In Art & Culture/ City Highlights/ Uncategorised

Pick up your pen

When the University of Winchester decided not to hold the popular Writers’ Festival in 2020, director Sara Gangai took the opportunity to create a new event with a fresh new, now virtual, programme.

The Virtual Writers’ Weekend, which takes place from 9 to 12 July, offers a wide range of 18 workshops, 19 talks, over 800 one-to-one appointments with literary agents and author mentors, and networking opportunities, all on your computer, tablet or smartphone.


Attendees can book up to five one-to-one appointments with top literary agents and commissioning editors to pitch ideas and get feedback or a market appraisal. There will also be two keynote talks with Eoin Colfer, award-winning author of the Artemis Fowl series, and Lissa Evans, best-selling author of Old Baggage and Wed Wabbit. Jasper Fforde will read from his brand-new book, The Constant Rabbit, memoirist Nick Barlay and debut author Kate Bradley will also hold readings. If that isn’t enough, there will also be two panels: an author/agent/publisher panel and a pitching panel, plus ‘All a Bard!’ open mics to read your work.


“We’re excited to be offering the Writers’ Weekend in a virtual format and have chosen video-conference technology that is easy-to-use and encourages attendee interaction. We’ve added virtual chat rooms where writers can post questions and interact with others with the same interest, as well as peer-to-peer feedback sessions.” Sara says. “And now, writers that read at the open mic will be reaching an international audience!”


“Other highlights include workshops with picture book author Chitra Soundar, novelist and memoirist Nick Barlay, fantasy and horror writer Cliff McNish, and crime fiction publisher Joel Richardson,” Sara says. “There will also be talks on the craft of writing, from the likes of award-winning novelist Claire Fuller, publisher Scott Pack, novelist Judith Heneghan, HarperCollins editorial director Phoebe Morgan and author Catherine Menon.”


She adds, “The highlight of the weekend for many is the opportunity to book one-to-one meetings with literary agents. Those 15 minutes can be intense, but are a golden opportunity to meet face to face with an industry professional.”


Writers have the option to engage with the full programme and pitch to agents, or simply view recorded sessions. Prices start at £36. The Writers’ Weekend also runs six writing competitions, including short fiction, children’s writing for fives to teens, picture books, flash fiction, the opening of a novel and a new FREE competition for young writers aged 4 – 15 on the topic of ‘What I like about being at home’.


“Booking is open.” Sara says. “July may seem a little way off but we advise attendees to get in early to ensure they can make the most of the great programme we have on offer.”


For details of what’s on, how to book and information about competitions, scholarships, bursaries and sponsorship opportunities, visit


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