My Dream Book Conferences

Author events are something that most, if not all, readers get excited about. Be it a signing, a talk or a panel, it is an opportunity to see the authors you love and hear their thoughts on a variety of topics. Eventbrite reached out to me and I thought this sounded like a lot of fun so here are a few of my ideas of panels I would love to see, and some I know could never be.

In Conversation

One of my favourite type of author panels are those where one author is in conversation with another, or maybe two or three. I find that these allow you to see a bit more of the authors as people and also tend to be both more humorous and more interesting as authors bounce off of each other. Some ideas I have for these are:

–          Genres that rarely meet. It would be really interesting to see authors from different genres get together to discuss writing and the differences, if there are any, between them. For example, if historical fiction writer was in conversation with a science fiction writer.

–          New vs. Experienced. There are a massive number of aspiring writers in the world and I think a panel with a mix of both debut authors and heavily experienced ones could potentially be quite inspirational for those aspiring writers.

–          Authors meet their characters. This is a panel which is more based in a dream than reality. Authors know the worlds and characters they create intimately, but it’s often said that characters have minds of their own and can drive the story themselves. To see the two in conversation, the person who created the world and the one who lived in it, would be fascinating.

Panels

Deciding on specific authors I would love to see on a panel together was difficult – I have too many I would love to see and then deciding which would work well together was difficult. I think I would prefer smaller groups of authors to a long panel. You get to hear more from each author that way and it feels a bit more informal than just going down the line. So, in this case, I’ve decided to go with groups of three.

–          Heroines and Romance. There is a call nowadays, quite rightly so, for more female leads and more feminist novels. Unfortunately, strong heroines are often let down by the inclusion of romance where that romance takes centre-stage at the cost of both the story and the female’s character. Three writers who I felt managed to incorporate romance in to their novels while maintaining an intriguing story and great female leads are Jacqueline Garlick, Jamie Mclachlan and Christine Norris and I think it would be interesting to hear their thoughts on the matter.

–          Building Series. I love series. I love the idea of finishing a book and knowing there is more of that story still to read (which is why I am very good at starting series but not so good at finishing them). However, writing a series can be quite tough in getting the balance right with what to reveal and when, as well as making sure that the story and development is brilliant throughout. So for this panel, I will include three writers whose series I have thoroughly enjoyed for them to discuss the ins and outs of series-building: Trudi Canavan, Laini Taylor and Robin Hobb.

–          The Pressures of Fame. The world of today is heavily based in the concept of celebrity and there are a number of authors who have been shot into the limelight, helped by the role of social media promoting their works and adaptions of their work alike. This celebrity does come with a certain amount of pressure, however, as fans turn to their favourite authors for answers and apply a certain expectation about what the next book should be and when they want to see it. I would be really interested to hear authors in these situations discuss how they deal with the pressure of this celebrity and fans influence their work. For this, unsurprisingly, I would include J.K. Rowling, George R.R. Martin and, for a complete mix up of the genres, John Green.

So, as you can see, I don’t have one dream author panel, more a mix of themes and groupings that I would find really interesting to see.

If you are interested in finding or planning conferences, maybe even some similar to those suggested above, Eventbrite have a conference management page would could be a very useful tool in doing so.

Let me know if you would enjoy any panels I’ve mentioned, or share any ideas you have in the comments below. I’d love to see them!

Writing Update – October 2016

It’s been a while since my last writing update, but I thought I would check in now and let you know how things are going.

I have just received feedback from a friend of mine who kindly offered to read through my novel, The Unnaturals, so my writing life at the moment has mostly been spent going through her comments and making notes of where I need to action things and develop the writing a bit more.

It has been insanely helpful having another pair of eyes read through it. Most of what she picked up on were areas where I didn’t quite explain things fully or the context was not completely clear. With these areas highlighted and me having something I can actually work on, I am able to improve the novel and make the reading experience a lot more enjoyable for any future readers (one can hope).

To make the most of the editing experience, I’ve converted my reading corner into a writing den – moving all my books on writing and some of my notebooks onto a makeshift step-ladder shelf and laying out my stationary for when I get fully into the editing process. At the moment, I am just summarising the changes that need to be made and how I’m going to go about doing them.

In other news, NaNoWriMo is coming up! I still haven’t decided if I am going to participate this year. As much as I would love to, I would much prefer to do so with a new book, and writing rather than editing. With the amount of editing that is still on my radar, I am a bit concerned with taking on more than I can chew. That being said, I do have an outline for the sequel to The Unnaturals so, if the temptation proves too much, I will probably try and write a large bulk of that in the month. Not only will it help keep me in The Unnaturals world, but it will also mean I get to do some writing proper, which I have missed.

That’s mostly it on the writing news. I will keep you posted come November whether or not I end up participating in NaNoWriMo (I probably will, knowing me, but maybe not to the extent of 50,000 a month).

