Unbound Diary Part 8 – A Medieval Knight With An I-phone

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

As I write I am 44% funded. This means that well over a hundred of you have supported my book. To my new supporters I want to say a massive thank you, you are making this happen. I have until the end of May to reach 198 pledges, it’s time to take it up a notch.

Regular readers will know that I am a Director of the spoken word group Rattle Tales. We have a show coming up at Brighton Fringe Festival and we’re selecting stories for it now. Last night I had a dream that only five people turned up to our show. Our previous Fringe shows have all been sold out, sometimes we’ve had to turn people away, and the show has been a Pick of the Fringe by The Independent newspaper. It’s extremely unlikely that no one will turn up. In my dream not only did no turn up but I forgot my story and when I tried to phone home to get someone to bring it to me my i-phone snapped in two, the venue staff were busy jousting in the back garden and the only person in the bar was a medieval knight dressed in crusader armour – he didn’t know what an i-phone was.

I’ve been trying to analyze this dream all day. I think it’s to do with the event I did recently to an audience of seven. It’s definitely to do with asking people to pledge to my collection and most of them resembling a medieval knight with no knowledge of i-phones when asked. Lots of people have said they are happy to help and will definitely pledge but then don’t. Some people have been very affronted to be asked. In response to a recent mail-out through Rattle Tales one person accused us of begging and hoped the project failed. You can just ignore the request you know, or just say no. I’m not begging. I’m asking you to choose to buy a book in advance, in much the same way as you would choose to buy a book in a book shop – you don’t have to but you might want to. The same mail-out brought me ten new pledgers and for that I am very grateful

I have a few events coming up and I really hope that a. people will come and b. some will pledge to the book. I will be appearing at Exeter Street Hall on May 13th with lots of other Beach Hut Writers, ten in fact, all talking about the when, why and what of writing for a living. I’m also going to talk at Brighton University on May 10th with the author of Belonging,  Umi Sinha, and Vicky Blunden from Myriad Editions and then I will be reading Sourdough (recently published by New London Writers) from In The Future Everyone Will Be World Famous For Fifteen Minutes at the Rattle Tales show on May 26th. Please come along to any or all – don’t leave me alone with the medieval knight.

For the rest of the week I will be sending out press releases, pitching articles and generally trying to get my book notice in the hope of attracting more pledges. Thanks again to my new supporters – you really are making a difference!

Knight

Unbound Diary Part 7 – Meeting Fellow Unbounders

Week eight already! I didn’t blog last week – I had too much to do. On Monday I met up with four other Unbound authors for an evening of readings and crowdfunding discussion. It was a free event but we suffered Monday night syndrome and only a handful of non-readers turned up. Never stage an event on a Monday.

It didn’t really matter, I mean it would have been nice if it had been packed to the doors but even empty it was a blast. My good friend Lonny Pop did a great job of hosting. There were readings from Unbound authors Rachael de Moravia, James Ellis, Stephen McGowan, Pierre Hollins and me. All the readings were brilliant and it was so nice to meet people undergoing the same terrifying crowdfunding process. James has read for Rattle Tales a few times so I knew him already but I’d only met the others online. Everyone is so talented and all the books deserve to be funded. All are extremely original and diverse, not your usual publications, and that is why Unbound exists.

There were some good tips. Pierre is fully funded and we were all very jealous. He said that he favoured the personal approach, talking to potential pledgers individually and eventually building up an audience. James talked about why he chose Unbound. The contract is good for authors with 50% digital sales but he also pointed out that Unbound have full industry distribution, which means they can get physical books into bookshops. My first novel, Starlings, was published by a tiny (but gutsy) Independent called Revenge Ink and the problem was that, although they had an excellent and original list of authors, they didn’t have access to a widespread distribution network. Distribution seems to be a bit of a closed shop. To get a book stocked nationwide by Waterstones for example, you had to apply well in advance. I got Starlings stocked in some of their stores by going in and talking to individual managers and doing meet the author events. I’ve always regretted that it didn’t get a bit more exposure but then I suppose you could describe it a s ‘cult’!

