Category Archives: Book launch

‘Juliet’ tells her ‘Story’ at the West Kent launch

OverviewJuliet’s Story, Book 2 of The Voyagers trilogy, has been well and truly launched!

I’ve got into the habit of having two launches each time one of my books is published. One takes place at my club in Mayfair, the University Women’s Club, and the other more locally in the Tunbridge Wells area. Previously, I’ve arranged it in Waterstones but sadly, they are holding fewer book events these days. It’s such a shame as I love to attend book launches as well as give them.

Between Juliet and AnnieI attended a rather grand book launch at Tonbridge School last year – the author was David Lough, being interviewed on his latest biography: No More Champagne: Churchill and His Money.

I was most impressed with the beautiful building, the smiling staff, the delicious canapés and the exceptional champagne. Churchill himself would definitely have approved! So I decided to hold my event there.

CheersIt was a perfect choice, and because it was a slightly different area, I had friends and acquaintances coming from Sevenoaks and Hildenborough as well as Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells. Looking around at the 30 or so faces, half of them had never attended one of my launches. This is A Good Thing! At least eight folk bought Annie’s Story, Book 1 of the trilogy together with Juliet’s Story so they could catch up. I had put Annie’s banner up as well as Juliet’s, hoping this might happen.

Marcus Warren proved to be a great photographer who managed to flatter me in most photographs, except one where he made me look 90 (I’m sure I don’t know how he did this – it must have taken all his ingenuity and photographic skill) instead of the bright young woman I really am! DELETE!

Signing booksWe all had a jolly time and everyone seemed to enjoy the evening and my talk. I must say, I loved the evening. Always think that’s a good sign if the host does.

Roll on the next launch. Sadly, not until 2017 when Kitty’s Story, Book 3 of the trilogy will be out. Do hope to see you!

 

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Juliet’s Story is  available now from your local bookshop and from Amazon UK  Amazon US  Kobo

Writing is a lonely life…?

Denise UWC launchI completely disagree with the above (though I realise some writers might feel differently).

Writing when one is alone is not the same as being lonely. I’m so happy when writing completely on my own, but a close second is writing in the company of one or a few other writers. It’s a sedentary life sitting on your bottom day after day, but most writers interact with others. Where you write you’ll probably tap into Twitter and Facebook on most days, thus making connections and conversations.

My new diary is already filling up with writerly things which take me outside my writing cabin and into a world of real people instead of my ‘real characters’. Heading the list is the launch of Juliet’s Story, Book 1 of The Voyagers trilogy. It’s to be held at the University Women’s Club in Mayfair on 23 January 2016 (under a week to go!) and hopefully there will be writers, friends and relatives to celebrate with me. (If anyone would like to come, please get in touch with me by Friday by leaving  a comment below.)

In May I’m off to Portugal with three writing friends to stay in a private villa. We’ll have a week there working hard on our novels and catching up in the afternoons for readings and brain-stormings and critiques. Hopefully this won’t clash with the Romantic Novelists’ Association summer party!

In July it’s the RNA Conference which is always brilliant, and I come away exhausted but inspired, and often excited because an agent or editor has asked me to send them a full manuscript of my latest novel.

Then there’s the Historical Novel Society Conference in September in Oxford, which unusually is for writers and readers (Early Bird booking until 31 January!). A few days later I’m joining a small group of writer friends in Gladstone’s library in Chester for four days.

In November we don our sequins for the RNA winter party.

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Denise and Alison

Throughout the year I go to a club in London where writers and media folk meet up every month; I formed The Diamonds writing group a couple of years ago where we take it in turns to meet in one another’s houses and stay the whole day – the host feeding and watering us; I have a regular Skype with my critique writing partner,
Alison Morton, who lives with her husband in France; I attend the London Book Fair…and so it goes.

So I can’t regard writing as a lonely life. But when I read through the above I think I’ll be glad to escape sometimes to my writing cabin for a top-up of loneliness!

 

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Juliet’s Story will be published on 25 January 2016.
Pre-order now Amazon UK  Amazon US  Kobo

Characters that don’t exist – until you create them!

