Posted in Events, Writing

My Favourite Subject

A post about three recent public appearances – one on the radio and two at litfests

Well, who doesn’t like talking about themselves?

In the first of what I’m hoping will be a weekly round-up of what I’ve been up to in my writing life, here’s a quick summary of three highlights for me from last week (if you count the first day of the week as a Saturday, that is!)

1 The 5th Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival (Saturday 27th April)

Despite Hurricane Hannah, Brad Borkan and I were still smiling at the end of the very successful day (Photo by Angela Fitch Photography)

I’m pleased to report that this year’s HULF (one of the many things people call it for short – HULit is popular too!) was a roaring success, the biggest and best yet with over 60 authors, poets, illustrators and artists taking part to stage a packed programme of events to suit all ages and interests. To get the full picture, hop over to the Festival’s website, where we’re already counting down to HULF2020 (!), but where we’re going to be keeping the magic going year-round by weekly posts from the guest speakers. We kick off with a post sharing keynote speaker Brad Borkan’s wonderful opening address about the power of books and reading. In the sidebar of that blog you’ll find a “follow” button if you’d like to receive each new post in your inbox, and an email list sign-up button if you’d like to be kept abreast of Festival news.

I purposely kept myself out of the programme this year to allow myself plenty of time to scurry about from venue to venue, checking everything was running smoothly, (which it was, thanks to my amazing team of speakers and volunteers). But I did enjoy welcoming everyone in the opening ceremony, sharing my dream for a free festival accessible to all, and celebrating the huge talent assembled in the village from far and wide for this special day. I also indulged myself by giving a reading from Best Murder in Show to round off the “Around the World in 8ish Books” session which provided a virtual world tour chaired by Caroline Sanderson, Associate Editor of The Bookseller. My book brought us firmly back to life in an English village!

2 Read My Lips Radio Show (Monday 29th April/Tuesday 30th April)

Yes, you read that right – it spanned two days! I had to log on just before midnight on the Monday and was on air till 1.30am!

Bonnie D Graham, aka Red Radio, was the perfect host at the midnight hour

Agreeing to be a guest on a live radio show which started in North Carolina at 7pm their time might not seem like the smartest decision, as by that time I was exhausted from the Festival and really needed to catch up on sleep, but I’m really glad I did, because it was great fun! Host Bonnie D Graham (aka Radio Red!) is a feisty host, a real pro, segueing easily between disparate topics and making fellow guest Sanjog Aul and me feel very comfortable. Sanjog’s self-help book, The Tricycle Way: How to Stop Racing Through Life and Start Enjoying the Ride, might not sound like the obvious bedfellow for my cosy mystery novels, but we found we had a surprising amount in common and many shared values.

I have Brad Borkan to thank for the introduction to Bonnie – he’s featured on her show several times.

Although the show went out live, it’s available to listen to on demand, so click this link if you’d like to tune in – I don’t chime in till about half way through but I found Sanjog’s interview very interesting too! 

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/bonniedgraham/2019/04/29/the-tricycle-way-pt-2-with-sanjog-aul-and-uk-mystery-author-debbie-young

3 Wrexham Carnival of Words (Thursday 2nd May)

I rounded off my busy week with a trip to speak about my cosy mystery novels as part of the vibrant Wrexham Carnival of Words, which my author friend David Ebsworth helps organise. He had kindly come to HULF on the Saturday to give his fascinating illustrated talk, “Five Things You Probably Didn’t Know about the Spanish Civil War”, drawing on the research he did for his excellent historical mystery series that kicks off with The Assassin’s Mark, a Christiesque detective story. I highly recommend all three books in the series. by the way.

I was invited to speak in the Carnival’s new lunch-time strand of Meet the Author talks in the spacious, light and airy Wrexham Library, set in the midst of beautifully tended gardens. What a lovely asset for any town and litfest!

The audience may have come to Meet the Author, but I really enjoyed meeting the audience too! I talked about my Sophie Sayers Village Mystery series, why I chose to write cosy mystery, and the relationship between the concept and my real life in a small Cotswold community very similar to the fictional one featured in the stories. I gave several readings and shared some anecdotes about life in Hawkesbury Upton that if you put in a novel, one might not believe! I also told them a bit about HULF, and at least one member of the audience put it straight in her diary and has started planning her trip for HULF 2020! I was happy to sign quite a few books for sale afterwards, and I so enjoyed the experience that I donated the first three books in the series to Wrexham Library.

