I had a great time at Felixstowe Book Festival…

I love Felixstowe Book Festival. It’s in my hometown making it convenient for me to attend. It’s reasonably priced so it doesn’t break the bank. And, it gets bigger ever year.

This year, I only bought tickets for the writing workshops delivered by Orwell Writers League. It consisted of three sessions, each cost leas than £5, and if you bought all three it was only £9.99!

With the pandemic I was a little worried it could be cancelled. Last year all events went virtual. The only disruption was a location change from Orwell Hotel (the usual venue) to Harvest House (a new venue).

I’ve lived in Felixstowe almost all my life and never been inside Harvest House. Usually it’s not open to the public. They are looking to diversify their income and now offering it up for hire for Weddings. And, Book Festivals 😍.

The Workshops

Language & Voice

This workshop had us exploring the 5 senses and developing a word bank for the theme “Shoreline.”

We were given a postcard and challenged to write a short story about the setting using the five senses. Half the room was asked to focus on “natural” senses. The other half focused on “man made” senses.

I wrote this piece, focusing on man made senses:

Body language

This workshop had us thinking about how actions can speak as loudly as words. We thought about facial expressions, and then worked our way through the body listing different actions and gestures.

We then imagined a couple on an open top bus and had to come up with three scenes they see – I think that’s what we were meant to do as I did something different. I did not do what I was supposed to 🤦‍♀️.

We were then challenged to write some dialogue between at least two people, and encouraged to use senses and actions to give the scene more meaning.

I wrote this scene based on the setting, “stuck in a hot car looking for a parking space”.

Free writing

The afternoon session was an opportunity to do some free writing. They recapped on all the things we’d covered in the morning.

I decided to use this opportunity to work on an untiled prequel to Ocean Heart (my debut novel). I decided not to read this out allowed:

Reflection

I didn’t learn anything new from the workshop but I didn’t expect to. I find workshops like this valuable as they remind us about the basics needed to write effective fiction. Think of it as refresher training.

Whilst creating my word bank, I realised it would be a useful tool to combat Writers Block and will be adding it to my arsenal. I also find writing settings challenging, the word bank was a great way to create a personal thesaurus of descriptions to use.

I love Felixstowe Book Festival and would go again. I also enjoyed networking with other writers and met two other upcoming authors. It was great to see my favourite local bookshop there with a stall, and to have a good chat with the manager of Stillwater Books.

I wish I’d taken a copy of Ocean Heart with me so I could have taken selfies with my book at such a beautiful location. I did get to hand out my new bookish business card to interested people, and ran out! I learnt from a marketing perspective to be more prepared and utilise every opportunity.

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[kofi]

My Authorship Breakthrough Session with Pagan Malcolm

Pagan is brilliant. One of the things I love is how she isn’t afraid to share things she has tried but didn’t work. She learns from these, and saves others from the sane pit falls.

She has experience in traditional and indie publishing. Over the years she’s developed a ton of tips for success. These have been organised into a range useful resources especially for authors.

By following Pagan, I have picked up so many useful nuggets. She has been a credit to my personal author journey, and I won a place on her Story Seller Academy.

Recently Pagan offered a free Authorship Breakthrough Session. I didn’t know what to expect and was a little scared, but decided this was a good opportunity to find out what it is about?

The Booking

Booking in couldn’t have been easier. Pagan sent me a link. The link to me to a calendar where I could see the times available for each day.

Pagan lives on the other side of the world to me. The slots were either very early or late but I found a time that I could make and booked in.

I had to fill in a form that asked some simple questions about where an now and what I’d like to work on. I found these hard to answer and realised how unfocused I am on my goals. Due to my limited time I’m often very reactive which isn’t what I want to be.

The call

I was late getting back from the school run. Then Zoom kept being “clever” and trying to log me in using a different account. Then it decided my browser wasn’t compatible. I used Zoom earlier that week.

I messaged Pagan on Facebook and she suggested we use FB Messenger (video call) instead, as we were both logged in already.

