A very bookish winter…

As the year finally begins to wind down, I’m looking forward to lots of things this holiday season – and most of them involve books; both the reading and the writing of. Also, however, the gifting of, as I’m taking part in a little Secret Santa with a few fellow writers from the Women Aloud NI group, and am of course giving some books to a few family members too.

Book gifting…

On the subject of book gifting, forgive me if I just add in here that, if you have a young reader (9-12) who loves magical adventure stories, then my own book, Magical Masquerade, will still arrive with you before Christmas if you order it on Amazon this week or next! The link to purchase is here if you’re interested: http://amzn.to/2AriG3s  🙂

Reading chapter one…MM chapt 1

Also, if you’d like to get a little taster of what MM is like, then I recorded myself reading chapter one last week over on my YouTube channel, which you can view here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bN3YK_JFl4U&t=170s

Memento gift shop

A few copies of MM are also now available at Memento gift shop in Portrush, which is just lovely, and Maggie who runs the shop has displayed it very nicely in the window and in the kids’ section.

Memento shelf

Arts Council NI Christmas Gift Guide for 2017

I was also delighted to see that Damian Smyth, head of literature at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, included Magical Masquerade on his bookish gift guide for 2017. There are a wealth of talented authors on this list, so I was very chuffed to see myself alongside them! More ideas for gifting if you’re that way inclined…

You can read the full list/article here: http://artscouncil-ni.org/blog/christmas-gift-guide-books

Writing update

Other than that, there isn’t very much else to update you on this month. I’ve been finishing up some work projects and writing bits and pieces of book two, but I’m really going to get my teeth into that next week, when I take my Christmas holidays at last (I work pretty much throughout the year so my main holiday is at Christmas… when I end up writing anyway, though it is fiction rather than copywriting 🙂 ).

I’m pleased with the way the story is going, although I have to just keep on with it and resist the temptation to refine it as I go along. At this stage, it’s just all about getting that first draft on the page, and then the fun of editing and rewriting can begin. Notebook one is almost filled!Memento window

Review!

I’ve had some great reviews from young and older readers alike about MM throughout the year, but I thought I’d just share the most recent one from Amazon with you below, as it’s a lovely example of how the story can resonate with a child even if they don’t read it themselves. 🙂

‘An exciting, stimulating read’

‘I just finished reading this book to my seven-year-old and I have never seen her so carried away by a story.

‘The novel has a strong and simple structure, where each chapter is a new episode in Felicity’s journey, usually involving meeting a new character. The different settings and characters are richly imagined and provide constant contrast and fresh challenges for Felicity. I liked the little touches of Irish folklore. Felicity also makes friendships along the way, which gets the child reader even more emotionally invested.

‘My daughter was wowed by the revelation at the end of the story. All in all, an exciting, stimulating read for the younger age group.’

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Festivals, readings & writing book 2…

The time period between my blogs recently has widened a little, but what with starting the BookTube channel (here, if you’re interested), managing a heck of a lot of social media (my own fault, I know, but it’s all fun and games!), working, looking after the pup and yes, trying to WRITE BOOK TWO, it’s all been getting more and more hectic of late. Such is life.

DBF shop

DBF bookshop

Anyway, since the last post, I’ve been to Dublin and back to drop off my copies of Magical Masquerade to the Dublin Book Festival bookshop (run by The Gutter Bookshop for the week at the Smock Alley Theatre) and to The Winding Stair Bookshop (yes, my friends, I got MM on a bookshop shelf!), done an interview with the lovely Kerry McLean on BBC Radio Ulster for her weekly Book Club (listen again here, about 1hr 15 mins in), delivered my Dublin Book Festival event at Portstewart Library with a class from Dominican College, attended a double author reading at Waterstones Coleraine (see previous post for details), and read one of my poems at the CS Lewis Festival in Belfast with a group of lovely writers from Women Aloud NI.

It’s been busy – but in a very lovely way.

