Books, Beautiful Books

One of the big houses in my home village has its own library. Oh, I’m so envious! Sometimes the owners forget to close the curtains in the evenings, and I have to resist the temptation to press my nose against the window like a hungry pauper outside a bakery in a Victorian novel (or a window licker in these less romantic times) and drool over the books. I love my trusty Kindle, so small yet so full of fabulous reading material, but nothing can beat the look, feel and smell of a real book. The scent of fresh print – mmmmm.

Moving swiftly on…

Books, Beautiful Books is the name of one of the Donkey Green marquee stalls coming to Mill Road Winter Fair on 6 December. The fair is a fabulous annual event in Cambridge, featuring an array of food, entertainment and stalls, and is well worth attending if you happen to be in the area (or fancy visiting our lovely city) on the first Saturday in December. And if you are coming to the fair, please do stop and say ‘Hello’ to six – yes, six – local authors running Books, Beautiful Books. We’ll be chatting about the writing life, selling and signing our books and generally having a wonderful time, and we’d love to see you there. (Donkey Green is next to Parkside swimming pool, a fact I didn’t know until last year’s fair.)


The Donkey Green marquee, Mill Road Fair 2013


Mill Road Fair 2013 in full swing

Books make lovely gifts (hint, hint) being easy-to-wrap, beautiful keepsakes. Books, Beautiful Books will be offering a variety of reading material: fiction, non-fiction, poetry and children’s books, and I’ll be introducing the authors and their work one by one on my blog over the next couple of weeks. I think you already know me (if you don’t, may I invite you to click on the ‘About Me’ and ‘Books’ tabs above). Briefly, I will be joined by Shahida Rahman (I met Shahida last year at Cambridge Central Library and can’t wait to catch up with her again), Susan Grossey, Michael Brown, Saffra Monteiro and Georgia Rose. We very much hope you’ll be able to come along to Mill Road, Cambridge between 10.30am and 4.30pm on Saturday 6 December and be a part of what’s shaping up to be a fabulous day.



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DorysAvengers Cover Art

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#Authors #Bloggers #Readers – Be aware of Intellectual Property Theft Laws!


Important advice from Susan M Toy which deserves to be read by as many writers as possible.

Originally posted on Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog..... An Author Promotions Enterprise!:

Intellectual Property Theft – a growing problem that hurts everyone in this writing business

By Susan M. Toy

Recently, I’ve become aware of the increasing amount of Intellectual Property (IP) theft that’s taking place online. It’s been happening for a long time: artists—visual, photographers, musicians and writers—seem only able to stand by and watch as what they have created is either copied and pasted elsewhere on the net without permission or no attribution at all is given for their work. Yes, there are copyright laws in place to protect us and the illegal use of our IP. But internet users seem unaware of these laws, or blatantly flout them, or truly believe that, whatever is on the Internet is free for their own personal use and by anyone who wants to copy and paste it into their status update or to their blog.

I’m going to speak specifically to the…

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Sticks and Stones


A great post from Jo in response to an uninformed writer’s vitriolic attack on indie authors. If this writer wants to limit himself to reading traditionally published work, then fine. His loss. With so much perfect reading material, you’d think he’d have something better to do than attack the reputations of all the original, exciting and immensely talented indie authors.

Originally posted on Jo Robinson:

I don’t generally take “days off”, so if anyone noticed my total absence since Tuesday night, it was because of my usual nemesis otherwise known as Telkom, my dodgy internet provider. I’m only just back online now, but before I get to catching up with everyone I want to share a quickie.

If you’re going to launch any sort of direct attack, you firstly need to have all your facts straight, and secondly, if you’re going to attack authors in particular, you really should try getting your spelling and grammar right. When I came across a vitriolic article, broadly consigning Indie authors and their self-published books to the foulest, most evil smelling nether pit of hell, I originally thought that it had to be a (pretty lame) attempt at humour. And then I realised that it wasn’t intended to be funny at all.

The article How Readers Can Avoid Buying…

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In Da Club

The first Friday in November was ladies’ night in Bedford as a ‘bevy of beauties’ took to the town to party as only women of a certain age can. The respectable part of the evening involved champagne, pizza, wine, beer, spirits – yes, really, that was the respectable part of the evening…

And then the witching hour arrived, the sensible went home and only five hard core drinkers with livers of steel remained. Our mission, which we very much cared to accept, was to locate an establishment willing to serve us more BOOZE.

