Since the official launch of #DivinePoison, the social media sites have been buzzing with reviews, tweets, retweets and likes. I’ve held my breath checking Goodreads and Amazon to see whether the book has done it’s job, to entertain. All very exciting and nerve wracking for a new author like myself. A year ago I would have struggled to understand the value of a retweet let alone how to manage posting on Twitter, Facebook and others. Now I have no choice and am finally getting the hang of the tools that form an essential part of marketing a book on line. Not bad for an old bird.
What fascinated me, as the reviews rolled in, were the variations. Some focussed on pace, others on plot, or theme, style, characterisation, or a combination. There were unexpected interpretations, valid points about red herrings that hadn’t even been intended as such, and a thoughtfulness within each review whilst not shying away from opinion.
Hats off to the bloggers, reviewers and readers! An enormous thank you to you all (as well as to family, friends, fellow authors and Bloodhound Books of course)
It’s Christmas. Your house is invaded by relatives and friends who gorge themselves on your yuletide hospitality. Some of them are a delight, but let’s face it after the first hour you want a return to peace and quiet and free use of your own bathroom. Drinks and nibbles are rapidly followed by the trauma of opening presents and putting your acting skills to good use. ‘That’s lovely, just what I never knew I wanted.’ The fake smile on your face begins to ache.
Christmas dinner is a feast for the gluttonous, sport for the mother-in-law’s thoughtless tongue, and an ordeal for the cook. You hope in vain that no one suggests party games too late in the day when Uncle Bernard has drunk enough to become obnoxious, and you pray no one will linger late into the evening begging for another slice of gammon and cold turkey.
Grandpa is snoring and farting. The older siblings are cheating at monopoly and threatening to sue each other. Granny is trying to teach the small children a game they are neither interested in nor understand. Young Toby is bashing his Power Ranger into her shin in protest, while his sister smears Silly Slime into your carpet. Teenagers are sulking and you, the hosts, stand at the sink washing up, again.
Do unfestive thoughts begin to creep in? ‘I could happily throttle the old bag’. The sort of intrusive wish you wouldn’t want others to know about? If, heaven forbid, you have house guests staying over (what possessed you to agree to that?!) these flights of fancy may become tempting.
Make certain you research wisely if you are plotting against an unwelcome, offensive relative …
or alternatively indulge yourself by reading some #crime fiction!
Allow your imagination to do the killing.
Agatha Christie is hard to beat for bumping off unwanted guests but I suggest you spread your search wider, get inventive.
Warning #Divine Poison doesn’t contain nuts: it’s not a story about murdering Christmas guests either, but it is a deadly distraction, a way of escape and a source of inspiration for would-be poisoners. Pick up a few ideas for next year’s Christmas dinner. (available on Amazon).
Do we explore these stories for the same reason we enjoy reading crime thriller fiction or watching scary films? If that’s your sort of book then try: A Justifiable Madness
Imagine what might happen if Nellie Bly or David Rosenhan repeated their experiment today? Those of us who have worked within Mental Health Services have an unusual perspective and personal insight into what it’s like to need support and treatment for mental illness and sometimes fiction is a powerful tool in raising awareness.
Whose turn is it to shake up mental health services?
As a new author I’ve tried to soak up the wise words of my fellow published writers. They speak the truth. Writing the book is the easy part.
I read with interest what Louise Jensen had to say recently, about her battle with nerves when asked to speak in public and how she overcame the hurdles. For authors it has become a necessity to be able to stand in front of an audience, read to and answer questions from eager listeners. Book promotion is as much about the author as it is about the product, it seems.
Through good fortune and friendships, I was asked to take part in a monthly performance event run by the #London Writers’ Eclective at a branch of #Waterstones in Tottenham Court Rd. I was thrilled and accepted straight away, having no idea what it would entail other than the request for ‘A short reading from your book, about ten minutes max.’
A performance event: what was that?
Flash poets, would-be novelists, potential stand-up comedians, short story writers, script writers, creative writers – they were all there,on Friday evening, in the audience and the taking their turn to perform. There was some great talent in the room. Phew, I thought. It was a good job I’d paid attention and taken advice. Here are the top tips I followed:
Choose your passage wisely. No spoilers, it has to entertain and make sense as a piece.
If it’s not right, change it.
Edit the passage if necessary to make it more acceptable to a listening audience.
Read it aloud and time it. (see number 2). Practise: Get your granny/mother round for tea and make her listen to your excerpt until she begs you to stop.
Record yourself and listen back. (see number 2)
Print it out in large font, underline or highlight narration in different colours, put big spaces in for pauses, like a script.
You’ll know the piece, you wrote it, so give it life, speak up and take your time when reading.
Give your audience eye contact.
Enjoy the experience.
Thank people for listening.
How did it go?
I loved it! Everyone was so welcoming and positive. After a glowing introduction of #A Justifiable Madness as my debut novel, I was let loose on an unsuspecting audience. To my relief, the like-minded people in the room reacted with smiles, laughs and a round of applause.
I’m one of the lucky ones, I enjoy a bit of the dramatic and with experience of public speaking throughout my nursing career was prepared for the nerves which inevitably arise, no matter how confident you are. It’s adrenalin, and harnessed- when that’s possible- can make you sharper. Thanks go to the organisers, Lindsey and Connor, who work so hard to give people the opportunity to perform in welcoming surroundings. They have invited me back in February when, thanks to Bloodhound Books, I will have a further two novels to share and read from.
