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14 September 2022, 3:21 pm


After a two-year break, the Jericho Writers
Festival of Writing was back and it was bigger and better than ever
before. While it was initially overwhelming to be with 400 people in one
place, after only interacting online for so long, the weekend was a huge success.
I’ll let the photos tell the story. Apologies for the non-chronological order and the lack of tags.

With Emma Darwin and our wonderful self-edit alumni

L-R: Janette Owen, Audrey Niven, Mandy Berriman, me, Emma Darwin

The first shortlisted author reading at Friday Night Live

With Janette Owen

With Mandy Berriman, author of Home

The final keynote address with Neema Shah, author of Kololo Hill

With Marvellous Michael

With Neema Shah, keynote speaker and author of Kololo Hill, and Anna Burtt, Jericho’s events organiser

The view from the stage in the final keynote address

Scrubbed up for the gala dinner

Bonus bunnies

With Mandy Berriman and Paul McVeigh


Gala dinner menu – veg option delicious but not listed

With Mandy Berriman

Janette Owen and Audrey Niven

The room key at York. Geddit?

View from the stage at Friday Night Live

Friday Night Live finalists

Agent panel at Friday Night Live

Jo Unwin

L-R: Katy Massey, Janette Owen, Audrey Niven, Mandy Berriman

Forward to 2023, hopefully without the need for masks



29 October 2021, 11:16 am

When I started this blog, over 20 years ago, I could never have predicted writing this post. I’m still so overwhelmed, I’m going to reproduce the press release sent out by the Romantic Novelists’ Association rather than find my own words. 


FRIDAY 29TH OCTOBER 2021 London Indie Editor, Debi Alper, has won the Indie Editor of the Year award for the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s annual Industry Awards for 2021.
The awards, which include four exciting new categories for this year,
celebrate the hard work and talent of any person, group or organisation
who has championed the broad genre of romantic fiction in a positive
way. The
Indie Editor of the Year award recognises an editor who has worked on an independently published novel that falls within the scope of romantic fiction, and
who embraces the genre, supports writers to produce their best work,
and is innovative, creative and visionary in the marketing and promotion
of romantic fiction on every level.

is an author, freelance editor and creative writing tutor. Since 2006,
Debi has spent her time helping other writers to perfect their novels
through critiques, mentoring, Book Doctor sessions and creative writing
workshops. She also runs the phenomenally successful Jericho Writers’
Self-Edit Your Novel course, together with Emma Darwin. An astonishing
one in four authors from the first five years of the course are now
published. Debi also acts as a competition judge, is on the jury for the
London Independent Story Prize and is a reader for the Costa Short
Story Awards.

She commented, I
would like to dedicate this award to the hundreds of authors I’ve
worked with over the years, many of whose novels now grace my
bookshelves. The world needs your stories and I’m so privileged and
proud to have been a part of such wonderful journeys.”

Laura James, the RNA Industry Awards organiser, commented, I
am delighted for the recipients of this year’s Romantic Novelists’
Association Industry Awards and applaud their wonderful skill and
creativity. The range and depth of expertise and their dedication in
supporting romantic fiction is outstanding. Honouring the winners has
been a pleasure and a privilege.”

The awards, which have been held for the
eighth time, are highly respected in the UK publishing industry. The
shortlistees are nominated by the full and associate membership of the
Romantic Novelists’ Association, with the winners being chosen by a
panel of judges.

new award categories recognise the best Narrator, Named Cover Designer,
Indie Editor, and Indie Champion of the Year. Along with the best
Bookseller, Media Star, Agent, Publisher or Editor, Library or
Librarian, and the Inclusion Award for championing inclusivity in
romantic authorship and publishing, they spotlight the many
professionals who promote and support romantic fiction.

The winners of the ten awards were announced during the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Winter Party and Industry Awards ceremony, which was held at the Leonardo Royal Hotel London City, 8-14 Cooper’s Row, London EC3N 2BQ, on Thursday 28th October 2021.


commented, “I became a published author – and a parent – in my forties,
having worked in a variety of jobs after leaving school. I began
working full-time as a freelance editor in my fifties. Now in my
sixties, I have my dream job and can’t imagine ever wanting to retire. I
like to think that I’m proof that age need not be a barrier to success,
nor do you need a string of academic qualifications.”


GET ME! AN EXPERT! Thanks so much to Sue Fisher for the interesting questions. 

