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It’s raining cats and dogs and we’re still under lock-down (at least here in the UK), which gives me the perfect excuse to stay indoors all day and “attend” not one but two virtual book festivals.  I wasn’t sure to begin with but now I’m a real convert: I don’t have to pay for travel or accommodation, and I can still see everyone even if I can’t meet them in person (plus I get to nose around their backgrounds and bookshelves).  Moreover, with Zoom and the like, we audience members can ask questions via the chat facility, which is actually a fairer system: you don’t have to wave your arm madly to catch the moderator’s eye – we’re all equally visible to the chat bar.

So far today I have heard talks by Elizabeth Buchan, Debbie Young, A A Abbott, Orna Ross, Joanna Penn, Jo Ullah and Kate Mosse, and I still have four more sessions to look forward to – what bounty!  I have been scribbling notes like a demon, recording a mixture of inspiration (Elizabeth Buchan: be patient – allow the batteries to recharge and the ideas to percolate), writing skills (Kate Mosse: create a strong historical scaffolding for your characters and let them loose within it to choose their own story) and practicalities (Orna Ross: every author needs a premium product – it is very hard to make a living just from books and Joanna Penn: look at your books’ reviews to find the right language to use in your promotional material and ads).  I’m fizzing, I tell you.  And the one concrete thing I have done between sessions is to create anew the @ConstablePlank twitter handle that I had abandoned.  It’s not quite the right handle, now that Gregory Hardiman is making himself known, but it will do for now – and at least I can follow other inspirational people and get these posts promoted a little more widely.

And to complete the festival experience, I grabbed a quick pizza for lunch between sessions and pretended there was a queue for the loo.