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Words With Edge Fest

So, as my residency at Red Door Studios draws to a close, I have one BIG project left: Words With Edge Literary Festival. (See our excellent Poster designed by Lauren Stone at the bottom.)

So, what is Words With Edge? Simply, it’s a lit fest without the pretension. You don’t have to be a writer, you don’t have to be a reader, you just have to be open to experiencing new things! And we’ve got some brilliant stuff:

  • Dizraeli
  • Hollie Mcnish (workshop AND performance!)
  • Slambassadors
  • Clare Murphy
  • Workshops by Steven Sparling, Louise Davidson and myself, varying from how to market as an artist, scriptwriting, and writing for wellness. Plus Steven will be using his talents as a voice specialist to show you how to SPEAK UP! What’s a writer if they can’t read it out?!
  • Joz Norris’ excellent Edinburgh Fringe Show ‘Awkward Prophet’
  • Carmina Masoliver
  • The Roundhouse graduated Early Doors Collective
  • Myths of the Near Future
  • 4’33’ Magazine
  • Talks and stalls by Atlantic Books, Stairwell Books and many more!
  • A short play by The Woodhouse Players
  • A Literary Themed Red Doors Pub Quiz with Treehouse Quizzes
  • AND Story themed CAKE CLUB!

AND MANY MORE TO BE ANNOUNCED!

I’m really excited to  be running my first Writing for Wellness Workshop, following on from my studies in Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes at the Metanoia Institute. It should be a thoroughly creative week of events, workshops, classes and talks, as well as first class performances!

 

GET EXCITED!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Litfest poster

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Why I Love my Kindle…And Why I Hate Myself For It.

 

I was a steadfast, never-changing, can’t-see-the-point, technology-goes-too-far defender of printed books. The ‘Original Book’ if you will. I spent a year on my MA in Creative Entrepreneurship listening to people defending the uses of e-readers, imploring me to consider changing markets and adapting writing to new ways of reading. I refused. The printed book will never be replaced, and I just wasn’t interested. However, when I needed to start editing other people’s books and stories, and my back was starting to break from dragging my laptop everywhere (which I still do, I’ve just added a kindle to the Big Bag of Doom), I decided to give them a chance.

Reasons I love it:

1. Instantaneous gratification

Ooh, I really want that book. Ooh, it’s coming out today! I can’t get to the shop today. My local bookshop doesn’t stock it. Oh, I don’t want to order it and wait for weeks, I want it NOW. Oh, BLAM, look at that! I have it. Shopping for books is one of the greatest pleasures, I may even prefer it to reading books. Seeing a book that grabs me, and instantly getting to read and enjoy it really feels good.

2. Holidays

I have always been a bookworm. When we went away on holiday, as a kid I had to think very carefully about my packing allowance. I always had three books for the plane (just in case) and five more in my case (for a two week holiday). No more using up all my packing space, weighing down my luggage, or having to make awful torn decisions about which book had to be left behind (poor little thing).

3. People can’t see what you’re reading

I think this was voted the number one favourite thing about e-readers. If I’m reading my typical maudlin YA fiction that I’ve read a hundred times before and probably has nothing to offer me, no one can judge. If I did want to read such absolute shite as Fifty Shades of Grey, or Twilight, I could do so without judgement. Which perhaps should be counted as a negative, as shaming people out of buying such things might be a good idea.

4. Supporting indie authors

It’s pretty easy to publish on Amazon for kindle, or even publish an e-book. For a minimal price, you can instantly support an author trying to make it, you can spend fifty pence and show solidarity without even really having to read the thing. It’s one click to make someone really happy. I’ve found some great stuff on twitter, downloaded it straight to my kindle, and it’s a bit like finding some hidden gems, it wasn’t what you were looking for, but you’re glad you took a chance.

 

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And some things I just can’t get over:

 

– People can’t see what you’re reading

As a Londoner, I’m quite averse to unnecessary communications on public transport, BUT sometimes it’s nice to have a chat with another book nerd on a bus. When I worked as a barista, it was really easy to start up a conversation with someone about their book. Reading is an internal thing, but the externalising is the talking about it.

You can’t lend books!

This absolutely drives me mad. I recently read Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, and it was one of the best books I’d read in ages. And whilst I was recommending it to everyone, could I force it on them by physically handing them a copy? No. So e-books are cheaper, but you have to buy them. Again, internalising reading.

On the beach

There’s something very anti-holiday reading about screens and glare and doohickeys and technology. I like the way my pages get crinkled in the sun, and sand gets between the pages. Getting sand on a kindle-fear.

