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!
Just have to say that today I received the final illustrations from Dom Channing for Gristle's Revenge. He has also completed the colour drawing that will go onto the cover of the book. I can't wait to launch this follow-up novel to Witch on the Warpath.
Next step, I'll be sending the cover to the illustrator, then the story to my formatter. From there its a quick hop (metamorphically speaking) to the printers. At this rate I might still make my preferred Halloween date. Fingers crossed.
With Gristle's Revenge moving on I can finally get What If? completed.
What If? has been an interesting story to write, but a lot harder to describe. Its about a girl, a woman really as she is aged 24, who she finds out that the life she has lived until this point is not real. I can't reveal too much without it being a spoiler alert. I suppose I'd call it another story outside the box. Think Sci-fi meets paranormal. I haven't a clue which genre to put it in as a result.
This novel will use up my last ISBN number and I'll need to purchase another ten numbers to continue publishing. I do wish some nice publishing company would take pity on a poor, struggling author. Too much self-pity?
I have spoken to Waterstones Westwood Cross about having the launch for GR there and it seemed promising at the time, but the manager wasn't present. Once I receive a hard copy in my sweaty hands I will return to confirm the arrangement, Thankfully I will be able to launch in Thanet unlike Aquasapien, which ruined any chance of sales. Though I love the novel, because Waterstones etc didn't take it on, despite their head office requesting a copy, I've had very little chance of selling any copies. Oh gosh, that's just reminded me I haven't paid the balance of one of my fairs. Got to go and remedy it.
Returned home yesterday after two weeks abroad in hotter and wetter climes. The aim originally to relax, unwind and live in the moment was sadly ruined by someone prior to leaving England. As a result most of every waking moment in July and the holiday were spent concentrating on this element of my life and wondering what, why and how. Or more specifically what if?
Which is coincidental since my next novel to be published after Gristle's Revenge, which I'm still hoping to get out before Christmas, is called What If? It seems the title has some resonance with me now and I'm seriously thinking "What if I..."
Anyway I wrote, or rather re-wrote the manuscript non-stop, including through the night because the depressing thoughts in my mind wouldn't leave me alone. Writing, and the 47 mosquito bites I accrued on my body which wouldn't stop itching, ensured that not every moment of my mind was straying in a certain negative direction - which I can't talk about.
This new novel, my fourth, is another contemporary Sci-Fi novel set on Earth about a girl called Katie. Her life becomes unravelled when she reaches 24 yrs old and finds out the world she lives on is not as it seems. It could be seen as a type of paranormal except none of the species involved exist in other stories or genres.
This novel is a multiple point of view story, one I haven't tried before. If you think maintaining continuity when writing a storyline is hard, try this style - its a nightmare, dream or hallucination, depending on your point of view!
What a week! I could probably write a book about it and who knows in the future I might. The injustice of man (or should that be woman) over man is an interesting theme. Other similar themes include; innocent until proved guilty, or, hell has no fury like a woman scorned. There is even the biblical one, let he who is without sin cast the first stone. Goodness, I could write four novels based on those - and maybe I will.
Meanwhile, back to the life that is me trying to write, publish, market and sell books. As some of you know in addition to selling my own work in My Store, I also sell copies of Inspirations Writers Group Anthologies and Soroptimist Anthologies. What people maybe not be aware is that I don't take a cut of any of these publications. The money you pay goes directly to the group concerned.
In the case of Soroptimist Anthologies, I send any funds raised to SI Canterbury for them to utilise in the charity projects. Inspirations writers Group uses the funds to build on their already growing list of achievements with Red and Orange. Yellow will soon be joining them and gracing the shelves of your local libraries and also my Estore. Keep an eye out (not literally) for their up-coming book launch soon.
I'm thinking that I might expand this idea to include other authors with work who would like to sell through my Estore site. However, I will be suggesting a small commission for advertising there, because I have to pay not only for this website, but also the two others I run without charge and the Estore.
If any local authors out there have published work they would like to be considered or have experience in doing just that, please comment here.
Also the more I think about it, the more running my own publishing company for a wider group is appealing to me. Idea's on an A4 query letter labelled Submissions.
I've finished critiquing the pieces for the Yellow Anthology. I only hope the person who got mine to review finds it interesting.
Gristle's Revenge is moving along too, at last. A local Art student managed to complete 3 illustrations for me and a second illustrator has agreed to do the more fiddly drawings.
I'm hoping the novel will go to formatting in late August all being well. Louise Morse provided me with three drawings for chapter headings.. Here is one of them as a treat for Readers ahead of publication.
