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 ( 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:

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 )


I’m a bad, impatient person! Foot in mouth Had an email from the lovely Natalie (have to say that now I know she reads my blog, LOL) to say that there IS interest from the local press. It’s just taken a while as they like to actually read the books before reviewing them. Makes sense to me, otherwise they’d just be judging a book by its cover – sorry about the literary pun: I talk rubbish when I’m tired! I know that promotion is an ongoing thing, but I’m just so desperate to hear what people think of the book (so I know whether it’s worth writing anything else)! It was so difficult, physically and mentally, to write ‘Karma’ that I need it to have been worthwhile…and available in shops, for that matter! Anyway, I’m expecting a call from a journalist from the Sunday Sun tomorrow. Yay – if I can answer their questions eloquently, but Sealed if I get my words all mixed up and they think they’re speaking to an idiot!

Now to other news. Enquiring minds want to know: I’ve been ‘speaking’ to a very successful writer via email, and his story really was inspirational – don’t want to mention who, but he has been very helpful. I have this thing where, if I see a ‘contact me’ link on a website, I feel compelled to do just that. I’ve ‘spoken’ to some very nice people who I would never dare approach in real life such as: MaryJanice Davidson, Mike Gayle, Carole Matthews and even Mark Jones. I blush just thinking about speaking to people in person – I even blush on the telephone, sometimes!

The good people at Independent Northern Publishers have offered to stock my book on their stand at Hexham Book Festival, so I’ll be there next Saturday morning trying to drum up some interest. How will you recognise me if you’re attending this fantastic event? I’ll be the woman with the face a fetching magenta colour…remind me not to wear anything orange, or I’ll clash.

Someone gave me contact details to get my book in front of people like Richard and Judy, Philip and Fern, etc – that’s what I was considering when I last did my blog. I thought about it and realised that I’m not a TV show kinda gal – I’m way too boring and not ashamed to admit it. Plus if you factor in the amount of colour-corrective make-up they’d have to use on set, then it probably wouldn’t be commercially viable…

Anyway, I’m sorry that this post has been a bit disjointed. I’m still tired after a day out yesterday with my mam (had recent knee replacement) and grandma (80, and just come out of hospital) and I’M the only one who’s knackered today! I’m sure there are other things I wanted to tell you, but I’ve forgotten…Embarassed

PS Thanks for all the entries to the review competition so far!

Part Two: Competition – win an Amazon voucher!

It’s pretty straightforward. All you have to do is write a review of my book, Karma, in less than 300 words and the most well-written review, according to the judge, will win a £15 Amazon voucher. You don’t need to have bought the book to enter, but you do need to have read the book – believe me, we’ll know if you haven’t! Also, and I can’t stress this enough, you don’t even have to enjoy the book to win: positive and negative reviews are welcome, and will be given equal consideration. Can’t say fairer than that, but if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask. Have fun, and best of luck!


* Entries should have the word ‘Competition’ in the email subject field, and be submitted to
* Closing date is noon, Friday, 4 May 2007 – no entries will be considered after this time. No responsibilty can be accepted for entries that do not arrive or cannot be opened/read.
* Entries can be sent as word documents/attachments or within the body of an email.
* Entry is limited to one per person, and must be submitted by email. Email address given will be used to send prize to successful contestant, and will not be used for any other purpose. Email addresses will not be retained following judging.
* Entry is open to anyone within the UK who has read the book, except employees or relatives of Henry’s Books.
* There is no cash/voucher alternative. The prize of a £15 Amazon voucher will be emailed to the winner within two weeks of the closing date.
* The winner will be notified by email, within one week of the closing date, and will be announced on my Blog the following week.
* The winning entry will be the review deemed to be the most well-written, in the opinion of the judge. The judge’s decision is final, and discussion will not be entered into. Names and email addresses will be removed from reviews, prior to judging, to ensure fairness. The name of the independent judge will be released, on request.
* By entering this competition, entrants accept that their names/reviews may be published and/or used in promotion related to the book, Karma.
* BookForce and its subsidiaries have no involvement in this promotion. Any questions can be addressed to the competition email address.

Part One: Borders…finally!

Hello – sorry I haven’t updated for a while. Been feeling a bit rough this week (so missed quiz night – sorry team). Not much has happened since I last blogged. I had two more lovely reviews on Amazon, and a few people have said they’ve enjoyed the story – not a lot of feedback, though (hence blog Part Two).

