I was in Bristol this weekend, attending the SilverWood Writing Day and Social, organised by SilverWood Books for their authors. The venue was at Welsh Back, right by the water, in one of the oldest parts of the city.  I listened to a panel of writers talking about the value of research – or how to make sure your main character isn’t wielding a weapon that hasn’t yet been invented (unless, of course, you’re writing a time-slip fantasy!)

Alison Morton, Lucienne BoyceWendy Percival and David Ebsworth had plenty of good advice:

  • read the lives of people such as Ranulph Fiennes who’ve been in extreme situations or endured extreme physical hardships
  • look at war diaries to learn the true nature of battle conditions
  • don’t write only about the prominent people in history – research the lives of ordinary people who are  often overlooked
  • check how long it would REALLY take your characters to eat a meal or make a journey – otherwise they might wolf down a pie in record time, or cover five miles on foot unfeasibly fast!

Rachel Abbott, talking about how she became a bestseller, admitted her marketing plan was over 20 pages long – but once she’d begun to put it into practice, her strategy helped her first eBook, Only the Innocent, shoot up the charts.   Rachel, who has now written six best-selling thrillers, spends about 25% of her time on marketing.  Her success as an independent author shows just what can be done if you’re determined and talented enough to pursue that elusive goal of getting published!

The SilverWood Social was so enjoyable, and it was fun meeting up with authors who’ve already become Facebook friends.  And the biggest surprise of all?  Having a proof copy of The Shame of Innocence in my hands!  A tremendous moment – but then, as I pointed out to one of my best buddies from my schooldays – I’ve been waiting 50 years for that moment!

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