Archive | Book Launch

Magpies took off a Month ago

So my book, my new novel, my fourth book, Dear Magpies, has been out for a month. It was published as a paperback by SilverWood Books on 18th November – and, it seems, people are reading it. Amazing!  I’ve been running around Dorset having book launches, doing some signings in bookshops and other places, and giving a few talks too.  It is humbling and, I have to admit, very gratifying that people are buying it – and reading it. And I’m getting back some very positive comments about the book.  Not many yet – but then it has been for sale only for a month, and I never expect those who buy it to read it immediately.  Like me, readers often have a pile of books and work their way through.  There can be nothing more annoying than buying a book, and then being asked by an impatient author to give an opinion about it, well before there has been a chance to open it!  So I never ask and I wait for people to volunteer their feedback or tell me what they think of it in their own time.  Though of course I’m dying to know!  The book is in stock in some bookshops and available to order from any booksellers, and from the publisher SilverWood, and also of course from Amazon. It costs £9.99, but there is an e-book too for £3.99.  Here is a copy of the front and back cover of my book:

 

The cover has been much admired but it has puzzled a few people.  To explain:  Josie, a woman who has been searching for her grandchildren for over 10 years, is writing letters to them, which she cannot post or email, as a way to try and connect with them. She used to call them her ‘magpies’.  This nickname arose because, when they were small children, their father had given them some black and white towels which they used at bath-time, and the boy had scampered about in his towel, flapping his arms.  When Josie writes to them, she begins her letters with Dear Magpies.  The cover, brilliantly designed by my publishers, shows the heads of the teenage boy and girl in silhouette, because Josie does not really know them after such a long estrangement and is in the dark about what they are like. The magpies flying upwards are a visual image of their nickname, but they are also soaring up into the ‘pale blue yonder’ which underlines her dilemma, which is that she has no idea where they are in the world. She aches to see them again, and misses them enormously.  The quest for her magpies has truly stolen her peace of mind. But I’m not going to give any hint about what happens – you must read the book to find out.

Book Launch in Sherborne

Two weeks tomorrow, on Thursday 21st November at 6.30pm for 7pm, I am having a Book Launch for my new book Dear Magpies, at Winstones Books in Cheap Street, Sherborne, DT9 3PX.  I will be giving a talk about my book, answering questions and signing books.  Refreshments will be provided and anyone interested in coming along will be welcome.

I am delighted to be having this launch at Winstones, which is a fabulously light and well laid out independent bookshop based in the beautiful historic town of Sherborne, Dorset.  Winstone’s has won the British Book Awards South West Bookseller of the Year four times and was winner of the Independent Bookseller of the Year nationwide award in 2016.

Dear Magpies is my fourth book and the first one in which the main character lives in Dorset. It tells the story of Josie Cuff who has been trying for ten years to trace her young grandchildren, the only members of her family still alive, who have disappeared on the other side of the world. She now lives in a small rented cottage in England after a turbulent life in South America. She writes her grandchildren lively letters which may never be sent, telling them about her past and about the eccentric inhabitants of the Dorset village where she is seeking to make a new life and new friends. Threatened by a sinister intruder who invades her home and privacy, Josie fights to cling on to hope.

Come along to Winstones on 21st and find out more. You might even like to buy the book! (£9.99)

Dear Magpies

Creating a book and getting it out into the world is a little like having a baby – though it usually takes far longer. It grows more erratically and more slowly and its birth involves many people of different skills.  But both baby and book are hugely fulfilling.

The idea for my new book, Dear Magpies, to be published on 18th November 2019, had been floating around in my head for months before I started the research for it. As a lifelong writer of letters, I had always wanted to write an epistolary novel – one that is written as a series of letters or diary entries. This book, about a woman searching for her long lost grandchildren, lent itself to the form and so I worked out my plot and worked on my characters. The writing the first draft took over a year, after which I planned to re-read, reflect and then start on the edit.

However, I got a time-consuming job and work on the book came to a halt whilst I got to grips with a very different working life, one that took all my energy and commitment. I didn’t revise or revisit my draft manuscript for eighteen months – which was not ideal, but at least I could see more clearly what needed to be changed. Then began the PEP stage – pruning, editing and polishing.  What a marathon! I took advice from a few people who had read my manuscript and I must have done at least seven edits.

Then followed the publishing which took many more months. My publishers, SilverWood Books, so helpful, efficient and sensitive, have been responsible for getting my book into print.  And so, about five years after the initial idea, last week the first copy arrived at my home and into my hands. My ‘baby’ had arrived – it was a good moment.

Dear Magpies

I love the front cover, designed by my publishers, with the silhouette heads of the teenage grandchildren, Tom and Lottie, who flew off into the pale blue yonder and, like magpies, stole the peace of mind of their grandmother, Josie, who writes them letters she cannot send.

The big question – “Will it please the reader?”- has yet to be answered and I will have to wait until after publication to know. It pleased me to write it, though at times the progress was painful. Now my child has reached maturity and is about to leave home and make its own way in the world. I wish it well.

 

One for Sorrow, Two for Joy

Magpies are magnificent. Distinctive by their black and white plumage, they are intelligent and inquisitive – and more superstitions surround magpies than any other wild bird. The most common one is that it is unlucky to see a lone magpie but two magpies can bring joy or mirth. Some people when they see a single magpie say: ‘Good morning Mr Magpie and how is your lady wife today?’ By addressing him in this respectful way and referring to his wife, you are implying there are two magpies which bring good luck and joy rather than sorrow, according to the nursery rhyme:

“One for sorrow, two for joy,

Three for a girl, four for a boy,

Five for silver, six for gold,

Seven for a secret never to be told,

Eight for a wish, nine for a kiss,

Ten for a bird you must not miss”.