Denise UWC launchI haven’t asked permission to quote Lionel Shriver in the following comment, but as she was one of the contributors to the Mslexia diary (August 2015), I don’t think she’d mind. She says:
‘Cherish the excitement of creating something from nothing – bringing non-existent characters to life, making things happen with the tips of your fingers…’

I know this might sound silly but I felt a thrill of recognition when I read this. For it’s exactly how I feel. I immediately flicked through my first published novel and watched the characters spring into action. A turn of the pages and I saw how they coped or not, and the outcome of the decisions they made. They are so real to me that I can’t imagine they don’t truly exist. Perhaps they do actually live – now they’ve been born – but on a different plane. Fanciful I know, but it’s fun to think of them getting on with their lives beyond my creation.

I recently ran into a woman who’d come to my book launch in Tunbridge Wells earlier this year and had bought a copy of Annie’s Story, (the first of The Voyagers Trilogy). She said, ‘I’m not happy with you.’

Rather taken aback, but thinking she was joking, I smiled and asked her why.

‘You let (so-and-so) die in Annie’s Story and you had the power to let (him/her) live.’ She was quite indignant.

I was amazed she’d taken it so seriously. But she’d obviously become absorbed in the story (which is what every author dreams the reader will do) and was upset with an outcome that to me had to happen. But of course I could have changed my mind at the last and let the person recover.

We all accept that writers are omnipotent but what we might not fully take on board are the powerful emotions we stir up in the readers’ minds. If it’s a good story it might stay with them for a long time. They might even be influenced by it. Act on it. That doesn’t mean our stories have to have a perfect ending, as writing a novel normally reflects real life with its ups and downs, but we do have a kind of responsibility to our readers.

Thinking about this woman’s remark a few days later, I decided she’d actually paid me the best compliment. She’d believed in my characters as much as I believe in them. And as a writer you can’t ask for more.

Mayfair launch of Annie’s Story

DSC09939The University Women’s Club in Mayfair is the perfect place for a book launch. I’ve been a member of the club for 25 years and it’s a real home from home for me, living in Tunbridge Wells. So for my London launch of my debut novel: Annie’s Story Book 1 of The Voyagers trilogy, it was my first choice.

I’d had a fun and very successful launch in Waterstones, Tunbridge Wells the month before, but wanted a second one for different groups of people who might find it difficult to get to my neck of the woods. It was a mixture of family, friends, special writing friends, members of Connexions (a course on philosophy I’ve been attending for the last seven years – I’m probably one of the wisest writers I know – just kidding), and, of course, some special UWCub members.

Trouble was, on the Wednesday morning of the launch I woke up not feeling terribly well. Thinking I was just a bit tired and would be all right I packed my overnight case and with my sister, Carole, took the train to London. We were staying the night at the club.

DSC09922Still not feeling particularly great, I had arranged for a few friends to have lunch at the club. The day was so warm and sunny we were able to eat in the courtyard garden which was delightful. I decided not to have any wine, and kept to a light goat’s cheese salad, as did three other women. That evening, getting dressed, I didn’t feel excited as I should, and was beginning to feel a little queasy and light-headed. I knew I’d have to put on an act for about 35 people, 4 of whom had arrived from various countries especially for the launch.

DSC09930Thankfully, it all went well. Everyone seemed happy and enjoying the bubbly and canapés (I didn’t touch either), and the talk was my best one, I felt. The adrenalin must have kicked in!

Luckily, Carole was sharing a room with me at the club as all through that night I was really ill. Terribly nauseous, burning chest pain, back pain, headache, and feeling extremely dizzy. I honestly thought I was dying. Neither of us had a wink of sleep, and around 6am I was so sick she decided to dial 999.

Maybe I wasn’t dying after all as I managed to appreciate three gorgeous-looking paramedics who rushed to the rescue. They confirmed I wasn’t having a heart attack, but after various tests decided I should go to hospital for more checks. I’ve never been in an ambulance before and always thought I would be terrified, but I just wanted to get to hospital as quickly as possible for someone to make me better.

After a bumpy ride we arrived at St Mary’s and had I felt well enough to appreciate it, my room was overlooking a canal with bright little boats bobbing about. We were in Little Venice. As it was, I was still being sick and feeling quite spaced out.

