Tag Archives: conferences

Booktrailer fun

Well I’ve been silent on here for a bit but that’s due to lots of stuff going on with publishing and marketing my new book Plotlands,  plotlands-cover-2which is a collection of strange short stories set in Wales, and then of course everything stops for the build up to Christmas. I hope everyone had a great Christmas, mine was a good mix of meeting up with friends and family interspersed with days of quiet for rest and reflection (and tidying up of course). Even managed our usual trip out to Blackpool for fish and chips on Boxing Day.

Anyway on to the main business of the book trailer. This has been a new venture for me and has only been made possible by harnessing the techy skills of my brilliant son, Ted Fenlon and his modestly named Kraplaptop productions. He’s made other short music videos in the past and so I floated the idea of producing something promotional for Plotlands. It took quite a while for him to get the graphics right , using the book cover as the main image with accompanying rolling text and the music is his own composition and sounds suitably menacing and eerie.

I’m really pleased with the result and have been flashing it about on various social media sites – just a bit more fun than the usual book blurb. Unfortunately this page doesn’t support video files but if you’re interested you can find it on Youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CoELiTy2qCA

Looking forward to a Happy New Year to writers and readers everywhere and much success in 2017








Five go on a writing retreat to Builth Wells

Five members of Skelmersdale Writers’ Group, including myself went on writing retreat in two pine lodges sited on the edge of the river Wye the week before last.

This was our second retreat and it was so good I’m sure we’re going to make it an annual event. Last year there were four of us and we stayed in one lodge at Hay-on-Wye. This year there were five of us so we needed two lodges so that we could have a room each to ensure privacy to write.

We had  a routine established from the previous year that we would write all  morning, meet for lunch, then either go for  a walk in the lovely surroundings or have a trip out to one of the local towns, then more writing before sharing dinner and a few glasses of wine before having a joint feedback session  on the day’s work. We usually finished off by relaxing with a film or TV programme.

This worked very well as it is important to balance work with rest and leisure and time to think. A writing retreat is a fantastic opportunity to focus on a specific project. I took with me a completed novel that needed final editing and revision and I managed to finish that but I was also keen to do some new writing so I allocated part of each day to a partly-written novel that I  had left hanging while editing and preparing other work for publication.

We did have to cook but we managed this by joint shopping trips, taking turns to prepare meals and making simple meals so that we were all able to relax. I think we all really enjoyed it and I was pleased to come home with a briefcase full of work and plans for the future. The seven days went over so quickly. Our hosts at Boatside Holiday Accommodation were wonderful and we had everything we needed and absolute peace to get on with our work. November is an ideal time because the holiday season is over so we  more or less had this beautiful location to ourselves and the accommodation is more readily available and less expensive than earlier in the season.

I came home energised and refreshed and I can’t wait to go back again next year, perhaps even more of Skelmersdale Writers will be retreating next time!






Fishguard Writers’ Holiday 2015

Just returned from another wonderful week at Fishguard Writers’ Holiday. Okay, I was actually running one of the courses so it was a bit of a working trip but I had such a great time with  such a lovely bunch of people that it hardly seemed like work at all.

Fishguard Bay view from the hotel

Fishguard Bay view from the hotel

The Fishguard Bay Hotel is a fantastic venue for a writers’ conference, overlooking the bay with a cliff at the back which you can walk up fairly easily, or catch a bus if you are less mobile, to the top where the views are stunning.

Once you arrive at the hotel, everything is laid on for your stay down to morning and afternoon tea and coffee. A welcome drink before dinner introduces the hosts, Anne and Gerry and the course leaders and provides the opportunity for old friends to meet up and newcomers to mingle and make new friends.

Hotel bar terrace

Hotel bar terrace

The courses are smallish groups, max 12-13 and there are loads of choices of genres to work on, from fiction to poetry and non-fiction. You can even do a painting course, ideal for  the non-writing friend who came with me.

Writers’ Holiday was held at Caerleon university near Cardiff for many many years and I had such happy memories of it that when it moved to Fishguard last year, I thought it was the end of an era. In some ways it was; the hotel is much smaller than the uni which means that not everyone who regularly came to Caerleon could attend. Additionally the hotel’s location, right at the westernmost tip of South Wales made it too long a journey for some. However, if you are determined to come you will get there.

Enjoying an evening event.

Enjoying an evening event.

One of the great pleasures for me is meeting up with other writers I have got to know over the years; people from all over this country and from countries across the world whom I would never otherwise have met and catching up on their writing news. Although Writers’ Holiday has become smaller its atmosphere has changed to a more tightly knit group, many of us keeping in touch on social media throughout the year.

It’s not cheap at around £500 but competitive with other themed holidays and it’s great value; a grand old hotel, full board in midsummer, stunning views, lovely food, great company, time to conenctrate on your own writing, maybe try a new genre and lot s of networking with  other writers, (mostly done in the bar of course). Anne and Gerry Hobbs have been running Writers’ Holiday for many years so they know what to provide and how to make newbies feel at home.

our balcony room with lovey sea view

our balcony room with lovey sea view

As soon as I was driving home last week, I was thinking about coming back next year. Luckily I’ve been asked to run a course again (The Serendipitous Writer)  and I’m planning lots of writing fun and games for it. Meanwhile I’ve lots of lovely  memories to keep me going till I return. Maybe I will see you there?


Moon over Fishguard bay

Moon over Fishguard bay

Writing retreats and holidays

Ok, so I’ve been silent for a while, that’s because I’ve been away, first on a self imposed retreat, then for a couple of weeks’ holiday. Holiday? Do other writers do what I do, lug their latest creation with all the associated research notes and work on it at any spare moments to be crammed in between the exciting world of hotel living and sightseeing trips? And as for my retreat, I was so looking forward to this, days of empty space to just write without cooking or any of the usual housekeeping stuff. What actually happened was that I realised there are limits to the period of time I can write for. I’m no Beryl Bainbridge, locking myself up and living in pyjamas and pot noodles for months. No, two hours and I’m brain dead, have to go and do something else, preferably something practical. It was really good to find this out, because I was then able to construct a programme of working, two hours after breakfast, then a walk or trip to shops then a couple of hours editing before supper, then two more hours writing before finishing off with a book or TV. It worked really well and I still got a lot more done than the two hours a day that are my usual limit four or five days a week at home. My ‘retreat’, just a five day break at a cheap hotel in Blackpool, cost me just £100 as against ‘proper’ writing retreats that usually cost upwards of £500. I’ve been on writing holidays and to writing conferences but I’ve never really gone on an organised writing retreat. I’d be interested to hear if other writers have done so and whether they are good value. I can see the value for unpublished writers but are they worth the money for writers who already are published and can you really get peace to write? I thought of applying for a Hawthornden retreat but it’s for a whole month and I think my little experiment in Blackpool has taught me that that kind of retreat is just too much for me. Anyway, now I’m back home and so far knuckling down to the writing quite well. Done a lot of editing and revising and now broken the back of the halfway mark.