13 May 2018
GLOBAL BESTSELLER JOINS OUR CRIME PANEL
We are sad to report that Stephanie Marland, has had to withdraw from BeaconLit 2018. Stephanie also writes as Steph Broadribb, and Steph is up for the 'Best First Novel' award at Thrillerfest in New York the same weekend. We're absolutely thrilled for her and wish her the very best of luck.
The good news is we are delighted to say we've managed to replace an award nominee with a global #1 bestseller on our 'Trust Me - I'm a Crime Writer' panel. Louise Jensen is a Global No.1 Bestselling author of psychological thrillers The Sister, The Gift and The Surrogate.
To date Louise has sold approaching a million books and her novels have been sold for translation to nineteen territories, as well as being featured on the USA Today and Wall Street Journal Bestseller’s List. Louise was nominated for the Goodreads Debut Author of 2016 Award. Louise's fourth novel, The Date, will be published on 21st June. Louise lives with her husband, children, madcap dog and a rather naughty cat in Northamptonshire. She loves to hear from readers and writers and she regularly blogs flash fiction and writing tips.
Louise completes a stunning lineup of literary talent - have you got your tickets yet?
21 February 2018
BeaconLit 2018 will take place in Brookmead School, Ivinghoe. on Saturday July 14 - and we are thrilled to announce that our stellar lineup will include two of the biggest names in British fiction - crime fiction giant Mark Billingham and the queen of romantic comedy, Carole Matthews.
Mark Billingham was born and brought up in Birmingham and began his career as an actor, before branching out into stand-up comedy and going on to present widely on TV and radio. his first crime novel was published in 2001. Sleepyhead was an instant bestseller and was later singled out by The Times as one of the novels that had shaped the decade. It has since sold over 650,000 copies. Since then, each of Mark’s novels has been a Sunday Times Top Ten bestseller. His sales total more than 4.5 million copies to date, and his books are published in over 25 countries. The series featuring London-based detective Tom Thorne includes Lazybones and Death Message, which both won the Theakstons Old Peculier Award for Crime Novel Of The Year. Mark’s latest novel, The Killing Habit will be published in June 2018. An acclaimed television series based on the Thorne novels was screened on Sky One in Autumn 2010, starring David Morrissey as Tom Thorne. A major six-part series, based on the standalone thriller In The Dark, was screened on BBC1 in 2017. Mark will be in conversation with acclaimed crime writer Martyn Waites.
International bestselling author Carole Matthews is famous for her sense of humour and her romantic comedy novels. Her books have sold over 4.8 million copies worldwide and have been published in more than 31 countries. In 2011, she was inducted into the Festival of Romance Hall of Fame for her outstanding contribution to romance writing. She has published 31 novels and has appeared on the Sunday Times and USA Today bestsellers lists. Her books, Welcome To The Real World and Wrapped up in You have both made the shortlist for the Romantic Novelists' Association Romantic Novel of the Year Award. Her latest book is Million Love Songs.
Other names confirmed include: film maker, author and media executive Tony Klinger, whose work includes the 1960s cult classic TV series ‘The Avengers’; hot new authors Vicky Newham and Lydia Syson ; BBC reporter Adina Campbell; author, blogger and creative writing tutor Morgen Bailey; ghostwriter Sue Benwell; and a panel from the Oxford Crime Writers Association featuring Stephanie Marland, Peter Tickler, Sarah Williams and Pitstone author Dave Sivers.
Details of the full programme will be available soon.
There will be free parking on Ivinghoe Lawn, just a short walk away (disabled parking available at the venue), light refreshments available all day, pre-orderable packed lunches (bring your own picnic if you’d rather),and a goodie bagwith treats and surprises. The bags are ideal to carry your purchases from Chorleywood Books, which the authors will be delighted to sign for you, and there will be opportunities throughout the day to win books and other goodies.
The organisers have again managed to hold prices at 2016 levels, and full day passes will be available in March at the Early Bird price of £19.50, but you’ll need to be quick – the offer will be time limited, and the price will then rise to £25 – still a bargain. Separate morning and afternoon tickets will go on sale nearer the time.
