I’m perosnally delighted by the news that Carys Bray, who captivated us with her talk at Chorley Writers’ Circle event Write Now on 15 November, has had her first novel A Song for Issy Bradley shortlisted for the First Novel category of the Costa Book Awards 2014. Carys enchanted everyone on Saturday with her unassuming approach and her story of unlooked-for publishing success.
Speaking from beneath my Chairwoman of Chorley Writers’ Circle hat, we knew it was a coup at the time, securing Carys as one of our four speakers. I for one was very impressed by her novel and another of the Circle’s committee, Jeanette Greaves, knew Carys as a fellow short-story writer and asked her to come. We’re very pleased she did.
Carys, from Southport, was amazed at the publishing furore her novel caused as several top publishers fought for the rights. The book is set here in Lancashire, and is about a Mormon family trying to cope in the wake of tragedy. I found the book achingly sad and yet hopeful, wistful although at times very funny, and elegantly written. It was a pleasure to meet the author behind the book, and I’m thrilled that Carys has been shortlisted for one of the most prestigious awards in literature. Fingers crossed that she’s on the winners list come January.
I’m pleased to report that Write Now was an all-round success. The other three speakers were just as entertaining and informative. Hannah Sheppard, a literary agent from London, gave useful advice about how to find and approach an agent that’s right for your manuscript. A number of attendees were able to talk to Hannah informally after her speech about submitting their work to her. Hannah recommended using professional critique services such as Fiction Feedback for authors looking to lick their novel into shape before submitting to an agent or publisher. (Use the link at the top of this blog to visit our site or click www.fictionfeedback.co.uk)
Kevin Duffy, owner of independent publisher Bluemoose Books, entertained his audience with riveting stories of the publishing world and also gave forthright views on the chances of unknown authors getting a publishing contract with the large companies. He talked about how Bluemoose’s approach to publishing – putting the quality of stories first and foremost – and again several attendees got the chance to pitch their work.
The fourth speaker was Dave Harrison, of Open Circle Publishing. Dave, who has written several crime novels featuring Manchester accountant Jenny Parker, told his audience about his own career as a writer. He also shared various fascinating facts and figures about self-publishing in particular, and about how to give yourself the best chance of sales. He explained more about how Open Circle, at www.opencirclebooks.com have benefitted from the help of a bestselling author, and have now launched an author services arm offering top quality production, editing and distribution services to authors. Open Circle are holding a self-publishing seminar in January, and also sponsor Chorley Writers’ Circle.
Write Now was a fabulous event. Thanks to all four speakers and our enthusiastic audience who made it so.
For more info on the Circle, see the website www.chorleywriters.org.uk
Carys Bray (L) with me, Dea Parkin, at Write Now