It's days like this that make you feel good. No, make you feel great. For an event to be a success several things need to happen. People need to commit to your vision, they have to stay engaged and they have to follow the dream that started in your own head.
My dream of organising an author signing event became a reality today, as Westwords 2019 became centre stage at Westwood Cross. This was due to several factors.
First, the forward thinking support of Westwood Cross Management who were able to see my dream venue and make it exist, by providing several luxury marquees and magnificent staff to support and advise us on protocol and procedures. Thank you WWX.
Second, the members of Inspirations Writers Group who came, either to wish us well or support the event in a number of ways. By promoting it with me for hours the day before or staffing the Inspirations stall, or reading out poems (without a mike or stage) in the Park. A daunting prospect for anyone with a mike, but without, this involved projecting their words loudly across and down the parade.
English Language students looked on amazed at our outburst. Customers of Costa and Greggs watched on bemused and interested. I watched one little pre-school girl, shyly at first, then with more confidence turn in her chair to listen to Tracey's words about an elephant going to school. I couldn't help wondering if this child would be facing the same situation come September. Maybe those words touched a nerve and made her feel better, because that elephant had a good time. Thank You IWG
Lastly, the event would not have happened at all without four brave writers and poets taking a chance on me. Everyone of them is a star in my eyes. Christopher Hopkins , Tom McColl, Mark Holihan and Paul Hobday were the participants I could only dream of. Kind, caring, supportive. They seemed to have a good time networking and generally learning about each other despite the low sales. I even managed to get two of them to launch themselves into the Park to read poetry, something that doesn't come naturally to folk especially mike-less. Thank you my newest friends. Please forgive that I forgot to take photos of you all.
This event wasn't about getting rich or famous, at least not yet. It was about getting our foot in the door, finding our feet, learning the ropes and all the other relevant clichés that spring to mind.
a) I learnt, no we learnt, many valuable lessons for next year and there will be one. That is the first lesson I learnt, Westwords 2020 will be bigger and better. Today for me was a rehearsal for next year.
b) Next, I learnt that those attending will need to already have valid PLI to attend (can reccommend Graham Sykes Insurance. Tell them Carol Salter sent you) I had to pay £165 for event insurance for one day so my financial loss was more than I bargained for.
c) If you use a marquees make sure your stalls/table face the outer sides. Although its comfy to sit back inside away from the wind and weather, it puts folk off viewing your books. Once they step inside the confines of the interior there is the expectation for them to buy something and rather than face the pressure of that they avoid the whole structure completely even avoiding eye contact.
Tables facing the edges, enable to folk to glance or stop and chat, but one thing is sure they can't miss you. Experienced advertisers know that brands/books receive greater chance of sales by the gradual subliminal exposure to images. Yesterday at the promotion one little girl squealed to her mother, "Mummy I've seen that book before!" I was chuffed.
d) More advertising of the event
e) Longer notice for 'important' authors. I have four international authors requesting dates for next year already.
f) Ensure a stage and microphone is in situ, even if we have to pay for it. The surrounding customers commented how nice it was, but several were disappointed that they couldn't hear all the words.
g) To set up the Messenger group for confirmed attenders only. Or perhaps a closed Facebook Page instead. There was a lot of unnecessary chatter, so much so that we lost several people annoyed with the constant pinging as a result.
I'm sure other improvements will come calling once I begin organising. If you want to be with a chance to join us in 2020, you can leave a comment here initally.
WESTWORDS 2020 is only 365 days away (roughly)
I couldn't be more excited than;
a child on Christmas morning getting a bicycle, someone passing their driving test for the first time, finding a small grey kitten in need of love on the doorstep, or a goose laying a proverbial golden egg in my laundry basket. (Feel free to add to the list by commenting below)
With the backing and support from a very forward-thinking, proactive Westwood Cross Management, who identifies that improving literacy is a priority goal in Thanet, I am about to step into the unknown with Westwords 2019. This WILL be the first of an annual event Westwords, hopefully enticing and attracting more authors year on year.
