You can get Manchester tickets here
You can get Manchester tickets here
Afternoon, you wonderful people.
I am sat here at my desk right now coffee in hand attempting to defrost.
You know I had to get the selfie from Snapchat after all we all love unicorns. Today has been a busy day, I went down to my daughters to bleach her hair ready to attempt a colour tomorrow then when we left there the monster and I headed to a local park Pokemon hunting. First, let me say that the reason he is only just on the Pokemon Go app is that it was not available for my Windows phone so the minute I got a new android phone it was one of the first things he asked me to do. Secondly, let me point out that while this may be a fun thing to do in the Summer chasing imaginary creatures round a park in the cold is not so much fun. My journeys to work and back now involve my being logged into the game to get distance to hatch eggs and to spin discs every time I pass certain buildings to get him balls to catch these creatures with, I don’t really mind that much because it is not as if I have to go out of my way but it is annoying that it is a drain on my battery and I can’t listen to my podcasts at the same time. The good thing is of course that it gets kids outside and exercising and in our case, by default, it means more exercise for me especially on a Sunday when I am prone to be a little sedate. It is also something we can do together though I can only name a handful of the creatures we have caught.
It is now evening I am afraid I got distracted chatting to a friend. My #NanoWriMo stats have not changed since last week, a combination of overtime and illness on top of normal work had a detrimental effect on my focus and I now need to write around 2.5k a day to hit target. It is still possible, I have a week off work at the end of the month so I can make up some words there hopefully.
I have quite a few different things going on in my head at the minute to deal with as well as writing so I am struggling to keep my focus on sitting and getting the right thoughts down. Right now writing wise things are going well, but I think sometimes when one aspect of your life is improving it does make you look at other areas that maybe are not doing quite as well, there are aspects of my life I would like to change but for now they will have to wait, I have far too much going on in other areas that I am excited about.
The alarm goes off at half six and it feels like I have barely slept, I am not sure which emotion dominates, excitement or fear. I get my make-up on and get dressed, I had debated staying in bed longer and doing my hair and make-up after breakfast but I was glad I chose the order I did, partly as I was awake anyway but also because it allowed longer chatting over breakfast with the authors and bloggers I had met the previous night. It was reassuring to know that I was not the only one feeling nervous, even authors who had done these events before got nervous.
After returning to my room to grab my stuff I headed to the room to get my first look at it and to set up. It was suddenly very real and I have to confess I felt a little sick.
I found my table, due to someone else not being able to attend I found myself with a full table instead of half which although I loved having a full table was a little daunting, I had not brought much with me in terms of table decorations because I had not expected to have as much space so I spread the stuff out I had as best I could and put out a few extra bits. I was set up early enough to allow me to wander around, pick up my pre-orders and say hello to authors I had not met the night before, I regret to say I did not meet everyone but I do look forward to putting this right at later events, I would hope that many will be at Leeds and Darker next year, though of course at this time I have no idea if I will be attending as an author or a reader.
It was almost time for the doors to open and nerves got the better of me and I had to run to the loo, that was a slight mistake as it meant I saw the queues of people waiting to go in which did nothing to quiet my fears.
Back at the table the doors opened and I sat waiting, and waiting, and waiting. It seemed like forever even though it was not that long. The layout of the room meant that I was on what would be classed as the return leg, but the reality was people were also doing exactly what I had done myself, heading to get their pre-orders first.
Rachel and Jo had done an amazing job of organising everything, each author had found a goodie bag at their table and now the people entering were receiving theirs but they were also receiving a laminated sheet, the idea behind this was that they then got all the authors to sign it to be entered into a draw, it meant as the day went by more and more people stopped by the table some to just get a signature but most stopped to chat and to find out more about me and my books. They did not buy books but as I had put the Kindle version of Ascension up for free for the weekend it seemed quite a few went away and grabbed themselves a free copy, hopefully including the bloggers and book reviewers I met.
These types of events are not really geared towards sales especially for new authors, it really is more about networking, making contacts with other authors and readers as well as meeting people who run book blogs and review groups. These people are priceless for an author because if they like you and respect you they will share you everywhere, and the provide something that you can’t buy, genuine good will and support.
