Monday, 20 March 2017

2nd place - Conference Surprise!

Monday Madness is here again!

Now why is this Monday any more hectic than the usual? It would be mainly because I've got an extra piece of blog posting to fit in today. I also need to play domestic catch up after having been away for a long weekend.

My reason for being away was to attend my FIRST EVER  writers conference. I hopped into the car last Friday lunchtime and drove the 140 miles or so to get to Cumbernauld, near Glasgow, Scotland. The Scottish Association of Writers (SAW) conference was being held at the Westerwood Hotel, a very nicely appointed conference/leisure facility.

I wasn't attending the Friday evening session which kicked off the conference because I was staying with my relatives who live approximately a mile and a half from the hotel. That proved to be an inadvertent mistake because I missed hearing Myra Duffy, the adjudicator of the Barbara Hammond Trophy competition giving her updates on Friday evening. Unbeknown to me at the time, my time travel novel was placed second = and I missed the public announcement.

All of the SAW awards are only disclosed at the conference (some adjudicator updates are Friday night and some first thing Saturday morning) many of which are entered using pseudonyms to promote fairness during the selection/reading and finalising processes. This means that no-one knows in advance if they are a competition winner or are 'runner-ups'- but I din't know all of that till the Saturday when it was too late!

The Barbara Hammond Trophy for Best Self Published Novel is a fairly new award from the Scottish Association of Writers.

When I joined SAW a couple of years ago, I looked at their competition listings which are very extensive. Many of them are for poetry and short stories but there were a couple for full length novels, and ones for fiction for younger readers.

In autumn of 2016, I decided that my self-published time travel novel The Taexali Game fit the self-published criteria for the Barbara Hammond Trophy so I sent off my submission. Then I forgot about it till just before the 2017 conference. Since I found no updates anywhere to tell me who won, I reckoned that I hadn't been successful.

On arrival at the hotel I knew none of the sea of faces surrounding me, the conference being a large one with hundreds of attendees. However, I'd  'virtually' met a fellow Crooked Cat Books author, Rosemary Gemmell, and we met during the extremely brief coffee session before the first workshops. After greeting each other her words made no sense to me in the throng. I had to make sure to talk to a woman named Myra Duffy who particularly wanted to speak to me. The first opportunity came at lunch time. To my great surprise she commended my novel highly, told me she had really enjoyed it and had had a very difficult time choosing which novel should be placed first. She had ultimately chosen another novel to be first and placed The Taexali Game second.

Her adjudicatory comments on The Taexali Game are exceptionally well received by me and I look forward to the reviews she has promised to place on Amazon.

The conference workshops I attended were varied and entertaining and I had a thoroughly good day. The hotel is to be recommended for excellent decor, food and friendly service. I'm pretty sure that I'll probably do the whole '3 day ' conference next year.

Now to get on with more writing!


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