Sunday, July 10, 2011

Impressions from Conference...

I'm typing this blog sitting in bed at 5 o'clock in the morning on Sunday morning. It's light enough to see the furniture in my room here in Caerleon, but not quite light enough to see the keys of my netbook, which is making typing a rather slow process.  I'm a touch typist, but the keyboard is not very familiar - a bit small - and using the mouse on the quilt is a new experience.


What am I doing up at this time on a Sunday?


I'm at the RNA Conference, and having slept the sleep of the dead for six hours, I am now wide awake.  In a moment I'll go along to the kitchen and make a cup of tea, but before I do, I wanted to pass on some impressions of this wonderful conference.


On the opening day, we were given some fabulous advice about contracts from agent Lizzy Kremer; a reminder that publishers and authors are equal partners in the contract. That no matter how happy you are to sign, to be published, you need to look for the pitfalls, think about what would happen if the book were not a success or, conversely, if it's a huge success.  Does your contract give you a good deal in either case? Can you get your rights back if your book goes out of print? Are you getting a fair deal on eRights? If you're a British author, her advice is to get a copy of the Society of Authors' leaflet on contracts.


We then had a panel of award winning authors, Elizabeth Chadwick, Louise Allen and Jill Mansell talking about their work.  The two things that stood out from this were that Louise Allen has the best working titles I've ever heard - Gonad the Barbarian, anyone? - and that they are all extremely hard working.


I saw some amazing book videos in a talk by author and copywriter Lorelei Mathias on book marketing for small pockets; I'm eager to go "viral", but suspect it's never going to happen unless I find myself best friends with a fabulously talented actress and film director.  Or learn to draw cute stick men.


Freda Lightfoot, having spent a lot of time and trouble and effort learning how to publish her backlist on Kindle, generously gave us the benefit of her experience. Actually, Freda, I think you should be publishing another book on Kindle - Kindle for Dummies!  And Linda Gillard, author of the prize winning Emotional Geology, gave a fabulous workshop about setting the scene and creating characters ... painting with words.


My final workshop of the day (we don't sit around here drinking coffee - or anything else - and nattering) was a crime writer's panel consisting of Lesley Cookman, Jean Goodhind and Penny Grubb.  An insight into how they work with their series characters.


My own talk on blending humour and emotion went pretty well, and there will be a longish blog on the subject somewhere else later in the year - I'll tell you where and when.  I still can't believe that one of my own favourite (and very funny) authors turned up to listen to me.  And would have been much more careful talking about my writing methods if I'd realised that one of the editors who works on my books was sitting right up at the top, at the back, where I couldn't see her!


It's been a wonderful couple of days for catching up with old friends, making new ones, reminiscing with Jane Holland about her mother (the legendary Charlotte Lamb) and having a few fan girls moments. I've also met many of the tweeps I know, which was the best fun. Teresa, Jude, Cally... you know who you are!


At dinner last night -  fabulous catering from the Caerleon campus of the University of Wales all round - Cally Taylor (Heaven Can Wait) won the Elizabeth Gouge trophy for the first 1000 words on a story with the theme "keeping a secret"; Liz Fenwick and Anna Louise Lucia were runners up.  Our chairman, the wonderful Anne Ashurst (Sara Craven - pictured here) - aka Mastermind - hoped that all the entries would be published and spark a revival in the romantic suspense genre.



Today I have a full morning lined up, listening to Fiona Harper - getting emotion on the page, Simon Petherick, the future of fiction publishing, and Janet Gover, where are published authors going now.  Then lunch and home.

Conferences are both fun and very hard work, especially the talking, which for authors who spend most of their time alone with their computers is a bit of a shock to the system.  But they are incredibly worthwhile and I can't recommend the experience highly enough to the unpublished author.  You will meet so many people, all of whom will be happy to share their experience with you, hear so much good advice and make so many friends and see so many fabulous shoes.


