Anne and Gerry Hobbs
This needs to go at the top, because everyone should read it. It’s the 25th year that Anne and Gerry have run this holiday, and while I’m glad I’ve finally discovered it, I’m sorry I missed out on the previous 24 years. I’ve had the most wonderful time, it’s a lovely atmosphere, and I’ve met many new friends. Anne and Gerry were deservedly showered with gifts and thanks this evening, and I don’t think I’ve ever heard such a loud and long round of applause.
I can’t write poems like Les Baynton and Stephen Wade, or dedicate a book to them as Kate Walker did, but I take great pleasure in extending heartfelt thanks to Anne and Gerry. They’ve made this aspiring writer’s summer. And I can’t wait for next year.
Yes, I’ve booked for next year. I know I can’t really afford it, but with the this-week-only £40 discount I couldn’t not do it – where else would you get five nights full board (and I mean full board, the food is limitless!) and a packed programme of excellent talks and courses for £360? It’s great value even at full price.
The dreaded book room
Browsing through the books this morning (I only bought one – Consider the Lilies by Carol Fenlon, which looks fantastic), I spotted Niemals auf ex – a German translation of One Glass Is Never Enough by Jane Wenham-Jones, and was delighted to find the line:
Magst du Morrisdancing?
Can you imagine the look on a German reader’s face?
Another delegate caught me this morning and said they’d read my blog. I’m finding this really quite exciting – must remember that I can communicate with people face to face as well as from the anonymity of a computer screen (which isn’t that anonymous because people know who I am now – gulp – must be very careful what I say).
More short story writing
Della Galton’s course continued in fine style. Snippets I’ve gleaned from it so far include:
- We are in the entertainment industry. We don’t want to make our readers feel bad!
- Characters have to solve their problems for themselves, not have someone else sort them out.
- Intrigue the reader, don’t tell them exactly what’s going on, they’ll want to read on to find out.
- Readers never skip dialogue, so have important information spoken by a character.
And last, but by no means least:
- Don’t kill off your main character in the first paragraph 🙂
She’s covered character and plot, idea generation, and dialogue in a remarkable amount of detail in three hour-long sessions. I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s sessions on market research and presentation – hopefully these will help me work out how to actually get some money from this writing lark.
Zoe Sharp – Criminal Tendencies
Crime author Zoe Sharp (who assures us she doesn’t have criminal tendencies really) gave a highly professional and entertaining talk about her life and writing. The extent to which crime authors go to research their stories never ceases to amaze me – examining the blood spatter after nearly severing your own finger with a saw seems slightly obsessive!
Some of the bits and bobs I wrote down:
- American copy editors have strange ideas about the English language.
- There are only a restricted number of plots but an infinite number of characters – the interaction of character with plot is what makes each book unique.
- Elmore Leonard quote: ‘Leave out the bits readers skip over.’
- There is a crime sub-genre called ‘cutting edge cosy’! (I got a couple of Google hits when I spelt ‘cosy’ with a z.)
I also learned about Atlanta Nights – a how-not-to-do-it novel written by a bunch of SF and fantasy authors under the name Travis Tea, and submitted to PublishAmerica to show the company up as vanity publishers. Despite the sheer awfulness of the novel (I’ve downloaded it from the link on the wikipedia page, it’s truly dire) PublishAmerica accepted it for publication. Their current #1 bestseller doesn’t look like it’ll be much better… even the blurb appears to have major inconsistencies.
Zoe raved so much about the characterisation worksheet Kate Walker had handed out in her class that morning, I asked Kate if it was possible to get a copy. She is the most kind and wonderful person – rather than telling me to just go and buy her book (I had already bought one of her other ones, or I might have done that) she went off in search of a sheet and brought it back for me. Not only was her generosity overwhelming, but the worksheet is jolly good too!
Caught up with the lady who’d made my day yesterday by saying she’d read my blog (Catherine Burrows – thanks again!), and off we toddled to the workshop on discovering emotional wisdom, run by Judith Kingdon. I’d been discussing which session to go to over tea, and decided that some light relief might be in order, rather than a hard-working session on how to redraft novels or converting a story to a TV script.
It was certainly interesting. I got more out of it than I expected to – examining what situations would evoke emotions (anger, excitement, happiness, calm, fear, sadness, disgust) in a character and then analysing that to identify their particular values was quite a useful exercise. I’m not sure that applying therapeutic techniques (such as Transactional Analysis) to characters is a particularly useful thing to do, but on the other hand identifying patterns of behaviour in their relationships and getting them to break those patterns to achieve better outcomes might work. I shall try it and report back at some point.
The other important lesson from this session was that the main character in my novel is a miserable cow, and needs something to kick her up the backside PDQ. Mind you, Jane Pollard had already told me that.
Update on errant son
He’s just reported on his facebook status that he’s been food shopping for the first time in his life. So I assume he’s safe and well. Until I get hold of him, anyway.
Radio 4 prog you may have missed…
… especially if you’re here at Caerleon …
Today’s Frequently Asked Questions looks like it’s well worth catching up with on iPlayer:
Ian Samson traces the relationship between authors and their readers through the changing nature of the correspondence between them. He asks his fellow writers whether festivals, promotional tours and the advent of the internet have altered their role.
More radio news
I quizzed Elaine Everest about her imminent appearance (is there an audio version of that?) on Woman’s Hour on August 14th. It’s related to this story in the Daily Express about the horrors of having redundant husbands hanging around the house while trying to write.
What were you doing when…
Kate Bush sang Wuthering Heights on Top of the Pops, introduced by Dave Lee Travis (remember the Hairy Cornflake?)? Catherine Fitzsimmons can remember – she was embroidering eyes on a rag doll. So there.
We were trying to think of other interesting events where people might remember their location/activity at the time – any ideas?
The Cwmbach Male Choir
Wow. What can I say? Approximately 66 Welshmen singing their hearts out. I say approximately because I came up with a different answer every time I counted. The singing was just wonderful, the compere told some stonking jokes, and the choir president gave a fascinating and moving history of the choir and its links with Paul Robeson. I hadn’t realised there were strong parallels and associations between the South Wales miners and the American Civil Rights movement. The related solos were wonderful.
Ah’m tired of livin’
An’ skeered of dyin’,
But ol’ man river,
He jes’ keeps rolling’ along.
I’ve just checked out the Cwmbach Male Choir website, it’s worth a look if you’re interested, and if you were there this evening, sign the guestbook.
I think one of the most impressive things about the choir was the speed with which they adjourned to the bar once the last number was finished. No chance of an encore!
And so to bed
I did try to hang around in the bar, and stay awake for the dancing, but I’m just too tired. I’m guessing people will be partying until dawn, so I’m going to leave them to it and take myself off to bed.
Read Full Post »