Showing posts with label book festivals. Show all posts
Showing posts with label book festivals. Show all posts

Monday 26 June 2017

Now the Book Festival is Over...

The display of members'
published works...
I spent Saturday (24th) at the last day of the Lowdham Book Festival, with other members of Nottingham Writers' Club.

Sadly my cork board display was too large for the three-legged stand (height-wise), and if I'd had time to try it out the night before I would have realised- not that I could have done anything about it!

In the end the board rested against the stand by the table...

At least this year we were able to display flyers for books by a number of members- and not just mine.

There were a lot of small publishers in the hall this year, and out in the marquee there were plenty of second-hand books, but only a few were really old, so I didn't come home with any useful books this time.

But I did add to my postcard collection with a few old postcards. Two stable scenes; both postcards were images of painting by John Morland (1763-1804) and immediately appealed to the historical romance writer in me.

You can see the images used on the postcards here and here. Though the image had been coloured for printing, so the contents of the wheelbarrow becomes green and yellow, and the stable lad's face becomes very distinct, as does the jar on the window ledge.

The strange thing was that these two postcards had been sent to the same person by two connected individuals (sisters?) and sent from Plaistow in 1905 both on the 4.15 post on the 17 JU (June or July?).

The one from Beatie is affectionate but short with the lines well spaced- she's thanking the sender for the book she's sent, whereas the second, while neatly written, each line is close together. It mentions that 'Beatie is putting a new braid on the bottom of her dress'.

Postcard messages can be as inspiring as the image on the front. Over a century later their moment in time messages remain, leaving the reader to wonder, and the writer to create...

Sunday 5 June 2016

The Season of Festivals...

Where has the time gone?

I know book festivals take place throughout the year, but the summer months are particularly popular.

For me, June means  it's Lowdham Book Festival, 17th-25th. So I'll be doing my usual stint at the writers' club stall on the 25th.

 I need to dig out the bag with the see-through acrylic stands and leaflet holders ready for this year's display material.

Every year is a learning experience, seeing what works and what is an absolute failure in display terms.

This year 's Lowdham Book Festival is in its 17th year, and I've attended the free Saturday events day for at least eleven of the last twelve years.

Of course events develop and change over time, but I've always found the Saturday a good indicator of how the local and even national economy is affecting people.

 Do people buy one or two new books, or will they buy half a dozen? Modern second-hand books always seem to weather the ups and downs...

Buying books...
The last couple of years have been good, and it's reassuring to all writers to see a healthy trade in books, whether new, very old, or second-hand.

I scour the attending antiquarian type book stalls every year, but set myself a budget, otherwise I'd need a suitcase- and a lottery win... :D

This year's free Saturday events will be taking place the day after the results of the EU referendum have been announced, plus it's also a busy day for assorted events around the immediate region so fingers crossed for sunshine, or at least a dry day.

Besides Lowdham, Derby Book Festival is now running until the 11th June; and hopefully there will be another Books at the Castle in Newark (held for the first time August 2015).

If you're in the area then do look at the Lowdham festival programme; you can download it from The Bookcase website, here.

Do you have a local book festival that you attend? Or do you prefer the bigger festivals like Hay, or

image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti &

Sunday 18 October 2015

Reading to an Audience - Start with the Basics...

Recently I shared an article from Stylist magazine on my Facebook account, and it had quite a number of views. It was a top ten tips for speaking in public.

It's not surprising that the subject is popular, as writers need to do a lot more promotion now than they needed to ten years ago.

Though some writers may be more confident from past experience, or they have a daytime job that requires them to stand up in front of an audience- whatever their ages may be...

I have to admit that I had a head start, so it wasn't such a shock.

When I was in secondary school x number of years ago, I was part of the drama group, and it was a great way to learn basic skills, breathing correctly, standing up straight and projecting your voice, and taking on the voice of characters- but in my case the biggest problem I had to overcome was talking too fast.

All those are the same skills writers need to learn, or develop. But you don't need to practise in front of an audience, you can do it by yourself at home.

