Wales: wet but lovely. Now: home and dry.
It was latish Sunday afternoon when I arrived – had to watch the Formula 1 race before I left, to be honest – but arriving at Caerleon College near Newport, South Wales, was like joining a crowd of old friends. It didn’t matter how many of them I actually knew beforehand!
For those who don’t know, the days at Writer’s Holiday are divided roughly this way:-
Mornings – the course of your choice
Afternoons – main speaker followed by after tea workshop
Evenings – main speaker
As I had copy edits to work on I dispensed with the first morning course and spent the time closeted in my room with my laptop and the copy editor’s suggestions for the new novel, STARTING OVER, which is due out with Choc Lit in autumn. As Gill, the copy editor, was so sympathetic to both my book and my characters, this was a pleasure, not a penance.
So, the first afternoon speaker I listened to was Simon Whaley.
He was great, reminding us of the connection between positivity and productivity, showing negativity theatrically to the door and shouting, ‘And don’t come back!’ after it, referencing his own career in illustration of positivity in action.
Simon was funny as well as having a real point to make.
If you’re thinking, by the way, that I spent all my time at Caerleon in workshops and talks (and on copy edits), I have to be honest. I didn’t. There was ample good company, good food and cold wine to sample!
My only regret is that I missed out on chocolate cheesecake. The chocolate fudge cake and chocolate mousse had to do.
I got out into the locality, too. One of my favourite spots was the garden of sculptures. I really like sculptures and would have liked to take some of these home for my garden.
I did do a little bit of work at a workshop called BECOME Your Character! And I’m indebted to Penny, Fran and Simon, who humoured me by becoming theirs. (And Simon took the pic.)
Sweet and charming Katie Fforde chatted to us on Monday evening about her favourite tricks for creating the likable heroines and lovable heroes that people the pages of her well-loved books, and the thematic nature of the heroine’s story.
Everybody loves Katie, so you won’t be surprised to hear that the Caerleon audience loved her, too.
As they always do Jane Wenham-Jones, with her own brand of stand-up public speaking.
Whether offering genuine pearls about promo: ‘Ask! If you don’t ask, you don’t get ANYTHING!’ or arranging chummily for the audience to hurl bread rolls at her so she could see how it felt, Jane was a delight.
Thursday evening saw, as is traditional at Caerleon, a concert given by the fabulous Cwmbach Male Choir. I just can’t rate these guys highly enough.
For the second course – copy edits completed and sent off courtesy of the college’s whizzy computer suite – I took an art class. In this, I decided to personify Slider, who is a dragon drawn by Tess, the heroine in STARTING OVER, as Tess is an illustrator. But I am NOT! I would scan Slider in and post him here but a) I don’t have a working scanner at the moment b) he looks a little like a green gerbil.
I had a great time at Caerleon. I networked a lot, I made new friends, I enjoyed old friends, I sold a few novels. And I booked to go back next year.