Friday 24 March
Some people have the knack of making something special of even the most mundane situation. It’s a gift.
Take our bus driver today, who drove the 7.32 bus to Cirencester and the 17.10 back, a long day incidentally, who greeting everyone with: ‘To Cirencester? Never heard of it.’
All the way he kept a witty banter going: ‘Hankerton city centre,’ when we dropped off one customer in the tiny stretched-along village next to the old red phone box now housing the local defibrillator.
We learned that he was taking ‘the wife’ to the Ideal Home Show the next day and on a holiday in Northumberland in two weeks’ time. There was even some singing: ‘Here We Go’ when we set out and ‘Oaksey, Oaksey, Oaksey’, when we entered the village.
He regularly warned us that he might get lost and expected us to help him out.
All of no consequence but it made for a joyful journey. I must remember this approach when I receive the next bill.
Otherwise, a slow day on the market but very busy elsewhere. The Way to Hornsey Rise was mentioned in the Republic of Consciousness newsletter, Jacqueline Saphra provided a lovely quote for Over the Edge and a fat order came in on the website.
Oh yes, and my brother received, out of the blue, a phone call from his ex-girlfriend, but that is another story.
Thursday 23 March
Publication day for The Way to Hornsey Rise, an autobiographical novel by Jeremy Worman about how a middle-class boy ended up in one of Europe’s largest squats. And one of my magic dates 23/3/23 to celebrate!
A prompt for another dash to the post office with copies for people who have given back cover quotes and the first trade orders. This in the pouring rain, but the books all arrived dry and in time for the last collection.
I also sent out a contract for a new poetry collection, more details will follow when we have a signed contract.
My brother Arnold is digging out quotes from Dutch reviews of Totally White Room, so that I can use them on the back cover.
All books are available from our website. Now off to pack my things for the market tomorrow.
Wednesday 22 March
Unexpectedly, I received a donation for the cover of Totally White Room, a lovely poetry collection by renowned Dutch poet Gerrit Kouwenaar in an excellent translation by Lloyd Haft.
So, I immediately briefed our designer: ‘Colours: black & white. Image: be inspired by the title and the fact that the book is written in memory of the author’s wife who died recently. The last thing the author and his wife did together was painting a room white.’
So, our second title for 2023 is secured.
We finished checking the layout of Over the Edge, a new poetry collection by Norbert Hirschhorn. It can now go out to a few authors for back cover quotes.
Another two milestones on my rocky but rewarding publishing path.
Tuesday 21 March
First day of spring and hopefully things will spring to life for Holland Park Press as well.
It was the start of spring, a year ago, when our money problems hit another crisis point and we realised that Arnold had to go back to the Netherlands. He’s doing quite well, has permanent residence in one of the almhouses of Armen de Poth in Amersfoort, teaches creative writing at the Schrijversvakschool in Amsterdam and assesses manuscripts.
I put my personal life on hold but I’m very proud to have published some wonderful books during the difficult past year: The Past Is a Dangerous Driver by Neal Mason and A Diamond in the Dust by Michael Dean.
With help of our readers and supports work is in progress for an impressive set of books.
A launch venue for The Way to Hornsey Rise, an autobiographical novel, by Jeremy Worman has been booked. You’re welcome to join us in the Betsy Trotwood London, on Monday 24 April.
We also have a launch venue for Over the Edge, a new poetry collection by Norbert Hirschhorn, Friday 15 September in the October Gallery, London. Quite far in advance as Norbert and his wife Cynthia have to come over from the USA.
Also in the pipeline are The King’s Art, the second book in The Stuarts trilogy by Michael Dean, a new collection by Neal Mason and new poetry collection by another poet. I’m also looking at a few very promising novels.
So, I simply have to keep going, but I also need to pay my bills, but if you tell all your friends to buy our books, it can all work out.
Monday 20 March
A very busy day dealing with all the pre-orders we received for Jeremy Worman’s The Way to Hornsey Rise. After two trips with three bags full of books to our post office, luckily within walking distance, I’ve managed to put the majority of the orders into the post.
All bookshops have been contacted and a couple have already let us know that they will stock the book. So hopefully the first orders will start coming in from them next week.
The sales of English language books and especially fiction is booming in the Netherlands. We want to take advantage of this trend and I’ve arranged an online meeting for tomorrow with people who can help us to get books in Dutch bookshops.
So, things are moving forward but the problem remains that I have too many outstanding bills and I still haven’t found a sponsor for the cover of Totally White Room a remarkable poetry collection by one of the most renowned Dutch poets Gerrit Kouwenaar. But, sadly, at the moment it looks as if I have to put this title on hold.
Do tell all your friends to support us by buying a book from our website. #SavedbyOneBook enables us to publish more wonderful literature.
Saturday 18 & Sun(Mother’s)day 19 March
A truly dreadful Saturday. I didn’t secure a lift into Stroud, but I needed to retrieve the remaining padded envelopes and a few books from the stall, so I decided to take the bus into Stroud after all.
Bus connections don’t work on Saturdays, and it took me four hours to reach Stroud to spend just an hour on my stall before the market closed.
It got even worse. The bus from Stroud was late because the designated bus had a technical fault and they had to change vehicles. During our journey we narrowly missed hitting a squirrel and a glider, the bus route goes past the Cotswold Gliding Club, when the plane was trying to land.
Not surprisingly we were late arriving in Cirencester, and I missed the bus to Malmesbury. So, I had to take a taxi, the driver’s card machine was broken and I had to hand him over all my cash. Disaster! Luckily my brother came to the rescue and reimbursed me.
On Sunday my local Catholic church came to the rescue. It was Mother’s Day but that didn’t stop them to organise a bring-and-share Sunday brunch after mass. It was very enjoyable, and being organised by Catholics, wine was on tap, and as usual the home-make food was delicious. It cheered me up no end.
I, no longer can surprise my mother on this day. I used to, because in the Netherlands Mother’s Day is celebrated on the second Sunday in May and this English one in March always caught my mother by surprise. Especially, as sending flowers from England to the Netherlands works very well, the Interflora international change is the same everywhere but flowers in the Netherlands are so much cheaper that my mother used to receive an enormous bouquet, often they even added a glass vase for free.
Thank mama, for all you’ve done, I miss you still, but I will return to join you in your last resting place when I die.
Friday 17 March
For once, Friday wasn’t a quiet day and especially poetry lovers were out in force, so I sold more books than I expected.
I put two advance review copies of The Way to Hornsey Rise on the stall, a lovely new addition to our books. I also went to Stroud lovely stationers to have two new laminated posters made up with back cover quotes about the book and got a whole new stack of padded envelopes to send out review copies and orders.
Bad news on the travel front. The trains are striking again, and the bus connection doesn’t work on a Saturday morning, so I have to leave my stall on its own for most of tomorrow, Saturday. However, do come along, the books are all there and one of my fellow stallholders will be able to take payment.
If you’re not anywhere near Stroud, you can always buy a book from our website.
Thursday 16 March
Quicker than expected the first advance review copies of The Way to Hornsey Rise were delivered. Excellent news because it means I can start sending out review copies and fulfilling pre-orders.
I leave you with a lovely quote from Francis Gilbert which eloquently describes what this autobiographical novel is all about.
‘Jeremy Worman’s memoir is a compulsive read. He’s a beautiful writer with an eye for detail and a good ear for dialogue. The memoir really grips you from the start with Worman’s description of his horrifying relationship with his abusive alcoholic mother and her woebegone husband and boyfriends. The memoir rips away the veneer of the British upper-middle classes, showing them to be venal, despairing, corrupt. It’s no wonder that Jeremy seeks answers in the opposite to his upbringing in a commune in north London; his journey is moving and archetypal. We see him triumphing over his conditioning and finding a voice, a meaning to life… Highly recommended.’
You can order the book from this page and support the #SavedByOneBook campaign which will enable us to publish more wonderful literature.
Wednesday 15 March
I’ve been busy with mailing campaigns and I’ve ordered plenty of padded envelopes to send out review and pre-orders for The Way the Hornsey Rise as the first advanced review copies are expected soon.
Do you know that we have published short story collections from the very start?
Even a time-pressed mum can fit in a story at a time and of course short stories work very well when commuting.
Travel to a small town in the 1960s West Midlands (Top of the Sixties), weird and wonderful Notting Hill (Where Is My Mask of an Honest Man?), feel the heat of South Africa (Away from the Dead) , visit big American cities (He Runs the Moon) and be surprised by the twists in Edge Hill Short Story Prize shortlisted Live Show, Drink Included.
We’re quite proud of our small but eclectic collection and encourage you to check it out and help the #SavedByOneBook campaign.
Tuesday 14 March
Quite a few copies of A Diamond in the Dust went out together via our UK distributor. A welcome development with hopefully more to follow. It’s good to see that my mailing campaign targeting bookshops is starting to reap results.
This historical novel by Michael Dean is the first book in the trilogy The Stuarts: Love, Art and War, and covers the first 28 years in the life of Charles I, an ardent art lover. Surely a very timely novel with the upcoming coronation of King Charles III.
I had to raise the prices of our books slightly because printing costs have gone up considerably, and on some titles I was hardly making any money. The price of the books on our market stall stays at £10 across the board. Even more reason to visit the Shambles Market in Stroud on Fridays or Saturdays.
Monday 13 March
The 13th day of the month. Luckily, I’m not at all superstitious, I have enough other things to worry about.
I’ve started a big bookshop mailing campaign to announce the launch of The Way to Hornsey Rise. Author Jeremy Worman and I both contacted his local, Pages of Hackney, which reacted enthusiastically and has pre-ordered copies.
Still need someone to support a proper cover for Totally White Room, a wonderful poetry collection by one of the Netherlands most renowned poets Gerrit Kouwenaar, so that I can publish it end the end of this month as scheduled. With translator Lloyd Haft’s great contribution towards translating and proofreading, the text is ready to publish.
I leave you with a taste of his poetry and a touch of spring.
Poet, I’m here again for a moment, jolted
awake in you, I’m walking with you
through the stilled future of our past
Saturday 11 & Sunday 12 March
A quiet day on the market on Saturday and a quiet Sunday but with lots to think about.
It’s difficult to plan ahead when you have basically run out of money. People can’t help it that with the uncertainty of the rising costs of living they hesitate to spend money. This particularly hampers the impulse buy and book buys often fall in this category.
Yet, it is important for good literature to be published especially in tough times. So, I will go on until my last penny or until I no longer have a place to live. If the weather gets a bit better, I could think of getting our tent out of storage.
All possible options are considered in order to continue as a publisher, and I’m still waiting for a call from the Wiltshire Housing Options Advisor.
Friday 10 March
The journey back on what amounts to a school bus from Stroud of Cirencester is enjoyable because I’m not often surrounded by teenagers.
First of all, it reminds me of my own secondary school time and makes me so glad that I never ever have to be a teenager again. One of the many advantages of growing up.
They all seem to be glued to their telephone, except for those in throes of a budding relationship.
The bus normally is very full but often a young person offers me a seat which I quite enjoy. No need to pretend, from their point of view I’m ancient anyway.
Another point that intrigues me is their hair. The boys all sport a quiff, no matter which type of hair they have. The girls have long flowing locks (the Kate look) and some have not shied away from using the curling tongs.
My teenage generation of the 1970s didn’t manage to look so coiffed. But will they grow up to be readers? That is my big question. On my school bus, though hardly a representative sample, there isn’t a piece of fiction or poetry book in sight, even though they are pupils from a reputable school.
Let’s hope that some of them grow up to be authors or readers. I live in hope, in the meantime you can support #SavedByOneBook.
Thursday 9 March
I’ve ordered the first batch of The Way to Hornsey Rise to be printed to have plenty of copies in time for the release date of 23 March 2023 which happens to be one of my lovey symmetric dates as well: 23/03/23.
Another order from the printers arrived, just in time for the market tomorrow, so the stall will be fully stocked again.
I’m trying not to thinks of he bills this is generating and hope for sales to generously cover it.
Speaking of bills, the lovely Elspeth has retired from the Arts Workers’ Guild and they have taken this opportunity to charge the full commercial rate for book launches. I tried to explain to them that I’m not Random House launching a memoir by a prince, but to no avail. They won’t give me a discount.
At a room rate of almost 4 times what I used to pay, I can’t afford it and I’m now looking for another launch venue.
The trees, especially the weeping Willows, are starting to look green but now the weather has taken a turn for the worse. I hate sleet, please cheer me up by buying one of our books.
Wednesday 8 March
The sample copy for The Way to Hornsey Rise arrived today and it is looking splendid. I’ve asked the printer to make it live so that I can start printing books.
Paul Lamont published an intriguingly lovely post about Jeremy Worman’s autobiographical novel on his blog OutsideLeft and you can read it here.
I managed to get a three-month extension to file our 2021-2022 annual accounts but now they are due at the end of this month. I’ve been busy answering last minute questions. In general I don’t look forward to doing the accounts because, a) it’s not something I can do myself, b) therefore it generates another large bill of which I have too many already, c) it depresses me because I always want the company to do better and blame myself if it doesn’t.
A lady for the council emailed me to say she couldn’t get through to me on the phone to discuss my rather precarious housing situation. However, my phone doesn’t show a record of it, and I’ve been glued to it all day. I’ve emailed her to say she can contact me all day and live in hope that I will hear from her and that she can help me to find a more permanent home.
Tuesday 7 March
Creative Writing at Leicester published a lovely post about The Way to Hornsey Rise, an autobiographical novel by Jeremy Worman, which you can read on this page.
I’m making progress with sorting out our stock with Small Press Distribution in the USA. We aim to keep distributing in the USA and watch this space for new developments.
Sales of novels in English are booming in the Netherlands and we want to take advantage of this trend to sell more of our books in English in the Dutch market.
We are already doing this with 100 Dutch-Language Poems but even for this title we could sell more with a bit of help and I’m going to ask an expert in the field for advice.
Wherever you are in the world, you can always buy any of our books directly from our website and support #SavedByOneBook.
Monday 6 March
I’ve finished the layout of Norbert Hirschhorn’s new poetry collection Over the Edge. I will now ask my brother to cast his eagle eye, before it will go to Norbert for his final approval.
Next step is to send the PDF to poets and poetry lovers for back cover quotes.
Totally White Room, a lovely collection by renowned Dutch poet Gerrit Kouwenaar, celebrating life with his late wife in a gorgeous translation by Lloyd Haft, is all ready to go to the printers were it not for a missing cover. I lack funds to even do a basic cover, so any donation is much appreciated.
I’m eagerly awaiting the sample copy for The Way to Hornsey Rise, Jeremy Worman’s autobiographical novel set in the 1970s. I expect it tomorrow.
Jeremy gave an interview for Bookmark on Cambridge 105 Radio presented by Leigh Chambers and it’s being broadcast in two weeks’ time.
Onwards, forwards and hopefully upwards especially if you ask friends to support #SavedByOneBook.
Saturday 4 & Sunday 5 March
On my way to the bus stop I ran into a fellow worshipper at St Aldhelms. He was on his way to a conference in Oxford with speakers from the Russian Orthodox Church about the war in Ukraine. Interesting subject because this church is divided about the war. This resulted in a stimulating discussion at 7 o’clock in the morning, cut short by the arrival of the bus on time.
This set me up for the day. A good thing, because even though it was very busy on the market, readers and book lovers were in short supply. This can happen, you have to take the rough with the smooth.
On Sunday I spent quite a bit of time thinking about our relationship with SPD our distributor in the USA. I, reluctantly, came to the conclusion that it isn’t working because they don’t provide enough value for money. So, I’m investigating other ways of distributing our books in the USA.
Therefore, I need to find a way to use up existing SPD stock quickly because I don’t want the books pulped. As SPD is located in Berkeley, I’ve decided to target book shops in the Bay area with a special deal. I know the Bay area well because I used to live in Berkeley for two years in the mid-eighties.
A new week ahead, let’s hope it also brings some good news and success for the #SavedByOneBook campaign.
Friday 3 March
Another busy day bringing literature to the masses, well the general public, in any case.
Fridays on the market only brings in a couple of hundred customers but on Saturdays well over a thousand.
Seriously, I think it is important to make it very easy for people to get acquainted with well written fiction and poetry that has something to say. It may well be a step too far for some people to enter a bookshop but I, behind my books, am not intimidating. I hope I’m friendly and approachable.
The crowd at a market comes from all walks of life and you can have the most wonderful conversations when you least expect it. One of my favourite one is with 97-year-old Paddy who comes along every week.
If only the Arts Council could see the importance of bringing literature to the market, it would make a difference. So, I completely rely on you, the reader, booklover and, if you not already, a future customer to be #SavedByOneBook.
I go on, you have to be philosophical about life, as you can see my dog Harry contemplates life quite frequently.
Thursday 2 March
Work on layout for Norbert Hirschhorn’s new poetry collection Over the Edge is progressing well and the collection is looking good.
I’ve also started to edit the second novel in Michael Dean’s Stuart Trilogy. It’s called The King’s Art and I very much enjoy reading it again.
Another pre-order for The Way to Hornsey Rise came in. A pre-order always cheers me up. Did you know that it was possible to publish Schurft just after lockdown only because we had received enough pre-orders?
Orders and pre-orders are the key to our survival that is why I keep working on new campaigns to bring our books to the attention of even more people.
You can help by spreading our messages in the social media and promote the #SavedByOneBook campaign.
Tuesday 28 February & Wednesday 1 March
Last day of February already. I know it is a short month, but it went by in a flash. It must be all the worrying.
Followed by the first day of March, meteorological speaking the start of spring, though it doesn’t feel as if we are on the brink of a new beginning.
Just another long month in which I have scheduled the release of two new titles: The Way to Hornsey Rise, an autobiographical novel by Jeremy Worman, and Totally White Room, poetry by Gerrit Kouwenaar, brilliantly translated by Lloyd Haft.
This all without my two best mates and enough money.
I have resigned to the fact that for the foreseeable future beloved brother Arnold and dog Harry will need to stay in the Netherlands. Arnold did receive a bit of very good news today: he can stay indefinitely in one of the Armen de Poth almshouses in Amersfoort with Harry.
So now it’s ‘just’ me who has to find the money to publish two books and acquire a more permanent roof over my head. Let’s hope March will be a bumper-month sales wise. My poor skin is feeling the strain and itches painfully all the time.
Apparently, King Charles engages in traditional hedge-laying to relieve stress. It’s not something I would like to take up with my arthritic hands and feet, but I enjoy coming across traditionally build hedges on my stress-relieving walks. This one in Malmesbury, we watched being built on our walks with Harry. It now has green shoots, hopefully it rubs off on our sales.
Monday 27 February
I received the final version of Norbert Hirschhorn’s new poetry collection Over the Edge. His most personal yet, especially the section called ‘853 Riverside Drive’ about his parents after having moved to the USA.
Norbert now lives in Minneapolis but still has many friends living in and around London from when he lived there too. So, we’re going to have a London launch in September.
Well, I hope, it is very eerie making plans this far ahead if you do not know you what situation you will be in by that time, personally as well as professionally. However, I keep going on all fronts, it’s the only thing I can do.
I haven’t heard yet from the council if I qualify for any support when I have to move out my current place on 31 March. I need some support, even if I manage to rent a room in a shared house.
Past experiences can come in handy when you least expect it. Have lived for twelve years in shared digs during my studies and academic career was a great help when I moved, to save money, into my friend’s spare bedroom last May.
Anyway, watch this space for further developments and all support is very much appreciated by me, my authors and literature in general.
Saturday 25 & Sunday 26 February
After a slow start to 2023 on the market, Saturday was the best day since coming back after the Christmas break. So, things are moving in the right direction.
We had some unexpected visitors, a pigeon flew into the hall, and we all joined in to help it to find its way out. It was very confused by the windows so we had to lower the blinds.
It didn’t help at all when Peaches, the beautiful local ginger cat, came in to see what all the fuss was about and, upon spotting the pigeon, got very excited! It even ran twice over my books!
I’m trying to widen the audience for our books but that doesn’t include animals, however cute. Besides the crowd in Stroud is renowned for birds of many different feathers which makes it such a fruitful place to sell books.
Observing the pigeon, made me wonder why pigeons are delightful in the countryside but a nuisance in London. In the country their dropping don’t seem to make a mess and their cooing is delightful.
All is not well on the distributors front in the USA, dealing with distributors as a niche publisher is quite a challenge anyway, so thinking a bit out of the box about this issue took up most of my Sunday.
Well, the now ex-product manager at Twitter is not the only one who sleeps in the office. However, I won’t lose my job as long as I’m #SavedByOneBook.
Friday 24 February
Today, I had a rare case of someone who came to check if I had received the manuscript she had sent in. She’s lucky because she lives in Stroud and can come to my bookstall. I was happy to confirm receipt.
Otherwise, it was a typical Friday in Stroud, setting things up for the busy Saturday. The pop-up office works a treat, and I got a lot of other work done as well as running the bookstall.
On my way back from the bus stop I walk past a beautiful array of candles to commemorate the first anniversary of the Ukraine War. It’s so sad that we have another war in Europe and I hope it doesn’t escalate.
But the display was beautiful and very fitting.
Thursday 23 February
Another one of my special dates: 23/02/23, so quite an appropriate day to send Jeremy Worman’s autobiographical novel The Way to Horsey Rise to the printers. With a splendid set of quotes from well-known persons on the back cover we have high hopes for this title. So, no pressure at all for me the publisher. Actually, I’m looking forward to this challenge and hope it turns into a lifeline.
Otherwise, not much is happening, and this worries me. Silence before the big disaster or just due to rising costs of living? Whatever the reason it feels ominous, but I’ve instructed myself to stay optimistic because eventually literary quality will win and is worth fighting for.
Wednesday 22 February
Next month it will be the 14th anniversary of founding Holland Park Press and the longest time I’ve been doing the same job.
Whereas at the end of my academic career and of my stint at Justis, I was very much ready to move on, this is not at all how I feel now. I’m happy to continue being a publisher and owner of Holland Park Press for as long as it may last.
This tells me something important about being a publisher and your own boss. It doesn’t get stale because it continues to throw up new challenges.
But you do pay the price for making the work you love your job: it doesn’t pay very well, or not at all in my case. But then, I’m not very materialistic, I’ve never dreamt of owning an expensive car or living in a big house. I do however need to be doing something that matters and in return I will give it my all.
That’s why I’m so determined to keep going as a publisher even though the prospects look rather gloomy. Yes, I’ve aged quite a bit in the process, but I refuse to accept that I can’t be #SavedByOneBook.
Tuesday 21 February
The books I ordered more than a week ago arrived. So, they did print them after all, and I will be able to run a fully stocked stall at the weekend.
We now have a marvellous set of quotes for The Way to Hornsey Rise and I have asked Andrew from Reactive Graphics to update the back cover.
Otherwise, I’m under enormous pressure to keep the company afloat, my brother’s and mine livelihoods depend on it, and for some people this would results in headaches and sleepless nights.
However, in my case, I’ve rarely slept better, probably out of sheer exhaustion. The grey cells are working overtime in trying to find a solution to an almost impossible situation. This notwithstanding the fact that I get woken up in the night by a very itchy skin, because my psoriasis ravaged skin has taken a turn for the worst.
Monday 20 February
Work on the layout of Totally White Room, a translation of the late acclaimed Dutch poet Gerrit Kouwenaar’s best collection, is progressing well.
Kouwenaar’s excellent translator Lloyd Haft turns out, in addition to being a poet, to be a marvellous proofreader as well, so it’s a joy to work with him.
Because I’m now doing the layout, and I don’t pay myself a salary, we can progress with it. If only we could do this with the cover. I know exactly how to brief our designer, but don’t have the money to be able to send him the brief.
Many bills are now outstanding and I’m trying to be creative and live as frugally as possible, so wish me luck.
Buying or pre-ordering our books does really help, so check out our website and tell all your friends because I’m in desperate need to be #SavedByOneBook.
Sunday 19 February
In the midst of struggling my way out from my current financial quagmire, I received a bit of good news for one of the promising titles we have lined up for 2023.
