Monday, September 07, 2015

#FoW15 in words and pictures

It's the morning after the weekend before and, as ever, I feel jet-lagged, hung-over, culture-shocked (Real Life is WEIRD!) and, especially this year, very happy. Although previous years have been fab, it always felt like I spent a lot of time picking people up from the floor and handing them tissues. In some ways, that's not a bad thing. It shows how much they cared about what they do.

Back: Sophie Wellstood, Mandy Berriman Front: Jody Klaire, Katherine Hetzel, John Taylor
But here's the real point: those people who had dusted themselves off, who had taken on board the advice from their 1-1s, internalised what they learnt in the workshops and panels, and come back to the festie with sparkly new writing were the ones who, this year, had the affirmation they had worked so hard for. Time after time, I was approached by shiny-eyed people who had received really positive feedback from agents who want to see the whole MS. At least one, including my gorgeous mentee Mandy Berriman, was told by a top agent that they are 'really excited' by their stories. Another RL friend, Rachael Dunlop, faces the possibility of having to choose between several agents. Two Cloudie friends, Michelle Bromley and Hilary Taylor, were shortlisted for the Friday Night Live Competition and one, the fabulous Sophie Wellstood (who I first met when we accepted her submission for Stories for Homes) won the Opening Chapter competition.

The shortlisted authors in the Friday Night Live competition
 These are the competitions which have led to such runaway success in the past for authors such as Shelley Harris, Deborah Install and Jo Cannon. (Click the links to see their FoW stories.) And these are just a few of the people I know who were wearing ear-to-ear grins this time. Truly, my cup runneth over.
Andrew Wille, Deborah Install and Jenny Savill
When I stood in for Harry Bingham on Saturday night, I asked for a show of hands. How many people were festie returnees? I calculated approximately a third. When I asked our self-edit alumni to come up on stage for a group photo, I was blown away to see that about 30 of the 179 people who have taken the course so far were at the festival. These are the people who, by dedicating themselves to their craft and demonstrating their commitment to their writing, are now reaping the harvest of all that hard work.

A reminder that the self-edit course runs 4 times a year and consists of detailed tutorials to give you the tools of creative writing, and exercises which are based on your own WIP, thereby showing how to apply the tools to your own story. See here for some feedback and here for the syllabus and booking details.

Huge thanks to everyone who has tweeted, FBd and emailed their appreciation following the mini course, workshops and 1-1s. The Psychic Distance workshop was, as ever, the one that blew people's minds, even though it was the last workshop of a packed weekend. More than one person said the insights almost brought them to tears but then it was the end of a totes emosh weekend for all of us. Do check out Emma Darwin's blogposts on PD to get those synapses firing.

If anyone is itching for more writerly input before FoW16, I'll be running workshops at Verulam Writers' Get Writing Day on 26 Sept and also a one day Craft of Writing event in Exeter for The Place to Write on 10 Oct.

York Uni is a stunning setting
Some of the wonderful Writers' Workshop team

Delegates and pros trickling in
Jane Ayres and Moira Please, who run The Place to Write

Mandy Berriman and Janette Owen - natural storytellers

No caption needed. Well worth the indigestion

Craig Taylor at the controls

For the first time - a DISCO!
Discovering the magic of Psychic Distance
Happy birthday, WW!

One final thing, which I post while attempting to uncurl my toes. Several people had a go at me for not talking more about my own books and writing so I'm just slipping in here that Nirvana Bites and Trading Tatiana are now available as e-books and yes, I will try to get the next 3 out there too at some point. 

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Lovely bloggers

A glance down my list of recent posts shows I've been a lazy blogger for some time now. I'm so busy, and there are so many other people who say what I would about the craft of writing better than I can, so I spend most of my online activity accessing the quick fix of Facebook and Twitter.

So why am I posting now? Well, I've been shamed into it by the wonderful Loretta Milan who has declared this blog to be lovely. 


To accept the award, there are a few things nominees have to do…
  • Thank the person who nominated them for the award.
  • Add the One Lovely Blog logo to their post.
  • Share 7 facts/or things about themselves.
  • Nominate up to 15 bloggers they admire and inform nominees by commenting on their blog.
I've ticked off 1) and 2) so here are 7 personal facts that you might not know about me. In no particular order:
  1.  I can speak backwards fluently.
  2. I covered my hair for 6 years when I was in my 30s. In that time, more people saw my breasts than the top of my head.
  3. One of my eyes is lighter than the other.
  4. In another lifetime, I would have been an archaeologist.
  5. I'm the shortest person in my immediate family by over a foot.
  6. I was made homeless when I was seven months pregnant.
  7. I once lost the losers' race at my primary school, despite being the oldest child competing.
There we go. Please note: I will NOT be elaborating on any of the above. 

And herewith my nominees, bearing in mind that Loretta has named many I would and Squidge has named some more of my favourites. I've chosen the ones I think are most useful/entertaining and, in some cases, it wouldn't be appropriate to leave a comment on their blog so I'm just putting these up here as a resource.

Jackie Buxton's Agenthood and Submissionville
Isabel Rogers' blog never promises to be entirely serious
A collective of bibliophiles talking about books - Vulpes Libris 
Rachael Dunlop's blog, Butterflies
Writers' Workshop House Blog
Agent Hunter blog
Nicola Morgan's Heartsong
And though she no longer posts there, Nicola's Help! I Need a Publisher is a treasure trove of useful advice
I know Squidge mentioned Chuck Wendig, but his Terrible Minds blog merits a mention here too
The ramblings of a few scattered authors - An Awfully Big Blog Adventure
Norman Geras sadly died in October 2013, but his normblog remains as a beacon of sanity in a naughty world

 Authors for Nepal

While I'm here and have you attention, do you know about Authors for Philippines? Set up by the wonderful Julia Williams, you can bid on ebay for all kinds of goodies including signed books, illustrations, named characters and critiques. Every penny goes directly to help the Nepalese people in the wake of the devastating earthquake. My offer of a crit of synopsis and first 5000 words of a novel is here.

Right, I'm off. I'll try not to leave it so long before I post again. Thanks again to Loretta's Literary Lightbox for bringing me out of the shadows.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Hold the front page

Hmmm. The ups and downs of authordom. For reasons too complex to go into, I have ended my contract with the e-publisher and have negotiated the rights back. This means that, for a while at least, my novels will no longer be available in e-format. I fully intend to self-publish them, as well as the next three in the Nirvana series, and will be on the case ASAP.

In the meantime, if you want to know just how bumpy the road can be for authors, check out Harry Bingham's journey in his blog posts on the Writers' Workshop site. Pulls no punches, does our Harry.