Monday 9 October
No news or any progress on the housing situation and there isn’t anything I can do at the moment to push things forward. I’m working on general promotion and on getting the new books ready, but it feels very surreal when I do not know where I will end up.
I had a rather disappointing chat with someone I expected to be more sympathetic to my current predicament but some flowers along the road cheered me up. That and what was surely the last summery day of the year.
Saturday 7 & Sunday 8 October
I would have liked to report roaring trade on Saturday’s market. However, it was not to be, I had several very interesting conversations with discerning readers, but not enough books were sold.
In these uncertain circumstances I thought it better to take the books back with me, normally they stay in the market storage space in Stroud. They are now in temporary storage in the church club room because there is no space for them in my single bedroom.
I will not be without a bed on Monday, because my lovely friend who provides the spare bedroom won’t throw me out because it would mean I would end up sleeping on a bench somewhere in Malmesbury.
However, I will have to move soon and by thinking wildly out of the box I’m exploring several ways forward. I will keep you posted.
The pictures are selfies taken at Stroud railway, hopefully not for the last time, and sorry I forgot to remove my reading glasses, and of my bags, regular with laptop on the right, stall books on the left, and a lady on her way what must be a party. I don’t need a party. I just want to publish and sell books.
Friday 6 October
It’s nice to be on the market but the point of it is to sell books and that was not happening.
Things are not going my way. The housing people also informed me that even if I were out on the street, I wouldn’t qualify for emergency accommodation as I’m not disabled, pregnant, have small children, mentally ill etc. And maybe because I have the ‘wrong’ nationality although I have indefinite leave to remain.
I must think well out of the box and drastic changes may be afoot. The rollercoaster story continues…
Thursday 5 October
Everything hangs in the balance. I’m working hard to get a good outcome, but some factors are out of my control. I live in hope.
Wednesday 4 October
There is movement on one of the council studio flats. I’m being interviewed for an assessment by phone tomorrow. Let’s hope it works out this time, there is precious little time left before the 9th.
An order came in on the website, always very welcome, and thank you Holland Park Press supporter.
I’m involved with the Luncheon Club here in Malmesbury and today was my turn to help up serving 36 meals to elderly people in the Tow Hall.
A beautiful memoir has come my way and I would love to publish. I wish I had the money to add this to our list.
Tuesday 3 October
The day that nothing happened.
I didn’t hear anything from the two properties I’m apparently shortlisted for. The housing caseworker didn’t call my friend in whose spare bedroom I currently live, even though she promised to do so.
I was busy on social media but I no orders came in through any of the channels.
The shortlist of the TS Eliot Prize was announced but our two submissions: Over the Edge by Norbert Hirschhorn and The Glass Roof Falls as Rain by Gary Day were not on it. What do you have to do to attract the attention of the judges apart from sending in two splendid poetry collections?
Now that there is a slight hope that my personal books will come back out of storage, I’m missing them even more. But will this happen?
Monday 2 October
My caseworker from Homes4Wiltshire called today and gave helpful advice but I’m not considered very high priority for emergency accommodation. However, two places are assessing me as a tenant, though both are nowhere near Malmesbury.
I’m afraid that sorting the housing situation will take most of my time for the moment.
Saturday 30 September & Sunday 1 October
After securing a lift with Debbie and arriving safely at the market, I expected it to be a good day. What could go wrong? The weather was fine and it was the end of the month so people had been paid.
However, it turned out to be a disaster, the worst Saturday on record. Why? I wish I knew.
The only redeeming factor was the lady next to me selling home-baked cakes and cookies, which were selling like hotcakes, gave me her last remaining cake, a ginger one.
I took the ginger cake to our coffee after mass on Sunday and it was gone in no time.
Should I switch careers to selling home-baked products? I don’t think so, I love books far more than cakes, I never cook and especially baking is totally beyond me.
Friday 29 September
The bus connection worked well today, and sales were above average for a Friday.
No further news on the housing situation but I expect to hear more on Monday when I will be making some phone calls.
I was also busy trying to secure a lift to Stroud for tomorrow because there is yet another rail strike. Good friend Debbie came to the rescue, even though she had a very stressful week at work. Thanks Debbie!
Thursday 28 September
Someone donated the money, many thanks!, for the outstanding bill from my laptop guru, so I can pay him and ask him to check why my laptop keeps falling over.
Several people provided useful suggestion on how to find a new place to live, and the Homes4Wiltshire people are also on the case, so hopefully I find something before 9 October.
I’m very glad to be able to escape to the market tomorrow, to meet readers and actively sell books. If you are in our near Stroud please come along to the Shambles Market.
Wednesday 27 September
A bit of good news the book, Magnetic Field by Simon Armitage, I had ordered for Arnold’s birthday arrived and dog Harry approved of it too.
Arnold is going to be extremely busy teaching three weekly short story courses for the next eight weeks, but misses running the company with me here in England.
I found out I have a case worker by the name of Shasha to help me with my housing situation. I didn’t manage to speak to her but left a message that I have to leave my current abode by 9 October.
Meanwhile work on books, new and old, continues. I only wish more people would buy books and support our #SavedByOneBook campaign.
Tuesday 26 September
Mayday – Mayday – not a good day.
I have to leave my current place, a friend’s spare bedroom, on 9 October and there is no other accommodation on the horizon. Hopefully Homes4Wiltshire can help but I’ve no idea where I will end up.
My laptop is showing strange behaviour. The browser collapses several times a day and sometimes Windows dies. I think there is a memory problem but I still haven’t paid the person who fixed my battery so I can’t consult him.
It’s all getting a bit much but, for the moment, I’m battling on.
Monday 25 September
Busy but frustrated with lack of progress. Hopefully things will look up tomorrow.
They always do for dog Harry. He keeps finding bits and pieces, mostly things to eat but also a pair of pincers and an umbrella.
Saturday 23 & Sunday 24 September
Saturday had one of my beloved symmetric dates 2/9/23 but sales didn’t live up to it. Public transport worked like clockwork, and I was on the market bright and early.
There was plenty of interest but hesitation on making a purchase. However, books were sold, and I have my laptop to keep track of developments elsewhere. If only there was lots of activity elsewhere.
24 September is my brother’s birthday, and I wish I could have been there to celebrate with him. Actually, a friend of my brother offered to pay my ticket, but our money situation is so tight we had to decline his offer for now. We have trouble enough finding the money to pay the monthly storage fee.
If only my housing situation could be resolved, I could get my stuff, including all my books, out of storage and not have to pay for it. But finding a place to live is proving very difficult.
Let’s hope that the new week brings fresh opportunities.
Thursday 21 & Friday 22 September
21 September means it’s autumn and it’s official. It doesn’t agree with me, I’m very much a spring person.
I had to carry a very heavy bag to the market with much needed new stock for the bookstall. I wish I could afford to print and take more.
People are still hanging on to their money. It used to be the case that when people picked up a book you were 90% there to getting a sale but now I so often hear the excuse, ‘I’m not buying today’ or ‘I have too many books already’.
Can you really have too many books? I don’t think so, apart from giving enjoyable reading hours they are also the most beautiful wall decoration.
Well, I’m struggling on, but readers, investors and philanthropes out there, spare a thought and a few pennies for a small publisher with a wonderful, exciting and growing list of books. #SavedByOneBook
Wednesday 20 September
Quite a bit activity on the website. Two orders came in for print books and two for ebooks. That’s good but we need more to keep going.
Incidentally, several The Yellow House ebooks went out over the last couple of days. It seems that a group of readers or book club have decided to read this wonderful novel told from Vincent van Gogh’s point of view.
If you want to know what van Gogh was thinking when painting some of his masterpieces such as The Sunflowers, read The Yellow House.
‘Jeroen Blokhuis has written in such an engaging and open manner, that you can’t help but feel as if you are there beside van Gogh.’
The book is also available in its original Dutch with the title Place Lamartine.
Another distinctive feature of this novel is that it was the first professional full length literary translation by Asja Novak. It’s one of the other things we do: provide opportunities to translators who are just starting out.
If only there was some well-known person to champion us, but they seem to be thin on the ground these days.
Tuesday 18 September
I’m feeling very tired, and I think all the upheavals of the past two years are catching up with me. There is plenty to do but keeping the company on the road seems such an uphill struggle.
The thought of our exciting list of new books keeps me going, but I need more money to do them justice. The gloomy weather doesn’t help.
Out of the blue, someone offered me the use of her flat in London for a couple of weeks in 2024 to look after her cat while she is away. I would like to say yes, because it would come in very handy when promoting our new books. But will I still be up and running in 2024?
If only I could see my brother this Sunday on his birthday. We’re in dire need of a face-to-face brainstorming session.
Sunday 17 & Monday 18 September
I woke up on Sunday very stiff and painful. London is such a big place that you end up walking much more than you realise and I was carrying a heavy bag for most of the time.
From 1989 to 2016, I lived in London and really enjoyed it. Now, when I’m back in London, I’m still struck by its vibrancy, but I notice the enormous amount of people and lack of fresh air much more.
Things do happen in the countryside too, especially when you are running a literary publisher. The financial situation is getting more precarious by the minute and I’m rapidly running out of options. There must be a philanthropist about with some interest in literature.
I leave you with the view at the back of Shambles market.
Friday 15 & Saturday 16 September
The books did arrive at a quarter to eleven. I then had to carry two shoulder bags and a box with 50 copies of Over the Edge to the bus stop. Luckily a schoolgirl asked me if I needed any help and carried the box for a good part of the way. I didn’t ask your name, but you were an essential help.
I managed to get to Paddington station and with the help of a taxi (£20 for 2 miles) I managed to get in time to the October Gallery to catch up with Norbert Hirschhorn, his wife Cynthia and their friend and fellow poet physician Fouad.
We went for a late lunch or early supper, shopped for wine and nibbles and were ready to welcome the first poetry lovers. It was very busy, and we had to put out more chairs to accommodate all the guest.
Norbert gave a wonderful reading. He is a lovely interpreter of his own poems and Fouad M Fouad recited one of the poems in the collection in Arabic.
The audience even asked for an encore, and I asked Norbert to read the last poem in the collection, Letter to My Parents, which you can read on our website. It brought a tear to many eyes.
We had a lovely party, and many books were sold. Several of our authors, new and old joined us.
One of my authors Jeremy Worman, kindly invited me to stay with him and his wife Nicola. It was a lovely balmy evening and on our way home London showed itself at its bustling best.
The next day I had a good and productive meeting with Michael Foley about his exciting new novel Schrödinger in Dublin.
Then it was homewards back to Malmesbury, satisfied, but somewhat exhausted and with painful feet. But I gladly do it all again tomorrow. Nothing is too much for our books and authors, so please tell all your friends to buy a copy.
Two pictures I took.
Two much better pictures taken by Hilaire, together with Joolz, author of London Undercurrents.
Friday 15 September
Now waiting for the copies of Over the Edge to appear. According to UPS they are out for delivery. The story continues…
Wednesday 13 & Thursday 14 September
I have been very busy with several unexpected issues. The last of which is the books for the launch not arriving on the 14th as arranged. I’m on the case and I will keep you posted.
Tuesday 12 September
I spent some time reminding people of the launch party for Over the Edge. Author Norbert Hirschhorn and his wife Cynthia have travelled all the way from Minneapolis, USA, to London to be there and hopefully they will meet a lot of friends, poets, authors and readers.
I’m looking forward to it and please join us on Friday 15th at 7pm in the October Gallery, Bloomsbury.
Gary Day asked me to do some fine tuning for his poetry collection The Glass Roof Falls as Rain. It’s a joy to work on his wonderful collection. You can pre-order it now.
My friend, whose spare bedroom I currently occupy, wrote a great letter in support of my housing application and I contacted the organisation dealing with the studio flat in Malmesbury I’m very keen on. Hopefully this will all help to, finally, find a place of my own.
11 September 2023
People remember this day, 9/11, as the day if the terror attacks but it was also the day in 2001 when my mother moved out of our family house into a brand new flat in an old listed building.
That day my brother and I hired a van a made more than ten round trips to the recycle centre to get rid of everything that we wanted to throw out. It was an overcast day and even our old family home looked sad and angry.
When we arrived at my mother’s new place it was to news reports of the collapsing towers. That evening, because we hadn’t made that much progress with the unpacking, we decided to have a bite the eat in the nearby hotel. We were the only guests in the large dining room.
Today was also a day of gifts. On my way to the post office, I spotted Norman on his doorstep. He’s elderly and a bit lonely and often watches people going by. He stopped me to ask if I could take his paper subscription money to the off-licence. He does this quite regularly and it’s no big deal because the off-licence is on my way. He gave me five pounds with the words: ‘Go buy yourself some chocolate or ice cream.’ I don’t think he realises how much of a treat it is for me to receive these five pounds.
Another unexpected gift came my way through Father Thomas. It’s a relic of St Bernadette and consist of a tiny piece of her habit. It was very thoughtful of our parish priest to bring this all the way from Rome. He found in the archives of his convent and decided to help himself to two relics for the two Bernadette’s in his parish.
Sat 9 & Sun 10 September
After two rail-strike Saturdays in a row, I was looking forward to a smooth journey to the market. It was not to be because a fire between Reading and Didcot quite literally blocked the track. As a result, my train was delayed by 90 minutes. I finally made it to the market just after 10.30 after I set out for the bus stop at 7am.
My brother had no problem reaching his bookstall. He could see it from his back door. However, his day was cut short because one of the almshouse dwellers had a nasty accident. Eighty-four-year-old Cees fell on the first floor of his house and couldn’t move. They had to call in the fire brigade to remove a window so that they could carry him on a stretcher to the ambulance.
However, books, in Dutch and English, were sold and it was an eventful day for all of us.
One of the places on the Homes4Wiltshire website was one I applied for before here in Malmesbury. I failed the affordability criteria so on Sunday I worked on a strategy to solve this affordability issue. I’m not at all certain I will be lucky this time, but I live in hope.
Friday 8 September
Back at the market, where my colleague Kirsty, who designs cards, told me that the lady who bought A Sense of Tiptoe last week told her to tell me that this is a wonderful collection which she had to buy.
That’s what I like to hear, especially as I wasn’t there to recommend this poetry collection to her.
Have you checked out this poetry collection about wide-ranging aspects of faith by Karen Hayes?
‘I hope that the book finds many readers. Among perhaps a growing amount of ‘spiritual’ writing I enjoyed Karen’s work for its realistic qualities, a ‘grit in the oyster’ genuineness, and an avoidance of the fey and the sentimental that sometimes disfigures ‘Christian’ writing. There’s some interesting rhyme, and dry wit; she’s a worthy successor to Charles Causley.’ – Martyn Halsall, poet and journalist
Even though it was a hot day, the old church hall which houses the market was remarkable cool and, as usual, it was lovely to chat to customers.
I have put in bids for three, small, Wiltshire council flats and live in hope.
I’m totally hopeless at remembering faces. For example, today I discovered that one of the regulars on my bus from Cirencester to Malmesbury is a former near neighbour!
Thursday 7 September
I do like the lovely hot weather we are having at the moment. It can be too cold but never too hot. I think that people in general are happier when the sun is out.
But work goes on every day though nothing of exceptional interest happened today. Tranquillity before the next upheaval? Anyway, it is still too quiet on the sales front, and that’s where I want to see the fireworks.
My hair looks awful just now because I had no money left to get it cut. However, I’ve booked the hairdressers (luckily, it’s much cheaper in Malmesbury compared to London) for next week. No doubt the weather will turn much cooler in response.
