The Essential Guide to the Festival of Writing 2013

If, like me, you are passionate about writing, there is a good chance that you will be counting down the days until you’re at the Festival of Writing 2013 in York which starts THIS FRIDAY!!

Yes – I am excited.

I’m excited because I went last year and by the time I came back my head was buzzing with information overload and new tools to add to my writing repertoire. I made new friends, learned about NanoWriMo and also found out within the first half hour of Debi Alper’s Self Editing mini course that in my first draft was pants. But that’s another story….

Anyhow, if you are going to #FOW13 for the first time, here are my handy hints. If you read between the lines you’ll realise this is the list of mistakes I made last year…

1. Don’t bother printing out several copies of your manuscript in case some hot shot agent is there begging you to hand it over. The chances are that what you will learn this weekend will tell you that there is still some work to be done.

2. Nurofen or Anadin or whatever. You will be concentrating hard; this may give you a headache. You’ll also be caning it in the bar on Saturday night and lessons – I mean sessions start early on Sunday. You have been warned.

3. Take plenty of spending money. I didn’t realise last year that there would be a bookshop to buy the books of authors who appear on the schedule. Last year I bought Jubilee by Shelley Harris and The Last Letter from your Lover by Jojo Moyes. I got them both signed and they are lovely momentos of the weekend.

4. Arrive in time for the Gala Dinner. Ahem. The schedule said 7 for 7.30. I assumed (incorrectly) that no one would start sitting down until 7.30. It took me ages to get ready as I was drying my hair and there was no mirror in my room and I kept having to nip into the bathroom to see what I was doing to it. I arrived at 7.25 to find that everyone was seated, most tables were full, I couldn’t find anyone I knew and I’d missed the chance to have a drink and a chat with everyone. On Saturday, I’ll be at the bar by 7. If I’m still there at midnight, please send me to bed and remind me to drink a glass of water.

5. Take warm pyjamas. Or a blanket. I might have been unlucky but my room was cold. My slinky nightdress (sorry TMI?) did nothing to keep me warm and I ended up huddling under my bath towel.

Finally, have fun, talk to anyone and everyone, don’t be afraid to ask questions and if you can’t find anyone to talk to tweet me @CathyBramley and we’ll meet up for tea and biscuits or a glass of wine…
By Cathy Bramley

Cathy is the author of the best-selling romantic comedies Ivy Lane, Appleby farm, The Lemon Tree Cafe and A Vintage Summer. She lives in a Nottinghamshire village with her family and Pearl, the Cockerpoo. Her recent career as a full-time writer of light-hearted romantic fiction has come as somewhat of a lovely surprise after spending eighteen years running her own marketing agency. However, she has always been an avid reader, hiding her book under the duvet and reading by torchlight. Now she thinks she may have found her dream job.

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