A Brief History of York Festivals

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    Well, here it is. I’ve woken up a bundle of nerves this morning. I’ve not finished packing and I’ve still to get the kids out of the door to school before catching a train to York in less than two hours. In celebration of today’s 8th (and particularly special) journey to York, I’ve written brief history of all my trips to the York Festivals of Writing…

    2010: Baby bump (massive), no 1:1s, no pressure, workshops, lightbulbs, new friends.
    2011: Enjoyed vicariously while at home with baby. Signed up for Debi and Emma’s fabulous online self-edit course instead. Lightbulbs a-plenty. (Places available on the next course! Sign up herehere)
    2012: Back at the Festival in person. Shortlisted for the Best Opening Chapter comp (didn’t win), 1:1s mixed but overall positive, brilliant workshops, lovely friends, (rumour has it there was a drunken version of the Mingulay Boat Song at some point but I couldn’t possibly comment), best ever final keynote speech from Stuart MacBride (“I do, I do, I can!”)
    2013: Took Jesika (unfinished) to the Festival for the first time. Mixed responses. Lots of praise for her voice. One massive lightbulb in the feedback. Lovely friends.
    2014: Took Jesika again (still unfinished). Same reaction. Inspiring workshops, lovely friends and Shelley Harris introduced me to Jo Unwin who liked the concept of Jesika. Made note to book 1:1 with her the following year. (And to FINISH THE DAMN BOOK!)
    2015: Took Jesika again (first draft finished) and had 1:1 with Jo Unwin who asked to see it all when it was ready. More excellent workshops. Lovely friends and DISCO!
    2016: Took Jesika again (FINAL DRAFT FINISHED!) Four agents interested. Two offers. Sudden fear made better by lovely friends. Signed with Jo Unwin.
    2017: Almost published author! Gathered lightbulbs for new book idea and FACED THE FEAR with Debi. And, of course, lovely friends.
    2018: PUBLISHED AUTHOR! KEYNOTE SPEAKER! Excited. Proud. Slightly Hysterical. Can’t stop giggling to myself at the absurdity of it actually being me – ME! – sitting on the platform that Sunday. But more than anything looking forward very much to spending time with those lovely friends who have been with me every step along the way.


    Julie Cordiner

    It will be very special for a lot of us as well, sitting listening to you. Of course you’ll be nervous but you’re with friends (just don’t be distracted if we are passing the tissues round to stem the emotions like proud parents!). My first FoW was 2015 and it’s only now that I feel my novel is anywhere near the finishing line!
    So looking forward to seeing you!
    Julie x


    Won’t be there this year, Skylark, but you deserve all your success. Hope your key note speech goes brilliantly and that you can enjoy the moment in spite of your nerves. Sending a hug. x

    • This reply was modified 3 years, 8 months ago by GippsGirl.
    Louise Walters

    Inspiring, Amanda! I’ll be at York this year doing a workshop/presentation, did my first ever workshop last year and it went quite well, so perhaps a little less nervous this time! Hope to see you over the weekend and hear your keynote, it will be brilliant x


    Wonderful stuff Skylark. What a journey! And yet more proof that success can happen to the best and nicest of people. Will be thinking of you as you deliver your richly deserved keynote

    Philippa East

    Skylark, you know you are my inspiration! I’ve watched what you’ve achieved, and I’m just like, “I want that!” It is lovely to see your “journey” from start to finish. I am so looking forward to your speech. xxx


    Thank you all!
    @Julie Cordiner looking forward to seeing you too!

    Sorry to miss you this time – hug accepted and returned! 😘
    @Louise see you there!

    steady on, I’m not supposed to blub until Sunday πŸ˜‰πŸ˜
    @Philippa you’re well on your way. I can’t wait to see where your journey takes you on the next few years 😎😍


    (Side note: still getting used to this site. How do those tags work and how come some names became tags and others didn’t?)


