Move on #Napowrimo #2

Move On

Life is too short and so

to save time,

to be efficient,

einstein

 

I wear an Einstein wardrobe;

white blouse,

black jeans,

boots,

yet

 

flamboyant colour

when a kaleidoscope of colour

flounces before me, I envy

the flamboyance,

briefly.

I indulge in the dream of being

free to reside in sparkling rainbows

simply dancing, with no destination

kicking away scrumpled up “to-do” lists

tossed aside with abandon.

 

einsteins wardrobe.jpg

 

The moment passes.

I console myself;

a books beauty is held on the inside.

I move on.

 

 

This poem was strangely influenced by  an article by Julie Marie Wade, Wednesday, March 18, 2015:  article

“Put a Dog in There: Poetry and the Power of Concrete Nouns”

used as a Napowrimo craft resource. In her essay she discusses the power of including nouns.

 

Advertisements

How Portia The Pear Found Her Publisher

A friend I met at a writing workshop, asked me recently, how I became published after writing my book. This is a question I’m asked frequently and if this interests you, put the kettle on, get comfortable and I’ll tell you the story of… Portia The Pear. I have to tell you the whole story, because there is an element of luck, fate, or maybe serendipity to this, or perhaps I was ready and willing when the opportunity arose? I’ll let you decide.

I had rediscovered my passion for writing, and fell in love with the craft all over again. I’d also discovered a new level of proactivity, which I’ll discuss in a future blog. With this new energy, I sought out and found a local writing group, Stockport Writers who meet at The Hatworks once a month. I also joined a local poetry group, Write Out Loud, who meet at Stockport War Memorial Art Gallery once a month. With the support and encouragement I found discussing writing with like-minded people, my confidence grew and so did my level of passion for the subject.

With this confidence, and heightened awareness of all things literary, I spotted a postcard on a noticeboard at Bredbury Library. It advertised a writing group which met in Marple, every Thursday night called The Storytellers Place. I went along. I was cramming in as much writing, reading and group work as I could, enjoying every minute.

As any woman knows, you share everything with your hairdresser; it’s the law. At each appointment I was babbling on about the writing groups and how fascinating it was and how I wanted to write bedtime stories for children. It was at this point where the magic started to manifest. At one of my appointments my hairdresser gave me a leaflet from Tatton Park advertising their 100 years celebration of the work of Roald Dahl, saying “I saw this and thought of you”. As part of the events taking place, there was a creative writing workshop to be held, called “How To Write Like Roald Dahl”, run by a lady called Joy Winkler. It went on to describe how Joy was Cheshire’s Poet Laureate in 2015. A poet discussing children’s books, it sounded perfect for my master plan of writing a bedtime story. When I looked into the event in more detail I found it was affordable but would mean I needed to book a day’s holiday from work. Up until this time I had always booked days to be off with my children, covering school holidays. However, I was so intrigued, I book the day off and booked myself onto the course whilst feeling like a naughty school girl playing truant!

Roald_Dahls_Matilda

On the day, I drove over to Tatton Park in glorious sunshine, arriving for a 10.30 am start. I then spent the morning with the inspirational Joy Winkler as she taught the techniques for writing for children and exploring how Dahl created his fabulous characters. At lunch time we were sent into the kitchen gardens with the instruction of spending two hours developing characters and writing a story that unfolds in the gardens themselves.

 

The first sight to greet me, as I walked outside was a beautiful row of pear trees trained into perfect lines with the most sumptuous fruit hanging neatly from the branches. I had a closer look and saw each tree had a different “name” and most names were female. A very knobbly pear then caught my eye. It was all scrunched up and had dark freckly skin unlike the rest of the fruit. The shape and twists made it look like a sad face, and I knew immediately that this was my character. I sat quietly and wrote and two hours later read out my story to the group. It was well received and Joy suggested I submit it to a publisher because it had a strong voice. I hope you are paying attention because this is the part that truly is magic.

The very next day, an email popped up telling me that a Children’s Publisher was coming to The Storytellers Place to talk about Independent Book Publishing in the following week. I quickly “Googled” the publisher and found their submission guidelines. I checked that my story was in the format they wanted, a word document. I checked and re-checked it for spelling mistakes and grammar, then drafted a cover email, attached Portia and pressed send. All I had in mind at that point was to ask for some feedback and pointers on what could be improved.

