Sunday 28 June 2015

My Saturday at Lowdham Book Festival...

The Lowdham Book Festival has been running 16 years. It started small and has built on its success, and the final Saturday is a must visit place for anyone living in Nottinghamshire.

I've been attending for about 10 of those 16 years with the writers club, and now I'm the one who co-ordinates, from booking the stall, confirming which members have promotional material to display alongside the club's, and who is going to be available to help on the day- and making sure they know where to park and other essential information.

On the day I'll be there with one or two others to set up, and the last to leave with all the gathered equipment/leaflets.

This year I was very fortunate to have extra volunteers (I thank them all) - especially a couple of members who hadn't attended the festival before and wanted to come along for a few hours to see what it was like as well as help out.

They resisted the book stalls, unlike the regulars who went home with more than they arrived with!:D

Ready for opening time...
It was wonderful to meet a writer who I've known online for many years, but never met in person;
Ana Salote was launching her book 'Oy Yew' and doing a talk with her publisher (Teika Bellamy of MothersMilk Books) and her illustrator Emma Howitt.

Later in the day I had an opportunity to talk to Teika Bellamy to find out what she was looking for, and there are opportunities available.

Have a look at their submission guidelines which will tell you more...

Early afternoon I was able to get to an interesting talk by author Nigel McCrery on his book 'Silent Witnesses: a history of forensic science.'

The audience were entertained by this retired police officer who had an interest in forensics, though his many writing credits include: Silent Witness, Born and Bred, and New Tricks among them...

Promotion opportunity
I came home with four second-hand books. Basically reference works, though one, a wonderfully illustrated hardback is extremely large, but I'll never have a problem knowing what sort of furniture my historical heroes and heroines will be sitting upon.

My flask of coffee just about lasted out the day, and I limited myself to one piece of lemon sponge late morning so I could eat my packed lunch after the lunch-time rush.

Fortunately the hall was a comfortable temperature with the doors into the hall, and the back door open. It was very bright and hot outside, and even my camera had a problem with how bright it was- I'm going to have to darken the outdoor shots!

Well that's it for another year. I'll be suggesting what worked and what didn't this year, as will my fellow volunteers, so NWC will be ready for next June.

I never stop learning on days like this....

Thursday 25 June 2015

It's Book Festival Time...

To be honest, any month of the year is book festival time!

As in previous years this Saturday I'll be setting up and spending time on the Nottingham Writers' Club stall, with assistance from a few of the members.

This year we're not selling any of our members books, just letting visitors to the last Saturday event, know that we're there and welcome new members- whether new, developing or established writers...

There is so much available online nowadays that joining a writers' group sometimes seems to be viewed as unnecessary, but there's nothing like a group of writers getting together and sharing knowledge, inspirations, writing and having fun.

(Only another writer understands about characters talking to you and doesn't think it's strange... :D)

It's also good to venture out into the world and attend a book festival to discover local writers- new and established; attend interesting talks on subjects that I'd never have thought about before- just because there is an author discussing the background and/or research for their latest book.

Finally, it's a good way to learn what works with an audience in a tent, or a hall- especially when the weather is hot or you're competing with heavy rain- trying to drown your voice out- as it smacks against the canvas...

I'm used to standing up in front of people at club meetings. I've read some of my work to a small public audience too (there's a few June/July blog posts from previous years if you're interested) so standing behind the club stall isn't too difficult, but I know not everyone finds it easy, or comfortable.

(Despite all that I'm sure I would be nervous if I was the author in one of the tents talking about the latest book. One day it may be me!)

 photo DSC01564-1.jpg
Book Festival time...
I'll be taking photos to record the day for the club magazine, so I'll share a few pictures in my next blog post on Sunday/Monday.

Do you attend your local book festival, or have you done an author talk at one? What's the best part for you?

(In the case of the Lowdham last Saturday, the second-hand book stalls are very popular, and I've found some interesting and useful research books there.)

Now keep your fingers crossed for lovely weather.

Sunday 21 June 2015

Every Picture Tells a Story...

Happy Father's Day.

Dad and I 
I've been playing around with images today over on Pinterest, so I thought I'd include a picture that's relevant to today.

My Dad used to carry a copy of this photo in his wallet when I was small, and after he died it was the one picture I especially wanted, but it was mislaid.

A few years later one of my brother's found this copy of that same picture and gave it to me, so it's now in a small frame on the windowsill above my desk.

The photo was taken by my mum, and on the back it says 31/7/1962, so we were either on holiday, or it was one of our regular summer Sunday trips to the seaside.

Even though the photo is black and white I can still remember my blow-up plastic boat. The outside was pillar-box red and the inside white. It took quite a bit of puff to blow it up... I've no idea what I have in the boat with me- possibly a blow up beach ball.