You won't want to miss this fabulous feast of a festival. So save the date and watch this space for further news!
15 July 2017
2017 OUR MOST SUCCESSFUL FESTIVAL YET - NOW ROLL ON BEACONLIT 2018!
So BeaconLit is over for another year, and the feedback from the audience on the day, from the fabulous authors, writers, publishers and broadcasters who took part, and on social media, we're continuing to get bigger and better.
The 'small literary festival with big ambitions', launched as a half-day event in a marquee on Ivinghoe Lawn in 2013 has firmly staked its place on the festival map, with its friendly, intimate 'village' atmosphere and its eclectic, high-quality full day lineups.
If you missed our 2017 festival or are bereft that it's over, save the date for Festival 2018 now:
SATURDAY 14 JULY
BROOKMEAD SCHOOL, IVINGHOE, BUCKS, UK
Keep watching this space, or subscribe to our mailing list for up to the minute news of who's taking part.
26 June 2017
LESS THAN TWO WEEKS TO BEACONLIT 2017 - AND YOU COULD WIN A FULL DAY PASS ABSOLUTELY FREE!
With our 2017 festival less than a fortnight away, we're keen to make sure all book lovers have the chance to come and enjoy our brilliant programme. So, to be sure everyone knows, we're asking you to share the details with all your friends on Twitter.
Just go to our Twitter page - @BeaconLit1 - and retweet today's tweet offering entry to a free draw for a full day pass.
We'll put the names of everyone who retweets us up to noon on Tuesday 27 June 2017 in a hat and draw one winner at random. Only one free pass is available, and our decision is final. The prize is a day pass for BeaconLit 2017 on Saturday 8 July at Brookmead School, Ivinghoe, Bucks UK. No alternative prize can be offered and you have to be willing and able to come on that day. The prize doesn't include travel expenses or refreshments of any kind.
Even if you don't win, the day pass is exeptional value for a great literary day out. We hope to see you there.
24 May 2017
PLENTY FOR CRIME FICTION FANS TO ENJOY
45 DAYS TO BEACONLIT 2017. ONE WEEK TO GO ON OUR EARLYBIRD OFFER.
There's lots for Crime Fiction fans at BeaconLit 2017, with acclaimed debut thriller writer Steph Broadribb, million-selling Indie sensation Adam Croft, actor turned thriller writer Hugh Fraser and Archer and Baines creator Dave Sivers.
Steph Broadribb's Deep Down Dead is the first of her Lori Anderson bounty hunter series and is a thrill ride across six states in the USA.
Bestseller Adam Croft is one of the most successful Indie authors in the world. In February 2017, his thriller Only The Truth became a worldwide bestseller, reaching storewide number 1 at both Amazon US and Amazon UK, making it the bestselling book in the world at that moment in time. The same day, Amazon’s overall Author Rankings placed Adam as the mostly widely read author in the world, with J.K. Rowling in second place.
Hugh Fraser's series featuring professional assassin Rina Walker is as far from the cosy world of Agatha Christie's 'Poirot', in which he played Captain Hastings, as you can imagine.
Indie author Dave Sivers is the creator of the popular Archer and Baines detective series set in Buckinghamshire's Aylesbury Vale, and is a BeaconLit founder.
Check out our fabulous programme here. Tickets for the day just £19.50 if you buy by 31 May. Don't miss out on a bargain! Get your tickets here.
6 May 2017
AWARD WINNERS AND NOMINEES AMONG STARS AT BEACONLIT 2017
9 WEEKS TO BEACONLIT! 25 DAYS LEFT ON OUR EARLY BIRD OFFER! The clock is ticking on our amazing Early Bird offer of a full day pass for BeaconLit 2017 at the ridiculous price of £19.50. The offer ends on 31 May, and then the price will rise to £25 – still great value to enjoy a day of literary treats, with eight events and fifteen fabulous authors, writers, broadcasters and other special guests from the world of books and writing.
