Reflections on the 2012 UK Meet (2/2), by Liam Livings

Last week Liam Livings–UK Meet newbie and now one of our organising team–gave us the story of his arrival in Brighton for the UK Meet 2012. This week, find out what he enjoyed about the main day itself.

So, after bonding over grammar and Chinese food, I returned to my room to prepare for a full day of panels and sessions on Saturday.

The ‘Novel openings’ session which started the meet included lively interaction and questions from the audience, and it certainly helped me add some extra books to my ‘to read’ list for 2013, having piqued my interest with the 150 word snippets. A useful tip I picked up, which is comforting as a new writer, is how important individual voice is. It’s reassuring to know that I don’t need to try and write the next vampire/wizard/whatever book, I can write what I’m interested in, and if readers like my own voice, and story, they’ll come back. So that’s easy then…

I grabbed a vital cup of tea and pack of biscuits – essential to maintain the concentration – and joined the ‘Where do you get your ideas?’ session in the break out room. A great lesson which I took from this was that your life, what’s happening all around you every day, is a great source of inspiration. I often use situations I’ve found myself in, or which my friends have told me about, and I asked how much you can use a friend’s life as the basis of a story. The following discussion about how unique it really is to spilt up with someone, to fall in love with the wrong person, to have a friend who’s crap, helped me have the confidence to take parts of real life, conversations, phrases, character traits, and use that as the nugget of an idea to grow fiction around it. And that’s what I’ve done with my WIP ‘And then he came along,’ at the moment.

The ‘Getting published’ session was obviously of interest, as a currently unpublished author: I was heartened to hear there’s ‘no magical door’ and ‘no secret handshake,’ to let you into the elite of those who are published. My notes for that section are clear,(yes, I took notes, that’s just the way I am!): write the book, finish it; polish it – make it as good as you can get it; send it to the right publishers, and don’t ignore their guidelines. It was heartening to hear that it’s not essential to have an agent, particularly in this genre of fiction, which leads the way in e-publishing, and is therefore pretty advanced, compared to other genres. All very practical, helpful advice, one of the reasons I came to the meet.

14194646-angry-tradesman-yelling-into-a-megaphoneIn the ‘Online marketing’ session, I found out what a blog tour is, and subsequently, have appeared on Charlie Cochrane’s blog, and am now appearing on the Meet’s blog. It’s such a simple concept, but so great to drive new readers to your website and to discover your books. I also learned how irritating it is when authors use social media to only sell their latest book. Describing it to a friend afterwards I said, it’s a bit like being at a dinner party, being all sociable and chatty, and someone walks up to you with a clipboard and pen and says: ‘I’m a painter and decorator, would you like me to do some work at your house, I can take your details here.’ Not great, not pretty, and not clever.

During the ‘Pitfalls of publishing’ session I wrote down some choice phrases I’ll look out for when the time comes: ‘net’ is a usefully vague term to be wary of; ‘for the life of the copyright’ means forever!; you can always negotiate what’s in the contract, so don’t let the fact that they want to publish your book go to your head.

Jordan Castillo Price’s session was a really inspirational way to end the day and my notes (yep those again) pretty much sum it up: ‘It’s tempting to write to the market, but you need to write about what you love and continues to challenge you. Take risks and don’t just follow the trends. Write what is around you in the world, which is how readers can tell the story is from the heart, so they’ll love the characters, and come back for more.’

Over tapas, I compared writing technique ‘to plan or not to plan’ with Anna Martin, and was shocked and surprised at the different ways people write. This was the first ‘writerly’ conversation I’d ever had like that, with someone else who understands what you’re talking about, and it was like a whole new world of friends and possibilities had opened up to me. Somehow, between tapas and going home, I volunteered to join the planning team for the 2013 meet. When I finally arrived home on Saturday night, the BF said I was ‘crackling with ideas and possibilities.’

In addition to the practical tips and advice I also met some great people, which has led to a whole list of other interesting things: I was tagged by Clare London for The Next Big Thing blog, with Anna Martin, Jo Myles and Jay Rookwood; I appeared on Charlie Cochrane’s blog ; and I’ve been working in the background with the rest of the team, to make the 2013 meet even bigger and better than 2012.

