Our guest speaker, Malcolm Burgess, owns Oxygen Books along with author Heather Reyes, who was our guest speaker last month. We were grateful to Malcolm for stepping in at short notice after our advertised speaker had to cancel. Malcolm began by describing the thrill of selling his first piece of writing as a free-lance journalist and he advised that in order to avoid rejection it is important to find a niche in the market and also to write about what you enjoy.
Malcolm's own areas of writing include articles for newspapers and magazines, as well as radio comedies. He set up his own publishing company after a visit to Athens where he could not find any writing about the city other than the usual travel guides. The City Pick travel guide series is the result of this experience and the guides, which represent an increasing number of popular city destinations throughout the world, bring together observations of different writers about a particular city into one volume. The series has received wide praise; The Independent described the series as 'An attractive-looking list of destination-based literature anthologies … a great range of writers.' The
Malcolm also took the opportunity to advertise his latest project, 'Essex Belongs To Us' that aims to demonstrate the diversity of the county. The project has received a grant from the Arts Council to cover production costs but contributors, unfortunately, will only enjoy the reward of seeing themselves in print. Writers are invited to submit pieces in any genre, and from any period, up to 1,500 words. Malcolm then set the group an exercise where we were asked to write three sentences about Essex. He read out everyone's efforts and the breadth of subject matter, experiences and observations were an indication of how exciting the proposed book on Essex promises to be.
The deadline for work is November 2016. The project is open to all writers aged 16 + who live in Essex. More information about how to enter is on www.essexbelongstous.org Here writers can also check out writing tips from well-known Essex authors like Martina Cole, Rachel Lichtenstein, Lee Rourke and Martin Newell.