Oh, The Glamour Of It All!

No, not the Oscars, Grammies, Brits or whatever awards show is up next. I’m talking about the business of being an author.

After the headiness of the book signing it’s been back to earth with a bump this week as I gear up to self-publish my first science fiction novel, New Earth: Beginnings. How hard can it be? I hear you ask, well, the answer is, not really very hard at all but it is, dare I say, a bit boring!

I am a writer, I love watching new worlds develop on my page, seeing characters take charge of their own lives, discovering new plot twists and trying to stay rooted in reality long enough to remember to take the dogs for a walk but once the story is down on the page, the boring stuff takes over. When I think the story is good enough for an agent to like the journey is quite exciting and fairly painless, I write individual letters for each agent, which is a creative process in itself, then send them, along with the requisite words, to each one in turn. Then I dive headlong into the next story until I hear from them, or remember I’m waiting and give up on selling that one.

However, when I decide to self-publish, I have to stop doing the fun stuff and actually get on with the real work. Choosing a cover picture, designing the cover, writing the back blurb, the product description for Amazon/Goodreads etc., finding a half-decent picture to put over my author’s bio (never found a decent one yet, so I keep changing them) and that’s all before I get to the publishing bit. Once I get there I have to do a final, final, final edit (because I’m rubbish at spelling), make sure it’s in the right font and complies with the publishing platform’s formatting rules, it’s never ending. But then, then comes the bit I love. I click publish and, 24 hours later, people can download my book. The rush of typing my name into Amazon and seeing books being listed will never, ever get tired and, two weeks later, I can order hard copies so I guess that all that boring stuff is, eventually, worth it, but, when I’m in the middle of it, like right now, I don’t half long for the glamour of a book signing.

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Things Can Only Get Better, And So They Did!

What a difference a week can make! I have had such a wonderful weekend, with two major new steps in my journey into writing. Firstly I started my Facebook author’s page and Secondly I took part in my very first book-signing event.

Making my author page for Facebook is something I had been putting off, unsure if it was really necessary or if anyone would be interested in little old me. However, with two books already available on Amazon, another one due out at the beginning of March and four more projects on the go it suddenly seemed to make sense to have a central page to let people know about everything I’m doing. So this week I took the plunge. It was quite easy to do and I had fun deciding which pictures to use but the best thing of all was just how quickly I built up the likes! I had no idea there would be 40 people in the world who would be in the least bit interested in my random ramblings but, less than a week in, the page has 40 likes. This is especially satisfying as I only have a very small family so they can’t all know me personally can they?

If you’d like to take a look then visit https://www.facebook.com/pages/Hellen-Riebold/530521043655534 now how’s that for a snappy address?

The second new experience was that, together with my co-authors from both The Other  Way Is Essex and The Saved Saint, this Saturday I took part in my first book-signing event. I have to tell you that, as a cynical veteran of many, many days spent on information stalls for the fostering service I used to work for, my expectations were low. I knew my Mum was coming and a friend had said she would be there too but I really wasn’t expecting anyone else to turn up, I even considered taking my knitting so I would have something to do. (Looks away in shame!) How wrong I was. The event began at 10:30 in the morning at the local library, where the writing group I belong to meets, we had five books on offer, including an anthology of  short stories being sold for charity. To start with things were a little slow, however, by 11am there was a steady stream of people buying different books, all waiting patiently for their books to be signed and enjoying chatting to us. It was so much fun although I did learn two things, it’s a good idea to know what dedication you’d like to write and you really should marry a man with a short surname.

Just when the tables had a goodly queue of people waiting and chatting, my Mum arrived and when, shortly afterwards, the press photographer arrived too, my Mum almost burst with pride. I could see her beaming face from the corner of my eye, it was lovely particularly as she hasn’t had much to smile about over the past couple of months.

The whole event was so much fun that, the first time I asked someone what the time was, it was 12:59 and the signing was due to finish at 1pm.

I would definitely recommend doing a book-signing with friends who also have books out and I hope to be doing more, it does mean you avoid the ‘billy-no-mates’ syndrome which is the biggest fear of the author when signings are mentioned and I am already looking into ways to do more.

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The Best Laid Plans.

Oh dear. As you may have noticed I have failed in my aim to write one new blog a week but, honest, I have a really, really good excuse. I could get my Mum to write a note and everything.

Last Friday, when I was intending to write my blog (really, I’m not just saying it) I woke up with the most unbelievable pain both in the top and bottom of the right side of my jaw and in both ears too, for good measure. Now things have been stressful in my family of late, we lost my wonderful Grandma suddenly, and I assumed that maybe I had been clenching my jaw and that had caused the pain. I spent the day clutching hot water bottles to my face and taking paracetamol, much to the delight of he-who-was-daft-enough-to-marry-me, who spent the day coming up with various names for this new fashion I was starting! I was pretty sure with the heat, the drugs and me consciously relaxing my jaw things would get better but they didn’t. By Saturday all I wanted to do was cry. On Sunday I was leading the youth work at Church and the book club in the evening, both of which were interesting, to say the least. Monday things got no better, although the pain seemed to be settling more in the lower jaw but still didn’t seem to be related to any particular tooth.

