21 March 2015

Newcastle Writers Festival 2015

Oh my goodness, will somebody pinch me please?!

As I sit here at the computer chatting to a pyjama-clad MissyMoo3 (3), preparing to send the MissyMoos off to bed for the night, I'm finding it hard to believe that today actually happened. You see, today I participated - yes, participated - in the Newcastle Writers' Festival.

I was a member of a panel in the session: "Going it Alone: Navigating the complexities of self-publishing, both digital and print".

Last night, I got into marketing mode and made up a few more bookmarks to give out on the day - just like the ones I had at my book launch.

This morning, I left the house full of excitement and nervous energy, swapping being a netball mum to MissyMoo1 (8) this Saturday for an encounter of the literary kind at Newcastle City Hall.

Photo taken by the clever MissyMoo2 (5)

So there I was, at City Hall, being an author. Unaccompanied by children. Approaching the hall was like taking a walk down memory lane. I passed by a building in which I had spent the bulk of my last two years studying at law school. And then, right next to it was City Hall, a place I had previously only ever associated with balls and wedding expos. As if emerging from my past into my future, I entered the hall as an invited guest.

Festival program and my entry pass

Of course, the first thing I did was go to the bookshop!

Woohoo! Returning's first bookshop display!!

After buying a few books (not mine, I already have that one!), I went to the "green room" where I said hello to a couple of familiar faces and met a few new ones. I got to chatting with my fellow panelists and before we knew it, it was time to go to the session.

Very encouragingly, our session had to be moved to a larger room because of the interest it was generating.

Stepping out of the lift into a room full of people was quite daunting. I began to feel a little nervous. But I reminded myself that this is my "fun" and that I absolutely had to soak it all up. So I did. The time seemed to pass so quickly. Linda's questions were very well prepared and she hosted so well. The audience were very much engaged and asked their own questions too. Nim, Greg and I had some similar responses, but we each had some points of difference stemming from our differing experiences, which I personally found very interesting and which I hope the audience did too.

For me, I have very much "gone it alone" throughout my self-publishing experience. Not personally knowing anyone who had done it before me, I did all the research myself and made the publishing decisions myself without "colleagues" to bounce ideas around with. Sure, I didn't get things 100% right, but all in all, I think I managed it pretty well. Having the opportunity to tell others about my experiences was very rewarding, not to mention meeting others who have done similar (but different!) things to me. And hopefully a little bit of extra exposure will help to sell a few books!

After the session we headed back to the bookshop to sit at a signing table. Unfortunately we were hidden by the queue to Bob Brown, but I wasn't concerned, as I got to sit next to him - there's my brush with fame!

I drove home feeling exhausted and elated. What a day!

I feel so incredibly lucky to have been able to take part in this amazing festival. The volunteers put in an incredible effort, not just over the weekend, but all through the planning stages which begin for the following year soon after the festival ends. Thanks to Rosemarie Milsom for including me in the line-up. The opportunity to tell my story, get my name out there and see my books on display in a bookshop are things I am very grateful for.


  1. You were so fabulous. The whole panel was so well-balanced. I wish I wasn't concentrating so hard on questioning - but I'm forcing myself to go back and remember everything you all said. So much great advice - and an utter pleasure to finally meet you IRL. x

  2. Mary O'Connor24/3/15 10:04 PM

    Was so sad that I couldn't be there to hear you speak. Glad that you are getting your name and fab novel out there......well done!!!

  3. Well done Francesca! This must have been so exciting! I hope you will have many other opportunities like this one. All the best.


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