A ‘How To’ Guide on Author Events and Book Launches for Independent Authors

My last book launch party was in December 2021 for My Half-Sister’s Half-Sister. I want to share the author events I have hosted for anyone looking to arrange their own live book promotion.

Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com

YOU HAVE

Lived, breathed and dreamt your wonderful book for however long it has taken you to write it. If you’re anything like me, the planning, thinking and inspiration part of your novel lasted longer than actually putting it together.

You have an amazing cover – the type that readers throw the old adage away and judge ‘yes, I do want to read this’.

If you’re lucky, an audiobook narrator has agreed to produce the listen-to version of your words.

All you need now is actual readers (like the reader in the photo above).

Your publication day may have felt like an anti-climax. That’s only natural; all that work, all that pulling words from your soul and no doubt money you have thrown at your wonderful book. If no one has read it or agreed to publish it for you, publication day can play with your mind. You may find yourself seeking validation, asking your friends and family to read and review if only to prove that you haven’t wasted your time, tears and energy.

Actual footage of me writing about three years ago.

Author events are your chance to show everyone in a live setting the amazing book you have published.

LOCATE A VENUE

Your first step will be to choose a venue willing to host your event. Libraries are a good way to start, I only know how library services work in the UK so bear this in mind when reading this post. Libraries are run by the local authority, so start with your local library. Make contact with a librarian and ask if they host author events for local writers. Most UK libraries have a contact page (in my case, Bury Library is found on the council’s website). I have found that the best way to make contact is by actually visiting the library. I used to attend a creative writing group and got to know some of the librarians. Find out how your local library engages with its customers, granted there aren’t as many events listed on my local library’s page post lockdown but things can only get better. Start attending other authors’ events if available at your library.

My very first book launch party was held at one of Bury Library’s satellite venues. Castle Library in Bury had room for twenty guests, two librarians, me and my books when I launched ‘Quirky Tales to Make Your Day‘ my first short story collection. Bury Library charged a nominal entrance fee and took care of the advertising – although when I announced the event on Facebook I had messages and filled all twenty places with people I knew (more on this later).

A good friend I have known since nurse training in the 90s came to support me at my first book launch.

My second author event was at another library in the Bury area.

This author event was hosted by Tottington Library – now a charity owned community library. This event was four years ago and the Curmudgeon Avenue Series has different covers.

I would say the most successful book launch party was hosted at a pub in the town centre, Broad Street Social. This bar is independently owned and willing to host events and ‘pop ups’ for local food and art businesses. After attending a poetry night last Halloween at Broad Street, I asked if I could launch my next novel at their venue. The owner suggested a Sunday evening, they got more punters through the door and I got to talk about my book – win/win.

As you can see, I was joined by the super talented Lindsay McKinnon. Lindsay is the voice-over actor who produces my books.

Also, keep your eye out for local events. Book sales and appearances at library open days, brewery open days and a charity music festival in my hometown (they have a poetry stage so why not a novelist and narrator friend?)

INVITES

You’ve written a book and have a box of author copy paperbacks on order, you have secured a venue, date and time for your book launch party. Now you need some guests to attend your event. Ideally, a good mix of your loved ones and strangers is the preferred guest list. Your friends and family will cheer you on, laugh at the right moments and make you look like a superstar. Strangers are potential new readers and fans of your work. I have thrown several author events and am still not at the stage where potential new readers attend. I am not disheartened though, I will keep going with author events. I believe that if you do them regularly enough then those people who considered attending last time will turn up this time. It’s hard work but eventually, I am hoping for a local following.

Your friends and family are a tricky subject. Some authors feel their inner circle is too close to read their books. I agree, I have mixed feelings about my husband reading my books, my daughter says ‘she can just hear me – not a character’ and two of my closest and longest time served friends are on strict orders to wait for the DVD to come out. I do have a friend who can laugh loudly at just the right moment. This is one of the reasons that you should be most grateful for any support your friends and family can offer especially if it means that you won’t be alone at your book launch.

Friends and family may well bring a plus one – someone who your guest knows loves books.

Let’s talk about strangers, why would they attend your book launch if they’ve never heard of you?

I always hope that a local book enthusiast who is a big supporter of local business will attend (this goes back to the ‘I’ll attend the next one’ crowd).

ADVERTISING

An indie author’s nemesis, I know but if you don’t advertise your book launch, no one will come. It is time to think of everything. Social media – use the hashtag #sharingiscaring and some of your friends and contacts might just take the hint and share your event on their profile with friends and contacts you don’t know. With Facebook, you can create an event and send out invites (don’t be disheartened if people don’t respond – I have found that those who respond don’t show and random folk that never like or comment on anything have turned up in the audience).

Local press. In Bury, we have a local newspaper The Bury Times; they have never responded to any of my press releases about publications or book launches. I bet if I paid for an advert, they would be alright with this. The reason I haven’t paid for an advert in the local newspaper is that a local advertising magazine let me do it for free – and because they were really helpful and answered my emails I did pay for a colour advert in their magazine.