As well as being 37% funded, the first story in the collection has just been published by New London Writers. Sourdough was the first story I read at Rattle Tales and it was short-listed for the Writers & Artists Yearbook Arvon Award five years ago, since then I have submitted it to every journal, comp, performance night and radio show you can think of all to no avail but then New London Writers said they loved it and couldn’t wait to promote my work! I am so glad Sourdough has finally been published. The moral is never give up and I’m going to live by that in the month I have left to raise funds for In The Future Everyone Will Be Famous For Fifteen Minutes. Please pledge to help create this book.

sourdough

My Unbound Diary Part 6 – Crowdfunding Events, Pledgers and The Radio

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I am half way through! And it’s not been easy I can tell you. I feel like I’ve had to coax each pledge into being. My short story collection In The Future Everyone Will Be World Famous For Fifteen Minutes is so close to 30% funded. Obviously, I need a lot more pledges to reach 100% in the next 6 weeks. I am banking on momentum. Word of mouth, people wearing down in the face of constant bombarment. I would hate me right now if I wasn’t me. Once again thank you to everyone who has already pledged; I am in awe of you because you are making this book seem possible and when it is funded you will have helped create something new.

I have just started on an all out email campaign. Emailing everyone I know either directly or through Facebook. It’s a bit soul destroying. I can’t shake the feeling that I am begging but my friend and fellow writer Stephanie Lam directed me to Amanda Palmer’s TED Talk on crowdfunding (The Art of Asking) and that made me feel a whole lot better. I’m not begging, I am offering people the opportunity to co-create a book that wouldn’t otherwise exist, to be a part of the art.

It’s interesting who pledges and who doesn’t. It’s not what you expect. People you haven’t seen for years reply immediately and say they’ve pledged and ask how you are. People you’d expect to be onboard from the off flat out tell you it’s not their thing. I wonder if the digital aspect is putting some people off. The book will initially be available in digital format only. This isn’t to say you need an e-reader to read it, when the book is published you will get a copy emailed to download onto whatever, laptop, PC or phone you prefer. There will be paper copies I am told, for events and signings and if the book gets enough pledgers it might even get a full press – but that is a long way off. Right now I need to meet my target of 253 more pledges.

One thing which hasn’t surprised me is the community around the Unbound crowdfunding process. There is a Facebook group for shell-shocked Unbound authors to swap tips and give each other encouragement. Most authors are lovely supportive people – and I’ve met a lot of them in the last ten years! I put a post up about doing an event in Brighton and several writers replied and after a few email exchanges it’s going ahead in Brighton on the 18th April. If you are in the area please come along – entry is free. So is the venue, thanks to a tip from City Read’s Sarah Hutchings I managed to book the wonderful Nightingale Room in side the Grand Central Pub right next door to Brighton Station. Unbound authors James Ellis, Stephen McGowan, Rachael de Moravia, Pierre Hollins and me will be reading from our books. My fellow Rattle Taler Lonny Pop will be hosting and there may even be someone from Unbound editorial to answer questions about crowdfunding. I will be on BBC Radio Sussex tonight at 5.50 to talk about The Brighton Prize but always on the look out for new supporters I will be mentioning this event too!

The Nightingale Room at Grand Central

My Unbound Diary Part 5 – Back On Track

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Crowdfunding a book is overwhelming. There is so much marketing to do just to eek out one or two supporters. Unbound (the crowdfunding publisher I have signed to) send you a pledge update once a week so you can see who has pledged and what level they’ve opted for. Everytime someone pledges I want to shout their name from the rooftops. In fact my book In The Future Everyone Will Be World Famous For Fifteen Minutes is, as the title suggests, about fame and I am going to offer to give top pledgers the star treatment on social media.I will make you famous for a week. This is not necessarily about the amount pledged. Here’s the first:

Stars of the week.jpg

Last week I was a bit despondent having only achieved 13% of the required funding in a month. This week I am 26% funded! Over a quarter of the way there! This is a big deal for me; I am beginning to think that it can be done. There is about 8 weeks left to pledge. If I work really hard I can do it but I can’t do it without your help.

Amongst my pledgers this week was my old Creative Writing tutor, the wonderful poet and short story writer, Catherine Smith. When I first started writing Catherine made me feel as though I was actually good at it. She also taught me that adding a bit of poetry can lift prose into something really meaningful and thought-provoking. I write poetically, I can’t help it, I like language to flow, to alliterate, to unfold like a movie in your mind. (These days I don’t like too many similies so I don’t know why I wrote that last bit.) Catherine left me a message on my last blog post:

I loved Starlings and am so glad you are going down this route, Unbound is an excellent model, though I think UK publishers need a kick up the arse to be less prejudiced against publishing short stories, which as we know is a transcendent and exacting form.

Take note UK publishers and thank God for Unbound, who really are enabling many writers outside of the mainstream to get published.

