November’s Pot Luck Club
Welcome to November’s Pot Luck Club, a round-up of writerly bits and pieces. November has been a busy month for me, with three major events taking place in the first couple of weeks, all of which I was involved in organising. Two of them were writerly in nature, see below, but the third was our town’s day of commemoration and celebration in the year that sees the Centenary of both the WWI Armistice and the Representation of the People Act. Such a moving day, with laughter and tears, music and words, a time to reflect and be thankful.
Like hundreds of thousands of writers across the globe, I am taking part in National Novel Writing Month again this year. As of today, I am over 80% of the way there and am confident I will pass the finish line at some point towards the end of this week.
This year, I am being a ‘NaNo Rebel’; I am working to the fifty thousand word target, but writing non-fiction. I began the month writing the first draft of “Travels With My Mother’s Daughters”, relating a recent eleven day trip around the Outer Hebrides with my two sisters. I expected it to be a relatively short piece, similar to the blog series I have posted following previous trips – never more than ten thousand words in total. However, I surprised myself and am still writing. In fact, I am only on day nine and will probably use all my word count for this one piece. It has turned into a sort of travelogue cum memoir and I will probably be publishing it, along with the earlier pieces, as a series of travel shorts, in the spring of next year, so watch this space.
Out and About
Those two writerly events I mentioned in the introduction were both very successful. The Art of Collaboration exhibition in Teignmouth received lots of visitors and the feedback has all been very positive. The displays were stunning and resulted in a number of sales of paintings and photographs. There was even one person who purchased a trio, including the words. This was the first time we had worked on a project of this size and there were inevitably some lessons to be learned. But we are all keen to have another go next year.
The first Exeter Literary Festival was a great success. It ran over three days and showcased a whole variety of authors. For me, the highlights were listening to Teresa Driscoll telling us at the opening night party that even the most successful of authors don’t get it right all the time; watching a roomful of writers busily networking at Exeter Writers’ Write Hub; hearing my own words read out by a performance artist during the Pop-Up Stories event; presenting a workshop to a group of aspiring authors about setting objectives and managing their writing projects; listening to the wonderful Stella Duffy debunk the idea of celebrities having opinions worth taking notice of; and dressing up as a 1920s gangster for the Banned Books Quiz at the Wrap Party. Full marks to the organising committee for all their hard work; I don’t think they appreciated at the start just how much effort goes into organising an event like this. I look forward to hearing the plans for next year in due course.
December is all about taking the Chudleigh Phoenix Publications book stall on the road: meeting people and introducing them to my writing, and hopefully selling books as Christmas presents. I will definitely be at the Chudleigh Christmas Fayre on 6th December; and at the Winter Wonderland in Dawlish on 9th December. Plus, I might just pop up at one or two other events if there are stalls available.
And Talking About Christmas…
Personalised and signed books make wonderful presents for the readers in your life. So, I’ve put together a special deal for the next month only: signed copies of the whole Suzanne Jones series, Counterfeit!, Deception! and Corruption!, gift-wrapped and posted to any address in the UK for just £20. Or you can get a signed and gift-wrapped copy of Gorgito’s Ice Rink for just £10.
And for the writer in your life, how about a signed copy of The Business of Writing Parts 1-3, gift-wrapped and posted to any address in the UK for just £10?
Writers are Readers Too
My 2018 Goodreads Challenge – to read and review 100 books – has definitely suffered over the past few weeks and I am quite a few adrift of the target. But I posted my seventy-seventh review this morning and remain optimistic of hitting the full number by the end of next month. I may have to spend a little less time on Facebook and a little more time reading, but that’s not a bad thing, now is it?
This month my recommendation is not for a single book but for a whole series. Angela Marsons writes crime novels set in the West Midlands, so for a Brummie like me, all the place names are familiar. Her protagonist, DI Kim Stones, had a troubled childhood and has real issues getting close to, or trusting, other people. She is a maverick who believes in asking for forgiveness rather than asking for permission. In fact, she is a flawed individual, stereotypical of the genre – but with a soft spot for her dog. A complex character who care passionately about getting the bad guy and taking every set back in the investigation personally. And that’s what I love about the books. As a taster, here’s the review I wrote after reading the sixth book in the series: Dead Souls.
“Book 6 in the series and they just keep on delivering. We are gradually getting to know more about the members of DI Kim Stone’s team. This time, it’s Stacey’s turn to take centre stage. Kim also has the opportunity to explore an old work relationship that has gone sour. Can she resolve the issues, when she doesn’t really understand them? And all this against the background of a combination of cold case and current series of crimes. Another great read”
If you love the crime novels of Ian Rankin, Peter James, Damien Boyd or Adam Croft, you will love the Angela Marsons books. Do give them a try.