A Scattering of Authors

          I haven't posted a blog for a couple of weeks.

          Blame the summer.
          You have to rush out and soak up the sun when you can in Britain, so for part of that two weeks, I was away in Devon.
          Last week, I was in Oxfordshire for the 2013 Scattered Authors Society Conference.
          This has been held annually for over ten years now, in a beautiful medieval manor house, in a small English village.
   Scattered Authors from all over Britain gather there, from Monday to Thursday.
          It's a gab-fest, a chance to catch up with friends, an opportunity to learn new workshop techniques to take into school sessions, to pick the brains of other authors about editors and publishers, to drink Pimms in a sunny garden while swallows and swifts dive and soar - and, above all, to talk about writing with other people who really understand what you're talking about and why you love it.
               The gathered authors - nearly thirty of them - ate in the stone-floored undercroft. The food is excellent; the talk almost non-stop.

We met mostly in the lovely solar, with its great chimney-breast, its wooden beams and stone-framed windows. A small private chapel opens off it. Every session begins with a five minute read, where one of the writers reads aloud, usually from a book they're writing. Celia Rees says that every book she's read from at Charney has won a contract!
          Celia, Mary Hoffman and Penny Dolan combined their experience of travelling abroad as writers to give us some tips. Anticipate disaster! - that's their advice. And if it's for work, claim expenses against tax. The discussion afterwards brought up more experiences, and advice.

          Jenny Alexander gave us a wonderful workshop session, using the greater arcana from the tarot cards. She pointed out that these intriguing distillations of dream images can be used for meditation and to inspire stories and poems. Jenny is always inspirational.
          Katherine Roberts led a session bringing us up to date on e-publishing and her adventures in it. I chipped in where I could, with my own experience. Kath provided lots of advice, and emailed us all a list of the sites she'd mentioned, with links.
          Dianne Hofmeyr led a very enjoyable drawing workshop - but Di's triumph was the performance she gave of her book, The Bojabi Tree. She sang, she danced, she acted, and it was a joy - though Julia Jarman almost stole the show with an impromptu and funny impersonation of a tortoise.
          But, as ever, the most vital thing about the Scattered Authors Conference was being there, talking and laughing - there is always almost non-stop laughter at Charney.
          Here's one last toast to all the Scattered Authors - success!