We will have humble beginnings, but I'm expecting us to grow with time. I've just watched Stormzy headlining at Glastonbury - brilliant by the way. His honesty and awe at being someone somewhere so huge is something he never imagined. He describes it as the highest point in his life. A humble underground rapper from South East London, he obtained the first ever number one by a British rap artist in the UK charts and from there, as they say, the rest is history.
Now I'm not comparing Westwords to Glastonbury (the hell I am), but everything starts somewhere. Glastonbury in a muddy field, which is still muddy on occasion, and Westwords 2019 with a handful or so authors, but who knows where it could go? Both require support and commitment at the outset, plus a willingness on the part of the public, to invest in an event that has huge future potential. Like the poster says, you could be meeting the future English Poet Laurate or global award-winning novelist.
Having had the opportunity and honour to meet Terry Pratchett at Fantasycon in Brighton a few years ago, plus a couple of my other idols in the Sci-Fi world, Brian Aldiss and Robyn Hobb, just like Stormzy on the pyramid stage, I can honestly say I never expected to meet the authors whose books I handled with respect and affection.
Who can say whose authors you meet at Westwords 2019 might not be your future literary heroes? MIMO
The next two months are going to be the busiest of the year for me - probably. I say probably because my days, like everyone's, never run smooth. The diary will be set with the three of four things I have to do each day and as the week progresses, so does the number of items that fill my life. Add to that with my ageing process is in full swing. I've upped my exercise regime in an attempt to slow down my ageing. I'm attempting karate twice a week, the gym, running and Yoga, plus Mindfullness practice in addition to work etc.. I'll let you know how it goes.
I realised last week, that next to love, time is the most precious element there is. You can't save it, copy it, store it, steal it, hide it, or give it away. You can't repeat it, though some of us wish we could. All those things we've said or done that we later regretted and wish we hadn't. You can't take it back. You can't stretch it out. You can't convert it, squash it, or flatten it. It is what it is. Life is not a practice or rehearsal either. No one is going to step in and say "Cut." Though sometimes we wish they would.
Time is flowing, continuous. While I'm writing this and you're reading it, precious seconds are running away of our lives. Seconds neither of us can have back. I don't want to get to the age where I can't move, where I can't feed myself, where I can't go anywhere without someone helping me (I'm hoping those days are still a long way off) and say, "But I didn't do this!" or "I didn't go there." I don't want regrets, well not many.
I've travelled a great deal because I don't want to live with regret. I've learned and experienced many things and know I am a fortunate person . I live everyday to its fullest, regardless of my pains, illnesses and issues and getting older is not going to stop me. I see so many people give up after the first hurdle and it spurs me on to continue.
With that in mind this was my last weekend of freedom, of having very little in the diary for a long while.
Next weekend you will find me on Saturday 15th June at Westwood Cross all day behaving like a pirate and supporting literary by reading to local children in the One Great Pirate Day.
This has been organised by Westwood Cross Management to support two wonderful charities; One Great Day for Great Ormond Street and Demelza Hospice.
Pose like a pirate with Captain Jack Sparrow – we've got Johnny Depp's body double from 'Pirates of the Caribbean' visiting us! Also, join in the Yo Ho Ho Disco, listen to pirate tales, and visit the KMFM street team for your chance to win up to £200 in Westwood Cross gift cards.
The fun starts at 11am and runs until 4pm with lots of activities in the Pop-up Park near Debenhams and the rest of the centre too, including the Viking Ship area near Next.
Then on Sunday 16th June I'll be wearing wings and signing books all day at Sci-Fi by the Sea in Herne Bay. This is a brilliant event and one I investigated last year with a view to doing this year.
Join us for one of the biggest and best Sci-Fi offerings in the southeast on Sunday 16th June from 11am – 5pm in Herne Bay, Kent.
