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8 June 2016 Entry: "Finished"

I donít know how time passes with me so unaware of it - Iíve just realised I havenít written in this diary since February!
Emerging from the wonderland of a room of my own, I came back to Newcastle determined to carry on my good writing habits. Alas, I was struck down with shingles - awful, painful, debilitating and I couldnít think. I lay on the sofa and read, not a bad thing, but now Iím better and dragging myself back to the place I was before.
I have deadlines and plans. Thinking about images and fonts for book covers and bookmarks for publicity, and wanting to fine tune the manuscript - commas and indents, spelling and speech marks. I think thereís an underlying reluctance to do the final stuff, the letting go, afraid itís still not really finished. But another part of me thinks - let go, youíve worked on it long enough, it is what it is. The deadline to get the manuscript to my publisher is end of August and the launch date will be early November.
In between times, thereís going to be a book extravaganza at Central Library, called UKYA on Saturday 17th September, a regional event (i.e. outside London) where readers and authors can come together, promote their books and chat. Seven Stories will provide a bookstall.
I will be there with my publicity material, hoping to drum up interest, a buzz around the story, along with many other authors and illustrators. Itís younger readers books and picture books in the morning and Young Adult books in the afternoon. The structure of the day is arranged around small panels of authors who each have a couple of minutes to promote their book and then the audience can ask questions. There will be cake, tea and coffee and itís meant to be very informal and democratic, everyone mingling and no hierarchy of star/unknown authors. I think there will be some workshops at the Library in the run-up to the day, so watch out for information if youíre interested. And donít worry - I will be shouting from the rooftops when the date of the launch is confirmed.
I have been keeping a finger in the poetry pie too. Iíve had a poem in the wonderful Vane Womenís anthology NORTHbound, responding to Pat Maycroftís photo of two old cars in the country side, reminding me of family outings. I was invited to be part of The Cold Boat, poetry of witness at Newcastle University recently, an important and serious event inspired by Carolyn Forchť. I think there will be more in the future.
The Poetry Virgins were part of Rendezvous, the evening at Live Theatre to celebrate last yearís winner of the Julia Darling Travel award, the irresistible Chloe Daykin, and to announce this yearís winner, short story writer Michelle Green. Michelle is a colourful and interesting woman who is going to write about Hayling Island, a place not a million miles away from Juliaís other childhood home, the Isle of Wight.
The PVs love getting together and remembering Julia, and we give her more recent poems, collected in Indelible Miraculous, published by Arc, an airing that they didnít get when Julia was too poorly to do many readings. The award was set up in 2015 to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Juliaís death.
That was also the year we commemorated my husband Keith Morris with a concert at Gateshead Old Town Hall. Many old friends, talented poets and musicians came together to play Keithís music, including our son Freddy. It was a fantastic event and this year, it won the Journal Culture Award - Performance of the year.
A fitting tribute to Keithís contribution to the music and culture of tyneside and beyond - it made me very happy. I felt I had helped to keep his memory alive. Itís never too late, keep being creative!

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