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WiPS Newsletter: August 2022

Dear Members!

We send this out with today’s much hoped-for news that Hong Kong is relaxing its hotel “quarantine rule”. While we might have liked it removed completely, it is another step towards normality.

MESSAGE FROM SUZANNE

Hello Dear Members

It’s been an honour to have been part of our WiPS family these past three years, but now it’s time for me to step down as president. I am leaving Hong Kong in early August after being here for ten whole years. I am teary-eyed at the prospect, but now that WiPS is officially 30 years old and humming, and we have our new “rule by committee” status, I am thrilled to be able to leave the society with such a motivated and caring committee. They will ensure that WiPS remains robust and rocking, as evidenced by our Imprint 20 launch this year.

I will miss you all but won’t disappear entirely.
Big hug to everyone
Suzanne

BOOK CLUB
By Gillian Kew

Our Book Club has now been running for four months and we have read and reviewed four books, with opinions varying from “Meah!” to “Fab!”.

We are a warm and friendly group, welcoming all opinions on our book choices and enjoying a lively, inter-book discourse via WhatsApp. During our monthly Zoom sessions, we have some great discussions about the books and the issues they raise. We don’t always agree, but where would the fun be if we did?

Holding meetings over Zoom means that anyone in a reasonably compatible time zone can take part, which is a definite and unforeseen bonus. Of course, it would be lovely to get together in a physical space as virtual gatherings do have their drawbacks. With that in mind, we are considering holding a face-to-face session in the autumn for our Hong Kong members. We will be polling you on this and we welcome everyone’s input.

Meanwhile, I think it’s fair to say that the Book Club is proving to be a popular feature of the WiPS programme.

Our August book is Old Filth by Jane Gardam. We meet via Zoom on August 20 at 4pm HK time. It’s free for members and HK$80 for non-members. You can register through our website [https://www.hkwips.com/event/book-club-august-2022/].

WRITING WORKSHOPS
By Rinkoo Ramchandani

Six months on, and the writing workshop regulars are bonding over laughter as the group forms its own dynamic personality, marked by comfort and camaraderie.

We have updated the rules to expand the word limit to 2,000 but to restrict re-writes to two rounds. The diversity of the prose submissions we’ve seen speaks to the exceptional talent of the participating WiPS members.

Two of our regulars are working on novels, painstakingly submitting a chapter each month, leaving the rest of us in suspended anticipation as we wait to find out what has now happened. Other members are wistfully looking back on memorable experiences through the form of personal essays, while the rest entertain with short stories ranging from spooky to satirical. But the fun doesn’t stop there – this past week we even made up our own drinking game called “Andy, you’re on mute” with self-explanatory rules.

In between sessions, we stay connected through a WhatsApp group about upcoming deadlines and the occasional sassy meme nudging everyone to get back to their writing.

Our next workshop takes place on September 2, Friday at 3pm via Zoom (limited space). It’s free for members and HK$80 for non-members. To join us, please go to our website [https://www.hkwips.com/event/writing-workshop-september-2022/].

AUTHOR/PUBLISHER EVENT
By Carol Dyer

John Saeki and Pete Spurrier on how to earn your stripes in Hong Kong’s publishing industry. (Moderated by Suzanne Andrews)

Publishing John Saeki’s The Last Tigers of Hong Kong (ISBN: 978-988-75546-1-5) in the Year of the Tiger was serendipitous: Covid had delayed Blacksmith Books’ earlier planned release. It was equally unintentional that WiPS held its event on the eve of the International Day of the Tiger, 29 July (shamefully, we were not aware there was one!).

But nothing was left to chance in John Saeki’s research for his fascinating book. Historical references were hard to find, which probably explains why no one else has tackled the topic, and they were painstakingly and meticulously hunted down. Drawn to his subject by the sheer contrast of Hong Kong’s image as an urban jungle and the roaming of a ferocious wild beast at its fringes, Saeki spent many months in scanning newspaper archives; trying to locate New Territory’s villagers who were old enough to have seen a tiger in the wild; and reading the tiger tales of American missionary Harry Caldwell and descriptions by biologist G.A.C. Herklots.

Then endemic in Fujian Province, the South China tiger had extended its territory. There was nothing to stop it wandering, as it did yearly, into Hong Kong to prey on domestic and wild animals – and sometimes also people. Scary as this scenario might seem, the author laconically commented that over the period of the tiger’s presence in Hong Kong (possibly until as recently as the early 1960s), humans killed far more humans than the tiger ever did!