I'm a firm believer in reading my work aloud during the editing phase, as you can hear when text doesn't flow, phrasing is awkward, or you've changed tense/viewpoint, but you need to read slower to pick out the issues, so try recording yourself reading out a passage, then play it back, or ask a trusted friend to listen to you.

Is every word distinct, or are you chopping off the ends of words, and rolling them together? When you're conscious of what you are doing, you can pick it up, slow down and try again until you get the right pace for you.

Practise and eventually it will become automatic.

Breathing: stand up straight and breathe in slowly until your lungs are filled- if you put your hand flat just below your rib cage you can feel the rise as you breathe in. Then let your breath out slowly- you do need to concentrate.

When you have that under control then the next time you breathe out use that to propel your voice- choose a simple short word, 'pop' for example. So often, it seems, we're not aware of how much our voices are capable of until we try- this will.

If you are reading your own work out you can of course add reminders to your manuscript. Apart from printing in a larger font, you can add spaces between paragraphs, insert (PAUSE) at appropriate points, and underline anything you need to put emphasis on. Practise your pace.

Microphones seem scary, but you just need a quick test to find the right distance between you and it using your regular reading voice. If the microphone is not on a stand then get someone to hold it, as juggling a microphone and turning pages it not a good image and will get you flustered- not what you want or need.

Do you see the common word now? Yes, it's practise.

I've been fortunate to have generous writer friends who have shared their advice over the years, and I've put it into practise when I've been on the local BBC radio station (promoting a book I was in with another local writer), as well as other literature events like the Lowdham Fringe.

There's a lot more you can do, wear bright colours so you aren't lost against pale walls or furnishings for example.

 You may be an introvert, but you can pretend you aren't. Master the basics and build upon them...

My first public reading as a writer
in 2012 at the Lowdham Fringe

Thursday 6 August 2015

Making Plans for 2016...

A couple of years ago I bought an academic style diary because I started to have a list of dates for appointments and school/college dates for the next year, but only the back of the current year's diary to note them down - and my writing is not small!

So now as soon as I see them in the shops I make my choice, and at the first opportunity I transfer details over. 2016 is not going to be quiet.

Today I was booking my appointment dates for the rest of this year with my hairdresser (as the bookings for December were starting already). I have no intention of having my grey roots showing for the Festival of Romance weekend in November. :D

But this got me thinking about next year's events- yes I know it's only August...

I definitely want to go to the Writers' Conference again- this year it was the end of March, then June is always Lowdham Book Festival and a busy time generally. So if I want to get away for a research trip I'm going to have to aim for May again.

I'm thinking about a visit to Dorchester as there's some research details I need for my Dorset novel before I get back to writing it (at some point next year). On my previous visits time was limited and the family impatient to go, so like my trip to Bath last year, I need time to myself for visits.

There's still a couple of small research areas that I noted down in my Nottinghamshire novella/short novel, so I need to resolve those, but they don't require me to travel away from home, just sit down, read and look at pictures...

And write of course.

My resolution for next year will definitely be better time management. I'm getting there, but I still have to work on procrastination in the morning.

Meanwhile I've got between now and the end of November to get as much done as possible.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

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 4 January 2015

Festival of Romance 2015 - book now...

Hope you all had a great Christmas and New Year.

I'm not quite back into normal routine yet as all the family have been here, but this week a regular schedule will return to the household...

Last year I missed The Festival of Romance as it was in September- it clashed with my son moving into university accommodation. So I'm very pleased that 2015's Festival is back to November.

Details here. Dates: 6th - 8th November 2015.

This year the festival will be held a few miles from Stratford upon Avon (yes, Shakespeare country), and as there is the opportunity to secure exclusive use of the hotel for the festival weekend, the organisers would like people to book with a £50 deposit now- the balance to be paid in September.

The ticket price includes all events, and breakfast and dinner as listed in the programme details. This link gives you the 2015 programme - looks like a great time.

For the history enthusiast, the hotel was converted from a Manor House, but does apparently have the 'mod cons'- free wifi and parking. And a few minutes walk away is Charlecote Park, a National Trust 16th century country house.