Wednesday 6 September
My brother Arnold, who is so essential for running the company, is selling our Dutch books this Saturday from 10am until 7pm in De Armen de Poth in Amersfoort. They have an open day as part of a country wide special buildings day. The two central buildings of the set of almshouses De Armen de Poth are late medieval. So, if you are in the neighbourhood, do go and visit.
I received the pro-forma invoice and paid for the copies of Over the Edge and, with the help of the printers accounts director and author Norbert, we are all set for the launch on the 15th.
Work on an exciting new project is progressing very nicely and I hope to be able to announce it soon.
The layout for the next new book, The Glass Roof Falls as Rain, a poetry collection by Gary Day, is ready for the printers. I’m now scraping together enough funds to be able to commission a cover.
A substantial order arrived on the website but the proceeds of this are already earmarked for an outstanding bill. I continue to believe that I will be #SavedByOneBook.
Tuesday 5 September
The accounts director was back in the office today and sorted the issue at the printers. I’ve been told a pro-forma is on its way so that I can pay for the copies needed at the launch party for Over the Edge.
You are all very welcome to join us on 15 September at 7pm in the October Gallery in London.
Haven’t heard anything about my two bids for a place to live, so I assume I’ve been unsuccessful this time, but I will continue to bid and the Homes 4 Wiltshire people have widened the type of properties on my list.
One of my wonderful colleagues at the Shambles market actually recorded the books that were sold in my absence. That’s been a great help, thanks very much Kirsty for recording and Ron for reporting.
October Galley photo by Jonathan Greet
Monday 4 September
My usual contact at the printers was not in the office today, and finding out how to get another pro-forma so that I can order essential books will have to wait until tomorrow.
Otherwise, a busy day in the office drumming up more customers for our books. I hope that now schools have started again, people will start buying books again because sales during the holiday months have been very flat.
I don’t understand how people can live without at least one book on the go. One of the agonies of living on such a strict budget as I do, is that I can’t afford to buy books that have just come out. I have to make do with many-hand original Penguins, I can get for next to nothing from Ron at the market to get my reading fix. I know, I know, that’s probably the predicament of some of my potential customers.
But our books are not expensive and guaranteed excellent reads. I just need to shout about it louder and get more people to shout with me: #SavedByOneBook!
Today, the only living beings that flocked to me were the local cows, they are adorable, but do not read books.
Fri 1, Sat 2 & Sun 3 September
Sorry, a bit of a slow start in September for the diary but at least the meteorological start of the autumn didn’t show up in the weather.
I wore tights for the first time to the market on Friday because the weather had been cold and miserable, but the day turned out quite well and, for once, I didn’t feel the cold running my bookstall.
Saturday was even better weather wise but not travel wise, because the rail strike meant I couldn’t get to Stroud in time, and you can’t appeal for a last-minute lift on the town website two weeks in a row.
The books however were on display, and some must have marketed themselves because four books were sold. That was an unexpected bonus but also a shame because had I been able to be there, is would have been a very good day. Now I will have to wait until Friday to find out which books were sold.
I thought I had cleared the end of the month more or less safely until late on Friday I got a disturbing message from the printers. I won’t find out on Monday how much of a disaster this is.
To cheer me there was the very friendly and happy carnival parade on Saturday evening and on Sunday I sat in the sun and caught up with some reading.
I leave you with the scouts, good causes money collector, bat car and civil war reenactors who took part in the parade.
Thursday 31 August
Using smoke and mirrors and by making painful decisions, I might have survived another month end, but it doesn’t improve my skin or arthritis.
A substantial order came in very timely, and it very much appreciated.
I was also cheered up by working on a potential new publishing project which is looking very exciting.
If only I didn’t miss my brother that much at times like this. You can discuss things via WhatsApp but it is not the same as in person, and its quite impossible to hug dog Harry.
Battling to survive and being on markets, I very much appreciate other people working under unpredictable circumstances such as the fun fair people who have descended upon Malmesbury for a couple of days. One family have a most amazing extendable mobile home parked on a suitable picturesque spot.
Tuesday 29 & Wednesday 30 August
The end of the month is looming, and this is nowadays a scary business. It’s no longer, can I pay all the bills, but which are the most essential, and can I pay at least those ones.
I’ve been so busy generating interest in our books. I don’t divide our books in front and back list because it doesn’t really matter when a book was published. I’ve heard many excuses about why people don’t want to buy a book but never was the fact that it has been published more then 10 years ago an objection. It shouldn’t be because all our books have the potential to become classics, that just one of the reasons why I have chosen to publish them.
However, despite all my efforts, sales are lagging, and this is causing a huge cash flow problem. Yet, I continue, because I think it is important to publish literary fiction and poetry especially by mature authors. I did set out to publish literature but the fact that most of our authors are older is because they sent in the better manuscripts.
I’ve been looking, alone and with help of others, for someone to invest what is by most standards a modest sum of money in Holland Park Press. So far, I’ve not been successful, but I know that this person is out there, but hasn’t come across us yet.
Let’s hope I find this person or organisation, because I’ve never had such a promising to be published list and so little money to make this happen.
Here are the books available to pre-order now, and other exciting projects are on the horizon.
Monday 29 August
The last day of summer bank holiday. I’ve said it before, I don’t particularly like bank holidays. I have no money to celebrate them and, because there is always something to do, I end up working anyway.
It used to be different when I lived in London. I always lived near the Notting Hill carnival and, for eight years, I lived on the route of the carnival parade. It was very lively and I enjoyed is from the safety of my living room but, at the end of two days, I had enough of steel bands, and I had seen every human function being acted out in our tiny front garden.
Nowadays, without any money, life is far more mundane. My admittedly always wonky plastic coat rack stand decided to collapse and is beyond repair. So, I spent some time rearranging my clothes in a pile on the bedroom floor.
Malmesbury is in the middle of its August Carnival weeks, but they are a much more sedate affair compared to their Notting Hill cousin. Besides, the income from the one here in Malmesbury is used to support good causes in and around town.
On my walk I came across this well organised pop concert by, let’s say, mature rockers in the Abbey gardens.
Fri 25, Sat 26 & Sun 27 August
On Friday, because of the rail strike, I was not only busy on the market but also trying to arrange a lift for Saturday morning. On Saturday mornings, the bus connection doesn’t work, and I need to travel by train.
Late on Friday, I thought I had secured a lift and would be picked up at 9 in front of the Town Hall. I was there at the appointed hour, but no one turned up. An emergency! So, I phoned brother Arnold.
‘Get onto Our Malmesbury, the town’s community website, and post a message that I’m stuck at the Town Hall.’ It doesn’t matter on social media that Arnold lives in Amersfoort, the Netherlands, or actually, it might even have helped.
The message specified that I was wearing a long green skirt and hat, this led to comments from passersby: ‘Ah, you are the lady waiting for a lift’ and ‘Sorry I don’t drive’. Malmesbury really is a wonderful village.
However, at the last minute, a lovely couple did offer a lift and did turn up. We had a lovely drive to Stroud, the countryside is lovely, I do recommend it, and an interesting chat.
It turned out the couple was into country western events. They always dressed up for these events, she as a Southern Belle and he as a cowboy, sheriff, or other relevant character.
They both would take along several outfits and she ordered her dresses from the USA as they ‘know how to make them’. They tried ordering dresses from China, they looked fine but after cleaning them once, they were faded.
A very big tank you to this lovely couple because I arrived in time on the market for a vey busy day. Even the sudden downpours didn’t prevent well over 1200 people coming through the doors and healthy sales, especially of poetry.
On Sunday I noticed with a shock that the leaves have started to turn. Surely, it’s too early for that, but here is the evidence.
Thursday 25 August
Today I had to go to my three-monthly meeting with my ‘work coach’. I’m not qualifying for universal credit at the moment, not until I manage to get a tenancy agreement, but that is another story, and I am in work, though I do not pay myself a salary. So, what I should discuss with a work coach is not entirely clear to me.
But it’s part of the procedures, even though in about six months’ time, I get thrown out and graduate to being a properly elderly person. Not that I feel like it, I don’t think you have to be elderly nowadays. My 84-year-old friend, in whose spare bedroom I live, is an excellent example.
My work coach tried to be helpful, also about the housing situation, but I think what I really need is a bit of luck.
On my way back to the bus stop I came across a pop-up garden located in the main shopping street in Chippenham. Nice idea and the fist one I have come across. However, I prefer the views from the tiny silver jubilee gardens in Malmesbury.
Wednesday 23 August
Another of my beloved symmetric dates 23/8/23, not that it does me any good, but it amuses me.
Also, another day trying to sort out and hopefully improve my financial situation. This, definitely, doesn’t amuse me but is essential not only to continue the company but also to have a least a bit of a life.
Take my shoes. I have several pairs but most no longer fit and besides they are in storage and every time we go there, I’m unable to locate them. So, I walk every day on the same pair of shoes, and they are now on their last legs.
I’ve been trying to locate another pair I can afford, but no luck so far. As with everything, I will keep trying to find a solution. Finding a new home and be able to bring everything out of storage would be a solution but that still seems a long way off.
Tuesday 22 August
I did some final checks on the advertisement for Poetry Wales so that I could send it off. It features two of our poetry collections with a Welsh connection: The House Along the Wall – A Pembrokeshire Poetry Cycle & The Past Is a Dangerous Driver. It will appear in the Winter issue.
Inviting people to the launch party for Norbert Hirschhorn’s Over the Edge is in progress. You are very welcome to join us in the October Gallery, London from 7 to 9pm on the 15th of September.
I’ve booked my train ticket to London, assuming that I’m still living in Malmesbury by that time. We will see, it’s all a bit up in the air.
Monday 21 August
After the excitement of three markets in a row, back to more mundane experience of the office. It’s important but made more difficult without having the use of my trusted desk.
It also emphasises the worries about money. Why? Because every aspect about working on publishing and promoting books costs money upfront. Money that I do not have enough of. The money brought in over the weekend won’t last long.
I simply must be more inventive and efficient. Luckily, I have Arnold, my brother, to bounce ideas off. Thanks to WhatsApp we have at least one good chat a day. However, it’s not quite the same as sharing a house and having impromptu meetings when walking the dogs.
I sometimes feel too many obstacles are being thrown in my way. It surprisingly doesn’t show in this picture taken over the weekend, but at that moment I was doing the thing I love most: selling books.
Saturday 19 & Sunday 20 August
A tale of two markets.
Saturday didn’t start off very well. Upon arriving at Swindon station, I found out my train was cancelled due to a shortage of train crew. This meant an extra hour at the station, not great if you hurried to catch the 7.20am bus.
Luckily, I could put my laptop on the internet and add a diary entry.
After I finally arrived at the market, it turned out to be a very busy day, over 1200 people. There were lots of poetry lovers about because I had good sales and only sold poetry.
Packing up was an interesting exercise as I had to decide which books I should take with me to annual Petticoat Lane market in Malmesbury the next day.
On Sunday morning my friend gave most of my books a lift in the car, so after the 8.30 mass, I only had to persuade one of the church goers to carry the folding table I borrowed to my pitch.
The town’s mayor formally opened the market and the day went swimmingly, with music, many stalls including foot stalls, fun fair attractions for children and Morris dancing.
I sold quite a few books, and this time not only poetry but also short stories and novels, even though I could only display a limited selection. Many people came along for a chat and one gentleman came to tell me how much he had enjoyed reading He Runs the Moon which he had purchased a couple of weeks ago at Shambles market.
The weather was lovely until half an hour before closing time the heavens opened. Luckily, I had a plastic tablecloth I could spread over the books, and I took shelter in our ancient market cross. I wonder how many people have taken shelter on this spot over the centuries.
Shortly afterwards the sun came out again and I could pack up my slightly damp books. However, as I made my last sale when the books were under cover, the day ended on an extra happy note.
Thursday 17 & Friday 18 August
Running a publishing company from a temporary home, not knowing where your next home will be, is not for the faint-hearted, but luckily, I don’t aim to lead a conventional life.
I enjoy being busy with publishing and promoting my books and would love to be even busier, but I’m aware that most hard-working people take a holiday during this time of the year.
I still haven’t heard from the bid for small flat I placed last week (I was second in the queue) but I have put in another bid this week and live in hope.
Friday started with torrential rain which did ease off by the time I had to walk to the bus stop. The very bad weather forecasted didn’t quite materialise but even so we had a below average number of visitors on the market.
This was to be expected but what did surprise me was the quality of our visitors. Quite a few showed an interest in books, which resulted in an above average Friday.
On the first leg of my journey back our driver suddenly drove into parking bay and announced that he needed to check out a disturbing sound. I must admit I hadn’t noticed anything amiss. He disappeared to look at the engine and found out it was boiling.
Not that surprising as the busses used by this company are cast offs from another regional company (you can spot its name painted over if you look carefully). However, they serve unprofitable routes yet provide a very reliable, invaluable service.
So, it transpired today, within twenty minutes a replacement bus appeared which meant I was in time to catch the bus for the second leg of my journey. I salute a brave and resourceful small company.
Wednesday 16 August
I made a start with inviting people to the launch party for Over the Edge by Norbert Hirschhorn on Friday 15 September in the October Gallery London. You’re all very welcome!
The memoir, or as we like to call it, the autobiographical novel, is a very interesting phenomenon. So far, we have published three: Travels with My Father by Karen Jennings, Schurft, in Dutch, by Arnold Jansen op de Haar and most recently The Way to Hornsey Rise by Jeremy Worman.
We call it an autobiographical novel because the book is about the author’s own life but it is the author’s selective take on reality and it is meant to read like a novel. Hence, if you find yourself in such a novel, and I am a character in Schurft, look at yourself with fictional eyes, it’s not the complete you, but a character playing a role to the overall narrative.
All three novels received excellent reviews and another one for The Way To Hornsey Rise came in today.
I was intrigued by it being an ‘autobiographical novel’. It’s a compelling genre: vivid, grounded in reality – but more interesting (to me) than a straight-forward autobiography. Rare indeed to have a Surrey home and a squat in Hornsey Rise brought to life so authentically. But it’s the author’s relationship with his mother that really moved me: its complexity, the occasional joys and frequent sorrows, the author’s generosity of spirit in the final phase of his mother’s life. I found the book hard to put down.
Tuesday 15 August
Today it is the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Roman Catholics are supposed to go to mass on this day and I did. Not only because Mary has always been a source of strength but also because I could do with a bit of divine intervention.
Slow sales, I hope just because we’re in the holiday period, means the cash flow is very bumpy. We got over the hurdle today, but it won’t be long until the next one and only with enough sales we can clean that one.
The day ended on a happy note, as my brother send me his new poem. It’s great that he started writing poetry again. Rather sad event inspired Arnold to write the poem but it’s a lovely poem, evocative, very moving and keeps us going.
Monday 14 August
I managed to secure a pitch for the Malmesbury market on Sunday. I will use it to try to sell as many copies of Hold Still and Where Is My Mask of an Honest Man? as possible. These are the only two titles for which I have a substantial stock right now.
I don’t think I want to attempt to drag my current market stall stuff back and forth between Stroud and Malmesbury, certainly not on public transport.
On my way to get some essential food, I came across mushrooms I hadn’t spotted before, even though I walk along this lovely path almost every day.
Actually, I love to eat mushrooms especially raw in salads and fried with lost of spices. However, in the wild, they also announce the start of autumn and I’m not at all ready for that. Time is sprinting ahead fast enough as it is.
