Archive for the ‘Book Promotion’ Category

Snow? Let it go, let it go, let it go

Friday, December 3rd, 2010

Because I wear a lot of Jack Wills and queue superbly I’m going to start this blog in a very British way. By talking about the weather  – in particular the SNOW. I’m surrounded by the stuff. There’s a foot of it outside and then I’m having photos emailed to me, every status on facebook is either about how wonderful it is to make snowmen or photos of said snowmen and I know I must be the most miserable person on the planet but I don’t like it; it’s a nuisance and very cold. Plus I can’t see why the country has to grind to a halt the minute the flakes begin falling. You can count one finger the number of people who went to work this morning from our road; and this is despite the fact that I know the snowploughs and gritters were on the roads around us at 5am this morning. By all accounts the motorway is mostly clear and running well – probably due to the fact that not many people have bothered to venture onto it.  Already I have read one irate facebook status relating to snow and school closure and severe risk aversion and just having to get on with it. Or words to that effect. Clearly I understand that snow can make travel difficult, clearly I understand that roads and pavements are icy and care must be taken. But when it gets to the point that everyone shuts their doors and stays at home the minute the snow clouds begin to gather I think it’s time that we question what we are doing. A few adjustments – hats, scarves, winter tyres, that sort of thing – I think we’d find the country can probably operate pretty much as normal.

With that rant over, I’m pleased that the snow held off for long enough to allow me to do what I needed to this week or my blog would have been more of a diatribe. As you will all know I braved the tube strike ( successfully! Ha!) and went to London on Monday to Ali McNamara’s launch of her book, “From Notting Hill with Love…..Actually”. I confess that I haven’t read it yet because I’m still buried deep in Jojo Moyes’ “Night Music” which is brilliant, but I am so looking forward to it. I have a signed copy sitting right next to me on my desk, the reviews are fantastic and I’ve read so many positive comments. It was great to meet Ali, she’s absolutely lovely, as are her children and husband. The launch party was a lot of fun, it was held in the Travel Bookshop in Notting Hill which I understand features in the film of the same name? It’s a long time since I watched it. I didn’t know many people there but everyone I spoke to was very friendly and didn’t mind at all that I looked like a complete idiot for failing to guess at even one question in the movie quiz that Ali had organised. Clearly I am not up to speed with my films; it was quite embarrassing how obvious it was when you thought about it. But no matter, I had a lovely time and drank 1 ½ glasses of wine. Sedate, by my standards. Or even positively stationary now that I think about it. Ali gave a lovely, heartfelt speech, read an extract from her book and generally hosted the whole thing very well. In fact, the only bad thing I have to say about the party is that it was dangerously close to the Jack Wills shop on the Portobello Road. Which I stupidly ventured into. And then I even more stupidly tried a dress on. The Ellenthorpe dress. It is GORGEOUS. I love it. And from that you will guess that I stupidly bought it. I couldn’t not, I loved it so much. It’s a size 8 though and a pretty small 8 at that so if I put on even 1lb in weight I won’t be able to wear it, which is alarming. Now I just have to find all the right occasions to wear it to, as its exorbitant price demands that I should.

And last, but by absolutely no means least, the other very exciting thing to happen in my week was my husband being made a magistrate. And because he is only just twenty-seven, that makes him the youngest magistrate in Hampshire, which I have already mentioned several thousand times. It is very impressive though and means that he is already a bit of a star among the new magistrate intake, in fact he was interviewed by the producer for a Radio 4 programme, due to be broadcast in March. He sounded very knowledgeable and coherent – then she moved on to me and I was definitely less so. Sadly. My husband obviously heard this tremendously exciting news a while back, but his actual swearing-in ceremony was on Wednesday in Winchester and happily the 1cm of snow that had fallen then did not prevent us going.

And on the note of Winchester I shall be back there tomorrow signing copies of Things He Never Knew. The signing is being held in Waterstones in The Brooks from 11am-4pm and I am very much looking forward to it. Of course this is subject to me being able to get through the snow. But after all my complaints about lack of effort in the snow I suspect I shall have to walk there if necessary – but not in this dress……..

