Posts tagged Paradox
Sketches Tour: Update

It’s been a busy few weeks with The Paradox Sketches Tour. Not that it’s a toil. I get to enjoy food. Drink wine. And meet new friends. Makes up for this introvert having to take centre stage!

The thing about being an introvert is that when I do venture into the public realm, the world seems full of questions. Did I come across ok? Was my content strong enough? Did people enjoy it? But here’s the funny thing about stepping out of my comfort zone. This adventure has been one of the most affirming things I have ever done.

 

“...Yesterday I was lucky enough to be a part of Andy Smithyman's  Paradox Sketches Tour - I hosted a book club with a group of friends. Andy gave us an insightful presentation followed by a captivating reading. We discussed the book around the dinner table, over wine and food. What better way to spend a Sunday evening?

I would highly recommend anyone to take part and host a book club - it is a special experience and enables layers of interesting conversation around important topics.

My two main takeaways from the discussion are:

The idea of provocation; popping our own bubble of ignorance and the importance of continually working on this. This deeply resonated with everyone around the table, leaving us all considering our ignorance and hypocrisies.

The other is the idea of seeing and observing. We see, but do we really observe?  We talked about this considering the world (and its injustices) around us...

The evening led me to thinking about this idea in relation to books. With an insight into the mind and thoughts of the author, I feel I have a deeper understanding of the intricate and multi-layered nature of Paradox. It's left me wanting to pay extra attention to the words and hidden messages. Which has me wondering, how many books have I read where I've seen the words, but I haven't really observed what's beneath them?

Thanks Andy for a special and thought-provoking evening.”

It’s one thing writing a book. Another, talking about it with a gap between stage and audience. But when this gap is removed... it’s an adventure I wouldn’t want any other way.

 

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Sketches Tour: A Lesson

I faced a new challenge heading towards my second event.

How do I transport my books via train and tube during rush hour?

For some reason during my tour planning stage, I always had the picture of Paradox safely packaged away in the boot of my car. ‘Safely packaged’ being the key phrase.

The Iris Cloth front cover was chosen to amplify the sense of touch for the reader, complimenting the storyline of Paradox. It was my attempt at producing a fictional tale in the style of a coffee-table keepsake. And I think it worked, but this also brought with it a complication.

As with all cloth covers, the material can get damaged during transportation.

Since the launch of Paradox, I’ve navigated through this challenge in many ways; from placement of stock and postage, to wrapping an individual book in a tea-towel if I needed to show someone a copy. But transporting a stack of books, alone, on public transport? That’s a whole new dimension.

One idea was to individually package them up, just like how they are posted out. But how would I personalise the message inside if I didn’t know who would be purchasing the book? I tried using a suitcase, but even a bedsheet around the edges didn’t stop the books from moving around. The compromise was cardboard and bubble wrap - in a weekend bag. And needless to say, my attempt didn’t entirely succeed. 20% damaged bag stock.

But this is nothing to feel down about. It’s all part of the adventure. I love trying to figure all this out. What matters is that the second event went well. I met wonderful people. The host did amazing with their greeting and ‘spread of snacks.’ And most of all, I came away believing in the possibilities for this approach.

I now have a week off from the Paradox Sketches — another challenge, mixing childcare with touring.


Sketches Tour: The First

 

First lines fascinate me. They embrace the present and at the same time, capture the uncertainty of the future.

“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.” (George Orwell, 1984)

“I write this sitting in the kitchen sink.” (Dodie Smith, I Capture the Castle)

“Marley was dead: to begin with.” (Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol)

These opening lines, amongst others, inspired my own offering with Paradox. “My name is Samuel Abrahams, and this is my confession.” This week, I’ve begun to write another first line.

“Harpenden was the first, a doorway into...”

…?

The Paradox Sketches Tour started last weekend. I was nervous. It was the ‘opening night.’ And for the previous twelve hours, I had been making sure my presentation was concise; not to forget the double/triple checking that my folder was full with inserts and handwritten cards. The regular check of a traffic app provided assurance for my travel plans.

In a living-room, with old and new friends, we shared tea, cake, and chatted about my book. Everything was going to plan. My opening line was coming along nicely - “Harpenden was the first.”

Until.

A surprising discovery.

“A doorway into...”

I realised that the first line of this tour was not going to be completed by my hand alone. It's the people in the room, regardless of where I am, who shape the journey of Paradox. And that's both an exciting and nervous prospect for a writer who likes to craft his own lines.

