Writerly Round-Up: March 2019
While last month was filled with gastronomic treats, this month has been particularly theatrical. I saw two favourite singers, Irina Ilnytska and Jane Anderson-Brown, perform a programme of operatic arias in Sisters In Opera, their tribute to International Women’s Day; I was enthralled by the new Youth Theatre Group attached to Sutton Coldfield Musical Theatre Company, as they produced a talent-filled and action-packed version of Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat; and this weekend I laughed until I ached as Mischief Theatre brought us The Comedy About A Bank Robbery. If you’ve ever seen their previous hit, The Play That Goes Wrong, you’ll know what I’m talking about. And if you haven’t – then keep an eye out for either of these hit plays; they are well worth it.
But enough about how I’ve spent the month enjoying myself. What’s been happening on the writerly front?
Writing In March
All my writing this month has been non-fiction. I wrote the scripts for my latest stint on Pause for Thought (see below). I more or less finished the first draft of The Business Of Writing Part 4 Independent Publishing and got a big chunk of the editing done. That’s scheduled to be finished within the next few weeks and I aim to get it out to my beta readers by this time next month. So if you fancy being on the team, just drop me an email: email@example.com.
Sales and Marketing
Things have been quite quiet on this front. I’ve not put up any more paid adverts this month; but that’s about to change and I’m hoping to report some successes by this time next month. I’m also hoping to get a detailed Social Media calendar set up for 2019; yes, I know I’m three months late, but trying to post things in dribs and drabs is time-consuming and ineffective. I know from previous campaigns that planning and scheduling posts in advance is more effective; so that’s what I’m aiming to do. And next time I will have some exciting news to report re Kobo too.
My Russian research reading continues. Such fun; and it still doesn’t feel like work to sit and read during the day.
Out and About
Earlier this month, I was back on BBC Radio Devon presenting Pause for Thought on the early morning show with Laura James and Gordon Sparks. This time I was talking about Seven Decades of Television. Researching and writing the scripts was great fun and brought back some wonderful memories, such as watching England beat West Germany in the football world cup; and Neil Armstrong taking those first giant leaps on the surface of the moon. If you fancy hearing any of the pieces, they are available on catch-up; day one is here, starting about 24 minutes in. Or you can wait until I get around to posting them on my blog, which will be in monthly stages, starting later this year. Or I might even put all my collections of Seven Decades of… into ebook format as giveaways for my loyal readers. Watch this space.
I had lunch last week with eight Swanwicker friends. Those of us who live in the South-West have started getting together every so often; it’s a great way to catch up, swap news and learn from each other. Social Media is so pervasive that the practice of face-to-face networking is dying somewhat; but a real smile beats an emoji any day.
And talking of Swanwickers, I had a lovely evening in Seaton recently with Katherine Bolton and partner, Michael, at the opening of their fantastic sea-front premises. Katherine has launched Pebble Moon, a centre for holistic and complementary therapies; while Michael is running Momentum and Moon Studios. Look out for his new album, Earthrise, out soon, marking 50 years since that moon walk I mentioned earlier. Good luck to both of them in their new ventures.
The programme for Chudleigh Literary Festival, on Wednesday 10th July, is now complete. I am working on the website at the moment; you will be able to find all the details here within the next couple of weeks. We are delighted to be running Face The Chudleigh Dragons for a second time; if you are from anywhere in the South-West and have a novel you would like to pitch to our panel of experts, then check out the details on the website. There’s a great prize for the winner.
The programme for the Exeter Literary Festival in November is coming together nicely. We hope to announce the full details very soon; but I can confirm that guest speakers will include Patrick Gale, Nicola May and Adam Hart-Davis. And Exeter Writers will be repeating their popular networking event, Writers’ Hub. The website for the festival is here; we will be updating it continually as details are confirmed.
Writers Are Readers Too
I would be the first to admit my prime reason for reading is for pleasure; well, when I’m not researching Russian history or learning how to maximise the benefits of Amazon Ads, that is. And one measure of a good book for me is the speed with which I read it. And from that point of view, my reading so far this year has been somewhat mixed. There have been a couple of non-fiction titles for my book club that I’ve frankly struggled with; there’s been a fantasy from Brandon Sanderson that was brilliant, but very long; and a classic Russian novel (no not that novel – that comes later) where the unusual style took some getting used to.
But if I tell you that I read this month’s recommended book in just two days and carried it around with me to read passages whenever I got a moment, you will know how much I loved it. The book is Believe Me by J P Delaney; here’s my review:
How can I review Believe Me without including spoilers? It’s going to be a tough task, but I’ll give it a try. Claire Wright is an actress with a troubled past, both as a child and as adult. She is in America trying to revive her flagging career after an unfortunate incident in her native Britain. But while she waits for fame to come knocking, she still has to pay the rent and eat. While not completely comfortable with the actions she has to take, she does what she has to for money.
Claire is recruited by the New York police force to go undercover in the investigation of the murder of a wealthy woman. Her task: to get close to the grieving husband, Patrick Fogler, whom they suspect of being the killer.
And that’s as far as I can go, without giving anything away. But what I can say is this psychological thriller is one of the best books I have read in a long while, full of twists and turns. I was continually changing my mind about what was going on; and I didn’t guess the ending.
Delaney’s writing style is crisp and flows easily. I loved the device of setting some of the action in the form of a play, complete with stage directions. At 400 pages, it’s longer than many books in this genre, but it took me just two days to read, partly because I couldn’t put it down and carried it around with me for snatched moments of reading throughout the day. The development of the two main characters was excellent. Claire, in particular, will remain with me for a long time.
These days, I rarely give a book more than four stars out of five. Believe Me is at least a six! Highly recommended.