The Festival of Writing. University of York.













14:00 to 18:00: The Mini Courses:

• Reading for Writers, with Allie Spencer
• The Four Elements of Creativity, with Andrew Wille
• A Guide to Submissions, with agent Janelle Andrews
• Self-Editing Your Novel, with Debi Alper and Emma Darwin
• Self-Publish Like A Pro, with David Gaughran
• What an agent looks for in a standout children's book, with agent Julia Churchill

Pre-booked optional extra. The mini-course costs an additional £70 to the normal Full Festival Weekend price. **4 hour workshop to start the weekend with a bang.**


Reading for Writers, with Allie Spencer

It is often said that the key to successful writing is making sure you read a lot - but how can you get the most out of your reading and what sort of things should you be looking for? A half-day taster of Allie's acclaimed online course with Writers' Workshop, this unique class gives you an insight into some of the key techniques used by professional authors – and shows you how to use them to them to enhance your own writing. It is also ideal for avid readers who want to understand how the nuts and bolts of writing operate. You will never look at a book in the same way again!

Award-winning writer Allie Spencer is the author of five romantic comedy novels (three of them set abroad in exotic locations), an experienced creative writing tutor, (including devising and teaching online courses for Writers' Workshop) - and a graduate of the English Department here at York University. Her most recent novel, Save the Date! Is available from Arrow Books.


The Four Elements of Creativity, with Andrew Wille

In this class we’ll discover how the four elements - fire, water, earth, and air - can bring balance and depth to your writing.

Through discussions, brief readings, and exercises, we’ll explore ways to:

  • give your voice power and purpose
  • establish a tone that evokes the right emotion
  • embody all the senses in specific and concrete details
  • bring focus and structure to your stories

The outcome: writing that is brighter, bolder, and more memorable.

For beginners in search of inspiration as well as experienced writers who want to find new perspectives and refresh their creative process.

Andrew Wille was managing editor and then senior editor at Little, Brown UK, acquiring and working on many critically acclaimed and award-winning works of fiction and nonfiction. Subsequently he has freelanced for many of the industry’s most notable imprints, worked as a book doctor, and taught for Naropa University’s Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics and Falmouth University’s MA in Professional Writing. His own fiction has been published in literary magazines.


A Guide to Submissions, with Janelle Andrews

This will class will focus on the guide to finding, and submitting your manuscript to an agent; what to expect, what not to expect and how to make a piece of work stand out to an agent. This class will also focus on answering the following questions about the market:

  • What agents are looking for in general
  • What not to do to get an agent’s attention

Nelle Andrew is an agent at PFD. Nelle did a masters in Creative Writing at Trinity College Dublin and then moved back to London in 2007 where she almost immediately began working in publishing. After working at Pan Macmillan she moved to work at a literary agency while also writing and pursuing a career as a novelist on the side. The Legacy of Eden is her first novel, published under the name Nelle Davy. She has finished writing a second novel based on the civil rights movement in Louisiana in 1963.


Self-Editing Your Novel, with Debi Alper & Emma Darwin

This course is designed for those who have already completed a manuscript or who are close to doing so. By the end of the session, you should have a grasp on the self-editing skills you need to ensure your novel is as good as it possibly can be. With a mixture of tutorials and exercises, the course will cover the following


  • checking prose style and narrative voice 
  • creating compelling characters
  • plot, pace, hook
  • understanding the market

Your course tutors will be Debi Alper (left top) and Emma Darwin (left bottom). Debi is the author of Nirvana Bites and Trading Tatiana (both Orion), gritty urban stories told with love and humour. Emma is the acclaimed and bestselling author of The Mathematics of Love and A Secret Alchemy, both historical fiction. Debi and Emma are hugely experienced and popular tutors and editors, with a long track record of helping first-time writers achieve publication.


Self-Publish Like A Pro, with David Gaughran


This course will explain the current state of the industry, delve into the incredible new opportunities that exist for writers today, and teach you how to self-publish like a pro.


  • Finding an editor, cover designer, and formatter, and how to put the package together in a professional way (that doesn’t break the bank).
  • Pitfalls you must avoid as a writer in the digital age, and how to spot scammers.
  • Building a readership: why Facebook, blogging and Twitter don’t really sell books, and why you should focus on better tools to reach readers.

The course will also cover common myths, piracy, and the biggest mistakes self-publishers make. The session will finish at looking at the marketing strategies of successful self-publishers, and how they have taken over 25% of the US e-book market.

David Gaughran is the author of the historical novels Mercenary and A Storm Hits




What an agent looks for in a standout children's book, with Julia Churchill

The course will be aimed at helping participants to ensure that their children's manuscript stands out from the crowd and is strong enough to get snapped up by an agent - at a time when the market for children's fiction is tougher than it has been for years. Through detailed discussions on 15 or so titles from Julia's list, this class will explore and explain realities of the business, but through the prism of real life work.
The afternoon course will cover:

  • Voice, concept, story and character. 
  • What agents and publishers are looking for today
  • The business side: submitting to agents, etc

Julia Churchill joined AM Heath in 2013 as Children's Agent, after four years building up the UK side of the Greenhouse Literary Agency, and six years at the Darley Anderson Agency where she grew the children’s list. She represents some fabulous writers, but is always on the treasure hunt for new writing talent.