Harpenden, thank you. This adventure just took on a life of its own.

 

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The Paradox Sketches Tour


I’m about to start another part of this adventure.

It’s called ‘The Paradox Sketches Tour.’

But it’s not a typical book tour. I plan to travel with Paradox in a way which reflects the story and values behind its production. Not an easy task.

My idea adapts how Dickens sometimes toured with his writings. Imagine a house-concert but in literary form. The ‘host’ invites guests around their home or outside venue. We share food, drink, and I give a brief presentation about Paradox followed by a dramatic reading. We end with a Q&A and dialogue about the topics raised.

The size of the group doesn’t matter. One of the values I’ve always tried to hold onto with my writing is the importance of the individual, and that hasn’t changed with Paradox.

There are plenty of challenges with this approach, but that’s the exciting thing about something new. I will document this adventure as a bit of a travel log, taking you with me on this journey and where it leads.

If you are interested in hosting this type of event, please let me know. I would love to make this journey with you.

And in the words of Dickens, it’s now time for me to ‘pound the streets.’

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Andy SmithymanParadox, tour, sketches
The Spirit Of Billy Shears

In 1967, The Beetles presented to the world a fictional character called Billy Shears. This drummer with limited vocal range stood up to the microphone and humbly declared that he got by ‘With a Little Help from My Friends’.

It was a simple tune with obvious shortcomings but surprisingly became a fan favourite. Shears and his shaky voice defied the odds stacked towards slick perfection, singing a different tune into the airwaves - Vulnerability. We need each other.

And now this is my moment to step up to that same microphone and say that “I need your help.”

How can we review books differently? ...How could my book be reviewed differently?

Since the launch of Paradox, I’ve kept away from asking for reviews. There’s a reason for that. The review game is just that — a game. The typical approach is to encourage snappy comments before and during the launch. These will then get funnelled through a well-known online store. If the author does their job right, it will present a robust and successful image for their product. Foster enough 5 Star reviews early on and it should encourage others to follow suit. Finally, the strategic code hidden within the purchase link should help that ranking system kick in.

This game has a few apparent champions. Occasionally a wobbly voice defies the odds. But it’s hard.

Every part of the Paradox Hardback, from design, production and promotion, is my attempt at trying to do something different within the publishing world. The same goes for reviews. Over the last few months, the conversations I’ve had about the book, and the emails received, have been rich. Special. Which strengthens my resolve that I want to engage with reviews where honesty, authenticity and conversation take place. Away from the game of manipulation.

Except I don’t know how.

And that’s why I need a little help from my friends.

Can we review Paradox in a different way? Is there a site or service (other than Amazon and Goodreads which share the same owner and stacked digital system) which taps into the heartbeat of what I’ve been talking about? If you have ideas, please email me at andy@andysmithyman.com or comment the usual ways.

Billy figured it out. And I’m confident ‘we’ will figure it out.

It’s what friends are for.

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Paradox Sketches: Change?

During the times of Charles Dickens, between 15% and 20% of the population in the UK was living at or below the expected subsistence level in food. That meant, nearly a quarter of the population were skipping meals or reducing the quality and quantity of their food. Alongside that, 10% of the population experienced severe food poverty where even charitable donations couldn’t stop those families experiencing abject hunger.

Shocking. And rightly so. It’s an example of historical poverty which fits perfectly into the image of Dickensian times. But there is also another set of statistics that I’m reflecting upon.

The UK news recently picked up on a UNICEF report, highlighting that in the UK, 19% of children under age 15 live in a family where they experience food insecurity (skipping meals or reducing the quality and quantity of food). Alongside that, 10% of children under the age of 15 live in a family experiencing severe food insecurity. Hunger. Beyond charitable donations.

Today. Right now, as I craft this post.

I wrote Paradox for many reasons; one of them is my belief that the Dickensian landscape of poverty and social injustice is still around today.

Dickensian poverty is ugly. It’s ugly because it’s blatant. In my face. And yet how often do I move on, justify inaction or give myself enough excuses to ignore what is in front of me? The harsh reality is that 'The Twins’ of Paradox are real. I walk their Paths on a regular basis.

‘Wish you were(n’t) here?’ That’s the tagline of the book. A question. Continually asked. Of myself. My answer determines what happens to The Twins. My answer determines what happens to my heart.

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The Swirl: More Than A Tour

November was a special month for me.

