Thursday, 26 November 2015

Publishing and Publicity Insights from the Society of Authors AGM

Last week I attended the Society of Authors AGM in London. (As with all these events, it was a great way to meet up with writing friends as well!) After Philip Pullman welcomed us all, the Society presented its plans for a new updated more user-friendly website, before holding a panel discussion. Publishing expert Alison Baverstock chaired it and the panel members were Ian Skillicorn of Corazon Books, who also runs the National Short Story Week in the UK, Gordon Wise of the Curtis Brown agency and Nigel Wilcockson, a publishing director of Penguin Random House. They each presented very lucid and entertaining insights into the publishing industry and the author’s role within it, so I thought I’d share some of those insights – and leave it to you to decide whether you agree or disagree!

Authors are constantly challenged to find the time to write – and to absorb potential material to inspire their writing. Alison Baverstock said that ‘reading is the engine of being able to write.’ So true. Nigel Wilcockson referred us to the nothing-new-under-the-sun aspect of this writing malarkey. How can we maintain creative integrity and still respond to the commercial terms of our industry? He quoted George Gissing in New Grub Street, in 1891: ‘You have to be true to yourself. You cannot write something you do not believe in.’ Well, you can, really. People do it all the time.

Writers are constantly adjured to write the book that’s true to them, the story they believe in, heart and soul. So, they go ahead and write that book. Publishers then encourage them to understand the market, and may well turn their work down because of market concerns – Nigel said, rather quellingly, ‘Never assume that quality will out.’ Cue many audience members wincing.

If we understand our market, we pitch our work to better effect. If that work is then bought and published, we still need to pitch it to the wider public. This has to be done properly: Alison said ‘There is a massive difference between getting attention and getting approval.’ There’s no point in using Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or any other social media, if all you do is holler ‘Buy my book, buy my book!’ We need to establish conversations and relationships – but doing this takes up more of the precious time and psychic energy the creation of further work demands.

How to strike the balance? How can we get people to listen to us? ‘In a very noisy universe, you have to make your own noise as well,’ Nigel says. Gordon talks of social media usage as ‘drops into the pond’ – ripples go out from that drop. He says that author and publisher are ‘business partners’, that ‘it’s pushing water uphill to get any exposure’ and that if your genre is in trouble, you should have a serious conversation with your agent and maybe consider changing your name.

I’ve talked about this in the past, this industry obsession with the new and untried. Untried means hasn’t failed. Yet. So, if you’re the kind of writer who needs to be nurtured over the course of several books, or if you want to switch genre, you may be in trouble. The pressure is on to hit the ground running and stay running on the same track. If not, change your identity. I find this such a depressing, defeatist way to go about things. Even the great J.K. Rowling has to write as another person, even after we know it’s really her – and as another male personage, at that. The shelves are full of thrillers with initials rather than first names …. Well, that’s a whole other blogpost.

Ian Skillicorn sensibly pointed out that authors don’t just need to compete for attention with other writers but with all the ways potential readers now spend their free time, in this always-on digital age.

Practical advice? Have a web presence, definitely. If you’re using social media, perhaps concentrate on one or two rather than the scattergun effect of trying to use all. I concentrate on Facebook, but have a Twitter presence and a Pinterest account. I’m not yet on Instagram though it seems to be becoming more popular.

Be clear with your publisher when it comes to the terms of your contract. This includes knowing which rights they will exploit. Bring your book to the publisher in as ‘edited’ a state as possible. Know your market. Fill out your author questionnaire with useful information including possible publicity opportunities.

Publicity needs to come early and be properly planned. No good approaching a magazine in the month before your book comes out when its lead time is more like six months.

Be focussed. Know where your book would sit in the bookstore. Know who your potential readers are: ‘It’s not always about having the biggest splash, it’s about being targeted,’ says Ian Skillicorn.

Timely reminder: ‘It’s a business, writing.’ (Nigel Wilcockson)

Uplifting thought: ‘There are more creators than ever, more opportunities than ever. You can find a niche for your books that you couldn’t have had before.’ (Ian Skillicorn)

Two-edged thought of the day: Alison Baverstock reminded us that we don’t necessarily need validation by publishing – ‘Some of the happiest writers I’ve met haven’t published.’

I’ll leave you to mull over that one!

The Society of Authors website is here and how to join is here.

