The Postcard Challenge Update

At the recent first ever Scarborough Flare Festival, where local artistes (artists/musicians/actors/poets/authors) wowed audiences with their amazing talents, I ran an event called The Postcard Challenge, advertised via my social networks and flyer handouts.   This was an invitation to all passersby – whether they were going to an event at the Festival or not – to be encouraged to write on a postcard about a moment that had taken their breath away.

As most of you who live in Scarborough will know, this was a great success and the display was chockablock with breathtaking moments by the end of the 4-day Scarborough Flare Festival (the heart of The Scarborough Book Festival 2014).

I am currently working on the preparation of a slide show of the postcards… to share with all who were involved in any way with the Festival. This will be free for anyone who wants to see it on the condition that copyright must be adhered to… i.e. no money must exchange hands in the sharing/showing of the presentation and the copyright of all submissions and photos will remain with the individual contributors.

Hindsight is always a wonderful thing and if I had inserted a slot on the back of the postcards for a day and time to be recorded of when the postcard was created, I would not now be having to sift, sift and sift again through the many postcards – in an attempt to put into chronological order the chaotic creativity of the Festival period. Don’t tell anyone I said this but it’s like trying to make creative writing an academic subject – of course it is possible but it’s also restrictive to those free flowing subconscious thoughts that I feel are necessary for writers to express as a starting point – this writer, anyway.

I’ll keep you posted on the progress of The Postcard Challenge.

Back soon…  SF logo


A recent choice…

I find it difficult to let my characters go once they are in print and chose to revisit one of them on 24th April 2014 during the Writers on the Loose performance at the Scarborough Flare Festival. 

This adapted extract, chosen from the title story of my collection, Picking at the Bones, portrays the narrator’s observations about silence following the death of her neighbour Bella.

I was pleasantly surprised that my choice to read this extract generated a sale of several copies – post performance – via my social networking sites.



 I’d known Bella’s time was nearing its end because about a week before she died, she told me she’d started to hear the silence whisper her name… like it was calling her home. That’s what happens at the end sometimes… death can creep up on you.

I’m looking at Bella’s window now… at the place where she kept fresh tulips in a vase. I can’t seem to focus my thoughts with the empty space waiting there.

It makes you a bit jittery when someone you’ve seen every day for two years is suddenly not there. You expect the dust from their bodies to be drifting around the places where they lived.

When Sheila (my friend from the flat below) told me about her neighbour’s passing last spring, she said she hadn’t even realised she’d died until her husband had rattled on her letterbox to invite her to the funeral. She’d only seen her neighbour feeding the birds in the garden a week before so she could hardly believe it.  After she’d died, the birds would sit chirruping on the fence, waiting for her to appear with crumbs. Sheila said the strangest thing had been how, one by one, the birds had stopped turning up for their breakfast. Sheila had kept seeing the ghost of her neighbour for weeks… every time she traipsed down the garden to look for the birds. It was like she was still lingering there.

There’s a quiet gap in the mornings even now without those birds. I think that’s why I remembered about Sheila because looking out of my window at the day, storing up my thoughts, I noticed the lack of sound. The leaves are stiff and still and the clouds suspended in mid-air. It’s as if time has stopped and someone has forgotten to wind it up again so the world can move on. It’s like a missed heartbeat in honour of Bella from the tulip flat. I think Bella would appreciate that. If there’s one thing she’ll know about now… it’s the silence.  


See Writing CV page on this website for more details

The First Ever Scarborough Flare

I would appreciate it if you could help with our publicity for the first ever Scarborough Flare Festival – 24th – 27th April 2014 (the local talent at the heart of the Scarborough Book Festival) by sharing this program with your contacts if you are able to. Thanks, Julie

More detailed info available at

For ticket information please scroll to end of page




First x 3 events are continuous from Thursday 10.00 a.m. through to Sunday

Tony Howson/Shush Exhibition + displays from S6F

The Studio Gallery

Continuous (start Thursday. 10.00 a.m.)

