Where does the month go? One minute I'm clicking send for the September blog and now its the end of October.
This has been a busy month for me - as usual - I can hear you groan. Apart from my 'normal job' I've helped my niece by writing the clues for a Thanet-wide Halloween Treasure Hunt. The Gift Box is running this event, free of charge, for the entire week in an effort to support local businesses. You can spend the week seeking out the answers and the children are going to love it. There's a free prize draw for those who return their answers, plus a photo competition for the best photo with one of the surprise items found in store. You can obtain a clue sheet from the Gift Box FB page just click on the Gift Box link above.
October saw me undertaking lots of family functions and activities. Something I used to do with my sister's children, I've decided to innovate with her grandchildren. I took the first one of them to Gravity trampolining at Blue Water and had a brilliant day jumping around like a loon. I was so glad I'd lost a stone in weight before I went, I was exhausted anyway, but happy seeing a child so free.
After that, there was our Wedding anniversary which saw us off to Ashdown Forest, plenty of writing images for me to enthuse over. Then more anniversaries and birthday evenings with relatives. I'm surprised the weight hasn't piled back on. Fortunately I think the Karate is keeping it at bay.
I ran a session on writing for Young Adults during our Inspirations Writers Group Meeting Saturday. Yes, we are still meeting up via Zoom, which is really easy to attend if you have access to a smart phone, or tablet, or laptop etc. You don't need to be a member to attend meetings, come along and decide whether it's for you.
Joining costs £5 per year. That £5 gives you membership to the National Association of Writers Groups (which normally costs £25 per person, if you live in the UK). They are running on-line workshops, hold residential festivals and retreats and provide a regular newsletter. The £5 is worth that alone.
But there's more. You get access to our four private closed FB pages where we have a general group page, plus critiquing, notes and publishing pages.
And that's not all, IWG has its own website at inspirationswritersgroup.weebly.com You can find the monthly homework on there, and write your own Author's Biography to add to our list of members.
And there's still more. As a member you are entitled to submit work for consideration to be included in any/all of our Anthologies. We have a proved track record and have four publications already on the market. We publish every 12 - 18 months (Covid willing).
All this for £5? - unbelievable.
And that was just Saturday morning! The afternoon saw me supporting friend and fellow author, Faye Beerling, as she launched her first middle grade storybook, Twisty Tales, via Zoom. I was delighted to be asked to read an except from her delightful and imaginative book. I choose to read about the naughty Bored Brian. Joined by Reg Millison aka Reg E. Mental, we had a great time reading and laughing at the antics and the comeuppance of various individuals with Reg singing us out.
You haven't mentioned your own writing, you yell, for a change. No I haven't, I'm still reviewing the proof edited version of What If? I've been spinning between sending to more agents or publishing myself. I've organised my cover illustrator so we'll see. It'll probably be a 2021 publication either way. Likewise Quest for Courage.
I've organised and paid for (not cheap) the printing of Book One of Aquasapien. If it comes back okay it'll be Book Two next. Remember if you have the original, it'll be a limited edition as I'm not getting any more printed in full. You can still purchase the few remaining copies off my Estore found via this site. I deliver anywhere in the world. My mind is being drawn to Book Three Aquasapien Prodigy and finishing that next. However, I have another story, A Sackful of Dragons, calling me too and several more baying in my folders.
Until next time - Stay Safe and Well. And remember you can listen to Witch on the Warpath on my YouTube channel. This week's Chapter was thwart with bloopers and edits galore. My son in threatening to produce a Blooper Special. I replied "no one will want to see those." We will wait and see.
And so a new month flies in and I'm half way through it before I realise, "My blog! I haven't done October's blog yet!" Work has kept me very busy being the front-line key worker for my place of employment. Fortunately, things are going very well there and no problems we can't handle have materialised. Half-term is around the corner and thankfully I can breathe easy for a couple of weeks.
