Had a lovely day out on Saturday, attending the “Get Writing” conference organised by the Verulam Writers’ Circle at the University of Hertfordshire. They laid on a packed programme of talks and workshops, all very interesting and informative.

The day kicked off with literary agents John Jarrold and Anna Power talking about how to put together a good submission to an agent and what sort of things they were looking for. Their methods differed a little, but mainly they want well told stories and submissions that are well presented and look professional. Like most agents, they couldn’t pinpoint exactly what they’re looking for, they just “know it when they see it”.

Louise Allen and Jan Jones gave a wonderful workshop on how to research historical novels – “Into the Heart of the Past”. They gave us tips on inspiration, how to find facts and how to make our stories authentic to the period we were writing about. Also, a useful list of research pitfalls.

Two publishers – Marlene Johnson of Hachette UK and Simon Taylor of Transworld – gave us their views on publishing at the moment, which was very interesting, if a little depressing. Adele Geras entertained us with a very amusing talk about herself and her writing, and author Mark Billingham and agent Philip Patterson gave some advice on how to get published (and how NOT to go about it!). The day finished with a talk by Imran Ahmad, whose road to publication was unusual to say the least!

All in all, lots to take on board and inspire everyone – a brilliantly organised day!