The FWS collective online story..

Our Scriever Charlie Gracie challenged our Facebook members to write a story in blocks of nine words on Saturday 16th May 2020.

You had to be think on your feet to take part! If the segment didn’t follow on from the previous one, if it was just posted to the page, if comments were just made in threads or weren’t nine words, your contribution would be deleted. Caroline Johnstone our social media manager managed this over the six hours of the challenge.

At 10 a.m. Charlie started us off with the words, “Polly opened her front door. First time in weeks,” thinking that might start things off an escape from Coronavirus story. We had an immediate plot twist from one of the contributors – and over the next six hours, 24 contributors provided 44 different elements, with Charlie keeping the story moving and providing the unexpected ending we’ve come to know him for at 4 p.m.

Everyone who took part enjoyed it and those who were late to the party still enjoyed reading the end result:

Polly opened her front door. First time in weeks. She sniffed the air; the stench of blood unmistakable. Well, lambing season was here. Polly pulled on wellies. She looked down, too scared to look up again.

Picking up the delivery from the butcher’s, she noticed it. “Here this isnae funny, I’m no easy scared”. The pack of sausages had a finger in them. Polly eased the bloody note away from the digit; that ring looked oddly familiar, the small ruby glistening.

‘Come in quick,’ shouted an angry voice from inside. She slid the ring into her pocket, and turned in time to see the maid glaring from the window above, had she seen her take the ring?

Stifling a sense of guilt, she turned to see the four digit hand of god ; pointing at her. She shivered in blind terror as salt tears stung. ‘Damn, Evan. I’ll never lose another night drinking absinthe.

Polly remembered the bloody note, crumpled in her hand. After carefully sanitising the bag and note she returned…her thoughts toward her secret. She must hide the evidence of her foul misdeed but where was safe?

She remembered the place where she’d hidden other treasures; it was lambing season and the sheep wouldn’t mind.

Her secret buried in earthy pastures. But why now? The reverend was on her case; he also knew! She had to end this. Once and for all… She grabbed her shotgun, loaded it and strode outside. The shriek rang out before she fired her gun. Who was screaming?

Then she realised it was her. The scarecrow wearing the Reverend’s hat rotated anti- clockwise. Reality was disintegrating in front of her eyes, what had that note said? I HAVE FOUND YOU. RUN.

A kaleidoscope of jewels flashed from knarled taunting hands… Polly woke in a sweat. Never. Taking. LSD. Again. Somebody chapped the door loudly. It was the Reverend, his black crow clothes torn. Eyes full of fury, the shotgun in his hand betraying his priestly calling.

She placed the ruby finger on the trigger and turned the gun’s barrels towards his drawn pale face. “Forgive me father, for I know what I do…Would you care to join me for some sausages?”

No more. Tell everyone the truth or I’ll shoot. “No chance – it’s sausages and beans or nothing pal.”

And Charlie’s verdict:

“That was a great day today. Big thanks to Caroline for putting it all together and keeping things going.

I’d really no idea at all what Polly was going to get up to when she opened that door at 10 o’clock in the morning. It was some day, all those writers taking her in and out of crazy danger. Inevitable, I suppose, that she ended up frying sausages for a man of the cloth who bore her little but Ill. It was a pleasure to be part of the joint imagination of the Federation of Writers. What a wonderful collection of skill and creativity. I hope we can do it again sometime. “

Submissions open for next FWS Anthology

This year’s New Voices Press Anthology is now open for submissions. Submissions are invited from **FWS MEMBERS ONLY** until March 20th 2020 for the next anthology. Poems, stories and other literary compositions or graphics should be submitted according to the layout, size and number indicated in our guide for submissions at

When ready, the submissions should be sent to Janet Crawford at

Successful contributors will be notified by 11 May

Note: members are strongly advised not to submit material until they haveread the guidelines for submissions. NVP cannot offer editorial advice in advance of selection or accept submissions which do not meet the selection criteria. Please particularly note that we can only accept submissions in Word doc. or docx format. NOT rtf or pdf and that each piece submitted should be sent in a separate document.

2019 Successful launch of High Tide FWS

The FWS 2019 Anthology ‘High Tide’ was successfully launched at the Scottish Poetry Library in Edinburgh on 2 November 2019.

There were 21 readers, including some of the winners of the the FWS Vernal Equinox competition: Stephen Watt, Emma Baker, Derek Brown, Montague Chambers, Jane Lamb, Steve May, Sheila Millar, Deborah Moffat, Sue Proudlove, Leela Soma, Elaine Webster, Andy Allan, Paula Nicholson, Jo Gilbert, David Betteridge, Bert Thomson, Sharon Boyle, Mary Wigh, Anne MacKinnon, David McVey and Greg Michael-son

Our thanks to the Scottish Poetry Library for their super hospitality,  to the the anthology leader, Anne Connolly and her team; to Janet Crawford for co-ordinating submissions and live streaming the readings on Facebook, and also to Vincent Maguire for welcoming everyone to the event.

Thanks to Charlie Gracie and Catherine Hokin for prose selections. Neil Leadbeater and Sheila Templeton for English and Scots poetry selection, Jenifer Harley for production and distribution. Special thanks to Curriesprint, Broxburn, West Lothian who stepped in when our original printer let us down to produce the book on time with its beautiful cover from artwork designed by Loretta Serene Dunn.

Finally our thanks to Marjorie Lotfi Gill who really summed up what FWS are trying to achieve with the annual anthology: ‘These poems and stories renew our belief in the magic of the everyday …a child’s star brought down from the heavens in a public square, or the art in a car garage… There are so many glittering stars to choose from in High Tide. It’s a collection of work we’ll all return to again and again.’

Copies are available via the order form on our website. Cost £10 each plus £2 p&p for up to 2 copies, £2.50 for 3 copies and £3 for 4 – 8 copies.”

Horse Power at Heriot-Watt

davThe FWS pamphlet Horse Power, a celebration of James Watt on the 200th anniversary of his death, came to Heriot-Watt University on September 26th. HWU is partly named after the great engineering innovator, and three FWS members, two of them HWU members of staff, were invited to read from Horse Power to a large audience at the annual Stake-holders meeting.

Patrick Cottrell introduced the pamphlet and the two Horse Power readings already carried out, one at the Edgebaston church where Watt is buried and the other on Glasgow Green, where he is reputed to have had his central insight about improving stem engines.

Jenifer Harley, the FWS convenor, read her piece In Your Name, followed by Ruth Aylett, who read hers, Full Steam Ahead.  There was a FWS stall, pictured above, and a very positive reception.