Sadly, like everyone else all my planned author signings and Comicon's got cancelled and shifted to 2021. Its a blow because it costs a fair amount of money to publish each book and not to have many sales except from on-line (which I receive less for) and hard copies sold by Page Turners via Facebook in Thanet and Quex Barn, Birchington. I know shameless plug, but I learnt long ago when I started this game, that selling your work also involves revising what level you consider your pride to be worth. Its taken several knocks over the years, not least from being turned down by the traditional publishing world up till now. I can tell you if you can survive that, promoting your own work is a breeze.
So, "what are you doing this month?" I hear you cry. I'm very happy because I've been asked to read for another author's book launch, via Zoom, on Saturday 24th October. Faye Beerling, is an internationally known author, who recently moved to Thanet and has had her first middle grade novel for children traditionally published. Faye is a member of the British Society of Literature and I have been considering joining the society myself for a short while. However, in this Covid climate I'm not sure whether now is the right time. If anyone has views on this please let me know.
In addition to Faye's launch, and hosting Inspirations writers group meeting on Young Adult Writing, on the same day in the morning, I've a month packed with family birthdays, anniversaries - including my own and other assorted celebrations. Originally we were going to Yorkshire, my husband doing a sponsored walk in aid of the Army BF, with a short trip to Scotland tacked on, but Covid has seen this cancelled, like my signings, to 2021.
Writing wise, What If? is with my proof editor. I'm reviewing the draft of Quest for Courage, Book three in the Witch on the Warpath series, which is weird because I never set out to do a series. I'm also in negotiations with my printing company Printing Book UK, regards getting my new Aquasapien cover designs sorted - and that's not cheap.
I just realised, an exciting month for me, doesn't necessarily make exciting reading to you the reader. Today, its the usual stuff we all have to do shopping, tip run - booked for 7 days time, ironing, feeding the brood and then back to writing.
Oh, and I've more reviews to add to Trip Adviser. Wonder if I can get my readership up to 100,000 before Christmas - challenge accepted. That is if Christmas is still allowed to go ahead this year. I can see that getting cancelled until 2021 as well. Except, I have noticed lots of Christmassy things in the shops. It would be ironic if we all purchased our stuff and then Boris announced, "No Christmas in 2020!" I'm guessing we'd all answer, "Humbug, Mr Scrooge."
I've just reviewed last month's blog in preparation for writing this month's piece and was amazed that only four weeks have passed since I lost Billy Big Beak. It feels like he has been gone months and still a tiny place in my heart exists just for him. Sounds soppy doesn't it, but I think of the life he should have had and what he might be doing now. I believe that its this part of me, that makes me able to write. Able to put myself in someone else's shoes and empathise with a character in depth.
Ironically, some might not think so knowing me face to face, but I think I learnt as a child, to keep that part of me deeply submerged to such an extent that I get into trouble for not being sensitive to others feelings. I am, however, very sensitive to my patient's needs and I don't believe I have ever had a complaint about my apparent insensitivity from the people who matter to me.
If you knew me well, you'd only have to see me reading a book, or watching a film or programme. It's rare for me to get through anything without tearing up spontaneously. I feel subject to my emotions in these situations, only letting my guard down at home, which is also where I write.
So, BBB is no more sadly. Since then three mice, two voles and a beautiful coal tit have joined the ranks of my lucrative cat's kills. Its hard isn't it, loving someone or something, when they do awful things that you can't sanction yourself. I did look into performing taxidermy on the coal tit so he could live on, but after reviewing the absolutely horrific procedure which includes scooping out the brain through the neck - once you've broken it - my sensitive heart couldn't face it. And I thought attending a post-mortem was bad!
On the book front, re-writing the last sections of What If? continues and I've submitted the first three chapters to the Higham Agency Open Day event in the hope it might eventually lead to finding an agent to represent my work long-term. This is the first step in another long process, or as I call it Round One in the next fight.