With Orna Ross from ALLi, who won the Indie Champion of the Year


5 October 2021, 4:10 pm

 Ah, my poor neglected blog. What a lot has happened in the world since I last posted in 2019. 

I’m breaking radio silence to announce some BIG news! I’m blown away to have been shortlisted by the RNA for their inaugural Indie Editor of the Year Award 2021. I know, right? I love what I do – who wouldn’t? I spend all day (and quite a lot of my nights) working with wonderful authors on fabulous stories. That brings its own rewards and I never expected to be recognised in this way for doing the job I enjoy so much. It’s as if a dream that I never knew that I had has come true. Here’s the announcement in the Bookseller

I’ll also get to go to the famous RNA awards party! For years, I’ve seen photos on social media and thought these events looked like such fun, never guessing that I would be there myself one day in this capacity. 

It’s going to take some adjustment. Like many people, I’m not used to socialising after well over a year of keeping my head down and, in any case, I’m always more comfortable with the spotlight shining on someone else, having the satisfaction of having helped them to get there. I’m going to have words with myself though and own this. I like to think I’m proof that age is no barrier to success, nor do you need academic qualifications to know how stories work.


9 September 2019, 3:16 pm
It’s the day after an adrenalin-fuelled weekend, and I’ve coined a new
word: I’m twired – a combination of tired and wired – after running a three-hour self-edit mini course, hosting Friday Night Live, running a
two-hour psychic distance story lab with Emma Darwin, a workshop on Breaking the Rules and one on Facing the Fear, as well as chairing the final keynote address, with Cathy Bramley.
Cathy is the superstar of the 6-week online self-edit course I’ve run
with Emma since April 2011. One in five of our alumni from the earlier
courses have gone on to be published but, in Cathy’s group, six out of
11 are now published, with Cathy having sold over a million (!) books.

I’m not the only person to say that the 10th Festival of Writing in York was the best yet. The team at Jericho Writers put together an event that covered just about every aspect of writing and getting published, exploring all the different ways to write a novel, as well as the different routes to publishing. As ever, the warmth and inclusivity makes FoW different from many other festivals. With a packed programme of workshops, keynote addresses, story labs, competitions and 1-1s with agents and Book Doctors, it’s no wonder so many people come back year after year. And, of course, some of them start out as delegates and end up running workshops as published authors. I’m talking about people like Mandy Berriman, Cathy Bramley, James Law, Jody Klaire, Melissa Addey, Isabel Costello and Amanda Saint. There can be no doubt lives will have been changed as a result of FoW19 and I can’t wait to hear the success stories rolling in.

I didn’t take as many photos as usual but I’ve managed to gather some together to record an incredible weekend.

York wouldn’t be York without a duck pic

Half of the people at the self-edit mini course

Julie Cordiner and Janette Owen at Friday night dinner

Friday Night Live, with all the shortlisted authors
Blurred – but you get the energy and excitement
Assembling the panel of agents
And we have a winner! Congrats to Taranjit Mander
Half the room in the psychic distance story lab
Gala dinner. L-R: Emma Darwin, William Angelo, John Taylor, Mandy Berriman

Gala dinner. L-R: Julie Cordiner, Melanie Garrett, Emma Darwin

Gala dinner. L-R: Janette Owen, Helen Kampfner

John Taylor and Julie Cohen

Gala dinner. L-R: Emma Darwin, William Angelo, John Taylor, Mandy Berriman, moi, Helen Kampfner, Janette Owen
The traditional self-edit alumni photo

And another alumni pic

Emma Darwin, Janette Owen and Jody Klaire, with Ferb
Finding the self-love in the Facing the Fear workshop

Sharing the love
More sharing

My York safe space

Final keynote with Cathy Bramley

18 July 2019, 12:18 pm
I’m feeling very sad on the day I should be celebrating. The Gene Pool has now been published – the fifth and final novel in the Nirvana series – so I should be dancing, eh? Instead, my guts ache with a feeling that I’ve managed to identify as loss. I miss my Nirvanan family. I’ve lived with them for about 20 years and it’s not just that they’ve gone off into the world, like your kids leaving home. I have to recognise that I’m never going to be sharing space with them again.

I’m handing them all over to you now. Please be gentle with them – though they’re tough enough to kick back if you’re not.

Oh, and if you want the full set you can buy all five for under a tenner from you know where.

Debi on Twitter

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