William Boyd provided this lovely quote for The Way to Hornsey Rise, a moving autobiographical novel, by Jeremy Worman. Here it is in full:
‘A fascinating and candid coming-of-age novelised-memoir, seasoned with phenomenal recall and a perfectly-pitched tone of voice. Wholly beguiling.’
This cheered up my day and keeps me going.
Saturday 18 February
Oh dear, I mentioned to someone that the snowbells are out, and she said, ‘but they are called snowdrops’. I apologised and explained I used a literal translation of the Dutch name ‘sneeuwklokje’. I looked it up at home and, actually, both flowers do exist, snowbells and snowdrops, apparently the bells are smaller than the drops and unrelated.
So that’s been cleared up, but I must admit I know next to nothing about flowers or their names, in Dutch or English, and I certainly do not have green fingers.
I do love flowers outside in their natural habitat and admire their looks even though I know nothing of their parentage. But I must admit that one of the flowers I love least are the famous Dutch tulips. Outside and in a vase tend to outgrow their blooms and drop the petals.
However, the Dutch at least know how to display them to their advantage, as in the picture below. I must admit that flowers are cheaper in the Netherlands so the contents of this vase is affordable unless you, like me, have fallen into a financial quagmire.
Friday 17 February
What never surprises me when travelling by bus are the varied aspects of life that present themselves along the way.
For example, a few stops after boarding a regular bus service full of teenage school kids, three persons of a different plumage boarded the bus. Dressed head to toe in tweeds: jacket, waistcoat and knickerbockers. Two gents and a lady, all pristine.
From their walking shoes and American accents, I concluded they must be on a walking holiday, and now had hopped on a local bus to sample the local atmosphere. The great thing about England is that no one batted an eyelid.
In the second bus on my way back, I watched a small calamity. One of the regulars, a friendly man with a lovely Collie, joined us at the start of the journey. The dog is very well behaved and only gets very excited and ready to leave the bus when we are nearing this village.
However, just minutes into our journey he, the man not the dog, had some sort of a fit, he had difficulty breathing and screamed and, not surprisingly, the dog started barking (good dog!).
The bus driver immediately stopped the bus to come to the man’s aid. One of the passengers, another regular, calmed down the dog. After a few minutes the man recovered, and we resumed our journey. I think something similar had happened before, and apparently it is all part of the service from our local bus company.
Otherwise it was a very quiet day on the market, attendance has recovered to pre-Christmas levels, but people still have difficulty parting with their money.
Thursday 16 February
Survived another day but for how much longer? I urgently need to print more books but I’m behind paying the printer, so I can’t place another order.
Really, there must be philanthropist out there who is interested in literature and be willing to rescue a critically acclaimed publisher in a tight spot.
For example, why not sponsor book production in 2023 in return for an acknowledgement page in these books for the rest of their lives?
I’m quite open to other suggestions, just contact me directly: firstname.lastname@example.org or +(44) (0) 7792611929.
Now the snowbells are out, here shown in a rather fitting spot, maybe we can see the first green shoots for Holland Park Press as well.
Wednesday 15 February
It has all been eerily quiet. Now, I know people are preoccupied with the cost of living and possible war in Europe. Well, Ukraine is in Europe, and as a matter of fact, we’re already in a world war, and that does worry me.
You would think people need the diversion a good piece of literature can bring, but I can’t see any evidence of that yet.
I just read an article in the Guardian with the title: ‘British independent publishers thrive despite Brexit and Covid pandemic’. Good for them, but how many are being run without any Arts Council, Lottery or other grants?
Do check out our books, they are quite special, and all a very good read, I can vouch for them because I’ve read them all several times. #SavedByOneBook
Tuesday 14 February
Valentine’s Day! I’ve never received a true valentine gift except a card each year from my mother when she was still alive.
Actually, they didn’t celebrate Valentine’s Day in the Netherlands when I still lived there over forty years ago. They do now, the Dutch have cottoned on to fact that you can sell a lot of red roses and chocolate on this day.
I loved it when I still worked for Justice which employed lots of people at the start of their career. On Valentine’s Day the office was full of anticipation and shrieks of laughter as floral and other gifts kept coming in.
Never for me though, I’m simply not lucky in love and still hoping to be lucky in publishing.
Monday 13 February
I managed to fill in the application form for social housing by Wiltshire Council. Why do they have to make these forms so convoluted? I think because they try to cram in too many scenarios into one form. It would be better to have a couple of forms for the different type of emergencies.
I even managed to find all the supporting documentation, at least I hope I did. All that’s missing now is a letter from the friend that has been putting me up to explain the urgency of my situation.
We’ve settled on a move out deadline of 31 March. At that point I will be not only technical but also practically homeless. I hope the powers that be understand my crisis because that seems to be my problem, believing the fact that I’m in a deep hole personally as well a professionally.
Yet, I have such high hopes of our titles and today I was mightily cheered up by a lovely quote from Travis Elborough for Jeremy Worman’s autobiographical novel The Way to Hornsey Rise which I would like to share with you.
‘Taking us from the class-bound stockbroker belt suburbs of Surrey in the 1960s, all minor public schools and gin sozzled adultery, to the squats of North London in the 1970s, reeking of dope and the aroma of slowly decaying hippy idealism, this is a book rich in period detail and atmosphere, and its account of a young man’s painful progress from innocence to experience as compellingly universal as it is highly specific of a time and place.’
I pray, I get the time and means to do this book justice and be able to sell lots of copies. With your help and that of your friends I can afford to send the book off to the printers next week if you pre-order your copy now.
Saturday 11 & Sunday 12 February
Saturday was another hesitant day on the market. There was lots of interest, quite a few books were picked up but people mostly hang on to their money.
Like last week all sales were made after 12 o’clock with interesting statistics. 11% of our books are short story collection, 31% poetry and 58% novels.
Our sales statistics for the day were: 40% short stories, 40% poetry and 20% novels. The numbers are too small to have true significant statistical meaning, but it is interesting, nonetheless. Are short story and poetry lovers more adventurous readers?
The bestselling author of the day was Neal Mason with The Past Is a Dangerous Driver.
Sunday was, as usual quiet, and the day I miss my two best mates, brother Arnold and dog Harry most.
I spent a lot of time thinking about how to tackle another enormously challenging week. I’m going to apply to Wiltshire Council for help with housing because I’m in danger of becoming truly homeless. I can’t stay in my friend’s spare bedroom forever.
I need to find a way to get more publicity for our wonderful books. If you have any ideas of what I can do to attract more attention, let me know.
By the way, there is a lovely video of Harry getting very excited while being sung to by Arnold in Dutch (‘I hou van you’ or ‘I Love You’).
Friday 10 February
Market day! Why is the market so important to me?
First of all, it sells books, all across the list, also those few titles that hardly sell anywhere else. It provides me each week with some hard cash.
Secondly, it has been the one constant since we (my brother, dog and I) had to move out of our lovely centuries old rented, four-bedroom, two-bathroom, cottage. I still miss my study with all my books and doll Caroline, who has been with me for 59 years, but now, sadly, is in storage too.
Since we moved out, we lived all in two shared room, slept rough in the car for two days, before I moved into the spare bedroom of a friend. In the process, my brother had to move back to the Netherlands first, in May 2022, and the dog followed seven weeks later.
Throughout these upheavals, one focal point remained, my bookstall on the Shambles Market in lovely artistic Stroud.
As I take my laptop along, I can run the company from anywhere as long as I have an internet connection, the office is up and running also on market days.
It has and is keeping me going and long may it last. But for that I need your help. Tell all our friends to buy out books, from bookshops, online shops including Amazon but especially from our website. Support #SavedByOneBook.
Thursday 9 February
I turned 65 today, the outside has aged but the inside stays the same, forever 25. I moved to the UK forty years ago, yet I wouldn’t want to go back to any day in the past. What has been, was done, and I’m happy with that.
The future is quite a different matter. Luckily we can’t see into the future and that is a blessing.
My brother gave me some money to buy a decent bottle of wine and I enjoyed that very much. No party otherwise, because what’s a party without my best mates Arnold and Harry?
At least the day ended with a wonderful sunset.
Wednesday 8 February
I received a manuscript with a covering email which mentioned that the author’s girlfriend would only marry him if his manuscript was published abroad. Now, this was a first, I’ve been informed of many reasons why I should publish a particular manuscript but never this one. I think it doesn’t bode well for the relationship.
One of the most wonderful aspects of being a publisher is receiving manuscripts. In our case they are unsolicited, all year round, and come from all corners of the earth. I love being surprised.
We used to receive quite a few manuscript about a war in Europe, but since the war in the Ukraine, I haven’t received a single manuscript on this theme. Isn’t this fascinating?
Manuscripts are quite evenly distributed across novels, short story collections and poetry and quite a few find their inspiration in their author’s own life. Manuscripts come in all shapes and forms from the very short (around 10,000 words) to the lengthy (100,000 plus), with the very short and very long categories most populated.
If, because of cash flow problems, I had to terminate the company, my life would be so much poorer without these manuscripts and the chances for more mature authors to get their manuscript published would diminish even more. Because it so happens that most of the authors we publish are older, I didn’t set out to do so, it seems that having lived a bit leads to better writing.
In order to publish books I need plenty of book buyers and they are a bit in short supply. So, the race is on, readers and book lovers please buy one of our books from our website so that we can stay in business and be #SavedByOneBook. Thank you!
Tuesday 7 February
Things are not going my way. We hardly have any returns and now, out of the blue, our Dutch distributor returned some damaged books and a misprint to me. At great costs and without asking my permission.
Obviously, it doesn’t rain, it is pours, and it is very hard to keep going if you’re looking into the abyss, both professionally and personally.
Why can’t people buy more of our book? They are wonderful reads and great additions to literature. But that may well be the problem, it seems most people want an easy read.
So, if I only could write a memoir about a sister who hates me, I might well be saved. And I could because there is a story there, but I won’t because she’s also my sister and I will keep loving her. I hope she and her family, my three godsons, are doing well. I don’t really know, she won’t talk to me, but has at least promised that I will be informed when she dies. It’s something but will I be there to take the message?
This memoir, which will never be written, could save me but would make me hate myself. I will continue the hard way to encourage more sales and hope to publish more literature that needs to be published and enriches what is already out there.
A big thank you to all of you who have supported the press in any form and bought our books. I know who you are. We just need more people like you. I live in hope, but at this point I may need a small miracle.
At the end of a taxing day, I needed a bit of swing therapy, I can highly recommend it.
Monday 6 February
Translator Lloyd Haft gave excellent feedback on the print proofs of Totally White Room by Gerrit Kouwenaar and the layout is looking good.
So, we nearly ready to go to print with this title as well. However, at the moment we have a holding cover, but no money to do the full cover. A few pre-orders will help us on the way to design a proper cover.
The Way to Hornsey Rise, an autobiographical novel about how a middle class boy ends up in one of Europe’s largest squats, by Jeremy Worman, is being held back, waiting for another quote from a well-known author. This book too can be pre-ordered which will help us tremendously.
I’m battling on but could do with a bit more support. We do have a donate button on PayPal.
Bring on the snowbells for Holland Park Press!
Saturday 4 & Sunday 5 February
I like walking through sleepy Malmesbury early in the morning on the way to the bus which will take me to my escape for the day, the market. Just a few shops are open: the off licence, the co-op and the old bakehouse which still bakes bread on the premises. The delicatessen and butcher are busy preparing their wares.
The bakery may well have a small queue just after seven for their delicious rolls filled on the premises. As I’m running a bookstall on the market I feel part of this hard-working enterprising community.
I do get a lot of compliments about our books and repeat customers but I’m racking my brain to see how I can scale this up. We’re so close and yet so far from becoming sustainable, because being close is still too far away.
So, on Sundays I tend to get very depressed. I’m worrying, and it’s not a day you can phone or email people to get things moving.
On top of this, I really need to find a more permanent place to live, and I can’t even afford a room in a shared house, even though this is far from ideal. I don’t think an average house share is necessarily keen of sharing it with someone their grandmother’s age.
However, I persevere, supported my brother Arnold via WhatsApps and don’t forget our dog Harry who vigorously wags his tail every time I say he is a ‘good boy’ or mention his name.
By buying books you can help me to survive another week. #SavedbyOneBook
Friday 3 February
Apart from having published the wonderful A Diamond in the Dust portraying Charles I as an ardent art lover, I’m developing quite an affinity for him.
After all, he basically lost his head because he spent too much on creating beautiful buildings and commissioning painters and other artists, things he considered indispensable.
Whereas I might well lose everything because I’ve spent too much on literature, which I think it is essential as it is what remains of us, long after we have gone. Fortunately, there is little chance of losing my head, but everything else is still quite a lot.
You can read a passage from Michael Dean’s remarkable book, about Charles and his French princess Henrietta’s first meeting and wedding night, from this page.
Buy a copy and support and niche publisher and its authors. Every copy helps to be #SavedbyOneBook.
Thursday 2 February
I received a tiny bit of good news on the personal financial front. The Koning Willem Fonds (for Dutch Citizens living in the UK in financial need) will continue to pay me a modest monthly sum for the next twelve months.
I and my brother Arnold have been very busy drumming up more support to survive the precarious financial situation of the press and therefore myself. We’ve had some success but not yet enough and the easiest way to help us and our authors is to persuade people to buy our books.
I’m glad I will be able to run the bookstall again at Shambles Market in Stroud. If you know someone in or around Stroud, please direct them to our bookstall. I will be there all day and very much look forward to having a chat and, of course, sell books. We take cards and cash.
I’m getting more and more excited about the promising manuscripts that are lined up for publication. I’ve never had such an exciting and commercial viable list of manuscripts and at the same time such a lack of money.
If you are a would-be philanthropist, here is your chance. It’s not often you find a publisher willing to work seven days a week without a salary. Virtually no overheads, all money goes directly to book production and promotion.
For years, Arnold’s self portrait has been on display in the Literatuurmuseum Den Haag. Unfortunately, for the museum, they decided to return it to Arnold. Fortunately, for Arnold, it is now on display in his living room.
It is probably lost on dog Harry, but doesn’t this remarkable portrait, painted by Arnold himself, lighten up the room?
Tuesday 3 January & Wednesday 1 February
Sorry for missing out a day but I’m so busy trying to do the near impossible in the light of the mounting pile of bills that I quite forgot about my entry for the diary.
Somehow, we have moved into February, but the Sword of Damocles is still hanging there.
I’m also still running the company from my friend’s spare bedroom and she needs it back to accommodate visiting grandchildren. I can’t blame her, she’s had to put up with me since May.
So, when she asked me if I could help out with her weekly luncheon club I couldn’t say no. For just £3.50 it serves a roast with all the trimmings and desert to over sixties.
So, there I was, dealing with dishing out roast potatoes in a four women line-up. Luckily, it was in the Town Hall around the corner from the post office, so I could combine with posting books to fulfil the order that came in this morning.
Ever since I started the press, I wished I was no longer able to keep up with incoming orders from our website. Make my wish come true before I’m turning 65. Now that would be a birthday present and remove the Sword of Damocles.
Monday 30 January
We received another lovely quote for The Way to Hornsey Rise. This time from Ferdinand Mount former editor of the Times Literary Supplement:
‘The Way to Hornsey Rise slips down like a glass of real lemonade on a hot afternoon, its sweet and bitter notes beautifully balanced. A sentimental education without illusions.’
It will go on the back cover.
I have such high hopes of all our books but I need to have enough money to promote them. For the moment I’m rather pre-occupied with paying the January bills.
On my way back home, I spotted something which looked like some sort of a witch but, upon closer inspection, one wouldn’t like to miss a witch, it turned out to be a motorcycle cover. Life has many surprises, and I live in hope to be pleasantly surprised.
Sunday 29 January
A quiet Sunday ended with a bang: a good friend of my brother was concerned enough about our struggle to pay the bills this month to make a donation. A big thank you to him.
We’re not there yet, but hopefully on our way.
Are we seeing the first green shoots of recovery?
Saturday 28 January
I always get a lot of compliments about our book covers. They are beautifully designed by Andrew Cox and his team at Reactive Graphics.
If only I could display the complete set in bookshops, it would make a huge difference to sales.
Another person today described it as follows: ‘These books look very moreish!’ I couldn’t have put it any better myself.
Today one keen reader bought three books in one go: The Institute, The Yellow House & Upturned Earth. An intriguing combination of two marvellous books expertly translated from the Dutch by respectively Susan Ridder and Asja Novak (her debut) and by Upturned Earth hangs a story.
I received two manuscripts at the same time by Karen Jennings. Because it was our fifth book by Karen Jennings and our list is not that large, I could only accept one of the books. I selected Upturned Earth as it was clearly even better than the other offering called An Island. Yet, it was An Island that was longlisted for the Booker Prize 2021. Such is the life of a niche publisher.
Today, I also sold both our classic Dutch novels in translation. A young lady bought Elive Vere by Louis Couperus as a present. She was looking for a classic, and quit appropriate as it is Couperus Jaar, commemorating he died 100 years ago.
I hope I can continue to sell books for many years to come but that will only happen if you all buy books so that we can be #SavedByOneBook.
Friday 27 January
A very smooth journey with two bus services to the market today, with a lovely sunset at the end of the day.
I’m increasingly worried about the bills that are piling up. I know it’s that time of the year, but the shortfall is more acute than ever.
That’s why it was such a disappointment that the market was very quiet, not great if you need to sell books.
Luckily there were a few orders that came in for signed copies of Arnold’s autobiographical novel Schurft which made the day ending on a lighter note.
I hope I’m not heading straight to my own sunset because I don’t know what I would do with myself if I can’t publish great literature. I will report back tomorrow. #SavedByOneBook
Thursday 26 January
We now have several influential people interested in reading a pre-publication copy of The Way to Hornsey Rise with the aim to provide a quote. So, I’m delaying sending the checked proofs to the printers, so that we can add more quotes to the back cover.
That’s a first and we have high hopes for Jeremy Worman’s autobiographical novel about how a privately educated middle class boy ended up in Europe’s largest squat.
I only hope I will reach the end of the month in one piece so that I can see it all through. You can help by buying our books.
If you’re in Stroud tomorrow, 27th, or on Saturday, you can visit our stall. Some much needed books, I had run out completely of 100 Dutch-Language Poems and Life in Translation, arrived very timely from the printers today.
Great literary needs you support, please buy books from our website or donate via Paypal. Support #SavedByOneBook, very much appreciated by our authors, my brother, even our dog, and of course yours truly.
Wednesday 25 January
Where are the Nureyevs and Einsteins of our age?
This is an important question. Why? Because nowadays people are famous for being famous, because they have appeared on one of the many reality shows.
Yet, people who really contribute something to society, in the arts and sciences, find it far more difficult to be become a household name.
How, may you ask, does this affect Holland Park Press in its current predicament? It used to be that if you wanted to make your mark in society, you had to be well-read. Hence people were far more inclined to buy books.
I really think that if I has started my company 40 years ago instead of 14 years ago, we would be sustainable by now. Yet, today I have to go out and hand sell the books, and even so it’s not quite balancing the books.
We fall between two stools. The Arts Council England couldn’t give a grant because I want to sell literature and make money for my authors, i.e. be commercially successful. A ‘Dragon’s Den’ type investor couldn’t invest because by selling literature I will never make a huge profit, even though it is enough for me and my authors it was not interesting enough for him.
However, I’m very determined to persevere even though I miss my two best mates, brother Arnold and dog Harry, very much.
Tuesday 24 January
I finish the first draft of the layout of Totally White Room, Gerrit Kouwenaar’s poetry collection commemorating the life with his late wife and in a wonderful translation from the Dutch by Lloyd Haft.
Here are a few lines from the book.
Poet, I’m here again for a moment, jolted
awake in you, I’m walking with you
through the stilled future of our past
The financial situation is still precarious, but I did manage to send off an application to the Koning Willem Fonds which helps Dutch citizens living in the UK with money troubles. I will hear the outcome on Friday 3 February.
Keep ordering books from our website, each copy contributes to the #SavedByOneBook campaign and is much appreciated!
Monday 23 January
Another lovely date today 23/01/23 and the start of a crucial week in the life of Holland Park Press. Where will we be at the start of next week? I don’t know for certain but I’m certainly doing my best.
The Way to Hornsey Rise needs to go off to the printers, so I needed to gather all the information for the full cover. I have a telephone meeting with its author Jeremy Worman on Wednesday to finalise things.
Here is a lovely quote about the novel:
‘Jeremy Worman’s memoir is a compulsive read. The memoir really grips you from the start with Worman’s description of his horrifying relationship with his abusive alcoholic mother and her woebegone husband and boyfriends.’ – Francis Gilbert
We need more, so please contact me, email@example.com, if you would like a review copy.
You can pre-order this book and order other books from our website and support #SavedByOneBook.
Saturday 21 & Sunday 22 January
During this cold spell, we wake up in the morning with everything covered in frost. It makes it hard to keep going especially on Saturday, the morning after a late night due to a Parish do.
The ice particles glistened in the streetlights on my way to the bus stop at 7am. The bus was delayed, the only other would-be passenger accused the bus driver of missing out stops and legged it to find a taxi. I persevered, the drivers of Coach Style mini busses don’t miss out stops, and I was rewarded by the bus turning up only 30 minutes late due to engine problem.
It was a miracle that I managed to catch my train, helped by the bus driver’s mad run, we must have hit all the potholes.
The market was slow and cold in the morning but luckily book lovers saved my day in the afternoon, again just in time.
On the way back we had the same driver, over eight hours later back on his schedule, and when he missed a stop because of dense fog, he reversed the bus to make stop after all, proving my earlier point.
Sunday morning was also frosty, though not foggy but bright. But it was too quiet. Dear people, we need more sales, if I am to pay this month’s bills. Don’t let the frost stop you in your tracks but melt my heart and tell all your friends to buy one of our books.
If you don’t need a book yourself, buy one for a friend, you can also keep a book for later, it doesn’t have a ‘best before’ date.
Support a niche publisher and its authors and make us #SavedByOneBook.
Friday 20 January
A very sad day. Our potential investor has decided not to invest. I can’t say I don’t understand, if you don’t feel that much affinity with literature it is hard to invest in a venture that isn’t set up to generate maximum profit and make the owner rich but instead gives wonderful authors a chance to get published and earn some money.
So the race is on to find someone else who can and is willing to support great literature. Arnold and I are on the case.
In the meantime, it’s business as usual and I’m running the market stall at the Shambles Market in Stroud this weekend. I’m looking forward to meeting more readers and selling more books.
Thursday 19 December
Arnold is teaching for the first time his new short story course. This time it is at the writers’ school headquarters in Amsterdam.
Tomorrow Arnold has another meeting with our potential investor, and I have provided him with a list of excellent books we want to publish and another list of promotional activities we could carry out with extra funds.
Today I also received the author’s corrections for the proofs of The Way to Hornsey Rise. I’ve sorted them and we are now all set for sending this book off to the printers early next week.
I’ve also added a page for Norbert Hirschhorn’s new poetry collection Over the Edge, due to be published in June 2023.
Good evening from Amsterdam & Malmesbury
Wednesday 18 January
It’s the middle of winter, cold, we even had some snow today, and we’re in the most expensive month of the year. No lack of bills but sales are much harder to come by this time of the year.
Yet, we have such a brilliant line-up of manuscripts we want to publish. I will do my utmost to turn them into beautifully laid out books with brilliant covers by Reactive Graphics.
We are in urgent in need of some help and pursuing this along several avenues. So, we all need to keep our fingers crossed and hopefully we get through this tricky month.
On the bright side, there’s always one if you look hard enough, days are getting noticeably longer, and I’ve even spotted a few sprouting buds.
Tuesday 17 January
We found one of the authors of our founding titles through a short story competition. He actually was the runner-up but when David Ayres asked me if I would look at his collection of interlinked stories I was immediately impressed.
