Posts Tagged ‘Book Launch’

From nappy to nib

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

And lo… is February. How did that happen?! It seems like just yesterday we were leaping around and singing Auld Lang Syne – badly. I suppose it has been a busy month, the girls went back to school which involved an absurd amount of uniform being located, washed and ironed. I mean, why does a nine year old need three different sets of sports kit? The answer is indoors, outdoors and house colours in case you’re wondering. Plus a special white set that I have never seen her wear. In addition to this it was my birthday and a good two weeks were occupied by me being ill; luckily all better now. The birthdays just keep on coming though; it is my mother’s this weekend, which means a jaunt up to Windsor. Before we confirmed that we were coming I asked if she was planning to go out and do anything and she replied “Well I wanted to go out for Sunday lunch, I love that, but no-one else can make it so what’s the point? Me and Steve and the boys can sit and look at each other over the breakfast table, we don’t need to do it in a restaurant.” I felt guilty, but just to clarify, by ‘no-one else can make it’ she meant none of her children. My sister is working, which is a decent excuse, and my two older brothers are at Uni a long way away. They did offer to come back if she paid the train fare but that might feel rather like hiring your own children, no? And I, being the eldest, bowed to pressure and agreed to spend most of the weekend there. This will be after my 8:30am meeting on Saturday (why do I agree to these things? I could have made my apologies but I did that for the last one and it gets suspicious). Plus we then have a four-year-olds birthday party to go to for most of the rest of the day. Because the children are little this means that all parents have to stay as well, you can’t drop-off, which is usually OK because they generally have wine/Bucks Fizz at these things but I fear this won’t be the case on Saturday. Just to give you an idea of the calibre of this party the mother was telling me at the weekend how the Cinderella she had booked to lead the party had let them down because she’d been offered a six-month job singing on a West End stage. And they’ve hired a train to take the children around one of our local country parks. For the four-year-old party circuit this is pretty impressive. I fear my own daughter’s party will not compare well. Mostly because I can’t get through to the place I want to book it.

And when I have not been organising parties (or trying to) I have actually been writing. That’s right, I have imposed some discipline in my life and shut everything out of my mind except getting those tiny, vital words down onto the page. And to my surprise, it has been going superbly well. I’d reached a bit of an impasse with the manuscript – I simply could not progress it from where I had got to. I’d looked at it over and over again and just couldn’t do it. In this situation there are two options for me, either just plough on and write regardless and edit heavily afterwards, or erase ruthlessly back to an easier point and take it from there. I chose the latter because I learnt of the danger of writing yourself into a dead end when I was about fourteen. In this instance I didn’t have to erase too much and then the words flowed, much to my amazement. I know I’ve said this before, but the way that I write is by watching what is going on in my imagination and simply writing it down. Obviously I’m creating it at the same time but I’m not really aware of that bit. It does take a lot of concentration and, for me, peace and quiet, I’ve never been one of those people who can work with the radio on. Or cBeebies. And it isn’t foolproof either, sometimes my characters just aren’t doing the things I think they should be and then we fall out and I stop writing their story. But when it works, it’s magical. The people, the places that I’m writing about feel so real – even though I made them up. I’m aware this makes me sound slightly delusional, I don’t actually think they are real, but they exist, I can see them all so clearly in my mind’s eye. And if all goes well I can see the scenes created on the page in front of me with my real eye. As well as that, this time I have a more complete sense of the manuscript. I can clearly see the emotions that need to run through it and the ebb and flow of their fortunes in line with these emotions. I feel a bit sorry for my characters because they have to go through an awful lot before they get to where they want to in life, but they will be better people when they get there. So yes, writing is taking up a lot of my time, which is lovely.

Also this week I will be going to Cari Rosen’s book launch, which is tremendously exciting; we have exchanged a plethora of emails over the last few months, but never actually met. She is a very lovely, clever lady and her book, ‘The Secret Diary of a New Mum (aged 43 ¼)’ is published on Thursday 3rd February by Vermilion. Or it is is available online here: From knowing a bit of Cari and her – at times – self-deprecating sense of humour it promises to be an entertaining read, and possibly emotive too – from the subject matter there are issues it could raise. However, I shall reserve judgement and comments because I haven’t read it yet. I do find the question of older mothers particularly fascinating though because I am at the other end of the scale. I had my eldest daughter when I was nineteen, which technically made me a teenage mother for two months, yet I am so far from the stereotypical teen mother it’s laughable. It was a contentious thing to do certainly, especially because I was in my first year at University studying Law. But I was determined and, somehow, it worked. I completed my first year, had my daughter at the beginning of what would have been my second year, took a year out to be with her at home and then went back to Uni full-time, completing my degree and graduating one year later than planned. My then very young daughter went to the nursery on campus so I was never far from her and the whole thing worked very well, I was lucky. And whilst I have never regretted my decision for a second, having a baby at nineteen whilst in your first year at Uni is not something I would necessarily recommend to my own daughter, which is an interesting juxtaposition. Just to complete ‘The Short History of Sarah Haynes’: I never went into Law – I decided to write instead. But it is definitely a good thing to have that degree safety-net.

But if there are accusations to be levelled at older mothers for choosing to have children late in life (whether a preferred option or not), therefore surely there are accusations to be levelled at very young mothers too and surely I would be in line to be accused of these? I’m sticking a tentative toe into the water here, I’m aware that this is a hotly-debated subject. But really – can there be any such thing as a perfect time to have children? And if there were, it would surely be determined by factors which are true of women at different times in their lives, financial stability for example, so you could certainly never arrive at a perfect age. Unless you were doing it on grounds of physical ability alone and who would ever have a baby if they were not emotionally or practically ready just because now was the right time for their body? It’s an interesting subject and I suspect those people at extremes of the baby-carrying scale will always come in for some criticism, deserved or not. I think I am right in saying that Cari is on Women’s Hour tomorrow, Wednesday 2nd February, where perhaps some of these issues will be discussed.

