Remembering Albert

Albert

Twenty five years ago this month a gay teenager, Albert Kennedy, fell to his death from a multi storey car park in Manchester. According to a friend who was out with Albert that night they were being chased by ‘queer bashers’. This was not new to Albert, he had been subjected to homophobic abuse regularly, both when out in the vibrant gay scene of Manchester and at the children’s homes that he had been placed with. Albert fitted into the mould of a group of young gay teenagers back in 1989, displaced from their homes, not able to settle in foster homes and bullied in the children’s homes all because of their sexuality. Even the way Albert’s death was reported was laden with homophobia, describing the scene of his death as some kind of plague ridden zone that had to be made safe for the public.

The friend that Albert had been with that night, Paul, was being fostered by a lady called Cath Hall. Cath knew Albert personally but more than this she knew the story of his ongoing persecution all too well. Cath felt that she could not meet the full range of needs of the young LGBT people who got placed with her. As a result, and at the cost of a lot of attack towards her (Cath got called The Witch of Withinshaw), the Albert Kennedy Trust was formed. The Albert Kennedy Trust currently works in Greater London and Greater Manchester and looks to fill the gaps that Cath hall had identified. They aim to meet the individual needs of each young person that they come into contact with and help them to get back on track. They support those young people who have become displaced or been victims of domestic violence because they have come out as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Trans*. Support is available through a range of schemes, mentoring, befriending, online, face to face and phone support, and an accredited training programme to promote independent living skills. The Albert Kennedy Trust works at both managing crises and in planning for the future.

Their work is valuable beyond measure and it is a charity very close to my heart. This is why I chose to make a donation of two weeks of my book sales (as stated in a previous post- Don’t Say The P Word) as well as a personal donation of £10. It’s not as much as I’d like to give but is all I can right now.

If you want to find out more, or support the Albert Kennedy Trust then please visit their site: http://www.akt.org.uk/

Please note I am not affiliated with the Albert Kennedy Trust, I write this solely as a supporter.

Don’t Use The P Word!

I’m not talking about racist slang or words for what dwells in men’s underpants, the P word in question here is politics.

Now, I’m not an activist, far from it; I’ve only ever been to one march and if I’m perfectly honest I left part way through to go to a pub. It’s not that I don’t have a political viewpoint, I do, quite a strong one, I just don’t usually have the energy or inclination to argue about it.

(FWIW I’d say I’m a left leaning liberal with some socialist ideology)

The other day I broke my ‘don’t use the P word’ rule and tweeted in a slightly less than complementary way about the Unintelligent Kill Immigration Party (you know the ones, they like real ale and dislike accurate figures), I *might* have even retweeted the suggestion that people book tickets to the public meetings and not go. And I *will* admit that I might have said that I, myself, have done this. I got a couple of negative tweets, blocked a couple of people and thought nothing else of it.

A couple days later I was reminded of my tweets. My book got 10 one star reviews within a minute or so of each other, all of them not verified purchases. Some of them were boggling. some of them just meant to upset, almost all of them badly written.

My favourites are this angry yet somehow poetic description of my chick lit as some sort of Marxist propaganda:

DO NOT BY (sic) THIS FOR THE SAKE OF YOUR RESPECT FOR HUMANITY. Absolute disgrace to literature. The left wing propaganda is just a whole other plane of madness. A true leftist hates freedom.

and this one which, if it is an ironic mis-spelling, could be pure genius.

What tripe. Honestly couldn’t believe I paid money (um…you didn’t) for the intelligible (well, thank you.) ramblings of some socially and politically illiterate dolt. Don’t even bither (sic) (snigger)

And I was linked by a friend to an infamous internet forum that is the technological equivalent of the underneath of the bridge that the Billy Goats Gruff liked to clip clop over. I was being torn to pieces as leftie scum and there was a link to my book. Mystery solved.

So I had an idea. As I don’t really do the p word thing I thought that rather than a flaming war of words I do something good. Let’s show the trolls that they make no difference, go to Amazon (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Tiger-Nicola-Sheehan-ebook/dp/B00D5EYHAM), buy my book and I’ll donate my next two weeks profits to charity.

I did wonder if I could find the ‘Eastern European Builders Who Want Your Jobs LGBT Division’ to really make their troll blood boil, but instead have decided on a charity that is very dear to me, the Albert Kennedy Trust who help displaced LGBT teenagers to find help and support.

So please, buy into my ‘left wing propaganda’, let’s show the trolls and make a bit of money for an awesome charity.

http://www.akt.org.uk/

Dear JK Rowling…

Oh JK Rowling how did you keep going? I was thinking about this earlier as I printed out my freshly edited manuscript to feel the judgement of my red pen one more time. I thought about the cost of the ink and the paper and wondered what it is that makes me trust that I’m not wasting my time (or the paper or the ink).

I’m a single mother, just as you were. And, just as you were, I am bloody skint. I like writing. I’ve been told I’m quite good at it but I also have my little stack of rejection slips that whisper in my ear that I might not be.

