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Monday 21 November 2011

A Weekend in Nottingham

first posted by Helen Oct 2010

The place. Premier Inn, Nottingham. Comfortable, clean. Good food, nice staff (little bit pricey, I suppose, but you get what you pay for.) I wasn’t expecting the early morning cabaret entertainment though.
4.15 Sunday morning. A man is out in the corridor shouting down his mobile phone using a fair spattering of the f* word. The general gist appeared to be that he was cross because his planned evening (huh! Evening? 4.15 a.m.?) of entertainment with the females in the room next door had been curtailed. Why? It appeared that he had lost his mate. (how careless of him) Said mate had ended up in hospital, injured, and mate was p’d off at not having his calls for immediate aid and assistance answered.
4.35 Man on mobile in corridor outside my room door agrees to go and collect Injured Mate. He wasn’t in too much of a hurry though, because he spent at least 5 minutes loudly ensuring the Giggly Females in room next door knew what room he was in and assuring them he would be back soon.

Quiet. At last. Bit late though, I was now wide awake. Thank goodness for the provided tea (no biscuits though)
5.15. a.m. More door banging, calling out, falling over something that went down with an almighty crash. Giggling, cursing … ah, the Man and his Mate were back and the Giggly Females were still awake then. Good for them. So was I.
5.30. All went quiet. Hooray.
9.15. a.m. Would you believe? Loud conversation on mobile phone out in the corridor. I stormed from my very comfortable bed with the intention of giving a piece of my very tired, very grumpy, very miffed mind to said Mobiler…. Just as well I paused to look through the spy hole first.
The Hospital Victim. Telling his girlfriend/wife and the rest of the clientele of floor 3 all about his adventures – how he had been abandoned, how he had fallen over. “You should see me face” (use a thick Birmingham accent) “You really should see my face! See my face! I fell over – see my face!”
The reason why I am pleased I paused and used the spy hole? Mr Somewhat Skinny Bruised Face was walking up and down jabbering away into his mobile phone about his face – wearing only a pair of orange underpants.

I kid ye not.

So if your boyfriend/husband has orange underwear and was in Nottingham over the weekend. Please tell him that he’s bl*dy luck I didn’t come out and give him a matching bruise on the other side of his face. Or elsewhere.
I assume his mate had a good night with the girls in the room next door?
Do I feel uncomfortable at exposing these two morons? Not in the slightest. If you voluntarily elect to broadcast your personal life to all and sundry in a hotel corridor at an ungodly hour of the morning what can you expect?

Orange underpants. Not a sight to be witnessed on a Sunday morning.

(The hotel were very good. They came and removed Orange Pants from the corridor as soon as I telephoned reception, and I received a refund for having my night disturbed.)

How’s the face mate? Hopefully not bright red, it'll clash dreadfully with the pants.

Part 2 - the New Writer's Annual Book Fayre. 
With not a pair of underpants in sight.

Author & Chair of New Writers - John Baird
I escaped the humdrum of home for a long weekend. Out the house, onto the train (first class would you believe! I booked the tickets early on line and first class was cheaper than standard!) Struggle up the steps, over the bridge, down the steps, up the road, cross the road – my hotel. Phew! (see part two below for Orange Escapades at the hotel LOL) This long weekend from Thursday to Sunday was intended as part treat, part work. 

The treat bits were dinner with fellow author John Baird, his wife, nephew, dog and parents (fabulous dinner, Sheila, thank you) and lunch the following day with Nottingham-based author Elizabeth Chadwick and her friend Alison King.

Alison is an Akashic consultant. On her blog she says: ‘ the Akashic Record is based on the belief that everything that happens in the world is imprinted on the Akasa which is: an unseen substance which is all around us all and present in every atom of this world and of the universe. This substance is capable of being impressed by the images, thoughts, sounds, smells, tastes and feelings of what it comes into contact with, and because it is in contact with everything, everything is recorded. It is like having a multi-sensory photograph or holograph being constantly taken and kept on file.’

The quote is taken from  Elizabeth Chadwick's website  about the Akashic Record
I was a little nervous about my session at first, not knowing what to expect, but once I’d relaxed and we’d chatted a while I found it highly interesting and exhilarating. I’m not going to tell you much more, however, as I am still digesting what we explored and talked about. I’ll go into detail another time maybe.

Friday evening. County Hall, Bridgnorth, Notts. For the first time the New Writers UK group had expanded their annual Book Fayre into a Friday evening and all day Saturday event. And it was fantastic!
I first met up with the New Writers group five years ago. I was asked if I would care to attend their writer’s book fayre and as the purpose of the event was to encourage new writers to achieve their goal and dreams by getting published – I wholeheartedly agreed. Most of these writers were aiming at independent publishing; “Independent” being the common term now for Self Publish. But listen carefully: this is NOT vanity publishing, not with New Writers anyway! The group exists to encourage writers to independently publish books that are well written, well edited and well produced. For a variety of reasons good writers get overlooked by the big publishing houses and agents.