Winding Stair

MM at The Winding Stair

Also – book two is now very much underway with the writing of… I’m currently on chapter six my friends, and am very much looking forward to my Christmas break so I can really get stuck into it properly. My National Lottery grant from the Arts Council NI is helping to support me in the drafting of this initial manuscript and I have a hypothetical timeline in place for when I want it finished… We’ll see how that goes. Either way, a first draft will definitely be completed by next October, but I have ambitions to have the final novel all edited and whatnot by then so, as I say – we will see. (Best laid plans and all that….)

Radio UlsterIn terms of the storyline, well – it picks up not long after where MM left off and if you’ve read MM then you’ll know there are some loose ends to tie up, but let me tell you this. What I love about my way of writing (which is loosely planned out in terms of a storyline but is very much driven by a ‘let’s write and see what happens next’ kind of way), is that just like the reader, I really don’t know what’s going to happen next. I mean, I have a general idea of the direction I’m headed in – I have my plot points mapped out – but how we get from A to B and so on is very much in flux.

And so, I find myself going in directions I wasn’t expecting and the main body of novel number two has unexpectedly veered off somewhere quite exciting (well, to me, anyway), and I very much hope readers will like it! Think mysterious, unexplored, perilous and of course, magical, and you’ll get some sort of an idea… Hopefully, it will work. 🙂

DBF event

DBF event

Also, I have taken on board a request from a young fan about including a particular character in book two and I’m finding that character a joy to write. It changes the dynamics a bit and is injecting a little more comedy into the dialogues. Hopefully said fan will enjoy it! It just goes to show that feedback isn’t ignored – I love hearing from readers about what they liked about MM and any ideas they have or theories they want to share about book two. I hadn’t actually planned to include this character in the second book but the comment came back to me and I thought, why not? Turns out, it was a good idea.

DP reading

Kelly Creighton & Emma McKervey

I also hope to write my usual spooky Christmas short story over the holidays – it’s a tradition I started up a few years ago for myself and one I want to keep up – so that’s in the pipeline too.

Also, with the book launch and all sorts of other things this year, I haven’t submitted any stories, poetry or written work anywhere at all (!), so I hope to change that for 2018, and try writing some more short stories alongside novel number 2. (Again, best laid plans – we’ll see how that fits into the schedule of life).

And before I sign off… I almost forgot to share the fact that, after a LOT of brainstorming and looking up word meanings, and researching one thing and another, I have a working title for NN2 (that’s Novel Number 2). At long last! CS Lewis aslan

I find myself more motivated to write it when it has a name, so I’m pleased that I’ve finally managed to tie one down. The more I turn it over in my head, the more I like it – and it isn’t all that it seems, just like ‘Magical Masquerade’. I’ve looked up the meanings of the words to make sure they work ok together and convey the sense that I want (fear not though, they are easy to understand!), and to my mind they do. So, all will be revealed!

But not now – sure, we have to keep up the suspense! 🙂

 

 

 

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Hallowe’en happenings…

This spooky season has brought with it a fair few surprises and treats (thankfully, not too many tricks!), the first being that I’ve gone and launched myself on YouTube as a BookTuber! (Of sorts…)

I explain it all in the video (which, yes, was done on Movie Maker and could be better quality but I’ll get to that later. For now, it’s just about trying something new and getting the content out there.) but essentially, I discovered BookTubing earlier this year and have been following a few channels since then. I enjoy the book recommendations and the general relaxed fun and good spirit of it all, so I decided I wanted to give it a go myself.

The end result is this: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCOkAIMwEnXrX4j5FieCdePQ/videos

(Check it out if you can; like and subscribe as you wish!)

SBOOKY Hallowe’en Festival 2017 

St Joseph's College Derry

St Joseph’s College pupils.