To find out about Fictionfire Focus Workshops pop over to the website.

Do please sign up for my Fictionfire Newsletter on the website – news, articles, links, recommended reads, tips and exercises for writers.

Friday, 30 October 2015

Yes or No to NaNo? How to get back into your writing

Image courtesy of
National Novel Writing Month
Hard to believe, but it’s that time again! November is looming up fast and November for many writers means National Novel WritingMonth. Thirty days of frenzy and exhaustion as they try to rack up 50,000 words by 23.59 on the 30th.

NaNoWriMo is in many ways a Very Very Good Thing. So much of the writing life is about procrastination, waiting for conditions to be better, writing in fits and starts – a month in which you dedicate yourself to major production levels is a month where you can discover what you’re capable of. Many writers are amazed, once they get into it, to find just how much they can achieve. They start December with a pile of messy pages, but pages which can lead to other pages, pages which can be edited into shape.

So, yay for NaNo.

But I’m not doing it this year.

If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, or you’ve read my last blogpost, you’ll know that this year has been all about distraction. Service providers have let me down and my days, weeks and months have been filled with lists, correspondence, shouty scenes and anxiety. Even now, I’m barely coming out of it.

If I sign up for NaNo this time round, the dark side of it may be revealed – it’s another form of pressure and I really don’t need any extra pressure right now. The voice, that voice any writer is so familiar with, the shrill nagging ‘Why can’t you just get on with it!’ voice, will raise its decibel-level even more.

I have projects. I have ideas. I also have clients whose work needs editing, workshops to run … so my own work will have to wait a little while longer. I’m fairly OK about that. I believe in the work. It can keep, just a little while longer.

Are you contemplating doing NaNo? I genuinely think it’s worth considering. I’ve done it before, and always on my own terms – I've written posts about previous years’ NaNoWriMos, including the technique that I’ve found served me best when aiming for ultimate productivity. You can find my posts here and here, and earlier ones here and here.

If you are doing NaNo, you could do part of it at my next writers’ retreat, Fictionfire by the Spires: Reboot and Troubleshoot, here in Oxford from 7-8 November. The title tells you what I’ll be focussing on. I’ll run four workshops designed to get you back in touch with your writing and help you with issues you’re having with your project. There will be peaceful time for you to just … write. There will be constant tea and coffee. And buffet lunches. And cake – there must always be cake.

It’ll be fun. The group will be small (maximum 8 people), friendly, supportive. You’ll be in Oxford, one of the most gorgeous cities in the world.

To find out more about what’s involved, visit my website.

Here’s what people had to say about my two previous writers’ retreat weekends, in St Ives in Cornwall:
‘It took me out of my day-to-day environment with all its everyday complications and gave me a space in which to write.’ C.J.

‘I can’t recommend this event highly enough! If ever you have the opportunity to attend one of Lorna’s workshops, grab it with both hands!’ C.W.

Can’t make this one? Sign up on the website to my mailing list, to be kept informed.

And if you’re doing NaNo, enjoy the ride!

Friday, 16 October 2015

Summer schools, festivals and retreats, Fictionfire by the Spires and new workshops

Fictionfire by the Sea retreat
Saturday dinner at the Porthgwidden Cafe
It's been a while since I posted on Literascribe, mea culpa. So much has happened in the meantime, some of it good, some of it really not! I had joyous times teaching creative writing, first of all at my Fictionfire by the Sea retreat in St Ives in Cornwall, back in April. The best group of writers attended - we shared stories, advice, laughs, gasps at the beauty of the location. I stayed on for a few days after the weekend was over, to get back in touch with my own writing. That was pretty much the last time I felt relaxed! Read on, and you'll find out why.

Giving my talk on self-editing
(thanks to Debbie Young for the photo)
In June I taught for my fifteenth year at the University of Winchester's Writers' Festival - I gave a talk on editing and a day course on character building. It's always lovely to go there and meet again friends and fellow writers again - there's a real reunion feeling about it, but also the chance to make new friends. The plenary speech this year was given by Sebastian Faulkes - a very polished performance.