This article spotlights the many participants who have won or been shortlisted for prizes and awards.
Our ‘What’s in a Genre?’ panel features a galaxy of winners and nominees. Christina Jones (below) has won several awards for her writing: Going the Distance was a WH Smith Fresh Talent Winner; Nothing to Lose was shortlisted and runner-up for the Thumping Good Read Award with film and television rights sold; Heaven Sent was shortlisted in The Melissa Nathan Comedy Romance Awards and won a Category Award; Love Potions won the Pure Passion Award; The Way to a Woman’s Heart was short-listed for the Rom-Com of the Year; and An Enormously English Monsoon Wedding won The Reviewer’s Choice Award.
Rowan Coleman has also won and been shortlisted for a number of awards: in the Romantic Novelists Association (RNA)’s Epic Category, which deals with issues or themes including multi-generational novels, she triumphed withDearest Rose in 2013. Jean Fullerton won the RNA’s 2006 Harry Bowling Prize for her novel No Cure for Love. And Hywela Lyn’s Beloved Enemy, the third of a Science Fiction Romance Trilogy (The Destiny Trilogy) was shortlisted for the RNA's Paranormal or Speculative Romance Novel Award 2017.
Crime writer Dave Sivers has won several prizes for his short fiction, and publisher Karen Sullivan was a was a Bookseller Rising Star for 2016 at the IPG Awards, where her Orenda imprint was shortlisted for the Nick Robinson Newcomer Award.
With the best of this year’s new voices, big names and top sellers, BeaconLit 2017 is an absolute must! Have you got your ticket yet? If not, why not nip over to our e-box office right away?
22 March 2017
BESTSELLING INDIE AUTHOR AND AWARD-WINNING WOMEN JOIN BEACONLIT 2017 PROGRAMME
Million-selling independently published author Adam Croft, whose thrillers are international bestsellers, has joined the fabulous programme for BeaconLit 2017.
The festival committee is also delighted to announce a 'What's in a Genre?' panel with four outstanding and very different women authors - Rowan Coleman, Jean Fullerton, Christina Jones and Hywela Lyn discussing what 'women's fiction' is - since women make up some 80% of all readers - and whether it matters. The full programme will be announced shortly, and watch out for Early Bird tickets about to go on sale.
18 January 2017
'POIROT' STAR AND THRILLER WRITER HUGH FRASER AMONG FIRST NAMES ANNOUNCED FOR BEACONLIT 2017
Hugh Fraser, perhaps best known as 'Captain Hastings' from ITV's 'Agatha Christie's Poirot' series, is also an accomplished thriller writer and is amongst those taking part in BeaconLit 2017, taking place on Saturday 8 July 2017 in Brookmead School, Ivinghoe, Bucks, UK.
Others taking part include: hot new authors to watch Steph Broadribb, Harriet Cummings and Clare Swatman (pictured left to right below); publisher Karen Sullivan, powerhouse ower of award-winning Orenda Books; BBC Oxford presenter and interviewer extraordinaire Adina Campbell; author and uber-blogger Morgen Bailey; and crime writer and BeaconLit founder Dave Sivers.
Plenty more exciting names are in the pipeline, so save the date and watch this space!
15 July 2016
BEACONLIT 2016 ANOTHER SUCCESS
So the dust has settled on the fourth BeaconLit festival, and another full day of literary treats is over. The feedback from delegates and participants alike suggests that it was another highly successful, and much enjoyed, event. You can look back over some pictures from the day here.
What the Bloggers Said:
Beaconlit founder Dave Sivers talks about the challenges and satisfaction of running a literary festival ('Watching a Book Festival Grow') here and New Voices panelist talks about her first festival experience here.
What They Said on Twitter:
Now for Festival 2017!
Planning is already under way for our fifth festival, so watch this space for the date and news of 2017 participants.
