I wanted to start this blog with something witty about the Festival of Writing 2011 but I found this statement so touching that it had to come first. This gives you an idea of the type of people with whom you are dealing and the kind of support that you can receive through The Writers’ Workshop.

“The Promise that Never Dies”

From Harry Bingham, author and WW boss
“If you come to our Festival and an agent is seriously interested in your work, then we will be as helpful as we can in making sure that interest turns into a signed offer of representation … followed ideally by a book deal.

Harry Bingham

Because these things can take time, please rest assured that we will ALWAYS be on hand to help in any way we can. Unless we start to do hands-on editorial work, we won’t even charge for our help. There is no expiry date for this offer. If your work is strong, we’ll do what we can to help with agents, period.

We’ve helped countless writers hook up with countless agents. Last year’s Festival produced book deals, and 2011 promises to do better yet. We very much hope to do the same for you one of these days.”

Harry gave this speech at the event. To offer such a commitment to so many was both brave and beautiful.

There are two people in addition to Harry that stand out for me, they are always going out of their way to help others; Debi Alper and Emma Darwin. A fellow writer friend and myself informed Debi that another talented, aspiring author and Word Cloud member had had a particularly disappointing one-to-one; she was upset and hurt. Debi went out of her way to help this person; to talk to them and reassure them. She sat them down and gave them her time and her shoulder to cry on. These are amazing individuals and kind-hearted humans. Writing is so personal and needs to be nurtured like a child. The Writers’ Workshop staff offer an almost parental guidance so that we may grow as individuals.

The Event itself and how the conference has helped me

I won’t go into detail about all of the workshops that were on offer over the weekend as by the time you get to the end of this blog you will feel exhausted. Instead, i’ll talk about the sessions that I attended and the useful information that I have taken away with me and can pass on to you.

(For more information about the conference itself and all of the workshops that were on offer see this link: http://www.writersworkshop.co.uk/festivals/wshop.shtml )

The welcome speech and keynote address for the event was given by David Nobbs, author of 27 novels and creator of The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin which later became a successful British sitcom starring Leonard Rossiter. Though this sitcom was before my time (teehee) I knew of the authors work. This humorous and honest address set the mood for the whole event; he has a new fan.

My first session, The Toolbox, was with the wonderful Philippa Pride (UK agent for Stephen King, Hodder). Philippa drew upon words by Stephen King from his memoir of the craft, On Writing, as well as using methods of her own. I found the section on using music and mind maps particularly useful. In the Sample of my Writing section, you will see what I wrote to the piece of classical music played; we had around two minutes to write whatever came to mind.

After the speech I attended the Children’s Fiction Panel Q & A session which I found most enlightening. This panel consisted of a mix of agents, publishers, writing consultants and authors. All agreed that we must not underestimate the integrity of our readership, or their technical abilities. More and more children are enjoying the immediacy and ease of downloading an Ebook.

Session two was Making Bestsellers hosted by the witty and vastly experienced Patrick Janson-Smith (Harper-Collins). Patrick was responsible for discovering such talent as Bill Bryson and Terry Pratchett amongst others. What Patrick looks for is originality, voice, tension and story. Patrick does not take unsolicited submissions.

Before session two began, there was a panel Q & A session held in the main hall. The panel consisted of Carole Blake (Blake Friedman. Agent) and Patrick Janson-Smith (Harper-Collins. Publisher). What I gained from this was an overview of an authors rights and opportunities and confirmation that we do indeed need an agent; a bloody good one! I would love to work with someone like Carole (eventually), she really appears to fight the corner of those she represents.

Session three was MS to Publication with Vicky Blunden (Publisher) and Elizabeth Haynes (Author). This session showed that there can be advantages to working with a small publisher!

On Saturday evening there was a Gala Dinner where all aspiring writers, agents, publishers and published authors got the opportunity to mingle and network. The fantastic Kate Allan was kind enough to introduce me to one of my hero’s, John Jarrold! We chatted for a while and he invited me to submit my “best possible” work to him whenever I was ready. How exciting.

Sunday – Session four was with another of my writing hero’s; Nicola Morgan ( http://helpineedapublisher.blogspot.com/ Author of ninety books!). This session was by far my favourite. The advice priceless. One of my one-to-one sessions was with Nicola and I found her to be warm and honest. I did not realise how much work I still had to do until this session.

