Friday 30 March 2018

The Hippo Hands Over . . . . to Abigail Osborne

It's been a while since I handed over the reigns of my blog so when the lovely Abigail Osborne, author of The Puppet Master, asked if she could write something for me I couldn't turn her down. But wait there's more! Not only did she want to write a post about her recent weekend away on a writing course . . .  she wanted to give you all the chance of winning, what I think is a fantastic prize! Well I couldn't let you miss out on that opportunity dear readers could I? So let me start by introducing you and then I'll leave you in Abigail's capable hands.

Abigail is originally from the Lake District but moved to the West Midlands for University where she completed an English Literature & History degree and also met her husband. She is a passionate reader and has an unsustainable collection of books. This obsession with books has led to her creating her own Dewey decimal system and she has been known to issue fines to family and friends if her book is not returned on time. 'The Puppet Master' is Abigail's debut novel and has unleashed a passion for writing. When not writing or reading Abigail is usually playing her violin or hiding from her much too energetic cats. She also works as a Needs Assessor for disabled university students in the West Midlands.

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                                        The Power of the writing course

In February, I attended the Crime and Publishment writing course at Gretna Green. Run by the inspirational Graham Smith, author of two successful crime book series. Apart from the Creative Writing I did at University I’d never attended anything like this before and I was really excited but also apprehensive. I shouldn’t have worried as this writing course was better than I could ever have anticipated.

I had a clear idea what I’d like to get from the course. I’d looked at the seminars that were scheduled and I couldn’t wait to pick the brains of those more experienced in writing and the industry. Whilst I knew that the course was designed to help me with the mechanics of writing I couldn’t have predicted the other benefits I would come away with. I got all the answers I wanted from the weekend. However, questions I did know I should be asking were also answered.

I found Craig Robertson’s talk about research eye-opening. I realised that my first book had been completely reliant on what I knew. My first book was based on two places I’d lived and things I didn’t know I was vague on. Choosing to focus on plot over details. During Craig’s talk I thought about how much I could add to my next book by not relying on things I knew. It fired me up and gave me the tools I needed to start adding more depth to my book. I was too scared to do this as I didn’t know how so this was just the thing I needed to take that first step in developing into a better writer. That was the first talk I had and I was astounded by how much knowledge Craig had to offer. I have been worried about my next book as I am writing something that has nothing to do with my past experiences unlike my first novel. Craig’s knowledge and experience gave me a remedy for worries I hadn’t yet voiced. The secret concerns I’d been trying to ignore were brought to the forefront but Craig’s reassurances that we actually all know people that will know someone who can help us with research gave me confidence.

Craig Robertson

The other talks were similarly fascinating, Michael J Malone helped me realise a crucial character missing from my book. Karen Sullivan made me consider my writing style and gave me insight into the publishing industry. I will no longer blush in embarrassment and be lost for words when someone asks me what my book is about. Russel McLean made me consider the tropes of my genre and how I could use them to my advantage. It was a fascinating weekend and I wasn’t prepared for the wealth of information I was going to receive. My writing hand still hasn’t recovered. The one to one with Michael gave me the opportunity to address the specific concerns I had with particular thorny parts of my plot. He was really helpful, and I am so grateful for his direction.

Karen Sullivan

Russel McLean

Abigail & Michael J Malone

All the things I was expecting to be helpful happened to be helpful in more ways than I thought possible. However, the other attendees on the course were the real surprise for me. When I arrived on the Friday, there were a lot of people there. Far from being the intimate gathering of a few writers that I had thought it was going to be. I was instantly nervous as I don’t enjoy being in big groups of people. To my surprise, by the end of the weekend I had managed to speak to every single person that attended. Far from being full of people and their egos, everyone wanted to get to know each other. You could come down to breakfast and sit with a different set of people than those you had dinner with and it didn’t matter. Everyone was welcoming and so respectful of why we were all there. They all wanted to learn from the tutors but also from each other. As someone who has self-published and traditionally published I really enjoyed giving people the benefit of my experience, especially what not to do! The people on the course were an incredible gift as their support and kindness allowed me to feel comfortable interacting and speaking out. I loved hearing about everyone else’s writing journey. It felt like I was part of a community. I was so inspired by all the people around me that I couldn’t wait to get started with my writing. 

This weekend was so inspiring not just for what I learnt about writing. But because when you leave, you leave with this unquenchable desire to write and create. I don’t feel I’ve done this course justice in my explanation on how deep an effect it has had on me. If you are one of those people that feels you have a book in you. I urge you to go to Crime and Publishment, or any writing course, as the writing community is a supportive one just waiting to welcome you with warm arms. Bring on Crime and Publishment 2019 – hope to see you there!

P.S to everyone that attended thanks again for signing my Mother’s Day card. I am forgiven for forgetting now 😉

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It sounds like a weekend that was not only informative and productive, but one that was filled with lots of fun and new friendships Abigail! Thanks so much for sharing that with us.


You might remember that at the beginning of this post I mentioned a giveaway! I hope you're all ready to hear more about it.

Abigail is very kindly offering you all the chance to win a signed copy of her book The Puppet Master . . . .  AND. . . the winner will also have a character in her next book named after them! How fabulous would that be? Imagine reading about your fictional self in a book. Would you be a good character or an evil one, who knows? Only Abigail has the answer!

To be in with a chance of winning, just go to Abigail's Facebook Page which you can find here, share the post about this giveaway (and maybe show her page some love with a little like while you're there), sign up to her newsletter (you'll also find the link to this on her Facebook post) and leave a comment to say that you've signed up. You'll then be given a number and a random number generator will be used to pick a winner. That's not a lot to ask to win a signed copy of a brilliant book and to be immortalised forever in a book is it? So what are you waiting for? The giveaway ends at midnight on Sunday 8th of April and the winner will be announced a few days later. Due to postal costs this is UK only. If you want to know more about The Puppet Master just take a look here.

Good luck everyone and have a fabulous Easter weekend!

Picture found on Mom Junction

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