Sunday, 29 January 2017

Looking Ahead

I've been hibernating this week. Its been a cold, so I've stayed close to home, looking ahead at writerly things that are happening around the UK in the coming months.

Getting out and about meeting other writers is good for the soul, it's a way of making friends with like minded individuals and hearing about what's going on in the writing world. Courses and workshops are a great ways to learn something new, but care must be taken when choosing.

Definitely do your research, find out as much as you can before making a booking. Look the tutor up, and send them a few questions. Ask what the focus is on? What materials will they be using? Powerpoint or white board? Will there be handouts to take away? Are there any one to one opportunities? How many will be in the workshop? Good tutors don't mind you asking questions, and they'll be ready with answers. Seek others opinions of the course or workshop, ask around in your circle of writing buddies.

Here's a few I found...

Malaga Workshops  UK weekend residential courses are all run by published award winning authors, there's a diverse list of topics and locations. A quick check reveals tutors such as Simon Whaley, check his website out here, who is doing a 'Write a Short Story' workshop this in Cirencester.

Kate Walker, author of over 65 Romance books will be teaching a 'Romantic Fiction Repair' weekend, check out her website here, or maybe you fancy 'Turn Your Local & Family History Into Stories' with Stephen Wade.

Writers Holiday  offers a whole week away in Wales in July 2017 with lots lined up for writers.

Alison May runs workshops and courses in novel and short story writing, starting in February 2017  - I did her Developing Your Novel workshop last year and found it very informative.

And for something different there is Mindfulness & the Art of Writing a weekend course in Brighton.

There are lots of workshops and courses for writers out there  - Do share any events or workshops in your area. Or any that you've been on and can recommend.

In other news...

January's been an odd month, I've had an ear infection since late December, and it's only in the last week I'm beginning to hear properly, and feel more like myself. Staying motivated and on track with my writing goals has been very difficult.

It's been a good month for reading and listening to podcasts. I'm hopeful February will energise me, and I'll begin to power up with many more of my 15 minute writing sessions again.

Things I've enjoyed in January in no particular order

#Listening to the album Love in Portofino by Andrea Bocelli

#Watching Andre Rieu's concerts on TV, and Blindspot. And YouTube videos of David Bowie performing many of his songs.

#Reading Your Complete Mindfulness Handbook, Woman & Home Magazine, A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness, and The Successful Author Mindset by Joanna Penn.

#Nordic Pole Walking


# Tea and cake (you didn't doubt that would be on my list did you?)

# Podcasts from The Worried Writer & The Joined Up Writing Podcast & The Creative Penn Podcast

# Chicken & Chorizo Risotto

What I've given up this month...

# Buying Take A Break Fiction Feast

# Watching and listening to the news every day.


  1. There are a couple of writer events in Salcombe in February -

    I'm interested in your mention of hand outs - what kind of thing would you hope to recieve?

    1. Hi Patsy, those events in Salcombe sound great, I so wished I lived a bit nearer, as the lure of cake is very tempting, not to mention the subject matter.

      By hand outs, I meant course paperwork, I personally like to take something away that I can look at after the event in my own time. Especially, if there's a lot to get through on the day, as sometimes it can be a bit intense on these one day workshops. Some savvy tutors will give you a link to an area of their website that has the information on for a limited time. Or in exceptional cases I've been sent a power point presentation. Whatever next?

      It would be nice to walk away with a home baked cup cake, but that hasn't happened yet. :-)

  2. I'm sorry if this turns into an essay! Well, I am glad you are starting to feel better.
    I have looked at some workshops, and Simon Whaley is due to (or has done) one local to me, at Keele University. Unfortunately I couldn't go :( But I am going to the Hot Air Literary Festival this year, which is also local to me!
    We love Andre Rieu, but he is bittersweet. Nana who passed away in October introduced our daughter to it. And we took Nana and daughter to watch him at the Odeon. It was one of those live events. I really recommend it! We would love to go and see him.
    And we love chicken and chorizo, and Joanna Penn is quite an inspiration!

    You have been busy, even if it is only reading and getting better! Here's hoping February is better for you, in all ways.

    1. I'm going to look up the Hot Air Literary Festival, I haven't heard of it before, but I love the name!
      Thank you for the heads up about these live cinema events, I went to one about an upcoming David Bowie exhibition at the V& A in London a few years ago, it was brilliant and I immediately booked the exhibition on the back of it, although my poor friend had to queue for hours in London for the tickets.

      Oh, and another thing - Joanna Penn rocks! She always sounds so upbeat and happy on every podcast I've listened to...and her advice is invaluable.

  3. It's taken me a while to start feeling that New Year's energy as well. I had a pretty good week though, so I'm feeling a bit more positive now. I hope your ear infection clears up properly, it sounds nasty. I'd love a writer's weekend away but I fear there won't be one in my future any time soon. One day... Hope you have a good Sunday Maria. CJ xx

    1. Hey CJ, glad you're starting to feel better too.
      When my children were younger, I used to go on my own Writers' Workshops, I would find two or three writing buddies, and I'd put something together myself. One that is often reminisced in my circle of buddies, is a walkabout we did around the city of Leicester.

      I told them all to tell their families they were going to be away all day, and to bring all weather clothes and enough money for drinks and a light lunch. Note books and pens. They were given a location to meet me, and then I took them to museums, cafes, and the library and set various themed writing tasks, After each one we would go for a brew and read out loud to each other what we had achieved in the limited writing time. We all enjoyed the day, some who were born and bred in the area said they had no idea about the history of their city, and a few in the group got some excellent pieces of work which they later got published.