I worry about getting mugged

No-one’s ever going to stop me for my copy of Harry Potter, but for an e-reader worth a hundred quid? My reading on the tube makes me feel like I’ve got to stow everything away going to the ‘dodgier’ parts of London. And that’s not nice.

The Smell

You know what I mean, don’t you?

 

As always, you can buy my book in physical print and on kindle. Because having the best of both is important, right?

 

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Things and Stuff this Summer

So, just incase anyone missed the first few thousand times I talked about it, you can buy my debut novel at the publisher’s website. If anyone would like to post reviews in the comments box on this post, I’d appreciate it!

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In other news,

  • I’ll be starting my writing residency over at Red Door Studios in Newham in the next few months. I’ll be running workshops, doing a writer’s cafe and arranging a mini lit fest! So come get involved out on London’s East Edge. You can keep up with my musings at Red Door over here.

 

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  • I’ll be at a bunch of festivals running creative writing classes with The DumbSaint Project. You can find us at Larmertree (where I’ll also be doing a special reading from my novel, and a chat about being entrepreneurial), Cornbury Fest (Where my amazing mum will be coming along to make some excellent Sea Stories themed crafts- AHOY!) and End of the Road Fest, with fabulous poet Joe McBride. It’s going to be a busy summer!

 

I’ll also be performing at She Grrrowls! in Kingston on the 22nd July. Run by the most excellent poet (and current writer in residence at Bang Said the Gun! -frickin’ awesome) Carmina Masoliver. This is the first time I’ll be performing excerpts from my novel since the launch, and I think that’s removed a bunch of the nerves. So come down for some excellent performances and good booze!

 

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That’s it for now! Phew!

 

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Wine Dark Sea Blue- Out now!

So, over this last year or so, the goal has been to get published. Yay, level up! The next goal is to sell those books.

Wine Dark, Sea Blue is a coming of age story. It’s about London, the recession, finding comfort in strangers, escapism, loyalty, and never really knowing how to say the things you want to say. It’s about secret keeping, family connections, unsaid truths and making art.

You can buy Wine Dark, Sea Blue from my publisher Stairwell Books. It will soon be available on Amazon and kindle, but please bear in mind, if you want to support the author and publisher, don’t buy hard copy books from Amazon, buy them straight from the source.

I’ll be blogging about the launch party and how it went (fantastically!) but for now, get hold of your copy, and show how much you’ve enjoyed it by posting a pic of yourself with the book, and hashtagging #almichael #winedarkseablue like all these lovely people have done! Get involved!

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My Career as a Professional Bullshitter

 

So, the day of The Book Launch is almost upon me. The books are at the printers, the merchandise has arrived, the venue is confirmed. And yet, I’m still panicking. Why? Well, firstly, whilst it’s a moment of accomplishment and joy, it’s also bloody stressful. And really, so far, things have gone smoothly. So why the stress? Is it the idea of talking in front of a crowd? No, there’ll be wine to deal with that problem. Is it the judgement, the idea that people will be reading your work and forming opinions and not all of them will be good? Maybe, but as writers we become accustomed to that. Is it, perhaps, that all of this is going swimmingly, and yet I still feel like a bit of a fraud? Bazinga.

Writing is about bullshit. Writing itself is a world of lies. Talking about writing is giving opinions on something that may mean something different to someone else. Talking about your own writing is pointless, because it should speak for itself. When we teach writing, it’s a different kind of bullshit again. We are determined to make ourselves sound good, because no-one else will do it for us.

I am destined to say ‘I’m a professional writer and teach workshops’ for a very long time, and will almost always be confronted with questions of what my ‘real’ job is, and sniggers of derision. That’s fine, they don’t really get what I do. My job will always be a patchwork of various opportunities coming together at various points in time. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it’s a colossal mistake. But that’s what my job is. Bullshit about how much I’ve achieved, bullshit other people’s CVs, bullshit my way through interviews, editing, talking about my students’ progress. This is not to say I’m lying, that I don’t do the editing, that I don’t have experience, or my students aren’t improving. But with everything we do, as creative entrepreneurs, it feels like we’re just winging it.

Tote bags!
Tote bags!