My dress 🙂

Tales from a Local Author Christmas Extravaganza

Friday, November 19th, 2010

First of all – I am BETTER! I feel incredibly different, I must have had a low-lying infection and been ill for weeks. I can’t believe the difference that the antibiotics have made. Well that and a few decent nights sleep. Which is just as well because it meant that I could fully enjoy last night! Wow! What an amazing time I had! I expected it to be good but not that good. It was more like a social drinks party than an author event. There were several reasons why it was so good; firstly Waterstones had put an awful lot of effort into organising the evening. This was the first time that anything like this had been attempted and they were keen to make it a success. There had been lots of publicity and general drumming up of interest going on. One of the other authors, children’s writer Ali Sparkes, had been on BBC Radio Solent that afternoon to generate interest as well. And the atmosphere was really good, the staff were lovely and all the authors were full of enthusiasm. There were ten of us altogether: Ron Clooney for the thriller genre, Alex Bell in the dark fantasy/sci-fi genre, Ali Sparkes, Andrew Norris and another lady who all write for children, Alex Hibbert who has written a book about his polar exploration exploits (and blimey, it sounds mad but amazing. He ski-ed 100 miles in ten days on NO FOOD. A storm destroyed the food supplies they had left which they didn’t know until they got there so they had no choice. All credit to the guy.) And apart from that there were a couple of local history authors and me of course, alone in the chick-lit genre, for which I quickly became very grateful.

We all met in the staffroom prior to the event for drinks and a chat and to get to know one another briefly. The choices of drinks were: water, tea, coffee, squash, red wine or white wine. I wavered slightly but then eventually went for…..guess what…..yes you are right – a small glass of white wine. Which went straight to my head after having not drunk anything for days. So I quickly had to drink an awful lot of water as being tipsy and signing books is NOT a good thing. And I know because I’ve done it. Not in bookshops I hasten to add, but at dinner parties and that sort of thing for friends. I expect to see them popping up on eBay in the future. I wasn’t the only one who drank wine by the way, at least 50% of the authors did, it’s obviously an integral part of being a writer. So after that we were given our lovely name tags and then all taken onto the shop floor, and as we were going up the escalator Ron said to me “So what do you write then?”

“Chick-lit,” I replied (because it’s just easier). And he responded with “Well the stuff I write is more sex-lit than anything else.” Which meant that I was unattractively snorting with laughter as I took up my position at our stand. Myself, Ron and Alex were grouped together right by the door, we did have the best position in the whole shop; where we were is where they put all their major authors for signings. I don’t know why, just the luck of the draw I guess. The others were grouped together in their various sections further back in the shop, which I gather didn’t really work well for them as they fairly quickly came forward to stand right by the other shop entrance, presumably to garner more interest.

We didn’t have a problem with interest though and that was because we had Ron on our table. The man is an absolute master at his art and incredible to watch. He drew the crowds like you wouldn’t believe and easily sold the most books in the evening. He’s a lovely person, a real raconteur with a fabulous sense of humour and those combined along with his determination give him his success. Or they did last night anyway. He literally grabbed any person that passed by, male or female, and said “Do you fancy a really good thriller?” and whatever their response was he had an answer for it. For example, a few people said “Oh no, I don’t like thrillers,” to which he replied “That’s because you haven’t read a good one yet. Here, look at this,” – hands them a book – “the first print run sold out in twelve weeks….” etc., etc. He wasn’t pushy or overbearing, despite being unashamedly selling his work. It was a real skill and beautiful to watch. Of course it made Alex and I feel quite inadequate as both of us were the more ‘hanging back’ sort, which didn’t matter because Ron would then go on to say “And here also tonight are Sarah Haynes with her chick-lit novel and Alex Bell with her dark fantasy writing,” which effectively did the introductions for us. But after a few minutes of watching Ron I decided there was nothing else for it and became a lot more forward – which paid off. I did something which I’ve never done before and approached a customer who was browsing the shelves. We had a quick chat during which I basically introduced myself and said “Look, even if my book’s not your sort of thing I know the genre pretty well and can probably help you find something.” And about fifteen minutes later she came to look at my book – and bought it! Out of all of Waterstones she chose Things He Never Knew. I was very pleased. It’s such a learning curve and I’m glad to have started to make some sort of impression on it.

Overall, I think I sold 7/8 books, which doesn’t sound like much but we were only there for two hours so it equates to one every fifteen minutes which is what it felt like. And I also didn’t have friends/family turning up so it was a case of relying on the general public to be interested. Which they were! I was glad to be alone in my genre because of the lack of competition. Everyone gets fiercely competitive at these sorts of events, it really is every man for himself, and rightly so – as authors this is our livelihood and reputation that we’re protecting. Which is why it was so decent of Ron to include us in his general spiel, although the only reason he could and did do that was because we were no competition to him.

And the people that I spoke to last night were lovely without exception. One man stands out in my mind because we had the following conversation, as he picked up my book:

“Chick-lit? What’s that?”

“Commercial fiction aimed primarily at women.”

“Why? What sort of stuff do you write about?”

