Saturday, 14 July 2012

Cheering Charney

Charney Manor
          I write this blog in a hurry, as I'm only just back from the Scattered Authors' Society's annual conference/retreat/get-together/shin-dig.
Uffington white horse
     It's held here, in the beautiful Charney Manor, a medieval manor house in the vicinity of the famous white horse.  Are you jealous yet?
          This year was a smaller gathering than usual, due to the demands made on writers' purses by the recession, the Olympics, the Children's Writers and Illustrators Conference (in September, at Reading) and the IBBY conference - but Charney was all the friendlier for that.  The group was so small that were were able to meet and talk with everyone there.
          I was especially glad to meet Frances Thomas and Joan Lennon, who I've come to know via e-mail, but never met, and who had never been to Charney before - and Sharon Jones, who runs with the poodles, and who was new to Charney and the SAS.
In the solar, getting set for the quiz.
          What do we do at Charney?  Well, we talk a lot - a lot! - and we eat a lot, while talking - and we drink a lot of wine, while talking - and we sit up late, while talking.  And we laugh as much as we talk.
Another Charney visitor
       Most years we do a lot of this talking on the lawn, in the sun, while the Charney swifts swoop, soar and scream around us.  And we usually go for a walk on one afternoon.  But this year it rained, the rain it rainethed every day.  So, less sun and less swift-watching this year, but just as much talking and laughing. (And eating and drinking.)
         We pretended to work. Kath Roberts and I brought people up to date with our e-book adventures, and answered questions on the whole process.  There was, as last year, a lot of interest.
          Miriam Halamy led an excellent poetry workshop, during which I found myself writing stuff which surprised me, as I'm no poet.  Miriam has a gift for poetry and for getting others to think they can write it - check out some of her poems on her website.
The lavender friinged courtyard
          Di Hofmeyr and Penny Dolan led a session on book-trailers, showing us a varied selection and getting us to think about what made them effective or not.
          Mary Hoffman, the History Girls organiser (where does she find the time and energy) gave a talk on the blog, on organising a multi-blog and writing historic fiction - with help from the other History Girls present, Penny Dolan and Linda Newbery.  (And I chipped in a History Girl Reserve.)
          There was free time to cram in a little writing - and on Wednesday evening there was the famous Charney quiz, organised and presided over by Penny and Lynne Benton.  Score was kept by Cindy Jefferies.
A Charney work-session in between downpors
          The quiz was hard-fought, as ever.  I was on Celia's Reivers, led by Celia Rees, together with Sharon, Joan, Kath and Yvonne Coppard - but the intellectual power-house that is Mary Hoffman led Mary's Marauders, and they also had Joe Friedman, who proved an ace mime-act in the charades round.
          Celia's Reivers therefore did all we could to distract and infuriate the opposition, with psychological undermining, nobbling with strong drink, overdoses of chocolate and surprise attacks with screwed up paper balls - but as Celia, Charney quiz veteran, predicted, we lost despite it all. (Her address to her troops went, 'You do realise, don't you, with that Hoffman on the other team, we're going to be utterly trashed?')
          Charney was, as ever, wonderful.  Now, back to work.
The gardens at Charney Manor
          And here's Blott, the writer's muse...


JO said...

Glad you had such a great time - makes me wonder if I shouldn't write for children, if this is what you all get up to!

Jenny Alexander said...

I was jealous as soon as I read the title, Sue - Charney is my absolute fave event of the writing year, with all my fave people, and I'm gutted to have missed it :) Fiscal restraints - what with 'Coventry' and CWIG already on the calendar. I'll definitely be there next year. May try to bribe Mary into letting me be on her team...

Jackie Marchant said...

I LOVED my first Charney! Am also new to the SAS, so lovely to meet you all. Sue, did you really take those pics this year? How did you manage to make it look SUNNY?

karen said...

Another one here who was very sad not to attend this year, but as mentioned, there were only so many directions I could stretch my purse and holiday allowance in. Glad (though envious) to hear you had a good time.

madwippitt said...

That sounded like you all had such good fun: I'm quite green with envy. Shame it's not wippitt friendly (although do please explain more about the person-who-runs-with-poodles which especially caught my attention). If you go again and feel like stepping outside the immediate environs, do let me know as it's quite local for me and then the wippitts can corner you until you sign my Sterkarm books!

Susan Price said...

I might take you and the wippets up on that, Mad - and I could have done with borrowing a wippet blanket. It wasn't warm! Sharon assures me she runs with poodles, but you'll have to visit her website for more.
Jackie - those photos were taken at Charney this year, but at carefully chosen moments in between downpours. And mostly on Thursday morning, which was beautiful - and our last day.

madwippitt said...

Nope, not a bean could we find about poodles ...
Wippitts make the best hot water bottles anyway. Not fror nothing ae we nicknamed 'Barnsley bedwarmers' ...

Katherine Roberts said...

Great post, Sue! (how do you write them so quickly and yet so well?) My unicorn has done an "undercover post" about Charney over at reclusive muse - and it took him ages, as usual (but then he can't type very well with his unicorn-hooves so he has to get me to help him, and I'm still floating about in post-Charney withdrawal mode, missing the conversation and the puddings...)