Friday, 30 September 2011

Book Signing Event at Waterstones, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent

I am preparing to attend my second book signing event. Tomorrow (Saturday 1st October) I will be at Waterstones Bookseller's in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire. I will be there from 11:00am until around 3:00pm depending on how busy we get. I do have to be home fairly early however, because my husband has a gig, he needs the car, and I'm having the baby for the night. So, if you are interested in attending and are not sure of the location, here are the details: Waterstones, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent.

I am promoting my debut paranormal romance novel Love Hurts. The story is about a woman who falls in love with a police detective, only to discover that he is a vampire and his identical twin brother is a werewolf. They inadvertently draw her into their complicated and dangerous lives, with tragic consequences. This story is the first in a series set in the fictional Cornish seaside resort of Redcliffe.

The book is receiving very good feedback so far. Just this morning I received a message from a former university housemate, telling me she had read the book in a very short space of time, and she loves it. I am receiving positive responses from people who I actually wouldn't have thought would be interested in this kind of thing. For example, I tend to assess the kind of genres people might read based on how I perceive them, from their personalities and social interests. Now I am learning not to do this, and that I must tell anybody and everybody about my book, because actually, most people really want to read it!

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Stories in my Head

I am struggling at the moment, to find time to sit down and write all of the stories in my head.  I have a young baby, a family, and all the associated housework to deal with before I can focus on my writing.  Unfortunately the writing has to be a sideline to my role as Mother. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. 
Anyway, just because I can’t physically write up the stories, does not mean they don’t exist.  For example, I am currently attempting to write the sequel to my recently published paranormal romance novel Love Hurts.  I have actually written a rough draft of about the first five chapters of Love Kills.  In my head, I am probably on about chapter twelve, or possibly even further along.  It gets a little confusing.

My stories are a good source of escapism while I am stood before the kitchen sink, or cleaning out the turtle tank, or ironing, or hoovering, or any number of other boring household tasks.  I even formulate the stories while in the shower, or in bed, out walking, or even when I am out in the car.  My characters take on their own lives, and draw me in as a spectator.  It is my job to remember what they tell me, and commit it to paper (or computer) as soon as possible.

Sometimes it can be embarrassing, like the time I headbutted a neighbour’s hanging basket because I was engrossed in my personal fictional dialogue.  Other times people can be talking to me and I simply don’t hear them.  I sort of snap out of a daydream, and have to wake up to the reality around me.  I am sure this is not an isolated situation.  I must be one of a million writers in a similar position.

Maybe I should invest in a Dictaphone, and dictate my stories while I work.  Perhaps then I can at least have something to write up at a later date.  I find sometimes that when I actually get to the physical writing stage, my stories fly off on a tangent, totally different from what I had originally imagined.  Sometimes this works, sometimes not.  I must be away to bed soon as the night is moving on.  Who knows which story I will dip into, and where I will travel before sleep takes over…

Sunday, 18 September 2011

My First Book Signing Event

I recently attended my very first book-signing event. It took place at Waterstones bookseller in Crewe, Cheshire in the North of England. I did not know what to expect so I was faintly nervous but approached it with an open mind. I would surely sell some books, even if no one came specifically to see me. I had been publicizing it widely in local newspapers and on the Internet so I was hopeful.

As it was, I sold 6 books. This may not sound like a lot, but for an unknown author with a new book, it was pretty damn good! I am very pleased with the result, and with the whole experience in general. It has filled me with renewed vigor and hope for my second book-signing event in two weeks. The people that I met were very supportive and the bookshop staff was really helpful and accommodating.

Although I didn’t really expect my friends and family to drop everything and come and see me on their precious weekend day off, I must admit it was a little disappointing to see no familiar faces. Well, my father-in-law did turn up and he took some professional photographs (he is a photographer by trade, very useful!) to use on my websites. I did have a wonderful surprise when a great-Uncle and Aunt came to see me. I was really touched that even though they haven’t see me since I was a child, they took the time to come and show some support, and more importantly, bought some books.

When I first arrived there was a customer waiting for me, a lovely woman who supports local authors and wanted to read my book especially because of its Cornish setting. It was very amusing that every time I stood up to stretch my legs, customers would approach me to ask for assistance in the shop. Even though I wasn’t in uniform and had no name badge, apparently I looked like a member of staff! I suppose once you work in retail and customer service, you never really lose that professional, helpful stance and persona.

It was a useful learning experience. I had recently read a lot of negative stories in the media, saying that bookshops are in decline and people are no longer interested. Even in this small retail center, there were enough customers coming and going to fill me with confidence that the industry is still strong, and is still worth pursuing as a viable career. There were a lot of parents with young children, and many teenagers buying books. Not everyone has defected to the digital revolution just yet.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

My First Booksigning Event is Imminent

It is a very exciting time for me. I will be visiting the Waterstones book store in Crewe, Cheshire this coming Saturday (17th September) to do a book signing event for my debut novel. I have no idea what to expect. The manager says that I will be given a table in the fantasy section, and from there I can greet my visitors (and hopefully I will receive direct visitors), and I can talk to new customers and try to sell them my book.

I am still struggling to decide what to wear. I know, I am such a girl! But it is very important. No matter how much we would like to believe differently, humans will always judge on first appearances. I want to appear professional, friendly, but I want to stand out from the crowd at the same time. I wondered whether to wear my favourite blue velvet tie-dyed dress, but decided against it since I might come across as a 'bit of a hippy.' I don't want to wear formal office wear because that just isn't natural to me. I do want to enjoy the opportunity to dress in something other than jeans and t-shirts for once. Oh well, I will ransack my wardrobe and see what there is.