These stories about growing in the 1960s in a small West Midlands town came obviously from the heart and were full of mischievous observations. Initially it was called A Sack of Spuds but being reminded of how Jeanette Winterson’s Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit ended up in the cookery section of bookshops we settled for the more evocative Top of the Sixties.
So, I was hooked on publishing short stories from the beginning. Writing a good short story is a special skill, like in poetry you can’t afford to waste any words and you must present the complete story arc in just a few pages. Besides, you can easily dip in and out a short story collection, excellent for present-day people with lost of different claims on their time.
David Ayres also became a good friend, and a pattern was set. Davis died far too young at 69 but we are lucky to have his short stories. You can sample them from this page.
All our wonderful short story collections are available from our website.
Monday 16 January
We have heard back from the potential investor. He is investigating possible ways forwards and has arranged for a second meeting with Arnold (they live in the same city) on Friday.
I will be on the market but able to communicate by phone or laptop. As a niche publisher I’m very much used to wearing several hats at the same time. Actually, it’s one of the things I enjoy very much, going about in virtual and real hats.
I also sent a copy of the proofs of The Way to Hornsey Rise to a well-known author who has indicated to Christopher Sinclair-Stevenson (Jeremy Worman’s agent) that he is willing to provide a quote that we can use on the back cover.
So, there are lots of reason why we must keep our fingers crossed, and to keep us going in this very challenging month of January.
In the meantime, don’t miss out on a very good read and buy one of the books from our website. Most books are available in print or ebook. You can download mobi and epub formats.
Sunday 15 January
Today, a lovely new review of The Past Is a Dangerous Driver by Abigail Hebert appeared in the October Hill Magazine, Winter 2022, volume 6, issue 4, page 39.
Here is a quote.
With the past as a pinning undercurrent, Mason takes to playing with form and cadence through the use of rhyme and alliteration. Perhaps reminiscent of the songs of soldiers used to maintain morale, or even of the great Grecian and Roman poets who often pondered their ancestry and how the fate of their lives was out of their hands. Mason’s bravery is evident in this vulnerable and empathetic collection, asking readers to sit with uncomfortable, unanswered questions. Yes, perhaps the past has corrupted the present, but maybe it also gives way to necessary evolutions and reflections.
You can buy Neal Mason’s collection from this page.
Saturday 14 January
An early start to catch the 7.15 bus to Swindon. I arrived at the bus stop to find a young man waiting who asked me how he could pay for the bus ticket. It turned out he was from Singapore staying for a few weeks in Malmesbury for a work assignment (for Dyson, of course).
On my way back, waiting for a bus, a gentleman in a knitted green pointed hat asked me if he had missed the bus. I said no, and suddenly recognised Father Christo, the priest replacing our regular one, Father Thomas, who is away. I nearly didn’t recognise him because of his hat.
Father Christo sat in front of me in the bus selling rather strongly of curry. I can’t blame him, he is from India, and I love curry too.
The market was much quieter than usual on a Saturday, and I didn’t sell anything before 12 o’clock. Luckily, readers were out and about in the afternoon and rescued my day. Anthony Ferner was the bestselling author of the day with two copies of Life in Translation and one copy of Winegarden sold.
Friday 13 January
Friday the 13th! Luckily, I’m not at al superstitious, and therefore I had a very happy day on the Shambles Market in Stroud. Fridays are always a bit slow, but it was great to be back, and the bus connection worked very well today.
Being on the market is almost therapeutic because I’m actively selling books and that is what we need to do more of, and somehow it takes you away from everyday worries. On the market everything seems brighter, even my money problems seem, for just a few hours, not unsurmountable.
Is this because markets have been around since people began living in small communities? Incidentally, outdoor market stalls kept going during COVID lockdowns and indoor markets were one of the first coming out of it.
Let’s hope the book lovers are out in force tomorrow, Saturday. #SavedByOneBook
Wednesday 11 and Thursday 12 January
The layout of The Way to Hornsey Rise has been sent to its author Jeremy Worman and he thinks it looks lovely. He’s found only a few minor points that need to be corrected. That’s good because I can’t wait to send this book off to the printers.
Otherwise, as it’s January, I’m busy with administrative tasks, not the most exciting aspect of my job, but an important one, nonetheless.
On Friday I’m off to the Shambles Market in Stroud, and my bag is packed. The fist bookstall in 2023, I’m really looking forward to it. Let’s hope we sell even more than in 2022.
Do you know that I sold copies of all our books, even the ones published back in 2009, through our bookstall? That’s why I don’t distinguish between a front- and backlist.
The weather is rather gloomy so I’m glad I’ve decided to keep my Christmas light going. They really cheer me up.
The rain has also taken its toll on the river Avon (one of several in England) that flows around and through Malmesbury. The water is quite high and started to flood roads, banks and car parks. I managed to take a few scenic pictures.
Tuesday 10 January
This year it is 100th anniversary of Louis Couperus death. In the Netherlands the Louis Couperus Museum is organising a number of events to celebrate his life. If you are Dutch, you can find more details on this website.
Incidentally, the Louis Couperus Museum was founded and still run by my good friend Caroline de Westenholz.
Books by Louis Couperus continue to be popular in the Netherlands, but Eline Vere always had a special place in my heart, so I’m pleased it is one of the Holland Park Press founding titles (the books with the row of trees on the cover).
We decided to use JT Grein’s translation from 1892, but when I came to check it against the original, I noticed that a few key scenes were missing, especially towards the end of the book, as if the translator had run out of time. Quite possible as Jack Grein was a busy man.
So, I decided to add the missing passages back in. I was still in my regular day job at the time and spent many an evening and the weekends in the footsteps of the great Louis.
Eline Vere is Couperus’s debut novel and the one that made his name. If you like Jane Austen’s novel, you should check out what makes Eline tick. Available from this page.
If you like what you read, do promote it in the social media using the #IkLeesCouperus (I read Couperus) and #ElineVere hashtags.
Monday 9 January
Today, I sent the figures to our potential investor. He confirmed he had received my email and will look at them this Friday. I feel as if I’m in my own private episode of Dragon’s Den.
I’m keeping my fingers crossed and try not to think of all the outstanding bills.
Luckily there are the books to cheer me up. We’re finishing of the layout for The Way to Hornsey Rise and it’s looking good. Jeremy’s agent managed to get a couple influential people interested in reviewing the book. So, another reason to be hopeful.
You can read a passage from Jeremy Worman’s autobiographical novel from this page and, even better, you can also pre-order it.
Sunday 8 January
It was royalties Sunday today. This bittersweet activity of starting to put together royalty reports for our authors.
Sweet because it’s lovely to report on sales for our titles and pay our authors, bitter because I always think we haven’t sold enough and blame myself.
I could have worked harder but that would have required more hours in a day. If I had more funds, I could have done more promotion but that’s a bit like the chicken and the egg. Sell more books have more money to spend, equally have more money to spend sell more books.
This is the real challenge for 2023: turning Holland Park Press from a critically acclaimed niche publisher into a critically and commercial successful press. Yes, I believe this is possible, even though the Arts Council England doesn’t like my ‘outcomes’.
It’s rather sad that ghostwritten memoirs by famous people, I’m not naming names, are attracting all the attention when wonderful literature struggles to make itself heard. Yet what remains of us is this very literature.
That’s why it’s worth fighting for it, even though it means all your stuff, including books, is in storage, you’ve invested all you have and ended up in a temporary bedsitting room without your brother or your dog.
Saturday 7 January
No Shambles Market in Stroud this weekend. The bus services don’t connect on Saturday mornings which means that I cannot get to Stroud until just after 1pm and I don’t think I could ask someone to drive me into Stroud on a Saturday morning after the Christmas break.
Besides, I have a cough and a lot on at the moment, such as financial & layout deadlines.
I do miss the market and the sales even more. Provided there are plenty of customers, I can easily hand sell any of our books, not difficult as they are all very special. If I could only clone myself our find someone else knowledgeable to help run more stalls, it would make all the difference.
However, you can always help by buying, or encouraging other people to buy, a book from our website. You can also check out reviews and read a passage to find the book of your choice. Enjoy!
Thursday 5 & Friday 6 January
Arnold had a good conversation with the potential investor based in the Netherlands but now he needs some figures and that’s where I come in. So, I’ve been busy these two days preparing an overview of how things stand.
Not so good I’m afraid, but I think our books are very investable and love working on them with our authors.
Talking about books: the layout for The Way to Hornsey Rise, an autobiographical novel by Jeremy Worman is nearly finished. Next up is the layout for Totally White Room, poems by Gerrit Kouwenaar, expertly translated by Lloyd Haft.
Here are a few lines from the title poem:
Let’s make the room white one more time
one more time the totally white room, you, me
this won’t save time, but one more time
make the room white, now, never again later
Actually, we met up with Lloyd Haft, who lives with his wife Katie in the Netherlands, at our Christmas reception in Amersfoort.
Wednesday 4 January
Our beloved 21-year-old Fiesta is no longer with us. Today Arnold had to take it to the scrap yard, because it was barely possible to change into 1st gear or reverse. During my visit to the Netherlands, we hardly used the car afraid to get stuck on our way.
An emotional day because this car, purchased for the grand sum of £1,400, was essential to bring our books to markets and never let us down, and also allowed us to explore the lovely countryside of the South West.
Dog Harry, who came into our lives three months after the car, loved being in the car, we called it his rolling basket.
Actually, it was Harry who caused the car to fail its first and only MOT, by chewing through the rear seat belts.
Monday 2 & Tuesday 3 January
After it took two hours to get past the easyJet bag drop, security and customs I boarded a plane for the first time since 2010. This in spite of the fact that a kindly guard gave me priority at the passport check and saved me a good fifteen minutes.
The flight was uneventful, and though the stay with my brother was utterly delightful, I was also very glad to be back in the UK.
Baggage collection at Bristol airport was quick and easy. I timed my travel to avoid the train strike, but I forgot local busses don’t operate on bank holidays, so I had to take a taxi from Chippenham to Malmesbury, and I’m still recovering from the fare.
When I arrived home at my friend’s house, she was about to service desert at her lunch party, and I asked me to join them. It was lovely way of coming back after having to say goodbye to my brother and dog Harry.
On Tuesday, I had to face up to the fact of starting the new working year. No New Year resolutions for me. I’m just determined to keep the press going even though it’s going to be crunch time.
On the bright side, my brother and I finished the document setting out our position and funding needs for a potential investor. My brother has emailed it to him and we’re hoping to hear from him soon.
After having published two wonderful books in 2022: The Past Is a Dangerous Driver and A Diamond in the Dust, the publishing programme for 2023 looks even more exciting with four more books signed up and a few more waiting in the wings.
Look out for:
The Way to Hornsey Rise, and autobiographical novel by Jeremy Worman
Totally White Room, poetry by Gerrit Kouwenaar translated from the Dutch by Lloyd Haft
Over the Edge, a new poetry collection by Norbert Hirschhorn
The King’s Art, the sequel to A Diamond in the Dust and the second book in the trilogy about The Stuarts by Michael Dean
Support us to make this happen by telling all your friends to buy one of our books.
New Year’s Day Sunday 1 January 2023
Dog Harry wasn’t at all fussed by the fireworks, he even went outside with us, to look at the splendid display in the centre of Amersfoort. I had forgotten how keen the Dutch are to shoot in the New Year, and, of course, it was the first proper display in three years.
The rest of the first day of 2023 was also delightful, I even sold two books! At the end of the day Harry and I both fell asleep.
Tomorrow is another day.
New Year’s Eve Saturday 31 December
This afternoon oliebollen (traditional Dutch New Year’s Eve sweet) and mulled wine were served in Armen de Poth, a delightful event.
Fireworks could be seen and heard throughout the day. Hopefully dog Harry enjoys the spectacle when the real stuff erupts at midnight.
I’m grateful to have survived 2022 and live in hope of a better 2023. Happy New Year!
This is me enjoying the early fireworks in the almshouses’ courtyard.
Thursday 29 & Friday 30 December
A potential investor has materialised on the horizon. He’s Dutch, so Arnold and I have been busy putting together an investment proposal. It has to be in Dutch, and my first writing language is English, so we need to do it together. It’s a very long shot but we will give it our best.
I haven’t been in the Netherlands since 2016, when we removed the last bits of furniture from my mother’s apartment. It went to join us in our cottage in Malmesbury but now sadly it is in storage, except from some essential items now proudly displayed in my brother’s almshouse.
Being in the Netherlands turns out to be very good for my languages because you can watch TV programmes not only from the Netherlands, but also, among others, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.
They speak Flemish in western Belgium, it’s the same written language as Dutch, but the accent is different, very sing song, but what really surprised me how much richer their vocabulary is on TV compared to Dutch TV.
I will miss all this when I’m back in the UK but I am looking forward to running our market stall again and meet more readers.
Wednesday 28 December
It’s so good to have in depth discussions about the company and our future with my brother in person. It’s such a crucial time and we’re so close to making it sustainable.
There are some promising signs on the horizon, and we’ve got an extension to file our accounts from Companies House. Essential for our cash flow.
Plenty of manuscripts are being submitted and it’s also so exciting to see new opportunities to publish deserving authors.
I’m committed to give it my all in 2023, that’s why I’m so grateful that my brother has made it possible to spend the festive season with him. It will give me strength to make 2023 a very special year.
If only my feet and skin were not some cumbersome but books cheer me up.
Tuesday 27 December
Still mentally preparing for 2023 which will be my greatest challenge yet. Luckily the Dutch speed skating championships over four distances were on TV. A sport very particular to the Netherlands, it reminded me of growing up in the 1960s and 70s when we watch it at home.
A tonic for the heart. Even our dog Harry kept track of events.
Boxing Day Monday 26 December
I didn’t realise how much having to live without a proper permanent address and the person, my brother Arnold, who runs the press with me, had taken its toll. I’ve never felt so tired for this long.
So, for the moment I’m taking it easy, and try not to think of all the bills that need to be paid, and I’m so glad that Arnold has found a small almshouse with enough room for me to stay for a couple of days.
Dog Harry thinks he is in 7th heaven with both of us present, but he can’t know how much joy and comfort his unconditional love give to me. Besides he is a master in the art of chilling out.
Our ageing Fiesta (21 years old), however, is very much on its last legs. We don’t dare to take it on the 80-kilometre journey to our parents’ grave.
Christmas Sunday 25 December
Feeling much better today after a lovely Christmas morning mass in the Sint Ansfridus church, Amersfoort, the only mass in town.
So here are the promised photos of the party we organised for Dutch friends who have supported us over the past two years.
The venue, the chapel of the almshouses Armen de Poth, came for free because my brother Arnold lives there, and a few bottles of wine go a long way. It was a wonderful but very emotional event.
Thursday 22, Friday 23 & Saturday 24 Decemmber
The run up to Christmas was very busy and emotional this year and I will post some photos later. I more or less collapsed on Friday, hence no posts.
A very Merry Christmas!
Tuesday 20 & Wednesday 21 December
On Tuesday, it was a long journey from Malmesbury to Amersfoort where my brother lives. The journey through the UK towards the Channel tunnel went smoothly, so was the journey on the shuttle itself, very uneventful, but we got stuck for more than two hours on the Antwerp ring road.
But when, late at night, I was reunited with dog Harry, he was ecstatic, I have never seen him so excited. Our friends Dick’s excellent van drove us to the Netherlands. My brother and I were just glad that our ageing Fiesta made it to his almshouse.
I forgot how tall the Dutch are. My foots don’t touch the ground when I sit on the toilet, and I can’t see my face in the mirror above the washbasin.
So, it was only appropriate that we found a sign in Dutch ‘please mind your head’ and I could easily stand underneath it.
Monday 19 December
Today, we, I my brother Arnold and our dear friend Dick, who provides the funds, went to the sea container which, as it says on the tin, contains all our possessions, to retrieve items very dear to Arnold’s heart: his publications, my fathers walking stick and scouts staff, his Maria statue, a bronze statue of mother and child, the remembrance cabinet to our parents, a few favourite painting and my grandmother’s tea cabinet which he will use to display his publications.
It rained a lot, but emotions were also given a free rein, most of my treasured possessions still remain in storage but tomorrow, my brother and I, transported in our remarkable friend Dick’s van with him at the steering wheel, drive back to the Netherlands.
I’m so looking forward to celebrating Christmas and the New Year with Arnold and dog Harry and will certainly use this time to develop new plans to promote our wonderful books in 2023.
You can help us, to buy and promote our books, and you can find more information on our website.
Saturday 17 & Sunday 18 December
On Saturday I was busy tidying up things before the Christmas break. Not that I will sit still during the break but because I will be away there were things that had to be sorted.
On Sunday my brother Arnold and his best friend Dick arrived earlier than expected which was wonderful.
Arnold and Dick wanted to experience a world cup final in a British pub, so we did. After giving a few traditional Dutch seasonal gifts to Catherine, who has put me up since May, a thank you long overdue, we went to the Rose and Crown.
It was a lovely experience, not at least because the wonderfully diverse Rose and Crown clientele, but also because of the most exciting football world cup in decades.
Afterwards we had a light supper in the King’s Arms, with a touch of Dutch, the landlady and customers at two tables, mixed with a Spanish flavour, the food.
A very big thank you to Dick who made this all possible. All in all, a most remarkable weekend, which sets me up for the most challenging year, 2023, of my life.
As always, I rely on the support of discerning readers wherever they may reside to buy our books preferably from our website.
Friday 16 December
Strange for it to be a Friday without having to go to the market. I think I didn’t miss any other Fridays even though we had a lot of housing upheavals this year.
Actually, since we moved out of our cottage in early November 2021(!) I haven’t had a self-contained place to live. It’s like being a student living in shared accommodation and that’s a bit of a shock to the system as I am four decades on from being in my twenties.
A big thank you to those people who put me up, without them I would have been homeless. Nonetheless, I will have to find a more self-contained permanent place to live in 2023. The problem, as always, is one of money.
On a bright note, the layout of The Way to Hornsey Rise is in its final stages. Today I cut the first PDF, print ready copy, and it looks good. Now over to brother Arnold to spot the glitches.
Thursday 15 December
The big thing today was that I had, reluctantly, cancel the Shambles Market in Stroud, for the 16 & 17th.
The cold weather, trains strikes, delays with deliveries and looming deadlines made it impossible to fit in the markets. I will miss the markets, but I will also be dashing around to get everything for my first proper break in a long time.
Well, break, we’ll be hosting a reception to thank our sponsors in the Netherlands on 22 December. We will also use this as an opportunity to sell more books and therefore I was pleased that the UPS delivery with some essential titles arrived today.
During our ‘break’ we will also work on checking the layout for The Way to Hornsey Rise, as well as discussing several outstanding manuscripts. So, I will be busy but will be in the company of brother and dog.
Our aim is for our three to be reunited with our bookstall in 2023.
Wednesday 14 December
I think I have cracked the InDesign issue so the layout of The Way to Hornsey Rise is going full steam ahead. Jeremy Worman’s autobiographical novel has great potential and review copies will be available in early January.
I wish everything else was going swimmingly as well but after a very rough, touch-and-go 2022, 2023 looks as being more of the same. We have some great publications lined up and if people only bought a few more books, it would make all the difference.
My brother Arnold and I are going to have to do a lot of brainstorming over the Christmas break and I’m very much looking forwards to spending time with him and dog Harry.
In the meantime, all the books are available from our website including the two books published in late 2022: The Past Is a Dangerous Driver, wonderful poetry by Neal Mason, and A Diamond in the Dust, a revealing novel about Charles I by Michael Dean.
Tuesday 13 December
It was all going so swimmingly with the layout of Jeremy Worman’s intriguing autobiographical novel The Way to Hornsey Rise until I hit an InDesign snag.
Well, it’s probably just a matter of me not being familiarly enough with the programme. InDesign is very versatile, and I just know enough to manage to do a book layout, so from time-to-time InDesign tells me it can do so much more which baffles me.
Hopefully I either find out how this particular part of the functionality works, unlikely because it takes time, or I find a workaround, more likely but will probably take some tedious copy and pasting. I will keep you informed.
Luckily, there was a welcome seasonal diversion in the evening: our annual carol service, the first since lockdown. It was organised by our primary school St Joseph’s and the children sang beautifully, knowing all the words be heart.
They even performed a simple nativity play with an adorable tiny Mary and a yawning Joseph.
Afterwards, we are Catholics after all, there was cake and ltst of other sweets, apple juice for the children and plenty of mulled wine for the grownups.
The fact that Malmesbury is still full of snow and the church beautifully decorated and lit up added to the atmosphere. I helped doing the washing up afterwards and it was a lovely well-spent evening.
Monday 12 December
Another day with a lovely date: 12 12 22, I love them, I know it’s just a set of numbers, but it makes a day special, and it’s needed on a cold snowy day that’s also a Monday.
That’s why this quote from Hedwig’s Journey is so dear to me:
‘It was the afternoon, between four and five o’clock, that she recalled with most dislike; …, and the worst of all the first day of the week in the middle of winter.’
I couldn’t have put it better myself.
Did you know that Frederik van Eeden who wrote Hedwig’s Journey was a very special person? Actually, all our authors are, but let me introduce you to Frederik, even though he shouldn’t need an introduction.
He was a novelist, dramatist, poet and critic. He studied medicine, completed a PhD on the artificial nutrition of tuberculosis patients and became later interested in psychiatry. If this was not diverse enough, he was also interested in reforming society and was a pacifist.
In 1913 he presented the very first paper introducing the concept of lucid dreaming, and famously disagreed with Sigmund Freud about the merits of psychoanalysis.
So, it was lovely that on Saturday a man was immediately taken to Hedwig, ‘this book appeals o me,’ and bought a copy. This happens from occasionally with Hedwig, as if Frederik calls his readers from beyond the grave.
Sorry about philosophising on 12/12/22, blame in on the unexpected heavy snowfall.
Saturday & Sunday: 10 & 11 December
After a very frosty start on Saturday, you do notice it when you’re waiting for the 7.15am bus, we got snow today, Sunday.
Not at all without its benefits. I watch a superb sunrise from the bus on Saturday and I love the muffled sound when walking through a world packed with snow. That, and meeting excited children, surely one of their Christmas presents has come early, some of them experiencing snow properly for the first time.
For here in the West County, the weather is mostly mild, and it must have been years since the last substantial snowfall. Is nature hitting back?
At what you may ask? Well global warming or trying to tell us that the weather is even better at disrupting transport than strikes. Because I am concerned that train and postal strikes are very much working against me and countless other small business owners. We need to work with not against each other.
No matter what, I will continue to champion our books to be #SavedbyOneBook.
Friday 9 December
A cold and crispy start with a beautiful sunrise makes the double bus journey from Malmesbury to Stroud a wonderful experience, if only I wasn’t so tired so that I keep falling asleep. Luckily, I get of at the endpoints, so I’m in no danger of missing a bus stop.
In Stroud, you’re always in for something different, today it was a young man in Christmas jumper and matching hat enthusiastically singing Christmas carols completely out of tune. He was holding a bag to collect money, maybe he expected people to pay him to go away.
Out of the blue I received an email which solved one of my monthly worries. The Koning Willem Fonds, which has supported me through the past year, is going to give me a Christmas present, in the form of a one-off payment.
Thanks very much KWF (a fund to help Dutch people living in the UK with money problems)!
The money will go straight to the monthly fee for the storage of our furniture etc. and the separate one for our books. Oh, how I miss all these things, especially my many books, which a languishing in boxes on a farm.
Let’s hope we sell lots of books in the run up to Christmas so that I can hope of being reunited with my personal book collection.
Please tell all your friends to buy one of our wonderful books, yes, these too, I have read all more than once, from our website.
Thursday 8 December
Today the final version of the cover for Over the Edge, a new poetry collection by Norbert Hirschhorn, arrived. A new cover is always a reason to celebrate, in my present circumstances, this means I allow myself a couple of glasses of red wine. I never thought red wine would become a treat for special occasions only.
Over the Edge is inspired by Norbert’s move back to the USA, after dividing his time between London and Beirut for several years, and memories of his parents. The collection will be published in June 2023 and more details will follow shortly.
