How to spend a Bank Holiday Weekend: Selling and sorting

BB, H for H, TLY
Late summer bank holiday isn’t known for its predictably splendid weather, but we HULF Pop-Up LitFest people were hoping.
HULF Indie Authors arriving and preparing the marquee
HULF Indie Authors arriving and preparing the marquee

Here’s some of us at the Hawkesbury Village Horticultural Show showground, preparing our marquee, and hoping that our location – next to the Pimms Tent and opposite the Local History Society stand, will attract customers!

Saturday’s weather was fine, bright and warm …

There were lots of stalls and attractions …

and floats from the carnival procession (this one won 2nd Prize in the competition)

We’d thought we’d do some readings from our work to attract the customers … but look at the opposition!

the oppositionjpg

The marquee was also opposite the biggest, loudest, screamy-est fun fair ride!

We abandoned the readings idea (next year we’ll find a quieter spot maybe with the Teas)

But, we made some videos of readings, and we sold books!

What drives sales?
ALLi authors and their partners, selling briskly at 4.30pm ...
ALLi authors and their partners, selling briskly at 4.30pm …
  • Good covers,
  • a blurb that hooks the reader in …
  • enthusiasm from the salesperson (in this case, we were all there as authors selling our own books) …
  • belonging to a supportive community (we were all members of ALLi, re-meeting after the LitFest for World Book Night back in April, at the Fox, and re-meeting each other – authors Ali Bacon, JohnLynch, Ellie Stevenson… and more I’d not met before… ).
  • Glasses of Pimms from the Tent, and later cups of tea – all brought round by Debbie who’d organised our appearance at the Hawkesbury Show …
  • wanting to succeed …
  • and keeping on until the end … in the last hour, we all made more sales than through the previous three and half.

Find out more about Hodge Publishing at – where you can buy our books, Baby, Baby and The Labyrinth Year 

‘… just finished The Labyrinth Year and want to tell you I thought it was a super read.  Baby, Baby was good but the sequel is even better!’  (review extract)

Monday, typically, it rained

Back home, Monday was dark, damp, and drear. But the plan was already in place!  It was time to do some attic clearing …

Files of course notes, assorted mugs, roller skates, random clutter, and possibly that thing you've always been wondering where it went ...
Files of course notes, assorted mugs, roller skates, random clutter, and possibly that thing you’ve always been wondering where it went …

There’s always something which has gone past the sell-by date of memory lane stuff … 

Despite the rain, and the effort, a welcome day of family involvement and catch-up, plenty of stuff taken to the Dump, and plenty more for the charity shops …

A Bank Hol of Boots and Books ...
A Bank Hol of Boots and Books ...

A good late-summer weekend!

And now, back to the desk and the Mullins family, and what does ‘love’ mean?

Writer’s retreat – 2

Writer’s retreat: creativity and ‘procrastination’?

Still I have not begun to plan the 3rd novel in any detail … the merging or not of the Mullins family saga, and an unfinished piece from 2002 may work … but then again, it may not. Procrastination would be putting off the decision: this is plain waiting on what the decision might be.

The importance of spending time doing something else, somewhere else

wedding cake
The Wedding Cake

Meanwhile, we have been travelling. Back and forward in time. There was the family celebration, and a journey to the North East. Family wedding is a place for meetings, re-connections, informations and speculations. 

  • We met second cousins we’d never met before …
  • We reconnected with those we’ve kind kept up with … how much had we all changed?Underneath, are we the same?
  • We gathered and exchanged and updated information: where do you live, what do you  do… what will you do…?
  • We speculated: who looks like whom?  Do we all match? What is the genetics here: the relatives who all go back to Charles Henry Wheeler and Maria Sakilariou, who married in 1873 at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of St Sophia in London through their son Alexander … and the name (Alexander) is still passing along down, from my grandfather to my father, to my cousin (the bridegroom), and my son Alexander Ben …

It was a grey day, the day before the Summer Solstice. In honour the occasion, the sun appeared almost last-minute, late afternoon, and everyone relaxed.