Another new adventure I'm involved in, is the new home-based Bookshop, Paige Turners. I've submitted my novels and Inspirations Anthologies too . A Facebook bookshop they sell new and used books. You can browse on-line and if local to Thanet, they will deliver, or you can collect, or they will post anywhere in the world - providing you cover the postage costs. Please consider liking their page, this is a new business trying to make a future in troubled times and if you like their wares, just contact them.
Finally, I've started going out for meals again and naturally started my reviews on Trip Adviser once more. Last time I looked, I had a 55,000 readership. Imagine my surprise, when I added three more reviews this week to find first, that 88 people had reviewed them in three days, but more interestingly that I now have a readership of over 90,000 people. I only wish a third of them would consider purchasing my books if they like my words. I'm going to end up being known as a resturant critic before I ever get a traditional publisher.
Currently, a small number of folk follow me. Please feel free to add your name to my followers list and you'll be informed whenever I visit or eat somewhere. I do it a lot - I love my food - and I always tell the truth, so its a good indicator of whether a place is good or not.
By the way, if I have an average or worse experience I rarely comment. I don't believe in slagging folk off. I will complain if its beyond terrible though to protect other diners. I also offer constructive criticism on how places can improve. Several restaurants have acknowledged my constructive comments and improved their establishment practices. I know because I've re-visited afterwards. As a result, I feel my reviews are valued and worthwhile - as shown by my readership.
I also answer a large number of questions about holiday destinations and activities in addition to resturants.
Don't forget, I'm still reading Witch on the Warpath on my YouTube channel - Carol M. Salter. If you go there you can start from Chapter One and if you subscribe (its free for now) you'll be inofrmed when my next chapter is published.
Do you ever consider how much of your life changes from one month to the next? Several of my friends keep diaries and this blog is beginning to look like that to me. I re-read the recent blogs I've written and am amazed how much I travel both mentally and emotionally in four short weeks.
Last month, I mentioned I'd not succeeded in coming anywhere in the Thanet Writers competition, then that afternoon I discovered I'd won the Faversham Eye Essay Writing competition!
You could have knocked me down with the proverbial feather. It took me quite a while to come down from the high. Submitting stories was a first for me. It was good to feel some validation that I'm on the right track.
That evening, I rescued Billy BigBeak Blackbird from my cat Halo and after half hourly feeds, then two hourly feeds, I began the long process of encouraging him to fly. Over the next couple of weeks, my hubby dug up earth worms and we spent several worrying days that he'd never learn to feed himself instead of me feeding him catfood from the back of a spoon.
Two and a half weeks later he was fledged and hunting worms in the bottom of his cage. The day I dreaded arrived. I'd come to love Billy. He used to nestle under my chin and sleep in my palm if he was cold. It was hard releasing him. I could have happily kept him as a pet, but he was a wild thing and needed to fly free. He hopped about under the bushes, then flew away and my husband saw him flying back and forth over the fence in the garden, so free and hopefully so happy.
Five hours later, he found him, wings outspread drown in our pond. To say I was heart broken was an understatement. We buried him that night, next to our beloved cat Peewee. A few days later, I purchased a beautiful blackbird statue to put where he lay. I make no apology for all the photos of Billy, a tiny piece of my heart went with him that day.
However, I have since made my pond as bird friendly and safe as possible so no more birds die in it. It has log roll slopes and wooden ladders going in and out of the water and birds gather there to drink, as they did before, in a much safer environment.
I'm also going to introduce Billy BigBeak as a character in my novel Quest for Courage, the third story in the Witch on the Warpath series, so his memory and photo of him will always live on.
Half way through July and almost half way through reading Witch on the Warpath on YouTube (Carol M. Salter channel) Had some interesting feedback so far, the last one I mentioned in the intro for Chapter 16 - Crogg. Also managed to put a blooper into Chapter 15 to those who read until the end. Did another blooper today, but that definitely won't be making its way on to YouTube. Can't believe I made the same mistake twice. My son/IT guru has decided to keep it for his own personal amusement. I'd like it deleted since its X-rated. Its not the only one but the full weight of my frustration comes through in just the one word expletive. That wasn't my first, but its thankfully the only one saved.
