Monday, 28 September 2009
Sadly, the good writing news stops there, as today I came home to the news of THREE rejected short stories in one e-mail - a bit harsh, I thought, although would it have been any less disappointing if they'd all been rejected separately? Probably not!
But family news is more promising, with the wedding now only days away, and the bride-to-be has had the plaster cast taken off her wrist today so she's very happy!
I promise to write more on the blog after the wedding!
Wednesday, 23 September 2009
I'll try to explain why this is such a big deal for me.
As soon as my first Sheila Norton book was published in 2003, I did as much as possible to promote my work, especially in my local Essex area. I held my own launch/book signing parties, gave interviews to local papers and magazines, gave talks at libraries, writing groups, book groups etc, and (scarily) had interviews on local radio stations. I even starred in Boots 'Health & Beauty' magazine in a feature about women who had achieved something special 'later in life' (I tried not to feel insulted (!), as it was great publicity, and involved a photo-shoot at a country house in Surrey, being made up and dressed up and given a free lunch. I was terrified by all of it apart from the free lunch!).
All of this had to stop when, after my fifth book, I became reinvented as Olivia Ryan. My publishers wanted the Olivia books to be established in their own right before anyone knew Olivia's identity, so I could only reveal my pseudonym to my family and a handful of close friends. I couldn't tell any of the local shops, papers, etc about my new books or make any public appearances. It was quite difficult and frustrating although I had to trust my publishers that this was for the best in the long run. The exception was my local independent bookshop: I entrusted them with my secret because they had been so fantastically supportive to me - so when they closed down, earlier this year, it was devastating.
With the release of 'Tales from a Honeymoon Hotel', I've been given the go-ahead to reveal my identity - so I've once again been able to appear in the local press, give talks, and have contacted all my local bookshops asking for their support.
Most authors who aren't in the best-selling bracket will know what I mean when I say that it can be quite demoralising looking out for your books in the big book chains, and even more demoralising asking if they're intending to stock them! I'm sure most local branches would love to support their local authors, but are often restricted to what they are told to order by their head offices. So it was with great excitement that I heard back from my local Chelmsford Waterstones, a few months back, that they would indeed like to give me a Saturday lunchtime slot for a book signing.
Yay! At last!!
Now, all I need is Rent-A-Crowd so that I can get one of those mile-long queues in the High Street, like we see when the likes of Jordan are up there signing their books. If they sell out of books, so much the better - they'll have to take orders!
I know, I know - dream on, girl! I've done a book-signing in the past (in a little shop in Leigh on Sea that doesn't exist any more), where the only two copies of the book I sold were to the owner of the shop and the other author sharing my slot!! So I know I'm far more likely to be humiliated by the turn-out than overwhelmed by it! But dreams are good, dreams keep us going - and my dream, this time, is that the event is so successful, Waterstones head office will order mega-loads for all their other branches and I'll get a new publisher offering me a huge contract for the next book.
Or maybe I'll just write a short story about someone who has very exciting and unrealistic dreams!
Wednesday, 16 September 2009
Unfortunately during the course of the evening the Hen took a bit of a tumble on the dance floor and ended up with a painful swollen wrist. The next day we made her a sling out of a scarf, gave her painkillers and suggested ice and elevation - all of us convinced she'd sprained it.
When we got home it was still painful so her fiance took her to A&E to have it checked out. It turned out to be fractured - and was put in a temporary cast. My poor daughter was distraught, as the wedding is now only two and a half weeks off and not only was she facing the prospect of getting married with her arm in plaster but the possibility of her honeymoon being postponed. Apparently some airlines won't fly anyone wearing a cast because of DVT risks.
Well, after a worrying couple of days, we've been back to the fracture clinic today and although she's now in a proper cast, on hearing the circumstances, the doctor immediately agreed it could come off before the wedding and be replaced by a splint, which in turn can come off for the wedding ceremony. I feel almost as worn out by the trauma of all this as the bride-to-be does!
I'm sure this will all find its way into a story before too long ... what a shame I wrote 'Tales From a Hen Weekend' a few years back. Hmm. 'More Tales from more Hen Weekends'??
I've had one short story accepted by People's Friend recently, and one rejected, so my score for the year hasn't changed much! The rejected story has of course been turned around and sent back out again.
Meanwhile ... I'm busy with preparations for my Big Special Birthday party this Saturday, and praying hard that it won't be a cold, wet evening as there will be about 40 people here and we need to open the doors onto the garden or we'll be sitting on each other's laps. And there's yet another exciting piece of news - on returning from the Hen Weekend, my daughters announced that their birthday present to me from themselves and their 'other halves' is: tickets for the Coldplay concert at Wembley this Friday!! I am SO excited - I've wanted to see Coldplay live for ages - what a fantastic present.
What with all the form-filling-in that seems to be necessary for the privilege of becoming an OAP - pension claim forms, forms for the Taxman (over and above the usual annual tax return, which I haven't faced yet), bus pass form (good one, that!), etc, etc, it's probably just as well I no longer have a Day Job, or I'd never fit in the time I need to see my baby grandson!One more photo of him ....
... and that's me finished on the computer for tonight. Normal service will be resumed after things have calmed down a bit!
Tuesday, 8 September 2009
Wednesday, 2 September 2009
However ... it does happen. Occasionally, and unexpectedly, I get a response from one of my websites, and I'm always terribly thrilled and excited, probably out of all proportion to the actual event. The thing is, I recognise that for somebody to take the trouble, after reading a book, to look up the author on the internet, browse their website and then go even further and send a message - they must have REALLY enjoyed the book! I treasure those messages, because (sad and desperate though it sounds!), it means there are actually strangers out there who appreciate my work - they're not all friends of my daughters who have been cajoled into supporting me (bless them) or local people in Essex who got curious after reading my 'bit' in the local paper - they're genuine fans! Whoopee!
Amongst the messages I've treasured most, are those coming from abroad, and (this might sound odd) those that still occasionally come in on my Sheila Norton website about my earlier books - because it's so nice to think that they're still being read and enjoyed.
A particularly gratifying message recently came from a 21-year-old, who said she loved 'The Trouble With Ally' (very first book - middle-aged heroine), because reading about an older woman having so much fun, made her feel better about the thought of getting older! Ha! So much for younger readers not liking to read about older heroines!
And best of all (and probably most surprising) are those - like one I received yesterday - from male readers. This nice chap - again commenting on www.sheilanorton.co.uk - said that although I described my books as women's fiction, he had loved reading them, and was pleased to see that I'd written some more as Olivia. That was another very satisfying thought - that there are men out there enjoying the books. What a pity we have to categorise all our fiction these days in order to market it!
The only other guy that ever got in touch with me out of the blue was an American, who said his wife had made him read books like mine in the hope of 'making him more romantic'. He wrote to tell me that he did identify with one of my male characters - but didn't like reading about wives leaving their husbands and hoped that wasn't going to happen in my next book. The next book was already written - and I wasn't about to change the plot. So unfortunately, I never heard from him again!