Newsletters. Ask guests to your author event to join your newsletter. They will get to know when you are next appearing live.

WHAT TO SAY

Prepare and rehearse your favourite excerpts. Print them out – in my case, I like to use large print or sometimes I transfer them to an E-reader.

I start by thanking my guests for attending the event. I usually give a very short speech about how and why I started writing, aiming to give hope to the audience that they could write a book too.

I am lucky. Lindsay McKinnon narrates my books and has performed readings from my novels. I have found that novels don’t really lend themselves to live readings, so having an actor read using accents has been really impressive.

If you are hosting the event solo, you could start by reading your book’s blurb and a sample of a few reviews. You have to put yourself into it, read as you imagine what your character sounds like. I have read poetry at an open mic night recently (just to keep my nerve up) and this has been helpful.

Some authors throw the floor open to questions at the end. In all honesty, I have only seen this work with famous authors. It has been great if people are asking questions about how they can start writing, but at one of my events I had a question telling, rather than asking me how I should go about my indie author career. For those interested, I already have been published in women’s magazines.

FORM A WORKING PARTNERSHIP WITH SOMEONE

This is a long shot, but I was very lucky. In 2019, I was approached via ACX by Lindsay McKinnon auditioning to produce the audiobook version of Curmudgeon Avenue. If you like audiobooks narrated by a professional, funny, talented voice actor who can act in any accent and has perfect comic timing, I can recommend any audiobook that Lindsay has produced (link behind her name).

Is there any difference between a book launch and an author event?

Not really.

Prizes

You could give away a signed copy of your latest novel. Last time I did this I volunteered my husband to give out raffle tickets at the venue of my book launch. He returned with a little book of raffle tickets telling me that everyone looked at him as though he was crazy – I think because raffle tickets are usually paid for. Note to self; put FREE RAFFLE on the advert.

My mother-in-law won this paperback of My Half-Sister’s Half-Sister and the fancy tote bag I had printed up via Vistaprint. People shouted ‘fix’ – it wasn’t a fix and they only had themselves to blame for not accepting the free raffle ticket from my wonderful husband. I might do things differently next time!

Gifts

BOOKMARKS. Only give away something that people will remember you by. Bookmarks and business cards may get thrown away but some of them will end up at the bottom of a handbag, or the inside of a wallet to be found at a later date. These are your future fans, your future readers – you’ve written a book, you know how difficult it is to get people to read it. Many of the print companies allow you to add a QR code which I think is awesome.

Photo by Giang Cao on Pexels.com

Food

This is a tricky one.

At my last book launch, I wasn’t going to feed my guests but my husband paced up and down ‘Have you even ever been to a launch?’ He was talking about traditionally published or signed recording artists whereas I (his wife) am a penniless author. I’ve hosted them without a buffet in the past and this went down fine. Check with your venue. Last time I held a book launch at a library, they changed things and asked me not to bring cake (mainly because cakes make crumbs). At my last book launch, I paid for a grazing platter from my friend’s local business Sambhavis Bites and Pretty Platters. Unfortunately, they didn’t have business cards so my good intentions of promoting my friend’s business didn’t really happen. Plus it meant I made no money out of the books I sold. Next time, I think I will do this differently and ask the venue if they would allow a ‘pop up’ for a food business to come in and guests can buy food if they want.

In all honesty, having food at your book launch didn’t bring in the crowds and was more of a distraction than anything.

Nerves

I am painfully shy. Just to give you an example, I have recently joined a book club hosted by Liverpool Community Radio. This was only possible because they telephoned me to participate in the programme. However, towards the end, they played an interview with another author and I sat in silence for a full fifteen minutes because I was too shy to ask if they wanted me to stay on the line. I couldn’t get my words out. THAT IS HOW SHY I AM.

However, when I have stood up in front of other people to tell them about my books, I have had no problem. I have surprised myself at how many people listen.

And you will too because you have put everything into the books you have written.

I would say go for it. Below are a few photos from my book events.

Lindsay McKinnon (reading) and me at GlastonBury charity festival in Bury.
The crowd at the book launch for Curmudgeon Avenue #1 with Lindsay McKinnon
My first book launch in 2017
The advert in Your Local Bury magazine
The food! @Sambhavisbites Whitefield (search on Facebook).
Lindsay McKinnon and me reading at the book launch for My Half-Sister’s Half-Sister at Broad Street Social, Bury.
Me actually meeting my editor in person https://www.alisonproofreader.com/

Thank you for reading today’s blog post everyone. Good luck with all your book launches and author events, Samantha ūüôā

PS if you are reading this post before April 13th 2022 I have a free sample for you HERE

When Curmudgeon Avenue Appeared at Glaston-Bury (one day event for charity in Lancashire).

I am so proud of my home town, Bury in North West England. Especially on August bank holiday when the town is taken over for a charity event called Glaston-Bury.

