At the time of writing my annual crime writing masterclasses are just over a month away. For me it’s a time of great excitement. Not only do I get to see the friends I’ve made over the previous years’ courses, I also get to learn from some top notch authors.
This year Crime and Publishment takes place from the 26th to the 28th of February at its usual home of The Mill Forge near Gretna Green. I’m the manager here so talking murder and crime all weekend makes a wonderful change from discussing weddings.
From its inception in 2012, Crime and Publishment has grown far beyond my wildest dreams and I can now boast that previous attendees have signed five separate publishing contracts, two of these attendees have also signed with top name literary agents and even one of our speakers (RC Bridgestock) met and signed up with an agent due to being at Crime and Publishment. Never once did I dare imagine my wee pet project would become so successful in such a short space of time.
When I first set down to create Crime and Publishment, I was determined that it MUST be three things,
· Affordable as there are so many courses which sound great but are prohibitively expensive
· Educational because it has to be deemed worthwhile by the people who part with their hard-earned to come along
· Opportunistic for those who attend. Many writers never get to meet an agent or publisher and when they do, they don’t know what to do. I was (and still am) determined that anyone who attends Crime and Publishment will leave better equipped to grab any opportunity which comes their way, as well putting a gilt-edged opportunity in front of them.
Last year we saw the publication of my own debut novel and a short story collection which introduced the police team featuring in Snatched from Homeand Mike Craven’s debut Born in a Burial Gown and a short story collection which introduced his police team. (I’m not sure where he got the idea for the short story collection from)
2016 alone will see the publication of four more books plus hopefully a novella and there’s still plenty of time for other submissions to be accepted.
For the record they are
· Night is Watching by Lucy Cameron
· Raise the Blade by Tess Makovesky
· I Know your Secret by Graham Smith
· The Major Crimes Team Vol 2: Matching the Evidence (Still under final edits before submission, but both I and the publisher are confident)
· Amit Dhand’s as yet untitled debut.
As the organiser of Crime and Publishment, I cannot express how proud of the hard work and talent of the gang as a whole. Not only are they all busy individuals they each make time to support and help each other out with discussing plot threads, beta reading and most of all, by being a friend who gets how frustrating wonderful the life of a writer can be.
I’m now at the point where I’m putting together the final touches to the two sessions I’ll be taking, while also liaising with the speakers as to their requirements and taking bookings from writers who are looking to improve their skill set.
This year the programme is packed with great speakers sharing their knowledge and I’ll be pitching in to cover some different aspects of the skills writers need to succeed in what is an ever more crowded arena.
For those interested the full programme can be found on our websitewww.crimeandpublishment.co.uk but here it is in brief
· Writing your Fights Right – Taken by Matt Hilton a thriller author and 4th Dan at Kempo Ju-Jitsu
· Structuring your Story – Former Hollywood screenwriter Alexandra Sokoloffexplains the three act / eight scene structure
· Back to Basics – Renowned mentor Michael J. Malone shows how to avoid common pitfalls many aspiring authors fall into
· Networking for Authors – I show a few simple tips and techniques in a short session on networking and how to network efficiently
· Preparing your Pitch – Sara Hunt from Saraband Publishing leads a session on making the perfect pitch.
· Pitch Session – Sarah Hunt listens to attendees pitches in a series of private 1-2-1 sessions. Those who make a successful pitch may be our next success story
· 1-2-1 Surgeries – All of our speakers will make themselves available for private consultation to help with plot holes, characterisation or anything else you need help with
· Nurturing your Characters – Michael Malone and I will explain what makes some of the most iconic crime characters so loveable and how to infuse this into your writing (optional extra @ £25)
For me and a lot of the attendees who come, the weekend is about far more than just sitting listening to the speakers and making notes. It’s about reconnecting friendships and forging new ones. It’s about sharing experiences, tips, techniques and talking about ideas, books and a hundred other things with a bunch of people who share your enthusiasm.
Newcomers to the group are made welcome and I personally try to make sure everyone is included in discussions. Attendees are split into two groups with even numbers of old and new faces in each.
For the first time ever, I’ve even started planning next year’s event before this year’s has taken place. While I’m still lining my ducks up, I can’t say too much, but I can say that I’m confident that those I’m speaking with will help the continual rise and improvement of Crime and Publishment.
I don’t have a lot much more to say other than thanks to the mercurial Paul D. Brazill for inviting me along and, if you’re serious about improving your writing and would like to attend Crime and Publishment, you can contact me at Crime(@)themill.co.uk (obviously you’ll need to cut the brackets off the “@” for the email address to work, I just don’t want spammed with Viagra substitutes)