Book Launch Extravaganza! Fight Like A Girl kicks ass…literally!

As I type this my head is still reeling from the awesome Fight Like A Girl events of yesterday. (Apologies now, the word ‘awesome’ will be overused and abused in this post!) For any of you who have been to a book launch or are even trying to organise one yourself, take note – THIS is how it should be done!

The ingredients for a perfect kick-ass book launch:

  1. An awesome book to launch – a brilliantly written and edited piece of fiction with a great cover, which is worth people forking out their hard-earned cash for!
  2. An awesome venue with plenty of room/space, facilities (bar, toilets, stage area for readings/events etc), places to chill, great lighting and sound and easy access.
  3. An awesome collection of writers, reading extracts from their work.
  4. An awesome panel with great Q & A’s for the audience.
  5. A mind-blowing physical display of martials arts and swordplay!
  6. Then of course, book signing from the authors and chances to ask questions.
  7. Throw in a load of lovely food and drinks (free wine and free soft drinks!), a great atmosphere and you have the recipe for the best book launch EVER!!!! 😀

It honestly felt more like a mini-con than a book launch!

Right, back to the day itself. Saturday 2nd April 2016, despite a slightly wet start to the morning, the sun came out and stayed out. My lovely fellow Grimbold author and friend, the uber-talented, Kate Coe, popped over to mine and after an initial hello from my barky boys (my four large white wolfies), we headed off. SAM_8682

The destination was The Hatchet Inn, in the heart of Bristol, dated 1606, a pub I later found out I have a weird personal connection to (more on that later). We arrived and strolled up Park Street to the Boston Tea Party to meet lovely Chris Horner and Tom Miles and the indefatigable Joanne Hall & Roz Clarke, fellow Grimboldians and amazing writers who edited the Fight Like A Girl (FLAG) anthology, contributed an awesome story each as well AND organised the whole amazing book launch event! OMG! I strongly suspect that Jo & Roz are hauled up today in their respective homes, floating in a sea of duvets and doggies, recovering…

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I have to mention the one person who should have been there but couldn’t make it (gritty police work got in the way 😦 ), our wonderful publisher, Sammy HK Smith, one half of Grimbold Books (Zoe Harris is our other lovely publisher) and the Creative Director of its imprint, Kristell Ink, behind the publication of Fight Like A Girl. It was such an amazing day and poor Sammy’s absence was felt as she would have loved the whole thing. ❤ But huge kudos to her, her team did her proud and Kristell Ink did such an amazing job with the book. SAM_8598

After heading back to the pub to finishing setting up, to our delight we noticed that the fabulous cover, designed by the awesome Sarah Anne Langton, actually glows in the dark under a black light! Awesomeness x 10!

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I should also say that one of the main reasons the book launch was SUCH a huge success was that the book in question, Fight Like A Girl (FLAG), really is such an amazing book, it kind of sells itself! I rarely comment on other books, because frankly I’m not a reviewer and I lack the confidence to assess other people’s writing, I’d much rather leave that to others who know more than I do, but in this case, I have to make an exception. There simply aren’t enough accolades to describe it – an awesome anthology of kick ass fiction by some of the best female genre writers from around the country, writing about strong female characters, assassins, pilots, warriors, killers, archers, mercenaries, you name it, these women are deadly and mean business. No fluff, no touchy feeling stuff here. If you had any preconceived stereotypes about women writers writing fantasy and sci-fiction – leave them at the door, Fight Like A Girl, will blow you away! SAM_8677SAM_8676

The doors opened at 1pm and in came the people. Within minutes the whole place was absolutely packed! So many lovely people to mention…a big shout out to Gareth L Powell and his lovely wife and daughter, Fantasy Faction‘s very own Marc Aplin, Jonathan L Howard, Pete Sutton, Ian Millsted, Mark Robinson (my fellow Star Wars fan), the lovely Heather Ashley & Claire M Carter, the awesome Claire Ayres (of BrizzleLass Blog) who wrote the first awesome review of Fight Like A Girl and loved my story! (THANK YOU!). Lovely to see John Bav, Anne-Mhairi Simpson & Richard Bendall, Desiree Fischer, Jon Dowling (who always cracks me up), the lovely Emily Turner (Elegant Emily) who is a fab new intern at Grimbold, and the very dapper, Scott Lewis who is such an awesome guy and bought a copy of White Mountain too, thank you Scott! 😀