29 June 2016
WIN A FULL DAY FESTIVAL PASS
For today only, there's a chance to win a full day pass for BeaconLit 2016 on Twitter. All you need to do is look out for the special tweet with the hashtag #beaconlit2016 and retweet it to your followers by 10pm tonight.
Terms and Conditions:
The contest closes at 10pm (UK time) on Thursday 30 June 2016.
The winner will be selected at random by BeaconLit from retweets of its contest tweet.
The winner will be notified by 12 noon on Friday 1 July 2016.
This contest is open internationally
One prizes is available to one person of a free full day pass to the BeaconLit Festival taking place in Ivinghoe, Bucks on Saturday 2 July.
The prize is redeemable only by the named winner.
BeaconLit’s decision is final.
BeaconLit will have no liability or responsibility to the winner.
The winner agrees to be contacted by BeaconLit to partake in any publicity in relation to this prize draw.
No cash alternative is available; the prize is non-transferable and can be taken only by the winner.
17 May 2016
WRITING THE PAST
Emma Darwin and Liz Harris are both prizewinning novelists who have set books in past times.
Emma’s The Mathematics of Love has its roots in 1839, soon after the Battle of Waterloo and is possibly the only novel nominated for both the Commonwealth Writers’ First Book, and Romantic Novelists Association Novel of the Year awards. Her ‘how to’ book, Get Started in Writing Historical Fiction was published in March.
Liz’s work includes the historical novels The Road Back (US Coffee Time & Romance Book of the Year 2012), A Bargain Struck (shortlisted for the RoNA Best Historical 2013), and the novella, A Western Heart. Her latest historical novel, The Lost Girl, is set in SW Wyoming in the 1870s and 1880s.
You’ll find the pair in conversation at BeaconLit 2016 in what should be a fascinating session entitled ‘Writing Outside the Box’, exploring how historical fiction can escape from readers’ expectations and find new and exciting ways to explore past lives.
04 May 2016
WHERE DUNNIT? CRIME WRITERS ON LOCATION
For many of us, the first thing we think of in a crime story – whether on the printed page or on screen – is ‘whodunnit?’, and whether the good guys will get their man or woman.
For BeaconLit 2016, the theme of the ever-popular crime panel is ‘Location, Location’, and our four authors will talk about why setting is important to them and how they go about creating a sense of place.
Tracy Buchanan’s standalone novels achieve an evocative sense of place wherever they are set, whilst Fergus McNeill goes to some lengths to immerse himself in the atmosphere of his locations, including Bristol, home of his DI Harland novels. Dave Sivers sets his Archer and Baines novels on BeaconLit’s home turf, Aylesbury Vale.
The panel is moderated by Alison Bruce, who has based her successful DC Goodhew series in her home city of Cambridge.
So what do they do to try and make you feel you are there? Come and find out on 2 July!
22 April 2016
SMASH HIT AUTHOR IN CONVERSATION: Chilling, complex and profoundly moving, Amanda Jennings’ acclaimed latest novel, In Her Wake is a gripping psychological thriller that questions the nature of family – and reminds us that sometimes the most shocking crimes are committed closest to home.
‘Hauntingly beautiful.’ Clare Mackintosh
‘Delicately weaves loss and grief with threads of hope in a very human story with a strong heart.’ Sarah Hilary
‘Stunning and unforgettable. Jennings has truly found her voice.’ Pam McIlroy.
‘Captivating and beautifully written, In Her Wake explores a truly devastating and disturbing subject, yet somehow manages to leave the reader with hope. This is a subtle type of psychological thriller, a compelling tale of a shattered family interwoven with a spattering of expertly timed twists and turns. As you might be able to tell: I absolutely loved it.’ SJI Holliday
‘In Her Wake is psychologically chilling … beautifully observed story of a journey of self-discovery … A powerful page-turner from an author who goes from strength to strength.’ Random Things Through my Letterbox
‘In Her Wake is beautifully written, an emotionally stunning story that envelops you in a kind of reading madness, as you follow Bella down the rabbit hole. Distinctive, descriptive and psychologically chilling, this is bound to be one of the standouts of the year.’ Liz Loves Books
BeaconLit is thrilled that Amanda is taking part in our 2016 Festival in an exclusive live interview with Adina Campbell, presenter and reporter for BBC TV Oxford News. A great opportunity to hear from a master storyteller, ask her questions, and get a personally signed copy of the book, this is one more reason not to miss out on our fabulous 2016 lineup.