Two gentlemen from Tiny Tree Children’s Book Publishers delivered a presentation to my writing group and nervously I hung behind to speak to them after everyone had left. I then told them I had cheekily submitted my book and asked if they could tell me what they thought. The reply was that they hadn’t read it yet, they had been very busy. “That’s a ‘no’ then” I thought. I went home dejectedly and had a sulky early night.

The very next day, an email popped up this time from the publishers, telling me they loved the book and asking if I could call to the office to discuss it with them. After bouncing around my office like Tigger, I replied and agreed to the meeting.

For what happened next you can read my blog “Feedback and re-writes” dated March 6th 2017 followed by “Validation and Illustration” dated March 13th 2017.

blog6

 

So what do you think? My hairdresser told me of a writing workshop, where I wrote a story and was encouraged to submit it. A writers group introduced me to a publisher, who said “yes”. Was it luck, serendipity or fate? Or was it the amount of work learning the techniques in the months before, that meant I was ready with an almost finished piece of writing when an opportunity arose? I am unsure. I worked hard and put in long hours, but surely the email arriving the day after writing my story announcing a publisher was coming to me, suggests more powerful forces were in play, doesn’t it?

Fate or luck, one thing is certain, to be published you must have first written. As Joy Winkler emphasises “you must sit and write” and who knows where it will lead you, if you do? A great quote from Stephen King sums this up “Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.”

If anyone has any questions on creative writing, the process of being published or simply what to expect at writing groups, please ask. This is my passion and if I can help in anyway, I’d be glad to do so.

Good luck and happy writing.

magic quote

 

 

Frazzled – the battle with adrenaline

I’ve been so far out of my comfort zone for so long, I’m not sure I know my way back.

In the last 6 months, I’ve been drawn away from the pleasure of writing, to be called upon for public speaking events. Moving away from the private relationship between writer and page into a pubic life of presenting the published book to unknown audiences. It’s uncomfortable. It sounds ungrateful, and sulky, but for those of you, who long for the label of published, let me give you an insight into what is then expected of you.

The book launch itself was a huge party. Surrounded by friends and family I was supported throughout the whole event and I loved every minute. A lot of hard work studying the craft had paid off, and seeing my name of the front cover of a picture book was a dream come true.

Beyond that, I was asked to travel to the other side of the country to read in a major bookshop in Essex, during the town’s first birthday celebrations. Packed with families with expectant faces, I read my book whilst learning to juggle the page turns and display the fabulous illustrations. It is a children’s picture book after all. From the gesticulating and arm waving of the publisher, at the back of the room, I was encouraged to project my voice more. After 5 hours storytelling, my voice had all but disappeared.

This was the beginning of experiencing the adrenaline roller coaster; the sleepless nights and anxiety before an appearance, the peak and blind spots during the performance and the crash that surely follows once safely home.

The intensity of focus whilst presenting creates a muffled bubble around me. I can’t process information or hear clearly when blood is pounding at a rate of knots in my ears. This leaves me unaware of how the reading actually went. Of course there is the immediate feedback given by those who invited you to attend, but is the praise genuine? I can’t tell.

Quickly after, library invitations were received. Smaller groups of families gathered, waiting to hear a story read to the children. It should have been more relaxed, but all eyes are focused on you, listening to every word – that’s the point obviously – the adrenaline returned.

A book festival held in Cumbria, on a freezing winter’s day saw a 10 hour day travelling, reading, engaging children in creating their own stories, hand shakes with a councillor and journalists. Thankfully, there was an unexpected perk on this trip. A child came over to me and asked if it was okay to give me a hug. “Of course,” I replied, “they are my favourite things”… a line of children formed, each and every one hugging me on their way out of the school library. I’ll never forget that memory. I didn’t need any feedback from adults that day. I floated back to Cheshire.

Carried along on the high, I felt immortal! I decided to take a further leap into the unknown and did something I’d wanted to do for years. I booked a Vision Board Workshop. I booked, planned and presented a 2 hour workshop to teach how to create and use a vision board to focus on your goals and move towards achieving them. 2 hours later, I was losing my voice yet again.

