Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Festival of Writing 2011 - The programme #fow11

The programme was jam-packed for the Festival of Writing. There was a wide choice of optional sessions and alongside them were keynote speeches, Q & A panels and networking galore.


Friday was a more relaxed day for me as I deliberately got there a bit early and wasn't attending the mini-course in the afternoon. It gave me time to meet up with some friends and make some new ones before getting down to the real festival activities.

A literary networking session was held before dinner. Think speed dating only with more people moving around the room. I was fortunate enough to start off on a table with two literary agents, John Jarrold and Jane Judd. The official networking then began with suggested topics but it soon turned into more informal discussions.

After dinner, Authonomy Live took place where seven brave souls took to the stage and read out an extract of their work. All seven were tremendous and a good example of how high the writing (and performing) standards are.


A very full programme followed on Saturday. The opening address came from David Nobbs who was both amusing and enlightening. I then attended a fantastic talk from Jane Holland on writing romance with some very helpful pointers. Next up I attended the literary agents' panel, inevitably the most popular. It threw some much-needed light on what they look for with submissions and a number of other subjects.

The key note address for the afternoon was The Agent and The Publisher with Carole Blake and Patrick Janson-Smith. Unfortunately I missed half of this but check out Simon Whaley's blog here to help fill you in. I wasn't skyving -  I missed the first half for very good reasons - I was attending my 1-2-1's. These are probably the most talked about part of the festival where you have the opportunity for an editor/agent and a book doctor to look at your work and provide you with feedback. The opportunity didn't disappoint and although it was daunting it was great to meet with Lyn Vernham from Choc-Lit Publishing and Jean Fullerton. I received very helpful and positive feedback from both.

My final session on Saturday was with Lyn Vernham and a panel of Choc-Lit authors: Sue Moorcroft, Christina Courtenay and Jane Lovering. I have been a follower of Choc-Lit and their authors for some time so it was lovely to meet them all in person and hear all about their irresistible heroes.

The evening was taken up by the gala dinner but I'm saving that for another post!

Gathering for the Gala Photo credit: Simon Whaley 


Everyone (myself included) appeared to be lagging slightly on Sunday but there was no let-up. The day started with a panel on the path to publication. I then attended my selected sessions on Writing Women's Fiction with Jean Fullerton and Louise Allen, All about rejection letters with agent, Lorella Belli then in the afternoon an excellent talk on pacing from Julie Cohen before the final key-note address with Kate Williams.

I cannot begin to tell you how much I learnt over the course of the weekend. Each session provided me with something useful which I will be able to apply to my work. I had wondered if I was maybe attending the weekend a tad prematurely for where my work in progress stands at the moment. I couldn't have been more wrong. I'm now heading into the second draft stage with an enormous amount of advice from this event and this can only enhance it.

For anyone considering going to this event (even fairly newbie writers like myself) I can't recommend it highly enough!


  1. Wow, sounds fab! Thanks for sharing, Katy and hope you've caught upon your sleep!

  2. What a fantastic post! Thank you for letting us all see what we missed - I will DEF be trying to go next year. It sounds fantastic!

  3. I've been reading quite a lot of blog posts about the York Festival of Writing recently. Sounds like it was an excellent event. I really must try to come along next year.