Book Aid for Ukraine

Literary agent Hayley Steed has gathered offers from people across the literary world to raise money to support people in Ukraine

My small contribution is a signed bundle of my books The Plankton Collector and In the Sweep of the Bay.

Go and look through the lots at Book Aid for Ukraine and please bid if you can.

Flash fiction competition!

We’re through the dark days of January – hurrah!

Louise Walters is promoting my novella In the Sweep of the Bay as her Book of the Month in February – both paperback and ebook are available from her website at reduced prices and the ebook is 99p/99c everywhere for the whole of the month – paperbacks will be signed and each comes with a free flash fiction story, one of my Untold Stories of Ted and Rene.

To coincide with this I’m running a flash fiction competition. The winner will have their story published here on my website AND (courtesy of Louise Walters) will receive a copy of my book, or, if they already have it, can nominate a friend to receive a copy..

Here are the rules:

  • Write a flash fiction of no more than 500 words, not including the title (no minimum).
  • Include the words bay, gull, pot and bicycle in the story.
  • End the story with a sentence that is 4 words long.
  • Follow the usual rules about content – nothing defamatory please.
  • One story per entrant.
  • Send your story to me at cath.barton@talktalk.net by midnight (UK time) on Sunday 13th February.
  • Attach the story as a .doc or .docx document. No pdfs or other formats, please.
  • In the subject line of your email type the words Submission: Bay competition. Nothing else.
  • Do not put the title of your story anywhere in the email – all stories will be anonymised before judging.
  • Entries are welcome from writers anywhere in the world.
  • I will choose and publish an anonymous shortlist by Sunday 20th February, and a winner and one or two runners-up by Sunday 27th February.
  • I will contact shortlisted writers before publication of the shortlist, and the winner and runner(s)-up before I announce them.
  • The winner will be offered online publication of their story, plus a copy of In the Sweep of the Bay – paperback or ebook in the UK, but ebook only elsewhere.
  • I will acknowledge receipt of all entries.
  • Any entry that does not follow these rules will be disqualified.
  • Sorry, I cannot offer feedback on unsuccessful entries or enter into correspondence about them.
  • Sorry this all sounds so formal – the rules are to ensure fairness.

Photograph copyright Cath Barton

I encourage you to use the prompt words imaginatively – have fun with the challenge and I look forward to reading your stories.

Sharing positivity

A couple of days ago I realised that I had over 2,500 followers on Twitter and decided to do a giveaway of a copy of my forthcoming novella, In the Sweep of the Bay, due to be published on 23 November by Louise Walters Books.

I invited people to share something positive about the world – it’s so easy for us all to be grumpy these days!

So many lovely comments came in. Here are just a few of my favourites:

I read a piece of poetry yesterday. And then thought about it the rest of the day. Words still have the audacity and sheer exuberance to move us, in every time.

We can all still say ‘I love you ,’ send letters, walk on the beach, listen to music and most importantly … read a great book!

Adversity brings humour, sensitivity and creativity. The next generation are going to do wonderful things.

People also shared photos of people dear to them, of the beauty of the natural world and of animals – dogs, cats and a quokka.

It was a thread which brought me smiles, so thank you to everyone who contributed.

And the winner of the giveaway is….. Tilly – @TillyLovesBooks – who gave as her something positive:

The glorious autumn leaves – no matter what’s going on in the world, Mother Nature still manages to captivate.

If you didn’t win, you can buy an advance copy of the book from louisewaltersbooks.co.uk


Autumn leaves – photo copyright Cath Barton

Guest post: Sally Jenkins on Public Speaking for Writers

I invited author Sally Jenkins to share some of her tips on public speaking. Here’s her advice for anyone planning that nerve-wracking first author event: 

All writers, whether traditionally, self or unpublished, need to learn the skill of self-marketing. If the world doesn’t know you exist, it isn’t going to read your work. Social media is a great publicity tool but is impersonal and the posts are soon forgotten. Nothing beats getting away from the computer and talking to readers. Personal contact lives in the mind far longer than a tweet or a gif.