My Dad volunteered for the army at the start of the Second World War, and he was one of the many soldiers who were evacuated from Dunkirk; and having researched the regimental history, it's likely he was taken off the beach- he couldn't swim, and as far as I know he was very much older before he did learn, so this picture has a lot of meaning to me...

Every picture does tell a story...

Sunday 14 June 2015

Now to Get On With the Story...

I've been working on possible names since my last blog post, and being able to put variations into Google has been very helpful.

A rose by any other name...
If you haven't read my last post, it might help to explain my dilemma.

I had a list of first names that seemed to be possibles for the ex-girlfriend/model character in my contemporary romance.

All I can say is there are a lot of models out there and finding an original name is tough work. All the ones that I thought would be few, were quite the opposite.

Yesterday I was at the stage of reverting to Suzi/Suzy if I couldn't come up with anything else, but I persisted and found two possibles, but whether they would work would depend upon the right surname.

This was where the Behind the Name website proved useful. I was able to bring up an alphabetical surname list - my own is not on it!

Finally I had five potential surnames that would work with either first name- I'm not revealing which two until it's finished and ready for publishing. :-)

Over the last few days as I've searched for her name, I've also been concentrating on her role in the story and discovered more about her. I  now understand her motives- which is important.

Sadly I had to exclude some surnames because combined together with my possible first names,  I found there were models with those names!

It was using an alternate spelling of one of my Christian name choices that made all the difference, and it's always worth checking for spelling variations that might make the name slightly different from usual - there may just be fewer people using that variation.

And best of all, the final name choice does not clash with any of my other characters names.

So I can now get on with her bio and back into writing - I'm really looking forward to writing the upcoming scenes...

Image courtesy of Tim Seed &

Thursday 11 June 2015

Character Name Dilemma...

I have one secondary character bio left to complete, but I've hit a snag; the name and occupation I'd chosen.

It's a contemporary romance so it's not essential that I pick a name to fit a specific time period as I'd need to with my historical romances, but there's still a problem.

My hero's ex-girlfriend is a model. Now it's not that she's horrible, but from what others have told my heroine in passing, you wouldn't want to be called her best friend...

I'm at the stage in the manuscript where my heroine and the ex are going to unexpectedly meet, so getting the bio complete for her is important.

Now to the problem. I called her Suzi/Suzy. I decided on her not using her real surname, but a shortened version of it.

So just in case there were any models of that name I Googled it- and variations.

Result, not a good idea. I never knew there were that many models called Suzi/Suzy something or other; including some quite risqué.

This character is not one of a herd...

I need to find an alternative name for her so one that is unusual but would still sound okay for a glamorous model.

This is going to be where the numerous online lists prove useful.

Starting with her age, about 28, I'm going to begin by looking at girls names for 1985/6, and starting at the bottom names on the lists, as they'll hopefully be one or two less usual names.

I'd like to have a few possibilities to choose from, so that one will fit with my visual image of her.

Who said writing was easy? :D

Image courtesy of Ventrilock and

Monday 8 June 2015

Busy Working - Building Characters...

I've just about finished my character biographies, and they have been a revelation.

Now I'm anxious to get back and start building the story to completion.

It is only the first draft, but already I can see where I need to add scenes or incidents earlier on in the draft, as the character bios have provided information I was unaware of when I started writing the story.

There's a couple of areas of research that I still need to do, but they can be done as I go along, so by the time I'm ready to tackle the second draft I'll have what I need.

Also I feel I have finally found a system that works for me, and I'll continue to use it for all my longer stories.

I'm flexible enough to make changes in the plot if they're needed, but just being able to write down chapter outlines helps me know where I'm going - even if some bits do get changed around.

Clearing my head of the ideas and scenes, and then concentrating on my characters' secrets has been like taking the icing off a piece of fruit cake, leaving the delicious part to be exposed and savoured.

Like cake...
(This could just be that I feel hungry after this latest writing session of course, and I like eating cake- occasionally.)

So I'm off to follow up on one of those vital research areas...

Image courtesy of Apolonia/

Wednesday 3 June 2015

A Brief Diversion into Poetry...

I foolishly told the poetry Secretary at the Writers' Club (at the weekend) that I'd attempt an entry for the May poetry competition- to be handed in tonight (Wednesday).

It was rhyming form and there was a given theme.

I remember that I never found poetry difficult when I was a child- because it was playing with words and enjoying the creative process.

When you get older and aren't poetically inclined, like me, all the rules are headache inducing.

But with some technical advice from poet friends who do know, I ended up with two verses, each of four lines, and the ABAB rhyming scheme worked- well it seemed to...

I will get a little feedback next month when the judge returns the results- assuming there are enough entries for the competition to run.

So I've decided that if I ever try writing poetry again, I'll keep to blank verse. :D