As well as my BookTubing efforts, October also saw me deliver five creative writing workshops as part of the SBOOKY Hallowe’en Festival in Derry – a book-themed festival aimed at getting kids reading and writing, which I really enjoyed. There are more photos over on my author FB page (link to the right!), and details on the schools I visited (Oakgrove Integrated Primary School, St Columba’s PS, Sacred Heart PS, St Joseph’s College and a group of kids who are part of the Verbal Arts Centre’s Reading Rooms project).

The festival was organised by the Verbal Arts Centre in Derry and extended into the Hallowe’en weekend, with events taking place in the city’s Easons store and throughout Foyleside Shopping Centre.

It was a bit of a baptism by fire for me in one way, delivering so many workshops in a short space of time (and asked to do so just the week before), but I really enjoyed meeting all the pupils and was very impressed with their reading and the stories and poems they produced in the workshops.

Arts Council Northern Ireland AwardPrint

With the SBOOKY Festival just over (for me anyway!), some more good news then arrived in the form of a letter of offer from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland for a General Art Award. Supported by The National Lottery through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, I’ll use the award funding to draft my second novel (the follow-up to MM) and to create a support structure for Magical Masquerade.

Some of my fellow Women Aloud NI writers also received awards through the scheme, so it was great news all round!

Off to Dublin Book Festival 

dfw-cs-mm-cover-3d-nologoIn between all of this, the Dublin Book Festival bookshop, which is run by The Gutter Bookshop, contacted me to say they want to stock copies of MM during the festival, so I’m hot-footing it down there tomorrow to deliver said books and hopefully also to have a wee coffee at the recently refurbished Bewley’s Grafton Street Coffee Shop, as I always call in when I’m in town and I haven’t been there since it reopened. 🙂

My own DBF event takes place in Portstewart next Friday, so it’s wonderful to have my book included in the official festival bookshop while the rest of the events are going on in Dublin itself. Hopefully they will all find a new home while they’re there!

Spooky short (very short!) story for DBF

Some of the DBF writers, including myself, also wrote some spooky stories for Hallowe’en, which are now up on the DBF website here: http://www.dublinbookfestival.com/category/news/welcome-2015/spooky-tales-by-irish-writers/

Short story on Lagan Online

Lagan Online also published one of my short stories here last month: http://laganonline.co/new-writing-claire-savage-field-mice/

Bodies, Belonging and Borders…FullSizeRender (25)

A cross-border reading tour funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Bodies, Belonging and Borders features two of my fellow Women Alouders NI, who have both recently been published by Doire Press – Kelly Creighton with her book of short stories, Bank Holiday Hurricane, and Emma McKervey with her debut poetry collection, The Rag Tree Speaks.

I’ve already read Kelly’s book, which I thoroughly enjoyed – it’s a really gritty collection filled with beautiful language and straight-talking stories, with some interweaving between characters across the book. I’m just currently reading Emma’s poetry collection, which I’m also loving – so stay tuned for more on that! FullSizeRender (24)

Both Kelly and Emma will be appearing at Waterstones Coleraine on Saturday, November 18 at 2pm (and admission is FREE!), so I’ll definitely be along to that and will no doubt blog (and maybe also vlog…)about it. In the meantime, if you’re in the area, do come along. 🙂

I think that’s everything for now… With the Arts Council NI’s National Lottery grant I will definitely be getting stuck into writing book number two from hereon in, so I’ll be doing updates about that, and no doubt there’ll be other stuff along the way as well!

More as I have it. 🙂

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DBF and author interviews

Dublin Book Festival 2017Cover image

There’s been lots happening over the past few weeks, not least the fact that I can now share that I’ll be part of the Dublin Book Festival (DBF) 2017, which is great news. As I mentioned before, Libraries NI loved Magical Masquerade and were keen to do some events in relation to it. I had also contacted the DBF over the summer to pitch myself for inclusion in this year’s programme and they had expressed an interest in having me involved.

