Friday, 17 July 2015

10 Essential Steps in the Lead up to a Physical Book Launch

Excitement levels are high in the Bookaholic Camp this week. It is just 3 days until the launch of Killer's Craft, the second book in the DI Shona McKenzie Mysteries. This means I have been busy getting ready for the event. This got me thinking about everything an author to do on the lead up to the launch of a book. 

1. My first point, and probably the most crucial is to start planning your launch early. If you plan on holding your launch in a bookshop approach them as soon as you have a date for publication. Bookshops hold a lot of events and you may find that the day or week you want is not available for your date. If you are not going to be using a bookshop then decide which venue you would like to use and book it. 

2. Create a buzz about the event a few weeks in advance. This can be done in many ways:
  • Tell your friends and family
  • Use social media wisely. It is important not to spam the heck out of every group on Facebook or any other social media site. This is not a formal invite but teasers about the event
3. Use teasers to let the excitement build. These can include cover reveal, blurb reveal, photos of the books arriving, letting people know that your event calendar is filling up. I am sure there are many more. If you have any innovative ideas then please let me knowing the comments. 

4. Create flyers for the event, and leave them in the bookshop, libraries, or anywhere else you think may be appropriate. For example, a local Cafe which I use asked me when the book launch was and asked me if I had any flyers they could display.

5. This one may be out of your control as it is up to the bookstore. Waterstones added to the general buzz by creating an event on Facebook. 

6. Invite people and create a list of names. This is so you can get an idea of numbers. Your venue will need to know so they have enough chairs etc. Remember if you re inviting people through social media not everyone on your friends list lives close enough to come to a launch. Invite only the relevant people before you start to annoy everyone in far flung lands. 

7. If you are published through your own imprint then make sure that the books are uploaded to the relevant sites, such as Amazon and SmashWords, in time for the publication date. This may take a few days after upload so do not leave it until the last minute.

8. This is also crucial. Make sure you order books to a arrive in plenty of time. This needs to include time for the bookstore to get them into their system ready for the day. 

9. This one is down to personal preference. I have food and drink at my launch. I provide the food and Waterstones provides wine and soft drinks. It gives a real party atmosphere and also means that guests have something to do if there is a large queue for book signing. It also allows for people to chat in general, and your books specifically.

10. The most important one of all. Have fun. Book launches are a blast and it is your chance to show yourself off as an author and a person. Enjoy every minute of your hour in the spotlight.

So there we have it my Bookaholic friends. If you think of anything else that should be done on the lead up to a launch then please let me know in the comments. I am always open to new ideas and suggestions.

Monday, 6 July 2015

Book Review: Losing Face

Another YA novel on Bookaholics today. No, I have not moved over to reading purely YA. This is just the way it happened. However, this book is well worth reviewing, and I make no apologies for it's inclusion.

As Bookaholics already know this isn't the sort of book I usually read. I am not a fan of YA but I saw this at a conference and liked the premise of the story. I read a couple of pages and was hooked. I am so glad I bought it. I started reading this yesterday and genuinely could not put it down. I kept reading until 2 am when I finally finished it and have thought about it ever since. Try really understands young people and their psyche. She also knows how important body image is to, not only their self esteem, but to their sense of self. The story is emotional, involving and yet inspiring. It is a story of a friendship which holds true through tragedy. 

Both characters are real and I could just imagine them. I liked the way they grew in confidence as the book progressed. I always found myself wanting to know what happened next. The secondary characters are also real even though not prominent in the story. This is a superb book which I have no hesitation in highly recommending, not only to young adults, but to adults. 


If you buy from the UK and US links above I will receive a few pennies through affiliates. You do not need to buy from these links but can buy direct from Amazon.

There we are for another week my Bookaholic friends. See you all back here soon. My next book is a mystery. The review will be following soon. 

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Book Review: Champion of the Chalet School

Good afternoon my fellow Bookaholics. Not a dead body in site on today's blog. I promised you an eclectic selection and that is what you are getting. Today is a book in a series for tweens and young adults. This is a series I never thought I would be reading again. 

I love Elinor M. Brent-Dyer's Chalet School books and was a little worried this would not be up to the same standard. My fears were groundless. I could not tell this book from those written by the original author. It is obvious that a lot of research, care and effort went into writing this book. Adrianne Fitzpatrick is a gifted storyteller and understands the series, and the characters, well. The story was good and kept me reading. It took me back to the books of my childhood and sitting, curled up, reading these books. It was really good to catch up with familiar characters again and find out more about them. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. This apples whether you have read the original series or not. It will certainly make you want to go back to the original books and read, or reread them. I genuinely could not put this book down, and was sad when it ended. 


The book can be bought by clicking on the UK or USA links above. I will receive a few pence affiliate fee if you do so. You can go direct to Amazon without using these links.

So there we have it Bookaholics. Why not grab yourself a copy and relive your childhood. See you next time and keep reading. 

Friday, 26 June 2015

Merrilyn Williams Writing Fiction as Mel Menzies

Today on the blog we welcome Merrilyn Williams who writes as Mel Menzies. Thank you for joining us Merrilyn

What was your favourite subject at school?

