I’ve just returned from Lesvos, in the Greek islands, where I attended the second Lesvos Lesfic event run by Ylva Publishing. It was just as much fun as last year, and for me had an additional element in the form of being the lead speaker on a panel discussion.

Found on the bar of one of the queer-owned bar/restaurants in Skala Eresos

Now, in my day job, I regularly stand up in front of a room full of people, many of whom I don’t know, and present updates on projects to them, or deliver training on an element of my company’s financial system. You’d think, therefore, that hosting a panel discussion, especially on a topic I feel passionately about, would be a walk in a Greek park, yes?

Er, no.

I was unbelievably nervous! All my usual confidence fled and my hands shook as I read through my notes once more in my apartment. I snorted to myself when that old adage about public speaking flashed into my brain: just imagine the audience naked. Yeah, that’s so not going to help when my audience are all lesbian or bi women and my subject is diversity in f/f erotica… (and look out for a forthcoming Ylva blog I’m writing about that subject)

The nerves came mainly from still feeling like a newbie at this writing lark – there were much more experienced authors sitting in front of me, as well as some very well-read readers. I think I feared I would sound a bit of an upstart, spouting my opinion on a subject they may all know more about than me. I tried to rationalise that although I was leading a panel, I wasn’t teaching – I was merely facilitating a discussion, opening it with my opinion on something, and it was ok if other people didn’t agree with that.

Photo credit: Sam Achilles, Ylva Publishing

And, of course, once I sat down in front of the assembled guests, and started talking about my subject, the nerves did dissipate. And they completely disappeared when my charming audience engaged with my subject in a wholeheartedly enthusiastic manner. We had an incredibly interesting discussion for nearly two hours, and at the end of it, I wondered why I’d been so panicked at the start…

I realised through this experience that while certain skills can be transferrable to different situations, that doesn’t mean the new situation is any less challenging. And I was proud of myself for doing it, for stepping up to do something so out of my normal day-to-day life, and pulling it off. It’s another thing achieved in this new writing life, another thing I would never have imagined achieving a couple of years ago, before I was a published author. I love that my writing is opening up so many different challenges and opportunities to me.

While on Lesvos, I also got started on my next project, a novella. This too is a new challenge – so far, I have only written either short stories, or full-length novels. A novella needs to have a full story and in-depth characterisations, but in a word count around half of a full novel. It’s already an interesting process, working out which elements of detail are essential to the story and must be incorporated, and which can be considered superfluous in order to stay within the word count. We’ll see how it goes, but so far I’m enjoying it.

Finally, two things to keep an eye out for: firstly, news of my third novel – Ylva will be doing a cover reveal and announcement of publication date on social media in the next few days. And secondly, it’s the GCLS conference this week, and they’ll be handing out the Goldie awards on Saturday 8th July. My debut novel, ‘The Club’, is in the final for Best Erotica, so keep your fingers crossed for me, please!

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