Wednesday, 6 December 2017

From indie author to indie publisher

I had an ambition for 25 years and when I finally achieved it, it was a real tick on the 'to-do list' - that was how I felt when I published my first book, Through Time To London, last year.

This year I've been able to help my partner achieve the same ambition with his book, The Ghost of the Fishersgate Mariner.

Peter had already written the first few chapters before we met and so it was quite funny that we found we were both writing time-travel adventure stories and that we both had a character with the same name 'Jed'. Here's the back-cover blurb:

It is 1934. Fourteen year old Billy Burton lives on a council estate in Fishersgate. This is near to a seafaring port where folklore tells the story about the Ghost of the harbour, an honest mariner, who died a terrible death at the hands of eighteenth-century pirates.

One afternoon, Billy sees a vision of `The Ghost` rowing a small boat across the calm waters of the harbour. He runs along the docks to find his twenty-one-year-old brother and friends, to tell them what he has seen. Soon they are in search of the Ghost of the Fishersgate mariner. They navigate their hired rowing boat into one of the lock-gate compounds and become trapped when the giant gates unexpectedly close behind them.

The waters in the lock begin to drain away. Down and down they go in their little rowing boat. Somehow, Billy, his brother Terry, girlfriend Lilly and friend Nathan find themselves travelling back in time - more than two hundred years.

This book is full of adventure, good & bad characters, battles at sea and a quest to find the missing Second Chapter. 

Once Peter had finished the first draft we set about editing it ready for publication, uploading to Amazon for kindle and taking delivery of the final printed copies. It's been a busy few months but finally, last week, publication day arrived and all the pre-ordered signed copies were sent out.

It makes a great Christmas present for anyone who enjoys a good adventure story. The paperback is available through the website or kindle

Saturday, 2 September 2017

School Surprise Book Box

One of my highlight this year has been school visits to talk about writing my first children's novel. I decided to go to my old primary school that I left in 1969 for a nostalgic look back and to see how much it has changed. 

A lot as it happens.

It is now an academy, they now wear a uniform but the emphasis is still very much on the basics of reading & writing and it was lovely to see all the books around the school and the library they now have, which used to be the changing rooms.

I know funds are always a premium in schools and so this year I have decided to send a surprise book box once a month with new(ish) books to add to the library. Today I collected the books for September's box and hope they really enjoy them. They look so good I'm tempted to have a read myself before I send them off. 

I'd love the idea to catch on and for others to start to do the same.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

#bookshop #chuckle

Writing books for children requires an element of research - which equates to a need to read children's books to see what else is out there, what current trends are, what is appropriate language etc.

With this in mind I recently placed an order for 5 books from my local bookstore. I was not in any rush for them, so didn't give much thought that it had been a few weeks and I hadn't had a call to say they were  in to be collected.

Yesterday I realised how long it has been so dropped them an email asking if they were having trouble with the order, thinking maybe one was out of stock.

For some reason the reply I received made me chuckle.

We ordered them in, and then as we were away and someone else was in for a week, they put them on the shelves and they sold, so we had to order them again.

Oh, the joys of running a bookshop.

Happily they are all in stock now and I can pick them up at the weekend.


At least can I be happy with my choices.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

#1 in Kindle Store Through Time To London - Yippee!

As part of my marketing strategy, and yes, I do have one, I have been running a free kindle download in the last few days, as a way of getting my book out there. And it seems to have worked, for I can now honestly say I am number 1 in  Children's ebooks about dogs. OK, I'm still number 2,832 overall but I'll take my little bit of being number 1 along with my 5 star reviews, thank you very much. 

Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,832 Free in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Free in Kindle Store)

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Everyone loves a #freebie

For a few days only I have a free kindle download available here:

What starts as a normal day for Brandy & Brinkley changes beyond anything they could dream of when Jed visits.  The two spaniels are used to having little adventures every time they leave the house, but nothing prepares them for this.

1665 London is a dangerous place for dogs, so when the two brothers suddenly find themselves in the middle of the plague-ridden city it’s a race against time to escape the clutches of the street dogs, the perils of the rats and the dangers of the dogcatchers.

Can they survive in their new surroundings and will they be able to find their way back to the safety of their own home?

