Writing Tip Number Five

Here is my Writing Tip Number Five. Also my current reads and my take on CrimeFest19, the international crime fiction festival held in Bristol.

Writing Tip Number Five is:

NETWORK

Make contact with other writers to share ideas and gain encouragement and inspiration. It’s also rewarding to get to know book bloggers and readers to find out what excites them in books. Bloggers are often the first to hear about new titles and are a great source of recommendations. I’ve written more about bloggers in previous posts. I recommend following a few bloggers on Twitter and joining online writers’ groups. I’m a member of Book Connectors on Facebook, a group for bloggers, writers and others interested in the book world.

CrimeFest

But networking works best when we meet like-minded people face-to-face. Preparing this blog on Writing Tip Number Five coincided with my trip to CrimeFest in Bristol so this is the perfect opportunity to describe how such a networking event can work.

It was my first visit to a literary festival and I was there for three of the four days to hear about all things crime fiction related.

I’d estimate there were over 400 delegates – a mix of crime fiction fans, authors, publishers, bloggers and journalists from all over the world. At least 150 of the delegates were authors who appeared on panels.

And what an impressive range of panels it was. Lasting 50 minutes and keeping strictly to time, each panel comprised five authors discussing a specific theme such as: unreliable narrators; international police procedurals; debut novels. One of the authors always took on the tricky role of moderator and they must be congratulated for their hard work and preparation.

With at least two panels on at any one time, there was always something of interest to choose. We also had the opportunity to watch a preview of a new episode of the TV series Agatha Raisin. The creative team and the two lead actors later attended for an informative and lively interview session.

So what did I get out of CrimeFest?

  • The chance to meet authors whose books I’ve enjoyed. For example, James Delargy, author of the recent hit novel 55, and Chris Curran, a fellow Killer Reads author who writes great psychological thrillers. Chris and Anja de Jager (author of the Lotte Meerman mysteries) kept me company in the bar after the panels had finished and invited me to join them for dinner. It was great to see their friendly faces each evening. It was also nice to meet blogger Karen Cole after months of chatting on Twitter.
  • New reading recommendations. I listened to talks by many writers I hadn’t heard of and came away with a long list of books I’m going to read. I’ve made a start with:

After I listened to a talk by Sarah, I knew I had to read one of her books. She served for 35 years in the Metropolitan Police, retired two years ago and now writes gritty, authentic police procedurals.

This police series set in the Scilly Isles has been on my radar for a while. After I met the author, it shot to the top of my reading list.

  • Inspiration. I gained many tips from a wide variety of authors. Probably the panel that sticks most in my mind is the last one I attended. Successful authors discussed writing their first drafts and their writing day. It was both refreshing and reassuring to hear that the likes of Robert Thorogood, Linda Stratmann, Simon Brett, Sarah Ward and Mick Herron approach writing with the same concerns as I do.
  • Free books. I came away with lots of free books thanks to the organisers and sponsors. And when my team won the crime fiction quiz, I got even more. The picture at the head of this blog shows us with our “evidence bags” of prizes. The team comprised: fellow writers Loarn Paterson, Fiona Erskine, and Linda Duncan McLaughlin; CrimeFest veteran Una; crime fiction readers (and experts) Ann and Bill; and my husband Nigel. By his own admission, Nigel isn’t a crime fiction aficionado, but he knows his James Bond. His insight into the setting of Doctor No insured that we won by one point.

My thanks go to the organisers for their hard work in putting on this successful and varied programme.

If my Writing Tip Number Five has got you interested in networking at festivals, click here for a list of forthcoming events.

By Rachel Sargeant

Rachel Sargeant is the crime fiction author of The Roommates, The Good Teacher, The Perfect Neighbours and Gallipoli: Year of Love and Duty. The Perfect Neighbours is a Kindle Top Ten bestseller and has sold over 100,000 copies. Rachel won Writing Magazine’s Crime Short Story competition and has been shortlisted in various competitions including the Bristol Short Story Prize. She was born in Lincolnshire and is a graduate of Aberystwyth University. She now lives in Gloucestershire with her husband and children.

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