On the disappointing news front. The August Craft fair in Folkestone I was due to do an author's signing at has been cancelled, and today I learnt the short story Figures, that I wrote and entered into the Thanet Writers competition didn't get Long-listed. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for my next submission, Life After Covid, written for the Faversham Eye competition, but my positivity is slightly dented. Its at times like this I wish I could have a few glasses of wine to soak in my misery. All this and a Sulphate allergy too double Pah!. Finding wine I can drink is like an adventure for Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, or should that be Doombar because I can't drink beer either - or cider.
Moving on from my self-pity. I'm deep into my re-write of What If, re-working the story, plot, geography and characters. Struggling to find a printing company, I can afford, to print my new books for Aquasapien. I'd like the title to be in metallic but my current printer don't do metallic. My previous printers are way too expensive and another I was recommended went out of business in 2018. Others recommended only do leaflets and brochures, not book printing. Any ideas welcome. Comment below.
Cute news alert. I picked up a baby blackbird yesterday being chased around my garden by the cat. I have two and despite wanting to leave it as I'm supposed to, it didn't stand a chance. My cat had eyed it up as a mid-evening snack. The local RSPCA centre is also closed or I would have whipped it up there. Lots of research on Google. Definiately a blackbird.
Apparently they fall out of the nest at 9 days old and live under bushes and trees until day 13/14 when they are supposed to be able to fly. I don't think this one is 9 days yet. Its a bolshi character, and loud? my goodness how it didn't get eaten days ago I'll never know. Fortunately I keep chick food for just such an occasion. The last chick I reared was a green finch who wouldn't fly and we had for two years. You can also soak cat or dog kibble to feed them, but NEVER give them anything with milk in it. It can be fatal. (cute photo curtesy of Yorkshire Times)
So, here I am half hourly feeding for the next few days. I've transferred him into a bigger cage since he survived the night. The first day is always the one when you know if they are going to make it. At least its taken my mind off my failure. I did hope to make the long list. (no it hasn't!) It must be fate because I've also just finished volunteering at the local hospital and the school has closed for two weeks. It was meant to be.
A quick thank you to the Linen Room Team for making me feel so welcome. I loved being part of your team.
It was weird being there. Thank you to management for their support and the new bin. And also Thank you for all the cards, gifts and flowers. I got more stuff, feedback and praise in those few months than I ever remember whilst working in the NHS for 40 years.
I began nursing in 1975 as a Cadet Nurse and my first ever placement was the Linen room at the then Isle of Thanet Hospital (aka QEQM Hospital). Forty six years later, and where does the Volunteer Co-Ordinator send me to work? You guess it - The Linen Room. It made me humble, excited and reflective. They say what goes around, comes around. Lets hope its only true for my work and not Covid 19.
Got to celebrate this week as finished my first draft of Quest for Courage at 87,000 words. Thank you to everyone who sent me congratulations on FB, that made my day. Have set that aside now. My methodology for writing always involves putting completed work away for several weeks and working on something different. This means I can come back to the 2nd draft without a emotional head tied up with the awesome story, but a logical head ready to review, critique and refine.
Picked up the draft of What If, to commence revising that came back from the editor a while back. Must admit I'd been putting it off, but with Q4C finished I'd no excuse any more. Somewhat emotional beginning. Lots to think about, lots to amend/adapt. When I started writing the inital first pages in 2017 it was set in England, the characters English. Somewhere along the way I ended up using places in the USA I know well because it gave me the landscape and city structures I needed. Unfortunately, those type of places are rare in England so those reading in England would know there wasn't any place like those here. That in turn leads to credibility dropping on the plot and story.