Unbound have a Facebook support group on which shell-shocked writers can exchange experiences and come up with new ways to get pledges. One of the writers, James Ellis, is a Rattle Tales regular and I asked if he wanted to do a funding event in Brighton. Other authors in the group expressed an interest too so I’m going to book a date at The Brunswick Cellar Bar and see what happens.

I have a sort of plan –  when to contact certain people, when to push Facebook/Twitter ect. how to drawn attention to the project. One of the stories (Underneath) was performed by Games of Thrones actor Gethin Anthony and Diana Vickers at US spoken word group Word Theatre’s UK shows a couple of years ago. I contacted Word Theatre to ask if they could help promote and was told there was a video of one of the events. I was lucky enough to see the performance at Latitude Festival and it remains one of the thrills of my writing career. Here’s a short extract:

Please pledge to this book of short stories. There is something in it for everyone. For just £10 you can help bring this book to life.

https://unbound.co.uk/books/fifteen-minutes

 

 

My Unbound Diary Part 4 – Crowdfunding Confidence

Tags

, , , , , , ,

I’m now on week four of my crowdfunding project and I have had a bit of a confidence wobble. My short story collection is available for presale through Unbound Publishing, an innovative and prestigious crowdfunding publisher. I was 11% funded last week and this week I’m only 13%. I need to get 313 pledges for my book by the end of May. Right now that seems like a daunting amount. I have sent out emails to my entire address book, people on Facebook and Twitter must be sick of me posting about it, and still the pledges are coming in a drip feed rather than a deluge. I need to make a plan for getting the word out to more people and making it clear that I need pledges for the project to go ahead.Fifteen minutes flyer

I admit I’m feeling a little despondent. This feeling wasn’t helped by Ros Barber‘s article in The Guardian this week about self-publishing. I know that crowdfunding is different to self publishing and a lot of the article was irrelevant, for example, Unbound are selective in who they offer to crowdfund. You need to submit and when (if) you meet your target your book gets a full professional edit. This means that books that are out of the mainstream get a chance that traditional publishers wouldn’t give them because they don’t fit into the usual marketing models. It’s all very modern and positive and looks like it just might save us from the same old dross dolled out in the name of sales. However, some of Barber’s observations are extremely pertinent. I do need to attract supporters and so I am spending all of my time marketing rather than actually writing and I do worry that people will get fed up with me begging. In the article Barber says this;

Self-publishing can make you behave like a fool. Imagine we have just met. I invite you into my house and the first thing you do is show me the advertising blurb for your book and press me to check it out on Amazon. Then you read me the blurb for someone else whose book you’ve agreed to promote if they’ll do the same with yours.

This is so true! The thing is though, ALL authors have to self promote, unless you are mega famous and even then, pretty much everything you do is an act of self-promotion. You are only as popular as your last book. I have heard so many stories recently of fellow authors being dropped by publishers and agents because the last book didn’t perform as well as expected, or because the current novel doesn’t fit into the genre they had in mind. I am publishing with Unbound because I write literary short stories and publishers won’t even consider them unless you are already a name.  But I need sales.

I wonder if people think crowdfunding is somehow inferior to traditional publishing. Today in The Bookseller came the news that philospher Roman Krznaric turned down an offer from a major UK publisher to publish with Unbound. Philip Pullman is quoted as saying,“Unbound is a marvellous way of publishing.”

I really think Unbound could be an alternative to both traditional and self-publishing. I’m hoping I get enough pledges to find out for sure.

Unbound

To pledge to In The Future Everyone Will Be World Famous For Fifteen Minutes go to https://unbound.co.uk/books/fifteen-minutes

It has just come to my attention that, as well as reasoned argument, Ros Barber has been getting some awful abuse on Twitter for her article on self-publishing – get a life losers!

My Unbound Diary Part 3 – Crowdfunding a Short Story Collection

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Week three already! This week I reached 11% funded thanks to some lovely friends and one or two people I’ve never met who are taken with the idea of In The Future Everyone Will Be World Famous For Fifteen Minutes. I got some promotional postcards made and started carefully compiling the blanket email I’m going to send out to everyone in my adress book. I gave some of the postcards out on the school run, swallowing the embarassment of approaching people, and got three more pledges.