Why would I willingly book the workshop you may ask, if I’m uncomfortable in a public arena? After months of being pushed into the spotlight to promote my book, I wanted to use the experience I had gained for to achieve a personal goal. I believe so firmly in the power of vision boards, it was a message I wanted to share, and as a result I had great fun with the ladies who attended. So much so that the venue manager invited me to attend another public event there; Harry Potter Day.

One tweet about the day said “If you mention the word Harry Potter, you’d better book Wembley Arena”. The crowds who poured into the Art Gallery that day were queued around the building for hours in icy winds and snow. The buzz attracted the BBC film crew. Every child dressed in full Hogwarts attire. After teaching spell writing to 640 children. I ached from head to foot. An occupational therapist friend of mine explained, bending down to speak to a child at their level was the equivalent of “squatting”. I had performed a thousand squats that day and my thighs screamed their resentment to me.

In the last week, I’ve battled the Beast from the East on World Book Day, to get books and equipment to a local school, in time to hold two school assemblies, followed by over seventy book signings engaging each child individually in the process. This time the pain was felt in my swollen hand, signing so many books. I shan’t complain!

As I write, an email has popped up asking how I can be booked for another school event. I shall reply enthusiastically. No matter how uncomfortable, no matter how physically and mentally challenged, no matter how the adrenaline messes with my mind, the children are the stars. One smile from a child is enough reward. The sea of hands thrust into the air eager to answer questions and join in the story making, is enough.

I have indulged here in a whine, wallowing in the hardships of public speaking, but I’ve vented, I feel better. Thank-you for listening, and if you do chase the dream of the label “published,” well, you’ve been informed of all it involves; aching feet, stiff back, hoarse voice and all. Now close this blog, ignore all I’ve said and go after that dream. I wish you every success x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Portia The Pear, receives 5 star reviews

I was delighted to open up Amazon and read all the kind reviews left for Portia, here are some of my favourites:

Beautifully written book with such a great message for kids. I will look out for more titles by this fabulous author.”

“My 2 boys love this book! Beautifully written and great message behind the story. Definitely recommend”

“A fantastic read with an inspirational message that all kids should hear.”

Thank-you to everyone who has taken the time to post a review it really is the best present an author can receive. Although, receiving this festive depiction of the main characters in the form of a gorgeous Christmas poster, illustrated by the fabulous Elena Mascolo, is a very close second!

Thank you Elena your work always amazes me.

christmas portia

Portia The Pear – the book launch.

 

book launch signing

Portia The Pear, my first Children’s Picture Book, was launched in September this year and is now on sale in bookshops, on Amazon and even in the gift shops at Tatton Park in Cheshire.

 

The launch party was an amazing event with more people attending than I ever imagined. Book sales were crazily high, I couldn’t move from the signing table. Children were busy sticking, painting, and creating at the craft tables. Those with more energy bounced on the bouncy castle and chased balloons. There was even a music maestro playing acoustic guitar in a quieter area for those who preferred to stay out of the mele.

book launch peopl

I can’t thank enough, the team of people who helped me to organise and manage the event. I had volunteers in the kitchen, help setting up the buffet, friends supervising the crafting and one dear friend even took charge of meeting and greeting. What a bunch of superstars. The day’s success was all down to their fantastic spirit of “all hands on deck” – angels every one!

book launch craft

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So here is a link to find my book, which makes a superb Christmas present for little ones. Book reviews can be found on Amazon, to see what people think so far.

amazon

To any budding authors out there, be ready to take part in marketing events organised by your publisher. My feet haven’t touched the ground since launch day. I’ve been as far south as Foyles in Chelmsford and I’m on my way north to Barrow-in-Furness next, with Apple Day Festivals in between and pit stops at libraries it takes a lot of energy to support your book, so be prepared!

book reading

I leave you with a link to the book and the publisher for more information …… did I say Portia makes a great stocking filler????

https://matthewjamespublishing.com/product/portia-pear-nicola-hulme/

christmas portia

 

 

I’ve just got back from meeting my publisher…

blog5

I like to say that.

