One of the joys of selling books at local Christmas Fairs is that you get a chance to introduce yourself to possible new readers and to chat to them about their reading tastes.
“A Passionate Spirit” by SC Skillman
I had some interesting chats at the Princethorpe College Christmas Fair on Sunday afternoon whilst promoting and selling signed copies of my two novels Mystical Circles and A Passionate Spirit.
One lady, seeing that my new novel is a paranormal thriller, asked: “Is it based upon a real life story?”
At first her question surprised me, for of course I wouldn’t expect the target audience of a paranormal thriller to even ask that.
But I realised it was a very interesting question. “Yes,” I replied. “Not only do I get my inspiration from my own experience and from the many people I have met and known; but also this novel is based upon several true stories, from different people.”
The true stories that I draw upon in my novel A Passionate Spirit, have been told by my sister Julia; by a retired clergyman called John Alderman; and by a selection of writers upon the paranormal, including Peter Ackroyd, Paul Adams, Eddie Brazil and Peter Underwood.
Whilst chatting to another lady about the fact that both my novels were set in the Cotswolds, I was asked another curious question: “But do paranormal things happen in the Cotswolds?”
My reply to that was, yes, they certainly do – in my novel at least!
Then I realised it produced quite a good slogan: “Creepy things happen in the Cotswolds”. Though, in reality of course, they can happen anywhere and everywhere.
Decide for yourself by downloading the ebook here or by ordering the paperback direct from the publisher here.
Instead of a bookshop party I shall be “launching” this novel with visits to three local Christmas fairs in Warwickshire this year, and then starting in February, I plan to do a series of signings, one in Kenilworth Books, one in Waterstone’s Leamington Spa, and a possible “ghostly” book event with other local authors organised by Warwick Books in the atmospheric Great Hall in Lord Leycester Hospital in Warwick.
My first event will be the Christmas Fair at Princethorpe College, Rugby, on the day after publication day – Sunday 29th November 2015, from 2.00-4.30pm. If any of you are local to that area, and have some free time then, do drop in to the fair where I’m sure there will be many wonderful Christmas gift ideas. I’ll have signed copies of the new novel for sale, alongside copies of my debut novel “Mystical Circles. I’d be delighted to see you there!
Meanwhile in the next few days Matador will send me their mailing list for me to check, listing all those who’ll receive my Press Release, and I hope that there will soon be some exciting media coverage to report here, on my website and on my Matador page.
The ebook will also be available for purchase from all online stores from 28th November, and for six weeks it will be possible to download a copy free from Net Galley for review.
And then… back to the next novel. Several chapters have already been written, and in the last few days I’ve been noting down some fresh inspiration!
I was excited today to receive a delivery of 50 copies of my new novel “A Passionate Spirit”.
Although I’ve seen and approved the cover design and read through the typeset proofs several times, nevertheless, to hold the freshly-printed book is a thrilling moment, worthy of celebration. At last it’s a reality!
Now I can offer signed copies for sale via my website. Publication date is 28th November, when the novel will be available to buy through all online retailers, and in bricks-and-mortar bookshops. It can be pre-ordered now from the Troubador website. In addition it will be available as an ebook.
I hope that the bookshops I have visited and many more will stock copies for you to buy.
Maybe one of these bookshops is local to you. Here is a list of the shops where you should be able to find “A Passionate Spirit” in stock after 28th November:
Blackwell’s, Oxford; The Borzoi Bookshop, Stow-on-the-Wold; Jaffe and Neale, Chipping Norton; The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop, Tetbury; Warwick Books, Warwick; Kenilworth Books, Kenilworth; Mostly Books, Abingdon; The Woodstock Bookshop Woodstock; Madhatters Bookshop, Burford; and Waterstone’s in Leamington Spa, Stratford-upon-Avon, Cheltenham, Cirencester, Banbury and Gloucester.
The love of story telling which I learned as a young child, through reading adventure stories, grew into a passion to write stories myself.
