Workshop Schedule for the 2012 Festival

Festival of Writing, 7-9 Sept, 2012


When you book your place at the Festival, you'll be asked for your workshop preferences.

We recommend you select a mix of workshops on technique (eg: plotting), on genre (eg: writing for kids), and on the business side of things (eg: one of our "Meet the Agents" panels). Some 'workshops' will be highly interactive; others will be more in the nature of talks. All events will have Q&A opportunities.

Speakers / talks are subject to change, but we do aim to replace like with like - or (if you prefer) rebook you for a different event.

 

Workshop 1 (Saturday 10.40 - 11.40)

 

1A) Jeremy Sheldon (info, info) - The Painful Art of Comedy
Jeremy is an author, screenwriter and producer with 14 years’ experience in film, publishing, higher education and communications. Jonathan Cape have published two full-length works of his fiction, The Comfort Zone (2002) and The Smiling Affair (2005). His film credits include Best Laid Plans (2012), a gritty British drama-thriller directed by BAFTA-winning director David Blair.
We tend to associate comedy and laughter with happiness. But is this really the case? In real life, people often distinguish between laughing with someone, and laughing at them, but it might be that in both situations, we're at some level identifying our own everyday weaknesses, frustrations and limitations. Using a variety of media including sitcom, cartoons, comic sketches, stand-up, the novel and the feature film, this session aims to explore these ideas as well as draw our attention to those old comic staples: shame, fear and embarrassment
 

1B) Harry Bingham & Kate Lyall Grant (info, info) - Getting Published
Harry is a bestselling novelist and non-fiction author with Orion/HarperCollins / 4th Estate. He's also the MD of the Writers' Workshop, and is author of The Writers' & Artists' Guide to Getting Published. Kate joined Severn House as an Editorial Consultant with a brief to commission crime, thrillers, women’s fiction and horror for the list. She was formerly a senior editor at Simon and Schuster.
An inside view into how to get your work published, including tips and common mistakes, current trends and what the future holds.

 1C) Julia Crouch (info) - Technology is your friend
Julia Crouch spent ten years devising, directing and writing for the theatre. Since then, she has produced three illustrated children's books and many short stories for adults. Her first novel was born from a rough draft written as part of NaNoWriMo (http://www.nanowrimo.org Her second novel, EVERY VOW YOU BREAK, is published by Headline in mid 2012.
As a self-confessed geek and former website designer, Julia Crouch is as wedded to her MacBook as she is to her husband. In this workshop she shares, with the help of a beautifully constructed PowerPoint show, the techno tools that help her write her novels – from research through drafting and structuring to the final edit. There will be an unashamed Mac bias to this workshop, but the insights into creative use of business planning tools can be applied universally, and most of the software is available in the other platform as well. This workshop will look at how software can help your creative process. You don't need to be a computer whizz to attend this workshop.

1D) Emma Darwin  (info) - Taming Your Novel
 Emma is that rare thing: an acclaimed literary author who's graced the bestseller lists. Her historical fiction has been shortlisted and longlisted for numerous prizes and sold extensively overseas.
How can you make sure the novel-ship isn’t becalmed or even sinking, when you’re stuck down in the engine room? Novels are long and complex, and present the writer with a sometimes unmanageable range of decisions. Whether you think you’re a planner or a pantser, this course should help you to find the processes that work best for you. It explores a range of ways that can help you to keep the wood, the trees and the individual twigs all in focus, without giving up in despair.

1E) Debi Alper (info) - Psychic Distance: Getting inside your characters' heads
Debi is the author of gritty, funny, contemporary novels with Orion - and a hugely respected tutor and book doctor with the Writers' Workshop.
How deep do you (and therefore your reader) go into the heads of your characters?  Are you able to move in and out as necessary?  Learning how to use the full spectrum of Psychic Distance will bring your writing to life.  It will also help you to understand show not tell, POV and much more.  In previous workshops, Psychic Distance has been responsible for more lightbulb moments than any other single theory and is a vital tool for an author to have in their kit.