If I'd been travelling by train as I did in 2013, I would have taken up the option of the extra Sunday night for an additional charge, but I'm taking the shorter travel route this year - car.

Now I have to start saving... :D

Thursday 11 December 2014

The Review of 2014...

I find it helpful to look back at what I have, and haven't, achieved with my writing life during the year.

I start out with a general plan for the coming year; but I have learnt over the years that it's better to set myself realistic targets and accept that some will be achieved, while others won't be.

Sometimes other unexpected opportunities come along and if they can be done, then I'll do them, but there's no point taking on more things if it will only derail my main objective.

So starting with my objectives for 2014:
A new timetable for my writing routine; exhibitions I wanted to visit and revising the novella.

I've certainly found a writing routine that suits me, and my sometimes disrupted life. The novella got temporarily put to one side, though the revision process was started, but needed more time away from it. My baddie needed some thinking about. Plus there's been all the admin work that being on the committee of the writers' club generates...

Here's 2014:

January- I received (the belated) Writer of the Year trophy at Nottingham Writers' Club. Was one of the initial readers for the club's National Short Story Competition.

February- I completed the first draft of the novella.(Where has time gone!)

March- Tidying up some short stories.

April- Trip to Bath booked, and I bought my new camera- any photo on my blog now, unless credited to someone else, has been taken with this camera.(It's given me some good pictures to remind me of places needed for research.)

May- This was a busy month. I still hadn't started my entry for the Mary Street trophy at the writers' club; took photos of the May speaker (Gail Simmons) for the club magazine-one of them was later requested by the writer for her to use with name credit. Went off for my weekend in Bath- took lots of photos, and that weekend resulted in 3 blog posts with pictures.This trip was partially a research trip as well as a break.

June- Lowdham Book Festival month. I've been attending the last day of the festival for nearly 10 years now.
I created a name banner for the stall for the writers' club, set up and spent the day on the stall. (It's also a good way to learn how to present yourself and watch how writers promote and sell their books.) After abandoning my romance novel entry I started another one.

July- I was among a large group of readers and writers in Nottingham who took part in a Reading Flashmob in the city centre one sunny Saturday lunchtime. My synopsis and 3 chapters for the romance novel competition entry was finally handed in.

August- Received the news that my very short story 'A Tight Squeeze', which was published on the Café Lit site in August 2013, had been chosen to be included in the Best of Café Lit 3.

September- Writing as and when I could, around getting one of my sons off to University.

October- Been blogging for 4 years this month.

November- Continuing the first draft of my contemporary romance.

December- Results of the Mary Street Memorial Shield for a Romance Novel announced at Awards Night, and my entry was the winner. Mislaid trophy to be presented in January 2015.

In some ways it doesn't seem that I've done much writing, but when I look at how much I have written in between those events, 26,043 words to date, that's actually 3,000 more words than 2013. It's at least a positive, but I need to be writing more.

March and April are the two months I need to work on in 2015.

Targets for 2015:
Complete the contemporary romance, revise and eventually submit it. Then hopefully by this time next year I'll be back to the historical romance novella and into the 2nd draft. If anything else pops up that fits in, I'll consider it.

As it's now only 14 days until Christmas Day, I'll be moving to a once a week post until the end of the year. I still have cards to write and send, and presents to buy. I'm determined to not be rushing around doing everything in the last few days as I have the past three years.

Normal blogging routine will return in January...

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.
 photo DSC01564.jpg
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...

Tuesday 2 July 2013

Lowdham- Photos and a Story...

Okay here's a few photos from Saturday at the Lowdham Book Festival- I've yet to master the finer arts of Photoshop Elements 9, so apologies for the light on my glasses.

In the Village Hall
The village hall is the central hub of the festival with a couple of other venues to host other talks, and marquees out on the grass behind the hall. There's always activities for children provided so no one misses out.

I would have liked to have gone to a few of the events in the afternoon, but there was a steady flow of people from 10.30 am onward, so I only left the club stall for the Fringe and a quick look at the second hand book stalls in the marquee.

