Book Signing and Sales

Here we are, Friday evening at our Book Launch Party! 

Wonderful local wine and people enjoying the atmosphere.

A few of the pics from the Q and A session involving after Paul and I had told everyone about our books, with local authors Natasha Anders and Rae Rivers, and cover designers and illustrators Cliff Davies and Theresa Wilds.

The photos were taken by my good friend and photographer, Laurette van der Merwe. Find her here Laurette’s Photography and here Laurette’s Fine Art Photography and Artwork. Our launch was held at Chelsea Cafe who’d stoked up the fire and made us delicious soup to keep us going over the evening.

Paul and I both sold. We didn’t sell out, but we did do well. Our book links are here.

A good night all round, and nicely capped off the following evening by Liverpool Football Club’s victory in the European Cup. I’m sure Bob and Gary would’ve been in the crowd.

They’re singing our song again!

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Virtual Book Launch

GENERAL INVITATION

Well, Paul and I would love for you all to join us on Friday evening. And I’m sure that if time and money were no object, you’d hop on the next plane to join us, or if we rigged up a time machine, or a worm-hole perhaps? 

But you can come in your imaginations, so cue the cool jazz background music and stoke up the fire (remember it’s winter here), grab a glass of something nice and take a look at what we have on offer.


We have some book-related items:

Paul has some stunning cards based on the characters from his Fire Angel Universe. You can imagine the feisty female characters they are!

Fire Angel herself on the left, and Fade from his just-published novel on the right

Paul English characters
Artwork by Lisa Malherbe

And I have some framed limited edition prints created by my husband and based on the artwork for ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone‘ – cool huh?

Limited edition prints of YNWA artwork by Cliff Davies
Artwork by Cliff Davies

And, of course, our books. New and back catalogue.

Novels by Paul English

3 x covers

Fade Shadow of the Past – ebook and paperback on Amazon and Smashwords

Fire Angel Genesis – ebook and paperback on Amazon and Smashwords

Fire Angel Turning Point – paper backavailable from the author (soon to be online)


Novels by Chris Hall

Chris Hall books

You can find all the links to order here.


Read and Review Indie Authors

We’ll let you know how we got on after all the excitement has died down.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Characters’ Wish

promotional items for YNWA lunasoline

‘She’s been making cards and stuff all afternoon,’ says Gina in a confidential whisper to Cynthia.

‘Cards? I thought it was a book launch? Anyway, how do you know what she’s been doing?’

‘We’re her characters; we’re in her head, aren’t we? So, of course we know what she’s doing; especially if it’s about to Our Book.’ Gina nods her head meaningfully.

‘Oh, I see,’ says Cynthia. ‘I’ve never noticed. It seems a bit impolite poking about in her head, though.’ Cynthia pauses. ‘But why the cards?’

‘Marketing,’ says Gary, joining them at the little table in the back garden. ‘Giveaways, contact details, that kind of stuff.’

‘Look at you, eh, Mister Marketer,’ Gina gives Gary a playful prod in the arm. ‘Ever since he left the Social Security and went to work in that posh insurance company in town,’ she glances down at her new engagement ring and smiles, ‘he’s come over all ”private sector”. He’ll be voting Tory next.’

Gary pulls a face at her.

‘Connor showed me that lovely review she received, from that nice young lady In Sheffield…what’s her name?’ said Cynthia.

Ellie Scott you mean?’

‘That’s right, darling. I though she caught me rather well, don’t you? I’m sure she didn’t mean to imply I was something of a lush.’

‘That would never enter anyone’s head, Cynth,’ says Gary, almost managing to keep a straight face.

Cynthia glares at him frostily and stares toward the bottom of the garden where Connor is gesticulating animatedly. ‘Who’s he talking to now? Or is he just declaiming to that old rosebush again?

Gina follows her gaze. ‘It’s her,’ she hisses. ‘It’s our author! Look, they’re coming this way.’

‘Oh well, in that case…’ Cynthia leaves her sentence unfinished and disappears through the French doors.

I follow Connor back up the garden. He’s been reading to me from his latest slim volume of poetry. Perhaps I’d like to include some of it in my next book. My next book?

‘Ms Hall and I have been talking,’ Connor announces as we approach.

‘Are you going to write another book for us?’ Gina asks, eyes widening with excitement.

‘Like that nice young woman suggested,’ adds Cynthia, emerging from her French doors carrying a tray of glasses and a bottle of wine.

What’s this? My characters are at it again!

Connor gestures to me to sit down on the garden bench which has been moved to a sunny spot near the little wrought iron table where they’re all gathered. I sit and Asmar, Cynthia’s beautiful Abyssinian cat, jumps on my knee, purring his head off.