In his turn, local publisher extraordinaire Pete Spurrier told us that non-fiction about Hong Kong (and China), historical or contemporary, sells much better than fiction by Hong Kong-based authors, whose work generally competes less well with that of international writers. Importantly, too, local publishers are less interested in the rest of the region: if you write about Singapore, then find a Singaporean publisher, or go to New York or London.

A good working relationship between author and publisher is essential (as Saeki and Spurrier had). Authors need to be confident. If they are not, they may be turned away for fear they will be unable to help the book’s public promotion. This is an essential part of marketing in the industry today. Having a social media presence is not enough: you need to be out on the road doing interviews and book signings.

FUTURE EVENTS
While many members are away this summer and Covid restrictions still prevail in Hong Kong, it makes sense that our recurring events (Book Club and Writing Workshops) continue on Zoom: we can involve more participants. However, we intend to arrange events of a more social, face-to-face nature as soon as conditions allow (as mentioned, Book Club may well be held in person in the autumn). We are also in the process of organizing a poetry workshop to be run over a month before the end of the year and hope to have details of this soon.

Finally, we would like to express our sincere thanks to Suzanne for her dedication in sustaining and invigorating WiPS over these past three years, despite the depredations thrown at us by the pandemic. We wish her well on her return to New Zealand and for the international success of Nita’s Adventures, her book series.

With our best wishes to everyone
Your WiPS committee

August 8th, 2022|

WiPS Newsletter: May 2022

Allow me to begin on a high. The kind of high one feels when permitted to walk on a Hong Kong beach once again without fencing preventing your feet from touching sand. The kind of high one revels in when life resumes to near normalcy after claustrophobic pandemic times. And to get you more excited, please read on… “Yes, there are other highs to come!”

NEW MEMBERS
Since March, we have had 10 new members join WiPS: Gargi Banerjee, Julia Besnard, Irenee Chan, Liz Hobbs, Sarah Kwong, Jane Lo, Andy Lowe, Marria Qibtia Sikanda Nagra, Kate Wyllie and Neerja Yadav. It’s wonderful to have each one of you join us! To learn more about these talented ladies, please find their profiles in our online Members’ Directory [https://www.hkwips.com/members-directory/].

BOOK CLUB
By Gillian Kew
It’s been some years since WiPS ran a book club, so we decided to put our toes back in the water and give it another go; after all, we are about anything publishing-related! This book club had to be different, though, as we could no longer meet in person. It had to be by Zoom.

Our chosen book was Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney, a novel whose story centres around the mundane, intertwined lives of four millennials, focusing on their relationships, sex lives and the problems they face as they tried to find their “Beautiful World”.

The discussions were animated and lively as we all expressed our varied opinions, analysed the content and agreed on the general conclusion that it was more miss than hit for us, with too much focus on millennial angst. That said, we were all glad to have tried something different and we had thoroughly enjoyed the conversation and exchange of ideas.

For our next title, we have chosen The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas, to be discussed on Saturday, 21 May 2022. It’s not too late to join us! You can register through our website [https://www.hkwips.com/event/book-club-may-2022/].

WRITING WORKSHOPS
By Shikha Bansal
What happens when like-minded women get together on Zoom and discuss the craft of writing? The vibe is electric, enthusiastic and warm, and two hours fly by in the blink of an eye.

The WiPS Writing Workshop kicked off on 1 April with nine members in attendance. Eight members submitted a piece of writing, fiction and non-fiction, and everyone participated wholeheartedly, giving and receiving writing advice in equal measure, showing compassion and an understanding that pulling out words from thin air and attempting to turn them into art is challenging, although rewarding.

Led expertly by Rinkoo Ramchandani, the workshop produced a sense of shared community that will hopefully encourage the participants to grow and fulfil their potential as writers and one day find opportunities to showcase their work in larger arenas.

Our next workshop will be held on Thursday, 2 June 2022 [https://www.hkwips.com/event/writing-workshop-june-2022/].

UPCOMING AUTHOR EVENT
We are delighted to have our first WiPS president, Robyn Flemming, share her writing and personal journey with us on Monday, 6 June 2022, via Zoom [https://www.hkwips.com/event/its-never-too-late/].