(I was quite restrained; I only bought one second-hand book.)

Nor did I get to sample any of the cake on sale from the kitchen hatch- it's usually very yummy cake...

When I wasn't answering queries and promoting Nottingham Writers' Club, I was able to talk to my neighbours, Leicester Writers Club and a lady who was selling her fantastic photographs of wildlife and nature.

There were lots of writers with books to sell; including a couple of authors published by Pen & Sword books. Their wall posters stood out well, but of course the Duke of Wellington is very distinguished even in one dimension.

I bought a book (signed by the author) for my OH- who is wonderfully supportive on days like this, driving me to the village hall, keeping everything running at home, then returning to collect me at the end...

So to the performance... 
Talking to the audience while
posing for the photo

There wasn't as many people in the room as last year, but it was a sunny day this time.

In one bar there was music, and in the other the literature.

I was one of three NWC members performing.

Jennifer Appleyard began with the start of her novel, ' Touch the Earth' (Hayloft Publishing Ltd) and from there Viv Apple took over with a selection of her poetry to lighten the mood.

As we had time limitations I'd chosen short pieces. There was a 200 word story on illusion (see below) and the audience were surprised at the last line revelation as I'd hoped.

The 1400 word story that went next is currently being judged in a club competition, so I won't say anymore, but the audience liked it- hope the judge does too!

I finished off with a very short piece that I referred to as 'the underwear story' (for the benefit of any men in the audience who didn't know what shapewear is). It's actually a misadventure tale, but luckily the unfortunate woman survives the experience... :-)

So here is the first story I read. I hope you enjoy it...


Work beckoned.
    Rachel stepped out the shower, patted her skin with soft Egyptian cotton, then slathered herself in ‘Opium’; its fruity, spicy aroma began her transformation and she revelled in it.
    Slipping on the black lacy thong and matching suspender belt she began to slide the sheer black stockings up each leg in turn, and with a light-fingered fix, was done.
    Contact lenses in, she admired the view in her mirror and wished she could wake up one morning to find her pale blue eyes turned this olivaceous shade.
    With deft artistic strokes of brushes and sponges she changed face; a touch of colour to highlight the cheekbones she usually hid, and a black flick of gel liner to suggest the exotic.
    The Teal, Suzy Wong style dress with the seam slit to her right thigh displayed her stocking top and she gained extra height with gold strappy shoes via four inch heels.
    Then with a wielding of heated tongs to create a mass of curls, and a final spritz of hairspray, the illusion was complete.
    Rachel was gone; in her place stood Orchid, wild, alluring and luscious.
    Ready to ensnare the cheating husband she was employed to expose.

 © 2013 Carol Bevitt

 (Photos courtesy of Dennis Apple.)

Saturday 29 June 2013

I Survived the Last Day!

Just popping in to say I'm back from the last day of the Lowdham Book Festival.

It was an early start from home, and cool.  But by midday was warm and sunny, which is always encouraging.

Nottingham and the surrounding areas had quite a few events going on, including Armed Forces Day; but I'm glad to say lots of people did come to the Festival even if they left it later...

Many of the free talks were full and people had to be turned away as capacity had been reached.

A good sign this year was people actually buying new books (and not necessarily those by well-known writers) and not just second-hand ones.

When there was a temporary lull in footfall I was able to leave the writers' club stall to look at books. I bought a new (signed by the author) book for my OH (who drives me to events, goes home and then comes to collect me later).

And I found a 1978 book on fans (the decorative type for wafting in your face) for £3, for myself, so I was happy.

The Fringe at the Ship event went well (more later with pictures) and my lighter contemporary stories were appreciated - at least those listening laughed at the right points and clapped at the end of each one without prompting... :-)

It's been a long day and I'm going to catch-up on Facebook, and sift through the growing list of e-mails that invariably fill my inbox on a Friday night/Saturday morning...

When the pictures arrive from the NWC photographer, I will share a few of them...

Hope Sunday's weather is just as good, so I can recover...

Saturday 15 June 2013

A Busy Month Coming Up...

