Sunday, 15 November 2009

Christmas is coming

I'm not a Christmas person. This is something my husband keeps saying about himself, but it does apply to me, too. I really don't like Christmas; the commercialism, the false glitter, the excuses (who needs one anyway?) for over-indulgence. And then there's the wondering what to get people who don't really need anything. They might end up with the 'hideous tie so kindly meant' (quote from a John Betjeman poem, I think).

So here we are again. Stores are already displaying their Christmas wares, and pestering me with the sound of carols. Soon the shops will be too crowded to move in. And let's stick paper hats on the heads of the homeless, the downtrodden, the oppressed, and get them to sing something about dreaming of a white Christmas. White? Oh, no, not snow as well. The car won't start, pavements will turn into ice rinks and I'll slide on my bottom down the steep part of our street. Sod all that. I'd love to hibernate until it's all over.

Bah! Humbug!

Friday, 6 November 2009

What next and what now?

I'd like to say my absence from blogging for a while has been because I'm working hard on writing my novel. But, unfortunately, I seem to be spending more time trying to decide what to do than actually doing it. I have three unfinished novel manuscripts in my drawer and I can't make my mind up which (if any) of them I should be concentrating on next.

Meanwhile, there is still 'The Dark Threads' to publicise. There's not much point in having a book 'out there' if few people know about it, hence I've been forcing myself to take centre stage and jump through hoops. Here's what I've done so far which, if nothing else, has been a learning experience.

First, I had promotional postcards printed to distribute to anyone who might be remotely interested, depicting my book cover on the front and details about it on the back. I included my phone number on the cards, which (for reasons I'll leave you to ponder) might have been a mistake. Looking back, I suppose I should have first set up a website (my next task), with a means of contacting me through that, to put on the cards. But then, not everyone uses a computer.

I joined a speakers club and practised until I could stand up and talk without looking and sounding like a timid little mouse. It worked. I've done three book-talks so far: one to a university group, the second at a bookshop and the third at a library. OK, three talks aren't many, but more opportunities to talk at libraries will be coming my way soon, I am told. I also did two radio interviews.

Local newspaper reporters interviewed me, and I got extensive coverage in several regional papers. I was interviewed in London for the Sunday Times, but guess what? They lost the interview tape. I've recently been re-interviewed over the phone. Will the feature eventually appear? I do hope so, as I desperately need more national coverage if my book is to sell successfully.

I've written articles for magazines, the latest of which should soon be appearing in the HCPJ (Healthcare, Counselling and Psychotherapy Journal). Dorothy Rowe reviewed my book in Openmind, and on her website (Articles-Openmind-Two Books). I got a good review recently in 'Therapy Today'. However, I need features and reviews in magazines other than just the specialist mental health ones. I'm awaiting the next issue of my favourite literary short story magazine, 'The Yellow Room', with even more eagerness than usual, as it will contain a review of my book.

I contacted Mark Davis, and he has featured me on his increasingly popular High Royds Hospital website (scroll down and click onto 'Dark Threads'). One thing leads to another, and a BBC TV reporter has just emailed me after reading about me on that website and she'll be talking to me shortly; I'm not sure where (if anywhere) that will lead, but watch this space . . .

I have taken part in a BBC TV documentary, funded by the Open University, about the history of mental health care, which will appear on BBC4 early in the New Year. This involved filming me as I wandered the grounds of the now closed-down hospital on a bleak, blustery evening, looking pensive as I remembered the horrible time I spent there back in the sixties and seventies. I'd been hanging around in the 'gives-me-the-creeps' derelict hospital grounds for ages waiting for the filming to start. I was cold and hungry and wanted my tea, so when they told me not to smile on camera, that was dead easy! Three of the pics taken are on the hospital website (click into 'Blakeways Productions' and then scroll down to click the thumbnails on the left).

The following day the documentary crew filmed and interviewed me at a house in Ilkley. I got hit in the face with the edge of a box (as you do) the night before, leaving an ugly scar on my face (I'd been trying to reach for a box on top of the wardrobe). I arrived late (got well and truly lost on the way) so didn't even have time to comb my hair before starting. My confidence diminished further with all the interruptions during the interview; a noisy lorry outside, fridge-freezer attention seeking, someone's mobile, sunlight in wrong position, my hair sticking up at one side (the camera man informed me about half-way through) and, finally, the house owner's cat repeatedly meowing to come indoors and join in the fun. With all the retakes, I fear I'll either look flustered or bored on film.

Is getting a book published worth it all in the end? Yes, I think so. Well, nothing beats going into Waterstones and Borders and seeing it up there on the shelves.