Monday, 31 August 2015

No Place For Bystanders

Anyone who's read any of my books on business skills for writers, or sat in one of my workshops at Swanwick, knows I am a strong devotee of the spreadsheet. Great for setting up simple accounts systems, wonderful for a quick and easy to-do list, and invaluable for planning the latest writing project. Well, this week, I've been using it for viewing and weeding out unnecessary characters in my novel.

Monday, 24 August 2015

A Broad Abroad: Leaving Ukraine

It is the end of a week’s training course in Kiev; Victoria and Lena are due to pick me up at noon for the short journey to the airport.  I get a call at 11.30am to say they’re running late due to traffic congestion.  Not a problem for me — I just sit in the foyer and read.  When they arrive at 12.15pm, they announce we have plenty of time and will have lunch first, but should eat in the hotel, since the traffic is too bad to risk going elsewhere.

Monday, 17 August 2015

Busy Doing Nothing

Socrates said: Beware the barrenness of a busy life. Those Greeks knew a thing or two, didn't they? When I don't write - and there are far too many days when that happens - it's never because I can't think what to write about. I may be 'blocked' on one piece of work, but there's always another one on the go that I can work on instead.

Friday, 14 August 2015

Swanwick 2015: Only in Swanwick...

...would the Dregs Party include an ensemble of musicians howling along to Werewolves of Gateshead...

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Swanwick 2015: Keeping The Faith

Stephen King (Photo courtesy of "Pinguino")
Thought for the Day: Sitting in Simon Hall's class on novel writing this morning, I heard the strongest reason for we writers to keep going, even when we think we'll never write a decent word again, or when we think no-one will ever accept our work or read anything we've produced: after thirty rejections of his first novel, Stephen King nearly gave up! His wife persuaded him to keep going - and the rest is history!

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Swanwick 2015: Quizzing and Busking

A superb quiz from Phil Collins last night, and if our team hadn't tried to second guess the motives behind the final round, we'd probably have won, instead of coming joint second! But at least we got the town planning question right.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Swanwick 2015: A Right Royal Performance

Picture courtesy of Katie Write
Last night's guest speaker protested when she was introduced as 'the Queen of short stories' but we all agreed with Michael's description. Della Galton took us through her writing journey, from part-time to full-time writer via a dramatic house-fire and a roller-coaster of highs and lows. 

Monday, 10 August 2015

Swanwick 2015: Elizabeth Chats With...

Humour, as always, plays a big part in the week. In our 4-part course on Novel Writing, Simon Hall keeps us laughing and groaning with his (hopefully deliberately) terrible jokes and puns. But the prize for the day's worst joke  (and it's only 10:45!) has to go to Rita who, in the middle of a workshop on character, described our villian, the owner of a fireworks factory, thus: he wasn't just any guy, he was Mr Fawkes!

Daily Interview

It's Monday, the second week of the month - and time for one of my full-length interviews. But it's also part way through Swanwick and its associated daily blog. So today, I'm going to combine the two by chatting with a Swanwick buddy of mine.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Swanwick 2015: A Day To Remember

One of the most special moments each year takes place during the 12.20 pm service on Sunday, day 2. That's when the Book of Remembrance is opened and we hear the names of members of the school who have passed away in the last twelve months. This year, we remember: Ursula Kennedy, Pat Lowe, Hugh C Rae, and Catherine King. The list is shorter this year than last, but no less poignant for that. It's always sad to lose a friend.

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Swanwick 2015: And The Winner Is...

Well, here we are again! And for those of you who, like me, think we've only just had Christmas, you've missed seven months of the year and  we really are in August once again! And if it's August, it must be Swanwick.

And the big news of today is that the Quaich was awarded this year to the wonderful Lois Maddox for all the incredible work she does in organising and running the Book Room each year. Well done, Lois!

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Travels of a Navigator, 4th Class: The Final Straw

Today we go home. A simple journey: just head for the M4, the Severn Bridge and the M5 southwards. It's so easy, right? What could possibly go wrong?