Posts Tagged Julia Thorley

Live Fiction

Have you ever tried reading aloud to an audience?

Picture by A.A. Abbott

Recently I took part in my first fiction evening. It was organised by thriller writer A. A. Abbott (aka Helen) and held at the Gunmakers’ Arms in Birmingham (worth a visit – it’s a lovely traditional pub). When Helen invited me to take part I was a bit dubious, talking to an audience is one thing but trying to hold their attention for several minutes while reading aloud is another. It’s far easier to build audience rapport when you can make constant eye contact, talk with your hands to make a point and ask rhetorical questions to get the audience thinking. Reading aloud means the audience has to concentrate all the time, if they tune out they lose the thread of the story – it’s essential to keep the audience with you. But I decided to give it a go – the worst that could happen would be seven minutes of boredom for the audience.

On the night Helen was a great compere, introducing us all with enthusiasm, live tweeting photos and making sure it all went smoothly. I chose one of my shorter stories (worried about holding audience interest!) that had been published in The Weekly News and also appears in A Coffee Break Story Collection. I practised it several times at home, getting the hang of looking up at the audience without losing my place. I think it went OK – nobody shuffled, people had their eyes on me when I glanced at the audience and there was clapping at the end. The other seven performers were terrific with great stories and some haiku too.

Would I do it again (if invited!) ? I think so but I’d choose a different kind of story. For me the stories that worked best on the night were those with a very strong central character going through an unusual event/experience and very few minor characters. It’s essential that the audience is immediately interested in the main protagonist and not distracted by other characters. Possibly that’s how all short stories should be written anyway.

If you’re going to be reading aloud in the near future take a look at these Tips for Reading Aloud which Julia Thorley kindly gave earlier this year.

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Words Magazine Short Story Competition

The results of the Words Magazine 2017 ‘Murder’ short story competition were published a few days ago. There were 139 entries and I was delighted to make the shortlist. Other writers I recognised on the list were Patsy Collins and Julia Thorley. Many congratulations to John Silver and Sharon Boothroyd for rising above us and taking first and second place respectively.

Words Magazine runs two competitions a year and the next one is now open for (free!) entry. The theme is ‘Christmas’ and the closing date is 30th June 2018. The winter weather is still fresh in our memories – so it shouldn’t be too difficult to get in a Christmas frame of mind! There is a limit of 2,000 words. First prize is £50 and second prize is £25.

The aim of Words Magazine is to raise money for the RNLI. An annual e-subscription costs only £6. Or buy the current edition on Kindle. Worth considering if you enjoy short stories!

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How to Sell Books?

It’s about six weeks since The Promise was published and I’ve tried not to flood this blog with constant references to it. However,  today is my birthday and so I’m going to indulge. Here is a look back at what publicity the book has received in its ‘honeymoon’ post-publication phase (on a less self-centred note, I hope there might be some ideas here that you can use for your own books).

Sally Jenkins Public Speaking

Speaking at Boldmere Library

Author Events
So far I’ve done three author talks for The Promise, one at a library and two at community groups. A bonus from the library talk was the sale of two books to the library and the satisfaction of seeing them borrowed whilst my talk was still taking place.
I have another three talks lined up for April and May. The title of my talk is ‘How to Make Money Out of Murder’ and it covers writing a novel, readings from The Promise – and the best tools to use when committing a murder. The flushed cheeks in the photo show that I still get a bit nervous when speaking but hopefully it doesn’t show too much!

Print Media
I find this the hardest way to generate publicity, however the Warner Times (posted to all guests of the Warner Hotel Group) interviewed me and I was thrilled when below the interview, in their ‘Armchair Thrillers’ recommendations, The Promise was placed next to Cover Her Face by P.D. James. Not sure that will happen again!

The lovely Margaret James also gave The Promise a much appreciated and well-timed mention when she asked my views on grip lit for her column in  the March issue of Writing Magazine.

Retail Outlets
The Promise is available via bookshops but it was particularly pleasing to see a display of all three of my paperbacks in the window of my local WH Smith Local.

 

Internet Publicity
Lots of lovely bloggers supported me during the first couple of weeks publication.
In week 1: Helen Yendall and Julia Thorley published guest posts, as did the online magazine Female FirstAnne Harvey and Janette Davies interviewed me with lots of interesting (and sometimes difficult!) questions. Lou’s Book Blog did a spotlight post.
In week 2: I went on a 21 stop blog tour with Rachel’s Random Resources. This threw up some lovely reviews and the full tour list is on Rachel’s website.