Through Time to London is the first in a series that follows two Cavalier Spaniels, Brandy and Brinkley, on their adventures as they search for a way home.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Revisiting Childhood Roots

Having enjoyed my recent school visit so much, I sat down to think where I would like to go next, and then it struck me. I would love to re-visit my old junior & infants school in Sheffield. I  quickly Googled for a contact number and discovered it is now a Junior Academy. 

I rang to ask for the name of who to contact and sat down to write an email. At this stage I am doing school visits free of charge, but with the ability to sell my book to those that would like a copy, while I hone my skills.

I was so happy to receive a reply telling me they would be happy for me to visit, have a look around the school to see how it's changed and to chat to some of the classes. 

I'm really excited about this visit, it's been over 30 years since I was last at the school and it has some wonderful memories. Making sponge soap turtles for the Christmas Fayre when I was about 7, taking part in end of term shows, sports days, Friday morning mental arithmetic challenge - 100 sums to do, (I like numbers). 

I remember getting my first day wrong. We lived in a house where the garden backed on to the school playing field, and I would go home for lunch. Mum told me I had to go back in the afternoon and when the bell went I could come home. And so, I went back for the afternoon classes and came home when the bell sounded. Except, mum had forgotten about afternoon break and I scuttled off home about an hour too soon. Fair play thought, I didn't get sent back that afternoon, just returned the following morning with a note from mum.

I will be talking to much younger children than on my last school visit so I will be doing more reading from my book. I am now re-reading it to find some short passages that work well being read out loud... and then I need to do lots of practice as I find it very difficult to read out loud.

I have 2 weeks before my trip to Sheffield and time will pass very quickly

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

#ukteenchat A Twitter Chat Lurker

For several years I have heard the term hashtag this hashtag that and never understood what it was all about. As an author, (it still gives me a thrill to say that), I read all the time that I need to build an on-line presence. As part of that I started to use Twitter and will be the first to admit to being a little like a rabbit caught in headlights.

O.M.G. What on earth am I doing here.

Gradually, I began to get the hang of it and, as many newbies probably do, I struggled to add hashtag references to most of what I posted and felt quite reluctant to butt in to other people's conversations.

A few months on and I am on and off Twitter throughout the day, happy to join in conversations, add a variety of hash tags and generally no longer resemble a rabbit caught in headlights...

Until I try to join in a chat. I have tried this a couple of times and tonight I saw that there was #ukteenchat between 8 & 9pm. OK, I'll have a look. I had every intention of lurking in the background as I try to follow what goes on. I have difficulty working out where questions are showing and where the replies are. I can follow a couple of threads and will admit that I didn't lurk for long, but I can;t work out if my computer isn't set up right because my iphone pings constantly with comments that I can't see on my computer. I have a workable process by having both my phone and laptop on Twitter, so that as I see a new comment showing on my phone I know to go looking for it on the computer, but after about half an hour I'm back to rabbit in headlight state.

I enjoyed conversing with many new people tonight and look forward to trying to join in again, but really feel there has to be an easier way to see what is happening and that I am missing a trick somewhere.

I think I need a Dummies Guide to Twitter!

School Visit - A Classroom full of Y8s

Since publishing my book in September I have wanted to get involved with school visits to chat to the kids about writing a book, let them know what the process is and maybe encourage some that otherwise wouldn't have a go. Having self-published means I can give them a different view to that of a traditionally published author.

A few weeks ago a work colleague bought a copy of my book for her son, who took it in to his school librarian who, in turn, asked if I would be interested in doing a visit.

Would I? Absolutely.

As we were discussing dates and format I had a nasty fall and made a real mess of my face and so agreed on a date 4 weeks ahead to give time for the awful bruising to go down. D-day was to be Thursday 25th May at 8.50am, first class of the day.

I spent a lot of time planning my talk, including times for involvement with the kids, getting their thoughts, opinions, and even asking them to name a character in the book I'm currently working on so I no longer need to refer to him as 'cave-boy' and hoping that they came up with names I liked.

I arrived nice and early on the day and even the traffic hold ups hadn't been a worry, and so by 8.50 I was already to go. 60 young, keen faces all looking towards me. 

I had my notes and crib cards handy, but only needed to refer to them a couple of times and I had lots of interaction from the kids when I asked for suggestions. We had 4 names to choose from for my cave-boy character and I let them vote for their favourite, so now I have my name. 

