Video Diaries! My very first signing event at Waterstones, Hatfield. Post re-visited :-)

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Well, readers, the time came…and went…aaaaand, despite all of the panic, tummy aches and tears, I made it to and through the 23rd June 2012. I lived to tell the tale…or should I say the video diary. Now, I must first apologise because I thought that my camera (with video facility) would be fine for the occasion but it seems, even after deleting all personal photos of our recent holiday, there was not enough room to fit the four clips that I wanted. As a consequence we used @Heather5mith’s i-phone (the wrong way up) so two of the clips are either going to show up sideways or with mega blacked out borders  – but as long as they show something, right now I don’t care! Uploading to this blog has been an absolute nightmare! I even cried!

So, here goes. The first clip is very early morning on 23rd June. The kids are having a go at their interviewing skills. PS I would just like to make it clear that I do not push my daughter in this clip, I am simply trying to keep her from YouTube! She is one determined little monkey, let me tell you!

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So, we got mega lost on the way to Hatfield. The journey should have taken us  1 hour and 15 minutes, tops. However,  even with @Heather5mith’s SatNav, Mr S-C’s built in thingy on his phone and my more caveman-like printed off ‘Route Finder Classic View’ we got lost to the tune of over one and a half hours! The upside of this was that I was so fed up that my initial reservations about the whole affair had been replaced with ‘All I want to do is get there!!!’ When we did get there the staff at Waterstones were absolutely fantastic. They grabbed a table, a snazzy table cloth, advised us on the best positions, provided a fabarooney decorated chalk board and then even grabbed us all a coffee from Nero! I love the people at Waterstones, Hatfield! I will say this more than once! I must also say that Heather’s interview technique is pretty cool and she managed an artistic reflective job, which is very clever. Let’s agree that it was a complicated, technical set up and was entirely intentional. If the BBC would like to hire @Heather5mith, she is available all day Wednesday (outside of Zumba) and most evenings (as long as it’s not a choir night).

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Towards the end of the day we went for another clip but my camera held up its little camera hands and said ‘No, sorry, I clocked off at lunch time. It’s Saturday! I don’t get paid for this!’ Diva camera alert! So we dug into @Heather5mith’s hugomungo bag and caught a bit more of the day on her phone. Neither of us knew what to say at this point but we said there would be a video diary and by Jove we were going to rise to the challenge. It WAS a challenge!!!

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We packed up at 5.30pm, feeling exhausted (I’m not sure why I was as all I’d done was sit at a table all day, answer some questions, try not to do a runner and sign stuff!) It might be the fact that by that point I had consumed two large coffees, only one small bottle of water and not much else. After a farewell to Robin (not my Robin but the fabarooney Robin at Waterstones), Laura, Chris and Maisie (If I have spelt this incorrectly please let me know and I will change it – who I didn’t get to talk to but wish I had now) we made our weary way to the car park. The box of books was reassuringly and satisfyingly lighter than when we had arrived and we loaded the car for what SHOULD HAVE BEEN an hour’s drive home! Yeah I bet you’ve worked out what happens next! A slightly more stroppy video of me is what happens next, but at least (as I am not required to look at the camera in the next clip) there is no random face pulling, singing, dancing, ear tugging, lip rolling, hair touching, arm scratching or eye avoidance going on. This is the most normal clip that exists of me! The only problem I have with it is that my nose looks big sideways on and I HATE IT!!!

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This here concludes our video diary of my very first signing at Waterstones, Hatfield, and I have enormous gratitude to everyone who works there. They are absolutely fantastic! To the manager Steve Jenner (hope he doesn’t mind me using his name) for allowing me to be there, to @Heather5mith for accompanying, standing for ages and supporting, for Mr S-C for doing the very same thing along with the occasional ‘You look well cool!’ (lies) and much needed hugs and to Julia Hughes (@tinksaid) and her wonderful sons for coming to visit us, to Mr S-C’s mum and partner for coming along to say hi and having the kids for a bit, and to my fabarooney sister for agreeing to have my two children (on top of her own three) so I could get out and about and promote my work. I also would like to thank (yes I am still going on but stay tuned because this one is probably for you) all my fantastically supportive followers on Twitter and my understanding friends because, without all of you, this would nowhere near have been the most fantastic experience of my life that it turned out to be. You are all way cool and I loves ya!