English literature. I loved reading from an early age. By the time I was ten, I was completely hooked on Charles Dickens, could quote passages of Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Keats and Byron. Just wish I could still remember them!

So you were a reader before becoming a writer?
Absolutely! I went to an old fashioned convent primary school where ink pots and dip-in pens were still in use! I seemed to be unable to handle this without getting ink everywhere, and was often sent out of class for making a mess. Ironically, ‘naughty’ children were expected to sit in the library. I don’t need to tell you how often I ended up in there!

What made you want to write?
Writing for me, as a child, was both an escape and it was cathartic. I didn’t fit in with my family, who were all extroverts, so I needed somewhere to hide. And where better than the attic where all my father’s books were kept?

Also, because I invariably seemed to be in trouble – ‘sent to bed with bread and water’ was the phrase used – writing about my feelings was therapeutic to me. I didn’t keep a diary as such, but I suppose what I was doing was journaling. I came across some of this quite recently, in which I’d listed all the ways in which I felt I failed as a fourteen year old. Far too many to include here!

Tell us something about your previous books and how you got started with your new book, Time to Shine
New writers are always told to ‘write about what you know’. I’d written a number of books - testimony about how I’d coped with the various circumstances life had thrown at me - and I’d been commissioned by mainstream publishers to write other people’s life-stories. So, with a dozen books behind me, one of which was in the top ten bestseller list, I’m far from being a newbie.

However, I’d had a gap of some years when work commitments for my employers made it impossible for me to write. So when I started writing Time to Shine, I felt it was like starting again.

Consequently, I drew on my own experience of having had a bad marriage. Also, I was a counsellor, practising as a member of a team, so I’d spent a lot of time helping others to cope with marital and relationship problems. But I didn’t want this book to be yet another testimony or How-to book, like those I’d written in the past.

So you decided to switch to fiction and write a novel?
Yes. I’d already written one novel, A Painful Post Mortem (a story about losing a child, which is still available from Amazon as an e-book) and had some great reviews. So I decided this was where I wanted to take my writing career in future, writing stories that entertain but also have some purpose in them.

And what is the purpose behind your book, Time to Shine?

My purpose - the theme of the book - is to show that forgiveness is always possible, no matter what. Time to Shine is in the mystery genre, but I wanted it to be different. So instead of having the usual Detective Inspector investigating the mystery that kicks off the conflict in the story, I have a counsellor – a marriage mender - Evie Adams. In helping her client, Julia Worth, to deal with what her husband, Carl, throws at her, Evie also helps her to solve the enigma of why he’s become so hostile.

Originally, the title of the book was The Marriage Mender. Then I realised that, actually, the theme was about more than just forgiveness, and the story was more than simply mending a marriage. So, as both Julia and Evie end up fulfilling their dreams, I changed the title to Time to Shine. And I’m hoping that, after all my teenage failures, it will also be my time to shine. J

Can you give readers a short passage from your book so we can get a flavour of what it is about?

Certainly! When a client with marriage problems seeks therapy from Evie, a dark secret from long ago is uncovered. Here, she is reflecting on her first session with Julia.

'I keep wondering if Carl's having a mid-life crisis,’ said Julia. ‘They do say men can have a sort of menopause, don't they?'

'How do you mean?' I asked.

'Well, I wonder if it's to do with his father. I only knew him for a short time. He died about four years after we were married; the year Abi was born. He was a barrister. Prided himself on his self-sufficiency, and made no secret of what he thought of anyone needy, or beneath him.'

'So not the easiest of people to get on with?'

Julia screwed up her face in a non-verbal agreement. 'He certainly wasn't one to mince his words. He thought nothing of engineering as a career, and had no qualms in telling Carl so. It was all about brain being superior to brawn. That's what he used to say. He made it pretty obvious he hadn't much time for his son.'

'And you? How did you find him?'

'As I say, I didn't know him for long. I suppose he must have been about - what - ten years older than Carl is now when he died. I remember there was a big to-do. Carl's mother sent for the priest to give him absolution. Last rites. And Carl went berserk. Went round the house yelling that if God forgave his father, he wanted nothing to do with either of them. God or his father.'

I felt puzzled, and said so.

'It was all to do with something that had happened when he was a schoolboy,' Julia explained. 'Something truly terrible . . .’

What are you working on at the moment?

Time to Shine is the first book in the Evie Adams series so I’m now working on the next one. Its title is Chosen? and it tells the story of an American who, happily adopted, seeks Evie out in his search to find his biological family – and uncovers a can of worms. Again, it’s set in Evie’s Exeter Cathedral counselling rooms, and another Devon location near Dartmouth.

It has been a pleasure having you on the blog Merrilyn. I am sure all bookaholics will join me in wishing you every success. 