On Saturday, I was one of the organisers of Write by the Beach, a writers conference in Brighton at the truly gorgeous Angel House. We had 56 delegates and lots of speakers from the industry. It was a great success and I’ve been on a high ever since. In my duties as a co-organiser over the last few months, I have come to realise that if you ask people nicely for something they are almost always happy to oblige, and if they can’t, or don’t want to, the worst that can happen is that they say no. We had authors and agents, literary consultants and publishers all delighted to be a part of our little conference. We even finished off with a tasting event organised by Brighton Gin (it was a brilliant and delicious way to end the day!) I put one of my promotional postcards in each of the goodie bags in the hope that some of the delegates might be cajoled into pledging. I spoke to anyone who would listen about crowdfunding my book. There was a lot of interest. Perhaps with an eye on their own projects, a lot of people wanted to know how to go about crowdfunding and why it was different from vanity publishing. (The difference is that you have to submit to Unbound for consideration and then when you are fully funded your book is given the editorial attention of a traditional publisher.) Not that there is anything wrong with self-publishing. In one of the panel sessions sucessful authors Kate Harrison and Sarah Rayner talked about wanting to publish self help books but having to go it alone when they couldn’t find anyone to publish them. Kate’s book was about the 5:2 Diet (when no-one else had written anything about it) and Sarah’s was about Making Friends With Anxiety. Over-eating and anxiety are common author ailments, all that sitting alone typing all day long, fear, rejection, thoughts of inadequacy. Both books were incredibly sucessful and not just with writers! I was greatly inspired by the go for it attitude of both writers and the incredible success they achieved.

At the end of the day I also felt that I may have been a little harsh about agents and publishers in this diary. Those that attended Write by the Beach as speakers were helpful and approachable, all committed to their love of books and the search for great writing. The trouble is they have to make money or go bust and to do that in this climate you have to publish books that have more chance of selling ie. crime and celebrity endorsements. I do still think that there is some room for other forms, that the future of the publishing industry actually depends on there being some room for other forms, otherwise it is in danger of becoming very homogenized and boring. I didn’t speak to one person at the conference who didn’t like short stories. In fact, since I have been writing them, I’ve only met a couple of people who have turned their nose up, yet short stories are still considered unpopular. Please help me prove that this isn’t the case, pledge to my new collection on Unbound. I will be very grateful – did I mention there will be a launch party?

Write by the beach team

Special mentions to the Write by the Beach team Bridget Whelan, Laura Wilkinson, Sue Teddern, Kate Harrison and Araminta Hall, it was a pleasure working with you.

My Unbound Diary Part 2 – Crowdfunding a Book

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

It seems like a lot longer ago than a week since I wrote my first post on crowdfunding my short story collection. In The Future Everyone Will Be World Famous For Fifteen Minutes is now open for pledges on the Unbound Publishing site. I decided to publish with unbound because agents and publishers generally don’t go for short story collections – they don’t think that short stories are popular with readers. I think they are wrong. I think if you market it right they are very popular. Lots of best sellers are actually short story collections masquerading as traditional novels, Olive Kitteridge, A Spool Of Blue Thread, Welcome To The Goon Squad, I could go on. Then there are the ultra-popular collections like The Tenth of December or Trigger Warning. Suffice to say that in my experience people love short stories (I have blogged about this many times) and are just as willing to buy them as they are any other type of fiction. Anyway, until the traditional publishing industry wakes up to this potential, I am crowdfunding my book with Unbound.

On Sunday I made a video about the book to encourage people to pledge. Unbound recommend doing this as a way of drawing attention to the project.  It was a hilarious way to spend Mothers Day, I sat at the kitchen table (which, incidentally, inspired one of the stories) and my husband filmed on his phone while I read from a script written in big letters and held up beside him by my son, this is why my eyes keep drifting off to the right. I’m not great at reading from an autocue but I didn’t have time to memorise what I wanted to say. At one point we had to take a break because we were all laughing too much. It’s done now and it serves its purpose and I hope to have another more professional one made later.

Fifteen minutes flyer

I started to publicise the book on social media by sharing last week’s blog on Facebook and Twitter several times a day. Making sure to #crowdfunding and #shortstory and whatever else I could hang it on. I managed to gain 120 new Twitter followers and lots of lovely supportive comments on Facebook. I also made a postcard using a free stock image from Gratis Photography, a tip from my friend and co-tutor Bridget Whelan.

Unbound wanted me to come up with some pledge options, the standard ones are Patron (copy of the  e-book), Super Patron (copy of the e-book and name in the front) and Limited Edition Cover Art (my sister pledge for one of those!) but the author can add a few more. As I co-run Rattle Tales I am able to offer tickets for two to one of our shows with wine and as a tutor, editor and mentor I can offer services in these areas. Also on offer is a book group deal which includes up to ten copies of the book and an appearance by me at your bookgroup to discuss the book, tickets to the launch and many other rewards.