So… the two have married together perfectly, as the DBF always do a few Northern Irish-based events as part of the programme through Libraries NI and we agreed to do a MM event in Portstewart. It’s a closed event in that a school class has already been invited to come along and Libraries NI have bought in copies of MM for the pupils to read ahead of November 10, but hopefully there’ll be the opportunity to do more events with Libraries NI in the future.

eventIn the meantime, I’m looking forward to hearing what the pupils thought of the book (!) and maybe even getting some inspiration from them for book two…

It’s great to be included in the DBF, especially as an independent author, and MM will also be made available in Dublin itself where the rest of the events are taking place, so it will be rubbing shoulders with lots of more established and traditionally published authors, which is just lovely.

Book feedback

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Chuffed to see MM alongside these books on the DBF prog.

Aside from that news… I also received some really positive feedback from the judging panel of Ulster University’s McCrea Literary Award since I last posted. As a UU graduate I was eligible to enter the award and I duly sent in MM. Unfortunately, I didn’t win, but the feedback was just as valuable to me and really made my day. (See below).

[Review credit: Ulster University’s McCrea Literary Award Panel.]

“Savage’s novel for young people is imaginative, professional and engaging. With interesting characters and vividly-realised, ethereal locations it will enchant many literate children and may well become something of a massive seller. It is like a readable version of Inkheart.”

“Children’s novel for readers aged circa 9-12. Highly imaginative, there is a wide range of characters / creatures. The main character, Felicity Stone, is strong: providing ‘female agency’ and a character with whom child readers could identify. That’s a strong and positive aspect of the novel, one which a child reviewer has picked up on (reviewed online).”

“Savage’s Magical Masquerade conforms to the conventions of children’s fantasy literature … the central female character is distinct and well drawn, and provides a strong role model for young female readers. The special world created here is convincingly realized, from setting and atmosphere through to the range of secondary characters.”

 

Author InterviewsRainey mag

Earlier in the year, my old grammar school, Rainey Endowed School, agreed to include a piece on my career since leaving school, which of course, includes the book! It was published at the end of August but I forgot they had an online version, so I’ve included the link to that here as well. 🙂

The Honest Ulsterman also interviewed me this month, which you can read here: http://humag.co/features/claire-savage There’s loads of great stuff in this and past editions, so if you have some time to spare…

Other stuff…

In terms of my writing, I scribbled bits of a short story this month and have been pondering MM book two. I think I need a title (which I still haven’t come up with) to really focus me on this. It would just help to centre things a bit I think, so I’m distracting myself with that to see if I can pin something down…

More as I have it!

 

 

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Autumn update

It’s been almost a month since I last posted on here and I see that that last post was all about my Culture Night Belfast event! Well, unfortunately, I’ve had to pull out of that for personal reasons, but having had a tumultuous August, I’m hoping for calmer months ahead as we ease into my favourite seasons of autumn and winter… Perfect for writing, don’t you think?FullSizeRender

Book two is still very much in the planning stages, as life cannot help but get in the way sometimes and more important things at home have demanded my full attention of late. However, I can report that back at the beginning of August, before everything ‘went off’ at home (basically, if you don’t follow me on social media, then the short version of this story is that my dog took extremely ill), I had a very positive meeting with the Senior Children’s Services Manager at Libraries NI, who loved Magical Masquerade – both the story and the physical look/production of the book. This was brilliant to hear, as you’ll know my thoughts on SP books if you’re a regular reader of my blog – I think they should be as well put together and as well-written as any traditionally published book, so when professionals say that mine ticks all the boxes, it’s a real delight. 🙂

I also just dropped a copy off with a purchasing manager at a top tourist location, who was interested in potentially stocking MM, so we’ll see how that goes…

Suffice it to say, while I haven’t had time to blog of late, I have still been doing bits and pieces with the book! I’ve also been doing a good bit of reading too, and am hoping to get some events lined up for the future with MM.

More as I have it!