Saturday 12 & Sunday 13 August
I put in a bid for another property on the Homes4Wiltshire website and I’m on position 2. So, let’s hope it works out this time. Even though it is quite some distance away and I hope I can still get to the Stroud market.
It’s not only that you meet plenty of interesting people visiting the market and it was very busy on Saturday, well over 1100 people. But it’s also interesting chatting to fellow stallholders. They are a wonderful bunch and one of them often brings me a delicious piece of a home baked fruit loaf bread.
The bus & train journey worked perfectly, and it was also a very good day sales wise. What more can you ask?
It’s all touch and go, but with just a small upturn in sales, I will be able to continue publishing and selling more books.
We have such an exciting pipeline: The Glass Roof Falls as Rain, poetry by Gary Day, The King’s Art, the second novel in Michael Dean’s trilogy The Stuarts: Love, Art and War and Schrödinger in Dublin a novel by Michael Foley.
All books can be pre-ordered and ordered from our website. Support literature, #SavedByOneBook.
Friday 11 August
Travelling with a bag and box full of books by two busses was quite an experience. I’m not very steady on my poor painful feet but I managed not to fall over.
It was great to have a full stall again and I was rewarded with a busy sunny day. Most of the holidaymakers couldn’t be persuaded to part with money but at least they were interested.
I also made a new sign for the stall consisting of the text we print about the company at the back of our books. It’s really our mission statement and it was a suggestion from a customer.
While waiting for the bus I was amused to spot another cartoon, this time on Cross Hayes, the ‘main square’, in Malmesbury.
Thursday 10 August
Today much needed new stock for the bookstall arrived. I was given a delivery date of 15 August, so I was very pleasantly surprised that the books arrived in time for the market tomorrow.
It’s also very lovely that the weather finally has improved. Summer is back and my skin heartily approves. It’s amazing to see the healing effect of just a short while in the full sunshine. If only I lived in a country with lots of sunshine.
Tomorrow in addition to my usual bag with laptop, etc. this small brown box will travel with me as well.
Wednesday 9 August
On top of all my financial worries, I’m getting quite depressed with my housing situation.
It was very good of my friend to put me up in her tiny spare bedroom, in which my bed doubles up as a desk, but she needs it back. I understand and I want to move on but I’m dependent on finding council house accommodation.
If only I knew from the start all the pitfalls I would encounter on the way. I’m slowly getting to grips with the system, which certainly tries to be helpful, but is very nebulous at the same time.
Apparently, I can get higher priority claiming a medical condition. Well, I have psoriatic arthritis, self-diagnosed because it’s pretty obvious. My granny had the same condition, so I recognise the symptoms.
However, why should I take up doctor’s time with a condition that cannot be cured? I’m against medication unless it’s lifesaving. Why? Because all medication has side effects. I know that from an earlier life in drug design. Anyway, my granny managed lived to see her 95th birthday with the condition.
But I could write a book about working the council house system. Now, that would sell like hot cakes. But that’s no good, I want our remarkable books, they all add something unique to literature, to be a success. That’s what keeps me going.
Tuesday 8 August
Norbert Hirschhorn preferred the horizontal draft of the ad I’m doing for Over the Edge, so I can proceed and produce the proper version. I’m also doing another round of emailing bookshops about Norbert’s new poetry collection.
A large chunk of the day was taken up by trying to improve my financial situation. Essential but not my favourite task. I prefer to spend my time on our books.
I was cheered up by a sighting of Nijntje in the wild. You don’t know her as Nijntje but Miffy. Apparently, Dutch author Dick Bruna’s famous creation has a different name outside the Netherlands because Nijntje is difficult to pronounce. Not for Dutch children, nijntje is short for konijntje or bunny.
Many children’s first reading material is one of Dick Bruna’s books. So too for my brother. I remember vividly telling him to finish reading one of the series, his first book reading attempt, because being able to read is essential. So, it proofed as he became an author.
Tuesday 7 August
I finally got a pro-forma invoice from the printers so I can pay for extra copies I so desperately need for the bookstall.
Finally, I had to approve the return of 42 copies of Hold Still. The Royal Academy took quite a large number of books when their Joanna Hiffernan exhibition was on, but they didn’t all get sold.
According to the established publishing practice, unsold books can be returned. This leads to a lot of toing and froing of books without much benefit to anyone in my opinion.
I’m now thinking of taking a table at the Petticoat Lane market here in Malmesbury to try and sell as many copies of Hold Still as I can. It’s a very good read. If you want to find out why the woman in the notorious painting L’Origine du Monde, on display in The Louvre, is headless, get a copy of the book.
Besides Sir Colin Callender, CEO of Playground Entertained, has taken out an option on the film and TV rights.
Hopefully they accept a late application, and I can find the money to make it to the Petticoat Lane market.
The Homes 4 Wiltshire people have been helpful and given me access to more properties on their list. It’s the homes for 60+ category, but I don’t mind, after all I qualify.
My friend, in whose spare bedroom I’m staying, is going to contact Homes 4 Wiltshire again, to see if she can help push things into the right direction.
She and I are in total agreement that I have to move on, but rules have been applied so strictly that I have now twice failed to qualify for a tenancy agreement after having found a very suitable place to live. We continue to live in hope.
Saturday 5 & Sunday 6 August
On Saturday I was in competition with a lot of elements. The weather for starters: continuous rain doesn’t bring in the punters. People’s attention was also courted by a beer festival, a steam punk picnic and a nearby British eventing event.
Literature didn’t stand a chance of winning this competition, though I wish it could because it is potentially more exotic and eventful than any of these events.
At least the appearance of the steam punkers gave us something to look at and added to the surreal atmosphere increasingly surrounding the bookstall. How much longer will I be able to continue? I will do my best but I’m fighting on a lot of fronts.
The surreal feeling continued on Sunday when I spotted another of the cartoon figures on the high street.
Friday 4 August
The market is in holiday mode: lots of young families came along. Unfortunately for me, they are the group of people that has the least time to read. Though I’ve had some success persuading a young father or mother to buy a short story collection.
I was not so successful today. Our short story collections are wonderful but rise of interest rates and living costs also tends to hit young families.
I found the author of our first short story collection Top of the Sixties, David Ayres, through one of our competitions. He was the runner-up in the short story competition and asked if I was interested in reading his interlinked short stories about growing up in the 1960s. I was and I never looked back.
Where Is My Mask of an Honest Man? is a look at life in and around Notting Hill, written in Laura Del-Rivo’s inimitable style.
Away from the Dead highlights aspects of everyday life in South Africa and is written by 2021 Booker Prize longlisted author Karen Jennings.
He Runs the Moon are gripping stories about life in big American cities by Wendy Brandmark.
If you like stories with an unexpected twist, read Vicky Grut’s Live Show, Drink Included, a debut, which was shortlisted for the Edge Hill Short Story Prize.
I’m now looking forward to finding my next excellent short story collection among the manuscript that are submitted every day.
As always to can support this aspect of our publishing programme by telling all your friends to buy one of our books: #SavedByOneBook
Thursday 3 August
As part of the Malmesbury Carnival this month they are running the scarecrow trail again. This year they are asking people who take part to up a cartoon character up in their garden.
Why do people like cartoons? I’ve always hated them, even as a small child. I like things based on reality. In cartoons people can die, be flattened by cars and instantly spring to life again. The intention is all wrong, is what my mother would say.
There is only one exception to my dislike of cartoons and comic strip books and that are the Olivier B Bommel en Tom Poes stories by the great late Marten Toonder. This Dutch author lived for most of his life in Ireland but his books added many new words and expressions to the Dutch language.
Besides the original drawings were all in black and white and half the page was taken up by words and their intention was spot on. I have several of Marten Toonder’s books, sadly all in storage.
Even though I hate any Disney-like figures, I will be amused the home-made cartoonish figures I will encounter this on my walks around Malmesbury this month.
I am sad, however, that I probably cannot make the annual Petticoat Lane Market on 20 August this year because of costs and lack of book stock. I cannot see myself dragging the suitcase full of books on the bus from Stroud back home (the books stay stored in the Shambles storage in Stroud).
My day was unexpectedly rounded off nicely by a pre-order of 6 copies of Gary Day’s The Glass Roof Falls as Rain.
Wednesday 2 August
It’s all very quiet but it’s the school holidays and the weather has collapsed.
I would love to go on holiday, something simple: with the tent on a campsite on the south coast of England. But the camping stuff is in storage, and I have no money.
The nearest to a mini break I may experience is that Arnold finds the money to join us for the launch of Norbert Hirschhorn’s Over the Edge. Not at all certain but I live in hope.
Put this in your diary: launch party, 7-9pm Friday 15 September in the October Gallery, 24 Old Gloucester St, London WC1N 3AL. You are all invited.
Work on the new books is progressing. I did some more checks on the layout for The King’s Art, Michael Dean’s second novel in his trilogy about The Stuarts. It’s looking very good.
To keep us going we need to sell more books, however people seem to have forgotten that they need to respond to our #SavedByOneBook campaign.
Tuesday 1 August
If my father was still alive, he would have turned 97 today. However, he died in 1998 at the relatively young age of 71. He therefore wasn’t there in person when I became a director of Justis Publishing in 2001 and when I founded Holland Park Press in 2009.
He would have been so proud and helpful. He was a businessman through and through, but he does help me. Those close to you who have died do stay with you in a spiritual way.
People often asked me: ‘Which book is your favourite?’ I can’t answer that, the books I’ve published are all favourites otherwise I wouldn’t have published them. Each book has their own special story and reason to be published.
I work very hard to give them all the success of 100 Dutch-Language Poems which, published in 2015, is still our bestselling title. Here’s a picture Jules Deelder, author of Transeuropa, at the launch of 100 Dutch-Language Poems.
Sunday 30 & Monday 31 July
Sunday was an admin day with worries about the lack of sales and end of month bills.
Monday brought bad news on the housing front. I didn’t get the tiny studio flat in Malmesbury. The fact that it had an ‘extra’ cost for heating and I’m still paying off my personal credit card debts meant I couldn’t afford it.
I spend a large part of the afternoon on the phone, trying to get advice on the best way forward from the various organisations. I did make a bit of progress.
July 2023 is the worst month as far as sales are concerned since March 2021, and that’s not good. I do think it is part of a general slow down but that doesn’t really help me.
If only my brother and dog Harry were here to cheer me up.
Friday 28 & Saturday 29 July
Friday was its usual quiet self, but I did have lots of interest and stimulating chats.
On Saturday it was really busy, well over 1100 people came in, and they were in a buying mood. I even did a buy 5 pay for 4 books deal. It’s been quite a while since the last one. We can probably call it the ‘payday effect’.
I do get a buzz from having a good sales day, it quenches the thirst of the bank account, and it makes the hours fly by.
Now, I have another problem, finding the cash to replenish the book stock. However, that is a nice problem to have.
Norbert Hirschhorn was delighted with his author’s copies of Over the Edge which managed to travel to the USA in just under a week, which is not too bad.
This is what he emailed me: ‘Over the Edge’ is a gorgeous-looking book, wonderfully designed and produced.
Well, I think it is Norbert’s best collection so far, and I hope it sells lots of copies.
Thursday 27 July
It is and remains very quiet and no news whatsoever from the council house people. So, I assume I’ve been unsuccessful again because I fall between two stools and can’t afford a small council studio.
However, the WOMAD festival has started and Malmesbury is full of cheerful people. I wish I had the money to go to the festival because all the people coming and going are looking so happy.
It was busy enough to create a proper traffic jam going into Charlton Park and we never ever have traffic jams in Malmesbury. I was particularly pleased to see the ‘SLOW PEDESTRIANS IN ROAD’ sign. I walk along this road almost every day and finally my presence is acknowledged.
One of the things I learned over the past precarious times is to savour every joyful occasion that comes along, however small.
Wednesday 26 July
The Way to Hornsey Rise is building up a very impressive list of fine reviews. Here are two quotes from the latest additions:
‘I admired the writing mainly for its simplicity in conveying complex emotions.
What comes across most strongly for me is the enduring impact on an only child raised by a mother with mental health problems and alcoholism.’ – Diana Swingler
‘It captures really well the range of worlds and times, from his family background with its particular class location, the prep school and private school experiences, and the world of 70s squats. The exploration of his complex relationship with his mother is very powerful and moving.’ – Tony Martin
Have you ordered your copy of this autobiographical novel by Jeremy Worman?
Tuesday 25 July
I’m working on two ads at the moment, both paid for by donations, thanks very much!
But the ads still need to be designed and I had a bit of a breakthrough with the placing of pictures and the saving of ads in InDesign. It now looks as if I can really design ads myself which saves the designer’s fee.
I got confirmation from the administrator of the TS Eliot prize that he had received the hard copies in time of the deadline of 27 July. Always a bit of a long shot but I’m keeping my fingers crossed again. Not the poetry isn’t of the highest standard but will the first round of checkers have the ability to spot the quality, that’s the question.
The Glass Roof Falls as Rain can’t be sent to the printers just yet, because it is still lacking a cover. I can deal with designing a simple advertisement, but a book cover is far beyond me. I need the expertise of Andrew Cox and his team to produce another of our excellent covers. They attract much attention on the market when they are all displayed together.
Monday 24 July
Today, I came across a field with giant mushrooms. What? Is it autumn already? No, it just feels like it.
Actually, they looked spectacular, but they are probably poisonous so of little use.
What I need is giant sales figures, or a gigantic investor. Now, that would be useful. Because our books deserve it, they are giants, all of them. They get excellent reviews which are listed on the website.
People often come and tell me how much they enjoyed reading one of our books when I run the bookstall. If only I could clone myself and run bookstalls up and down the country. That would make a difference.
Saturday 22 & Sunday 23 July
The gloominess continues: few sales, stormy rainy weather and it does not look very hopeful for the studio apartment in Malmesbury.
On Saturday I did however manage to sell a poetry & a short story collection and a novel. Over the Edge now has its own display of quotes.
On Sunday, the very first pre-order for The King’s Art came in. This is Michael Dean’s second novel in his trilogy about The Stuarts.
You can read an excerpt which ends like this:
The tumult was growing louder.
Henrietta spoke. ‘Charles, the children. They are all here. Charles, they will kill our children. For God’s sake. Sign!’
Aching in every limb and joint, Charles hauled himself toward the document that would end Strafford’s life. He took up a quill then broke it. Broken! A broken reed. A broken man. A broken life.
‘Sign it!’ Henrietta shrieked. ‘In the name of the Blessed Virgin. They are in the building. I can hear them. Sign.’
Friday 21 July
It’s a month already since the longest day and the weather is gloomy as well. So are sales, what’s happening? Not even the first appearance on the stall of Norbert Hirschhorn’s Over the Edge in poetry-loving Stroud could make a difference.
Luckily, I had plenty of other things to do in Stroud. I had run out of padded envelopes and Stroud had an excellent stationer’s so I could stock up. It also meant I could post a few more review copies of Over the Edge.
The stationer’s also has a print shop and I could print out the copies of The Glass Roof Falls as Rain I need to send to the TS Eliot Prize together with copies of Over the Edge.
Gary Day’s poetry has a keen-eyed appreciation of the particular in the general, the unique in the everyday, and the power of certain chanced-upon scenes or events to epitomise a life, a town, a period, or a mood. The poems are technically adroit, formally accomplished, and often remarkable for drawing such a wealth of expressive resources from language that is strikingly simple yet eloquent. The Glass Roof Falls as Rain is a wonderful first collection!’ – Christopher Norris
Thursday 20 July
The Spanish author interested in Laura Del-Rivo’s work didn’t manage to get through to me, even though I gave him my correct number. He will try again tomorrow.