Cynthia pours the wine. ‘We do hope your book launch party goes well on Friday, darling,’ she smiles at me.

‘Hear hear, old thi…Cynthia,’ Connor adds, picking up a glass from the tray and raising it to me. ‘Cheers.’

We hear a noisy old vehicle rattle to a halt outside. Moments later Bob appears at the side gate with Fingers on his shoulder who immediately starts to chirrup excitedly. Tony Wong is behind them in what looks like a new suit. He has an air of someone who’s come into money and has plans.

‘Well, Ms Hall, the gang’s all here,’ says Connor. ‘What’s our next story?’

I take the glass which Cynthia is holding out to me. Maybe. I lean back and close my eyes. Let’s see…

asmar


If you’ve no idea who these people are, or what they’re talking about, you’d better read the book!

New Novel – First Review

 

Cover pic
There’s really something very special about receiving great feedback on something you’ve written, especially on something you’ve spent a lot of time on, like a published book.

Huge thanks to the wonderful Ellie Scott for being the first to read and review my new novel which came out just a few weeks ago. 

I’m so pleased that Ellie enjoyed the book and took such a lot from it.

Her review made me proud to have written it.

Read Ellie Scott’s review of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’.


 

Come What May Day by Ellie Scott

And while you’re over there be sure to check out Ellie’s FREE OFFER this weekend on her witty and wonderful collection of short stories: ‘Come What May Day’.
You can read my review of Ellie’s book on Goodreads

 


Remember:

Read and Review Indie Authors

 

 

 

 

An Uphill Struggle

Open Book Cape Town

Session Two of the #Writing My City workshop at Suiderstrand Library.

I was excited and quite optimistic about how it would go, particularly since after the initial struggle of the first session, we had finished up with heads down, writing.

I’d done lots of preparation, including finding what I thought was accessible material for my little group of (principally) Afrikaans-speaking ladies. I had a photo-prompt, some poems to read and a ‘kick-off’ worksheet.

Oh, and I’d brought cake.

Everything was prepared; my laptop was poised ready to play the You Tube clips. Slowly-slowly the group members dragged themselves in. We greeted each other, then they crawled around on the floor finding sockets where they could charge their phones. We assembled around the table with our coffee and biscuits.

We had a little recap. Had anyone continued writing? Just the one willing woman. The one who’s really keen. Okay, that was expected.

So, I explained, I’ve found some Afrikaans poetry, written by a guy from the Cape back in the Days of the Struggle. He’s called Adam Small. It’s good stuff!

O oppas, oppas performed by Veronique Jephtas.
[Now I’d thought it was engaging, even though I understood about one word in ten].

Blank looks all round. I handed out the copies of the poem and tried to get them to translate. A few words were squeezed out. Maybe it was a bit before their time… maybe it wasn’t my place… I don’t know.

So I picked up another of his poems: ‘The Poet, Who is he?‘ Here’s the rough translation:

The poet
Who’s he?
You all have so much to say about the poet
But who’s he?
Is he really what you think?

The guy with the pen and the ink
who sits in his study and thinks out poems?

No
You’re all mistaken
Not him

But you’re the poets
You, guys who walk in the street
And gossip
And see things
And point them out and let God know

The point being… you are the poets!
Refer back to the success of the rapper. You can do it!

For my final flourish, I played one of Veronique Jephtas’ own pieces of performance poetry. Warning: strong language.

Break through! They enjoyed this. We talked about the role of women, their place in society etc. It was really interesting, but their supervisor from Social Development urged against pursuing their vulnerable feelings. Fair enough. I’d thought of that for Part Two. 

Cake Break

For the second half I used a photo prompt. A recent one from the lovely Hélène Vaillant’s Willow Poetry: ‘What do you see?

000000 helen valliant photo prompt for 13 Many

The little boy hiding behind a tree. I explained that the poems we were about to read were inspired by the photo. You can use anything to get yourself writing.

I gave them copies of the following and we read them together.
Thanks for your poetry!

Hide and Seek by Von Smith

Childhood Problems by Susan Zutautas 

Lost by Christine Bolton

The one ‘willing woman’ and Bongi, the Head Librarian, took up the discussion about the poems with me. Some of the others also participated. We had engagement. 

For this last part of the morning I wanted to take them back to an earlier, happy memory. I shared one of mine. Of being in my grandma’s kitchen…

Think about an early memory, something happy.