So, while you lot have been enjoying lockdown I've been to Ontario, Canada. Sounds good? It would have been if I'd was able to travel there, but due to Covid I've had to make do with my best friend, Google. Now my story, originally set in the imaginary town of Hewell in South East England is set in Sudbury. Still sounds like its an English town right? But this one isn't.
Interesting to view Canada on the map, didn't really appreicate the layout of the land, nor the amount of English towns like London, Chatham, Kent etc there are. Spent one afternoon exploring the sewer system of Greater Sudbury and getting to know the road layout around the town and surrounding areas. I feel like I've been on a field trip, especially using the walking icon to stroll down streets and check out names. It was weird like I'd written it for Sudbury. I found the apartment block in my story, situated right across the road from the church too, also in this story. The garage and other places exist, making it feel slightly spooky. Maybe I flew there in one of my larger-than-life dreams rather than on a Boeing 747?
So, I'm adapting the geography as I re-write and taking in the comments and suggestions from my editor too. I was hoping to publish this year, but realistically its likely to be 2021. Maybe 1st April like previously, or May Day (1st May). So far I've used Halloween, (31st Oct) World Aids Day (1st December) and April Fools Day (1st April) Ideas welcome.
My next booked event selling my work is the Craft Fair on 31st August at the Leas Folkestone. I'm waiting to hear if that goes ahead. Then there's the possibility of Wyntercon 2020 in Eastbourne in September. Another craft Fair in Dover at the Town Hall on 10th October, Reading Comicon in November which I have paid for and booked my hotel. Then a final Xmas Fair in Sandwich in December. Fingers crossed on all of these. A lot less sadly than originally booked, thanks Covid. Actually It might be a good idea to list my events on a separate page so folk can see where and when I am. I'd love folk to drop by even if its just to say hello. Next job.
Stay safe and well everyone.
Its early June and slightly bizarre to be sitting here at 8.15pm in the evening, writing my latest novel Quest For Courage at the dining table, whilst my 21 year old son makes another attempt on the World Record for the VR game Beat Sabre. He's 6,000 points away from reaching the top ten global scoreboard which is something of an achievement. Especially, when you consider my boy has dyspraxia, auditory dyslexia and a visual processing disorder. In theory he shouldn't be able to do this. He falls 'up' stairs several times a day, walks into things, forgets things said to him constantly and struggles with all the activities of daily living. Yet he has practised Beat Sabre so much he has not only mastered this game, but also learnt to drive an automatic car, passing his test first time. Something we never expected him to achieve. I am so proud of him, sometimes I think I might burst. Don't let anyone tell you, your son will not do anything because he has 'issues'. Determination overrides diagnosis's such as these.
This makes me think of my life, coming from an illiterate mother and a labourer father as a child I don't think I was expected to achieve much either, but I think close friends will say I did achieve much. Nor have I stopped, or given up striving to improve myself because I'm older. I've watched some of my peers relax and settle into a comfortable life as their end of life destiny fills their thoughts. This thought affects me the exact opposite way. I'm not ready to stop living my life, Covid be damned. So I'm finishing the first draft of novel number five (at 70,000 words now), in a strange situation where my son pounds out the Greatest Showman, one of my favourites not six feet away. Fortunately, I can also lock myself away, not in a Covid way, but in my mind and concentrate on the words I need to finish this, the third novel in the Witch on the Warpath series. And to think I have another three stories lined up to write in my head and a further one completed awaiting final proof edit and print production.
I realised recently that for a traditional publisher/agent I probably don't have enough years left ahead of me to provide them with lucrative career prospect. Its why I use my savings and sales to produce more books. It is true you enter this world with nothing and you leave with nothing, but this is only true if you don't LIVE. Retirement is a state of mind not an occupation, in my view. I retired once and lasted three days before re-entering full-time employment again.
