Sunday 29 June 2014

Surviving the Book Festival...

Now I've caught up on my sleep, and I've downloaded the photos I took yesterday, here's the review of the day...

Festival poster
There was a little more space as a couple of regional organisations weren't in attendance this year; but there were a number of events also happening around the region this weekend, so they may have been booked elsewhere.

It's an early start for stall holders, as everything needs to be set up and ready for opening at 10 am. So I was up at 6.30- not my normal waking up time for a Saturday, and I hadn't gone to bed until midnight...

It took an hour to set up the writers club stall, rearranging the position of members books, and promotional material.

Finally it was done, and here's the finished stall.

Nottingham Writers' Club stall
I discovered my white tablecloth had a big blue ink stain on it, just where it would have been visible, so it was a flowery effect instead...

The bunting worked well, and another stall holder asked me how I'd printed the lettering on the panels.

Reality was using the shapes available in Word, and careful cutting along lines, plus a mass of double- sided tape and a glue stick.

I got to the talk on Mary Shelley by Christy Fern  in one of the small marquee tents behind the hall, but I only heard the first half hour as I was standing up outside the tent to listen- it was very popular and all the seats were full before the talk even began at 12.30.

The cafe providing refreshments in the hall eventually ran out of cake, but having experienced this in previous years, I made sure I got mine mid-morning.

As it was also the 15th year since the book festival was first held, there was a song written especially to celebrate, and performed by the 'Lowdham Singers' for local book shop owner, Jane Streeter (who runs the Lowdham Bookcase in the village) who started the festival up.

What did I learn that I can pass on to you?

Background posters or upright banners- like the festival one in the first photo. They attract the eye and get the message over; they also roll down into a compact unit when you're finished, so easy to transport. If you're doing a lot of events then they could be quite useful. Quite a few stalls were using them, and they can be put up or folded down as needed. (You can see the back of one of these banners behind me in the final photo.)

As the afternoon drew to a close and visitor numbers dropped, I was chatting with the official festival photographer- since the start of the festival on the 20th, he'd taken at least, 2,000 pictures.

He tried out my new bridge camera, and took a great photo of me, so thank you Mr Photographer. :)

And of course, dismantling the club stall took half the time it took to put together!

It's a long day, but for me it's only once a year, and I'm constantly learning from everything I see and hear at events such as this.

So this is the photo that was taken on my camera by the official photographer.

At the end of a long day...

Friday 27 June 2014

Book Festival Duty...

I've had a busy week - writing; medical appointments -including an unscheduled visit to the dentist- and preparations for the writers' club stall on Saturday, at the Lowdham Book Festival.

The festival ends this Sunday, but the last Saturday (28th) is an opportunity for local authors and groups to get out and meet the public, sell their books and give talks- and on this one day all these talks are free.

It's also the day when those taking part can reach hundreds of people just by booking a table and committing to a long and busy 8-9 hours.
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Lowdham Book Festival banner

It does get lots of local support, as well as people coming along from around Nottingham.

I've lost count of how many years I've been attending, but I think this year may be ten years...

Though this one will be special for me, as a writer, because I have print copies of the One Word Anthology, that both Serena/ I appear in, for sale- there's only a few copies left...

Lots of places hold their own book festivals ranging from a couple of days to a few weeks, and they're a good way for writers to get out, promote their work and sell books in a less scary environment - you are not the only one there in that role...If you've never considered it before, do find out who organises your local festival and contact them.

I'm making a new banner of bunting for the table that Nottingham Writers' Club have - our heavy duty printed one is too big and long for one table, so I'm trying for a bright and eye-catching name display.

I'll be revealing how I got on, and hopefully have some photos to show you on Sunday...

Monday 23 June 2014

Memories Inspire...

I've just been posting an album, to my personal Facebook page, of some of the photos that I took in Bath last month- a few I'd previously used in my blog posts, but there are others I didn't use...

That got me thinking how often my story ideas are inspired, triggered, by visual images; or an image brings buried memories to the surface.

I admit that I am one of those annoying people who will be watching an old movie on TV and say, 'oh, this is the one where...' I'm sure you know someone like that. I apologise. :)

A lot of my photos would mean little to anyone else because they are connected to a particular idea I have, a thought about a possible scene, or a specific character. Some are just to capture how something looks.