I’ve been very busy sending out review copies of Over the Edge including the copies to Norbert Hirschhorn himself all the way to the USA.
The council house people are apparently still considering my application. If only I was successful, it would make such a difference to my life.
Otherwise, it is an eerily quiet time.
Wednesday 19 July
It’s gone very quiet. Not much in the way of book sales, no sign of someone interested in investing in a literary publisher and nothing from the council house people.
However, I did receive an email from a Spanish author and DJ interested in Laura Del-Rivo’s work. I sent him a copy of Where is My Mask of an Honest Man? and I will speak to him by phone tomorrow.
Laura’s short stories, set in Notting Hill where she lived, are quite unique. She is very much an author’s author and was one of Notting Hill’s characters.
‘Her wicked turn of phrase and acid observations of people and place shows a writer at the peak of her power.’ – Richard Wood in Bukowski
Tuesday 18 July
The fist copies of Over the Edge, a new poetry collection by Norbert Hirschhorn arrived. Unexpectedly a day earlier. A lovely surprised and another few trips to the post office are coming up to despatch pre-orders and review copies.
No news about the council property today. They are still considering my application. I hope they consider well and take into account that I will be homeless if I can’t move in.
This is a quote from Jacqueline Saphra about Over the Edge:
‘A mature and searching work that takes you by the hand and walks with you through doubt, and darkness into wonder and mystery.’
Over the Edge can now be ordered from our website.
Monday 17 July
I had a good meeting with representatives of the landlord offering the small studio flat here in Malmesbury. I explained my situation: if I can’t move into this property, I will be homeless because I cannot continue to stay in my friend’s spare bedroom. I hope to hear from them soon.
In the meantime, work on book promotion and finding more funds to cover outstanding bills is very much ongoing.
Did you know that Erwin Schrödinger, he from the Schrödinger equation but don’t mention the cat, lived in Dublin during WWII? Check out the new novel, Schrödinger in Dublin by Michael Foley, we have just signed up.
And no, it doesn’t feature the cat, though Schrödinger’s cat is featured significantly in our novella Winegarden by Anthony Ferner. I leave you with a quote from this wonderfully engaging novella:
And he loved the idea of quantum entanglement because it explained what he felt for Miriam. He had a strong sense that she was, in some real way, ever-present, that he and she were somehow tied together.
Saturday 15 & Sunday 16 July
I’m getting seriously concerned about the downturn of sales on the market. It’s not that there isn’t any interest, there is plenty, but there are also a thousand excuses of why they are not buying a book today.
Yes, we had thunder and lightning and occasional short but very sharp showers. This doesn’t help but shouldn’t affect sales this much.
On Sunday it was exactly 100 years ago that Louis Couperus died, and a remembrance stone was unveiled in one of the main churches in Amsterdam.
I’m very proud to have published the English translation of the debut novel that made his name. Check out Eline Vere, a novel about a headstrong woman who struggles to get to grips with love and society, on this page.
On Monday, I will find out if there is a solution to my housing situation. It doesn’t look very good, so wish me luck.
Friday 14 July
Rain, rain and more rain. I had to get my polka dotted raincoat out to stay dry.
Surprisingly, I managed to sell a book to a lady who came along to tell me how much she enjoyed reading The Lonely Tree and was looking for another book featuring a woman in a historical setting. I recommended Hold Still which she bought.
Did you know that the film and TV rights of Hold Still, a novel about the muse and mistress of James Whistler and Gustave Courbet by Cherry Smyth, are optioned by Colin Callender, the CEO of Playground Entertainment?
Today is also the birthday of my late mother who would have turned 99. Normally, the weather is nice on her birthday which is also Bastille Day, the French national day. I remember big birthday parties in our garden when growing up.
At birthday parties we went round with plates full of treats. Sweet treats, gebakjes, elaborate individual cakes from the local patisserie, and home-made savoury ones such has asparagus rolled into ham, cheese with pineapple, melba toast with boursin, etc.
Uncles discussed the best routes to drive as new or extensions to motorways were being constructed and satnav didn’t exist. Everyone smoked and drank alcohol because at the end of the evening fresh coffee and freshy made filled rolls would be distributed as everyone had ‘to drive home’. Of course, there was much less traffic.
This year, I did get a bit of good news on my mother’s birthday. On Monday, I’m invited to view a small flat from the council’s list in Malmesbury. Now I must try to convince the landlord that I can afford to rent the property with benefits.
Thursday 13 July
I’ve added information about our new novel with the intriguing title Schrödinger in Dublin to our website.
Otherwise, it’s very quiet. Also, regarding the housing situation. I’m afraid it, it will quite a task find affordable accommodation even with benefits, but I will persevere.
I had to attend another meeting as a substitute for my friend who is on holiday. Gladly done as she really rescued me by offering me her spare bedroom. I hope it hasn’t been too hot for her in Greece.
The meeting was at our lovely St Joseph’s primary school which reminds me so much of my own primary school.
Wednesday 12 July
Since COVID many people work at least part of the time from home. I’ve been working from home since I started the company in 2009.
I must say I enjoy working from home and have no problems with being distracted by other things you can do around the house. I do very much enjoy running the publishing company and that’s a big advantage.
Until April 2022, I could at least work at my father’s beloved desk. But even now having to use my bed as a desk, my room can’t accommodate a table or a chair, I still enjoy working from home. However, it is not very good for my arthritis. At the moment, everything hurts, and I have a swollen knee and wrist.
The wrist is probably a direct result of operating my mouse under an unusual angle. That’s another reason why I love going to the market. It provides me with a table and a chair to work from. Even though I pay for it with a lengthy commute: two to three hours both ways. Well, that’s public transport. It takes only 40 minutes by car.
Let’s hope I find a decent place to live soon and money to pay the printers because I am rapidly running out of books.
Tuesday 11 July
I received the signed contract, so I can announce that we will publish Schrödinger in Dublin a novel by Michael Foley in March 2024. More details will follow soon on our website.
Unlucky again this week with the search for a better place to live. I put in a bid for two properties, but I haven’t heard anything today which means I’ve been unsuccessful.
Sales continue to be slow this month. You would think people would be stocking up on books at this time of the year to take with them on holiday.
It’s also slow with people coming back to me with responses to emails about book promotion. So, I just have to chase them and think up more ideas.
Back in the Netherlands, dog Harry has been a hero. He woke up my brother up at 1am at night by pushing his nose into his face. Then pointed toward outside by putting his paws on the windowsill in front of the open window. It was then that my brother heard an elderly neighbour crying out for help. He had come home, fallen off his bike and twisted his ankle, so alerted by Harry my brother could come to the rescue.
Monday 10 July
Got a generous offer of payment for an advertisement to drum up more support for some of our titles. Very welcome because I normally don’t have money for this kind of activity.
It will be too expensive to ask my designer to create an ad, so I will have to do it myself. I’ve looked around for some tutorials on how to design an ad in Indesign and I think I can manage it, though it will be a challenge.
My friend, in whose spare bedroom I’m currently staying is away on holiday and has asked me to take her place in two meetings this week. I will make a change from beavering away alone on my laptop all day.
Saturday 8 & Sunday 9 July
The market on Saturday was busy even though we had some showers in the morning. Lots of interesting chats, and still some reluctance to spend money but not a bad day overall.
One much heard excuse from would-be buyers for not buying a book, after having picked up several, is that their other half will give them a hard time a if they buy another book. I don’t understand, you either want to read a book or not and I would like to have a little conversation with those other halves.
A new signed contract is on its way to me, and I will be able to announce the new novel soon.
I was able to pay upfront for the first set of copies of Norbert Hirschhorn’s new poetry collection Over the Edge. So, if you have pre-ordered this title, it will be with you soon. If you would like to review Over the Edge, please contact me.
The direct debit for the credit card also came along and I’m just about still in the black. Another precarious month continues, and more book sales are essential to help it along. #SavedByOneBook
Friday 7 July
The market was its usual quiet but pleasant Friday self. There was lots of browsing but no buying. I can blame it on the hot weather and Wimbledon.
Is it just me or do more people think that watching tennis at Wimbledon, and only tennis at Wimbledon, is very calming or even therapeutic? It has something to do with the soothing colours, the voice of the umpire and the tick tock of the balls. I only catch small snatches and, since Federer retired, let the best person win.
Back to the books. I’m working on more promotional ideas and astonished but proud that I managed to publish four remarkable books in the past year with four more in the pipeline. You can buy or pre-order them from our website. #SavedByOneBook
Thursday 6 July
A few orders came through which cheered me up. I’m busy but I want more to happen. In particular, Holland Park Press would be greatly helped by an investor. Surely there must be someone out there who takes pride in rescuing a literary publisher.
It’s not that I, or other people haven’t tried to find one, but apparently publishing isn’t fashionable. So, we’ll have to change that then, haven’t we.
To clear my head and let in new ideas, I try to go for a good walk each day. However, one of my other worries are my feet. They are very painful but essential for my post office rounds and getting in food without having access to a car.
That’s probably why I spotted this wonderful eccentric vehicle in Malmesbury’s ‘long stay’ car park.
Wednesday 5 July
It’s unusually quiet. Not much in the way of orders and I haven’t heard from the printers about a pro-forma for some more copies I need to order.
How do I persuade people to read more books? What triggers people to read books? Is it the environment: school, home or friends? Or is it something your born with: the urge to read.
In my case it is part of who I am. Primary school and home encouraged it, but I didn’t need any encouragement.
I see this in children’s behaviour at my bookstall. Some are immediately interested, and I have to tell them that our books are not for children. Other children do not even notice the books.
Tellingly, some children are interested but their parents dismiss this out of hand.
Anyway, a large part of my life is to attract people’s attention to a very special set of books. The books a love and I think needed to be published. If people only knew what they were missing by not reading one of our books.
The story continues…
Tuesday 4 July
American Independence Day. Read True Freedom to find out how this came to be. Seen through the eyes of two British brothers on opposing sites: one sees no problems getting rid of an expensive colony, the other would like to see them to have seats in Westminster.
My laptop closes again! Thanks to Andy a possible explosion of my laptop has been averted. Of course, this will be followed by another bill.
Had hoped to hear from one of my housing bids, as I was number 2, however there was a deadly silence, so I assume I’ve been unlucky.
Lloyd Haft, the translator of Gerrit Kouwenaar’s Totally White Room, personally delivered a copy to the Koninklijke Bibiotheek in The Hague, the Dutch equivalent of the British Library, and received a lovely acknowledgment by email. Thanks Lloyd.
Monday 3 July
I asked the auction house to give me an estimate of the value of the antique cupboard and statue. It was rather less than I expected and won’t cover the printer’s bill. A bit of a blow, so I’m getting a second opinion.
Friend Andy will come and collect my computer tomorrow to replace the battery. That will be a relief because apparently a swollen battery is a fire hazard.
Successfully placed my first pre-paid order with the printers, so I can deal with other outstanding books to print.
I implemented a few small changes in the layout for The Glass Roof Falls as Rain requested by its author Gary Day. This new title, due in the autumn, now urgently needs a cover but where do I find the money?
There is no lack of good manuscripts and I’ve come across another marvellous novel that I would like to publish. More details soon.
The best way of keeping us going is to tell everyone to buy our books and support #SavedByOneBook.
Saturday 1 & Sunday 2 July
The first day of July was a very busy and enjoyable day on the market. I love talking about our books. They are all quite different but have a unique story to tell. You should be able to explain what a good book is about in a couple of sentences.
People visiting the bookstall often ask: ‘What is your favourite?’ I can’t answer that and I love them all.
Another often asked question is: ‘What are you looking for in a manuscript?’ My answer is: ‘It has to be well written, a good read, and add something new to what is already out there.’
Sunday was taken up with end of the month admin tasks and preparing for another challenging week.
Friday 30 June
Last day of the month so more bills have come in. Also reports from the distributors. A mixed bag but overall sales have been slow this month.
The market was its usual Friday self but the highlight for me was author Jeremy Worman and has wife Nicola who came along to take me out for a pub lunch which was lovely.
I no longer have the money to go out so going to a pub is a real treat. I love living in the country, but I do miss the opportunities to attend events and meet authors that living in London brings.
Speaking about living, I’ve put in bids on two more properties. I’m keeping my fingers crossed and I will find out on Tuesday if I was successful or not.
June was tough month and I expect to be July more of the same. But hopefully I manage to sell the statue and cupboard to give me enough cash to cover the outstanding and overdue bills and to continue publishing wonderful books.
Wednesday 28 & Thursday 29 May
The printers came back to me. I can print books if I pay upfront. Excellent news, because it helps me going forward. So, release of Over the Edge is now imminent.
‘The many human-sized poems in this collection include a haunting sequence of dreamlike and filmic recollections of growing up in New York and some rich depictions of scenes and situations – both peaceful and perilous – set in Europe and the Middle East.’ – Michael Bartholomew-Biggs
I still need to pay the outstanding bills but also some promising news from the auction house. They are interested in selling the wooden statue and the cupboard for me. Now I just need to find three or four strong men with a van to transport the 17th century cupboard to their premises in Chippenham.
No good news on the housing front, I did put in a bid for two properties but wasn’t successful.
I did receive an email from magazine editor who is interested to discuss how we can work together for mutual benefit, and I will certainly investigate this opportunity.
A few orders came in on the website after a bit of a quiet period. This really helps, orders through our website are far more profitable than those through bookshops. I really don’t mind having to go to our post office once or twice a day. It’s within walking distance.
So, please tell all your friends and acquaintances to check out our list and support #SavedbyOneBook.
An unexpected donation rounded off the day, urging me to fight on.
Tuesday 27 June
I’s amazing that after our severe round of economising in May 2022: I moving into a friend’s spare bedroom and Arnold back to the Netherlands, we actually managed to publish four magnificent books: The Past Is a Dangerous Driver, A Diamond in the Dust, The Way to Hornsey Rise and Totally White Room.
Now we’re on the verge of publishing Over the Edge. Two more books: The Glass Roof Falls as Rain and The King’s Art are ready for the printers if only they had a cover. And therein lies the problem. Money has run out and what’s more the printers demand payment of their outstanding bills.
Hence, I’m putting three pieces of furniture up for auction. I did hear from the auction house. They thought the pieces didn’t fit in with what their selling and referred me to another auction house which I have contacted.
Not good news on the swollen laptop front. My friend can fix it by putting in a new battery, but it will cost me £98.45. But a working laptop is essential. Apparently, a swollen battery can catch fire.
Just before I went to sleep, one of the neighbours decided to put on a small firework display. I was a cheerful end to a troublesome day.
Monday 26 June
Andy, a friend and computer expert, is looking into my swollen laptop battery problem. Hopefully he can fix it for a fee I can afford.
I haven’t yet heard from the auction house, though I send an email and left several messages for the person who is dealing with furniture. It is essential that I can auction off the last three of my good furniture pieces to stand a chance to be able to pay the outstanding printer’s invoices.
In the meantime, I’m investigating if it is possible to print a few books by paying upfront.
I’ve been very active in social media and by contacting people, but sales are extremely slow this month. It doesn’t help that I’m missing my dog and my brother, who were both also in action over the weekend.
Saturday 24 & Sunday 25 June
Saturday was very busy on the market. Many books were picked up and chatted about, but people are holding on to their money. Many people said: ‘I already have many book’, ‘I don’t have much money’ or I will come back’.
This doesn’t help me, and I must admit I’m getting quite desperate.