5 April 2016
HOT DEBUT AUTHORS AT BEACONLIT 2016: Three exciting new talents are amongst the great authors taking part in BeaconLit 2016. Rachel Dove's Mills & Boon book, The Chic Boutique on Baker Street is published on 21 April; Jeannie Waudby's gripping Young Adult nove.l One of Us, was published last year; and The Independent described Angela Clarke's best-selling debut crime novel Follow Me as, ‘a very contemporary nightmare, delivered with panache'. Don't miss the chance to hear from the authors everyone will soon be talking about.
24 March 2016
AWARD-WINNING AUTHORS IN BEACONLIT 2016 LINEUP: Four award-winning authors are amongst the galaxy of writing talent already signed up for this year’s BeaconLit festival of books and writing.
Angela Clarke’s best-selling debut crime novel Follow Me was named Amazon’s Debut of the Month in January 2016, whilst Emma Darwin’s debut, The Mathematics of Love is possibly the only novel nominated for both the Commonwealth Writers’ First Book, and RNA Novel of the Year awards.
Rachel Dove is the winner of the Prima Magazine Flirty Fiction Competition 2015 and Liz Harris is the author of the historical novels The Road Back (US Coffee Time & Romance Book of the Year 2012) and A Bargain Struck (shortlisted for the RoNA Best Historical 2013).
The programme, which will include author panels, live interviews, ‘in conversation’ events and performance poetry, will also feature Morgen Bailey, Alison Bruce, Adina Campbell, Amanda Jennings, Fergus McNeill, Mark Niel, Dave Sivers, Sandra Smith and Jeannie Waudby.
Ticket packages for the festival, which will host six events featuring 15 writers and broadcasters, will be announced soon.
15 February 2016
BEACONLIT 2016 DATE ANNOUNCED: BeaconLit Festival 2016 will take place on Saturday 2 July 2016 in Brookmead School, Ivinghoe, Buckinghamshire, UK. Details of an exciting programme will be announced soon!
6 July 2015
BEACONLIT 2015 ANOTHER SUCCESS: The 2015 festival saw BeaconLit continue to go from strength to strength, with an outstanding lineup of events featuring 13 fine authors. Feedback about the festival's organisation has also been kind and encouraging.
So many thanks to our participants, our volunteers, our committee, our sponsors and associates, and Brookmead School, Ivinghoe, for again giving us use of a superb venue.
Watch this space to see how the next chapters of the BeaconLit story will unfold.
3 May 2015
MEET THE HOT NEW VOICES IN FICTION: A brand new event at this year’s festival is our exciting ‘New Voices’ panel, with three sizzling newcomers to watch.
Young Adult author Eve Ainsworth had competition success with her short stories, most recently in Prima and Writer’s Forum, a short story has published in The Weekly News, and her earlier, as yet unpublished, Young Adult novel, The Art of Kissing Frogs, shortlisted for the Greenhouse Funny Prize (June 2012) before her debut novel, Seven Days, was published in February 2015.
S J I Holliday has several crime and horror short stories published in anthologies and was shortlisted for the inaugural CWA Margery Allingham Prize. Her debut novel, Black Wood, was inspired by a disturbing incident from her childhood.
Jules Wake’s first novel, Talk To Me, was published by Choc Lit in June 2014 and her second novel will be published by Harper Impulse in May 2015.