Now perhaps you’d like to write something? You don’t have to read it out. Think about that memory: Where are you? Who’s with you? What can you see? What does it look like? What can you hear? What does it sound like? Smells are very important to memories. What can you smell? Describe it. What can you feel when you put out your hand? What do you feel inside? What can you taste? What happened? What were you thinking? What did you do? (I gave them each a worksheet with the headings).

And then they all put away their phones and started writing. And continued writing. 

Continue for homework if you would like to.

We’ll see.

 

 

 

 

Not quite what I expected

Open Book Cape Town

You may recall from a few weeks back that I’d volunteered to be a facilitator for Cape Town’s Writing My City project. 

I should at this point mention that the local library where I was found a place, Suider-Strand Library, had entered into a joint initiative with the Social Development Department, which is broadly involved in upliftment programmes. Hence my little group of 10 ladies were parolees. So, some good stories here! And, I was assured, they had volunteered for the workshops and were keen to write. I was further assured that they were English speakers (to my shame, I have not learned more than the basics of Afrikaans, even after 9 years here).

Well, to cut to the chase, as they say.

The tables are arranged, we have pens and paper, we have coffee and biscuits, and the six ladies and I have introduced ourselves. One of their number is their parole supervisor. Head Librarian, Bongi, is at my side.

I spend a few moments outlining the project. How we want to hear people’s stories. How it is that the story is important, not the actual writing, but I’m here to help with that.

“Are we getting lunch?”

“Er, no.”

“But we’re here all day.”

“Er, sorry, no. Just 10 til 12.”

I continue to talk about the project. I talk about how powerful their stories will be. How they might be included in a book, which will be launched at an important book festival. Bongi nods encouragement. 

They chat amongst themselves (in Afrikaans), then one says: “Are we getting paid for this?”

“I don’t think so.”

“Well, we’re not going to write anything unless we get paid for it. People are going to make money out of this book and we want a share of it.”

I turn to Bongi for support. A short discussion ensues in which we learn about a whole range of issues which concern these women. Creative writing is not really what they need at this point! Some of these women haven’t even adjusted to being outside prison. They have been incarcerated for between 5 and 10 years in the same facility. One has only been out for a few months. They are having problems settling back into their communities and relating to their children again.

I close my folder. I should be a social worker, or a counsellor, or someone teaching basic literacy skills. But I’m not any of these things.

A different tack is required if I’m going to make anything of this opportunity. We continue the discussion for a little while longer. I explain they don’t have to write anything unless they want to. I say I hope they will though, because it might help them make sense of things. I go on about how it is to lose yourself in writing stories. Even if I can’t make a living from it. Etc. I’m sure you get my drift.

I mention a local author whom I met recently. She does make a living from her novels. A good one. She’d told me that it was just by chance that her first self-published book got noticed, how she’d got a publisher and how she’s sold 100,000 books. I likened her to a singer/wrapper who suddenly gets discovered. 

We have another break. When we all sit down again, they are more positive. They ask me if I’d known where they were from. They seem relieved that I did. Another woman from their group has arrived, and two officers from Correctional Services have joined us too. They will be observing.

We do a little exercise introducing ourselves. Apart from the new-comer, they all write in Afrikaans and their supervisor reads their words out. Some are funny, some are poignant. But they’ve all started writing.

We talk more about ourselves.

I give them a silly story to read which I’d brought along as an icebreaker. It’s one of Ellie Scott’s which she recently posted on her website. It’s called ‘The Ultimate Anti-Aging Secret‘. They love it! Ellie helpfully explains at the end of the story how she gets her inspiration to write. We talk about that too. (Thanks Ellie, that helped!).

Then I ask them what story they might like to tell. It can be about anything. I mention the project again and our late-comer is totally engaged. She’s always written and she’s up for this. Her enthusiasm is infectious. The group is coming around.

We have about 30 minutes left. I ask them to spend about ten minutes writing about something, anything. It doesn’t have to be for the project. They don’t have to share it with anyone. They can write it in their home language. ‘Make it for you,’ I say.

A minute later they are all busy. Ten minutes later they are all still writing. I stop them with ten minutes to go and ask them if they’d like to tell the group what they’ve been writing about. Most say they’ve started writing about what went wrong with their lives, but one says she’s been writing about meeting her boyfriend. ‘Mills and Boon’. We all laugh.

Time will tell how we progress, but I know we already have one very powerful story which will be told beautifully and painfully. I have another four sessions to find out if there will be more.

 

 

 

 

 

The Characters’ Verdict

youll-never-walk-alone-by-chris-hall-proof-copy.jpg“Here it is!” I hold up the proof copy of You’ll Never Walk Alone to Cynthia and Conner, who are sitting outside in the little garden wasteland outside Cynthia’s flat. It is pleasantly and unseasonably warm for an April afternoon in mid 80s Liverpool.