Variety for the weekend...

My short story entry to the Wells Literary Festival competition is now on its way. :-)

My story really didn't need too much extra work as it was very minor things; changing the placing of a short paragraph here, and on the first page where an issue nagged me, I just rewrote the same sentence in a slightly different way, and it was much better.

A year ago I didn't see those little improvements that could still be made, and perhaps they were the aspects that got the story rejected...

*   *   *

The other exciting news is that the One Word Anthology by the Talkback Writers (of which I'm one- well two, as my pseudonym Serena Lake has stories in there) is shortly coming out in paperback form.

The e-book is still available for 99p from Alfie Dog and other book buying outlets (though there may be slight price differences due to the way the book buying sites work).

The paperback will be £5.99, and 10% of the profit will go to the charity Medical Detection Dogs...

Out soon in paperback
(More news and about the book launch when I have a definite date.)

I better get on with sorting out my author page on Amazon...

It's two weeks to the final day of the Lowdham Book Festival ( 29th June) when Nottingham Writers' Club has a stall promoting the club and members work. So I'll be found on the stall for most of the day.

EXCEPT from just before midday when I and two other club members will be located across the road in The Ship pub to take part in the second Fringe event, reading a selection of our work for 40-45 minutes.

Various groups will be performing throughout the day and into the early evening, so if you're nearby, then do pop in, grab a drink and enjoy the events.

*   *   *

Then on the 3rd July, Nottingham Writers' Club has a ticket event. Novelist and Biographer Miranda Seymour will be discussing 'sleuthing and biography'; and will be talking about her forthcoming book, 'Noble Endeavours: Stories from England and Germany' due to be published in August.

Tickets will be £2.50 on the door to non-members; £1 for members. 
Miranda Seymour
Miranda Seymour

Starting 7pm, 3rd July 2013, at the Nottingham Mechanics, North Sherwood Street, in the city centre.

If you need any further info you can ask for details via the Nottingham Writers' Club contact form, here.

So I have a few busy weeks to come...

Friday 30 November 2012

Reviewing My Year...

Do you take time to seriously look at how you've done each year? And I don't just mean waiting until January the 1st and making resolutions-they usually don't last long...

Early December is my writing assessment time - if it's not been done earlier in October/November.

Reviewing the Writing Year
I've found looking at what's worked, and what's not gone as I'd hoped, is useful.

So last year (2011) I'd only achieved 2 of my 4 targets, that I'd set myself in late 2010; so I didn't do more than make general plans.

Here's what I decided I wanted for 2012:

 So I'm going to be getting on with my novella for the remainder of the year.

This coming Saturday I'll be at Sally Quillford's Pocket Novel workshop, which I'm looking forward to and I'm sure I'll learn a lot.

Hopefully next year will be more productive.

Did I keep to any of them?

I attended the Pocket Novel workshop and enjoyed it very much. I was reassured that I'd understood the requirements, and it did make me look at a few aspects in a different way, which I've taken into my other writing.

I also came home with another couple brewing in my head.

Yes, I've been working on the novella. Not as much has been done as I'd hoped, but I'm finally getting on with it.

Has it been productive?


I completed the revisions of the short story that I intended to send to Woman's Weekly. I sent it, and a few days off the four months received the standard rejection letter. But I actually got it sent off this year.
In the New Year it will be getting another look over and being sent off elsewhere...

A previously abandoned One Word Challenge Anthology book began a new life as an e-book project, and finally became available for purchase mid-November. I have contributions in it, and Serena does too.
So that was something I hadn't anticipated happening this year...

(You'll be able to read about the anthology by the Talkback Writers in the January 2013 issue of Writing Magazine-possibly with photos of some of the contributing writers included.)

I've got the basics of a few other projects which are in line for future development and writing up- some full length, others probably novella length.

I read some of my flash fiction to an audience at the Fringe at the Ship event in Lowdham in June.

Last week I did a slot on local BBC Radio promoting the 'One Word Anthology' with a fellow contributor (Catherine Dalling).

