Sunday, 16 February 2014


Two consecutive Saturdays saw me at a writing workshop in Leeds, and a writing conference in London.

The Finishing Your Story workshop was held at Compton Library, Leeds. Katy Massey, a writer of life stories, hosted the four hour free event, supported by SI Leeds Lit Prize.

Though we didn't cover everything that was planned on the day, we were able to look at editing and dialogue and share ideas. There are some resources here about this workshop and the others in the series.

How to Write forChildren and Young Adults and get Published was held at Bloomsbury Publishing, London. The seven-and-a-half hour Writers and Artists conference costing £95. 

Emma Hopkin, MD of Bloomsbury Children's and Educational Publishing, led the introductions followed by a panel discussion: What are children's publishers looking for and what are today's children reading? With Jill Coleman (Little Tiger Press), Mara Bergman (Walker Books), and Julia Eccleshare (Childrens Book Editor of the Guardian).

After a coffee break Julia Eccleshare chaired the next discussion: How to submit to an agent with Julia Churchill (A.M. Heath), Jodie Hodges (United Agents) and Camilla Wray (Darley Anderson).

There were Q&A following both discussions.

After lunch we went to our prearranged workshops hosted by authors. For young children there was Yasmeen Ismail; writing for 8-12's was Elen Caldecott, and for YA was Matt Whyman. I was with the YA group.

The best advice from the workshop was to write about the character, not the age. It's all about the character of you're MC.

It was a long day (09.30-17.00) but there were reception drinks for the last hour, and another chance to chat with fellow attendees. By then many had left to travel home. I had two-and-a-half hours on the train to digest my day and make a start on Matt's latest novel, Savages.

Attending these events isn't compulsory for writers but I think you gain so much from them. My experiences here were contrasting regarding the travel and cost. Writing is a solitary experience whether we like it or not, so networking with other writers is important. Hearing words of advice straight from the horse's mouth, as it were, from agents and publishers was priceless.

Both days were mostly attended by women. We were a mix of ages, backgrounds and writing abilities, all sharing the same passion for writing. It was great to share our writing experiences and ideas, as well as make connections in order to meet up face to face, and in cyberspace, offering support along the writing journey.

Have you attended local events or had to travel widely to enhance your writerly experience? How have these events effected you as a writer?



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  2. Gosh that's a long journey! Hope the weather didn't impact too much - but it looks like the trips were all worth it! You sound totally inspired and fired up with your writing! Yay for you!! take care

  3. It sounds like the workshop and conference you attended were extremely inspirational. I have attended local, regional, and national writers' events and without exception, they have been beneficial to my own journey as a writer. Kudos to you, Debbie, for keeping your passion for writing alive and well!