Inspirational Places – Rhodes

The muse is a wily creature, often disappearing for days on end and returning in the dead of night or when there is no notebook to hand. There are ways to summon it back, from taking a simple shower, taking a walk, or going on a holiday.

I have just returned from two weeks in Rhodes – an island rich with ancient history, blazing sunlight and a valley filled with butterflies.

In the time leading up to the holiday, I was focused on one task: editing my novel, which I finished just before we set out. As a result, my imagination was feeling a bit desolate on the way out. Now though, my brain is teaming with ideas for future books and conjuring up scenes for me. A holiday was really what I needed to bring the muse back into the fold and here are a few of the places I found the most inspirational while in Rhodes.

Lindos – Acropolis and City

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Lindos is beautiful. This was the first place we visited and was the first to spring the inspiration out of hiding. The white-washed buildings, cobbled streets between closely built buildings and canopy overhead lent itself well to a story setting and the characters only spilled in from there. It’s location in the shadow of the large Acropolis only give it an added sense of mystery and power.

The Acropolis itself is a masterpiece of architecture. From the sea, it is an impressive, yet foreboding sight. From within, even the ruins tell a story and it’s easy to imagine what it would have been like in its hey-day. The views are impressive and there is plenty of the building left to explore.

Rhodes Old Town – Grand Master’s Palace

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Entering into Rhodes Old Town, you are instantly swept back in time, into another world. But it was the Grand Master’s Palace which really caught my imagination. The building itself is massive and in good repair. It contains museums, mosaics and restored rooms. In some places you can practically hear the footsteps of the knights who once walked the corridors or see a flash of fabric as a figment of the past darts around a corner. This trip transported me, not only into the past, but also into another world, of a story that had been working its way around my head for a while. Upon returning to the hotel, I just had to sit back and scribble out my ideas.

The Sea

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Okay, this one is not quite a place, and there are plenty of other locations in Rhodes that could have taken this third spot, but it was while sitting on a boat, bobbing about on the waves that I could really feel my imagination whirring. Taking a boat tour might not sound the most exciting thing in the world, but you can have as many magical encounters on the sea as you can on the shore. From secret coves to rocky sea passages to incredible views on monuments on land, the is much the sea can offer. With the fresh air and gentle rocking, your mind is also given space to ponder and churn out ideas.

The sea around Rhodes is a stunning blue and incredibly clear. A number of steep cliffs, often scaled by mountain goats, plunge into it creating a daring face out to the horizon. There was even a rock which, from a certain angle, looked disconcertingly like a lion’s face. It is easy to picture characters travelling the waves and the mighty buildings, such as the acropolis, really give that picture depth.

Other Inspirational Places in Rhodes

There are a number of other places that really capture the imagination in Rhodes. A couple which were in close contention for a larger mention was the ancient city of Kamiros – ruined twice by earthquake and now an incredible layout of ruins looking out to the sea – and the Valley of Butterflies – a place swarming with moths and butterflies that also resembled a fairy wonderland.

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Holidays allow for the brain to switch off and the imagination to kick itself up a notch. Visiting a wide range of places can provide plenty of areas of inspiration to strike, and that was certainly the case with my trip to Rhodes. I now have plenty of ideas for the stories I am working on and the worlds they are set in now look like the camera has got into focus.

Have you been to any inspirational places recently? If so, let me know in the comments below, I may just be inspired to pay it a visit.

Writing Update – Camp Nanowrimo Week 2

Another Wednesday, another writing update.

Camp Nanowrimo is proving to be a very good incentive for my editing, as is the calendar on my wall where I mark how much work I have done. I have yet to introduce a reward system, but I am tempted – very tempted indeed.

So far, I have managed to edit 28,049 word of my novel and I am certainly enjoying rereading it again, which is always a good sign. Two parts have been gone through now, out of the total six, and I am just about to start on the third, which means I am nearly half-way through!

Unfortunately, I am still behind schedule. I had hoped to be nearing the fourth part by the middle of the month, but ended up having to miss a couple of days of writing due to the occasional headache. Writing with a headache is never a good idea, I’ve found. 

Luckily for me, however, is I have nothing planned this weekend. I have two whole days in which to sit down and write (and read when I’m not writing, of course). There will be tea a-plenty and, hopefully, a lot of progress made.

I will keep you posted.

See my previous writing update here

Inspirational Places: Jane Austen’s House Museum

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One of the most prominent female writers of all time is, undoubtedly, Jane Austen and so one of the most inspirational places for a writer to visit is the place where she was at her most productive. Jane Austen lived in a number of houses throughout her life, but it was at the house in Chawton, Hampshire, where she lived with her mother and sister, that she saw the completion of her many novels.