As I felt I had covered everything I had planned to say I checked my watch and found I was 10 minutes from the end of the session, just time for a very active Question & Answer session.

Yes, there were a couple of unruly groups that the teachers quickly controlled, yes, there were times when I had to wait for them all to settle down, nothing more than to be expected with a room full of 12 year olds, but I absolutely loved doing it.

And, even better, the school has asked me to go back in the Autumn term to do another talk to more students.

Yes please.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Book Advance Information Sheet

When you have put all the hard work in writing a book the next hard part is promoting it. If you have a publisher, great... that's their job. If you are doing it yourself, you need to find every possible way to get it out there.

One of the drawbacks is location. It's not difficult to put a few copies in your bag and hit the road around your local area, but getting it known further afield is more difficult. Friends and relatives who live across the country can do this for you but it's your book, not theirs, so their enthusiasm for trying to encourage people to show an interest in buying a copy isn't the same as yours.

When I approached smaller independent bookstores I was asked for an AIS, an Advanced Information Sheet, to be sent along with a letter of introduction. Of course, I didn't know what an AIS was, so on to Google and after a lot of hard work I finally came up with this. I then had some professionally printed, rather then running a few copies off at home, as the images look much better. I then selected 5 cities and started working my way through the independent bookstores and started mailing them out. As with any mailshot, I suspected the take up with be small, but it is worth trying. I also attach them to emails when I am enquiring about arranging school visits, as this gives the person I'm talking to a lot of instant information about me and the book, and it seems to work very well.

It is also something I used at a recent conference I attended. I just leave them lying around, even on the train home. You just never know what might get you a sale!

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Love a 5 star review

I may have had a difficult week dealing with the after effects of my fall, but despite the pain I still had to smile when I received a new 5 star review on my website. Thank you Nora, I'm so pleased you enjoyed it and I promise I am working hard on Book 2.

5 star review Nora Barlow Manchester. 29th April 2017 
I thoroughly enjoyed the book. So much so I avoided the last chapter for a time as I didn't want the story to end. Very exciting-worthy of a Disney film!  

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Really, if you can do it today... (warning - graphic black-eye content)

This week really hasn't gone as planned. Last Saturday I had a great day at the Self-Publishing conference. I had this weekend all planned out too. I have been busy the last few weekends so my hair appointment was already 2 weeks overdue and my roots were definitely in need of attention. My passport ran out a couple of months ago and I kept forgetting to go and get a new photo done. It seemed a good idea to have my hair done this weekend and follow it up with a new passport photo so I can get my new one ordered.

Things were going so well until Wednesday morning, when a trip and a fall changed everything. As I had my handbag in one hand and a cappuccino in the other, I didn't have a free hand to break my fall and my face hit the pavement first. Needless to say, the coffee didn't survive and neither did my nose. Pouring with blood, I wasn't sure how to stand up without getting blood all down me. Several nice Bristolians stopped to help me, and provided me with tissues and wet-wipes, while I tried to staunch the flow of blood, aware that there was swelling above my left eye. I wasn't quite sure what had happened and must have seemed very confused to my helpers. One very decisive helper phoned for an ambulance and I certainly wouldn't have been popular with the traffic that morning, as it was in a major through town route and they blocked the lane for a good 15 minutes.

The hospital checked me out and decided I didn't have concussion but may have a broken nose, so I have a follow up appointment this week just to see if any follow up treatment is required.

So, I had to cancel my hair appointment as I had too many aches and pains to sit through a 2 hour cut & colour and therefore, I am not looking my best.

 I normally look like this:

But I now look like this. Not the best look to have my passport photo done which will be with me for the next 10 years. I really don't think this would be accepted:

After all, just look at the state of those roots!

Should've renewed my passport when it first ran out!

And on top of that, I get a call to confirm a date for my first school visit to talk to a classroom of Year 8's about writing a book - not a good look to put in front of school children but I have until 25th May. Surely, I'll be healed by then. For now I'll be relying in lots of make-up and sunglasses.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Dirty Dancing, Top Gun & Ghost & Carrie

Recently, I have found myself wondering where they years have gone. It's not unusual for me to find myself lost in a moment from 30 or 40 years ago, when my whole life was ahead of me and I had no idea where I was going.