Connor stretches out his hand. “Let’s have a look then.”

I hand the pristine proof over to him. He turns it over in his hands and nods. “Look rather fine, I must say, Ms Hall. Worth the wait, so it is.” He flicks through the pages and frowns. “Print’s a bit small.”

Cynthia takes the book from him. She riffles the pages, holding it up to her face. “I love the smell of a new book.”

I nod and grin enthusiastically. “What do you think?”

“It’s very nice, my dear.” She looks at the pages more closely. “Oh look, Connor, there’s a little drawing of a cat here.” She holds the book out to him, open at the title page. “Is that my clever boy, Asmar?” 

As if on cue, Cynthia’s beautiful Abyssinian cat emerges from the bushes and stretches languidly in front of us, mimicking the pose in the drawing.

Cynthia turns to the back cover. “Nice photograph of you, Ms Hall.”

“Thank you!” I smile delightedly.

“It must’ve been taken quite a while ago.”

I wince. Cynthia leans forward and pats my hand. “Well why not? None of us is getting any younger.”

Before I have the chance to reply, we hear voices coming around the side of the house. It’s Gina and Lucy. As soon as they see me, they call out in greeting. I hold up the second proof copy I have ordered for my household of characters.

“She has our book!” Lucy and Gina say together. Never mind that it’s my book. Whose name is on the cover?

They take it from me and sit down on the tatty wooden bench next to the wall. They exclaim in delight at the opening paragraphs. Lucy and Gina are, of course, in the opening scene. They start to read and for once they fall silent. After a couple of pages they look up. I can see in their eyes that they approve.

asmar


You’ll Never Walk Alone‘ a novel by Chris Hall will be published next month (we hope).

Writing My City

Open Book Cape Town

I am thrilled to be part of this!

Cape Town Libraries, in conjunction with the Book Lounge and the Fugard Theatre, are involved in an event called Writing My City which is to encourage Capetonians to write stories and poetry about the city they live in.

Cape Town is home to a multiplicity of voices, however some voices are missing. This initiative is aimed at finding those voices and giving them the opportunity to tell their stories to a wider world. In this way, more local community stories can be told and shared.

The aims of the project are wider than just the stories though. This is an opportunity to celebrate and deepen the understanding of who and what makes Cape Town the city it is. By improving understanding, we hope to build better social cohesion. It is also an opportunity to highlight the importance of libraries in the community and widen access to writing and publishing for people who would not otherwise see their work in print.

The winning submissions are to be compiled into a book for publication during the Open Book Festival in Cape Town in September.

Having responded to a call for facilitators, I shall be leading a series of writing workshops at one of our local libraries over the coming weeks. My aim is to bring the stories of ten local women (who I’ve not met yet) to life. The first session’s next week. I’ll keep you posted!

 

Character Confusion

coverpic

Previously

I’m back in Cynthia’s flat and the main characters from my very-soon-to-be-published novel are all staring at me. They don’t look happy.

“The book’s going to be out soon. Aren’t you pleased?” I say brightly.

Connor stares at the bottom of his empty wine glass then looks directly at me “We’re pleased that you’ve set the wheels in motion, so to speak.”

“Good.” I nod. “I’ll get the draft copy of the paperback around Easter.”

Connor looks around the room at his fellow characters. Cynthia nods at him.

“Well, Ms Hall, the thing is…”

Lucy interrupts. “We’re sorry,” she says, squeezing Pierre’s hand, “but we’re not really sure about the cover.” She smiles at me weakly.

“Oh?” I shake my head. “Have you any idea how long it took and how many versions of my beloved’s artwork I uploaded before we, or rather I, was happy?” I frown at them all. “I’m really pleased with it. It looks really…”

 “Old-fashioned.” Gina interrupts.

I was going to say ‘retro’ actually. Like a Penguin Original.

“But why a drawing?” Lucy says, fiddling with her long golden hair. “Why not a nice photo of all of us?”

“That’s, er, not going to be possible.” How do I tell them they don’t actually exist?


Another true-life story of an author and her characters 😉

Going up country!

big elephant3
‘Big Elephant’ ©Cliff Davies 2008

This afternoon we’re packing our bags and heading off up country for a few days. This is the kind of thing we’re hoping to see, so maybe there will be animal adventure stories next week. After all, this is Africa!

In the meantime, be warned. A deluge of chapters from my work-in-progress novel for younger readers is scheduled. I hope you have the opportunity to dip in.