Monday 26 April 2010

Event of the week so far

Discovery of a new playground not so far from the sea.  It has a toddlers' patch, fenced in, but 3-y-o H wasn't going to waste time there.  After a half-hearted go on the mini slide and small swings, we headed for the big field where amongst other delights (trampoline, swings, massive tube slides) we found a rope slide. Great fun.  We're going again.

Saturday 17 April 2010

Marsh Marigolds in Season

Not to be outdone by Postcards from Sussex, here are our Easst Yorshire marsh marigolds.

The garden is very warm and peaceful today. Even out here where we’re out of range of main roads, railways and airports, the lack of planes in the sky has made a difference. The sky is a lovely smooth blue – no vapour trails, and none of that background drone of planes high above. And certainly none of the racket of military aircraft either screaming over at chimney pot height or practising acrobatics so high up that only the outline of the aircraft is visible.

This morning unexpectedly we had two planes over. We all rushed out to look. The first was a tiny thing with propellers flying low and presumably in no danger from volcanic dust. The other was a jet that left a single white trail across the sky. As far as we could see its engines didn’t cough to a standstill and we hope it made it safely to wherever it was going.

Postcards from Sussex link

Monday 12 April 2010

First York Festival of Writing

Run by the Writers’ Workshop. Always a gamble doing something like this but from the attendance and enthusiasm it looks like it paid off. I hope that means they run it every year. Apparently there was a worry that top agents / publishers wouldn’t come up from London, but they did. Tight control of time and slick organisation of the one-2-ones was much appreciated, and can’t have been an easy task.

I was only there on the Sunday so saw a fraction of what was on offer. The festival website will be the place to go to get comprehensive coverage.

If I had to pass on one thing from my day at the Festival, it would be to look out for an incredible first book coming out in July (sadly posthumously) – West End Girls by Barbara Tate.

Saturday 10 April 2010

East Yorkshire Spring

These winter pansies were dumped on by 4 inches of snow as soon as they flowered a few weeks ago. Just look at them now. Amazing.

The rest of the place is awash with daffodils. I like this time of year.

Saturday 3 April 2010

Which way to the maps section?

Was the first question I was asked at my book signing today. The second was about where they kept the newspapers. The answer to that one is in the shop across the road, because Beverley WH Smith is one of just half a dozen in the country where they have a dedicated book shop. It was an experiment some years ago, that was successful enough to keep the shops going but not apparently successful enough to open more.

Despite this inauspicious start, most of the people I talked to today were interested in me and my book. One chap was very taken by the cover image. It shows scaffolding against a stormy sky from a low angle so it isn’t possible to see what is on the platform. He wasn’t so much interested in the tiny trickle of blood seeping between the wooden planks, but had queries on the tensile strength of the safety mesh, noting it to be an unusual kind. We talked all around the building trade and the conservation of old buildings. Another couple questioned me closely on exactly where in Holderness the book was set. As luck would have it, Annie travels several times through the particular village they were interested in.

One woman arrived to see me because she’d seen the book advertised and thought I might be a relative. Her nephew is a keen genealogist and indeed we might be related. There was no way to know or even guess what the relationship might be, but I was glad to meet her.

Being sandwiched between Gervais Phinn and Joe Longthorn and trying to peddle a book that was more expensive than theirs did nothing to boost sales and I didn’t sell out of books at this event, but I guess they can’t all be sell-outs, and I sold more than I expected to.

Friday 2 April 2010

Off to the flying ducks

One of the most vibrant writers’ groups in the north of England is how I remember the Flying Ducks (RNA-North), but I haven’t been to the meetings since they changed to Thursdays some years ago. However, yesterday I made it to their monthly lunch and talk in a pub near Harrogate.

Great to find the meeting packed, to make contact with old friends and to find out what everyone has been up to, and to find it as vibrant a group as ever.

The meeting was run by author, Linda Acaster who had apparently taken everyone to task last time for their lack of online presence. Several people had created blogs or beefed up their websites as a result of Linda’s severe words. One of these was Liz Gill who has not only started a blog, but arrived with a camera, took photos of everyone and promised to display them on her blog.

The meeting touched on the current state of the publishing business from various author angles – who is buying, who isn’t, who is trimming budgets (everyone) and how they’re doing it; publicity and who is doing what; Irish PLR and how to reconcile the receipt of an 8 Euro cheque and the 10 Euro bank charges required to cash it (answer: join ALCS); what do libraries buy and how do they decide; and we had a saga title poll run by Bill Spence (Jessica Blair) that proved conclusively that we know what we’re talking about.

I couldn’t begin to mention everything that was covered, but will just highlight a couple of things – Shirley Heaton’s Relative Strangers, is going a storm, and Evelyn Orange’s excursion into e-books and print-on-demand led to a very well-thumbed example book by the time it had been all round the table.

I took a couple of photos of my own after the meeting had finished and a few of us were having tea before heading for home. A long journey but well worth it.