I will take every opportunity to say that.

I do not apologise for being ecstatic that I can say that!

blog10

During a very civilised conversation over a cup of tea at the fabulous Cloudberry Cafe, Marple, my publisher and I

(oops! I did it again) discussed the upcoming marketing strategy for my new book. 

 

blog9

I am so excited I may spontaneously combust – stand well back!

Talking for 2 hours about all things bookish, is an absolute pleasure. 

blog12

Watch this space over the coming weeks for details.

My face is literally aching from smiling so much.  

I will be ordering my own book from Amazon because I can.

I will be ordering my book from Waterstones because I can. 

Ouch! My cheeks hurt.

I have illustrations!

Picture a lady who is old enough to know better, bouncing around like Tigger on his happiest and bounciest day. 

Picture the biggest smile on a child’s face.

Picture someone who can’t sit still and is yabbering on at speed and at a pitch only dogs can hear.

That’s me, right now, as I look at the illustrations created for my new children’s book. 

It’s every Christmas morning rolled into one. 

My baby now has a face, a colourful, beautiful face and I could kiss it – but that would be too weird.

b;og7

 

I have “blurb”!

Today, I contributed to and approved,  the blurb that will be issued to the trade when describing my first Children’s Picture Book. It may even appear on the back cover. (I won’t dwell on how the word “blurb” frustrates me when the words “a brief outline of the story” could be used, this is not the time to be picky.) Today is the day to celebrate and be excited by the fact I have my very own blurb. I have blurb about a book that I have written. Me. My book. My blurb. Happy. 

Medieval Marginalia

Napowrimo Challenge Day 24

I initially struggled with this prompt, but once I’d found an angle, it became much easier to write.

The Prompt: 

Write a poem of ekphrasis — that is, a poem inspired by a work of art…base your poem on a very particular kind of art – the marginalia of medieval manuscripts. Here you’ll find some characteristic images of rabbits hunting wolves, people sitting on nests of eggs, dogs studiously reading books, and birds wearing snail shells. What can I say? It must have gotten quite boring copying out manuscripts all day, so the monks made their own fun. Hopefully, the detritus of their daydreams will inspire you as well!

My Response:

 

Hollow

blog 21

A young boy, bent and twisted

over a dimly lit desk, peers at the page.

The candle flickers.

Stiff with cold, his bones ache

from long diligent hours, transcribing reverent texts.

His repetitive days pass in silent gloom.

His quill scratches hairy parchment with thin ink.

blog6

Original thoughts are not required,

Nor dreams or ambition.

Bound by his vow of celibacy,

he will never know the passion of young love.

Hunger and starvation pains his body, pains his soul.

Neglect and lack of sustenance drive him

to the point of defacing the page

blog5

with subversive medieval marginalia.

Supressed dreams, desires and anger merge

revealing his inner torment.

Offensive images of vulgarity spill out onto the page.

blog12

He longs to run away from the sordid squalor,

from the dark, cold and damp monastery.

To stretch his legs, straighten his back,

feel sun on his face as he runs into the arms

of one who smiles and cares.

blog7

The monastic life drives him away

rather than draws him nearer to God.

 Are the words he pens so hollow?

 

The Book, The Writer

Day 23 Napowrimo Challenge

The Prompt:

Our prompt for Day Twenty-Three comes to us from Gloria Gonsalves, who challenges us to write a double elevenie. What’s that? Well, an elevenie is an eleven-word poem of five lines, with each line performing a specific task in the poem. The first line is one word, a noun. The second line is two words that explain what the noun in the first line does, the third line explains where the noun is in three words, the fourth line provides further explanation in four words, and the fifth line concludes with one word that sums up the feeling or result of the first line’s noun being what it is and where it is. There are some good examples in the link above.

A double elevenie would have two stanzas of five lines each, and twenty-two words in all. It might be fun to try to write your double elevenie based on two nouns that are opposites, like sun and moon, or mountain and sea.

My Response:

The Book

Book

b;og7

Almost published

Work in progress

Awaiting illustrations and print

Excited

Writer

blog 112

Almost published

Edge of seat

Endlessly pacing the floor

Eager.