I look forward to seeing you all there in July.

Liam x
liamLiam Livings offers eight self-portrait statements on his website, one of which is untrue, but it’s up to his visitors to guess which! He lives with his partner and cats, where east London ends and becomes nine-carat-gold- highlights-and-fake-tan-west-Essex. He started writing when he was 14: sat in French lessons during a French exchange trip, for want of anything better to do, he wrote pen portraits about his French exchange’s teachers. He wrote for his school’s creative writing magazine and still writes a diary every day. Best Friends Perfect, (working title) is his first novel, currently looking for a publisher.

When not writing, he enjoys baking, and if it were an Olympic sport, he’d have been there, right at the front row watching with an electric whisk and mixing bowl.xxxx
Assuming those are the true statements, that is!
~~~~~~
Liam’s website: www.liamlivings.com
Email: liamlivings@gmail.com
Blog: http://www.liamlivings.com/blog.html

Reflections on the 2012 UK Meet (1/2), by Liam Livings

This week and next here on the UK Meet blog, organiser and all-round good bloke Liam Livings will be sharing his memories and gorgeous photographs of the 2012 Meet in Brighton. But without further ado, here’s the man himself. Oh wait. That’s a shop. You’ll find a picture of Liam at the end instead, and you can make your own minds up about how old he really is…

Brighton

In September 2012 I travelled to Brighton, roof down, head scarf on, heart full of trepidation, (I sound like a character in an Audrey Hepburn film…actually I like that) and now I’m on the planning team for the 2013 meet. How did that happen? Well, I often think the same, but it’s been a great journey so far, and one which continues to surprise and amuse me most days.

I arrived at the hotel, having driven away from the rain, praying I didn’t have to stop and put the roof up on Muriel. If you drive fast enough, most rain doesn’t actually land on you, it sort of skims off the car, so you only have to stop for proper large dollops of rain, which fortunately on that day we didn’t have. I checked into my room, which had a beautiful view of the air conditioning unit, and went to Brighton for some shopping.

Brighton beach
The hotel, from the beach

As an aficionado of the high street, I looked around The Lanes, and bought nothing, instead settling on a few bags of brightly coloured polo shirts from JD sport (other places do sell polo shirts). I returned to the hotel to find Clare London in reception. Clare had suggested I attend the meet a while before, after a mutual friend put us in touch over our shared love of writing. After showing her the spoils of my shopping travails, I had a few drinks, and chatted to Jay Rookwood. The barman asking me for ID, made my weekend, so I asked him how old he thought I was. ‘Twenty three,’ he smiled with both his mouth and twinkly blue eyes, as I showed him my driving licence and he registered surprise at my real age. Take that I say, to someone I know who’s the same age as me and regularly partakes in a certain injected product which results in a distinctly glassy, shiny brow. Later that night I went for a Chinese, sharing a table with, among others, Jamie Merrow, Becky Black, Bruin Fisher and Charlie Cochrane. We soon bonded over sesame prawn toast, and a shared hatred of grocers’ apostrophes. I was in my element, I’d found my people!

Next time, the Meet itself – novel openings, ideas, and mastering that secret handshake.

Liam x
liamLiam Livings offers eight self-portrait statements on his website, one of which is untrue, but it’s up to his visitors to guess which! He lives with his partner and cats, where east London ends and becomes nine-carat-gold- highlights-and-fake-tan-west-Essex. He started writing when he was 14: sat in French lessons during a French exchange trip, for want of anything better to do, he wrote pen portraits about his French exchange’s teachers. He wrote for his school’s creative writing magazine and still writes a diary every day. Best Friends Perfect, (working title) is his first novel, currently looking for a publisher.

When not writing, he enjoys baking, and if it were an Olympic sport, he’d have been there, right at the front row watching with an electric whisk and mixing bowl.xxxx
Assuming those are the true statements, that is!
~~~~~~
Liam’s website: www.liamlivings.com
Email: liamlivings@gmail.com
Blog: http://www.liamlivings.com/blog.html