I even have images for ideas that don't even exist yet, but something told me I needed to take a photo of it- I just put it down to how my brain works.

If I have a camera at hand, good, but if I don't then some images get stored. I don't have a photographic memory, so perhaps it's more a 'selective' memory, though perhaps we all do that...

I haven't touched my Dorset novel for over a year because I've concentrated on the novella, but I will be coming back to it soon - even if it means alternating weeks on the two stories.

I was looking through all the photos I have saved from my research trips to Dorset, and I found one particular one that I can see my hero Marcus reproducing, but I have to write the rest of the story (chapter 4 onwards) to reach that stage.

This is my husband late afternoon on Chesil Beach looking out to sea. The picture is from 2008-sadly the pixels were low on the camera I was using, so it's not as good as I'd like...

 But it does remind me of the light, and the movement
Looking out to sea on Chesil Beach...
 of the sea when the weather is calm.

Images capture a moment in time, and whenever we look at them they remind us of the past- both good and bad.

Glad to say, this is one of many happy images...

Sunday 15 June 2014

Historical Heroes Writing Competition 16th June to 6th July...

Mills and Boon have a writing tournament for historical heroes for the next three weeks, and you could win a detailed editorial consultation on your full manuscript...

Each week Mills and Boon will be looking for first chapters that feature particular categories of heroes.

This Monday, 16th until Sunday 22nd June it's Regency/Victorian heroes.

Then from the 23rd to 29th it's for Medieval/Tudor Knights/Lords.

For the third week 30th June until the 6th July, it's Warrior Heroes. (This is where your Vikings and Highlanders fit.)

So when Monday rolls round what do you need to send?

A short pitch: Setting,- where and when; a short blurb. You've got 100 words to pitch your story, so you need to make every word count. And there's a link to their current historical books so you can see the sort of thing you're aiming for. Then the big question to answer, why is your hero the best, and "what makes your hero the most delectable man in history".

Your first chapter: 3000 to 5000 words. Don't forget your contact details.

You can only submit once to each of the categories...

Then the editors for the M&B Historical will pick their favourites from the three sections, and they will feature on the Mills &Boon website for a public vote. 

Finally three different chapters will go online on the 14th July and the public votes again.

Midday (GMT) on the 18th July the winner will be announced. 

The winner (Tournament Champion) receives a detailed editorial consultation of their 'full manuscript'. 

There will be a variety of tips, blogs and other snippets across social media, so look out for during the three weeks with the #HistoricalHeroes.

The full competition details are here

You'll also find the Twitter handles for the editors of the historical books, so you can follow them and hear the latest news on the competition, with the #HistoricalHeroes.

If you haven't read any of the M&B Historical then have a peek here.

It's good to see historical romance getting some attention...

Thursday 12 June 2014

Started a Competition Entry...

I know I should get back to the editing of the novella, but my brain is in create mode, not edit mode.

Some time ago I discovered that no matter what I wanted to do, there was no point trying to edit when my brain was constructing, because I just have to go back and re-do it! So I'm taking the time to work out the best method for resolving the plot problem that arose after receiving the answers to the query about (my hero, Hugh) inheriting a baronetcy...

Meanwhile the plot of another story has been developing- and it's been a long time.

As this year at the writers' club it's the turn of the bi-annual novel competition for romance- the Mary Street trophy which I won in 2011 (it didn't run in 2012 due to not enough entries), and then the competition became bi-annual, so I've had time to come up with an entry but not enough time to write it.

Today I made a start.

Now I can't tell you what goes on in the story-at least not until the judge has read entries and chosen a winner, but I can tell you where the idea for it started.

Many years ago the Mail on Sunday used to run an annual competition for the start of a novel (usually announced July/August time) in 150 words, and you were given a word that had to be used; well I had a picture in my mind that particular year, so I entered.

Sadly, this was another story that didn't get shortlisted, but I think I knew that would be the case, as the moment I finished it I realised it was a longer story...

I need to write a synopsis and the first three chapters- there's a maximum word count for both parts.

Once it's been entered I can put it aside and get back to 'After the Storm'- the edits won't do themselves!

Says it all...

Image courtesy of: SalvatoreVuono /

Sunday 8 June 2014

Asking Questions and Learning...

