Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Famous Five Plus: Welcome Madalyn Morgan

My fabulous welcome to Famous Five Plus.
"Today we extend another warm welcome to our latest member to Famous Five Plus , the wonderfully talented , Madalyn Morgan , a histor... "

Friday, 23 August 2013

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

The 'Magic of Swanwick'

 The Writers’ Summer School is held at The Hayes Conference Centre, Swanwick
 August 10th - 16th, 2013
Writers, published and unpublished, have been going to The Writers’ Summer School, at Swanwick, for 65 years. It is thought to be the oldest residential writers’ school in the world. 
The 'magic of Swanwick' is legendary.  Every August, over 200 writers across all genres gather together to renew old friendships and forge new ones.
On Saturday August 10th, at 3.30 in the afternoon, I arrived at Swanwick.  After parking my car I went to The Alan Booth Centre to meet my good friends, and fellow writers, Jayne Curtis and Vikki Thompson.  As stewards they arranged a room for me (I'd slipped through the net because I had only booked for three days.)  Before going to my room I went up to the main house, met lovely Lois Maddox who's in charge of the book room, and made a display of thirteen copies of Foxden Acres. I also put a framed poster of FA on the mantle-shelf in the information room along with a dozen postcards and book marks. 

Saturday night speaker.  TV and film script writer
James Moran

Fabulous Guest Speaker on Sunday 
Author Syd Moore  

Syd Moore is the author of The Drowning Pool and Witch Hunt.  She takes facts and turns them into hauntingly frightening novels.  Her course, Fashioning Fiction From Fact, was amazing.  Syd split us into groups of six.  Then she gave each group four non-connected facts, which we had to write into a story.  We all contributed with the storyline, which was incredible, and Lorraine wrote it down.  After lunch two people from each group read the stories. I read out the facts and Lorraine read the story.  Then we moved to different groups.  We each wrote a description of one of the characters - and had to do a fast Q & A session.  It was brilliant.  I described the priest, who will appear in the third novel of my quartet about the Dudley sisters, China Blue.


My first Short Course was, Business Skills for writers, with Kate McCormick. Part one of the course covered tools and techniques that can be used by writers to sharpen business skills, take the pain out of paperwork and free up more time for writing.  The second part took a look at finance systems from simple to complex and how to choose the most appropriate.  Excellent for newly published authors.  It taught me new things and reminded what I need to do before the Tax Man sees my accounts.

Left to right: Me, Kate McCormick, Jayne Curtis and Lorraine Hall


My Specialist Course was Literary Novels with Alexa Radcliffe-Hart. I didn't really want to go but it was the only course for novelists.  I don't always enjoyed reading literary fiction.  I sometimes find it snooty.  As if the writer thinks he, or she, is a cut above the rest of us.  I've occasionally been in awe, as literary writers are considered to be wordsmiths in a high-brow sense, but I've often found it self indulgent.  However, am I glad I went!  The exercises were fantastic. I loved writing in the literary style, and what I wrote wasn't bad - according to others.  But the best is, I can use what I wrote in Applause, the second story of the Dudley sisters, which I am currently writing.


Monday night's After Dinner Speaker was, retired Chief Constable and writer
Michael O'Byrne 

The Vinery
The perfect room to relax and write 

Vikki Thompson took this photograph.
All the sweets and puddings were this rich - and fattening.

My bedroom was very spacious. But the twin beds were quite narrow.
I'm used to a double and twice I turned over and almost fell out

The lake in the grounds at Swanwick. 
Lovely first thing in the morning - lovely anytime.


Fabulous writer friends, Jayne Curtis, Lorraine Hall and Vikki Thompson
Missing them already

             Katie and Jayne                                                                                   Maddie and Lorraine


Fun in the Swanwick Bar  
Later at Buskers Night
 The Poetry Open Mic Night was fantastic too. 
I am only sorry I wasn't able to take any photographs.
Collecting unsold copies of Foxden Acres and receiving a cheque for sales from Lois Maddox (Right) in the book room
Goodbye Swanwick until August 2014

Friday, 2 August 2013

The last Writers' Holiday at Caerleon July 2013

The main University Building. Photograph taken by Mike White

View of the University from my room on campus

It was 11 o'clock on Sunday July 28th when I arrived at Caerleon. The first thing I did was sign in with Gerry who, with his lovely wife Ann, sets up and hosts the amazing Writers' Holiday.  Gerry was in the main hall, which is also the book room.  I wanted to get a good spot to display my novel, Foxden Acres, so I lugged them along with me. I set the stand up and was pleased with the result. I sold 8 books in five days, which I was very pleased about, because some of the books on sale had been written by much more experienced writers them me.  Oh, and I bought 8 books.  Bonus! 

Foxden Acres in the Book Room

 Friends and fellow writers that I had met at Caerleon last year, 2012 -
and new friends that I met this year, 2013

Lovely lady, Francesca Reccomini, buying Foxden Acres

Fiona McFadzean and me

          Kevin, Me, Della and Sandy in the bar 


Pulling a pint with the lovely barmen.  We had a lock-in that night. Shush.... 
       I was bought up in in a pub, so I was quite at home.  You know what they say?
You can take the girl out of the pub, but you can't take the pub out of the girl.

        The Cwmbach Male Voice Choir           

The Cwmbach male choir usually perform on the last night of the Writers' Holiday, in the main hall.  This year they were going to Brittany, so came to us a day early.  But they still stayed afterwards for drinks.  They were fantastic.  They work their socks off performing, and then afterwards they sing for pleasure in the bar.  Each has a favourite song that they sing. 
It was such fun.


                                                                       Choir member singing to lovely Maria.

On the last night at Caerleon, the talented poetry students performed poems that they had written during the week.  Some were funny, some were sad, but they were all good.


                                                                      Six Poets who shall be named anon                                                             

                                               Viv Hampshire(right), and friends from her writing group

Let's get serious
My main course was, Advanced Novel Writing with Lesley Horton. I didn't get chance to take a photograph of Lesley, or of Jane Pollard (Jackson).  Both author's had given me help and encouragement last year at Caerleon.  However, I did give them each a copy of Foxden Acres.  ((Blushes))  Looking back, I wonder how I dare, they are such brilliant writers.

In May of this year I sent the synopsis, and the first and last chapter of Applause, to Lesley Horton.   She wrote lot's of brilliantly helpful notes, which we discussed in a one-to-one session.  She was also kind enough to read and critique the prologue and a chapter in the middle of the novel.  That particular chapter is one of the most important, because it's where something major happens. I'm not going to talk about it now.   Suffice to say, Lesley was very helpful and very encouraging.

My second course was,Writing Romantic Fiction, with author of 61 romantic novels
Kate Walker.  

As my third novel, China Blue, is a love story (set in WWII).  I'll be doing Kate's course on the Writers' Holiday at Fishguard in 2014.  I'm already waking up with ideas for China Blue buzzing around in my head.  They don't want to go away, but they really have to until I've finished writing Applause.  So I put them in the drawer with the notes and hand-outs that Kate gave us. 

When Applause is written and published, which I hope will be at the end of this year, I'll let the characters of China Blue out of the drawer.

The hotel at Fishguard where the 28th Writers' Holiday will be held in 2014