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Carol J Forrester lives in Cheshire with her husband and their fish. She wanted a dog, she got koi instead. After growing up in the glorious greenery of North Shropshire, and spending her childhood exploring the countryside around her parents’ farm, she moved to Bath for university, then to Crewe to live and work. ‘It’s All In the Blood’ is her first full poetry collection, and covers topics such as family, ancestry, feminism, mythology, mental health, and how a rural background can shape you as a person.

“These deftly written poems cover all aspects of life in a farming family from the hardships of lambing and the contradictions of relationships, to a world of Bic razors, children’s games and old teapots. The poems are vivid and confidently crafted, including effective use of myths and legends which counter the muddy boots of everyday survival. A most promising debut collection.”

Helen Kay The Poultry Lover’s Guide to Poetry’ (Indigo Dreams), ‘This Lexia & Other Languages’ (V. Press)

A bold, brutally honest and dazzling debut collection that insists on being read. Forrester tempts the reader with arresting and hypnotic poetry that leaves an urge to research and ponder each subject she touches upon: Poseidon, Persephone, the literary flowers of Offred and Mrs Dalloway, farming ancestry, death, female identity. The whole rainbow of emotion is explored. The title alone of ‘Zeus Is Spear Fishing Over Stranraer’ is a whole poem in itself. Beautifully written and a voice to watch out for.

Deborath Edgeley ‘Testing the Delicates’ (Amazon), Wilkommen Zum Rattenfanger Theatre’ (Amazon)

To Self-Publish Or Not To Self-Publish? That Is The Sleep Depriving Question #WeekendCoffeeShare

About five years ago I self-published a collection of poetry through lulu.

I made exactly nothing despite apparently selling at least one book through amazon (according to the less that encouraging review posted), and in the end I retired the project.

The experience taught me a number of important things.

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  1. Lulu is not the way to go if you want to sell a physical book on Amazon and make any margin.
  2. I am not a good enough editor. I need to outsource this element to avoid the number of typos and mistakes that were in the last book.
  3. Reading poems you wrote five or more years ago can be a painful experience. Especially when you realise the bad review hit the nail directly on the head.

So why am I about to give self-publishing another shot?

Well clearly I’m a glutton for punishment.

When I published ‘Before The Words Run Out’ there were thirty-two poems, a series of haiku, and some pieces of flash fiction (all of which can be found somewhere in the depths of this blog). For ‘It’s All In The Blood’ I wanted to create a collection of just poems, and ensure that the majority of them were not poems I’d already published to Writing and Works. Some have appeared elsewhere, such as on Ink Sweat and Tears, but for the most part the collection will be new pieces with a few favourites from the site sprinkled in.

The unfinished draft is sitting at forty-seven poems (it was forty-eight but I axed a poem which I didn’t feel was good enough). I was aiming to cut the collection off at fifty poems (because I like round numbers) but the final number is likely to be higher now as my recent dive back into the local poetry communities means I’m writing a lot of stuff and I’m actually really happy with most of the work I’m producing.

I am editing as I’m writing. As this is not a novel, I’m free to go back and amend, rewrite, obliterate poems as I see fit without changing the entire plot or flow of the book. This back and forth between writing and editing also means that I don’t get snow blind with my poems. It’s very easy to write something, go over it straight away and be like ‘Yeah, that’s good enough’.

No. No it is not.

I’ve got a couple of friends who are helping me with the next round of editing. Both are writers themselves, one of which has done some work in editing. Both are brutally honest and of the opinion that if they don’t say it someone else will, so it’s better coming from them.

There is a small part of me who wants to find the guy who gave me the bad review on my last collection and show him the new one. I want the chance for him to say ‘you’ve improved, well done’. (But that would be bowing to my need for approval and I’m trying very hard to shake that particular dog-turd off my shoe.)

I have been considering traditional publishing but quite honestly, I feel like I need to prove to myself that I can conquer self-publishing. This is unlikely to be my last poetry collection, I’m only twenty-five and it’s not even my first attempt. Even if this bites the dust then I will still come away with more experience that if I’d not tried at all.

IMG_1745The aim is to have the collection finished and ready to publish by autumn. (I will not specify when in autumn because ‘wiggle-room’). The title has been picked, I’m making tentative enquiries about possible cover designs with arty friends, and I’ve settled on using the Amazon self-publishing platform to produce and sell the book. It almost looks like I have a book and a plan. Almost.

