Have just returned from a fantastic weekend at the Ballarat Writers Festival. It’s so good to be around other people with the same passion for books and writing.
The festival was kicked off on Friday evening with a sumptuous three-course meal, meeting new people and sharing our dreams.
Saturday was filled with entertaining and insightful panels of authors, editors, illustrators and publishers sharing journeys, knowledge and laughter.
The whole event passed so quickly and was filled with wonderful opportunity to learn, network and eat! So much food, so little room in the belly! The Alexandria on Lydiard put on such a wonderful, endless supply of fresh fruit, yummy rolls, wraps, salad, cakes and endless soft drink.
Part of the opportunity at the festival was the first page critique competition where attendees could submit the first page of their work in progress anonymously between 9 and 10 on Saturday morning, to be read by editors and publishers. These professionals would then choose a select few and critique them in front of the entire audience. A daunting prospect but one also filled with great anticipation.
The critique session was the last item on the agenda and I was stoked when my submission was read out! The feedback from the panel was so useful. I’d entered the first page of Revival, the sequel to Phoenix, and being the second in the Fifth Shadow series, I wasn’t quite sure how to let the reader know what had transpired in the first book if they hadn’t yet read it.
My answer came across loud and clear, leave out the two lines of back-story, something I would never recommend putting in a first chapter let alone a first page!
As the festival drew to a close, I approached the assessing panel to seek further advice and when I explained my entry was a sequel, I was asked not only for Phoenix, but for more of Revival too!
Floating with happiness, I didn’t think my day could get any better, but a couple of other attendees approached me and told me how inspiring I’d been to them in the way I’d approached my goals. I’d never even considered that me following my dream could help others but I’m so happy I could help!
One little thing which I found really quite spooky, consider there were approx 110 attendees at the festival, of those 60% entered the competition, and 50% were at the Friday night dinner. Those at the dinner were split around tables of 8. Of the 6 entries chosen by the panel, 3 of those belonged to writers at my table.
Good work everyone!