“Generally the plots will involve love, romance, drama, emotions with a female central character.”

“Doesn’t mean men can’t read it.”

“No,” I agreed.

He studied the book for a while before saying suddenly “You could be the next Jilly Cooper.”

“Er, well, no, my writing’s probably less racy than that.”

“So there’s no sex in this?”


“Oh. Shame. You should put some in, it would sell better.”

“I’ll – er – bear it in mind.”

“Give it a bit more oomph.”


And then he said “I’d have bought it if had sex in it,” threw it on the table and walked away. I suppose it didn’t help that I was based right next to the erotica section which might have given him the idea in the first place. By accident or design I couldn’t tell.

So I had a very lovely evening with great company and the only bad thing I can say about it was that I had to miss “I’m A Celebrity…..” which I can watch on catch-up so it isn’t even that bad. The whole experience left me with a lot more confidence about book-signings and gave me a real idea of the best way to do things. And I suppose one of the most important things to take away from the evening is that I should definitely be writing more sex-lit. Watch this space.

my nametag

A note from my sickbed

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

This will be a short post because I am writing it from my sickbed. Well, not literally, as a few of you will know a bed with sick on it is possibly the LAST place on earth you would find me due to my emetophobia. I don’t much enjoy this time of year actually because it seems like every other day someone becomes ill with a D&V bug. About 40% of the status updates on Facebook read “So and so has been up all night vomiting” which sends a shiver of fear through me. And make me do things which I consider totally normal but when mentioned to a psychiatrist are not, apparently. Things like going out less in case we pick up any germs; being totally paranoid about my children touching any surfaces whilst we’re out – and don’t get me started on public toilets. If I need to take the girls to one the first thing I say is “DON’T. TOUCH. ANYTHING.” And I mean it. Literally. My grandmother refused to use them and we all thought she was being overly fussy at the time, but I completely see her point now. I also become obsessive about hand-washing, in the highest temperature water that can be tolerated. And this general paranoia spills over into checking and re-checking that food has been properly cooked…..all this because of a few winter bugs floating about – do you see why I need treatment?! I can’t even watch the bit on “I’m A Celebrity…..” where they have to eat ghastly things. I’m filled with unbearable nerves and tension from the moment the trial starts and I have to mute it. My husband gets very fed up with watching the television in silence. And just quickly – Nigel Havers – what a star!!!! Unexpectedly, he has just made the whole programme for me. I probably wouldn’t even have started watching it had I not been ill, but I have now and I’m hooked. He just makes me laugh so much, he’s a good sport and brillant fun. Who else would admit that they were “Yearning for female company…..yearning I tell you.” How candid. I hope he wins, I think it will be either him or Shaun Ryder.

Anyway, back to what is actually wrong with me – I have a kidney infection. Which isn’t too bad apart from the pain, which is atrocious. It’s like being in labour. On the plus side I do get to spend whole days in bed, reading, which I wouldn’t be able to justify otherwise. It was my eldest daughters ninth birthday at the weekend and I think the celebrations took their toll on me. It would have helped if she hadn’t got up at 5:15am, of course, but it felt a bit mean to send her back to bed on her birthday. It’s only one day a year after all and hey – who needs sleep?? Not my daughter, certainly. So we were up unwrapping presents, playing with balloons, drinking tea, eating croissants and pancakes at some ungodly hour on Sunday morning. Whilst my husband muttered obscenities to himself in the corner because we’d given him the task of constructing the Build-a-Bear wardrobe that she’d received as a gift. It was only because no-one would do it as well as him, of course, I said. It is not as easy as it looks, I was told. In not the nicest way, I must say. From there we went to the Build-A-Bear shop in Southampton for her party, which she enjoyed and I did not. So I went round the corner to Waterstones where I found this poster:

Poster at Waterstones, West Quay Southampton

Waterstones Christmas Event Poster

As it says, myself and a few other authors are participating in a Local Author event to kick-start Christmas shopping. I love signing books anyway and the fact that I get to do it with other authors is even better. 5:30-7:30pm at Waterstones in West Quay in Southampton on Thursday 18th November. It was touch and go whether I’d make it at the beginning of the week, but thanks to my lorry-load of antibiotics and excessive consumption of orange squash I shall be fine. I tell you, I don’t even dare drink tea or coffee at the moment,  never mind my beloved wine. That’s how bad it is.

I intend to spend the rest of today making the most of being ill and reading all possible coverage of the Royal engagement announcement. It’s so exciting! Though I do feel a bit sorry for anyone else having their wedding in 2011 or – horrors! – the same day … really can’t compete with a Prince.