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I was also thrilled to finally meet the Spymaster General and Robin, AFE Smith, from our Alliance of Worldbuilders (AWB) group from Authonomy, who met in 2010 and are not only still great friends but have written a charity anthology together. Meeting Anna for the first time was lovely, she is SUCH a lovely person and such an amazing writer herself who has signed with Harper Voyager and whose second book, GoldenFire is out in July this year! Then it was also lovely to meet my old mate, Will Macmillan Jones, another AWBer, who had travelled all the way from deepest darkest Wales. Thanks matey! 😀

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Then, of course, I have to mention my fellow awesome Fight Like A Girl authors who made it to the launch, the awesomely amazing Juliet E McKenna, Danie Ware, Gaie Sebold, Joanne Hall, Roz Clarke, Dolly Garland, Fran Terminiello, Lou Morgan and KT Davies. (Nadine West was getting married at the time so couldn’t make it for obvious reasons! Congrats to her and Adam!) SAM_8603

People chatted as the food and wine flowed. Joanne & Roz did a fab introduction and this was followed by the first reading of the day, the amazing Lou Morgan reading an extract from her story, Archer 57, which was utterly brilliant! Then a break…*gulp* then it was my turn! I read a short extract from my story, Silent Running, and had to smile at the audience reaction to one of the grisly parts! 😀 12928120_579666122188911_2427319853639567376_n[1]

After my reading there was a brilliant panel moderated by the lovely Cheryl Myfanwy Morgan, who like Joanne Hall, seems to know everyone in the SFF community in the southwest!

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The panel, with Joanne Hall, KT Davies, Cheryl, Gaie Sebold and Dolly Garland, were discussing the role of women in SFF fiction, both as writers and readers, the bias which female writers face from a male dominated genre and a public which isn’t always willing to look beyond the stereotype to give female SFF fiction a try and the importance of having strong female characters in fiction. The question of discoverability for female writers, a topic which Joanne Hall has blogged about extensively (please check out her awesome blog: Joanne Hall’s Blog – Hierath)

12931087_579665982188925_3061819945994639525_n[1]Then, after a break of more food, wine, chat and laughter, it was Danie Ware’s reading, from her story, Unnatural History. It was epic, awesome, breath-taking!

Finally, the part of the book launch everyone had been salivating for…Juliet E McKenna’s martials arts display and Fran Terminiello’s swordplay!

Juliet E McKenna, apart from being a very accomplished and well known SFF writer on the national and international stage and running the fabulous FantasyCon, which we at Grimbold Books had such an epic time at last October, also happens to be a 3rd dan black belt in Aikido! She went on to demonstrate some basic self-defence and Akido moves. Wow! SAM_8673

Then the amazing Fran Terminiello and her friend, Liz, demonstrated duelling and sword fighting techniques from the Renaissance onwards, with a range of rapiers, long swords, short swords, daggers, even scythes! OMG!!! Totally amazing stuff, all of it! 😀 Talk about ‘Fight Like A Girl’, these women were fighting like total bad-asses! SAM_8650

After all the excitement, we had the group book signing, where the lines were huge and we all sat and signed the FLAG books to very eager and enthusiastic readers and chatted away. We sold loads of books, in fact, almost ran out! All-in-all, it was a totally amazing day and an amazing experience! 12417894_1264280650268033_7439142051687648971_n[1]

A HUGE thank you to Sammy, Jo, Roz and everyone involved in this event and getting this book to publication. Wow! 😀

Finally, I found out a strange fact from my mum…we have a personal family connection to the Hatchet Inn! Yes, apparently my Great Aunt Grace, married a man called Reg Hillier, part of ‘The Hillier Brothers’, who were well known in Bristol and ran the house removals and antiques dealers and actually lived next door to the Hatchet Inn, which is now part of the inn itself! In 1967 her house was demolished and the Hatchet Inn was rebuilt that side, where her house had been! How weird is that?!!! 😀

Wow…what a day!

