Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Out And About

Some photos from a busy few months. Mostly with my publisher's hat on but also a very interesting writing break. First off, chairing an event at Richmond Adult Community College:

This was with authors Jacqui Lofthouse, Diane Chandler, and Susan Lee Kerr. We talked about the various publishing options now open to writers. Richmond is where I started. I loved it so much I did the beginner's writing class for a 2nd year before moving on to their Writers At Work workshopping course, which I also did for 2 years. From there, a few of us formed a writing group that met fortnightly for over 10 years. Happy days! Find out about Richmond writing classes here.

Photo c. Susan Lee Kerr

L-R Jacqui Lofthouse, Susan Lee Kerr, Stephanie Zia, Diane Chandler

Every publisher's dream: the queue for our mailing list! Photo c. Susan Lee Kerr 

Over 50 writers came along to RACC's beautiful theatre space Photo c. Susan Lee Kerr

Susan Lee Kerr on the L
Then I became a writer again for a day at The Writing Coach's 1 day Developing Your Novel workshop at Wallacespace, Covent Garden - a bespoke Central London venue for meetings. They not only provide rooms but also meals, smoothies, choccies & nibbles throughout the day. 
The Writing Coach UK Developing Your Novel class
I had a bit of a problem deciding on which of my pile of unfinished novels to go with (NanoWriMo last November only added to the turmoil). In the end I went for my completely out of the box epic fantasy novel. About 30,000K in the bag but has to be started all over again. An exercise where we had to pair off, become our main character and interview each other was very revealing. My story is full of story but little character development.
The Writing Coach UK Developing Your Novel class (see the sweeties!)
No time for writing just yet, though. 

Then it was on to Bath where I spoke about self-publishing to a lovely group of Women's Fiction authors at the London Book Fair's Write Now! weekend event. This was arranged in association with Harpercollins new digital imprint Carina. The lucky writers had a whole weekend of seminars, pitching events and networking with publishing insiders in a beautiful country house hotel

Unused to this sort of thing, I didn't prepare a Powerpoint presentation. I had enough planning to do alongside a few sleepless nights caused by public speaking anxieties. But now I do know why they're so useful, as much to keep the speaker on track as for extra audience info. It's good to see that mainstream publishers are opening up to direct submissions from authors for their new digital-only imprints. And slightly ironic that I am travelling in the opposite direction from digital only to digital and bookstore print books and am not accepting any new authors myself. We do have a wonderful new Commissioning Editor, Rosalie Love, who is reading submissions at the moment.
With the Harpercollins Carina team and author Fanny Blake

My brush with the exotic mainstream publishing world over, it was off to Portcullis House, Westminster, the heart of British politics, with Blackbird author Diane Chandler for a talk on tackling corruption and doing business in Ukraine by the rather glamorous Andy Hunder, the Head of the US Chamber of Commerce, Kiev. 

Facebook was mentioned several times. It seems that the digital revolution is doing its bit in helping to tackle the corruption problems. International investment is starting to take off again in Ukraine with companies like Vodaphone and Virgin competing for contracts. Diane had arranged with the organisers, The British Ukranian Society, for her novel to be featured at the event. More information about the Society and their events here. 
Photo c. Danielle Philomena Photography
Diane Chandler - Photo c. Danielle Philomena Photography

On the following day we were back in Westminster for an event centred around Diane's novel at DIFD, The Department For International Development in Whitehall. The novel's heroine is a young overseas aid worker, sent to Ukraine just after the fall of communism in the 90s. Diane drew on her experiences in Ukraine when she worked at DIFD. She came together with other alumni to discuss the impact of aid at that time compared to the current renewed programme, drawing on events described in the novel. 

Diane Chandler's Presentation at DFID 
Andy Hunder, President of the US Chamber of Commerce, Kiev with author Diane Chandler
Next stop Kiev...