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Impromptu book signing!

Went to Hexham for a couple of hours today, and went in to Waterstones for a book on Counselling Skills (you’ll be pleased to know I found a good book for the bargain price of £9.99). I got to meet Steph, at last (the Manager, who was extremely nice and very helpful, and believed in Karma when all other Waterstones didn’t). Apparently, all the books I came in and signed in March sold out! I was speechless…for at least a second. Steph asked me if I’d mind signing their new stock. Mind? I was delighted to do so, despite the fact I was writing on books in the middle of the shop, in full view of everyone… and was looking messy with NO make-up on and frizzy hair (whoever said, “No change there, then,” please shush)!

There have been some problems with actually getting hold of stock of the book, for some reason – they have been trying to order more copies for a while, and they’d only recently come in (they’d originally ordered twenty, but had only been able to secure seven, at first). I believe that, somewhere down the line, there has been trouble contacting the publishers regarding the availability of stock (or lack of it). This is something I need to check out. All of this affects my sales, so I feel a bit disheartened if it is the case that I’m trying my best to promote the book and no-one can actually get hold of it! Perhaps it was just a one-off glitch?

I can’t hide the fact that I’m chuffed to bits, and I thank Steph for her support. I’m grateful with a capital ‘G’! Off to email Natalie now.


Writing, the free hobby

Hello! Hope you had a lovely Easter. We didn’t do much, but managed to find a quiz to go to on Easter Sunday – mid-way through, we were doing so badly that we were looking for ways to make a sharp exit. However, we (my parents, Gordon and I) made a comeback and finally WON a quiz…albeit by one point.

Back to the writing. I wanted to say that writing is a great hobby, because it doesn’t take up any energy and it costs nothing (I also love to pencil-draw portraits, which is almost free). Unfortunately, now I’m meant to be a writer, suddenly I’ve discovered that I’m meant to know about the art of writing, belong to groups/forums, have an agent, and be able to advise others (who probably know more about being an aspiring author than I do)! I only know a little about something, something about nothing, and nothing about everything else!

* A writer apparently must have a current copy of The Writers’ And Artists’ Yearbook, or similar – cost £15 (less online, or free if you can find it in your local library)
* I found an online writers’ community which was both friendly and helpful – cost £30 per year (worth the outlay, if I had it!) There are free groups via Yahoo which are equally as useful and friendly, but if you join these groups, you need to be prepared to contribute, and they all know more than I do about ‘the craft’, as they call it)
* Society of Authors – many people have advised joining the SoA, which seems like a good idea, but I think it’s around £85

I haven’t been able to save up for the above yet, but is it worth investing any more in this venture? Or should I say ad-venture? I’m not so sure – this feels more like my fifteen minutes of fame than the start of a career… Maybe that’s why my local shops aren’t taking an interest (Natalie still can’t get in touch with the lovely ladies at Waterstones in Newcastle or Borders in Gateshead). Good job that Waterstones in Hexham and Henry’s in Ryton stocked the book, or I would never have fulfilled my dream of seeing something I’d written on the shelves (that sounds like I mean graffiti, but I meant my book).

Fortunately, I have heard from Tony at the M.E. Assocation who has inforrmed me that I am featured on the cover of their magazine and have a full page article inside – I’m honoured, as the M.E. Association is a great organisation (www.meassociation.org.uk) and they have a very informative website. Apologies to the good people who are members of the Association and find a picture of me, looking up at them from their doormats, when they receive their quarterly copy of M.E. Essentials!

Between you and I, I’m more than a little uncomfortable that people seem to think it’s such a big deal that I’ve written a book, just because of this CFS/ME thing. There are people far worse off than I am, and achieve more with their lives. I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me, as I’m pretty happy, really. I know I can’t do as much as I’d like to (and get very frustrated about it, believe me) but I count myself as lucky compared to some people.

Let’s just agree that I’m so dull and boring that the CFS is the only thing that differentiates me from other writers!


Izzy wizzy, let's get busy!

