Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Workshops and Retreats

I've been busy writing  - head down, focus on the keyboard.  What's that they say about BICHOK?
Bum In Chair, Hands on Keyboard.  The only way to get from 'Chapter One' to The End.

But at the same time I've been thinking about and planning the Writing Retreat  with Relax and Write I'm running in a couple of weeks time.  So looking forward to meeting the  students - some I've met
Swanwick where I'll be 'retreating' on October 9th
before - some who are brand new to me. All are at different stages on their journey towards being published writers but there's one ting they must already all have in abundance - and that's commitment and determination.  You don't sign up for a weekend course and pay the fees(admittedly very reasonable)   if you're  not committed.

When people ask why I teach - specially when I tell them that when I was much younger, the last thing I wanted to do was to be a teacher -  I think of the  number of past students , either of my courses or from the 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance  who are now published writers of romantic fiction. Not just with Harlequin but with other publishers too.  A wonderful result from
working with them is sharing their joy in their success and  seeing their books on the shelves - just as good as seeing my own.

 I was reminded of this twice in the past month.  First of all, when I was at the AMBA lunch in London on the 19th. At the lunch I was seated next to Amanda Cinelli, the winner of the So You Think You Can Write whose first book Resisting the Sicilian Playboy is just published. She made my day by telling me that she had the 12 Point Guide in both print and ebook form and that  she credited it with helping her a long way on her personal journey to publication. Good luck with that first book and your new  career Amanda!

But talking to Amanda, and some news I had from an ex-student this week, reminded me of an important point - and that's why I called the 12 Point Guide a 'Workbook'. There's plenty of advice and information in the text - but there are also the writing exercises at the end of each chapter.  Writing exercises that are meant to make you  - guess what - write.

I've met so many people who will start writing when they have a moment, when the kids are at school/university/in bed. . .when they have a new kitchen table (to write on)  . ..  The problem is that the only way to write a book that's publishable  is  to - write it.

And then - this is the voice of an author with 60+ books published - to rewrite it and maybe rewrite it again. The trouble with the books on Amazon or the bookshop shelves is that all the blood sweat and tears that went into writing them doesn't show in the text or the cover.

  And this is what I was reminded of today when I got some good news from another ex-student.
Fishguard Bay Hotel  where I run the Advanced Romance Writing Course
Rachael Thomas was a regular at my Fishguard Writers and Artists' Weekend  courses - first with the basic Writing Romance course and then with the Advanced Writing Romance course there in February each year. Each year I felt her writing was getting closer and close to publication standard and then for the last but one So You Think You Can Write contest she was in the top ten.  That book A Deal Before the Altar  was published last year - and several more since.

Today, the good news was that her latest (sort of) book has been accepted. No title as yet but I knew this book as Destiny's story.  Destiny is the name of the heroine.

I'm particularly pleased about this book as I first read  it - well, the origins of the current book - as her submission to the  Fishguard course back in 2012 - and then again in 2013.    It didn't work the first time  Or the second time.  But there was the seed of such a good story in there that I gave Rachael the advice I give everyone with a story that is a  'not quite' :

Put it away for a while till you can look at it with clearer eyes and see how it needs to be rewritten. Looking at it with fresh eyes - and, in this case, with more experience of writing novels that work - can shine a spotlight on a 'not quite' and turn it into a success.

Which is exactly what she did and today I got an email with the great news that this book - with Sheikh Zafir and  Destiny the heroine with the wonderful name - will be published next year.  It's fabulous news - and it reinforces my belief that if you really want to be published you need talent, obviously, luck, perhaps - but you definitely need hard work.

Write, revise, submit - revise  . . . .      and repeat . . .

Congratulations Rachael! I'm so looking forward to seeing Zafir and Destiny's story in print.  It's the perfect proof that no teacher, however brilliant, can guarantee you success in your writing, even if you follow (or try to) every word she says!

But, as I've always said, the one way you can guarantee you'll never be successful is to give up. Stop trying. Stop writing.

So those of you who are entering the So You Think You Can Write Contest this year - or who are just writing and trying - or those who will be coming on the Retreat or any other course I'm running  in the coming year - the only way is to keep on trying.

If you get a rejection, the only way is to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again.

Because the real truth is that still applies even after 63 published titles.  The only way to get 64 completed is  BICHOK - submit - revise . . .  and again. And again . . .

Good Luck!

Which reminds me - I need to do some more BICHOKing  - so I'm off back to the keyboard.

PS If you want to know any more about my courses with Writers' Holiday or Relax and Write then check out their websites - or look at the Events page on my website. (Though I know I need to update that!)


Rachael Thomas said...

It was such a great feeling to be told that story was accepted, that the BICHOK time I had put in over recent months would mean two characters very dear to me will finally see the light of day next year. I urge anyone wanting to write and be published to just keep writing and writing and writing. It's the only way to learn the craft!

And what kept me going when faced with rejection? Well, excellent courses and being other like minded writers.

Thanks Kate. Xx

Kate Walker said...

I'm still smiling at the thought that Zafir and Destiny have found a place in your publishing schedule& can't wait to read their story. . I've loved having you as a student at my weekend courses - but even more I've loved seeing you succeed so well after all your hard work. And thank you for such great advice for anyone still on that journey towards acceptance.


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