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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)

Trickle Down – Working On Writing During Lock-down

At the start of this year I was planning on which poetry events I wanted to go to in order to publicise my new collection ‘It’s All In The Blood‘. I managed a few local ones, and had a slot booked to perform at a Ludlow poetry night, right at the beginning of March. Then 2020 hit its stride in the UK.

Continue reading “Trickle Down – Working On Writing During Lock-down”

Self-Publishing: Planning A Launch, Holding The Proof

Back in June I talked about my plans to self-publish my poetry collection, in a post I called To Self-Publish Or Not To Self-Publish? That Is The Sleep Depriving Question. In all honesty, it really was a tough decision to make, and I questioned myself every time I told someone I was self-publishing because I almost always got the same response.

‘Oh, why have you decided to go down that route?’

At that point in the conversation I could point them towards the blog post where I list all the reasons I decided to go down that route.

Of course it wasn’t all smooth sailing from writing that post to finalising the manuscript. There were moments where I wondered if I was making a huge mistake and if I had made the right decision to following this path. However, today I finally felt that it was all worth it. Today I got to hold the proof copy of my poetry collection in my hands.

 

There are still a few tweaks to be made before I’m happy to hit that publish button. The font for the page numbering needs adjusting and I want to give all the poems one last run through for typos, but overall I’m really happy with how this book has turned out.

I have to say a massive thank you to Caroline Layzell for designing the cover, and to Helen Kay for helping to edit the collection and Deborah Edgeley for helping to blurb it.

Now I’m moving on to planning the launch night (November 30th) and finding poetry events to read a few of the poems at. The book itself should be available to buy from the 30th November onward.

It’s real, I’m holding it, and I’m very happy that I did decide to go down the route of self-publishing. I’m not losing sleep anymore.

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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Dealing With A Bad Review

There are more than a few days when I wake up and wonder if my little foray into self-publishing was an utter mistake. Then I remember that there was a purpose behind choosing that option for Before The Words Run Out and even if the bad reviews leave me feeling like someone has filled my insides with snakes, there were some good reviews as well.

I went into self-publishing with no idea what I was doing and most importantly, no editor. That was clearly a big mistake and not one I would be quick to make again. Despite spending hours pouring over my work it is still clear that I needed someone there to pick out those twinges that I still missed and to push me harder with the poems that didn’t come up to standard.

This morning was the first day in months that I actually went on amazon to check out my book in order to pull out a link and update my Linked In account. I assumed that like me, most of the world had let this little adventure of a book slip to the bottom of the barrel unnoticed, to languish among the many other rashly self-published books lurking out there on the big, wide web.

Instead I found a two star review from last September, a year to the month and my confidence took an impressive swan-dive into solid concrete.

There is an odd mix in Miss Forrester’s anthology ranging from fairly OK poems to dire. The whole package in fact is poorly executed which takes away from the occasional good piece and makes the immaturity of it all painfully obvious, being both patronising and arrogant at the same time. “So far I have won no awards…” Really, dear?

All in all, I think it was too early for Miss Forrester to be publishing and a few more years worth of waiting and planning would have made all the difference.

They’re right of course. It probably was to early for me to be publishing and even now I would be hesitant to follow the same route. That is why I’m going to stick Darkened Daughter through the traditional route, mostly because it needs someone who knows what they’re doing to beat it into shape and to show me what it takes to get something to the store shelves.

I’m not going to cry over this review. It sucks and I feel horrible about it, [actually that might be the virus currently working its way through my body] but I’m willing to accept that this review serves a purpose.

The purpose is reminding me that I need to improve and really think about what I’m putting out there.

I will always find people who will tell me that my work is good. Everyone can find someone to tell them that their work is good and you can also find someone on the other end of the spectrum. The important thing is taking all that and using it to drive you forward. Most of the copies that I had printed of my book were sold to members of my family or friends who knew my family well. A lot of the poems held additional meaning to them because they knew some of the subjects and they could remember the situations that sparked the poems.

So I will follow this advice’s review and keep working and hopefully in a few years I can publish something that does live up to standards.

It hurts of course. Piece likes Grandfather and the likes were in my opinion some of my best works, but when you put something out there you’re going to get negative feedback and I knew I would be opening myself up to this sort of review. They may have been my favourites, but they were still open game for the reader.

So now I’m going to trawl through the comments on this blog and read the ones telling me that I am in fact a rather a good writer and my work is amazing. I need the confidence boost.

Tell me, how do you guys feel about bad reviews and moving forward?