Geek Girl Brunch Nottingham – October 2015

Geek Girl Brunch - October
“Hi, I’m Riley Reynolds and today I’m going to read to you from my novel, The Winter Passing.”

Yesterday was the second meeting of the Nottingham chapter of Geek Girl Brunch and I was thrilled to be asked to read from my novel as part of the literary theme.

I was also terrified, but that’s the beauty of saying a Reckless Yes to things you’re invited to do! You say yes, then let the commitment power you through any fear.

It was a small but perfectly formed gathering of geeky girls including a few who had cosplayed as part of the literary theme – we were joined by a Coraline, an Alice and a Mary Poppins.

We talked about our favourite fandoms, reclaiming the label ‘geek’, the various ways we each celebrate our geek tendencies and the everyday sexism that still accompanies being both female and geeky.

We also did a book swap – I gave away a copy of Margaret Attwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. Although I’m sure most of the Brunchette’s will have read this it seemed a fitting tale not only for the setting but because it was an incredibly important book to me in terms of the way I think about being a woman and the female role in society as well as vital to me as an author and as a reader who loves dystopian fiction.

And then, as dessert was served, I read an excerpt from The Winter Passing. Despite being incredibly nervous about sharing the contents of my imagination I enjoyed the reading. It was actually really nice to give the characters a wider stage, to let them take the story forward.

A few people asked where or when they could read more – if you were at the brunch you will have a little card which provides you with a code for this page of the site. Here you can read the full first chapter of The Winter Passing. The rest? Well, you’ll have to wait for publication I’m afraid!

I want to say a big thank you to chapter founder Kelly Race for organising another great brunch and to all yesterday’s brunchettes for indulging me and my novel. If you do read the first chapter I’d love to hear what you think – please be honest, but be kind!

The next Geek Girl Brunch is in early December and I’m already looking forward to another great meal with a great bunch of like-minded girls!

 

The Winter Passing at Geek Girl Brunch Nottingham

Eggs Royale at Geek Girl Brunch NottinghamIt’s with absolute delight, and utter terror, that I announce I’ll be reading from The Winter Passing at the next Geek Girl Brunch Nottingham on 17 October 2015.

Geek Girl Brunch is an international network of in-real-life meet ups that “hope to create a safe environment where identifying geek girls can be themselves to give voice, network, create friendships, inspire each other and hang out!” They say Geek Girl Brunches begin with  “kindness, tolerance, acceptance and empathy” which makes it my kind of place.

I went along to the inaugural Nottingham chapter meet up in August as The Other I and blogged about it over here.

The second meet up will be held on 17 October and will have a literary theme. Brunchettes are invited to represent their favourite literary character, author or book in a way of their choosing – it could be full cosplay or it could be a t-shirt.

And it’s an honour that the founder of the Nottingham GGB and one of my beta readers, Kelly Race, has invited me to share a chapter or two of The Winter Passing at the meet-up.

This will be the first time I’ve read any of my novel aloud, and the first time it will have been heard by people outside of my beta reading group and the publishing panels it went to over the summer.

It’s really exciting – and really scary too. I’m looking forward to seeing lots of you there!

You can sign up for Geek Girl Brunch Nottingham here and you can also follow them on Twitter. You can check out the hashtag #GGBNotts on Twitter and Instagram.

You can find me on Twitter too.

Offers, decisions and yet more words

“I feel weird. I feel like the end of summer. Everything is too warm but fading away. And I’m really tired.” Centaury, The Winter Passing

It feels like it’s only been two minutes since I revealed to the world (ok, to my corner of the Internet) that I had written my first novel and given myself a pen name. In fact it’s been more like two months since I posted about doing this thing that scared me and my reasons why.

And it’s been a wonderful two months – still scary, but exhilarating and creative too. I’m still a bundle of self-doubt but am gaining confidence in my writing and the story I am telling right now. It’s led to some really exciting ‘I never thought this was possible’ stuff and associated celebrations, some marvellous and funny conversations with my beta readers and light shining brighter on what my future might hold.

