London Invitations

The last fortnight has been busy literary-wise. Book Week Scotland saw me in Dalgety Bay Library on a panel about how to get published, then I was back home for a talk in Orkney Library and last week was publication day for the paperback of The Trouble With Keeping Mum. There was much facebooking, tweeting and blogging to try to spread the word and thanks to those who re-tweeted or shared.

Last night was my first literary foray south of the border. The Durning Library in London’s Kennington is a Grade ll listed building – a mock Gothic gem amongst its not-so-special neighbours – and I had been invited to speak the the Friends of Durning Library at their Christmas event. For me, this was not only self-promotion, it was meet the neighbours. We have had a London base round the corner for many years but knew no-one. Now a trip to the Kennington bookshop will be like a walk down Kirkwall’s Albert St as I greet the familiair faces.

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In the course of the evening, I asked the questionI have been wanting to ask an English audience. For my third novel, I have been advised to set the story south of the border as novels set north of Gretna Green are thought to be about romances in the heather by those who live south of Gretna Green. When I asked if this was the case, there were a lot of nods… so perhaps the Corrachan sequel is not to be;  or not yet anyway.  If I am following the principle of write-about-what-you-know perhaps I will set it in Kennington then move as far south as one can get – New Zealand.

For those who have read earlier posts, Tonight is the Night! The dress is altered, the reinforced underwear is laid out beside the kinky black satin gloves and the bling is polished. Car to the Palace at 7.45pm and evidently we do get something to eat! Start at the outside with the cutlery and no elbows on the table. Watch this space for tomorrow’s update and pictures!

 

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First Minister a Bully? Health Minister Has a Secret?

A power-crazed bullying First Minister with a cyber army! A Scottish Government minister with a big secret and exponential family problems! No,contrary to what you may think, these are not headlines about Mr Salmond and his motley crew, this FM is female and it is all fiction!  Today is paperback day! The Trouble With Keeping Mum is now published in its smaller, cheaper and hopefully, mass-market form. A truly wonderful Christmas gift available for download and from all good bookshops.

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To me, the publication of a hardback is like the birth of a child while the publication of the paperback is the sending-off to school. We wave goodbye at the school gate, hoping our offspring will be an academic and social success. So too, with a paperback launch, one’s literary effort is out there to become top of the class, to sit somewhere near the middle or, heaven-forbid, to be remaindered.

Part of the secret of success is publicity. Reviews are outwith my control, but blogging, tweeting, Facebook and cold-calling bookshops are my responsibility. Well, this is the blog; @WallaceRosie for tweets (@MintyOliver – The old lady from the novels); Facebook is Rosie Wallace.  The bookshop bit is daunting, especially for someone with no sales experience, but offering to come and sign copies has been more productive than I could have hoped. Next week is Edinburgh ( Blackwells, Edinburgh Bookshop, Waterstones) and then back to my roots in Milngavie.

Last week, was Book Week Scotland and that gave me some publicity too.  Libraries all over Scotland hosted author events, so, now  some people in Dalgety Bay have heard of me and the good people of Orkney heard of me, yet again. Next week London and apart from my date at the Palace, I am speaking to the Friends of Durning Library in SE11 and popping into the Kennington bookshop.

It would be wonderful to go into immediate reprint, sell the film rights and never travel Economy again.  However, the first novel, A Small Town Affair, grossed enough to pay for a sit on lawnmower (reduced  in a sale ), a couple of dresses and €6.40 form Irish Public Libraries. Perhaps this one might pay for  someone other than me to sit on the lawnmower  and I await the earnings from British Libraries with mounting excitement.

So, dear readers, if you are minded, please share the news of the paperback in coffee shops, round dinner tables and on whatever social media or book review site you choose and I will do the same for you one day. Thank you.

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Tales From the Changing Room 2

You may be pleased to know that my sartorial problem may be solved. The wonderful Anne Stewart, dress-alterer extrodinaire, is going to let out Granny’s dress. Granny, too, was a big woman – although not quite as large as me. However, her dress maker was generous with the seams. It a 1930s number in black velvet with  three- quarter sleeves, a modest decolletage and a wonderful rustly taffeta petticoat. It goes nicely with the real bit of bling which also belonged to Granny and I have ordered velvet pumps from Landsend which I hope will be as comfortable as bedroom slippers. Dominatrix gloves will not be required. Something half way to the elbow should be sufficient.

Why didn’t I think of this before I wasted hours damaging my self esteem in emporia on Princes St?

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Tales from the Changing Room

Any breach of my table manners caused my father to remark that I would never be asked to dine at Buckingham Palace. And he was right, I have not been asked to dine – a reception with an 8.30pm start suggests one is expected to have had one’s tea. No worries about using the correct cutlery then, only worries about what to wear on an occasion which requires White Tie or National Dress. Orkney’s national costume of boiler suit and bunnet paired with floral pinny and headscarf was a delicious prospect – for all of 30 seconds.

In reality, it is easy for him; a trip to Moss Bros and he is sorted. I, unfortunately, have to go shopping for a floor length evening dress and I am a big woman.

Many shops later, I have learnt several facts. The choice in size 18 is limited and within that miniscule selection, the gowns which suit a wrong-side-of-55- but-not-yet-70, 5ft 10in matron with bat wings are non-existent. A green beaded number made me look like a sickly armadillo; a navy silk and lurex number would require corsetry a la Queen Mary; a black number with a raised collar, which looked initially promising on account of the sleeves, turns me into a cross between Mrs Danvers and Snow White’s stepmother; Grecian, with a flowing skirt hides the fat but requires a cantilevered bra to produce a (crepey ) cleavage and some sort of shrug to hide my shot-putter shoulders and the aforementioned bat wings. (Barbara Cartland boleros are not the answer.)