One of the reasons – it has to be said - often being that the writing is not up to a high enough standard. So many novice writers do not understand about the basic construction of a novel (see my hints and tips article,  Discovering the Diamond  for a full explanation)
Promising writers do get overlooked though – the slush pile in many an agent’s office is enormous. The old days of agent or publisher nurturing a potential writer are gone, seeing the possible diamond beneath the coating of mud is no longer viable for big business companies, it is up to the writer to ensure the work already shines as bright as it can. Here’s the rub.

It is as important to ensure that your book shines its brightest even if you are self publishing – actually, even more so. You have to prove – twice as hard – that you ARE good.

New Writers UK exists as a supportive group, giving advice, encouragement and those all important opening marketing opportunities. They recommend good companies, give publishing advice, run work shops – book fayres – if they don’t do it they’ll be happy to consider it and give it a go.
I accepted that first invitation to the second NW fayre, and had a fabulous time talking to enthusiastic, talented new writers. Only a few outsiders came along, but so what? I’ve always believed that great oak trees from small acorns grow. I went back to the third year’s event – a slightly larger location, more people attending. For the fourth year the Chair of New Writers had been awarded Nottingham County Council backing, and the venue was the splendour of County Hall – where it has been ever since.

This year, I do not know the door count, but the place was full and I spent all day Saturday talking to keen “wanna be” writers. Great fun and enthusiasm by the bookshelf. You’ll find a list of links to some of those writers below. Check them out, some good authors, good books (have to add I’ve not managed to read all of them yet – on my to-do list, but if enthusiasm and keenness counted they would all be bestsellers.)
The event is not all about individual authors trying to sell their wares from their stalls, though. We had talks and lectures – writing crime novels by John Baird, a workshop for young writers, inspiration for creative song writing by musician Bronwen Harrison (next blog will be about that!) Agent Mike Sharland came along… as you can see, a diverse and interesting programme of events.

Des Coleman
In the afternoon the announcement of the winners of the Nottingham Children’s Writer Awards, with prizes presented by Des Coleman, Nottinghamshire’s exuberant TV weather reporter.
I was a judge for this – some darn good stories and poems!
Rounding Saturday off; questions and answers, with some of the guest speakers forming the panel, first question Marketing. The answer was as interesting as the question. Authors all have one thing in common – more important than a publisher, they need a publicist.

It’s all very well getting the book that you have laboured years to write and spent money on editing, into print – but unless readers know the book exists no one is going to buy it. One of the “faults” of self publishing companies: their glossy websites proclaim “We’ll give you an isbn, we’ll create a website and we’ll put your book on Amazon!”
Whooppee do. So what?
Unless traffic is directed to that website no one will visit it. Unless it’s known that your book is sitting there on Amazon no one will buy it.

Marketing is the key – and not even the big publishers spend a lot of time on pushing Anne Other’s novel nowadays. All the glitz and glamour goes to the bestseller Celeb favourites. Sounds crazy, I know – the books that will sell anyway get the marketing. That’s how it is though, folks.
Moral of the story? If you want your book to sell. Market it.

I’ve been banging on about this these last few months. From experience I learnt the lesson. I had no marketing whatsoever for my novel A Hollow Crown (thanks to my US publisher, Sourcebooks Inc, it is now getting the recognition it deserves. Published as The Forever Queen, it will be receiving high status advertising when it is released on 1st November 2010 including front of house in the larger Barnes & Nobles stores.)
Without an agent (she dropped me several years ago) I’ve been doing what I can to get myself and my books known through sites like MySpace, Facebook and Twitter. Hard slog, but worthwhile, for not only have I met a bunch of fabulous people on Facebook and Twitter I am also making a few sales. (I’ve since abandoned MySpace – the site is too slow - too many adverts and gadgets)

One author said to me once: “I don’t like the way you are on Facebook. All you do is market your books. I’m there for my friends.” That was unkind and unfair, and a bit pointless as an author. And which of us is selling better? Me. My friends already know I’ve written a couple of books, so my prime intention is to tell other readers about my books. Note: readers not writers. It’s the ordinary reader in the street who buys more books. Writers are too busy writing and marketing their own to buy books at random.