The past six months have shown me what I'm happiest doing, and what the best system of writing is for me personally.

I have my office area- that was just something on my wish list last year.

And Serena Lake has finally made her debut, quietly...

That is a lot more than I'd decided on last year.

Now I need to consider what I want to aim for in 2013, but I've been so busy that I haven't even thought about it yet. But I will.

image courtesy of Danilo Rizutti /

Saturday 30 June 2012

Reading at the Lowdham Book Festival Fringe...

Well I've survived.

And I have the photos to prove it. So the next time I have the opportunity to read in public they will be there to remind me that I've done it before and can do it again.

The last day of the Lowdham Book Festival usually sees the village crowded with people and cars, so it was strange to see everywhere so much quieter than usual. And to get a parking space!

There were still events going on at various locations around the village, so it was good to have time for a wander along the village high street, and pop into The Bookcase- the local independent bookshop run by one of the organisers of the Book Festival-Jane Streeter (who has just completed her term in office as the President of the Booksellers Association ).

They also host quite a few book launches and signings of Nottingham based authors. So who knows, one day...

So onto the main event- for me at least.

The Ship Inn is an old pub in the centre of the village, across from the village hall- a regular drop-in point for everyone on the last day. You can see a picture of the venue on the local crickets club's website, here.

It has a couple of traditionally decorated and very comfortable rooms. We were in the lounge bar which has tables, chairs, and stools on two levels, so you have to look over to the audience in the upper level too.

Following the advice from fellow writers who have read their work to an audience before, I chose a bright outfit, had a glass of water handy, and tried to remember to smile at everyone.

There was a microphone available if we needed it, but the three of us have reasonable reading voices, and the appreciative audience that had gathered wanted to hear the readings so we weren't competing with background noise.

After the previous group ran a little over time with their very entertaining selection of work, the other two Nottingham Writers' Club members, poets Viv Apple and Ken Swallow, took their positions ready to start.

Introductions in The Ship, Lounge
                                                  (All photos courtesy of, and © of Richard Bevitt)

I did the general intoductions and was very relieved my voice had greatly improved since Thursday.

I handed over to Viv Apple, a very good poet and also a member of Nottingham Poetry Society.
She read four poems, including First Bra, which tells the tale of her teenage-self going with her mother to buy her first bra, with all the angst and pride associated with it.

Then it was my turn- my three pieces of flash fiction.

I started with a brief explanation of what had inspired 'Positive Exposure'- a radio interview with an actress who had appeared in one of the early Star Trek (the 1960's tv series) episodes, who described having to wear a brief outfit with no straps to hold the top half in place, which didn't when she breathed in- and to remedy the wardrobe malfunction, tape was used.

This was well received and the audience laughed at the final line and clapped- mentally I was breathing a sigh of relief.

I moved on to my second piece, 'Surpises', and mentioned the e-book anthology it would be appearing in later in the autumn.

My final piece 'Expectations' is another piece that came from the monthly One Word Challenge competition that is held each month on the Talkback writers forum.

Enjoying the Performance.

More applause and with my section over,  I handed over to Performance Poet, Ken Swallow for a couple of short action pieces.

Viv finished the performance with her amusing poem, 'I Don't Know You From Soap'. An Australian alternative to the 'I don't know you from Adam' phrase (apparently).

I finished by thanking the audience for listening to the club members work, and it was over.

The organiser of the Fringe event is hoping that it will be repeated next year, and perhaps with a longer running time, into the early evening.

I'm hoping more writers' club members will want to be involved next time too. (I'll be writing about it for the next issue of the club magazine 'Scribe'.

Would I do it again?  

Yes. :-)

 Looking at the audience
 and smiling.

What did I learn from it?

That an audience really likes to hear fun pieces, so having something light in the chosen selection helps.

If you've never read to anyone outside of your friends and writers' group, and you get the opportunity to read your work to an unknown audience, do it. You really will enjoy it, and learn a lot.


Monday 25 June 2012

Progress and Leaks...

As I write this on Monday evening we're waiting to find out where the gas leak is.

