I've got three in the bag now - two at branches of Waterstones and one for The Guisborough Bookshop. Does that make me experienced enough to comment? Probably not. But I'm going to comment anyway. :)
I was quite nervous when I crept into Waterstones Middlesbrough for my first official book signing two weeks ago. I kept fiddling with the lovely new red pen my Dad bought me for book signing. But I shouldn't have worried; the staff were lovely and I soon got into the swing of it. In fact, when I think about it, I've never met an unpleasant person in a bookshop - customer or member of staff. Bookshops just don't attract the chavvy types, do they? Everyone in these hallowed vaults is cheerful, helpful, literate and - as it turned out - prepared to listen for a few minutes to the ramblings of a nervous, new author.
Before my first signing I did a little research on the Internet. I was unsure what to expect so I thought I'd google the experience and prepare myself. There wasn't much on t'internet but I did find an interesting article from another author on: 'The Etiquette of Book Signings.' It seems that this jaded lady has a problem with rowdy queues, members of the public who always want her to read their own half-written novels and several individuals who didn't know when to stop talking and move on.
Gosh, I thought. Crowd control. It is going to be like being back in the classroom, surrounded by noisy and demanding individuals, all shoving their work under my nose for marking.
No, it wasn't. Maybe Martina Cole or Stephen King occassionally have experiences like this...but the above is definitely not the experience of an unknown newbie like me. There were not been any rowdy queues awaiting my arrival in Waterstones. I didn't come home with an aching wrist from signing my name two hundred times. Nor did anyone pass me a dog-eared manuscript and a red pen...
TEESSIDE BOOK LAUNCH @ MIDDLESBROUGH LIBRARY
Chris, Ross and Beth pose with me for the Middlesbrough Gazette photographer
Friday 9th December 2011: Flanked by my wonderful family, loyal friends and several members of the public who had all braved the freezing weather, we arrived at the beautiful library in the centre of Middlesbrough for my Teesside book launch. The first job of the night was an interview with a reporter from the 'Middlesbrough Gazette' and a photo session.
Talking about the research and discovering the skeleton in the family closet
Then I moved to the main table to talk about how Chris and I had discovered the family 'black sheep' and how I had turned the story of Jamie Charlton into a novel.
Reading Chapter Eleven
Helped by my good friends Jill and Sam (his excellency, the Cultural Attache for Boosbeck) we read a few extracts from Catching the Eagle and I answered questions from the audience. In the background, was an great slide show prepared by my daughter, Beth.
Finally, there was time for chatting with our guests and signing a few copies of the novel.
It was a lovely evening which I thoroughly enjoyed. I sincerely hope that everybody else enjoyed it as much as I did.
Thanks to Jill and Sam for helping me with the reading; to Iain Wolstencroft for the photographs and to Sara Dennis of Middlesbrough Library for organising the event.
Photos courtesy of Iain Wolstencroft
The 'Eagle' is published
OMG. What an amazing day.
This morning when the alarm went off at 6.25 am I woke up a published author.
Did I wake up with a metaphor on my mind? With ink-stained fingers or the appalling dress sense normally associated with writers? No. I've always allegedly had 'questionable' dress-sense. ;)
I woke up as normal, had a couple of cups of tea and then drove through the dreadful wind and rain to the day job. Here, I was instantly embroiled in a passionate debate about how we as a school can manage our limited resources and do the best for our students. I was on 'duty' and had a full days teaching ahead. No time to relish my literary achievement.
Then at 11.10am we led our Year Ten classes (that's fourth years, for all of you who are still in the 1980's) into the gym for their 'controlled assessment.'
Samantha O---, one of my 'liveliest' young ladies shoved a red envelope into my hand.
'Open it, Miss,' she whispered as the exam was about to start.
I waited until they were settled and then picked up the envelope.
'To Kazza: Miss Charlton' it read. It was a congratulations card - but not only from Sam. She had gone to trouble of getting at least half the class to sign it. I was really moved - and was very conscious that the little darlings were not concentrating on their exam - but were watching my reaction instead.
In that one lovely gesture the kids had shown why so many of us come into teaching in the first place - and why we stay. If a group of noisy but talented, frustrating but loveable, group of 14/15 year old teenagers can appreciate what today meant to me, then there is still plenty of hope for the young people of today. It is a privilege to be working with them. I will treasure that card for the rest of my life.
But the excitement was not over yet...
Live interview with Karen Charlton on BBC Radio Newcastle at 4.30pm - tomorrow - 8th December
Blimey! What a frantic few days!
Today I set out to write my speech for the Book Launch on Friday and finish of another blog post requested by my publisher.
Instead I've been jumping all over phoning Radio stations!
The big news is that tomorrow at 4.30pm I will be doing a live interview on BBC Radio Newcastle about how I researched and wrote Catching the Eagle.
Apparently, BBC Radio Tees are also interested in interviewing me so watch this space for details. For a lady just recovering from a streaming cold a live interview is going to be fun - I guess I'd better stock up on Day Nurse!
The official publication date is tomorrow for Catching the Eagle, and although we all know that naughty amazon have been selling if for some weeks now, it is still a very exciting time for us. I am determined to enjoy every minute of it.
Other news this week is that I have had a great feature published in The Northern Echo newspaper and I ahave also been featured on this blog:
Please don't forget that my Teesside Book Launch is this Friday at Middlesbrough Library 7 - 9 pm.
Looking forward to meeting you there. :)
'Author Karen uncovers shocking family secret'
And we've had another one...
This time it is the Morpeth Herald who have featured Catching the Eagle.
This is great news and - we believe - prompted an independent bookseller to contact my publisher for copies of the novel. It is a good article, similar to the one published by the Hexham Courant last Friday. This is hardly surprising because both newspapers used the emailed information and photos taken from my 'press pack' to write the features. All that hard work preparing the press pack last summer has paid off. If anyone is curious about what I used in my press pack, here is a list:
Photo of the book cover
Photo of me
Photo of Kirkley Hall
An extract from The Newcastle Courant September 1810
A family tree
The blurb for the novel
A synopsis of the story
Details of both the Teesside and the Northumberland book launches
Although this system obviously works extremely well, the slightly irking thing about it is that the newspapers can just lift the information I have sent them and publish - without telling us.
Thank you to David Walker in Ponteland, cousin of my friend Christine, for alerting us to the fact that the Morpeth Herald had published the above article. (Otherwise we would never have known!)