I have still had no interest from any media source at all. I even sent a press release to the local free paper. Didn’t get a reply. I was asked to post a copy of my press release (that the publisher wrote and distributed) to a book promotion group I’m part of…they slated it. One said she was a reporter and, to her, there was no story – she said she would have deleted it. Guess there’s a pile of Karma press releases sitting in various computer recycle bins across the nation Cry ! I have had a lot of advice from these people, but I get the feeling that without lots of money and knowing the right people, its going to be like climbing a mountain…in flip-flops.

Yesterday, I had to go to the local Retail Park, so decided to ask Borders’ staff why some people hadn’t been able to order Karma from their stores. At first, he couldn’t find it, but then it came up on their system. The wholesalers they use is Gardners, so he said there was no reason it couldn’t be ordered, except that it was out of stock at Gardners. So does that mean it’s out of stock again, or does it mean no more stock was ordered/sent? I just don’t know. He told me that Borders have a policy of supporting local authors, and asked a supervisor to come down. She doesn’t deal with these things, but told me that the woman responsible would be in today. She took a copy of my book and my contact number, telling me that someone would call me tomorrow (today). Hmmm…it’s now 3.12pm on a Sunday (early closing) and I haven’t heard a word. At least I approached them though. That’s the main thing. I’m trying to be proactive!

It seems as though most newspapers and magazines review books from people who are already known, and sell based on their previous success. On that basis, I don’t stand a chance. So what do newbies do? I’m starting to think that most fade into obscurity – it’s very difficult to stay motivated when you see few results, so check out the second part of today’s blog for my way of finding out what people REALLY think!

Oh, and I found out that James Martin is doing a book-signing in Leeds. That’s MUCH closer! Perhaps I should go – all in the name of research, of course – and try and convince them to stock my book while I’m there? The lengths I’m prepared to go to in order to sell my book. That’s dedication for you! Laughing

NOTE: Flying in the face of everything I said last week about me not feeling like I could inspire anyone, please take a look at this website: It seems like a great website, and the stories on it really do make my own pale into insignificance – I can’t even believe that they included me! It’s a very good concept, and it’s certainly worth taking a look at this site. Happy browsing!

Is it Fate…or Karma?

First, can I just answer a question that keeps popping up: why the pen name? I wrote the book in the ‘first person’ style – it seemed to give me a better understanding of the character, Paige. Being Holly A. Harvey also allowed me to write more freely. I had hoped it would avoid the following scenario from family and friends: am I in the book/is that character such and such/did that really happen? The characters are probably composites of many people that I have encountered throughout my life – if people choose to see themselves or someone they know, then I can do little about that. However, they are fictional characters. There are aspects of the storyline that may be based on a funny incident that I heard about/experienced/saw. However, it is a fictional story – it did not happen. That said, I think Paige is a lovely character (and, if she were real, would be a great friend to have) but she too is, as I would say when I was young, pretendy!

Back to reality. Still a little upset by the apparent lack of interest in the book. I’ve had some excellent feedback from those who’ve read it, but still no press reviews (which translates to ‘still no publicity’ Cry). I can’t force them to read it, so not sure what to do next – don’t want to pester people. I had a chance encounter with a gentleman from Cogito Books (Hexham) – as it happens, he is involved in Hexham Book Festival, and had just had an email from my publisher last week. Small world! He was at Sarah’s shop when I went in to pick up a book I’d ordered. We got talking and he promised to get in touch with my publisher.

I also have one more avenue to try, but I don’t want to elaborate on that yet – I will need some more of my promotional copies of the book before I can put that plan into action anyway. Aside from that, I have no irons in the fire. I can’t even use the advice/resources on WriteWords as I can’t afford the subscription yet. I just can’t think what to try next – I don’t want to waste my good fortune, and need to get my thinking cap on (that was metaphorical: I promise I didn’t buy that one on eBay!)

So where do I stand?

  • ‘Real’ bookshops: books in stock at Henry’s, and Waterstones (Hexham). The lady I spoke to in Waterstones (Newcastle) hasn’t got back to me yet, but at least we’ve exchanged emails and spoken on the telephone. Metrocentre branch ignored all my emails, so not much hope there. And WHSmith…nothing. No surprise there, then. Borders – I haven’t contacted them yet, but I will…soon!
  • Online: I’m back in stock at Amazon, and seem to be available at all other outlets (well, not me personally, the book).
  • Events: no more signings planned (though I will try to fulfil any request made through Henry’s Books); possibility of involvement in the Hexham Book Festival
  • Reviews (media): none, zero, zilch – where am I going wrong???
  • Reviews (general): verbal reviews are positive…so far!
  • Gardners (book wholesalers): the local representative is promoting the book in the North East – hopefully that will help.