Take care from me,

Jess 😀 x

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In-security Blankets! Blog post revisited :-)

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Hello and dear all,

A strange thing happened to me the other day, I received a letter. “What’s strange about that?” I hear you ask. Well, I’ll tell you. It’s strange for two reasons (1) because since having children I no longer receive post addressed to me. It’s like I no longer exist. I went into labour over eight years ago and was simultaneously made to disappear from society. My identity was changed, even my name was swapped for the more general label of ‘Mummy’ but the other reason this letter was strange, numero (2), is that it was from an agent and I hadn’t even made a submission! “Yeah fair enough that is strange,” you agree.

When I opened up the envelope I discovered that they did indeed have my work and now I was really confused. I hadn’t sent out submissions in ages, what was it all about? I looked on my ‘List of Agents’ prepared way back when (organised or what!) and this particular one was recorded as having been sent out on 9th September 2011. It had taken eight months YES EIGHT to receive a reply. This is a record as far as submission go for me. I’ve waited over six months before and I thought that was pushing it! In fairness it was a really lovely worded letter but it was still a rejection and, more importantly, a rejection I felt I hadn’t opened myself up for because I’d written off ever receiving a response.

When I finally realised what had happened (basically they said it had been with lots of agents while they tried to come to a decision about whether it would work for them or not. I read between the lines and concluded they had popped it in a drawer instead of the bin in error and had just discovered it) I was okay. I said to myself “Well, that’s fine, it’s not going to be for everyone is it? I’ve changed the story quite a lot since then anyway and I’ve published it myself. Lots of people have loved it so it really doesn’t matter. No need for upset or negativity. It’s all still good.” However, the next day I didn’t feel quite so good and it was playing on my mind. I’ve continued to get things done since then and have even managed to meet with the Team Young Adult Librarian to set up and facilitate an adult writing group, which is fantastic news. I am preparing advertising for the Waterstones, Hatfield signing event and I am mentally packing for our fast approaching holiday. As far as I was concerned, I’d pretty much moved on from the unsettling incident.

Then, last night, I had a dream. I was standing in a park (don’t ask me why) and the sun was shining (even less likely). A woman came up to me holding an envelope.

“I have your submission here,” she told me, holding it up for me to see and then sliding out the the contents.

“Are you going to read it in front of me?” I asked feeling nervous and horribly vulnerable.

“Well…that’s my job,” she smiled and then she did just that. When the painful wait was over she smiled again and said. “Well done. I like it! Now send me the whole thing and mark the envelope ‘Entertainment’ .That will ensure it gets to me and makes it through the filtering process.” The dream is slightly sketchy here but I’m pretty sure some dancing and screaming was involved. “And I absolutely love this!” she suddenly exclaimed. “This is the best thing I’ve ever read. I want much more of this. Well done you!”

I wondered what could have excited her so much and reached forward to take the document she was beaming all over (and continuing to love like you wouldn’t believe!) She let me have  a look and when I cast my eyes over it a cold rock formed in my stomach. The document she had pulled out from my submission and had quoted as ‘The best bit about the whole thing’ was actually someone else’s. It had been caught up with mine…and I had no choice but to be honest.

“That’s not mine,” I told her sadly. She frowned and glanced over it again as if that might miraculously change the minor embarrassing point. But, even after looking again, the dream reality was that this piece of work was not mine, it was better than mine…much, much better than mine.

“Oh, well, never mind,” she told me like she felt sorry for me. “I must find who it belongs to though because I REALLY want to represent this author! This is going places! This is rare! This is…”

THIS IS where I woke myself up because she was getting on my sodding nerves now! I mean even in a dream, how bitchy can you get???

In a post dream state, and having had time to contemplate what it all means, I conclude that the experience was a manifestation of some serious insecurities. Basically my sub-conscious is asking, am I good enough to cut it? I know there will always be people better than me (that’s life) but will I still be able to compete against that and hold my own? The dream I had last night was my ‘In-security blanket’. I might have left the old, tattered blue and white crochet one from my childhood days behind but, sadly, I replaced it with this other more resilient and less sympathetic one. It’s not cuddly, it’s not reassuring, it’s unlikely to get lost (no matter how hard I try) but it did give me a good reason for a blog post and that’s always a good thing!

Cheers guys and remember (unless you are some famous author having your books made into film right now) you’re not alone and if you’re struggling, I truly feel your pain! 🙂

Take care from me. Jess 🙂

Two for the price of one! Blog post revisited!

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This post is revisited from my old blog Lock Stock & Barrel. I am migrating over to WordPress because apparently it’s pretty cool…and I agree!