Asking questions and learning from the answers is fairly standard for writers at any level, but imagine that 10-20, 100 times over...

That was yesterday at the first day of the virtual Romance Festival (today-Sunday- concentrates on readers).

Everything kicked off at 2pm, and having checked out the programme first thing that morning, I'd decided to concentrate on the Facebook page- though I did pop in to have a quick look at the Twitter side #Romance14.

(At the time of writing this post, their blog has technical issues, so once it's back up and running you'll be able to access all the author Q&A blog posts at: so check it out later.)

Having the ability to ask questions of the guests, and at the same time discuss the subjects with fellow writers was good, as not all of those joining in were in the UK, so you got a different view. Add to that the guests were only there for 1 hour, you'll understand how active the page was- I had to refresh the page a few times to ensure I didn't miss anything.

The Facebook page started out with two novelists ( Anoushka Knight and Fionnuala Kearney) talking about their journey to publication.

3pm's book cover session was popular. This was with Mark Ecob, a cover designer, and there were discussion on fitting covers to genre,  typefaces that work, motifs and images, among the discussions.

All too soon it was over and another popular guest was introduced, agent Madeline Milburn. We all received answers to our questions, and there were useful tips on covering letters, and that she wanted to see a strong voice, and strong characters that hooked her into the story...

Probably the most valuable advice given was to research the agency's as much as possible, as she said there is a lot of information available on the web, especially with agent interviews and talks.

I liked the fact that she said she didn't represent specific genres, that she represented the author...

Moving on it was the turn of Mark Lefebvre from Kobo; he talked about Kobo Writing Life (the equivalent of Amazon's KDP) and you'll find links in some of his answers.

As you probably guessed Romance is one of their highest selling genres. I think we all wanted to know how others ranked. Well Erotica - "More Active Romance". :) was followed by Thriller/Mystery, then Fantasy and next, Sci-fi.

It was certainly an information filled session, so do have a look at it if you want to find out more.

The last couple of hours featured Harper Impulse authors chatting about 'What I've Learned In My First Year Of Being Published' and then author and journalist Tess Stimson who was talking about writing as a career.

I did pop over to Twitter to catch a few of agent Carole Blake's answers to questions, but by this time my head was buzzing and I needed food (amazing how using mental energy can make you hungry) so signed out.

Events like this enable writers and industry professionals to get-together without having to leave their desk (sofa, sun lounger or wherever they're accessing the web) and it benefits us all.

As great as it is to go to conferences and talks, it isn't always possible, or affordable when you add on transport and accommodation costs, so virtual events like this are fantastic.

Hope we can look forward to another weekend next year...

If you want to find out about today's programme, then look here.

Sunday 1 June 2014

A Virtual Romance Festival for Readers and Writers - 7-8 June...

This week it's back to work. I'll be resuming the novella edit, as well as starting on with a few other projects.

I've also signed up to next weekend's first virtual Romance Festival, taking place online - you do need to register, but it's FREE. Register on the Eventbrite page here.

Once you've signed up you can find out more, but just in case you're not convinced I'll give you a little more information. :D

This virtual festival is for both aspiring writers and those already established, and readers too; a way we can all celebrate romance, discover new authors, and books, and getting them to the readers.

Authors from Harper Impulse, Mills and Boon, Avon- both UK and US, and Piatkus, Carina and independents will be taking part- something for everyone...

Saturday is the author spotlight;  Sunday the reader spotlight.

For writers it will be a day to develop your skills. I'm looking forward to the book covers and elements on marketing and PR, to name a few.

Readers, there'll be give-aways, insights into writers and their books, and I quote, "Hot men!" :D

No doubt by the time next weekend arrives there will have been a lot more added, as this virtual festival is being supported by the RNA, various romance publishers not already mentioned, and numerous authors; a few names I certainly recognise: Jill Mansell, Carole Matthews, Eloisa James, Phillipa Ashley, Jessica Blair, and Sherrilyn Kenyon.

And there's lots more.

Whether we're writers of romance, or just readers of romance, there will be something for everyone to enjoy.

If you want to find out more then have a look at their social media links.

On Facebook it's /RomanceFestival

Twitter: @RomanceFestival

Website: see the Eventbrite link at the top.