Right, it’s all very well to eulogise about having these children and how it was definitely the best thing to do but I have now reached a moment in time where I must actually go and care for them; feed and dress and wash their clothes, etc. Oh and organise parties to celebrate the day of their contentious birth…….that sort of thing, the list goes on, as ANY mother will know, even if they are 43 ¼…….

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 🙂

Too Few Books……

Sunday, September 19th, 2010

Well, what a busy few days! It’s been my husband’s birthday, from which we emerged tired and hungover. Obviously.  From there I went straight into a day of visiting bookshops and finalising launch plans at La Place, which involved a bottle of wine. Obviously. Which meant that my meetings went very, very well indeed. Obviously. In all seriousness – I had a fantastic day on Friday. Waterstones in Winchester were very accommodating, took me very seriously and I was thrilled with the outcome. Subject to them liking the book (emphasis on THE, I’ll explain in a minute) they are going to stock it for me, display it prominently, put it in several different sections and organise a signing for me – for which they anticipate needing 50-75 books. That seems like a wild amount to me! So a good result all in all.

However on Friday I could have done with 50-75 books; I went to Winchester for the express purpose of taking the book around several different places for people to see it. Bookshop managers are always keen to physically hold the book, I have learned. There are no conversations to be had unless they are literally able to have it in their hands – I presume this is to make sure that you haven’t glued it together yourself or something. So I in my wisdom took only one copy of the book with me to Winchester. I consider myself a veteran of selling my book to managers and I have never needed more than one copy. You will already know where this is going. Waterstones was the very first bookshop that I went into, I had a terrifically exciting conversation with the manager (lovely chap but I don’t think he made eye contact with me once; he stared at a space somewhere above my right shoulder for the duration) and at some point the sentence “….will give the book to our fiction buyer, who will read it to see if she likes it…..” was uttered. Swiftly followed by “Do you have a copy that I could keep?” Let’s think about that for a second – can I spare a copy of my book to give to the fiction buyer for Waterstones in Winchester? That would be a YES. What could I do? Possibly something other than what I did actually do; I said “Yes of course, do keep that copy,” and watched my plans for the day slide down into a sad little heap. My fault of course, I should have brought more. So I thanked him, looked longingly at my book and walked out of the shop, essentially thinking “Oh bloody hell, what do I do now?” I hadn’t taken anything else. No posters, no flyers and definitely no more books. I stood outside Waterstones for about a minute before I realised that I really had made a major error. So I swivelled around on my very high (and painful) heels, sort of slunk back into the shop, sidled up to the counter – of course the manager had vanished – and had to say “Well yes, I’m Sarah Haynes, I just left my book for the fiction buyer but could I possibly have it back?” Great start Sarah, well done.

From there I went to the next bookshop, also a major chain, and again asked to see the manager. There were muttered discussions about where he might be and it eventually transpired that he was in his Office. Which was spoken in tones that suggested the word ‘Oval’ should be in front of it. I was solemnly led upstairs and told to wait while they fetched this great person from The Office, so I did and looked at books while I waited. About ten minutes later this man appeared. He was just about a man anyway, he couldn’t possibly have been more than twenty, and he also looked like he’d been in a major car accident. One eye was black and swollen, the actual white of his eye was deep red, his eyebrow was being held together by a steri-strip, his cheek was bruised black and puffy and his arm was in a cast. It was a forlorn picture.

“Oh my goodness,” I gasped. “What on earth have you done?” It was an accident of some sort, the question was how severe and whether anyone else had died.

“Oh – I got into a fight at the weekend,” he said, and from that point my words deserted me. I was all ready with sympathy, etc. but you can’t sympathise about a fight. So I settled for just looking at him for a second, at a bit of a loss, and then launching into “I’m Sarah Haynes, a local author…..” Incidentally, when I’d said the same line in the previous shop the manager had immediately responded with “By local, do you actually mean Winchester?” To which I replied “Yes” because “No” would have been the wrong answer. And then had a fleeting panic whilst I tried to recall the addresses of friends in case the conversation became more specific.

After the bookshops I went to La Place and drank some wine. Obviously. Whilst finalising plans for the launch. It was initially going to be held downstairs in the bar area but now we are upstairs because the numbers attending suggest that this is a better idea. It has the potential to get very crowded, very quickly and upstairs will give us more space, a table for signing books and most importantly a free rein over music. I am so terribly excited that I can hardly bear to think about it. And I liked La Place so much that I went back on Saturday for a bit more wine. I do love Winchester.

I can also reveal that the newest member of the Haynes household has arrived! No, I haven’t had the world’s quickest and most secret pregnancy, our new addition is a fish called Octopus. Some time ago three year old Alice decided that she wanted a fish after seeing a pink, princess tank in a shop. My sister Kim (to whom Things He Never Knew is dedicated) is Aquatics manager at a pet shop so she obtained the tank for us and we withheld it until Alice had reached the required behaviour levels that would entitle her to it. This she has done and so we told her that yes, she could now have her tank and some fish. We were unprepared for the question: “And some sea?” But for as long as she believes that the sea comes out of our bathroom taps, that’s fine. However the next request was “And an octopus please.” Ah. Bit more tricky. And we didn’t like the tantrums when we answered in the negative so we quickly settled on calling her pet fish Octopus. Everyone’s happy.

Apart from me, because there’s still no sign of Boris.