Friday, 21 June 2019

Making progress

Thanks to everyone who came along to Buck Lit Fest last weekend. I met some lovely people, did some quality networking and didn't make a mess of my talk. I'm chalking it up as a successful outing.

The shine was slightly taken off my joy when I got home to find Mr Thorley had done himself a mischief up at the allotment, necessitating a trip to A&E and 13 stitches in his leg. I'll spare you the details.

Thanks, too, to those of you who took the hint and are now following me on Twitter (@JThorleyAuthor). If I haven't followed you back, feel free to give me a nudge. I haven't quite got the hang of it yet.

Big news on the writing front is that A Sparge Bag on the Washing Line is back from my reader, so now it's time for me to reread the whole thing again and see what comments he's made. I'm also grappling with the cover design. I shall get a professional to create it, but I need to find a picture, or at least come up with a prompt that someone can sketch for me.

Have a lovely weekend, folks. 

Friday, 14 June 2019

Just a quick one, missus

I'm rushing around like a fly with a blue bottom today, but I just wanted to tell you that I shall be at the Buckingham Lit Fest all day tomorrow (Saturday). I'll be hanging around in the Writers' Hub, and at 3.15 I'm doing a pop-up talk on pitching non-fiction. If you're planning to be there, please come and say hello.

Also, I'm now on Twitter: @JThorleyAuthor

Must dash!

Saturday, 8 June 2019

That was the week that was

Thinking caps on in Thrapston
It's been a White Rabbit of a week: no time, no time! There's been lots of bread-and-butter editorial work to plough through, in addition to:

Monday - yoga class for a group of office workers
Tuesday - yoga class for a group of school teachers
Wednesday - yoga class at the gym; dancetheatre rehearsal
Thursday - private yoga class; rehearsal and then taking part in a performance of Concerto* at the Core theatre in Corby
Friday - running a creative writing session as part of Thrapston Arts Festival; James Acaster show in the evening

This morning, I'm catching up on housework and putting stuff back in the right place. This afternoon, my son's band has a pub gig, at which I shall be discreetly cheering from the back. Tonight: nothing!

All this has been going on while Mr Thorley was off on an archaeological dig, excavating a Roman cemetery. He's had the time of his life and found some lovely bits of pottery. Oh, and a leg bone.
Dem bones

What will next week bring?

*About Concerto: After pianist Paul Wittgenstein lost his right arm during the First World War, he commissioned Ravel to write him a concerto for the left hand. At the same moment, assassin Gavrilo Princip was in prison, his withered arm tied up with piano wire. Unravelling narratives such as these surround this music's composition, and together they weave a true story that spans 100 years. Created by Michael Pinchbeck (who was with us in Corby), Concerto is a deconstructed and re-orchestrated exploration of the legacy of war and the healing power of music to overcome tragedy. It was a privilege to be in the 'vocal and physical orchestra' for this extraordinary performance, which finished with Nicholas McCarthy (born without a right hand) playing Ravel's Concerto for the Left Hand in D Major, written for Wittgenstein.

Tuesday, 4 June 2019

Signature moves

I  know some very talented people, and one such is artist, writer and all-round creative soul Pamula Furness. A while ago, she drew a lovely picture to go with my short story The Harmonium's Last Chord.

Now she is working in a way I've never seen anyone else do. If you write your name on a piece of paper, she can turn it into a wonderful piece of art. Just look what she did with my signature. In fact, you have to look very closely to see my name at all. I think it would make a rather splendid book plate.

If you would like to see what she can do with your name - or perhaps you'd like someone else's name turned into a unique gift - Pamula is on Facebook; if you'd like to get in touch but can't find her, just let me know.

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

What's a sparge bag?

When Mr Thorley retired, I started to keep a diary of how we progressed as the 'new normal' took hold. At first I did this without telling him; it was just for my own amusement. Somehow, though, it became a full-on book project. The plan is to publish in September.

Because I'm going to be out and about a bit over the coming months, I've had some business cards printed to promote the book. I went to local firm PrintNGo, and they did a great job: courteous and efficient.

I haven't had such good service from the dealership that has just provided me with a new car. I won't name and shame, but they could learn a lot from PrintNGo.