Taking their name from the bigger festival in the south, Glaston-Bury fills the streets of Bury with heavy metal, cover bands, poets, and this year a book reading of Curmudgeon Avenue (I wrote that) by my talented voice over friend and colleague Lindsay McKinnon.

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Those who know me know that I have MS and can’t stand up for long. And to be honest, I’ve been unwell ever since the event and that’s why it has taken me seventeen days to write this blog post. #MSsucks and fatigue is doing my head right in!

Anyway, back to the event. The reason we were welcomed to appear at this mostly music festival is because part of book four of the Curmudgeon Avenue Series is set at the Glaston-Bury festival!

Above is a sneak peak of a new cover – I’m always messing about. I just need to make the final decision about if Harold’s spectacles should be wonky.

Gil Von Black nearly broke Facebook when it was realised he would not be appearing on stage with his magic fingers this year. Gil Tweeted a photograph of Patchouli and himself with the caption #AugustBankHolidaychillin‚Äô. As soon as this was noticed on Facebook, there were many comments on the Glaston-Bury page. ‚ÄėPlease can someone tell me which stage and what time is Gil Von Black on?‚Äô several people asked. All with the same answer from the festival organisers: ‚ÄėHe‚Äôs not performing this year‚Äô.

     Ahh, the life of the actual real-life session musician rock star; he will attend the festival along with the crowd (including Wantha, Toonan and their respective men). After Wantha had attended to her Instagram duties (doling out advice about what to wear at a local charity festival), she found her lip liner and was ready to go. Zandra and Gordon Bennett prepared themselves for their first Bury day out since arriving at Curmudgeon Avenue.

Our stage (actually the poet’s stage) was upstairs in a very cool record and coffee shop called Wax and Beans

It was actually tricky to prepare for the event. I am NOT a performer, fortunately, Lindsay is. Lindsay McKinnon has loads of acting experience and is the most talented person I have in my phone (or have met in real life). If you are reading this, and are looking for a narrator for your audiobook I would recommend Lindsay. Click HERE for her website.

It was difficult to choose passages from a book I started writing seven years ago. Especially as my head is full of my current work in progress. I suppose all authors go through this (laughing face emoji). I am yet to attend a (traditionally published) author talk since lockdown ended in the UK. I’ve been to loads in my time and they are usually full of an eager audience wanted to know the question that no one can answer; how can I get published?

Fortunately, Todmorden Book Festival has come to my rescue. I have tickets to see one of my favourite authors, Joanne Harris. I have so many questions for her but I know I will be too shy to ask any of them.

JoanneHarris Chocolat.jpg

Sorry, I went off on a bit of a tangent there. I was just trying to explain that I intend to attend more author talks and do more of my own.

I just need to get better first (I usually have a good management of my illness but I’m just weary at the moment – or as my window cleaner puts it ‘you look fr****d today’)

Speaking of tangents, one way that I look after myself is physiotherapy. When I was first diagnosed with MS I started doing yoga. Here’s the tangent, one of my oldest and dearest friends Carla (we met during nurse training, that’s how long we’ve known one another) gave me the tip off about the Todmorden Book Festival. Carla is now an excellent yoga teacher; she has just the right voice for it. If you are in or around Todmorden, you should definitely attend her yoga class click HERE for her link.

WELL I have gone round in circles today haven’t I? You could say I’ve gone round the mulberry bush – which would segue into a hint about my work in progress. I’ve decided not to reveal the title until the manuscript has been polished(I cannot wait to start sharing this book I am really enjoying writing it).

Have a great weekend, Samantha ūüôā

PS I wrote these:

Happy Christmas Everyone – I’ve Published Another Book :)

Curmudgeon Avenue #6

A Curmudgeonly Christmas (Curmudgeon Avenue #6) is the final instalment of the Curmudgeon Avenue series and will be published on the 27th of December. Available to pre order from today!

Curmudgeon Avenue has been going on for quite some time. Some would say for longer than is reasonably necessary. 

Feeling proper emosh! I have finished writing the Curmudgeon Avenue series with a Christmas special. 

Gordon Bennett is obsessed with the size of potholes on the street, Wantha and Ricky may or may not seal the romantic deal. Christmas is coming, and Francesca is getting fat. Patchouli’s past comes back to haunt her – will Gil Von Black be able to cope? 

Oh – and the ghosts are immune from any and all pandemic restrictions. 

A Curmudgeonly Christmas is intended to provide a bit of light relief during the week between Christmas and New Year. You know the one, that week we are all fed up with eating, drinking and each other!

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

The book started with Harold Edith and Edna, and the story of how they ended up living together. The series evolved into a social satire about a group of neighbours and their intertwined lives. Gossip, romance, dramas and laughs follow all written with British English spelling and grammar and narrated with a voice typical of how folk say ‘stuff’ in the Northwest of England.

All lighthearted, all easy reads, all a bit of fun.