In 2010, aged in her late fifties, Robyn sold her house in Australia and set off with her laptop on what would become a 10-year global odyssey as a freelance editor. But Robyn was also trying to manage a 40-year drinking habit. Robyn will share how Skinful, a planned funny travel memoir, became a brave and heartfelt account of personal change. She will also speak about finding her publisher and the special challenges that writing a memoir presents.

IMPRINT 21
We have had an impressive collection of submissions sent in for Imprint 21. The official deadline is now past, but if anyone has work she would still like to submit, please contact Carol (caroldyer@netvigator.com) soon.

PAYMENT OPTIONS
We have just added a new feature, PayMe for Business, to our payment options for annual subscriptions, events and copies of Imprint.

On behalf of your WiPS committee, I send you our very best wishes and look forward to many wonderful times ahead.

Suzanne

May 15th, 2022|

WiPS Newsletter: March 2022

Dear Members!

Now that Imprint 20 is finally in orbit, we have, as advertised on various social media platforms, started to offer tasters from among members’ work. We suggest that you consider sharing these on your own social media pages so that we can reach a broader readership.

We took good note of your voices at the launch and are excited to tell you that we will resume the WRITING WORKSHOP around the end of March / early April. It will be led by Rinkoo Ramchandani, one of our two new committee members. The first will be a member-only get-together dedicated to Imprint 21 submissions.

Later in April – to give you time to read the title – we will start a new BOOK CLUB. Gillian Kew, who is our other new committee member, will lead this.

Both the workshop and the book club will be held monthly on Zoom. They are free to members and available to non-members at a charge of HKD80 per session.

So that we can better plan for these events, please kindly email us at wipshk@gmail.com by March 23 if you or your friends are interested in joining either. We will then liaise with you directly to finalize details. Please email whatever your time zone as we may be able to include some overseas members or organize satellite groups for those in the US or Europe.

We greatly look forward to hearing from you.

Finally, please remember the deadline for Imprint 21 submissions is 30 April!

With our very best wishes
Your WiPS committee

March 17th, 2022|

Imprint in Orbit!

IMPRINT 20 WAS OFFICIALLY UNVEILED ON 26 FEBRUARY. As we couldn’t celebrate at the FCC, we launched the issue by Zoom.

Masterminded by new committee member Rinkoo Ramchandani and emceed by our president Suzanne Andrews, the occasion was declared an amazing success and enjoyed by members around the globe. Necessity being the mother of invention, WiPS had produced – in short order – its own mix of virtual wizardry!

“What a soul-lifting, inspiring and FUN launch that was! So honoured to be among such a vibrant, lively and talented group of creative women. Suzanne and team. It was a blast!” — Maureen Tai

For those of you whom distance or other engagements made attendance impossible, here is a small taste of what we enjoyed. These will take you to Susan Lavender’s rehearsal of her readings from four members’ prose pieces:

We also include a link to introduce our artist member Pamela Williams (https://www.pamwilliams.co.uk) who gave us not only the stunning illustration for the cover of Imprint 20 but also invaluable help in graphic design. As Pam lives in London, few members will have met her.

We hope this footage will help kindle your own creativity and urge you to be part of issue 21!

The deadline for the submissions is 30 April 2022. If you haven’t begun work on yours, please start now! This is your anthology and we welcome everyone’s contribution. Visit our website for guidelines.

We will hold an Imprint workshop in late March / early April for anyone needing help with her piece. More about this to follow.

March 11th, 2022|

Celebrating 20 years of Imprint and 30 years of WiPS!

By Gillian Kew

Last weekend, I experienced something magical. No, I didn’t suddenly find the cure for Covid or the secret to World Peace (shame), but I did find that even during what are euphemistically dubbed “difficult times”, it was still possible to have a great time with friends. This was WiPS’ first virtual party, to launch IMPRINT 20 and to celebrate 30 years of this marvellous organization. Rinkoo Ramchandani’s technical wizardry and the hard work of the WiPS team gave us a party to remember as a rip-roaring success that connected WiPS members from across the globe with us all in Hong Kong: 29 spirited women, 8 from 6 different overseas countries!

Jazzy music and a rolling slide show of some early WiPS photos and the present and past Imprint covers opened the party, and we settled down to inspiring remarks from Suzanne Andrews, a champagne toast and then to excerpts from the stunning works of Dimple Shah and Maureen Tai, performed impeccably by Susan Lavender. Mary-Jane Newton and Bhavani Krishnamurthy followed, delighting us with their poems.

