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.

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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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MM takes to the air!

This week, I was invited along to Belfast 89FM, where I enjoyed chatting about Magical Masquerade, the Belfast Book Festival and books and writing in general with hosts, Heidi and Colin McAlpin. I first met Colin back in 2011/12, when I wrote the original manuscript of MM. I was sending it out to publishers and came across a small publishing company based not far from me along the North Coast – run by Colin and a friend of his.

With Heidi and Colin McAlpin

We met for a coffee and, although it transpired they didn’t publish children’s books, it was great to talk about the publishing industry/process and to discuss my book, as I’d told no-one at the time that I’d written one! It made it seem more real, in a way.

Fast forward to 2017 and not long after Northern Woman magazine published their interview with me on MM, I got an email from Colin, whose daughter Heidi also happened to be featured in the magazine that month.

Chatting on radioHe saw that I’d published my book and said we should catch up again – which we did – before offering to have me on the radio show he does with Heidi. I was absolutely delighted of course and, deciding to wait until the book was officially on sale, and then holding out until the BBF news was announced, I finally made it on the air this week!

I really enjoyed the experience – I tend to almost forget people are listening in on the chat though, as you obviously can’t see them, but hopefully it will also be good practice for the launch event on June 17th!

Book launchBBF pic_claire_savage_web-01_large

On that note, it’s now just 13 days to go until the official launch of Magical Masquerade at the Belfast Book Festival (you can get your free tickets here: http://bit.ly/2qwxuvC ).

So, the countdown is on and I’ve decided to record that over on my Facebook page (Claire Savage – Author), publishing at least one post per day in the run-up to the launch, which can include anything from excerpts from the books, to anecdotes, pictures of locations which inspired me while writing and so on.

Competition

Also, if you’d like to win a signed copy of MM, then Culture NI is running a competition where two people can win a book each. This might be limited to the UK so just check the Ts&Cs of that if you’re entering, which you can do here: http://www.culturenorthernireland.org/competition/magical-masquerade

BBC Radio Ulster – Your Place and MineWith BBF prog

Wee update on the Radio Ulster interview which was recorded a week or so ago. I think that it will be broadcast on the Saturday, June 10 show but I’ll be updating re news of that on social media, as it’s not totally confirmed as yet.

In the meantime, I’m preparing for the BBF next week and trying to get some notes scribbled down for book two…

More as I have it. 🙂

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Magical news and reviews…

It’s always a little scary releasing your work into the public domain for people to read – especially with fiction, I think, as it’s much more personal than other writing. So, I’m delighted to begin this week’s blog post with news of a lovely 5* review for Magical Masquerade which is just in this very morning from a very happy reader.

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You can read Emily Hearne’s take on the book over at her mum Mairead’s blog, Swirl and Thread, here: http://www.swirlandthread.com/magical-masquerade-claire-savage/

Mairead is an Irish book blogger who reviews adult fiction, but as her daughter Emily is the perfect age for Magical Masquerade and loves to read, she agreed to give an honest opinion of the book. Suffice it to say, I’m very glad she enjoyed it – and is now asking for the sequel!

I am working on the next book but in the meantime, there’s been a lot going on over the past couple of weeks which has kept me quite busy otherwise. I missed blogging last week, so we’ll begin with what I would have included in that post…

 

Guest blog postBook blogger logo

First up, London-based bookseller and book-lover, Joanne Frazer, who has a great bookish blog called In Case of Bookishness, invited me to write a guest blog post for the site, so you can read that at the link below.

‘In Case of Bookishness’ guest blog post link: https://incaseofbookishness.wordpress.com/2017/05/15/guest-post-why-writers-need-writers-by-claire-savage/

 

Waterstones reading with Women Aloud NIWA NI group in Waterstones

Last Saturday, I also enjoyed a wee trip to Waterstones Coleraine for an afternoon of readings with the Women Aloud NI crew.

Me reading MM in WaterstonesA group of us read extracts from our work – including poetry, prose, biography and more – and it was great hearing snippets from all sorts of genres on the day.

I thoroughly enjoyed my first reading from Magical Masquerade in bound book form, and it was a lovely event to be a part of.

 

BBC Radio Ulster interview – YPAM

Yesterday, meanwhile, I had the pleasure of meeting BBC Radio Ulster presenter, Anne-Marie McAleese from the Your Place and Mine show, to record an interview about MM. We met at one of my local (and favourite) beaches, Runkerry Beach, in Portballintrae, where Felicity’s adventures start in the book – a landscape which definitely inspired and influenced my writing.