I leave you with the closing poem of Over the Edge.
Letter to My Parents Long Gone
From 853 Riverside Drive
I think of you often,
especially on your birthdays
(July 19, November 29),
each of you divine,
your spirits nesting inside me.
You gave me life. Full stop.
What you endured to see me through:
abandoning your parents to the Shoah,
uprooted, flight, turmoil in America.
And I, know-it-all, hardly knew
what you went through – I fled,
abandoned you, even as
you stayed faithful to me.
My most sorrowful apologies,
Your firstborn son
Wednesday 7 December
I’m missing my dog! Today, I met not one but two young black Labs out for a walk.
The first one was five-months-old Lola who greeted me enthusiastically by jumping up, putting her paws around my arm and licking me. The lady owner, who could only just hold him, profusely apologised. I said, ‘I don’t mind,’ she couldn’t have realised how much it meant to me to be greeted by a black Lab.
The second one was a fourteen-weeks-old pub, so she has only just started walking and it showed, but even so she greeted me in this fluffy pub-like manner. I just wanted to pick her up and give her a cuddle but, of course, I couldn’t do this.
Labradors are so affectionate, clever, and full of unconditional love. My brother Arnold has a sore throat and Harry comes up to him regularly to put his nose or head against his throat, as if to say, I know it hurts.
Harry patiently waits for Arnold to come home from creative writing teaching and doesn’t even mind the siren every month to practise the air raid alert (they still have these in the Netherlands).
I regularly see Harry and Arnold via WhatsApp but it’s not the same and I can’t wait until I see them both again on 20 December. We haven’t seen each other since June!
Tuesday 6 December
A day with lots of things on the go. I’m busy finding more reviewers for Michael Dean’s A Diamond in the Dust and sent out a copy to a lady who very much enjoyed reviewing one of Michael’s previous books The White Crucifixion.
Work on the layout for The Way to Hornsey Rise is in its early stages, and we hope to have the print proofs ready by the end of the Christmas break at the latest.
I’m also busy contacting more bookshops about our new books including Neal Mason’s poetry collection The Past Is a Dangerous Driver.
Andrew Cox from Reactive Graphics send me the first draft of Norbert Hirschhorn’s new poetry collection Over the Edge. I was delighted with it, and so were Norbert and his wife Cynthia, so we can progress to the final cover straightaway.
It’s so lovely when this happens, it means my brief was clear, and I hope to share the new cover with you soon.
Monday 5 December
Today is what the Dutch call pakjesavond, literally the eve of presents, St Nicholas Eve, the time when the Dutch give each other presents.
It also has a hint of Valentine’s Day because, especially young, people use it to give each other presents anonymously. Sometimes used to tease about a bad habit, or as a declaration of love, by giving a traditional sugar heart.
Presents are accompanied by a rhyme, and as long as it rhymes anything goes, this too can be used to express all sorts of feelings.
I haven’t celebrated St Nicholas for quite some time. When my mother was still alive, she died in 2013, I often used to go to the Netherlands to celebrate or to send a big parcel with presents for all the family.
My mother also used to send me a parcel with traditional St Nicholas sweets so that I could treat people at work. Banket, rich almond paste in a buttery crumbling puff pastry, was a particular favourite.
So, since 2013, no proper St Nicholas celebrations, instead a controversy has started about St Nicholas’s black servants who throw pepernoten, another of the traditional sweets. It all harks back to St Nicholas throwing money through a window to provide a dowry for unmarried girls in Spain under Moorish influence.
However, nowadays you no longer get away with blacked up white people behaving like nitwits. It’s good that it’s being addressed and ‘zwartepiet’ has now become a multi-coloured person.
Still, remembering a saint by giving each other presents, and leaving Christmas present-free, is a good concept, and I very much miss the traditional pakjesavond celebration, and especially the run-up with all the children full of expectation putting out their shoes with food for St Nicholas’s horse (white) in the evening and finding traditional sweets the following morning.
There is a wonderful pakjesavond scene in Eline Vere, you can read it here.
Saturday 3 & Sunday 4 December
Saturday was a usual day at Shambles Market, and I very much enjoyed talking to customers. I love the whole process of convincing a reader to buy one of our books. In short, I adore selling, I wish I could do more of it.
Sunday also was as expected. Yes, I know the world cup is going on, and yes, I did watch England play today and they were great. If, in their quarter final games, they manage to beat France and the Netherlands beat Argentina, big ifs I think, then we are treated to an England – Netherlands match. I support both teams but when it comes to the crunch I will root for England.
Christmas decorations are to be found everywhere. Our High Street is as lovey as last year, but our little St Aldhelm’s Church has really excelled itself this year.
Friday 2 December
The day I ran two stalls back-to-back. One I Stroud, where I was running it until 3pm, then transported by two bus companies, a quick dash to Malmebury Town Hall to run a stall at their Late Night Shopping event from 6 until 9pm.
After leaving home at 7am, I returned somewhat exhausted at 10pm
What’s more, Stroud’s Goodwill Evening was as the same time as Malmesbury Late Night Shopping. So the stall I Stroud was there without me, Ron who runs the market expertly, even took payment for a couple of our books in my absence.
To build up the stall in record time, 15 minutes, I had to store books in the club room of our RC parish Church St Aldhelm’s. I thought our Parish priest knew about it, but he looked rather surprised when I rang to doorbell to ask for the keys. This wasn’t helped by the fact that I discovered, when serving customers, that I had ran off with his bunch of keys. However, I duly delivered them back after the event.
People who have seen me dashing across Cross Hayes with boxes of books must have thought I was part of the entertainment.
The evening started very slow, even though the hall was packed. Here is me putting brave face on it.
However, I suddenly started selling books between 8.20 and 9pm, which resulted in having a successful evening and many of the books shown here were sold.
And the Christmas light, too, were out in force.
Thursday 1 December
I managed to make the deadline and Nobert Hirschhorn’s new poetry collection, Over the Edge, is submitted to the Poetry Book Society summer choice.
I have commissioned another cover from our trusted designer Andrew Cox founder & creative director at Reactive Graphics and when it’s signed off, I will add the details and a pre-order button to our website.
Hopefully, I’ve sorted out the logistical problems for tomorrow when I run two bookstalls back-to-back. During the day in Stroud and during the evening at Malmesbury.
Two boxes with books and posters are stored in St Aldhelm’s Church club room. It’s near the Town Hall where my stall is located, and I should be able to carry in the boxes myself. Keep reading this diary to find out how I get on.
In the meantime, our books are available to order 24/7 from our website in print and ebook formats.
Sunset through the Malmesbury Abbey windows.
Wednesday 30 November
The last day of November already but that means I’m only 18 day away of my brother, his friend Dick and his daughter arriving in Malmesbury to collect me. Arnold has to collect some things out of storage, and I hope to locate a few favourite hats and boots I missed the other day.
I’m looking very much forward to spending Christmas and New Year with Arnold in the Netherlands.
But first I have to deal with the logistical nightmare of having to run a market stall during the day in Stroud on Friday and Saturday and one on Friday evening in Malmesbury.
I got a message that cheered me up today. I had emailed Colin Callender, founder of Plaground Entertainment, and award-winning producer, if there was any progress on dramatizing Hold Still by Cherry Smith. Apparently, they are talking to script writers, so things are ongoing and we’re keeping our fingers crossed.
This is from the reviews of Hold Still, a novel about the muse and mistress of James Whistler and Gustave Courbet:
‘A jewel of a book, rich and sensual, vivid with the colours of paint and flesh, scents of skin and sea, the taste of a lover.’
‘With tangles of love, art, jealousy and sex, Hold Still has it all and I can’t recommend it more.’
It makes an excellent Christmas Present.
Tuesday 29 November
A very busy day catching up with things. Not only dealing with outstanding emails but also progressing the various ongoing campaigns.
I’m doing a big mailing to bookshops in the USA to promote the publication of A Diamond in the Dust by Michael Dean.
Jeremy Worman has given me his feedback on the editing process for The Way to Hornsey Rise, and I have applied all the corrections.
I’m also working to get Over the Edge, a new poetry collection by Norbert Hirschhorn ready for submitting it as a Poetry Book Society Choice.
On Friday evening it is late night shopping in Malmesbury, I’m taking part, but it is a bit of a logistical nightmare as, currently, I am in Stroud running the bookstall during the day.
Follow this diary to keep up to date with all that’s happening and don’t forget our books when shopping for Christmas presents.
Sunday 27 & Monday 28 Nov
A very busy, but productive and remarkable two days.
I had quite forgotten how large London is but traveling back and forth between friend and author Jeremy’s house in Hackney to Notting Hill brought back many memories.
The tribute to Laura went very well. I hadn’t seen West 11 for years, it’s a quite remarkable film, directed by Michael Winner when he was still in his artistic phase. Do try to see it if you can.
I very much enjoyed taking part in the Q&A session and caught up with many good friends including authors of London Undercurrents Joolz and Hilaire and author Adam Daly and his wife and of course Laura’s son Jacob and his family.
Many of Laura’s books were sold including quite a few copies of Where is My Mask of an Honest Man? My bag was substantially less heavy on my way back.
After a lovely evening and supper with Jeremy and Nicola, on Monday morning, I travelled to Melksham in Wiltshire to give a talk to the Women’s Institute. Well actually, the meeting took place in the village hall in Broughton Gifford near Melksham and I managed to catch one of the infrequent busses that are available in the countryside.
The talk went well, but afterwards I had to spend one- and three-quarter hours for the next train, on a station resembling a bus stop.
I was so glad to be home but do it all again with pleasure to promote our books. Don’t forget to buy one of our books as a Christmas present.
Saturday 26 November
I travelled by National Express bus for the first time since living in Bristol in the 1980s. I had to get to London to attend Street Writing Woman, celebrating the life and work of Laura Del-Rivo, and the trains were not running.
Thanks to the coach and author Jeremy Worman and his wife Nicola putting me up for two nights, I will be there to take part in the Q&A session and to sell copies of Where Is My Mask of an Honest Man?
On my way in I had a glimpse of a fairy tale Windsor Castle by night.
Friday 25 November
A productive day at Shambles market and it was wonderful to be able to add our latest novel A Diamond inn the Dust by Michael Dean to our stall.
Markets are visited by people from all walks of life, that’s one of its attractions, but rarely do we welcome a pigeon. For obvious reason not our most favourite customer.
Stroud has still a centre with many independent shops and one of my favourite is James & Owen, the stationery and copy shop. It does very good value envelopes, a perfect fit for our books, and laminated sheets to display review quotes for our books. Today they did one for our latest arrival.
Thursday 24 November
Another busy day, emailing bookshops about A Diamond in the Dust, another zoom meeting, and discussions about a manuscript. I often wish a day had more hours.
But I don’t complain, I like being busy. As long as I can find the time for a walk, but I do miss the excitement that walking a dog brings. Especially such an inquisitive dog like black Lab as our Harry now resident in the Netherlands, who always manages to surprise you with his finds.
At the end of a long day Malmesbury by night was lovely.
Wednesday 23 November
We had a very productive zoom meeting to discuss all the last details for the events celebrating the life and work of Laura Del-Rivo. It’s an initiative by her son Jacob and we, close friends and publishers of Laura’s work, are happy to assist him.
On Sunday, from 2 to 4pm, there is a screening of West 11, Michael Winner’s film of Laura’s debut novel The Furnished Room following by a Questions and Answers session about aspects of Laura. I’m on the panel.
Afterwards we will move to the nearby Taberbacle to continue celebrating Laura’s unique contribution to our lives.
I not only published Where Is My Mask of an Honest Life? but Laura also became our friend and I’m so happy that she was able to visit us here in Malmesbury. This is Laura at the launch in 2013 in Notting Hill.
To be presentable, I started to look more and more like a sister of Catweazle, I booked an appointment with a hairdresser. My old one retired, a bit of a setback because her rates were very reasonable. Luckily, I found another lovely lady with similar prices and for the first time in six months my hair was cut. I think you can notice the difference.
Tuesday 22 November
It’s a lovely date today: 22/11/22. I love this sort of things and thus it was an excellent day for the first batch of A Diamond in the Dust to arrive.
Michael Dean has written a wonderfully entertaining book putting King Charles I in a different light. It’s intriguing to find out how the King’s physical defects affected his behaviour and how passionate he was about the arts and his wife Henrietta. And, by the way, she adored him.
You can read a lovely excerpt: chapter 18 – Bliss! on our website and Michael Dean also wrote a great article about writing A Diamond in the Dust.
‘Sumptuous detail and a rare ability to inhabit character are skilfully combined by Dean to bring an original and compelling portrait of Charles 1 as patron of the Arts, in the first of his trilogy about the Stuarts.’ – Hana Cole
‘With historically rich prose Dean’s A Diamond in the Dust, book one of a trilogy, brings to life the intimate and artistic world of The Stuarts of 17th century England. An intriguing and fascinating read.’ – Stephanie Renee dos Santos
Buy you copy now!
Sunday 20 & Monday 21 November
Lots of admin to do on Sunday but it was mostly sorted, and I managed to see a beautiful sunset.
I also had an offer of a room in a shared house. The room looked lovely, and the house was a Grade II listed farmhouse but unfortunately it was in a tiny village without post office or public transport. That won’t work for me, besides it was still on the expensive side, so I had to decline.
Monday started very rainy, but I dealt with quite a lot of messages. Then, in between all the showers, I managed to change my summer to winter cloths. No big deal you might think, but then your cloths are probably stored in various cupboards.
In my case my winter cloths were all in storage in a different village. Not only that they were spread across all our other possessions in a sea container, and moreover, we had dumped more stuff under severe time pressure. In short, the storage is a mess.
So, picture me, climbing on top of wobbly piles of stuff in search of essential clothing. I came away with an odd collection but at least I do no longer have to wear layers of summer cloths and I did retrieve my winter coats.
But, oh dear, where the hell, did I put my two favourite, warmest brown winter hats? The story of sorting out my life continues.
Saturday 19 November
A very busy day at the market. People are finally shopping for Christmas presents. The day flies by when you’re selling and having lovely chats with readers. It’s even more wonderful if people come along and tell you how much they liked reading one of our books.
On my way back from Stroud to Cirencester dusk was falling and the bus route was travelling along some wonderfully scenic single-track roads, when some extra magic appeared in the form of two deer crossing the road. The bus had to slow down but they safely arrived on the other side. I wish I could have taken a picture, but they were gone in a flash.
This morning I was at the bus stop early and the driver let me in. Then to my amazement he drove off ten minutes before departure time. It turned out to go round the corner to the High Street to get himself a freshly made roll and a coffee from the Old Bakehouse. After that we drove back to the bus stop.
I can’t say I blame the driver, the freshly made rolls and baguettes of the Old Bakehouse are well worth such a detour and the bread is still baked on the premises.
When I came home, I found there is yet another rail strike. I don’t know what these rail strikes do to the economy, but I can’t be helpful. Luckily the son of the friend in whose house I’m staying is giving me a lift. Thanks James!
I hate the shortening days and the falling leaves, but I just discovered one advantage: because the trees have now lost most of their leaves, I can actually see the wonderful Malmesbury Abbey from my window. Did you know that the first English king, Athelstan, is buried there?
16 & 17 November
The sample copy of A Diamond in the Dust arrived, and it looked splendid. So, I could ask the printers to make it live, and order the first set of copies.
If you pre-ordered the title or asked for a review copy, you will get the book next week. If you haven’t ordered it yet, do so now, it will change your view of one of the most intriguing British monarchs. Don’t take my word for it check it for yourself.
My brother and I had a challenging but productive zoom meeting with a distinguished octogenarian poet. His latest collection is his best, but he takes a keen interest in contemporary poetry and wants to move with the times.
Nowadays, it’s quite fashionable to experiment with layout when writing poetry, but poetry is about words, and they should be able to stop readers in their tracks, not abrupt changes (or loss of) punctuation or movement of words across the page.
Of course, there are poets for which design is an integral part of their work. I’ve nothing against it, and there are some brilliant examples. I quite admire Paul van Ostaijen’s work.
However, when poetry is good, let the words speak for themselves. Remember, when you listen to poetry, layout goes out of the window.
I’m committed to bring out the best in my authors and quite happy to spend the time it requires to publish the best possible book.
15 November 2022
I’m so near running a profitable press which generates more royalties for our authors and supports me so that I can continue running the company. We just need that modest uplift in sales to achieve this.
So, with Christmas on the horizon, don’t forget that a book from Holland Park Press makes an excellent present.
I’m trying to raise our profile in various ways and work on finding new avenues to promote our books. For example, I’m giving a talk at the new speakers event of the Women’s Institute Wiltshire on Monday 28 November with the aim to become a WI speaker.
I wish I could attend more events but, with our ageing Fiesta with two dents gone to the Netherlands, I need to rely on public transports. While its routes my be scenic due to the need to travel through the villages, it takes rather a long time to get from A to B.
And if Christmas is looming so is New Years Eve with its end & start of year bills. But we keep optimistic and work hard to persuade book lovers around the world to support us so that we can go forwards and upwards.
Do remember, all our books, in print & ebook formats, with excerpts and links to reviews, are available from our website.
14 November 2022
I’ve done a mailing on goodreads to find more people interested in reviewing The Past Is a Dangerous Driver. Neal Mason’s wonderful poetry collection could do with more reviews. It really deserves to be on the TS Eliot shortlist. Buy a copy and find out for yourself.
Lloyd Haft, the translator of Gerrit Kouwenaar’s Totally White Room, pointed out that some poems in this collection have been published in their English translation, so we’re putting together a list of acknowledgements. Once this is in place the collection will go to layout.
So, it is all systems go on the promotion and production front. I wish I could say the same about finding a more permanent solution for my housing situation.
Someone, somewhere, I am flexible about location, must be able to accommodate a niche publisher who has invested all she has in an exceptional list of publications.
Wherever I end up, I will miss this view of the Abbey perched on its hill. The view is from another of Arnold’s and mine favourite benches (used to smoke a cigar, Arnold, not me).
12 & 13 November 2022
A decent Saturday at Shambles Market and enjoyable chats with customers. Being on the market does cheer me up because, at that very moment, I can’t do more in person to persuade people to buy the lovely books I’m proud to have published.
Having done your utmost is important, and what I think makes Remembrance Sunday so special in this country is that is it very inclusive.
For example, look at this tasteful display outside my local pub. It has a prominent pools table and is frequented by everyday working people, young and old, but like many people in this country most will have connections with the armed forces.
Or look at this handmade giant poppy outside Margaret’s Hall, a multifunctional space, but also home to the scouts.
Of course, the fallen in the Ukraine are also being included this year, represented by the knitted poppies in the Ukrainian national colours, outside the Abbey.
Just a few things a noticed during my walk around the tiny market town of Malmesbury, before I enjoyed a few moments on one of my brother’s and my favourite benches. The sunshine and the view were glorious but I’m missing my brother and dog Harry so much. I just have to work even harder to make it possible to bring them back.
11 November 2022
A bit of an odd day at Shambles market, today. Not only because we had the two minutes silence at 11 o’clock to mark Remembrance Day. Actually, it was quite moving, as the music, talking and moving stopped and we remembered those who died for the freedom of others.
Fridays are always much slower sales wise as well as in footfall but sets us up for Saturday when we welcome 1100 plus customers. As usual, I had plenty of interest from customers, but in general they were stalling their purchases.
I can understand that and hopefully the Autumn Budget next week will give more clarity. Then suddenly in half an hour around 2 o’clock, I sold enough to produce an acceptable Friday.
The market has been essential to keep me going since my brother had to return to the Netherlands in May. Even though I now have to use public transport and it takes 2 hours to get there, whereas in our ageing Fiesta it took forty minutes, when I’m there, things are as they used to be. Arnold and Harry ferried me to and fro, but I was mostly on my own running the stall.
I love chatting to stallholders and customers and I would like to share this comment from a book lover in Stroud today: ‘I’m using short stories as a palate cleanser.’
10 November 2022
Big, big disappointment. I’ve not been selected to rent one of the Warden and Freemen’s almshouse in Malmesbury. It was always a bit of a long shot and they had received many applications. Not surprisingly as the location is beautiful in a centuries old, albeit flood-prone, former hospital and the rent is extremely reasonable.
So, the search for a more permanent place continues. Apart from reduced-rent mini flats/studios, all I can afford is a house share but I’m willing to help out with chores. If you know of a suitable place let me know. I’m flexible about location, though being near Stroud would enable me to continue running the stall at the profitable Shambles Market.
I need a more permanent place to live in order to continue to promote our current books and publish more. There is no lack of suitable manuscripts coming my way.
Just today I sent feedback to the author of a set of poems I like very much. I also received a copy of a Dutch novel from an author who is looking for an English translation.
This in addition of the promotional events I’m lining up, so it would be very helpful if I could be reunited with the company papers, my books, and personal possessions.
The almshouses & a parcel
9 November 2022
Today, one day earlier than expected, the books I ordered on Sunday arrived. They included replacements for the copies I sold this week plus the extra copies for the celebration of the life and work of Laura Del-Rivo.
Have you booked your ticket for Street Writing Women on 27 November in the Electric Cinema, Notting Hill, London?
To get a wonderful taste of her writing, read Bird and Words, Laura’s swansong short story dedicated to her two grandchildren.
Neal Mason’s marvellous poertry collection, The Past Is a Dangerous Driver, hold a special place in our list. Why? Because it is the first book we published after we temporarily had to stop our publishing program in July 2021 due to financial difficulties.
The Past Is a Dangerous Driver is getting very good reviews:
‘Here is poetry as history book, almanac and calendar, suffused with humanity and glowing with empathy.’ – Ian McMillan
But it could do with some more. You can read one of its poems, Derelict Classroom, from this page, and if you would like to give your opinion, contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org) for a free copy to review.
8 November 2022
The first step is to make the layout of the text conform to the house style, the next step is the editing process.
I’m also preparing to submit Norbert Hirschhorn’s new poetry collection, for a Poetry Book Society (PBS) Summer Choice. If it gets selected the PBS buys plenty of copies and advertise the book in their newsletter, a real boost for a new title.
To be able to submit we have to finalise the text and produce a cover for Over the Edge. The title is provisional, so we need to make a decision about this as well.
The run-up towards Christmas, less than seven weeks away, is always particular busy time, and still being ‘in between’ more permanent living spaces doesn’t help.
However, getting a message from Small Press Distribution, our distributors in the USA, that they now have quite a few pre-orders for A Diamond in the Dust and The Way to Hornsey, does cheer me up immensely.
In the meanwhile, Arnold’s short story course is going very well, he is halfway through the eight-week course and the attendees are enjoying it and making good progress. I leave you with his teaching venue: the lovely library in Den Bosch.
7 November 2022
A Diamond in the Dust has been sent off to the printers and the full cover looks splendid.
Arnold and I also finalised the invitation for our Christmas get together on 22 December to thank our sponsors in the Netherlands. Yes, that does mean it takes place in the Netherlands, and that I’m going to visit Arnold over Christmas. My first holiday since August 2021!
People in the UK do not despair, we are organising events in the UK as well. My resources are limited and so long as my housing situation isn’t resolved I’m limited in what I can organise.
We’re also planning a London launch for The Way to Hornsey Rise in early 2023. An excellent way to start the year by meeting up. More details will be announced when we have settled on a date and venue.
5 & 6 November 2022
Thank you very much, Louis for giving me a lift so that I could run my beloved bookstall.
I think we all need cheering up so that’s why I brought out the Christmas lights. Sales were initially slow, it was a rainy day, but picked up later on.
One of my regular customers, lovely 96-year-old Paddy, came along sporting a yellow raincoat with a medal pinned to it. ‘It’s from the army,’ she informed me when I asked. It turned out she worked in the officers’ mess in Wellington, the Guards, barracks in London during the war.
She’s laying a wreath on Sunday 6 November, well, she will carry it on her walking frame, but this year, for the first time, she will do this alone because the others have all passed away.
