Tag Archives: Fenella Forster

‘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!

 

Julietcover

 

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

‘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

eBook Sales – should we promote them?

Annie's Story coverI’ve put the Kindle version of Annie’s Story, Book 1 of The Voyagers Trilogy, on sale for a fortnight. (It finishes on Tuesday, 15th September.) It’s reduced from £3.95 to 99 pence. But is it the right thing to do?

When one thinks of how long it takes to write a book – and Annie’s Story is quite a chunky historical saga – it does seem to demean the toil and tears we writers go through to reach ‘The End’. But contrary to what non-writers imagine, it’s nowhere near the end. Next comes the re-write and re-write again, the polish and polish again, before it goes out to an editor who suggests more rewriting and then, of course, another final polish. I’ve done as many as 25 drafts before I’ve been satisfied to send it to the editor.

So to bring the price down of my precious book to less than £1 doesn’t really make sense.

But why do we write? We have a burning story we want to tell and most of us want to be published so we can have a wider readership. Only a small percentage of us will make a lot of money. Most writers have to work full or part time to supplement the often pathetic royalties. But the reward comes from the readers themselves. When you get a review where the reader has laughed or cried (preferably both!), when s/he’s loved your book and recommended it to friends, that makes it all worthwhile. It’s communication at its deepest level and is truly miraculous.

So if I reach more readers with my fortnight’s sale of Annie’s Story I’ll be thrilled.
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Annies-Story-Voyagers-Fenella-Forster-ebook/dp/B00V8MZD1A

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

Publication Day!

champagne1I may have mentioned this in a previous post but it doesn’t hurt to say it again. I began The Voyagers trilogy a whole decade ago. Mind you, in that time I wrote and had published two non-fiction books, ran a business, sold a business, bought it back three years later, sold it again last June, and drafted the whole Voyagers trilogy, each novel being around 125,000. So I haven’t been idle. But all those events in my life didn’t take me to the one thing I wanted more than anything – to see my novel in Waterstones’ window.

Until now. The first book in the trilogy called Annie’s Story, is out today! And it’s in Waterstones’ window in Tunbridge Wells! It’s enough to give the author (moi, Fenella Forster) the shivers.

Writing a novel rarely flows from the writer into a wonderfully cohesive storyline with well-developed and interesting characters who conflict with one another, and have enough bad stuff thrown at them that the reader wonders how they will cope, or get out of a scary situation, or pull a relationship together. The only obvious exception might be Barbara Cartland, and even she must have developed her indomitable confidence and storytelling from the first shaky beginning!

What I’m saying is, it hasn’t come easy. It all takes time. You can’t rush the process.

Many times I almost gave up. That’s where your critique writing partner, writing buddy, tutor – call her or him what you will – comes in with words of encouragement and sometimes even uses shock tactics to force you to get going again. I think this might have happened to me when I’d finished my first draft and had no idea if it was any good or not.

But at least 25 drafts later – yes, I know you’re thinking that sounds obsessive, but I’ve read that many well-known writers redraft up to as many as 50 times – I finally knew it was ready for the editor, then the copy-editor, and several proof-readings by me.

In between these stages, the cover designer was busy, and the thrilling result definitely spurred me on when I realised my dream was turning into the most wonderful reality.

Annie's Story coverI’ve commissioned a PR consultant to help readers become aware of Annie’s Story – discoverability, I believe it’s called, and I’ve had postcards, business cards and a banner printed, all with the image of the cover. I think these advertising props are crucial in spreading the word.

There is so much more at stake when writing fiction as opposed to non-fiction. You’re judged on your imagination rather than facts. That’s pretty personal. And I know it’s going to wound if I get a bad/or even just a mediocre review. I’m just hoping that Annie’s Story will touch readers’ hearts, and if they are kind enough to give me a good review you will see me dance with joy.

 

Annie’s Story by Fenella Forster is now available (ebook and paperback)
Order through any good book shop or online
Amazon UK      Amazon US

Cover revealed – Annie’s Story!

My heart was beating as fast as one of my romantic heroines as my fingers hovered over the keyboard to open Bron’s attachment. Bron is one of the production assistants at SilverWood Books, who will be publishing Annie’s Story in April 2015 (this month!).

Did the cover designer get it? Had she read the book so she understood the character of the heroine: her appearance, her expression, her innermost thoughts? A tall order, perhaps. Would the design give the flavour of the period so a reader would instantly know they were picking up a historical novel of the Edwardian era? Would she have found a ship similar to the Orsova, the one my own grandparents sailed on to Australia in the same year as Annie; 1913? Would I like the overall design? No, more importantly, would I love it?

Annie's Story cover

This was it. Only by pressing the damned key would I be able to answer such a string of questions. I pressed. And gasped as the cover slowly unfolded under my eyes. It was stunning. In every way. The girl, the most prominent of the design, was so beautiful and so ‘Annie-like’ I had to blink back tears of joy. She was dressed in the right period – a little too grand, perhaps, for a housemaid, but after all, it was her wedding outfit. And her head tilting downwards, her expression so serious, was the perfect stance for Annie who had no idea what she would be facing in an unknown country.