My inner child and I had a FANTASTIC day, today! I finally got to meet Mark Jones when he arrived in Sunderland – he’s a genuinely nice man, and is a talented entertainer. I got to see Sooty’s Magic Castle (I know I’m 32, but for a couple of hours today, I was young again and I enjoyed every minute of the show). My companion (naming no names) was joining in the audience-participation bits with gusto! I have to point out that the child-to-adult ratio was not as I’d expected: I saw three adults to one small child, children who were barely out of prams (with parents who were clearly having a whale of a time) and an elderly couple who didn’t seem to have any children with them (though I’m a fine one to talk). I have spent the rest of the day annoying the dogs with my Sweep hand-puppet (they tired of it before I have, I’m sad to say). Was worth the bus and train journey to Sunderland. Unfortunately, I’ll not be going to the James Martin book signing tomorrow, but I think I made the right choice of excursions!

What does any of this have to do with book stuff? Not a thing, but I don’t care – there’s very little going on with the book at the moment. Following the Sunday Sun article, the book rose through Amazon’s rankings…but they have no books in stock (website states orders will be despatched in 2-3 weeks, which has probably put some people off). Don’t know if Waterstones (Newcastle) or Borders got in touch with Natalie, so can’t tell you anything about that.

Oh and I read an interesting article about the woman who selects the books for Richard & Judy – there’s no chance a book like mine would ever find its way on the show. Why, you ask…apart from the obvious? Because the cover is pink!

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/article607041.ece

I almost started working on one of the other books I have ideas for – had an excellent idea but, unfortunately, I was in the bath at the time. By the time I was dry, I’d forgotten what I was going to write. I have a lot of scenes in my mind, but they aren’t all from the same book – I know that sounds odd, considering there are no other books yet, but it makes sense in my strange mind! If I ever get a book deal (I need some motivation) I have something to work from…

One last thing, someone (and hope they don’t mind me mentioning this) commented that they don’t like to talk about illness, but I don’t seem to mind. I do, really. I spent years being embarrassed about being ill, and making excuses for myself. I hate being defined as someone who is ill primarily, and then whatever I’ve done is mentioned almost as an after-thought. However, I would be doing a disservice to everyone who has the same illness as I do if I pretended I was fine – we have a hard enough time trying to get people to recognise CFS/ME as a genuine illness, so how would it look if I ignored it too? *Just climbing down from my soapbox now, hoping I’ve cleared up any misunderstandings.*

Before you leave, check out the new piccies I’ve added!


A beautiful dog, my book…and M.E.

Link to article on icNewcastle site

The link above will take you to the article printed in today’s Sunday Sun – I was very impressed with it, as it didn’t make me sound too ‘poor me, I’m not well’. I was happy to see the photo because one of my dogs, Holly, is in it: she was so good for the photographer (far more compliant than me, in fact). I am very difficult to take a good photo of, as I’m a blinker and I forget how to smile as soon as a camera is pointed in my direction. I involuntarily lose control of the muscles that control my mouth and begin to twitch – it’s not an attractive sight, and the photographer had his work cut out for him!

The only thing that was slightly inaccurate about the article is that I have worked since I was 19 (whenever I had a period of relative normality from the CFS) but I have had to give up several promising careers because of the illness. Maybe I’m not destined to be rich…

I was very tempted to take my copy of the newspaper into WHSmith and Waterstones in the Metrocentre and say, “This is me! Why don’t you stock my books?” but as you know, I’m far too shy for that…

I probably won’t be online much this week. Not sure I can afford to go and see James Martin in Leeds (though may be able to stretch to York) so I’ll get some rest, just in case. Am also hoping to get a chance to meet up with Mark, who’s at Sunderland in Sooty’s Magic Castle (4th April, Sunderland Empire). I used to love the Sooty Show, and think it’ll be great on stage, but my nieces and nephews are now too old to see such shows (shame, when their auntie isn’t!!!) Off to my mam’s now as it’s her birthday and we’re having a Chinese takeaway.

PS I’m not house-bound or bed-bound at the moment, as the article suggests (although I have been at times, often for weeks on end) – I spend the majority of my time lying on the sofa (as you can see from the photograph ‘The Real Me’) I am able to get out more in the winter months, when it is cold, as I find the summer warmth draining. I don’t leave the house much in the summer so maybe I can write another book!


Another quickie!

Hello. Another quick message today, as I’m exhausted after my telephone interview with a very nice journalist called Coreena from the Sunday Sun. I know it sounds pathetic to be tired after a conversation, but this happens sometimes (Gordon and I even developed a kind of sign language so that I could ‘talk’ to him when I was very tired – you’d laugh at the sign for ‘toilet’ Laughing).