There were two further sessions that I attended: Laughing Till you Cry with Julie Cohen & Jane Lovering and Creating Worlds with Toby Frost. Both of these sessions were amazing. I came away with a notebook full of tips and advice. What came across strongly in both sessions was believability. Our readers must believe what we write no matter how far-fetched or distorted.

The keynote speech for the event was given by Kate Williams (Historian and author of Becoming Queen/Young Victoria).

On Monday morning after going through all of my notes and one-to-one reports, I have to admit I felt somewhat confused and deflated. I wrote about this on The Word Cloud writers’ forum. There was a vast amount of information to take in and most of it conflicting. What I came to realise later was that, of course it would be conflicting! Agents and publishers views are as subjective as an authors or readers. Not everyone thinks the same. I suppose a clear example of this would be one agent saying;

“No more vampires!”

I disagree with this statement but if this particular agent doesn’t want anymore vampires then I won’t go to them. However, I will always want to write and read vampire stories. Vampires are still hugely popular and always will be. This is just one persons view.

Another agent told me that they did not like fantasy. On checking out their website later I found that they had a fantasy author on their list. Perhaps they just didn’t want to talk to me 😦 You can’t please everybody.

What have I gained from attending the conference?

A new set of skills. Fresh and current advice. New friends and memories that will stay with me forever. Most of all, I have gained the knowledge that we are not alone in this. In our moments of frustration, sadness and insecurity there will always be someone we can turn to; other writers.

I wish you luck in your chosen career and hope to see you at the conference next year!

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The last two weeks have been exciting for me in so many ways.

  • I am proud to announce that I have become a Blog Tour Host for the wonderful author promotion website, Novel Publicity (see my lovely little parrot picture on the left below). I will be reviewing my first title on here on the 11th May 2011 so please keep reading my lovely followers.
  • After careful consideration and the creation of a rather in-depth Business Plan, I have decided to start my own business (well, become a sole trader). I am currently in the middle of a copy-editing / proofreading course through Chapterhouse, and upon completion of said course, I will become self-employed. Exciting stuff. I’m thinking of running a competition on here to help me think of a business name; just a bit of fun.
  • A talented illustrator, Andy Carolan, has created perfect images of how I pictured the main character for my forthcoming graphic novel, details to be disclosed on here soon!
  • This weekend I will be attending the York Festival of Writing. Attendees are offered the opportunity to submit work to be critiqued by an agent or book doctor; I have submitted to both. I’m so excited about hearing their comments and advice. I’ll let you all know how it goes; good or bad.
  • This blog received a record number of hits on one of my recent blog titles, so I want to thank all of you who took the time to read and comment. Without you, this site would not exist.
  • This year I have made a number of what I hope will be lifelong friends or acquaintances through Twitter / The Word Cloud / this blog and networking events I have attended. These new friends have taken the time to talk to me, offer me advice and go out of their way to help me on my writing journey. I am hoping to meet many of you in the future and look forward to getting to know you all a lot better.  Please know that I am here to offer support to all of you too. Thank you.
  • My name has been published in The Winchester Writers’ Conference 2010 Anthology with a lovely compliment from the adjudicator about the quality of our submitted work. This does wonders for your confidence!

2011 promises to be an amazing year, I am determined to make it so. Working hard at something you love does not feel like work at all.

In the comments section below, please let me know about your recent achievements / plans or aims for this year. I would love to hear from all of you. I would like to write a blog in the near future dedicated to all of your good news.

 

I wish you all the best for the future and an abundance of happiness.

 


A couple of weeks ago a writer I am proud to know, and respect, Harry Bingham,  featured a new website on his personal blog. The blog is available to read on the writer’s forum, The Word Cloud.

The new website is iwritereadrate.com and the fabulous director and creator is Adam Charles. I’ll let Adam explain more about his creation, so enjoy, get involved and join the revolution!!!

Join the Revolution –

What does new technology mean for writing and reading literature?


I was sat in a bar a while ago talking with an old friend over a cold beer.  As an Engineer his viewpoint on various topics we talked about was rather different to my own.  Whilst discussing widely publicised environmental issues his response was always that ‘technology would find the answer’.  My standpoint was rather less definitive on the subject.  Yes, I agreed, technology could play a key role, but it’s down to our choices – individually and collectively – to make any change a significant and lasting one.