Before then I’ll be more local …The Robin Hood, Clifton Reynes December 6th 6.30pm onwards for a fun literary evening. More reading and performing. Ta-dah!
When I sat down to write #A Justifiable Madness it was not with the intention of sending a political message or jumping on a sensationalist band waggon of a hot topic. I wrote about what I know. Having been a Registered Mental Health Nurse for twenty years it was impossible not to.
I wanted to focus on power and control. Why? Well, because ‘patient choice’ is a phrase that has been rammed down our throats for years, but the reality for many is that the choice is in the hands of others. Sometimes for good reason. In writing a book where suspense and psychological thrills are key components, there was also a drive to ask the question ‘have there been improvements in treatment and in patient care for those with serious mental health conditions?’
What I didn’t want to do was to use the story as a way of belittling patients, ex-patients, or service users. I wanted to tell a story that included their perspective without doing a disservice to them or to mental health professionals.
A fiction book is a form of entertainment, of escapism and expression, but it can also help to raise awareness, inform and ask difficult questions.
Judging by the reviews and contacts from readers so far, I did alright …
‘What is really creepy about this book is that whilst it is something that should never happen in modern society, it is equally something that could happen.’ from Life of Cri.me
‘I enjoyed the clever plot and it definitely made me think about the whole subject of psychiatry from diagnosis through to the treatment. A Justifiable Madness is part thriller, drama and suspense all rolled into one making a fantastic combination.’ From a review by Rea Reads
It is exactly a week ago that A Justifiable Madness was officially published. I now realise how ill equipped I was for dealing with the social media requirements of an author. Debut novel. Lots of support from my Publishers Bloodhound Books. Heaps of tweets and posts, retweets and likes later and yet I remained mystified.
Undeterred, I set about learning. YouTube to the rescue. How on earth do I get a post from my website to Facebook and Twitter? Please don’t laugh. I’m a fifty something who has been self-taught on computers and only stepped into Facebook and Twitter because I had to.
I started my quest at 0900hrs and this post is being born at 1415hrs. It may not make it, but I’m hopeful. Verdict: Must do better.
There is even criteria to meet before you are admitted into a psychiatric hospital and for some people they have to wait months and months before they can get help. So when Mark Randall gave an outstanding performance of Jesus, while completely naked and on the busy early morning train station platform, he was soon arrested. In fact he was a dead ringer for Robert Powell when he played the part, if anyone could mange to lift theirs eyes and look him in the face. Yep The criteria had been meet, a quick fast track ticket into the nearest local establishment to help the mentally disturbed. The thing is can the part of a sane man be played as easily in order to get out?
My first thought was there some sort of initiation going on, I mean it was September and the universities would be starting back up soon, or was it a dare or prank? Only time would tell. Mark was very sane and knew exactly what he was doing and now he played mute so perhaps I thought a bet to see which ‘idiot’, using the term loosely here, could survive the longest before been detected? Due to his now mute behaviour the staff gave him a name, he was known as Jesus Trainman.
I was in my element here it was like One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. I didn’t know which were in need of locking up the most the patients or the staff! The inmates were much wiser than the doctors where Jesus Trainman was concerned just like the old saying goes, “It takes one to know one.” This story really gave me food for thought as it is very dark and disturbing, especially with the more vulnerable members of society that don’t have a voice.
This is the debut novel of Alison Morgan and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It is a psychological thriller mixed in with some real events and gives a refreshing read from an unusual place, as it is mainly acted out behind closed, locked and bolted doors. There is an insight into the running of the place and the voice of the staff and patients. What drowns them all though is Dr. Giles Sharman.
There is some wicked humour in this book, with descriptions of Mark’s friends while the over all story really played with my mind and gave me a lot to think about. Very different and extremely well told.
From the review by Bookstormer – Alexina Golding 21 September 2017
A B Morgan has written one of the best opening scenes to a book I have ever read. It drew me in and kept my curious mind needing to read on.
Mark was such a conundrum to work out, but a genuinely likeable character.
An extremely interesting insight in to the possibilities of power being in the wrong hands.
Having worked a short stint in one of my previous careers in a Hospital I found the descriptive nature of writing transporting me back there.
I found Emma and Monica’s working relationship and friendship brought so much personality and credibility to the story.
With such a powerful storyline and being filled with dread for Mark, A.B.Morgan peppered it with humour making this a fantastic read, especially if like me you love “people watching” and trying to work out the human mind.
An extremely well crafted debut novel, with a storyline that I found original and powerful. With atinge of what if and sadness, I thoroughly enjoyed this read for various reasons and impressed with the style of A B Morgan’s debut novel
The official launch is tomorrow, 21st September 2017, The paperback was released on 10th September, but Amazon jumped the gun on the ebook version and for a week or so the kindle book was also available.
I’ve had three good Amazon reviews so far and can breathe a little. The response was really positive.
A local book launch has been arranged for 11th October in the village pub, The Cock, in Pavenham, with a fellow author John Lewes, and I hope that will be an enjoyable social event for friends and villagers alike.