I remember a line I heard years ago by a character, I think it was Blanche from Coronation Street. She said something like, I look in the mirror and see my mother looking back at me. Well, I feel I skipped a generation and when I look in the mirror I see my Grandmother looking back at me, only without the grey hair, my hairdresser sees to that. This thought brought a lovely memory of Grandma back to me. She was a small lady, 5 feet at a stretch and we had been out for lunch. After we'd finished eating she took her lipstick from her handbag and re-touched her lippy - no mirror. I was amazed and asked why she didn't use a mirror. 'I'm not tall enough to see my face in most mirrors in places other than home,' she said, 'so I have had to learn to put my lipstick on without using a mirror.' I think she would've been in her 70s, so she'd had plenty of years of practice. These days you go in places and there are mirrors of different heights, hand dryers at different levels and the world seems to have realised that we are not all the same height, but not when my Grandma was around. I remember buying her a compact mirror for her handbag. She loved it, but never used it.

This morning I woke with thoughts in my head of three of my favourite films from years ago and the line...'they don't make them like they used to...'

I have come to the conclusion that my era was the mid-70s to the end of the 80s. The films that stick in my mind and are my go-to films when I can't find anything else to watch, the music I choose to listen to when I have time to relax is all back in that time frame. I was lucky to be around at a time when films were in a new mode. The impact of seeing the effect the last few minutes of 'Carrie' had on an entire audience, seeing 'Jaws' and 'Close Encounters of a Third Kind' for the first time, these are huge plus points in my memories now. I have important friendships that were forged back in the 80's that are still as important to me now as they were then. I was recently asked the question while filling in a reference request for a friend, how long have you known this person and a quick calculation revealed it was over 30 years. Wow! I have one close friendship that has just clocked up 40 years and she is a very useful friend for reminding me of things I have forgotten about over the years, as her memory seems a lot sharper than mine. Either that, or she makes it up and I can't remember enough to say she's wrong.

I remember the run up to the film Ghost being released, I was so desperate to go and see it. I dragged my then husband and a close friend along with me and I think they were expecting a horror movie, not a romance. I totally loved it. Dirty Dancing and Top Gun were also key films for me from those years, going to the cinema held such excitement for me then. Now, I usually wait for the DVD release.

I now get it when my Grandma used to start a sentence with, 'In my day...' and I would roll my eyes as another story of her youth would begin. I wonder what she would make of the world today.

I seem to have begun to realise that what I took for granted 30 years ago was to be the memories I would look back on with fondness, a time when everything was possible and I had forever ahead of me.  

I still have ambitions to achieve, I am not on the scrap heap yet, but I have started to find myself spending more time thinking about those times and wishing I had appreciated them more rather than just taking them for granted.

Oh boy, I think I'm finally growing old.

Ah, Happy Days!

Monday, 24 April 2017

World Book Night Giveaway

Being totally book motivated after the Self-publishing conference in Leicester, I decided to do a random book giveaway at Weston seafront in support of World Book Night. 

World Book Night is aimed at encouraging people to read books they wouldn't normally read or to encourage people who don't normally read to give it a go.

World Book Night is a national celebration of reading and books which takes place on 23 April every year. Books are given out across the UK with a focus on reaching those who don’t regularly read, and are gifted through organisations including prisons, libraries, colleges, hospitals, care homes and homeless shelters, as well as by passionate individuals who give out their own books within their communities.
World Book Night is run by The Reading Agency, a national charity that inspires people to become confident and enthusiastic readers.
So, I signed a few of my books with best wishes for a Happy World Book Night 2017 and set off for the seafront. Before I had left the car-park I saw a mum and 2 boys of the right age walking towards me so I asked if they would like a copy of my book as a World Book Night gift. Mum looked a little taken aback, but after opening the cover and seeing the message I'd written on the inside seemed happy enough and accepted the book and thanked me.

I managed to give a further couple away to people on the promenade and then came across a lovely couple who were sat enjoying a cuppa. They were visiting from Cheltenham, as far as I can remember, and we had a lovely chat. They seemed genuinely interested in my book and happily took a copy. As retired school teachers, they were very knowledgeable about the Great Plague (probably know more than I do despite all my research) and so I am hopeful they enjoy reading it.

