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Posted By Michelle Birbeck

It’s been another whirlwind week for me. I’ve been off to aikido on Tuesday night, where I got to beat people up once again. Then on Wednesday I got to go to writing group at the library and meet Rachel Dixon, author of Slippery Souls. It was a great night with lots of fantastic information shared. The group had a great time discussing some of the aspects of self-publishing, and I came away with a signed copy of her book. It’s now sat in my rare and collectible books cabinet along with all the other books I’ve obtained through meeting the authors! Of course, now I have to go download the ebook so that I can read it, because I want to read it, but I don’t read signed copies of books. They stay nice and pristine in the cabinet.

But Thursday night and the resulting phone call on Friday morning took the biscuit for most fantastic event of the week. In fact, I’d go so far as to say it’s one of the most fantastic things ever. Second at the moment only to the day I got married and the day The Last Keeper was released.

If you’ve seen BBC Question Time before, then you might know where I’m going with this. I’ve been watching the show for a little while, and when my friends and I found out that it was going to be in Stockton-on-Tees we decided we’d apply to go on. When Monday came about, my phone started going crazy. Phone calls. Text messages. I wasn’t by it when it started, but when I picked it up, I found that our application to the show had been successful!

So when Thursday evening came about, we all got dolled up, hopped on the bus to Stockton, and went to join the show. The pre-show briefing was done by David Dimbleby himself, and then we were ushered through to the set and sat down. It was then that I got the most fantastic chance. For the sound check they asked for five members of the audience to come and sit on the panel and pretend to be panellists. Of course, I volunteered, got picked, and got the chance to sit there, on the panel, in front of the entire audience and do a mock question. Safe to say, sat in front of that many people, I was scared stupid! But as soon as the ball got rolling, I was fine, and thoroughly enjoyed it!

I then got to express my opinion, twice, on the TV! I was more nervous watching the show that night and seeing myself on the TV than I was sitting in the audience with all the cameras, and even more so than sitting on the panel.

Safe to say, it was an awesome evening. And to top it off, I woke up this morning to a phone call from my local paper. They’d seen me on the TV and called to interview me! So not only did I get to go on the TV, I get to go back into the paper again tomorrow!

I’ve got so many bits and pieces to put in my scrapbook now, I think I’m going to have to buy a new one!

And here’s a pic someone got off the show!
BBC Question Time

Posted By Michelle Birbeck

Armchair BEA


Armchair BEA is sadly over for another year, but it has given me a lot to think about. One of those things is where I am going with this blog. As I discussed on day 4, I want to get this blog up and running a bit better, and part of that is going to involve upgrading it. But I’m also now thinking about whether I want to start doing book reviews.

Now, when I say book reviews, I don’t really mean books. What I mean is short stories. When Consequences first came out, I went about trying to get some reviews for it in the hopes that it might boost sales. However, one thing I found was that no one wants to review short stories. Why not? For me they are fantastic. I can read them in a few minutes, whilst I’m in the bath, or on the bus. They’re short, sharp, and to the point.

I like reading, but lately I am finding it hard to find the time, and I also find that I get distracted very easily. Especially if the book I am reading isn’t exactly to my tastes. So short stories seems like the way to go.

It means that I get to read more. I get to review books and do things with my blog that I wouldn’t otherwise be able to do, and there are a lot of short stories out there, so why not?

Of course, it isn’t quite as simple as saying I’m going to do it and then just doing it. I’m going to have to put some work into separating my writing blog from my reviewing blog. But I reckon tabs for easy access will work wonders for that! At least I’ll still be able to get done what I want to do. And, of course, I’ll still be hosting guest posts for people.

All in all, Armchair BEA has been fantastic this year. I am very glad I participated officially, and will absolutely be back next year. Hopefully that will be both as an author and as a blog.

And who knows, buy this time next year, I might even have roped a couple of my friends into accepting some of the books and reviewing them for me!

In the meantime, I hope you enjoyed Armchair BEA 2012, and I hope to see you back here soon!


Posted By Michelle Birbeck

Armchair BEA


Today is the last day of Armchair BEA and it’s about keeping blogging interesting. I don’t really have anything to ask of the experts, but I do have a few things that I like to see in posts that I read on blogs.

The first of which is that the title is reasonably relevant to the content. I saw a post the other week and clicked on the link because the title intrigued me. When I got to the post, however, the post was about something completely unrelated! For me that is a big turn off. I’m all for being creative with titles, and in fact I think it makes things more entertaining, but I do think it should at least be related to what’s in the blog.