Audiobooks narrated by the hilarious and talented Lindsay McKinnon.

Pre order A Curmudgeonly Christmas here https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08QSJPQYT

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, happy reading, Samantha xx

What We Did During Lockdown – THE DONATION

What we did during lockdown (1)

Back in April… (it doesn’t seem that long ago) my friend Alex started a friend group on Facebook so that we could all keep in touch.

I had the idea of putting together an anthology. I wrote a short story, but by then I think we were all feeling a little short of motivation.

However! My friend Leah (Leah Leanne Wood) sent me her story¬†The Suitcase… as I read it, tears of joy formed and I had to continue with the project.

Leah for book

My friend Leah, pictured here. She is beautiful and bright ūüôā

Soon, Alex Cavanagh (the skateboarding poet) joined in with a poem about his family.

Shaylah wrote a story about a Van Gogh inspired creepy artist.

Claire Kingsley wrote a story inspired by that Meme ‘OK Karen’

My story, Magic Pound was inspired by the end of my degree module Fairy Tales and Shakespeare’s Tempest.

We have sold 43 paperbacks and 11 Kindle downloads. Also, 111 Kindle Unlimited pages. This amounts to ¬£33.86 I have rounded this up to ¬£40 and sent the donation today to Bury Hospice in memory of Leah’s mum, Sam Hunt.

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, selfie, close-up and indoor

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You can still buy What We Did During Lockdown HERE UK or HERE US I will donate the royalties straight to Bury Hospice.

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THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO BOUGHT A COPY AND TO MY FOUR FRIENDS WHO MADE THIS POSSIBLE

Happy reading, Samantha xx

#Audiobook is HERE! Curmudgeon Avenue #1 is Now an Audiobook and I am Over The Moon! #IARTG

Hello Everyone!

I am sure by now that you all know the story about my husband encouraging me to put my book Curmudgeon Avenue #1: The Terraced House Diaries forward on ACX to see if anyone would transform it into an audiobook.

WELL I am glad he did and I am even more astonished/over the moon/pleased that the multi-talented voice-over actor Lindsay McKinnon contacted me about producing it.

Here is our book launch at a local library (pre lockdown)

You can read the blog I wrote about our live audiobook launch at Radcliffe Library HERE

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Curmudgeon Avenue is the book about a proud, yet grouchy Victorian terraced house in a (fictional) town in Whitefield. They do say that walls have ears, and some even say that walls can talk. So when mismatched sisters Edith and Edna Payne move in, the house has plenty to say.

One of the first ever reviews that Curmudgeon Avenue received described it as ‘Coronation Street on Speed’. I think that this explains it better than any blurb. Two years after first publication, I am currently writing book number 5 of the series.

The World Does Not Revolve Around Curmudgeon Avenue

(Yes it does, I can’t stop writing it!)

The book really lends itself to spoken word and Lindsay has done the finest job possible colouring the characters with accents.

Enough from me Рhere are the links: AUDIBLE     AMAZON

MORE ABOUT MULTI-TALENTED VOICE-OVER ACTOR LINDSAY McKINNON Theatre of The Mind Productions http://www.theatreofthemindproductions.co.uk/

Happy listening everyone! Please let us know what you think by leaving a review on Audible or Amazon,

Samantha and Lindsay xx

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A Touch of #History For You ~ Sharing #BookReviews for 1962 (An Uplifting Tale of 1960s Lancashire) @BookFunnel Promotion

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One of my books 1962 (An Uplifting Tale of 1960s Lancashire) is participating in a Book Funnel Promotion There are some really great books on offer (I have read three now) so, if you enjoy novels written with a historical flair, then have a look at the offer and see if there is anything you fancy.

Let me show you a few of the covers and blurb before I tell you about my book.

Rosemary for Remembrance by Nikki Broadwell

Rosemary and Dylan have grown apart since his return from WW2 and prison camp. But when memories from a bygone era begin to haunt them, they are drawn together to discover the source. The key could be the locket that Dylan found in an antique store that bears Rosemary‚Äôs initials. ‚ÄėTogether Forever‚Äô are the words inscribed there, and somehow the daguerreotype portraits seem familiar.

Can the mysteries of the past have an effect on the present? Find out in this gripping tale of love, loss, and secrets revealed.

Based on the wartime diaries of the author’s father.

Click¬†here for details of how to buy this book (it’s on offer)

Book Cover

Abducted as children.

Sold into new lives…

Brother and sister struggle…

Nat is a slave. Ziva is a beloved daughter, purchased to replace a lost child. Her despicable master lusts for her. Her rejection sets off a devastating chain of events that could send Nat to the mines and ruin her adopted father.

Can they avoid the trap?

Will Ziva escape the clutches of the wicked master?

First in the series, Lost Children of the Prophet tells an ancient tale set in the earliest biblical times, following events in Ancient Matriarchs book three. Follow the danger and intrigue of a brother and sister who fight for each other. Available on Kindle Unlimited.