1F) Alan Mahar (info) - How to win a Costa Prize: a writer's guide to literary fiction
Alan Mahar is the Publishing Director of the tiny - but wonderfully successful - Tindal Street Press. Of Tindal's 60 published titles, no fewer than 19 have been nominated for national literary prizes including the Booker, the Costa and the Orange. Two of Tindal Street's authors have won the Costa First Novel Award.
Novelist turned publisher Alan Mahar talks about what makes for successful literary fiction in today's crowded competitive market. Alan will talk about the fiction itself - what is needed for your novel to succeed? - but also about the business of presenting manuscripts to agents/publishers and how those novels need to present themselves to the outside world.

1G) Meet The Agents
Want to know how to choose an agent? Or write a covering letter or synopsis? Or understand rejection letters? And do you want to know what agents and editors are looking for? Of course you do! So come and ask them.
Panel to include: Francesca Main, Juliet Mushens & Sam Copeland.

 

What's Your Genre? (Saturday 11.50 - 12.50)

When selecting your workshops, do remember that this year we are running What's Your Genre? panels on Saturday morning. You don't need to pre-book these - just turn up on the day to the one that takes your fancy. And we've got plenty for you to get your gnashers into:

  • Literary Fiction with Sam Mills, Alan Mahar, Shelley Harris, Charles Brotherstone, Susan Armstrong & Sam Copeland
  • Science Fiction/Fantasy with Gary Gibson, Andrew Wille, Lee Harris & Marc Gascoigne
  • Children's/Young Adult with Nicola Morgan, Penny Holroyde, Julia Churchill & Jon Appleton
  • Women's Fiction with Julia Crouch, Julie Cohen, Talli Roland & Kate Allan
  • Historical Fiction with Jim Gill, Lisa Eveleigh, Calum Laird & Emma Darwin
  • Crime/Thriller with Harry Bingham, Claire McGowan, Piers Blofeld, Adrian Magson & Broo Doherty.
  • Script Writing with Jeremy Sheldon
 

Workshop 2 (Saturday 15.10 - 16.10)

 

2A) Nicola Morgan (info, info) - Build Your Author Platform: making a blog work for you
Nicola Morgan is an award-winning and best-selling author of around 90 books, former chair of the Society of Authors in Scotland, creator of the writing consultancy Pen2Publication, and writer of one of the UK's best-loved blogs on publishing, Help! I Need a Publisher! She is also the first google result for the phrase Crabbit Old Bat.
These days, it's become increasingly important for authors to build their own digital presence via blogs, tweets and so on. The process matters whether you're conventionally published or self-published - and you need to start really early to do well. Blogging is free, versatile, fun and has huge possibilities for platform-building. It can also be time-consuming, difficult and demoralising. Nicola's career changed when her blog - Help! I Need a Publisher! - took off. But there are many different ways to make blogging work for you and she will show you how yours can be satisfying, useful and full of opportunities. Your blog is your shop-window - let's make it sparkle!

2B) Jeremy Sheldon (info, info) - Writing the Landscape: the Powerful Powers of Sense of Place
Jeremy is an author, screenwriter and producer with 14 years’ experience in film, publishing, higher education and communications. Jonathan Cape have published two full-length works of his fiction, The Comfort Zone (2002) and The Smiling Affair (2005). His film credits include Best Laid Plans (2012), a gritty British drama-thriller directed by BAFTA-winning director David Blair.
"The city seen from the Queensboro Bridge is always the city seen for the first time, in its first wild promise of all the mystery and the beauty in the world." - The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald “I fixed my view upon the summit of a craggy ridge, the horizon’s utmost boundary; far above was nothing but the stars and the grey sky.” - The Prelude, William Wordsworth
Landscapes have the power to excite, terrify and bewilder us in equal measure. How can we as writers express the visual power of the spaces in which our characters live? More importantly, how can sense-of-place be harnessed to create powerful relationships between readers and the characters they read about?

2C) Claire McGowan (info) - Creating Tension
Claire’s first novel, The Fall, was published in February this year. The Fall was runner up in the 2010 Dylan Thomas prize for unpublished novels, and following this she secured both an agent and publisher. Claire is the Director of the Crime Writer's Association.

Ian Fleming gave the most famous description of the thriller when he said, 'One simply has to turn the page'. But how do you ensure your novel keeps the reader hooked, desperate to find out what happens next? Whatever type of book you're writing, Claire McGowan will be discussing how to keep the tension up with a variety of tools, including the use of narrative techniques, varying point of view, and escalating the sense of threat. Learn how to weld the reader to the page and keep them reading long past their bed-time.