Marion Atkinson/of what one shouldn’t speak Exhibition

The Studio Gallery

Continuous (start Thursday. 10.00 a.m.)

Julie Fairweather/ The Postcard Challenge

Vernon Road Library

Continuous (start Thursday. 10.00 a.m.)




Bridget Cousins/The Mermaids Tale/workshop

Sitwell Library

10.30 – 13.00

John, Julie and Shirley

Writers on the Loose Again

Sitwell Library

 13.30 – 14.30

Gingernut and Tripod/Move the Earth performance

Sitwell Library

 15.00 – 16.00

Hull to Scarborough Line/ ‘The Remarkable Mr Rutherford’

Sitwell Library

18.00 – 19.00

George Cromack/Folk Horror creative writing workshop

Sitwell Library

19.30 – 21.30




Jo Reed/Women’s Works Workshop

The Studio  Gallery

10.00 – 12.30

Bridget Cousins and Co/ Heart and Harp

Lupin Cafe

13.00 – 14.00

Official Story Chair Launch

Vernon Road Library

15.00 – 16.00

Linda Randall/ “A Victorian Scandal: Ruskin, Millais and Effie Gray”/ performance and talk

Sitwell Library

18.00 – 19.00

Bill Hammond and the Scarborough Poetry Workshop/Poetry Slam

The Old Vic

Doors open: 19.00 for 19.30 start. Ends 23.00




Ross Wilson/Pleasure Domes public readings

The Brunswick Centre

10.30 – 12.00

David Lewis and others / One Day in December / rehearsal workshop

Westborough Methodist Church

10.00 – 12.00

Scarborough Poetry Workshop/100 years of British Poetry/ Readings

Crescent Art Gallery

14.00 – 15.00

Tales from the Story Chair/guest readers

Vernon Street Library

13.30 – 15.00

Kate Evans/ Taking Tea with Edith Sitwell

The Mezzanine, Woodend

15.30 – 16.45

Wanda Maciuszko and Alexandra Bradley / from Strangers to Friends

The Studio Gallery

18.00 – 19.00

Gingernut and Tripod/Move the Earth performance

Nomad Cafe

19.00 – 21.00

Jo Reed/ Beloved performance

The Studio Gallery

20.00 – 21.00

David Lewis and others/ One Day in December / performance

Westborough Methodist Church

19.30 – 21.00

Steven Ayckbourn / and Gillian Martin performance:  A man carrying a trunk”

Sitwell Library

20.30 – 21.30




Scarborough Amnesty International / See no Evil, Speak no Evil / Roger Osborne and Jay Prosser

Vernon Street Library

10.30 – 12.30

Adrienne Silcock/ Waves and Wishes/workshop

The Studio Gallery

14.00 – 17.30

Marion Atkinson and Tony Howson/ Secrets /night performance

The Studio Gallery

20.00 – 22.00

All tickets cost just £3.00. Some events are free.  Telephone (01723 384523) or visit the Scarborough Flare box office, Woodend, Tuesday to Friday between 10.00am and 4.00pm. You can also contact us through the website, which gives dates, times and details of each performance, on



Scarborough Flare

I’ve created a FB page to invite you to take time out to be inspired to use your senses and discover morsels of joy where you didn’t expect to by simply being in the moment… and writing about it at

This is in the run up to the Scarborough Flare Literature Festival’s

Postcard Challenge

on Thursday 24th to Sunday 27th April 2014

in the foyer at Vernon Road Library, Scarborough

see FB page as above / EVENTS on this website

The Big Tour!

Today is ‘My Writing Process’ blog tour day, when writers post about their writing process answering four set questions. Last week the effervescent Kate Evans posted hers and invited me to join the tour. I read Kate’s blog, visited her website and was in awe of how she utilises her creative self within every aspect of her life. Click here for Kate’s Post.

Here are my responses to the questions:

What am I working on?

