Eating in the Dark!

Those of you who follow my Facebook page (and if you don’t – why not? I have giveaways on there and everything!) will know that Mr E arranged for us to eat at Dans Le Noir – a restaurant in London that serves dinner in the total darkness.

It’s a concept I’d heard of before but never really thought about. How hard can it be to eat in total darkness after all? We have four other senses that should help us out on that (plus as a reader I often drink tea or eat chocolate without dragging my eyes away from the page). This should be easy, shouldn’t it?

Yeah, not so much!

On arrival we were asked to put all our belongings in a locker. They operate a strict no-light policy – so no phones, no flashlights, not even watches that have a little push button illumination. And then they asked us to choose our menu. It’s pretty simple, there are only four choices: Vegetarian, Fish, Meat or Chef’s Surprise (meat AND fish). We chose the surprise and a glass of wine. I’d already decided I didn’t like the idea of trying to pour wine from a bottle in the dark.

Then they call you and line you up in a corridor. There were four of us – the Mister and I plus another couple we didn’t know. We had to stand in line and put a hand on the shoulder in front of us, and our server then led us through three sets of curtains into the complete darkness.

From this point on, until the end of the meal, I couldn’t see a thing.

I have no idea if the chefs were fully dressed or not – I couldn’t see! If they weren’t they may have looked a little like this 🙂

The server helps you to get seated. He then tells you that in front of you is a napkin and suggests you use it as a bib; otherwise you’re going to get dirty. Being naturally curious I had a good feel around the table – I found my cutlery, a glass and –of course – a bottle of water. Being even more curious I decided to pour it just to see if I could.

The only way I could do it was by using my fingers. I had to hold them in my glass to make sure it didn’t overflow. Thank goodness I’m a bit of a hygiene freak.

Then they brought out the first course. It took a little while to work out how to get the food onto my fork (scooping rather than stabbing was easier), but when I tasted it I realized it was salmon and something else I couldn’t quite place. The husband and I spent a lot of time trying – and failing – to work out what it was, as did the couple next to us.

That was another interesting thing about the restaurant – you get sat next to complete strangers. Because you’re so close it feels rude not to talk. We enjoyed getting to know them, where they were from, and sharing a laugh as we all tried our best not to spill our food down our fronts.

A little while later the second course came. By the way the wait staff are amazing. A lot of them are either partially sighted or have no sight at all, and yet they never spilled anything, managed to slide our plates in front of us without any problems, and cleared up in the same way. Our server was called Jack and he was fabulous.

So the second course came out and this was a little harder to eat. There were so many different tastes – some kind of steak, maybe a bit of fish, vegetables that tasted maybe like carrots and broccoli. It was so hard to tell what we were eating, but it tasted delicious. The biggest issue was trying to tell if you’d cleared the plate or not. In the end I decided to let my stomach choose when to stop eating. It was mindful eating at its best.

After dessert we were asked if we were ready to go back into the light and find out what we’d been eating. At this point I had no idea how much time had passed. It felt as though the food had come very quickly, but in the complete dark without any cues to the time (such as darkening skies or you know, a watch) it was so hard to tell. It turned out we’d been in there for over an hour and half. I’d thought it was less than an hour. Goes to show I’m not great at guessing time!

Once again we were led out of the restaurant in complete darkness, holding the person in front’s shoulder. It felt strange to come into the light – cue lots of blinking. But within a minute I was completely used to it again.

Over coffee the wait staff showed us photographs and descriptions of what we’d eaten. Lots of ‘oh’s when we realized that it was crab we’d tasted in the first course (how did I not guess that) and another eek when I realized I’d eaten Llama for my main course (I’m so sorry, Llama. I didn’t know. I thought you were cow.)

In all it was an amazing experience. The aim is to give diners an insight for a couple of hours to what it’s like to go through life partially sighted. I was expecting my other senses to improve but they didn’t – whether this was because it was a short time, or whether my other senses are rubbish I’ve no idea. All I know is that it was an amazing experience (and a funny date night) but I’m not sure I’ll be eating in that kind of darkness again.

 

Have you ever eaten in the pitch black? Would you want to? How would you feel if you had to eat things without knowing what they were?

 

Let me know in the comments!

 

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Multi-Author Signing Events

This week I’ll be heading up to Newcastle (approximately a 6 hour drive away) to attend the Dedicated Ink Author Signing Event. Multi-author signings are a relatively new invention in the book world, created in part as a response to the fact that for independent authors it’s always been difficult to arrange events in bookshops, which makes it hard for authors to meet their readers face to face.

I first became aware of events like these in 2013, mostly taking place all over the USA. These events attract hundreds, and sometimes thousands of readers and bloggers, and can be an amazing way to find new fans and make connections. In the UK they’re a relatively new phenomenon. I attended my first as an author in April 2015, when I attended the BRITISH BOOK AFFAIR in London. As a relative newcomer (I think I still am really) I was awed by authors like Christina Lauren, Abbi Glines, Samantha Young and so many more who were kicking it at writing and selling amazing books.

Since then, I’ve attended another 3 signings in York, Leeds, Berlin and Southend-on-Sea, which makes Newcastle my sixth event of this kind. For those of you who’ve never been to a multi-author event like this, they tend to look a bit like this:

Multi-Author Events

Authors are there not only to sell books (and in fact this is often the lowest on their list). Instead they’re there to connect with readers, to give out a whole lot of free swag, and to make sure we all have a good time. The signings tend to last all day — long enough for readers to make their way around the big hall that usually holds anywhere between 50 to 100 authors — and then afterwards there’s usually an evening party where authors, bloggers and readers all mingle together. This is usually the best part  of the day for me — a time when we can finally relax and enjoy talking about everything to do with books.