Get it now

A Ring of Truth by Michelle Cox

In this¬†SECOND¬†book of the series, Henrietta and Clive delightfully rewrite¬†Pride and Prejudice‚ÄĒwith a hint of mystery!

Newly engaged, Clive and Henrietta now begin the difficult task of meeting each other‚Äôs family. ‚ÄúDifficult‚ÄĚ because Clive has neglected to tell Henrietta that he is in fact the heir to the Howard estate and fortune, and Henrietta has just discovered that her mother has been hiding secrets about her past as well. When Clive brings Henrietta to the family estate to meet his parents, they are less than enthused about his impoverished intended. Left alone in this extravagant new world when Clive returns to the city, Henrietta finds herself more at home with the servants than his family, much to the disapproval of Mrs. Howard‚ÄĒand soon gets caught up in the disappearance of an elderly servant‚Äôs ring, not realizing that in doing so she has become part of a bigger, darker plot.

As Clive and Henrietta attempt to discover the truth in the two very different worlds unraveling around them, they both begin to wonder: Are they meant for each other after all?

Buy it here

1962 (An Uplifting Tale of 1960s Lancashire) by Samantha Henthorn

‘A warm, humane, affectionate, finely-observed tale of a teenage boy, his family, friends and Lancastrian community, set in the sixties against the chilling backdrop of the Cold War and Cuban Missile Crisis’ – Kindle customer.

‚Äė1962 has a playful concept that places one young boy‚Äôs dreams in a troubling time. There is a sense of fun with Ernest‚Äôs unstoppable optimism.‚Äô Rocliffe

Ernest Bradshaw lives in a two up two down with his mother, Rose and Uncle Billy. They go to church every Sunday, along with most other people in the village. While Rose is praying for peace, Ernest is hoping for two things; that he can run away from the school bullies, and that his mother doesn’t notice the hole in his sock. Ernest’s Auntie Marigold and Uncle Norman live in a bay-fronted detached house, and despite their seemingly perfect life, they too have seen the news and are petrified about events thousands of miles away in Cuba.
With school teachers getting carried away about the Cuban Missile Crisis and Rose having a mini-drama at work, Uncle Norman steps in to solve problems at home and introduces Ernest to a cycling club he has seen advertised in Bolton. Here Ernest meets Christopher and Janet, his new friends, and Mr and Mrs Towers ‚Äď club leaders. Can Ernest get enough money together to buy himself a racing cycle and win a cycling trophy before the world ends?
An uplifting, heartwarming coming of age, family story with all the nostalgia and charm of 1960s Lancashire.

Get it here

Here are some reviews for 1962 (An Uplifting Tale of 1960s Lancashire) :

A thoughtful, engaging insight into the world of a 15 year old boy and his cycling ambition. I couldn’t put it down as I was introduced to a wonderful array of characters. Such a unique read. Clever and quirky. Look forward to reading more from this author.

This story carries the echoes of the era that seem quite prescient for today.

A warm, humane, affectionate, finely-observed tale of a teenage boy, his family, friends and Lancastrian community, set in the sixties against the chill backdrop of the Cold War and Cuban Missile Crisis.

Light and gentle, this is a nostalgic book that doesn’t worry too much about tense action or vivid drama, but instead relies on the reader’s desire to be swept back in time to a real place. I found this book easy to read, if a little slow, but kind of like a really comfortable old sweater: warm, cozy, a little out of date, but just what you need to escape real-world brutalism. A decent novel!

After the Clarion Palmer Trophy May 1953

^ My dad is holding the bicycle in this photo – he inspired me to write the book and gave me the 1960s research.

 

 

 

What’s in a (Character) Name? #GuestPost Alex Cavanagh, poet. #FacebookPage

Hello and thank you for joining me for this month’s ‘writerly rambling’ post. IT’S THE MOMENT THE BURY MASSIVE HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR -ALEX CAVANAGH. Today, I am honoured to be joined by Alex Cavanagh, poet. He uses his Facebook page words¬†From Within -a page of spontaneous poetry by Alex Cavanagh¬†to showcase his words!

As a huge fan, I asked Alex why all of his poems are untitled РI am interested in titles and being fascinated with naming characters, his lyrical response blew my mind: 

‘That’s my thing’ Alex said.¬†

Speaking of having your mind blown, here are a few snippets from Alex’s page – do pay him a visit.¬†

Hidden beneath my beaming smile,
Is sadness and pain once in a while,
My eyes are filled with the light of life,
But I’m hiding something amidst my strife,
The room is filled with family or friends,
But I’m so lonely there’s things I can’t mend,
For the inner demons claw at my soul,
I grasp the grass climb away from the hole,
I’m successful and clever and loved by all,
I’m big and bold but inside I’m small,
I have children, success, and I know who I am,
But occasionally I don’t give a dam,
About life or love or meaningful things,
About whatever this cloudy day will bring,
I slip away from norm and into a pit,
Deep in my head I don’t give a shit,
A darker place with hate, envy and fear,
I don’t want to be there but don’t want to be here,
People around me just smile and walk by,
Inside I cry out for them to come and say hi,
Please take a second for wounds are best bled,
Never judge anyone till you walked a mile in their head.
So look out for people, never be afraid to ask,
Before it’s too late and they lose their grasp.¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†(Copyright Alex Cavanagh 2019)

 

So I whisper in her ear don’t be sad and don’t be down,
For there is nothing more soothing than your lovers sound,
Her woes and troubles seem to fade away,
And from a cloudy start comes a wonderful day,
We get dressed and talk and share a kiss,
These are the moments so easy to miss.