Writing and reading stories is all about our ability to enter other hearts and minds and worlds, and to exercise and develop our powers of empathy. I hope that is what my story of A Passionate Spirit will do. How vital it is that we tell stories – not only fiction, but the stories of our own experience. We’ve seen that clearly over the last few days of remembrance.
On the day before Remembrance Sunday I sang with the Spires Philharmonic Choir in a concert called Sing Us Your Dreams at Earlsdon Methodist Church, Coventry. The Earlsdon Research Group had gathered together many personal stories from people who remember their grandfathers, their fathers and their uncles who fought in World War I and returned. We’ll repeat the concert with more World War I-related memories, on Saturday 14th November at Lancaster Priory.
During the concert we sang some very moving pieces: newly-written poetry by Avril Newey set to lovely and poignant music by one of our own choir members, Michael Torbe, including The Unknown Warrior and Reveille Rise Now, and These Thankful Fields, plus some famous wartime songs. In between our musical pieces, a narrator recounted to a packed church some of the stories that had been gathered from local people in Coventry, as part of the Sing Us Your Dreams project. These were the stories of those who had returned – “the lucky ones”. Many were very powerful and moving. And those with stories to tell can still contribute at the Sing Us Your Dreams website.
We heard of returned soldiers haunted by images of having to shoot sick horses and throw them overboard off transport vessels; men so traumatised they never spoke of what they’d experienced – one whose granddaughter remembers being mystified and slightly frightened of him as he sat silent in the corner at Christmas parties.
We heard of a serviceman who was shot in the hand, refused to have his arm amputated, and came home with a black hand, which he showed to a woman who was about to give him a white feather on a bus. We learned of a mother whose 15 year old son joined up in the raw excitement of recruitment posters proclaiming Your Country Needs You. He was killed and every Remembrance Day for the rest of her long life (she lived to 95) she laid a wreath on his grave and wept for the loss of her young son. We heard of a boy who memorised the sight chart so he could convince recruiting sergeants he had good eye sight. We heard of a woman for whom, though her husband returned to her, it was never possible to recover their former life together, because, as she later reported, “in his heart he never really left the army.”
I thought of my own teenage son. If we had been there, in 1915, I as a mother may have seen him, perhaps, as young as 14, so excited by the propaganda that he was prepared to falsify his birth certificate to join up and go to the front line.
We heard of those who were “lucky” – yet the devastation of war not only kills people, it destroys countless other lives for decades through the damaged minds and bodies and spirits of those who return.
All personal stories which transported me back to the reality of life, at that time, then opened it up with vivid freshness.
I feel I can understand those who were silenced by their terrible experiences. And yet thank God for those who have been able to tell their stories, so they might be passed down, for our compassion and empathy, which may strengthen in us another passionate spirit… a powerful resolve to do what it takes to change the future.
Publication date draws ever closer – 28th November!
My new novel “A Passionate Spirit” has now been sent to print and will be ready in the next couple of weeks. Meanwhile Matador’s ebook department are converting the manuscript to an ebook. When the ebook has been uploaded to online retailers, it will also be on Net Galley for 6 weeks. There, keen readers and reviewers can download the new releases free of charge for review.
If you do a lot of fiction reading, and enjoy writing online reviews, and you’re not already a member of Net Galley I’ll be including a Net Galley widget in a blog post closer to publication date, and you can then sign up! Or of course you can head on over to Net Galley now and join straight away.
Remember, word-of-mouth recommendation is critical to an author’s success, and online, that means reviews, and plenty of them!
You’ll be able to post a review on my webpage at Matador as well as on Amazon, Goodreads and my Facebook Page.
Meanwhile I’ve booked a stall at three Christmas fairs in Warwickshire, to sell copies both of my first novel “Mystical Circles” and my newly released book “A Passionate Spirit.” I always enjoy doing local fairs and events; it’s fun to chat to the visitors and to find out what sort of books they like reading, and when they do their reading. I’ve learned some interesting information about different reading habits that way!
In addition, I’ll be doing some book signing events at local bookshops. More about those closer to the time!