I try to channel Sylvia Plath, use the whole ‘I love my rejection slips, they tell me that I try’ thing as my mantra but then I stop and think that ultimately Sylvia may not be a great role model.

So I look to you Joanne, how did you keep going? How did you have faith that all of the hours of writing and editing would be worth it or did you just have faith in Harry? As I read my manuscript with pen in hand one more time I try to have faith in Grimalkin Grumblepuss, *I* like her. *I* want to go on her adventures. I just need to believe that anyone else will want to.

So Ms Rowling if you have any tips to help me keep the faith please do send them my way. Please help me keep my faith that my effort is not merely a waste of paper and ink. I’d be eternally grateful.

“I love my rejection slips. They show me I try.”

Sylvia Plath is somewhat of a heroine of mine. I have an excerpt from ‘Mad Girls’ Love Song’ tattooed on my forearm. I like to lose myself in her words. I also like to look to her for inspirational quotes.

“I love my rejection slips. They show me I try.”

Is one of my favourites, and one that is uppermost in my mind today.

As well as Tiger Tiger I have another completed book, a children’s book titled ‘Grimalkin Grumblepuss and the Case of the Vampire Dentures.’ I recently submitted it to an agent who I felt was looking for books very similar to Grimalkin. I had high hopes. Yesterday I received the rejection:

“Thank you for giving me a shot with this. It has some lovely points, but when I take a new writer on I have to feel sure I can sell their book well, and I’m afraid I’m not quite there with this.

Of course it’s a subjective business, and another agent may well love.

Best of luck with it.”

It’s one of the nicest rejections I’ve received (trust me on this) and I’m trying to just cling to the positives in it. Though if nothing else it shows me I try.

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Tiger Tiger is available from the Kindle Store at a promotional price of £1.99 http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00D5EYHAM/ref=cm_cr_mts_prod_img

The Secret Handshake of the Old Girls’ Guild

I grew up in the sleepy stone town of Stamford in Lincolnshire; home of 17th and 18th century stone buildings, historical almshouses, equestrian events and medieval churches. It is also home to Stamford High School for Girls of which I am an alumni or as Stamford High would call me an Old Girl.

Whilst I was at school the idea of the Old Girls’ Guild didn’t sit so easily with me. I’d gone to public school on a council scholarship, I viewed myself as fiercely working class and didn’t feel that I fitted in in the very middle class of Stamford High School as it was; to think of myself as an ‘Old Girl’ seemed ludicrous, it felt very jolly hockeysticks with lashings of ginger beer. I wound up a member of the Old Girls’ Guild due to my (typical) forgetfulness regarding the opt out form but it wasn’t ever something that entered my consciousness.

As I wrote and started to promote ‘Tiger Tiger’ someone pointed out the Old Girls’ Guild to me. I exchanged emails with a very lovely lady called Tooty who embraced my work and swiftly put a piece about me and my writing in the Old Girls’ Guild newsletter. No negotiation or secret handshake was needed and I feel a little bit silly that I ever had a chip on my shoulder about it.

So I’ll say it loud and say it proud, I’m a Stamford High School Old Girl, and I always will be.

Image Tiger Tiger is available now at: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00D5EYHAM/ref=cm_cr_mts_prod_img

In My Hometown

ImageI’m back in my hometown, Stamford in Lincolnshire this weekend. Taking advantage of the sunny weather, looking at all of the beautiful stone architecture, feeding baby ducks down on the water meadows and tinkering about in all of the independent boutique stores that this quaint town has to offer. This isn’t all I’ve done though; Stamford has a rife coffee shop culture and many of these coffee shops are now adorned with posters promoting my book, I even had a little chat with a fellow Stamfordian who assures me she’ll be downloading it as soon as she gets home. Let’s hope that this ancient town that has been the backdrop for literary adaptations such as Middlemarch can get behind something a little more modern and embrace a year in the life of Rebecca Somersby.

Tiger Tiger is available in the Kindle Store. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Tiger-ebook/dp/B00D5EYHAM

 

The Difficult Second Novel…

I’ve been writing my follow up to Tiger Tiger for a while. It’s not a sequel, I decided that Rebecca Somersby was best off as a one diary kind of gal (I’m still reeling from the disappointment that came with ‘Edge of Reason’). It’s called ‘Fidelity Wars’, it looks at five characters and how they bend the rules of fidelity to allow for their individual indiscretions.

I know each of the characters inside out. I’ve plotted out their story arcs chapter by chapter. I’ve even completely finished two of the five ‘heroines’ tales. It was all going quite well. It excited me. It felt fresh and exhilarating. Then I decided to publish Tiger Tiger (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Tiger-ebook/dp/B00D5EYHAM/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1372865918&sr=1-1&keywords=tiger+tiger+nicola+sheehan) almost as a precursor to the completion and subsequent promotion of ‘Fidelity Wars’. And it’s got awesome feedback.

And there’s the catch, ‘Tiger Tiger’ has been so well received and ‘Fidelity Wars’ is really very different and so I’m suddenly struck with rather crippling writer’s block at the thought that I’m writing something that might disappoint.

I see camping in a coffee shop and lots of frustrated screen gazing in my near future…