It had been a bit touch and go as to whether I would make it to the conference this year. I've been battling with pneumonia since April, and this was my first outing (besides hospital appointments) in two and a half months.
I lacked my usual conference energy, so wasn't able to attend as many sessions as I had hoped, but nevertheless it was a fantastic weekend and I am so glad that I went. It was even worth the 5 hour journey from Bournemouth. Though I have to say, I am hugely grateful for fellow Joan Hessayon Award runner up, Laura R Leeson for giving me a ride back towards home, and saving me the hassle of catching yet more trains.
This was my first conference attending as a published author. One of the main highlights for me in the past were the industry feedback sessions, where you can book 1 to 1 session with publishers, agents and editors, and gain invaluable input on your novel. These sessions are like gold to an unpublished author. Given the number of submissions agents and publishers receive, being able to gain individual feedback from an industry professional is a rare opportunity for a new writer.
Emily found my novel, The Perfect Daughter, in her slush pile (one of the many many unsolicited submissions that she receives on a daily basis). It's thanks to Emily's belief and commitment to this little book that I achieved my dream of being a published author. Thanks to Emily's vision, and the very talented team at Boldwood Books, The Perfect Daughter has already become a bestseller. The amazing response to this novel has been overwhelming, and I know it is down to my talented editor, the stunning cover design and incredible marketing team. Thank you all!
Emily was presenting one of the workshops, and very kindly decided to stay on longer so she could attend the Joan Hessayon Awards on Saturday evening, where The Perfect Daughter was a contender. Sadly, my little book didn't win. But to be honest, even just to have been a contender was more than I had ever imagined possible and I count myself very lucky to have been in the company of such talented writers.
Huge congratulations to the winner, Suzie Hull, who gave a lovely heartfelt acceptance speech. Truly a deserving winner.
At the time I had only expected it to be a short-term plan. However, three years later and I'm now a published author based in Bournemouth. Thank you, Katie. You literally changed my life.
Thank you to all the conference organisers and the Joan Hessayon Award organisers, as well as the generous support of Dr Hessayon, who makes this award possible. It was an incredible conference thanks to all your dedication, time and hard work.