Paddy has macular degeneration but that doesn’t stop her, and the image of people taken out by a doodlebug is still a very clear vision. She told me so and she won’t forget.
Arnold and I had an hour-long WhatsApp meeting to cross the t’s and dot the I’s in the text of A Diamond in the Dust. Nothing much was found and just one outstanding question remains which I will sent to the author Michael Dean tomorrow.
All in all, a productive weekend and I enjoyed the fireworks from my bedroom window on Saturday evening and the cobwebs on the front gate on Sunday morning.
4 November 2022
A busy day promoting our intriguing novels;
And wonderful short stories too,
Not forgetting amazing contemporary poetry at Shambles market.
Meanwhile brother Arnold decided the only way to get good and accurate final check of A Diamond in the Dust was to print out the text and check it in the time-honoured way.
Even though the train strike was called off, train operators don’t expect to run a proper service, and I couldn’t book a ticket, but I did manage to arrange a lift. Thanks Suzanne and son. So Stroud, I will be there running the stall tomorrow.
3 November 2022
I learned two new things today: how to peel a mango and how to fix pages that have the wrong size in InDesign.
The mango was overripe which made the peeling a bit tricky but fixing a few of the pages in A Diamond in the Dust worked a treat.
Such are the challenges of being a niche publisher. The mango was free from our local Co-op and the problem with five of the pages was spotted by my brother.
A bit of a disappointment today: work is still ongoing on the almshouse for rent from Malmesbury Warden and Freemen, so I couldn’t view it, and everything is delayed by at least a week. I so hoped I would find out more today. Getting the almshouse would make all the difference, I would be able to work from my desk again and have access to books and the company papers. So, keep your fingers crossed!
A Diamond in the Dust will go to the printers next week. Have you bought your copy?
‘Sumptuous detail and a rare ability to inhabit character are skilfully combined by Dean to bring an original and compelling portrait of Charles 1 as patron of the Arts, in the first of his trilogy about the Stuarts.’ – Hana Cole
2 November 2022
It’s All Souls Day. Forget about Halloween, this is the one that really matters, when we remember all the departed, especially those who have left us this year.
Apart from thinking about my parents, there were two significant losses this year.
Our former neighbour Gavin, who kept cheerful, even though he had terminal cancer, throughout the lockdowns and beyond. He and his wife Debbie have been a great support not withstanding their own difficulties.
Gavin supplied the replacement laptop I told you about, supported us on facebook and bought books. His wife Debbie stores our Billy bookcases in her office, helped me walk Harry, supplied the funds to stay a couple of nights in a hotel when we were homeless, and still gives me the occasional lift to Stroud when there is a rail strike.
The second significant death was our author Laura Del-Rivo. She and Gavin both died in March but whereas Laura had just turned 88, Gavin died one day before his 53rd birthday.
I’m proud to have published Laura’s short story collection Where is My Mask of an Honest Man? Her turn of phrase and view of the world are exceptional. But more importantly, she was a very good friend and I’m glad she was able to visit us when we still lived in out lovely cottage in Baskerville.
Here is a picture of Laura and my brother. Have you booked your tickets for Sunday 27 November, when we celebrate Laura’s life and work?
1 November 2022
It’s All Saints Day, a day to remember and thank all saints, not only those recognised by the church but also ordinary people who have lived a saintly live.
This reminds me of my father. My mother was a wonderful woman as well but, after my father died died in 1998, I realised that he had led a saintly life. He treated everyone he met with the same respect because as he put it: you have two kinds of people, the good ones and the bad ones, and you’ll find both in all walks of life.
This year I also wanted to thank a special saint, Titus Brandsma, a friend of my grandfather, he was made a saint this year, not that these two facts are related.
Titus, chancellor of the University of Nijmegen, the first Roman Catholic university in the Netherlands, was obviously keen to promote education but he seems to have a special relationship with books. Whenever sales are vey slow on the market, if my brother or I ask Titus to help, it seems to help sales.
Not that you can ask God or saints to do something directly for you, but they can give you support, and if you put in the effort, ‘you have to work with God’s grace’, as my mother would put it, you often get a beneficial result, although it may not be the outcome you had in mind.
This brings me back to my main cause for concern: how to sell more books. We sell books all the time but not enough. For example, if you love poetry have you bought your copy of The Past is a Dangerous Driver? I think Neal Mason’s poetry collection beats anything on the TS Eliot shortlist this year, and it was submitted.
You think this is an exaggeration? Well, don’t take my word for it check it out for yourself. This is what Ian Mcmillan had to say about The Past is a Dangerous Driver:
‘Here is poetry as history book, almanac and calendar, suffused with humanity and glowing with empathy.’
31 October 2022
A good chunk of my time was spent reviewing my Microsoft 365 subscription. It should have been a piece of cake if I followed the instructions stuck on the keyboard at the time.
The time was last November when we were not only moving all our things in storage, but my laptop died as well. Magnificent neighbour and friend Gavin, terminally ill with cancer, unexpectedly stood on our doorstep with a new laptop complete with Microsoft Office 365. Wonderful surprise and I could continue work.
Now it’s nearly November again and I started receiving messages that I needed to renew my subscription. Something was out of sync, and I couldn’t renew online. Luckily, I got through to a certain Kelly on the help chat and she was indeed very helpful and sorted me out. Thanks to Kelly I could continue work uninterrupted on a very dark and very rainy autumn’s day.
I do miss the summer light and it’s only going to get worse until we hit 21 December when days will start lengthening again. I can’t wait. I don’t like seeing mushrooms in the wild, but I do love them on my plate.
30 October 2022
Last night we had an extra hour’s sleep, and I made the most of it: spring forward, fall back as the American’s say.
Apart from the typical Sunday activities: going to Mass and doing the company’s admin, I had a lovely surprise. One of the stallholders at Shambles Market is photographer called Annamari Matejko. She took some pictures of me for an exhibition in her native Hungary.
I’m very taken with them, especially after they were shot with me au naturel after a long day on the market. Annamari is obviously a very talented photographer.
29 October 2022
A very busy day at Shambles Market in poetry-loving, artistic Stroud and a lot of books sold. It was one of those days when you have several customers buying more than one book an as usual, we sold right across the range.
On the market is doesn’t matter when a book was published, only what the passing reader fancies at that particular moment. Much of the sales on a market are impulse buys.
The market has also a finger on the pulse of the pulse of the current financial situation. So last week I had a lot of the expected: ‘I love this book but I have no money until next week’, ‘I’ve spent my budget for the day’, etc. Not so this week and it is probably not a coincidence that it is the end of the month and people have been paid.
The market is so enjoyable when you sell plenty of books and have good conversation. I even had quite a lengthy conversation about chrysanthemums even though I know next to nothing about flowers. The lovely lady in question had just bought a bunch from a flower trader so popular that he regularly sells out by 9 o’clock in the morning. Well, that was new to me, the things you learn on a market.
On my walk backhome from the bus stop I came across many spookily dressed people. Could it be Halloween?
28 October 2022
Today, Arnold had to go to the retirement reception of a former army fellow officer, and he sent me a picture of himself being all dressed up and ready to go.
I had a productive day on the market, sold books, and as usual had some interesting chats. For example, a lady told me she had tried to collect all the original Penguin paperbacks. Apparently, there are about one thousand and they are all numbered. She had managed to get to number 500.
We agreed that they make excellent reads and I explained that’s one of the criteria I use when deciding to publish a book: does it have the potential to become a classic?
In my opinion, and I’ve put in the money in to proof it, all our books have that potential. I just need to convince all the lovely readers out there. That’s why I run my bookstall on the market, and you can help by persuading people to buy our books.
27 October 2022
My brother and I had two lengthy sessions discussing the last detailed checks of the layout for A Diamond in the Dust, a novel showing Charles I as a great patron of the arts.
The layout is looking pretty good, even if I say so myself, especially after my struggle to lay out my first novel in InDesign.
It’s amazing the things you still find after having looked at it so many times, but that’s how you get the quality by taking the time to check, check and double check. Arnold is checker supreme and Michael Dean is very helpful finding answers to our questions.
I aim to send A Diamond in the Dust to the printers after the weekend.
Arnold and I also spend time getting our act together for a Christmas do in the Netherlands. More details are to follow, and yes, I’m going to celebrate Christmas with Arnold and dog Harry in their new home in Amersfoort. I’m really looking forward to it!
26 October 2022
When it comes to promotion of our books, I’m like a dog with a bone. I won’t let gone until the bone is has been finished or rather, in case of books, some form of success has been achieved.
This may take some time, and that is fine, because I wholeheartedly believe that you need to give a book time to find its audience. This is especially true for literary fiction and poetry, when you may well introduce a totally new and distinctive voice, and you must give readers time to grow to appreciate it.
Take for example Hold Still, a magnificent novel about Joanna Hiffernan, the muse and mistress of first James Whistler and later Gustave Courbet who sat for several famous paintings.
Hold Still by Cherry Smyth was published in 2013 with modest success but to critical acclaim. Then out of the blue, actually just minutes after I heard that our bid to the Arts Council England had been unsuccessful, I took a call from New York. It was Sir Colin Callender, CEO of Playground Entertained, who told ne that he very much enjoyed reading Hold Still and would like to take an option on the TV and Film right.
Let’s hope Sir Colin gets his act together and manages to produce a film or TV series, because Hold Still very much deserves, like all our other books, its success.
In the meantime, I and my brother are beavering away to bring our books to wider attention, we won’t let go of our bone. Our dog Harry totally agrees.
25 October 2022
I received the first feedback from my brother Arnold about the layout of A Diamond in the Dust. He thinks it look good but spotted a few things that needed attention and an updated layout has been sent to him.
Actually, one of the Malmesbury Town Councillors told me that there is a connection between Charles I and Malmesbury, apparently Charles I stayed overnight in Tower House Malmesbury during the Civil War. Well, it’s a small world.
Norbert Hirschhorn sent me an updated version of his poetry collection Over the Edge prompted by our feedback. I’m looking forward to check out the changes.
Jeremy Worman, gave me a progress report for his autobiographical novel The Way to Horney Rise, which is looking good. Editing of this exciting new book is about to start.
I’m also very busy promoting our wonderful books and I often wish there were more hours in the day or that I could clone myself. I’m not complaining, I’m delighted our publishing program is in full swing again. Give it a boost by ordering our books and tell all your friends about it. #SavedByOneBook Thanks!
24 October 2022
The Wiltshire Women’s Institute managed to change my talk to qualify a s a new speaker on 28 Nov to a later spot. This is great news because this means I can make it as I have to travel up from London following the event to celebrate Laura Del Rivo’s life and work.
Have you booked your place for Street Writing Woman a tribute to Laura Del Rivo?
I sorted out payment for our South African printers and Protea, our distributor in South Africa, should get new stock for five books by Karen Jennings within the next couple of working days. Do you know you can buy these books from our website?
I’ve already mentioned a lovely new review for The Past Is a Dangerous Driver and I would like to share a quote with you.
‘His poems, with their often striking images and subtle rhymes, feelingly explore the contradictory nature of the past, how it is both remote and ever present.’
Nights are drawing in, and this, on the one hand, makes me feel tired earlier, I miss my daylight. Yet, on the other hand, it provides less distractions and makes me get more work done in the early evening.
Also, Malmesbury Abbey looks lovely lit up at dusk.
23 October 2022
A quiet Sunday, ideal for getting lost of admin done.
On Sundays I miss our former centuries old cottage with its lovely views. I miss even more my brother and our black Lab Harry.
I traced some of the paths where we used to walk Harry. Here are some pictures of the flood-prone river Avon which surrounds our former home.
Actually, I vividly remember one Sunday when I went to church on foot just before 10am, only to have to call my brother just after 11am, to tell him the road had been flooded and I couldn’t get through in my Sunday best foot footwear. Arnold came and carried me across.
No such problems this Sunday, all was quiet on the waterfront.
22 October 2022
Oh dear, another upheaval, this time at the start of the day. It was still dark when I entered the High Street in Malmesbury, I realised part of it was sealed off by the police. Then I noticed not one but two fire engines and a big set of overhead lights over Hyams, the High Street garage.
It was clear the bus I needed to catch wouldn’t be able to reach its stop. Now what to do? I decided to ask the policemen for help. They agreed to stop the bus and alert me and another passenger when it made its approach. That’s how I managed to catch the bus and make it to the market in time accompanied by a wonderful sunrise.
I couldn’t see any damage to Hyams from the outside. I hope they are okay, because they were so helpful looking after our ageing Fiesta.
The day on the market was a strange one: I sold books at the start and the end of the day, nothing in between. But people are noticeable more careful about spending money.
Stroud’s vibrant poetry community came to the rescue and 83% of the books sold today were poetry collections.
If you would like to review it too, drop me an email: email@example.com
21 October 2022
A very rainy day in Stroud and hence the Shambles Market was quite deserted. However, we got a visit from an ITV reporter plus cameraman who came in to record opinions about the political situation.
For some reason they homed in on me, and I must admit that I said: if they never got rid of Boris in the first place, they wouldn’t be in this mess. In any case, the cameraman took some extra shots of the stalls and that can only be good for the market.
I booked the Christmas late night shopping market in Malmesbury and got a quote from our South African printers as I finally have just about enough funds to fulfil orders that have been outstanding for a while.
Finally, I got to the bank, Stroud still has several different branches, we lost all of ours in Malmesbury, to pay in a cheque, always a joyous occasion and to sort out my new debit card.
But all this before I accidentally boarded the wrong bus in Stroud. Instead of going to Cirencester I ended up in the picturesque village of Oakridge. Nice but not practical. Luckily the bus driver took me back free of charge and made sure I caught the next bus to Cirencester.
However, I missed my connection in Cirencester and had to take a taxi to Malmesbury. Calamity, because that was not budgeted for. Luckily brother Arnold came to the rescue. That’s what’s brothers are for even if they had, temporarily, move to a different country.
I’m looking forward to simply selling books tomorrow.
20 October 2022
Working on the layout of A Diamond in the Dust has reached a new milestone. It now looks in good shape and my brother is going to cast his eagle eyes over it.
I’ve also finished writing up our feedback for Norbert Hirschhorn’s new poetry collection and sent it to him today.
Finally, I dropped off my application for renting one of the almshouses from the Warden and Freemen of Malmesbury today. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.
The day started very rainy and gloomy, but the afternoon turned out to be a balmy, sunny, late autumns day. Excellent for clearing my head during a walk after a busy day.
19 October 2022
November is starting to look like an eventful month.
On Sunday 27 November we’re going to celebrate the work and life of the remarkable Laura Del Rive who died earlier this year. She was one-of-a-kind, not only in the way she lived her life but also because her writing style. It is entirely her own, challenging and extremely rewarding. The way she looked at the world changes your view of society.
Come and join us on 27 November, for talks, the screening of W11, based on her debut novel The Furnished Room and directed in 1963 by Michel Winner starring Diana Dors, plus the opportunity to buy her books.
See you at the Electric Cinema on Portobello Road.
Just to keep me busy I’ve been invited to give a short talk to qualify as a new speaker for the Wiltshire Women’s Institute. Women are great readers so I’m quite excited to talk about the trials of tribulations of running a niche publishing company for this quintessential British institution.
I will keep you informed about further developments.
If you’re not familiar with Laura’s work, do check out Where Is My Mask of an Honest Man?
18 October 2022
In times of uncertainly and looming calamities, literature can come to the rescue, because what’s better that settling down with a good novel, some great stories or wonderful poems, to be taken away from it all.
What’s more if you choose a book from our list, you’re guaranteed a good read. Why? Because I’ve read them all and taken the risk to publish them. Even better, when you’ve read them post a review on social media and tell all your friends.
Books do get read more in challenging times, so maybe all that is happening in the world may have a silver lining after all.
Life does get on, and today, the Old Bell in Malmesbury, claiming the be the oldest hotel in England (there’re not the only one), put out its Halloween display. Well, not surprisingly, they are now owned by an American family.
I’m not such a Halloween fan, I think celebrating All Saint’s and All Souls’ Day has far more meaning, but it does cheer you up when you come across an over-the-top Halloween arrangement.
17 October 2022
My brother Arnold and I had a very productive discussion about Norbert Hirschhorn’s new poetry collection, working title, Over the Edge. It’s a wonderful, very personal set of poems and Norbert is very keen to get feedback. I very much look forward to publishing his third poetry collection with us in June 2023.
The Way to Hornsey Rise has a new subtitle: Autobiographical Novel. Jeremy and I think this describes his book much better. After all, it is not only inspired by the author’s own life but also by his imagination. We’ve decided to give ourselves a bit more time to promote this remarkable book and it will now be published in January 2023.
15 & 16 October 2022
I’ve been very busy so that’s why I’m a bit behind with my diary entries.
Saturday was a busy day on the Shambles Market, I sold quite a few books, including the first copy of The Past Is a Dangerous Driver. Don’t forget about the challenge I set in the Oct 14 entry.
The last fine-tuning of A Diamond in the Dust is driving me lightly crazy. I’m almost there but then I spot something which could be aligned better only for something else to go slightly wonky. It has to be absolutely correct, so I persevere.
People sometimes ask me, ‘Have you read all these books?’ My answer is: ‘Oh yes, several times.’ When a book is really something special, a passage or sentence can catch your eye and surprise you, even during the mundane, but so essential, process of checking the editing and layout results.
14 October 2022
The day at Shambles Market in Stroud started on a gloomy note with a power cut. Recently, they seem to occur more frequently in Stroud as well as Malmesbury. Is this a taste of things to come? I hope not.
The power came back on mid-morning, but my day wasn’t brightened by the publication of the TS Eliot Prize shortlist. Of course, well-deserved congratulations to all the shortlisted poets but I very much missed Neal Mason’s The Past Is a Dangerous Driver on this list.
Of course, being white, male and in his seventies, Neal ticks all the wrong boxes or no boxes at all depending on your view. Nor should it count that he still pole vaults at a competitive level. All that matters is that he writes spectacular good poetry, surely that is what publishing poetry is all about.
Don’t take my word for it, take up my challenge, read The Past Is a Dangerous Driver, and discover it is head and shoulders above most poetry published today.
Surely, I hope you don’t disagree, and let’s start a campaign to champion excellent without smothering it with political correctness, diversity and inclusivity.
13 October 2022
Checking the layout for A Diamond in the Dust is progressing well. Have you read Michael Dean’s revealing post about writing this novel about Charles I?
‘But what mattered to me about Charles I was that he ruled over a period that was arguably the apogee of English culture.’
It’s available here.
I’ve received the application form for the Malmesbury Warden and Freemen’s almshouse, it looks relatively staightforward and I’ll keep you informed about progress.
12 October 2022
A busy day contacting people about doing a review for The Past Is a Dangerous Driver. Printed review copies are now available, so please contact me, firstname.lastname@example.org, if you are keen to discover excellent new poetry and would like to write a review.
The text of A diamond in the Dust has now been imported into InDesign and the first PDF has been created. So tomorrow I expect a lengthy intense session of checking the layout.
After thinking it over, and discussing it again, Jemery Worman and I came to the same conclusion that it would be better to give The Way to Hornsey Rise the subtitle of ‘Autobiographical Novel’, as it is inspired by the author’s own life but also contains fictionalised elements, like our other two semi-memoirs Schurft and Travels with My Father.
After all this, I came across these lovely autumn colours and my daily walk to clear my head.
11 October 2022
My broher Arnold is teaching the first evening of his creative writing course today. He’s a wonderful teacher and several of his former students have now been published themselves.
This evening he provided guidance about how to write a good short story. Creating a good short story is not at all easy, every word counts, and you have to be able to build up the tension in just a few pages.
I’s great to see that our wonderful short story collection is attracting a lot of attention. If someone tells me they have no time to read a book, my immediate answer is: ‘have you tried a collection of short stories, easy to dip in and out of it, and made to be read on your daily commute.’
Arnold teaches in the main library of Den Bosch, in the shadow of the magnificient St John’s Cathedral.
10 October 2022
A busy day sending out review copies and working on the layout of A Diamond in the Dust.
Indesign’s actions continues to surprise me, which simply means that there are still huge gaps in my knowledge of how this program operates. I don’t have the time to follow extensive online courses, so I have simply to get on with the job of doing the layout for an entire novel.
I made progress but it is realy a matter of two steps forwards, one step backward, but I will persevere.
9 October 2022
There may be a glimmer of hope regarding my housing situation.
Catherine, who so generously offered me her spare room in which I’m currently staying, found out that one of the almshouses owned by the Warden and Freemen of Malmesbury is currently available.
I checked it out: the rent is very reasonable, and I seem to be eligible for it. So, I’ve asked for an application form which I hope to receive tomorrow. I expect many people to be interested but I can only apply too and live in hope. It would be an absolute lifeline.
But who are the Warden and Freemen of Malmesbury?
In gratitude of having helped him in his battle to become the first ‘King of All England’, King Athelstan gave the townsfolk of Malmesbury their freedom, along with 600 hides of land to the south of the town.
This organisation still exists today and uniquely you cannot become a freemen of Malmesbury you are born into it, but like the Royal Family you can marry into it. It is handed down from father to son, and since 2000, also from father to daughter. There are just 208 freemen or commoners. They still own the land to the south of Malmesbury, along with dozens of properties, pubs and shops within the town itself, providing affordable housing to people from Malmesbury.
King Athelstan was buried in in Malmesbury Abbey in 939, and you can still visit his grave today. There is a tiny chance that his actions may lead to me finding an affordable place to live. Isn’t life full of unexpected twists and turns?
8 October 2022
Thanks very much to David and his wife who gave me a lift to Stroud so that I was able to run the bookstall!
I had hardly time to put down my bag before I sold the first book. The rest of the day went smoothly and at the very end of the day, one lady who promised that she would come back, actually did, so often this doesn’t happen, and bought a copy of Finding Soutbek. It really cheered me up.
Dear book lovers out there, we really need more sales, it doesn’t matter where you buy it, online or in a bookshop, though we earn more if you buy from the bookstall or our website. Thank you!
I continue to work on new initiatives and yesterday when the market finished, I visited Stroud Bookshop to investigate if we can work more closely together. If I sell and promote our books on Friday and Saturday around the corner from them, they should really stock the books as customers may have missed us on the market.
I gave them a copy of our latest addition, Neal Mason’s poetry collection The Past Is a Dangerous Driver, of which I have high expectations, with a note for the owner setting out a possible way of working together. I will follow this up on Monday.
7 October 2022
I was delighted to put The Past Is a Dangerous Driver, full of marvellous and thought-provoking poems, on the market stall for the very first time.
I me up with Jeremy Worman to talk about the last edits and launch of his remarkable memoir The Way to Hornsey Rise. We had a lovely lunch, and a very productive meeting, thank you very much Jeremy.
He also purchased a substantial number of copies of his book which is excellent.
In the meantime, I managed to sell a few other books, and arrange a lift to Stroud for tomorrow, because yet another rail strike makes it impossible to reach my stall on Saturday mornings otherwise.
So I will be at Shambles market a bit later than usual, but my colleagues are on hand to help you buy a book until I get there.
6 October 2022
Apart of a bit of a cough, I’m back to normal, so I got a lot of work done.
A big thank you to my brother Arnold for sending me a lovely bag of liquorice, liquorice wheels, to be precise. Liquorice is essential for the happiness of many Dutch people and soft and sweet kind, which is what the wheels belong to, is the nation’s favourite.
Besides, it’s good for my cough and, between ourselves, it prevents a hangover if taken before going to sleep after a night out. Not that I’m in need of a hangover cure these days, of course.
5 October 2022
Feeling a bit better today, and what really cheered me up was the arrival of the first set of copies of The Past Is a Dangerous Driver, a marvellous new poetry collection by Neal Mason. So I could send out the first batch of review copies, always a joyous occasion.
Have you bought your copy?
I managed to do more work on the layout of A Diamond in the Dust. I’m slowly coming to grips with InDesign but it takes time to import all the text because it has to be absolutely perfect. Have you read Michael Dean’s post about writing his novel about Charles I as a patron of the arts?