Merrilyn Williams writes fiction under her family name, Mel Menzies. The author of nearly a dozen books, one a bestseller, she lives in Devon where she likes nothing better than taking her lovely grandchildren on the beach. Her website, An Author’s Look at Life, offers resources to inform, inspire and encourage.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

A strategic Retreat Part 2

This is now day four of my writing retreat and it has been a roaring success. I've been head down, working hard and have achieved everything I wanted to achieve. Book 2 in the DI Shona Mckenzie Mysteries, Killer's Craft, has had its final edit and is good to go. I am now waiting patiently for the launch on 20th July, 2015. Okay, I'm not that patient but you get the gist. I am now storming ahead with book 3, Killer's Cross. I have managed to write up a storm, and that is partly down to the weather. I make no apologies for the dreadful pun here.

Initially I was praying for sunshine for the week. I had plans to sit out in the courtyard and write all day. This being Scotland, the weather had other plans. It has been dull, raining, windy, and today I have fog. Rather than sitting in a courtyard I have spent the week sitting at this writing desk, in front of a picture window.

It has been perfect. I have watched pounding waves break on the rocks at the bottom of the cliff. I have been eyeball to eyeball with swooping seagulls and other seabirds, just inches from my face. Towering rocks in the distance look like derelict castles, depending on the light. Trees, clinging to the cliffside, have been windblown and rainswept. Today there is thick fog shrouding the landscape in mystery. As I type the fog is slowly moving , drifting past my window with icy tentacles. 

So, as far as writing mysteries go, the week has been an astounding success. The atmosphere of the changing landscape has given me ideas for this, and future, books. The week has taught me, that as a writer, I need to be flexible and make the most of every situation. Nothing is wasted. Everything I do or see can be stored away and used at some time in the future.

So my Bookaholic friends my retreat is fast coming to an end. Tomorrow I will be back home and ready to take part in life again. I will do so with more vigour and a renewed sense of why I write. I would recommend this to any writer. 

What is your experience of retreats? have you been on any or are you contemplating doing one?

Monday, 22 June 2015

A Strategic Retreat Part 1

I am sure many people feel that being a writer must be an easy life. You just have to sit at a computer each day and type. In some ways this can be true. However, a quote widely attributed to Ernest Hemingway describes otherwise. 'It is easy to write, just sit in front of your typewriter and bleed'. Both writing, and being a writer, can be hard work.

Recently life has been busy for me. I have been both editing one book, and writing another. I have also been doing events, giving talks, and doing research as well as trying to have a social life. Most writers will agree that being a writer means juggling a number of different roles. It is easy to get caught up in the busyness of life and writing time can be eroded. Sometimes, it feels good to retreat and spend time just writing.

I am fortunate, this week, to be on a writing retreat. I am staying in a cottage at the top of a cliff and the spectacular view from my window can be seen below.

The picture does not do it justice. The view is magnificent with waves breaking on rocks at the foot of the cliffs, multicoloured wildflowers and gorse in the fields, sheer cliffs dropping to the sea below and birds soaring below me. This is a writers paradise. One cannot help but be inspired writing in such an idyllic setting. It is both beautiful and peaceful, and conducive to writing. In fact I have spent the whole day doing so. Im writing this blog at 10:45 at night and, as this is Scotland there is still light in the sky. As I watch the cliffs grow darker, they are still magnificent. I count myself blessed to have such an opportunity.

I believe that retreats are an important part of a writers life. They give the writer time to reflect, relax and write. They provide time for the writer to focus and take stock of where their writing is going. This is just the first day but already I am energised and ready for the next book. I am looking forward to seeing how much I can do over the next few days. I look forward to seeing you back here again tomorrow. 

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

An Author's Thoughts Revealed

It has been a bit of a busy time for me recently. Book two in the DI Shona McKenzie Mysteries is finished and I am waiting for the proof copy to turn up. I am reliably informed it will be here today. This means I can't settle and my thoughts are all over the place. There is still much to do before the launch which still seems so far away. Yet it is less than five weeks. The launch will be held in Waterstones, Dundee on 20th July at 6.30 pm. I'm excited beyond belief, and very much looking forward to the event. So I am sure you can understand why my thoughts are erratic. 

Whilst I am writing this blog, and doing anything else in fact, all I can think about is the postman arriving. Only a writer will understand what it means to hold the first copy of a new book in my hands. This is a time of magic. It belongs to me, and all those months and years of hard work have come to fruition. For five weeks I can hold it in my hand. There is still time to nurture it and make changes. However, in five weeks it will be set free and into the hands of the reading public. All authors know that this is an anxious time. Will readers enjoy the book is what fills my thoughts on launch day. 

So, today, I am finding it difficult to settle. I am finding it difficult to concentrate. What does an author do in such circumstances? Why read a book of course. In order to be an author, you first need to be a reader. My love of reading is up there with that of my writing. I have bookcases full of books which I have not yet read. I can savour the glorious feeling of anticipation as I choose the perfect book. I will then grab a cup of tea, a chocolate biscuit and sit down with the book. It will occupy my mind and hold me in its grip. It will stop me thinking about the postman's arrival.

What's that you say? What have I chosen? That my friends will remain a mystery until next time. See you all back here soon with a review of my chosen book. 

In the meantime I will leave you with a picture of the cover of book two in the DI Shona McKenzie Mysteries. If you haven't yet read book one you can get it from the links on the right hand side of the blog. By for now, and keep reading.