A second illustrator is taking on the Characters after my initial illustrator from Witch on the Warpath was unable to continue on to book two. I might be able to offer one here to view in due course, stay tuned.
I couldn't hold off on writing some more for Aquasapien two - Prodigy. That was the result of going to Karate Summer camp where I ran off 16 pages of writing without even trying too hard. It's still a long way from finished because book one was a goliath of a book at 127,000 words. I'm also keen to publish a couple of my paranormal novels next.
Still chugging along. Currently critiquing stories for Inspirations Writers Group third publication, YELLOW, due out this year, maybe in time for Christmas like mine.
Publication is now dependant on the illustrators and their timescales. The formatter is primed and ready. The printers can turn around the print run in 2 weeks, but I've also got my hands full organising the massively important event that is Thanet Soroptimists Chartering Ceremony. This will be held in The Barn at Quex on 1st September and see the fruition of three years hard work of getting a Soroptimist Club off the ground and with enough members to be recognised by our parent organisation Soroptimist International.
It's difficult keeping my fingers away from my other novels, I'm attempted to start dabbling, but I'm trying to resist as I know I'll get submerged in the story. I guess that must be a writer's thing being swallowed alive by a story until you don't know reality from fiction. That's my life. I'm sure it drives my husband to despair as every conversation moves naturally to my current novel and where I am in its storyline and completion. I try not to bore him with the repetitive narrative of this, or that point, but.... That's how Inspirations came about, I was sure that I wasn't the only person who did that, drove their relatives, however well intentioned, away. I watch the switching off, the glazing over of eyes much like when someone has a hobby, or should that be an obsession?
Maybe writing is an obsession. I have to do it. If I'm sitting too long in one place my hand migrates to my bag and my faithful notebook. I am never without pen and paper. On the odd occasion I've written on paper hand towels & serviettes. Sometimes, something catches my eye, or should that be my mind. A bird bouncing back and forth on a telephone cable overhead suddenly takes off terrified... a police helicopter hoves into view flying low over the streets . A car deliberately screeching its tyres... an escape convict's car from a prison maybe? Even an empty tin rolling down the street pushed along by a high wind... thrown away by a husband upset at finding his wife in bed with another man?
I can imagine anything from anything and I'm sure everyone can. Why do some of us write and some of us, with the same imagination, not?
I'm still set to publish Gristle's Revenge after the summer. I was hoping to launch on Halloween, but this year it falls on a weekday so it'll have to be probably in November, as I'm away in Liverpool at the SIGBI conference in October.
The hunt for an illustrator has been quite stressful. Initially no one came forward, despite me advertising on Face book, Margate and Kent Creatives. When a local Art student stepped up, I almost bit her arm off. It's been a learning process for both of us and I really appreciate the work my first illustrator did on WOTW. Since then two more illustrators have come forward and though I might use them for the more intricate drawings, I really want to give the student a chance to complete some of the chapter heading drawings.
I have several other novels in the pipeline. The follow-up for Aquasapien Metamorphosis, Prodigy is half written, but as Metamorphosis currently hasn't sold many copies (despite getting excellent feedback) it's hardly worth finishing it. I only have one retail outlet for Metamorphosis at Quex Barn and selling one a week isn't going to cut it. I need roughly £2,500 to publish a novel. I could seriously do with some reviews on Amazon or Goodreads. If I had a pound for everyone that had promised to do a review and hasn't bothered, I could write full-time. So completing Prodigy doesn't look like its going to happen any time soon.
Meanwhile, I have a novel 'What if ' an undercover adventure, and another called 'Between Worlds' which involves a journey through the seven levels of hell. Then I have several written others about a quarter length each. In addition, Gristle's Revenge is set for a third novel, but the idea hasn't yet solidified in my brain for that one.
Only 70 pages left to read in Gristles Revenge, which I'm hoping to complete in the next two weeks, then I'll be seriously concentrating on the illustrations.
Despite advising Margate Creative, Kent Creatives and anyone who'll listen about my need for illustrations, only two people responded. Neither of those have got back to me since. I can only hope they are busy drawing illustrations!
Meanwhile, someone has suggested the art college or students doing art courses. Sadly it's a great idea, but not a good time of year, most will be concentrating on their exams and soon they'll be leaving their courses.
Unless I can suddenly find an inspirational stroke of genius, it looks like I'll be going back to sites such as Fiver, Five Squid etc for my illustrations. I found my first proof editor there, so who knows.
With the illustrations on a go slow, I'm not sure if my launch date for Halloween this year is do-able and I'm not going to kill myself trying to get their either.
One's things for sure, I'm not planning on doing any further books with illustrations again any time soon.