There was a strong smell of gas earlier this evening at the bottom of the short driveways on our side of the road, so the national grid gas leak service was called out and arrived a couple of hours ago; at the moment the gentleman with the device for detecting leaks has moved across the road and is inside one of the houses there, so it doesn't look like we have a gas leak this time- I'm glad to say.

Anyway, back to the progress bit of the title.

I got my trip to IKEA on Saturday and the Billy bookcase is now installed (thanks to my OH, patience and a screwdriver) and is slowly being filled. Admittedly there's still a lot of boxes to go through, but another little section of my office is emerging.

My outfit for Saturday (reading at the Fringe event at the local book festival) is almost decided; black trousers and a cerise pink cross-over top (at the moment) but this could change if it's cold. Cerise is just enough brightness for me.

The hairdresser is booked for later in the week, for a trim and colour wash.

Now I know this might seem a little over the top for just twenty minutes in total, but it all helps the confidence quotient- and I don't get many opportunities like this so I'm going to enjoy myself while I can...

If I can persuade my OH to stay and take some pictures of the event, I might be able to show you a few next week.

(The Gas man has gone now, so it looks like the leak was across the road.)

5 days to go...

Thursday 21 June 2012

The Read-Through Went Fine...

Last night was manuscript night at the writers' club and the three of us (who will be reading at the fringe event at Lowdham Book Festival on the 30th June) did a run through to check our timings, so we could make any changes needed to fill our 20 minute slot.

(I am the prose between a poet and a performance poet.)

Now I have to admit that I spent some time yesterday morning reading my pieces of flash fiction aloud and seeing how long it took me- allowing for suitable pauses for audience reaction.

So when it came to my section last night it filled my allocated 6 minutes.

I'm reading 3 pieces of flash fiction, my favourite character, Lola de Cortez, of 'Positive Exposure' will be starting my selection-it's 250 words.

Then I'm following this up with a 200 word flash called 'Surprises', which is historical. This piece will be appearing under my Serena Lake pseudonym in the One Word Challenge Anthology e-book (publisher Alfie Dog Ltd) later in the autumn.

Here's a brief snippet...

   The pristine white shift decorated with French lace and tiny intricately knotted bows lay demurely on his plump four-poster bed.
   Jason didn’t know who it belonged to, but its absent owner had most certainly left their underclothes in the wrong bedroom...

©Carol Bevitt 2012

And my final piece is only a 191 words long. 'Expectations' is another historically set story, and the viewpoint character commits patricide at the end...

So I hope the audience will appreciate the variety. :-)

9 days and counting...


Friday 15 June 2012

Reading at the local Festival Later This Month...

This month is  Lowdham Book Festival 2012 between the 1st and 30th June.

Festival SignUsually the last day (a Saturday) is full of free talks and events, second hand book stalls, new books, writers groups and organisations.

Sadly this year the usual format won't be taking place, but there will still be lots of book related events going on during the day of the 30th. (See the link above for times and ticket details.)

I saw a mention of John Harvey, and Jon McGregor ( who very recently won the International Impac Dublin Literary Award) during the Reading Group Day in the Village Hall.

Between 11am and 5pm there will be performances in the pub, called Fringe at The Ship. And at some point during the 12 midday and 12.40 pm slot, I will be reading a couple of pieces of flash fiction along with two members of the writers' club- a poet, and a performance poet.

We were originally scheduled for 4pm, but this clashed for one of the members, so we're sharing an earlier spot with another group.

As we're in the pub we can be sure of some audience.

This means I have two weeks to time my pieces and refine my presentation, and also coordinate with my fellow readers.

Now I'm used to standing up in front of people I know (or don't know) to read aloud at the writers' club, but to do so in front of total strangers in the pub is actually a little daunting.

But I'm a writer, so it's good practise for the future...

My only remaining dilemma will be what to wear. :-) Casual but comfortable certainly, but so much will depend upon the weather on the day.

If you have any advice, I'd be grateful for your comments.

Saturday 8 October 2011

Author Talk at The Book Festival- Kate Walker...

