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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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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

covers

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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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!

19601431_817633278400969_7583794342771229565_n

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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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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MM unleashed!

This time last week, I was just a couple of hours away from my online Facebook launch of Magical Masquerade, which, despite being quite a last-minute thing, went really well. I had to wait until I knew the book would be live on Amazon for people to actually buy before I went ahead with it, hence the short notice, but it all worked out well in the end, as I got to release the book into the world on April 30 – bang on target with my chosen publication date after all…

Abi 1

Book competition winner Abi Martin.

Facebook book launches are a relatively new phenomenon (they are to me anyway), and I know that most of those who took part in mine last week hadn’t experienced one before. So, it was great to see so many friends and family joining in! I also did a giveaway and my two prize-winners looked very happy to receive their books this week!

Orders have been coming in for both the e-book and paperback since then, which is great, if not a bit surreal, and photos have been popping up on Facebook of friends who have received their copies in the post. All of this is very exciting – I’m just hoping the feedback once everyone reads the book is just as positive!

You could get a bit obsessed with tracking sales, but aside from the first few days, I’ve been quite good at not checking that too much. I will be keeping tabs on it all but the main thing right now is just letting people know that Magical Masquerade exists and getting the word out there.

Harry Cullen

Comp winner Harry Cullen.

 

With that in mind, I’ve been busy with a bit of promo this week, as well as doing a few bookish deliveries. I also had an ‘interesting’ experience with a UK-based company mid-week when I finally got around to ordering my bookmarks for the launch (I’ll be blogging about that next week by the way). I’m very pleased with the final results but there was a lot more to-ing and fro-ing than I’d anticipated!

All of these little things take time – and always more time than you think – but are well worth doing in my opinion. Again, it’s just another example of something a self-published author has to take responsibility for themselves, where a traditional publisher would normally have this sort of thing covered.

 

Louise Brogan

Louise Brogan showing off her copy of Magical Masquerade!

I like the process of deciding how to market my book however, though you do have to be careful with how much doing all of this sort of stuff eats into the working day…

 

Anyway, it’s been great to see the support from everyone so far for Magical Masquerade (which, in case you missed it, is available to buy NOW from Amazon! 🙂 Just click this link to order: http://amzn.to/2qFyayv ).

In the meantime, I thank everyone who has purchased a copy so far, and I look forward to hearing your feedback about it!

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