The annual conference of the Scottish Association of Writers was held 18-20 March, at the Westerwood Hotel, near Cumbernauld, a place that may not strike you as the most glamorous destination for the weekend but the hotel is out of the town in a hollow surrounded by hills and it was hard to believe that the M8 (I think – road numbers not my strong point) was only a few hundred yards away. The food was scrumptious and the young staff efficient and friendly.
‘But what about the “Writers” bit?” I hear you cry. “You didn’t go there just to scoff apple crumble tart with vanilla custard, did you?”
No, but that crisply pastried, lightly cinammoned confection was certainly a bonus. Yum.
Ten members of Edinburgh Writers Club including our Honorary President Alanna Knight attended, got nine places in the competitions and won the quiz on Friday night.
I had been asked to judge the Women’s Short Story Competition. The thirty-eight entries were wide-ranging in their topics – abseiling, dancing bears, suffragettes, selkies, a yellow car, DNA tests, Christmas angels, the bedroom tax and the Bell Rock Lighthouse to name but a few.
The winning story was full of excellent fishy puns while still being a very touching story. Magazine editors (and competition judges) always say they don’t see enough humorous stories so I do hope Chipping Away will be submitted and accepted and in print before long.
On Saturday afternoon I gave a workshop on structuring a story for women’s magazines (if this is something you are interested in there are a few spaces left in The People’s Friend story-writing workshop in Dundee 29 March:
There was a bookstall and I took along some copies of of my recently published story collection ... may have mentioned it before ...
I attended two excellent workshops myself – one by crime writer Caro Ramsay called From Pen to Publisher and Beyond, and Putting the Fiction into Face and the Fact into Fiction by journalist/non-fiction writer turned crime novelist Douglas Skelton. If you get the chance to hear those writers talking about anything I recommend you take it. And read their books of course ...
The crime theme continued on Monday night back home when Russel MacLean came to talk to Edinburgh Writers’ Club and to adjudicate our crime-writing competition. His enthusiasm for and knowledge of the genre was brilliant and we came away with writing tips (he uses a five-act structure) as well as a list of other crime writers to look out for.
And on Tuesday … more crime. The launch in Blackwell’s of Michael J Malone’s book Bad Samaritan (isn’t that a great title?). An advance review said the book ‘Hits you like an express train.’ I look forward to being hit.