Tag Archive | Winchester Writers’ Conference

The Fatal Step

This  is the working title of my new novel and so far I am about half way through the first draft. Some how the summer has not been conducive to writing – who wants to be stuck in front of a computer when the sun is shining outside. I think too, I am rather daunted by the task I have set myself. I didn’t think about it with Crucial Evidence. I’d started that as part of my dissertation for my MA and I just kept going until  I’d finished. Then I drafted and redrafted without thinking, each time telling myself that this time it would work and when I sent it to agents someone would love. They didn’t and I began to realize that it wasn’t my writing that was the real problem but the type of book I wanted to write. Also talking to agents at places like Winchester Writers’ Conference and at The London Book Fair I knew any publisher would want a series of novels and I didn’t want to be tied to writing a book a year. In the end I decided to publish  the book myself. In the process I’ve learnt at lot about writing and publishing, but that makes the mountain I have to climb much higher and harder than the first.  I know how long it takes and how difficult it can be.Old Bailey

But you have to begin somewhere so this is the first page of my second novel. It follows the career of barrister Cassie Hardman as she gets her first leading brief in a murder case.

As Cassie hurried along the driveway from Snaresbrook Crown Court towards the tube station, she turned on her mobile phone. Amongst the emails from fashion houses, department stores and restaurants, there was a message showing the subject matter as Paul Sadler. He had been the defendant in a rape trial, who she had successfully defended at the Old Bailey the week before last. She didn’t recognise the name of the sender, Malcolm Delaney. Normally she was very careful about opening emails from unknown people but it was from someone who knew about her involvement in the Sadler case. She clicked the message open and read, ‘Miss Hardman, I wanted to congratulate you on your representation of Mr Sadler. Your cross examination was very effective and your closing remarks were obviously persuasive. Clearly they carried the jury along, as you know from the verdict. I would like the opportunity of congratulating you in person, and would like to invite you to have lunch or dinner with me. We can arrange a time and place later. I look forward to hearing from you. Malcolm’

The email gave no clue as to how Malcolm Delaney, knew she had represented Paul Sadler or what Delaney’s connection to the case was. Was he a police officer, a member of the court staff or just a spectator from the public gallery? She knew there were a number who came regularly to watch the proceedings at the Bailey; the staff  described them as ‘groupies’ and she had been told by one of the ushers that some of them would ask which barristers were appearing in which court and make a point of watching their favourites’ cases. The wording of the message was a little old fashioned so perhaps it was one of them. The thought that one of the men from the gallery wanted to invite her to dinner amused her, but nothing more. 

Back in Chambers, the senior clerk, Jack, summoned her into his room and closed the door behind her. On his desk were four lever arch files, tied with pink tape, the front sheet bore the title R v David Winston Montgomery. Jack beamed at her. ‘I’ve managed to get you a leading brief in a murder at the Bailey. I assume you’ll want to apply for silk in a couple of years. This is a good one; you’re ready for it, even though it’s a murder. None of the silks want this. Scared they’ll get tarred with a racist brush, I dare say. A woman won’t of course. Judge Crabtree is in a bit of a panic thinking the defendant might want to represent himself. I said, to Colin in the list office, my Miss Hardman can handle it. Spoke to Tim. Didn’t take long to persuade him you could do it. So there you are a leading brief in a murder.’

Any comments to make about that so important first page.

 

 

 

Power to Authors

This was my second year on a row at the Winchester Writers’ Conference, and what fun it was? A course on writing conflict in your novel, by Adrienne Dines and a course on Social Media Marketing for Authors by Eden Sharp. (www.wordshaker.co.uk should find her)

English: Amazon Kindle e-book reader being hel...

English: Amazon Kindle e-book reader being held by my girlfriend. The color and scale of the device are accurate. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Both interesting but I think I learnt most from the Marketing course. The message I took away from that was, I need to get on Twitter. That’s going to be a big step as every time I’ve looked at Twitter I find my self totally confused by the site. But I have added it to my do to list.

Although a few of the direct publishing companies have had a presence at the Conference in the past, this year Amazon had a tabletop. They were doing presentations on how to publish for Kindle and on CreateSpace. They were so popular that the venue was moved from the rather cramped conditions in the Book Fair into the large lecture theatre. Which takes me to the theme of this post.

To explain – one of the attractions at the conference are the One to One’s. This opportunity to place your work in front of authors, agents and publishing representatives is an important use of the writer’s time. Because I have decided to publish my book directly I only went to see two agents and the rest were publishing experts. There was a difference in the approach between the agents and the others. The agents were very critical of my novel. One of them was rather infantile in her approach, demonstrated by her failing to realise that a barrister needs time to qualify and therefore the date she left home might be different from the date she began to work. The two publishing consultants, one the editor of the Writers and Authors Year Book, were complimentary about my writing and suggested ways of improving my synopsis and pitch letter. Which led me to think that agents who have acted as the gatekeepers for the publishing industry, and were the power brokers, need to realise that they have to offer something to the writer or she will publish their work directly to the reader. And that’s goodbye to their 15%.