Christmas is nearly upon us. I can feel it's arms reaching for me, encouraging me to gather my family close once again in its annual embrace. I shall look forward to giving and receiving gifts from family, friends and work colleagues on Xmas morning while my turkey, which I collect tomorrow, roasts in its juices (Apols vegans).
Meanwhile my writing continues apace. Gristle's Revenge is not 4 weeks out of the starting blocks and I've been woken a few short mornings ago by that proverbial voice in my head hassling me about a new story. It continued pestering me to begin the process of capturing the fleeting images that swirl inside my head on a daily occurrence ever since that morning. There is never any let up until I remove those words onto the page and thus my third novel in the sequence of books that is fast becoming a series is stumbling into life as The Quest for Courage is born.
Already I have penned the first chapter as it falls from my mind onto the paper, cereal box, laptop screen, or indeed any medium that allows me to record its story. I'm not sure if I've told folk before how my writing is created. It is not me, I feel like a conduit from which it flows. I mean it must be me, but it is endless and compels me. I write until my mind empties, then it leaves me alone for a while. Often I leave pen and paper by me bed during these storming times because I never know when it might be. At the dentist, in a café, in Tesco queue, or the loo. Driving the car is a prime one and one I have promised myself to keep a Dictaphone in, but I never do. Sometimes I can write like now, where I decide what is going to be put down into words, but other times it pours from me unstoppable. Any of you who know me personally would probably say, "That's just you Carol, that's how you are," but I can assure you, this is much, much more. It takes over my thoughts until I release it. My husband will tell you I tend to speak of nothing else for days at a time, so he often switches off. I believe it's what is called a 'pantser' in the writing world and those of you who write like this, like me, will know what I speak about.
As a result, I now have three novels under construction. I'm two-thirds of the way through writing the What If? novel, half way through the follow-up Aquasapien Prodigy novel and now The Quest for Courage has entered the arena. Its only a question of time to see which novel will finish this race first, the newcomer TQFC, or my two on the home straight. Keep a lookout for further instalments on this three horse race to see if TQFC will fall at the first hurdle or romp home a rank outsider.
I'd like to thank all the folk that came to the signing today and purchased a copy of my latest novel Gristle's Revenge. I appreicated you all making the effort for me despite the terrible weather and the difficulty finding parking.
I'd also like to give a big thank you to Olby's Soul Café for Claire contacting me, and Eli agreeing to host my launch event. Both Eli and his staff were amazing. They were kind and supportive and in case I haven't mentioned it, their food is amazing too. Thank you to their innovative Caribbean-style menu and their talented chef many of us, who came for a drink, stayed to eat their scrumptious food, myself and my son included. If you didn't want to purchase book please consider visiting Olby's Soul Café, Margate. Not only does it have brilliant tasty food, it offers a host of music events throughout the year.
Regards Gristle's Revenge, if you missed it you missed out because I was selling at a pound off the R.R.P. I'm signing books again at the Sandwich Xmas Festival next week on the 8th, hopefully in St Peter's church there. That is my last signing date before Xmas. After that you can order from Waterstones or WH Smiths, but you won't receive these in time for Xmas. If you order via my EStore you will receive it in time for Xmas if you live fairly locally and I'll make every effort to see that you do if you live abroad. I have had sales in Ireland, Germany and Australia, the latter might still be feasible if action is speedy.
Once again thank you to those of you who braved the weather. I was very humbled to have such great friends, relatives and buddies.
Gristle's Revenge is officially a reality. I did have a worrisome day when the day they were supposed to arrive didn't happen. It was definitely stressful. I was working and had arranged for a relative to be on hand all day. When they didn't materialise my stress ratchetted up several levels. Only the good comms from my printers kept my heart from escaping out my chest and flopping onto the floor like a landed trout.
Reassured, I tracked the books as they left the printers later the same day, landing at the Medway depot ready for delivery yesterday. Two hugely heavy boxes arrived, fortunately I didn't need to move them I had strong arms to assist me.
Opening the boxes I held my breath. They were stunning, the top four were individually wrapped, the remainder sealed in groups of four. I've only opened one group of four not wanting to mess with perfection, so I'm hoping the insides are printed round the correct way! Of the ones I opened I couldn't resist stroking the smooth satin covers and sniffing the fresh scent of print.
I must admit a strong inclination to sleep with the copies, but I guessed my family might find that a wee bit weird and a call to the mental health crisis team might follow. As I can't have anything obstructing the launch now I decided to act normally - for a while - and behave. It took all my resolve to climb the stairs to bed and leave my precious bundles alone.