2 May 2015
ADINA CAMPBELL JOINS FESTIVAL 2015: BeaconLit is delighted to announce that BBC South Today news reporter and presenter Adina Campbell will be appearing at Festival 2015, joining playwright and novelist Julie Mayhew 'in conversation'. Adina previously spent five years doing the same role at Radio 1 Newsbeat and co-hosted the BBC2 documentary series 'Revealed'. She has also presented documentaries for BBC Learning. Adina has a BA Hons in English Literature and a Postgraduate Diploma in Broadcast Journalism. She describes herself as a 'proud bookworm' and is currently reading A Fraction of the Whole by Steve Toltz.
10 April 2015
BEACONLIT PROGRAMME STUDDED WITH AWARD WINNERS: If winning, or being shortlisted for, an award is an indicator of star quality, then the authors on BeaconLit’s 2015 festival programme have it in spades.
New Voice Eve Ainsworth, whose Young Adult novel, Seven Days, was published in February 2015, has a previous, as yet unpublished YA novel, The Art of Kissing Frogs, which was shortlisted for the Greenhouse Funny Prize in June 2012. She is joined on the panel by S J I Holliday, who was shortlisted for the inaugural CWA Margery Allingham Prize.
This year’s crime panel consists of: Jane Casey, twice shortlisted for the Irish Crime Novel of the Year Award; M R Hall, whose debut novel, The Coroner, was published in 2009 and was nominated for the Crime Writer’s Association Gold Dagger, and who created the TV series ‘Wing And A Prayer’, which earned him a BAFTA nomination in the best series category; William Ryan,whose Captain Korolev Novels – The Holy Thief, The Bloody Meadow and The Twelfth Department - have been published in 18 countries as well as being shortlisted for numerous awards, including the Theakstons Crime Novel of the Year and The Kerry Group Irish Fiction Award; and Laura Wilson, who has had two novels have been shortlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger, as well as winning the French Prix du Polar Europeen with The Lover and the CWA Ellis Peters Award with the first in her historical DI Stratton series, Stratton's War.
Our historical fiction panel includes Vanora Bennett, who has won the Orwell Prize and a US Foreign Press Club award for her writing about Russia.
Among our other authors, Julie Mayhew’s debut novel, Red Ink, was nominated for the 2014 CILIP Carnegie Medal and short-listed for the 2014 Branford Boase Award; and Rowan Coleman’s eleventh novel, The Memory Book, was chosen as a Richard and Judy Book Club selection in 2014.
To see this stellar cast and more, and save £5.50 on the full price ticket, click on ‘Buy Tickets’ and grab a full day pass for just £19.50 before the end of May.
22 March 2015
JULIE MAYHEW COMPLETES AUTHOR LINEUP: Playwright and novelist Julie Mayhew completes a stunning lineup for BeaconLit 2015 as tickets for the festival go on sale. Julie's work includes plays for BBC Radio 4 and a young adult novel, Red Ink. Local visitors will be intrigued to hear about her forthcoming novel, the Big Lie, which imagines modern day Buckinghamshire under the Nazis.
15 March 2015
FESTIVAL 2015 LINEUP ALMOST COMPLETE: Planning is now well advanced for BeaconLit 2015 and tickets will be on sale by the end of this week. We're looking forward to our biggest and best festival yet, stuffed with exciting names from the literary world. There will be a Historical Fiction panel ('Real Game of Thrones'), the ever-popular crime panel, and a 'New Voices' panel with the best of the recently published newcomers. Richard and Judy Book Club choice Rowan Coleman is also amongst the participating authors. Watch this space for more about the festival lineup and details of tickets for the small literary festival with big ambitions - you won't want to miss it!
10 October 2014
LIBRARY LUNCH WITH ROWAN COLEMAN: Beacon Villages Community Library is hosting a ‘Library Lunch’ in association with BeaconLit on Wednesday November 5 at 1pm in Cheddington Village Hall.
The guest speaker will be Rowan Coleman, whose novel, The Memory Book, is a Richard and Judy Autumn 2014 selection. She will speak about ‘My Life as a Writer’.
Tickets, which include a two course lunch with a vegetarian option, are priced just £15 and available from the Library, Linda (01296 668582) or Janet (01296 668341).