My, perhaps tenuous, point here is that we’re at a real tipping point with technology in relation to how we consume literature and media in general.  Technology revolutionises, it refines, it redraws traditional lines of consumption, disrupts our historical patterns of behaviour, it finds a way of improving the situation in whatever aspect of our lives that it touches, but only if we embrace it.

We can see so many recent examples of how Internet and communications technology has fundamentally altered how and when we interact with our friends (real and virtual), connect to the world, find and listen to music, and we’re beginning to see this rebirth happen with how we discover, purchase, and consume literature in every genre.

With the proliferation of devices capable of viewing and downloading content wherever we are – such as smart-phones, tablets and dedicated eReader platforms – the wind very much appears in the sails for a generational change in how we buy and consume books, how we experience literature in general.  This is now reaching a point of market integration when it can no longer be considered in its infancy. 

The people are speaking and it’s now time to embrace the change.

Alas, I have to admit that I will miss the touch, smell, and sense of paper and print.  My personal opinion is that there will always be a place for it, and writers may always want to see their hard work in a physical form.  However, progress happens for a reason.  Usually this is to provide an improved, refined, simpler or richer experience for the people accessing the content.

So, what does the future look like?

I wouldn’t perhaps feel qualified at this stage to foresee what the endgame looks like for publishing, as the shift is still only just beginning to take hold.  However, there is little doubt that it will have to adapt and revolutionise into something that we can’t quite predict just yet.  Whilst this change is undoubtedly underway, it is still currently ether wafting around the world-wide web, a twinkle in the eye of ours and upcoming generations, with only whispers about what the future may bring.

I read an interesting article recently about Digital Natives – those who have grown up never knowing a world without the Internet – and their expectation about what they can do online.  The way they look at the world, through real and virtual goggles, the way that they want to communicate and consume media of all kinds is fundamentally different as a result of technology.  Whilst those of us who still remember Dial-up tones are perhaps grappling with this, the Digital Natives will expect to have flexible, interactive experiences using the Internet; and this certainly will not be any different for how they will want to consume their literature.

What excites me about what could happen next is perhaps more important right now.  Writers and readers at this point in history, this particular moment in time, have an opportunity unlike any other generation of people in love with the written word since humanity began the mass printing of books all those hundreds of years ago.

As writers and readers we – through our actions, our purchasing decisions, the places and devices we use to consume books, our words both published and unpublished (electronic and printed), through our blogs and myriad social media interactions with people around the globe – truly have an opportunity to make the whole process of what becomes a successful story or novel more democratic, more personal, more social.  People Power in its most positive form.  I can see a rise in niche literature – work that wouldn’t be considered commercial by publishers – that will sell thousands rather than millions but still have something very worthwhile to say, and will inevitably, through technology, find an enthusiastic audience to enjoy it out there in the world.

I’m not an industry insider, I’m not versed in the old ways of doing things, and I’m not predicting anything in particular here that isn‘t starting to happen already.  What I am, however, is in my late twenties, a voracious reader, an unpublished writer and a keen technophile.  I know what I want from my literature, I know how easily I want to access exciting new ideas and stories, how wide and varied a choice I also would like.  I also know that I would like a more interactive way of finding new writers and stories to entertain and inspire me.

However, I sincerely hope that it will be a democratic, rather than autocratic, change.

I’ve clearly bought front row tickets for the revolution, I guess what happens next is down to everyone who has yet to decide, and the next generation of book lovers.  Whilst you’re thinking about it have a look at our new website – www.iwritereadrate.com.

 

So, get your ticket and Join the Revolution!

Adam is a founding Director of a new website for writers to sell, and receive ratings & reviews on their unpublished work direct from readers who love to find new stories.  You can register now to receive pre-launch access to upload your work before anyone else, enter a competition to win an eReader, and receive a monthly newsletter.

Visit them to discover more: www.iwritereadrate.com

Today we are pleased to be talking to Jennifer Wylie again about her forthcoming short story releases and her writing life. Jennifer is a regular on Twitter and both friendly and helpful. She is published through Echelon Press.