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MM at Culture Night Belfast 2017

It’s been a few weeks since my last blog post but what time I have omitted in blogging, I have invested in reading (a lot!), plotting for book two and getting some other bookish bits and pieces sorted out. I hate to be cryptic but then again, I also dislike counting my chickens before they hatch so … while I had some great news this week regarding MM, I’m going to save that for a future blog until I’m sure that everything is sorted out. 🙂

There are also some events in the pipeline which sound exciting, but again, until things are confirmed, I’d rather hold off on any announcements until details are confirmed! What I can share though, is that Magical Masquerade will be featuring in this year’s Culture Night Belfast on September 22, so I’m really looking forward to that! CNB2017_Poster

During my stint at the event, I’ll be at Ulster University near the city’s Cathedral Quarter (from 3pm-5pm), along with my trusty assistant, Laura Crossett [a fellow bookish person who enjoys fantasy books and is a dab hand at design. She also made the MM book trailer (see the MM page above!)].

The plan is to read extracts from MM on the half hour, while in between there’ll be a chance to get your books signed, ask me questions and to have some bookish/writing chat, as well as doing some storytelling activities…

NB If you have a copy of MM already, then you can bring it along to the event for signing, or you can buy it beforehand on Amazon to do the same, as I won’t be selling any books at the event, due to the fact that it’s a free day/night of events to encourage people to engage with the arts and isn’t a commercial venture.

Culture Night Belfast draws a huge crowd every year, with thousands of people descending upon the city to soak up the culture and have a good time, so I’m really looking forward to being a part of it this year. I’m also encouraging any kids (or adults!) who come along to my event to dress up as their favourite book character – Laura and I will certainly be dressed for the occasion!

The #CNB17 programme will be launched soon, so I’m keen to see what other events I can get to myself after the MM one is done. Definitely check it out if you can!

Aside from sorting out stuff like this, I’ve also been working on bits and pieces relating to book two over the past couple of weeks … We’re talking more planning here at this stage – I have a fair idea of the way I want to wrap things up in what will most likely be a duology for MM, but as every writer knows, life does have a tendency to get in the way! As I had to tell a friendly shop assistant in Coleraine the other day, when I went to pick up some food for the pup, I’m not (yet!) in the position of being an author full-time (she thought I was but, sadly, no!) – I do still have a day job with my copywriting business, so book writing is squeezed in and around that as it always has been. Watership Down

That being said, however, I’m very much someone who writes when the mood takes me – I won’t force it just to get a word count done for the day (well, very occasionally I do, but it’s seldom enjoyable so I try not to) – I prefer to have ideas pushing to get out onto the paper and to be honest, it might be the journalist in me, but I also work best under the pressure of a deadline. Tell me I only have an hour to write at night and I’ll likely produce a few pages or even a chapter. Give me an entire day free to write and I’ll possibly end up reading someone else’s book! C’est le vie. 🙂

Speaking of reading, I’ve read lots of great books recently – a mixture of adult and YA fiction, memoir, and also, a nostalgic childhood read (Watership Down) after I visited a charity shop and came away with a pretty impressive book haul. Reading great books, as I’ve said before, either really inspires me to try to write just as well, or it can also sometimes put me a little off writing, as I think perhaps my own work won’t measure up. It is what it is, but on the whole, reading so many good books of late has reminded me of why I read and why, as an author, I write.

On that note, back to it! (Reading first but then also, perhaps, some more plotting and note-taking…) 🙂

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Author on air!