After a break for lunch we were off again and the day really did fly by, I want to give a special thank you to a lovely author called Helen Bright, I reviewed one of her books a few weeks ago, she was on the table next to me and was huge support during the day, I think if it hadn’t been for her I might have been tempted to just make a run for it before the doors opened.
One thing that really did surprise me was how hard it was to get people to take things, I really thought people would be grabbing handfuls of swag but instead I was constantly having to point it out to people and encourage them to take it, I also had far more left at the end of the day than I expected.
I have to say though at the end of the afternoon as I packed up I was struggling to contain the smile on my face, it really did make me realise just how much I want to make this my career and to be able to attend these things far more. I hauled my case packed with left over swag unsold books and my own purchases upstairs, realising I seemed to be going home with more than I had come with and wondering how I was going to get it all home, but that would have to wait for later I had an hour and a half to have a shower and get ready for the Ball.
I debated writing this post last week but decided I wanted to take the time to reflect upon all my experiences regarding #Darker and my first signing.
First, I have to say I had an amazing time, it was better than I could ever have imagined but I know you want to know a lot more than that so let’s start with a couple of days to go.
I message my friend Deb that is due to go with me checking what time we are meeting on Friday, she is upset, her boss has decided he needs her to fly to the Isle of Man on the Saturday for a big meeting, she goes into the office the next day but can’t change anything. I am gutted, it is too late to get anyone else to come so I put my ball ticket up for grabs on the Darker page, it gets snapped up straight away, I breathe a sigh of relief, at least I will have someone sat with me at the Ball, the relief only lasts twenty-four hours until it turns out she cannot attend either, everyone else either has plans or their own ticket. I am a little worried but don’t want my friend to worry, this was out of her control, and maybe it is like being thrown in at the deep end, after all there might not always be people available to come to these things with me every time.
I repack, originally, I had stuff in two cases but decide it will be easier to handle a case plus a holdall, it was a good job as you will find out shortly, though I do intend to get a bigger case with four wheels rather than the one I have. I will need to look into alternative travel options for future events, whether that is looking into paying someone to drive me or shipping things ahead of time, of course the best solution will be eventually to get a car.
I meet Deb for lunch and have the most ridiculous burger ever, I can’t even begin to get my mouth round it so attack it with a knife and fork, a good catch up later and we get my train tickets and Deb helps me to the train, it is rammed. They have cut the number of trains to Leeds and it seems the number of carriages, every seat is booked and there is barely room to stand and getting on with my luggage is tough but I just about manage, though after she has helped me there is not even room to turn round and wave. I get to Leeds and get the Peterborough train, I am lucky that I was there early and grab a seat but once again the train fill, thankfully the journey is shorter than I expected.
I jump in a taxi and we head out of the city centre and to the hotel. As I check in I see the first familiar face, I meet more people attending the event as I struggle to get my electronic door key to work, apparently there is a knack, I miss proper keys in hotels.
Once in the room I do a live FB video showing my accommodation for the weekend, my daughter points out to me afterwards that I say ermmm a lot during this, lesson learnt, I am okay filming a vlog where I have control over what I am going to say and know I can edit it but not so good at live off the cuff, this is something I need to work on.
I unpack and decide, that given the schedule for the day after, I will iron my clothes now before I go downstairs, it also allows for more chance of people arriving and there being someone I will know downstairs.
I eventually go downstairs around six and head into the bar, relief is overwhelming as I spot a couple of people I know straight away and join them, we spend the next hour chatting as more people join us until we decide to give the poor girls behind the bar orders for about twenty of us eating, dinner was okay nice but nothing special, I think that is the general consensus with one or two issues that are dealt with. Then Rachel and Jo arrive and come over to say hello, they briefly catch up with us we all discuss our journeys to the venue and then they disappear to start working on the room. The rest of us loiter in the bar area chatting and getting to know each other until around 10pm when we call it a night knowing tomorrow will be a long day.
It was so nerve racking meeting people you have only chatted to online but thankfully everyone turned out to be every bit as lovely as they seem in the virtual world.
I climb into bed with a smile on my face exhausted but excitement means that it is a rather restless night.