So, I took a rare Sunday off. I did, however, help with preparing and cleaning up after the breakfast for the children having their first Holy Communion in our parish. A very cheerful event and an occasions to wear one of my mother’s hats.
In the evening I enjoyed watching Elton John’s performance at Glastonbury (on my laptop). He is such a great musician.
Hopefully I’m refreshed enough to deal with all the problems and calamities that will be thrown at me during the last week of June.
Did I tell you about the swollen battery in my laptop?…
Friday 23 June
One of the lovely symmetric dates, 23/06/23, but just an average day on the market. Lots of chats but people are mainly looking not buying. Nonetheless, the market always cheers me up.
In my office away from the office, I worked on some ideas to get more support for the company, hopefully with a positive outcome.
Thursday 22 June
A bit depressed by the whole situation. Luckily, I can still escape to the market tomorrow to sell books.
Wednesday 21 June
The longest day of the year. From now on it’s all downhill to Christmas. I really love the long days. It gives me much more energy and the sun before the 21 June is more powerful and better for my skin than the one after the 21st.
But I can’t change the movement of the earth, that’s good because I have enough to keep me occupied.
I’ve checked with the auction house, they did receive my email, but they are slow to respond. The person I need to speak to will be back in the office on Monday, so he is on my list to be called.
I’m also busy to find new ways to promote our books. I simply need to sell more books, but this month is looking very slow.
No slowing down on potential new books coming in and I’ve received a wonderful new manuscript that I would like to publish.
So much to do, but I need the money to do it, therefore I’m planning to sell anything of value from our storage.
Tuesday 20 June
The first draft of the layout for The King’s Art, the second novel in the trilogy The Stuarts: Love, Art and War, by Michael Dean is finished. Have you checked out the first novel A Diamond in the Dust?
I heard from the Universal Credit people that, when I have a tenancy agreement in place, I would be able to claim help with my housing costs. So, this is a step forward in finding a more appropriate place to live.
I haven’t yet heard from the auction house, but I think the three items I have chosen to sell are splendid ones. I feel very bad having to part with them because I inherited them from my parents and they conjure up happy memories.
Their sentimental value cannot be expressed in money but if selling them means I can print more books and keep the company running than it is for the greater good.
Monday 19 June
The sample copy of Over the Edge, Norbert Hirschhorn’s new poetry collection arrived. It looks splendid and I’ve signed it off with the printers.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that I have no money to print any copies. The printers have given me credit but can’t do this any longer.
Before I say anything else, I know some of the readers of this diary blog have been very helpful and supportive. They have done all they could and for this I’m immensely grateful.
What we need now is a proper investor. I’ve been actively, and with help, looking for one, but no luck so far.
While this process is ongoing, I need to generate some cash now, that’s why I have contacted an auction house which I have used successfully in the past to sell an old travel guide.
I’ve chosen three items which I think, hope, are worth something to a collector and hope to hear from the auction house soon. The story continues…
Saturday 17 & Sunday 18 June
Just when I needed a bumper Saturday, people were not at all in buying mood. I had interesting chats, but book sales were below average.
Maybe the Morris dancing festival was distracting them. I nearly sold book to a Morris dancer in black with feathers clutching an old-fashioned musical instrument, I don’t know the name of. His face was whitened, so I wondered if his group was an original ‘black-faced’ one.
Even in my precarious financial state, I did cheer me up. Morris dancing is one of these quirky things that makes me love England.
On Sunday we had a big thunderstorm with torrential rain. Now that was more in tune with my situation.
I spent most of Sunday, thinking about how to pull the company out of the current quagmire, and what I will do when I can’t. More information will be in my next post.
Friday 16 June
A good Friday on the market, thanks to a couple of poets who bought Dutch poetry in translation.
Not good news on the financial front. I urgently need more cash and have decided that the only option left open to me is to sell the furniture that is still in storage. I have just a few good pieces and hopefully these will generate enough money to pay the outstanding bills.
I’ve asked my brother to be on standby to rescue the very personal stuff such as photos, letters from my parents and the company papers.
Wish me luck.
Thursday 15 June
Is reading of literature in decline? From my point of view and from the news about some other literary publishers this seems to be the case.
Is it just a matter of being caught up in the general cost of living crisis or is it something more fundamental? And does it matter?
From my, albeit limited, experience on markets, the impulse buy is under pressure at the moment. However, I also think that in today’s society it is harder to be a reader. People regularly tell me, I used to read a lot, but I do not seem to find the time nowadays.
I think it is even harder for young people to grow into a reader. Because reading literature requires practice and being open to new ideas. With all the social media available it not only eats up time but also seems to pressure people in conforming to ideas of their peer group.
Literature is important, it can deal with issues in a way that is increasingly more difficult in other media. Even so, there are now attempts to ‘amend’ classic literature to confirm to current standard. What’s the point? It’s fiction, it’s supposed to confront you, to make you think.
I’ve put my money where my mouth is. Unfortunately, it’s all gone but some remarkable books have been published. Ones that are here to stay. You can become the proud owner of one or even two. Check out our list and support #SavedByOneBook.
Wednesday 14 June
We have a dog in the house. Her name is Mitzi, the dog of my friend Catherine’s daughter in law. She is a black Labrador, so she constantly reminds me of Harry. I occasionally call her Harry or a ‘good boy’. She also seems to understand Dutch, well for dogs it is just the tone of voice that matters.
But it makes me miss Harry very much. A dog is such a source of unconditional love and most of the time extremely happy and relaxed.
Work on the layout of The King’s Art, the second novel in Michael Dean’s trilogy The Stuarts: Love, Art and War is going well.
The weather continues to be glorious, and my skin and arthritis are improving. It also gives me plenty of energy to think up schemes to get more people to buy our books.
I wish the good weather also had a beneficial influence on my finances, but this seems definitely not the case.
However, I’m glad Harry continues to be a faithful companion to my brother.
Tuesday 13 June
I love the lovely hot weather we’re currently enjoying. It can be too cold but never too hot in my opinion.
My ancestors must have come from a country with hot weather, Spain or Italy would be my guess. Why? Because the place I was born was home to the 10th double legion of the Roman army, and Nijmegen was granted city status during the Roman Empire. Later it was also part of the Spanish Empire.
Not that any Roman or Spanish connection can be found in our family history as researched by our uncle Henk. However, his research has not been in vain. My brother Arnold inherited all his papers, and it was one of the items he recently collected from our storage space.
I took my laptop outside into the garden to work in the shade, and I will probably do so again tomorrow.
At least I can enjoy the weather because otherwise things do not look very rosy. The financial situation has not improved and yet we’re not far off from being sustainable. We just need more sales. An investor would speed things up but, so far, no luck in finding one.
I will keep going because our authors and books are wonderful with tremendous potential.
Monday 12 June
I made a start on the layout of Michael Dean’s The King’s Art, so we are on course for launching this title in November. Note: this novel is now available to pre-order.
I didn’t really have the funds to pay my credit card bill but let the payment go through because enough money should come I over the next couple of days to at least cover this shortage, but the financial situation is still very precarious.
It was a very busy day for manuscripts, seven landed in the publishing inbox from the UK, US, Serbia and Nigeria.
On a hot day, without warning, we were treated to a downpour. Luckily, I had an umbrella with me and was near the market cross so I could take shelter. This was just after I took a picture of these lovely flowers along the road in the glorious sunshine.
Saturday 10 & Sunday 11 June
Saturday was a good day on the market. Busy, the sun was out, people were in a good mood, and books were sold.
At least a temporary escape of worrying about paying bills, especially the credit card due on Monday morning, and finding a better place to live.
I’ve put my personal life on hold so that the books, existing and new ones, can continue to have a life of their own.
On Sunday morning Arnold was interviewed on the talk show on National Public Radio in the Netherlands. He has contributed to a book about looking at veterans from a different angle, and he was asked to read the few last stanzas of Combat Boots, the closing poem from Yugoslav Requiem. They tweeted this clip after the programme had finished.
Yugoslav Requiem can be bought from our website, as can all of wonderful books. And if you do you support a niche publisher #SavedByOneBook.
Friday 9 June
I was a latecomer to driving, I only got my licence in my thirties. Then, for a while, I really took to it, and used my beloved Renault 5 to drive everywhere including around central London and to commute out of London. Well, someone has to break the mould, it may well be one of my specialities.
When I got a job in London, I sold my car and was very happy without it. London has a wonderful public transport system. I don’t understand why people grumble about it.
However, when my brother and I moved to the countryside and got a dog, we realised we needed a car. Luckily, Malmesbury has a garage that specialises in selling used cars on the main square. It was there that we acquired out fifteen-year-old Fiesta which served us faithfully for the next five years.
It transported Arnold back to the Netherlands before the first and reverse gear packed up and it had to go to the scrap yard.
I went full circle and ended up using public transport again but the countryside version. This takes some getting used to. Be prepared for long waits between disconnected services serving different counties. The Malmsbury Stroud journey which takes forty minutes by car takes at least two hours by bus.
Yet, I do enjoy my bus rambling, somehow it is relaxing. From a bus full of teenage school kids to beautiful countryside views, to a near miss of two deer and a singing bus driver, every journey brings something new.
Thursday 8 June
Another delivery of books, timely for the market tomorrow. In it a few more copies of 100 Dutch-Language Poems, very good, because I had completely run out. This book is a miracle, it just keeps selling itself.
My policy is to enter my books for the major prizes and not worry about the considerable costs attached to some of them. In any case, these costs are only occurred when the book is long- or shortlisted. In which case it’s a very nice problem to have to solve.
I think it will take a bit longer before I hear if and how much universal credit I get. They need some more information and given me a deadline of 17 June.
Even if I manage to find a new place to live, it will be without my brother and dog Harry and I miss them both very much.
Wednesday 7 June
Over the Edge, has gone off to the printers. Always exciting and I look forward to seeing the sample copy.
Michael Dean came back with excellent solutions to a few questions about The King’s Art and this wonderful novel is now ready for layout.
A couple of orders came in on the website, that’s what I like to see happen a bit more.
No news yet about universal credit. Until hear from them I can’t really move forward sorting the housing situation.
I’m very grateful that my friend Catherine lend me her spare room but it’s too small to accommodate my desk and working from my bed is not ideal. Let’s hope there is some progress soon.
The credit card bill is looming large and will have to be paid by direct debit on 12 June. I managed to cobble together some money and I’m nearly there but not quite. Now I need some good sales on the market or the website this week.
Tuesday 6 June
Are readers born or made? I’m worried that reading, especially of fiction, is in decline so I wonder how much our environment influences our reading habits.
I’ve always been a reader and the only time I didn’t find reading enjoyable was when I had to read books from the ‘list of literature’ for my exams at the end of secondary school.
First of all, you couldn’t make you own selection, it had to be a book from the ‘approved list’, which, I think, had too many fashionable books on it. Secondly, you had to give the ‘approved opinion’ of these books.
‘Explain what the author means’, ‘what’s the theme of this book’, and certainly don’t explain what this book means to you, or what you think is so good about it.
We need to make the study of literature more exciting and inviting. Actually, the teaching of languages in general. What about finding grammatical errors in a well-written literary sex scene?
Down to earth to day-to-day publishing. I spent most of the afternoon on the phone sorting out a delay in the settlement of my payments through my website. Being not only a publisher, but also a company director and shareholder (I wish they were worth a fortune), I had to comply with the rules set by the WorldPay due diligence team. I think I answered all their question to their satisfaction.
Monday 5 June
Arnold finished his round of editing for Michael Dean’s new novel The King’s Art. It is looking very good, and we just have a few questions for Michael.
Our designer Andrew finished the full cover with the lovely quotes on the back cover for Over the Edge. I and Norbert Hirschhorn, both approved it, so the book is now ready to go to the printers.
Gary Day suggested a few changes for his poetry collection The Glass Roof Falls as Rain. They’ve been done and this book too would be ready for the printers if it had a cover.
But I first need to find the money to pay this month’s credit card bill before I can even think of commissioning a cover, though Gary suggested a splendid image for it.
In between this, I’m always dealing with promotional issues and that can be for any of our books. The other day, for example, I got a message from someone who was interested in looking at The Houses Along the Wall, a Pembrokeshire poetry cycle by Karen Hayes, for a possible programme on Welsh radio.
I hope for more news on the universal credit situation this week, and, touch wood, I can continue my search for a new place to live. But I will be sorry if I have to leave Malmesbury. Did you know it claims to be the oldest borough in England? It was given its borough status by King Alfred in circa 880.
Saturday 3 & Sunday 4 June
So, thanks to Debbie, I made it to the market on Saturday, and it was quite a good day, so I wouldn’t have wanted or could have afforded to miss it.
I didn’t have time to put down my bag before selling the first book. The Yellow House written from the point of Vincent van Gogh, or as one of the reviews put it: ‘It’s a story that will stay with you and enable you to see old favourite paintings in a new light.’ Check it out.
At the end of the day, just when I had packed away all the poetry books, a lady came along telling me she couldn’t stop thinking about the book with the Dutch poems and she wanted to purchase it now. No problem, I said, and unpacked my last copy of 100 Dutch-Language Poems.
Did you know this book, an overview of Dutch-language poetry from the medieval period to the present day in English and Dutch side by side, won the Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize? You can find out more about it on this page.
One gentleman I chatted who actually knew Nijmegen, the place I was born, as his wife comes from the nearby German town of Krefeld. What’s more he had taken part in Nijmegen’s famous Four Day Marches. The largest multiple day march event in the world.
It takes place for the 105th time this year and when I see pictures of it, as you can on their website, I feel very nostalgic. My father was a great fan and completed it eleven times. Even I, no sporting type and now with two dodgy feet, completed it five times!
On Sunday, I sat in he sun, and caught up with reading. For most people it is not recommended to sit in the full sun for several hours but if you have psoriasis, as I have, it actually heals your skin and you don’t get sunburned.
I also needed to gather strength because the coming week may well be a momentous one. I expect to hear if I qualify for any Universal Credit, and I will have to talk to the bank. I won’t be able to pay off the business credit card and the direct debit is due on the tenth.
Friday 2 June
I hadn’t realised how cold it still is early in the morning and waiting for the bus with a strong wind blowing I missed my winter coat. Especially when carrying an extra box full of books.
The bookstall attracted quite a lot of attention but impulse buys, which includes books on the market, continue to be under pressure with all the current uncertainties.
I was also busy trying to find an alternative way of travelling to the market tomorrow as the train drivers are on strike yet again. Do they realise how much impact this has on small businesses?
Luckily, good friend Debbie came to the rescue, and offered me a lift. Thanks Debbie!
Thursday 1 June
Another endorsement for Gary Day’s poetry collection The Glass Roof Falls as Rain came in:
‘Gary Day’s poems are a testament to the human condition explored through the familiar and the everyday. Such ordinary acts as putting out the rubbish, weeding and hanging up the washing acquire an existential quality. Yet the poems remain highly accessible as the poet nostalgically considers “what is lost”, while looking through a glass darkly “And weeps that he once/Held a world in the palm of his hand”.’ – Sue Hubbard
My brother Arnold made a good start with the second round of editing for The King’s Art, a novel by Michael Dean about the second half of the reign of Kind Charles I, and the sequel to A Diamond in the Dust.
I received a promising manuscript with an intriguing title and will decide whether to publish it after consulting with Arnold.
The bill payment situation is still precarious and no progress on the housing situation.
My book stock at the market is so depleted that I had to prepare an extra box to take with me to the market tomorrow.