Now I can hear those of you brave enough to read this far yelling at me, asking why I didn’t call the dentist and it is a very sensible question. The truth is I’m terrified of the dentist and whilst I could convince myself it was merely muscular I could hope it would rectify itself without the dreaded dentist (they always seem far too happy to be drilling, injecting and prodding me with sharp things for my liking).

Anyway Tuesday morning was different, Tuesday came with a very high temperature and the shivers and Wednesday saw me sleep fitfully between paracetamol, hot water bottles and shivering. I gave up. Even I couldn’t deny I had an infection and now the pain in my jaw had changed, it seemed to be concentrated on a golf ball sitting under one of my molars. Darn! I’d have to phone the dentists. I have never liked dentists but, in our previous house, I did find one I liked and went, religiously (well there was a lot of praying involved anyway) every six months but then we moved. I did go once but needed two fillings replaced which took over an hour of almost constant drilling so I never went back. Understandable I think, for a coward like me. Anyway my friend recommended her dentist and so, under her watchful eye, I called, expecting to get an appointment sometime in June but no, the lovely receptionist said they could fit me in at 11am the very next day. Oh good, I thought. Honestly.

So off I went, the receptionist was lovely although she had decided my name was Hellena Friebold, my mouth was swollen though so I have to let her off. I filled in the medical history form, if only so they’d be able to spell my name correctly, waited a few minutes too nervous to even pick up one of the many magazines on offer, and then the moment I had been dreading, the nurse called my name and led me up the stairs to the dentist’s room.

The dentist herself was, I guess, in her late 20s and she was lovely. She asked me how I’d been feeling, took some X-rays then explained in very simple language what had been going on. Apparently the vicious drilling of my previous appointment for the replacement fillings had caused my poor little nerves some trauma and this can lead to the debilitating pain I had been experiencing when an infection occurs, which is what had happened. She said she would give me antibiotics and I had to make a decision about what I wanted to do next. She explained the three options I have, which, in case you’re interested, are 1) do nothing, but then I will have recurrences of pain so, you’ll be pleased to hear, I’ve already discounted that one 2) take the tooth out 3) root canal treatment and then a crown. Isn’t it funny how some decisions are easier than others?!

So here I sit, the antibiotics have kicked in and I am feeling better than I have done all week so much better that the thought – ah, I didn’t write my blog – passed through my mind. Sorry this is such a hypochondriac blog, I’ll try not to do it again, but I hope it has given you at least a little smile, if not a laugh.

A Good Week

The most difficult thing about making a resolution to write a blog once a week is, I’m finding, to think of something interesting enough to say that won’t bore anyone kind enough to read it to death. Take this week, for example, I have had a fantastic week, the best in quite a long time but that is mostly because I haven’t done much so what am I going to write about. Well, I thought I’d give you a breakdown of my week, perhaps you’ll get inspired to have a lazy week yourself, or perhaps you will decide you must spend your downtime more profitably than me and book yourself a hotel break that you can boast to me about when the time comes. Anyway, here goes.

Monday-I spent the day with my Mum. We were supposed to be going through my Nan’s things but instead we went for a wonderful pub lunch. The pub in question was ancient and had a large inglenook fire which was, of course, burning brightly. The food was incredible and they did a wonderful line in hot chocolate and warm welcomes, there was even a beautiful bear of a dog who just wanted to be hugged the whole time. It was just exactly what we needed.

Tuesday-I spent the whole day writing! It was bliss. I wrote 2012 words on the young readers’ story I am working on all about aliens and archaeology, then I took my two dogs for a long walk before writing 1122 words on my brand new novel, which is about the problems we all face from time to time. Then I had a coffee and tried to decide whether to start the housework that was beginning to scream at me but decided instead to start the short story about a spooky house I need to work on for an anthology. It was amazing to have so much time to devote to the thing I love doing more than anything else in the world.

Wednesday-the dogs and I went over to my friend’s house to write some more and were thoroughly spoiled with hot chocolate and so many cookies and crumpets I daren’t even begin to tell you what my blood sugar was.

Thursday-I took a friend’s young daughter to see my Mum and her dog, who she had been begging to see for literally months. My Mum cooked us a lovely meal and my friend’s child was over the moon to spend time with her doggie friend.

Friday-this was the day I was going to do the housework, honest. I was even going to wash the carpets. But I didn’t. Instead I spent 5 hours doing a jigsaw puzzle of 1950s sweet bars while watching all my guilty TV secrets like Homes Under The Hammer and The Waltons, it was brilliant. Then he-who-was-daft-enough-to-marry-me and I went out for a relaxing evening meal with friends.

Today has been just as lovely, I have spent the whole day with the man I love walking our dogs in the windy, wild and freezing countryside and just chilling out together. It really has been a great week. Before you get too jealous and start plotting vengeful schemes to disturb my undeserved happiness, tomorrow I am on duty with the youth and then leading a knitting group in the evening before work begins again on Monday so this idyll won’t last don’t worry.