The journalist was very friendly, and I hope that I was able to answer her questions properly without wandering too much off track (as I’m prone to doing) – I’m sure we’ll see once the article comes out. And next, the bit I’m dreading: the photographer’s coming tomorrow. I’m not terribly photogenic, so I apologise if you have to look at my face over your conflakes on Sunday…

Off to lie down again now – too much excitement for one day!


What is her problem?

🙁 I am sitting here, alone, fuming about something I’ve just read. In truth, I’m a bit upset about it too.

I’m a member of a number of book forums, and on this particular one, there are links to my website, etc. in my signature. I only did this because another forum member advised me to put my details in my signature, so that everyone knew my pseudonym – I personally didn’t set out to go on the site and promote my book (as you know, I’m the worst self-promoter in the world). Anyway, this particular ‘member’ seems to have a bee in their bonnet about the various mentions to Karma on the site, and seems to suggest that it’s inclusion is lowering the tone of the book forum! The thing is that many other links appear on the site: to other people’s websites, to books…and occasionally to some very dodgy sites indeed (but these are spam, to be fair). She seems to have a problem with me being there and I feel she has attacked my work.

When I think how hard it was for me to even complete the book, it get really frustrated that someone can dismiss my work just because it doesn’t fall within her view of literature. I respect anyone who has put in the time and effort to write a book, and certainly wouldn’t denigrate their work because it wasn’t within a particular genre.

I feel as though I am no longer welcome at that particular forum, which is very sad. I am also angry at myself that I allowed myself to be provoked into defending my work. Stopped short of picking her up on a word she mis-typed in her posting, though – that would have just been petty and childish…but it was tempting!

Glad I got that out of my system. Am a lot karma now – geddit? Calmer? Think I must be very tired to be coming out with pathetic puns like that! Laughing

My promotional leaflets arrived yesterday – they’re very nice. I’ve put my name down for the book event at Blaydon Festival in June – more details to follow. Am waiting to hear from Waterstones in Newcastle via Natalie, and hoping to speak to the Sunday Sun journalist this week. Still no word from Borders in Gateshead, but Natalie’s working on it. Just thinking, I never did hear anything from WHSmith…so the places that I thought were most likely to stock the book (ie those most local to me), WHSmith and Waterstones in the Metrocentre have shown no interest. Oh well, can’t win ’em all! Ooh, one more thing before I go – I’m now in the A-Z listings of Literature Northeast with REAL writers:

http://www.literaturenortheast.co.uk/writers/Holly-Harvey

Bye for now!


Hexham Book Festival

I know I shouldn’t be updating my Blog at the moment, as I’m tired, cold and frustrated – I’m bound to sound negative, but wanted to write while it’s still fresh in my mind.

Waited for my promo leaflets to come, so I could give some out in Hexham, but they didn’t arrive. So decided to go up anyway, since my book was going to be on the Independent Northern Publisher’s stand – so what if I didn’t have leaflets, I could still talk to people, couldn’t I? Started the morning off well by going to Mrs Miggins’ Coffee House and having a fantastic bacon and mushroom sandwich, then headed off to Queen’s Hall to see what was going on (and for a brief photo opportunity). Not a lot happening, at this point, but they pointed me in the direction of the INP stand in the Market Place.

I scanned the stalls, unsuccessfully, looking for a copy of my book. I found the Mslexia stand (http://www.mslexia.co.uk/) and spoke to two very informative ladies, and have some info from them to look through. Mslexia is a magazine for women who write, and is published in Newcastle. I can honestly say that I hadn’t heard of the magazine until today, but it looks pretty good. Then I located the INP stand. The lady I spoke to admitted she had forgotten about me, and seemed to expect me to have copies of the book (she had none). It seems to have been a case of plain old misunderstanding, but I felt like a bit of an idiot and that it had been a wasted trip. Did sign up on their mailing list, so I’d be aware of future events, so it wasn’t a total loss (plus I managed to buy a book on Workhouses that I wanted, from Cogito Books, so that was good).

When I returned, Sarah told me that there’s a book event as part of Blaydon Festival, and I might be able to be a ‘Featured Author’. I have emailed the lady who’s organising it, and will let you know the outcome.

Feedback: pleased to report that I’ve had some good verbal feedback, which is great. Gordon thinks that Waterstones in Hexham have sold three copies of Karma (doesn’t sound many, but I’m calling it a success!). Natalie tells me that Waterstones in Newcastle are going to order some, and she’ll be in touch about me going in to sign their stock (not a book-signing, as such, but a ‘signed by the author’).