On my way back to the car, having given away a couple more, I saw a group of Scout leaders chatting in the car-park. I hesitated before interrupting the group, but decided in for a penny in for a pound, they were definitely the kind of people who could use my book so were perfect for a giveaway. I think my 'elevator pitch' is working well. I can sum up my book in about 20 seconds, and grab someone's interest to the extent they will listen to me some more. Again, I was aware of not keeping them too long, but I think I left them genuinely interested in taking a copy and using/reading it.

I may be a new author but I am determined not to be an unknown author. 

Saturday, 22 April 2017

A Day With Like Minded People

Book writing can be a lonely pastime, so any opportunity to mix with like-minded people is worth considering. Several weeks ago I decided to attend the Self-Publisher Conference in Leicester, and today was the day. In the last couple of weeks I have been chatting to some others on Twitter that were attending, and today gave us an opportunity to meet.

The day has been really informative and the hours flew by. It started with a workshop on PR, and it was quite encouraging to see how much of their content I was already doing, but there were a couple of good ideas I hadn't thought about. This was followed by a session on building a market. Marion Molteno had some really useful insight into identifying your target customer and then consider options to access them. It was really useful to split in to smaller groups and work with others to share ideas. 

A bit of networking over lunch and unexpectedly selling a couple of books (still an amazing feeling) I got to the workshop about going in to schools. My initial plan was in the ball park, but Angela Fisher had lots of good ideas on how to plan a visit, and how to continue to build on the relationship with the school. Now, I feel so much more confident about my up coming school visit, even if it still feels a massive challenge.

After the day's conference ended, there was a chance to chat with other delegates about what they had got from the day before setting off for the long drive home. I'm still always happy to catch my first glimpse of Weston as I come over the hill on the M5, and tonight I was just in time to see the sunset.

#selfpubconf definitely a good day for anyone considering going down the self-publishing route. Now, I have a mountain of information to process and put in to action. Tomorrow's going to be a busy day.


Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Readers' Favorite

Yes, I know that's not how we spell favourite, but this is from an American based site, so it's ok. 

I thought it was time I took the plunge and had a review carried out by a book review website. I was ready for the worst, but was pleased with the review I received. 


Reviewed by Deborah Lloyd for Readers' Favorite
A normal day for Brandy and Brinkley in their garden in Nottinghamshire, England, changes quickly. Brandy and Brinkley, spaniel brothers who live comfortably with Grampy, meet Jed. He installs a new doggy door and gives each dog a new collar. Running through the door, they suddenly are in London, in the middle of the Black Plague in 1665. Soon, the dogs discover they are named King Charles’ Spaniels as they live in his palace. London is a dangerous place to be in this era, with the plague killing thousands of residents, multitudes of frightening rats, ferocious street dogs, and crowded streets. Author Brindy Wilcox describes many harrowing scenes in the children’s book, Through Time to London, as these two loving dogs devise a plan to find their way home to the twenty-first century. Jed appears to the dogs in London too, explaining the magical powers of the doggy door. 

In this children’s book, geared for the older elementary-school student, a great deal of history is imparted within the adventurous story of two adorable spaniels. Their observations and experiences will keep a child engaged in learning about the terrible plagues of the seventeenth century. The skillful writing style of the author has encased real facts in an engaging and educational format. In the fictional work, Through Time to London, author Brindy Wilcox presents tragic events in a format acceptable to children. There is some information that can be difficult to read, such as dead-carts where the newly-deceased are transported from their homes. The book ends with a promise of more adventures with Brandy and Brinkley, time-traveling to another era in history.
And she gave me 4 stars.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Self-publishing Conference - Leicester 22nd April 2017

I have to admit to some excitement at the forth-coming conference. This week I received an email about registration, times etc and this:

In the hospitality area at the venue, there will be a dedicated table for delegates to put information about books they have published, or are currently publishing. For example, you are welcome to bring a copy of the book, or some business cards, Advanced Information sheets, or Press Releases for other delegates to look at.

Yes, yes, yes... I have all those.

Book: check

Business Card: check

Advanced Information Sheet: check

Press release: check

Guess which I'll be taking along with me...


 All of them!

Monday, 3 April 2017

A Boy Made From Blocks - Keith Stuart

Well, I have to say this book was a wonderful read. I don't normally get emotional over a book, but this one definitely had me almost in tears at the end. I say almost because I did manage to control myself, after all I was in a public place enjoying a bit of warm sunshine with my lunchtime sandwiches over looking the docks at Bristol city centre. The emotion conveyed in the writing for this little boy's achievement was wonderful.

