Well, my book launch has been and gone and I am now firmly in the aftermath of gratitude, exhaustion and a vat of herbal tea.
It's now Friday. Three whole days since I donned a sparkly dress and dragged my kids away from Netflix for the evening. All in celebration of the publication of my novel, the first in a trilogy that took me ten whole years of my life to write: Life Is Yours.
If you know me or you follow me on social media, you will have heard me wittering on about this for quite a while now. Life is Yours this, Life Is Yours that. And you won't find me apologising for it. The seven year-old me just won't allow it. The forty-one year-old me is a little bit scared of the tough, pen-wielding seven year-old and just lets her get on with it. After all, she's always known there'd be a published book one day. No question.
But as I said in my little speech (with a mic and everything!) on book launch night, sometimes we lose our way as we get older. We concentrate, as we are told to left, right and centre, on becoming a 'serious adult'. On earning a living, on finding our way, on becoming accepted, on looking like we know what the hell we are doing. Well I got lost in that shit for a good number of years and the writing took a bit of a back seat.
I did get my creativity fix though. Albeit through other people. I made a living for a good decade out of working with others to help bring out their creativity. I thrilled in their emerging abilities and passions for dance, drama, art, writing and music. I worked with people from all walks of life and loved every second of it . . . never for a second stopping to think what it would be like if I just had the courage to be creative on my own. As much as these people might have thought I was helping them, they were my buffer, they were my comfort blanket.
Anyway, it took an earth-shattering split with my fiance at the time (2006), to make me see sense. Ok, not right away. There was a hell of a lot of streaked mascara, chardonnay and crying into the bottom of a wine glass before I could see anything at all, never mind the teensiest particle of sense. But eventually I began to bat open my sodden lashes and look at the world in a different way.
I can't tell you all about that now, because I'd spoil the book for you. But let's just say there were a whole load of surprising encounters, last-minute trips to sunnier climes, epiphanies on silent mountainsides and run-ins with a mysterious bloke who seemed hell-bent on shaking me awake to the wonders of the world. Hippy shit? Absolutely.
And even after all of that burst my heart right open, it still took me a while to put it all down on paper. I felt the familiar tug of being a 'serious adult' again and wondered if I was going to write, I should at least write in a genre that might have a hope of being sold. Perhaps a thriller? A murder mystery?
The writer's block that ensued told me I wasn't on the right track. I could not, for the life of me, make the words arrive. What the heck was going on? I'd had an epiphany on a mountainside and everything! And it wasn't until a friend practically yelled at me over his bottle of beer one night, "You're telling me, you've had the year you've had and you don't know what to write about? Jeez."
Sometimes you've just got to rely on the wisdom of your very best friends.
Anyway, long story short, it took me another ten years but I did it. I wrote a three-part story about everything I'd encountered that year and called it 'Life is Yours'. Ten years because of the usual distractions of life - not to mention the mysterious bloke hell-bent on shaking me awake was also hell-bent on becoming my husband despite the fact that he lived two thousand miles away in Turkey and was a different culture / religion / species to me.
Somehow we made it work - three countries, four visas, two children and all the love in the world later, we're in The Manor Pub in Brixham in South Devon all glammed up and surrounded by smiling people wanting to help celebrate my little work of literature.
Because Life Is Yours (finally) got taken on by publisher, Britain's Next Bestseller (appropriately named, I feel), I wanted to mark the moment with, well, a party. I wanted nibbles and cake and live music and cosiness and wine and smiles and hugs and to bask - just for a short while - in what it feels like to finally be a published author. If there's one thing I've learned over the years, it's that it's ok to celebrate your achievements. If you don't build yourself up, then who else will?
I was lucky though. People attended in their droves and copies of my book sold out in the first half hour. I nervously got up behind that mic, accompanied by my lovely mate and co-host for the evening, Hayley from Sparkles and Stretchmarks, feeling very nervous about giving a little talk similar to what you've just read above. But, because of the smiles shining up at me amid the fairy-lit cosiness of the pub, I relaxed into the flow of things.
I honestly could not have asked for the night to go any better. Yes, it cost me an arm and a leg and I'll be working for the next six months to make that money back, but it was SO worth it. Honestly, if you're a writer or artist or performer or have anything creative to show the world, I'd honestly give the thumbs up to celebrating it with a launch of some kind. It gives you the kind of glow that will last a whole lot longer than any spa day I know of.
It almost felt like a wedding. Only instead of celebrating life-long ties, I have now released my ten-year romance into the wild . . !
I also want to say a well-deserved thank you to all of the local businesses and beyond who gifted items for the Life is Yours goodie bags on the night. What a delightful little bag of surprises it was - all embracing the theme of Life Is Yours like self-care, indulgence, wellbeing and spirituality. The bags had a good amount of coverage on social media (not that I'm at all upset by the upstaging) and meant that I could use the night to celebrate the creative endeavours of many more people than just myself.
Right, I'm off to bask in the afterglow of my amazing launch before admitting that there is still a hella lotta work left to do. I'll drag out just a little more reading of lovely Facebook posts and gazing at starry-eyed at all the gorgeous pics before diving head first into marketing / promotions / blog tours / selling my soul to the biggie book shops. I'm going to need yet more grit and determination to get through that.
Oh and my boys too, I'll need them.
Thanks again everyone and go well,
If you'd like to buy Life is Yours on Amazon and see what all the fuss is about, click on this link!
THANK YOU TO THE GOODIE BAG GIFTERS . . .
Patty's Piece of Cake for the delicious cupcakes (and AWESOME Life is Yours cake)
Michaela @ Scentsy for the gorgeous wax melts
Ella's Chocolate Emporium and Tearooms for the indulgent chocolate truffles
Stella Grace Holistics for the beautiful essential oil samples
Nutriri body positive and mindful eating organisation for the generous discount vouchers
Ailsa Frank Hypnotherapy for the free hypnosis downloads
Glow Studio for the charming little crystal gemstones
THANK YOU TO LOTS OF OTHER SPECIAL PEOPLE . . .
Julie Spiller, author of The Cornubian, for getting her publisher to check out my work
Britain's Next Bestseller for listening to Julie Spiller (!) and all of your consequent hard work
Sparkles and Stretchmarks' Hayley for helping me with planning and co-hosting like a boss
The Little Bluebell Team for understanding when I got burnt out and poorly
The Manor Pub for providing the absolute perfect venue for the launch
Kirsty from Studio 23 Catching A Smile for documenting the evening with your wonderful photography skills
Jon and Jamie from Reggie's Band and the like for the wonderful acoustic set
Clare, Chloe and Jan for setting up a beautiful display and dealing with book sales
My Mam for the constant pep talks on the phone leading up to the event
ALL of my beautiful Brixham friends for turning up on a cold October evening
ALL of my north-eastern friends and beyond for the online and telephonic championing
ANYONE who has so far bought and read Life Is Yours and said divine things about it
My beautiful boys and my handsome hubby for all the love a girl could ask for (and yes, you can have a takeaway tonight)
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