Now in our seventh amazing year, expect celebrities, Sci-Fi props and vehicles, Titan the Robot, an army of professional costumed characters, stalls, live music, food court, beer tent and too much more to list!
our BOOKING PAGE to grab your tickets.
I'm not going to let time run through my fingers, I'm going to fill it so full of 'stuff' it might just burst! Or at very least get indigestion.
May has already brought with it a fair share of positives and negatives.
Lets get rid of the negatives first. Okay, so far there's only been one negative but for me its huge. Namely, that of hitting yet another of what quaint folk like to call, a milestone birthday. Let's make things clear, it is not a milestone, but a grind-stone around my neck. Yet another 'nail in the coffin,' step towards death,' 'staring St Peter in the eye,' 'smiling at the grim reaper,' or 'wearing too much loose skin,' and not in the right places either.
That feels a bit better, not a lot because when I look in the mirror and try to see only my mind, not my face, I fail dismally. I don't want to see the wrinkles, the dropped eyelids, the lines appearing around my lips, the sag in the cheeks near my nose, or the second hanging line at each end of my mouth.
When I smile and lift my eyes like I'm surprised at the price of something, these things reduce, and when I pull the skin tight at the nape of my neck, the two cords of ligaments at the front, and the baggy turkey neck vanish. I wish I could buy bulldog clips to put there.
But enough of my vanity. I don't want to bore you with my body inadequacies the most prominent of which is my nipples looking for loose change on the floor, instead of seeking which direction to go in, like they used to do.
The positives just about outweigh my big negative.
First, Westwood Cross Management is supporting me in my first ever National event. We are holding
WESTWORDS 2019 on Sunday 14th JULY
from 0900- 1600 at Westwood Cross.
This is the first event (as far as I know) of its kind. Normally, people attend expensive conferences and whilst there attend an Author Signing Session. Here keen readers and fans of certain genre, meet with their writer heroes and generally chat, ask questions about their writing and characters. If they are lucky they also get to purchase signed copies of their work and have their photos taken with them.
I'm cutting out the expensive bit and the bit where you have to travel and stay overnight somewhere, or pay an exorbitant price for car parking. I'm hoping folk will come to this event because I don't want it to be a one-off. I'd like it to be an annual event attracting more authors, and readers, year on year. It'll probably be smallish to begin with, but it needs support to thrive, just like children. We are also having readings, at no cost to the public. This is another thing they do at expensive £+++ conferences.
Westwood Cross Management and myself are keen to support events which promote literacy and this is not our only WESTWORDS event planned this year.
My final positive is that I've finished the first draft of "What If?" my fourth full-length novel. My fellow author, Tara Moore, has been encouraging me to approach a "proper" literary agent this time. After my first two were rejection 80+ times. I didn't bother with novel number three because I know how to publish independently. I'm a bit nervous about it to be honest. I am totally capable of producing novels myself, but in reality I will never get the readership that comes with having a traditional agent and publisher. Can I face rejection on a grand scale again? What am I talking about I suffered just that only last year. My heart was ripped in two and thrown to the wolves to devour, but that's another story...
What If, is a story about Katie Wadlow a normal girl in a normal town. Until she reaches twenty-four that is, then she discovers her whole life has been a lie. Not only that, it appears she is not human either. At that point, things really start going down hill for Katie with not one, but three groups trying to lure, capture or kill her.
I've had my fill of minor illnesses over the last six months and I'm sure I'm not the only one. For me it seems the germs wait around until I have some time off, as my previous blog regarding Jury Service will testify (not a deliberate pun, just fits thats all ).
This will be the first half term since last October that I've not been ill and my goodness haven't I filled it up. I'm another 10,000 words in on my What If? novel, though I'm toying with calling it 'The Cat's Out of the Bag,' instead. It depends how many books are already called that, I'm guessing lots. Its up to 72,000 words now and today the ending hit me, or rather my husband in a rare moment of imagination assisted when I asked for ideas. I've gently moulded the wisp of idea and have a good last few chapters in my head. Hence the new title.