BEACONLIT 2015 DATE ANNOUNCED: BeaconLit 2015 will take place at Brookmead School, Ivinghoe, Buckinghamshire on Saturday 27 June 2015. The Festival Committee are developing another exciting full-day programme for everyone who loves books and writing, continuing to build on the event's growing success and taking account of valuable feedback from past delegates.
09 October 2014
BEACON VILLAGES LIBRARY LAUNCHES 100 CLUB: Support our partner, Beacon Villages Community Library, and be in with a chance of winning monthly cash prizes. Pick up a welcome pack from the Library or email firstname.lastname@example.org for an online form
31 August 2014
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04 August 2014
ROWAN COLEMAN - THREE REASONS FIRST NOVELS FAIL AND HOW TO AVOID THEM: Those who attended BeaconLit 2014 will recall that Rowan Coleman's morning session had to be cancelled at the last minute, and we know this was a particular disappointment to some people. We plan to have Rowan for a future BeaconLit event but, in the meanime, she has supplied the following synopsis of what she planned to say, which we hope will be both helpful and interesting:
Three Tips for First Time Novelists
From Rowan Coleman
1. Think about your book
The most common reason for rejection from agents or editors, other than the standard of writing, is that the book submitted isn’t stand-out or original enough. What is it about your rom-com, thriller, crime novel or literary masterpiece that will make it stand out from the hundreds of submissions agents see every week? Even if you are planning to self-publish, you are facing millions of competitors on all platforms. How are you going to achieve discoverability and visibility?
Workshop your idea. You can do this whether you are about to start, are in the middle of writing or have finished. This exercise will help you get to the heart of your book in any case, and help you to focus on its USP (Unique Selling Point).
Take ten minutes to think, then write down five things that make your idea different. You might not be able to answer all of the following questions, and that’s fine. This exercise is really to hone your work and understand the heart of your novel.
What about the plot is unique?
What about the novel’s structure stands out?
What about the setting is unusual?
At its heart, what kind of book are you writing?
What about your book makes it original?
When you have your answers, think about how your book best reflects what makes it special and unforgettable. Ask yourself, have I done enough to showcase its originality? Or, if this exercise has thrown up new ideas or directions, take some time to decide whether or not they can improve your book.
Writing a first novel is a hard, long endeavour, and it’s full of self-doubt and failure. How can you best arm yourself to avoid the common pitfalls that mean a first novel ends up languishing unfinished in a drawer?
Know your book. One of the best ways to do this is to write an elevator pitch. I perform this exercise two or three times throughout the writing process, because it helps me get to the heart ofmy book, its themes and plot.
- Spend five minute writing down every word or phrase that comes into your mind when you think about your novel.
- Include plot points, characterisation, emotions, themes, action, twists and the ending. Try not to be tempted by the vague or the clichéd. Choose powerful, attention-grabbing words.
- Try to be precise and make sure that everything you write is related to your book.
Look at what you’ve written. Choose the five most compelling phrases or words and adapt them into an elevator pitch.
If it doesn’t work the first time, try again. Don’t be afraid to go over and over this process because, each time you do, it will tell you something new about your book and help you to distil it down to its purest form.
I always write a plot, and I think that for first-time writers it’s an essential road map that will help you navigate your way through the first draft. A plot isn’t something you have to stick to, and there is always room for improvisation and inspiration. But a good plot will be your writing focus and impetus, and you are less likely to write yourself into a corner.
Ten Minute Ten Point Plot Exercise
- On a fresh sheet of paper write the numbers 1 to 10 down the left-hand side.
- List the ten main events in your novel as they occur.
- The events should be actions, but can also be flashbacks, revelations or realisations.
When you are finished, break down your ten plot points and identify the elements of your story arc:
- Tipping point
Even if the structure of your book is non-conventional, it’s a good idea to follow this arc – for your first draft, at least. Think of these elements as the four pillars that keep your house standing.