My fingers have been crossed so long that it’s a wonder they haven’t fused together!

The real me.

Just a quickie. If you check out my photos (in the section on the right, marked ‘Albums’) you will see I have added a photo of how I usually am. I am rarely glamorous (if ever), mostly in pyjamas, usually found on the sofa (with or without laptop) but almost always accompanied by my dogs and a cup of coffee or can of Lucozade. I am hugely flattered by those of you who have said I am an inspiration, but I’m really just a very, very ordinary person. I’ve done some things lately, that I never imagined I would do in a million years. Yes, I wrote a book, but the idea of going on holiday or doing other simple things that people take for granted, fills me with fear – that’s hardly inspirational. The people I admire are those who have hurdles in their lives, whether big or small, that fill them with fear…but still tackle them anyway. I have some way to go before I could admire myself…

And please, if you look at the pic, don’t laugh at my pyjamas – they were a gift from my grandma. Back to the topic of book promotion next time, I promise! Smile
Posted by Holly A Harvey at 12:32 | Permanent

Writer's cramp!

I don’t mind telling you this: I’m tired. In fact, I’m exhausted. Has it been worth it?

Has what been worth it, I hear you ask (well, I don’t really hear you, but you know what I mean). Well, first there was the launch. Mid-morning on Thursday (LD – launch day) 30 books arrived at Sarah’s shop. Sarah had already taken several pre-orders for people who couldn’t make the signing, so she was very relieved when the delivery turned up. I was uncharacteristically calm. This was probably because it still didn’t seem real, to me. I rested all day, got my hair straightened (so that I could hide behind it) and then…began to panic! Those darn 30th birthday memories again!

They say you can’t chose your family, but I think if I could, I would have still kept mine. They, along with several friends, were out (on a very cold evening) to support me. I was very grateful, but it was always nice when a stranger came in to have a book signed. I felt a bit silly most of the time, especially when people wanted to have their photo taken with me! The strangest request of the event was being asked to include a mention of the footballer, Gary Speed (obviously a private joke for the people concerned), and the sweetest thing was when someone told me that Karma was the first book they’d ever bought. We were only left with 8 books at the end of the evening, and Sarah has sold several more since.

If I was disappointed in one thing, it was the lack of interest from local press. Press releases were distributed, but no response. I was a little surprised at the EC, as it was their newspaper that ran the competition that I won! Everything we achieved was down to Sarah and myself. Go team us!

Yesterday was a day of rest (almost). I had a telephone interview with a charming gentleman from M.E. Essentials quarterly – that was just like a lovely chat! Apparently, I’m going to be a cover girl (can I still say cover girl at my age?) That’s a bit scary as I am very self-conscious about how I look. So you know it’s a big thing for me to allow you to see the photographs from various things I’ve done this week – see the links at the right of the page. Also, I spoke to the nice Manager of Waterstones in Hexham, who asked me to sign the books they now have in stock.

So, that’s where I was today. Gordon and I made a day of it, so I didn’t get too tired and stressed, and we had a lovely lunch at a cafe called the Cornmill in Hexham. Then, off to Waterstones. The staff were really friendly and didn’t object to Gordon doing a David Bailey and taking photos from all angles. Can I just mention how proud he is of his arty shot, taken at Sarah’s shop? I signed 7 books, and they have shelved them in both ‘local interest/authors’ and in their ‘staff recommendations’ section. I was ridiculously excited and asked Gordon to go back in a take some photos of the books on the shelves (I sat in the coffee shop across the street and had a coffee and yet another rest).

I have pushed my self as far as I could over the past few days, just to make the most of the few opportunities that I’ve had. In all honesty, I’m struggling, both with the promotion side of things and physically, and the warning signs are here that I need to rest, rest, rest. So, I’ll leave it there for now, so I can rest, drink Lucozade Sport and sleep, sleep, sleep.

And has it been worth it? Only time will tell…if I could just get some reviews in, I would feel a lot happier! Even if they’re rubbish, because at least then I know people have read the book! 😀

NOTE: If you have tried to contact me on the website and have had no response, this is because my web designer is on a well-earned break. I hope to get these messages when she returns.