West Country Writers’ Association 60th Congress

West Country Writers' Association 60th Anniversary CakeThe weekend before last I attended the West Country Writers’ Association 60th Congress in Plymouth as the winner of their 2011 bursary.

It was a great luxury to be away from all the domestic disturbances for the weekend and to be able to completely immerse myself in chat about writing, publishing and related topics. It helped that the Congress was held at the lovely Elfordleigh Hotel which has a pool, sauna and steam room!

The weekend started on a high with the presentation of my certificate by Angela Rippon. She also gave an extremely interesting and enthusiastic talk about her career to date and revealed that, amongst other things, she is the author of a series of children’s books featuring the character Victoria Plum.

During the weekend I talked to writers of romantic fiction who were able to give me some advice about the world of My Weekly Pocket Novels:

  • Include some adventure
  • Try an exotic setting
  • Have a foreign love interest

 I was also told not to forget the possibilities of publication as a large print book too. The two main players are Chivers and Ulverscroft – the first of these pays royalties and the second pays a fee. And apparently there’s always the US market as well…

I also managed a few words with agent Dorothy Lumleyand asked her about writing the dreaded synopsis. She told me that writers always stress about this unnecessarily. She said that she always reads the first 3 chapters before the synopsis and it was imperative to grab the reader within the first page or two of these chapters. The best way of doing this is to open with a character that the reader immediately cares about. The reader must want to turn the page to find out what happens to this character. Dorothy added that the synopsis should always include the ending of the novel otherwise it is little more than an extended blurb – which will make you look unprofessional. 

And one final titbit to put you off writing forever. I spoke to one novelist with a string of published titles to her name and she told me that she once calculated that she was writing for 40p an hour!


  1. #1 by Patsy Collins on April 28, 2011 - 9:52 am

    Thanks for sharing the useful tips you picked up.

  2. #2 by Shawn Robertson on May 2, 2011 - 6:25 pm

    Thanks for sharing your experience. It is great to get information right direct from the Literary Agent. Congratulations on your certificate!


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