I want to share some of this stuff in a bit more details with you:

  • The Winter Passing has been through a couple of readings by beta readers. I can’t thank those people enough (from the one who read the whole novel in a couple of hours to the one who hasn’t made it through the first chapter but has told me helpful things all the same). It’s a complete story in itself although I’m really aware I still have some editing to do.
  • It hasn’t just been read by beta readers and people that know me. It’s been off on a little journey to a couple of publishing houses too. And it fared well. Really well. Better than I could have ever dared hope. There have been heart-racingly exciting conversations and some grown up looking at contracts. My book, started almost by accident and created in a flood of words, was deemed Good Enough to be published. No-one is more amazed or delighted by this as I am.
  • But, my book isn’t ready. My story isn’t told. So those offers have been turned down for now (although massive thanks to the editorial panels at the publishing houses for their time in considering my novel and for offering contracts and advice). Maybe I am making a huge mistake and letting a one-off opportunity pass. I’m at peace with that. It’s taken the summer, and those offers, to know that it isn’t quite time right. Nearly, but not quite.
  • Because something rather lovely happened in July. Although The Winter Passing is a complete story and can be read alone, my beta readers fell in love with the characters and the world and they asked me if there would be more. They started to ‘what if’ me. And then I started to ‘what if’ myself. I decided to jump down another rabbit hole and see what happened to some of the characters after that first novel.
  • What happened is this: The Winter Passing got a sibling, The Ides. The second story, in what I think is a trilogy (working title is currently the Aubade trilogy), is now complete in first draft form (yes, since July I’ve written another book-length story. It’s utterly bonkers but somehow true). The Ides will be going out to beta readers this week and I’m excited to hear whether this think these characters, and their longer story, work for a second book.

The most important bit out of all this – more vital to me than publication – is that I am still enjoying writing and I’m still turning up to do it each day. That my imagination is revealing things to me all the time and that, just like with The Winter Passing, in The Ides I have written a story that I would like to read.

What next? I don’t really know, but that doesn’t worry me because I haven’t really had a plan so far and I’ve had the most amazing journey over the last six months.

I’m now going to take at least a month off writing fiction (mostly because the rest of my life has some big moments coming up) and then think about what feedback I get on The Ides to see where I go next.

Wherever that is I’m enjoying learning about my own ability as a writer and finding that maybe I’m good enough to have my words, my stories, published one day.

Playlist: The Winter Passing

As The Other I, I spend a lot of time writing about music so it’s probably no surprise that the characters in The Winter Passing are wrapped up in sound.

The main character has synesthesia (she sees the colour of sound) and it’s a chance meeting with a musician that sets her story going. Throughout the book the records they love, the songs they play each other and the ones he sings are mentioned (although fairly obliquely). Music is a comfort and a connection between them.

I don’t think I could have written this story without weaving music through it. More than that I don’t know that I can (or want to) write words that aren’t in someway connected to sound.

So, mainly for myself (and during fits of procrastination) I made a playlist on Spotify of the tracks that filled the ears of my characters. You can find it here.

Roughly in the order they would appear in the novel, they are:

  • The Cure – Pictures of You
  • Pixies – Where is my mind?
  • Fuzzbox – Irish Bride
  • The Yards – Fireflies
  • Tom Petty – Wildflowers
  • Francoise Hardy – Stars
  • Vashti Bunyan – Train Song
  • Blind Faith – Can’t Find My Way Home
  • Felt – Primitive Painters
  • The Charlatans – You’re A Big Girl Now
  • The Staves – Let Me Down
  • Graham Coxon – Brave the Storm
  • Trashcan Sinatras – All the Dark Horses
  • Jeff Buckley – Lover, You Should’ve Come Over
  • Alice in Chains – Don’t Follow
  • Imogen Heap – Hide and Seek
  • Bat for Lashes – Moon and Moon
  • Nick Drake – Northern Sky
  • Big Star – I’m in Love with a Girl
  • Kathryn Williams – The Mind is its Own Place
  • Sara Forslund – Water Became Wild
  • Otis Redding – That’s How Strong My Love Is
  • Drugstore – Fader
  • Juliana Hatfield – Simplicity is Beautiful
  • Belly – Seal My Fate
  • The Flying Burrito Brothers – Wild Horses.

Maybe the playlist, like the bigger story, isn’t quite done but it feels right to share it.