More tests with nurses and two doctors later I was diagnosed as having a severe case of gastritis from a virus, so at least it didn’t sound life-threatening!

I stayed on at the club for two more days, and was wonderfully looked after by the staff until Carole came to collect me on the Saturday and take me back to Tunbridge Wells.

This happened three weeks ago and I’m still feeling an echo of the effects. Doc says it will probably take eight weeks before I’m back to normal (well, normal for me!).

The good thing was that I received lots of emails and phone calls from people telling me how much they enjoyed the launch – and reading the novel! – and were shocked to hear that I’d been whisked away to hospital only hours later.

I’m seriously wondering if I should turn to acting instead of writing…

Answers, please, on a postcard.

 

 

 

At last – the Book Launch!

Denise1It was all going so well.

Waterstones had kindly allowed me to hold the launch of my debut novel as ‘Fenella Forster’: Annie’s Story, Book 1 of The Voyagers trilogy, in their Tunbridge Wells branch last week on the proviso that at least thirty people would turn up, having reserved £3 tickets beforehand.

Launch general

 

 

 

 

 

 

The lure was free wine and nibbles, and three quid off the book if anyone kindly bought a copy. Plus they would get me entertaining them with a scintillating talk and reading a short extract from the novel. What’s not to like?

Mayoral groupArms still twisted behind their backs, old and new friends and ex-business colleagues duly came through the bookshop door. Including the Mayor and Mayoress of Tunbridge Wells. I’d met the mayor once at the Tunbridge Wells Business Forum and just called him ‘Julian’, but was not quite sure how to address the couple when they were ‘on duty’. Luckily, my fantastic critique writing partner and friend, thriller novelist, Alison Morton, was staying with me a few days to coincide with my launch. She made me practice several times on how to greet them correctly and welcome them to the audience. I also had to announce that the Mayor was going to say a few words.

Loving itAfter saying hello and having a quick chat to all my adoring fans(!) and making sure Alison had put a drink in everyone’s hand (she was furniture mover and book and banner setter-upper, wine waiter, photographer, movie-maker, and clearer-upper – thanks, Alison 😉 ). I asked them to take a seat so the talk could begin.

I thanked everyone for coming, and got stuck straight into my talk.

Anyone spotted my omission? Yes, you have it. I completely ignored Mayor Julian and Mayoress Annie. I was ten minutes in when I smiled at the two of them sitting on the front row, and it immediately clicked. My hand flew to my forehead and I said: ‘Oh, no, I’ve forgotten to introduce the Mayor and Mayoress!’

Denise realises

Denise realises the awful truth!

‘I can’t believe it,’ Alison put in from the sidelines where she was pointing her camera. ‘I’ve spent the afternoon rehearsing her.’

Of course, everyone screamed with laughter. So did I, but I turned my face to the wall pretending to sob, then turned round and acted as though we were right at the beginning.
‘Welcome, everyone, and thank you so much for coming to share such an exciting celebration. Also, I’d like to welcome the Mayor and Mayoress of Tunbridge Wells.’ I looked directly at the couple.

‘Thank you so much for coming, Councillor Stanyer, and Mrs Stanyer. I believe you’d like to say a few words, Councillor Stanyer.’

Mayor speaking‘I would,’ he said, grinning as he rose from the chair. He proceeded to give a funny talk on how he and I had first met, and I’d slipped him a copy of my previous book, Seller Beware: How Not To Sell A Business, saying he’d be on pain of death if he told anyone I hadn’t charged him. He said how delighted he was to come to the launch of my first novel.

Everyone clapped. The Mayor and Mayoress queued at the end of the evening and bought two copies of Annie’s Story. And paid for them! All was well.

And on to the signing!

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Happy author

 

 

 

 

 

 

Signing 7

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Annie's story

 

 

Annie’s Story is now available from
Amazon UK  Amazon US  Kobo  B&N Nook

Mayfair Madness – Book Launch Party!