We found what we wanted in a place which, at first sight, appeared to be my idea of Hell: a loud club/pub with bouncers on the door and a queue of people half my age waiting to get in. I hesitated, looking horrified, mumbling ‘In there? Really?’ and other assorted expressions of disbelief, until the bouncers, recognising us as a cut above the amateur drinkers in the queue, lifted the rope and waved us in.

Hah! Oldies one, kids nil.

Did we have a good time ‘in da club’? Damn right we did! Reluctance forgotten, I was at the bar like a shot, elbowing the children out of the way and waving my money at the ridiculously young bar staff. A guy waiting to be served alongside me turned to me and asked if I wanted a cup of tea. Cheeky sod! Had I been able to stop laughing I’d probably have informed him that I was a seasoned drinker before he was even a twinkle in his daddy’s eye!

By the time I’d secured a pot of tea – I mean, a round of drinks – my friends had all turned into Beyoncé. We shook our booties, telling the clearly impressed youngsters milling around that if they liked our finger, they should have put a ring on it.


The real Beyoncé. Picture courtesy of

Damn, we were sexy – no, honestly we were. I know, you see, because I pulled!

This is what happened: without warning, Felicity-Beyoncé stopped dancing, grabbed Rose-Beyoncé and pulled her out of the line of fire, leaving me exposed to the attentions of Bedford’s very own Lothario. My Beyoncé alter ego deserted me in a flash as my brain engaged mouth, and mouth said: ‘NO!’

Lothario didn’t get it. After all, ‘No’ is a bit ambiguous, isn’t it! So I tried something along the lines of ‘Seriously, mate, if you value you genitalia, LEAVE ME ALONE.’

After making an unsuccessful grab for Rose, Lothario threw in the towel and moved on to easier prey, leaving the Beyoncés doubled up with laughter. Then we decided it was time to get down to some serious partying and move on to the dance pole.

Marilyn went first, rocking a simple but effective three move dance:

  1. grab pole,
  2. wrap leg round pole,
  3. sit down.

Felicity, amazingly still steady in her killer heels, went next. I looked away for a second, and when I turned back Rose had climbed the pole. Blink. Rub eyes. Squint. Yes, Rose was at the top of the pole, apparently sitting on Felicity’s and Marilyn’s shoulders. What a great photo opportunity. Perhaps I should grab my camera.


Oh, camera!

By the time the idea had lodged in my soaked brain and I’d located my bag, found my phone and remembered how to work the camera app (succeeding only in photographing my fingers), the girls had given up and were standing behind me.

‘You were faffing, Ali.’

I attempted to reason with them. ‘Go back and recreate the pose? Yes?’

Altogether now, three speaking as one: ‘No!’

It was at this point that the aptly named Calamity Jane decided she wasn’t going to be outdone in the dancing stakes. Swinging her leg up as high as she could, she attempted to land it on the shelf holding our drinks, bags and other girls’-night-out paraphernalia, succeeding only in toppling over spectacularly and bouncing off her back. We gave a collective gasp until Jane got up and announced she needed another beer. As long as she was drinking, she was OK – so we laughed.

And laughed.

And laughed until it hurt and our makeup was running with tears, then we laughed a bit more.

Here’s to the next ladies’ night. Bedford, can you handle us?

It wasn’t difficult to choose a song to accompany this post:


Flying October

I do apologise for the lack of recent blog posts. To my shame, I see my last post appeared at the end of August, but there is a good reason for this. My editing business is booming – flying, in fact – and I’ve been working like crazy to keep up. I 018hasten to add this is not a problem as I love to be busy, and I love to be involved in helping authors along the exciting road to publishing their books. Working with words will always be a pleasure for me, and to be making a living doing something I love has had my mood flying up the happy spectrum.


OK, why all the flying references? Well, my business hasn’t been the only thing flying over the past month. Leaves are floating around in abundance at this time of year, so it wasn’t particularly astonishing to see one flutter to the ground a little way ahead of me the other day. What was astonishing, startling even, was that it remained in my path as I approached, suspended in mid air and rotating gently. Well, I didn’t expect to be confronted by an airborne leaf as I walked to the shops. I looked under it, behind it, above it, photographed it (badly) and still it floated. If a leaf could look satisfied, I’d swear this one was the most self satisfied leaf ever. Yes, it had parted company with its tree, but it wasn’t ready to sink into mulchy obscurity just yet.