    What a journey – and what a great writeup! Gutted I won’t be there this year – it sounds like I really need to get to York more often. I’m signed up to one of Emma’s SE days though πŸ™‚


    @Jonathan thank you! And that sounds great – enjoy!

    Mad Iguana

    What a great story, @skylark. Wish I was there for your keynote, but I can only justify coming over from Ireland if I’ve got something written that I can talk about. Which I’ve not got. But your success is well-deserved, and I’m sure you’ll inspire a ton of people with your talk on Sunday!


    @Mad Iguana Sorry to miss you this time, but totally understand! And thank you 😊


    It is an epic journey, Mandy. Thanks for sharing it with us. Sorry I won’t be there to see you give a jey note address but I’m rooting for you from the Den. Best of luck – not that you need it. Can’t think of another person more deserving of success πŸ™‚

    (Btw if you tag someone using @ then you need to @their profile name rather than the name that shows up when they post. So if you put @Jules it won’t (shouldn’t!) Tag. But @jillybean will tag me. Some people have the same profile and user names which is why some worked but others didn’t.)

    Hope all FoW18 attendees have a wonderful time.


    Oh Sky, I am so happy for you. I saw this thread on Twitter, and it made me smile so much. I will miss your speech at York, but know I’ll be cheering remotely (actually, ironically, from a wedding the other end of York!). Big, big hugs from me.

    Mad Iguana

    Further to Jules’ point above, if you want to know someone’s profile name, just hover over their display name and a link will appear on your browser showing the link to their profile page (for me, for example, that’s http://www.denofwriters.com/members/madiguana/). The last bit is the profile name that you can @.


    Thank you @jillybean both for the cheering and the tag explanation! And @madiguana that’s helpful too 😊

    Sorry to miss you this time – enjoy the wedding! I’m missing one to be here this weekend 😳 (Very understanding friends though!)


    Great stuff, Mandy – I won’t be there but wish you all the best on that stage – facing all those friends.


    That sounds scary!! I’d rather they were up there with me πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ At least Debi will be 😊😊 Sorry to miss you this time x


    So delighted for you Mandy. Don’t forget to stop and ENJOY the moment. You are so generous in the way you continue to help others, not least by your wonderful, shocking & honest book. Sorry I won’t be at York, but waving at you all from deepest darkest China.


    I won’t be there this year but good luck Skylark and enjoy every minute of it you deserve it!


    I wish I was going to be there in person @skylark but I will be cheering you on from London. Enjoy it!


    I can’t wait to hear your speech @skylark! And @Philippa, you’re well on your way. πŸ™‚ I have my first 1-to-1 at 14h00, the agent I chose got changed at the last minute, but by an agent I wanted to see, so all’s ok. So sorry that some of you wonderful people won’t be present this year. @Raine, if the wedding’s boring, skip it and come over. πŸ˜„

    Lindsay Bamfield

    Congratulations. Hope it goes really well. Let us know!


    Thank you all! Already having a great time. So great to be back here again and meeting up with those of you who are also here. Anyone know how I upload a photo from my phone into one of these replies?


    Such a great story, Sky! I’ve only met you briefly at York (crammed in a car on the way to the railway station with John T and Debi, I think!) but you are obviously such a lovely, humble and kind person – it makes me so happy to see someone like that achieve the success they deserve πŸ™‚ ENJOY!


    I hope Jericho will record your speech – I wish I could be there in person.


    Thank,Kaz! Yes, I remember that 😁 Bella, I don’t know but they are recording a fair bit this year so maybe? 😬😱

    Debi Alper

    @bellam – it was indeed recorded. Please excuse me for shouting, everyone, but MANDY WAS BLOODY BRILLIANT!


    Yay for the recording!!! Hope we can access it somehow when it goes up. *crosses fingers*

    And no excuses necessary for shouting, WE ARE ALL SO PROUD OF HER!!!!!



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