 2D) Kirsty Dunseath and Shelley Harris (info, info) : How to Get Published: From Laptop to Bookshop.
Kirsty has been at Orion for eight years – first as editorial director of the paperback list Phoenix, then as Publishing Director of fiction at Weidenfeld & Nicolson, the literary imprint of the Orion group. Shelley’s first novel, Jubilee came out last year. Shelley Harris won the Friday night competition at the Festival of Writing 2010, spent the weekend being wooed by numerous agents – and ended up with a wonderful book deal with Weidenfeld & Nicolson. She’s been described by the Guardian as a ‘new novelist whose next book you are already impatient to read’.

Shelley has been through the whole process of writing and editing her novel, securing an agent, getting a book deal - and seeing the novel right though to hard- and paperback publication. She and her editor talk you through the entire process. Learn how to complete the journey successfully for yourself.

2E) Harry Bingham (with Charlie Brotherstone)  (info, info)  - Voice: The Writers' Holy Grail
Harry is a bestselling novelist and non-fiction author with Orion/HarperCollins / 4th Estate. He also set up the Writers' Workshop, and is author of The Writers' & Artists' Guide to Getting Published. Charles is an agent with AM Heath. He represents literary and commercial writers of fiction and non-fiction. Founded in 1919, AM Heath is one of the UK's leading literary agencies.
Ask an agent or editor what they're keen to find and they'll almost always mention 'voice'. Harry and Charlie will discuss what voice is - why it matters - and how to achieve it.

2F) Adrian Magson (info) - Grabbing readers by the throat
Adrian is the author of 12 crime/thriller novels and many short stories and magazine articles. His latest novels are ‘Retribution’ (Severn House), 4th in the Harry Tate spy series, and ‘Death on the Pont Noir’ (Allison & Busby), 3rd in the Inspector Lucas Rocco series. A reviewer for Shots Magazine, he writes the ‘Beginners’ and ‘New Author’ pages for Writing Magazine, and is the author of ‘Write On! - The Writer’s Help Book’ (Accent Press).Visit his website at www.adrianmagson.com
A Workshop on writing crime and thrillers, and grabbing readers by the throat. 

2G) Meet The Agents 
Want to know how to choose an agent? Or write a covering letter or synopsis? Or understand rejection letters? And do you want to know what agents and editors are looking for? Of course you do! So come and ask them.
Panel to include: Michael Rowley, Lisa Eveleigh, Caroline Hardman, Sallyanne Sweeney & Penny Holroyde.

 

Workshop 3 (Saturday 16.40 - 17.40)

 

3A) Julia Crouch (info)- Out of Your Brain and Onto the Screen.
Julia Crouch spent ten years devising, directing and writing for the theatre. Since then, she has produced three illustrated children's books and many short stories for adults. Her first novel was born from a rough draft written as part of NaNoWriMo. Her second novel, EVERY VOW YOU BREAK, is published by Headline in mid 2012.
‘Don’t get it right, get it written’ (Thurber). The first draft of Julia Crouch’s debut novel, CUCKOO was written over the thirty days of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in November 2008. Since then she has used the process to produce rough drafts of her next two novels. In this workshop, she demonstrates how this California-born ‘quick and dirty approach to noveling’ can help you get it written, outlining what works – and what you need to look out for. You might even come away fired up for your own go at NaNoWriMo.

3B) Talli Roland (info) - Self-Pub or Traditional Publishing: What's Right for You?
Talli writes humorous romantic fiction. Her debut novel, The Hating Game, was shortlisted for Best Romantic Read at the UK's Festival of Romance, and her second, Watching Willow Watts, was selected as a 2011 Amazon Customer Favourite. Build A Man is her latest release.

The advent of the Kindle age has made financially successful self-publishing a real alternative for countless authors. Talli has trodden that road and gives you her verdict on pros and cons.