      Another memorable afternoon was spent with a fellow scribe down by the riverbank. We each set a half hour task, and both completed it, with a break for a glass of cider mid way. And then there was the 'hanging around the railway station' one. Which was excellent for both photography and character writing. I got a fully formed story out of that one, and it was a real fun afternoon.

      Is it possible you could hook up with a few writing buddies for an afternoon? It is definitely good fun, and it will motivate you too.

      Hey, you know what? Writing the above has made me think, I should really organise something again.

      Anyone else out there done any 'home-made' writing days?

  4. I really like the sound of the mindfulness & the art of writing course in Brighton. I've never yet managed to go to any workshops or courses, but maybe one day I will. Your home-made writing days sound awesome, what a fantastic idea!
    Hope your ear is soon completely better again.

    1. Hi Teresa, a few years back I went along to a two hour workshop which was billed as Writers Meditation, in honesty i had no idea what it was going to be about so imagine my face when a Buddhist monastic, and a young lady turned up to take the session.

      It was very different, and I will always remember the first exercise. She handed out a piece of A4 and asked us all to write down everything that was in our heads in a list. Very quickly. we were not to stop until the monk rang his little bell. So my list went like this...

      Did I lock the front door?
      Ugh the traffic will be crap on the way home.
      Must remember to sew a button on my cardigan
      Work on Monday UGH!
      Did she say a list?
      Shoot, did I feed the hamster?
      Must sub two pieces of work tomorrow. Etc etc etc

      It turned into quite a list. The monk rang the bell, and the lady told us to look at our list and cast an eye down it. Then she said, right, I want you to rip it up, shred it, and throw it into this bin I am bringing round. When we had all done it, she calmly walked back to the head of the table and said, 'Right, now we have got all those worries out of the way, we can get on.'

      It made us all laugh, and it actually worked. That set the tone for an excellent workshop, and I learned from her and the monk how to meditate between bouts of writing. Some very powerful writing came form the session, although two of the twelve attendees, both men, left after only twenty minutes. Which was a shame, as I think had they have been able to have stuck with it, they would of got into it.

      I want to know what is stopping you from going to a workshop or course Teresa? :-)

  5. Hi Maria - glad you're pursuing your passion and are feeling more up to doing so ... I think we feel so much better once the days start getting longer! I'm a member of the University of the Third Age in Eastbourne .. check your area out ... and am in a few groups - academic ones: but that's me ... but this year I joined a Memoir group - my approach is different - but I can get the basics of my life down, and share some other posts/articles and get their reaction to my writing style etc.

    Your day away in your home city? Leicester sounds a fascinating way to tour a place ... I can definitely do Eastbourne that way ... but would write about it ... there's an app tour here ... but it needs updating.

    I met up with Patsy a few years ago ... and that was fun - but for now must remain here ... though Leicester I want to visit and see Richard! Cheers for now - Hilary

    1. Hello Hilary,
      Yes, Leicester is my home town. I don't know anything about the University of the Third Age, I shall look them up.
      The memoir group sounds interesting.

  6. Good to hear that you are feeling a bit better. January is a good time to do a bit of hibernating.

    1. I'm so tired Stuart...think I need to get more zzz's

  7. This January has really dragged on and on! Go tea and cake, and chicken and chorizo risotto (haven't added chorizo before, will try!) :) x

    1. I love chorizo, have you tried it with King prawns, and crab in a tomato based sauce? Yum!

      I won't be sorry to see the back of January either Anita...

    2. King prawns and crab in tomato sauce also sounds good! And now we're in February, hooray! :)

  8. Very interesting post, Maria, and I'm impressed at what you've got through! I quite like anything to do with mindfulness at the moment. I'm sure you're not the only writer giving up buying TaBFF after their new rules.

    1. Hi Rosemary, I don't think many writers will admit to cancelling for all sorts of reason...I don't write womag stories, however, I feel so sorry for all the writers who now won't get a chance to submit to them, and possibly get published.

      I think it's probably made it quite awkward for the successful writers too, who have no control over who the magazine decides they want. I suppose the remaining writers can keep using different pen names to make it look like the magazine isn't using the same writers over and over again. But what happens to everyone else?
      The womag writers are so friendly and helpful to each other, this is a serious blow. Especially as TABFF took a wide range of stories too. I beleive they were also the best paying magazine.

      It makes you wonder if it's even worth trying to make a living out of writing short stories for magazines. The market has shrunk that much.

      I do hope all the writers who wanted to write short stories for the women's fiction market are able to diversify and find something else to write, and someone else to submit to...

      Regarding mindfulness, I'm learning about it and have got myself a book as I want to explore it more this year.

  9. Hi Maria, I'm really pleased to hear that you're feeling better. One day I will treat myself to a writers' retreat for a week's break. It's something I've always wanted to do. I'm with you on the Andre Rieu's concerts and David Bowie videos - both music for the soul. I'm also reading about mindfulness and meditation as I think they're powerful tools to master. It would be great to meet up again for coffee and cake. Maybe when the sun comes out and we can sit somewhere nice. We could get a small group of local writers together for a catch up... xx

    May I ask a favour, and this is something I've never done before. I have sent three chapters to a publisher and they have asked for my full manuscript. It may come to nothing but they asked for my blog address. Please could you leave a short message, or even a 'hello' on my blog, so it looks like people actually read it!! Ha ha! My stats say hundreds do, but they don't leave comments. I'd be so grateful. Keep warm - spring's around the corner.

    1. Good to hear from you. Yes, let's meet up for tea and cake! It sounds like a good plan for late Spring, early summer.
      Nipping over to your blog now.


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