With Anne-Marie McAleese

With Anne-Marie McAleese

 

The interview will be broadcast ahead of the Belfast Book Festival launch of MM, so I’ll share links etc. to that when it’s online and if you want live updates, then I’ll be sharing info on social media as well.

 

Belfast 89FM

This Thursday afternoon (sometime between 2pm – 4pm) I’ll also be appearing on Belfast 89FM with Colin and Heidi McAlpin, so you can listen in live to that, or again, I’ll share links afterwards. I’m not sure of the exact time that I’ll be on air as yet, but will post social media updates during the week.

There’s more in the way of interviews and so on coming up, but as the above events are happening more imminently, I’ll share details about other things as and when they come up!

biz cardsAside from all of that, I also got round at last to designing my author business cards this week. I’ve already got my bookmarks for the BBF launch, but these are just handier to carry around and they turned out really well. Although, I may have to tell people the fairies designed them, as I seem to have made the font just a smidgen too small on the back, lol. But still, they do the job – sure, as long as you can read the details… even if some of the finer print might require a magnifying glass!

Writing-wise, I’m finding it a little hard to settle myself to work on book number two, as there’s so much else going on at the moment with book one and with work in general. But I think this is a period to enjoy – I like the promo side of things and chatting about books and writing, and it’s exciting to see people find out about MM and to show an interest in it. Even better when they read it and like it!

Fellow NI author and friend, Jo Zebedee, whose latest book, a fantasy novel called Waters and the Wild, will be published in July, also got her hands on MM this week, so I’m awaiting feedback from her and her daughter Holly too. 🙂Jo and Holly

The first few months after a book release will always be busier as you try to spread the word and it certainly won’t last forever, so my mantra is to embrace all opportunities and just have fun with it.

Anyway, speaking of writing, it’s a bank holiday weekend, which means a bit of breathing space to get those words on pages. More as I have it… 🙂

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Bookish business…

It’s been a bit of a whirlwind week for various reasons, most of them relating to Magical Masquerade as I focused on the PR side of things more intently over the past few days. I was sort of holding off on that a bit, after the Facebook launch, as I was waiting until I could share details of my in-person book launch. And now, I can.

I’m delighted to announce (for those of you who missed the news on social media!) that Magical Masquerade will officially launch at the Belfast Book Festival 2017! Event launch pic

All the details are over on the BBF website and also on my dedicated MM page on this blog, but essentially, it will take place on Saturday, June 17 from 12pm-1pm and is a free event (though you need to book your tickets beforehand). Ballymoney-based author of The Faerie Thorn and other stories (currently touring with Big Telly Theatre as a stage production), Jane Talbot, will be chatting with me at the launch and leading a Q&A, while I’ll also be doing some readings from MM and selling and signing books. So, do come along if you’re able – it would be lovely to see you there!

Being part of the BBF is really exciting, as I never thought for a second when I decided to publish Magical Masquerade that I’d get the chance to launch the book as part of it. It only goes to show what can happen in a year and also, what a bit of hard work can result in. (Also – if you don’t ask, you don’t get.)Chronicle article pic

Which leads me on to the ‘bookish business’ of this post’s title, which refers to both my book updates but also, to the business of books. I’ve said before that as someone who runs their own writing business, when it comes to marketing my book, I don’t find the idea as daunting as some writers might. The first step of course, is acknowledging that you do have to market it – and as a self-published author that’s totally up to me – but I relish the challenge and am enjoying it so far.

It is, however, a lot of work. Alongside running my business and working within it, I’m also doing as much PR for MM as I can, now that the book launch news has been announced. Indeed, it’s these first few months after the release of a book where a publisher would keenly focus on key marketing opportunities, though of course, it’s my belief that you should always maintain a public presence in some form anyway, to keep your profile visible.

Anyway, this week past (and the week before in preparation for the BBF announcement), I contacted local press and set up various opportunities to help promote the book. As a result, this week there was a lovely one-page article in the Coleraine Chronicle (see above), along with a piece published on Culture NI which I wrote myself about my favourite children’s books (and linking to my book launch).

Culture NI feat picI also posted books off to a few reviewers (who are under no obligation to review or indeed to give a positive review let me add – they simply expressed an interest in reading MM with a possibility to review after I contacted them about it.) I don’t know these reviewers personally (although I follow them online and knew they were people I wanted to approach), so if they do decide to post a review of MM I know it will be a truthful and impartial one.

