Authors, Publishing

Book Launch: The Bras and the Bees

This week, I attended the launch of a very special book, hosted by Falmouth Booksellers in Cornwall. I’ve been patiently waiting for The Bras and the Bees by FA Notley to come out ever since I heard about it, partly because it sounds like such a wonderful reflection of true life events about a beekeeper-turned-global-business-entrepeneur, and partly because the cover artwork for this book is simply so beautiful.

FA Notley (co-editor for Cornish Short Stories) is the author of this stunning book. It tells the true life events of Brian Sherriff, now 91, who was at one time a beekeeper and factory director manufacturing women’s bras, before he went on to establish his own business selling beekeeping suits around the world. As a leading brand that’s still recognised today, The Bras and the Bees tells a fascinating and inspiring story of how you can go from one life path to the next with one simple idea. Namely, Why aren’t there any safety measures in place when working with bees?

The Bras and The Bees book_launch.jpgThe Bras and the Bees

As a lover of all things literary, I’m always a sucker for any type of author event, so to meet the author, the man the book is written about, and the illustrator, all in one night was particularly exciting for me. How often do you really walk into an author event and leave with not just one, but three signatures within the first few pages of the book?

This night was full of sparkle and I absolutely loved the atmosphere of the evening at this wonderful independent bookshop.

The Bras and The Bees book_launch_BrianBrian signing my copy at Falmouth Bookseller

At the launch, Brian jokingly admitted he never realised his life was so interesting to a smiling audience. He suggested that, to anybody who wants to write their life story, all they have to do is write little anecdotes down about what happens to them, collate them in date order, and then put them all together to create a book. Of course, it’s a little more technical than that, which is where FA Notley steps in and brings Brian’s wonderful story to life with her words.

The Bras and The Bees book_launch_FA Notley and Lucy Smith

Author FA Notley and illustrator Lucy H. Smith

Lucy H. Smith, the illustrator, even signed my copy with a unique drawing of a tiny buzzing bee. As a massive fan of her artwork, I loved that she included this; I’ll be holding this book close for a very long time. The detail on the page is exquisite and I particularly love the wings.

Illustrator Lucy H. Smith signing my copy

The exhibition space for this event was also beautiful. It included one of the corsets made from Brian’s factory on a mannequin so gorgeous I wanted to take it straight home with me. There was also an amusing graphic showing how Brian used to wear his own miniature ‘bra-kerchiefs’ in the front pocket of his shirts, a story which is all detailed further within the pages of the book.

The Bras and The Bees book_launch_exhibitionExhibition space

I’ve never seen anything quite like it – and it definitely added characterful charm to the event, as well as to the entire book.

The Bras and The Bees book_launch_exhibition_brasThe Bra-kerchief

Feeling happy with my evening, I left Falmouth Booksellers the way you always should: with a book in hand. My TBR pile might be teetering over the edge right now, and I definitely have a lot of my own writing I also need to get to, but I seriously can’t wait to start reading this delightful tale.

Poetry, Publishing, Writing

Sarah Cave and Ben Smith – Featuring Lost in Books!

Last night, I attended a book event in the cosy and intimate setting of Lostwithiel’s very own independent bookshop, Lost in Books. For the event, published poet, Sarah Cave, and debut novelist, Ben Smith, read aloud from their works, speaking about setting and place, how it’s used, and the tantalising consequence of how the absence of human life can have a deep effect on the confines of our minds when left alone out in the world.

Sarah Cave, who has published two poetry collections (with another on the way later this year!), tells the story of Slava, a Russian individual living in the Arctic inspired by the real-life Arctic weatherman in her striking collection An Arbitrary Line. The poignancy of her poetry, echoing themes of loneliness, humanity and the isolation within a huge and harsh climate, such as Northern Russia, is incredibly rich and evocative in its powerful use of language. While her poetry might be deep and wistful at times, there were definitely several shared laughs between her and the audience as she read her work aloud. Inspired by a reflection of the abstract and the effect the human mind can have once humanity has disappeared, this collection is a prize to keep close to your heart. Listening to her work and being drawn in by her rhythmic words was a pleasure.

SARAH CAVE READING FROM AN ARBITRARY LINE

Ben Smith, whose debut Doggerland, a dystopian exploration of family, fear and ever-prevalent climate change, also read at this event. Again, weaving in themes of loss, humanity and an isolated setting, hearing Ben’s prose being spoken aloud was mesmerising. Surviving in a world where the only two characters interact with each other and the sea, Ben’s debut has been described as a stylistic mixture between Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam and Cormac McCarthy’s post-apocalyptic prose. Needless to say, it was a treat to listen to his words and listen in on the details of how he wrote the book.