 

 

It’s been a couple of months since you last stopped by, what have you been up to?

I’ve been a very busy bee! Jump had an amazing release in December, jumping (haha) into the Top 10 Best Seller list on OmniLit on release day. It’s stayed there ever since, and is currently at the #1 spot!

Some very exciting news is I was contracted by my publisher for a short story series. I am one of twelve authors from around the world participating in the dynamic new Electric Shorts division. Written specifically for young readers, the Electric Shorts are high impact stories presented in a venue similar to that of popular television series. Electric Shorts will publish one story/episode each month in eBook. An Electric Shorts season will last six months.

Tell us more about your new stories and how we can get hold of a copy

My first episode [Banished] in the “Tales of Ever” series will debut on March 1, 2011.

Electric Shorts are written for readers between the ages of seven and seventeen with fast-paced and intense storylines. My series, “Tales of Ever,” is a modern adventure fantasy geared toward teens, ages thirteen to seventeen.

Banished

My life was normal. It sucked, but it was normal. At least until I got this new power. I can control fire. It would be cool if it weren’t so dangerous and if I knew how to use it. Pretty much my sucky life took a nosedive once I got it. Yup, everything gone. I suppose I should be thankful some uncle I never heard of took me in. Turns out the whole family isn’t normal and my power is a lot more dangerous than I thought. I thought things couldn’t get any worse. I was wrong. They banished me to Ever.

If I’m lucky, I might survive my first day.

I mentioned I’ve been busy, I also have another short story out in March, Immortal Echoes: The Forgotten Echo. It is a paranormal I’m sure everyone will enjoy!

Sometimes death is only the beginning…

After a bad day Cassy is surprised to find herself shot, an innocent bystander in a drive by shooting. Bleeding to death in an empty parking lot she knows she’s going to die. What she doesn’t expect is the arrival of a strange, yet gorgeous, man who tells her he can keep her from passing on in return for being his forever. Whatever that means…

In desperation she agrees, but after an unusual kiss she is beyond dismayed to discover she has died. To make matters worse, the strange man has disappeared. Her spirit wanders, afraid and alone until she meets another like her and she discovers she not a ghost at all, but something much more.

My new short stories are available in eBook formats at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and OmniLit for 0.99 each. See my webpage for more information http://www.jenniferwylie.ca

I know all of the Mum’s out there will want to know; how do you find the time to write, manage your blog, AND keep a family and home in any kind of order?

That depends how you define order… LOL. I have a lot of energy and run around crazy a lot. Lists are a big thing with me, without them I think I’d lose my mind. I’ve piles of little ones beside my computer. I also try to keep as organized as I can, folders to sort my email, my files. I make up documents to keep track of all my blog dates, who’s on my site, where I am and when etc. Every once and I while I get a bit overwhelmed, sometimes I miss things. But I just do the best that I can!

What is your favourite time of the day to write?

Evenings! I don’t do well with distractions. I will occasionally open up one of my stories and jot some ideas down (so I don’t forget) or sometimes even a short scene or dialogue. Normally I really get going once the kids are in bed. Lucky for me their bedtime is around 7pm!

I recently posted a blog about how we channel negative emotions in our writing, and whether it is possible for an author to write about death and pain without ever experiencing either for themselves; what are your own views on this?

I think it depends on the author really. Some people are very emotional and can tune to these feelings well. Others not so much. Some just wouldn’t be able to convey it even if they had experienced it. Writing is make-believe, when I need to write about my MC losing the love of her life, I imagine what that would be like and write how I feel. Sometimes it takes a while.

Describe your writing environment at home (we’re nosy!)

I’m hidden down in my own little room. I’ve a nice toasty fireplace to keep me sorta warm during these horribly cold Canadian winter days. My writing desk is also my craft station (not that I craft much anymore LOL but all the stuff is still here) I’m surrounded by my candy stash of jelly beans, peanut butter cups and gum balls. For Xmas I actually got a real computer chair, it even has a back massager!

(WOW, I want one Jen! Tee-hee)

What are you hoping to do next?

Hopefully, I can keep up with the busy months ahead. I’ve more shorts to write for my series, and am currently working on edits for my novel to come out in May. I’m heading to the USA for two conferences this summer and I’m really excited about that! Of course there is the never ending marketing too, which I actually really enjoy doing. 🙂

Thank you to Jennifer Wylie for stopping by today, we look forward to speaking to her again very soon!

