Taking part in the Sketch
It was a full-on weekend from dinner on the Friday to departure on the Sunday afternoon and I wasn't the only one coming home exhausted! I did adjudicate the Romance Novel comp this year, delivering the results after the dinner, then gave a workshop on the Saturday. I'm pretty sure the lovely winning novel I chose will find a publisher. I also took part in a friend's powerful, winning sketch on the Sunday about two Romanian sisters and the awful choice my character had to make. Then there was all the chatting and eating in between the work. I was delighted when daughter Vikki was third in the poetry competition, judged by Nalini Paul, from over 60 entries.
We had two interesting after dinner speakers this year, in Allan Guthrie and Jean Rafferty, and some great adjudicators and speakers. It was a pleasure to chat to Shirley Blair, commissioning editor of The People's Friend at the welcome drinks for judges and speakers. Poor Shirley had a record number of short stories to judge and critique in the Women's Short Story Competition and her workshop on the Saturday was overflowing - as you might expect! But she stayed the whole weekend and was charming throughout.
One of the best innovations this year was the final session - the Dragon's Pen. Eight finalists had to deliver their three minute pitch for a book to a panel of three publishers: Allan Guthrie from Blasted Heath, Sara Hunt from Saraband and Jan Mullen from Black and White Publishing. The quality of the pitches and proposed books were superb and it's no wonder the panel had difficulty choosing. We all reckon at least one of those books will soon be published.
Now it's catching up time and looking forward to another year. The conference is a major calendar event here as it offers so many opportunities for writers to share and learn from each other, as well as newer writers receiving written critiques for their precious work. This was where I got my first break many moons ago, after winning the short story competition judged by the late Ian Sommerville of My Weekly who then published the story. Many have gone on to become novelists and some are household names. So if you get the chance to go to writing conferences, I'd thoroughly recommend it.