Happy Anniversary to Me!

There’s a phrase I often use: “What a difference a day makes“. I’m not sure of the original origin (it didn’t come up on the first page of Google and I was far too lazy to look further), but it’s the title of a few songs, including the lovely Dinah Washington classic so I’ve linked it through to You Tube if you fancy a listen. The song talks about Dinah’s world changing from blue to joyous when the man of her dreams becomes hers. This isn’t usually the context in which I use the phrase myself. I tend to use it more to describe those occasional days that change an aspect of your life. For me, a very life-changing day happened exactly a year ago today (17th September). It was the day that I received my publishing deal from So Vain Books because that email and subsequent phone call made me into the published author I am today.

11312759_890004877705480_5647299591566996495_oAs it happens, I was already on the path to publication because a little over two weeks before, on 1st September, I’d received an offer of a three-book publishing deal with another company. I’d verbally accepted it and was going through the paperwork, but I had one or two concerns. Although they’d said they loved Searching for StevenI got the sense that they wanted to change it quite significantly and I was concerned that it wasn’t going to end up the story that I set out to write. When the offer from SVB came through, my gut instinct told me that they were going to be the better home for Steven and I’ve never for one moment regretted that decision.

So that was a day that made a difference, but it’s really been a year that’s made a difference that I wanted to talk about in this blog post. It’s certainly been an eventful year. In the non-writing part of my life, there’ve been some significant events:

  • _MG_6896Both of my parents have turned 70 (well, Dad turns 70 in two week’s time but it’s nearly within the year!)
  • Our gorgeous cat Pixie lost her battle with diabetes and left us at the young age of nine
  • We took our daughter (seven at the time) on her very first holiday abroad
  • I was made redundant completely unexpectedly, but thankfully walked straight into another job
  • Hubby and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary (again, I’m extending the year slightly because it’s actually a week today but that’s close enough between friends, isn’t it?)
  • I re-joined bootcamp and have been rising again at 5.20am three mornings a week for the past year
  • Hubby decided to take his interest in photography to the next level and has grown into an incredibly talented photographer who has taken pictures at his first wedding as well as undertaking his first corporate commission. Very proud!

_MG_5008In the writing part of my life, I can’t believe what’s happened to me! I’ve:

  • Released a novel (Searching for Steven) AND a novella (Raving About Rhys)
  • Peaked at number 399 in the overall Amazon chart with Steven
  • Received x50 reviews for Steven and x33 for Rhys
  • Only got 5-star and 4-star reviews (so far; always preparing myself for that first 1-star review and promising myself I won’t sob for hours when it appears!)
  • Been a contributor to an anthology of short stories (Winter Tales), raising money for Cystic Fibrosis Trust and Teenage Cancer Trust
  • Appeared in the local press: The Scarborough News, The Yorkshire Coast, The Scarborough Review, and The Scarborough Comet
  • Talked and signed books at two libraries, and secured talks at two others
  • 1972459_10153485966594073_1735178700762728074_nHad Steven stocked across North Yorkshire Libraries
  • Got Waterstones to stock Steven in the Scarborough branch
  • Had a launch party attended by lots of incredibly supportive and lovely friends and family
  • Had a blue plaque named for me (OK, so it was a DIY-special courtesy of my dad but it’s still pretty special!)
  • Finished my second novel, Getting Over Gary (well, it will be finished within two weeks as that’s deadline time)
  • Planned my second novella. (Confession: when I say ‘planned’, I mean there’s an idea in my head and I’ll just run with that and see where it takes me, but I took the same approach with Rhys and it worked so let’s hope second time will work too!)

Blue PlacqueYes, what a difference a year makes! I still find it hard to believe that I’m a published author. It still doesn’t feel real. I wonder if it ever will. Thank you so very much to everyone who has supported me over the last year and before that too. Thank you So Vain Books for taking a chance on me, thank you to everyone who has bought/read/reviewed Steven and all those who’ve promoted and recommended it to their friends and family. You’re amazing, every last one of you. I’ve been touched and overwhelmed by how supportive some people have been. I’ll admit I’ve also been very disappointed at the lack of support from some people who I thought would have been pleased for me and passed word on. If you’re a prolific Facebook user, how difficult is it to like and share a post and say something like “My friend wrote this. I’m not a reader myself but if any of my FB friends are, it’s got great reviews so why not give it a go?” I’d certainly have done that if roles had been reversed. I won’t dwell on this, though, as this is a happy post and the non-supporters are absolutely in the minority. Plus it’s their choice. I just thought …. *slaps wrist and tells self to stop dwelling on it* Thank you to North Yorkshire Libraries for their support, particularly Sharon Houghton from Eastfield Library, and to Waterstones for ordering copies of Steven. Huge thanks to my mum, Joyce Williams, who has left postcards on noticeboards whilst on holiday, and talked so many of her village residents into buying a signed copy of the paperback. Thanks to The Write Romantics for their eternal support. And finally thanks to hubby and the munchkin for letting me disappear into my world of imaginary friends on a regular basis without moaning that I’m neglecting them xxx

I can’t wait to see what the next year brings …

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An audience with …

me, actually! This afternoon, I had a half day’s holiday from the day job so that I could deliver my second ever library talk. It was the first one I booked but the idea was to run it during one of the library’s book club sessions and they were hoping to have the book club a bit more established by now (it had only just set up when we first discussed me talking).

12006291_10153717292059073_2813299575419794276_nEastfield Library is a small library in an area just outside Scarborough. It’s actually my local library and I have strong links with it. My mother-in-law volunteers on the library van, my daughter is a member and regularly borrows books, and I took my Brownie pack there to do their book lover badge last term.

I’d been really pleased with the turnout of 12 (plus organiser) at the first talk I did at the main Scarborough Library, but I suspected we wouldn’t be drawing those numbers today. I was pleasantly surprised to have an audience of 7 … although 4 of those were library staff or volunteers and only 3 were ‘general public’. Still, it was a lovely size audience.

When I arrived, I spotted Searching for Steven propped up on a table promoting today’s event, in its plastic cover. It was lovely seeing it like that, knowing it is available to be borrowed. I wonder how many people will borrow it.

The talk went well and I made sure it was a bit shorter than last time as I’d struggled for time for questions. Two of the external guests, one of the volunteers and two of the library staff stayed behind afterwards for a cuppa and a chat which I really enjoyed. One of them bought a copy of Raving About Rhys which I have available exclusively for family, friends, prizes and events (it’s officially only available on eBook) and another said she would borrow it from the library as it’s not her usual genre but she wanted to give it a try.

What was interesting was that I asked the question of my audience about the genres they like and nobody favoured romance. I therefore feel particularly flattered that they’ve come out to hear me talk when my book isn’t the sort they’d typically pick up.

A question arose about how I publicised myself and where I gave talks. It reminded me that I’d made contact with the WI about being a guest speaker and hadn’t heard a thing back from them. One of the library volunteers said she had lots of contacts in the WI and also Countryside Women (or something similar to that) so was going to get in touch with me with the best people to contact to get a response. That was a good success.

I now have a headache. A combination of a sleepless night, a 5.20am start for a very hard fit test at bootcamp, half a day’s work, and a library talk have taken it out of me and the paracetemol I took an hour ago haven’t touched it. My day isn’t over though as it’s Brownies tonight. It’s actually the first Brownies of term which means noise and excitement. I suspect I may make it home from that and crawl under the duvet, desperate for sleep!