I chat to my personal friends privately via e-mail, not on Facebook. Bottom line is – I want to “make it” as an author. When I do (note when not if) I’ll not want my private business there on Facebook for everyone to read. What I DO put in public I don’t mind sharing (my monthly journal on my main website is almost an autobiography, but there’s still a lot left out of it!)
There are a few rules though – the main one being don’t go on and on about “Read my book!” or “Buy my book”. The trick is to make yourself and your book/s interesting. You want “That looks interesting ” not, “Oh heck. Not her again ”
I happened to see on Twitter (I so LOVE Twitter!) a link to a book that sounded interesting.

  I followed the link. The book looked useful. I ordered it.
It arrived the day before I left for Nottingham, so I took it with me to read on the train. Now I’d ordered books like this before from Amazon; none turned out to be much good, so I half expected the same with this. How wrong could I be! My intention was to pass it on to anyone at the Fayre who asked about ideas for marketing – uh uh, no way am I parting from Kristen’s book! The Bible of the Social media Marketing world! In it she explains how to set up a Facebook Account, how to use Twitter, what not to do, what to do. Nearly every page has my pencil notes in the margin; ‘remember to do this; this is a good idea’ or ‘ must change this, Kristen says it’s a no – no.’
Several authors asked me about marketing their books, why and how to use Facebook – well here is your answer folks!
ISBN: 1935712187 (paperback edition – it is also available on Kindle)

 Buy it and promote your books with enjoyment and pride!  (and Kristen, I’ve been plugging your book like there’s no tomorrow. Do I get a commission? I’ll settle for a free copy of your next book – I believe its to be All About Blogging? Let me know when you’ve got a title and publication date, I’ll be happy to help with its marketing.

New Writers UK       Good Writers. Good people. Good books

In alphabetical order – so no favouritism

John Baird  Chasing Shadows
'If you enjoy thrillers  with fast paced action then you'll love this book! ' Amanda Bowman, BBC RADIO NOTTINGHAM

I read Chasing Shadows myself when it was in embryonic form. John had sent me a couple of chapters. I was SO cross, on reading them, that I only had a few. I e-mailed straight back and asked where the rest of the book was. Why John was not picked up by one of the big mainstream houses I will never know.[ Helen]

The Golden Acorn   Catherine Cooper  The Adventures of Jack Brenin Book One

Jack's life changes the moment he finds a golden acorn lying in the grass. He gets caught up in an extraordinary magical adventure and enters a world he only believed existed in legend.
This brilliant story deservedly won the British Writers' Awards 2010 for unpublished writers and has now been published by Infinite Ideas.

Richard Denning The Last Seal (& other books)
‘The Last Seal’ concerns a 17th century plot to set free an evil demon imprisoned for hundreds of years. As terror and sorcery are unleashed, the fate of the city rests in the hands of a thief and a truant schoolboy. 

‘Another of my ‘spotted talents’. Richard sent me his book, The Last Seal for an opinion. I gave him the honest truth. It had a good plot, brilliant characters – had the possibility of becoming a superb book,. But the construction was all over the place. He needed a good editor to show him what bits were not fitting together properly, where chapters were falling down – where the roof sagged and the foundations were rickety. Richard saw what I meant and immediately took steps. The result – a fabulous book and a keen writer who should go places!
D Michelle Gent Deadlier than the Male  You think you know your neighbours, your town and your surroundings; but everyone has a secret - some are darker than others.

Suzie Litton-Wood  Our JoshAn evocative story set on the canals of England at the turn of the twentieth century. An intimate window on the day-to-day life of one family in particular, who were deeply affected by the time and tides of War, the prejudices, the sense of community, the isolation, the hardship and the sheer joy of a working narrowboat family in the early 1900's. The story is told through the eyes of Jessie, a young girl, living with her family on a working narrowboat, at the time of the First World War. It is told in rich dialect and in such a descriptive way that you will feel you're actually there, experiencing every moment, their joy and their pain their laughter and their the story unfolds.

Harry Riley  The Ghosts of Edgwick Abbey and other strange tales 
With modern lives running at such a fast pace we have so little time to do justice to the full length novel. This is why the ten-minute tale is so useful for reading on a bus, a plane or a boat. Here are forty short mystery and ghost stories by Harry Riley that will, shock, and surprise you and perhaps even raise a smile or two as you journey through life's tortuous highway.

  Leonard Warwick   The Unspoken is a novel set in Ireland against the backdrop of the Civil War, in which the secrets of the past play on into the future. It is about deceptions caused by silence and how a failure to speak spoils relationships. Tragedy strikes in rural West Cork. In the small town of Ballydoone, brothers Liam and Frankie are shot outside their farmhouse. The death of gentle and affable Liam appears to stem from vengeance, rather than war. Eighty years later Beth Milburn travels to Ballydoone to uncover her family's roots. Her journey of discovery reveals how well-intentioned deceit changed the course of the lives of those the unsaid was meant to protect.

