter as many times as you like. All entries must be the entrant’s original work, must not infringe on the rights of any other parties, and should not contain anything which might be considered offensive.
  • By entering, you agree to allow Lockerbie Writers to publish your entry on this blog and on their Facebook page. You will retain the copyright to your work.
  • All entries will be read by at least one member of Lockerbie Writers group, who will decide which entries to publish here/on Facebook. Entries will be judged on criteria such as originality, plot, and enjoyment.
  • If you have any questions, please get in touch!

Writing Challenge Results – March 2017

I want to begin with a HUGE thank you to everyone who entered our March writing challenge! I received some fantastic entries, and I’m so thrilled to be able to share them with you here. The best pieces are included below. Nothing tests a writer quite like a tight word limit, and each of these pieces were completed in 100 words or less – definitely a challenge, but one which has produced great results.

Enjoy – and, if you like them, please remember to comment and share!

Inspired? Click here to view our April writing challenge and find out how you could see your own writing here on our blog.

Missed the original post? Click here for more information.


Challenge: Write a story which is inspired by this photograph of a rainbow over a motorway.

27-03-16-04-rainbow-on-the-way-up-to-glasgow

NEVER TOO OLD TO BE YOUNG BY DEBORAH REDDEN

Dot gripped the wheel of her old jalopy, her foot pushed neat to the floor. ‘Come on, Tinny!’ She exclaimed, ‘Drive faster, or the Psych Ward’ll catch us.’ The car gave a groan in reply. ‘I asked Leo to cover for us. But you know what he’s like … scared of his shadow! He’ll cave!  And, we must get over that rainbow!’

Forty miles away, sirens blared to life, and a young woman sat into the police car. ‘Please hurry!’ she sobbed, ‘It’s my Grandmother, she thinks I’m the wicked witch of the west! And, she hasn’t driven in sixty years!’

 

RAINBOW’S END BY STEPH NEWHAM

Keeping the sun on my back, I tramp my shadow into shooting barley. Everyone knows that a rainbow is halved by the horizon, I mutter as I plough on. Millions of droplets, tears or rain; makes no matter as I can’t see the other half of the circle. I scan the field, nothing, not even puddles at its ends. My mind abseils; my eyes slide down the colour rush, a kaleidoscope of proliferating cells. Despair flees as my cancer becomes a pot of gold. I turn, face the storm; I still have a lot of living to do.

 

FLY-BYE BY DEBORAH REDDEN

Pip sat in the car watching the world flash by: fields, houses, rainbow. Fields, houses, sheep. She’d never known Dave to drive so fast. She wondered why he was doing so now.

Even when he’d saved her from that brute, the one who’d turned her eyes black, the getaway had been sedate.

She felt sick. Her head throbbed, but the rainbow was pretty. Peaceful even.

The next thing Pip knew, she was laying on a metal slab, surrounded by people in masks, and a voice saying ‘I’m sorry, Dave. Her injuries are extensive. We’ll have to put her down.’

 

THE LONGEST DRIVE BY KERRIE MCKINNEL

And then, glancing up from the dashboard, I see a streak of colour across the April-showers sky. A memory: the river cold and fast round my ankles, sun beating down on bare arms, no more than seven or eight years old but already knowing that this is living, this is lungs full of oxygen and eyes blinded by colour.

The car hits a pothole and I’m back to reality. ‘Another contraction,’ I say, but for a moment the pain is somewhere else because my eyes are fixed on the rainbow and the years and memories to come.

 


About the Writers

Deborah Redden is the proud mother of two young boys who inspire her everyday. For her, a day without writing/sketching is a rare commodity-ten minutes can always be snatched from somewhere. She has been interested in writing and illustration for as long as she can remember, and attributes a sizeable chunk of her passion in this area to the magical marriage that is, Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake.

Steph Newham took up writing when she retired from the NHS. She did a Cert in Creative Writing followed by an MA at Lancaster University. She is currently working on a collection of Short Stories as well as a historical novel.  She is chairperson of Lockerbie Writers and a member of Powfoot Writers. She has had articles published in newspapers and short stories in an anthology and on-line e-zines. She enjoys running workshops and encouraging others to develop their writing skills.