Wednesday 31 May
Excellent quotes are arriving thick and fast. Today we received one for The Glass Roof Falls as Rain:
‘This is a beautiful collection of poems that makes ‘the familiar… / flame like a star.’ In it, snowdrops, trees, daffodils, the moon, even poetry itself seem to gain consciousness, speak back to us. This is poetry as ‘the perfect host’ who ‘welcomes all her guests’: approachable, exquisite, vivid.’ – Dr Jonathan P Taylor
Now I have to use this wonderful endorsement to encourage more people to pre-order this book. We need the pre-orders, the book will be published in October, to pay for a cover.
It’s the end of the month and sales haven’t been very good in May. Three bank holidays and a coronation apparently distracted our potential customers. Speaking about the coronation: did you know that Michael Dean’s A Diamond in the Dust contains an insightful and intriguing account of the coronation of Charles I? You can read it here in full.
I wish our sales showed the same growth as the vegetation which is exploding just now. The path I’m taking to reach our low-cost supermarket is nearly overgrown. Overwhelmed by sales, that’s the future.
Tuesday 30 May
Today we got another lovely quote for Norbert Hirschhorn’s new poetry collection Over the Edge. This time from Michael Bartholomew-Biggs and at short notice as well.
‘In Over the Edge, Norbert Hirschhorn’s thoughtfully crafted poetry beautifully balances measured wisdom with lively curiosity about life’s complexities and contradictions. His observations are on a scale that ranges from the entire Galaxy to the inside of a snow globe or the world as seen by a house-brick; and there is always room for God to make an appearance. The many human-sized poems in this collection include a haunting sequence of dreamlike and filmic recollections of growing up in New York and some rich depictions of scenes and situations – both peaceful and perilous – set in Europe and the Middle East.’
This means I can ask our designer to finish the back cover. Once this is done the book will go to the printers and the first copies will be printed well in time of the 22 June release date.
We will formally launch this collection on Friday 15 September in the October Gallery when Norbert and his wife Cynthia are visiting London. You can, of course, pre-order the book now.
Monday 29 May
Another bank holiday but a mostly working day for me.
A good day to catch up with manuscripts. I always enjoy looking at manuscripts that are coming in. You never know what gem you might find, and the variety of manuscripts never ceases to amaze me.
We get novels, novellas, memoirs, short stories, and poetry collection in nearly equal quantities from all corners of the world. Their themes and subjects are also very diverse.
Actually, I like all aspects of my job and in that I am very lucky. I also think it is important to give authors a chance to get published. People don’t realise the amount and time and effort it takes to write something that can be published.
The world needs authors and readers and I think makes it a better place. I’ve put everything I have into publishing and long may it continue.
Sat 27 & Sun 28 May
It was a joy to be on the market on Saturday, the weather was lovely, people were in a good mood, and bought plenty of books.
A Fleming (a person from Flanders, the Dutch speaking part of Belgium) was, as he put it, ‘very pleasantly surprised’ to be confronted by some Dutch-language literature in translation while he was on a walking holiday.
If only he had bought a book, because we are so close, to being self-sustainable. But being nearly there doesn’t work, it doesn’t pay all the bills.
If I had started the company forty years ago, we would have been a profitable maybe even a quite well-known publisher. It’s just that the habit of reading, and especially of literature, has gone downhill.
Take for example Martin Amis, such a celebrated author and household name forty years ago, but the news of his death barely caused a ripple. Compare this to the many newspaper headlines about the death of David Bowie or all the palaver about death of Rolf Harris.
Yet, literature is important, it’s what we leave behind, and can speak to people hundreds of years from now.
So, I will continue to encourage people to buy our books and hopefully I can raise enough sales to start paying off more bills because the situation is very precarious just now. Support #SavedByOneBook.
Sunday was Pentecost Sunday, and I can certainly do with some help from the Holy Spirit. My mother would always celebrate this feast day in style and to honour her I put on one of her jackets.
Friday 26 May
Very stiff but I made it to the market in time and was awarded with a above average Friday sales wise.
Maybe the market wanted to acknowledge the ‘Trader of the Year’ award it just received from Stroud town council.
Arnold arrived safely back home with all his books and furniture. Doesn’t look my father’s antique desk splendid in its new location?
Unfortunately, a few of my skirts managed to hide between some of boxes and turned up in the Netherlands and not in my tiny bedroom in Malmesbury.
A lovely person who is helping me to find an investor reported no progress so far because as he put it: ‘book publishing is unfortunately not that fashionable a cause.
Well, I will just have to make is fashionable with help of all you readers out there. Please support #SavedByOneBook, make it the in thing to do.
Wednesday 24 & Thursday 25 May
My brother Arnold and his friend Erwin were able to catch and earlier eurotunnel shuttle and hence arrived early. Excellent, because it meant we could pack my winter clothes into the van before settling down for drinks and a relaxing meal in the King’s Arms. It’s been ages since I went out.
On Thursday we met at 7am, and after some delicious freshly made baguettes, bacon and sausage for the boys, from our local bakery which still bakes on the premises, we set out to retrieve all our books from the farm.
We made good time and at 10am we arrived at our other storage facility, only to find that our sea container had an extra padlock, and we had no access. Not surprisingly because I was behind with payments. Luckily, Arnold had received some extra payment and we could sort it out.
For the next three hours we unpacked and packed the sea container and Arnold retrieved some much-missed furniture and the last part of his archive.
I managed to locate most of my summer clothes, some summer hats but wasn’t able to locate shoes or bags apart from one yellow straw one. However, I’m very happy having the right clothing to enjoy the current fine weather.
I helped as much as I could, but the boys did most of the work, so I very big thank you to Arnold, Erwin, and Erwin’s friend who sponsored the trip.
At the end of the day, I managed to catch up with my emails and prepare for another market day on Friday.
Tuesday 23 May
A small box of much needed books arrived from the printers today necessary to fulfil outstanding orders.
A Linkedin contact expressed interest in making a podcast or TV series based on one of our books. It’s very early days but I’ve sent her a copy of the book and I can only hope it will come to fruition.
The weather has turned very nice and stays that way for a couple of days, just what we need for our books/furniture/clothes move on Thursday.
So, excellent timing, because I’m missing my summer clothes. Plus, it solves the handbag crisis. I’m an old-fashioned lady and always carry a handbag but the strap has snapped, and it has become useless. I’m actually the owner of quite a few handbags, but as you will have guessed, they are all in storage.
However, brother Arnold and good friend Erwin sponsored by Erwin’s friend are coming to the rescue.
In the meantime, please enjoy the sunshine with a good book, and even better select on the excellent reads from our list.
Monday 22 May
A busy day promoting our new books. I received good feedback but now I need more orders.
I applied for another place to live via the council’s housing website and keep my fingers crossed for a positive outcome.
May is the month in which several annual renewals have to be paid and that’s putting quite a strain on the already precarious financial situation. Hopefully book sales will come to the rescue.
Well, my brother is mounting a small rescue mission. He will retrieve his books and some pieces of furniture but more essential for me is that he will bring supplies.
Especially a pair of new slippers as the old ones he gave me at Christmas are completely worn out. I’m also looking forward to sambal, the Indonesian version of crushed chillies, which I love to use in salads. Well, it’s salads because I don’t cook.
Arnold will bring two varieties on request: the basic Oelek and the even spicier Brandal.
Saturday 20 & Sunday 21 May
Saturday was a day full of festivities.
The Freedom of Malmesbury was celebrated with bestowing medals on people and a military parade by the regiment of the local barracks, which I all missed.
Wootton Bassett had a carnival with a funfair which I passed by bus. Stroud had a food and drinks festival which I glimpsed on my way to and from the Shambles market.
But the upshot of it all was that people where in a good mood and psychologically ready to spend. This included book lovers and I had a good day on the market.
My body is not in such a fine state at all. My arthritis is very bad, especially in the shoulders and feet. I can only really sleep on my back at the moment and my feet are killing me. Especially after I have sat down for a bit and suddenly have to get up. I hobble along like an old woman, and I used to walk so fast.
So, I spent Sunday recovering but did manage to catch up with quite a bit of work reading.
I was sad to hear about the death of Martin Amis. One of my favourite authors, and 73 is far too young to die. Actually, the last hardback I bought, even though back then I really could no longer afford it, was Inside Story.
It is a substantial book, but I read it in no time and couldn’t put it down. I loved the subtitle ‘a novel’, it actually is a memoir and even more poignant now Martin Amis has died. Because he discusses the writing process and the people who influenced them at length, I think it might well be his literary testament.
Friday 19 May
A display about the Shambles Market has appeared in our hall and from it I learned that Shambles was granted its market charter in 1594. You can sometimes feel the presence of buyers from previous times.
Michael Dean’s A Diamond in the Dust received another good but somewhat unusual review.
Michael Dean’s delightful A Diamond in The Dust is a very exact account of many of the painters artists soldiers and male prostitutes who flourished around the courts of Europe.
Art, politics, religion, shipwrecks. Michael Dean knows his controversies and A Diamond In The Dust is crammed to the gunwales with them. – John Park on his blog Words Across Time
By the way, our financial situation is still precarious to say the least, that’s why I would like to say a big thank you to the friend of a friend who is sponsoring my brother Arnold’s trip to collect his books and sort our storage.
Thursday 18 May
Ascension Day, traditionally a day off in the Netherland when people get up early for a walk or cycle tour to spot the dew on the grass and leaves, ‘dauwtrappen’, tread the dew. If we attempted to do this at home when I grew up, we were never in time to spot the dew.
No dew for me but another trip to the job centre to get my universal credit application sorted. Not that I expect much to receive much if anything, but I hope it will make it possible to rent a small place to live. Any progress will be reported here.
Luckily, tomorrow I can escape to the market once more. Let’s hope the nice spring weather brings out the readers.
Me, in better times, in front of the Baskerville cottage.
Wednesday 17 May
More work on bringing several of our books to people’s attention. It was great to get good feedback from Linkedin.
Arnold booked his trip to retrieve his books and furniture from around Malmesbury. It will be a flying visit: arriving on the 24th around 7pm and leaving on the 25th around the same time. How we are going to manage stuff from three places in one day remains to be seen. Yes, three, I haven’t mentioned yet the free storage space that houses our eleven dissembled Billy bookcases.
At the end of the day, I was pleasantly surprised to receive an order for eight books from customer in Japan. Not only our authors come from all around the world, so do our customers and that is exactly what we want to see.
Tuesday 16 May
Continued today with the promotion of Over the Edge, also in the US, this is important as Norbert Hirschhorn has moved back to Minneapolis.
I received the very first quote for the back cover of The Glass Roof Falls as Rain a wonderful poetry collection by Gary Day.
‘Gary Day’s poems may derive from a love of literature, nature and art but are most profound in the brief glimpses they offer of relationships and lives. We are shown moments when an individual might stand on the edge of some new knowledge, reaching towards an insight which eludes simple definition and towards which words can merely gesture. Some of the shortest poems in this book will linger long in recollection.’ – Kathleen Bell
Please note that you can pre-order The Glass Roof Falls as Rain and help me to save up for commissioning a cover for this book.
I’m waiting to hear confirmation of the booking for my bother’s visit to collect his books and some furniture next week. It will be a flying visit of just a day and a bit, but it will be great to see him.
Don’t forget to tell all your friends to buy one of our books from this website and support #SavedByOneBook.
Monday 15 May
Busy day with promoting Over the Edge, Norbert Hirschhorn’s new poetry collection, which will be published on June 22. Marilyn Hacker gave a lovely quote for the back cover.
‘A vast small book, multi-vocal, rooted in past and present , in Mittel-Europa, New York, and Lebanon, everywhere humane and brotherly in its words and vision.’
Arnold and I also had several discussions about how we’re going to move our stuff in just one day next week. As it stands, we will start with collecting all books from their storage space at 7.30am so that we no longer need to rent this space.
It’s going to be a bittersweet experience. Arnold will have his beloved books back, whereas mine will have to stay in our other storage space, and this finalises our separation. Until now we could pretend the books and furniture were waiting for us in storage until we reunited.
Luckily, I have my Holland Park Press books around me, they give me comfort and lots of work to do, which is good. I need more hours in a day to follow up ideas I have to make them more widely known.
Of course, I need more money and need to sell more books, very much a chicken and egg situation, but I will persevere and with help of many readers our there I can be successful.
Saturday 13 & Sunday 14 May
I shouldn’t have wished for ‘more of the same tomorrow’ in my previous post. Saturday was a very strange day. Lots of people stopped at the bookstall and picked up books to browse them. I had lovely chats but very few people actually bought a book.
Strange, this has never happened before, normally when people start leafing through a book, you’re at least halfway there to selling it. Not so today, the market never ceases to surprise you.
However, some of these people will come back or buy a book through a different route: in a bookshop or on our website. The market is the only place where I can display all our books at the same time, it’s a cost-effective billboard or advertisement.
Sunday 14 May is Mother’s Day in the Netherlands, my mother died in 2013 and I miss her especially on days like this. On a more cheery note, my brother told me he is coming to the UK from 24 to 26 May.
Now he has a permanent home, he wants to collect his books and some essential pieces of furniture. This is good news because it means we can reduce our storage spaces from two to one. Also, this gives me an opportunity to put my winter clothes into storage and take out my summer ones.
Yes, I know, this is an odd way to live, not having access to your own belongings if and when you need them. I’ve been in this situation for more than one year and I do so hope that I will hear on Thursday if I will be able to work towards solving this situation.
I leave you with a picture of two of my favourite persons.
Friday 12 May
A good Friday on the market. Great, after two weeks of disruption, things are back to normal.
I also got quite a lot of other work done, and public transport ran smoothly. Hopefully we have more of the same tomorrow.
Wednesday 10 & Thursday 11 May
First a heads-down type of day, trying to drum up support for buying books directly from our website.
I love bookshops and, by all means, please buy your books from them but now, as the press is struggling for its life, be aware that buying books from our website is much more profitable for us. Moreover, we receive the money in days not months.
And I’m more than happy to make several trips a day to our lovely post office. Actually, since I started the company, I’ve been looking forward to the day that I need to rope in someone to help me despatch books. Alas, I’m still looking forward to this day.
The company account is much depleted, even more reason to increase sales through our website and the bookstall. Selling on the market, too, means more margin and faster payment.
This was followed by a bit of a travelling day.
Brother Arnold went for a chat at the Schrijversvakschool in Amsterdam (the leading institute for creative writing in the Netherlands) to discuss opportunities to increase his teaching hours. It went well, they lack people who are willing to teach outside Amsterdam and are flexible on hours, something Arnold is able to do.
I had to travel to Chippenham to prove my identity in person for the universal credit application. I’ve always thought my identity is pretty obvious, I’m the lady who always wears a hat, but this cuts no ice with the benefits people.
However, it went all swimmingly, I am who I am, that’s a relief, unfortunately I’ve still got no idea whether I’m actually eligible for anything. On the bright side, I have an appointment next week, when all will be revealed. So, I hope for a positive result, because I really would like to move into my own, however small, place.
Tuesday 9 May
It’s a relief to back to a normal day and it turned out to be quite an eventful day.
The print-ready PDF of The Glass Roof Falls as Rain, Gary Day’s wonderful poetry collection which I plan to publish in the autumn, has gone off to several people for back cover quotes.
I tried to get a quote from Simon Armitage but his agent told me that he doesn’t have time for quotes now he is the Poet Laureate. That’s quite understandable, but if you don’t ask, you don’t get. I loved his coronation poem by the way.
I also spent some more time promoting Jeremey Worman’s The Way to Hornsey Rise. When out of the blue I received a phone call from a film producer who expressed some interest in two of our books. It’s very early days and nothing may come from it but it’s nice, nonetheless.