Now half the order is packed up in the lounge ready to take to the launch on Saturday, this Saturday just in case I haven't mentioned it. From 12 - 4pm at Olby's. I notice they have advertised the event on their website, its on Kent Online too and the wonderful Kathy Bailies is putting it on the on-line Ilse of Thanet News. https://theisleofthanetnews.com
I haven't noticed whether the papers have included it, but Waterstones are offering Gristle's Revenge on their site despite not having any copies.
Also Brown's Books for Students have an entry.
And this site really confused me when it produced this photo. I can only assume the man in the photo is Gristle.
My third novel launch looms large. I'm expecting to take delivery of Gristle's Revenge, the follow-up story to Witch on the Warpath, tomorrow just in time for the launch this Saturday (my printers have confirmed delivery date). 12 midday at Olby's Soul Café.
I'm both excited and terrified in equal measure. You'd think after two previous launches I'd be an old hand at this lark, but no. Every time, I chew my nails till they resemble poorly formed doilies, my head aches and I can't sleep for at least a week before. I keep asking myself why I put myself through this and I can't come up with a sensible, meaningful answer. I mean the lack of money I haven't made this year saw the accountant I had to take on ask me, "Is this just a very expensive hobby?" and at times I think it might be.
After this launch, I'm concentrating on putting both earlier novels into paperback form on Amazon, that's because some underhand criminals are advertising my work for sale without owning any. If I sell mine on their in paperback, they're history. I believe they rely on folk selling only E-Reader versions so they can purchase and download a copy then print and sell the hard copy themselves. Its a loophole in the sales by Amazon. Once I have my own original copies for sale, the crims won't be able to sell on-line with Amazon so easily.
Following that I'm aiming to divide my novel Aquasapien into two shorter books. They will become book 1 and 2 and I'll be finishing what will be book 3. Once the book is divided I'll concentrate on finishing "What If?" my next full-length novel. Then I'll finish Aquasapien Prodigy. From there? I'm going to re-visit three other novels sitting in my laptop, but I'm guessing that will be towards the end of 2019.
After a devastating experience over the summer which has left me demoralised, exhausted and heart broken in equal measure I have learnt another lesson from the things life throws at us. I grew up with a mother who spoke for in idioms for most of her life. Along with, "Don't cross your bridges before you get to them" and "Too many cooks..." Another of her favourites was, "Don't count your chickens..." I listened, I nodded and soon without realising found they'd become part of my own phrases and dialogue, though I do try to limit them. Especially when I found the chicken phrase has been around since 1570!
(According to the Wiktionary; First attested in English in Thomas Howell's 1570 New Sonnets and Pretty Pamphlets in the couplet "Counte not thy Chickens that vnhatched be, / Waye wordes as winde, till thou finde certaintee".)
Why am I speaking about this? Because Gristle's Revenge is almost here and fate keeps dropping that chicken idiom into my head every moment. Ignoring fate for 30mins - at my peril - I decided to design and produce a few simple posters for my Book Launch which is on;
1st December 12 - 4pm at Olby's Soul Café Margate
Shameless plug and not embarrassed at all, I'm past that stage.
I'd splashed out, designed and ordered several from my Vistaprint account and they arrived early. I fawned over them. They were so professional, in my website colours too. Very posh I thought. Today I decided I'd have a stab at making my own smaller posters, trying to match the colours and font etc so I pulled up the original Vistaprint artwork and set to it.
I was very happy with the finished product and decided I'd take them all out this afternoon along with the posh Vistaprint ones, hoping several establishments might considering taking one of them.
PLEASE CONTACT ME IF YOU WOULD BE WILLING TO DISPLAY A POSTER. (Second plug, I have no dignity left either)
I printed off the first poster and stared at it. Then I stared at it some more. Then the penny dropped (Another idiom, The OED's earliest citation of a use of the phrase with the 'now I understand' meaning, is from The Daily Mirror August 1939: And then the penny dropped, and I saw his meaning!)
Horror of horrors (synonym) my beautiful new posters had the wrong date on them!!!! I'd inadvertently put the launch date of the Inspirations Writers Group Anthology Launch Yellow;
Saturday 24th November at Old Kent Market Margate 10.30 to 2pm
Has this woman no shame you ask? Apparently not anymore and its not an idiom - I checked. Thank goodness I watched Blue Peter all those years ago. Armed with my trusty laptop, scissors, glue and the printer I worked on matching the design, colour etc and cleverly printed off a new date to sneakily cover the incorrect one. Now I'm waiting for the glue to dry so I can roll them up.
Regards the novel itself? Final proof agreed after some last minute touches to the cover and they should be printing my first 100 copies next week. Fingers Crossed!