These large and noisy birds belong to the Corvidae or crow family and do not migrate in winter. Once mature they mate for life and the female lays its eggs in April. They are powerful, resourceful birds and exist all over the world. Their name is derived from the French word ‘pie’ which means black-and-white or pied. They are indeed birds that you cannot miss seeing.

Folklore has it that magpies are kleptomaniacs and steal shiny things, resulting in their reputation for trickery and deception. However, there is no evidence that anyone has ever found anything silver or shiny in a magpie’s nest. This might be because their nests tend to be high up in tall trees!  It is clear from the well-known rhyme that magpies can represent both good and bad omens and opposites.

For these reasons I chose this emblematic bird to feature in the story and the title of my new book: Dear Magpies which is a novel about a woman who is searching for her lost grandchildren, to whom she writes imaginary letters about her dramatic past and her present life. She addresses them as ‘magpies’ – an endearing nickname she once used when they were babies – when she writes to the two children whom she has not seen for ten years but who are now in their teens. Her current situation is sad and solitary but not without hope for happiness.

Dear Magpies is to be published in paperback by SilverWood Books on 18th November 2019.

Prodigals with Tea and Cake

My third book has been published this summer by Onwards and Upwards – a novel called The Lost Journey Homeward. It is a contemporary take on the parable of the Prodigal Son, though in my book the prodigal is a daughter, Kate, who strays off the rails and falls into bad company overseas. The son, David, is a stay-at-home workaholic who runs a debt-ridden hotel. They try to get things back on track as they look for love but find disaster. Their father, Theo, is a renowned sculptor who tries to help his wayward children. My story interweaves the relationships between the family members, people they encounter and the ones they love.

I have a Book Launch on Thursday 10th September at 4pm in Salisbury at the Sarum College Bookshop in the Cathedral Close. I shall be giving a short talk with a reading from my book and there will be free tea and cake. Not for free but good value is the paperback which sells for £9.99 and the author – that’s me – will be there to sign your copy! Everyone is welcome. Do come – and bring a friend.

Book Signing Satisfaction

 

Authors must help their publishers to market their own books these days. We tend to target local booksellers to hold book launches, talks and signings in our own areas, where we know people and can spread the word or words (literally) to our contacts and friends.  It’s quite easy to sell to friends, who are generally supportive and buy.  But selling to strangers is the most satisfying – they are buying the book not because they know you but because they like the look of the cover, or they are intrigued by the story outline. Perhaps they’ve read a review or heard about the book, or they’ve just met you, chatted with you and decided to buy it. What a compliment!  How satisfying.

IMG_9615 Milton Abbas

 

 

 

Book Launch in the Garden

My new book ‘The Lost Journey Homeward’ has been well and truly launched – on Sunday 14th June. I decided to do this At Home –  in my own garden in Dorset.  My last two books had their launch parties in London – the first was held on  a houseboat in the Thames and the second took place in an auction gallery at Bonhams in Knightsbridge. This time my husband, Michael, organised the whole thing: drinks from a bar that was a genuine Edwardian handcart, delicious canapés, staff to serve, fine weather, children running around, balloons, ice cream and – most important of all – many friends from South West.  All I had to do was provide the books, get someone to sell them – and then sign them.  Friends usually buy my books; the harder job is to get strangers to buy them – in bookshops and online.  But on my third book launch, we were all outside, the sun shone and it was fun!

Publication Day

frontcover

Strange to think, now my new book is for sale, that soon people might be reading ‘The Lost Journey Homeward’, turning the pages and assessing whether they like the story and what they think about my friends, the characters.  It’s a long journey writing a book – this one has consumed over three years of my life – but during the ‘work in progress’ stage, there is a intimate, private relationship between me, the author, and my characters and their secret lives within my plot. When a publisher and an editor become involved, as they did seven months ago, some of that privacy and secrecy is peeled away but there’s still enough of a protective shell left between us  – me and my story – and the rest of the world to feel safe and comfortable.  Today, now that we, author and book, are not only in printed form but also published as a eBook, that final layer is cast off, like a discarded husk, and we are exposed, quivering oyster-like with raw apprehension, vulnerable to criticism and open to attack.  It’s daunting.  Painful.  And exciting!

My Novel as an E-Book – Free!

Just published: my novel “To the End of the Day” about a troubled friendship (published in hardback in summer 2011) is now available as an eBook in a Kindle Edition from Amazon. Price £4.50/$6.99. Here is the link:- http://goo.gl/wGPR4A But you can download it for FREE during the 5-day launch promotion next week. This free download is available from Thursday 3rd September until Monday 9th September. So if you haven’t already read it, do enjoy my book in its eBook form. Summer holiday over, I’m now back at work … writing.

U Kresu Dnia

My novel “To the End of the Day” has recently appeared in Poland with the title: “U Kresu Dnia.” It was translated by Teresa Komlosz and published in paperback by Proszynski Media in Warsaw with a price tag of Cena 29,90 zl. I hope it sells well! It’s available on Amazon (if you read Polish) for £9.90 I like the front cover illustration which depicts a couple sitting on a river bank beneath a tree with the sun gleaming through the branches. However, I was a bit puzzled as to why their designer chose this as I cannot recall such a scene in my book!