Well, I said I'd let you know how I got on doing my afternoon lecture at the Caerleon Summer Writer's Holiday, so here I am. Clearly I survived and wasn't bombarded with rotten fruit!
Actually it went really well, but then that's the whole atmosphere at Caerleon. It's so friendly there, I could feel everyone in the audience 'willing' me to do well. In fact I lost count of how many people came up to me afterwards to say how much they enjoyed it, although I do remember one person doing that - Raymond Allen, author of the BBC hit television series "Some Mothers Do Have Them". That was really special.
If ever you've thought about going to a writer's gathering, I would encourage you to do so if you can. The Writers Holiday at Caerleon runs every year and if you book online, you'll save £10. However, if you book for 2009 by post by sending a cheque BEFORE 30th September 2008 AND you mention my name, you can get £25 off the cost of the 5 day break. (Who said I'm not worth knowing?)
The venue is part of the University of Wales and is located just outside Newport, Cardiff, and it's student accommodation (but I didn't realise that students had it so easy these days. It's all single rooms, with ensuite toilets, wash basins and showers!)
Here's a picture of the tables and chairs outside the bar area, which shows that if you can write while you're busy drinking, the views are pretty inspirational too!
You have the option to choose two courses for the duration of the break (from a choice of 14 next year). There are two workshops on the first course on Monday morning, two more on Tuesday morning and then the final one is on Wednesday morning. After that on Wednesday morning, you then have the first workshop of your second course, followed by two more on Thursday morning and two more on Friday morning.
During the afternoons there is an afternoon lecture whethere a writer tells how they got involved in the business (hence my talk) which lasts for about an hour and there is usually a question and answer session. Later on, there are called After Tea sessions which last an hour and some are run by the tutors (I ran two different ones) whilst others are run by other delegates. Anyone can run an After Tea session. Then, after dinner, there is an evening lecture, again by a successful writer, usually for an hour.
In between all these there are plenty of opportunities to meet up with other writers and chat over tea/coffee. I've already mentioned the bar too, so that's gets busy in the evenings! We all eat and socialise together so you can chat to the tutors as much as you want.
On the last night of the holiday, the evening lecture makes way for the Cwmbach Male Voice Choir who provide over an hour's musical entertainment. Then they all pile into the bar (are you spotting a trend here?) where they continue to sing several songs, but this time accompanied by by a pint of beer in their hands. It seems to have become traditional now, for regular tutor and novelist Jane Wenham-Jones to climb up onto the snooker table and dance to one of their songs!
If you want to see more of the Cwmbach Male Voice Choir, they've been used in a television advert recently, a copy of which can be seen on YouTube
Of course, it is a holiday, so you can do as much or as little of all of this as you wish. I went to all of the lectures and some of the workshops, and I've picked up several tips, and I think that's what works well about Caerleon. We all share ideas and we all learn from each other.
And if I haven't put you off enough, I shall be there next year tutoring the Travel & Other Features for Magazines course.
If you book up, I guarantee that you'll want to go every year!