The Comfort of Books

Sand skates on sand.
The sea is galvanised steel.
The wind buffets and chivvies.
The kestrel spirals upwards, an Autumn leaf caught in the blast.
I leave footprints on the beach.

Small stone, Scarborough beach, 9th November 2015

I took a walk this morning to try and clear the busy-ness in my head. I feel like a plate spinner or – as I’ve said in a previous post – a hat spinner. November sees me: facilitating workshops; giving a talk; formatting my novel for Kindle & createspace; and marketing and launching The Art of Survival. Being buffeted by the wind and hearing the sloshing of the waves is a relief.

After I launched my first novel, The Art of the Imperfect, last December, I methodically detailed what/how I had done in terms of marketing and sales at the end of each month. I thought maybe I would learn how promotional tasks translated into books going to readers. I didn’t and I got fed-up, so stopped in June. It was a nice surprise then to do a bit of a round-up recently and gather the following figures: 270 copies of the novel given away or sold; 233 people (in addition) downloaded it to their Kindle in the recent promotion; 916 people entered the Goodreads giveaway and, of the three who won a free book, two are in the US. The Art of the Imperfect was also long-listed for the Crime Writers Association debut dagger award. As I trot towards the release of my second novel, that feels great.

As well as walking, another antidote to the hat spinning is reading. Yesterday, It was Sara Paretsky’s Fire Sale. I became completed embroiled in the Chicago life she portrays; driving the Loop, hearing the glass on the empty lot crunch under my feet, feeling the finger-numbing cold. Paretsky’s VI Warshaswki novels are not what you might call comfortable reading, they tackle difficult issues and there’s violence (about the limit of what I can take). However, in an interesting way, it is a comfort to creep into this other world, where I can be safely buffeted and challenged and the resolution is not for me to find.

What’s your comfort reading? What do you do when the hat spinning becomes too much?

The Art of Survival
Available on Amazon in paperback & Kindle on 21st November (Kindle pre-order: 11th November).

The Art of Survival asks: What will fear push ordinary people to do?  What happens when little Art of Survival Coverfront onlyfinalgirls get lost? DS Theo Akande is investigating the disappearance of eight year old Victoria Everidge. Her mother, Yvonne, is a desperate woman. What is she capable of? Eminent journalist and newspaperman, Stan Poole, dies leaving a filing cabinet full of secrets. As these leak out, his daughter, Hannah, begins to question her own girlhood. She is losing her way. Her best friend, Lawrence, newly an item with Theo, finds it hard to remain supportive. Instead Hannah clings to her work as a trainee counsellor and to her client Julia. Julia is apparently no little girl lost, but appearances can be deceptive. Then a body is found.

Praise for The Art of the Imperfect:

‘The first thing to mention is the writing style is incredibly strong. … The description through this book is brilliantly constructed so that I really felt completely immersed.’ Lizzy, My Little Book Blog

‘The book … retains its readability on a second or third reading and beyond. It is written by an unobtrusively gifted creative talent, whose gifts will assuredly go on expanding and enlarge their range … The novel is convincing enough to haunt us, and graze us into deeper thought.’ Dr Heward Wilkinson, UKCP Fellow, UKCP Registered, Integrative Psychotherapist.


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