DB-Mayfair026_smWas I going to manage to get away to London for my book launch party? Spend a couple of nights at the University Women’s Club which was the venue for the event? If you’ve been following my blog you’ll know I’m trying to juggle writing my debut novel, promoting my new book: Seller Beware: How Not To Sell Your Business, and nursing Edward, my estranged husband! He’s going through a punishing cycle of chemotherapy, and has been rushed to the A&E five times during the ten treatments.

I went to London the night before – this was a noon until 2pm party – slightly uneasy about the patient. But he assured me he’d be fine and to say hello to everyone.

Next morning I was up early at the club and breakfasted with a delicious Bucks Fizz to start this special day. I raised my glass and toasted myself, to the amusement of the handsome Hungarian waiter who wanted to know what I was celebrating.

DB-Mayfair022_smMy aunt and cousin, then my sister arrived along with some friends. Time for the party to begin. We climbed the wide elegant staircase to the first landing where a table had been set out with champagne glasses and soft drinks.

A waiter poured us our first glass of bubbly and we wandered into the library.

DB-Mayfair012_smI think the library at the UWC is one of the loveliest rooms in London. The sun was bouncing off the chandeliers and there were a few cosy groups of tables and chairs, but leaving plenty of space in the centre for the guests to mill. Lorraine, the events manager, had already set up an oblong table with a ‘pile ‘em high’ display of Seller Beware together with copies of my previous book: from Bad to Wurst: Bavarian adventures of a veggie cook.

DB-Mayfair010_smThe guests strolled in. Crysta, who had flown in from Frankfurt and Genevieve, from Paris; John, an estate agent from Tunbridge Wells, who used to be one of my competitors; Kris, a Polish decorator and his wife;

 

DB-Mayfair017_smIain Dale, of Biteback Publishing, who brought with him Sam, my editor, Suzanne in PR, and Charlotte, their newest employee. DB-Mayfair021_sm

 

 

 

DB-Mayfair035_smI met Harriet from Cornerstones literary consultancy and a few new faces who were friends of friends. I was honoured to see my philosophy tutor with his wife and a few students from our class. Writerly friends included Carol and Sue with whom I had spent the most wonderful writing week in a villa in Portugal last year.

DB-Mayfair079_smBut the most fun was seeing people who hadn’t seen one another for months, and even years, kissing and hugging. And that was just the men!

David, the photographer, was snapping away, dodging this way and that, with instructions to take the most flattering photographs (I’d primed him well!) and the waiters handed round the most delicious canapés. There was much animated talk and laughter enhanced by champagne glasses being constantly refilled.

Around one o’clock I made a short speech, telling how Kris, my charming Polish decorator, put me in touch with Iain, my lovely publisher (see a previous blogpost). Everyone laughed at my anecdote. But would they buy the book?

I breathed a sigh of relief when I noticed Lorraine, who had offered to be cashier, taking their tenners, and I began the delightful process of signing books. Everyone gave me lavish compliments on the event and the venue, along with regrets when they had to break up the party, and promises to meet up again very soon. It couldn’t have gone better, and I looked forward to a quiet evening with Crysta, who was also staying the second night at the club.

It was not to be. My sister rang me to say Edward looked poorly and was running a high temperature.
‘He’ll have to go to hospital immediately,’ I told her. By this time it was ten o’clock. She rang me a few minutes later and said they were on the way to the A&E.

Of course I couldn’t sleep. Finally, at one in the morning, my mobile jangled into life.
‘I’ve just got home,’ my sister said. ‘They’re keeping Ed in overnight.’
Well, at least he’d be safe there, was my last thought as I dropped off.

Can you see any pattern in the following? I took Edward to the hospital two hours before I was to appear at Waterstones in Tunbridge Wells to give a talk on Seller Beware. The Mayfair party ended up with him having to go into A&E that same night. Let me put this to you: I’m due to give a talk in Pembury library on 14th May. The question is – will I be taking Edward into hospital before my talk or after? Whatever the case, I’ll be prepared.

At last – the Book Launch of Seller Beware – Part 2

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Waterstones, Tunbridge Wells. 16 April 2013.
The first ticket holders arrived – a family – and all close friends of mine. Gill, Peter and their 30-year-old son, Stu. Peter and Stu had volunteered to do the drinks and had dressed for the occasion in their DJs. ‘You look very handsome,’ I told them, ‘and easily spotted by everyone when they wonder where to go for their glass of wine – and  refill,’ I added, laughing. Gill got to work straightaway, lining the baskets and bowls with napkins and shaking out the nibbles.

