Tag Archives: children’s fiction

Words with sparkle …

Chris Packham at the NI Science FestivalCPackham

Having ended my last post with a hopeful mention of meeting naturalist, environmental campaigner, author and award-winning photographer, Chris Packham, at the NI Science Festival, I’m very happy to report that this did indeed happen! I also got my copy of his memoir, Fingers in the Sparkle Jar, signed, so that is now an even more prized possession. It’s full of poetic and very visual writing and if you haven’t yet read it, then I recommend you give it a go.

The event itself was in two parts – the first saw Chris show examples of his photography and explain how he set up the shots, giving us an insight into how his mind works, which was fascinating. The second half then focused on the global climate and environmental crisis we’re all facing, with discussion on a range of issues and how we can help practically.   sparkle jar cover

All in all, it was a great event and definitely gave everyone much to consider and hopefully, to put into action afterwards.signed

Book three edits

I’ve now completed the latest edits of Novel Number Three (NN3), which essentially means I’ve transferred all the new pages of handwritten narrative onto the computer and jig-sawed everything together into what is now a more well-rounded story. I enjoyed this way of working, which is new to me in terms of novel-writing. With my previous two books I wrote in a pretty much linear style, in that I started at the beginning and wrote straight on until the end. Of course, I added in new bits here and there in later edits, but not as much as I have with this third novel.

With this particular manuscript I first wrote a rough narrative, which I knew I wanted to return to and add bulk, so the initial draft came in at around 30,000-35,000 words. It’s now around 45,000 words, so is more novel-shaped and still has a little more wiggle room if I feel I need to expand on any further plot points. For those who don’t know, middle-grade fiction (for 8-12 year-olds) can vary from anything between 30,000 – 50,000+ words. Modern MG books tend to be a bit chunkier than when I was growing up but I always believe that your story should be as long as it needs to be, so I don’t worry too much about word count, especially at the outset when I’m just starting a new novel.

Anyway, I’ve enjoyed having a basic book structure drafted and then being able to jump back in and add new sections and characters, working them into what’s already there and bringing more flavour to the overall narrative. (Well, I hope!) It’s a little like how William Boyd writes his novels – he’s told interviewers before that he too handwrites his initial drafts, but that he doesn’t write in a linear fashion – he writes different scenes at different times and then knits them all together later.

It’s fun to experiment with different writing styles and this way has worked well for me with NN3. It may or may not be what I do for the next book (whatever that is), but for now, it’s certainly been a method I’ve enjoyed.

Anyway, the next stage is going back to edit the manuscript again, now that all the new material has been added to the typed version, and make sure it reads seamlessly and does what I want it to do…

I haven’t written very many short stories recently, but I did do a light edit of a story I wrote a few years ago and submitted that to a journal in February, so we’ll see if anything comes of that. I’ve been a bit lax on sending work out to publications these past couple of years, but it’s something I would like to do more of again.

GC Book Club March book

Onto reading, then, and I’ve read lots of great books so far this year, one of which was our February book choice for the Giant’s Causeway Book Club – the first in the Winternight Trilogy by Katherine Arden, entitled The Bear and the Nightingale. This is an historical novel set in Russia and is rich with Russian folklore, mystery and adventure. It offers a fascinating insight into medieval life and conjures up lots of great imagery with its vast, snow-filled landscapes, although it certainly doesn’t shy away from the hardships of living through a Russian winter. Beauty sits right alongside brutality in this novel and for me, it was just a really great read.

Our March selection is also historical and is a gothic classic by Wilkie Collins – The Dead Secret. He wrote this novel just before his perhaps more widely known title, The Woman in White, and I believe it contains similar themes to this, so it promises to be packed full of intrigue and seems like perfect reading for the tail-end of winter…

The Sleeping Season book launchkelly

In other bookish news, my friend and fellow author, Kelly Creighton, is launching her latest novel – and her first police procedural – on Friday, March, 27 at No Alibis Bookstore in Belfast, so if you’re a crime fiction fan, then do come along! It will also feature discussion from crime writers Simon Maltman and Sharon Dempsey, so you can look forward to an evening packed full of all things crime-related.

Kelly’s book is called The Sleeping Season and is the first in her new DI Sloane Series, featuring Belfast Detective Inspector Harriet (Harry) Sloane. You can pre-order your copy here:https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sleeping-Season-Sloane-Book-ebook/dp/B081K8QQSR/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=the+sleeping+season&qid=1583256779&sr=8-1

Bookish surprise from Savidge Reads …

My last bit of bookish news relates to an unexpected windfall from Simon over at Savidge Reads (you can find his brilliant book-related YouTube channel here).

compSimon ran a giveaway competition over on his Instagram account a little while back and I’m delighted to say that I was randomly selected as the winner of that, so I’m eagerly awaiting the postman delivering my copies of two Stacey Halls novels. The giveaway included a signed copy of her first book, The Familiars (which I’ve already read, but I borrowed it from the library, so I’m excited about having my own copy as I really enjoyed this book), along with a proof copy of her latest novel, The Foundling, complete with Simon’s annotations (he interviewed Stacey at a recent event in England).

Suffice it to say that this bookworm loves getting free books, so thanks again to Simon for organising the competition!

Anyway, that’s all for now. More as I have it. 🙂

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Whittling away …

Women Aloud NI Community Day

Women writers everywhere – and lots of bookish talk. 🙂

WAagm

WANI board members

That was basically the premise for a recent meet-up of Women Aloud NI, as we had our very first Community Day at the Crescent Arts Centre, Belfast last weekend, kindly supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

It’s always good to take the online, offline, and, while we run regular writerly events and the like, we’ve never had a day of our own like this to chat about the organisation and our plans for the future.