This current health crisis has given all of us time to think about our lives,. How we live them, how we want to live them and what is important to us. I decided, whilst in meditation last Friday that I want to be buried. I'd spent years worrying about cremation or burial, then we did a session imaging lying down in a field with trees and sunshine and life around us and I thought 'this is lovely.' This is what I want, where I want to be. I also realised that there is no way I'm leaving this Earth with nothing. I shall take with me the most amazing memories of my family, my friends, my career, my learning, my writing, the world around me and... my son attaining a place on the global Beat Sabre score board.
Never stop. Never sit and do nothing. Never complain if you've never tried. Never surrender to living.
The above phrase has always been at the heart of my beliefs and it is a motto I subscribe to every day. Sometimes the positive isn't always obvious, its not always clear straight away and it doesn't always occur immediately, but I believe it is true and I live my life by it.
Often this phrase is the only thing that has kept me going when times, like now, are at their hardest, if not nigh on impossible. Things happen during stressful times that change the way you look at things. It changes the value you place of things and people in particular. I know I am fortunate to have people who love me and this stressful time has reinforced that state, not only recognising that I am loved and love in return, but how precious and short lived it can be. Especially when you consider the rising number of deaths globally and in the UK
I urge you, don't waste this time, complaining about what you don't have, what you haven't got, what someone else has. Look instead for what you have now, and plan for your future. Your life may not be brilliant. You may not have money or success, but you may have something more important than that, because whatever you are from a carer at home, a keyworker to a celebrity or king, you will never be able to take your success or money with you. Better to have the love and kindness of a great friend, relative or helper. Better to have your health and be alive. Better to be safe, surrounded by people who care for you than to worry about the lacks in your life. Concentrating on these can led to bitterness, envy and misery and there's enough of the last one in the world without you inventing more.
And what if you don't have any of those? I can hear you asking. This leads me back to my early point. Not every positive happens at the same time as the negative event. Let this time be one of reflection and decision-making and goals. Is there one thing you don't have that you desperately want, promise yourself when this is over that you WILL reach for it.
If its other people, reach out to them instead of waiting for them to come to you. If its a job, a skill, a hobby, anything. It is achievable with patience, practice and determination. You need at least these three elements to stand any chance of success and most of us have many more attributes than these. Try not to give up or lose focus in your goal, because this is what happens to most people. They lose their way and end up in that negative place again. I know I have been there several times in my life. I sometimes wonder how I'm still here.
I've tried to find voluntary work offering my services during this time without success which didn't make me feel good. However I did manage to accomplish one worthwhile thing, taking a friend to Kings
hospital and back for her Cancer surgery and though it was a very sad reason for her. I felt honoured to be able to do something for someone. (One Positive)
This has been a great time for me writing wise. I've used the time to almost complete another novel during lockdown and tidy up several others ready for release. (Two Positive.) In my heart I still want a traditional publisher, though part of me is not sure why any more. I think its something to do with being validated and recognised as being capable of producing something a wider audience likes, rather than a few good friends, who I wonder are just being nice -because they are.
The biggest buzz currently would be for my Podcasts (Three Positives) to take off after my decision to release Witch on the Warpath weekly on YouTube chapter by chapter. Its one way, I thought, I can do something for folk stuck at home and also get one story out there (Four Positives). So far several more than 'a few good friends' have seen it, but naturally I'm not content with that and want more. I've linked them into my front MY NEWS page to help spread the word. LINK HERE TOO.
I encourage everyone reading this to take a couple of minutes identifying a couple of poisitives in their life and if you can't think of any at this moment in time, consider two positives you would like, then decide how you are going to accomplish this.
My heart and love go out to everyone. Stay safe, stay well and remember nobody has to be alone unless they wish to be. Pick up the phone, Email, message, Instagram, Podcast, Twitter, Skype, WhattsApp and Zoom. And if you don't have any of that, do what I did... start writing. You could always reply to me.
WOW, how much can a world change in four weeks. Was it only a short while ago I was at London Comicon? Its unbelievable. Although I'm gutted that I'm not at work full-time, the schools closed early in Term 4, and now its half-term. It has presented me with a unique opportunity that I'd be a fool to ignore. Namely, moving my writing and publishing forward.