My second collection of short stories – as yet untitled, though I have designed the image for the front cover in my head so the title won’t be far removed from that. Also in progress is a devotional book of prayer and meditation, my personal poetry and ongoing journal musings – though the latter two are not for publication, unless of course something metamorphoses into an absolute gem and encourages me to include it in a blog!

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Talking about my short stories, I am obsessed with the darker side of human nature and the subject of death, and explore this obsession within my fictional stories by using raw emotion from real experiences, which results in disturbingly compelling perceptions of the truth.

My prayers and meditations are also based on real experiences and as the topics are universal they can (and are) used as a resource in churches for pastoral/spiritual support. My poetry is a personal indulgence, again based on real experiences, and though I have had a few published in various anthologies in the past, I rarely put them out there.

As to the question, I’m not sure my work differs from others in the same genre, though I will state that my overall aim is to allow the reader to seek out their own truth from within my writing.

Why do I write what I do?

I can’t exist without writing creatively in some shape or form every day. It is a constant motivator to my personal well-being. I write to tease out hidden thoughts from within myself, based on my own or others’ experiences. I write to try and get to the truth of emotional impacts relating to various scenarios. I write to experience the joy in the sense of release when transferring emotional truths into fictional settings. I write because I can be open and honest about emotions within my work without fearing the consequences. I write to get rid of unhealthy negative feelings and turn them into something positive. I write to heal my wounded soul. I write because I enjoy it.

How does your writing process work?

Quite chaotically in the sense that I usually have lots of writing on the go at any one time and add to it as and when inspiration takes hold. When I feel I have enough material to complete one particular project, say a short story collection, I focus on that alone until it’s complete, placing the others on a back burner until I can pick them back up.

Ideas come easily to me through regular journal writing and everyday observations; I also find some of my memories in connection with my dysfunctional family background provide a lot of my material. Once the seed of an idea is planted in my mind, I tend to let it lie for a few days until it ferments and becomes so embedded that I think around it constantly. Once it’s at that stage, I use a sprint writing exercise to connect to what’s already started to develop in my imagination (write quickly without caring about punctuation etc – i.e. stream of consciousness). From this I glean the raw emotion for the piece. It then grows intuitively and branches out into strands of a story (or whatever it wants to be). It becomes the bones of a first draft. Then I start on the hard work that is the crafting and editing, again and again, until I’m satisfied with the piece of writing and confident that I’ve successfully wrapped and hidden my ‘self’ within the fiction. In other words, I’ve added layers of flesh to the bare bones of the initial raw emotion in a creative way.

And talking of adding layers, I’m now passing the baton on to Alan Combes who will continue the ‘My Writing Process’ blog tour on Monday 24th February. I met Alan last year at a Writers’ Circle and have a high regard for his varied writing skill.

Alan was born in Newark, Notts, and attended the Thomas Magnus Grammar when it was worth mentioning. He did teacher training at King Alfred’s, Winchester, and was awarded a degree by Nottingham Uni and later a Masters at York.

Alan’s first published piece was a poem about Adam and Eve which was a runner-up in the Lancaster literary festival. His first paid piece was about a camping holiday behind the Iron Curtain, published by the Guardian, which was a forerunner for his regular human interest pieces for that paper as well as a column in Young Guardian (not there now). As a teacher, he had a lot of pieces published in the Times Ed, then started writing football for the Observer, the Independent and, for 11 years, the Sunday Times. He began getting published for kids in 1997 and combined football and fiction for Barrington Stoke, producing two best sellers for dyslexic boys who were footy-mad. He toured Dublin on the back of his ‘Dead Man Files’, which was also written for young problem readers.

His musical ‘Black Potatoes’ filled the Upstage Theatre in York for a week in 2010 and he is currently submitting ‘Her Cambodian Bodyguard’, a play about Alzheimer’s, at the Stephen Joseph Theatre.

Read more from Alan on his website and blog ‘latest news’ at


Taken by surprise…

Sometimes, when I’m deep in thought and you speak to me sharp-tongued, I become trapped inside a memory because your lips have pierced an emotion from my past. Then, when the mood slips back into the present moment, I can fall apart so easily.

