Highlights of the Emirates LitFest 2019
The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature really is the highlight of the year for any book-lover in the region, weaving together as it does voices from all over the world to enjoy a unique environment of talks and cultural events over two action-packed weekends.
The Desert Stanzas evening, featuring Zeina Hashem Beck, Talal Aljunaibi, Selina Tusitala March (the New Zealand poet laureate), LionHeart, Anis Chouchene, Frank Dullaghan and the wonderful Afra Atiq speaking under the stars in the silence of the desert, was a particular highlight for me.
Here’s what I got up to:
Luigi Bonomi (agent), Flora Rees (editor), Karen Osman (Montegrappa winner 2016) and myself (Montegrappa winner 2013)
Luigi said publishers are still looking for psychological thrillers despite the market being saturated because readers are still buying it. Publishers are also looking for ‘uplit’ – stories with happy endings.
The 2019 winner of the Montegrappa Writing Prize was announced as Polly Phillips: a graduate of the Montegrappa workshop Jessica Jarlvi and I ran last November! Good luck Polly!
‘Is the Future Social?’ panel:
Ty Tashiro (psychologist), Katharine Osmerod (author) and myself
Ty revealed that ‘popular’ people and ‘likeable’ people use social media in different ways. While popular people, with huge followings, tend to use it for personal gain, people considered to be ‘likeable’ use it to lift up others by ‘liking’ their posts and posting encouragement.
The consensus on the panel was that social media is now a part of the fabric of our lives, so learning how to use it responsibly; limiting time wasted on it; and protecting our data (from companies as well as from individuals) were things everyone should be looking at doing.
‘How to Write a Novel in 30 Tips’ Masterclass
As this was a 90-minute class, I decided to deliver 50 ‘tips’ instead of 30. Aimed at people who were either struggling to start a novel or who had got stuck after started, my tips covered everything from hooking in the reader to preventing a ‘soggy middle’ and leaving your reader satisfied at the end.
As it was, I created my own tension by nearly running out of time – thank you all for coming! If you were in the class and would like a copy of the tips, please email me on firstname.lastname@example.org
Win tickets to my social media panel!
What does social media do for us? Does it help us feel more connected to others, or is it just white noise – a distraction from the things we really should be doing? Is it fanning the flames of narcissism and creating a generation of youngsters who measure their worth by the sum of their ‘Likes’ or is it an invaluable tool for a global population?
After a brilliant first weekend, the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature continues apace, and I’ll be discussing these and other issues on Thursday 7 March at 7.30pm with online dating expert Ty Tashiro, and Katherine Ormerod, whose book Why Social Media is Ruining Your Life is a must-read for everyone in the digital age. You can get tickets here, or…
Win a free ticket!
For a chance to win one of five tickets, follow me on Instagram (@dubaipix), and leave a comment under the relevant pic, or ‘like’ my author Facebook page and tag yourself in the comments under this entry. Winners will be notified by 6pm on Wednesday 6 March.
Meanwhile, massive congratulations to the 2019 winner of the Montegrappa prize: Polly Phillips! I can’t wait to see you become a published author!
‘You have children – do they use social media, and if so, how do you protect them?’
That was just one of the thoughtful questions put to me by Expat Woman in this interview because – guess what! –The 2019 Emirates Airline Festival of Literature begins this week.
Among other things, as the author of a psychological thriller that revolves around over-sharing on social media, I’ll be debating the pros and cons of social media in a panel discussion with Ty Tashiro and Catherine Ormerod on Thu 7 March.
‘Do we live in an age of distraction or greater connectedness, and what will our social lives look like in the future? Weighing in on whether or not social media can be a force for good in mental health, personal safety and community are Annabel Kantaria, whose latest domestic thriller I Know You revolves around the dangers of social media; Katherine Ormerod, the author of Why Social Media is Ruining Your Life; and author, psychologist and relationship expert Ty Tashiro, who is known for his expertise on the science of relationships and online dating.’
Tickets available here.
Come and join in: I think it’ll be a lively one!
Win the Montegrappa Writing Prize!
On Saturday, I got together with one of my fellow Montegrappa prize-winners, Jessica Jarlvi, to present a two-and-a-half-hour workshop for those entering the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature’s Montegrappa Writing competition this year. This competition was the springboard to success for both of us, gaining us the attention of top London literary agent Luigi Bonomi, and paving the way for us both to sign up with him as an agent and gain our book deals.
The workshop was called ‘How to write a best-seller’ but I would have titled it ‘How to win the Montegrappa Prize’ as the advice we gave was very specific to the competition entry.
For that, you need to submit a 400-word synopsis of your story, plus the first 2,000 words of the manuscript, so we covered topics such as: what is a synopsis and why you need one; how to write a synopsis; how to write an elevator pitch; how to hook the reader with your opening sentence; where to start your story; how to ‘show don’t tell’; common mistakes; and things we wish we’d known when we entered the Montegrappa Writing Prize. We also read the participants’ entries (in advance, not on the day!) and gave individual feedback on them.
We were impressed with the originality of the stories people have to tell: if this is you, and you’re thinking of entering the competition, head over to the EAFOL blog for our specific tips on writing the synopsis and the first few pages so you can maximise your chances of winning.
And, speaking of the EAFOL, the author line-up for 2019 was announced yesterday. Tickets don’t usually go on sale till around January, but I don’t think it’s ever too early start planning the best two weeks of the year – do you?