And there is another lurking problem. Etiquette states that white tie for him means gloves for her, and a sleeveless gown means above-the-elbow ones, preferably silk or kid. A quick Internet trawl confirms my suspicion that these come expensive unless one is willing to settle for nylon from the dominatrix website. So, if anyone knows of a shop stocking extra long flowing dresses with sleeves and only the hint of a cleavage, please let me know. Then I just have to find some shoes for my size 8 bunioned feet.

 

 

 

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Today The Show Moves To Edinburgh

Today, I am moved to do housework. Those who know me well, will realise this is unusual. I normally have a high tolerance of dust, crumbs and toothpaste-encrusted basins, but today is the  Edinburgh launch of THE TROUBLE WITH KEEPING MUM and I am nervous – hence the displacement activity.

It’s not actually the occasion itself that bothers me. It is a show at which I am in control of what I will say; what I will read. The loss of control comes with the fact that more people will buy it and hopefully even read it. Then they either tell their friends its rubbish or that they should go and BUY it. (NB telling an author you lent your copy to 10 friends who all loved it, may raise the ego slightly, but it does nothing for the royalties) Judgement Day approaches.

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 John Knox is on my shoulder again, warning me not to get bigsy ( a good Orkney word meaning  ‘I kent your faither’)while my personal neuro-linguistic programming is telling me to believe in myself and I will succeed. So, If you live in or near Edinburgh, please drop by Blackwells Bookshop  on South Bridge at 6.30pm for a glass of wine and  the chance to buy a signed copy.  Come and see whether or not I have been successful in sending  Rev Knox  back to his plinth at the Assembly Building.  
In the meantime, I shall don the marigolds, clean lavatories with unaccustomed vigour and watch the Olympic dressage when I need a break. My nerves must be trivial compared to these riders. On the other hand, I can’t blame the horse.

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It’s Publication Day!

Publication day  for The Trouble with Keeping Mum   is here but, sandwiched as it is between two launches, it is rather a non day.Though I say it myself, opening night in Orkney was a success – a case of wine, a friendly audience, and 70 copies of The Trouble with Keeping Mum sold. The transfer to Edinburgh is a work in progress, but as I am no longer the director or stage manager,  it shouldn’t concern me till curtain up. It really shouldn’t………….

        ImageIllustrator Britt Harcus at the Orkney launch

With 12 days between launches, I have been enjoying being part of an audience – firstly watching the Olympic Eventing  cross country in the beautiful auditorium that is Greenwich Park with its panoramic views of the City of London. Although we are now a horse free family and no longer see £20 notes disappear into the hands of vets, saddlers and rug manufacturers, this was a horse lovers dream. We revelled in a rare family day out with our two daughters, complete with Union Jacks and a Silver Fern for our New Zealand links. We met up with Orkney friends with a German connection, so you could say our support got all three teams onto the podium -Team Germany taking gold, Team GB the silver and Team NZ the bronze. Bet they were glad we came.

Image       Wallace family               Image Mary King GB

               Yesterday, I went to Walton on Thames to watch the cycling. If pressing the camera shutter at the correct moment to catch a horse in mid air was difficult, achieving a photo of a cyclist was well nigh impossible. Bradley Wiggins went past at such a speed, far faster than those before or after him and it was obvious he was on course for victory. 

.Image Froome          ImageWiggins! Missed!!

Today I am housekeeping and watching daytime television with a clear conscience. Not property, antiques or relationship angst, just dressage, rowing, swimming and even a bit of beach volleyball, but there is a bottle of bubbles in the fridge for later.

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Keeping Mum and other Troubles

Less than a week now until opening night and I am managing the Orkney production from a distance. The launch of the The Trouble with Keeping Mum is next Thursday, and I am, at present, keeping Mum in Dumfriesshire. Not my Mum – I am an orphan – but my mother-in-law, who has had a recent hip operation and is less than mobile. As a respite carer for six days, while  brother in law and his spouse have absconded to Cyprus, I make soup for the freezer and insist that the dishwasher will be used. I have not come all this way to unnecessarily wash dishes.
I chop vegetables, barefoot and clad in thin t shirt, on account of the central heating being at high, and I worry.  There was some consolation, yesterday to learn that two copies have arrived at my Orkney home. So it has been printed then. Other questions, however, remain unanswered. Will those despatching the Orkney copies know that guaranteed 24 hour delivery usually means 3 days  and can mean up to 5 if you get the boats ‘wrong’ and miss a sailing? Will there be enough copies? (Waterstones ran out for the Edinburgh launch of A Small Town Affair)  Perhaps everyone is waiting for the paperback and there will be too many!
As I listen to the TV at high volume with accompanying subtitles, I reassure myself that the stage management of the Orkney production is firmly under my control. I have ordered wine. I have booked the venue. I have arranged friends to refill glasses and deal with the empties. I have a pen. Edinburgh, however, is a different matter. The only thing under my control is the audience. At least they might be friendly. In the meantime though, I shall concentrate on the matter in hand. Keeping Mum (and Dad and Auntie) really isn’t a problem. There is appreciation and there is the disabled parking badge. Auntie and I are off to park on a yellow line outside Marks and Spencer in Carlisle while we buy pop socks, ready meals, and anti-depressants from the Marlborough Region of New Zealand and perhaps something red too!
So, Orkney residents and visitors, if you are free, please come along to the St Magnus Centre in Kirkwall for 7.00pm on Thursday 26th where you will be offered  a glass of anti-depressant and the chance to purchase and autographed copy of  The Trouble With Keeping Mum, (Providing the books have arrived, that is!)  Hope to see you there!

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