BEN SMITH READING FROM DOGGERLAND

And where would a fantastic author event be without its fabulous host? Lost in Books, situated along the idyllic riverbank of Lostwithiel, is a gem in itself – and a wonderful find if you happen to be walking that way in Cornwall.

Recently opened, it shares its space with rustic, home decor shop, Atticus & Willow, filled with natural plants, greenery and delicate trinkets and treasures you can just as easily get lost in. The whole feel of the space as you walk in is like stepping into another world. A world of art and books. Doesn’t that sound just like heaven?

The more I visit, the more I believe that this is such a perfect and unique setting for a landscape filled with books. They line the shelves, creep up the walls, and lay stacked in plucky little piles beneath the rustic table centred in the middle of the room. Those books in turn breathe words, and those words weave into much-loved stories. The only thing they need is for somebody to step in, pick one up, and start reading. Did I mention the shop has a cat who visits frequently too?

SARAH CAVE AND BEN SMITH HOLDING BOOKS

Last night was such a wonderful experience to be among the audience for this fabulous event. Lostwithiel is such an ancient town. To know its literary spirit is being kept alive and well is a gift to its community – I hope to be back for many more events to come!

Fancy visiting Lost in Books? You can visit their website here.

 

Publishing

It’s a New Day

Last year was fantastic. I got to work at Penguin Random House for several weeks, visited London a fair few times (I saw Les Miserables on stage! It was amazing!) and even got offered a place on the Writing for Young People course at Bath Spa University. Needless to say, I accepted, and it’s brilliant.

It feels so good to be writing again.

I may be a little late on this, but 2016 wasn’t without its downfalls. It was a really hard year. really hard year. Because, yes, I hit snags, made mistakes, did some ridiculous things and, by the end of the year, 2016 came tumbling down on me hard. I really struggled to get back up.

And I’m still paying for my mistakes.

But now, I’m writing again, and – look! – I’m actually blogging again! It feels amazing. I finally feel like I’m back up where I need to be. I had a bath earlier and spent the entire time doodling in my notebook about novel structures and fresh scenes for my manuscript in progress.

Because all 2017 boils down to is this:

I really want this year to be good. I really want this year to be successful. I am willing to work hard.

If we believe life can be good, then surely it will be. Right?

Well, here’s to living in hope. Keep chasing your dreams.

 

 

 

Authors, Publishing, Writing

Emily Barr: Final Writing Workshop

Today marked the last day of the incredible writing workshops I’ve been a part of with many talented writers at Falmouth University. The writing workshops were taught by the fabulous Emily Barr, who is a bestselling (and very skilled) thriller novelist.

Even more exciting, she has a new YA book coming out early next year which is published by none other than Penguin, so watch this space!

These workshops have been amazing and a real gift to be a part of. I’ve learnt so much, from writing about sense of place through to writing about characters with amnesia and how to deal with that. Emily was also kind enough to bring her husband – also a writer! – to these workshops and having him there too was a huge insight into the children’s publishing world, as he’s also a children’s writer.

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The workshops were held over a period of five or six weeks and, inbetween this, I was lucky enough to have two focused individual sessions with Emily, where we talked about novel writing, what it’s like to be signed by a top publisher like Penguin and copy edits. What was even cooler was how she persuaded me to bite the bullet and follow my own writing dream, which is to travel out to Texas and do some research on the novel I’m writing – a YA novel set against the backdrops of the rural South.

I’m planning to go during Easter break but if that doesn’t happen then there’s always the summer. I’ve already saved up some money for the trip (I have been saving since the first year of my undergraduate degree: that’s three years). I just need to take someone with me, if only to make sure I come home and don’t run off with a cowboy, which is an actual true danger.

These writing workshops have made my writing stronger, they’ve made me listen to other people’s writing with more precision and clarity, and to be more confident about reading my work aloud. I always struggled with this before, so it’s great to have a balance between reading your work on the page and reading it out loud to other people.

To be a part of such a great writing community every single week has been really special and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I’m sad that it’s over but feel so lucky to have been a part of it all. But it’s not over yet! We have one more last personal session with her on Wednesday and I’m excited about this. Afterwards, we’re all meeting for drinks, so now I guess I can say I’ve shared a few drinks with Emily Barr! Yay!

But, seriously, it’s been so wonderful. Even better, I feel like I’ve made some new friends as a result of this great workshop and gotten some awesome new skills!

Until next time.