Vanity aside, this will be a very interesting day. I have featured in several local newspapers recently, so hopefully people will show some support and come see me. I would like to find someone who has read my book (besides my close friends and family), and get a review from them. Which reminds me, I must assemble my personal file. I have decided to take a folder with me, displaying newspaper cuttings, book reviews, and relevant information about me as an author. Sort of like a portfolio of my work I suppose. Better check the ink levels on my printer.

I will report back next week, once the event is over. Hopefully I will be full of beans, bouncing with delight, and looking forward eagerly to my second book signing event in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent on 1st October. If the day proves to be quiet and uneventfull, it will at least be a permanent milestone on my journey as an author.

Love Hurts - Booksigning Event - Waterstones Bookseller

Friday, 9 September 2011

The Authors that shaped my Writing

A question that has popped up lately is that of the writers that have influenced me in my work. Love Hurts (A Redcliffe Novel) is a paranormal romance novel. Immediately I imagine many people will associate it with the recent Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer. I dont mind this association because I expect the readers of this series to move on and read my own Redcliffe novels series.

My own personal influences came from other writers, and many of them not even in the paranormal genre. When I was a young child I read Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl. Any serious child reader has to experience the joys of these authors. They are amazing! I was a huge fan of the Mallory Towers series and The Famous Five. I also read a few Secret Seven books but these were never quite as magical. But they all fired up my imagination.

And then there was Matilda, The BFG and the Witches. These were my favourite Roald Dahl books, closely followed by Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach. My husband has recently started reading Matilda to our daughter for her bedtime story, and once again I sit transfixed by the story. I adore the use of language, and Quentin Blake’s illustrations just finish the book brilliantly.

As I grew older I did find my way to the paranormal genre. It started with some Penguin classic ghost stories, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and a couple of anthologies of vampire short stories. Then I discovered LJ Smith. I read the Nightworld series, and I was hooked. The books described pretty much exactly what was happening inside my head, but from an American perspective.

It was Nightworld that really fired up my imagination and put the first stirrings of Love Hurts (A Redcliffe Novel) in my head. Back then I would invent the story of a man who was a vampire, and a human woman who discovered his secret. Sometimes the heroine was the vampire. Eventually I discovered the Mason brothers and Jessica Stone, and the rest is history. In fact, I am very surprised at the way my story evolved over the years. It is as though the characters wrote it themselves and I translated.

Finally I discovered Anne Rice and her Vampire Chronicles. These books showed me that I could be controversial, and that it was acceptable to write about what was really important to me. I didn’t have to disguise my vampires behind senseless violence just so they would be accepted. And now, during the last decade, I have been reading the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series by Laurell K Hamilton

All of these amazing authors leave me with a lot to be desired. But hey, eventually they must retire, and maybe by that time I will be experienced and decent enough to take the reins in the paranormal world. A girl can dream

Join my tribe today, and I will send you a fabulous FREE book to get you started… (be warned, my vampires do not sparkle, and my wolves will bite!) 

Friday, 2 September 2011

Rare Eye Condition and a Writing Career

I would like to share with you a little personal insight. I am generally a very healthy person. I don’t really exercise beyond walking the dog, but I do watch what I eat and am conscious about taking care of my body. Especially so now while I am breastfeeding my baby daughter.

There is one (or several) conditions I suffer from regarding my eyes. I hope that by talking about this condition I might help reach out to other younger people suffering with the same thing. I have Lymphodoema Distichiasis. Simply put, I have two rows of eyelashes in both eyes, and the second row turn in and scratch my corneas. This condition has been present since birth, but as it generally only affects older people, it took a while to get a proper diagnosis. Indeed without my mother's insistence to the doctors, the situation could have been much worse.

As it is I have severe scars on both eyes, worse in my left. This is where the lashes have turned in and scratched me repeatedly. Remember how painful it is when you get a speck of dust or a hair in your eye? That is how I feel every day. In an attempt to ease the symptoms I underwent many surgical operations as a child, where the eyelashes were removed using laser treatment to freeze and burn them off alternately. They kept growing back.

As I grew older the symptoms seemed to ease, until I reached the age of seventeen. Then they returned with a vengeance and I am still undergoing regular hospital treatment and taking daily eye drops and ointment now, at the age of 29. It will never be cured. Three years ago I had more surgical procedures to rotate my eyelashes in an attempt to ease the pain. I also remove the eyelashes myself using tweezers when they grow in. I am pleased to report an improvement since all of this, but I still struggle.

Alongside the ingrowing eyelashes I suffer from Dry Eye Syndrome. My eyes cannot produce enough tears to lubricate my eyes and protect them from foreign bodies. I am still undergoing exploratory treatment for this. And just last week I was diagnosed with excess keratin and papillarys in both eyes. Apparently I have raised bumps under the skin of my eyelids, and the rough skin at the back of my eyes extends forwards, both of which rub the corneas and give me that familiar foreign body sensation.

So how do I continue to write, and how the heck did I manage to produce a novel while suffering all of this pain and discomfort? I gritted my teeth, tried to ignore it, and vowed not to be beaten by my stupid freakish eyes. I am far better off than many people who suffer far more life-altering conditions. At least I have learnt how to handle it, and can work through the pain. All I have to do is admit defeat on some days, leave the computer switched off, and give my eyes some time to heal.

For more information on Lymphodoema Distichiasis and Dry Eye Syndrome please see the following article: Dry Eye Syndrome and Associated Eye Pain