The house itself is rather beautiful. It sits on the corner by a quiet road, and opposite a scrumptious tea-house. You enter through a side-building which houses the gift-shop (full of delightful books and Austen-inspired merchandise). This then takes you into the garden which is something mine can only hope to aspire to. It’s a peaceful place to sit and contemplate but also contains a number of interesting herbs and plants.

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The main attraction is, of course, the house itself. The rooms are a blend between museum and home. It contains artefacts from Jane Austen’s time, including some of her own possessions and those belonging to her closest friends and family. This truly gives you a sense of stepping back into Jane Austen’s world and seeing how she lived.

The most humble yet most extraordinary feature of the house is the original table that Jane Austen used to write her novels. Despite its importance to the books’ creation, it is nothing special to the eye. Indeed, it is rather small, with barely enough space to fit a laptop today, and there are no ornate decorations. It is very easy to walk past it at first glance before doubling back upon realising what the table actually is. But once you do, it is strangely captivating and haunting in the way you can almost see Jane Austen at work.

Walking out of the house, I found myself feeling desperate to return to my own writing and follow even the faintest of Jane Austen’s footsteps. But, before I could do so, a visit the Chawton House was in order. Chawton House is the house Jane Austen’s brother lived in, and is now a centre dedicated to the study of early women writers. It is also open to the public to explore, and have a further glimpse into the past. I was only there a short time, but it is a stunning building with a library that surrounds you with the musky smell of old books upon entering and is a room you never wish to leave. There is plenty more of the house to explore and I hope to do so again in future.

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If you ever wish to visit, next year (2017) is the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death so there is likely to be a number of interesting events occurring in celebration – certainly an entertaining time to go.  

Jane Austen’s House Museum: http://www.jane-austens-house-museum.org.uk/

Chawton House: http://www.chawtonhouse.org/

 

Writing Update – Camp Nanowrimo Week 1

We’re halfway through the first week of July and with it comes my first writing update of Camp Nanowrimo. This month, I am editing one of my completed novels with the intention of sending it out from the beginning of August.

The Unnaturals, as my novel is called, is made up of 6 sections, each with around 7 chapters. As of today, I have finished editing the first of these sections – narrated by Annaliese, it launches the novel and introduces some of the major players.

Editing it was quite a fun experience. As I have gone through a number of periods where I’ve tried editing this book before life got in the way, Part 1 was probably the most polished going in, so I have a feeling that the road ahead will only get more difficult. It did mean, however, that I now have a bit more a confidence boost in the work and I have been re-acquainted to the world without being bogged down in the details.

Most of what I have been focusing on is flow and sentence structure. Previous edits had helped smooth over the story-line so this was a bit more in the nitty-gritty zone. There were a number of clunky paragraphs so these have hopefully been smoothed over. I have also made a number of decisions on things, such as names, which previously I kept changing my mind over so the consistency was a bit off.

All in all, I am certainly feeling like I am making progress and am looking forward to the next section which will be narrated by my other main character – Fayna. That will be me mostly editing the same things as above, but also knuckling down on her voice and character. I will also, hopefully, be making a start on the third part, which will be back to Annaliese’ narration. But more on that in next week’s writing update.

Words Edited: 8,658

Writing Update – June 2016

This post is coming slightly later than normal for the simple reason that I spent yesterday in complete shock. The EU referendum result has sent shock waves around the UK, and indeed Europe, and I am devastated by it (Remain supporter here).

But, onto slightly happier affairs, this post is going to be a quick updating on my writing.

I have not been doing much writing lately; life had been busy and getting in the way so the amount I have been able to work on has been limited. I have been able to do the odd editing and writing from time to time, but really not as much as I would like. So, I have come up with a cunning plan (well, a plan, I wouldn’t necessarily call it cunning).

As I have said in the past, I have two project currently on the go. The first is 5-book series which is still in the writing stage. The second is a duology (with potential for a prequel), the first book of which is in the editing stages.

One of my goals this year is to get a book to the point where I can start sending it out to agents and/or publishers. The latter of the two projects is the best bet for this, as it is the closest to completion and the one I am most happy with at this current moment in time.

So, what is this plan? Well, I have just bought tickets to attend YALC at the end of July where they have a session to pitch the book to agents. I’m not sure what the outcome for that will be, but it seems as good a place as any to start and it provides me with a deadline which I work much better towards. Luckily for me, July is also Camp Nanowrimo month – which I shall be making use of for editing the book – the goal is to get the novel to a good standard by the end of July. It will be a lot of work, but I am hopeful.  

After July, well I will be dividing my attention between sending out the novel to agents and either working on the 5-book series or writing the second book in the duology. Whichever one I go for I will be writing.

I will endeavour to post frequent updates on either this blog or Twitter to keep you updated on how it is all going. And I’m looking forward to it. It’s been too long since I’ve properly focused on my writing and I miss it. Bring on the next few months!