Monday 8 December 2014

A belated November newsletter

It’s that time of year again and we’re on the run into that festival. Yes, Christmas is a time when I traditionally do a lot of reading and a lot of thinking. I watch a lot TV – some of the cheesy variety and some other, more serious material, often some of that good old British drama. Lots of ideas bubble away.
I always see this time of year as a type of hibernation – we feed ourselves – physically, intellectually and emotionally, we stay indoors and keep ourselves warm – and we writers hope that lots of people will read our books. Perhaps they’ll have a new Kindle for Christmas and download some of our works.              
I have a birthday just before Christmas and though I used to curse it as a child I now welcome it: it’s the day our hemisphere starts titling back towards the light and I’ve only ever been to school once on my birthday. I’ve never been to work – though I may do a little writing.  The end of the gloom seems a good time to welcome a new year and new plans for new works.
Of course also, there are lots of celebrations and yesterday we held a gathering of Bridge House and CafeLit authors. More about this below!  


I’m still working Girl in a Smart Uniform and a little worried that it may be on the short side. Still, it should come in at about 60,000 words. That is probably fine for a young adults book. The other two in the Schellberg cycle are around 100,000.  The main character is becoming more balanced. Last month I reported that I thought that this was going to be the most difficult book to write in the Schellberg Cycle. I’d actually now say that it’s probably the most difficult book I’ve ever written.   
However, I have managed now to complete the outline plot and feel more confident about it.
I’ve now also had a second short story accepted on the new Cut a Long Story Short web site.  It is China Dolls, a horror story about someone who seems to be haunted by gigantic china dolls.
I also have another piece of flash accepted on Ether Books -  Doctoring the Doctors.    

Bridge House and CafeLit  Celebration

Several of us met yesterday for lunch, drinks, chat, networking and reading.
One of the highlights of the event was hearing some of our authors read. Fabian Acker, Sarah Evans, Sarah Hegarty, Catrin Kean, Paula Readman, Helen Shay and David Wilson all read either from one of the works represented at the event or from something else they had written. Writers don’t always read their own work well. This certainly wasn’t true yesterday. Every single reader “performed” their work and if you hadn’t already bought the book you would want to after hearing this.
The Theodore Bullfrog, near Charing Cross, looked after us well. Their upstairs room is quite pleasant and they’d set the furniture out casually. We had their Bronze buffet. There was plenty of food for everyone with very little waste. They let us have the room free of charge if we spend over £500. We achieved this with the buffet, a tab we set up for everyone’s first drink and subsequent drinks bought at the bar which delegates paid for themselves. We have our own dedicated bar staff up there.
We didn’t have books on sale but we did have special order forms with a further discount on some of our books. Also, we asked everyone to bring a book along to swap. This could be another book they’ve written, or another collection they’ve been included in or just something they’ve enjoyed. So everyone brought one book a long and went home with returned with a new one.
We think it was quite successful: one guest remarked “I really enjoyed this and I’m not even a writer.”

School visits

I’ve recently conducted two successful local school visits at All Hallows Roman Catholic Highs School and St Anne’s Academy.
All Hallows fooled me.  I’d been there before, several times but I didn’t recognise either the address or the building. No wonder! They’d moved into a brand new building.
St Anne’s is one of the first schools to run the new Creative Writing A-Level. This is going to prove a challenge for us at the university next year. We’ll have some students coming in who already have A-Level and there will still be several who have little experience of creative writing.
I continue to offer free school visits, details below.     
These visits are up to 90 minutes long and are focussed on my books.
In addition, many of us from the university are going out and offering presentations on what is on offer on our programmes. I’ll generally throw in a creative writing exercise.    
I’ll reiterate straight away that authors should be paid for school visits, but these free ones are actually part of the work I do at the university.
I offer readings for 14+ of Veiled Dreams, Scum Bag, Spooking, Fibbin’ Archie and The Peace Child Trilogy (The Prophecy, Babel, The Tower) a short question and answer session and a creative writing exercise for your class. For primary children there are Jason’s Crystal, The Lombardy Grotto and Kiters. Read more about my books here. There are of course also my stories in various anthologies. All other visits are at the rates suggested by the Society of Authors. Schools can mix and match these visits. I do ask that travel expenses are covered.   
I’m offering visits and talks specifically about my The House on Schellberg Street project for a donation towards the project. I’ve devised a whole interactive workshop for this. The book is now out and selling steadily. It would be a real asset for any school teaching the Holocaust at Key Stage 3. Even if a school can’t afford a donation, I’d be happy to run the project.
Query for a school visit here.

Bridge House
Light in the Dark is now out and was ready on time on 15 November 2014. It is selling steadily though not massively yet. People tell us they like the cover!  

Creative Café

I’m steadily bringing new cafés into the project and I’m always on the lookout for more. So, if you know of one, do get in touch.  More and more people are now engaging with the project. Take a look here. I’m also looking for more articles on Writers in Cafés – see what’s involved here.
As promised, I’ve moved from listing cafes to making them searchable, though I still list Creative Café Project activities. Take a look here. 

The Red Telephone

We’re still working on marketing Shanta Everington’s XY. You can still join in the online launch here. She has run a very successful blog tour.
 Cyan Brodie’s, Dream Girl is now out and we’re also promoting that.
I’m working on Kathy Dunn’s The Demon Magician. This has a fast-paced plot and some delightful characters.
There will be a new call for submissions shortly.  

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