In the garden of Exeter College -
reception before final dinner

In July and August I taught on two summer school programmes for Oxford University. The first of these is OUSSA, held at Rewley House. I've been teaching on that programme since 2002 and always enjoy it, though it is very intense! Then, over the course of three weeks, I taught advanced fiction writing at the OUDCE creative writing summer school, for the third year. This is held at Exeter College, which is such a beautiful location. I got held up one day because they were filming the new series of Endeavour in the front quad - with the wonderful Roger Allam and Shaun Evans. When I've run Fictionfire day courses at Trinity College, we've coincided with the filming of Lewis - Oxford is always full of film crews!

with fellow tutor Julie Hearn
So, hard work, great company, good fun, fantastic stories being written!

Now for the bad news ...

It was also a summer of delays, distraction, exhaustion and frustration - and I'm still not quite out of the woods yet. I'm not going to go into detail because I can't bear to dwell on it anymore, but since June we've been embroiled in renovation of two rooms in our house after a long-term water leak caused significant damage. The leak had been there for months, perhaps years, so entailed drilling up floors, letting walls and floors dry out, stripping the rooms back, replastering, refitting, decorating etc, etc, etc. Next week, we hope to sign off on the whole process - but believe me my stress levels have been through the roof.

Also raising my blood pressure was my Fictionfire website, which was to be 'migrated' to new software in August. A process which should have taken three weeks took seven and is still ongoing. The site is at least live now and I can take bookings, but for several weeks I could update neither it nor my online shop. I have just discovered I don't have a mailing list sign-up box anymore - argh! So, it's a work in progress ...

Looking ahead, in spite of the website woes, you can now visit the site and book places on the new series of Focus Workshops and Fictionfire by the Spires: Reboot and Troubleshoot, a writers' workshop/retreat weekend here in Oxford from 7-8 November.

The first Focus Workshop will be Breathtaking Thrills on October 24th - if you want to learn how to create tension, excitement and suspense in your fiction, this is the one for you. It's followed by Layers of Meaning on November 21st, Share and Support on November 28th and Does Happiness Write White? on December 5th.

Take a look at the website for full details. There are currently only 5 places left for Fictionfire by the Spires: Reboot and Troubleshoot, so don't wait too long!

Monday, 18 May 2015

Considering self-publishing? Jessica Bell shows you the stress-free way

I've known Jessica Bell for a few years as a fellow member of the Alliance of Independent Authors. She's an extraordinary person, charged with energy. Her output is simply amazing: she's a writer, poet, cover designer, musician  ...

I'm posting to recommend the latest in her series, Writing in a Nutshell: these are nifty, pithy manuals helping writers with aspects of composition and here, with self-publishing. Jessica herself explains it best:

Are you ready to self-publish your book, but dreading the massive learning curve? Well, there’s no need to dread it anymore!

This sixth instalment in the bestselling Writing in a Nutshell series will not overwhelm you with all information available—it will tell you exactly what you need to know, without the faff, by following a foolproof, cost-efficient, time-efficient, extremely easy-to-follow, step-by-step self-publishing method, so that you can go from manuscript to a professionally published book within one week.

You’ll learn how to: prepare your manuscript in Microsoft Word, design your paperback and eBook cover, prepare your front/back matter and blurb, format your paperback interior & eBook, proofread your designed pages, register with desired retailers/distributors, export your eBook to a retail-ready file and upload your paperback and eBook to retailers/distributors.

Not only will this book save you time and money, but it will also save you from inevitable stress. What are you waiting for? Grab a copy of Self-publish Your Book today! 

With Jessica at the London
Book Fair, 2014
Visit Jessica's site at to find out more about the series and all her other activities, including her book cover design service. You can buy her books via her website or on Amazon. Self-Publish your Book is available as an ebook or paperback.

Visit the Alliance of Independent Authors for incredibly useful resources and a warm, supportive community to help hold your hand along the self-publishing path. 

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Author interview: Alison Morton - strong women and shifting timescales

Another fantastic cover for the latest
in Alison's Roma Nova series
I interviewed author Alison Morton about her writing process back in November (here's the link). Now that she's just published the fourth in her very successful Roma Nova alternative history thriller series, she's back to talk about the new book, Aurelia, which is set in the 1960s.

Alison, I’m delighted to be welcoming you back to Literascribe and congratulations on publication of your fourth Roma Nova novel! 
I’m both delighted and honoured to be your guest.