Author events are a great way of generating this personal contact and libraries are a good venue for authors new to addressing an audience. Most libraries are keen to increase their footfall and become community hubs rather than just book depositories, therefore they welcome author events.

Preparation is key to a successful author event and below are some points to help you in the construction of an attention-holding author talk:

  • Plan to speak for around 40 to 45 minutes, to be followed by questions from the audience. The whole event should last about an hour.
  • Divide the talk into ten minute chunks. Each chunk should focus on a different topic, such as the inspiration behind your book, the research needed along the way or your typical writing day. This regular change of subject will re-ignite the attention of the audience and give you, the speaker, a burst of energy.
  • Have a memorable opening. My current author talk is about writing a psychological thriller. I start by teaching the audience ‘how to make money out of murder’ and produce a selection of murder weapons as visual aids. Having grabbed their attention, I switch to writing-related topics.
  • Don’t read the talk from a script. Make bullet point notes and talk freely around each bullet point. This will enable you to make eye contact with the audience and build a good rapport.
  • Accept that a little bit of stage-fright is good. Adrenaline sharpens your performance. But don’t let it overwhelm you – focus on sharing your enthusiasm for books and writing with the audience.
  • Include a maximum of three readings from the book and make them short, two to three minutes is sufficient. Unless you are a trained actor, it’s difficult to hold audience attention when reading aloud. If you need glasses for small print, reproduce the extract on A4 paper in a large font. This will enable you to read without glasses and maintain better eye contact with the audience.
  • A few months before the event, join a Speakers’ or Toastmasters’ Club to practise speaking in front of an audience. Both organisations will provide constructive feedback on how you’re doing and enable you to gain experience.
  • Take some books to sell! Also useful are a cash float for giving change and some business cards in case anyone wants to book you to speak at their WI or other organisation.

Well done on holding your first author event! It’s OK to feel exhausted! Now, take some time to analyse how it went and then start planning the next one. Good luck and enjoy!

 

Sally Jenkins is an author and speaker. In 2018 she represented the Midlands in the National Speech Competition held by the Association of Speakers Clubs. Her book, Public Speaking for Absolute Beginners, is designed to hold the hand of the novice speaker. It contains information on constructing a talk, managing speaking engagements and creating speeches for special occasions.

Sally blogs about writing, reading and life at https://sally-jenkins.com/blog/

Follow her on Twitter https://twitter.com/sallyjenkinsuk and find her on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/SallyJenkinsAuthor/

Public Speaking for Absolute Beginners is available from Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Public-Speaking-Absolute-Beginners-Confidence/dp/1795575182/

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Sally Jenkins

Sally Jenkins. public speaking book cover

My picks for 2019: 3) Books

The Lonely Crowd invited me to contribute to their Books of the Year feature. Here’s what I wrote:

I’ve very much enjoyed some of this year’s Big books: Lucy Ellmann’s Ducks, Newburyport demonstrates how the full stop might actually be getting in the way of the energy of many a story, Ali Smith’s Spring examines frankly the awfulness of our times and conjures heart-rending tenderness in spite of it, while Bernardine Evaristo’s Girl, Woman, Other celebrates Black British women with a vitality and rhythm that is all her own.

But the book which stands out for me in what I’ve read in 2019, over and above these giants of the literary world, is Adèle by the French-Moroccan author Leïla Slimani, the 2019 English translation of her first novel, originally published in French in 2014 as Dans le jardin de l’ogre. I devoured this one afternoon back in March and it locked onto something in me. As an exploration of a woman’s search for meaning in her life this is – in my opinion – peerless. If once or twice Sam Taylor’s translation juddered, for the most part it was crystalline. Do not think this novel is about a sex addiction; it is about a quest for authentic feeling. Adèle is a 21st century Emma Bovary, and Leïla Slimani’s book deserves to be read as widely and remembered as long as Gustave Flaubert’s.

 

Coming next: My top writing websites of the year