One thing I enjoy very much is listening to people talk about the things they love. Seeing that gleam in their eye and how their entire being lights up as they enthuse. That's one of the reasons why I especially enjoy listening to other authors and why the monthly meetings of the Exeter Authors Association are so inspirational for me.
We have two meetings each month - a members-only "business" meeting where we plan our various events and The Devon Authors Group, a social meeting, which is open to anyone interested in writing. We chat, share advice and suggestions and, if we are so inclined, bring along some of our work to read. I have just submitted a social history column for a local publication, so for today's meeting, I left The Septillion of Hheserakh behind and took the column along instead. I've just got home and, once again, I find myself enthused and inspired by what I have heard from the other attendees.
There were a couple of new faces today, which is always brilliant, so after the introductions and chat, some of the group shared the work they had brought along. And what an eclectic mix we had! There was rogue fungus (yes, really - it was intriguing), adventurous children, elegant stags, life-saving disguises, earthworms (that was mine - long story) and how looking at a cockerel can influence your chances in the marriage stakes.
As everyone took turns to share a little about their writing, I kept thinking what an absolute joy it is to be able to do what I do - to be able to sit down with some incredibly talented people and listen to them talking about their inspiration and how they work. There is always a new tip, a new suggestion, a new idea to pick up. Everyone does things differently and because writing is, for the most part, a solitary job, it's easy to become slightly blinkered and entrenched in your own methods. That's one of the reasons I love listening to other authors. Regardless of what you are going through - writer's block, the euphoria of seeing your new book in the flesh for the first time or the satisfaction of writing yourself out of the plot hole that has been bugging you for days - there will always be someone who has been there and done that - or who is going through the same thing. The groups I am in are full of people who not only have a wealth of experience, but are also more than happy to share that experience with others.
That's why I love listening to other authors. Not only will I undoubtedly learn something new, but I also have the pleasure of seeing them in their element, fired up and enthusiastic - and that joy and inspiration is infectious.
Shortly before Christmas, I gathered up WITCH, Sammy's Saturday Job and The Septillion of Hheserakh and joined about two dozen author colleagues from North Devon at a brand new event. Literary Fusion’s “Meet North Devon Authors” saw us take over one of the function rooms at The Pier House in Bideford for three hours of all things book-related. The event was designed to connect readers and authors and showcase the talent North Devon has to offer, and there was also a raffle raising money for Action Medical Research for Children.
We were an eclectic bunch, covering pretty much every genre. Devon is a real magnet for writers - the county’s varied landscapes, beaches, modern cities and beautiful villages offer limitless inspiration. Personally, I’ve always been hugely inspired by Dartmoor, although recently, I’ve been studying forests in order to ensure that The Great North Forest of the Hheserakhian Empire is as realistic as possible (in the context of a fantasy novel, anyway!)
I spent a while people-watching during the course of the event and found that attendees and authors alike were moving from table to table, engaging in conversation and networking. Obviously, it helped that this was an event targeted at book lovers, but it made a refreshing change from seeing browsers’ eyes slide over authors, which often happens at events. We had been allocated tables randomly rather than in genres, which encouraged browsers to move to every table, rather than homing in on a particular area and ignoring the rest.
There really is no better way for a reader to find a new voice than to spend a while chatting with an author about what they do. As I reader, I think the love and enthusiasm authors display when talking about their work is a joy to see. As a writer, there is nothing better than having someone show genuine interest in how and what I write.
During the course of the evening, eight of us participated in two author panels hosted by James D Mortain (find out about his books HERE). We chatted about how and where we work, where we get our ideas, how to get published and audiobooks, amongst other things, and there were some great questions from the audience. I had initially wondered how many people would turn out on a dark Sunday evening, especially as the weather on the day was absolutely foul, but I have to say that the attendees were a genuinely interested, engaged crowd, not about to be put off by a bit of bad weather!
The panels were very informative for readers and authors alike. There is always something new to discover at events like this, whether it’s a new author to read, or how to avoid a pitfall when submitting a manuscript to an agent, or a time management tip. If you are a writer and have reservations about taking part in author events because you aren’t sure if it’s really for you, I would urge you to give it a go. At the very least, you will make some new contacts and at best, you will hook up with new readers and make some sales.
Many congratulations to organiser Nickie Baglow for creating such a fantastic event, which I greatly enjoyed. I’m very much looking forward to the next one!
Who is Blogging Today?
Sometimes it will be me. At other times, you may well be treated to one of Duseena Lorafiel's herbal remedies, or perhaps Zilyana Yllayra's etiquette tips. Aamena Hinnorwen may pop in to talk about a new skill she has learned. There is always a chance that we may be graced by the presence of His Imperial Majesty the Emperor, who likes nothing better than to discuss the many benefits of the land he rules. There will be maps, sketches, photos, news, character information, guest blogs from other authors... all sorts of different ways for you to delve into the world of the Chronicles.