I never cook, just ask my brother he had to do all the cooking when we shared our lovely cottage.
However, some lovely looking rhubarb has sprouted in my friend’s garden. She and her son don’t like rhubarb, something to do with the texture of it. So, I picked a few stalks, removed the leaves, you can’t eat them they are poisonous and made a lovely rhubarb compote. It’s easy, if I can do this, everyone can.
Now, I ‘just’ have to cook up some more sales, so that I can actually commission lovely covers for our new books.
Monday 8 May
A typical bank holiday with a spot of rain. Otherwise, quiet, but I used to time to deal with manuscripts that had been sent in. I’m getting in manuscripts each day from all over the world and a good mixture of novels, short stories, and poetry collection.
I tried to give people an answer about whether we will publish their manuscript within 6 weeks of submission and I’m glad to say that I am fully up to date.
Not so up to date with the paying of bills. I’m slowly making a bit of progress, but I’m still looking for an increase of sales as well as some additional investment.
I hope to find out this week if I can get any help with paying the rent so that I can finally move out of my friend’s spare bedroom. I can’t believe it’s more than a year ago I moved into this room.
On 5 May I moved in and on 6 May my brother moved back to the Netherlands. This was the picture taken just before he left.
Saturday 6 & Sunday 7 May
Coronation and market day. Certainly, a first but I managed to sell books and watch the coronation.
Sales weren’t that great, but the coronation was. As the proceedings went on several of the other female stallholders got hooked to my tiny laptop screen as well. None of the male stallholders showed any interest. Make of this what you want.
At the railway stations in Stroud and Swindon we were wished a safe journey by a pre-recorded message from Charles and Camilla. It generated quite a bit of merriment from the travelling public.
The coronation poem on display at Swindon station was priceless.
Though, I expect this display in a gentleman outfitters’ shop window will get King Charles’s approval.
I wonder how long it took Malmesbury Town Council to approve the coronation bench in front of the town hall.
Finally, on Sunday, we had a town picnic in the Abbey gardens and of course this could not take place without a spot of Morris dancing.
Friday 5 May
Quite a good day on the market and I got a lot of other work done as well.
Jeremy Worman wrote an intriguing article about being a squatter and his autobiographical novel The Way to Hornsey Rise. It was published in the Islington Tribune together with a very 1970s photo of the author.
Also another review for the novel was published by Emma Lee on her blog.
Thursday 4 May
We’re open as normal this coronation weekend at Shambles Market in Stoud.
I read and interesting article by Dominic Sandbrook in the Daily mail about the relevance of Charles 1 and II to our new king Charles III.
Some things never change such as a bit of controversy about the queen. So, I’ve put the coronation chapter of Michael Dean’s A Diamond in the Dust on our home page. Enjoy reading it and check out this intriguing novel about the first twenty-eight years in the life of Charles I.
I heard back from the Universal Credit people. They are going to call me on Tuesday and hopefully the issue of whether I can get some support to pay rent will be clarified.
Wednesday 3 May
Unexpectedly some books I ordered arrived today. I hadn’t expected them to come so soon but it was great because in it were some much needed copies of 100 Dutch-Language Poems. I had completely run out of copies.
100 Dutch-Language Poems is an amazing success story. Since it was published in 2015, it keeps selling and yet it is the only book on the bookstall that attracts comments such as: ‘Who would buy that book?’
Well, people do, it’s a great impulse buy. Where do you find a complete overview of Dutch-language poetry from the medieval period to the present day in Dutch and English side by side? Check it out!
I also spent time phoning around to find out if I’m eligible for housing benefit under Universal Credit, so that I can afford to rent a small place and move out my friend’s tiny spare bedroom. Well, no one could give me an answer, so I have applied online, without being asked the questions I know I need to answer, and hope for the best.
Tuesday 2 May
I sent the layout of The Glass Roof Falls as Rain to Gary Day for checking and the first edited copy of The King’s Art to Michael Dean for his feedback.
Not much joy on the housing front though, I contacted the local charity, but they agreed I was a difficult case for benefits and told me to contact the housing people at Wiltshire council again. I will do so tomorrow and hopefully they can see a way forwards.
Quite a bit of admin, and bills to pay, I’m trying to be creative and hope for more sales to come to the rescue.
However, the day started with a minor calamity. I woke up to a new WhatsApp message from my brother: dog Harry had been throwing up all night, and that he was taking him to the vet.
The vet couldn’t find anything wrong but gave him an injection to stop him throwing up and some special food. Harry seems to like this food and wagged his tail when I phoned later in the day, and I think he is on the mend. So, he can go back to contemplating life.
Monday 1 May
May Day and also Workers’ Day. Well, I was not up before dawn to celebrate the sunrise with a spot of Morris dancing, nor did I take part in any workers’ day celebrations.
For me, it wasn’t even a bank holiday but just a normal working day, apart from the fact that I couldn’t really contact people.
However, the sun came out during the afternoon, and I managed to catch some of it, even though dark clouds are also on the horizon. Luckily, I’m not superstitious so I expect them to be blown away and go ahead full steam with the promotion of our wonderful books.
Saturday 29 & Sunday 30 April
There were lots of people on the market and I had some interesting chats, but not many people were inclined to buy anything. It was not just me. Sales were slow for most stallholders.
Luckily some poetry lovers came to the rescue, and I sold a few of our poetry books.
On Sunday, I managed to finish my first round of editing of The King’s Art, the second novel in the Trilogy about The Stuarts by Michael Dean.
I’m starting to feel quite an affinity with King Charles I because he gave arts such a prominent place in his life. Not only paintings and building works but he was forever reading a book or dashing off to the theatre to see the latest play.
Going to see plays was my favourite pastime when I was in a well-paid publishing job and living in central London. I regularly managed to get a seat for a premiere and once found myself sitting next to Salman Rushdie when the Fatwa was still in place.
My to-do list has grown very long, so it will be a busy week ahead, especially with the tricky task of getting through another end of the month. Please keep supporting #SavedByOneBook, for example, have you checked out the first novel in The Stuarts trilogy: A Diamond in the Dust?
Friday 28 April
I received material for a potential new book. It’s an exciting project and it looks promising but it needs more work.
I’m definitely looking for more manuscripts to publish and remember we accept submissions directly from authors all year round.
The end of the month is looming large. Thanks to the new books and serious economising, I will be able to pay some of the essential bills and hopefully keep going.
Not much news on the housing situation as I haven’t yet managed to speak to the right person at the local charity that was recommended to me.
I’m on the case again next week, well after the bank holiday. I must be the only person who finds bank holidays interrupting but then I’m speaking as a person who hasn’t had a proper holiday for quite some time.
In my current circumstances running the bookstall on the market is my big escape. Really, it’s a day out and I can engage in my favourite activity: selling books. What’s there not to like: supporting #SavedByOneBook!
Thursday 27 April
Today is Koningsdag (King’s Day) in the Netherlands, the real and official birthday of King Willem Alexander when everyone has the day off and there are celebrations up and down the country.
The royal family visited Rotterdam this year, and I managed to stream the start of it on my laptop, only to conclude that the family still lack quite a bit of dress sense.
My brother even bought some orange-coloured gateaux, a request from a friend, to eat in front of the TV. (House of Orange, hence orange is the Dutch national colour, you must have noticed this at football matches.)
I had a king of the books today. The first five copies of The Glass Roof Falls as Rain, a new poetry collection by Gary Day, were pre-ordered.
Here are the first few lines from the poems that contains the title line:
A devil plays the piano
In the station concourse
An angel does the can-can.
If the travellers stop moving
They turn to stone.
Truth refuses to pay for a ticket.
The glass roof falls as rain.
Here coronation displays are proliferating. The one outside the Old Bell hotel in Malmesbury has just gone up. As usual it is way over the top.
Wednesday 26 April
Yesterday was the 6th birthday of our beloved black Lab Harry and because so much is going on I totally forgot about it. But then you don’t need to give a dog a birthday present to make him happy, he just is.
The best thing is to see Harry wagging his tail when I speak to him via the WhatsApp video.
Today, however, was the day my father died, in 1998, far too young, just a couple of months before his 72nd birthday. I miss him still, and it’s such a shame he never saw me running my own company, he would have been so proud.
He was a businessman through and through but also a very special person. He hated gossiping and treated everyone with respect. He looked very authoritarian but hated authorities. This hailed back to the German occupation of the Netherlands, when he experienced fist hand the damage the wrong type of authority can do.
My mum, when I told her I had given up my job as well-paid director of a legal publishing company to start my own literary publishing house, gave it her full endorsement: ‘What a splendid thing to do!’
So, they drive me on, and determined to make a success of Holland Park Press. Even though the tide is against us, and literary fiction and poetry is struggling to get the attention it needs in today’s short attention span society. But you can help towards changing this by buying our books.
Tuesday 25 April
We had a fabulous launch of The Way to Hornsey Rise.
The venue, the upstairs space at the Betsey Trotwood in central London, was just perfect. Size wise and it came even with a small stage, good microphone, and spotlight for the readers.
It was raining heavily but the turnout was excellent. Jeremy is a wonderful reader of prose and Travis Elborough, who also helped organising the event and provided the atmospheric 1970s music, had some thought-provoking questions for Jeremy.
Lots of books were sold and we concluded the day with a cold buffet and Jeremy’s house. It was lovely to stay with him and Nicola and meet their daughter Myfanwy, to whom The Way to Hornsey Rise is dedicated.
The journey back home: London overground, two London tubes, the train and finally bus was smooth but uneventful.
This lovely article about Jeremy and his book on the Writers’ Services website has just been published.
Monday 24 April
I’m off to London today to be at the launch party for The Way to Hornsey Rise, a wonderful autobiographical novel by Jeremy Worman.
I’m really looking forward to it because of seeing old and new friends and we haven’t had a lunch party in the UK since before Covid. In think the last one was for London Undercurrents, Joolz and hilaire’s excellent poetry collection.
My brother Arnold managed to hold a launch party for his Dutch novel Schurft in 2021, astonishingly he managed to travel back and forth to the Netherland in between lockdowns.
It’s so great to be back in the swing of things with books being published and launched. Now, I have to work on increasing sales and don’t forget all our books are available from our website #SavedByOneBook.
Saturday 22 & Sunday 23 April
Saturday was a normal busy market day. Sales wise it was an average Saturday. Not many poets about which meant not many poetry books were sold. However, several people stopped at my stall to tell me how much they enjoyed reading one of our books. That’s what I like to hear.
What was even better was that Ian McMillan did a lovely tweet about Totally White Room which I would like to share with you:
‘I like this poem about poetry and language by the late Dutch poet Gerrit Kouwenaar translated by Lloyd Haft and published by @HollandParkPres. The whole collection is well worth exploring.’
Sunday 23/4/23 is one of my beloved symmetrical days and it showed. Several orders came in via our website which kept me busy because I want to put them in the post before I travel to London tomorrow.
Friday 21 April
A very rainy day with few visitors to Shambles Market, so unfortunately no sales, but I have my laptop and consider the market on Fridays and Saturdays to be my pop-up office.
The bookstall has a different location just for this weekend. The great things about it is that the space contains a huge radiator.
There was also some encouraging news on other fronts. New copies of The Way to Hornsey Rise were delivered to our UK distributor. Just in time because they had run out of copies.
The Anglo-Netherlands society are going to advertise our titles with a Dutch interest in their next newsletter and we going to be involved in one of their events later this year.
My friend in whose spare room I’m staying had a word the Malmesbury member of Wiltshire council and he suggested I contact a local charity about my housing situation. I will contact them after the weekend and hopefully they will be able to help me.
Thursday 20 April
A new set of books from the printers was delivered today. Excellent timing because that means that I have a full set of poetry books for the market tomorrow, and the printers are still putting through my orders which is, obviously, quite essential.
I also received the signed contract for The King’s Art from Michael Dean. I look forward to adding another novel to our website. The copy will go up after the weekend.
We’re more than halfway through the month already and the outstanding bills won’t go away. Well, I can clear them when I sell enough books and find an investor. We’re not talking about a huge sum of money, and all our books need and deserve to be published.
So, that’s why I’m bold and keep adding new books, because that’s what keeps me going in all aspects.
I finally managed to find a somewhat affordable hairdresser. My brother came to rescue and made is truly affordable so that I even could buy a nowadays rare bottle of wine.
I think the visit to the hairdresser was worthwhile as you can conclude yourself from the before and after photos. Not that I’m that bothered by my appearance, but I need to look presentable for a book launch.
Talking about being presentable, I’m glad I’m not a royal, they spend a lifetime looing polished only for these puppets to turn up in a well-known budget supermarket.
Wednesday 19 April
The first draft of the layout for The Glass Roof Falls as Rain a poetry collection by Gary Day is finished and gone to my brother to cast his eagle eyes over it.
We’ve made a start with editing The King’s Art, the second novel in the trilogy about The Stuarts by Michael Dean.
So, things are progressing on the book production front. Sales are growing in the UK but not so much in the Netherlands.
Dear readers in the Netherlands, do you know that in this Couperus Year you can purchase a copy of Louis Couperus’s debut novel Eline Vere in English? This book made his name and you can get you copy from this page.
From the reviews of Eline’s story: ‘I have very much enjoyed it – what a vivid writer he is!’
No progress at all on the housing front. Is there no one out there who needs help with looking after a shop or care taking duties in return for some basic accommodation?
Tuesday 18 April
Our list continues to grow and today I emailed the contract for the second book in the Trilogy The Stuarts: Love, Art and War to Michael Dean. The King’s Art covers the second half of Charles I life when his love of and commitment to the arts becomes his downfall but throughout it all his is sustained by his love for his wife Henrietta.
As one of the reviewers of A Diamond in the Dust puts it:
‘Told in such a readable and interesting way I was invested in Charles’ story and the way he’s portrayed really brings him to life. It’s a fabulous read and I am looking forward to the next instalment I’m the series.’
To save money I haven’t been to the hairdresser’s since mid-November and it shows. I currently look remarkably like Catweazle which may be fine for someone under threat of homelessness but doesn’t suit a publisher. Certainly not with a book launch looming on Monday.
Luckily, I have found Becky who will cut my hair on Thursday for not too much money. So, I will be all set to travel to London to meet authors, friends and new acquaintances to celebrate the publication of The Way to Hornsey Rise. I’m looking forward to it!
Monday 17 April
Having received one good quote already from Jacqueline Saphra for Over the Edge, a new poetry collection by Norbert Hirschhorn, I’m waiting for a few more before the end of the month, so that we can finish the back cover and send the book to the printers.
I have added a page for Gary Day’s poetry collection The Glass Roof Falls as Rain which can now be pre-ordered. I’ve also started work on the layout which is progressing well.
I’m running low on stock for quite a few books, especially Jeremy Worman’s autobiographical novel and several of the poetry collections. New stock is on order but I’m behind with payments to the printers and now worry that stock replacement will be delayed as a result.
But I’m battling on and at least I’m very much enjoying my work. Please keep telling all your friends that they miss out on something very special if they do not buy one of our books, support #SavedByOneBook.
Saturday 15 & Sunday 16 April
A weekend of two halves. On Saturday it was extremely busy on the market and quite a few books were sold. Again, poetry books were most popular: 77% of books sold were poetry collections. I even sold my very first copy of Totally White Room.