A couple of weeks ago we in the UK were hit by the tail end of Hurricane Gonzalo. It had lost a lot of its ferocity during its journey across the Atlantic, but it still managed to treat us to some tree bending winds for a while. One particularly wild evening, while taking the rubbish out to the bins (I really know how to live!), I was greeted by a flying spider as soon as I opened the door. Yep, a stripy garden spider, legs waving merrily, bobbing along beside me as I crossed the yard. It could have been attached by a thread to something solid, but it did seem to travel a fair way with me. Spiders do sometimes travel on the air currents, but I’ve never had one accompany me to the rubbish bins before.

So what with business, leaves and spiders, October’s been a flying kind of month.


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Dory’s Avengers Book Launch – One Year On

One year ago today was the best day of my life. I went to bed on 28 August 2013 as a mere mortal, and woke up the next day as a published author.

IMG_1521Wow, I’m a published author. Those words still bring the hairs up on the back of my neck. My publication day, complete with book launch in the Cambridge branch of Waterstones, was everything I’d daydreamed it would be – and boy, can I daydream! Dory’s Avengers was released into the world in style; friends and family gathered to help me celebrate, sales were healthy and I managed to get through my speech without tears, despite coming close as I spoke of how I wished my sorely-missed parents could have witnessed my momentous day. Not so sure my mother would have approved of some of the choice language occasionally used by Dory’s Avengers’ more forthright characters, though…

One year on, I’m reminiscing fondly about my book launch. OK, I’ll admit I had expected to have attended a star-studded Dory’s Avengers film premier by now, or at least be anticipating the autumn airing of a Dory’s Avengers BBC drama. Sadly, neither has materialised. Would I have published via a different route if I’d known two years ago what I know now? Quite probably. Things haven’t really gone as I’d hoped at all, but nothing can detract from the memories of my wonderful publication day, or my pride in having published such a beautiful book, and nothing ever will.


The last year has seen my life go through yet more changes. During the publishing process I found out I have a natural aptitude and a huge enthusiasm for editing, and my fledgling copy-editing business, Alison’s Editing Service, is starting to find its wings and fly. Back in April I met fellow author, prolific blogger and champion of independent authors, Debbie Young, following a talk she was co-hosting at the Cambridge Literary Festival. Two days later we met up again at London Book Fair, where Debbie introduced me to Helen Hart, publishing director with SilverWood Books. This forward-thinking company offers every service a self-publishing author needs to produce a professional work – including copy-editing. I am proud to say that I have been employed by SilverWood Books to edit a number of manuscripts, and thanks to this work, along with manuscripts from an ever growing group of independent authors who like my editing style, I am lucky enough now to be making a living doing something I love.400dpiLogo

If anyone had told me a year ago that by the time I celebrated the first anniversary of my book’s publication I’d be successfully running my own business, the likelihood is I’d have laughed in disbelief. Mind you, if anyone had told me three years ago I’d realise my dream to become a published author it would probably have elicited a similar reaction.

Happy anniversary, Dory’s Avengers.

Champagne, anyone?

Book Launch Champagne 1

The Monday Moan – Looks Like Christmas Has Come Early, Again

I know I’ve been banging on about the weather we’ve been enjoying in the UK recently, but it really has been unusually gorgeous. Instead of doing the usual ‘Mad Dogs and Englishmen’ thing of rushing outside en masse on the rare occasions the sun breaks through the rain clouds, and ending up with third degree sunburn in an effort to achieve something resembling a suntan, we’ve been treated to day after day of beautiful sunshine – with a slight blip over the weekend when the tail end of Hurricane Bertha hit our shores. Even my normally gleaming white legs have a bit of colour to them. Yes, we Brits are enjoying a proper summer for once, and I’m loving it.

On Saturday I attended a wedding reception. No surprise there; after all, we are in the height of the wedding season. Naturally I didn’t want to turn up empty handed, so headed into town on a baking hot day, appropriately clad in shorts, T shirt and flip flops, to buy a card for the happy couple.

So, to reiterate:

  • It’s the beginning of August
  • The weather is hot and sunny
  • It’s the wedding season.

Bah HumbugCould I find the wedding cards in the card shop? Well, I did locate them after a couple of circuits of Clinton Cards, stashed away at the back of the shop to make way for – you’ve guessed it – Christmas cards.

Come December, when the weather’s cold and damp, it’s dark by 4pm, and hats, scarves, coats and boots are the clothes of choice, I’ll be dripping with Christmas cheer. To paraphrase Greg Lake, my eyes will be full of tinsel and fire. I love Christmas; it brightens up what would otherwise be the darkest, most dismal month of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, and it’s fun.

In December.

Not in bloomin’ August in the middle of a heatwave!


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