I’m intrigued by the concept of going back in time within an already-imagined alternative history. As someone who was around in the Sixties myself (!) I’m really interested in reading about how you blend how that era really was with the elements of the alternative culture you’ve created. Were there any particular challenges you had to meet when writing about that decade?
The late 1960s are near enough for people to remember glimpses of it, but our memories are selective, plus there are probably parts of our lives then that we’d rather forget! Like any historical setting, the trick is to do your research thoroughly and discard 90% of it when you write your story. There are the obvious things to bring in; no mobile phones, very crude CCTV, fax, telex, formal suits, typing pools, and beehive hair-dos for women. But the tiny things are as important: flight tickets were booklets with carbon copies, passengers flying were separated from non-flyers only by a cord strung between poles, men wore hats as normal, both sexes wore slacks, not jeans.

What’s crucial about your imagined Roma Novan society is that women play such an important role. In AURELIA, your heroine, I would expect, is going to meet even more challenges than her granddaughter Carina, who features in the first three novels, in that Aurelia is living at the time when liberation for woman was still in its early stages. What differences does Aurelia encounter in social attitudes – or are they the same attitudes Carina has had to handle? Did you find it more interesting to explore the role of a woman in this era than in the present? 
Haha! The clash was much harsher fifty years ago and I’ve hardened it by sending Aurelia to Berlin in a very traditional Prussia. I took part in a student exchange to Germany in 1968 and was struck then by just how more traditional it had remained in gender attitudes than the UK at the time. Germany was under so much economic, political and international pressure through the 1950s and 1960s that traditional, ‘safe’ values were a counterweight to those anxieties. But underlying them was a social and legal structure dating back in some cases to before the First World War.

In the Roma Novan world, the Great War of 1925-1935 was as socially devastating as both world wars were in our timeline. When Aurelia goes to Prussia, I draw on that. No disrespect to Germany and Berlin is intended – I love both!

In what ways does Aurelia’s character differ from Carina’s?
As a ‘bone-and-blood’ Roma Novan, Aurelia has been brought up to do her duty; she joined the Praetorian Guard at age 18 and loved it. Aurelia is no goody-two-shoes; she resents it profoundly when circumstances force her to give up her military career but it never occurs to her to whinge, or rebel in the same way as Carina does. She is more self-contained than Carina, but very vulnerable in respect of her young daughter whom she loves to bits. However, she is put under almost unbearable strain in the story when duty, child and romantic love collide.

Are there strong women in your family (apart from yourself!) on whom you base your heroines?
I’m not sure about being strong myself…  My mother was a full-time teacher, managed a household of two lively kids and a self-employed husband, planned all our holidays, trips, and cultural activities, sewed our clothes and fought in a very polite and determined way for us at every turn, keeping her sense of humour throughout. Her mother had run a furrier and couture business in Newcastle before the First World War and my other grandmother had owned and run a general store in Hastings. So the answer is probably yes, but unconsciously!

You shared on your blog how you had to edit out the original opening to Aurelia. What were your reasons and how did it feel to have to do that?
Quite a simple, but harsh, lesson you must learn as part of your writer’s journey; if a scene doesn’t actively contribute to the story, cut it. I loved writing it, I wanted to bring Carina and Conrad in somehow but, of course, it was a contrivance, a ‘darling’, bit of fluff not really connected to the essence of the story. Readers need to be straight into the action and meet the central characters and the conflict in the first few pages. Chop.

With four books under your belt, do you have plans for more? Has it become more easy, more natural, to write about Roma Nova as time goes by? Do you feel a reluctance to leave that world you’ve created?
Yes, indeed! AURELIA is the start of a new three-book cycle within the series; the next, set in the early 1980s, is half drafted and full of trouble. The last in this cycle is outlined, with a few scenes written about dark days in Roma Nova. After that, I have a few ideas bubbling away. Roma Nova is familiar ground to me; it’s been in my head for decades. The danger is that with such closeness, I could forget to flesh out the background for readers new to the series. But my critique partner and editors keep me on the straight and narrow with that! Sometimes, I do worry that I consider Roma Nova more real than our world. Or is ours truly the real world?

Has it been tricky to weave Aurelia’s plotlines into the pre-existent storyline Carina inhabits?
Before I wrote one word of AURELIA, I re-read INCEPTIO, PERFIDITAS and SUCCESSIO and made notes about everywhere Aurelia appeared or was referenced. Then I consulted my spreadsheet with ages, relationships and events. Although I longed to write Aurelia’s story, it was no use setting out to craft nearly 300,000 words if the framework wasn’t right.