4 October 2022
I did manage to start the big email campaign to promote our new titles to UK bookshops. But that was all I got done as I am battling a major cold: comtant sneezing, dripping nose and shivering.
Hopefully I will feel better tomorrow. Feel free to download and use our new books brochure.
3 October 2022
I think I solved the problem I had with InDesign: daily not being able to import a whole chapter while avoiding word breaks. It was already quite late when I cracked it, so I need to look at it tomorrow with fresh eyes.
A lovely thing happened today. On my way to the Post Office, I pass the cottage of an elderly man. He must be quite lonely because I often find him standing on his doorstep watching passersby. We always say hello and sometimes exchange a few words.
Today he called me to ask if I could drop something off at Abbey News. ‘Of course, it’s on my way,’ I said. He handed me an envelope which contained money. It was probably for the subscription to his daily newspaper delivery. Then he opened his other hand and dropped some coins into my hand. ‘Go and buy some chocolate for yourself,’ he said. He had given me five pounds!
Yes, that very much is a treat for me and bolsters one’s faith in humanity.
I also finished a brochure for our new books which I will mail out to UK bookshops. I’m so proud of publishing The Past Is a Dangerous Driver, A Diamond in the Dust & The Way to Hornsey Rise. Please tell all your friends!
2 October 2022
I’ve been busy sorting out incoming manuscripts, but I also found time for a good stroll to enjoy the lovely weather, tracing one of the ways along which my brother and I used to take dog Harry out for a walk.
1 October 2022
An untypical Saturday at Shambles Market, busy but readers, apparently, had decided to mostly stay at home. I did give me time to watch the crowd, something I always enjoy, and do some work on my laptop.
I would like to share some comments that came my way.
A man carrying two books told me: ‘You won’t believe me, but I love books, but hate reading.’ Please explain I asked, and he told me he couldn’t. Maybe he just loves books lining the wall instead of pictures?
Another lady made a point of telling me that Travels with My Father was too depressing, and she stopped reading it. Karen Jennings was compelled to write this memoir after the death of her father, and it deals with some mental health issues. It’s a wonderful book and deals with what really matters in life. If you just want entertainment, stay clear of literature which is there to explore humanity.
Actually, not today but a while back, a potential reviewer told me that she was very disappointed with Hold Still. Set in Victorian times, she classified it as a historical novel and was therefore baffled that the two main protagonists, Joanna Hiffernan and James Whistler, came together at the start of the book and that their relationship didn’t last.
Well, so what? It didn’t hold back Sir Colin Callender to take out an option of the film and TV right of Hold Still.
30 September 2022
A typical Friday at Shambles Market in Stroud. Travel by bus went smoothly and it was lovely to be among the eccentric Stroud crowd and fellow stallholders. Ron, who runs the market, love of pop songs from the 1960 to 1980 form the background music, greatly add to the Shambles atmosphere, and often amuses visitors.
I received an updated version of Norbert Hirschhorn’s new poetry collection Over the Edge, and he is keen to receive feedback from me and Arnold. That’s something we love to do.
Things are progressing with organising an event to remember and celebrate the life of a remarkable author and fascinating character Laura Del-Rivo who sadly died in March of this this year. The date is set for Sunday 27 November in Notting Hill London. We finalised the press release today and more information soon.
This picture was taken at the launch of her short story collection Where Is My Mask of an Honest Man?
29 September 2022
A bit of a depressing day. I hit a problem with InDesign and don’t know yet how to solve it. I need to (a) import a chapter without creating word breaks and (b) import the whole chapter. I can do (a) and (b) individually but not at the same time. I’m obviously missing something.
The weather was gloomy, I was cold, and there is no improvement of the housing situation on the horizen yet. Also, I’m missing the company of my brother. We talk daily, but a call, even a video call, is not quite the same as being together in person.
Luckily I can escape to the market tomorrow, if only I could take Arnold and Harry along with me.
28 September 2022
I received the last set of corrections from Michael Dean for his new novel A Diamond in the Dust, putting the life of Charles I in a new light.
They have been applied, just minor changes, dotting i’s and crossing t’s, really and the novel can now go to layout. It’s the first time I’ve tackled a novel, so wish me luck.
You can pre-order A Diamond in the Dust and please contact me by email, email@example.com, if you would like to review this title.
27 September 2022
The sample copy of The Past Is a Dangerous Driver, a new poetry collection by Neal Mason, arrived from the printers today.
My first effort at doing the layout has come out well, after my initial struggle to get to grips with InDesign, and I could approve it.
This means the title is live and we can start printing copies. So, please order your copy and tell all your friends.
If you would like to review The Past Is a Dangerous Driver, please send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
‘His title for the collection is apt as the poems included testify to the reckless unpredictability of the past and the various ways it comes crashing into the present.’
It made my day to publish the first of the five new books we have currently in the pipeline. I very much hope it will be the beginning of a turnaround for our press.
26 September 2022
I’ve been busy preparing The Way to Hornsey Rise for the final editing round. This will start after I have received the few last correction from the author Jeremy Worman at the end of this week. You can never be too careful about checking the details when you have written a memoir.
Two orders came in from authors for copies. A big pre-order for The Way to Hornsey Rise and an order for London Undercurrents poems about the hidden lives of London’s unsung heroines by Jools Sparkes and Hilaire.
All in all, a good start to the week. Hopefully September ends with a bang.
Seventy-one years to the day my parents got married. It makes me feel a bit vintage just like this lovely car I spotted outside Stroud railway station.
25 September 2022
Sunday, traditionally a day to catch up with admin task, which I managed to do.
Another thing that I do on Sundays is going to mass. Why? Because my believe in God supports me and going to mass puts everything perspective. It doesn’t matter what you do, or if you rich or poor, in the eyes of God everyone is a human being with lots of potential.
Occasionally, the material world impacts on the spiritual one, this Sunday in a delightful way, our tiny down-to-earth church was full of glorious blooms because of a wedding that had taken place the previous day.
24 September 2022
Today my brother Arnold turned sixty and we missed each other very much. Of course, we communicate via WhatsApp all the time but it’s not the same as being together. You miss the companionship and the opportunity to brainstorm about our publishing adventure when you least expect it.
We both have the knack of turning even the unlikeliest events in something enjoyable, for example we still have fond memories of enjoying a drink before sleeping rough in our car because we were homeless, but that’s only possible when we are together.
Arnold has landed some freelance jobs: teaching a short story course and the two first assessments of manuscripts, so he is on his way to become self-employed.
I, on the other hand, must turn around Holland Park Press so that it makes enough money to enable me to have a proper life and bring Arnold back to the UK. So, no pressure at all.
It’s a very strange experience to have to put your personal on hold, not having one’s own space, not being able to go out, etc., but it does focus the mind on the job in hand: increase sales and bring wonderful new books to the market.
Luckily, I thrive on pressure, and I will keep you informed.
23 September 2202
I just found out that poet and friend for years Donald Gardner was in the same squat as Jeremy Worman whose memoir about how he ended up in Hornsey Rise, the largest squat in Europe, we will publish in November this year. You can pre-order The Way to Hornsey Rise now.
This is not the only coincidence involving our authors. Three of our authors have attended the same school in The Bronx, New York, though not at the same time. They are Marilyn Hacker who wrote Diaspo/Renga together with Deema Shehabi; Wendy Brandmark, author of The Stray American and He Runs the Moon featuring stories set in The Bronx; and Norbert Hirschhorn, after publishing To Sing the Darkest Days and Stone. Bread. Salt. We will publish a third collection by him, provisionally called Over the Edge, in June 2023.
All these books are available from our website.
Finally, I was very pleased to hear that the present, a book of course, for brother’s birthday on 24 September, arrived in time. You can help him celebrate his birthday by ordering one of his books also from our website.
22 September 2022
It’s really autumn now and it makes me want to slow down especially when I have to get up early to go to the market on Fridays and Saturdays.
But I can’t slow down because I’ve committed myself to a very busy new publishing programme. And we’re adding to it as today I returned the signed contact for a third poetry collection by Norbert Hirschhorn.
I just have to pretend to still be a spring chicken. My fellow spring chicken, my brother Arnold, has a significant birthday on Saturday, 24 September. If you live in the Netherlands, you can make his birthday by purchasing a signed copy of his most recent novel Schurft, a very frank memoir about a doomed relationship full of challenging observations about life.
You can also celebrate Arnold’s birthday by buying his other novels and poetry collections from our website.
Enjoy the autumn colours and our books.
21 September 2022
The edited manuscript of A Diamond in the Dust, the first book in a Trilogy about The Stuarts was sent to the author. Because Michael Dean’s internet connection is down, I had to send it the old-fashioned way: in the post. It brought home to me again how much we rely on the internet being there and ultimately how much we depend on power.
It’s interesting that modern technology is now essential to produce something that has been around for centuries: the printed book.
Another new review of The Past Is a Dangerous Driver was also published today by Emma Lee on her blog. We do rely so much on these independent reviewers to promote our books and a big thank you to them all.
Mason’s structured poems guide readers through a journey where people might be ready to move on but the past isn’t ready to let them go yet.
In the view of our reliance on the internet, it’s interesting to note that I came across something that was the new thing to have when I was in primary school more than half a century ago: the diabolo, apparently still going strong.
20 September 2022
We sell books through many different channels: bookshops, their websites, general book websites including Amazon, via our weekly bookstall and very importantly through our website.
Did you know you can read excerpts for all our books from our website and that there are planty of links to reviews? Not only can you buy the print version, books, except poetry, are also available as ebook. When you purchase an ebook you can download it in two formats mobi (Kindle) and epub.
In exchange for a review posted on the social media you can even ask for a free copy.
But sales, especially through the bookstall and the Holland Park Press website, really keep us going. And it’s going but not quite well enough, so you need to give us this extra push and tell all your friends. Thank you! #SavedByOneBook
19 September 2022
The day of The Queen’s funeral didn’t start very promising. There was no water. Apparently we had a power cut overnight and the pumps hadn’t yet started working. Luckily it was back on by 9.15am.
I watched it all, but I was most impressed by the proceedings in St George’s Chapel. Such a historic significance and never seen on television before. History in the making.
Otherwise, I was much impressed by little Princess Charlotte, she was wearing a hat! From one hat fan to maybe one in the making: she looked adorable.
I surprised myself to find the time to make a start checking the comments made by the editor about the text for A Diamond in the Dust, a novel about the first King Charles. So, Michael Dean, be warned, you will shortly be asked to check the edited version of your book.
I was not the only one watching the funeral, brother and dog Harry also watched. Harry seemed to enjoy it but it helps he loves music especially hymns.
18 September 2022
The text of A Diamond in the Dust, a novel about Charles I has come back from the editors. I will need to go through the changes and comments before I can send it to Michael Dean, the author, for a final check.
This has to wait until after the funeral of Elizabeth II tomorrow because like so many other I will be glued to the live streaming of the services.
Interesting fact: Elizabeth II will be burried in St George’s Chapel Windsor, the same resting place as Charles I.
17 September 2022
Another enjoyable day on Shambles Market. For some reason I sold poetry and short stories today but no novels. You never know what the market brings.
A lady who I met yesterday contacted me to say that she was so impressed with out list that she wanted to discuss how she could be of help. She is an editor and book promoter, so we have arranged to meet to discuss this further.
I leave you with a lovely commemorative display in the shop window of a bakery in Stroud. Isn’t it lovely?
16 September 2022
A relatively quiet day on the Sambles Market in Stroud but no travel problems and made several contacts and had a number of good chats.
I also sent the contract to Norbert Hirschhorn for his new poetry collection. More details to follow soon.
One problem hasn’t gone away: I’m still looking for a more permanent place to live. Catherine has very kindly lend me her spare room but it would be lovely if I had a little more space to store some books. I can’t pay much rent but I’m happy to do work in lieu of rent. So if you need help looking after a property or business, or with the household chores contact me: email@example.com.
This is my room when my beloved dog Harry was still with me. Since he is gone, I’m missing his company, he’s a real character and reads my moods perfectly. On the bright side, I’m easier to accommodate without a boisterous back Lab in tow.
15 September 2022
I sent Neal Mason’s new poetry collection, The Past Is a Dangerous Driver, to the printers today, so I expect the printed proof next week and the first set of copies soon after.
I also expect the edited version of A Diamond in the Dust, the first novel in a trilogy about The Stuart by Michael Dean, next week.
So lots of progress on the new titles. Remember, you can pre-order your copy now. If you are a reviewer, please contact me about an advance review copy: firstname.lastname@example.org.
14 September 2022
I had a productive and enjoyable meeting with Norbert Hirschhorn, even though our original meeting point, the cafe at RADA was unexpectedly closed, because if the Royal mourning period? However, we found a lovely space in the cafe of the delightful big Waterstones shop in Bloomsbury.
We decided that we would aim to publish Norbert’s new poetry collection in June 2023, and agreed we need to have a think about the title.
I decided to, at least, dress in a black coat and hat to honour the late Queen, who reminds me so much of my mother. The hat is my grandmother’s, born in 1890, died in 1995, a proper hat-wearing Victorian woman.
Thinking I may run into crowds there to watch Queen Elezabeth’s funeral procession, I had not taken into account the vast size of london. The funeral proceedings were in Westminster, I, travelling from Paddigton to Bloomsbury, didn’t come across any mourners even though it’s all central london.
I did enjoy visiting one of my favourite tube stations, Baker Street.
13 September 2022
Last checks were completed so that I can send The Past Is a Dangerous Driver to the printers on Thursday. I expect a proof print copy next week.
I also prepared for my meeting with Norbet Hirschhorn, over from the USA, about his new poetry collection.
We’re meeting in central London and I expect it to be very busy as the late Queen’s coffin is being moved from Buckigham Palace to Westminster Hall this afternoon. I will report back tomorrow.
12 September 2022
Today, we received the final version of the cover for The Way to Hornsey Rise. We’re all very pleased with it and Jeremy Worman, its author, put it into words as follows:
‘Thank the designer for me. What super art work, and he brings out the edginess of the story. The design is just so good. Such clarity of image and purpose.’
We also received the full cover for The Past Is a Dangerous Driver. Now we only need a final check of the text and layout so that this book can be sent to the printers later this week.
I also want to share with you an unusual floral tribute to the late Queen on the sitting monk statue in Malmesbury.
11 September 2022
Sunday, a day to catch up with things I wasn’t able to do during the week.
After a busy Friday and Saturday, it was time for a stock check and to order more books from the printers.
I caught up with outstanding manuscripts, something I very much enjoy.
I also went for a long walk and couldn’t resist trying out the swings in an empty playground I passed. I wouldn’t dare to have a go on the swings if there was somebody around, but I do like it, it’s very therapeutic. I call it ‘relasing my inner child’.
10 September 2022
A very successful day on Shambles Market and a big thank you to everyone who bought a book and especially to the couple who made use of our five for four offer.
Now we have a new king Charles III it’s a lovely coincidence that, next month, we will publish A Diamond in the Dust, the first novel in a trilogy about Charles I & II, The Stuarts, Love, Art and War.
In A Diamond in the Dust, Charles I is portrayed as a happily married patron of the arts. It was being such a lover of the arts which caused him to run out of money and lose his throne and his head.
Queen Elizabeth II great loves were horses and her Corgis. We need to go back to her mother, the Queen Mum, to find a royal with a great interest in the performing arts.
What will Charles III bring in this respect? It good to see that in his first address to the nation he quoted Shakespeare: ‘may flights of angels sing thee to thy rest’, and of course the new Queen Consort Camilla is an ardent lover of books. Interesting times!
9 September 2022
A better than average Friday on the Shambles market in Stroud and no problems with public transport. My Sumup card reader is working again which is excellent news because I took all payments by card today.
Another big pre-order came in for The Past Is a Dangerous Driver and that makes all the difference.
Arnold had some good news as well, he was offered to teach a short creative writing course. So things are looking up somewhat, and I’m putting in all the effort to keep moving things forward. So, book lovers in Stroud, try to make my day tomorrow.
8 September 2022
The day The Queen died. The end of an era and it very much made me think of and miss my late mother.
Why? They were of the same generation, my late mother would have turned 98 this year. She was a great follower, though not without a critical eye, of all things royal, in whatever country.
In repose, the look on my mother’s face would be quite stern just like that on the face of Elizabeth II, only to turn even more so if something caught her eye that didn’t quite meet with her approval. And her standards were very strict just like those of The Queen.
Of course, hats were always worn in public. We’re going to miss ladies like this. Rest in peace Your Majesty.
7 September 2022
People often ask me: How do you choose the books you publish? My answer: they need to be well written, add someting new to the literature already out there and I need to feel strongly that they deserve to be published.
That’s why I can’t and don’t want to control the type of book or the kind of author. So, that’s why the next four, no make that actually five books, are all written by man, all mature.
I rely on the manuscripts that are being sent in, we get several a day. We do receive a good mix of novels, memoirs, poetry and short stories by men and women from all over the world. The quality varies a lot, but I enjoy looking at manuscripts, and I like to be surprised by an excellent find.
Our short story collections always get picked up a lot on markets. I think there is a trend for time-pressured people to discover the joy of short stories. I do receive a lot of short story collections but it is quite an art to write a collection that works well together.
Hopefully we will add more collections soon, but in the meantime I leave you with our current wonderful set, all available from our website.
6 September 2022
The final layout, print proofs, of The Past Is a Dangerous Driver have been sent to the author. The cover for The Way to Hornsey Rise has been approved by the author, and we’re all delighted with Andrew’s splendid design.
So there’s definitely progress but also a number of outstanding obstacles. Shortage of funds and precarious cash flow are still ongoing. There is also the matter of needing to find a more permanent place to live. More sales would definitely help.
I’m doing my utmost getting the new books published because it will result in more sales of books, but I also need your help to generate the crucial word-of-mouth buzz.
My beloved dog Harry is sitting to attention.
5 September 2022
I finished the fist draft of the layout for The Past Is a Dangerous Driver. My brother Arnold is now casting his eagle eyes over it before I can send it to its author Neal Mason to check it. Then it’s on to the printers. Very exciting after such a long time.
Also a splendid addition to our growing poetry list which always attacts a lot of attention on the market. It’s not often that you see a wonderful collection of contemporary poetry displayed together. Even most bookshop have mostly classics and the occasionally bestseller on display.
All poetry books are available from our website.
4 September 2022
Sunday, for quiet reflction to see where we go or can go from here.
I don’t need a miracle, just more sales through our website to be #SavedByOneBook.
3 September 2022
Not a good day. The train to Stroud was cancelled and the next train of this hourly service was delayed by 20 minutes. So, I didn’t arrive at Shambles Market until 10.20 am even though I left Malmesbury at 6.15 am!
If it’s not a rail strike, it’s a lack of drivers that prevents me from reaching the market on time on Saturdays.
Then, my sumup card reader developed a security issue so I couldn’t take card payments and lost out on sales. I very much hope I can solve the sumup issue but that’s not certain.
After a long, disappointing day I arrived back in Marmesbury and the temporary bus stop happened to be near the start of the annual Carnival Parade. I wasn’t really in the mood for this, and I had to wait before I could walk home until the full set of floats and groups had been set in motion.
It’s a tribute to those taking part that I started to enjoy the spectacle and the atmosphere nonetheless. I leave you with a couple of pictures.
2 September 2022
A surprising smooth, on-time journey back and forth to the Shambles Market in Stroud. On our way back we spotted a car going against traffic on a roundabout. It had English number plates!
Work on the new titles is in progress and I was able to push things forwards a bit more today.
Booklovers out there I need your help. When looking for a next good read or a value-for-money present check out our excellent list. Links to reviews and a sample passage are available for all novels, memoirs, short story & poetry collections.
Just to cheer us all up I leave you with photos of a cheeky chap, part of the witch trail currently on in Malmesbury, and the view of the bottom of our street.
1 September 2022
The first day of autumn, from a meteorological point of view. Where did the summer go?
Appropriately, a day full of obstacles: on the domestic front, laundry emerged soaking wet from the washing machine, the internet grinded to a halt, and file explorer switched to a very strange display mode seeming of its own accord.
To top it all, one of the legs of my readings glasses broke into two pieces. I was able to mend it with celloptape. Luckily, because there are always manuscripts to read and I’m also eagerly awaiting a new draft cover.
31 August 2022
The last day of August already. How time flies when you’re busy and doing something worthwhile you also enjoy. Shame about the pay, but I’m working on that one.
I’m mostly beavering away from my bed office room so it’s extra special if you run into an enthusiastic reader when on your way to the post office. She stopped me to tell me she purchased Karen Jennings Travels with My Father by Karen Jennings on the Petticoat Lane Market in Malmesbury on 21 August and was very much enjoying reading it. That really made my day.
Do you know we have published five books by Karen Jennings? From her debut novel Finding Soutbek in 2012, shortlisted for the inaugural Etisalat Prize and translated into French, to Upturned Earth which I selected to publish rather than An Island which was longlisted for the Booker Prize 2021. I still think Upturned Earth is the better and more important piece of literature and I’m proud to have published it.
Check out Karen’s books, available from our website with excerpts and links to reviews.
30 August 2022
I made progress with the page numbers in InDesign today. I will tackle the issue of adding a table of contents automatically today and I really aim to finish the layout of The Past Is a Dangerous Driver by the start of next week.
I also briefed Andrew, our designer, about the cover of The Way to Hornsey Rise, a memoir by Jeremy Worman.
‘Surprising, even shocking, above all beautifully written. Do read it. You won’t be disappointed.’ – Christopher Sinclair-Stevenson
To get some exercise I’ve decided to trace some of the routes my brother and I took when taking dog Harry out for a walk. It doesn’t look like it, but this is right in the centre of Malmesbury running alongside Abbey Gardens.
29 August 2022
I’m just trying to remember when I last had a proper bank holiday, which for most people means not getting involved in any work-related activities and spend the day relaxing or on hobbies.
In that case, I haven’t had a proper bank holiday, apart from the occasional Christmas Day, since 2009 when I founded Holland Park Press.
Today was no exception. I had a long session on InDesign getting The Past Is a Dangerous Driver ready for publication. The two final challenges to overcome are putting the page numbering right and generating a table of contents. If you have specific knowledge of these two issues, please contact me: email@example.com.
I also gave Norbert Hirschhorn, one of our authors, feedback on his new poetry collection. It was a joy to read and, provided we get some sponsoring in place, I would love to publish it in 2023.
This year we’re publishing Michael Dean’s third book with us, and Norbert’s new collection would also be his third book published by Holland Park Press. Publishing an author not just a title is not just something we say but something we do.
28 August 2022
A quiet Sunday, but I’m getting more and more worried about finding a more permanent place to live.
I said this not so long ago but it’s getting ever so more urgent.
I can’t stay forever with the lovely Catherine, we had a frank chat today about my situation, but can’t afford to pay much rent either. So if you know of someone who needs some help around the house, requires house sitting for a longer period, or needs someone to look after a property or business in return for basic accommodation let me know.
I’m currently living in a small bed sitting room without space for a desk, so I’m very accommodating. I’m happy to move anywhere withing England and Wales as long as I am in walking distance of a post office because, since my brother returned to the Netherlands, I have no longer access to a car but need to post books all the time.
I live in hope, finding accommodation is essential to keep the company going. For suggestions you can email me, firstname.lastname@example.org, or phone me, 07792611929. Thanks!
If you can’t help finding a place to live, you can also help us by buying one of the books from our website.
27 August 2022
After a misty rather autumnal day start of the day, I had hardly time to put down my bag when arriving at Shambles Market before selling the first book: a copy of our poetry bestseller 100 Dutch-Language Poems.
It turned out to be a good day, plenty of books were sold, and I had some intersting converations including this one:
Customer: ‘I looking for a book t give to a friend. How much is it?’
Customer: ‘£10! I don’t think she’s worth it.’
I: ‘£10 is not much for a friend.
Customer: ‘But it is when I have to pay my utility bills.’
