Monday, 19 March 2012

New Writers' Scheme Weekend

I have just returned from the New Writers’ Scheme weekend away in North Yorkshire, tired but buzzing with ideas about how to improve my writing. There is no better way to learn than from the experience of other writers, especially one who is currently enjoying publishing success with her own novels. And we couldn’t have been in safer hands than those of Jean Fullerton.
Getting to know her was a real pleasure! The lovely Jean gave generously of her time, helping our group to discover ways to develop and improve. The friendly and practical advice we explored together, covered topics such as characterisation, pacing, marketing and my own cardinal sin – OVER-WRITING! I’m cringing in horror, even as I think about it (not that Jean made me feel that way for a single solitary second).
Jean was a delight. She couldn’t have been friendlier or more helpful and made the entire group feel comfortably encouraged in their own literary endeavours (I think I’m doing it again - OVERWRITING!). She gave everyone an individual review of some of their current work, including a typed report, which must have taken her ages to complete. I left with 3 of her wonderful novels to sit and enjoy (whilst taking a sneaky peek at how it can be done well).
Perhaps Tomorrow was shortlisted for the 2012 RNA Historical Romance of the Year Award.
As well as getting to know Jean, I had the opportunity to meet other lovely writers on the New Writers Scheme, some of whom came from the Border Reivers’ Chapter of the Romantic Novelists’ Association. Most of us had only ‘met’ before on ROMNA, the cyber chapter of the RNA. Everyone got on so well.  They really are super people at the RNA and as I’ve always said, you won’t meet finer than a Romantic Fiction writer. Not only are they masters of their craft, striving to improve and innovate, but they are wonderfully generous to a fault.
Talking of wonderful, none of this would have been possible without the efforts of one special member, Lin Treadgold, who came all the way from Amsterdam and had the whole weekend mapped out for us. Thanks to her organisational skills, not only did the event get off the ground in the first place, but amidst our writing workshops, we enjoyed a host of marvellous meals out and trips to places of interest.
One of the highlights of these was a splendid three course lunch taken in the elegant setting of a period Pullman Dining Car. The period carriage was attached to a restored steam locomotive run by the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. It left from Grosmont, a 1950s style rail station. More inspiration for all those historicals!
The group stayed up on the romantically windswept, North Yorkshire moors on the working Fowl Green Farm. We resided in converted farm buildings known as the barn, the cow byre and the piggery. Despite what their names imply, we were warm, comfortable and had every convenience at our disposal.
Our hilly, heather-covered location, replete with grouse and wandering sheep, would inspire the romantic in all of us. A brilliant weekend. The first of many, I hope.