Friday, August 01, 2014

A Date With Kate - Fishguard thoughts

Pink  Hearts columnist Kate Walker is just back from her  summer trip to Wales for the annual Writers' Holiday - and she's still buzzing . . . .

The romantic writers’ conference season is in full swing. RNA, RWA, Romance Writers of Australia,
New Zealand.   All over the romance-writing world, authors are travelling,   gathering, meeting, talking, discussing, going to workshops . . . . It’s a fun, and rather hectic time.  

I haven’t actually been able to go to any conferences this year.  Life has just been too hectic and stressful  for me to add anything more to my commitments list.  I would have had to not only double book myself but in some cases treble book myself if I’d tried to do everything. I didn’t  know this when the  bookings were open, but right now I’m really glad I decided not to take on any extras.

There’s one summer date that I would never  miss though and that is my annual trip to Wales to teach at the wonderful Writers’ Holiday there.  This has always been one of the highlights of my year, and this year  was just the same – even if the venue was different. Previous year’s events have been held on the University of Wales Campus at Caerleon near Newport. This summer the whole event moved  further up the coast, to Fishguard in Pembrokeshire.  I’ve been there before for the  Winter Workshop Weekend, but this time I got to see the lovely little Welsh town and the bay in glorious sunshine. And it was glorious – long days of warmth and brightness from dawn till dusk.

I was teaching the Complete Romance Writing course. I’ve done this before and the result is always the same. The students tell me they enjoy the course – they must do  because they don’t have to be there. I fully expected some of them to decide that sitting outside in the sun staring at the sea was a much better  idea – it is a holiday after all – and you can do just as you want. But they kept coming back, even to the last workshop of a long, hot day. And we had a lot of fun. My class was a mixture of past students, coming back to repeat the course, (some laughingly labelled my ‘stalkers’)  and   brand new students I’d never met. We also had one brave man who ventured into the  otherwise totally female environment, stayed – and gave a great extra balance to the course,  asking some  great questions from the male perspective that added to the discussions.

The time flew by. I remember character building exercises (for the books not the students!),  talking about conflict and emotion – lots of emotion -  workshops  sensuality and writing sex scenes. And of course there was the  free chocolate for one particular session. Lots of laughter  and fun but plenty of strong discussion and  digging deeper into the craft and  graft of writing.

Since I’ve been home I’ve had messages from my students thanking  me and  saying how much they got out of the course. I love to get these, it shows that the classes I’ve thought about, spent ages preparing and then delivering have helped people.  I’ve  put some of them on the Events page of my website alongside the details of the  courses  I run.  There was one particular one  that meant a great deal to me- because it ties in with a feeling I came away from Fishguard  with this time.

This was from Karen Aldous:

Back home from my glorious week at Fishguard Writers' Holiday, I just had to write and say a huge thank you for your brilliant 'Writing Romantic Fiction' class! When, two years ago, I first took the bull by the horns to concentrate on my writing, I bought your superb book The Twelve Point Guide to Writing Romance and it obviously helped.  I have to tell you, and, please share this with others who could benefit, just how much I enjoyed your teaching. Although I now have my first novel The Vineyard published by digital-first CarinaUK, I found the material extremely informative and useful. And, what was particularly excellent was your approach. Not only was the course well structured and organised, with supporting handouts, I thought it worked very well on many levels whether a beginner or a more advanced writer. I don't think we can ever stop learning! 

It’s that final sentence that is so important. As you’ll see from reading Karen’s email, she’s not a beginner, or even a might-be-published writer. She already has her first novel accepted by CarinaUK. I’m posting her comments because that’s the way the courses make me  feel – and the additional benefit I get from them (along with a week spent by the sea in sunny Wales.)

I get to meet with other enthusiastic writers, people who care about the romance genre as much as I do, who want to write it to the best of their ability. By preparing the classes, teaching them, discussing the topics and answering questions, I take a fresh look at this craft I’ve been working on and writing in for the past 30 years, Because I have to explain how I do things, give examples, show the different ways to approach techniques or necessary components of romance, |I have to look at them with fresh eyes  in order to communicate them clearly and effectively.

And I never ever come home from Fishguard or any course I’ve taught without a renewed enthusiasm for the genre, for writing it – and with new ideas of my own. There was one particular moment when discussing conflict that I had my own personal ‘light bulb moment’. Now all I have to do is to get my revisions out of the way and I can start to put that idea into anew story.

It’s a two-way  process, give and take – and I love it that way.  It’s the reason why I run courses, why I look forward to them and come home buzzing from them.  Because as Karen says:

I don't think we can ever stop learning!

I’ve only just come back  from Fishguard (reluctantly) but I’m already looking forward to going back in February – and to the other courses I’m running this year. (I'm  trying some new things, including a guided writing retreat in September)  I missed the ‘post conference buzz’  but that post writing course buzz has  a great lift too.

My thanks to all the students  (stalkers or new)  who came on my course this year WH15!  Can’t wait.
– and special thanks to the wonderful Anne and Gerry Hobbs who have made  Writers’ Holiday so  fabulous for so many years. Here’s to

Kate's most recent title  A Question of Honour  - or A Question of Honor depending on whether you're reading the Mills and  Boon Modern edition or the  Harlequin  Presents one  is out now .

And the new, revised and updated Kindle edition  of Kate Walker's 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance is now available on Amazon  at a much lower price than the old paperback.

You can find out more about Kate Walker and her books  - and the writing courses she runs - over on her web site  whih has just been updated with new information added.

And there is all the up to date news on her blog   or Facebook page

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