Category Archives: Networking

‘Juliet’s Story’ launched!

Denise bannerOne of the great pleasures of writing a book and getting it published is that you have a perfect excuse for a party!

So for Juliet’s Story, Book 2 of The Voyagers trilogy, I decided to once again hold the launch in the University Women’s Club in Mayfair, where I’ve been a member for almost 30 years.

Although publication day is TODAY, I had the London launch Saturday afternoon, just two days ago, which happened to be my mother’s birthday. If only she could have been there – she would have been so proud! (You know how mothers are.)

Celebrating with friends

With Sue Stephenson, Liz Harris, publisher Helen Hart and Gail Alwyn

The Diamonds

With Tessa Shapcott, Terri Fleming, Sue Mackender – The Diamonds

 

 

But I was surrounded and supported by family and friends, and ten other writers, which was fabulous. We had a high tea: sandwiches, scones, carrot cake, tea, coffee and, of course, lots of fizz.

 

 

 

 

 

The audience

 

 

 

 

 

After everyone had made a beeline for the groaning tables and had a good chat with one another, I gave a talk, primarily on the research I undertook for the novel.

One of the more unusual things was being aboard a freighter for a few days. My heroine, Juliet, goes on a voyage to Australia by cargo ship so I felt I had to go through a similar experience in order to breathe in the atmosphere of what it’s really like. My ship was a German one bound for Hong Kong but after calling at Hamburg, I disembarked in Zeebrugge (Bruges). I didn’t want to spend over six weeks at sea as at the time I was running a business, and unlike Juliet had no one to take it over for such a long period.

Denise in full flowThe voyage was a real adventure and telling details, together with some of the incidents which happened to me, have crept into the novel – which is what research is all about.

I sold a ton of books at the launch which won’t go anywhere near to paying for the afternoon, but that’s not the point. It’s a wonderful way of getting your first readers who you hope will spread the word – and write a review!

 

Denise and Alison

With critique partner Alison Morton

 

 

 

But mainly all their laughter, congratulations and love give you a huge boost to set you on your way.

I feel a bit flat now so I need to get the show on the road for Book 3. Another launch looming, methinks.

  

signing

Signing!

UWC team

The cake and champagne team

 

 

 

 

Julietcover

 

 

 

 

 

Juliet’s Story is now out!
Available now from your local bookshop and from Amazon UK  Amazon US  Kobo

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!

Signing3Signing1

Signing2

Happy author

 

 

 

 

 

 

Signing 7

Signing5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Annie's story

 

 

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

Christmas chats and cheers

Terri, Tessa, DB_sepiaTerri, one of the girls from our small (but select!) writing group invited the other member, Tessa, and me to her Christmas party. Terri lives in an Edwardian mansion in Royal Tunbridge Wells which she and her husband have practically had gutted, to get both the exterior and the interior looking as handsome as the day it was built. Actually, more so, with its mod cons and Terri’s decorating flair.

Terri came to the door looking ravishing in a shiny black-sequined dress with plunging decolletage, showing off her curves to perfection. ‘You’re last,’ she said, as she took my coat and stood while I changed into party shoes. ‘We’re waiting for you so we can eat.’

I looked at my watch. Getting on for eight-thirty. ‘I thought it would just be a drink and nibbles and wouldn’t matter when I arrived.’

‘No, no, it’s a sit-down, so we can have proper conversation.’ She looked at me quite sternly. ‘You haven’t eaten, have you?’

Thank goodness, I hadn’t. Unless you count half a small avocado and a bit of cheese and cracker. She led me into the kitchen where catering-sized casseroles were bubbling away with something which smelt really good and spicy. ‘Vegetable curry,’ Terri answered my unspoken question. I licked my lips in anticipation.

With a glass of Harrods’ champagne in my hand I wandered through the house, as ex-estate agents can’t help doing. Everywhere was decorated just like you see in the ‘country living’ magazines: candles flickered over a Merry Christmas banner as you stepped into the cavernous reception hall; swags of greenery floated across the mantelpieces of several fireplaces and followed the curved banister to the first floor, and a ceiling-sweeping tree stood in the library, dressed in golden birds and white baubles, and a thousand glittering lights. The two candlelit dining tables beckoned me to grab my tray, choose my food, and sit down and relax amongst convivial guests.