We hold hands and walk down the road of life,
Trusting each other and sharing the strife,
We make love and a family and somewhere to rest,
And we grow this and shape this and expect nothing less,
A bond that comes from the beginning of time,
A old deep feeling that’s yours and mine,
For nearly all people this is their wish,
These are the moments so easy to miss,

So don’t waste a minute of this wonderful gift,
And whenever life gets hard there’s always a lift,
From your lover or brother or sister or friend,
And whatever the problem share it and mend,
Take your time and invest in the people you love,
Don’t get pushed down, embrace them and together rise above,
For days are sometimes dark but the light will shine through,
Love you fellow humans and in turn they will love you,

Copyright Alex Cavanagh 2019

 

Such is the day with no start and no end..
A day born from nothing
spent with a friend…
A day with no wind when the trees have no whisper…
A day spent with parents, brother and sister..
A day on your own with the wind in your hair..
A day of joy and love, life take me there.

Copyright Alex Cavanagh 2019.

I’m drowning amongst the memes and the trash,
Not surfing any more just navigating #,
What is real, what is contrived,
What isn’t true and what’s been derived,
Who are the rich and who is deprived,

Is it clickbait or lose weight or PPI,
Is it missing cat on the island of Skye,
How many likes did my lunch get,
Checking frantically not eaten it yet,
I’ve tagged myself and nobody cares,
I’m sure they’re active but no ones aware,
That even though I’m here with my wife,
I need everybody to follow my life,
For if I’m not noticed and fall down the list,
Whilst I’m here living do I really exist,

So I refresh the page about ten times a min,
Looking for something to please my within,
Hoping that people are following me,
And that all my friends and family can see,
That my days are filled with laughter and fun,
Whist wearing gym clothes but never a run,

There’s a message in here, but I don’t know what,
I’m here for is likes , but not trending hot,
I’m pissed off with the world but that’s all I’ll say,
You’ll have to DM me it’s the only way,
Then I’ll tell you my story without glamour and
Glitz,
And you can meet the real me without all the shit !!

copyright Alex Cavanagh 2019.

There you have it! Titles are not always needed (despite my thoughts in previous posts). I do think that novels need titles though – otherwise we would get awfully mixed up! I expect you’ll want to read more of Alex’s poems, don’t forget to click the link in pink above and follow his page! (All words shared with permission). I recently attended Alex’s in-laws’ birthday party, Alex spent all of four minutes writing a poem which he performed on stage there and then. Looking forward to future spoken-word appearances by Alex

See you same time next month for an illustrated bee story and a special Scottish treat – Happy reading, Samantha xx

 

 

 

On How Modern Classic 44 Scotland Street by Alexander McCall Smith Provided Inspiration for #CurmudgeonAvenue (After I started writing it) @McCallSmith #IART @LittleBrownUK

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It all started at Whitefield Library in 2014 when my nursing career ended (I accepted ill-health retirement due to MS).

My hometown of Bury provides an adult learning service. Despite my initial ambivalence, I signed up to a two hour per week creative writing class delivered by a beautifully inspiring teacher, whose name begins with Jill. One of our first tasks in the course was to write a short story titled ‘Winter’. What was I going to write? How would I approach this? As I drove home from Whitefield that autumn day, the sun shone lower in the sky and the rust coloured leaves drifted on to my car windscreen. I knew then that ‘Winter’ should be set in Whitefield. This same road reminded me of queuing in traffic, halfway home from my job in Salford. I remembered glancing at the houses on either side of my car. Commuters already home from work inside their houses lit up by the TV. I wondered what these Whitefield folk did with their lives.

Later that same week, Mr Henthorn and moi encountered an incident in a supermarket carpark involving a disgruntled driver and a disabled parking badge. A curmudgeon! I thought to myself (admittedly, I used a different word under my breath). Following this, the characters Harold, Edith and Edna were born, and I delivered my short story ‘Winter’ to a circle of keen creative writing students, nodding and praising one another without fail. ‘Winter’ was awesome – even if I say so myself – and it eventually made its way into the pages of Edna and Genevieve Escape From Curmudgeon Avenue

This is where 44 Scotland Street finally gets a mention. The beautifully inspiring teacher I mentioned was subjected to further creative writing pieces including Harold, Edna and Edith.