I started drafting AURELIA while SUCCESSIO was going through the early structural edit stage, so as events unfolded in the former, I still had time to seed clues in the latter. Characters need a full background and Aurelia’s began to intrigue me more and more. The lesson? Be careful what you write – you may give yourself a larger task than you think!

Thanks very much, Alison, for your answers and I wish you every success with the new novel. I know you have a loyal readership waiting to enjoy it!

Alison Morton: 
Even before she pulled on her first set of combats, Alison Morton was fascinated by the idea of women soldiers. Brought up by a feminist mother and an ex-military father, it never occurred to her that women couldn’t serve their country in the armed forces. Everybody in her family had done time in uniform and in theatre – regular and reserve Army, RAF, WRNS, WRAF – all over the globe.

So busy in her day job, Alison joined the Territorial Army in a special communications regiment and left as a captain, having done all sorts of interesting and exciting things no civilian would ever know or see. Or that she can talk about, even now…

But something else fuels her writing… Fascinated by the mosaics at Ampurias (Spain), at their creation by the complex, power and value-driven Roman civilisation started her wondering what a modern Roman society would be like if run by strong women…

Now, she lives in France and writes Roman-themed alternate history thrillers with tough heroines.

INCEPTIO, the first in the Roma Nova series
– shortlisted for the 2013 International Rubery Book Award
– B.R.A.G. Medallion
– finalist in 2014 Writing Magazine Self-Published Book of the Year
PERFIDITAS, second in series
– B.R.A.G. Medallion
– finalist in 2014 Writing Magazine Self-Published Book of the Year
SUCCESSIO, third in series
– Historical Novel Society’s indie Editor’s Choice for Autumn 2014
– B.R.A.G. Medallion
– Editor’s choice, The Bookseller’s inaugural Indie Preview, December 2014

Fact file:
Education: BA French, German & Economics, MA History
Memberships: International Thriller Writers, Historical Novel Society, Alliance of Independent Authors, Society of Authors
Represented by Annette Crossland of A for Authors Literary Agency for subsidiary and foreign rights.

Connect with Alison on her Roma Nova blog:
Twitter @alison-morton

AURELIA book trailer:

Friday, 3 April 2015

The Last Treasure Hunt - follow the trail of clues!

Following on from author Jane Alexander's guest post on crafting fiction yesterday, here, as promised, is the next clue in her publisher Saraband's exciting treasure hunt to win a signed copy of The Last Treasure Hunt - and more!

Clue 7

There was something strange about this lady
Who’s usually the reverse of shady
Normally she points the way
And she’ll do so again, another day.


How the hunt works:

·       Each clue refers to a landmark or iconic location in a film. The landmark/location is the answer – when you figure it out, make a note of it!

·       (If you need a hand, check out the #treasurehunt hashtag on Twitter or Instagram for a hint to the landmark’s location…)

·       Clues will be revealed by some fantastic book bloggers from March 26th until April 21st. Keep checking back on Jane Alexander’s dedicated treasure hunt page ( or on the #treasurehunt hashtag for links and new clues.

·       When all the clues are revealed, the first letter of every answer will make an anagram. Solve the anagram and you have your final answer!

·       Email this answer and all the landmarks you figured out to by April 30th to be entered into the prize draw. Two entrants will win a signed copy of The Last Treasure Hunt – and if you’ve guessed the most landmarks and locations, you’ll win a goodie bag and something special from Jane personally! On top of that you’ll get bragging rights on Twitter and we’ll publicly dub you queen/king sleuth.

·       Good luck!

About The Last Treasure Hunt:
At the age of thirty, Campbell Johnstone is a failure. He's stuck behind the bar of a shabby pub, watching from the sidelines while everyone else makes a success of their lives. The most visible is Eve Sadler, a childhood friend and rising Hollywood star. When Campbell tries to rekindle their relationship, he longs for the glitter of her success to rub off on him, but a single shocking night - the novel's shattering twist delivered with a knockout punch - changes everything. Campbell is about to discover the bittersweet taste of fame, and in the process, struggle to save his soul and overcome his own self-delusion.
The Last Treasure Hunt explores our obsession with fame and celebrity with great intelligence and sly wit - it's a modern media morality tale with bite.