It was a joy to speak to an enthusiastic audience at Wrexham’s very pleasant library

What’s Next?

After such a busy week out and about, i was glad to look forward to a weekend at home to build up my strength for the following week, when it would be my turn to be in the audience, at a talk by the inspirational author Ali Smith as part of the new Tetbury Book Fest, and at the four-day CrimeFest conference in Bristol. More news of those events next week…

Posted in Writing

The Eventful Lives of Authors

Debbie Young and Sandy Osborne with a copy of "Sell Your Books!"
Me with Sandy Osborne at the launch of “Sell Your Books!”

(A new post about author events, including two of my own coming up in Cambridge and London)

As an author who daily spends hours in front of a computer, I’m a great advocate for getting out and about to meet “real” people, even though I have many online friends too.

I also enjoy supporting other authors’ events, as no matter how many I attend, each one is different and inspiring in its own way.

Last night’s talk by novelist Sandy Osborne was no exception, when she came to my village to talk to the local WI (Women’s Institute) about how she wrote and self-published, via SilverWood Books, her debut novel Girl Cop.

If You Want Something Done, Ask A Busy Person

Sandy Osborne outside Waterstones in Bath
Sandy Osborne with her pre-launch window display in Waterstones’ Bath branch

I’ve known Sandy for a couple of years, having been introduced by SilverWood Books, who also commissioned my book promotion handbook Sell Your Books! I helped Sandy set up her website ready for the launch of Girl Cop, and it’s been a pleasure to follow her emerging career as an author.

And very busy it is too. While holding down a full-time job in the police force, she’s written a super romantic comedy novel and has two more in the pipeline. She also somehow squeezes in to her timetable a series of author talks at leading bookshops, special interest groups and literature festivals. (Her recent event at the Bath Literature Festival was a sell-out.) Anyone who claims they have no time to write needs to hear one of Sandy’s talks to convince them that if they have the will, they can find the time.

Now It’s My Turn on Stage

But so much for relaxing and enjoying other authors’ talks. Looming up next week are two author events of my own:

  • Cover of "Opening Up To Indie Authors"
    To be launched at the London Book Fair on the Kobo stand next week (Tuesday, 2pm)

    running a “Masterclass” (crikey!) with Rebecca Swift of The Literary Consultancy at the Cambridge Literature Festival on Sunday, talking about the changing nature of publishing in the 21st century (more details and ticket booking here)

  • attending the London Book Fair, at which I’ll be helping launch Opening Up To Indie Authors, a new book that I’ve co-authored for the Alliance of Independent Authors as part of their Open Up To Indies campaign (you can preview the book here on the Kobo site)

I will happily talk about writing and self-publishing till the cows come home, and having spent decades working in public relations, and being the youngest child in my family, I’m comfortable in front of an audience. For me, the most worrying parts of the process are getting to the venue on time (assuming I can find it), and what to wear.

Dressing the Part

The good news is that I’ve already cracked  the last of these points. On Saturday I snapped up in John Lewis a new dress that seemed singularly appropriate: a loose, 20s style viscose dress with a cheerful print of retro telephones. It could have come straight out of Virginia Woolf’s wardrobe.

This pattern boded well: after all, my events are all about making connections and communicating with others. When I looked at the label, to check whether the dress was dark blue or black, as it was hard to tell in the windowless store, I discovered that the colour was “ink”. What better omen could there be for an author?

Or so I thought, until I tweeted this detail that evening, with typical Twitter-induced confidence that the world was breathlessly awaiting news of my new frock:

“The label on the dress I just bought to wear for my book launch at London Book Fair says its colour is “ink” #appropriate #LBF14″

A speedy response pinged back across the ether from my wry Welsh author friend Andrew Peters (@andynpeters):

@DebbieYoungBN Blue, black, blue-black, red, green or invisible?”

And there was I thinking that as an old PR pro, I wouldn’t miss a trick. But an invisible dress – how brilliant is that? I may have foregone this opportunity to make the headlines, but if any authors out there would like to pick up Andy’s suggestion, I’m sure he’d be the first to approve.

Sample of fabric of my new dress, showing telephone print