On Tuesday I got my first progress report from Unbound. Thanks to some very lovely friends, relatives and the editor of a journal who published on of the stories last year,  I was already 4% funded. Yesterday I set up a Facebook page for the book and invited all my friends to like it. Today I am 6% funded! A big THANKS to all of you. I’m beyond excited to be off on my crowdfunding journey but there’s a long way to go. I still need 121 pledges in the next 90 days or In The Future Everyone Will Be World Famous For Fifteen Minutes won’t get published at all. So please please pledge and if you can’t please please share the video.

I’ll be posting this time next week to let you know more about the project.

My Unbound Diary – Crowd Funding A Short Story Collection

Part One

As you may know I have been sending out a collection of short stories (the snappily titled, In The Future Everyone Will Be World Famous For Fifteen Minutes) to agents and publishers for some time now. I wrote about the frustrations this involves in an earlier blog post. In short, agents don’t want collections because publishers won’t even look at them. This isn’t the case for all agents and publishers but those willing to take on a collection from a new writer are few and far between. There is space for genre fiction and literary fiction but hardly any room for short stories. Most agents and publishers seem to be obsessed with crime and cookery books or ghost written celebrity ‘novels’ and autobiographies. This is ironic given the subject matter of In The Future Everyone Will Be World Famous For Fifteen Minutes, which features stories on the nature of fame and the effect of celebrity culture on ordinary people. For my next book I’m doing Gone Girl Cooks In Hollywood.

I began to look for new ways of getting my collection published. It took a long time to write I don’t want to just give up on it. Someone suggested crowd-funding. I have heard a lot of good things about Unbound, a British crowd-funding publisher, they have a great philosophy, an impressive list of authors and a high success rate. I sent my collection to them a little over six weeks ago. Last Thursday they came back to me offering to digitally host my book. This is very exciting news but it is also a little daunting. They emailed me a contract and wanted a synopsis, a biography, a photograph, a strap line, an extract and a promotional video. They wanted it yesterday, so it could be launched by the end of February. Their promotional video says,

Authors get to write the books they want to write and you get to read real books that, in a crowded, celebrity obsessed market place might never see the light of day.’

Anyway, I managed to get everything together except the video (whic is under construction!) and In The Future Everyone Will Be World Famous For Fifteen Minutes has been soft launched on the Unbound website. The proper launch will be very very soon. I am going to blog about the experience of crowd-funding a book every Thursday right here. In the meantime, if you like short stories please consider pledging – lets prove the naysayers wrong.

Unbound

Happy World Book Day Everyone!

I Love Paris

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

I just got back from Paris. A quick weekend away with girlfriends. I didn’t go to Paris until I was 18 years old (in truth I didn’t go much of anywhere before then, except to see relatives in Northern Ireland!). I have been back many times since that first visit thirty years ago. Back then we had about £10 each to spend and an address scrawled on an envelope of a friend of a friend who’d put us up. Of course they weren’t in. They’d gone out of town for the weekend. We spent one night on the staircase of their apartment block and cut the trip short by a day. Still, it was Paris!

I haven’t been to the city for about ten years, barring the terrifying peripherique, which has regularly challenged my sanity/marriage/holiday spirit. This time I went by Eurostar and was capital to capital in less than three hours. This always delights and amazes me. We stayed near Strasbourg St Denis and it was great, a cheap budget hotel, right in the centre, lovely cafes, real French people (including those of the oldest profession), it felt proper, authentic, un-glitzy.  I know it was February and a bit chilly but I was surprised by how few tourists there were. I didn’t hear a single American accent and Paris, like Rome, is usually full of them. It was quiet, too quiet for business. I have a friend who works in the travel industry and she says business is down by about 70%. My friends and I discussed this over one of our 2 hour french dinners. Is it really fear of terrorist attack? It’s a bit ridiculous if it is. What would happen if everyone stopped visiting the States because of gun crime? Actually, that makes more sense, given the weekly massacres. My girlfriends and I all lived in London during the mainland IRA campaign, the underground was suspended regularly and any stray bag brought evacuation to our offices but we didn’t barely noticed at the time. Terroism doesn’t scare me paarticularly, it’s not as if it’s a daily occurence here, we have it easy compared to other countries. In fact the attacks last year made me want to go back to Paris. I felt like I’d neglected her.  As Victor Hugo wrote,

It is nothing to die. It is frightful not to live.  