And the quiz on Thursday? We started off well, but fell at the final hurdle again. Consoled ourselves with a kebab, so all in all, it was a good night.


All quiet!

Thank you to all the lovely people I have encountered this week who have told me they loved the book- I’m so happy that you enjoyed it! Really happy, actually Smile . Things are pretty quiet, from my point of view (that’s for Natalie’s benefit – I know things may be going on behind the scenes…) on the promotion front. Still plan to be at the Hexham Book Festival, handing out Karma leaflets and hopefully signing books that people have bought. At the moment, I don’t know where I’ll be and I don’t know when (except that it’s Saturday morning so I’ll have to tape Saturday Kitchen). No leaflets to give out yet, but sure they’re on their way.

The journalist that was going to ring me last week was unexpectedly very busy, so I’m expecting a call from her next week. Er, that’s it, I think. My creative juices have dried up, so not sure where to go from here. This feels like my only chance to make something of myself and I’m reluctant to just let it go and leave things to chance. I know I have some good friends out there pushing the book (and family: Catherine who’s introducing Karma to a US friend, and Michelle, who seems to have convinced most of the staff at Starbucks, Metrocentre, that they want to read it). I’ve also just discovered that my ol’ pal Stephen W has been reading my Blog – email me, so we can catch up!

On a happy note (and one unrelated to book sales), just found out that I won a Nintendo Wii – how cool is that? I hardly ever win anything: once entered a draw with three prizes, and only five of us entered. My friend and I won nothing! What are the odds??? I should know the odds actually, as I did GCSE Statistics…

I’m off now, as I’m going to have a rest before tonight. Sarah, Ian (Almost-Quiz Champion of Whickham, to give him his full title) and I are heading off to a quiz tonight. We had to call off our last quiz night, as I wasn’t up to going (would that have made a difference to team performance, I ask myself) so we mean business this time. And the drinks are cheap…


The Trashionista Review…dun, dun, duuuunnn!

Well, I read it…and it wasn’t as bad as I had anticipated. You can read it here:

http://www.trashionista.com/2007/03/book_review_kar.html#more

Whilst I respect the reviewer’s point of view, I disagree that Paige changed too quickly. I think she always had it in her to behave a little…mischeviously…but didn’t, in case people thought badly of her. The realisation that people didn’t think any better of her for this was enough to trigger a revolt!

As for the waffle, I’ll be honest, some of it was intentional, as I saw Paige as a bit of a waffler who would go off at a tangent if you spoke to her. The rest was because I had to rethink my book from a project of 65,000 words to something that eventually came in at around 100,000 words! If there is ever another book Surprised , I will take this on-board, and try to be ruthless in my editing – can’t promise the same about my over-descriptiveness, but I will be aware of it.

I don’t have much else to tell you by way of book promotion news, yet. Until next time, have a good look around the Trashionista site – I’ve just read the article ‘Reading Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ and am not ashamed to admit that I have a bookcase full of Buffy, Angel, Red Dwarf, Undead and various other sci-fi books (as well as my favourite chick lit titles, some anatomy and physiology books, alternative therapy titles, cook books, etc). That doesn’t make me a bad person, does it? 😀


Pride comes before a fall…

Yesterday, I found a fabulous review of Karma on a book forum I look at. It actually brought a tear to my eye and, for the first time, I felt really proud of myself. I admit that I read the review about five times before it sank in that someone I didn’t know had genuinely enjoyed my book, and understood the characters’ strengths and weaknesses. That was short-lived however, as I’ve been warned that my book has been reviewed on Trashionista, and that there are some negative remarks. Truthfully, I’ve been expecting this as I’ve felt like a fraud for a while, so it was only a matter of time before someone found me out! Real writers use long words, and understand the finer points of the English Language: they don’t just knock up a book in two months!

So please look at their website and read their honest opinion. I haven’t seen it yet, but appreciate the fact that they have not sugar-coated any failings – how can anyone be angry with constructive critisicism? After all, I’m only a beginner, and I’ll never learn a thing if people just tell me what they think I want to hear. I’m just grateful that they’ve taken the time to read a book by a newcomer. Will post an update when it appears on their site (and K, I’ll certainly not think any less of you…I look at it as a good excuse to comfort myself with chocolate Laughing )