You may have seen Shona Kinsella’s recent review of Face of Glass, but what you might not know is that she’s actually written a work of Prehistoric Fantasy herself. Ashael Rising has not only been launched, but successfully funded through Unbound! I think you’ll find the story behind the book very interesting, and if Ashael Rising itself piques your interest, you’ll be happy to know that although it’s passed 100% funding, there’s still a chance to chip and and get your name in the back of the book as a supporter (among other great rewards)!
Ashael Rising: How it All Began
I have wanted to write a book for as long as I can remember. As a child I wrote stories in notebooks that I carried with me. In my teens, the film Bucket List was a big thing and Write a Book was number one on mine. As an adult, I never thought I would actually get around to it; I mean who has the time? But I still squirreled away ideas, guarding them jealously against the possibility that I would win the lottery and become a lady of leisure.
About nine years ago I had a dream that, immediately upon waking, struck me as one of those ideas and though much of the dream faded, the final image has stayed with me all these years. Continue reading
Since the launch of Ten Little Astronauts by Unbound (in fact, more or less since it was first accepted), I’ve been planning to turn up at various places and talk about it. From the very beginning Fair Oak Library was more or less guaranteed to be the first, though in the end wasn’t because Charlotte Comley got in there really quick and invited me to a meeting of The Writers at Lovedean.
Fair Oak Library may be small – as you might expect for a village whose biggest landmark is a tree – but it’s special to me because I still remember going there for storytime when I was considerably smaller. It was the source of an awful lot of the books I enjoyed as a child, as well as the copy of The Well of Lost Plots I read in the run-up to the first Winchester Writers’ Festival that I attended, where the keynote speaker was Jasper Fforde.
If you’d like to drop in and say hi on Saturday, I’ll be there all morning: from 9:30 when the library opens until 1pm when it closes. I’ll have with me all my current books, plus a necklace of the sort I’m offering for a select few supporters of Ten Little Astronauts. I’m not sure how many people reading this will be in a position to just pop in, but if you’re not too far away then you might like a visit: the village is very pleasant, as are Stoke Park Woods just to the West of it. And if it sweetens the deal at all, the library itself is one of the area’s few PokeStops.
It’s taken me a little longer than I’d hoped to write about the Alresford Literary Festival and Hampshire Writers’ Society Book Fair, largely because I attended the Winchester Writers’ Festival immediately afterwards and was all set up to run Flash Fiction Day immediately after that. June has been absolutely crammed full of good stuff, but it has made it rather difficult to find the time to write about any of it.
I’ve now attended three book fairs in total, having started with one held by the Hampshire Writers’ Society last year, and though I’m hardly an expert at this sort of thing, I’ve noticed enough similarities between all three events that I feel as though it’s worth considering them all as a bundle rather than trying to get into what happened at each one. So far they’ve been much the same, which is great because I always seem to get a lot out of them. Continue reading
The Hampshire Writers’ Society Book Fair is coming up on the 14th of June. That’s this Tuesday!
I mentioned this in a recent blog post that focused mostly on the Alresford Literary Festival, but the Hampshire Writers’ event was such a success last year that I think it’s worth giving it a post all to itself. If you’re in the Winchester area, I’d really recommend going: there are a lot of authors who’ll be turning up. The place to be is the Stripe Building at the University of Winchester (on Sparkford Road): it starts at 6.
If you can’t make it, I’ll be aiming to write all about the event (and the Alresford festival) here. However, the Winchester Writers’ Festival is now less than a week away as well, so I can’t say for sure exactly when I’ll get around to it: June is a very busy month, and naturally I don’t expect July to leave me much more time!
On Saturday the 4th of June, I’ll have a table set up at the Alresford Literary Festival from 14:30-16:30. I’ve never been before, but Robert Hardy (who played Cornelius Fudge in the Harry Potter Films) is going to be there so it promises to be a pretty interesting event. I’m hoping I’ll get a good chance to talk to people while I’m not manning my table.
I’ve taken the opportunity to build on my display from last year’s Hampshire Writers’ Society Book Fair. The publication of Osiris Likes This hasn’t shaken things up too much, as it occupies a space that used to be taken up by flash fiction ebook CDs. Though the ebooks on disc have been handy as freebies–and the processes involved in creating them proved absolutely essential for one of my more adventurous MA projects–they’ve never attracted a lot of interest and Osiris Likes This is far more deserving of the space. Plus I gave all the CDs away at last year’s Writers’ Festival, so it’s something of a moot point. Continue reading
There are a whole lot of book giveaways running as part of the event, and though all the paperback ones seem to be US-only, I’ve taken the opportunity to make the Face of Glass ebook available as a free download worldwide. Since Face of Glass was until recently the only book I actually charged for, this isn’t something I’m likely to repeat any time soon. Grab your copy now, and pass the message on to any friends who might be interested, because when the fair ends on March 4th, I’ll be shutting that link down.
Incidentally, you might like to download all the different formats while you’ve got the chance: this is always an option if you buy from Smashwords, but if you only download one during the giveaway and change e-readers later on, you might regret not getting hold of the version it takes.
As it’s the first day of the book fair, it’s hard to say how this will all play out, but I’m looking forward to seeing some interesting things from some interesting authors. M.R. Graham‘s The Medium is also among those books featured today, and having seen the blurbs for some of the things coming up later in the fortnight, I know for sure that I’ll be keeping an eye on the event.