Thanks so much for having me!!

Good luck with the blog tour Super-Mum!

 

Links to Jen’s amazing tales 🙂

http://www.omnilit.com/product-banished-519511-234.html

http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Banished/Jen-Wylie/e/2940012206961/?itm=1

http://www.omnilit.com/product-theforgottenecho-518338-234.html

http://www.amazon.com/Forgotten-Echo-Immortal-Echoes-ebook/dp/B004P5NQ1G

I am about to open a can of worms. I know this, but I feel so passionate about the subject that I need to comment on it.

 

I’m the proud owner of an iPad (which is annoyingly now updated! But that’s a whole different blog!).

 

My iPad is mainly used for writing and reading (amongst other things). Those of you that have visited this blog before will know that I am an avid reader and lover of books; these can be paper or electronic. My loyalties and heart will always be with paper. The feeling you get whilst turning a page; the scent that fills the air around you with nostalgia and memories whilst you hold your tome of choice in your hands. But, we have to accept that times are changing and the format from which we read is rapidly changing too. I own a vast number of EBooks in a variety of genres and each year I purchase fifty or more paper books; the majority of which are new releases.

Some girls buy shoes…. I buy books.

I am writing this blog as a reader primarily, and a writer secondary.

What driving force leads you to select one book / genre over another?

For me, it’s not a pretty cover – I know the marketing processes having worked in sales and PR – or whether it’s on a table at the front of a shop. It’s not because it’s an Amazon / iTunes best-seller (though, I do check those lists). When selecting my books I either read a sample chapter or extended blurb / first couple of pages, or it’s because of a recommendation; word of mouth. Most of my friends are avid readers too. I have also been known to contact friends on creative writing courses and ask for their reading lists (yes, i’m that sad).

A thirst for knowledge (non-fiction), beautiful wording and a great story drive me to buy my books.

Two weeks ago I purchased a selection of eBooks. Some of my choices were recommended by Twitter friends (followers), or were by the authors themselves. I’m happy to say that the majority were fabulous and I thoroughly enjoyed them…BUT…there were some hefty duds amongst my purchases and I only wished that they came with return and refund guarantee!

It’s disappointing and grinding to read an opening chapter FULL of typing errors, spelling mistakes and basic grammar issues. I know that some clever person is going to go through this blog and find errors (I hope not!) but i’m not making people pay to visit! If the story seemed reasonable, I tried to continue (red pen extracted from my mind) but this only uncovered more issues; gaping holes in the plot, uncharacteristic behaviours, unbelievable dialogue, amongst many other problems. I know that this is not the norm, but it’s becoming more prevalent.

Why is this happening? How are these terrible books getting published?

This is only my opinion, feel free to offer your own, but I believe that it is because many more people are self-publishing. Anyone can purchase software and produce an eBook. Writers who do this are generally bypassing the copy-editing stage. Proofreading your own book doesn’t count. By the time you come to the end of your WIP you will have read the same text over and over; you won’t spot even the most basic mistakes.

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, I implore you, as a keen reader / potential customer (also trainee copy-editor), before you publish anything; pay for it to be professionally edited. There are so many companies out there offering this facility (I will be one very soon!) and it is well worth the money if you want people to buy your books.

This experience has put me off purchasing any more eBooks by self-published authors.

I’m hoping some wonderful author will come forth and change my mind! I don’t like discrimination!

I sincerely hope that no one takes offence to this blog, only accepting it for what it is; advice and help for a fellow writer.

Now let’s get out there and show them how it is done!


Is pain a gateway to creativity?

A gifted author decided to open up on a writers’ forum of which I am a member, about the recent death of his pet cat. It was not so much the subject that touched others as well as myself, but the way he wrote about the passing of his beloved member of the family.

He waited with his pet at the vets while the poor creature was put to sleep due to terrible injuries. The writer talked about looking into his cat’s eyes and realising the moment life left its damaged body; the visibility of separation.

 

I found his account moving and honest.

After a few private tears (memories triggered of my own losses), I began thinking about death and pain; about how we use the negative emotions they create and channel them into our work.