A little further down the line (i.e when the book is done) I’ll be looking to do some sort of book blog tour but that is only a very small flicker on the enormous fairy-light display in my brain at the moment. For the most part I am focused on the writing and the torture that is rewrites.

In the meantime feel free to bombard me with any of your own experiences self-publishing, traditionally publishing, or just poetry writing in general. How do you balance writing poetry for a blog v poetry for a collection/competitions. Let me know in the comments below.

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Right, Time To Get Things Moving Around Here #WeekendCoffeeShare

So it’s been a while since I wrote a chatty, update post. So long in fact that the original ‘If We Were Having Coffee’ seems to have fizzled into non-existence. But anyway, what have I been up to since August.

Well I’m still working on Shadow Dawn. The draft is now past the 70,000 words mark and I’ve had to go back to the start as I feel like I’ve completely lost track of what I intended to do with the book when I started writing it. On the plus side, I reread a chapter from about half way through and didn’t hate it so there might be hope for this story yet. IMG_0966

For the past week I’ve managed to churn out more poetry than I have done over the last three months. If you follow the site you’ve probably noticed the upturn in the activity and I’m trying to keep things that way. I’ve started posting more flash fiction based on writing prompts from Story Shack and I’m trying to put up something for most, if not all of the Daily Prompts. Part of this is to do with trying to get into a routine of sitting down and writing each evening when I get home. If it becomes habit then I have no excuse for not finishing Shadow Dawn or for leaving this blog untouched for three/four months at a time.

Speaking of poetry, NaPoWriMo and Camp NaNoWriMo are just around the corner. In 2016 I managed to complete NaPoWriMo, but last year I didn’t even manage to complete the first day. For 2018 I’m hoping to not only finish NaPoWriMo but to also hit a few other poetry goals. So far I’ve not been doing too bad. In January I entered my first Poetry Slam, I didn’t get past the first round but I had a lot of fun and got some fantastic feedback from the other poets competing. In February I entered The International Book and Pamphlet Competition hosted by The Poetry Business. This will be the first of the six competitions I’ve challenged myself to submit to this year. I don’t know if I’ll manage to get anywhere with any of them but I won’t know if I don’t try.

As I’m now re-working Shadow Dawn more than writing from scratch, I also want to get back to my Headquarters series, and more specifically the Safe Haven branch that I started writing a couple of years ago. Since I’m also studying for my Level 3 AAT accountancy qualification my target is one update a month for the series. That might become two for March as the first update will be the redraft of part one.

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Unfortunately I’m not looking to have any Guest Posts this year. I’ve done them in the past and while they are a great way of getting to know fellow bloggers, they take a huge amount of organizing. Finding willing participants is also difficult and time consuming. I am going to try a link-up series in April for fellow NaPoWriMo participants but that will be once a week and be incorporated into a weekly update post about how the challenge is going.

However, I am looking for fellow bloggers who are willing to share their poems and thought this Thursday as part of International Women’s Day. A week or so ago I posted a piece called Legs Eleven about the pressures of people judging you based on how you dress. This Thursday I want to put up a post for anyone to comment on and link to that looks at the biggest challenge they feel they have had to face as a woman, either in life or in the last year. If this is something you’d like to get involved with then you can email me at caroljforrester@hotmail.com.

Finally, I’ve also started experimenting with audio recordings of my poems. I added one to today’s poem When The Words Fall Out and I’ve also done one for my piece Legs Eleven which is included below. Let me know what you think in the comments below. I’ve tried recording videos of poems before but never liked watching myself very much so this seemed like a nice in between. Do you think they work or is it better to leave to poems as they are and let the readers just read them.

It Took Me Four Long Months, But I Finally Did The Ironing! – How Not To Write A Novel – Weekend Coffee Share

Now I know what you’re probably thinking. What the heck does writing a novel have to do with not getting your ironing done? Well the answer is quite simple. I’ve been avoiding both tasks incredibly skilfully for a similar amount of time. Chapters have become akin to fitted sheets. I know they need doing, I know that once they are done I will bask in pride of having them tucked away all nice and neat, but facing that keyboard, I mean ironing board, has been beyond me. Even this post is two days late.

