Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Getting into the Medieval Spirit

I went to the Ludlow Medieval Fayre last weekend and really got into the medieval spirit in more ways than one.

I had an article published last year about the fayre and was surprised to see someone else had done similar this year which is great really as I guess magazine editors usually want to cover annual events like this so it's worth trying again, even if you have seen it done before.

The beautiful birds of prey are always there and you can have a hold for a few pounds

And the whole place takes on a really medieval Christmas atmosphere

Finally, I felt a little scared when I first saw this picture. No idea what that could be on my shoulder. The castle is said to have several ghostly visitors as well as the usual tourists. Perhaps this spirit was awakened by all the authentic sights and sounds of a Medieval castle.

Whatever it is I hope it stayed there. A parrot on the shoulder is one thing but I don't fancy carrying around a spirit!

Monday, 22 November 2010

Commercial Fiction

We had a guest speaker at our Writers Group this week. Alan Mahar - Publishing Director of Tindal Street Press gave a fascinating talk from a publishers point of view, covering how they got started as a company and hints and tips on what they are looking for.

I found his question and answer section very useful. He even covered one of my burning questions - What is commercial fiction?

My novel is constantly getting rejected for not being commercial enough. From all of my rejections I have received great feedback about it being well written, my writing style and that they have enjoyed what they have read but I have obviously chosen a subject that won't sell - or will it?

Tindal Street Press concentrate on writers from the West Midlands, with strong themes set around that particular area. They have enjoyed great success to date with many writers winning major awards or being short listed for them such as the Booker, Costa First Book Award and Orange Prize.

Alan made a great point about how an editor and the rest of the team all have to be passionate with the whole thing, not just like a story, but believe that everyone else will too. He also said that it is difficult if you are trying to break into the top London publishers, especially if your novel is set in a regional area as mine is.

At first I felt a little dis-heartened as I can't change my story or the genre to make it any more 'Commercial'. I truly believe that my characters are fixed and so is the setting, I don't think it would work if it was set anywhere else, even though as he said it, I started to day dream about my novel being set in London or Glasgow but talked myself out of exploring that idea any further.

However, what I can do is to keep on sending it out until I find a publisher who does believe in it. Every one of those editors out there have different feelings and views, I guess I just have to keep searching for one that feels the same as I do.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

The Crogen Coach House Writing Project (aka Wrekin Writers Retreat)

Our yearly Wrekin Writers retreat was at the Crogen estate near Llangollen this year.

I was the last to arrive and have to apologise for surging into the house like the mad river Dee above, but I was so excited, I could hardly control myself.

I found other members of the group writing amongst the most wonderful surroundings of this lovely house.

Above Beverley Cherry

Above Julie Phillips

Above Crogen Coach House - our weekend retreat

I had to try and calm down and leave everyone in peace, so left the house for a walk. I was amazed at the beautiful surroundings that would inspire any writer.

It was a magical time, we had so much fun and got so much out of the house which had a grand piano and games room.

Simon Whaley doing a bit of Jazz!

Play it again Bryan, Sue begged him!

Me in my favourite spot!

I discovered this cottage in the daytime, but got some willing members of the group to go and visit at night for our own little 'Blair Witch Project' I found it quite scary to start with as I entered the derelict building and climbed the old ladder in darkeness.

Our gathering - a beautiful lasagna cooked by Darren

The final thing most people want to do is leave a note in the visitors book. After our terrifying walk to the haunted cottage - Bryan came up with this message

Twelve were expected (one member had to drop out at the last moment)

Eleven arrived

None of us would leave.

Although we were trying to be spooky, this little message meant so much more than a creepy scribbling!

We all got so much done on our writing projects that weekend. I arrived with a few notes written by hand and now have the main base for my next non-fiction book.

The whole house was crammed full of creative minds and inspiration for an entire weekend. I think our positive and creative spirits will stay in that house for ever.