The prize for most exotic customer spotted on the market goes to a young lady with a rucksack carrying a built-in cage which housed a real bird. According to the lady, the bird couldn’t say at home because it got ‘nervous’. My knowledge of birds is virtually non-existent, so I can’t tell you what type of bird it was, but its owner certainly was a special one.
On Sunday I had a lot of admin to do and order new books, my poetry section on the stall looked quite depleted at the end of Saturday.
I also had plenty of time to think about my precarious situation. Everything I do is to support keeping the company going. So, a solution to my housing problem which jeopardises the company, which at the moment seems to be the case with going the benefits route, is a big no-no.
So, let’s hope an investor comes along soon. I now have two people helping me to find such a person. In the meantime, what helps and can rescue us is selling more books. So please support #SavedByOneBook.
Friday 14 April
A quiet day at the market but a better day by the UK distributor and on the website. Several orders through both channels and I have to order more copies of The Way to Hornsey Rise.
Bad news on the housing front. The appeal has been rejected and this means I can’t rent the small studio flat because I can only afford it with some universal credit, and it looks now very unlikely that I qualify for that.
I will investigate this further and try to sort it, but I must admit that I’m not very optimistic.
Tomorrow is another day on the market and ultimately the best way to rescue everything is to sell more books. Though, I hope I won’t be forced to up my tent which would be a challenging exercise without my brother to help me.
Thursday 13 April
Promising news first. I got a call from the honorary treasurer of the Anglo Netherlands Society after I emailed the society a short while ago. He fully understood our situation and is keen to inform members of our plight and see how they can help.
I got very good and useful feedback from Gary Day about some questions I had about his poetry collection. I hope to have a page for this collection with the wonderful title The Glass Roof Falls as Rain up on our website soon.
I also made Totally White Room live on our website, so you can place your orders, and find out why Gerrit Kouwenaar is one of the most renowned Dutch poets.
Now for the worrying news. My tenancy appeal email bounced back even though I had used the correct email. I’ve sent it again but, to me, it looks quite hopeless, and prospects of finding a benefits funded small place to live are fading fast.
My friend, whose spare bedroom I occupy, suggested contacting the local councillor who is also on the Wiltshire council. That’s one of the steps I will undertake and as always keep tuning in to this diary for the latest developments.
If only there was a company or organisation that would be interested in the kudos of having a literary publisher in residence…
Wednesday 12 April
The sample copy of Totally White Room arrived. It looked splendid, so I approved it and ordered the first set of copies.
Do check out this lovely collection written by Gerrit Kouwenaar after the dead of his beloved wife in an excellent translation by Lloyd Haft. Here is one of the back cover quotes:
‘It’s moving to see how the death of Kouwenaar’s wife forces him, for the first time in decades, to use personal pronouns such as ‘I’ and ‘you’. When it really matters ‘one’ simply won’t do. In the stunning title poem, white doesn’t refer just to the colour, but also to the actual bedroom he shared with his beloved.’ – Piet Gerbrandy
I’m afraid the news on the housing front is not good. The company renting out the property I have my eyes on now have twice told me they can’t give me a tenancy agreement because in their opinion I can’t claim universal benefit for housing costs.
However, the Citizens Advice Bureau told me I can claim for housing costs provided a have a tenancy agreement. So, this is a chicken and egg situation. I have appealed to this decision and I’m now waiting to hear the outcome of this appeal.
I must say I’m not vey hopeful. If they reject the appeal I’m basically stuck and can’t move out of my friend’s spare bedroom, or if I have to, it’s out on the street.
Not a good prospect if you a 65-year-old woman with psoriatic arthritis and determined to continue publishing wonderful literature. The story continues…
Tuesday 11 April
I had a good chat with someone who understands how publishing companies work and has expertise in finding investors. He is hopefully going to bring me in contact with one or more people who can help us to continue publishing wonderful literature.
A few more RSVPs arrived for the launch party of The Way to Hornsey Rise. You’re all welcome to join us in the Betsey Trotwood on Monday 24 April at 7pm. I’m really looking forward to it. It’s not often I travel to London these days and several of our authors will be there.
The housing situation hangs in the balance. I’m the only candidate for the property but it’s not clear if I can claim any universal credit which I need to afford the rent.
As usual I fall between two stools. It’s all to do with being the owner of a company and opinions differ about eligibility for universal credit. I hope there is a solution, although it doesn’t look good at the moment, because if there isn’t my housing situation cannot be resolved.
Just now I received another donation which actually allows me to move. Many thanks to a wonderful benefactor. A high point in the rollercoaster journey that is my life.
Bank holiday Monday 10 April
Not really a bank holiday more of a preparation day.
I spent time filling in forms as part of my application for a tiny studio advertised on the council’s website. Main issue is that I have to show I can afford it because there are extra charges on top of rent because it being in a sheltered complex.
But that happens to be ideal for me: piece and quiet to work on production and promotion of books. I feel improving my housing situation is key to making the company profitable enough to pay myself a salary.
The other bit of preparation was going through the figures for my zoom chat with someone who knows a lot about investment, to see what the options are for the company. I’ve got all the facts and figures together and look forward to the meeting.
Another lovely full review by Ali Hope on her blog cheered me up and it is good to hear she really enjoyed reading Jeremy Worman’s excellent autobiographical novel The Way to Hornsey Rise.
Saturday 8 April & Easter Sunday 9 April
A very busy day on the market! We had about 1400 visitors, a record. Sales were good as well and I was kept very busy.
I was too tired and my feet hurt too much, don’t ask about the state of my feet, that is another story altogether, so I couldn’t make it to the Easter Virgil mass. For the uninitiated: that’s when fire and water are blessed, and the Easter candle is lit for the first time. But, since Covid, our church live streams all services, so I could follow it from home.
I was however present for the mass on Easter day wearing one of my mother’s grand hats for the occasion. I do wish people made more work of dressing up for the most important day in the liturgical year. I feel very close to my parents on Easter Sunday because they knew exactly how to celebrate this feast and made it a very enjoyable and festive occasion.
Actually, I received a present from one of the young altar servers, a box of Baileys chocolates. His mum made him give it to me because the chocolate had alcohol in it. We, you have to eat an awful lot of them before you get drunk but it was a lovely gesture.
One day off, before a very busy Monday.
Maundy Thursday 6 April & Good Friday 7 April
Things are winding down for Easter, though for me there is still plenty to do.
I spent time dealing with incoming manuscripts, RSVPs for the launch party for The Way to Hornsey Rise for example. And I really enjoyed reading the lovely poems in The Roof Falls as Rain, Gary Day’s poetry collection which we will publish later this year to get inspiration for copy on the website.
But I also spent some time on the momentous significance for me personally of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. This is always a special time for me, because once, many years ago, Good Friday was an important turning point for me, but that’s another story.
This year I made time to go to The Lord’s Supper celebrations which, in the Catholic tradition, includes the washing of feet. There were no less than fourteen volunteers, not something I can take part in due to the state of my skin but moving, nonetheless.
My favourite day though is Good Friday because I think it is a celebration of the ultimate declaration of love: giving your life to save that of someone else. On Good Friday we all receive this gift.
Apart from the ancient liturgy of the Adoration of the Cross at 3pm in our tiny Catholic church, in Malmesbusy, members of all Christian churches come together in front of our church to parade the cross through the high street to the ancient Market Cross.
Catholics, in particular, tend to keep their faith to themselves, but on this we day we get an opportunity to profess our faith in a more public way. Some people looked at us with surprise but quite a few paused as a mark of respect.
Now up to Easter, a time a new beginning, hopefully also for my housing situation and more sales of our books.
Wednesday 5 April
There was an interesting and unexpected development. I got a response from the people who rent out the property listed on the Wiltshire Council housing website. Apparently, they are considering me.
It would be absolutely marvellous to have my own place. This one is tiny, just a studio, and in a sheltered living complex, so quiet which would really suit me.
With benefits, I hopefully can just about afford it, though could do with some extra help. It’s slightly more expensive than an average property because it includes things like heating and there is the deposit that needs to be paid.
But a definite possibility and it would allow me to work even harder on promoting all our excellent books.
By lending me her spare bedroom my friend has been crucial in keeping me going but it is hardly the ideal place to run a company.
So, in this holy week, a glimmer of hope has appeared for a better future, now I just have to scape together enough funds to move on.
Tuesday 4 April
A second sunny day giving us respite from the heavy rainfall which led to some flooding of our local river Avon but makes for lovely pictures.
It’s clearly holiday time with happy families out and about, but I’ve been busy promoting our new titles and inviting people to the launch of The Way to Hornsey Rise. Join us on Monday 24 April at 7pm in the Betsey Trotwood, London.
I’ve also arranged a zoom meeting on Tuesday with someone who may help me to put the company on a surer financial footing. We’re keeping our fingers crossed.
I also received a handy tip for bidding to get a council property and will put it in practice for my next bid. I do hope that I get my personal life back on track soon.
Monday 3 April
A busy day sending out quite a few more review copies of The Way to Hornsey Rise and also one order that came in at the end of the afternoon.
I successfully put in my first bid for a small studio flat advertised on the Wiltshire Council housing website. This after I had some problems logging in but a friendly lady on the helpline could sort it for me by resetting my birthday on their system. I sometimes wish I could reset my birthday too.
Anyway, the bid has gone in, the vast majority fails as most properties are vastly oversubscribed. I may be in for a very long wait, but I will keep bidding on different places and keeping my fingers crossed.
The full cover for Totally White Room is finished with the lovely quotes on the back. The book can now go to the printers and that is the second finished book for 2023 added to the list.
I’m amazed myself that I have come this far, but if you keep supporting #SavedByOneBook, we can publish even more wonderful literature.
Saturday 1 April & Sunday 2 April
The first of April is not one of my favourite dates. I don’t really appreciate the jokes people feel they have to crack on this day. However, I had an odd experience on the market which l think wasn’t a joke.
An elderly lady, almost bent double over the stall, spent quite some time looking at our books only to declare: ‘Sorry I don’t buy books, I can’t read them.’ Followed by leaving so abruptly that she ripped off a few posters from the front of the stall. It left me baffled too.
Sunday was Palm Sunday and, yes, we did bless the palm in front of our little church in Malmesbury.
Otherwise, a quiet day, doing sales admin and lining up tasks for the coming short week. And trying to get to grips with bidding for a property on the council’s website. First issue I couldn’t log in, hopefully I can sort it out on Monday.
I missed my brother and the dog so here is a splendid photo of the beast in a traditional Dutch setting and a picture of the station in Stroud, with hills and iconic building, on my way home from the market.
Friday 31 March
The last day of March already but at least progress of some sort to report.
I spoke too soon about the Wiltshire housing people being slow, I did get a call today, they interviewed me when I was on the bus, don’t ask! They also called my friend Catherine and, as a result, finally put me on the housing register. Hopefully, I find a place to live within the not-too-distant future.
The weather wasn’t great, but readers were out and about, so I had quite a good day. I sold two books just after the market was officially closed. That’s a first as well.
It’s the end of the month so sales reports from distributors are coming in and I will be doing the sales admin this weekend.
Unfortunately, more bills came in as well, understandably but adding to my worries. I do however received the contact details of two people who might be able to help me getting things on a surer footing.
I was too busy to get an interesting picture, so I leave you with one from happier times when all three of us were running, or more running around in the case of Harry, our bookstall.
Thursday 30 March
Because it was a busy day sales-wise last Saturday, I had to locate enough books to replenish bookstall stock, and drag these new ones along to the market tomorrow. Books are stored in Stroud, so I don’t have to transport them all back and forth every week. This thanks to the marvellously laid-back Ron who runs the market.
Things are not progressing at speed with the council’s housing team. When you call them, you get put through to the supposedly relevant person, put on hold, and eventually cut off. You call them back and they promise to phone you back, but this never happens.
Yesterday I discovered that they mixed up mine and the friend I’m staying with mobile numbers. This after I had repeatedly told and emailed them my mobile number, besides it’s on my application. I’m sorry but I’m not too impressed. I’m sure they busy but imagine this happens when you’re sleeping rough.
On a happier note, the final version of the cover of Totally White Room arrived. An excellent addition to our much-admired set of covers. If only I could have a table with our books in a few bookshops our sales would benefit enormously and we would be really #SavedByOneBook.
Wednesday 29 March
The RSVPs for the party to celebrate the launch of The Way to Hornsey Rise have started to come in, some from unexpected quarters, which is great.
The quotes for Totally White Room turn out to be lovely. Here is one of them:
“‘Nothing rhymes with death,”’ Kouwenaar famously said in a documentary about Totally White Room which was written following the death of his wife Paula from Alzheimer’s. However, he does manage to capture death in poetry.’ – Dieuwertje Mertens
This wonderful poetry collection is looking for reviewers, so contact me if you would like a review copy.
After getting a three-month extension for filing the companies accounts, they are now due and Adam, my accountant, sent me the documents today. We made a tiny profit, but it also means Adam will send me the bill and it will go on the ever-growing pile. I try not to think about it.
How much easier is the life of a dog. When Harry showed interest in eating a furry scarf, they put it round his neck, and he calmed down immediately. I wish I could be as easily satisfied and relaxed about things.
Tuesday 28 March
The draft cover for Totally White Room arrived today. Andrew Cox’s team at Reactive Graphics has done another excellent job. We, I, my brother and translator Lloyd Haft are all very happy with it. We couldn’t ask the author Gerrit Kouwenaar because he is no longer with us but I think he would agree with us it’s an improvement on the original cover.
I also continued inviting people to the launch of The Way to Hornsey Rise, Jeremy Worman’s autobiographical novels, which is getting glowing reviews.
You’re all invited to join us on Monday 24 April at 7pm in the Betsey Trotwood, 56 Farringdon Road, London EC1R 3BL.
I spoke the Council’s housing team on Monday and they promised to call me back but I haven’t heard from them yet. I will chase hem again tomorrow because I don’t want to have to move into our tent, after retrieving it from our storage space.
Monday 27 March
My brother managed to find several quotes from when Totally White Room was first published in 2002. Now I just have to translate the relevant phrases before we can use them on the back cover.
Norbert Hirchhorn only found a few small issues in the print layout for Over the Edge. It’s looking good and it will go out to reviewers soon.
I ran into our old neighbour Debbie today. She and her late husband Gavin supported us so much. He was the one who gave me a new laptop when my old one broke down in November 2021, even though he was terminally ill with cancer.
It was a joy to see Debbie and it reminded of the happy times living with my brother and black Lab Harry in our lovely cottage. I miss it especially my study with all my books. Everything is in storage. I pay a monthly fee but can’t use any of it.
It’s the Holland Park Press books that keep me going and, with your help, hopefully for much longer. #SavedByOneBook
Saturday 25 & Sunday 26 March
Saturday was a very busy and successful day on the market. I even made a buy 5 pay 4 books deal for poetry only. Never done this before.
Also, a lady insisted on taking a picture of me and the books and another interested passerby urged me not to give up the good work of publishing more deserving literature.
The contract I sent out was signed and I can announce that I’m very pleased we will, funds permitting, publish The Glass Roof Falls as Rain, a new poetry collection by Gary Day.
Jeremy Worman was interviewed by Leigh Chambers about The Way to Hornsey Rise on Bookmark at Cambridge 105 Radio. You can listen to it from this page.
Over the Edge received its first quote from Jacqueline Saphra which you can find on the book page.
So, some good news but the end of another month is very near and worrying. However, I did receive a donation which will enable me to pay a couple of the outstanding bills, though all the remaining ones still need to be paid too.
On my Sunday walk to clear my head I spotted two swans without a care in the world which, for me, puts thinks in perspective.