It's been an inspirational weekend, a time to recharge the batteries before turning home to wrestle my next book into shape.
PS Don't forget that starting the week beginning 18th July I'll be having loads of guests, all giving away copies of their books, and I'll be introducing Leah Ashton, winner of last year's New Voices programme and our newest author.

PPS If you'd like a copy of my conference handout, please do get in touch and I'll happy to send it to you by email.

20 comments:

Cami Checketts said...

Sounds like an amazing conference. What an honor to be asked to present. I bet it was amazing. Looking forward to the post on that.

Morton S Gray said...

I really enjoyed your talk - thank you. Loved being at the conference, if only for the day, such a buzz and so much fun. Mx

Nell Dixon said...

I'm so sad to have missed this year.

Jude said...

Really enjoyed your talk and it was great to meet you. I got so much out of the conference and I'm very glad I plucked up the courage to attend. x

Teresa Morgan said...

Liz, I was having my own fan-girl moment meeting you! It was lovely to meet you (and so many other inspiring writers) over the weekend.

I can't wait until the next one!

Your talk was fab, too.

Think I'll concentrate on my writing tomorrow though. Absolutely shattered now.

Liz Fielding said...

It was, Cami. And a great experience.

Liz Fielding said...

Thank you, Morton! I'm sorry you were only there for the day, too. Maybe next year you'll be able to make the whole weekend.

Liz Fielding said...

We missed you, Nell.

Liz Fielding said...

So lovely to meet you, Jude. It's always difficult joining in with a bunch of people who all seem to know one another, but honestly, we weren't a bit scary were we? Will you come again?

Liz Fielding said...

Wasn't all fun, Teresa? Lovely to meet you in person. I hope you can make it next year. Fiona was inspirational, I though. And I loved listening to the crime writers, too!

Cally said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cally said...

What a great round up! it was so lovely to meet you & I really enjoyed your talk. Thank you for the gala dinner mention but Undead & Undead isn't one of mine, close though - Heaven Can Wait' is about a woman who dies the night before her wedding!

Liz Fielding said...

Cally! Covered in blushes. It was your book I was thinking about - the title escaped me and the "other one" seemed sort of right. Duh.

Loved, Heaven Can Wait, as did my daughter (we shared our books until we both got Kindles, now I just have recommend them so isn't that great for authors, two of us buying them!)

And congratulations again on winning the Elizabeth Gouge Award.

Cally said...

Thanks Liz! Actually 'Undead and Unwed' exactly fits the story of 'Heaven Can Wait' (damn...why didn't I nab the title first! ;))

I've just ordered a Kindle myself. When Simon whathisname asked who had one and so many hands shot into the air I felt quite ashamed. Can't wait for it to arrive! :)

Brigid Coady said...

Liz - so lovely to catch up with you. Your talk was amazing had me laughing and crying.

I've come back invigorated and ready to get my head down on my book.

LInda Gillard said...

It was lovely to talk to you, Liz. Wasn't it a great conference? I found all the sessions really useful and enjoyable, especially Simon Petherick's and Emma Darwin's.

Glad you enjoyed my workshop. It was pretty daunting seeing so many famous RNA faces in the audience! I had one of those "What the hell can I possibly teach these people?" moments. ;-)

Liz Fielding said...

Lovely to meet you at last, Linda. I thoroughly enjoyed your workshop, but felt exactly the same when I looked up and saw the authors sitting in on my talk. What the heck...!

Fabulous conference all round. So glad I managed to get to Fiona Harper's talk and thought the round table discussion very useful.

Liz Fielding said...

Nothing like a hug from BeeCee to make the day start right, Brigid! Lovely to catch up with you. Hope to see you again soon.

Lesley Cookman said...

Lovely round up, Liz. Sorry I missed some of the sessions. thinking of becoming a clone...

And I forgive you for the typo... xxx

Liz Fielding said...

Oh, good grief! Not another one... I should never type at five o'clock in the morning! Corrected Lesley, with grovelling apologies!