I’ve just finished perhaps the busiest month of the year. I’m glad to be drawing a breath and taking
That’s because I’ve been at several writers’ events – the fabulous RNA Conference at Lancaster University at the beginning of the month and then the week long wonderful Writers’ Holiday at Fishguard in Wales last week – we finally arrived back on Monday and I seem to have spent the rest of the week doing the laundry that has built up - I’m sure it breeds in the suitcases. That is, when I wasn’t making notes and planning stories or future courses as a result of everything I’ve learned at both events. (I spent the middle of the month visiting my dear friend Michelle Reid so that was obviously time to talk about writing and books and publishing as well so there was never really a time when I wasn’t deeply involved in the world of writing and romance – and poetry and crime stories and discovering ideas on your doorstep - and music (this last list is from the Writers’ Holiday) .
Several people have asked me why – why spend so much time and energy travelling to these writers events - and teaching at them? Why put so much effort into planning and preparing courses and handouts for them when I’m ‘the other side of the desk’ and teaching, rather than listening to other presentations?
Well, first of all for the company . Writing is such a solitary occupation. Most days it’s me, the desk, the computer – perhaps a cat or two . The Babe Magnet is around but he’s always in his office upstairs, writing his own books (or preparing a course or two that he’ll be teaching). We have to have a ‘date time’ to meet for coffee or we’d never see each other all day – my characters and his research would see to that! So never underestimate the value of the companionship of other writers. If there’s one way of proving the irrefutable rule of writing – that there is no ‘right way’ of doing things – then it’s listening in to a gathering of writers and seeing how we all meet up with so many of the same problems but we have our own individual ways of getting out of them. I may have spent 30+ years in this business and be focussing on my 66th title – but that doesn’t mean I have nothing to learn.
Nor, thankfully, that I have no new people to meet and new friends to make. This summer I met the brand new Harlequin Historical author Lara Temple – we bonded over several late late nights in the kitchen in our flat and I hope to get her to come and meet everyone on my personal blog. I also had a chance to snatch an all too brief chat with Sarah Wendell the power behind the web site
Smart Bitches Trashy Books after her great talk on dealing with reviews – Something we all need to take on board in these days of viral communications the minute you poke your nose out into the internet world. (It was even worth missing another talk that was going on elsewhere in the conference - with former Detective Chief Inspector Stuart Gibbon and someone called Stephen Wade (aka the Babe Magnet) talking about Murder Investigation, Fact or Fiction)
|Sarah Wendell at RNA|
Oh, and talking of internet communication, sadly the Skype Q&A with director Laurie Khan didn’t happen but if you haven’t already seen it and you get a chance to see the film she directed Love Between The Covers – do grab the opportunity. After so much mocking and the dubious value of Julie Moggan’s Guilty Pleasures this is a wonderful, affirmative look at romance writing and its value for readers, the strength and independence – and variety of its authors.
These were the highlights of my conference. The highlights of my ‘Writers’ Holiday ‘ were – well everything. From my small but beautifully formed group of students on the Complete Romance Writing Course to the multi-sized, multi-aged group of alpha males whose glorious voices made up the CwmbachMale Voice Choir in the concert – and until-midnight extra singing performances – that round off the wonderful week by the sea at Fishguard – there was nothing not to like. Great courses if you wanted to go to them – comfortable rooms if you wanted to write or to sleep or to talk.
|Cwmbach Male Voice Choir|
One of my favourite times this year was sitting discussing a student’s novel with the two of us constantly pausing to scribble down notes, lines, ideas for our own work as a result of the inspiration that comes just from sharing the writing experience and possible ways of dealing with problems. The truth is that a Writers’ Holiday is never really quite that. Given the freedom from household chores, from cooking (the friendly and welcoming staff deal with those) and any ap
I’ve been going to Writers’ Holiday (at Caerleon and then at Fishguard) for over 17 years – and every time I come back refreshed and invigorated. I even loved the Thursday night poetry reading and that’s not something I’ve admitted to for a long time.
Disappointments? Well, yes – the fact that I couldn’t get to every course on offer. But there were always the ‘After Tea’ sessions and the after dinner Main Lectures all of which sparked off interest and ideas and we were well worth listening to. There was also the best back and shoulders massage I’ve ever had in my life (well – apart from last year and the year before . . .) to relax me just in case I wasn’t already relaxed enough.
Obviously I’m partial where writers’ courses, conferences and Holidays are concerned but if you fancy experiencing any of these then you need to consider whether it’s worth investing your money in any event. There are so many writing courses around these days. But are they worth spending your hard earned cash on?
How can you choose?
Look at the tutor’s credentials - If you want to get published, get someone to teach you who is well published themselves. It helps if their past students are too.
Look at what past students/attendees say about the place and the people. The last night’s presentation of thanks to Anne and Gerry Hobbs at Fishguard spoke of the way they created a ‘family’ atmosphere where old friends meet up again time and time again and new ones soon become old ones.
How long has the course been running? This year’s Writers’ Holiday was their 30th! They have a huge repeat rate of students, who can’t resist their courses because they are well organised, the food is fabulous, the location is wonderful and the tutors are all working and well published writers.
On Facebook everyone from the RNA and Writers’ Holiday have been posting photos of the event – bringing back such great memories and making me want to go back again right now. I’ll be back in Fishguard again in February for the Advanced Romance Writing Course (already running close to being booked up) and I just can’t wait. I’m also running a Focus on Romance Writing Retreat in September – and more courses in the future. Check out my Events Page on my web site for details.
I'm currently working on a duet of books about two sisters so I'm having double the enjoyment creating double the conflict, double the emotion and double the resolution - with two happy endings to look forward to.
My next romance to be published will be Indebted to Moreno which is out in October. I still don't have the UK cover yet but I can share the USA one with you.
Also coming soon is a reprint of A Throne For The Taking - which was originally published in June 2013. This is reprinted in a 3 in 1 By Request - entitled Claiming His Princess which is out in August.