This weekend has been a clear up weekend for both my fiancée and myself. While most people Spring Clean, I like to have a blitz around this time of year in preparation for the colder months to come. Call it nesting, call it prepping, I like to think of it as ensuring everything is ready so that I can snuggling into a corner when the wind’s howling and not worrying about anything except my mug of hot chocolate and the book in front of me. This has meant that the pile of ironing-to-do which had taken up residence in my reading nook was first in my line of fire.

For the imaginary prize in this imaginary guessing game, guess where I am currently sitting? Yes! You’ve got it. My now ironing free reading [though in this case it’s a writing nook] nook. I’ve not even just hidden the ironing beneath it, I’ve actually ironed it all and packed it away in the respective drawers/wardrobe places that it belongs.

Now, you could say that by doing the ironing I was actually procrastinating from doing my writing, and you would be right once again. Housework has always been a go to for me when it comes to procrastination. It’s more productive than Netflix, and it requires more energy than napping, but it’s still a form of procrastination.

It’s also a form of motivation.

Have you ever had one of those days where everything seem to go your way and you get to tick off all this annoying little jobs that you’ve been meaning to get around to for the past six years? You’ve cleared out the junk in the spare room, sorted through the pile of post threatening to avalanche onto the dog every time it walks past the hallway table, finally eliminated the ecosystem growing at the back of the fridge! These are the days where I always feel like the world is my oyster and I can doing anything I damn well like. They are the days where I want to write.

Mess stresses me out. Clutter stresses me out. When I’m stressed I don’t want to sit down and write. I’m itching to get away from the thing that is stressing me and more often than not, that thing is in the room with me. Having a clear up day lets me purge through that annoyance and get to a headspace where I feel calmer, more focused, and let’s face it, more than a little smug about the lack of ironing cluttering the dinning room.

In between various household tasks I managed to find the time to clear off the whiteboard that had been languishing in my office for the past four months and set to writing up the chapter briefs for the next three chapters of my novel. I mapped out the key points for the plot and highlighted the problem area that I need to fix in order to finish my story. I set up a plan of attack for knocking the second half of Shadow Dawn up-side the head and into shape. I feel ready to get back to writing and getting myself sorted out around the house was an important part of getting back to that place.

Of course if anyone is offering to take all future ironing off my hands I would be more than happy to accept. If it sweetens the deal I’ll even share with you how to fold a fitted sheet neatly! *Gasp* 

The point of my ramble is this. Tomorrow is the start of a new month and the end of the year is already creeping towards us like some grumpy, giant toad already demanding to know what exactly we managed to achieve with those twelve months we were so generously gifted. It doesn’t matter that I hit a slump. It wasn’t the first and it won’t be the last one I find myself in. What matters is that each time I pick myself up and get on with things. I get back to being productive.

I get back to writing that bloody book!

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You can check out the leader of the Weekend Coffee Share and all its wonderful followers by click the icon above. It’s a great group of people who gang together once a week to share what’s been going on in their worlds and see what’s been going on in everyone else’s. Why not join the fun.

P.S

Anyone spot that I bought a new cup? It has a saucer and spots and it’s huge!!!!!

Shadow Dawn – Extract

Sweat was running into Tara’s eyes and she could hear her breath coming in ragged pants, but she met Talis’ next blow without wavering. The staves cracked together like trees trunks splitting and she forced the new recruit back a step. Despite her lack of training, the girl seemed to be keeping up. She watched Tara with sharp green eyes and ignored the stray ebony curls dancing in front of her eyes from her bun. She aimed another sharp jab at Tara’s chest and the princess parried it easily. The girl was tiring, leaving herself open to basic, amateur tactics. Tara took the opportunity. She aimed high but at the last second twisted, the soft grass giving beneath her boots as she swept her stave towards Talis’ anke.

Oak met oak and the taste of copper exploded across Tara’s tongue as Talis moved like lightening to block the attack and throw one of her own before Tara’s brain could catch up with itself.

Staggering back Tara grinned. She liked this girl a lot she decided. She might just keep her around.


Current Word-count: 61,943

I’m working on the last leg of Shadow Dawn, trying to make a decision about how to create an interesting and exciting ending to the book. However, there’s still a fair way to go and I’ve got stuck on chapter twenty-four that for some reason is being a bitch to write. So instead I’ve turned to penning some snippets that belong to later chapters. Since I haven’t written with pen and paper in a while I thought I’d share a small bit of the results with you.

As always, I love to know what you think and if you like this then check out the Solitary Creatures series! Parts 1-4 can be found on the site and the rest is on the way in April for CampNaNoWriMO.