Tag Archives: BeaconLit

BeaconLit Writing festival 2014

Yesterday saw the second BeaconLit writing festival in Ivinghoe, Buckinghamshire. The inaugural event last year only consisted of an afternoon but this year the programme was extended to a full day.

The morning programme gave us options ranging from Dave Sivers’ experiences of self-publishing, Creative writing sessions, Crime novelist Alison Bruce giving tips of interesting ways to kill your characters, and Mardibooks founders Martin Godleman and Belinda Hunt talking about publishing pitfalls. 

The afternoon had three sessions – a Young Adult discussion panel with authors Hilary Freeman, Teri Terry and Caroline Green, a talk by Catherine Jones and Mandy Kirkby about the non-fiction book ‘Love Letters of the Great War’, and finally the Crime panel with Stephen Booth, Anya Lipska and Jane Isaac.

What I liked about the panels was the fact that each and every guest had something valid and interesting to say. The YA panel brought a level of depth and credibility to what many see as an ‘easy’ genre (which I know for a fact is not the case), the Great War letters panel brought us all down to earth by the sadness and beauty of the letters, and the Crime panel – despite its gory theme – brought a high amount of humour, as well as interesting viewpoints between hero and villain.

Increasing the programme to a full day was a big step for the festival committee to deal with and I think they did a fantastic job in organisation. The atmosphere was good-natured yet professional, and at no point did I feel the delegates were being harried or jostled to meet a time deadline. All of the guest authors were exceptionally friendly and approachable, as were the other delegates I managed to speak with. A mention should also be given to the ladies who staffed the front door and the refreshments stand, who all did a great job (and with smile). There were a couple of issues which I know Dave Sivers felt as though could have gone better but they were elements beyond his, or the rest of the committee’s control, and didn’t spoil an otherwise enjoyable day.

As a side note – part of the day’s activities was a flash fiction story competition, open to all delegates – max 150 words with ‘beacon’ as a theme. I was very happy, and surprised, to be announced as the winner. Here’s my story:

 

The Longest of Nights

 They said if I lit the Beacon then help would arrive. They said men would gather and drive the invaders from our lands. They were wrong.

          The Sais chose their moment well. They’d harried our borders for months – killing the menfolk, stealing their cattle, taking their women and children as slaves. Bishop Iestyn said it was punishment because many of us still followed the old ways and hadn’t taken his murdered God to our hearts.

          Perhaps.

          Some think the dead only walk our paths during Samhain but on this, the longest of nights, the veil between worlds is at its thinnest so we light fires for our ancestors, to guide their shadow bodies to our doors. Together we celebrate the solstice and tomorrow’s rebirth of the sun to our land.

          Yes, the Sais chose their moment well – for who would notice one Beacon when the whole land was on fire?

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New writing festival in Bucks

I’ve just got back from the small Buckinghamshire village of Ivinghoe and the first BeaconLit festival of books and writing. It’s been a long time in the planning but with the sterling work of the festival committee, volunteers and sponsors the day went ahead without any issues – pelting rain and high-winds notwithstanding, but then again this is the British summertime.

The day consisted of two discussion panels – Murder and Mayhem, and Pain and Passion, along with author tables and practical sessions between panels. The Murder and Mayhem panel consisted of authors S. J. Bolton, Alison Bruce and Elena Forbes and was geared around “the dark world of crime and thrillers”, and the Pain and Passion panel had Kate Lace, Carole Matthews and Sue Moorcroft and geared around “the tearful truth about romantic fiction”. Both sessions were moderated by local author, and event co-organiser, Dave Sivers.

Although this was the inaugural event the organisation was pretty good and, despite the best efforts of the weather, went ahead without any outward signs of hitches. The huge marquee – as loaned by Ivinghoe Entertainments – was more than large enough and allowed the event to go ahead. There was plenty of room to move around between author tables without being cramped and provided a light and airy atmosphere.

One of the most interesting tables was the small publisher Mardibooks, which helps authors get their work into print. Their approach was friendly without being pushy and Belinda (one of the two co-creators of Mardibooks, who I spoke with) came across as very genuine and without any hidden ‘agenda’ like some small publishing outfits. If you’re a writer who would like to get published then they are well worth looking at as an option.

Overall, despite me being one of the handful of men attending, it was a really pleasant event and one which the organisers hope to expand in the years to come.

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