 

Sally Jenkins has woven a dark tale of murder, blackmail and retribution. As the plot thickens it’s hard to imagine where it will all end for the characters caught up in a web of intrigue and deceit.” – Amazon reviewer.

I’m very grateful to all the people and organisations mentioned above (if I’ve missed someone out, please let me know!) for the interest they’ve shown in my writing and their willingness to help. The Promise is also available in e-book format and from a range of online retailers such as Amazon and Waterstones.

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Tips for Reading Aloud

Julia Thorley has published a collection of monologues and first-person stories, Nine Lives. Nine Lives by Julia ThorleyThe tales are meant to be read aloud. Julia recently launched the book with some readings and has very generously agreed to share her experience and some great tips on reading aloud to groups:

In my other life as a yoga teacher I am used to speaking to groups of people, but this didn’t stop me being incredibly nervous. An audience is a different proposition from a class of students.

A couple of years ago, I was asked to read my story ‘Scoring an Own Goal in Tennis’ at the awards evening of the H E Bates short story competition. At the time, I sought the advice of my friend Kezzabelle, who is a performance poet. She gave me some excellent tips, which I applied not just on that occasion, but also at the launch events I held for Nine Lives:

  • Wear the right glasses! Print out your text extra-large, if you think you might struggle to read from the original.
  • Punctuation for reading aloud isn’t necessarily the same as that for reading in your head. Be prepared to tweak, and practise before you perform. Dialogue can be particularly problematic. On paper, the implied ‘he said, she said’ of a conversation is obvious, but unless you plan to use different voices it can be hard to follow out loud.
  • Highlight in colour words that need particular vocal emphasis or provide the chance for a gesture.
  • Turn your pages at the end of a sentence, so you don’t break your rhythm.
  • If you’re reading before and after an interval, pop to the loo just before the end of the first half. That way you’ll be able to avoid the queue and, more importantly, be available to chat to people and, all being well, sell a few books.

Tips for Reading AloudWhile I had a voice in mind as I wrote each story, I said in the introduction to Nine Lives : ‘. . . if you hear a different voice, that’s fine with me.’ I’ve asked other people to read some of the stories for me – I have written some from the male POV, for instance – and it’s very odd hearing another person’s interpretation. I wasn’t prepared for that!

I’m never going to be able to recite my tales from memory, but my confidence is increasing each time I read in public. I’m no Victoria Wood, but I’ve managed to raise a laugh in the right places and make people cry at the sad bits, which is pleasing.

Why not give it a go? If you read aloud anything from your copy of Nine Lives, I’d love to hear how you get on.

Nine Lives: monologues and first-person stories for reading aloud is available as an e-book from Amazon for 99p. Paperbacks are available via www.juliathorley.com for £5 + p&p. Or contact her through her Facebook page: @JuliaThorleyAuthor or her blog: Life, yoga and other adventures.

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Publication of The Promise

Today The Promise goes out into the big wide world! The Promise by Sally Jenkins

It’s been a long time coming. I signed with The Book Guild last June and since then there’s been cover designs (back and front), proof reading, a marketing meeting, sorting out a blog tour etc. etc. Lots of people have been involved in bringing The Promise to publication. As well as the lovely people at The Book Guild, there’s my writing friends who have cheered me through the whole process of blank page to finished manuscript, my husband who puts up with a wife hiding herself away with a computer (at least I’m not hiding myself away with another man!), my mum who totally believes in me, everyone who bought Bedsit Three and made me think it was worthwhile trying to write another, all the followers of this blog who let me know I am not alone in my endeavours plus everyone in my non-writing life who has asked when the next book is coming out. The dedication at the front of The Promise is to you all with very many thanks:

For all those who have helped along the way – your support continues to be invaluable.

The Promise is dark fiction and the back cover blurb reads:

Olivia has recurring nightmares about the murder of a man which took place when she was a teenager. She refuses to explain the dreams to her worried fiancé, Mark.
Petty criminal Tina is diagnosed with a terminal illness and becomes concerned for the future welfare of her younger brother, Wayne.
When Tina finds a forgotten letter from her ex-cellmate, Audrey, a promise made decades before links the two families.
But the letter also contains a sinister secret…

The book is available in paperback from all major online book retailers and in high street bookshops. It’s also available on Kindle, iBooks, GooglePlay and Nook.