Signing After Party

Preparing for an event often involves spending time in a Facebook group where we get to know the readers who will be attending, ordering swag (see below for a picture of some of mine), making sure I have enough books and also setting up pre-orders for those who like to pay before the day. And because Newcastle is so far away, it also involves making travel arrangements, booking hotels, and making sure the kids and the dog are looked after while I’m gone!

Some of the Swag I’ll be taking to Newcastle!

After Newcastle, I’ll be attending ChapterCon in August (which is not only a signing, but also an author conference) and then in 2018 I’ll be heading to Belfast, Leeds, York, Edinburgh and Brighton. I’ll also be heading over to RARE in London as a reader! Busy times.

So how about you? Have you been to a multi-author event before? If you haven’t would you consider going? And if you have, what event will you be attending next?

And if you want more information on where to find me, check out my News and Events page.

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Goodreads Book Giveaway

Summer's Lease by Carrie Elks

Summer’s Lease

by Carrie Elks

Giveaway ends July 13, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

 

Monday Musings – What a week!

every accomplishment

Wow! It’s been one of those weeks that has passed in a blur, leaving you spinning around with your mouth wide open and thinking “..what the heck?” I’d like to say I’ve enjoyed every moment of it, but it’s been such a rollercoaster of emotions that I’m not even sure how I’ve been feeling half the time. So, looking back, I’ve managed to do the following:

1. Turn 40

Yes, hard to believe (hehe), but I turned 40 last Wednesday. I tried to spend the day in bed, hiding underneath my lovely, warm duvet, but my friends were having none of it. They dragged me out, kicking and screaming, and took me to a pub for lunch. Of course, as soon as I was out I really enjoyed it and was so glad I wasn’t lying in bed anymore. But, still, I’m now out of my thirties, and I have to admit I loved every single moment of them. As long as my forties turn out just as good, I should be a happy girl.

2. Release my second book

Fix You was due to be released on my 40th birthday (because I’m crazy) but due to the lovely vagaries of Amazon, it was actually live two days earlier. Then when I checked it on my phone the text came up big. As in B.I.G. Cue hasty republishing (no less than 3 times) and staying up all night waiting for the book to go live again on Amazon so I could check it. Plus angsting over all the people who had already bought it and were wondering why the heck my writing was so large. 24 hours later it was all fixed and published, but I think I managed to get a few extra grey hairs that day!

3. Have my first paperback

Fix You is my first book that’s also been released in paperback. I can’t lie, there’s something very satisfying about holding that physical book in your hand, and seeing your name on the front cover. It made me very happy indeed. Plus I’ve already had some requests for signed copies, which makes me more happy than I can say. What a great birthday present.

So, I’ve managed to wallow, celebrate and prevaricate for the past week. I’ve given myself that time to adjust to these new things, but now it’s time to go back my office and start the writing process again. I think I’ve said before that I’m about a third of a way through a new novel, which is tentatively titled “Coming Down.” I’m really enjoying the characters and story in this book, and want to try to get it finished by April / May ready for edits and beta reading. In order to do that, I need to get my head down and work hard on the manuscript. Everything else will have to come second!

So, that’s where I am. Hope you are good too!

Monday Musings – Where I talk about writing, editing and giveaways

writing

It’s Monday. Not usually a cause for celebration, unless you don’t work, have a billion dollars and prefer the shops to be empty when you go and spend it. I would normally be at work right now, but I am travelling this afternoon so thought I’d take the opportunity to blog while I have the chance.

Looking back over November, I feel like it has been a really great month. I’ve been happy with the release of Halfway Hidden, and really pleased with both sales and reviews. It’s given me that push I need to get the next in the series finished. I’m very excited about getting down to that. The reason I haven’t been writing this one already is I’ve been working on a New Adult novel, which I’m hoping to publish in the early part of 2014, possibly in February. I’m really happy to say I managed to finish the first draft yesterday. Cue fireworks and party poppers!

Of course, this is when the real work begins. My first draft is rough as heck, and needs the polish only a rewrite and developmental edit can give. I’m bracing myself for the experience–it’s not something that comes easy to me (unlike the writing side) but I know how important it is to the finished product. Rather like running at the gym, I’m doing it for my own good.

This is where I’d usually give you the blurb just to see what you think. But I’ve been reliably informed it needs work and currently gives too much away. So as soon as I’ve done that work, I’ll be sure to add it here and to GoodReads.

In addition, the lovely Mayhem Cover Creations have made a kick-ass cover which I can’t stop looking at. This one is going to be released in paperback as well as an ebook and I can’t wait to get my grubby little mitts on it, just for the cover. I may cry.

After finishing the first draft, I made a plan for 2014. I am hoping to publish 5 books next year, made up of 4 novels and a novella. We’ll see if I come anywhere close to that. It’s not written in stone, I just wanted to have something to aim for. A new year’s resolution for a writer, if you will.

Now that December is here, most of the giveaways that I’m part of are live. I’ve linked them below, there are a huge number of prizes at them all, and I know there are a lot of books listed that I’m keen to get my hands on. Maybe you are too. There’s nothing to lose and everything to gain!

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Bibliobelles giveaway

Babu's bookshelf giveaway