Alison, my writing critique partner (left, with Richard Milton), was another early arrival, as I needed her to help prepare the ‘stage’. She’d given a talk on her first published novel, INCEPTIO, at the same branch of Waterstones the previous month, so she knew the score. I left her to position the tall banner emblazoned with the front cover of the book.

One by one, couple by couple, they came in. There was much laughter and chat as I met people I hadn’t seen for years, and they in turn met one another whom they hadn’t seen for years. It was all very jolly. I kept to a half a glass of pink champagne. A full glass and I’d be squiffy!

It was 7.15pm. People were beginning to take their seats. My good friend, Richard Milton, a published author of both fiction and non-fiction, sat on the front row next to my sister, Carole. He watched me glance at my five ‘prompt cards’ and said: ‘It will look much better if you don’t use them, Den. You know what you’re going to say. So just say it.’ Immediately, my heart started to thump. I said: ‘I’ll leave them on the table, in case…’

DB-Waterstones32_sm7.20pm. Time to begin. Voices suddenly stopped and there was complete silence. I swallowed. This was it. I looked at the 70-odd friendly faces, opened my mouth and started (unrehearsed) by asking everyone if they would turn to their neighbour, give them a good once-over, then glance at them occasionally throughout the talk.

Photo0009_croppedIf they noticed anyone looking shifty, or squirming, or acting in any kind of suspicious manner, to report it to the nearest member of staff.

‘In light of the contents of my book and the characters,’ I held up Seller Beware, ‘we could be inadvertently harbouring a spy or two. But,’ I went on, ‘if there is one, even a spy has to have a night off sometimes.’ They started to chuckle (I expect the wine had already got to them) and I was away. I forgot about cards and prompts as I told my story, along with some amusing anecdotes, which made them laugh. Oh, the power…

DB-Waterstones10_smAt the end I completely forgot to ask them if there were any questions, but as my talk had gone on a bit longer than the allotted time, it probably didn’t matter. My aim was to tell them something about my sorry experience when I sold my estate agency to the wrong buyers, and for them to read the complete story of ‘one woman’s road to ruin’ (the strapline of Seller Beware).

‘So, please form an orderly queue,’ I joked when they’d finished clapping, ‘and make sure you tell me your name – spell it out – so neither of us is embarrassed because of my failing memory.’ And they did.

 

 

That evening I sold 55 books, which Waterstones said was a great success. Bowing my head in humble fashion, I agreed.

Seller Beware: How Not To Sell Your Business
Published by Biteback Publishing £12.99 on Amazon and all good bookshops

At last – the book launch!

DCF 1.0I thought I was all prepared for the book launch for Seller Beware: How Not To Sell Your Business on Tuesday evening, 16th April at Waterstones in Tunbridge Wells. After all, I’d had weeks to plan it.

My several pages of the talk were now reduced to five lined index cards with odd words highlighted to prompt the (often failing) memory. I’d packed a box of spare books, special bookmarks, wine and soft drinks, corkscrews, nibbles and bowls, tablecloths, new Cross pink girlie signing pen (pen wasn’t cross; it was the make!), the banner, and some business cards.

I’d rehearsed my talk. I’d bought a gorgeous cerise-coloured frock.  My foot with the broken bone squashed nicely into one of the pair of shiny black wedges (none of my evening shoes would fit) and I was ready.

Nothing could go wrong.

I planned to leave at 5.30pm on the Tuesday to give myself plenty of time to unload all the stuff and help the staff to prepare the room ready for the expected 60 – 70 people.

On the Monday evening my estranged husband who is temporarily staying with me so I can look after him after a big bowel cancer operation followed by chemotherapy, didn’t want his supper. Next morning (my launch day) he only ate a small bowl of porridge. No lunch. By mid afternoon he was still in bed so I thought I’d better take his temperature. It was up. When that happens he has to go straight to the A&E.