Following on from my last post a couple of weeks ago, I can now tell you that my NVTV interview will be broadcast this evening (Sunday, July 23) on the Novel Ideas programme at 7.15pm. It’s on Freeview Channel 7 (just retune your Freeview if you don’t yet have NVTV!), and it’s also available on Virgin and online. You can find out more on the NVTV website here: http://www.nvtv.co.uk/schedule/

I’ve already seen the preview of this and I’m really happy with how they’ve put it all together – though it’s always weird watching yourself and seeing how you come across to other people!! Anyway, if you’re interested in seeing that, then feel free to have a wee look, and I’ll post a link to it afterwards in case you miss it. 🙂IMG_1966

Aside from that, I enjoyed an afternoon at Flowerfield Arts Centre yesterday in Portstewart, as part of the first of two open days at the centre over the summer. There was a brilliant turnout for this, with people picnicking out on the lawns and listening to the live music, kids playing in the park, and all sorts of other things going on inside and out. I was on hand to do some reading from Magical Masquerade, and flitted from the Storytelling Chair outside by the park, to the gallery inside, while there were also a couple of wandering poets, plus face-painters, crafters, a teddy bear hospital and more.

It was a lovely way to encourage people to use the centre more and make it their own, and it was great to be asked to take part as a local author! FullSizeRender (3)

The summer has been a little hectic so far, with one thing and another, and I do find anyway that I’m better suited to writing in the darker days of autumn/winter for some reason (!) but I’ve been doing a lot of reading recently, and I’m also still planning my next little project … In the meantime, I’ve acquired a few more notebooks which need filling, so I’d better get onto that! 😉

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Author appearances…

In my last post I mentioned some upcoming interviews and events … Well, I’m happy to report that I have since visited Northern Visions TV (NVTV) in Belfast to take part in their Novel Ideas programme. 19510322_817633191734311_6052347708625643068_n

NVTV is a local TV station which streams online as well as on Freeview and Virgin (check their website at the link above for specific channels), so I was delighted when Debbie McGrory asked me to come along and chat to her abut my writing and Magical Masquerade. I’m told the interview should air sometime in July, as there’s about a three-week turnaround on these, so I’ll keep you posted as to when it’s available for viewing!

It was an interesting experience in many ways, not least in seeing what goes on behind the scenes during the recording process. As a print journalist I’ve never really worked with cameras etc. so I enjoyed getting a glimpse of the practicalities of it all. Let’s just say – I have a renewed appreciation for people who make programmes or films of any kind as there was a lot of equipment and a lot of work involved just to record one author!

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Aside from chatting with Debbie, I also had the opportunity to read a little extract from Magical Masquerade as well, so I’m looking forward to seeing how everything is edited together for the final programme.

Flowerfield Arts Centre Open Day event

Flowerfield

 

In other news, I’m excited to say that I’ll be taking part in Flowerfield Arts Centre’s open day in Portstewart on Saturday, July 22. This is the first of two open days at the centre, and will include everything from a Teddy Bears’ Picnic, to pottery fun and lots more – including a little storytelling from myself, as I’ll be taking up residence on the Storytelling Chair (if it’s sunny… if it rains I’ll be inside!) to read from Magical Masquerade and answer any questions the kids have about the book or writing in general. I’m looking forward to this as I’m keen to do more events up on the north coast, where I live, and it sounds like a fun afternoon!

You can check out details on the Flowerfield event page for this here: https://www.facebook.com/events/313629819090667/

Books Ireland article and listing19732063_822271447937152_8027612305948428255_n

Yesterday, I was also delighted to receive my copy of Books Ireland Magazine in the post, a publication which features news and reviews of Irish books, and supports Irish writing in general. I wrote an opinion piece on my self-publishing journey to date and Magical Masquerade is also featured in the First Flush section of the magazine, which lists all books published in Ireland within the past two months.

It’s great to see a publication like this supporting all writers – both traditionally and self-published – and I was happy to see that MM was deemed of good quality and design in the First Flush section (which doesn’t review the books listed but records the readership they’re aimed at and remarks on the overall quality of each book).19905148_822271521270478_431312977935644621_n

Plotting and planning…

Aside from this… I’ve been working on some other things in relation to book number two, though life has got in the way a bit over the past couple of weeks, so writing hasn’t really had a look-in for various reasons (other than the day job). That being said, however, I’m still plotting and planning away and looking forward to what might come next. 🙂

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Book launch magic and more…

It’s been a little bit hectic the past week – post-book launch and a visit from my sister and nephews, who flew in from Switzerland for the occasion. So … I’ve been playing catch-up with work over the past few days, as this is generally a busy time of the year.

