Monday, 12 July 2010

What Happened at Frome

Yesterday I attended the Words at Frome Writers and Publishers Day at the Frome Library. It was the first time I had attended on of these events and it was a fascinating experience – I talked to some interesting people and learned quite a bit along the way.

Anyway, I thought I would share some of my experiences with you.

Well Frome is quite a trek for me to get to – there’s no easy route, so it was a good thing I hadn’t already bought a ticket for the first talk because I would have missed most of it. Still, chilling out after the long drive in the sunshine with a coffee was rather pleasant and everyone there seemed to be very friendly.

A group of self published authors were setting up a stall nearby and it wasn’t long before I was chatting to them. Now I don’t buy self published books as a matter of principle. I’m sure there are some good ones out there but when I’ve bought one in the past (usually more to be polite because I know the person) I’ve always been disappointed and I don’t think I’ve ever finished one.

So these guys kept telling me about their books and handing them to me and I kept putting them back down, After a while one of them frowned at me and said:

“You’re not going to buy anything are you?”

To which I’m afraid my answer was “No.” But all credit to them they took it in good heart and were an interesting bunch of people to talk to.

Then I managed to hook up with a couple of people I do know. Well, one person I know in real life from my real life writers group and the other a friend from Cyberspace – Journeygirl from Litopia. It can be strange meeting up with other Litopians – staring at someone wondering if they fit the description they’ve given you, but for some reason we recognised each other the moment our eyes met. And she’s a scientist too!! Yay – let’s hear it for women in science!

But I digress. Back to the festival:

I attended two talks.

The first was the short story prize giving, which I went along to with my writing group buddy. The overview of the stories was very interesting, but two things stood out immediately. First the fact that a number of the shortlisted stories had been sent off to women’s magazines and the second was when the lady giving the summary went through her pet hates in a short story – you know the sort of stuff – telling not showing, inconsistent POV, bad grammar and spelling and Science Fiction.

Yup, you heard me. SF was on the pet hates list.

When she said that my friend and I rolled our eyes and looked at each other. Oh dear. Well at least we now know why our entries didn’t get anywhere.

In fact all the shortlisted stories were very much in the women’s fiction genre, and I also noticed that there wasn’t a single man amongst the finalists!

I think that’s really quite telling!

Since I don’t write women’s fiction I don’t think I’ll enter this one again.

The second talk was on how to get an Agent for your Children’s Book given by – yes – you guessed – an Agent. It was an excellent talk packed with useful advice. I sat there, frantically scribbling notes (and noticed the woman beside me was doing the same.) I just hope I can read my own handwriting.

And of course, I had a 1:2:1 with said Literary Agent. But I’ll tell you all about that next time.

So all in all, my first foray to one of these events was an excellent experience –. I was quite nervous but everyone was so welcoming. Bring on the next one! I’ll be there.

And if you’ve never ventured to one of these yourself then do it! You won’t regret it!


  1. Sounded fascinating, Kate. Wish I could get to one of these events - it's all a question of timing I suppose. I'm rather glad, to tell you the truth, about SF and short stories (not being a fan of SF ;-( ). Have to say I felt sorry for the self-published authors all desperate for you to buy one of their books.
    Thanks for the posting.

  2. Glad you enjoyed the talks!
    Science fiction is on her hate list? That's a narrow view. She has no idea what she's missing!
    We'll both just keep writing science fiction, okay?

  3. I'm glad you enjoyed it, at least it made the long trip worthwhile for you.

  4. Yes, the SF bit was an eye opener. I wonder how much it applies to other writing competitions such as Bridport and Yeovil.

    But I'll defiantely go again. Maybe I'll look into Winchester next year too.

  5. Nice! I am attending a convention in August and am really looking forward to it! Reading about other writers' experiences like this just make me even more excited.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog today and leaving a comment! Hope to see you around there again sometime.


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