I mentioned on Thursday that I was intending to go to a book festival, here in Nottingham on Saturday, so I could attend a short talk by Mills and Boon author Kate Walker.

Well I did go, despite the miserable weather.

I met Kate while we were waiting to go into the Council Chamber for the talk, and I have to say she's a lovely friendly person.

All the talks scheduled in the chamber were only 45 minutes, so by the time people arrived, sat down and Kate passed around some freebies supplied by Mills and Boon (a bright pink Biro and a copy of a Riva book- a new M&B series aimed at younger women) and from Kate a bookmark, we had about 35 minutes.

Obviously with the time limit Kate was only able to give a quick run-down on writing a romance novel, but that was helpful for anyone there who considered writing a Mills and Boon novel.

"The books are constantly changing and adapting" which helps explain why they are still publishing romances over 100 years later.

The New Voices competition was mentioned- the closing date is in a few days apparently. But Kate was sure it would run again next year.

Also highlighted was that M&B are looking for your (individual) voice in submissions.

The important words for writing a romance are: characters, conflict, 'emotional punch' and a happy ending- whether there's marriage at the end of the story, or not.

Kate's current book 'The Return of the Stranger' is a rework of 'Wuthering Heights' that the publisher requested.
Now we all know the original story doesn't have a happy ending, so Kate needed to write a happy ending for her version- and we got an explanation of how she went about it in the Q&A session at the end.

I now have a signed copy of the latest book, and the cover model DOES have a neatly trimmed beard and moustache and looks very brooding in an attractive way... :-)

Kate's next book, due in March 2012, will be her 60th title, so I will be looking out for it when it is published.

I came away enthused, and reassured that I have got the right elements in my novel. I just need to work on knowing my characters a bit better.

So you'll know what I'll be reading this coming week...

Sunday 26 June 2011

At The Book Festival...

I'm now feeling human again after a good night's sleep so can recall the day...

book festival,white,banner,gate

The weather started out very overcast and from past experience at the festival Saturday knew that it would be quiet if the sun didn't shine.

There were the usual book stalls from assorted antique and collectible old books to new ones. I have to put imaginary handcuffs on myself when looking at the old books- but that's not strange in writers I'm sure...

I did find an Arthur Mee's The King's England series book for Nottinghamshire. My copy from 1949 was only £2.50, and there are lots of useful snippets in it.

There was a lovely little book on the meaning of flowers, the illustrations were by Kate Greenaway but at £15 it was too costly, though I considered the 1970's copy of the same book at £10, I still decided to pass.

That did generally seem to be happening. People were looking but buying less than in comfortable years, whether you were talking new or recycled.

Well we got the sunshine and the side of the marquee was opened up to improve airflow and space. But there were a few showers to deal with during the afternoon.

There were sudden gusts of wind as well, so leaflets on our stall went flying and on a few occasions I was seen to crawl about on the grass to reach under tables and chairs to retrieve them- and no there are no photos (I was in charge of the camera this year).

I never got to any of the talks, but as you can see from the photo they were well attended.

marquee,people,grass,white,book festival
Overspill at the talk

In fact many of them had a person holding up a sign behind their back at the marquee entrance saying sorry, they were full.

Members of the literary community supporting the Alan Sillitoe Statue Fund spent the day selling raffle tickets- there were a number of prizes that consisted of books and bottles of alcohol...

The winner(s) of the Alan Sillitoe Short Story Competition were also announced. The short list had been judged by writer Nicola Monaghan and David Sillitoe. As they couldn't choose between the top three stories the first prize was split between the three writers who received £60 each- one apparently donated their winnings to the statue fund.

I stopped to say hello to crime writer Stephen Booth during a gap in the book signings- he always supports the Lowdham Saturday in some form.

There were storytellers dressed as characters from Southwell Workhouse and they stayed in character even when walking around the festival- very impressive.

My NWC colleagues had (like me) spent time talking to people interested in writing and others interested in members books that were on sale.

By four pm I was getting tired and was glad to be finishing for the day.

So if there's a book festival near you, it's worth going along...