( Idiom - There are two main theories regarding the origins of finger-crossing for luck. The first dates to a pre-Christianity Pagan belief in Western Europe in the powerful symbolism of a cross. The intersection was thought to mark a concentration of good spirits and served to anchor a wish until it could come true. mentalfloss.com)
Here I sit waiting for my wish to come true. :)
,Well that's a dismal start to the week. Waterstones have turned down my request to launch Gristle's Revenge at their Westwood Cross branch. I would have thought they'd appreciate someone giving of the time free to encourage more people into the store at Xmas. Apparently, they are too busy with Christmas and have no resources to spare a table and chair for little ole me to sit in a corner and make them some more money.
Now, I'm looking for another venue. I was hoping to launch on Saturday 1st December with £1 from every sale going to the Terrance Higgins Trust as it's World Aids Day, but if I can't find a venue with plenty of footfall that's not going to happen sadly. If any one has any ideas, I'd love to hear them.
Our Writing group, Inspirations, had a talk from a London publisher and it was all really quite depressing for me. Seems I've chosen a terrible time to become a published writer. No one is buying printed books in any great numbers any more, its all kindle and Ereaders. Amazon have cornered the market on it all. With an Ereader and print on demand deal publishing books is a waste of money. It's also why I had to move printing companies, the new one charges half the price of the old one and still I've yet to break even.
Apparently the thing to do is keeping writing, writing, writing and make you books very short and very cheap. Then only publish on Amazon and let them bear the work and the costs of printing. I've investigated Bookbub, which I use as a reader. The recommendation is to do a deal on their site, but I need to make £400 in book sales to afford their pricing. At the rate I'm selling now I'll have made that amount in 2025!
Why, did I choose something so hard to do? The story of my life...
These last four months have been traumatic for me on a personal level. Now I am at a point where, with much sadness and loss, I am moving on. The only positive point out of my sorrow is that I have been able to concentrate on writing a lot more, and reading. I have read so many books in the last month I have lost count, but equal to the one book a day of my past life.
Meanwhile, Gristle's Revenge moves ever nearer publication. My formatter Geoff, has been amazing as usual, and is assisting me tightening up punctuation. Who knew question marks and exclamations had so much work to do?! Hoping to have that finished today or tomorrow.
Next week, all being well, will see the novel going off to print. First, I'll receive the proofing copy and if that is ok, it'll be print ahoy. My aim is to launch on 1st December. As it's Worlds Aids Day and its a cause close to my heart after a good friend passed away and with me working in the field in the NHS for a number of years, I've decided to donate £1 from every one of my books sold on the day (regardless of which book) to the Terrance Higgins Trust. I'm hoping Waterstones will be able to support that because last time they took 50% of the takings.
I've emailed Waterstones, as directed by the store manager at Waterstones Westwood Cross. Seems they've changed their procedure regards local authors since Witch on the Warpath was published and now the manager doesn't decide whether the book can be launched at their store, but the area buyer.
Sadly, my last novel Aquasapien wasn't so lucky, despite their head office requesting a free copy it never appeared in their stores. Hence the reason, despite getting great feedback from readers and a request for a follow-up novel, that I still have several hundred copies at home.
Fingers crossed that Gristle's Revenge meets their expectations, otherwise I'm not sure where I can launch it or sell it for that matter. If I had a fairy godmother, I'd wish that someone would take pity on a poor author and agree to sell her novels. Failing that, an agent or publisher consider supporting her. I can dream. Thank god for fantasy, sometimes it's all you've got. Gosh that's a good slogan, might put it in my books when I sign them in future.
I know I've asked before, but a writer can never have enough reviews. I know I've sold more than 4 copies, but there are only 4 reviews maximum for each of my pieces on Amazon and Goodreads. May I ask again, if you purchased a copy, if you read it and if you liked it. Could you please consider leaving a review either on Amazon and/or Goodreads. I sold many books in 2018, but so far no reviews.
A great weekend and a very busy Saturday.
12.30 I was thrilled to be asked to do a Podcast for Margate Bookie at the Turner Centre this year. Francesca Baker was an absolute professional putting me at ease despite my struggles with the deckchair. LISTEN TO IT HERE
After my podcast, I finally met up with the Margate pop-up Bookshop, owner Francesca Wilkins. I've been following them since their launch in 2017 and been keen to be involved with it, both as a writer myself and as part of Inspirations Writers Group. Francesca was very welcoming and agreed to take both Red and Orange Anthologies from our Writing Group and also Aquasapien from my work.