All very appealing to the fiction writer, this exchange of news over time, and possible futures, and how lives pan out … and where they meet and where they come from (Charles Henry from Hampshire, son of a harness and saddle maker, Maria from Tinos, Greece, lady’s maid to Euphrosyne Cassavetti, of Constantinople and Kensington).

  • We enjoyed, we celebrated, we ate and we went our ways … Family Saga reality show carefully recorded for future viewing … We took a day exploring the area, and the countryside and a walk in the late evening sun.

    soltice evening walk
    Summer Solstice Evening Walk near Durham

Sharing time with friends

And then, back home, there was a meditative walk with friends, (‘the family you choose’ – is that a quote?) 

  • There was our Franciscan friend, who lead the walk. And the friends who turned up: all of them the least expected: one back from California, one a busy Mum almost straight from the surgery to the meadow, and two who’d read about our group and come along to find out more.
  • We walked and read and thought about St Francis’s Song of Creation, and the sun and the moon were both there, white clouds floated in a wide high evening sky, joggers ran past and couples pushed babies in buggies … we stood on dry ground where in very wet seasons a lake forms and migrant widgeon over-winter in hundreds. And there was a poor stiff stoat lying prone on the allotment, symbolising how all creation eventually returns to the earth.
  • And we sang Francis’s Song.
  • I took no pictures, which is unusual for me, and was a deliberate kind of discipline.

The light bulb moment

For some reason, today the idea, the link, the merging, slipped itself into my brain. You could do it this way, with those characters …holiday reading

Meanwhile, hoping to read widely while on holiday … more wild and woolly creepy crawlies to blog about later! (Be prepared for caterpillars, and snails …)

The Tale of a Sofa: one saw tat, the other saw trophy

When Granny moved into her sheltered flat, the three-piece suite was too large for her sitting room. She passed it to her daughter and ordered a smaller version, custom-made. The custom-made sofa, very good quality, was covered in a discreet, pale rose and grey, abstract patterned brocade, had 2 cushions and covers for the ends of the arms, to keep them clean.sofa - 1

When Granny went into a Home, she took the arm chair, and passed the sofa to her son’s family, who kept it in the family room where the teenagers and their friends hung out. It stayed clean. But around the back, unknown until it was too late, the cats had used the nice, good-quality brocade-covered back to sharpen their claws.

Time passed, the teens and their friends grew older and moved out. The sofa moved up to the attic, where the lodger used it to lie on and watch TV. He kept it clean, and didn’t mind about the cats’ claw marks: after all, it was a comfy sofa.

The sun smiled in through his window, and the brocade became a little faded. The sofa was a tad large for the room, what with the double-sized bed, the big modern desk, the cupboard and the upright chair. Perhaps Freecycle could re-locate the sofa somewhere better? Maybe the lodger would prefer a nice new Ikea ‘Poang’ armchair, covered in Glose Leather? With a footstool to match?

Poang Armchair & Footstool in situ
Poang Armchair & Footstool in situ

Offer: two-seater sofa: sound condition, great for upholstery project!

Woman One called by: an arty-looking type. She looked at the house owner, and she shrugged. ‘I’m sorry, I can’t take your sofa. You see, It’s rather grubby, isn’t it? And I can’t cover it straight away…’

Grubby? Faded, yes. Cat-scratched, yes. But by no means dirty!  (Granny would’ve been insulted and given that woman a piece of her mind …)

Woman Two called by next day. ‘Hum: it’s not a sofa-bed. I’d wanted a sofa-bed…but … ‘ She lifted the cushions, and spied the maker’s name. She smiled happily. ‘Oh, it’s Wesley-Barrell! I don’t mind about the cat-scratches, I’m going to re-cover it. Not straight away, but I don’t mind. It won’t show. It’s round the back. And I can plump up the cushions: I’ll see if Wesley-Barrell will re-upholster them!’

sofa Woman Two, delighted with the free, good-quality W-B sofa, loaded it into the back of her car, and drove away into the sunset. Granny  would’ve been delighted: she always loved to find a good-quality bargain.