Hello, and thank you for visiting my site. I hope that you'll return often and always find something of interest about my world and what inspires me to pick up a pen. (This is a figure of speech, unfortunately. My handwriting is terrible!) Here's what I've been up to recently...

Swanwick 2014

It’s that time of year again when hundreds of writers of all levels of experience head for a small village in Derbyshire. The Writers’ Summer School is now in its 66th year, and this is my ninth consecutive attendance.

Swanwick Anyone for Murder

The Hayes Conference Centre in Swanwick is an excellent venue and writers are given full rein to mingle and promote their wares, as you can see in the photo above! (I wasn’t mingling just then, but I’ve been mingling for England the rest of the time and shall continue to do so!)

Swanwick Facebookers

The School rises like Brigadoon each August and disappears far too quickly a week later, but opportunities for keeping in touch throughout the year have never been better. Most of the Swanwick Facebook group got together yesterday afternoon to put names to faces and many of us are also in the habit of tweeting to #swanwick66. If you look hard, you’ll spot me standing fifth from the right and wearing my other promotional T-shirt – this time for Easy Money For Writers And Wannabes. While I’ve been very happy to sign copies of the paperback available from our very own Swanwick book shop, it’s been interesting to note a spike in sales of the electronic version as well over the last couple of days, so the publicity seems to be paying off. I’m indebted for the photograph to fellow long time Swanwicker Angela Lansbury, seated on the carpet. Thank you, Angela!

So, what else have I been doing since I arrived on Saturday afternoon? Catching up with old friends and making new ones is always top of the agenda, but I’ve also been along to  listen to the evening speakers – writer, broadcaster and historian Christopher Lee (no vampire connections) on Saturday and Shirley Blair, fiction editor of The People’s Friend last night. I found Christopher’s talk quite depressing. After reeling off a list of his own contacts and literary achievements which, to be fair, are extremely impressive, he told us that he wouldn’t encourage anyone to be a writer these days, much less marry one. That was capped by the observation that more people are writing books these days than reading (or buying?) them! (There’s some disagreement among those present at the talk as to what he actually said.)  Fortunately, Shirley Blair was much more positive. Her magazine buys more short stories than any other as well as serials and pocket novels and I know from personal experience how encouraging Shirley and her team are, both to new and long term writers for TPF.  The information given during her two part course today will, I’m sure, be invaluable.

I’ve listened to Della Galton’s words of wisdom on Writing for Competitions and Xanthe Wells on The Novel as well as attending a very useful session with Kate McCormick to refresh my memory about the usefulness of Scrivener. (Note to self: must get back down to that as soon as I pick up the threads of my novel in progress.)

Yesterday evening finished for me – not really a late night disco person – with a very touching tribute to all those who suffered during WWI.  The indefatigable Joyce Ward and her team had put together a programme of music, poetry and prose to tug at anyone’s heartstrings. Particularly poignant were the many photographs flashed up onto the wall behind the performers. Despite the cheerful rendition of Pack Up Your Troubles that finished the show, those young faces will haunt me for a long time to come. News stories from the Middle East and elsewhere are increasingly horrific these days and it really does seem that – to quote from someone whose names eludes me at the moment – if history teaches us anything, it’s that it teaches us nothing!

11 August, 2014 - Make the first comment on this story

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