While preparing the paperback version of Osiris Likes This, I took the opportunity to revise a few of my other books as well. In most cases that involved little more than making sure the front and end matter was up to date (the “Books by Damon L. Wakes” page has grown significantly since the earliest ones were first released). However, for Face of Glass, I wanted to do something a little more significant.
Last weekend wasn’t my first time at the Winchester Writers’ Festival, but thanks to a scholarship from the University of Winchester, it was the first year I managed to attend the entire event. That really made quite a difference, since the full range of day courses, talks and workshops offered far more variety than I could have got from any individual day. It was particularly useful to be able to get advice on both writing and publishing. Here’s how the weekend went:
Each day of the festival starts (if you get up early enough!) with coffee and an opportunity to chat to other delegates. For the first two days, this was also an opportunity to wander around the Book Fair. I was really keen to make the absolute most of the weekend, though most people didn’t turn up until a little later.
Being there at quieter times was pretty handy, because when it got busy (such as immediately after Sebastian Faulks’ keynote speech) it actually got a little difficult to move about the place. I got talking to Matador (on the far left) who were kind enough to spread the word on Twitter. Continue reading
Tuesday evening marked two firsts for me: the first book fair I’ve taken my work to, and the first meeting of the Hampshire Writers’ Society I’ve been able to attend. Both were well worthwhile.
The overall experience setting up and sitting behind the table was uncannily familiar after bringing jewellery to so many craft fairs last year, but at the same time it was amazing to be at an event that was all about books. Though I wasn’t the only author there with an anthology, people seemed very interested in flash fiction and the Flash Fiction Month challenge. I think part of that might be down to the table display: the bold colour scheme for the FFM series really jumps out, while the more muted orange-red for Face of Glass kind of blends in. Given that Face of Glass is a serious prehistoric fantasy novel while my flash fiction collections tend to involve naked breakdancing wizards and foxes on drugs, I figure that’s acceptable, but when you get a chance to meet readers in person it’s the sort of thing you notice.
Thinking about cover design, this seems like a good time to mention that I was quite impressed by the paperbacks on the table next to me. Shadows in Sunshine, the book advertised on the banner in the image above, is Richard V Frankland‘s most recent instalment in the Vaughan Thrillers series. What immediately caught me was how nicely the covers tied all the books together:
Laid out as thumbnails, there’s just enough to connect them: the author’s name, a face-on animal photo, and white/yellow text. What you don’t see here is that each of the paperbacks has the eye of the animal at the top of the spine. It’s the sort of thing I think would look really good on the shelf.
All in all, it was a great evening. The organisers had already been doing a lot to get the books out there in the run-up to it, and I noticed a huge increase in the number of people downloading the free flash fiction anthologies. In that respect, the event was also interesting because the availability of the free downloads (and the ₤1 CD version) didn’t discourage people from buying the paperbacks. That’s something I’ve noticed online—indeed, the recent Immerse or Die review of Bionic Punchline is of the paperback version—but it seems particularly significant when people can pick up a leaflet or pay for a book. Paperbacks are a great format to have available, even if your ebook is free.
Though a clash with my MA course had stopped me turning up to any earlier Hampshire Writers’ meetings, I was surprised to find that I’d already bumped into quite a few people there at various readings and author events at the university. HWS doesn’t meet again until September, unfortunately, but I look forward to being able to get involved more often when things get going again. Also, there’s a good chance I’ll see quite a few members at the Winchester Writers’ Festival, which is coming up in exactly one week. Between that, Flash Fiction Day, and Flash Fiction Month, it looks as though I’m in for a fun several weeks!
With the Hampshire Writers’ Society Gala Evening just a week away, my table space is more or less sorted. I’ve got multiple copies of all my paperbacks, with the Flash Fiction Month anthologies all lined up on one display and all the Face of Glass copies on another. You wouldn’t think that hours of experience selling handmade jewellery or shelving videogames would ever help with preparation for a literary event, but actually putting these displays together felt like a little of both!
In addition to the paperbacks, I’ve also assembled some new discs. The Face of Glass CDs aren’t actually new: I tend to have them on hand at craft events. However, most of the ones here are freshly assembled as my original batch had been whittled down to the last two.
These Face of Glass discs contain both the ebook itself in multiple formats, and audio recordings of The Three Tales from the novel. I’ve now assembled a desktop computer that makes burning the discs considerably simpler, and (though a somewhat smaller investment) I’ve got a set of scalpels and a cutting mat that make for some very neat case inserts.
The process of putting together these ebook CDs is now straightforward enough that I’ve also brought out a very small number of Flash Fiction Month discs. The ebooks are still free to download, but I figure that for anybody who wants a token physical version the disc could be a fun option. The colour scheme of the covers looks pretty good laid out this way, and the clear clamshell cases do a good job of showing it off.
I’ve still got a few more bits and bobs I’d like to sort out, but with the books on hand and the discs put together, I think the display is just about ready to go. I’m even planning to bring along a couple of chunks of raw obsidian to place alongside Face of Glass, since it’s always interesting to be able to connect the imaginary world of a book to something more tangible. I had the larger of the two stones on hand most of the time I was first writing Face of Glass, and though most of the actual research into Stone Age cultures came through books, museums or the internet, having that one bit of black glass to hand was useful too. It’s a fascinating material, both beautiful and practical, and seen in person it’s not hard to imagine why it developed ritual significance.
If you’re interested in turning up, the Gala Evening starts at 6pm on the 9th of June, in the Stripe Building at the University of Winchester. Further information is available on the Hampshire Writers’ Society events page. Their website also lists all the authors who’ll be at the members’ Book Fair alongside me.