And there is:

The Devil’s Creature in the City of the Dead  R. H. Stewart

There are Ghosts and Ghuls on the Grey Rock. Ghosts are spirits of the dead who for their own reasons have chosen to remain instead of moving on. Ghuls are very different. They are the remains of people who were evil in life and, knowing what lay ahead of them, chose not to go down to Hell. They move about Glasgow’s great Victorian Necropolis but are steadily decomposing until they become skeletons. Lord Antoninus, their Master, is an evil Roman Centurion who was buried on the Rock by Druids.
Mhairi MacBeth is fourteen years old and her friend, Dougie is sixteen. The MacBeth family are Magicians. Jet is a black Siamese who is Mhairi’s Companion, without whom she could not perform magic.

After Lord Antoninus releases terrible evil onto the Necropolis cruel murders take place. Mhairi, Dougie and Jet, with the help of the Necropolis’ Ghosts, fight to save the next victim - can they succeed before more blood saturates the earth of Lord Antoninus’ cave and the Devil’s Creature is fed?

Launching at the event was  Claire Kinton's Dead Game

When Lance Corporal Archie Fletcher’s plane plummets into the Persian Gulf during the Second Gulf War, even his wild imagination could never have primed him for the adventure he must now undertake. 
With guardian angels, a cursed centaur and mythical saints, Archie battles his way through a feral land called 'Transit'. But 'Dead Game is no easy feat. The fantasy will sweep you away to a parallel world where you will follow Archie’s fateful story full of courageous imagination - confirming that knowing deep within us all that the adventure of life must go on.
Some of the profits from sales of Dead Game will be going to charity - Help For Heroes and the Soldiers, Sailors and Air Force's association S.S.A.F.A.
I hope to be doing an author interview with Claire in November


Lumina - Bronwen is on the Right
 Bronwen Harrison – musician and Songwriter

Editorial Services

 for all Graphics design

If there are any more New Writers’ Members please contact me with a short blurb about your book , an image of your cover and link to your website and I will gladly add you here. Note: I will be checking that you ARE a member.

FINALLY Last but not Least
Julie Malone - aka Karen Wright
Julie Malone  has been Chair of New Writers since its start, after working hard all these years she has decided to retire and hand the reins over to John Baird (see above) My personal thanks to Julie - and very best wishes to John.

Julie writes under a pen name Karen Wright  She  was born in West London but moved to Sherborne at the age of seven and spent a happy childhood growing up in Dorset where she stayed until her early teens. Then, due to her father being promoted, she returned with her family to London. During her time in Sherborne, she attended Sherborne Primary school and St Aldhelms Secondary. It was a visit to Wookey Hole caves that sparked her interest in the history and legends surrounding the Mendip Hills and ultimately led to the creation of the Winterne Series of books.

The stories of fabled tunnels from Glastonbury Abbey to the outlying villages inspired the ‘Winterne’ stories and Karen allowed her imagination to run wild with the endless possibilities of what may lie within the undiscovered caves under the Mendip Hills.

The very best of luck  to all New and Hopeful Writers - remember if you don't write it it definitely won't get published!

If there are any more New Writers’ Members please contact me with a short blurb about your book , an image of your cover and link to your website and I will gladly add you here. Note: I will be checking that you ARE a member.

Blogger Kelly said...

LOL!! I admire your wherewithall my friend......I don't think I would have checked through the spyhole that early in the morning without at least 2 cups of caffiene running through my veins....!!!!

Blogger Helen said...

Someone has just mailed me "Did you call for the Sheriff of Nottingham to come and help - and I always thought Robin Hood wore green not orange?'

LOl. Thanks for the laugh folks - this post has kept me chuckling all day!

Blogger Elizabeth Chadwicksaid...

Oh my goodness...although could have been just slightly worse I guess. Orange underpants - no class from the bottom up I say!
I suggest an upmarket B&B next time round!

Blogger Jennifer said...

Oh Helen I am laughing so hard it is difficult to type. I imagine at the time it was definitely not amusing. Where does one find orange underpants? Never mind, I do not even want to know. I am sorry your evening of sleep was disrupted several times! It sounds as though you handled the entire situation far more calmly than I would.

Blogger maiden said...

Orange undershorts aye? Nope, Ray doesn't own a pair that colour *laughs*

I'm glad the hotel folks handled it and refunded you some cash as compensation. But I would have loved to witness you punching the guy in the hall had you actually gone out there and done him in. He deserved it! *laughs* What a blinding way to begin the morning for you!


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