IMG_8513

With my family at the MM book launch.

The launch, however, went very well indeed – I was delighted to see a packed roomful of people, despite the very sunny Saturday and the fact that I received a fair few messages from friends cancelling that morning! Among the crowd was my English teacher from the Rainey Endowed School in Magherafelt, who taught me for five years (Eng and English Literature), along with my former Spanish teacher and of course, lots of family, friends and other guests.

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With my English teacher, Barbara Crawford.

It was great to see a few younger faces as well, and to hear afterwards that they enjoyed the readings and Q&A. As Jane Talbot, who was leading the discussion, said on the day – you can only enjoy your first book launch once, so enjoy it I did!

It’s been such a lot of work getting to this point – writing the book, editing it (so many times I’ve lost count!), initially submitting it to publishers, getting feedback on the manuscript, designing a cover, learning about the whole self-publishing industry and putting that learning into action, marketing and promoting the book on and offline…

The list goes on but basically, Magical Masquerade has been years in the making and is definitely a dream achieved for me, so a massive thank you to everyone who supported me last week at the launch.

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With Jane Talbot on stage.

 

If you hop over to my author page on Facebook, you can see a wee Facebook live video I recorded in the green room before going on stage, though I warn you, it’s a little jerky as I decided to do my first ever FB live right before my launch without any prior practice!

I arrived at the Crescent Arts Centre super early on launch day, as I wanted to make sure I had everything set up and that the books were carted in before anyone arrived. (Thanks to Jane for helping to lug those heavy boxes in!)

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With Kelly Creighton.

 

The room we were in also had lots of little round tables for people to sit at, so I’d brought along paper bowls which I filled with edible enchanted pebbles, magic mushrooms and Pebble People (aka Fruit Pastilles, pink and white mushroom chews and Jelly Babies, lol). Once those were set out and the books arranged beside my bookmarks and author business cards, we were good to go. My friend and fellow author, Kelly Creighton, manned the book table before and after the event, so a big thank you to her for that.

I have to say, I really enjoyed chatting about MM, my inspirations and my writing processes etc. during the on-stage part of the launch, even though it was slightly weirder doing this in front of family who don’t normally see me in author mode (or in a professional/work capacity). I love talking about writing and I always find it interesting to hear other authors chat about their work, so I’m glad this bit went down well.

Cake

The MM cake!

 

The Q&As were also broken up with three short readings from MM during the session and then I answered some audience questions at the end, before spending about another hour chatting to everyone, signing books and posing for a lot of photographs! I’ve shared some of those here, but for the full whack, head on over to my author FB page.

I should mention as well that ahead of the launch, my brother James surprised me with a beautiful (and delicious) Magical Masquerade cake (most of which was devoured at a family gathering on Friday night!), while my aunt (and photographer on the day) Moira gave me a lovely chocolate Magical Masquerade book creation. The cake is long gone, but I’ve yet to eat the chocolate… it’s almost too nice to tuck into, but it is chocolate, so it may well still disappear!

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With my aunt Moira and the MM choc cover!

 

On the morning of the launch, BBC Radio Ulster aired my interview with Anne-Marie McAleese, which you can listen to again on BBC iPlayer here: http://bbc.in/2sEOeRn I’m on near the start – approx. five minutes or so in I think – and there’s also a little 40-second video clip from the day we recorded it, which you can find just below the radio broadcast clip.