Do yourself a favour, a pick up a copy of Fight Like A Girl, for the best kick-ass SFF fiction! 😀

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😀 xxx

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60 days – Catching the whirlwind!

Two months ago today a seismic shift in my life occurred, when I went from being an unpublished author to crossing that magical benchmark into being a published author. A quietly strange and profound experience…

The birth of my debut novel, White Mountain – Book 1 of The Darkling Chronicles, the first of my epic fantasy trilogy, was born on 30th September 2012, amidst a rush of frenzied excitement and anxiety.

As with all new authors, and perhaps the grand stalwarts of our chosen genres, a thousand and one questions whizz through your head. Will it be well received? Will it sink without a trace? Will people like it…hell, will they love it? Am I up for the challenge? There is so much to learn, where do I start? Will the book sell? Will I be able to get publicity for it? How do I get the book noticed? Where and how do I get reviews? What happens if the book takes off? What happens if it doesn’t? etc.

So…what has happened in the intervening 60 days?

A whirlwind to be sure…

After the publication of my book, to date, I have had seven interviews including by the highly prestigious national organisation & charity, Readathon UK, supported by literary giants such as Roald Dahl, Michael Morpurgo, Michael Rosen, Anthony Horowitz, Julia Donaldson etc. http://www.readathon.org/blog/2012/11/author-teacher-joins-forces-with-readathon/ Great company to in, eh?   I’ve been in five local papers including photo feature pieces and a listing in The Cotswold Life Magazine no less, and have had an amazingly successful book launch event which completely sold out!   Then I have been on a whirlwind and very successful Waterstones book signing tour, selling my novel in high numbers, and am even booked up for author signing events at libraries and schools. In short, every weekend has been booked from September up to Christmas! And now…my first reviews have begun to filter in, and what amazing reviews they are! I couldn’t have hoped for better!

All in all…60 days of madness, mayhem and a monumental time indeed. Wow!

Yes, even an unknown indie author from a small independent publishing house CAN make an impact in the gargantuan world of books and publishing. If I can do it, juggling an extremely busy full-time job, working long hours which severely curb the amount of time I can spend on promotion etc, then YOU can do it too!

Be brave, be cheeky, ask questions, be proactive, do your homework…remember if you don’t ask you don’t get, the worst you can be told is ‘NO’, so what have you got to lose? 😀

Good luck to you all!!!  xxx

Waterstones and Amazon’s Kindle turn a new chapter!

Here is a very interesting article…!

By Leo Kelion Technology reporter 24 October 2012

Leo Kelion talks to Waterstones’s managing director James Daunt about his company’s relationship with Amazon.

It was the twist no-one saw coming.

After previously describing Amazon as “a ruthless, money-making devil”, Waterstones’s managing director, James Daunt, announced in May that he was teaming up with the US internet store and would sell and promote its Kindle tablets and e-readers in the UK’s premier book chain.

Few predicted a happy ending: “A deal for destruction”, “Strange bedfellows”, and “Waterstones let the fox into the chicken run” exclaimed some of the resulting headlines.

Had the former JP Morgan banker doomed the group less than a year after being appointed as its managing director?

“A world that is totally dominated by Amazon will be a poorer one,” Mr Daunt tells the BBC when asked about the decision.

Jeff Bezos and Kindle Paperwhite e-reader Amazon’s boss, Jeff Bezos, says his firm sells Kindle e-readers and tablets for break-even prices

“But that is not to say that I don’t think that Amazon is – within the limits of what it does – absolutely fantastic.”

Secret deal

The 49-year-old has already distanced Waterstones from its roots, dropping the apostrophe in its name to the dismay of punctuation campaigners. But the decision to ditch Sony’s e-readers and promote Amazon’s is clearly his most controversial to date.

For someone who has apparently signed his company’s death warrant he appears focused and optimistic about the group’s future, determined to complete a costly refit programme designed to upgrade its 300 stores.

And though he remains tight-lipped about the terms of the Amazon arrangement, he insists the agreement is to his advantage, whatever others suggest.

“I certainly won’t tell you what I’m going to make with Amazon, but what I will freely admit is that we have a commercial business here, and we make sensible commercial decisions.