Thursday, 23 May 2019

A local post, for local people

I realise that if you live miles from Northamptonshire, this isn't going to mean anything to you, but here goes anyway.

As part of Thrapston Arts Festival, I'm holding a creative writing workshop in the town's library on Friday 7 June, 2.30-3.30pm. It's for anyone who's ever fancied creating a character for a novel or short story or just for fun. No experience necessary, just an open mind and a willingness to have a go. Please tell anyone you think might like to come along.

And while we're here, let's give a round of applause to the volunteers everywhere who are keeping our libraries open.

Sunday, 19 May 2019

How to handle a book launch

I've been lucky enough to attend lots of book launches, some in honour of established and, occasionally, famous authors, others by first-timers and the self-published. I've done a couple myself, too. Of course, years ago, publishers would splash the cash and hire posh venues and lay on champagne and nibbles; these days, you're lucky if they issue a press release for you. As has been said many times, anyone can write a book, but the trick is to sell the damn thing, and a proper launch can be a good way to get the ball rolling.

If you're planning a launch:
  • Invite everyone. Most people won't come. You're unlikely to run out of books.
  • Pick a venue that's appropriate, accessible and has decent parking. Make it easy for your guests to say yes to the invitation.
  • Unless you're launching a recipe book, don't go overboard with the nibbles. People only have two hands (maximum) and you want them to have one free with which to pick up your book. Don't serve anything greasy.
  • Say 'Thank you for coming,' to everyone.
  • Don't turn the launch into a seminar. By all means, do a little speech about the book, but remember that most folk want to pop in, have a drink, say hello, buy a book (all being well) and then bugger off again.
  • Take a pen so you can sign copies. Take some change. 
  • It's fine to encourage your guests to buy the book, but don't bully them into it. Don't lurk by the exit with your Sharpie, saying, 'Shall I sign your copy?' That's needy and embarrassing for everyone, especially those who were trying to leave without a purchase. 
  • If you don't want a real launch, fake one. Have a cake made with the image of your book cover on top, take picture of it - better still, have some friends or family gather round it with a glass of something raised in a toast - and get it out there.
If you're invited to a launch:
  • Spread the word, whether you intend to go or not. All authors need publicity.
  • Obviously, it's better if you can buy the book, but don't feel obliged. The more people there are in the room, the better the atmosphere and the more likely others are to get out their money. Your presence and support will be appreciated either way.
  • That said, limit your intake of the freebies if you're not planning to buy a copy. Consider the principal of reciprocity. 
  • Afterwards, say something nice on social media.


Thursday, 9 May 2019

Festival season

This week's mail has brought the brochures and leaflets for Buckingham Literary Festival. This event runs from 13th to 16th June and promises a brilliant selection of authors and book-related goings on. Do have a look at the website here.

New for this year is the Local Authors Hub, and I'm pleased to have been asked to take part. I shall be talking about and (I hope) selling my books, and doing a short talk on pitching non-fiction.

If you happen to be in the area, do come along and say hello. (That's me in the second row, second from the right.)

Tuesday, 30 April 2019

An evening with John Greening

Northants Writers Ink had an open evening yesterday, so I went along to hear poet John Greening talk about and read some of his work. Writing poetry is a new thing for me, so this was a welcome opportunity to get close to someone who knows how to do it. Read about him here.

It was a lovely, relaxed evening. John is one of the most un-poety poets I've ever come across. I bought one of his books, To the War Poets, on the back of which a reviewer writes that he is 'a serious (but never excessively solemn) poet, who cares about both 'facts' and ideas and makes his poetry out of the interpenetration of the two'. I couldn't have put it better.

Speaking to him after his presentation, he said that very often when he sits down to write, the end product isn't what he thought it was going to be. You might think you've got an idea for a few verses on, say, windmills, but then you find you've written an ode to your grandmother! 

He talked about form and structure, too, with particular emphasis on the sonnet. This is something I need to explore, I think, if I'm ever going to produce anything worthwhile. Mind you, he did also say that the pleasure comes from the writing, from finding that perfect word, whether or not it's ever going to be read. I shall take comfort from that.

In the meantime, I am involved in a project for which I have said I will write a poem called 'Bag For Life.' I have to start somewhere!

'Let her have time, and silence,
enough paper to make mistakes and go on.'
from 'The Poet' by Jane Hirshfield