Sadly, she didn't feel WOTW was right for her target market, which is disappointing because I'm in search of a venue for the launch of Gristle's Revenge in December. Reception from the local Waterstones has been lukewarm. It feels as if since their area buyer took over all the decisions in what they can, and can't stock, some local writers are not fairing so well.
Despite not accepting WOTW, it was a very successful contact and I urge folk to visit the shop whenever it 'pops-up' . It stocks unusual and interesting books including a whole array of younger titles. I tried to resist the urge, but... I'm only human after all, so the song goes.
Before I left, I stopped to visit the events on offer at the Turner Centre, including the brilliant exhibit in the foyer of crushed instruments. A case of three dimensional objects becoming two dimensional. Then later on I was to be surprised by the Animal and Us exhibition, which I would have missed completely, except that fellow Inspirations Writer, Anna Spain was going in as I was coming out.
She didn't know about Margate Bookie and I didn't know about Animals and Us which felt a bit bizarre. The exhibition is an amazing and thought-provoking installation which includes paintings from Turner. Apparently he didn't just do seascapes, he painted animals too and I noticed very well indeed. There is an original Stubbs painting on load from I forget where, of his signature horse. A must-see for horse, animal, and art lovers everywhere.
14.00 After the Turner, I went across the road to the Old Kent Market, Margate to organise the refreshments for the Inspirations Writers Group Yellow Anthology Launch on 24th November at 10 - 2pm (unashamed plug) The Market is a real gem. I don't think it advertises itself well enough which is a shame. Only two businesses inside have actual websites; Foody Moody which is a Vegan Restaurant and the smallest Public House in England, The Little Prince.
There is a plethora of shops inside and all the owners are so welcoming. I had a great refreshment break at the Real Coffee Shop where the owner makes her own chocolate! I'm in. There was a nail and lashes shop I'm dying to try and a Doc Martins shoe shop, plus there's bags of eating places including a Pizzeria, a shop making Malaysian and Singaporean food. No to mention the awesome Baker that's open in the morning, This place is an undiscovered and underused gem.
I was planning to go home in between my next function, but felt so relaxed I sat and wrote eight pages of my What If novel without stopping. Yes I did end up including the coffee shop in the piece.
16.30pm I'd been invited to see a performance at the Old Woolworth building in Margate, on Modern Slavery by Natasha's Dance. I must admit I was a bit dubious. I wasn't sure how anyone could get over this dreadful illegal practice of coercing child and adults to go with them, then control and trap them in a life of sexual slavery and servitude. How wrong was I!
The performance was spot on, encapsulating perfectly the child stolen as a perilous flower, groomed and turned into nothing more than a slave who was treated like a lower form of life. My emotions were all over the place as I become totally immersed in the traumatic events unfolding in front of us. At one point, I had to prevent myself from bursting into tears, even now it filled me with intense sadness. I recommend viewing their website, if you do nothing else. You can find it by clicking on the highlighted link.
Unfortunately, I didn't have time to stay for all the question panel afterwards and I would have loved to speak in greater depth to the dancers. My loss.
18.30 From there I rushed home to get ready for my next engagement. A Macmillan fund raising event in the Freemasons Lodge, Margate. This was a meal and social gathering with light-heart questions on the table. With the raffle and entry they raised over £400 for the charity and I took home a bottle of wine from the raffle. So a win-win situation
My close friends will know that my life in these last three months has been a roller coaster journey. One moment things are up, the next minute down. Today is no different, and I have been struggling with emotions both positive and negative throughout the last twenty-four hours. One of the things that helps me be positive (No pun intended) apart from my family members and trusted friends is my writing.
It's starting to sink in that book three, Gristle's Revenge, is in sight of publication. Dom Channing and Louise Morse did superb jobs on the chapter illustrations. Dom excelled with the cover image of Onk, and based on the first draft of the cover design from Lucie at Pegu Designs, the cover is going to be brilliant. Very similar to Witch on the Warpath with the counterpoint I wanted between detailed photography (photo courtesy of International Author Tara Moore) and naïve pencil drawing.
So, now I'm waiting for the second draft to be completed and once I'm happy with it, I can contact Geoff, my formatter to get going with the final stage before printing. Excitement mounting.
The local Waterstones have shown an interest, but that is all. I have to submit an IP to their email which they will send to their buyer, who will decide whether my work is what they want to promote. I'm hoping it will be. I was informed at the launch of Witch on the Warpath in their store, that it was the highest selling novel at a launch that they had - so fingers crossed.
This time I'm planning to put it in a different genre for publication, as last time despite achieving this success it wasn't placed in their top ten sellers because I'd launched it as a teen novel. Lessons leant and all that!