I travelled with a ragamuffin band of creatives to Scotland, France, Spain and England. We called it The Swirl; a tour where I had the privilege of talking about my new book, Paradox. My not-so-great acting abilities came into the spotlight as I attempted to emulate how Dickens delivered his Christmas Carol readings. The one glaring omission - I didn’t dress up in fancy clothes.

And November was a special month for me because…

I stepped outside my comfort zone into a world I’ve worked hard to avoid for many years — the public stage. I know how easy it is to believe my hype and, paradoxically, at the same time doubt my ability. This tour helped to remove some of those fears.

But November was also a special month for me because I was part of a group of dreamers who ‘made good art’

Together.

I like my own world; the Andy universe. It’s safe, covered with all the stuff I’m familiar with. But art is not designed to be controlled like that. Art dismantles the frame in which we see the world. And this was true of my experience on The Swirl.

The Swirl logo is an illustration of a campfire; a fitting image. At every event, we all brought our individual logs of creativity and placed them on the fire. As the flames danced into the night sky, something magical appeared.

The embers.

These small lights of dreams, hopes, sacrifice and questions, leapt into the sky. To follow each movement is impossible, because their individual journeys blend into a collective dance, swirling higher and higher into the unknown. Out of sight. But still floating. Their adventure, just beginning.

This is the paradox of art — life beyond sight.

We are connected.

For the better.

(Ps: a documentary is coming out next year, until then, here are a few little insights into this crazy time).

https://www.youtube.com/user/daveerasmus/videos

https://www.youtube.com/user/georgeholliday123/videos

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Andy Smithymandickens, Paradox
Personal Touch

 

In just under one week my book, Paradox, is officially launched and the pre-launch discount ends.

For those who have already purchased the Hardback, thank you. It’s been a great encouragement as I venture down this Path of reimagining how to publish.

The publishing world continually encourages any dreamer to fit into a template model of production and distribution, usually motivated by cost. Although the Paperback and eBook of Paradox is fully immersed within that model, the Hardback is walking a different adventure. I’ve tried to keep true to the authentic tale of the story, from sustainable material to moral choices around production and delivery. But there is one part of this adventure I have yet to speak about.

The personal touch.

The personal touch is unscalable. It requires cost. Time. Capacity. And this month, I have faced that challenge head-on. Did I think through all the implications of writing a handwritten note with every purchase? Is it worth the energy to package the book in a bespoke way or frame any public presentation to bridge the gap between author and reader?

The answer to these questions and many more is yes!

This book is more than a story bundled inside a red cover. It’s my attempt at allowing the story to shape every part of this adventure. I have no set map or easy template. Only trust. So once again, thank you to everyone who has supported this dream, regardless of any purchase.

And for those who still want the book at a discounted price before its release. Order this week at www.andysmithyman.com.

A mysterious adventure awaits...

 

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Andy SmithymanParadox, new book
Pre-Orders are now Live

The nervous moment has arrived...

Pre-Orders for my new book, Paradox, are now live on my website!

I have no idea how this book will be received. Does the story hold up? Will people like the design? The questions can seem never-ending. Occasionally overwhelming. But last week, a friend told me it was time to enjoy this moment. Celebrate. Follow this crazy adventure. It was good advice.

Looking at the finished product, it’s a book I’m really proud of. The creative team did a fantastic job. We didn’t get to do everything we dreamed of (that’s for the sequel), but what we did do is worthy of shouting about.

The Special Edition hardback looks and feels beautiful. It has an Iris Cloth cover. The uncoated cream paper (made from wood procured from sustainably managed sources) compliments the nature of the story. Ollie Mann did a fantastic job with 18 black & white illustrations.

The hardback retails for £20, but you can pre-order the book during November for £15.50. As a bonus, you will also receive the eBook version of Paradox for free!

Alongside this, there are a selection of signed prints (12x16inch) available to purchase (for those who like the idea of The Twins staring at you over the dining room table).

The paperback and digital versions are released internationally on 01/12/18 from most retail distributors.

One final thing. I’ve wrestled with the best way to approach P&P, from sustainable packaging to a delivery method which doesn’t take advantage of workers. Finding cost-effective solutions is difficult. I may not have found all the answers, but I did make a few decisions. When you purchase the book from my website, you have two options on P&P.

A flat fee of £2.50 for any order under 2kg.

Or.

Free customer collection.

Enjoy Paradox.

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