Skyros review

Posted: August 30th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: courses, diary | Tags: , | No Comments »

the-writersThis July/August I taught a two-week creative writing course at The Writers’ Lab on the beautiful Greek island of Skyros. It was my fourth year teaching on the island and I had eleven participants from France, US and UK (not all in the photo unfortunately).

You can read a review of the holiday (and a bit about the course)  from one of the participants, Chrissy Nason –  freelance travel writer.

Beautiful Bath

Posted: March 5th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: courses, diary, writing | Tags: , , | No Comments »
2013-03-05 15.56.07

Holbourne Museum

Today I was at The Holbourne Museum giving a talk about Online Writing at the Bath Literature Festival. The museum is a beautiful venue and I spent an hour and half with the good writers and bloggers of the South West discussing social media, online profiles and getting your work noticed. As promised I have uploaded the slides as a pdf  (5mb)… online-writing

I also mentioned various platforms that students, teachers and writers can use when creating online projects. Here’s a list:

  1. Googlemaps. Here’s an example of how Penguin Books commissioned authors to use Googlemaps  to tell a story
  2. Storify – aggregate social media projects into a coherent narrative
  3. Xtranormal – create characters and get them to speak the dialogue you write for them
  4. Google story builder – simple fun text-based character builder
  5. Memoryminer – this costs to use but you can use the trial version initially
  6. Storybird – aimed more at children’s writing
  7. And here’s a list of free sites to inspire younger writers

Thanks to everyone at the festival for a wonderful day.

Workshops 2013

Posted: November 27th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: courses, diary, events, writing | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

It’s been a busy autumn of engagements but now I’ve got my head down and I’m totally consumed, writing the new novel. However, thought I should post a few dates for next week (!) and next year.

On December 1st  2012 I’ll be in Birmingham delivering a workshop thanks to Kate Cooper, creative force behind The New Optimists. If you’re aged between 18 and 30 and live in Birmingham and you’d like to attend this facilitated workshop on 1st December, co-hosted with the Birmingham Leadership Foundation, then sign up here. It’s free.

We’ll be making ‘narrativium’, multi-media stories from the future, all based on on info from regional scientists, people who have useful info and perspectives on what it takes to feed a city. You’ll be joining lively young Brummies, including a theatre guy, a musician and composer, a film-maker, a novelist and on-line author  . . . to list just a few.

On March 5th, 2013 I’ll be at Bath Literature Festival delivering a workshop called ‘Writing Online’ from 4.30 – 6pm at the Holburne Museum. It’s for age 13+ and costs £10

Here’s the blurb

Learn everything you need to know about how to get people reading your writing. Mez Packer, author of The Game is Altered, will explore with you the ins and outs of blogging, interactive storytelling and how to use social media to develop your work and get it noticed.

In April (5th-7th) 2013 I’ll be on the Isle of Wight with the Skyros team delivering a weekend of creative writing at The Grange. It’ll be my first time on the island and I’m looking forward to a bit of spring sightseeing and meeting the Skyros ‘home team’.

In July 6th-19th, 2013 I’ll be back on the wonderful island of Skyros – again with Skyros Holidays, delivering a full two-week creative writing  course entitled Aspects of Novel Writing. This will be my third year and I can’t wait for some serious sun, sea and scribbling.

That’s it. I’m determined not to accept any more invitations until the novel is written. But knowing me I probably will.


Transmedia project update

Posted: September 14th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: authors, diary, events, exhibition, web 2.0 | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

Reliable Witness has been gathering steam online so I thought I’d aggregate some of the bits and pieces I’ve been doing to promote the project acros the web.

I’ve recorded a Podcast on the excellent Transmedia Storyteller site and made a great new contact – the site’s founder Robert Pratten.

You can have a gander at the images on Flickr of the creative team in full flow.  And there’s even a tumblr site with images of the installation build.

Finally here’s an interview I did with the good people at The Information Daily :

Knowle women are number one

Posted: June 30th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: diary, events, Women | No Comments »

Thank you to the marvellous women of Knowle for welcoming me with such enthusiasm at the library yesterday. As promised (if a day later than I said) here is a list of five of my number ones:

  1. Gilead – Marilyn Robinson
  2. Sacred Hunger – Barry Unsworth
  3. Disgrace – JM Coetzee
  4. Silence – Shusaku Endo
  5. The Hours – Michael Cunningham

This is not a TOP FIVE I hasten to add – just five novels, off the top of my head, that I gave five stars when I read them.

