An Inspirational Weekend

Last weekend I attended the Scottish Association of Writers Conference at the lovely Westerwood Hotel, in the outskirts of Cumbernauld. Writers Groups from all over Scotland attend and the weekend is jam packed with adjudications of writing competitions, workshops and our key note speaker this year after the Saturday Gala dinner was the hilarious comedienne Helen Lederer (who was so down to earth and lovely).

This year was extra special for me as I was delivering my adjudication of the Short Story competition (aimed at 12-16 year olds), as I mentioned in my last post. I was first up on the Friday evening after dinner and it was quite a nerve wracking experience having to stand up to deliver a writing adjudication in a room packed with writers! It was brilliant to see the reaction of my placed entries and hear the winner read out her story beautifully. As the entries were anonymous I was delighted to hear some familiar names being called out when I announced the winning titles and pen names.

I really enjoyed listening to the other brilliant adjudications from writers such as Keith Gray, Kirstin Zhang, Gill Hoffs, J. David Simons, Regi Claire, Michael Malone, Sheila Templeton, Myra Duffy, Ann Burnett and Sue Reid Sexton. I also attended great workshops delivered by Keith Gray – another YA author, (He has written around 22 books! Amazing! Something for me to aspire to), and the Crime Writer Michael Malone. I found Michael’s workshop very reassuring, as like me he is not much of a planner when it comes to plots, so inevitably there comes a point in the book where you sometimes get a bit stuck, and panic and wonder what on earth your characters have in store for you next. It made me realise I need to stop being such a perfectionist with my second novel and to keep going and get it finished.

On the Sunday morning I delivered a workshop called ‘Inspiration Everywhere’, talking about techniques and creative exercises I have used to generate ideas and inspiration, finishing off with a creative writing exercise where I got the group to ‘build’ stories. I loved the imaginative characters and settings everyone came up with – it was a brilliant way to end the weekend and left me keen to get home to get stuck back into writing.

During the week when I was back at my day job I did a stint ‘on the ground’ as a careers adviser again, delivering guidance to school pupils at Park Mains High School. The librarian of course remembered me from when I did my author event there from earlier in the year, and I was delighted to see she had included a postcard of ‘Follow Me’ in her display of books in the library, and she also asked if I would chat to a 1st year pupil who had read and loved my book (which of course I was delighted to do!). Both of them asked me if I have another coming out, so again a big nudge for me to get cracking… This is a photo of part of the display below…

On Thursday evening I attended the launch of Alex Nye’s historical novel ‘For My Sins’ at the Byres Road Waterstones. Alex has written some brilliant books for children and I’m really looking forward to reading this historical novel about Mary Queen of Scots. A few people at the launch were saying how much they loved the cover, and I have to agree it is a great one!

Tomorrow evening I have been invited to a launch of 2nd year stories at Inverclyde Academy where the brilliant author Cathy MacPhail has been a writer in residence. The librarian at the school kindly invited me along and I’m really looking forward to the event.

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