3C) Jeremy Sheldon (info, info) - Pure Cinematics and the Art of Visual Juxtaposition
Jeremy is an author, screenwriter and producer with 14 years’ experience in film, publishing, higher education and communications. Jonathan Cape have published two full-length works of his fiction, The Comfort Zone (2002) and The Smiling Affair (2005). His film credits include Best Laid Plans (2012), a gritty British drama-thriller directed by BAFTA-winning director David Blair.
Sir Alfred Hitchcock once described the process of filmic story-telling as "the assembly of pieces of film which, moved in rapid succession before the eye, create an idea." Using bespoke video clips, and material drawn from Saul Bass' storyboards designed for the Master of Suspense himself, this session will explore "pure cinema" from a screenwriter's perspective and provide expert insight into how a writer places words on the page in the service of this foundational concept.  This workshop will work for anyone interested in screenwriting, but will also work for authors interested in playing with the visual in their writing. The idea is to think about story cinematically - that is to say, visually - and how that approach could be made to work for you.

3D) Marcy Posner (info) - Stunning Synopses, Cover Letters & Rejection Letters
Marcy has spent 15 years in publishing in the US, and a similar period working as an agent, including at William Morris, one of the biggest agencies in the US. What Marcy doesn't know about the US and international market ain't worth knowing. See also her biog on the one-to-one page.
Don't let your work get rejected for the dumb stuff. Make sure your synopsis is strong, your covering letter (query letter) is up to scratch. Also a word on how to decode a rejection letter.

3E) Julie Cohen (info) - Character
Award-winning novelist Julie Cohen has written fourteen novels for a variety of publishers, from romance to erotic science fiction to mainstream commercial women's fiction. Her latest novel is THE SUMMER OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY (Headline Review) and her next novel, out in 2013, will be published by Transworld. Julie is also an experienced teacher and if you are naughty, she will make you write lines on the chalkboard. Julie's website is http://www.julie-cohen.com and she is on Twitter as @julie_cohen.
Julie's hugely popular workshop on character is back by popular demand. This one garnered rave reviews on its debut in 2010. This is a hands-on, practical workshop on creating a character from scratch. Participants start with a blank piece of paper, and by the end of the workshop they have a fully-rounded character and have practised several techniques on how to best create character.

3F) Nicola Morgan and Penny Holroyde (info, Info) - Writing for Children
Nicola Morgan is an award-winning and best-selling author of around 90 books, former chair of the Society of Authors in Scotland, creator of the writing consultancy Pen2Publication, and writer of one of the UK's best-loved blogs on publishing, Help! I Need a Publisher! Penny Holroyde is a children's literary agent at Caroline Sheldon.
Nicola and Penny understand the market for children's fiction as well as any two people in existence. They pool their wisdom for you. 

3G) Meet The Agents
Want to know how to choose an agent? Or write a covering letter or synopsis? Or understand rejection letters? And do you want to know what agents and editors are looking for? Of course you do! So come and ask them.
Panel to include: David Llewelyn, Juliet Pickering, James Wills & Lorella Belli.

 

Workshop 4 (Sunday 10.10 - 11.10)

 

4A) Gillian Green & Michael Rowley (info, info) Acquisition meetings: What Is It and What We Want
The Acquisition meeting is the forum at which publishers decide whether or not to acquire a proposed title. Obviously good writing matters - but the committee's concerns are also commercial: will your book sell. Get the inside track on how to convince them that your book is a winner.

 4B) Shelley Harris and Juliet Mushens (info, info) - No Shit, Sherlock? A Writer's & Agent's Perspective on Getting Published.
Shelley’s first novel, Jubilee came out last year. Shelley Harris won the Friday night competition at the Festival of Writing 2010, spent the weekend being wooed by numerous agents – and ended up with a wonderful book deal with Weidenfeld & Nicolson. She’s been described by the Guardian as a ‘new novelist whose next book you are already impatient to read. Juliet is an agent of fiction and non-fiction at PFD – prior to becoming an agent she worked in marketing at HarperCollins.
The path to publication is paved with good intentions and plenty of well-meaning advice. Some of it is good, some useless - and some could even prevent you landing a contract. In this workshop Shelley and Juliet tell it like it is, from two very different perspectives. They’ll put paid to the myths and show you what you really need to do to get published.