I fear for the future of that friendship.
After anoher mini drama at the bus station in Swindon, I arrived home safely to do the sales admin for the day.
26 August 2022
A productive Friday at the Shambles Market in Stroud. I do love being at the market and have the opportunity to speak to readers, authors and potential authors. It’s so useful to get feedback and it’s just lovely when someone comes alongto tell you how much they loved reading one of our books. It also gives me new ideas for promoting our books.
Ron, who runs the market, aways plays lovely music, proper, old fashioned pop songs but this afternoon he had stiff compeition from a lovely Irish band playing live just outside the Shambles Market.
That’s the great things about markets, you never know what’s going to happen. Don’t believe anyone, who tells you they can predict a market, there is no rhyme or reason to its behaviour but it has the capacity to surprise.
25 August 2022
A very good bookish day! Our wonderful designer Andrew Cox from Reactive Graphics produce another magnificent cover, this time for A Diamond in the Dust by Michael Dean.
And unexpectedly, a new, marvellous review for Away from the Dead, Booker Prize longlisted Karen Jennings’s short story collection, was published. Here is a quote:
‘Rarely I see an author who has such complete command of the English language. Jennings’ vocabulary and the richness of her words are really stunning. The book will offer descriptions that will awe you.
There are no easy solutions in this book, which offers glimpses of little or big tragedies in every day life with an aim to shed light in the South African human soul and society. And it totally achieves this.’
You can read the full review by Ilias Tsagas on goodreads.
24 August 2022
Michael Deal approved the draft for the cover of A Diamond in the Dust. It looks splendid and the final version will be revealed soon.
I spent another long session on InDesign but I’m still coming across things that baffle me. I need some more training and put more hours in.
I emerge from these design sessions stiff and square-eyed and in need of a walk. I came across several odd objects on my way such as a giant artificial climbing rock. At least that’s what I think it is as it was surrounding by excitable children having their lunch.
Only to, on my way back, have an encounter with Spider-Man. At least that what I think it is meant to be, I’m not at all au fait with comics and cartoons.
23 August 2022
I’ve just heard that work has started on the cover for A Diamond in the Dust, a novel putting King Charles I in quite a different light as a patron of the arts and loving husband to Henrietta.
The cover will be inspired by Anthony van Dyck’s famous triple portrait of the king. I can’t wait to see the first drafts.
Otherwise, I’ve been busy working on getting the layout of Neal Mason’s poetry collection The Past Is a Dangerous Driver right. It was also good to find that there is growing support for the promotion of The Way to Hornsey Rise, a memoir, by Jeremy Worman.
22 August 2022
After a hectic long weekend with lots of markets, it was a head-down day, to sort out admin, work on preparing the new books for publication and developing new ideas for promoting all our books.
InDesign is still giving me a few headaches, so if you are an experienced user who could give me some advice drop me an email: email@example.com
Information about progress for the new books is available from this page.
All books, but the new books especially, could do with more reviews. I’ve recently added quite a few more fellow bookish contacts on goodreads. So, good people on goodreads, are you aware that free copies are available in return for an honest review? Just message me if you’re interested, this is my goodreads profile.
Of course, if you are looking for a great read, you can purchase or pre-order books, print or ebook, directly from our website and support a niche publisher and its authors. #SavedByOneBook.
21 August 2022
I had an enjoyable and successful time at the annual Petticoat Lane Market in my hometown Malmesbury. It’s part of the Carnival and brings out the crowds.
The mayor opened the market at 10am.
I met lots of friends, sold quite a few books and I’m sure I will have a few manuscripts coming my way, which is great.
There was excellent music from a band I don’t know the name of, but they created just the right atmosphere. When you get the local Morris dancers jiving you must be doing something right.
A big thank you to James who ferried be back and forth to the market. Yes, this market was only a ten-minute walk away, but I also had to take two boxes of books, my travel bag, and a 6-feet folding table.
A big thank you to everyone who bought one of our books! Tell all your friends.
20 August 2022
A rail strike and the closure of the road betwwen Cirencester and Stroud proved too much of an aobstackle and prevented me to run my stall at Shambles Market. Luckily our books were already on display and my next door neighbour, the lovely Hannah, kept an eye on my books and even sold a couple of books. Thank you Hannah and Ron for packing up the books.
It did give me time to prepare for Perrioat Lane Market in Malmesbury tomorrow (Sunday). I also spend some time working on the layout of The Past Is a Dangerous Driver. After a while it gives you square eyes and a stiff neck, so I went for a walk to relax.
I never walk through Malmesbury on a Saturday because I’m always running the market stall but obviously that means I’m missing out on a lot of social life as I cam across a play in the Abbey Gardens
and a match at the Flying Monk football grounds.
19 August 2022
It was a typical rather slow Friday at Shambles Market but there was lots of interest, and I had quite a few good chats with people. This nicely sets me up for the coming weeks.
I also had an interesting neighbour: a giant white woolf felted by the lovely Hannah. No, it doen’t try to attack me it guards us.
The busses ferried me back and forth and I witnessed a lovely act of generosity. Two girls boarded the bus in Cirencester but didn’t have any cash. The small local busses I travel on are cash only, and one of the passengers, accompanied by a lovely dog, unasked paid their tickets.
If only bus stations were more enjoyable places. I hate the Swindon one, it has drunks at the entrance. The one in Stroud is smaller but doesn’t have any decent benches. Though someone had the wit to call it Merrywalks.
The one who really makes me merry has four legs and an adorable snout and folds his paws ever so elegantly.
18 August 2022
I received the final cover of The Past Is a Dangerous Driver. Neal Mason, the author, and I are very pleased with it.
You can find out more about Neal’s extraordinary poetry collection, read one of the poems, Derelict Classroom, and pre-order a book from this page. Don’t take my word for it, after reading it, Ian McMillan had this to say:
‘Here is poetry as history book, almanac and calendar, suffused with humanity and glowing with empathy.’
I’m making progress with the new books and work on generating more sales, but it’s still crunch time. I have a lot of worries and my stiff neck is not getting any better. I wish my dog Harry was still with me because he is an expert at being relaxed. He now lives with my brother in the Netherland, and this is him watching the telly (and blending in with the sofa).
17 August 2022
I seem to have found a way of getting three of the four new books published before the end of 2022. It will require some extra time and effort on my part but things look doable.
Two main worries still remain: to find a more permanent place to live & to increase the number of books sold.
I can’t stay forever with the lovely Catherine but can’t afford to pay much rent either. So if you know of someone who needs some help around the house or with looking after a property or business in return for basic accommodation let me know.
The great selling point when being on the market is putting all our books on show. The combined display of our covers attacts much attention and leads to sales. But how can I scale this up without having to clone myself?
The ACE grant was inteded to help with this issue, but it turned out ACE didn’t like my ‘outcomse’, i.e. to achieve more sales.
So I have to put my thinking hat on and find a solution out of the box. In the meantime it helps a lot if you buy one or more books from our website.
16 August 2022
Arnold and Harry moved to their new home today. A tiny almshouse in the Netherlands. It was a very emotional and bittersweet move for Arnold, those of you who can read Dutch, can find out why from Arnold’s latest novel Schurft.
Dog Harry takes it all in his stride, as long as he is with one of us, gets his food and can lay down his head on one of his favourite blankets or two, he is at home.
The fine weather has broken, and we finally saw some decent rain here in Malmesbury. Autumn is closing in, so I have to get my skates on and put all my effort in getting the new books out. The mighty struggle with InDesign (to save money) continues while the leaves are turning…
15 August 2022
I made a start with familiarising myself with Adobe InDesign. Buying a copy was the easy bit but finding out how to use it is a different kettle of fish. Even though I have a template to work from it’s going to be a steep learning curve. Wish me luck.
On a happier note, I showed two drafts I received from Andrew of Reactive Graphics for the cover of The Past Is a Dangerous Driver to its author Neal Mason this morning. He liked both but preferred this one.
An excellent choice and I’m now waiting for the final version so that I can add it to the website and use for promotional activities.
Things are finally progressing on the new books front, read this diary to keep up with the latest developments. Of course, you can pre-order any of new books now.
14 August 2022
Today, the present marvellous weather allowed me to combine duty with pleasure again. Pleasure, because I spent most of the day in the garden. Duty was served as well by taking my laptop outside.
Because, I and my skin, are so happy with hot sunshine, I do get a lot done, even though it was a Sunday.
My skin reacts very badly to stress and worries and has never been in such a bad state. It manages to itch and be painful at the same time, a lethal combination. But being out in the sun has a healing effect on my skin and I don’t have to worry about getting sunburnt. The only shame that the post-21-June sunshine is much less effective than the pre-21-June sunshine and anyway the moment the weather turns my skin reverts back to its normal super-flaky state.
I found another reason why the English sit so rarely in their gardens, not only do they find it often too hot, but they feel that when you are out in the garden you must tend to it. Whereas I actually enjoy overgrown gardens and I’m happy to admire tomatoes and pick them even if the plants are somewhat wilting in the heat.
Have you noticed that the leaves have started to go brown and have begun falling off the trees? I also think the apples are rather early this year, but then, I am an ignoramus when it comes to plants and gardening, so I should stick to the day job of publishing.
12 & 13 August 2022
Two very contrasting days.
On Friday I had a very smooth journey back and forth the market, lovely chats with people, but not that many sales. However, sales are normally slow on a Friday but set you up for Saturday.
At the end of the day, I was more worried how to get to the market on Saturday morning. Bus connections don’t work on Saturday morning, that’s why I take the train, but with another rail strike on that was not possible. So far, I hadn’t had any feedback on my appeal for a lift.
Saturday morning, while having breakfast I remembered one lady offering me a lift before, but I didn’t need it at the time. So, I send her a message on facebook. To my surprise she offered me a lift. Even more to my surprise she and her husband turned up in their lovely convertible with the roof down.
Thank you to Suzanne and her husband for a wonderful drive to the Shambles Market in Stroud.
I arrived about two hours later than normal, but my neighbouring stall holders had kept an eye on my stall, thank you Wendy, Yvonne and Helena. I hardly had time to put down my bag and before I sold the first book. Poetry was especially popular today and I was very pleased with the number of sales.
The way back was very scenic as always but also extremely hot. The lovely driver of the Cirencester to Malmesbury bus showed me her ice pack which she had very sensibly just purchased to cool her back.
What really impressed me though is when two Spanish tourists asked if they could be dropped at their inn. She asked them for details and, after showing her the establishment’s business card, she immediately decided to make a detour and drop them off near it.
Long live our local busses, in my case I sing the praises of Coach Style serving North Wiltshire and Cotswolds Green operating in Gloucesteshire.
But most of a big thank you to Suzanne and her husband, without them I wouldn’t have been able to reach the market in time and to sell that many books. You made my weekend!
11 August 2022
Today, I found out that I really need to wear another hat, not real one, I have no money to buy another hat anyway, but a virtual one. To save a bit more money, I’ve purchase a copy of InDesign, luckily you can pay for it monthly, so that I can do the layout of our books myself.
Wish me luck, I’ve never done this before but I least I know how I want the books to look. It will cost more time, but it also means I can get the new books out before the end of the year.
It may well stress me out a bit, but at least there is the lovely countryside to soothe me, for example, this view of cows I spotted when walking on one of the footpaths to the Aldi supermarket.
10 August 2022
At 8.28am today, just when I wanted to open my inbox, our internet was dead. The router didn’t show any signs of life either. No wonder, because he had no electicity.
Our local WhatsApp group was buzzing with activity and we soon heard that we would be without this vital ingredient until at least 11.30.
How dependennt we have become on our networks and hence electricity. I decided to make a virtue of the circumstances and do some essential things that did’t require the internet: the post office run and getting some food. It was a wise decision because it got rather hot to do these things later in the day.
At 11.45, we were back in business and I got a lot of work done by working from the laptop in the garden.
Our fragility in terms of connectivity was brought home during my evening stroll by spotting the overhead power lines. Note also the lovely old fashioned street light.
9 August 2022
Another hot day so that I could work in the garden and I do get a lot done when working outside. My ancestors must have come from a hot country.
A Diamond in the Dust, a new novel which casts Charles I in a new light, and the first book in the trilogy The Stuarts: Love, Art, War, is now ready for editing and I’ll keep you informed in progress.
My brother Arnold and I continue to work closely togeher and are having at least one if not more work discussion via the WathsApp phone. In order to keep the press going, our top priority, Arnold had to move, temporarily, back to the Netherlands, but I miss him and dog Harry very much.
8 August 2022
I love working on getting manuscripts ready for publication. Today my brother Arnold and I had a good meeting by telephone on WhatsApp about the final checks for The Past is a Dangerous Driver, a remarkable poetry collection by Neal Mason.
It looks very good and has gone off to layout today. I can’t wait to show the print-ready result to Neal.
I made the most of the current spell of delightful weather, long may it last, by moving the office into the garden. It has a large table nicely positioned in the shade, so there are no problems reading from the screen and keeping track of the cursor.
I’m always amazed by how little use the English make use of their gardens. Yes, they can often be found doing a spot of gardening but just relaxing, reading a book, or like me working, that seems a rare occurrence. A market colleague even told me that he and his wife never sit in their garden, they don’t like getting too hot.
So, I was glad to hear that at least a few children were having a ball in their paddling pool in a nearby garden while I was working away.
7 August 2022
I decided to wear one of my grandmother’s hats, inherited from my mother, to mass today. I unexpectedly found it in one of the hat boxes retrieved from storage. I’ve never worn it before, even though it was on my hat shelf in Baskerville for five years.
My brother took dog Harry along to his best friend and they visited his horse at its stable. Harry seems to be enjoying himself. He’s now being taken out for lots of walks which he really loves. Therefore, I continue to be amazed how happy he was when he had to stay with me, who can’t hold him on the lead, for seven weeks and still be content. He’s a most remarkable dog.
I checked out more manuscript today. Please keep them coming, I like to hear from new authors, and I’m ready to be surprised. Having to look at manuscripts is one of the most enjoyable aspects of being a publisher.
6 August 2022
Not a good day at all. After getting up at 6am to catch the early bus to Swindon, I arrived in time for the 8.28 train from Swindon to Stroud. Only to be informed, shortly after my arrival, that this train was cancelled. Acceping the inevetible, I opened my laptop and plugged into the station’s wifi system.
However, when the message flashed up on the departures monitor announcing the unspecified delay of the 9.28 train, I decided to check with the GWR information point. They hadn’t a clue what was happening. ‘That’s a bit unfortunate’, I said, ‘losing a train just like that’, so they promised to phone.
Some problems with train doors and a replacement train had to be driven in from the depot in Reading. It would take another half hour. This turned out be correct and at 10.02am, just over one and a half hours late, I finally left the station.
If only it had been followed by a good day at my lovely stall on the excentric but delightful Shambles Market. It turned out to be a dismal day. I had lots of attention but heard the full gamut of excuses: I love to buy a book but: ‘I’m about to go on holiday, ‘I have a large to be read pile’, ‘I’m travelling and my bags are full’, ‘I will come back, are you here next week?’ (answer: ‘Yes’), ‘I need more time’, ‘I can’t make up my mind’, ‘I’ just browsing’, ‘I’m not buying today’, ‘I’ve promised my wife not to buy any more books’, etc.
I personally blame the Festival of British Eventing, however jolly, which was on at Gatcombe Park (Princess Anne’s residence) this weekend. I’s not the first time that this type of event seems to keep book lovers away from our stall.
5 August 2022
My brother Arnold went to see his new home and it happens to be right in the city centre and that’s very convenient for him.
I had another day full of travelling back and forth to the bookstall at Shambles Market in Stroud. Luckily, I travel with my laptop so I can continue to work.
The bus journey from Cirencester to Stroud is quite spectacular especially when the bus turns into a road with the warning ‘not suitable for long vehicles’, and trees hit the bus on both sides, but the views are magnificent.
Otherwise, I made some progress with the US publicist, got in touch with more people who want to review our new titles, all when promoting and selling our books on the market.
4 August 2022
Another busy day emailing lots of people to generate more pre-orders and to help the crowdfunding along.
I’m also waiting to hear from our designer to see if he can do me a special deal so that in addition to The Past Is a Dangerous Driver, I can also proceed with commissioning the covers for A Diamond on the Dust and The Way to Hornsey Rise. I’m very keen to do this because once have the covers I can give the go ahead for more promotional activities.
Besides, the authors, Michael Dean and Jeremy Worman, have selected excellent pictures to turn into stylised covers.
3 August 2022
My brother Arnold will be able to move from temporary accommodation to a small alms house in the Netherlands.
Great news because it means he will be reunited with our dog Harry, just in time, beause the friends Harry is staying with are going on holiday on 11 August, so Harry has to leave.
I had to do some work on our new accountancy system, not my favourite task but it has to be done, and I hope to finish it all tomorrow.
I also managed to send of information of a few of our books to a publicist in the USA who has offered to take us on free of charge for a year. Let’s see how it goes but it will be excellent to give out books a boost in the UK.
In the meantime, wherevever you live, you can always buy a print or ebook from our website.
2 August 2022
An outstanding invoice was paid which meant that I could finally start commissioning the first of the covers for the new books.
After checking with Neal Mason the following brief was giving to Andrew Cox from Reactive Graphics, in charge of designing our covers: the cover for The Past Is a Dangerous Driver should contain elements of time, movement and Einstein. I’m looking forward to seeing the first drafts.
Three more covers and four more layouts to go so I have to keep the pre-orders coming in. That’s why another substantial set of emails has gone out today.
Norbert Hirschhorn, one of our authors now based in the USA, will be in the UK during September. I’m planning a get together of our authors with some reading during Norbert’s stay. I will keep you informed about progress.
1 August 2022
Today my father would have turned 96. He died in 1998 and I miss him still. This is how my brother painted his portrait in his novel King of Tuzla.
His eyes grew moist. He didn’t even notice the fact that Tijmen’s mother kept butting in. Hard of hearing on one side. Handsome face, with artistic, white hair. Bald on top of course just like Tijmen. On holidays in guesthouses this sometimes created quite a commotion: he was mistaken for the CEO of a large company.
‘At the beginning you didn’t notice much about the war. My friend Thomas, though, hung the garden gates of all the Dutch Nazis from the lampposts. To be on the safe side, he hung up our gate as well. Gijs was furious.’
He laughed and his belly shook.
31 June 2022
Crowdfunding for new books is not going quite well enough, and I’m a bit worried about getting all new books out in time.
So, I went for another walk to do some serious thinking. I have some promising ideas and will be hard at work to put them in place this week.
I was really cheered by coming across a life size Mrs Tiggy-Winkle in one of the gardens. Splendid!
But not so happy by seeing a red coloured leaf which looks if it should have been still green. The first sign of autumn? I hope not!
30 June 2022
After an enjoyable car journey and chat with Debbie, I arrived at Shambles Market in Stroud in good time. She also bought one of our books from the stall, so I owe Debbie a double thank you, and she already made my day and a quarter past ten!
The rest of the day also turned out well with quite a few sales and a number of good conversations with people who couldn’t buy but took note of our website and will explore out titles that way.
Anna, a newcomer to the market, it was only her second appearance today, came to me with an interesting proposal. She is a portrait photographer and wanted to photograph me for an upcoming exhibition in her native Hungary.
I was happy to take part, by now I’m used to have my picture taken. So, I ended the market day by being a fleeting artist’s model in the park and in front of St Laurence Church just outside the Shambles Market.
On my way home by bus, I managed to take some pictures of the tents, caravans and even the tipis in the distance at WOMAD festival.
29 June 2022
I had a better than average day at Shambles Market. Fridays tend to be a bit quiet but this one went by in a flash.
Maybe this was also caused by my frantic search for an alternative way of travelling to the market tomorrow. Malmesbury – Cirencester – Stroud bus connections don’t work on Saturday mornings, so I normally go Malmesbury – Swindon by bus & Swindon – Stroud by train.
But there is a rail strike on tomorrow, and all taxies (not that I can afford one) are booked because of WOMAD. Yes, you read that correctly, Malmesbury is the home of a major, family friendly, world music festival. I had a nice view of the tents, tipis and caravans from the bus. I wish I had the money to join them.,
I’ve lived in Malmesbury since November 2016, but I have never been able to visit WOMAD but I once nearly has a spoken word event there but that’s another story.
Anyway, the outlook for attending the stall tomorrow looked bleak until I posted it in our local street WhatsApp group. Debbie has come to the rescue, and will give me a lift tomorrow. Thanks very much Debbie!
The market is so important for us because it often provides crucial cash for the week, it means I can buy food, pay cash for the busses (our county bus services only take cash) or pay for other essential items.
28 June 2022
Because I’m on a tight budget and without my brother, dog and car, there is not much scope for going somewhere except for running the bookstall in Stroud. So, I do a bit of walking in and around Malmesbury especially when I need to think about things or struggling with putting the correct words together for an email.
I’m always take a lot of care when putting together an email because they can very easily come out to harsh or insensitive. I think people sometimes forget this because it’s so easy to type in a quick reply.
Back to walking, because apart from my thoughts, I’m on my own, I tend to spot more unusual things such a back leaning house, which, to make it worse is on the top of a slope.
The other day I spotted an abandoned cemetery just around the corner from where I live. I tried if I could open the gate but it was sealed shut.
Tomorrow there is no time for walking instead I have a very heavy bag to take to Stroud, because I sold many books last week and now I have to replenish them.
27 June 2022
On the matter of promoting our books, I’m like a dog with a bone, I won’t let go until it’s gone, and keep working on it until I have achieved my goal: selling enough books.
Bringing our books to the attention of potential readers is the most difficult part of my job. So many books are published of such a varying quality that makes it very hard to stand out.
All our books are unique and excellent reads that can find their readers. I’ve proven this time and again on the market. But how to scale this up? I wish I could clone myself.
Another option you might well say is to get some funding. Well, I tried applying to the Arts Council England with professional help. It didn’t work, they ‘didn’t like the outcomes.’. What? They don’t think maximise sales is a genuine objective for a limited company? There is obviously far too much woke going around.
But I’m persevering but I need your help. When you buy one of our books, please read it, tell all you friends and spread the word on social media. Word of Mouth is our strongest weapon and you can utilise it. Thank you for supporting #SavedByOneBook!
26 June 2022
Today, I’ve been busy drumming up support for the production of our four new titles: a historical novel, a memoir, a new poetry collection and poetry in translation.
Contacting people by email generates several types of responses.
Quite a lot of people just ignore, fair enough we’re all busy. Others use one of the standards replies, thumbs up icon, thanks, etc.
There are also a few that take office: ‘I don’t have money either’, ‘My book needs support too’, or something similar. I do emphatise with them but if you do not ask, you do not get, and I’m only making a polite request.
Quite a few people wish you luck, which is lovely. A few take action by distributing our message on their network, pre-ordering a book or making a donation. Very much appreciated!
We’re making progress but are not there yet, so I will be contacting more people tomorrow about #MakeTheseBooksHappen.
25 June 2022
So, at the age of 64, I find myself a lodger albeit with a very good and lovely friend. But the press is still going.
Yes, all my books, furniture, personal belongings are in storage. But the press is still going.
Arnold managed to retrieve much of my summer clothes from storage when he came to collect dog Harry in June, though odd items are missing. Same situation applies to the summer hats. But thanks to Arnold, I do have summer clothes and he press is still going strong.
The shoe situation is somewhat more precarious. I’ve only got three pairs: my walking shoes, I very old and decrepit pair that used to be my mothers, but I can walk on them, and a very nice pair, also my mother’s, which I can tolerate on my feet for about five minutes. The rest, the good ones, are somewhere in storage, we looked but couldn’t locate them.
But the press is still going not in the least due to the orders, help in kind and donations of the people who understand and support what we are doing: giving deserving authors a chance to be published and make great literature available to the public.
Yet, I would easily sell everything that is in storage to keep the press going but that wouldn’t generate enough money. Sentimental value cannot be cashed in, and that’s probably a good thing too.