I'm also 10,000 words in on Quest 4 Courage, the third novel in the Witch on the Warpath series. As I was working some days last week 20,000 in a week isn't bad for me.
Monday I took a 'me day.' I haven't had one of those in forever. You know how when to go somewhere with someone else (and I do enjoy these times) you feel you need to cede to their wishes and likes? Or when you go retail with your hubby in tow, you feel you can't spend more than five minutes in Victoria Secrets or he'll get antsy? Well Monday was awesome.
I left home, when I wanted to. I drove in the motorway lanes I wanted to, I parked at Bluewater where I wanted to, then I deliberately strolled at the slowest pace I could manage. It was more like meandering than walking and I switched my brain off and let my child side come alive. Heaven.
Initally I'd planned a film, Sushi and make-up, but Sushi didn't make it (this time). Usually I have to avoid fish at all costs for my husband's sensibilities. I didn't feel hungry, but I could have if I wanted to - and that was the point. Sadly my make-up shop Kiko had vanished, so too had Monsoon, at least I could only find Accessorize. Managed to buy something there of course.
Didn't fancy any films, then suddenly I did, returning on an impulse to watch Hell Boy, naturally. Normally a different film would have been chosen on a democratic vote and once the timing selected that would be it. I was very peeved to find out later when doing my receipts that they charged me OAP rates HUH! not happy with that, when I'm not - yet. I paid for the very expensive coke and popcorn which cost more than the ticket - and I didn't care.
There's a new shop aimed at Writers called Typo, it called to me, as did Hotel Chocolate. The former selling cute panda items which I know my son loves. I purchased cough medicine from Boots for my son's cough - which was rubbish - and several more pairs of knickers (my weakness) from Boix Avenue.
But that was last Monday, since then I've wormed the cat, spring cleaned the downstairs loo and taken up my penance of running around the village early evening. However yesterday was the best day of the week when I met with Westwood Cross Management Team and two super ladies who ae supportive of my planning event there in July called WESTWORDS 2019. More details of that exciting adventure to follow in future blogs.
I have to admit I went into the ladies loo afterwards and did a fist pump in the air while screaming once. I did request those present turn away before my manic outburst, but I think they still believe I'm insane from the looks they treated me to.
Will update soon. BFN
What an exciting week ahead, I thought on the Saturday night. I was down to do Jury Service at the local Crown Court. I'd already deferred once due to the short notice and on Monday I was about to get an experience I always wanted. Especially so because being a writer any experience adds to your ability to write about it. Okay so I couldn't write anything about cases etc but I didn't want that. I can very easily make up my own crimes. (That didn't come out quite like I meant it to)
What a meant was I'd get a feel of the place, the importance, the seriousness, the vibe. The pomp and ceremony like swearing in and sitting in a jury and listening to evidence, the weight of somebody's life on the line. It was frightening, exciting and sobering too. A judgement might send a mother away from her children, a son away from his mother. It might lose someone their job. Jury service is not to be entered lightly you are messing with real people's real lives.
I was also concerned about not being at work. It would be the first time in years, literally that I'd been off work that long. I worried about folk having to bear my workload in addition to their own. And, as you know nowadays, there is no slack anymore. Everyone I know works at break-neck speed with little or no rest.
Still, it wasn't like I had a choice, I didn't want to be standing in the box for not turning up to Jury Service, heaven forbid.
However, all my plans and ideas went down the pan on Sunday night. I'd even driven to the Courts 18 miles away on Saturday to check out that I could park - yes there plenty of spaces behind an intimidating looking green metal fence with spikes on top. I swallowed hard looking at that. Did the jury sometimes get antsy? I wondered. The entrance was easy to see and I had a vague recollection of coming here 19 years ago on another adventure, but thats an entirely different story.