I also have two radio interviews organised, which should be happening over the next couple of weeks (I’ll give more details about these closer to the time), and I’ve written an opinion piece for a bookish magazine which is due out in the summer. I also sent out press releases to other local media too, so we’ll see if anything comes of those, and of course, I shared a lot of stuff on social media throughout the week, after attending the launch event of the BBF in Belfast.

All of this is what a traditional publisher would tend to help with if you’re signed up with one, so if you’re an indie author, the amount of press coverage you get really is up to you. As a freelance journalist I do have some industry contacts, but I’ve been building my online profile since I set up my business and, no matter your background, it’s all still very hard work and there’s no guarantee of coverage. It takes a lot of time to write press releases and guest blogs; to write enquiry emails (personalised to each person), and get books posted off (I’ve spent a lot of time in my local post office the past few weeks!). You have to do your research when deciding who to approach in all respects and to figure out what opportunities you want to go for. After all, if you don’t ask, you very often don’t get.

Boys with book

Swiss nephews!

I’ve been really thankful for all the positive PR responses so far and I have to say that I do enjoy this side of things, though I know not everyone does. Again, it’s probably to do with the fact that it crosses over a lot with my day job. However, I do still have a day job, so time must be used wisely or you could just do book work and end up with a few unpaid bills by neglecting other things!!

 

To be honest, whether you’re with a traditional publisher or are self-published, I think you have to be willing to do a certain amount of publicity work anyway, to give your book the best possible send-off. How much you do, of course, is down to personal preference. It isn’t, however, a self-obsession thing. It’s just part of the job of being a writer and you shouldn’t feel weird about it. How many businesses do you think would take years to create a new product and then just put it on the shelf and expect people to buy it without telling them about it? The answer is not one, in case you’re wondering. They’ll do everything they can to promote that product to the public, spending sometimes thousands on PR campaigns and advertising it like crazy.

You don’t have to go to such lengths for your book but, if you want people to know about your work and to maybe consider reading it, then you have to create some sort of awareness around it. You can’t actually make people care about your book – all you can do is promote it the best way you can and then relax knowing you’ve done your best.

Moira_book

Moira in Mid Ulster!

 

Anyway, I think that’s enough book business for now! In other news, it’s been great to see MM in the hands of some new readers this week, not least my nephews, who live in Switzerland (though mum and dad might have to read it to them as they’re a bit below the target age group!).

I also received my bookmarks, which I ordered last week for the BBF book launch in June, and I’m really pleased with how these have turned out. If you come along to the launch, you’ll get one with your book…

In the meantime, I’ve got some more promo stuff to work on this week and I’m hoping to do some sort of work on the next book as well… It’ll probably be the summer before I start this with intent, but I’m keen to get writing again.

One thing at a time however…

Events upcoming:Waterstones event

Waterstones Coleraine: Coming up this week I’m also looking forward to taking part in a Women Aloud NI event at Waterstones Coleraine, where a group of us women writers will be reading from our work between 2pm-4pm.

Drop in at any time if you’re in town – there’ll be everything from poetry readings, to fantasy fiction, memoir, short stories and more. Free of course. 🙂

Belfast Book Festival: Page to stage pic

– June 7: Myriad Routes: From Page to Stage – I’ll be leading the discussion with Jane Talbot and Hilary McCollum about take a book from the page to the stage. Book here: https://crescentarts.ticketsolve.com/shows/873573819/events

June 15: Lagan Online Presents 12NOW: New Original Writers – Very excited to be 12NOW BBFtaking part in this event with five of my fellow 12NOW-ers. Lagan Online chose 12 NI writers for the 2016/17 period and is championing our work throughout the year. We’ll be reading some of that work at this, which is one of two 12NOW events. Book here: https://crescentarts.ticketsolve.com/shows/873573897/events Event launch pic

June 17: Magical Masquerade Book Launch – Discussion, Q&A, book reading, book-selling and book-signing! Book here for this FREE event: https://crescentarts.ticketsolve.com/shows/873573911/events

Guest blogBook blogger logo

I’m also writing a guest post for Joanne Frazer over at her blog, In Case of Bookishness, so I’ll post a link to that when it’s up as well! Thanks very much to Joanne for agreeing to host me!

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