I looked at the cover closely. How clever the designer was to pick a ship which looked so similar to the Orsova, with its characteristic two funnels. There was some faint lettering on the prow. I peered nearer to the screen. The ship had the same number of letters as the Orsova. And what a coincidence: this one also started with an ‘O’. And then I realised this was no fake. The designer had sourced the real ship and I couldn’t have been more thrilled to see a piece of my family history on the cover of my debut novel.

It was a sepia background and the wine-red lettering, Annie’s Story, was bold and sweeping, just like the sweeping saga I hoped the readers would love amongst the pages.
I wanted to kiss her for getting it so perfect.

Of course when the euphoria had died a fraction I found a few nit-picks to alter.
‘That’s fine,’ Bron assured me. ‘I’ll send it off to Canada with your comments. It won’t take long.’
‘She lives in Canada?’
‘Canada, yes, but ‘she’, no,’ Bron answered. ‘Your designer is a guy.’

My mouth dropped open. A male actually ‘got it’ in bucketloads. What I see as being a woman’s novel. Well, hush my mouth. But on second thoughts it’s always a pleasure to kiss a hunky chap. It must be the romantic writer in me!

Annie’s Story by Fenella Forster will be published 20 April 2015
Available for pre-order on Amazon (ebook and paperback) 

National events and their impact on our stories

No SurrenderI recently came across a book published by the wonderful Persephone Books, a novel, published in 1911. The title is No Surrender by Constance Maud, and about the suffragettes. The author played a significant part in the Votes for Women movement and states that although the characters are fictitious, every event and detailed description is absolutely true. By the end of the novel I had recognised who some of the women really were. It’s a book which made me angry, sad, and had me in tears by the end – and I rarely cry over films and books.

By the end of the novel the leading characters see a glimmer of light that women are on the brink of getting the vote, but as we now know, they were still many years away.
My debut book,  Annie’s Story (out on 20 April!) begins in 1913. Annie does sometimes muse on the unfairness of women not having any say in law-making, but as this debate was not really crucial to my story, I only mentioned it in passing. Annie would have been aware of it, but because she’s a housemaid, she isn’t able to go to any of the daytime suffragist meetings. And then she goes to Australia, where women have had the vote for twenty years.

However, it shows that when writing fiction, particularly historical, it’s really important to be aware of what is going on in the world around your characters. They can’t live in a vacuum you’ve created. Events happen. They don’t have to be major calamities but it does help if your reader would have heard of them. It’s bound to have some kind of effect on your characters’ attitudes, beliefs, dreams etc. and to the reader it will seem far more natural if these are underpinned by something more tangible.

This is where archived newspapers come into their own, and with the internet you don’t even have to trawl into London. Just tap in British Newspaper Archive (it’s in partnership with the British Library) to tell you what was happening in the period you’re writing in. Obviously, there’s a limit to how far back you can go!

Annie’s Story by Fenella Forster will be published 20 April 2015
Available for pre-order on Amazon (ebook and paperback) 

 

What’s in a pseudonym?

agatha_archaeoI’ve been fascinated with pseudonyms even before becoming a writer. Why would anyone change their name unless it was really awful, like D’eath or Ramsbottom, for instance? None of us would probably be too happy with either of those, though I do know of the D’eaths and the Ramsbottoms, and they are both really nice families.

Well, as a writer there is often a strong reason for having a pen name. It could be because you write in different genres and don’t want to confuse your different readerships. I was intrigued to read Agatha Christie’s pseudonym when she sometimes broke away from her famous detective stories to write about flawed introverted heroines and heroes. She wrote under the name of Mary Westmacott and apparently loved this genre. Strangely enough, I’ve never read one of her detective novels (though I loved her autobiography, Come, tell me how you live: an archaeological memoir), but I’ve read all six of her psychological novels and thoroughly enjoyed them.

It could be because you’ve written some steamy sex scenes, or even erotica, and you don’t want your mum to know.

Or you might want to change your real name because it has never sounded like an author.I write fiction and non-fiction so have a good case to choose a pen-name, particularly as I think Denise Barnes sounds rather businesslike, though it was perfect for my two published non-fiction memoirs, from Bad to Wurst: Bavarian adventures of a veggie cook and Seller Beware: How Not To Sell Your Business. I just don’t think it has the right feel for my trilogy, which is a romantic family saga. So I’ve chosen to be known as Fenella Forster.

I didn’t pluck the name out of thin air. It happens to be the name of my grandfather whom I never met, and who might not have had any idea that he had a daughter (my mother), let alone that I existed. I will never be able to find any of his side of the family because I have no details about him, except my grandmother thought him the kindest man in the world, but at least I’ve acknowledged him by ‘borrowing’ his name as the author of my novels.

Trouble is, what do I sign the novel as – Fenella or Denise?

I would love to hear from other writers who have a pseudonym and why they chose it.