Kerrie McKinnel is a writer and student of the University of Glasgow’s MLitt Creative Writing. In 2016, her writing was published in magazines including Gutter and From Glasgow to Saturn. In March 2016, one of her poems was awarded third place in the University of Glasgow’s Alastair Buchan Prize, and she recently compiled, edited and published Lockerbie Writers’ Anthology on behalf of her local writing group. Kerrie writes a blog about her experiences of writing and her upcoming publications, which can be found at: http://www.kerriemckinnel.wordpress.com

Writing Challenge – March 2017

We’ve spent enough time telling you about Lockerbie Writers – now, we want to open this blog and our Facebook page up to creative writers around the world!

Writing prompts come in all shapes and sizes, from photographs and old documents through to lists of seemingly unconnected words. This month, we’ll provide the prompt and we want you to provide the story in less than 100 words. The best ones will be published here on our blog. Entry details and terms are at the bottom of this page. Entries will be accepted until midnight, Friday 31st March 2017.

There’s only one question – are you up to the challenge?

 

Writing Challenge – March 2017

Challenge: Write a story which is inspired by this photograph of a rainbow over a motorway.

27-03-16 04 Rainbow on the way up to Glasgow.JPG

Entry Details and Terms

  • To enter, simply add your entry as a comment on this post, or send it in a private message to our Facebook Page (Lockerbie Writers – www.facebook.com/groups/lockerbiewriters). Entries will be accepted until midnight, Friday 31st March 2017.
  • The challenge is open to everyone, including members of Lockerbie Writers.
  • Entries should be fictional, maximum 100 words, based on the prompt. You can enter as many times as you like. All entries must be the entrant’s original work, must not infringe on the rights of any other parties, and should not contain anything which might be considered offensive.
  • By entering, you agree to allow Lockerbie Writers to publish your entry on this blog and on their Facebook page. You will retain the copyright to your work.
  • All entries will be read by at least one member of Lockerbie Writers group, who will decide which entries to publish here/on Facebook. Entries will be judged on criteria such as originality, plot, and enjoyment.
  • If you have any questions, please get in touch!

 

Writers Whom We Admire

At today’s meeting, Lockerbie Writers members were invited to talk about a writer whom they admired and to read a short segment of their work. Well, talk about variety! We had everything from a local detective, to tales of post-war Russia, to Beatles’ lyrics!

Here is a list of the writers which each member chose, and the book from which they chose to read an extract:
  • Vasily Grossman, ‘Life and Fate’ (Post-WW2 Russia, a serious and poignant choice to start us off)
  • RR Gall, ‘The Case of the Pig in the Evening Suit’ (Dumfries Detective Series Book 1, lovely to have a local author on our list)
  • Roald Dahl, “The Three Little Pigs” from ‘Revolting Rhymes’ (Chosen due to Dahl’s imaginative use of language, strong morals, and dark but humorous themes)
  • Iris Murdoch, ‘The Sea, The Sea’ (An atmospheric choice, and one which several of the group had already read and enjoyed)
  • Paul McCartney/The Beatles, ‘Blackbird’ (A song with poetic and deep lyrics, another interesting choice which added more variety – and we just about avoided a group singsong!)
  • Keith Stuart, ‘A Boy Made of Bricks’ (My choice – and unlike the rest of the group, I chose it because I am struggling to like this author’s writing style! For me it was an interesting exercise to consider why the writing style didn’t suit me as a reader)
  • Catherine Cookson, ‘The Bonnie Dawn’ (Chris papered over the cover so we didn’t know the author until after she’d read the extract, but she was right to as we all enjoyed the moving segment but many admitted we would have been more judgemental if we’d known the author first)
  • Ernest Hemingway, ‘The Old Man and the Sea’ (Another atmospheric choice to finish off on, almost simplistic in language but full of meaningful and gripping description)
Afterwards, the group discussed the similarities between the pieces chosen. One thing we agreed on was that most of the pieces could be described as simplistic to some extent, in the way that the author had the confidence to write with excess words or drama, focusing on choosing exactly the right words to create atmosphere. Not a word could be spared – surely the sign of a fantastic writer, and of course editor too.
 
I hope you have found this useful and that you might be inspired to pick up one of these texts. If you’d like to add your own suggestion to our list, just comment below or send us a message on our Facebook page – we’d love to hear from you!
Anthologies on shelf 13-04-16 LOW RES