The end is nigh

Book CoverIf you have been following this blog for a while, or can see the counter on the right of this page, you will know that it is only a few short days until our publication is released to the wide world on May 12th. This has been a long time coming for all involved but, I can personally say, I’m delighted it’s finally here.

We have been planning the Litmus 2015 anthology since January, carefully selecting which piece of writing we think best represents us as writers, refining the details, editing and reading in class, and finally pressing that send button a few short weeks ago. Four months to achieve that doesn’t seem like a long time, but the planning and blogging and scheduling will all be over in a matter of days.

And then what are each of us left with? A publication which we have individually contributed to as writers, our stories and names in print, and, hopefully, smiles adorning our faces on Launch Night.

During this term I have struggled to consider myself as a writer. I have never quite been convinced that just because I write things down this makes me a writer. But Launch Night will bring this one issue home for me. I will see my name in print, and my words on the page, in an actual printed book which I will take home to put in my book collection. Madness.

It has been a long road for us bloggers, event organisers and editors but the end is nigh. The Litmus anthology Launch Night is but days away. And I can honestly say I’m quite excited.

Rebecca Travers (MA Creative and Critical Writing)

If you are an agent, editor, blogger or journalist who somehow slipped off our invitation list and would like to come to Winchester for cake, readings, and your own copy of Litmus 2015, please let us know.  You can comment below, tweet your interest on @litmus2015 or email


Litmus Launch and why Writers are like Hummingbirds

Book Cover
As well as promoting our book, the Litmus launch is a celebration of the end of the taught component of our MAs in Creative & Critical Writing and Writing for Children at the University of Winchester. It is the end of a very intense creative experience. A time for goodbyes and good lucks and thank yous. Of course, there will be graduation but that won’t be until next October, or even 2017 for some part-time students, so the 12 May will be our last communal hurrah.

I’m really looking forward to reading Litmus 2015; it promises to be an eclectic mix from a talented group of writers. People have worked really hard on this project; promoting, editing, organising and galvanising.

The hummingbird cover is beautiful and appropriate. Hummingbirds are relentless, tireless and always seeking nectar. We’ve learnt on our final module, in order to be successful, to find agents or to self-publish, writers have to be tireless and resilient. And of course, we are always hunting for ideas; our own creative nectar.

As well as students and their significant others; tutors, expert speakers, guest bloggers and agents will be attending. Many of us will read excerpts, which is not at all terrifying  with an audience like that! There will be refreshments and merriment, and I’ve heard there may even be cake.

So, 10 days to go and we will be going with a bang!

Kath Whiting
MA Creative & Critical Writing

If you are an agent, editor, blogger or journalist who somehow slipped off our invitation list and would like to come to Winchester for cake, readings, and your own copy of Litmus 2015, please let us know.  You can comment below, tweet your interest on @litmus2015 or email

A Sneaky Peek

I am getting very excited!

Oh dear. I’ve just broken one of the golden rules we learn on our MA courses; show, don’t tell. Well, sometimes rules have to be broken and today I am going to do ‘telling’ – mainly because I don’t want to give you a mental picture of a short, middle-aged, Rubenesque woman doing a happy dance in her PJs. You don’t need to see that on a Saturday afternoon. It didn’t work, did it? Sorry!

So why am I so excited? Because earlier this week I held a book in my hand. That’s not the exciting bit. I do that several times every day and sometimes it is quite thrilling, but not like this. This book had my name in it. I have many books at home with my name in them. I write it inside the front cover of a book before I lend it to a friend, in the hope it might make its way back home to me. This book wasn’t one of those. This had my name in print.

I was holding a printer’s proof of Litmus 2015, an anthology of writing by students on the MA Creative & Critical Writing and MA Writing for Children courses at The University of Winchester. It still needed revisions and corrections before the final print run, but I didn’t care. To see my name in the table of contents, the beginning of my story in the body of the book and a brief biography all about me in the back pages was staggering. My breathing went wobbly, my skin clammy and I felt a tiny bit sick. A thing I had dreamed of, the result of hours of work, something I though of as happening at some time in the murky future, was in my hand and it didn’t seem real.

When other students wanted to take it from me, I found it hard to let it go. Then I saw their faces as they turned the pages, looking for their own names. If I hadn’t been feeling so sideswiped I would have taken out a pad and made notes about their reactions. What a wonderful resource it would have made for future writing: the changes in skin colour, breathing, body language, facial expressions. Some students disappearing into a land that only contained them and the book, others holding it out to share with the whole world.

As I said, the inside of the book still has some work to be done, so I can’t share that with you, but I can show you the beautiful cover. I hope you love it as much as we do – although, admittedly, we may be just a wee bit biased. Welcome to the cover of Litmus 2015. Hope to see you at the launch!Book Cover
Kim A Howard
MA Writing for Children

Fast Work – Guest Post from Andrew Melrose

Andrew MelroseIt was a Friday morning, the phone call from a fellow author was a quick one, ‘Random House are commissioning a new series of early reader/picture books and are looking for something on science and a scientist. The editor is Natascha Biebow!’ I was galvanised, a quick scan at the Key Stage pages secured an immediate idea. Ten minutes after the tip-off I called Natascha and pitched an idea. I can remember how the conversation went,

‘Hi, we haven’t met but I understand you are looking for an early reader/picture book idea on science and a scientist?’

‘Who are you?’  Continue reading

Playing with the Grown-Ups

Last week we were divided into groups to workshop some pieces of creative writing. Great! For me, this has been one of the best parts of the Writing for Children course. Receiving support, comments, criticism and suggestions from other people, who are as excited about stories for children as I am, is so helpful. The Publishing Project module, however, mixes children’s writers with Critical & Creative Writers – the grown-ups! I was apprehensive, to say the least.

I needn’t have worried. Of the three C&C writers in our group, one was dramatising a fairy tale and one was writing about dragons. Only one person was writing straight adult literature and her language was so atmospheric it felt almost like another world to me. It made me realise that the thing I love most about stories – any stories – is their ability to whisk you away to another time and place. Even if the story were based in Hampshire during February 2015, it would be the Hampshire that lives in the author’s head, not the one I live in every day.

Kim Howard
MA Writing for Children