July’s Pot Luck Club
Welcome to this month’s Pot Luck Club, a round-up of writerly bits and pieces. And what a beautiful month it’s been, here in the UK. We’re still basking in warm sunshine and while gardeners are praying for rain and people who don’t like the heat are praying for cooler temperatures, the sun babies like me are lapping it up and hoping it will continue. We’ve got through the whole of our Summer Spectacular here in Chudleigh without even a shower; it would be great if it could continue at least until mid-August, so we can do our star-gazing at Swanwick (see below) in relative comfort.
After a bit of a hiccup in my editing, I am delighted to announce that the manuscript for Corruption!, the final Suzanne Jones thriller, set in the sometimes murky world of international pharmaceuticals, is now with my wonderful proof-reader, Julia Gibbs, and we are still on schedule for a launch in early September. I’m ramping up the marketing this week, so you may see a fair bit about it in the next few weeks. But in the meantime, the Advance Reader Copies will be going out early next month. If you have already said you’d like to be part of my launch team, then I have your name on the list. But there’s still room for a few more. Do get in touch if you would like to find out what’s entailed.
The Business of Writing
Following the relaunch for The Business of Writing parts 1-3, I am working on the composite (paperback) version at the moment and it’s due to be launched in the next week or so. It will be a fairly low-key event, as the material’s the same as in the ebooks; but it needs to be ready in time for me to take copies to the book room at Swanwick (see below). But if anyone’s waiting for the paperback to appear, I will publicise it as soon as it’s available.
Part 5, is a bit of an experiment. It’s designed as a workbook to accompany the first three parts of the series and will contain all the templates and case studies in one place. I’m still uncertain on the best way to format this and will be taking a few copies to Swanwick (see below) to test the market. After that, I can decide on the final format. So more news on that next month.
And while I’m talking about The Business of Writing, a reminder of the closed Facebook Group I’ve set up under the same name. It’s described as “A community of writers with a shared interest in setting up and running a small business”. We have regular discussions on Fridays, but members can post questions at any time, and there’s always someone else in the group who can offer an answer. There’s only a few of us at the moment and all writers are welcome to join us.
Out and About in July
What a month it’s been for getting out of the office and doing something different. My weekend at Penzance Literary Festival was brilliant. The workshop on The Business of Self-Publishing was packed and there were so many questions, we didn’t get to the end of the topics. (The same thing happened back in April at the World Book Night event and it brought home to me just how many of us are on this journey. I’m considering running some additional workshops in the new year, so watch this space.) And my presentation A Woman In The Snow also had a full house, despite the fact I was going head-to-head with the England quarter final! It is a very friendly festival in a beautiful location (the picture shows the Morrab Gardens), and I enjoyed such delights as an evening of Dickens (I find him hugely difficult to read, but when he’s performed, that’s a different matter…); a literary quiz where we came joint third; and a poetry event where, for the first time, I heard the Cornish language being spoken. A memorable weekend; and one I hope to repeat next year.
I spent a week as guest presenter of Pause for Thought on BBC Radio Devon. This is the sixth time I’ve done it and this time we took a meander through seven decades of movie memories. So that’s another series of monthly blogs written and on file, ready to take over when we’ve finished Seven Decades of Song.
And last, but certainly not least, we had the eighth Chudleigh Literary Festival. Our guest speakers, Kate Adie and Dr Todd Gray, were wonderful and more than satisfied the audience of more than 140, the largest gathering we’ve ever had for a LitFest event. But equally satisfying were the events during the day. Jenny Kane ran a very successful workshop on writing short stories; and our networking afternoon saw the first ever appearance of the Chudleigh Dragons. Eight intrepid writers pitched their latest novels to a panel of experts. Each presentation was different, and each one shone in its own way. Congratulations to all participants, and especially to our first winner, Jean Burnett. Feedback on this event has been very positive, and we’re definitely hoping to run it again next year.
What’s So Special About Swanwick?
I’ve mentioned Swanwick several times already; that’s because I’m getting really excited about this year’s Summer School which begins in just under three weeks’ time. The Writers’ Summer School at The Hayes Conference Centre, Swanwick in Derbyshire is 70 years old this year. I don’t think we’ve got anyone who’s been coming since the 1940s, but for many writers, the second week in August is very special. This is my twelfth visit since 2006, and I’m still one of the relative newcomers. It’s a full-on week, with timetabled activities from 8am to 11.30pm, legendary food (ask any Swanwicker about the custard!), some wonderful courses, singing, dancing, writing, and the chance to network with more than 250 like-minded individuals. So you can see why I’m excited! As usual, I will be publishing daily blog posts between Friday 10th and Friday 17th August; and this year the theme will be ‘Who’s In The Book Room?’.
Writers Are Readers Too
My Goodreads 2018 challenge is still powering forward, although I’ve slipped a tad this month. I’m now up to fifty two and am three behind; but am currently well into two different books: a non-fiction for daytime reading and a novel for bedtime, so expect to be back on target very soon.
This month’s recommendation was chosen as book of the month for June by the Millstream Meadow Book Club, of which I’ve been a member since its inception in 2012. I was away in June, so missed the discussion, but decided to read it anyway, and was so glad I did.
This Is Going To Hurt is a poignant, heartbreaking book, a really good read, but with a hard-hitting message. And a real vindication of this reader’s decision to remain childless. I now know much more that I ever want or need to about pregnancy and giving birth! Adam Kay’s beautifully-written book had me laughing out loud from page 1 and kept me amused throughout. His writing is sparkling, self-deprecating and very funny. It also made me cry three times.
But above all, it made me very, very angry! Angry at what has happened to our wonderful National Health Service; angry at what we put the staff through; and angry at the way the government’s PR machine tries to paint the junior doctors as the villains. That Kay gave up medicine for a less-stressful life is not surprising; he’s just one of many. Nor is he the first to move into comedy. The real tragedy is that he’s unlikely to be the last. A brilliant book guaranteed both to keep you amused and to make you think.