This morning, for instance, we were walking along the beach, trailing through the debris that the tide had left behind, when I came across a red carnation that had embedded itself within a rock. The sight of it made me hunger for the time when our love was new, and I wondered how long it would take me to stop counting the cost of that love.

As I was gazing at the flower, pondering this, you snapped at me to ‘get a move on’, your hurried tone lashing at my face.

Even now, the sting of it is with me still.

            red seaweed (2)an emotional truth wrapped in fiction

Grace Bingham Trophy

The title and theme for the annual Grace Bingham Trophy competition at the Scarborough Writers’ Circle was ‘In Your Dreams’, and part of the criteria set was to include the use of creative language. 

How could I resist a chance to indulge in one of my favourite forms of writing? Poetics.

Here is the link (see note below added 8.2.14) to my submitted story… The Six-Sided Box by A Poetic Dreamer (aka Julie Fairweather) … the poetics of which are best read in a breathless manner so you need to invent your own pauses during the reading of these. 

Oh, did I mention that this was the winning story?

 Judge’s comments: ‘Superb! A real attempt to use language creatively, within dreamlike descriptions that take the reader through to the end where the true setting and meaning are revealed in what I found to be a very touching finish. Wonderful work!’

 There is a metaphoric layer to this story that I hope potential readers from the targeted group will appreciate, and respond to in their own individual way.

My Current Status: floating on a cloud enjoying the euphoria whilst clutching the Grace Bingham Trophy.

Sorry folks… the story is currently unavailable to read on here as it is undergoing an edit for submission elsewhere.

Facing the blank page

The next group of students to graduate from the University of Hull’s BA (Hons) in Creative Writing are ordering their caps and gowns as I write… and what have I done with my writing since graduating last July? Unashamedly self-published my short stories collection of course! I’ve also learned (the hard way) about what not to do when going down the self-publishing route. What doesn’t kill you etc, etc…

I am now faced with a blank page – the first in my beautiful new note book (my reward for completing a writing project). My beautiful new pen (another reward) is poised… ready for my next adventure on Writers’ Way: A devotional book of prayers and meditations (with sketches) to open a route into a personal relationship with God (something completely different from my disturbing slice-of-life short stories).

I know in facing this blank page that I’m not suffering from writers’ block… I’m merely waiting for my muse to inspire me with beautiful words with which to adorn the page. I don’t want to waste a first page experience with a sprint writing exercise to enable my words to flow from my head to my fingertips… I want a ready-made perfectly worded piece of prose so that my venture has a beautiful springboard to bounce off and get itself going. Maybe it should be a prayer then? 

Whilst waiting for my muse to wake from its comatose state, my random thoughts search through the unorganised chaos of my imagination and, in a sudden flash, a blink of an eye that I would have missed had I not been waiting idly for something to happen, I discover why I can’t start. It’s so simple that it was difficult to fathom out at first. It is this: I haven’t let go of my characters from my stories yet. After all, I spent hours, days, weeks, months with them and know them intimately… like a second skin. I haven’t celebrated their lives… honoured the dead, as they say, in an official letting go ceremony. I’ve dashed straight on to the next thing without giving myself time to rest and reflect in the process of producing something I’ve created, and bask in the glory of its completion.

I look at my blank page again after my thoughts subside and… it has these beautiful words written on it – haiku style.

Prayers of devotion

embrace a new creation

to honour the dead.

See how it works? You can do a sprint exercise in your mind, not just on paper, and the words will write themselves.

Try it… you’ll see what I mean. You will need…

a blank page.

Have fun!

with love, Julie

PS. I believe a writing block can be likened to a prayer block. Therefore, if your writing’s blocked, pray – if your prayer’s blocked, write. If both should become blocked simultaneously, rest in random thoughts. These thoughts can become a prayer to provide you with words to write (or vice versa).

(Examples of pathways to prayer will be illustrated in my next project… watch this space)