4C) Angry Robot's Marc Gascoigne & Lee Harris (info) - Reimagining SFF: Fantasy & Science Fiction for the modern market
Angry Robot is a global imprint dedicated to the best in modern adult science fiction, fantasy and everything inbetween. October 2011 saw founder and publisher Marc Gascoigne honoured with a World Fantasy Award for Angry Robot. In a previous life he was known for The Black Library, Solaris Books. Lee is Editor at Angry Robot and is also Chair of the British Fantasy Society.
Many SFF writers are drawn to old-fashioned space opera and traditional high fantasy, but those genres have passed their prime. Marc and Lee talk about how to reinvent speculative fiction for the modern age - and how to tailor your book to the huge audience that exists for prime quality work.

4D) Emma Darwin (info) - The Writer's Voices
Emma is that rare thing: an acclaimed literary author who's graced the bestseller lists. Her historical fiction has been shortlisted and longlisted for numerous prizes and sold extensively overseas
For your writing to be really compelling it must speak in your own, unique writerly voice, but the voices of your characters must also be vivid and individual. Emma will explore voice, narrators, free indirect style and more, to help you work with all your voices. This workshop may not be suitable for beginners.

4E) Meet The Agents
Want to know how to choose an agent? Or write a covering letter or synopsis? Or understand rejection letters? And do you want to know what agents and editors are looking for? Of course you do! So come and ask them.
Panel to include: Piers Blofeld, Kate Lyall Grant, Peter Buckman & Broo Doherty.

4F) Mindy Gibbins-Klein (International Speaker, Executive Coach, Thought Leadership Strategist) - "Turning Experts into Thought Leaders and Published Authors"
Mindy Gibbins-Klein MBA FRSA is an International Speaker & Executive Coach specialising in turning experts into thought leaders and published authors.  Mindy is the author of four books.  She is Founder and Managing Director of The Book Midwife® and Ecademy Press, where clients have written and published over 300 books. Winner, East of England Business Champions "Enterprising Business" 2011, Winner, APCTC "Specialist Coach of the Year" 2011, Finalist, FSB Small Business Awards "Enterprising Business" 2010

 

Workshop 5 (Sunday 11.40 - 12.40)

 

5A) Andrew Wille (info) - Creativity: The Four Elements of Writing
Andrew was senior editor at Little, Brown UK, acquiring, editing, and publishing critically acclaimed and award-winning works of fiction and nonfiction. 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 University College Falmouth’s MA in Professional Writing.
Many finished manuscripts show proficiency in technique, but are lifeless when read. Learn how the four elements fire, water, air, and earth can bring balance to your writing and make it bold, bright, and memorable.

5B) Gary Gibson (info) - The SF master class - What the genre is and what it needs from you
Gary has published five novels to date. Gibson's first novel, the ambitious Angel Stations, was published in 2004. The latest in his Dakota Merrick space-opera series, Empire of Light, was published in 2010.
Gary talks about SF. What it is - and what it wants from you.

5C) Fiona Shaw (info) - Dangerous Facts: on making off with other people's lives
Fiona's first book was the acclaimed memoir Out of Me. Since then she has published four novels, the most recent being A Stone's Throw (Serpent's Tail, 2012). Fiona has worked as a Royal Literary Fund writing fellow at the University of York, 2007-2009, and is now working as RLF writing fellow in Sheffield University.
A workshop about the risky business of being a magpie and using the stuff of other people's lives (as well as our own) in memoir, and in novels. And the trouble you can get into, even, sometimes, if you're very careful. Making reference to her own work and some infamous borrowers.

5D) Harry Bingham (info) - The art of the ... pause.
Harry is a bestselling novelist and non-fiction author with Orion/HarperCollins / 4th Estate. He's also MD of the Writers' Workshop, and is author of
The Writers' & Artists' Guide to Getting Published.
Story needs suspense, and suspense relies on delay. You can make delay work for you at a structural level (withholding a plot twist), at an informational level (withholding crucial information) and even at a micro level (eg, in pacing dialogue.) Harry's workshop is going to teach you everything you need to know about ... well, you'll see.

5E) Lorella Belli (info) - How to attract the attention of an agent and make your submission stand out: dos and donts
Lorella represents many bestselling and award-winning authors, most of them were first timers when she took them on.