Inevitably, Tessa and I sat next to each other and talked about our writing. She’s a published romantic novelist and professional editor, so she always has updated news of what’s going on in the publishing world. Soon some of the other women at the table were drawn into the conversation. Then one of the husbands, an Aussie, had quite an in-depth discussion with us about the difference between men’s and women’s reading matter, and the reasons why. Apparently, men like to cut to the chase in a perfectly logical and linear way (natch!), and women emote over relationships and go off at tangents, thereby affecting their choice of books. Strangely enough, he didn’t come across as chauvinistic, but was telling it as he saw it and was keen to hear whether we agreed. I was surprised he was so interested in the subject, but we later learned his father was a published poet, and he’d even written a few himself. He certainly came out with some ideas and opinions which are sure to find their way into the personalities of my future male characters, especially the alpha heroes!

It was good to know the other non-writing guests were interested in the process and impressed with all the work involved, both during and after the book is finished. They weren’t aware that the writing is one of the easiest bits of the process. The hard work, I explained, is when you think you’re finished. That’s when it’s just about to start.

‘May I top your glass up with more bubbly?’ Terri’s husband asked me, and did so without waiting for a reply. Now that’s what I call a real alpha hero!

The (Paddy) Power of Networking

Ian Dale and Denise Barnes

Me with Ian Dale

An exciting invitation recently came through – well, I’d like to say the post, in a gilt-edged envelope – but of course that probably only happens if the Queen has invited one. Anyway, it popped into my Inbox, and was from my publisher, Iain Dale of Biteback Publishing. He founded the Paddy Power Political Book Awards last year (before I was published) and so being a Biteback author, though not political, I was invited to attend.

What a fantastic evening! The awards were held at the British Film Institute IMAX just below Waterloo Bridge. The taxi couldn’t take me right to the door, so I stumbled along in highish heels down the walkway under the bridge and over the pedestrian road and through the glazed doors of the cinema. I was warmly welcomed with a glass of (proper) champagne and directed up to a very large room where hundreds of people had already gathered.

Suzanne

Suzanne Sangster, Biteback PR

The noise level almost knocked me backwards. At first, I couldn’t make out anyone. People were standing practically shoulder to shoulder, and everyone seemed to know everyone. I walked round the room three times trying to spot my host, Iain, but although he usually stands out, being very tall, I couldn’t see him or any other Biteback members of staff.

I noticed a pretty blonde girl standing at the edge of the room with her drink and went up to her. We got chatting, and guess what? She was a writer from my favourite magazine, The Lady. She’s taken my card and is hopeful that my book Seller Beware: How Not To Sell Your Business might tie in with an appropriate feature coming out soon.

440px-Widdebookclub_(cropped)MaryBeardI hobnobbed with Ann Widdecombe and Mary Beard which was very exciting, and then my editor introduced me to an agent who’s read the first three chapters of my novel and has asked for the full manuscript. She was absolutely charming. I’d love her to represent me. We had a really nice chat, though she’s not yet got round to reading the rest of my novel, what with the London Book Fair looming. She’s promised to do so as soon as she can, but at least I’ve met her in person – always a Very Good Thing.

Michael-DobbsThe awards, in several categories, were very exciting, and one of my favourite authors, Michael Dobbs, won the political fiction book of the year. We had a chat afterwards and I reminded him that he’d given a talk at my club, the University Women’s Club, and he’d signed his latest book at the time for me. He was very pleased when I told him I’ve had a book published since then. I gave him a bookmark which has the same blurb on the back as the actual book, and was thrilled when he read it, then put in his pocket. Another customer?

Two minutes later a gorgeous-looking woman came and chatted to me. She led me to the bar where delicious bowls of food were set out, and as we were tucking in I found out she is a journalist, presenter and interviewer. She was fascinated with my story when I sold my estate agency business to the wrong buyers. She kept introducing me to minor politicians (at least, I’d never heard of them) and telling them about me. I wanted to giggle as their eyes glazed over. Most politicians are not one scrap interested in business, but that didn’t deter her. She said I should be on Woman’s Hour and all sorts of business programmes, and she’s going to try to do something to get me some publicity, and suggested we keep in touch. I shall, don’t worry! When I got home and went on to her website I nearly fainted. She’s a real high flyer, and very much respected in the news world, both nationally and internationally.

champagne‘More champagne, madam?’ asked the waiter. ‘Oh, yes, please!’

Oh, I nearly forgot. I came away with a goody bag containing two of the shortlisted books, a tiny bottle of gin, and a pair of bright rainbow coloured shoelaces from Paddy Power himself!

All right, maybe nothing will come of any of all this, but it was certainly fun meeting such an interesting and diverse group of people, and you never know…