It was then time to let loose and have some fun. We launched into The Quiz – a WiPS tradition, reworked for Zoom – having an absolute ball as our competitive ladies’ hands shot up, we danced in our seats, and argued playfully over who got there first, finishing with an uproarious tongue-twister.

A short break while screening slides of the artwork in this year’s Imprint was followed with Carol Dyer discussing our new-look Imprint, thanking everyone involved in its production and reminding us to get our orders in! She then gave us the deadline for Imprint 21 (April 30 in case you want to start scribbling) and asked the fiction writers and artists to step forward and share their talent (again, time to sharpen those nibs)!

Susan Lavender returned to the stage to thrill us once more with an energetic performance of Jennifer Eagleton’s sparkling piece on life with corona – never has a virus sounded so attractive! Demonstrating her acting prowess, Susan quickly changed tack to move us with part of Sarah Merrill Mowat’s evocative story, also about Covid. Shikha Lamba and Elizabeth Vongsaravanh completed this section with their poignantly lovely verse. We had laughed, cried (well, I had) and we were about to cry some more as the party was coming to an end – but not before our Quiz winners were announced. After a nail-biting tie-breaker, Jennifer Eagleton triumphed, with Sarah Brennan hard on her heels, and runner up prizes for Robyn Flemming, Ritu Hemnani and Sue Dockstader.

We finished with a poll on future activities and on the highest of notes, as Sarah Brennan gave a moving vote of thanks, and we toasted the success of IMPRINT 20 and this amazing group of talented women.

* * *

Our next steps: thank you for your feedback on what events you’d like to see more of in 2022. We’ve heard you! And we’re excited to announce that we will be re-launching the writing workshop. In addition, we will arrange a book club again! We’ve also started planning a couple of other events including an author talk as well as smaller discussion groups.

We do need a little more time to iron out some of these details, so stay tuned for more information in the next few weeks! And while face to face is always a wonderful way to connect with each other, we were very excited to have our overseas members participate in the Imprint launch by Zoom and hope to see more of you in the coming virtual events as well. And to our Hong Kong friends, we know you’re not able to go out much right now, so we will do our best to offer some fun distractions to you.

March 4th, 2022|

WiPS Newsletter: February 2022

Dear Members!

Happy Year of the Tiger to you all.

By now our local members should have received their copy of Imprint 20 in the post; overseas members will probably still need to wait a while. We are sad to have had to resort to mailing out the anthology again but having deferred this year’s launch twice, we could wait no longer. Social distancing rules could remain as they are for many weeks.

For those of you requiring more copies of Imprint 20, please kindly email [wipshk@gmail.com] with the number of copies you need. We will keep you informed as to how these will be collected or posted, with postage paid by the member in this case.

We hope when Imprint did/does arrive, it was/will be a pleasant surprise and that it will provide you with much enjoyable reading!

Imprint 20 Zoom Launch Party
We are thrilled to announce that we will hold an Imprint 20 launch party by Zoom on Saturday, 26 February at 3pm Hong Kong time – chosen so that our early birds and night owls overseas can join us. A flyer will be sent to you shortly and the Zoom link will be emailed before the event. We’re all dressing up – so on the day we will be face to face, mask-less and joyous!

New Committee Members
We are delighted also to announce that Gillian Kew and Rinkoo Ramchandani have recently joined us on the committee. We’re so excited to have you with us, Gillian and Rinkoo, and of course welcome your expertise and enthusiasm!

2022 Membership Renewal
Thank you to those of you who have renewed your membership for this year. The deadline for renewal is 28 February, so please attend to this if you have not emailed us yet. All Showcase, Directory and Women at Work contributions are dependent on membership, so, regretfully, if membership is not renewed, these will be removed from our website.

Upcoming events for 2022
In-person occasions remain difficult to arrange, so this year we are scheduling Zoom events to encourage networking, learning and sharing. After our Imprint launch, we plan to have a post-Imprint Zoom event to share stories we’ve enjoyed from our latest anthology, to comment on the new look of Imprint 20 and to discuss the next issue.

It is also our intention to establish at least one sub-group, which may be a critique group, book club or similar. This group will have regular Zoom events and one member will be asked to co-ordinate this.

We also plan to offer online courses of interest to you all.

We are excited to see as many of you as possible on Saturday, 26 February for our first Zoom of the year. Finally, we can celebrate our beloved anthology!

Very best wishes on behalf of the committee,
Suzanne

February 3rd, 2022|
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