Publishing, Uncategorized

Interview on Working for Penguin Books!

Howdy everyone.

I promised I’d tell you all about how my time went doing work experience at Penguin Books and that time has come! I was recently interviewed by the lovely blog An Abundance of Books where I talk about it all.

This blog is really for anyone who loves books, reading and publishing, plus it’s just really pretty so it’s worth looking at for that reason too.

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(The books I got from Penguin on my placement)

Working for Penguin was amazing and it turns out I’m going back there over Easter break for another placement! This time I’ll be with the marketing team at Penguin Press and I cannot wait. I don’t think I’ve ever felt more that my heart lies in books.

If you want to read about how I got on at Penguin then you can read it here: http://anabundanceofbooks.com/2016/02/24/emily-ould-at-penguin

Please give the blog a follow if you like what you see!

 

 

 

 

 

Personal, Publishing

Goodbye London!

It’s officially my last day in London! Tomorrow I’ll pack up and leave early in the morning to drive back down to Cornwall,  where there’s an abundance of tractors, pasties and wide open spaces. Yay!

But I won’t lie – London has been an amazing experience I won’t forget and I can’t believe that, before now, I spent most of my life absolutely terrified of it! I was shocked when everybody (well, most people) were so friendly towards me and you don’t get mugged in the streets every two seconds like I thought.

Okay, yes, I was a little naive.

But, now I’ve done it, it feels incredible to have stood in a crowd amongst London streets, seeing sights that people have seen a million times over THROUGHOUT HISTORY and to miraculously be less than a few minutes away from Oxford Street.

Now, sadly, I haven’t been able to take many photographs, 1) because I have zero memory left in my phone (stupid me) and 2) I haven’t really had the chance as I’ve been inside a building most of the time!

But that building is Penguin Random House. So, of course, this makes it all okay!

(*Credit to Carrie WishWishWish)

I still can’t really wrap my head around the fact that I got to do work experience at Penguin for two weeks. It’s incredible and I learnt so much.

I dreamed for so long of walking through those doors of Penguin HQ – either to work there or as signed author and, now, one of those things has come true! Even if it was only temporarily.

Maybe the next one will come true at some point in the future. *Fingers crossed.*

It’s been amazing.

I’ve had the pleasure of watching London go from a pitch black canvas of darkness in the sky at the end of every day to slowly lightening up into shades of inky blue and lighter indigo’s as time hurried on by. As I was heading towards Charing Cross station I could never help but smile at this! Because it meant – tah-da! – that spring is actually – finally -on its way!

And when I think of spring, I think of beach. And when I think of beach, I think of home. I honestly can’t wait to roll around in the sand, even if it’s freezing when I get there.

Yes, I’ve missed home.

So, my last day in London will mark perusing book shop shelves and darting into fancy shops I wouldn’t otherwise get the chance to go in. Also eating sushi for lunch, just because I can.

I’ve enjoyed my time here an insane amount – and read roughly four books since I’ve been here (thank you train journeys) – but now it’s time to go home and snuggle with my cats. I’ve missed them loads.

*Happy smiles.

 

 

Publishing

I’m in London!

That’s right. I’m in London, fellow humans.

(Cue a giant double decker red bus and a pretty image of Big Ben next to the River Thames if I had one.)

Credit goes to whoever took this photo.

Because I like to update my blog on writerly news and how my current lifestyle around books is going (with a few updates on my cat) I’m thrilled to announce that the reason I’m staying in London is because *drum roll please* I managed to get work experience with Penguin Random House!!

I still can’t really believe it.

Honestly, I am beyond pleased and so, so happy. I have been working towards getting work experience with any of the top publishing houses for so long! I truly never thought it would happen. Being surrounded by books everyday and top publishers is like a dream and, even though I’m not getting a permanent full-time job in publishing right away, I kind of feel like I’ve made it somehow. Already. I know. Don’t hold your breath, right?

*please let me get somewhere in publishing one day in the foreseeable future.

London is very different from Cornwall. For one thing, there’s no sunsets amid a huge blue wavering line of sea and countryside to close the day. For another thing, everybody walks at about a gazillion miles an hour and, also, people don’t care if they shove you at a station during rush hour. I found this out just today.

I’m here for another week or so and I’ll definitely be updating you by the time we roll on into next week. I’ve missed blogging. And I’m going to start afresh with a little more publishing knowledge in tow.

In the meantime, check out the publication I semi-run all about Cornwall. It has pretty pictures, I swear! You can click on it here: www.cornishstory.com

Have a nice night wherever you are in the world.