I've been writing every day since leaving work and its given me an insight into what it would be like to be a professional paid author. I'd started Quest for Courage, the third book in Onk's series and had done several thousand words in the trilogy, but writing every day has me just under 50,000 words to date. Usually my first drafts are around 60,000 extending to 85,000 to 95,000 words prior to proof editing. I wasn't planning on releasing number three this year but who knows?
Writing about 1 - 2,000 words a day still requires some focus. It isn't easy getting into the zone when the dirty bin and son's sock drawer calls. I thought I'd be writing 5,000 a day easy, but it's also easy to get distracted quickly. Feed the cats six times a day - when you're home. Make six cups of tea a day - when you're home. Have a snack six times a day - when you're home. Then there's watering the plants, filling up the peanuts and several outdoor water baths, plus tidying the son's disgusting bedroom. Then after all that, you need a break in front of the TV watching Gordon Ramsey sort out another problematic family relationship in a restaurant.
Back to writing, as well as continuing with Q4C, my latest completed novel WHAT IF? is with my Proof Editor and now I've completed the Blurb for the back cover, my cover design illustrator is on the case. In addition to that, I've split Aquasapien Metamorphosis into two books and am currently seeking printing estimates. So, if you have the complete story in one copy hold on to it because it won't appear in that format anymore and it could become sought after (I should be so lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky, as Kylie reminds me). These two books will come out at £7.50 each and the original will be going back up in price to £9 once they are for sale. Book three is still on hold while I finish C4Q.
Finally, and due in part to the virus crisis, I've released WITCH ON THE WARPATH as a podcast on U-Tube, producing chapter by chapter in instalments read by yours truly. This widens the audience of readers to those unable to read the written word for whatever reason. Please check it out HERE
As you probably know from my previous blogs, I recently made the step up into the Comicon world, starting with Eastbourne Wyntercon and Reading Comicon in the Autumn of last year. These were great and I enjoyed them so much, but they are regional events and I've been wondering about moving into larger events at Wales Comicon, Manchester and London. With these in mind, I attended the Spring Comicon at Olympia, London yesterday, 29th February, taking my boys with me (husband and son) to do some research. What I discovered was good and if you've ever thought about going/trading at one of these events this information might prove beneficial.
Initally, my plan had been to go up the night before, as if I was doing a rehearsal for trading there. I planned to take my son because if I do actually trade, he'll be a great help, not least so I can go to the toilet etc. LOL. At almost the last minute, I decided to invite my husband too, feeling guilty at leaving him at home alone when he so often pays for our trips and luxuries.
He suggested it would be much cheaper going up by train and coming back the same day and doing a group booking. He was right, as always. One night for three people, even in a bottom end hotel in London, isn't cheap. Plus, I'd still have to pay for the train and because we were going one day and coming back the next that was going to cost more money. The research trip, that was going to cost over £400 with food, tickets etc, ended up costing me £108 for all three of us excluding food; £57 for tickets and £51 for a group booking return on the train using any service. - Tip 1. I'm lucky if I make £100 at an event, let alone £400. My accountant has already said,
"It's an expensive hobby, not a business."
"It's not for the want of trying," I tell her! (but she is right so far)
Arriving at London, we discovered that the train to Olympia only runs at weekends and when there is a specific event, which was fortunate for us. The dog-leg over-land line took us as near to the building as possible. We arrived at 0930 wanting to avoid the rush at 0900 when it opened. I'd been assured that this was a much smaller event than the Summer Comicon I was considering, so I didn't expect much in the way of crowds, viewing it like the regional ones where folk wander in and out all day.