Could any of us write about death, pain, loss or hurt in a believable way without ever experiencing any or all of them for ourselves? I think not.

I read in a recent article that a certain amazing British soul singer / ex heroin addict wrote her best-selling album whilst going through the terrible pain of a break up, and has not found it so easy now that her life is in order……….

So, to reiterate the questions above: is death / loss a gateway to real life, and to the life of your writing?

Does the pain we are forced to endure open up our creative floodgates?

What are your feelings on this? Feel free to tell me about any of your own experiences, i’m interested. What emotions trigger your most impressive / believable writing?

Feel free to post in the comments section. If you agree, I would like to use your experiences in a future blog post.

In my last blog I mentioned that I would be attending a couple of writers’ conferences this year in a bid to better my skills and network with other mad people who choose to write. Writing can be a lonely occupation, so any opportunity to get out there and socialise is grabbed with both hands.

York Festival of Writing was recommended by a friend and fellow author so I have decided to give it a go, be brave and get my work and face out there (scary, the face that is!).

In this blog I wanted to give other aspiring authors details about the conference and the wonderful authors/agents/publishers holding workshops and one-to-one sessions. After attending the conference, I will give honest feedback, so watch this space.

The Festival at a Glance

25-27 March, University of York, UK

A brief selection of the many agents in attendance:

Carole Blake; Agent to bestselling authors including Sheila Flanagan, Joseph O’Connor, Barbara Erskine – and author of Pitch to Publication.

Antony Topping & Judith Murray; Antony and Judith are senior agents at Greene and Heaton, and represent such big names as Sarah Waters,Marcus du Sautoy, CJ Sansom, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall & many more.

Simon Trewin (pictured): Co-head of Books at United Agents. Represents Richard Curtis, Nicci French, etc.

 

 

The Specialists / publishers

In their words;

“We’ve also invited specialist agents & publishers who know the market you are writing for. Among many others …”

John Jarrold: The best known specialist in science-fiction / fantasy / horror in the UK. If you write in this area, you HAVE to meet him

Julia Churchill (pictured): Julia is an agent devoted 100% to the children’s & Young Adult market. No one knows this market better.

(I met Julia at Winchester Writers’ Conference and found her to be warm and encouraging.)

 

Jane Holland & Lyn Vernham: Specialist publishers of women’s fiction & romance. And you don’t need an agent to get published by them either!

Philippa Pride: Philippa is Stephen King’s UK editor at Hodder, and is the person responsible for his entire range. She’s also a consultant who loves working with new writers.

 

 

Alan Mahar: Alan runs Tindal Street Press, one of Britain’s smallest but most prestigious publishers. About 25% of its entire output having won or been shortlisted for national literary awards.

Patrick Janson-Smith: As joint MD at Doubleday / Transworld, Patrick discovered authors such as Bill Bryson, Sophie Kinsella, Andy McNab, Joanna Trollope, and many more. Patrick now runs his own imprint at HarperCollins.

Nicola Morgan: Vastly successful author of YA & children’s fiction. No one knows this territory better. Nicola also hosts the successful, amazing and informative blog; Help! I need a publisher!

(I have my one-to-one appointment with Nicola, so i’m excited to receive her advice.)

http://helpineedapublisher.blogspot.com/

 

Amazing authors that are leading some of the mini courses / sessions available;

Finding Your Voice, with Debi Alper & Dr Emma Darwin – Two experienced and extraordinary authors

Getting Published, with Harry Bingham & Helen Corner – Harry Bingham in organiser of the festival (along with his small army of helpers!). Helen Corner is co-author of, Teach Yourself: How to Write a Blockbuster.

 

Kate Williams (pictured): The vastly popular historian and author of publishing sensation The Pleasures of Men.

Learn from the professionals


Learn how to plot
With Jeremy Sheldon. Novelist, screenwriter & tutor at Birkbeck College, London.

Showing not telling
With novelist Jean Fullerton. If you’re confused about what this rule means, you don’t have to be.

Breaking the Rules
With Debi Alper. You know the rules – but what if you want to break them? Debi tells you how (and how not to) proceed.

 

There are many more exciting authors / professionals listed on the website so please go and take a look.

http://www.festivalofwriting.com/

I look forward to seeing you there……….