Category Archives: Weston Shore

Thinking and Marketing a Novel outside the Box

During this year I’ve been trying to think of some more unusual ways to reach new audiences for my writing, both on line and in reality. I enjoy meeting and talking to people. It may not be something you like doing, but for me it’s a great way to boost my confidence as well as sales. Here are the most obvious places for booksignings or talks:

  • Bookshops
  • Libraries
  • Talks for Interest Groups eg Historical Societies, ladies groups etc

Where else? This year, as I’ve ventured to some less likely venues, it’s been an interesting and sometimes rewarding experience. I qualify with the word ‘sometimes’ because there have been a couple of occasions when only a few people have turned up, but the thing is to try not to get too disheartened. Not only that but who knows what benefits there maybe in the future. Will people remember your name next time they see it, maybe in the local paper? (Ah, that’s the lady I met at the country fair in Somewhere town!)

Here are some of my more unusual suggestions:

  • A picnic and talk at a key location ~ a handful of us met as the sun was going down on Weston Shore, Southampton ~ It was a truly memorable occasion as we watched a cruise ship depart up Southampton Water, just like in the opening chapter of Ancasta!
  • A Walk and Talk on Alderney ~ I took some friends and family with me and some islanders and holiday makers joined us too. What fun it was to walk and talk in the places Harriet and her family ‘lived,’ my characters from ‘Riduna.’
  • A restaurant ~ many stopped by to tell me their stories
  • A classic car day ~ I attend a good few of such like events with my husband each year and it only cost a tenner for the little stall. Not only did I reach a suitable audience but many stopped to have a chat and I made enough sales to make it worthwhile
  • Haynes 100 ~ a lovely day. Just the right audience and not only did I sell books but I was able to promote my next novel, set in Haynes. Yet again I would have been attending the day with my husband anyway.
  • Pub ~ twice I’ve tried to arrange an occasion in the Yacht Tavern, Woolston. The first we had to call off, the second was an ‘at home’ match. Silly me, being so involved in my writing not to realise……third time lucky they say and as it happens through writing a post on this blog I have reached out to several people and had a lovely email the other day from a policeman who goes into The Yacht and would like me to sign his copy! So, I will certainly be going back there in October.

These are other ideas I’ve had but not brought into reality yet:

  • Village fete
  • Garden Centre
  • Craft Stall

It would be great if you could let me know if you’ve found any of these successful too or suggest any other ideas. What do you do that’s different to reach new readers?


Filed under Ancasta, Book reading, Marketing your novel, Southampton, Weston Shore

Virtual Tour of the Solent ~ The Story so far and where to next?

Solent map googleCalshot

I began this virtual tour to show that a sense of place is important in my writing. I need to describe the areas in my novel enough to help the reader to feel that ‘sense of place,’ but I thought it might be helpful to give a little more background information and description. I have written ten posts around the Solent area so far, but before I leave the shores of mainland England I thought a summary would be helpful:

1 ~ At the beginning of this year I began my virtual tour at Gilkicker Fort on the strategic peninsula guarding the entrance to Portsmouth Harbour. It was there that one of my main characters, Harriet’s daughter Sarah, was stationed  with the husband, at the newly refurbished married quarters, back in 1910. It was a life that Sarah found hard to come to terms with but then came the war which changed everything.

2 ~ Close by was Fort Grange, still enclosed in the Naval Station today, where early pilots were trained for combat and reconnaissance missions in WW1 including Anthony, Sarah’s husband.

3 ~ A short distance along the coast is Lee on Solent, not strictly speaking in Ancasta Guide me Swiftly Home, but it may be in the no, 3 in the series. Lee was important at that time though, since it was one of the earliest Flying Boat Stations on the south coast.

4 ~ Just up the estuary takes you to the sheltered inlet into Hamble, which is an unspoilt haven for sailing boats. Anthony’s family lived there, with its cobbled streets and a small ferry over to Warsash, much the same today as it was at the turn of the last century, I should imagine.

5 ~ Further up Southampton Water is The Royal Victoria Park, once the Royal Victoria Hospital at Netley, with only the tall chapel remaining as a signal to the grandeur of the original building which had corridors a quarter of a mile long. It is still a lovely place to visit, go for a stroll, have a picnic and find out about its interesting history. Jane, one of my characters, well known to those who have read Riduna, was stationed there, close enough to Harriet for them to remain friends although Jane had little time to spare for social calls, especially during the war.