“I have, rather flippantly, also said: ‘Do I look like a total moron? Because what you’re describing is the behaviour of a total moron.’

“I may be many things, but I don’t think I’m that.”

Model hold Sony e-reader Mr Daunt ditched a previous deal to sell Sony’s e-readers shortly after taking charge

Although the criticisms may have stung, Mr Daunt believes he has made the pragmatic choice. His customers are increasingly reading books on digital devices with Amazon proving their most popular option.

To ignore the phenomenon, he argues, would undermine the bookseller’s relationship with its readers.

“If they choose to read digitally I have to become involved in that game,” he explains, adding that it would be beyond the firm’s resources to develop its own family of tablets and e-readers.

Instead he plans to offer add-on services – allowing visitors the chance to use Kindles to browse Waterstones’s own recommendations and then read them for free while in-store.

“The principle is simple,” he says.

“You are in a bookshop, you can pick up any of these books – you haven’t bought them yet – you can browse them. Until you leave the shop you don’t have to pay for them, and that same principle should apply to a physical device as well as a digital e-book.”

Ultimately he hopes to be able to tailor recommendations to each shop’s location and staff – but even in its basic state the feature won’t be able to launch until technical issues are worked out and publishers sign up.

Hot drinks

Reports have suggested one way Waterstones would make money out of the deal would be to take a cut of each Kindle sale made over its stores’ wi-fi networks. Mr Daunt would not confirm or deny the claim, saying only: “We make money out of everything we sell.”

A potential problem with this model is that once shoppers try out an e-reader – whether its a Kindle, Nook, Kobo or other device – they often browse bookshops’s shelves, make lists of what they want but then buy via the internet at home.

The e-book trend may be inevitable, critics say, but embracing it will only hasten Waterstones’s decline. Mr Daunt suggests they misunderstand his methods.

Cafe W inside Waterstones in Norwich A Norwich branch of Waterstones was one of the first to be fitted with a Cafe W outlet

“All that we have to do is encourage people to come into our shops and to choose the books,” he says.

“I don’t frankly care how they then consume then, or read them, or indeed buy them.

“But if you spend time in my shops, and you really enjoy it, and you come back more often and spend longer – you’re going to spend money in my shops.”

That money won’t necessarily be on books. Waterstones stores are already stocking more stationery, games and puzzles. The next step is to create cafes inside the chain following a successful trial.

“It is literally the booksellers that’s made you the cup of coffee,” he says. “Yes, it’s slightly grubby that you’ve handed over two quid to get that cup of coffee – but it is extremely nice.

“The conversation as you buy your latte is often about the book and it’s a really fantastic thing. And our sales have leapt.”

The move may appall traditionalists, and making space for coffee and Kindles does ultimately mean less for bookshelves. But Mr Daunt says the action is overdue.

“Do we have an awful lot of books in our shops that don’t frankly sell?” he asks.

“Yes, and they actually shouldn’t be there. I do think the shops will have less books, but they will remain absolutely first and foremost physical bookshops.”

Kindle display unit Kindle display units were installed weeks before the launch

Fiction, cookery and biography will stay, he says, but specialised topics, such as law studies, face the chop.

‘Fundamentally unsatisfactory’

At the core of his strategy is the assumption that if his staff make the right picks and provide the right environment, customers will want to spend time in a book-browsing environment.

“I certainly believe that ownership of the physical book does matter,” he adds.

“Whereas that little file embedded in a piece of plastic isn’t pretty to look at. You can’t lend it. You can’t sell it. And you can’t bequeath it to your children.

“Digital is convenient in some situations – travelling, or reading at night when you don’t want to wake the wife.

“But it is also fundamentally unsatisfactory in all sorts of other ways. And that will preserve the physical book as being the majority choice for some foreseeable time, even fiction.”

Whether Waterstones’s next chapter goes as planned will now depend on how much the public are as wedded to the traditional format.

By Leo Kelion Technology reporter BBC http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-20046568

Many thanks to the BBC and Leo Kelion for this and to Beattie’s Book Blog where I first saw this article! http://beattiesbookblog.blogspot.co.uk/

Interesting stuff, eh? 🙂