Okay so you are lucky enough to have got a place at a signing event, you have the books, the swag and are ready, so what is left? Well, what are you going to wear?
So the night do is usually easier, it is normally formal and many times has a theme to help you decide on your outfit this was me with my daughter at the Leeds Event last year…
But it can get expensive, as you start attending more events you will meet up with the same people numerous times which means you cannot invest in one little black dress and re-wear it. On the other hand, unless the day job pays really well or you have hit the jackpot with a best-selling novel you probably don’t want to be buying new dresses every few months that you can only wear the once or at least only once for now and then put to be rotated in a wardrobe. So the alternative as I have been looking into is eBay, as I mentioned on Sunday I have found it to be a treasure trove of dresses bought for weddings, cruises and other suave social occasions that one has the excuse to dress up for. Worn once or twice these end up going for a fraction of the price of the new dress, likewise new clothes with tags show up in abundance, I am guessing like some of the clothes in my wardrobe these are bought but don’t fit and kept with the intention of fitting them one day or they just don’t get round to returning them within the correct time frame.
However, it is not just the ball/evening dress you have to consider, let’s start with travelling, you obviously need something comfortable but also some thing that will make the right impression at the hotel when you show up, then the evening prior to the signing you will need to eat, probably meet a few of the other authors in the bar or just hang out with them.
Then the big one your signing outfit, now I am pretty sure smart casual is the standard, it has to be comfortable enough to wear all day and practical, you don’t want to wear linen and look all crumpled after five minutes. There is though a secondary consideration, and that is your brand, does the way you dress reflect your work and personality? I am not for one second suggesting fancy dress, but if you write medieval fantasy would your readers really expect to see you in a floral, floaty dress. just as you work to bring your image together in terms of covers complementing each other, business cards matching other PR materials then you want to present an image of yourself that will both stick and be engaging. In some ways, it seems to me that it is almost like creating your own personal work uniform, it is the clothing you wear to put you in author mode when you are public.
I have bright purple hair, or to be fair this week it is the end of a dye cycle so it is more a mix of lilac and grey, so I am not what you would consider to be conventional, however, being plus size I am also acutely aware that not all clothes suit me or look good on me, I am also aware that some of the things I might like the idea of wearing would not fit with my writing. While I am not saying that you should role play your characters I do think common sense comes into play, I write medieval fantasy, wearing Steampunk style clothes would possibly send confusing messages even though I love the style.
So what am I going to wear? For me I think it is looking like trousers suits with shirts or blouses, I like the idea of the traditional tweedy look against my purple hair, it allows me to show my personality with my hair but the suit gives a level of professionalism, and, rather than go for plain black, the idea of the tweed or possibly brown pinstripe appeals because it is the twist on the expected.
Of course, I don’t rule out the thought that I am over thinking this, but for me, I like the idea of having separate mix and match type items for wearing to signings.
Well it is morning as I begin posting this whether I get through it all is a different matter, it has been quite a stressful week here in the UK due to politics and people being determined to fall out with each other because of it. It has been a week many have felt the need to dive into something stronger than coffee to get through it. On the plus side, there was the fantastic benefit concert put together by Ariana Grande, my rugby team have won again, and hopefully have turned a corner for the season, that will get them away from the dreaded bottom four. So let’s get on with things and this week I have picked things that have a feel good factor…
As I suspected we are now into the afternoon and it is time for me to head off to the kitchen and stuff the chicken.
Okay so Sunday is almost over as I write this but to be fair my daughter has been here most of the day and I cooked Sunday dinner so it did not turn out to be totally lazy. The world was a darker place for a little while this week and things like writing and blogging seemed foolish and frivolous, as I titled the vlog this week ‘No Words’ sums up my feelings still but I will talk about that later in the week in a separate post. So on with a few posts to little the mood a little I hope and spread some love and light in the only way we can, by carrying on with life as normal.
The one thing these posts all have in common is they span the globe, they remind us of the fact we have more in common with 99.9% of people than we have differences with that 0.01% who seek to destroy the way of life we love, they will not win unless we let them poison our heart, take care of each other and remember a smile to a stranger can create ripples that might be what is needed to heal our world.