Sunday night I started coughing and when I say started coughing I don't mean that polite ladies cough. This was a hacking, soul-stretching cough that felt like someone had grabbed a cheese grater and rammed it down my throat whilst I slept. Next, a gigantic bloke with a hammer began striking the back of my head and if that wasn't enough he picked me up threw me into the road where someone in a steam roller decided to drive over my legs. The pain was beyond pain. How I was still conscious I wasn't sure. Finally, I couldn't figure out how I had so much water running off my body like Niagara. I'm dammed sure I've never drunk that much in my whole life. I must have a temperature I concluded. Sure enough 39.7C Eeerh! I've got Jury Service in the morning and I can't defer again, or they'll send me to prison.
Typically I couldn't find any good paracetamol in the house and made do with a selection of various meds that should have helped - they didn't. Monday morning came and I felt worse. The bed, at least my side resembled a deflated hot tub complete with water aka sweat. I couldn't get any response from either the GP surgery or the Jury Service Team before 8am and that's when I needed to leave home to get to the courts without going to prison for being late.
It was awful. I thought for moments that I might be dying and god had decided to keep me in the dark in case I freaked out, which I would have - he knows me well. Every exhalation was a continuous cheese-grating cough until I inhaled. I got out the car, I was early and folk grimaced at me like I was carrying a weapon. I suppose I was a biological one. Women tutted and turned away in disgust, men cowered in the corner too afraid to be exposed.
The security man wasn't impressed. He couldn't run away, though he looked like he wished he could. Didn't they realise if I could have run away too, I would have joined them?
I'd deliberately stocked my bag with "everything" and I mean everything. I was told we needed to provide our own lunch and I was worried they might still make me do jury service regardless of my temporary dying state. If I'd swung my bag, I probably would have knocked out any guilty defendant without a problem. As it was, I could just about lift it.
Big burly security man directed me up the stairs so off I plodded. I swear I heard a collective sigh of relief from the people now assembling behind me. I wandered down the hallway and around the corner and couldn't see any sign of the waiting room. I accosted a lovely man coming out of the men's toilet and he escorted me upstairs to the assembly area.
Two flights of stairs later and I needed oxygen, fortunately I'd brought an old inhaler of Ventolin along, just in case stairs were in my future. It helped - slightly. I sat with folk around me, glaring at me. I could feel their displeasure boring into the back of my neck as I faced away from them all. A deliberate ploy I wondered to keep my germs cordoned off. The very nice organiser-man, said I could go home and he'd defer me again. I asked if he was sure only the paper work said only one deferment. He assured me it was fine and even send me a letter via email later confirming it and my new date.
I decided a trip to the doctor was in order. I managed (thanks to a very kind friend) to get an emergency appointment in 1.40hrs. Too poorly to be bothered driving home I went to sleep in the car, waking only when I needed a wee. Quietly entering the surgery, I headed straight to the loo, did my business and went to return to my car when the staff advised me to stay inside. I still waited another 30 minutes to be "the next one in."
While I lolled in a chair by the window trying to keep my lungs inside my body, my spine had melted by then, I watched my lovely car outside as someone came into the car park and hit it! I definitely don't like Mondays anymore.
"Great, half-term., I'll really be able to get some writing under my belt." I'd planned to finish the storyboard I'd started for What IF? and this in turn would motivate me to complete the bulk of the story this week.
What do the say about the best laid plans mice and men? Well laid is the right word, except I'm laid up in bed with a nasty dose of gastric Influenza. Temperature up to 39.6C and aches in places I didn't know you could have aches.
You know how you plan to do loads of stuff and it never happens? This is likely to be my week off. I'm annoyed, frustrated and annoyed again. I know I've managed to sit here - in bed - and run off this blog, but its not the same as writing. For my writing to flow, I need to immerse myself in the story, become one with the characters. Not going to happen with me sitting on the loo every 20 minutes. And, when did my stomach get so noisy? I swear the neighbours can hear it. It's quite disturbing, I'm waiting for the equivalent of Alien to burst from my stomach like a volcano. Fortunately thats only happened on the loo - so far!