Suffice it to say that we had a lot to talk about but ultimately, it was just rather cheering to see so many women writers from Northern Ireland gather together to see how we can support one another going forward. Watch this space, I think…

NN2

With regards my own writerly news, I’ve been quiet on the blogging front these past few weeks because I’ve been very busy finishing off NN2 (Novel Number 2). Yes, the notebooks are finally full of their scribbles, the computer has been fired up for typing and those words are being edited as we speak. Things are coming on well with the sequel to Magical Masquerade so hopefully all will continue as such!

Kelly_me_MACI did find a bit of time over Easter, however, for coffee and a catch-up with my friend and fellow author, Kelly Creighton (also a WANI board member), to chat about our books and bookish plans…  I also discovered Kelly is a rather talented artist – not just a fantastic writer, then! (See the portrait she whisked up for me below.)

As this is a follow-up to book one, I will be publishing it independently again as I did with the first, so when I’ve worked out my dates for this I’ll let you know… I’ve certainly found that this second book has taken less time to write and I think that’s for various reasons.

First of all, this time I actually knew I was writing a book! With MM I started off with a short story and then just kept going – and going and going and going – and ended up with a monster of a book that was probably actually three novels, in terms of length. Not so this time. I’m continuing my story and know better now how much notebook space I have to fill and, while I’ve written enough to tell the story and wouldn’t penalise it just to keep things short, experience means I’m writing more succinctly from the outset, so it’s already more on track in terms of word count and so on.

I’ve also given myself deadlines for this manuscript where I didn’t for the first, and I understand the publishing process and how long that takes, so am bearing all that in mind. My audience is predominantly young (although adults – you really can read my books as well! If you’ve read HP then you’re already in my target audience 🙂 ), so I’m keen not to delay the sequel for too long.

Reading notesportrait

Writing aside, I’ve also been flying through some great fiction this month as well, and will record a video for my BookTube channel about those soon. I plan to give each book a star rating and to choose the best book of the month from what I’ve read as one which I’d recommend you pick up (if you haven’t already read it that is). I’ve discovered so many good books through YouTube so I’d like to help other readers uncover a few new gems too.

Anyway, it really has been a good reading month in April and I’m hoping the rest of my TBR pile will deliver the same greatness. More as I have it. 🙂

 

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Writerly bits and pieces …

When it comes to writing, you just have to do it when you can snatch the time and keep at it, for life will surely get in the way otherwise and before you know it, weeks will have passed and not a word will have been written! Having now passed the halfway mark for NN2 (novel number 2) I’ve found myself engrossed with a few other writing projects recently which have demanded a lot of focus and which are up against tight deadlines, so my attention has been split.

However, in theory I now have less left to write of my next book than what’s already written, so I see myself as being on the downward slope, heading towards the finishing line. The pace may have slowed, as was expected once work recommenced mid-January, but I’m happy with how things are progressing.bible-2989427_1920

Irish Writers’ Centre member and mentor

In other news, I’m very pleased to say that I’m now a member of the Irish Writers’ Centre, having been accepted as such as part of its Professional Member Support Scheme for Northern Irish writers, which also includes a stipend to use towards courses and events throughout the year. So, that was great news last week and I look forward to getting along to some of those events!

I’m also going to be listed as a mentor (for children’s fiction, fantasy fiction and feature writing/journalism), so that should be on the website soon too.

Story

I’ve also just submitted a short story to a journal, one I wrote a little while back, as I really like said journal and it’s been such a long time since I sent any stories out, what with the book taking centre stage last year.

And … I’m still planning more Book Tube videos – in fact, there’s one that I’ve been meaning to record for the past month but I’m having to prioritise other things and it just hasn’t happened yet! Soon, though.

Anyway, more as I have it … 🙂

 

 

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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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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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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.

swirl and thread screenshot

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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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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Proofs in the post…

So … I was fully expecting to be sharing the news (and pics!) of the arrival of my book proofs today, but alas, they have not yet arrived …

I’ve decided not to worry too much about this – yet – though it is frustrating, given that I was told by CreateSpace they would be here by March 30. However, fingers are firmly crossed for tomorrow …

In the meantime, there’s not much that can be done except wait for them to arrive and I’m hoping that after careful examination and much poring over by myself and a few other eyes, I’ll be all set to move onto publication stage. I’m still on track for my April release date, but it’s definitely looking likely that it’ll be towards the latter end of the month before that happens – which is what I’d always anticipated, so all is still running to schedule.

Anyway … aside from waiting for the postman the past few days, I also managed to submit a couple of short stories to a literary journal (another waiting game!) and ideas have been spooling for the next writing project … Once I get Magical Masquerade approved, the pen will be hitting the paper again!IMG_1216

FairyLoot (spoiler alert!)

Although I missed getting MM in the post this week however, I did get another lovely bookish delivery in the form of my first-ever FairyLoot box, which lived up to expectations very nicely. The book within was, of course, the main event, and I was pleased to see that it was the one I’d guessed – a beautiful hard cover of Laini Taylor’s latest release – Strange the Dreamer.

The book cover design is lovely and the pages are edged in blue, which I think is just for the UK editions, and it’s a whopper of a book that I can’t wait to get into. I am, however, currently reading the last book in the Shades of Magic trilogy by VE Schwab (A Conjuring of Light), so I’ll get to it after that …

FullSizeRender (19)I won’t post any other spoilers about what else was inside the FairyLoot box, as I know some people overseas still haven’t received theirs (I feel your pain!), but suffice it to say that everything inside was great and I look forward to next month’s!

More news on the proofs as I have it and don’t forget, if you’d like to pre-order the e-book, you can go right ahead and do that here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B06XQ2GF27

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