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!
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.