Saturday, 19 March 2016

Pitch and Pen

Sheila Chapman writes:
Judges and Winners - see below
The stage was set. The dragons (sorry, the panel of judges) entered and the first writer came forward to sit in the pitcher’s spot. The two hours that followed were enthralling.

We heard pitches: about a Doomsday scenario in the UK in 2021 when we would be out of the EU, off the Security Council and Scotland had gone; about magical realism; about an 11 year old boy who gradually discovers the secrets of his family; about re-imagined fairytales and myths (Lady Godiva riding a Harley Davidson to deliver a petition to parliament particularly caught my attention); about a family saga; about surviving the National Health Service; about the adventures of a young woman, who is a yoga expert,  travelling to China (the first Yoga thriller the judges called it); about the future with all our resources gone; and about the unemployed of Yorkshire in the 1930s.

Each pitcher had 5 minutes in which to sell their book and 5 minutes in which to answer the questions from the panel. Some of the questions were challenging:

We like your book but would like you to re-write it as a thriller – how would you feel about that?
Can you choose the seven key words that describe your book?
If your book is published, whereabouts in a bookshop would I find it?
Why are you the best person to write this book?

But the panel also offered advice on how books could be improved for example by keeping them focused, by understanding the audience, by editing – ruthlessly if need be.

Each pitcher overcame nerves and stage fright to ‘sell their books’ and we were all impressed by their eloquence but the Q&A session was truly engrossing with the panel showing genuine interest in each author – challenging them but also offering both respect and guidance.

And the winners, whose synopsis/first chapters will be read by the publishers: Caffeine Nights or Bluemoose Books, were:
Roisin Kiernan –Caffeine Nights
Helen McDonald (who only decided to pitch at the last minute) - Bluemoose Books
Becky Cherriman – Bluemoose Books

The judging panel were:
Kevin Duffy (for Bluemoose Books), Danuta Reah, (for Caffeine Nights), Helen Cadbury and Alison Taft.

What a great way to spend an afternoon!

In the photo -
Roisín Kiernan - winner of Caffeine Nights prize
Alison Taft
Danuta Reah
Becky Cherriman - winner 2 of Blue Moose books prize
Helen Cadbury
Helen MacDonald - winner 1 of Blue Moose books prize

Audience Comments
Very interesting to listen to the other writers 'pitching' - all so different and something of value in every pitch. Pitching was terrifying but a fantastic experience and opportunity. More of this please.

I was a little surprised and pleasantly so because of the feedback and ideas provided to the 'pitchers' that will no doubt help. It didn't appear as daunting as I expected for the 'pitchers'. I hope it continues next year.

Interesting. Learned a lot about where my novel is going and some of the questions I need to address. Such varied ideas and different pitching styles.

Successful event. Should run again as a regular event.

Really interesting experience. Like to hear about the sorts of things people are writing about. Expected much more dramatic presentations; people to 'sell' the idea and characters.

A great opportunity for people to pitch, and to hear/watch people's pitch, and get feedback.

Interesting event and can see that it would be helpful to focus on your novel if you plan to pitch. Good to see the different subjects being written about.

Very interesting and useful. Please do it again

Thought it was well organised. Impressed with the range of pitches. Learnt a lot from the panel's questions. They were all very committed to each pitch.

A well organised and fascinating event. A very surprisingly wide range of presentations and a lot of useful discussions and questions.

It was interesting to hear other people pitch their work, and gave me more determination to press on with publication on line.

Most constructive session and a welcome opportunity. Thank you.

Really enjoyed the opportunity to pitch. Got feedback, which I hadn't expected. Thank you.

1. Good value. 2. Room arrangements for improved acoustics could be made. 3. Very enjoyable, professional, helpful panel. 4. Room could be warmer. 5. Might have preferred longer pitches and Q&A even if less people got to pitch. :)) Thank you.

The event was great. The whole festival could do with a lot more promotion. Less poetry events too! Thanks.

Great forum to discuss ideas, layout of the room could have favoured the audience more though.

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