It's a fictional story but uses the author's personal knowledge of having a son on the autism spectrum. For anyone who has direct knowledge of the difficulties autism can create in a family, this story will strike a chord so many times. I can so relate to the issues surrounding times when there is too much noise, or where routines are changed and the challenges of getting somewhere on time. 

It brought back memories of a time when we were in Scotland for a family funeral. My younger brother was maybe about 12 at the time, and we were in a holiday flat above a pub. He had been up and down the stairs taking bags and cases in without a problem when the landlady came up and warned us to be aware that the banister that could wobble a bit. That was all it took to stop him going down the stairs. When asked what he wanted to do he would reply that he wanted to go home. We explained that to go home he needed to go down the stairs to the car. He was adamant he would not go down the stairs. This conversation was repeated a number of times. It took about half an hour and a lot of persuasion before we finally convinced him that it was ok. 

This book was such an easy read too, as there was no lecturing, no labouring of a point, just the telling of family relationships put under pressure from normal day to day life. 

I absolutely loved this book. Definitely 10/10 from me.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Sometimes, timing is everything

Following an initial enquiry, it is now official - I am going to be doing a school visit to chat with Y8 kids about my book. Yikes! This will be my first school visit and I want to get it right as I hope it will be the first of many.

But, Easter is fast approaching and the school will be closed for 2 weeks holiday, so it now seems sensible to arrange it for after the Easter break. They close on... 

Friday 7th April 

and re-open on ...

Monday 24th April.

And I go to the Self-Publishing Conference in Leicester on Saturday 22nd April and the 3rd workshop I have booked is:
Session 3A. Inspiring in Schools: promoting your children’s book 

Inspiring in schools: promoting your children’s book

Angela Fish (Author)

This seminar focuses on preparation, delivery and follow-up for authors who want to engage with children in schools. It considers the management of expectations and, sometimes, disappointments, together with ways of maximising sales potential. The session also explores how schools can help authors during the writing process itself.

Now that's what I call brilliant timing.

I've just checked the website and all places are now full. I am so looking forward to the day. I hope to learn loads of new stuff as so far, I am self-taught and still managed to get my book out there. 


Saturday, 1 April 2017

A bookshop 10 miles away via Swansea - 170 mile round trip!

A few weeks ago I decided it was time to find a good, independent bookstore to visit, and hopefully become a regular at. I found Books on the Hill in Clevedon, which looked good on the internet and was only 10 miles away. I decided to watch out for any upcoming events and within days they had posted about a book signing to take place today.

Book signings are a good way to get to meet an author and, unless you are queuing round the tables, out of the door and down the high street to meet someone as fabulously famous as Sir Terry Pratchett, as I used to in my younger days when he was just plain Terry, it's a good time to have a chat about books, writing, reading or anything else like how sunny it may be today. Meeting someone with incredible fame normally restricts the chit-chat to 'who would you like it signing for?' with an equally short 'I'm such a huge fan of yours, please put it to...' by which time the person behind you is foot-tapping in the belief you have had more than your 15 seconds of allocated time.

Having entered the 1st April in my diary as my initial visit to Books on the Hill it, of course, didn't stay a clear day.

In a bid to use up the final holiday day before the end of the holiday year I suggested a day out to my partner. A mid-week day idea turned in to a let's make a long weekend of it Friday visit. And so, a little bit of creative thinking and we decided to take a drive to Swansea, a place neither of us has been to before, stay overnight in Porthcawl, another new place to us both and finally drive back via Barry Island (yes, you've guessed it - more newness) in time to meet the author, Joanne Hall, and visit the book store.

And the plan worked so well, (we even had time to sit and enjoy the sun at Barry Island watching the dogs having so much fun on the beach, and remembering the joy of getting two rather soggy & sandy dogs home in the car without ruining the upholstery,) we arrived in Cleveland with time to spare.

And it was an enjoyable half hour chatting with Joanne, who can apparently work on 3 books at the same time, which is 2 more than I can, I am definitely a one at a time writer, chatting with the people in the store and looking around at shelves that did not scream out with celebrity 'written' books, a pet peeve of mine at the moment, but more about that another time.