You can’t let your life, or holiday choices, be dictated by fear. Everyone visit Paris, she looks lonely.

Eiffel

On the last day we made an express visit to Père Lachaise Cemetery,  you might think this is an odd tourist destination but I’ve been three times now! We weren’t the only ones there either. Its graves are crumbling, over-crowded and eerily beautiful. Chopin, Oscar Wilde, Edith Piaf, Flaubert and many more are buried there if you have a map and a few hours. We didn’t have much time so we only wandered about a bit and went to see Jim Morrison. I have written  a short story about someone being possessed by the spirit of Jim Morrison after standing on his grave. That story is in my collection In The Future Everyone Will Be Famous For Fifteen Minutes. I have been trying to find a publisher for it for about a year and I’ve just learned that it has been accepted by Unbound which is a cutting edge crowd-funding publisher. I am very excited by this news, it looks like an interesting and innovative way to get books that are outside of mainstream publishing into the hands of readers. I will be posting about this throughout the process. Thanks Unbound. And Vive La France!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Full Of Things That Have Never Been

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

And now we welcome the New Year. Full of things that have never been.

Rainer Maria Rilke

Isn’t that a glorious quote for the new year? January is a difficult month, everyone is full of lethargy and Christmas excess. This year it seems like all our heroes are dying. The weather is awful. The nights are long and dark. It’s hard to get motivated. For a writer it can be the most depressing time of year. I have often found it hard to get started. If I haven’t written for a couple of weeks, getting back into stride can feel like climbing a mountain. It’s all a matter of perspective of course, as Rilke’s quote illustrates. This year I am determined to see the new year not in terms of the past but in terms of what’s to come.

Rilke was himself was a wanderer, a traveller of no fixed location, he sought lovers and patronage and never truly settled. He moved from one possibilty to another, across Europe into the Middle East and Russia, back to Paris and then, fatefully,Switzerland where he died at 51 of leukemia. A short and packed life of longing and regret that produced breathtaking poetry. Read some.

This year my resolution isn’t to lose weight or drink less! I probably will, but under no pressure to do so, 2016 will instead be a year of action. I have plans. I have words to write and opportunities to exploit. I have a fully finished short story collection and a half finished novel. This year I will find an agent and a publisher and move things on and if I don’t find either I will move things on anyway. There is always a way. There are always things that have never been.

The first Rattle Tales show of 2016 takes place on Feb 16th at The Brunswick in Hove. We had an amazing response to our call for submissions and we are reading through them all now to come up with a programme as varied, entertaining and thought provoking as all our shows. Do come along and see what we are all about.

Rattle_Poster_Word Feb 2016

I am involved in two very exciting projects this year. Firstly, The Brighton Prize (of which I am a co-director) enters its third year and we are in a position to expand. The competition will go international for the first time and we are adding categories for flash fiction and local writers. I will have more information on this very soon but we recently asked for volunteers to help us develop the prize, and Rattle Tales in general, and were literally overwhelmed by the response. I’m really looking forward to the group taking this project forward and to working with new, talented and enthusiastic people.

I am also involved in The Beach Hut Writing Academy, a new writing school established by professional writers in Brighton. I did my first course for them last year, co-teaching on short story practice with Bridget Whelan, and it was a very enjoyable success. The new courses begin on Jan 21st with a Fiction Writing course run by best-selling author Aramanita Hall and then a TV and Radio course taught by Sue Teddern and Hannah Vincent. Our most ambitious plan for early 2016 is a writers conference in Brighton on March 12th. Write by the Sea will feature, best-selling authors, publishers and agents taking part in panel discussions, workshops and one to one pitches, all at the beautiful sea front venue The Angel House. We have agents Simon Trewin, David Headley and Sharon Bowers, Cornerstones Literary Agency, local publishers Myriad Editions, The Writer’s Guild of Great Britain, authors Simon Toyne, Julia Crouch, Lizzie Enfield, Laura Wilkinson, Araminta Hall, Catherine Quinn, Kate Harrison, Sarah Rayner, Sue Teddern, Bridget Whelan, Jo and Emlyn Rees, William Shaw and me. There will also be one to ones where you can pitch or discuss your current project. The full programme is available on our website and the early bird rate is in place until Jan 24th.

Before I had a publisher for Starlings I attended a similar event at The Jubilee Library run by New Writing South. I met other writers, agents and publishers and came away with a wealth of advice and contacts that really helped me get my book published. Rattle Tales is sponsoring a session on Writing A Prize-winning Short Story and so two worlds collide. You’d be crazy to miss it.