I also like to see personalisation in blogs. Facts and figures are all fine, but personalisation makes things more fun to read! It keeps things interesting, and it lets people get to know us a bit more.

As for ways to keep things interesting going forward, I like to switch things up a bit. Instead of doing the same posts all the time, maybe do new ones. Recently I got the opportunity to promote the book of a friend of mine. It was something I’ve never done before on my blog, so I jumped at the chance to do it.

Most of my posts, of course, revolve around my book, The Last Keeper, and the various things that are happening with publication, so different and new things are a nice change in pace.

Where I’d like to go with my blog to keep things going and see a bit more variety was discussed in Beyond The Blog during Armchair BEA, and I’d pretty much just like to stick to that and see where it goes.

In the meantime, this is the last day to enter my giveaway for an ebook copy of The Last Keeper and one of two ebook copies of my new short story Isolation. Click here, and leave a comment before 10pm GMT for your chance to win!


Posted By Michelle Birbeck

Armchair BEA


Today’s Armchair BEA is all about the future, where we want our blogs to go and what we want to do with them, and if we want to make any money from them.

For me, it’s not so much about where I want the blog to go as where I want my writing to go. I’ve got so many ideas running around my head that I don’t think I’ll ever be able to stop. The characters that are making themselves known simply won’t let me. So I’m going to be at this for a while. If I have my way, I’ll be at this for the rest of my life, which will hopefully be a while.

So today I’m going to share some of my plans for my blog that are to do with my writing.

For a start, I’m looking at upgrading. My blog at the moment is fairly limited. I can only have so many characters, and so many pictures, and links eat up my character allowance. For a starting blog it’s been fantastic, but going forward, I need something more unlimited, where I can host whatever I want without worrying.

And there’s a reason for that. As I writer, I want to widen my reach a bit. I wouldn’t mind a bit more traffic, and hopefully that will mean more people are looking at The Last Keeper and hopefully reading it. The way I plan on doing that is be getting more involved with my publisher. They do blog tours for every book they release, and though I don’t have the time to read and review all of them, I can host guest posts.

It also means I can join in with other blog tours for other books outside of my publisher. And by doing so not only can I increase my won reach, but as that grows, I can lend that to other authors and help them out by hosting them on my blog.

So although I don’t want to make money from my blog, there are plans there, and I am hoping to get them in motion when I get my very first royalties payment. It’s not going to be cheap to get it all set up, and though I could go with a free blog like blogger or wordpress, I’d like to keep everything on my own site. It’s been going for a while now, and I like the set up and the hosting system.

In the meantime, this blog has done me wonders, and it’s gotten me started and gotten me into blogging. So I’ll be here for a while, at least until I can afford the upgrade!

Check out what the other Armchair BEA bloggers have planned for their future!


Posted By Michelle Birbeck

Armchair BEA


Today is networking day, and I have just about one thing to say on that subject. Libraries. If you’re not involved in any way with your local library, then get your ass down there and go check them out.

I’ve been part of my library’s writing group for just over a year now, and so much has come about because of it! I got involved in World Book Day, Flash Fiction Day, National Environment day, and I’ve got at least three signings set up because of it.

Firstly, being a writer, having the opportunity to get involved with different days at the library is fantastic. I can write short pieces to go on display, it helps me get my work out there without the stress of editors and marketing and contracts. It means I can say I’ve had my work on display for various days, and that looks good on my resume. And it gives me a chance to work outside my comfort zone and write pieces I wouldn’t normally write.

The writing group has also been fantastic for meeting new people. I’ve made a few fantastic friends through it and met lots of new writers. We have workshops on a regular basis, too, and through that I get to talk to other authors and see how they do things.

My local library also has author talks and signings. They’re great at advertising them, so they get a good turn out every time, and they’ve had some fantastic authors in, too! It doesn’t do me any good for my bank balance (I collect signed books), but it’s doing wonders for my signed book collection!

But the biggest bonus that’s come from getting involved in the library is the fact that I now have four different events happening for my own book, The Last Keeper. And without having gotten involved, I wouldn’t have had a clue how to go about doing that! I’ve got two talk and signings booked in, and I’ve been invited to two literary festivals.

So if you haven’t checked out your local library and what they offer, do it. For networking in real life, there really isn’t a better place! And the best thing is that most of the things they offer are free!

Check out other tips for real life networking from the Armchair BEA crew.