Now, I just need to get our four new & exciting books published without much money so: #MakeTheseBooksHappen.
23 & 24 July 2022
It was an excllent Saturday at the Shambles Market in Stroud and I sold widely across our entire list. On the market is doen’t matter at all when a book was published.
I also had a good chat with someone from the publishing world and he promised he would have a word with the owner of one of the local bookshops. Come on local bookshops, do get on with stocking our books. If I can sell them on a general market surely you can do better in your bookshop.
Sunday is a day for catching up with outstanding reading and manuscripts and it’s a good feeling to be completely up to date again.
One of the Dutch publishers is interested in my brother’s new book and I spend a very enjoyable time reading the sample Arnold has prepared for them. It looks very good, it will be sent off this week and we’re keeping our fingers crossed.
A successful day on the market means checking stock and ordering more books. Also Central Books, our UK distributor, has run out of 100 Dutch-Language Poems, so they had to be reordered as well. Lots of admin but all done and dusted.
A big thank you to everyone who bought a book over the weekend and I’m looking forward to a busy week promoting and selling more book. Thank you for supporting #SavedByOneBook!
22 July 2022
Arnold has a good day yesterday and sold more books for more money than expected, thanks to his friends.
We also received an unexpected small donation, much appreciated, because every bit helps.
I was busy running the stall at the Shambles in Stroud. It was quite busy for Friday, and I made a few sales, but I expect and hope to sell more tomorrow.
The school holidays have started and when catching the bus in Cross Hayes I spotted two new picnic tables outside the museum. Now, books go very well with picnics, so get a few for your holidays, even better we have a get five pay for four offer on at the moment. If you can’t make to Stroud you can always buy a book from our website and support us that way. #SavedByOneBook
21 July 2022
Sales, we need more sales. So, Arnold and I have been very busy.
Arnold, now temporarily based in the Netherlands, travelled to Amsterdam today to meet a friend and his friends who are interested in Arnold’sbooks. I hope he has a nice time catching up but even more so that he will sell some books.
My day was made when one of our authors placed a substantial pre-order for his new book. It meant I could pay the overdue invoice from the printers. Such a relief and so much appreciated!
Everything my brother and I are doing is geared towards keeping the company going, publishing more wonderful books, and bringing us together again and this includes dog Harry. This is him today, taking a rest at this at his caretakers.
20 July 2022
First of all. a big thank you to the people who have supported us over the past two years by buying books, making donations and helping in kind. Without your support I wouldn’t still be running Holland Park Press.
I owe it to my authors and all who are supporting us to keep going. I’m doing my best, but I do need money to eat and pay company bills. Currently the trusted handbag (it used to be my mother’s) contains only negative money.
I’m doing all I can to move things forward and any help or suggestions are very welcome. I will keep you informed!
19 July 2022
I can manage to live with all my beloved possessions, including my books, being in storage, having no place of my own but lodging with a lovely friend, but I do mind not being able to commission lovely covers for our four new books.
They deserve it, but I do not have the upfront money at the moment. Things are in the pipeline but that can’t be used to pay current bills.
I’m in an enormous pickle but I put my trust in lovers of good literature around the world. I hope you won’t let me down. Let’s make these new covers happen, we can’t continue with the holding covers.
#MakeTheseBooksHappen has all the details.
Thanks very much, and contact me directly if want to discuss: firstname.lastname@example.org or +44 (0) 7792611929.
We’ve survided the #heatwave, help me conquer a financial calamity.
18 july 2022
Today was the hottest day so far this year, so I moved my laptop outside first thing to take advantage the still somewhat fresh morning air.
It reminds of the prolonged hot spell in 1976. The year I got my secondary school diploma, the equivalent of A levels here, I graduated successfully in eight subjects, the weather was lovely, but I have never been so uphappy ever since.
I still own the very seventies skirt and blouse I wore to the graduation ceremony. Sadly, like a lot of my things they are in storage.
Back in 1976, I had severe hayfever and hated hot weather, I’ve grown out of hayfever and come to adore the hot weather.
That’s good because I had a busy day promoting the very entertaining podcast of Jeremy Worman speaking to David Freeman about his memoir The Way to Hornsey Rise, or how a public schoolboy ended up in one of Europe’s largest squats.
You can listen to it here.
I’m determined to make these books happen, even in extreme weather, having to wear reading glasses and with my skin falling apart. #MakeTheseBooksHappen
17 July 2022
A Sunday and the first of the really hot days. I absolutely love this type of weather: it can be too cold but never too hot. Famous last words!
I just dragged my laptop outside in the shade and because there was a breeze it was comfortable and I had quite a productive day.
This was certainly helped by another pre-order coming in for one of the new books and also by a lovely new quote from Christopher Sinclair-Stevenson for The Way to Hornsey Rise a memoir by Jeremy Worman.
‘Surprising, even shocking, above all beautifully written. Do read it. You won’t be disappointed.’
16 July 2022
Today, I was working hard to sell as many books as possible to generate enough income to publish more books. We had competition from a country and an air show, but we keep going to bring wonderful books to the market.
The books by these authors ae remarkable and deserve to be published. Yes, they just happen to be all male, white and mature, but they were the best manuscripts that came along. I’m completely open to what the next set of authors may be or look like at least as long as their manuscripts are top-notch.
Tomorrow, I will be out there again, this time figuratively, to drum up support to be able to publish our books, be able to eat and pay our authors. I rely on your help by buying or books or making a dontation.
I’m not easily thwarted, not even by oncoming and barely able to pass agricultural vehicles.
Up to new adventures tomorrow.
15 July 2022
Today is was aday full of bus adventures. To start with I was the only passenger on the 7.35am bus from Malmesbury to Cirencester.
On my second leg, from Cirencester to Stroud the route is very scenic, and I tried to take a picture of the lovely fields full of poppies but my photographic skills are no match for those of the bus driver.
On our way back, the Friday rush hour between Stroud and Cirencester was heavier than usual and that, on the narrow Cotsworld lanes, means the bus got nearly stuck severeal times until we really were stuck and had to take an unexpected turn to the left.
The bus driver freely admitted he didn’t quite know where we were going, started la-la-ing a songfestival song before engaging the bus, full of school kids and me, in a session of oggy oggy oi! Luckely a passing schoolbus was able to give direction and we ended up in Cirencester in time but not after one teenage boy tipped the driver a £20 note.
In between all this I did manage to sell books and hand out cards. Don’t forget you can support #SavedByOneBook by buying directly from our website.
Meanwhile back in the Netherlands, beloved dog Harry was spotted lookig out of the window (there are ducks in the garden).
14 July 2022
Hard at work promoting our titles, so was Jeremy Worman because two more pre-orders for The Way to Hornsey Rise came in today.
I also spoke to a US publicist today, who is interested in putting our titles better on the map in the US. Promising and I will keep you informed.
Nature is close at hand everywhere you go in Malmesbury. On my way to the suppermarket I spotted a few cows in a nearby field.
My mother’s birthday was the 14th of July and today she would have turned 98, to clebrate her life I leave you with this poem which was read at her funeral and printed on her in memorial card. It’s from my brother Arnold’s novel Angel.
of dying fathers
wasting precious time
who now snaps his laces
their hibernation dissolving
sunday is out
she happily puts on her lipstick
thinking back when she was but young
being young when all still belonged
standing there forever frozen
phoning her child
13 July 2022
A lovely start of the day but we need more orders and responses to our fundraising.
Our South African distributor has run out of copies of books Karen Jennings. I need to print more copies and pay upfront for: Finding Soutbek, Away from the Dead, Travels with My Father, Space Inhabited by Echoes & Upturned Earth. Support a great author, longlisted for the Boooker Prize in 2021, by making a donation. Thank you very much!
12 July 2022
One of the most enjoyable aspects of my job is getting manuscript from all over the world and reading them. You never know what you come across and I have found so many remarkable authors that deserved to be published.
But I need your support to make this happen. I would be very grateful if you could throw me a lifeline by making a donation: https://www.paypal.com/donate?hosted_button_id=VSSVV8D8MQ22N, every penny counts. Thank you very much.
We only accept submissions by email, but I still keep track of submissions in my tried and tested notebook. When I started my first commercial job in 1988 (after a career in academics, at that time I thought I had to change careers before getting too old, but actually I made a couple of successful career changes later) my manager remarked, where’s your notebook? Having noticed I hadn’t got one, he gave me one. This tried and trusted luddite item has been my trusted companion ever since.
My first introduction to computers was in the autumn of 1976, well personal computors didn’t really exist then, it was mainframes and punch cards, and I’ve been involved with computers ever since. Yet, the hard copy notebook recommended by David in 1988 has also been my companion until this day.
This is a page from it keeping track of manuscripts received and considered. The only problem is that my handwriting has deteriorated so much over the years that I have problems reading it back. I blame computers, even though I celebrate them in many other ways. Just, for example, I couldn’t have done my PhD (1986 Bristol University) without them.
11 July 2022
From preparing a title for submission to the TS Eliot Prize to lending a hand with organising a local garden party to say goodbye to a young family going back to the Philippines, it was quite a day today.
Even better it was boiling hot, and I and my skin loves hot weather with plenty of glorious sunshine.
The first thing people were asked at Catherine’s garden party was if they would like a Pimms. It put everyone at ease at once. Catherine is an expert at this.
On this unsual very hot day, I’ve been offered an icecream twice. First by an elderly gent (think 75+) I passed on my way to the post office, they can always be counted to be one of my admirers, ‘do you want a lollipop, it’s freee of charge, and I have several in the freezer.’ Secondly by a lovely young lady who came with her mum to the garden party because we had totally forgotten about icecreams in the freezer.
All of them not aware that I’m trying to survive and desperate to drum up support so that I can order more of books by Karen Jennings to be published. Our South African distributor has run out and the printer has to be paid upfront. Contact me if you can help.
Freely offered icereams are lovely but also do not help towards generating enough funds to publish these four lovely new books I’ve signed up. With just a small sum you have the opportunity to change the lives of a publisher and her deserving authors by contributing to #MakeTheseBooksHappen. That will make my day!
10 July 2022
After a busy week, I enjoyed sitting in the sunshine and used it to catch up with some reading.
Since I moved to England in January 1983, I’ve come to understand many of the unique features of the UK. I used to be a big fan of proportional representation but I’ve come to appreciate the benefits of being represented by your local constituency MP.
As a Dutch citizen, I could even understand why people voted to leave the EU. Yet some things never become clear, cricket is one of them. After my brother moved to the UK and explained the rugby rules to me, I really took to it, but cricket is still clear as mud. This sprung to mind when I came across a school event at the local cricket grounds when tracing one of our walks with dog Harry.
Actually, cricket might well match Amazon in murkiness of rules. It’s all about statistics apparently.
Well, you can brighten our future by buying one of the books from our website and support #SavedByOneBook.
At least the skies are doing their bit: Malmesbury this evening.
9 July 2022
A much better day on the Shambles Market in Stroud. Plenty of books sold, a decent profit and lots of lovely chats with readers and writers. It makes the day go very quickly.
I made a special display for Hold Still by Cherry Smyth, celebrating that we’ve sold the option for the Film and TV rights.
It worked and I sold extra copies. Somehow the magic of Pembrokeshire often casts its spell, it did again today, and we sold a couple of copies of The Houses Along the Wall by Karen Hayes celebrating the magic of the Parrog in Newport.
Now I need to build more mometum so that I can publish our four new books and bring Arnold and Harry home. You can help us by ordering or pre-ordering books from our website: #SavedByOneBook or by making a donation: #MakeTheseBooksHappen and use these hash tags in the social media.
8 July 2022
Another day at the Shambles Market in Stroud. Alas, not enough readers around, but I had inquiries, so I have a much better feeling about tomorrow.
I got things sorted for submitting another of our boooks to a major prize, in this case The Past is a Dangerous Driver by Neal Mason to the TS Eliot Prize. I found a lovely stationers with print room attached in Stroud, so copies of the manuscript have been printed and I will send them off on Monday.
Some niche publishers don’t bother with submitting books to major prizes because it is expensive when you get shortlisted but I always think that is a nice problem to have to face.
I’m for ever busy thinking up new ways to promote our books, but you, the readers of this diary, are essential, just by telling all your friends to buy books from our website, you can really make the difference. Very much appreciated!
Arnold won the prize today, because he could give our beloved Harry a cuddle. I miss them both so much. Dog Harry used to sleep on my bed each night and now he is in a different country. But if we sell enough books he and Arnold can come back. That can’t be soon enough!
7 July 2022
The sunshine finally came out this afternoon and it turned into a genuine summery afternoon, the first time in quite a long series of gloomy overcast days.
I rejoyced because the sunshine heals my skin and takes away the scaling and itching. So I took my laptop outside and worked in the garden for a couple of hours. I worked on quite a few promotional activities but a new challenge presented itself today.
Our South African distributor has run out of books, that’s good news, but now I have to print some more. However, I need to pay upfront, and without any spare cash, I need a benifactor to support this. If you can help, let me know. Thanks very much!
We’ve published five books by Booker longlisted Karen Jennings, and they are all very special.
On my wanderings today, following in the footsteps of our walks with dog Harry, I came across one of our favourite benches, brother Arnold loved to smoke there one of his cigars. Now it is sadly empty, though it still has a lovely view of the abbey.
6 July 2022
Dear deserving book lovers and readers out there, we desperately need you to buy more of our wonderful books. Check out the list, buy some for your friends, and tell me what else we should publish.
I’m very busy working on new ways to promote our books and walking helps to clear and focus the mind. So I’ve started to trace the walks when Arnold and I could still take out our beloved labrador Harry together.
This is one of the lovely views of Malmesbury I found on my way today. A similar picture was also used in an article about us in the the national newspapers.
But this picture of Harry in his new temporary home clearly asking a question breaks my heart. Yes is my answer, I would very much like you to sleep on my bed again. So, I have just to work even harder to make this possible. You can help by #MakeTheseBooksHappen.
5 July 2022
Today I got feedback from Letterenfonds (Dutch Foundation for Literature), they needed some additional information about our application for a grant to translate Schurft in English, so we’re still hanging in there, and to gather this information will be my first task tomorrow.
My brother Arnold did some very successful fundraiding today which means I can pay my outstanding bills. Such a relief and three cheers and more for Arnold! You can help too #MakeTheseBooksHappen!
To get some relief from all the stress, my skin is extremely itchy, I went to trace one of our walks with Harry, and found something unexepcted, a mock train engine on the disused Malmesbury train track. Another gimmick of the new American owners of the Bell Hotel (claims to be the oldest hotel in England, not the only one) and Abbey Gardens.
The mock train can be found in the Abbey Gardens but I spotted it from the common land which runs along the gardens and was once part of the Abbey gardens tended by the monks looking after their fish ponds among other things.
4 July 2022
Happy Independence Day to our American readers and customers!
No holiday for me, I’ve been very busy promoting our books through the social media. Some pre-orders came in, but we need more, and also orders for our published books.
Did you know we discovered Karen Jennings in 2012, and published her five first books, before she was longlisted for the Booker Prize in 2021? Check out her books and buy them for you and your friends.
My brother Arnold, author, poet, and essential for the running of Holland Park Press, found another temporary place to live. I think it looks fine, and thank you to the people who provided this new residence.
As a city girl, I continue to be surprised that I feel so at home in the pretty rural market town of Malmesbury. It’s a very good and supportive place to run our press. I leave you with two pictures which show that the countryside is all around us.
3 July 2022
A quiet Sunday, to recove from a hectic week. We had a lovely Parish picnic after mass and the sun came out as well.
Not good news about my brother, he has found a new place to live but cannot take Harry. I wish Harry was still here with me, but at least I’m still in lovely Malmesbury near Tomas Hobbes cottage and the Abbey.
2 July 2022
A slow day on the market but it’s impossible to predict. If we market stallholders could, we would only come out on good days and become rich. In real life we take the good with the bad and just make a living.
As always, see my theory of a couple of days ago, poetry came to te rescue and I sold nothing but poetry books today. It reinforces my impression that poetry lovers are the more adventurous readers and hence better buyers.
However, an important domestic issue is dominating everything at the moment. Brother Arnold and dog Harry are staying with my brother’s ex girlfriend and her dog Nelson. None are getting on well, the dogs are fighting, well Harry is being challenged by Nelson, and don’t even mention the human angle.
The upshot is that Harry is temporarily staying with delightful friends, he is happy enough, but we are not. Arnold is having to look for a new home asap. The answer is that we need more sales: order from our website or support #MakeTheseBooksHappen. Very much appreciated!
1 July 2022
I was out again today to work towards #MakeTheseBooksHappen. After another long but scenic bus ride from Malmesury (Wiltshire) to Cirencester (Gloucestershire) followed by a second even more scenic bus from Cirencester to Stroud, I did more or less open the bookstall on time.
It’s always good to see the lovely entrance to the Shambles Market.
I put up an extra display to celebrate the fact that an option has been taken out for the Film and TV of Hold Still, a novel about the muse and mistress of James Whistler and Gustave Courbet, by Cherry Smyth.
I also received a lovely blog post from Michael Dean about his forthcoming novel A Diamond in the Dust about Charles I, putting this king in quite a different light.
In addition, I think I have arranged for Jeremy Worman to be interviewed for an important series of author inteviews podcasts about his forthcoming memoir The Way to Hornsey Rise.
All in all a productive day, but marred by the fact that brother Arnold and dog Harry are still in a spot of trouble in the Netherlands. I very much hope things will be sorted out soon. To be continued on, hopefully, a more cheerful note.
30 June 2022
Last day of June. I can’t quite believe it, half of 2022 has gone already, and I have still so much to do this year.
A few more preorders came in for our new books, but we need more orders for all our books through our website. I’ve been busy drunning up support by emailing people.
Tomorrow I will be selling in person again on Shambles Market, something I very much enjoy, especially as my pop-up office is also up and running, so I can tackle people by email and social media at the same time. Be prepared, but it will be lovely to be in touch.
If you want to make a difference support #MakeTheseBooksHappen and enable more deserving authors to get their books published.
I leave you with some tricks of the trade.
29 June 2022
I sent out a lot of emails to generate support for getting our four new books published. We need to add to our beautiful collection of covers and they need editing and their layout sorted. It’s not that much money, but I don’t have the ready cash at the moment, so any contribution is very much appreciated.
I miss my dog Harry, it’s my first dog, and he understands me, look at his face, don’t you agree?
I also miss my brother Arnold, he is in a bit of a pickle at the moment, so I think about him and phone him a lot. Here they are they both on an early morning walk because it’s hot in the Netherlands, I wish we could say the same.
I can’t really publish books with these holding covers. Just a few pennies will enable me to commission four new lovely covers from our wonderful designer Andrew Cox of Reactive Graphics. With your support for #MakeTheseBooksHappen I can do this. Thank you very much!
28 June 2022
A couple of days ago, the lady on whose farm we store our books told me they had to be moved and it would be useful to know for how much longer they needed to be stored. I wish I knew the answer. I told her I needed storage until at least the end of the year, but in truth I don’t know. They can only come back if I have a place of my own again with enough room. Will this ever happen?
This picture shows only two out of six bookcases in my old study. I very much miss my books, yet I’m in the business of publishing books. Isn’t life full of surprises? But at least I provide lots of people with new books, and that’s very important, because books record the history of humanity, and it’s one of the things that we leave behind when we are gone.
So, in a way, I was cheered up, by pre-selling four more copies of The Way to Hornsey Rise by Jeremy Worman today. At least I’m earmarking books for other people even if I’m bereft of my own copies. Moreover, you can pre-order all of our forthcoming books and thereby contribute towards the costs of publishing these wonderful novels, memoirs and poetry collections. This is absolutely essential to #MakeTheseBooksHappen.
27 June 2022
There was also a donation via our PayPal donations page. Very much appreciated and if you like to see more derving exiting reads published you can do so too.
My brother Arnold is bravely soldiering on in the Netherlands. He’s likely to have to move soon again because Harry, our lovely dog, and Nelson, the dog of the lady he is staying with, don’t get on at all. Readers in the Netherlands, you can support Arnold by buying a signed copy of Schurft.
Thanks to support of the Malmesbury community and friends we’re still in business, so it’s only fitting to leave you with a picture of the iconic Abbey Church in Malmesbury on a midsummer’s night.
26 June 2022
Sunday is the day to catch up with manuscripts. I receive several each day and we promise to come back to authors 4 to 6 weeks after we have received their manuscript and I’m fully up to date with responses.
Did you know that you can send us manuscrips all year round and that we accept manuscripts directly from authors? Check out our guidelines for submission.
I’ve also been working on new plans to promote our books. We do need more sales and it really helps us enormously if you buy directly from our website.
I’m very much missing my first longed for dog Harry. This remarkable bilingual black labrador always made me feel better but he is now back in the Netherlands. That’s why the colour has gone out of one of the last pictures of the two of us together.
25 June 2022
Thanks to good friend Debbie who gave me a lift to Stroud, I made it to the Shambles Market. Thank you Debbie!
I actually had a good day, so a big thank you to all the lovely people who bought one of our books.
My brother Arnold, too, had a good day at Veterans Day where he sold and signed his books published by Holland Park Press.
He met and had good chats with fellow veterans he hadn’t seen for quite some time.
And, of course, sold and signed quite a few books.
If you couldn’t come in person to Stroud or The Hague, you can always buy books directly from our website. Thanks for supporting #SavedByOneBook.
24 June 2022
It was too quiet a day until late in the day when I suddenly realised why I always take the train for part of the journey to the market on Saturdays. Bus time are completely out of sync on Saturday mornings.
I put out a call for help on the social media and good friend Debbie came to the rescue, so I will be going to the Shambles market tomorrow.
Even better, my brother Arnold will be signing and selling his books at Veterans Day, @NLVeteranendag, tomorrrow in The Hague, the Netherlands.
Hopefully we will both have good days because we need it in order to carry on with our exciting publishing plans.
If you can’t come in person to Stroud or The Hague, you can always buy books directly from our website. Thanks for supporting #SavedByOneBook.
23 June 2022
Another day with lots of developments.
Promising feedback from yet another attempt at securing a grant. We’ve not been succesful until now, but I will keep trying.
Orders came in, but we need more. It’s so easy to order one of the lovely books from our website, surprise yourself and just give it a try. Thank you!
Readers based in the Netherlands: you can still order a signed copy of Schurft, a Dutch novel that caused quite some controversy and can be described as Knausgård meets Reve.
Tomorrow I will be multitasking: running the bookstall at Shambles Market and raising more support towards our fundraising campaing to be able to publish four exciting new books: #MakeTheseBooksHappen.
A good friend recently made this picture, I wasn’t aware, but I must admit I think you can be alone, now my brother and dog are gone to the Netherlands but, for me, it’s impossible to be or even feel lonely, life is too precious, and there are too many books that need my attention.
Signs of ‘older age’: needing reading glasses & comfy shoes but who cares when you’re allowed to be an eccentric.
22 June 2022
My boloved dog Harry, a adorable black Labrador who woke me up with kisses each morning, has gone to live with my brother in the Netherlands. So, from now on, I’m truly on my very own.
Maybe so, but I’m going to be vey busy. Today I signed the contract with Playground Television for an option to the Film/TV rights for Hold Still by Cherry Smyth. Colin Callender was very keen to obtain an option on the rights after having read the book. He called me from his office in New York to tell me.
I’m also very excited about the four new books we have signed up. Yes, there are four now, since Jeremy Worman told me he sigend the contract and it’s in the post. The Way to Hornsey Rise is a moving memoir about how the dawn of a new society in the late 1960s turned sour in the 1970s.
There is a lot to look forward to but we need your support to get there. I would be very grateful if you can check out and support #MakeTheseBooksHappen.
To give me strenght I draw on past experiences, hence this is me pictured in the dress I wore when I graduated cum laude in Chemistry at Leiden University in 1982. The hat belonged to my mother, it was a gift from my brother Arnold during a holiday in Brittany. The backgroud is Cross Hayes in Malmesbury on a beautiful summer’s day.