In the coming week I’ve got wonderful bloggers helping me get publicity for The Promise off to a flying start:

Monday 29th January – Helen Yendall’s Blog About Writing. Helen is my longtime writing buddy and fantastic womag writer.
Tuesday 30th JanuaryLou’s Book Blog. The lovely Lou will be shining the spotlight on The Promise.
Wednesday 31st January – Anne Harvey’s Passionate About The Past. I met Anne through my contact with the Birmingham Chapter of the RNA and we’ve helped each other along the way.
Friday 2nd February – Julia Thorley’s Life, Yoga and Other Adventures. Julia is a woman of many talents. She and I are virtual friends.

And week commencing February 5th there’ll be a 21 stop blog tour organised by Rachel’s Random Resources.

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Too Little Time!

Do you ever get weeks when life seems to rush at you like a steam train and there’s barely time to eat or sleep? I’ve just had a couple of those weeks.

Nidd Hall Hotel

Escaped Sheep Enjoying the Garden at Nidd Hall

The catalyst was a four day weekend away. I’m NOT complaining about that, I had a lovely time at Nidd Hall near Harrogate with my mum and sister. But it meant that for two consecutive weeks I lost one of my two writing days (the three days a week for my day job still had to be fulfilled). In week one most of the remaining writing day was swallowed up by an author talk for a Women’s Institute group and in week two it was eaten into by the monthly reading group I coordinate, followed by a nighttime Black Friday rehearsal.

In case you’ve been living on the moon for the last few years, Black Friday is an opportunity for everyone and his dog to get stuck into some early Christmas shopping as retailers slash prices online and in store. It falls on the last Friday in November but preparations have already begun. The retailer I’m involved with staged an overnight rehearsal last week to ensure the website could cope with a large amount of price changes and customer activity. I acted as scribe for the rehearsal, providing a live feed about all the technical goings-on. It could be classed as a form of writing/communication but everything happened so quickly there was no time to edit or review my words, so it went straight out, typos and all.

Also, week two ended with a night of no gas supply, meaning no hot water or central heating. Following the installation of a new gas main in the road our gas couldn’t be turned back on due to a fault with the meter. Apparently, the meter is the responsibility of the gas supplier and we discovered to our cost that our gas supplier had no out of hours emergency phone line. So it was the next morning before an engineer was despatched to sort us out. Needless to say, we will shortly be changing energy suppliers to avoid being caught like this again.

Big Hole in Drive for New Gas Main

On top of all of the above, the final typeset proofs of The Promise arrived for my attention. I’d hoped to read them ‘on the go’ on my Kindle but because they were in PDF format the font couldn’t be enlarged and even with reading glasses I couldn’t read them (old age!). So I had to make time at the PC to go through them.

Fingers crossed, this coming week should be back to normal. There’s lots to catch up on, including preparing guest blog posts for you lovely people who’ve agreed to host me and The Promise around launch time early next year. But right now I’m going to have a look at Julia Thorley’s Yoga Blog in the hope of finding some inner calmness!

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Blurb Poll – The Results

Many thanks to all of you who took the time to vote and/or comment on the possible blurbs for my novel.

The poll winner, taking 50% of the votes, was the second blurb, ‘Single incidents shape our lives’. But Hilary Custance Green wisely pointed out that the shout-line was a little preachy. She suggested ‘The  Butterfly Effect’ instead, which I think is much better too.

In second place was the final blurb, ‘Opposites attract’. This attracted 42% of the votes, including Anne Harvey who beta-read an early version of the manuscript – does that give her opinion more weight?

Last was, ‘Nature or nurture’ which gained only 8% of the vote. But one of supporters of this one was Julia Thorley, who used to write blurbs for non-fiction titles in her role as an editor – so perhaps it shouldn’t be ruled out completely?

Which blurb will I go with?
My personal favourite is the blurb that topped the poll, especially with its new ‘Butterfly Effect’ shout-line. I’m pleased it won. When I did this voting exercise with the three members of my immediate family, none of them chose it. That made me think I may be out of tune with what attracts readers, hence the reason I did the poll.

I have learnt that opinions on blurbs are very subjective. No blurb will attract every reader, so going with the poll majority may be the best thing to do.

Thanks again to everyone who voted and here’s the winner again:

The Butterfly Effect
A stupid mistake ended Ian’s marriage. Now he’s trying to put it right.
Sandra got pregnant as a teenager. Now she’s fighting to make a good life for her daughter.
Maxine made an important decision behind her boyfriend’s back. His reaction devastates all their lives…
Bedsit Three is a tale of mystery and romance. It won the inaugural Ian Govan Award and was shortlisted for both the Silverwood-Kobo-Berforts Open Day Competition and the Writing Magazine/McCrit Competition.

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