A Review of the Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival

I am a massive fan of indie-authors and the whole self-publishing/indie author space. So when I had a chance to attend the indie author festival being held in the most picturesque, cute little village in Gloucestershire, how could I not go ;)

The HuLit festival is an independently run book festival in the beautiful village of Hawkesbury Upton which lies on the Cotswold Way and exhibits many of the gorgeous characteristics of a Cotswold village; think chocolate box houses with thatched roofs. With the sun in out in full force, the village looked even more beautiful.

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This unique festival is organised by a local resident, author and chief Commissioning editor of Alli’s author Advice Center, Debbie Young. The all-day festival took place last week on 22nd April 2017.

Upon arriving at the beautiful village, I got settled with a cup of hot tea, and a delicious slice (or three) of home-baked cakes. Surrounded by books, authors and incredible workshops, you could say it was my idea of heaven.

Me with Debbie Young (organiser of HuLit)

The day-long free event consisted of numerous readings and workshops on writing as well as the publishing and business side of running an author business.

Although I wanted to attend every event, I have not yet figured out how to be at two places at the same time, so I had to choose which workshops I could attend.

Luckily for me, that was not very hard, especially when Joanna Penn and Orna Ross are presenting some sessions. So you know where I went!

Here is a summary of what I learnt during the day about the workshops I attended.

Workshop: How to Live and Think More Creatively (Orna Ross, Joanna Penn, Dan Holloway)

Dan Holloway read a brilliant poem about creativity and what it means. You can watch a replay of this here. I re-listened to it numerous of times as it resonated with me.

What I learnt from Dan’s reading:

Me with the lovely Joanna Penn #fangirl!

To be creative means to fail. Creativity can’t be separated from failure. You need to keep trying, and eventually, it will come.

So no matter how much you may be struggling with your book project, just keep going. The light does exist at the end of the tunnel.

The only questions is, are you willing to keep taking those extra steps, stumble a little on the way, and get to the end? As I have said before, success only lies at the finishing line.

‘Goldilocks effect’. Creativity needs just the right conditions to flourish. And the only way you can cultivate these conditions is to keep trying. Some of these attempts will be failures, but each time you try, you get a little better. So keep working at it.

Mish-Mash. Creativity is all about things colliding and then aligning to create something. From the chaos comes order. Try out this exercise to help you be more creative:

  • Think of 2 different things and mish-mash them. Voila- you have come up with a new creation! This is exactly how mythical creatures in the best-loved stories came about:
  • Think of the Minotaur (head of a bull and body of a man)
  • or Medusa (a female body with snakes as her hair).
  • Think of your smartphone, it’s a mish-mash of radio, computer and phone! What can you mix and match and create something new?

Joanna Penn spoke about how she cultivates her curiosity:

Me with Dan Jeffries!

Notice your curiosity and lean into it. Joanna Penn shared how for years she didn’t tell anyone how much she enjoyed walking through graveyards. And then she shared it and hundreds of people in her community came forward and said they also shared the same interest! So lean into what catches your interest and write about it.

Trust emergence. This is about trusting that something will come up when you approach the blank page. Taking this attitude will help you push past creative blocks and give you confidence in yourself. Joanna’s book End of Days’ appeared as a note in her journal almost six years ago. She didn’t think about it, but her subconscious somehow knew when to re-surface this piece of info to her conscious mind and voila a novel was created!

The creative cycle: creativity comes hand in hand with failure. Therefore a level of creative dissatisfaction is crucial to the process of creating.

Think about it, if you were perfectly happy with what you created, you wouldn’t have the desire to create again.

You are a funnel/vehicle through which creativity is channelled through. This is why it’s so crucial to follow your interests and curiosity. Your job is to notice them and capture them onto the page! Here are some more tips (from Orna Ross) to help you pay attention to your interests:

Me with Orna Ross and Joanna Penn
  1. Meditate to quiet the mind
  2. Pick one project and work it on it to completion
  3. Set up a routine to help support your creative work.
  • Twyla Tharp, the choreographer, would wake up, hail a taxi and go to the gym each morning. Only then would she begin her dance practice. She said it was the taxi arriving that served as a prompt for her creative work. Knowing it had come meant she had to get to the gym. At the gym she would begin her dance practice.

See what habits you can introduce to help you with your creative work. For me personally, I follow the below routine to help me with my creative work:

  1. Wake up
  2. Meditate (40 mins)
  3. Journal (15 mins)
  4. Have breakfast (20 mins)
  5. Sit at my desk….and write

Of course, there will be times when you can’t stick to the routine, but if you try to keep to this as much as possible, you will start to cultivate good habits that help you to create. And that can only be a good thing!

Workshop: Writing About Differences

Dan Holloway chaired the Writing with Difference workshop

This was a wonderful panel where authors talked about writing with their differences.

Debbie Young spoke about how her writing was influenced by her experiences of having family members who had diabetes (she write books on how to deal with diabetes in the family).

Dan Holloway spoke about writing, bi-polar and depression and how writing can be a way to help you make sense of what is going on. I have also found writing to be therapeutic when I am battling dark days and was instrumental in helping me to recover from my experiences of depression.

Dan Jeffries spoke about how having a rare condition (Wyburn-Mason Syndrome) led him to write his memoir and has also led him to speak at numerous organisations highlighting rare conditions

Jess Hill spoke about how her disability inspired her to write Jess the Goth Fairy (about a disabled fairy). It’s a lovely book for children explaining how to embrace your differences rather than being afraid of them.

This panel discussion was so eye-opening and so brilliant to see how writing is something that is available to everyone. And the world definitely needs more diverse voices.

We all have a unique story to share which have come from our diverse backgrounds. And that is something that should be celebrated and shared.

How cute is the village post office?!

Workshop: The Future of Reading & Writing

  • With the internet only expanding, there will be more people online. This means more readers online. There has never been a better time to write and publish your book!
  • Joanna mentioned that audio will continue to grow and will likely experience huge growth just as ebooks did, especially with the rise of audio devices in the house like Amazon Echo
Debbie Young, AA Abbott, Orna Ross & Joanna Penn
  • Technology is being developed that could allow people to write directly from their brain! This means you would no longer need to type or even dictate. Instead, just think of your story, and the computer will turn your thoughts into words on the screen!
  • Author AA Abbott adapted one of her books to make it Dyslexic friendly. She used a special font which makes it easier to read for those who have Dyslexia. Being able to adapt your books in this way means books are more accessible to more people which can only be a good thing.

Alice in Wonderland Cafe Pop-Up

There was a lovely Alice in Wonderland themed pop-up cafe serving a light lunch and delicious home-baked cakes throughout the day.

The cafe was scattered with lovely little quotes from the book which caught my eyes. some of my favourites included:

‘’Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end: then stop.’’
“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
“I can’t go back to yesterday because I was a different person then.”
Did I mention the cake was really good?!


It’s incredible that indie authors are creating their own festivals that can be catered more specifically to their audience. It’s also great to see how more authors are holding these events in their own unique ways. I can’t wait to attend next year!

Have you been to any Literature or book festivals lately? What did you learn? Please share in the comments below.

self-publishing, author, entrepreneur, indie author, indie publishing, writer, how to write a book, ebooks, Books & Authors, Book Marketing, creative writing, Books,

Originally published at The Author Entrepreneurs.

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