This popular workshop talks you through the realities of what agents are looking for - and how to deliver it.

5F) Jeremy Thompson (info) - The Self-Publishing Seminar
Jeremy is Managing Director of Troubador Publishing, which has run the successful Matador self-publishing imprint for over 10 years.
Self-publishing has emerged as one way for authors to publish their work. But it isn’t right for everyone. This workshop looks at the pros and cons of self-publishing, and the wide range of options available, from Print on Demand to Ebooks to retail distribution.

5G) Meet The Agents
Want to know how to choose an agent? Or write a covering letter or synopsis? Or understand rejection letters? And do you want to know what agents and editors are looking for? Of course you do! So come and ask them.
Panel to include: David Headley, Charles Brotherstone, Calum Laird and Marcy Posner.

 

Workshop 6 (Sunday 14.00 - 15.00)

6A) Sam Mills (info) - Breaking the Rules
Sam  graduated from Oxford University with a degree in English Lang & Lit. Since then she has been a full-time novelist and has published 11 books to date. Her young adult novels, 'A Nicer Way to Die', 'The Boys Who Saved the World' and 'Blackout' are dark, crossover thrillers which are published in the UK by Faber & Faber. Her work has been nominated for the Carnegie prixze and the Manchester Book Award, and was recently shortlisted for the Lancashire Book Award. Her debut adult novel, 'The Quiddity Will Self', a quirky literary novel about sex, death, Will Self and the Great Vowel Shift, will be published by Corsair in 2012.
The rules of fiction can often seem to be set in stone - until a brilliant novel comes along to smash them. The protean Sam Mills tells you how to break rules and make your fiction shine by doing so.

 6B) Julie Cohen (info) - Pacing [Advanced]
Award-winning novelist Julie Cohen has written fourteen novels for a variety of publishers, from romance to erotic science fiction to mainstream commercial women's fiction. Her latest novel is THE SUMMER OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY (Headline Review) and her next novel, out in 2013, will be published by Transworld. Julie is also an experienced teacher and if you are naughty, she will make you write lines on the chalkboard.
How do you make sure your novel has page-turning quality and yet still give your reader time to breathe?  Julie discusses techniques and tricks for keeping your story rattling along without going off the tracks. A fast-moving, edge-of-your seat workshop giving tips on how to keep your readers turning pages.

6C) Harry Bingham (info) - Gratuitous Sex & Violence
Harry is a bestselling novelist and non-fiction author with Orion/HarperCollins / 4th Estate. He's also MD of the Writers' Workshop, and is author of The Writers' & Artists' Guide to Getting Published.
Most novels (including literary ones) need a bit of sex, violence, or both. If you do it wrong, your writing will feel icky or yucky. Do it right, and you can give your story a dazzling burst of vibrancy and excitement. This intensely practical workshop will teach you all you need to know about sex and violence.

6D) Gary Gibson (info) - Narrative Jet Fuel: The Art of Plotting
Gary Gibson is a science fiction author from Glasgow. Gary has published five novels to date. Gibson's first novel, the ambitious Angel Stations, was published in 2004. The latest in his Dakota Merrick space-opera series, Empire of Light, was published in 2010.
All good books need a strong story - yet plotting out a novel is perhaps the thing that even professional authors find the hardest thing to get right. Gary has some wonderful tips and techniques. An essential workshop.

6E) Debi Alper (info) - The Prose Laboratory
Debi is the author of gritty, funny, contemporary novels with Orion - and a hugely respected tutor and book doctor with the Writers' Workshop.
Books are made of sentences - yet far too few writers care enough about getting those sentences right. It's not about grammar particularly, it's about communicating with clarity, economy and beauty. Debi is a wonderfully talented editor who'll teach you how to think about writing style in an utterly new way.

6F) Calum Laird (info) - Title TBC
Callum is editor at DC Thomson's Commando. Commando is currently one of the longest running comic books in the world, having clocked up more than 4400 issues in the last fifty years - an impressive achievement by anyone’s standards! Callum manages the worldwide team of talent who combine to make Commando what it is. From the very start, Commando has been exported worldwide and translated into numerous languages. Commando is published eight times a month by DC Thomson and are always on the look out for new talented writers to join their team. If you're keen to give it a go - Click for details.