For the second year the conference was held on the De Havilland campus at the University of Hertfordshire. Delegates arrived from 9:00 and left at 18:00 exhausted, but buzzing!
A murmur of excitement began to build as the Atrium filled with delegates, who gratefully sipped a warming cup of coffee to kick start the day before heading into the auditorium for the official welcome and opening address. This was immediately followed by a talk and Q & A session ‘How to Impress Us’ led by John Jarrold, Robert Dudley and Matt Bates. This was an excellent opportunity to ask those questions you’ve always wanted to ask and the delegates did just that, keeping the agents and buyers on their toes.
After another break for refreshments, delegates went off to their selected hour long workshops /talks. Afterward they headed back to the main auditorium for another Talk and Q & A session ‘Beyond the Revolution’ led by Simon Taylor, Marlene Johnson and Gillian Green, who made up our wonderful publishers panel. Once again this was a vibrant session questions came thick and fast - the answers giving us a peek inside the world of the publishing house.
During lunch - a delicious buffet selection there was an opportunity to socialise with the agents, editors, authors and buyers. Also at this time there was a chance to purchase books from Waterstones who joined us for the day and have the books signed by the authors in attendance.
The Archangel and the White Hart, the new anthology from the VWC edited by Jon Pinnock, was also on sale, many of these were sold on the day, but copies can still be purchased – go to VWC website for details.
Two o’clock had delegates back in the main auditorium for the presentation of the ‘Get Writing’ Cup by Sue Cook to Geoff Guiver for his short story – Muse. This was followed by ‘From Fact to Film and Fiction’ a talk and Q & A session with Sue Cook. Once again this was a lively and animated forty-five minutes.
Then came the scary bit! Pitching to agents or editors. There were two opportunities here: the three minute pitch: John Jarrold, Scott Pack, Robert Dudley, Lyn Vernham and Jane Holland or the five minute ‘super’ pitch: Marlene Johnson, Simon Taylor, Gillian Green and Jonathan Pegg. For this the delegates were gathered, herded and put under starter’s orders. The timer was set, the go was given and the rest was up to the delegate to get the most out of their pitch as they could. Pitching is an art which has to be learnt. It isn’t easy but it can be the moment the bud of your idea begins to bloom. This is only one step in the process of getting published, but one everyone should experience at least once.
Whilst the pitching was going on upstairs those not pitching were engaged in ‘The Hooker’s Story’: keeping readers reading. This talk and Q & A session was run by the wonderful Sarah Duncan. A fantastic session on the skills needed to stop the reader closing the book.
Beautifully ice cold juice was served to quench the thirst of those delegates who were beginning to flag. It did the trick just in time for the next two talks and Q & A sessions. The first was led by Scott Pack, Raymond Tallis and Ian Skillicorn titled 'With the Innovators’ this session took us into the future of the book now we have e-readers like iPads and Kindles. This was an interesting session that inspired and encouraged writers not to be afraid of this technology but to cherish the opportunity to be part of the way forward.
This was followed by the last Q & A with: Lyn Vernham, Sue Moorcroft, Christina Courtenay and Matt Bates. You may have thought by this time that delegates would be exhausted, but no, this wasn’t the case. The questions rained down and the answers were informed and full of passion which encouraged further questions. The closing address was given by Ian Cundell the Chairman of Verulam Writers’ Circle.
The whole event covered by Radio Verulam and will be aired on Thursday 24th February at 5:30 by the wonderful Danny and Elizabeth
If you didn’t have the opportunity to attend the conference this year, make sure you don’t miss it next year, it promises to be another fantastic event.