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Taking pride in Pride

Just over two weeks ago, I attended my first Brighton Pride as an author. A proper published author. With two of my books, full of my words, coming out in the next eight months (Never Enough is out in November this year, and Escape in Time is released in April 2017).

I met lots of lovely readers and spent some time with three other great Bold Strokes Books authors, I Beacham, Michelle Grubb, and Brey Willows. I signed several copies of the anthology I’m in, Girls on Campus, and I’m proud to say, we even sold out.

Aside from the wonderful people we met (including the lovely couple with the sex toy shop adjacent to our stall), I had to come to terms with being a little long in the tooth to really partake of the alcohol and dancing frenzy that is the modern Pride. However, I was struck (as I always am at these events) how people of all different shapes, sizes, colours, tendencies, and non-binary genders showed up in their most daring outfits. They didn’t give a flying…toss what people thought. And some of those outfits would’ve really turned heads on the bus journey home, with ass cracks and nipples galore on show for all to enjoy. I say “You go, girl” – just as old local Midlands DJ, Pete Martine, used to scream at us on the dance floor.

On a more serious note, there’s a simmering refrain at the moment that Prides are no longer needed. That we have come so far in terms of equality and that such an open celebration is not necessary.

I wholeheartedly disagree.

When atrocities like the Orlando Pulse shooting don’t happen. When a trans person can walk into the bathroom of their choice without questioning looks or abuse. When a male couple can walk unimpeded along a street in Memphis, Tennessee. When tragedies like the Matthew Shepherd murder no longer occur.

Maybe then there’ll be no need for Pride Festivals. But in the meantime, keep attending, loud, proud, and colourful to Pride celebrations the world over.

Hope to see you at Manchester this weekend.

What if and why? Pt II

What if… I came back to the hotel and she’s not there?

Why are there stupid motivational quotes on this wall?

What if…I end up traveling home alone?

Why can’t she see how truly wonderful she is?

What if…everyone she knows told her how important she is?

Why can’t she see my love for her is stronger than her tar could ever be?

What if the lady was thinking about how hard life is, but how it’s worth it? What if she didn’t push the button and lived until she’s no longer meant to?

Why do we often concentrate on the ugly rather than celebrating the good within ourselves, the good that others can see even when we can’t?

What if…she does run and…and never came back…

Why is the world so concerned with happiness?

What if …’the happy’ is always there, even in the darkest moments, and it’s just hiding temporarily?

Why can’t she see that she is my perfect, not the stuff and nonsense we surround ourselves in?

What if…no one is actually ‘normal’?

Why does she believe our relationship is based on promises of prescribed behaviour? There is no “letting down”.

What if…she understood that I believe she’s everything I’ll ever want, need, and desire?

Why do a thousand words of love drown so easily in that damned tar?

What if…just once, she saw herself through my eyes? Would the breath come easier?

Why?

What if?

Pens and Privilege

Preparations for the seventh annual Bold Strokes Book UK festival take around six months. It’s a gentle start, gradually gaining speed like a car going downhill without working brakes. The first weekend in June seems like an age away when we begin, but in apparently no time at all, it’s the Friday night before the event and it’s time for the author dinner.

This was my first event as a Bold Strokes author, and it was in my interest to make sure the event went as well as it possibly could. But more than that, I wanted it to be a success for the readers, my authory colleagues, and for the tireless Victoria, who whips up a storm leading up to the event.

Saturday morning came, and we were buying giveaways and prizes at 9am in the local mall before heading to Waterstones to set up the event. There was a palpable sense of dread—what if hardly anyone shows up? It’s an annual issue, but we needn’t have worried. Over the two days, we had a combined attendance of 115, and we sold more books than ever before—over twice as many as the previous year, and that was a record!

Our hashtag #BSBUK competed with the BackStreet Boys UK tour and the British Baking Society for superiority, and we won out by a country mile. I thoroughly enjoyed documenting the wild and wonderful things my authory colleagues were saying, and I hear from my Australian BSB follower, that following the Twitter feed was almost as good as being there. On the Sunday, I was involved in every panel so we handed the Twitter baton over to the audience with the tasty bait of a covers poster signed by each of the attending authors. Well done, Sarah B, for the most Tweets—I hope the poster finds a place where you can be inspired to get from 20,000 words to a complete manuscript!

From a personal point of view, I had an amazing time. Now that I get to call myself a multi-published author (well, I will be by April 2017), I get to talk about words and how you put them together for an avid audience. It’s truly a privilege. I met some wonderful people and even signed some books (my first to Laura—thank you for asking!), and it was thrilling that people were disappointed they weren’t able to buy my debut novel ‘Never Enough’ right there and then (I’ll be sure to sign your copy, Sharron and Sarah, knowing it will never be opened again!).

We’re already planning next years’ event and hope to see everyone who attended this year and a whole lot more. There’ll be a survey shortly appearing (on the BSB UK website, Facebook, and at your inbox if you filled in our BSB UK alerts sheet) so you can give us your feedback—we can’t wait to hear it. This is your event, and we want to make it the best it can be, so please take a few moments to let us know your thoughts.

I’m leaving it there, because I’m constantly being reminded that blogs are supposed to be short and sweet, but I have to say that one of my favourite moments came following the question from fellow author, Matt Bright, who asked “If you could have one of the characters from any of your books walk in to the room right now, who would it be?” When I smiled and laughed ominously, the audience were right there with me—I can’t wait for you all to meet Therese…

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