Thanks again for a very enjoyable afternoon – and I’d love to put one of the pictures here that some of you were taking. If you leave your email address in the comments I’ll get in touch. Mxx

Skyros Writers’ Lab

Posted: July 8th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: courses, diary, events, writing | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

Thursday 21 July – Sunday 31 July: Aspects of Novel-writing

Skyros Centre, Greece

The beautiful Greek island of Skyros is home to the world-famous Writers’ Lab (rated as one of the very best creative writing holiday destinations). Nestling on the hillside at the edge of Skyros village the Writers’ Lab is a stone’s throw from the village’s cobbled streets and restaurants and ten minutes walk from the long, sandy beach. Later this month I’ll be running a ten-day course at the centre aimed at developing writers – from beginners to those with a finished novel under their belt. We will cover aspects of novel-writing such as plot, structure, character, voice, as well as the nitty-gritty of prose-style. I will be offering feedback on individual projects and advice on how to find representation and getting published.

The cost is £945 (not including transport). Booking is made through the Skyros website.

Discovering A Song of Jean

Posted: May 2nd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: authors, diary, writing | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

I can’t believe it’s been so long since I last posted here – work/family have been filling my time but I’ve also been hacking apart an almost complete novel and trying to put it back together again. This involves courage – and some writing. I’m determined to have a new #1 draft by the beginning of the summer so I can take a few weeks off before the rewriting process begins – so this post might be my lot for another few weeks.

In the last couple of months I have been accepted as a member of the Tindal Street Fiction Group (TSFG). The group meets once a fortnight and so far I’m enjoying the experience. The evening goes like this: reading, analysis, pub. An excellent format in my opinion. I’ve never belonged to a writing group before and although TSFG has been established for years it doesn’t feel cliquey.

I have just discovered – while writing this post and trying to find links to TSFG – that one of the members, Sybil Ruth, is the author of a poem that I have read and reread since I first came across it last year. The poem won the Mslexia Poetry Competition and is called A Song of Jean – and you can read it here.

I suddenly feel even more chuffed about being a member of TSFG.

A day out in Hillfields

Posted: October 24th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: diary, events, writing | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

I’m really looking forward to the Hillfields Readers Group Open Day

Where: Hope Centre, Sparkbrook Road, Hillfields, Coventry – view on a map
When: 2pm Saturday 21st November 2009

I will be reading from Among Thieves and answering questions about how 1980s Coventry came to loom so large in my debut novel. I’ll also be milling around and enjoying all the other events on offer on the day which include Jo Roberts – Coventry’s Poet in Residence, and Martin Brown – a local Coventry poet who writes and reads humorous verse. There will also be music, dancing, a book fair, a book quiz, food and refreshments.

The day has been organised by Coventry Libraries Information Services where you can find all the information you need about readers and writers groups in your area. Hillfields Readers Group meets on alternative Fridays at 12.30pm . For further information and dates contact Colin Scott on 024 7683 2457 e-mail:

Summer’s end

Posted: September 2nd, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: diary, writing | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

Summer’s end – too early to say that perhaps – but it feels like it to me. Back to work and the whole sorry jig and slide of fitting writing around earning begins again. I’ve had almost a month at home (apart from a couple of quick trips to Bath and Edinburgh). Still, it’s been a strain fitting family and creativity together without busting capillaries. School holidays. I have a wonderful ‘almost teenager’ whose bedroom is next to my office and the the whole cheek-by-Youtube hellishness of POP music through the wall has taken its toll, (I’m not sure I won’t kill something if I hear Dizzee Rascal’s Some People Think I’m Bonkers one more time).


Something colourful and autumnal

Maybe it’ll be good to get some routine back into the mix (although I’ve never been short on discipline – not since I gave up the drugs;-)). Back to the paperwork and the students and the marking. And September is my favourite month. There’s always that day in September, the one that signals the real end of summer – when there’s a freshness to the wind and the smell of something earthy and cool. And even though you know winter’s coming it doesn’t matter in that moment – because it makes you feel cosy and cheery rather than sad. You even lift your face and take a deep breath and say something like ‘I can smell a change coming’. You might even think about the jumpers you need to get out of the bottom drawer, or pumpkin soup or bonfires and get a reflected, seasonal glow. You forget about February, you forget about the cold grey banality of the English winter just around the corner.

I’m making myself miserable and I must stop. It’s only September. September is my favourite month – did I say that already?