The chaotic start had me a little flustered, and my negative inner voice was already telling me give up! But, Pagan was her usual lovely self.

She had come prepared and identified questions she wanted to ask me based on the form I’d completed during booking. It was quiet evident I was in good hands and she knew what she was doing.

I relaxed and opened up to her. We talked about a recent opportunity to talk at a school that fell through because of work, a secret project I’m nervous about launching, and how I struggle to find time for my goals. She even challenged me to identify where I want to be in 5 years.

Pagan asked questions to explore my ideas and gave feedback and made suggestions. She clarified at the end what I planned to do, so I left with an action plan.

The outcome

After the call, I had to hurry back to my 2y old for a fun filled day of paint and slime. And after school my son helped with some errands, like the vets and food shopping. It was a crazy busy day, and messy, very messy.

But, Pagan motivated me. Talking about my fears with someone that encourages me to overcome them, and can provide strategies, was empowering. I feel like I can make being an author my business.

Giving Talks: Pagan got me to think about what I could offer to do talks on. She encouraged me to set a date to reach out to local schools (my target audience), and offered tips on how to approach this and how to price this.

Secret Project: Talking about what I’ve been up to was liberating as I’ve been keeping it to myself scared the idea is naff. Pagan was excited for me, had words of encouragement, and got me to focus on the first steps instead of being overwhelmed by the end product.

Marketing: Pagan was impressed by my book launch and marketing so far and I had to admit that a lot of that was thanks to her FB micro sessions and Storyseller Academy course. She still had more wisdom to share with me & she highlighted how I could tie in talks with a launch to raise awareness, and how to do this. She also recommended I have a Marketing Day to strategise. I do most my Social Media scheduling on Sunday but the actions Pagan set me was different and I realised I’m not marketing… not sufficiently.

Final Thoughts

Pagan is enthusiastic about publishing and helping authors. Chatting to her felt like talking to a good friend that knows the industry. Her confidence and knowledge was reassuring, and I left the session feeling empowered.

As an Indie Author I often have to figure things out for myself. It was really good to be able to solve problems with someone, that knows what I’m doing, or trying to do.

Pagan also recommended we meet again in a month to check I’m still on track with the goals identified. One month felt too soon for me. The accountability pressure was causing my walls to come up, so we decided to go for 2 months instead. I felt I could breathe more easily with that.

Here is the link to book your own session with Pagan Malcom and have your Authorship Breakthrough session.

I also realised I never got around to writing my blog post about the Storyseller Academy course. I will blog that soon.

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[kofi]

Felixstowe Book Festival – How to connect with local writers?

Felixstowe Book Festival wouldn’t be complete if it didn’t support the local writer groups. The festival is run by Felixstowe library so if you are looking for your local writing group I would suggest visiting your local library and asking the librarian if they have details of any. Maybe you will start one up?

Felixstowe Scribblers meet fortnightly at Felixstowe Library, and I was a regular attendee. The meetings set a prompt for writing, they sometimes do flash fiction and hold a quarterly competition to win the Bill Bunder Cup. They published my short story Cherry Blossom in their first anthology. The group is run by Dave.

Orwell League Writers (OWL) are an Ipswich writing group. I’ve not been to any of their meetings so can’t tell you much about the set up but I know a writer who won their annual writing competition. The group is run by Mia.

Both groups had come up with an activity for attendees.

Flash Fiction

Scribblers had prepared a number of words to act as writing prompts and placed them face down. Participants were encouraged to select one and then a timer was set and we had to write a short story.

My prompt word was ’weapon’ and I wrote a story inspired by The Handmaid’s Tale about a suicide bomber that is starting to doubt their cause moments before acting.

Character Development

OWL had created character sheets and got us all to create two characters that could meet at a train station.

Creating my two characters and imagining their reason for being at the station got me creating a story in my head. If I wasn’t so busy with other projects I would write it – like I needed another story idea. 😂

Stay tuned, I promise the tale of my White Knight is coming soon…

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YALC Prep

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