Entries in Author Events (6)


THE SCATTERED AUTHORS CONFERENCE - Friendship, Inspiration, What more could you want?

On the subject of inspiration, especially where authors are concerned, how many blog posts will be going up this morning on this year’s Scattered Authors’ Conference? A room full of authors together for a whole weekend are bound to have generated a few words I would have thought.  Mine won’t be the only ones on the subject, I’m quite sure.     

I’ve been writing professionally for many years, but always head down, producing novels head to tail, never time to look around, see who else is there, find out what’s going on.  Over the last year, however, I’ve had a sabbatical, which has allowed me to attend to my website, create a presence on Facebook and Twitter, produce my first ebook, ‘Midnight Blue’ and go online and make friends.

Part of that friend-making process has been joining the Scattered Authors’ Society, which I’ve known about for a long time, but only in the dim recesses of my mind.  And I’m so glad I did.  Also that I signed up for their conference on the day it was announced, otherwise I wouldn’t have got in.

These conferences are popular – and, now I’ve been to one, I know why.

It was great to be in a room full of people who were as different to each other as people could possibly be, but also in some weird way exactly the same as each other – and the same as me. There was little need of introductions, though they were enjoyable when they came.  Thirty-six authors all sitting round a table together.  All understanding what it was like – it’ being the mysterious, sometimes rewarding, sometimes tempestous world of being a working author. 

‘Writing’s not a problem,’ somebody said in one of the talks.  ‘It’s being an author that’s the problem,’ and we all knew what this meant. The weight of experience in that room could have sunk a black star [I haven’t got my science right here, but you’ll know what I mean]. Here were people who had done it.  People who’d been through it.  All of us were writers for children and that mysterious market nowadays known as ‘young adult’ [personally I’ve always preferred to say I was writing for young people – and then add the words ‘of all ages’ at the end].  Here were people not only with experience but opinions too, and all of us expressed them and that was great.  

During the weekend we looked at what editors and writers have say about the editorial process, and what the discrepancies are between their points of view; at using Twitter and the effectiveness or otherwise of blogging. and at our productivity techniques – or lack of them – in the light of Jacob Sager Weinstein’s Infallible Two-Step Method of Superproductivity.   We looked at specific issues involved in writing YA fiction; we heard personal stories of the ups and downs of the writer’s life; we heard a talk from the wonderful Joy Court, Librarian Extraordinaire from Coventry’s dynamic Schools Book Service.

And in between all this we talked to each other over coffee, lunch, a lovely long candlelit dinner and drinks in the bar.  All standard conference stuff, I’m sure.  Many of the other authors had done this before, knew each other well and were meeting up again. But I, as a newcomer, enjoyed it for the first time.  Even the setting was beautiful.  Gothic country-house hotel in parkland.

It was great to be there. I’ll go again.


A Change of Plans for 'Myths in the Making

 Perhaps I should be labelling this entry 'Trouble in Paradise'.  Due to unforseen circumstances the creative writing weekend at 'Gleanings', detailed below under the heading 'Myths in the Making', has had to be postponed until next year.  However I'm leaving the details on the blog as it will be happening, more or less as I've described, at a date yet to be agreed.   


23-25th September - MYTHS IN THE MAKING

'Gleanings' is a beautiful setting for a creative writing weekend, with views unfolding from its windows of wild flower meadows and the rugged Stiperstones range of hills, topped by the spectacular Devil's Chair, which is shown in this stunning photograph by Phil Hobbs. I’ll be there from 23rd to 25th September, in the setting I used for my Smarties Prize winning novel, 'Midnight Blue', helping aspiring writers to use folk stories and legends to make up stories of their own.  On the Saturday evening there’ll be a 'Harvest Home' with a proper country supper followed by music.   During the day, we’ll visit the site of several old Shropshire folk stories, I’ll pass on all sorts of practical tips and advice gathered over twenty years of writing novels, and there’ll be time to talk together and share our experiences of writing.  On the Sunday there’ll be the opportunity for individual creative writing, with me on hand to offer advice, and some time put aside for short one-to-one surgeries.

If this interests you, do email John or Yvonne at ‘Gleanings’ on yjhart@virgin.net.   It doesn’t matter whether you’re new to writing or an old hand.  As well as developing your literary skills, the aim of the weekend is to celebrate our rich heritage of folk lore, have a good time and hopefully get inspired. So do come along.  It would be great to see you.