So, the book launch will no doubt be a lovely event where I’m surrounded by people who love and support me, even if they’re not sure about my writing. But here’s some things to think about when considering launching your book:

  •  Appropriate excerpts. I don’t know about you, but I write a lot about sex and drugs, with a lot of swearing. Finding a family friendly excerpt is proving pretty difficult. Similarly, finding something where family won’t assume I AM my narrator, or people present won’t be looking for themselves in my fiction is pretty damn hard.
  • Swag! Man, who doesn’t love merchandise? I do! Big time. So I’ve had some tote bags and bookmarks made up that the first hundred people can claim with their buy. Added value, and extra publicity for me.
  • Press release. Despite having written these on my MA, it’s pretty hard going. Again, it’s a form of bullshittery. What sounds good, what fits the theme? What do people want to hear? Some may fight back against pigeonholing but it’s the easiest way to draw in your target market.
  • What do you want from your evening? I went for laid back, dingy pub, making use of my excellent creative friends by having them perform or get involved. Themes are also useful. I’m all about collaboration and creative community, so anyone who wanted to be involved was.
Launch poster
Launch poster

Okay, so there’s my guide to bullshitting your launch party. Act confident, be proud, and enjoy it. I’m sure I’ll be talking about my event once it’s happened. Which, if you’re about in London on 10th May 2013, can be found here.

And here you can find the press release:

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Here’s some of our performers:

 

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Writerly Resolutions for 2013

Hey there writers, readers and general people of the web-verse.

Happy 2013! I hope your resolutions are achievable and your will power is strong.

Here are a few of my writerly resolutions for the coming year. I’ve been looking at twitter, and everyone all over the place seems to intend to read more! Not a bad idea. There’s a strange level of disappointment in yourself when you haven’t read all the books everyone else has read, or whatever seems to be in vogue or is being made into a film. What books are you guys looking forward to reading this year?

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1. Learning to Love E-Books

This has been easier than anticipated. Since fighting violently against the e-book market, and denying that e-readers are at all a positive thing, I have got a kindle. And boy, I love it! I especially get very excited by scanning Amazon for books (as I did before) and then getting them automatically! Instantaneous reading excitement! It’s also very likely that when my book goes into publication, it will be as an e-book. So I want to convert as many people as possible. Plus, now I have more room in my bag when travelling!

I’m currently reading Mhairi McFarlane’s You Had Me At Hello, which has all the things I love, including sarcasm, snarkiness, nostalgia and a pretty boy. It’s also the closest thing I’ve found to my second novel The Last Word, so that’s comforting.

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2. Blogging the Crap out of Everything.

Whilst some people are probably sick to death of everything I say on this blog (please see comments on previous post for example, ha ha) blogging is how you get yourself known, and as countless SEO experts have said, it’s bloody important. I’ve been keeping up with my writing, reading and…no, not so much with the maths, but have been so busy doing it that I haven’t been blogging about it!

So 2013 will be the year of the blog…hopefully. And I’ll start uploading more samples of my work because when you let people know what you’re up to, you’re kind of obligated to keep going.

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3. Write, not just Type

I’m having a bit of a situation in figuring out physical mediums at the moment. Originally, I always used to write everything in a notebook, or write pages and pages of scraps, and then type once things already appeared to have a definitive form. With my latest project, I started typing from the get-go, and I’m not really sure about it. Also, I like pretty notebooks!

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4. Write Sober

Big fan of Hemmingway’s famous advice, and find it to be particularly useful, but seeing as I’ll be giving up alcohol for January, it’ll be interesting to see whether it’s easier to write when you’re not so foggy from a glass of red. I doubt it. I kind of believe that perception altering experiences are good, and that anything that brings your subconscious bleeting into the conscious in confused, pretty sentences is pretty damn awesome. But, maybe being sober will be a perception altering experience. Or I’ll drink twice the amount of tea.

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5. Believe

I will tell you the absolute truth, the same truth every person who calls themselves an artist and writes a blog, or gives out a business card or talks about their work thinks: I am a fraud. I’m only talking about what I know, and trying to make it sound as if I know exactly what I’m doing, or as if I have any control over who reads my books, who thinks I’m good, and who thinks I’m professional.

But that’s part of the game. I have to call myself a writer. If not, what am I? If I’m not, then how can I legitimately run workshops, give talks, feedback to other writers, edit other people’s work? We are all absolutely playing the part of the life we want, in the hopes that one day we’ll simply stop pretending and be. So I hope that you know that these musings are made delicately, hopefully and without ego. Or rather, just enough ego to appear confident.

And to all my other frauds out there- keep pretending. Most of them don’t know we’re faking it!

I’ll keep you posted about the novel publication, the latest project and all the wonderful things I’ve been reading on my magic electronic reading device!

Have a very happy new year, and keep writing! What are your resolutions this year, writerly, readerly or not? Stick them in the comments box!