Where are our manners?

A copy of Litmus 2015 next to the celebration cakeThe Litmus 2015 launch party was on Tuesday night.  Today is Sunday and we have yet to tell you anything about it.  Please accept our apologies.  It’s not that we didn’t want to share, we’ve just been a bit busy.  We’ve been feeding the hungry Twitter bird, sending thank you emails and continuing with the business of obtaining our masters degrees.  OK, most of the time we’ve been sat rocking in a corner, gently stroking the shiny cover of our very own copies of Litmus 2015; turning the pages to make sure our names are still in the table of contents, our stories in the body of the book and our bios on the back pages.

A group shot of people at the Litmus 2015 launch partySorry, we’re still not telling you anything about the launch, and we should.  It was a wonderful evening.  The room was full of students (aka, Litmus 2015 authors), literary agents, editors, lecturers, journalists, bloggers, family, friends and a delightful little dog.

Adam Knowles reading from Litmus 2015The night began with opening remarks from college lecturers Judith Heneghan and Julian Stannard, followed by a presentation of flowers to Vanessa Harbour.  Then came the most nerve wracking part of the evening – a series of short readings from thirteen of the Litmus authors.  What a variety of writing was presented: from memoir to fantasy, realism to science fiction, stories for grown ups and stories for children.  Each pieceAmelia Mackenzie reads from Litmus 2015 had been carefully crafted by the reader, but half the audience felt they had a stake in the finished piece.  We had critiqued each other’s work; encouraged, comforted and cajoled each other through the writing process.  Some of us had edited the finished pieces before assembling them into the finished book.  We had all played our part and loudly applauded those who stood to read on our behalf.

Students celebrating the launch of Litmus 2015Once the formal part of the evening was over, we could relax a little.  We had drinks and canapés, exchanged hugs and autographs (our first author signing event!) and introduced the friends and family members who had come to support us.  We introduced ourselves to the representatives of literary agencies, publishing houses, journals and blogs and tried out our ‘elevator pitches’ .
Marie Armstrong cuts the Litmus 2015 cake
One of the highlights of the evening was a beautiful cake, made and donated by Carol Thompson of Cakes Beyond Belief.  You might have spotted the picture at the top of the page.  If you are looking for a celebration cake, please give Carol a call.  The fabulous (and truly delicious) Litmus cake was organised and collected from Hove by Marie Armstrong, so it seemed appropriate that she should have the honour of cutting it.

Head shot of Alex Carter reading a copy of Litmus 2015We had a wonderful evening and are still dealing with the after effects.  We need to thank all the lecturers who have helped us to develop our writing skills, our fellow students for their constructive criticism and our families for their encouragement and support.  Thank you to Carol for the cake, to the industry professionals who took the time to join us for the celebration or requested a copy of Litmus 2015 be sent to them, and to the faculty for funding the print run.  Last, but not least, a big thank you to Alex Carter for taking the fabulous photographs – well, all except this one.

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Winchester Writers’ Festival 2015 – Guest Post from Judith Heneghan

Head shot Finding an agent and getting published can seem decidedly Sisyphean to many emerging writers. Most publishers won’t accept unsolicited submissions and literary agents talk of their slush pile’s precipitous slopes.

‘If only I could meet with an agent or an editor in person,’ we cry. ‘All I need is 15 minutes – I just want to know what they think.’

Fortunately the Winchester Writers’ Festival is on hand to facilitate just this kind of face-to-face encounter. Now in its 35th year, the Festival nurtures new and established creative writers from around the UK and overseas working in all forms and genres.

The 2015 Festival takes place on 19 – 21 June, offering three days of master courses, workshops, panels and talks. Continue reading