Monday, June 12, 2006

Return from talks and conferences

Generally I like to post something at least once a week, but I'm a bit late this time around. June's being a busy month. Apart from giving a talk to a full house at Borrowash library at the very beginning of June as part of Derbyshire Literature festival, I' was away all last weekend at the Southern Writers' Conference on the Earnley Concourse just outside Chichester. I was invited to speak on Sunday as part of their programme, but thought I might as well go along for the entire Friday to Sunday agenda.
What a wonderful place - of course I forgot my camera. However, here's the url to their website.
The weather was glorious which was a bonus. I arrived Friday afternoon to be greeted by tea and home made raspberry ripple cake (yum). My en suite room was very comfortable with windows opening onto a lawned garden. The grounds were populated by a variety of wildlife including some spectacular peacocks. One of my abiding memories of the conference will be opening my bedroom window on Sunday morning to watch a peacock displaying his fan and shimmying his stunning irridescent feathers. What a treat. Earnley is 15 minutes walk from the beach with a distant view of the Isle of Wight and Portsmouth. The weather being so wonderful, I went paddling on Saturday afternoon. The wind was warm and the sea was blue - heaven!
The food and service were excellent, and the workshops and the speakers educational and entertaining. Sandy Toksvig is just brilliant. My other fellow speakers, Peter Lovesey and Penny Jordan were both charming, interesting and had plenty to say that made good sense and gave the delegates food for thought.
If anyone's looking for a three day writing break with fabulous food, comfortable and beautiful surroundings, not to mention a fabulous indoor swimming pool, they couldn't do better than attend the Southern Writers' Conference. It's not just for writers from the South of England, but you need to book early. This year there was a waiting list and places are always snapped up the moment the committee starts taking bookings.

Meanwhile, historical fiction wise, I have embarked on The Agony and the Ecstacy by Irving Stone for a reading group project. So far I'm loving it, but it's going to be a long haul!


Gabriele C. said...

Thhat sounds like a fine weekend indeed.

*tries not to turn green*

Anything interesting about the writing and publishing business you'd like to share?

Elizabeth Chadwick said...

Hi Gabriele,
Yes, it was a great weekend augmented by the detail that while I was away pretending that talking about my writing was work, my new flatpack book cases had arrived and my husband had spent his own not so glorious weekend assembling them for me - yay!!!

The writing and publishing business courtesy of the SWC:
There was a lot of in house gossip. The conference is a mixture of published and unpublished authors, but there are quite a lot of mainstream published attendees, so a lot of the talk was referencing editors/deals/trade gossip etc.
Penny Jordan gave a very useful and salutory lecture on not being complacent and standing still. If you're happy in your niche, still have an eye on the next goal and opportunity as circumstances can change in a flash. Penny is mainly known as a Mills & Boon author with 167million sales to her name in that capacity, but category romance is a tough business these days and Penny has diversified under pen names into other areas in order to keep herself in an income. Thus she also writes sagas for Harper Collins and in the past has written regencies under another pen name. Penny also said that established authors such as herself could learn a heck of a lot from newcomers to the stable who were a lot more switched on to technology and marketing techniques.
I found myself in the company of Rhona Martin, although I didn't realise it until the end of the weekend. She wrote a 'how to' book on writing historical fiction that was my bible when I was an unpublished twenty something - so it was an honour to meet her.

Fiona Mountain said...

Hi Elizabeth,

Just found your blog and enjoyed reading it.

As a historical novelist myself I'm fascinated by the depth of your research - actually cooking historical recipes and being part of the Anglo-Norman group? Sounds fascinating. I'm curious to know how long, on average, you spend researching each new book before you sit down to write it?

With four small children, I had a break from historical novels and wrote two contemporary mysteries with a historical twist, but I missed historical novels so much that I am back working on another!