Looking on the Bright Side.


Why Don’t Readers Go to Book Fairs?

Stafford Book Fair1

On Saturday I was at the Stafford Book Fair with some of the Penkhull  Press team, Jan Edwards, Peter Coleborn and Jem Shaw. We shared our table with the award winning Alchemy Press and we were all there to sell our books.

Our display looked amazing. Nothing to do with me  as it’s not part of my skill set, but years of experience have made Jan and Peter ace at setting out their books in an enticing and eye-catching way. We were also straight in front of one of the  main entrances, so that anyone coming in to the indoor market couldn’t help but see us. Stafford Book Fair5
So far so good, so very good.

Except that we didn’t sell many books.


Because no one came.

I don’t mean that there was no one there. Shoppers came in and out of the  market, some stopped to browse, others stopped to buy. But there was no one there specifically to look at books.

There were a number of reasons why this might have happened. The publicity wasn’t great for one thing; it was a Saturday in August when a lot of people would have been away; there was another event going on in Stafford etc. etc.

If this lack of interest was a one off then we’d all shrug our shoulders and get on with preparing for the next book fair, but it seems to be fairly universal.

So why don’t readers come?

Is it that we’re all getting out of the habit of physically browsing for books? Or is the very nature of a book fair geared to writers and publishers rather than readers? Should we be offering incentives, freebie books, or competitions to win a walk on role in the next novel? I wish I knew.

All I do know is that there are readers out there who would love “House of Shadows” and “Susssex Tales” and “It Never Was Worthwhile” and “The First Book of Gabriel” and “The Larks”, but we are not reaching them.

Any ideas on how to remedy the situation gratefully received.

What if…?


This summer the ivy has taken over. For fifteen years it was a pathetic little sprig hiding somewhere behind the rosebush, until…

First my neighbour cut it back. Then the window cleaners pulled some strands away from the bay windows, then the gutter fitters cut it. Still it grew. I put on protective clothing and battled my way through the rosebush. I took a saw. I hacked the main stem. Result! Or so I thought.

The ivy grew back thicker.

It is now on the roof and trying to get in.

Lying in bed last night, I couldn’t sleep. What if it succeeded? What if it was already prising apart the tiles, working its way through the insulation? What if it was about to take over the house? What if the house itself was changing its personality?

A non writer would of course merely thought to ring a gardening firm to have it removed. For me it began a cascade of horrific scenarios. Ivy2

For hours I lay there imagining every possible disaster, feeding both my fear and my imagination. I also began to think that this is how writers work. If we can get past our fears then the “what ifs” spark our stories, the problem is how to harness them efficiently and not be sitting here, like me, blogging away with a large cup of coffee at hand to keep me from falling asleep after a sleepless night.

The Stroppy Writer’s Rulebook by Bea Davenport

Some of my favourite hates in here. Thank you Bea.


This post is all about my pet writing hates. So I should probably start with a disclaimer. If you as a writer find something in here that you do, or I have criticised a word/phrase you love to use – these are just my opinions. Although I should add that most of them are backed up with good writing sense and in some cases, the opinions of other, far more knowledgeable and experienced writers.

I tutor for a number of organisations and so I see a lot of new writing. All of these are words/phrases/habits I encounter in many, many pieces of work, so that may be one reason why I feel the need to get this off my teacher-ly chest. They’re in no particular order of hatred.

1. Aroma. Agh! The word ‘aroma’ makes me want to pull my own eyes out. I don’t care if it’s the aroma…

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A Curtal Sonnet by Marianne Jones

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple

With a red hat-Jenny Jones

Passion grows stronger in the old

There is no November of the heart,

no leafless trees, no loveless cold

This is the country of the bold

the scarlet-hatted, pressing ‘Start’,

as leaves in Fall flare red and gold.

This is the time of clearer sight,

of pruning out, remaking charts

not on a shrinking scale but grand;

when roses, running, waves and light

brighten against the borderland.

A newly favourite poem by a poet I have only just discovered, thanks to Mslexia. Hating the idea of any stereotyping, whether by age, sex, race or any other category, I love her celebration of age. We grannies are not fat blobs with saggy thighs we are people who are still living their lives to the full, in whatever way we choose.533257_354654481282249_1155705509_n My mum is a role model of how to live an interesting and varied life well into your ninety fourth year.

Nil Desperandum!

Musings from a lady I greatly admire.

Jan Edwards

I went to a party on Sunday and had a great time. Having ME and Fibromyalgia does mean that such things always take their toll but I love going out to meet friends. Nothing like a party to feel alive!
This illness has been hanging around me like a spectre for the best part of ten years, and a few years ago it had got to a point where it was hard (if not impossible) to leave the house without the aid of sticks.

I had a long chat after the event on Sunday with an old friend who remembers me struggling all those years ago.  He asked how I had managed to bring about a cure, and the truth is I haven’t. I did have a long chat some time ago with another mutual friend –  someone else suffering similar problems – who made me see that nil desperandum is…

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