‘You should read 44 Scotland Street’¬†I was encouraged ‘It’s like your Curmudgeon Avenue, about a street and all the characters that live there.’

I had heard of Alexander McCall Smith – of course, I had (someone who attended the same physio recommended I read The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency which I knew from The BBC). But I did not know about 44 Scotland Street.¬†However, I immediately started to read the series (currently on volume 13, 2019) and thought this is right up my street! Book number one opens with Pat viewing a flat in 44 Scotland Street, the notable narcissist Bruce shows her round – I was drawn to this. Who doesn’t have a story about a narcissist? They’re everywhere! Later, Bruce has a conversation about Chardonnay, recounting a story about the ABC clubs of New York ‘Anything But Chardonnay’. His counterpart was tempted to tell him that Champagne is made from the Chardonnay grape.¬† When I read this I was over the moon, having recently had a similar ‘Anything But Chardonnay’¬†irritation at a book club in the village of Greenmount.*

I have read and loved all thirteen of the¬†44 Scotland Street¬†books. I have doted on Bertie, never getting past age seven. Gaining freedom from his overbearing mother Irene who invents a schedule for him including yoga and psychotherapy; only to be bossed by the domineering Olive in his same class. (Fear not for Bertie, he has a friend Ranald Braveheart McPherson – love that name). I have enjoyed Angus’ and Domenica’s courtship and eventual marriage – but not before Domenica’s anthropological adventures. Big Lou’s cafe (and some of her romances) has been the hub of society. Matthew and Pat work in an art gallery (typical of what I now imagine Edinburgh to be). Matthew marries Elspeth who used to teach at Bertie’s school and they have triplets. You kind of have to be there – and I would recommend you read them all.

On the note of ‘being there’ here is my review of the most recent volume ‘The Peppermint Tea Chronicles’¬†

Samantha Henthorn Author

24 November 2019

I have read and enjoyed every book in this series, I admit to having formed romantic ideals about Edinburgh. As a result – if I ever was to visit the real Scotland Street (minus the fictional 44), then I would be gutted not to bump into my friends – Big Lou and young Bertie. Because they are my friends., the characters have been created and continued so consistently I feel like I know them. In this book, I was delighted to read Angus and Dominica’s everyday situations, such as losing the right to carry a large bag about in private because they are married. My heart melted to find out about Bertie and Ranald’s wish for a pet puppy – and laughed out loud at young Bertie’s observation that ‘no matter what you did, girls would get you’. All rounded together nicely by a happy ending for Pat, Lou and Elspeth, and a satirist’s view of local authority call centres and shoe choices in social situations and saying ‘dinner rather than tea’. A book – a series that restores faith in human nature.
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Thank you again to the beautifully inspiring teacher that encouraged me to read 44 Scotland Street, and to Alexander McCall Smith for writing it.
Now you must allow me to talk a little about my Curmudgeon Avenue series.
*Greenmount, I mentioned earlier is a village just up the road from where I live and grew up the same house in Greenmount will cost you 100,000 more than anywhere else in the Bury area. It is inhabited by wealthy incomers – no one – it seems is originally from there, apart from my husband who I often tease would have been ‘Able to look down on me from Greenmount.’ I dislike snobbery fiercely, and this is reflected in the satirical style that¬†Curmudgeon Avenue¬†is delivered. (See – there is a curmudgeon in everyone).
After a few drafts and publishing other books in between,¬†Curmudgeon Avenue¬†took on a life of its own. Where¬†44 Scotland Street¬†is omnisciently narrated, Curmudgeon¬†Avenue¬†is dangerously and unreliably witness narrated. Not intentionally – I wanted the house to speak for itself. This became the series where the house tells the story (often in brackets). Four books on, The Ghosts of Curmudgeon Avenue¬†was published in October. I have just started writing book number five¬†The World Does Not Revolve Around Curmudgeon Avenue; where sisters Toonan and Wantha have fallen out, there is half a wedding and enemy Georgina Foote moves in at Number Thirteen. Reviews are coming in ‘Witty, dry and weirdly funny’ – ‘made me wonder what my house would say about me!’ and even ‘Move over Fawlty Towers!’ And the audiobook – narrated by established voice-over actor Lindsay McKinnon is due to be released early next year (2020).
Genre is everything to the independent author. I would say that Curmudgeon Avenue is a comedy-drama and it ticks the satire box (as I have when listing the series with KDP). It has been difficult to find other authors who write in the same genre. This is why I wanted to share this in a blog post; Curmudgeon Avenue Рa bit like 44 Scotland Street. (Dare I say it!)
My series does not have the refined Edinburgh gentleness*, but it does have the Manchester sense of humour and northern warmth – it is a satirical window into first world problems – some of the scenarios are recipes for disaster but I love that house and all who live in her!¬† It is very different from 44 Scotland Street.¬†Not exactly the same reading experience but essentially a book about the intertwined lives of people who live in and around the same street.¬†‘On the day this all started the sky was filled with August Apologies for a summer undelivered.¬†
*And I am not Alexander McCall Smith – he’s a genius¬†obvs.¬†
Do you have any book inspirations or comparisons? I’d love to know.
Thank you for reading, Samantha xx

My #Author Talk at The Tottington Centre #CurmudgeonAvenue #Audiobook News

On Thursday this week, I had the honour to give an author talk about the¬†Curmudgeon Avenue Series at The Tottington Centre in Bury – my home town. I’m a local author and all my books are set in and around the Bury area.

