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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365 days – one year ago today!

The Flight of Fantasy Award

How time flies when you’re having fun?! 😀

Exactly one year ago today, on a rather chilly and snow-covered afternoon much like this, I decided to dip my toes in the shifting sea of blogging. Being not just an technophobe but also a certified techno-idiot, I severely doubted my skills in this area. SAM_2255

When it comes to computers I tend to push random buttons and hope for the best!

However, I am a quick learner and a tenacious little bugger so I keep trying and trying and by some mysterious force and the wonderful support of YOU, my lovely internet supporters, friends and family, this personal little blog has grown into something rather special.

So, what aims did I have when I started this blog?

594Probably much like any other I suppose. For me, this was always going to be a personal blog, not a commercial site, a buy buy buy me site, I find most marketing sites a complete turn off. No, this was an odyssey of self-expression, a way of making sense of an increasingly bizarre world, and a way of sharing poetry, short stories, travelogues, writing tips, a little philosophy and my experiences with others. Octavia's Bookshop signing 2012

As a writer, we all have very different paths and journeys to follow which take us in different directions. No author’s journey is ever the same, that is what makes it so special and so unique. Advice is wonderful and helpful, but of course as with life, one size doesn’t fit all. Take what you need and leave the rest. Decide what is important to you, what works and what doesn’t.

To thine own self be true.

Try not to be derailed or bullied into producing someone else’s vision. Your vision is your vision. Be proud of who and what you are, warts and all. Nobody is perfect. As a perfectionist myself, I know that to be true especially of myself, but strive and never stop striving!

Remember, nobody ever truly fails from having high expectations, from pushing themselves that little bit harder. You may not attain the dizzying summits you are aiming for, but at least having them in your sights will bring them damn close. But if your dreams are limited, your expectation low, then so will be the results of your endeavours.

To strive and never give up no matter the odds or obstacles, believe me, there will be A LOT of them and from unexpected quarters!!!!

Yeap, one thing I can promise is that the life of a writer is never easy. Much of the time you will feel utterly alone and like you are constantly swimming against the current. You’ve just got to grow fins and be a bit of a salmon, keep swimming upstream, over waterfalls and harsh terrain until you reach your goal!

Life ain’t easy, but I guess nothing ever is. Just remember, no matter how difficult things get, you are NEVER alone, there are thousands of other little fish swimming upstream along side you. So when you can, stretch out and lend them a fin and share your journey with them. A trouble shared is not only a trouble halved, but it reminds us of our collective humanity and the ties that bind us all.

Again, a little kindness goes a long way… 😀

In the shark infested waters of the book business, where even the great can be easily swallowed by the tides and sink without a trace, it’s good to be a strong swimmer and help your fellow minnows along. There’s safety in numbers, right? 😛

To that fact, as well as thanking the 9,000 or so lovely visitors who have graciously visited this little blog over the last year and left their indelible presence behind (and to whom I owe so much), I must thank those wonderful talented fellow fantasy minnows that I first met back in November 2010. I speak of course, of The Alliance of Worldbuilders, brainchild of the Dark Lord himself, creator Tristan Mander (TRM)!!!

When I joined the Harpercollins writing site, Authonomy back in 2010, I had no idea what a profoundly wonderful experience I chanced upon. A collective group of truly amazing writers, each imbued with a generosity of spirit, a wicked sense of humour and a talent and passion for fantasy writing. These inspiring individuals have since gone on to not only take over Authonomy as by far the largest group and thread on the site, but have produced a staggering range of excellent fiction!

I am immensely proud to call myself a member of The Alliance of Worldbuilders (AWB), as Tollam (Thane of Fyrrens), and though I don’t visit my talented AWBer’s as often as I’d like, they are never far from my thoughts. Their friendship and support have been simply amazing! Thank you so much guys!

Please check out The Alliance of Worldbuilders website: http://theallianceofworldbuilders.weebly.com/

and Authonomy where the magic all began: www.authonomy.com and the AWB thread itself: http://www.authonomy.com/forums/threads/99758/the-alliance-of-worldbuilders-part-iii/

So, in reverence to these amazing individuals, I (techno-idiot extraordinaire) have decided to really commemorate this special one year blog anniversary, by creating my very own blog award – The Flight of Fantasy Award. 😀

The Flight of Fantasy Award

This award is specifically intended for fantasy writers only – creators and destroyers of worlds, fantasy authors who inspire us, who thrill us with their dark imaginings, ignite our dreams and fuel our imaginations. They can be writers of urban fantasy, high/classic/epic fantasy, comic fantasy, dark fantasy, fantasy horror, paranormal fantasy (ghosts are fine but no vampire stuff please) and sci-fi fantasy.

If you are lucky enough to be nominated for this award, then CONGRATULATIONS you officially ROCK!!!

The Rules of the Award are as follows:

  1. Display the award logo on your blog.
  2. Link back to the person who nominated you.
  3. State 11 things about yourself (it’s a Spinal Tap thing!), including why you love fantasy and your first or favourite fantasy book.
  4. Nominate 7 bloggers for this award and link to them. (If you want to link back to me as well, that would be lovely but isn’t required!)
  5. Notify those bloggers of the nomination and the award’s requirements.

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Now, as the creator of this prestigious award, I’m going to get the ball rolling by nominating the first fantasy bloggers…and yes, I’m being naughty and am nominating more than 7! 😀 xx

Please check out these extraordinary blogs and writers (in no order)!:

A.F.E. Smith  http://www.afesmith.com/

Lindsey J Parsons http://lindseyjparsons.wordpress.com

Will Macmillan Jones http://willmacmillanjones.wordpress.com/

Kay Kauffman http://suddenlytheyalldied.com/

Katrina Jack http://kateannejack.wordpress.com/

Lisa Wiedmeier http://lisawiedmeier.blogspot.co.uk/

Ryan Holmes (Griffin’s Quill) http://griffinsquill.com/

Tricia Drammeh http://theclaimingwords.com/

Ashen Venema http://courseofmirrors.wordpress.com/

Andrea Baker http://www.andreabakerauthor.com/

Gretchen Steen http://thedragonladyofraevencliffcastle.weebly.com/

Jeremy Rodden http://www.toonopolis.com/

Hazel Butler http://aadenianink.com/

Tamara Hickman http://tamarahickman.wordpress.com/

Sam Dogra http://indigolightning.blogspot.co.uk/

Emily Rebecca McKeon http://www.theabsenteeblogger.blogspot.com

AMAZING writers and bloggers one and all, check em’ out guys! 😀 xx

The Flight of Fantasy Award