Off we went. Thankfully, I live in Pembury where we have a brand-new hospital in the village, so it’s only a five minute drive. We sat in A&E, me looking surreptitiously at my watch every couple of minutes. I’d had no lunch and there’d be no time to eat now.
At 4.15pm I told him: ‘I’m going to have to leave you or I’ll be late.’
He nodded and mumbled: ‘I know. Good luck.’ He closed his eyes.

Feeling awful, I left him on a horrible metal chair in A&E, but at least I knew he’d be in safe hands. I rushed home, had quick cup of tea, showered, did hair, zipped into pink dress, earrings, necklace, shoes, and packed up the car with all the stuff. The car was out of the drive at exactly 5.30pm but I was trembling.

DB_Wstones_windowI arrived at the back of Waterstones where you can unload, telling myself I had to block out everything now, including Edward, and concentrate on the talk. The show had to go on!

So did it? All will be revealed in the next post…

Book Launch at Waterstones – Tuesday 16th April 2013!

champagneIt’s been rather exciting since Tuesday when my book Seller Beware: How Not To Sell Your Business was published by Biteback Publishing. I’ve had several editors of local newspapers and magazines ring me saying they wanted to interview me or print extracts from the book. That’s the easy bit – answering questions and deciding what extracts would be suitable for them.

The nerve-wracking bit is the book launch.  It’s to be held at my local branch of Waterstones on Tuesday, 16th April at 7pm. Tickets are apparently flying out of the door so I’ll be bringing gallons of pink champagne and red wine and soft drinks – yes, so far, so good. I’ve asked lots of family and friends, ex-colleagues in the estate agency business who I haven’t seen for decades, present staff of the new estate agency business, along with my co-director, and hopefully some members of the public off the street, so to speak.

It will be great to see so many friends again, and reminisce about the ‘good old days’. Still, so far, so good. But when 7.15 comes around, the Waterstones staff will announce it’s time to give my half-hour talk. That’s when my heart will start to pound, my stomach will start doing cartwheels, and my brain will start to pack up.

I read somewhere that many surveys have been carried out asking people how they feel about giving talks. Apparently, ‘death’ is at the top of the list! People would rather die than stand up and give a talk. I wouldn’t go quite that far, but it is nerve-wracking – until you get started. Once I begin I’m fine, secretly enjoying the attention. And it’s brilliant when you make ‘em laugh with your incredible wit. But my fear is that my mind will go blank. Of course, that’s what everyone fears. That they’ll look stupid. Actually, it doesn’t bother me to look stupid – it happens too often for me to take much notice – but I really want to get across certain points, and I pride myself on not reading from the script. But I do rely on my handful of little cards with prompts, in case I veer off course or forget entirely what I’m on about.

So please think of me this coming Tuesday evening, and raise a glass to all authors who have finally got themselves ‘in print’, bringing upon themselves this stressful situation. Another glass of champagne, please.

PS I’ll let you know how it goes and maybe even post a few photographs.

A case of pre-launch nerves

Photo0004I’m excited and nervous. It’s only a week to Publication Day, 9th April (I’ve put this in capitals on purpose) of my book Seller Beware: How Not To Sell Your Business.

Yesterday, I went into Waterstones to take in a new colour poster about my talk on the 16th April. But I forgot the damned posters!  That was my whole point about going in. Grrrrr.

Anyway, I had a nice chat with one of the booksellers.
He said, ‘Good news.  The books are in already.  But we were a bit surprised as we can’t sell them yet.’
‘Well, it’s not officially published until 9th April,’ I told him.
‘We can usually start selling books a couple of weeks before publication date,’ he said, ‘but your publishers have put an embargo on Seller Beware until Thursday.’
‘What exactly does that mean?’
‘If anyone comes in to buy the book before Thursday we’re not allowed to sell it to them,’ he said, adding, ‘This happens occasionally, but only if a national paper is going to serialise it or the authors happen to be Dan Brown or JK Rowling.’
‘Well, isn’t it nice that those two are in such good company?’ I laughed.

That’s probably the only time my name will be linked to the likes of bestsellers Dan Brown and JK Rowling, but I couldn’t help giving a little hop and a skip when I got outside the shop.