About a fortnight ago, I was in my local Accident & Emergancy department. (ER for the folks across the pond.) My wheelchair had one footrest and the back was held in place with cable ties. I’m lucky that I can’t really remember a lot of it but I know I was dribbling blood from my chin and my hands looked like I’d argued with a cheese grater. Once patched up and shipped back home, I went back to my local doctor twice and then started feeling a bit unwell. So, as you can imagine, I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to take the trip to York at all this year.
I wanted to but it’s a loooong journey! (Not by US standards. You’d shake your heads. It takes you longer just to go from one side of the state to the other, I know, but it’s *really* long by UK standards, I promise.) A long journey is no good if you’re sick and even worse when you’re trying to recover but I wanted to. I was looking forward to seeing friendly writers, agents and publishers who I love saying hello to each year. It’s nice to be around those who are at the top of their industry. Their drive and ambition glimmer around them as much as most of the writers’ nerves! It’s a rollercoaster of a place. From exhilaration to exhaustion… and back. Still, I had to get there. I had to be able to cope with it. I was pretty rough and beaten up.
There’s always light, sometimes you just have to look for it. This time, I didn’t have to. My accident coincided with La Vie en Bleu being released and my editor sent me a message to check out the bestseller list on Amazon.com. There she was, Pip, as a Hot New Release (cue Rebecca sniggering) and a Bestseller. It was exactly the boost I needed. Light and hope bursting through!
It was a fantastic weekend and worth it. Yorkshire is a beautiful place and is where Doug from La Vie en Bleu is from. He’s a York man because I attend the festival in York and the surroundings, the deep lush greens and golds stayed with me. It resonated for me. I wanted his home to represent his character: handsome, English beauty, steadfast and loyal. It felt wonderful to be there knowing how Pippa was doing.
As always the festival was a hectic time of juggling the workshops, the dog, the wheelchair and snatching time to giggle with Squidge or John or any of the other wonderful cloudies. It was also overwh, especially as I couldn’t hear a thing a times. New people were a challenge as I tried to understand accents and tones and can only imagine what faces I pulled. I was conscious of giving everyone my virus too!
Saturday night was a rare occasion. I went into the Gala Evening hoping to support my fellow Cloudies as they battled for the Best Opening Chapter Award. So you understand the gravitas, previous winners of this have secured six figure publishing deals, have gone on to become massive bestsellers and Richard and Judy ‘Picks.’
It was fantastic to see ‘Oddly’ win. I’d been delighted to hear her exciting news throughout the weekend but that really added the icing on top. It’s so incredible to watch those you know who are working so hard get a shot at their dream. We danced to celebrate. A cloudie dance if you will. And yes, I danced in a wheelchair. Are you trying to picture it? I think I did quite well to Dancing Queen although my co-cloudie Raine may not have any knees left after my twirl… For Strictly fans, it was a fleckle… I think… although it might have been classed as a lift as I didn’t keep my feet on the floor. Ah well… I rocked the Cancan.
Needless to say, I’m a little bit tired but Debi Alper has given me ideas about moving POVs during a scene using Psychic Distance, Emma Darwin’s workshop on Historical Fiction put more ideas in my head about the fun I could have with hats and boots. I loved listening to Julie Cohen, Tamsyn Murray and Allie Spencer discussing their experiences, their struggles and how they overcame them. I got to hear from agents, publishers, authors on how the industry is and then how to take risks and find icebergs with Shelley Harris. It was an adventure! That all means that over the next few months, those workshops and talks will mix in my mind and fuel my writing… My editor is probably hiding behind her fingers at that but Hindsight (Aeron Book IV) is ready to be written and Untrained Eye is in the editing queue and I’ve learned some neat new tricks to try out and make her adventure all the more fun…
So, although I’m exhausted, I’m inspired and cheered by my time at the festival. Now, I’m making sure I rest up ready to spend some time with Aeron and co… and, if readers really want her… Pippa has more stories to tell!
Have a great week everyone. I hope that you feel as inspired and less exhausted!