What a mistake! We left the station premises to see in front of us a fairly long queue, but it was moving rapidly and heading around the corner into what looked like the building. Wrong. It went around the corner alright and became three queues! We joined the outer one and I was dreading that it was a snake queue where it winds back on itself like at Disney. Fortunately, they were three separate queues and the waiting was about thirty minutes in the light rain. Bring a foldable umbrella - Tip 2. Outside some folk had come dressed up and ready to kill, a few literally! Several worn contact lens and wigs in prelude to their big 'coming-out' outfit. It was quite entertaining trying to guess what folk were. Inside all bags were searched and as we were starving by now we opted to eat first grabbing a delicious sausage in a fresh crusty bun. Superb.
Spring Comicon is set out in the main hall using the ground and first floor. On the ground floor there was a huge exhibit for the new James Bond film, 'Time to Die' and apart from a cinema seating area where you could view trailers? There was also an area where you could enter a secret place and become a 00 agent. We didn't join the queue, though I might have if I'd been alone. The star attraction was the gorgeous Aston Martin (see photos on my conference page) with machine guns coming out of its headlights and deep scratches down both its sides. My husband reliably informed me it was a 'wrap' because NO-ONE would really do that to an AM.
The ground floor was stuffed full with traders, many selling the same thing and also items you could easily purchase on-line. Several stalls were selling Wobble heads of every Sci-Fi fantasy and horror icon. There were T-shirt stalls with witty slogans, many were brilliant puns on Sci/Fantasy phrase etc. My husband purchased one saying Miyagi Do Karate, after the Karate Kid film. (He is heavily into Karate). In addition there were traders selling autographed photos, some up to several thousand pounds. There were toys stalls and jewellery and badges. I was surprised by two things, first the amount of Fudge stalls - that is all that about? And second, by the lack of traders selling things like Comicon costumes and accessories. If ever there was something lacking, it was that.
I would have purchased a mauve wig and pointy ears in a heartbeat. I regretted not organising my wardrobe the night before watching all the fans walking around. At home, I have much more suitable clothes and jewellery than I wore to the event, which would have fitted in so well, if only I'd considered them. - Tip 3. These are clothes you purchase then never know where to wear them. (excuse the double wear) Comicon is exactly where. I'd made a bit of an effort donning my latest sparkly peacock top and military coat, but I could have worn my beautiful mauve DMs, they would have fitted in so well. My dragon pendant, my cat rings. Lots of things. Pah!
Back to the Comicon, upstairs on the first floor were rows and rows of celebrities signing autographs and chatting to folk who'd paid. Every one of them had a large poster up behind them showing their picture and their credits. There were several I didn't have a clue about but I saw Sylvester McCoy, and Jerome Flynn from Game of Thrones, who I didn't realise had been from Soldier, Soldier and later sang with Robson Green. My goodness. I also saw a very elderly Christopher Lambert, who looked nothing like I remembered. Throwing caution to the wind, I ran over to him, ignoring his 'bodyguard' and told him "I fancied you like crazy when I was younger." Another elderly gentleman was Colin Baker, a Doctor Who reincarnation and then there was Ben Crompton from Games of Thrones. I told him it was "good to see someone who still looks like themselves. There were loads of Games of Thrones stars and Doctor Who actors, the latter from times gone by.
Also upstairs were artists and authors. I scanned each of these and they weren't doing much business. The majority of people came upstairs to meet their idols not purchase books. So if I'm having a stall it will be downstairs in possible. Tip 4. That's if you are allowed to.
Finally, before we left I spoke to the staff regards having a stall,. They advised going on their website, Summer Comicon and all necessary information regards costs etc is under the Exhibitors tab. Tip 5. Next, I'll be costing the event and figuring out how to transport books etc there and back. I'm sure this will be covered in later Blogs.
Please see the Comicon costumes on my Conference & Events page, because although I haven't commented on them this time, they were pretty amazing. Special commendation to the man with a mobility issue who came as a Thunderbirds puppet, complete with scissors and cut strings above him. Absolutely Brilliant.
A note on my writing. I've started Quest for Courage again and written several thousand more words and I'm on my third literary agent.