Oh dear all,

It’s been nearly two weeks since I posted something, but I still defend that I’m not really slacking I’m just…saving the best…for…one…big…post…that’s what I’m doing!

So the books are still selling very well and at this rate they will soon be all gone. Every last one of my first edition books will soon have been released into the big wide world to do their thing. That’s quite sad really because, unlike my real children, they won’t be coming home to get me to do their washing or knock them up a yummy roast dinner. The books will be gone…for ever 😦 Good luck little books, do me proud! 🙂

A few days ago I was offered a stall at a school Christmas fete to promote and sell my books. All in all it did quite well really. I only sold to one parent (and she was a very lovely parent) but I did make a few sales to teachers so now, between you and me, I’m properly bricking it. They might come back to me after all…covered in red pen and ‘see me’ messages! It will be just like the bad old days. [Sighs and moves on very quickly before any really horrible memories jump in and ruin the flow.]

Anyway, the stall reminded me of my market days, but without the icy cold fingers that got so numb I couldn’t do my jeans up after going for a wee in the stinky public toilets situated just opposite the fish stall…ugh, the slightly inappropriate conversation for an eleven year old and the meagre £5 for all my hard work and effort. No, this time I earned at least £20, minus the donation…maths head on…going to take some time…ugh…ahhh…hmmm…tears…let’s just say I still did better than I did working on a real market stall! I get quite nervous if I’m honest and, believe it or not, I am a very shy and retiring character (when out of my comfort zones) so I spent most of the time making paper aeroplanes under the table and hoping nobody would talk to me or, heaven forbid, ask me any questions about my book! Someone did ask who I likened myself to and I resisted the urge to write on my paper aeroplane ‘A Trappist monk so please don’t ask me anymore questions’ and opted for some serious thoughtful expressions and then a ‘To be honest I don’t know really. It’s a thriller…let’s just agree on that and say no more about it shall we?’ She didn’t buy a copy…you win some you lose some. I’d probably better work on my sales pitch.

Whilst there I did enjoy the yummy vegetable samosas, half a Toblerone which was won on the tombola (on my behalf I am very professional and I didn’t leave my post once) and about one hundred cup cakes (give or take). I took mostly…and ate. I did leave with a headache because the very merry Christmas music was stationed right behind my head. Maybe someone told them I talk absolute crap when under pressure, and most other times too, and so a strategic move saw the CD player positioned on the window ledge behind me! Either way it left me in pain and I’m still in pain now.

I am also still waiting to hear whether The Law Gazette are going to review my book and whether a local bookshop are willing to put it on their shelves. The old fingers and toes are well and truly crossed on those ones. The library will be hosting a signing event after Christmas where the remaining books will be available for sale and where I would really like to chat to some young adult readers about what they would like to see more of. So if you know anyone under twenty and over sixteen please tell them to keep their eye out for the event or, even better, bring them along for a chat. The Swansgate shopping centre have also offered to help me with some advertising and I found out that sponsoring a roundabout starts at £800 per year, if anyone’s interested. I’m not I have to say, because I’m not making anywhere near enough money to pay for advertising on that level, but I do think it’s a pretty cool idea and I would if I could. I am also waiting to hear on another very exciting promotional contact but for now I say nothing. If anyone knows Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, the boys known as JLS or anyone else young and famous (I’m not too fussy) please buy them a copy of my book for Christmas, that would be very helpful…thanks.

Right tea, and probably toast again, then I’ll be back to chat some more…

Right I’m back. No don’t sigh it’s rude and it could be worse…I could be sat opposite you at work talking crap. At least this way you can shut me down. While you’re actually contemplating doing that have a thought for my poor friend, Tracy. She had to work opposite me for well over a year and she spent a lot of time not at her desk…hmmm I wonder why! It’s funny because whenever she walked into the office and saw me sitting there preparing to share something verbally with her, she would always think of something she’d forgotten and have to spin round again and run back up the stairs. It seemed I was good at helping her remember there was somewhere else she needed to be 🙂 he he ha ha ho ho ho! I’ve turned into Father Christmas.

Another thing that’s been lovely about the whole book writing, printing, sale thing, is that it’s brought me into contact with some good old friends and it’s been lovely seeing and chatting to them again. I have been very lucky to know some pretty fab people in my time and they still are just as fab. It’s been as easy as picking up where we left off all those years ago on the last days of school and college…without the absolute panic over what we were going to do with ourselves next!

This blog post was massive so I have divided it into two and will post up the other half tomorrow.

Thanks for reading guys 🙂