Thursday, 3 May 2012

Preparing to Launch - Megan Rix

Some books appear with a whisper and others arrive with a fanfare - and it's not always easy to tell why. 'The Great Escape' has had much more pre-launching than I'm accustomed to. I've worked with an enthusiastic marketing and publicity team - and it's been fun and exciting.  



So far I've done features for National Newspapers including: My Top 10 Recommendations for Animal Books set during War Time with two books by members of the Scattered Authors Society on the list - plus heartfelt thanks to the members of Balaclava for their own recommendations of possibilities for me to read, as well as my local library's suggestions. I've also done  interviews on why I wrote the book with questions that have no easy answers - like why I thought the terrible pet massacre at the start of WW2 happened. (My animal heroes escape from this fate.)

I've been booked to chat on the Radio on May 17th: It's for the 'Barking at the Moon' with the lovely Jo Good and Anna Webb and their dogs, Matilda and Molly who I met when I was interviewed for my memoir 'The Puppy that Came for Christmas.  

National Competitions: Not one but TWO great competitions. Did you know that from 7th April - 7th May it's National Pet Month? 'The Great Escape' has been selected to be in the line up of  competitions to celebrate it:     
                 http://www.nationalpetmonth.org.uk/competition/greatescape
And the Young Times' is running a competition to win a prize that money can't buy called `My Pet My Hero': http://www.puffin.co.uk/thegreatescape

Libraries: It's been selected as part of 2012's Library summer Reading challenge.

Blogs: Lots of blogs! Not just this one, Girls Heart Books, the Puffin Blog – oh and something   for the Puffin Post and Writer's Digest in the USA. 

Invitations:  Book shops inviting me to sign and schools inviting me to talk have been coming in thick and fast over the past month. The first one's on May 12th at Bedford Waterstones from l0-4 pm with future ones at Kettering on June 30th and Bury St Edmunds at the beginning of July. When I asked if my four year old golden retriever, Traffy, could attend as she came along to my previous book signings for The Puppy that Came for Christmas and loves meeting and greeting Bedford Waterstones remembered her (she's also a PAT dog) and said of course! They gave us this amazing write up:
  
             Waterstones invites the dynamic duo... Megan Rix and “Traffy Rix” 
 Bedford happily invites the fabulous Megan Rix and her loyal companion Traffy for a signing of Megan's new book 'The Great Escape.' It is a story of friendship, adventure and a bit of history thrown into the mix. Set in the Second world war an animal trio are trying to escape their fate. Will they succeed? Come and meet Megan & Traffy and find out.

It was all VERY EXCITING - until real life happened and we stopped being the dynamic duo: An ultrasound scan showed all was not right inside Traffy and on the 19th April the animal hospital found, during a four hour operation, that she had a cyst literally as big as a baby inside her that was attached to her womb and intestines and blocked her ureter to the single kidney she has (the other failed two years ago.) We were so happy when she was allowed home on the 24th April and started learning how to manage life with an initially doubly incontinent dog. But when I took her back for an ultrasound on the 27th there was more bad news - although she was incontinent her bladder wasn't emptying sufficiently and there was no way of clearing the urine infection she had with antibiotics so she'd need to have a cystostomy tube fitted. As I drove home, having left her to be operated on again, all I wanted was to be able stay at the hospital with her rather than remembering her, shaking and frightened, as they took her away. Life at our house felt all wrong without her there. Even her sister, golden retriever, Bella, went to bed and cried. 

Launching once started doesn't just stop - whatever's happening in real life:
Our weekly local paper arranged to visit us on Monday but then the hospital phoned to say Traffy could come home, so I phoned the paper only to find the reporter had broken her leg and wanted to do the interview over the phone - perfect! But they still wanted to take a photograph of me and Traffy and Bella the next day. Poor Traffy looked like she'd been in a war when I brought her home. Her fur was all chopped about and she had stitches along the length of her abdomen, tubes that needed to be syringed, and a Buster collar so she didn't scratch or dislodge the tube. Still, I thought we could manage a photo. I knew the photographer from previous shoots and trusted her. So, in between syringing off Traffy's urine from the cystostomy tube to make sure she was producing enough - needs to be done every 4-6 hours, I was sticking heated rollers in my hair and slapping on some make-up for the photo shoot. One hour to go and we all looked as ready as we were going to when there was a phone call to say the photographer was running late so they were going to use one of the photos they'd taken previously. I threw off my smart clothes and crawled into bed with the dogs (Traffy hadn't been able to sleep in the hard plastic buster collar she needs to wear during the night so I'd sat up with her so she could sleep while wearing a soft one) Bella snuggled up next to Traffy - she's hardly left her side since she came home. For not the first time I was very grateful to be a writer with my hours as flexible as they needed to be and able to work wherever I happened to be; the animal hospital saw a good few thousand words written on a visit whilst Traffy was being taken off for tests and my office became the laptop on our bed while she rested there. Thank goodness for phones and emails rather than proper human contact! And thank goodness for the animal hospital - Traffy's not out of the woods yet but Tuesday was better than Monday for her and yesterday she was demanding small walks with long sleeps afterwards. Next Monday we go back to the animal hospital and start working hopefully towards her not needing the tube long term. As pre-launch ends with the launch of The Great Escape today it seems like it'll be the beginning of fun times and walks down the river and a million treats to look forward to for Traffy and Bella. And hopefully Traffy'll make it to the book signing. I think she probably will but if I feel it'll be too much for her Bella could stand in for her for part or all of the time - although meeting and greeting isn't really quite her thing - she'd much rather be splashing in the river.


Ruth's website is www.ruthsymes.com. Megan Rix's website is www.meganrix.com.

8 comments:

Emma Barnes said...

All the very best to you and to Traffy. As a dog owner myself I really felt for you both.

I hope you are still able to enjoy what sounds like a fantastic launch, and I'll be getting the book for sure - I know a lot of very keen fans of your previous books who will be desperate to read it.

Miriam Halahmy said...

This sounds like an amazing book, I wish you all the best with the launch and also that Traffy is better very soon.

Ruth Symes said...

Thanks! She does seem to be getting stronger - hence demands for walks (100yards and a huge sleep afterwards) and she wants to play with Bella but isn't allowed yet because of her tubes!
Just found out my top 10 list of wartime animal books was in the Guardian this morning http://www.guardian.co.uk/childrens-books-site/2012/may/03/megan-rix-wartime-animal-top-10

Sue Purkiss said...

Poor Traffy and poor you - I hope she's much better soon. And good luck with all the launch goings on - it all sounds very exciting!

madwippitt said...

Sending gentle ehugs and get well wishes to Traffy. And good luck with your book of course!

Ruth Symes said...

Thanks for all the good wishes. Traffy's had a good day so far - eating tons of food and feeling it's her job to bark to announce arrival of letters or people walking past! Poor love likes to be near as possible all the time and is getting stuck when I put her cone head on and she tries to follow me up the stairs through the stair gate - but she's getting used to it coming off and on. I wanted to let her use a comfy cone but the vet specialist said not yet as the next few days are too crucial to risk her dislodging the tube. x

Writer Pat Newcombe said...

very best of luck with your launch! You must be very excited!

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