3. Think about your reader
It may seem obvious, but first-time writers often think much more about themselves, and their experience of writing, than of their reader’s experience. But the reason you are writing – if you are writing for publication – is for your work to be read. Are you giving enough thought to the reader experience? Are you writing characters that readers will invest time and emotion in? How is the pace working? Are you revealing information at the right time and in the right way? Are you showing instead of telling? Ask yourself, what experience do you want your reader to have, and are you doing enough to deliver it? I always imagine a golden thread that is pulling my reader through the book, and the key is to never let it snap.
09 July 2014
GREAT RESPONSE TO FESTIVAL 2014: The BeaconLit Festival Committee is as pleased as punch with the feedback on Festival 2014. Numbers were up for our second festival, and the response has been both positive and constructive. We will be analysing the feedback forms and taking delegates comments into account as we get down to planning for Festival 2015.
Meanwhile, here is a small selection from the feedback we have been receiving:
What Twitter said:
“Loads of writing inspiration!”
“Great day at BeaconLit yesterday. Thanks to the committee and gofers for all their hard work.”
“Many thanks for a great day, great talks and five star coffee service.”
“Congratulations once again to ... everyone else who made the festival such a success.”
What the bloggers said::
“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.” - Andrew Goodman, delegate.
“The Verdict on BeaconLit 2014? A lovely day out for all.” - Jane Isaac, panelist -
26 June 2014
TICKETS STILL AVAILABLE TO BUY ON THE DOOR: With just two days to go to the festival, it is no longer possible to buy advance tickets, but tickets for BeaconLit 2014 are still available for purchase on the door on the day at the same bargain prices. So if you haven't got round to buying your tickets yet, please don't worry - we look forward to seeing you there!
22 June 2014
CATHERINE JONES TO INTERVIEW MANDY KIRKBY: BeaconLit is delighted to announce that former soldier, army wife, and romantic fiction author Catherine Jones is to join Mandy Kirkby in our World War One special event on the afternoon of Festival 2014.
The pair will be in conversation about Mandy's book, Love Letters of the Great War. The book brings together romantic correspondence between soldiers and those they left behind them and Catherine's background uniquely qualifies her to understand something of what the writers and recipients were feeling.
08 June 2014
WORLD WAR ONE SPECIAL: In this centenary year of the outbreak of WW1, the BeaconLit Festival Committee wanted some part of Festival 2014 to mark the event. The 70th anniversary of D-Day, commemorated just this weekend, reminds us of the sacrifices so many ordinary people made in two World Wars - ordinary people with hopes and fears, dreams and loves, just like us.
We have a very special slot for you in the afternoon of the festival, when Mandy Kirkby will be in conversation about her work and her book, Love Letters of the Great War. The book, from which Mandy will read extracts, contains
some of the most romantic correspondence ever written, containing eloquent declarations of love and longing, wrenching accounts of fear, jealousy and betrayal, and sweet dreams of home. It promises to be a most enthralling and moving part of the day.
22 May 2014
BEACONLIT CRIME WRITERS WARM UP: Four of the crime fiction writers who will be appearing at BeaconLit this year were getting in the festival swing last weekend at CrimeFest in Bristol. Stephen Booth featured in panels on 'Dennis Wheatley and Other Forgotten Authors' and '21st Century Police Procedurals'.
Dave Sivers and Anya Lipska, who, along with Jane Isaac, will be joining Stephen on the BeaconLit Crime Panel in June, also attended CrimeFest. At our inaugural festival last year, the crime panel proved especially popular, which is why we are having another one! This year's theme is 'Heroes and Villains'.
Also at CrimeFest, appearing on a panel entitled 'Are Our Characters Us?' was Alison Bruce. Those who came to BeaconLit last year will remember Alison's contribution to the crime panel, and this year she is running a morning session dubbed 'CSI Ivinghoe: Getting Away With Murder?' She will be sharing her research on unusual ways of killing people. Definitely not to be tried at home!
Our 'CrimeFest Four' are pictured below - left to right, Dave Sivers, Anya Lipska, Stephen Booth and Alison Bruce.