I happily bought a copy of Spark and Carousel, which she equally happily signed for me. Monday's train journey should see me making my acquaintance with the main characters as they head in to whatever mayhem Joanne has created for them. 

Spark and Carousel

 4.56  ·   Rating Details ·  25 Ratings  ·  14 Reviews
Spark is a wanted man. On the run after causing the death of his mentor and wild with untamed magic, he arrives in Cape Carey where his latent talents make him the target of rival gangs. It is there that Carousel, a wire-walker and thief, takes him under her wing to guide him through the intrigues of the criminal underworld. But when Spark's magic cracks the world and releases demons from the hells beneath, two mages of his former order make it their mission to prevent his magic from spiralling out of control. They must find him before he falls into the clutches of those who would exploit his raw talent for their own gain, forcing Spark to confront a power he is not ready to handle. Meanwhile, a wealthy debutante learning magic in secret has her own plans for Spark and Carousel. But the sudden arrival of the mages throws her carefully laid plans into disarray and she unleashes a terrible evil onto the streets of the unsuspecting city—an evil only Spark’s magic can control. Everyone wants a piece of Spark, but all Spark wants is to rid himself of his talents forever. 

What a lovely couple of days to end the week with.

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

An upcoming book signing... and it's not me.

Book Signing - Books On The Hill, Clevedon - Joanne Hall - April 1st

It's a long time since I went to a book signing event, other than my own recent ones, so I was quite pleased to find an event nearby to go to.

It will be fun to see how others host their event, chat to the author and meet other like minded book readers. It did occur to me that I ought to read at least one of her books before I go. Somehow, I think I need to take a look at her short stories for now, but her books do look like ones I could enjoy and I have already downloaded Spark and Carousel 

to go on my 'to be read' list, after I have finished my current read. I love a good book for my commute to and from work in Bristol, where Joanne is also from.

So, for now I shall do a little homework on her so I am not embarrassed on Saturday and maybe one day she'll come to an event hosted by me.

Ah well, it's nice to dream

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Book 2, the follow up...

It's said that everyone has a book in them, the following part of that quote is dependant on who you attribute it to.

"Everyone has a book inside of them - but it doesn't do any good until you pry it out." - Jodi Picoult 

Christopher Hitchens — 'Everybody does have a book in them, but in most cases that's where it should stay.'

What isn't so sure is whether everyone has a second book in them, and whether that book gets written.

With the first book I had all the ideas from the start and just sat down and typed away.

Book 2 isn't working out that straight forward. Now, I have to work out how to develop the characters, remember what I put in book 1 and make sure it all stays relevant to book 2 and I don't contradict anything. I am a planner and this is taking a lot more planning than the first book.

Maybe it's because this story, set among the Cavemen of Cheddar Gorge in 13,500BC, isn't so well documented as the Great Plague of London in 1665.Samuel Pepys kept a detailed diary of the Plague whilst all I have to go on for the Cavemen is a few cave paintings and some bones. 

But gradually, the story is taking shape. I am finding my characters are evolving, I'm working out the introduction of new characters and realizing where the underlying story is. 

I even know what I want my cover to look like.

I'm realising that book 2 is harder to write than book 1 but I am finally feeling excitement for the story and that hopefully means my reader will too.

Now I understand why writing stand alone novels is a better idea than a series, but I am committed to my plan of a series of children's novels using different British historical events as the background plan. 

Through Time To Cheddar is beginning to come alive.

Exciting News

One of the difficulties of being a new author is the need to still pay bills. I work full-time, as do many authors, and dream of the day when I can finally get my comfy-shed at the bottom of the garden and spend each day dreaming up further adventures for Brandy & Brinkley. 

Having done a few book signings, been featured in the local press and doing an hour interview on local radio, my next wish is to get into giving talks. I would love to get involved in chatting to children in schools so I was totally delighted this morning when one of my work colleagues told me her son had taken my book into school, excited that his mum knew the author and that the book was signed, and the school librarian asked if he thought I would be interested in going in to school to talk to the Y8 children.

Would I?

Well, yes. Tell me who I need to speak to. 

So, fingers crossed it all comes to fruition, but in the meantime I shall enjoy the excitement at another new door opening in this journey of becoming a children's author.