Archive | Book Signings

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)

Sign Books – Send out Words

The wind is blowing today and swirling the leaves around, autumnal messages from the trees to the earth below, red songs, yellow secrets, laments in purple and whispers in brown.  Millions of millions of leaves, each one entirely unique, soon to die and rot.  And there are millions and millions of words, uttered and written, though many unspoken and unread.  Humbling!  Autumn does that to you.

I have had a number of book signings and given some talks this summer, following the publication of my book, ‘The Lost Journey Homeward’, in June.  It’s good to meet readers and sweet to the soul when they buy your book and take it away to read.  Occasionally I get feedback, which is so useful, but usually I hear nothing from those who buy and read my book. I often wonder if my words, my story and my message about the human heart really do ever make a difference and impel someone to think about life and vital aspects of it such as forgiveness and hope and love.Eve in Winstones

I am reminded of Shelley’s magnificent Ode to the West Wind, which I studied at school and university.   I do so love Shelley’s poems and in particular the final stanza of this one.  Many years have passed since I was first blown away by this poem and learned it by heart. Having become a writer, I now understand much better the urgency he expresses towards the end of this ode – his passionate desire that his verse and his thoughts be disseminated throughout the world.  His poetry is now known to hundreds of thousands of people. My prose, my words – probably only by a few hundred. But that does not mean I don’t have a message.

There is hope of a better world, and, as I believe, of eternity with the author of love.  As the trees head into the hibernation of winter, we can be sure of spring with buds, leaves and foliage. As the world appears to be going ‘Downward to darkness on extended wings’ (from ‘Sunday Morning’ by Wallace Stevens), I shall trust that the headlong rush into war and misery by the greedy, the cruel and the misguided will be slowed down and one day reversed by the patient, long-suffering and quiet majority of those living on this beautiful earth.  I shall try to be at peace with winter as I wait.

Eve below tree


From the final stanza from Ode to the West Wind by Shelley

“Make me thy lyre, even as the forest is:
What if my leaves are falling like its own!
The tumult of thy mighty harmonies
Will take from both a deep, autumnal tone,
Sweet though in sadness.    …………….
Drive my dead thoughts over the universe
Like withered leaves to quicken a new birth!
And, by the incantation of this verse,
Scatter, as from an unextinguished hearth
Ashes and sparks, my words among mankind!
……………………………………..        O Wind,
If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?”

Independent Bookshops are great!

All bookshops are marvellous places but a good independent bookshop is really worth supporting. I’m lucky enough to have a book signing next weekend on Saturday 19th September at Winstone’s Book Shop in Cheap Street, Sherborne in Dorset. Winstone’s is a treasure-house.  It’s a light and well laid out independent bookshop based in the beautiful historic town of Sherborne. Wayne and his team are passionate about books and reading – and the shop is stuffed to the gills with books, stocking over 9,000 titles.

Sherborne Flyer 19.9.15


I’ll be there from 1 pm onwards signing copies of my latest novel: “The Lost Journey Homeward“, so, if you are in the vicinity, do come along. There’s a great little coffee shop too.  I hope you can make it.

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




Sunday Tea and Talk

My next Event coming up is on Sunday 2nd August at 4pm  – Tea and Talk at Beatons Tearooms in Blandford Forum, Dorset.  Here is further information: Blandford Tea & Talk Flyer.


FLASH FICTION:  If you want to read my micro-fiction – stories in under 500 words – these are now to be found on the Flash Fiction page of my website.  Just select a photograph icon and the story flashes up!

Paintings and Books

I love painting watercolours as well as writing fiction, and I’ve done both for some years.  I belong to the Milton Abbas Art Group and every summer we hold a group exhibition when, along with the other members,  I exhibit a number of paintings.  This year the opening day of our 10 day Exhibition co-incided with the famous Milton Abbas Street Fair – on Saturday 25th July.  The sunny warm day brought out crowds of people, and many visitors walked through the exhibition.  I was ‘on duty’ during the afternoon and also held a book signing for my new novel: THE LOST JOURNEY HOMEWARD which was on sale along with all the paintings. I donated 25% of my book sales to the Art Group – and I sold quite a few.  I also sold one of my paintings but not my favourite – which is entitled ‘Charlie Hebdo’ – here is a photograph.  I think people found it a bit too edgy!Book tower portrait

Juggling Books and Music – on Stilts!

IMG_9434The Dorset Midsummer Music and Food Festival on Saturday 20th June at Warren Farm on Bulbarrow Hill was so enjoyable!  During the day, at the bookstall, I was selling and signing copies of my new book THE LOST JOURNEY HOMEWARD and listening to the music on the stage below us.  Children were amused by Jamie Jigsaw, an entertainer and juggler, and here he is with my book whilst I hold his juggling batons. I wonder if I need to grow a bit taller for a better impact? Or wear brighter colours?  I’ve always wanted to walk on stilts!  Later that evening we were all dancing on the hillside under the stars to the vibrant sound of ‘Lionstar.’



Christmas Cracker

On Wednesday, 3rd December, I will be in Dorchester in Dorset at Waterstones ‘Christmas Cracker’ evening shopping event 6 – 9pm, with other local authors at a signing and book promotion. Next week I’ll be at a book promotional event with local authors at Huckleberry’s Bookshop in Salisbury Street at Blandford Forum in Dorset, during their special Christmas late-night shopping evening in the town.