Backtracking a little bit more… (I probably should have written this blog post more chronologically!!), I really enjoyed my 12NOW (New Original Writers) event at the Belfast Book Festival on the Thursday evening before launch day. Big thanks to Lagan Online and the BBF for letting the 12 of us read our work (six readers split over two nights) and for everyone who turned up to hear us, as we had a great crowd for that. I really enjoyed the various readings, which included poetry, prose and travel writing, as each person had a very distinct way of reading and all were very captivating. (NB Check out the gallery of pics from both evenings of readings over at Lagan Online here: http://laganonline.co/gallery-12now-writers-at-belfast-book-festival/ ).

 

12NOW at BBF

Six of our 12NOW crew on the evening I was part of at the BBF.

 

I think that’s covered most of what went on over the past week… I also had an interesting meeting with someone about another writing project, but it’s in very early stages so I’ll keep that under wraps for now (spoilers). Feedback has also been coming in from more young readers about MM, which is just brilliant. It’s all very positive and I love hearing reader responses.

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Sarah Bennett at the launch…

 

One young girl who came to the launch – Sarah Bennett – started reading it right away and had the whole thing finished by the time she got home to Enniskillen at 11.30pm that night!

This is what her mum, Trish, messaged me last Saturday night: ‘I was told by my critic that your book was absolutely brilliant with a well written plot.

‘This was us arriving home to Enniskillen tonight. She’s finished it. Sarah’s passed it on to me and ordered “read this”.’

I have more lovely reader comments to share with you but I’ll save those for another time!

Sarah Bennett reading

…and finishing MM!

 

With the excitement of the launch now over, I’m going to be looking at maybe visiting some schools and libraries in the year ahead, and seeing what other opportunities there are for readings etc. I’ve potentially got a couple of events upcoming on the north coast over the summer, so hopefully those will go ahead.

Meanwhile, I’ve got another interview ahead of me this week so I’ll share details of that soon too … and in amongst all of that there’s writing to be done!

More updates soon. 🙂

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Countdown to launch…

It’s just TWO days until Magical Masquerade launches at the Belfast Book Festival – Saturday, June 17 if you’re interested.

Tickets are free and you can book here: https://crescentarts.ticketsolve.com/shows/873573911/events )

Also, I can now also share the news that BBC Radio Ulster will broadcast the interview I did with Anne-Marie McAleese on their Your Place and Mine programme on the same day. So, if you’re near a radio on Saturday morning, the show kicks off at 8am and at some point I’ll be on it! A wee taster for the launch event later in the day. 🙂

Book festival round-up

Page to stage picI’ve already enjoyed attending some BBF events – I also had fun interviewing authors Jane Talbot and Hilary McCollum last week about how their work went from page to stage. They shared some great insights into the creative process, along with info on what they learned along the way and what it was like working with theatre companies.

Jane’s short stories were adapted from book form for the stage by Big Telly Theatre Company in NI, while Hilary has written specifically for the stage, creating verbatim and more traditional stage productions. FullSizeRender (2)

It was great, as well, to catch the launch of Ciaran McMenamin’s debut novel, Skintown. He was interviewed by Belfast author, Paul McVeigh (author of The Good Son) on the day, but if you’d like to read an interview with him, then I also spoke with the actor-turned-writer myself ahead of the event for Culture NI. You can read that here: http://bit.ly/2rQQXHu

 

Tonight, meanwhile (so there’s still time to get tickets if you’re free!) I’ll be reading some of my work at another BBF event: Lagan Online presents 12NOW – New Original Writers.

12NOW BBF

Six of the 12NOW crew will be reading their work so there’ll be a mixture of poetry and prose and genres… all for just £4! You can book here if you want to come along: https://crescentarts.ticketsolve.com/shows/873573897/events

Launch day…

Aside from that, I’ll be spending tomorrow prepping for the MM launch on Saturday, IMG_1277making sure I have all my books packed and ready to go, along with my MM bookmarks, author biz cards, nibbles and whatnot. I also have to double-check what bits of the book I’ll be reading during the Q&A/chat with Jane Talbot – all in between the day job of course. 🙂

Looking forward to Saturday and seeing all who can come along! I’ll update you about how it went as soon as I can! 🙂

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