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I invested in a bit of advertising via a Facebook ad and then dragged my husband and parents to bump the numbers up. Not a bad turn out for a Thursday.

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The best thing was, the voice-over actor Lindsay McKinnon who has agreed to narrate Curmudgeon Avenue made the effort to make the forty-minute journey to attend the talk and meet up for the first time!

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This is one of the best things that has happened to me since I’ve been writing. I submitted Curmudgeon Avenue to ACX the audiobook people, and from all the people in the world – a super talented actor with showbiz credentials, Lindsay McKinnon is now bringing Curmudgeon Avenue to life, and she only lives up the road from me! Lindsay’s voice-over narration is brought to us with the name Theatre of The Mind Productions, and I think this really captures what Lindsay is producing. She can do any accent from all over the world and has a real skill for switching from one voice to another. I’m very lucky to meet Lindsay – and so is my book because I think the Curmudgeon Avenue series really lends itself to spoken word.

20191102_092628 (2) Lindsay gave me her business card so it must be real!

Well, my author talk went really well, I read a bit out from my new book The Ghosts of Curmudgeon Avenue and the novel I published two years ago 1962 (an Uplifting Tale of 1960s Lancashire). I plan to do more. as all my books are set around the area of Bury, I am keen to tell my local area that I am a local author!

For the future, there are two more Curmudgeon Avenue books planned and I have loads of ideas for some standalone novels too.

The Tottington Centre is a lovely place and there is loads going on for the community. (Plus a nice tea room cafe) It used to be a library – before that, it was the Town Hall of Tottington and a residential house – imagine a family living there! Fancy! They were running a promotion ‘free book with every brew’ I picked up this one because ‘I know who Ben Elton is’ (!)

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Am I having an identity crisis? I don’t think so, I’m Samantha Henthorn Author. My Curmudgeon Avenue series is a hilarious read – and soon to be listen and I’ll be writing forever!

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whitefield-696x463 Whitefield Рthe home of Curmudgeon Avenue.

Happy reading everyone, Samantha xx

 

 

My Routine! My Writing Routine!

Before Christmas, I met with Business Mentor expert Carl Bradshaw, available on Twitter at @CarlBradshaw (he has a fancy business name I think but this was they easiest way for me to mention him.) We spoke at length about routine and he also suggested blogging a ‘writerly’ type post every month. So here I am, in the third of this series I am blogging about writing routines!

This is what I do, and I’m only sharing this to make the point that finding out what works for you is a great way of managing your time and producing results. And by results, I mean books!

I do wake up fairly early. I have more energy in the morning, my husband gets up early and we have a dog and two cats. I have a quick scan of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see if there is anyone interesting to follow, any books that catch my eye, and occasionally to pop something on about my own books! (Why not? We all do it!)

Then I write a list of things I want to work on later. 

The above list is very important. In the morning, I have my ‘thinking head’ on. If I don’t complete my list, no problem it goes on the next day’s list. Then, and this is relevant to me personally, I spend some time on the programme my physiotherapist put together for me. I visit SP Therapy Services in Bury once a month at least this helps keep me ‘well’ enough to write.

Then I have a rest.

This is important to replenish energy and get me ready for the big event. Between the hours of one and three on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday is my writing time. Two hours may not sound like much but last November, for example, I got down a 50,000 word draft of book number three of the Curmudgeon Avenue series. I consult my list, which might include working on my Open University degree in Creative Writing, working on the next chapter, writing a blog post, or reviewing a book that I have finished reading.

Then it’s the end of the day!

Although I work from home, it is important, for lots of different reasons to stop writing/working change position and do all the other things that I haven’t mentioned. I try and keep any socialising to the weekend (without overdoing it, of course!)

 

Just to say

I am¬†able to write full time because I had to give up nursing because I’ve got MS. It is a full time job on its own managing this. It has taken me years after I retired, for lots of different reasons to get into this routine, sometimes life gets in the way, for example, next week, I have three appointments during the week that will wear me out and stop me from writing. But I am in a better place, when I started writing , I was waking up during the¬† night, creeping downstairs and writing then. Now I’m not saying this is a bad thing, but it wasn’t right for me.

It was Roald Dahl that gave me the idea.

A few years ago, I watched a documentary about Roald Dahl. His wife said that he would lock himself away from 10am until 4pm every day and write. So it’s not just me recommending routine!