6 ~ Visiting the ghostly remains of Netley Abbey en-route, popular with the Victorians, we reach Weston Shore, important in both of my novels as a place to feel the sea and watch those on their journeys too and from Southampton Docks. It could be a place you might overlook, but if you make the efffort and stop and have a walk along its shores, it’s a haven for wildlife and it’s a wonderful place to watch the world go by. It’s here that the name of my novel seemed so apt. ‘Ancasta’ ~ ‘The Swift One.’ Many folks have stood, as Harriet did, on these shores and prayed for the swift and safe return of their loved ones, but for Harriet it was more than that. It was here she watched the Channel Island Ferries as they journeyed to the place of her birth. It was a direct channel to Guernsey (Sarnia in my novel) and Alderney (Riduna in my novel) which she loved but had left behind so long ago.

7 ~ Woolston. The Newton family grew up in the heart of Woolston, working in the local industry, initially as boat builders but subsequently early flying boats. (Supermarine) Harriet ran a popular guest house mainly for travellers. One of her son’s worked in a bicycle shop too. Each of her family played their part in WW1, Sarah returning home for the duration of the war with her little son Timothy.

8~ Southampton. Across the Floating Bridge is Southampton itself, still a thriving port and the window to the world to many of my characters including Edward, also well known to many of you from Riduna, Harriet’s childhood sweetheart from the island of Riduna. Their lives took very different paths but they continue to cross at times and Edward’s occasional visits still have a positive impact on the lives of the Newton family, especially Timothy and Sarah.

9~ Over the Hotspur to Hythe is where Edward lives, when he’s on land, with his more than housekeeper Marie. She’s a larger than life character and I’m quite fond of her, even though I feel a bit disloyal to Harriet for doing so.

10 ~ Just a few miles up to the peninsula we reach Cashot, at the mouth of Southampton Water, and if you want a place to ‘ship watch’ this is it. One of Harriet’s son’s Jack was stationed here before and at the start of WW1, where he was an engineer at the new RNAS flying boat station back in 1913.  He continued to travel home to his young family in Woolston, that was until he joined up and travelled to join the HMS Ben my Chree, one of the earliest sea plane carriers which went out to Turkey.

So, where does my virtual tour go to next? We reach the point when we now travel beyond the Solent, and we’re heading across the sea to The Channel Islands as from Monday. In fact that’s where the original story  of Riduna began.

Meanwhile I’m continuing my real centenary tour

at Waterstones in St Neots this Saturday on 23rd March from 11am.

I look forward to meeting some more of you then.


Filed under Alderney, Ancasta, Early Flight, Events, Flying Boats and Sea Planes, Riduna, Southampton, Virtual Tour of the Solent and Beyond, Weston Shore, Woolston

The Solent Area ~ Virtual Tour no 9 ~ Over the water to Hythe

Solent map googleHythe

Teturning to my virtual tour of the Solent and Beyond we take the Hotspur over the water from near Southampton Pier is a great way to travel to Hythe, passing any of the Cunard Queens which may be in dock. You journey takes you not far along Southampton Water, passing the mouth of the River Itchen and the unmistakable three towers of Weston Shore. It is only a short ride, taking about fifteen minutes to reach the little town of Hythe, on the edge of the New Forest. May commute this way everyday and shoppers enjoy the hop over to Southampton too. It would take you about an hour to do the journey by road but it’s much less fun.

You alight at the end of an unusual wooden pier built in 1881, although the train which runs along its length was not installed until 1909 and then only for transporting baggage. The present electric railway was put in in 1922 and looks much the same today. You can catch the train and trundle along towards the town or you can also enjoy a stroll along the pier’s length of over one quarter of a mile, with interesting historical facts on placards and regular intervals, such as the visit from King George VI just before DDay in 1944.

Hythe Pier

Hythe Pier

Hythe is a quaint place to visit with several cafes and riverside walks, including the fairly recently built marina, which is a wonderful place to stroll, have something to eat and watch the shipping go in and out of Southampton Harbour. In fact, the Cunard dock is right opposite and so here, or at the end of the pier, are the best places for photo shots of the ships berthed or just leaving Southampton.

QE2 on the day of her final cruise to the Med

QE2 on the day of her final cruise to the Med

My next post is at Calshot, perfectly timed for the centenary celebrations. Watch Inside Out on the BBC tonight if my informant is correct! (25/03/2013)

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Filed under Southampton, Virtual Tour of the Solent and Beyond, Weston Shore