Praise for The Last Treasure Hunt:
'The Last Treasure Hunt quickly asserts itself as something unique ... a masterclass on what happens when empathy is absent. [Jane Alexander's] debut novel marks the arrival of an important new voice.' Gutter Magazine

Praise for Jane Alexander's short stories:
'A trumpet call of urgency and great promise.' The Scotsman

About Jane Alexander:
Jane Alexander's short stories and creative non-fiction have been widely published in a number of anthologies and literary magazines, including Mslexia, Litro and The Orphan Leaf Review. A winner of a major national story competition, and the recipient of a Scottish Arts Council New Writers bursary, Jane is also a lecturer in creative writing at the Open University.

The Last Treasure Hunt
Publication date 26 March 2015
Publisher Saraband
ISBN: 9781908643803

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Author guest-post: Jane Alexander on the craft of constructing compelling fiction

 I'm delighted to welcome as my guest this week novelist and short story writer Jane Alexander, who's based in Edinburgh and 
whose debut novel, The Last Treasure Hunt, a witty morality tale exploring our modern obsession with fame and celebrity, was published last week. Tomorrow I'll be posting a clue in the real life treasure hunt her publishers, Saraband, have organised - you can win a signed copy of The Last Treasure Hunt and possibly more!

Today, Jane highlights a crucial lesson she learned along the way about how to write compelling fiction:

 Here’s something I’m not meant to tell you: my first novel, The Last Treasure Hunt, isn’t really my first novel. It's my debut – but it's not the first book I wrote.
Though it’s rarely acknowledged, there’s nothing unusual in this: a 2010 survey found that the average number of novels an author writes before being published is between three and four. These ‘practice novels’ are sometimes published later on in an author’s career, but more commonly they're relegated to a dusty box-file or a forgotten Word document.
Such is the fate of my own practice novels.
With each of the two books I wrote prior to The Last Treasure Hunt, the fundamental flaw was the story: it just wasn’t strong enough. As a creative writing teacher, my experience suggests that most emerging writers fall into one of two categories. There are those who can craft beautiful sentences; and those who can tell compelling stories. A lucky few are equally able with sentences and stories – but most will find they have to work hard to develop their skills in their area of weakness.
I fell firmly into the first category, though it took me some time to realise this. When agents and publishers declined my submissions, they did so with compliments about the beautiful writing – but if the writing was so beautiful, what was I missing?
Though I’d completed a Masters in Creative Writing, in seminars and workshops we’d paid very little attention to the nuts and bolts of storytelling. This, I think, is a question of scale: it’s much easier to focus on studying and critiquing smaller texts – sentences and paragraphs, short stories and novel extracts – than to work through a reading list of scores of novels and deconstruct the elements of plot. Recently Hanif Kureishi went so far as to complain that most of his students can’t tell a story, and that storytelling is an unteachable skill. He’s dealing in hyperbole, of course. Storytelling may be a harder skill to teach than, say, writing convincing dialogue – but it’s far from unteachable. Dare I say that only a poor teacher would insist otherwise?
If you want to build up your storytelling muscles, though, you may have to look beyond a traditional creative writing course. Once I’d realised what was wrong with my practice novels, I turned to a screenwriting class for help. Here, I learned about three-act structure and plot points, reversals and value changes, active questions and narrative tension. I learned techniques that transformed my approach to planning and structuring a novel, and developed new methods of shaping scenes and chapters. 
In short, that class was a revelation. As with any newly acquired knowledge, the more I put theory into practice, the more fluent and effortless my practice became. Soon, crafting an absorbing story became one of my favourite parts of the novel-writing process – and when I pass what I’ve learned on to my students,  I can practically hear the cogs turning as they begin to think about their works-in-progress in ways they never have before. 
And the next novel I wrote – my third – turned out to be my ‘first’.

To find out more about Jane, her creative process and the novel, visit her website here. Come back to Literascribe on Friday to check out the latest clue in the online treasure hunt!

Reminder: my next Fictionfire Focus Workshop is on Short Stories, on 11th April - there are still places available. Find out more here Fictionfire by the Sea, my writers' workshop and retreat in St Ives, takes place from 17th-19th April. It's fully booked, but you can still add your name to the waiting list by emailing me at You can also join the Fictionfire mailing list on my website, to be kept informed about future workshops and retreats. 

In June, I'll be running a day course on Character Building and giving a lecture on the essentials of Self-editing at the Winchester Writers' Festival - visit