I had a great opportunity this past weekend to meet several people who are intrinsically involved in making Total-E-Bound the brilliant publisher they are. The adventure started Friday afternoon where I hopped on a couple of packed trains and made my way to Lincoln. I promptly found myself slightly lost and rang my darling husband for help. Between us we worked out I needed to head for the Cathedral. This involved walking up 'Steep Hill' and believe me, they don't call it that in any kind of Ironic way.
When I finally reached the Lincoln hotel (which is lovely by the way) I was not looking my best. However they did let me in, despite my sweaty, short of breath state and I settled myself into my lovely room. After a little wander around the quaint shops on my own I met up with the Lovely Serena Yates. I completely blanked her at first but thankfully she approached me and didn't take any affront at my sillyness!
We wandered around the impressive Cathedral, peeked in at the Castle (it was closing) and chat, chat, chat, chatted. Serena is a very easy to get along with person and within minutes I felt like I was talking with a friend I'd known for years.
Later that evening we met up with the Lovely Elizabeth Coldwell and the happy, smiley, bubbly TEB ladies and went off to enjoy a lovely Thai meal under (rather randomly) Christmas reindeer and angel lights in a pretty little conservatory surrounded by greenery.
Please note if you ever meet Claire and Nicki of TEB fame, offer them good quality wine. They know their onions, I mean grapes, when it comes to that subject.
We had a fun evening and I don't think I have laughed so much in ages. The conversation flowed freely and it was really brilliant to put faces to names. As the evening carried on certain catchphrases and nicknames were born. I told my husband about these and an idea Nicki had about making little avatar type pictures for each one and the wonderful Kevin Mitnik came up with a set of brilliant pics!
Let's start with myself. I became known as 'Thumbs' because I confessed to writing little snippets of stories with my Blackberry. Every time the subject of writing came up, people would look at me and say 'Thumbs' with the accompanying thumb wiggling actions. It's funny really as I'm about as phone incompetent as you can get but I do find myself using my thumbs quite often as i take notes on story ideas or even write snippets of scenes that come to me whilst I'm on or waiting for public transport!
Next is the other well used catchphrase of the event and that was 'Spreadsheets'. Serena and Nicki found a mutual love of all things spreadsheet and conversations quite often got back to these much loved organisational devices. In the end I decided to give this one to Serena as I have to say she is the first author I've heard of who plots her works out in spreadsheet first and even alters the spreadsheet as she goes along and plans and scenes change!
And I might as well carry on with the authors here and introduce you to what I think of when I think of Liz Coldwell. As I mentioned, there were reindeer and angels at the restaurant though disappointingly they were never lit up. When we got back to the Lincoln hotel however all the Triangular trees outside were festooned with bright white twinkly lights and Liz remarked '"It is always Christmas in Lincoln." Which actually sparked off a story idea in my mind later that night and yes, my story will contain light up reindeer and angels!
Next, Nicki. Lovely Nicki with a menagerie of animals and the mammoth task of keeping all Total-E-Bounds 250 (ish) authors in line. As she described her work and how she would keep an eye on all authors and projects and would make sure everything went smoothly and happened on time I had a vision of her having a room somewhat like that of the Discworld's Death. He has a room with rows and rows of timers one for each life. Nicki has one for each story instead! So Nicki has become The Timekeeper in my mind.
Heidi is quite possibly one of the nicest people in the whole world. She has an easy smile and a gentle manner that puts you instantly at your ease. She is so vibrant and positive it really is a pleasure to spend time with her. Her nickname came out on the Saturday really, but you saw signs of it from the start. Heidi is the PR and communications lady in the TEB office and simply put she is their official talker. She is very good at her job too!
And last but certainly not least is Claire, Ms Big Boss Big herself with the most used and best acted catchphrase of the whole weekend. Claire is dedicated to getting the Total-E-Bound name out there and her focus for the Book Festival was to get mum's in to the Mum's tent (which turned out to be a back room, more about that later) and was constantly heard cackling 'Come to me my pretties' while temptingly crooking her finger to beckon people in. So here's Claire's and I specified that the husband should pick out an attractive witch! I didn't want to offend the woman at the top!
Now I met the lovely Liz and the ebullient on the Saturday but didn't speak to either long enough to find their nickname or catchphrase. I will set that straight in future I hope!
Saturday was fun. Our Mum's tent for the Lincoln Book Festival was moved to the Drill Hall at short notice so no tent was involved in the end. We set up the green room as an inviting place for mum's to come and enjoy a hot drink and one of these delicious cupcakes provided by the talented folks at Thomas 2 (check out their yummy cake gallery here) or maybe an author made biscuit or two if they fancied.
It took a while to set up the table loaded with books and freebies and the TV and the wonderful banners but we could see that Claire and Nicki had done it all a time or two before! Finally we were ready and although the day threw us a few curve balls the TEB ladies took it all in their stride. Extra credit goes to Serena and Emmy for venturing out into the main hall to hand out free eBook postcards and the prize for going beyond and above the call of duty goes to Claire and Heidi for taking the advertising out onto the cold High Street and handing out dozens of cards that entitled the bearer to a free Total-E-Bound book of their choice.
It was a brilliant day and I loved every minute of it. Even the reading in the cafe area which was very nerve wracking. I've done book readings before but never used a microphone, that is a whole new experience as is trying to make yourself heard over a background noise of people talking, eating and clearing tables! I read a non-saucy bit from The Point and Serena Introduced us to The Magic Thieves as Liz took us off to the continent with an excerpt from Missing in Milan. I loved both of their excerpts because not only were they brilliant it meant I wasn't having to read any more!
The day came to a close. We said our goodbyes to Emmy Ellis who is lovely and very chatty. I love how she called me 'Vick' all the time. It was a rest from my more formal name and made me feel instantly relaxed in her company. We tidied up and I persuaded Claire and Heidi to say cheese for me! Don't they look fabulous?
I wound my weary way home through the beauty of the peak district, my mind filled with memories, ideas and possible future stories. I had a fantastic time in Lincoln and I cannot wait to go back again. Apparently there is something in the works for September and I will be there come hell or high water. Thanks to all who put in so much effort to make the weekend such a success and I am really proud to count all the ladies I met this weekend as friends.