If my temperature could retreat for a while tomorrow I might get something accomplished, but I haven't left my bed today - oh yes I have! to go to the loo - many times. I actually slept on the floor of the bathroom at one point and not because I'd had too many to drink. I know there are people who have done that too.
I don't want to eat, don't want to look at or talk about food. I've been on water since yesterday and the weight has dropped away, Over one and a half kilos in 24 hrs, seems impressive but we all know it'll pile back on again and as people often say "its all water". Why can't it be fat that's what I'd like to know?
These are the ravings of a women on the edge - of the bed and heading for the loo again.
Really excited after booking a stall to do signings at Sci-Fi by the Sea in Herne Bay on Sunday June 16th. I have been considering a stall there for a couple of years and last year, though I didn't eventually book a stall, considering it too costly, I decided to go to the event to scope it out.
It was amazing, regardless of whether I sell novels or not. Every type of fantasy and Sci-fi character from films, cartoons, anima and TV series was there from Ghostbusters and Dr Who to Star Wars and Marvel characters, plus everything in between. I'd go this year just to view the folk dressed up.
I usually pay in the region of £25 - £40 to attend an event hoping to break even in most places. Naturally, finding places where my target reading market go makes the chance of me making more sales. Sci-Fi by the Sea is much more costly, but I'm hoping it will be worth it. A large number of people attended making it appear very worthwhile. Fingers Crossed.
After reading a really interesting piece on writing from Medium's Daily Digest yesterday, I've set myself some new goals. It's not often I get a lunchbreak at work, but when I do I fill the 20 or so minutes by reading. In the evenings, I tackle my writing structures and later in bed I read some more. However, I'm not home every evening with various activities and groups and thus my free writing time dwindles.
The evenings are predominantly for my continuity work at present so I'm not actually writing anything new. Medium suggests having a set time of every day for writing and from today I started using my lunchbreak to do this. I can easily get 500 words down in that short space of time writing with my left hand while stuffing my face with the right one. I'm going to do this for the rest of the month and see what progress I can make with my latest novel, The Quest for Courage.
Then someone put this on FB and I saw my books from Quex and thought Yay! Inspiration to continue writing.
I remember earlier in my life that when I was supposed to do a certain thing, I'd find all manner of chores and jobs to prevent or delay me actually doing the task I was avoiding. The bin needed cleaning, those books needed sorting, the cat litter tray, that pile of biros needed testing individually to see if sufficient ink remained. I thought I had outgrowth these traits - it appears not.
The only difference between then and now is I was conscious of my feeble attempts to avoid the task then. Today, I realised I've been doing the same behaviour again all week. I've been avoiding writing. It's not good, finding the inside of my cat's food pot leftovers of greater value. I know I need to finish What IF? but its a drag completing the continuity board and though I've re-corrected the telephone call history, its just not driving me wild with excitement.
I've thought about changing to a different WIP but I'm not in the 'right place' for Prodigy. (if you've read Aqua you'll know what I mean) and I don't want to get sucked into The Quest for Courage. I must finish What If? and I don't have a clue regards the ending yet. It's probably why I'm, as my friend used to say, "fannying about."
My pantser brain seems to be side-tracked, not helped by me thinking about the upcoming Inspirations AGM. Like all of us, I have a mountain of thoughts, activities and worries circling my head. Unfortunately not one of them is the ending to What If? I'm pretty sure it's going to be huge when it does finally make an appearance.
I'm not sure whether this is a stand alone novel or the beginning of a saga. It has the potential to be and might be the reason I can't close or end the story. There's the feeling that there is more to it. Aqua felt the same way, but Witch on the Warpath evolved into Gristle's Revenge only recently and The Quest for Courage coming on the heels of the launch has taken me completely by surprise.
Stay tuned to hear the outcome. Will my creativity burst forth for What if? and words roll off my mind again, or will it have to move over to make way for another of my novels waiting to emerge?