Mill Road Winter Fair – 2014 Style

Seven o’clock on the morning of Saturday 6 December 2014. Daylight was still just a vague hint in the east, yet I was up and raring to go. I’d been pretty hyper for a couple of days now, and it was all about today – Cambridge’s annual Mill Road Winter Fair. My Books, Beautiful Books stall would be appearing in the fair’s Donkey Green (or is it Donkey Common?) marquee, and five local authors would be sharing the day with me. Despite having company this year (I ran a stall on my own last year) I was still nervous as my partner Andy drove me, a hefty box full of Dory’s Avengers and a substantial sack barrow into town in his (luckily) spacious taxi. I didn’t want to be bringing all that stock back home again in the evening. I really didn’t want that…

I arrived in situ with over an hour to go. It was a cracking morning: freezing cold, but bright and sunny; a classic winter’s day. Last year I walked from one end of the marquee to the other, heaving all my stock with me, only to find my stall located right by the entrance. Learn from experience? Nah, not me. I did exactly the same thing again this year.

Having found the stall and exchanged greetings with the young lady preparing to offer a gift wrapping service on the neighbouring stall, I hadn’t even had time to unload my books before I was joined by the first of my companions, Susan Grossey, complete with the first two books of her series following the career of Sam Plank, a fictional magistrate’s constable working in Regency London. Together we transformed our plain table into a magnificent stall, with a little help from the friendly gift wrapper and her plentiful supply of Sellotape, and we were able to relax and get to know each other. Obviously we had a love of books in common, but more than that we clicked right from the start and were soon chatting like old friends. That’s when I started to relax; I knew I was going to enjoy the day.

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Our beautiful stall, photobombed by a not so beautiful sack barrow

Shahida Rahman arrived next. We’d met last year at an author event in the central library, had got along famously and had kept in touch all year, so it was fabulous to see her again. While I was wandering round the fair in search of coffee, Saffra Monteiro arrived; having met Saffra earlier in the year, Sue did the introductions when I returned with a latte and a mouth full of lemon drizzle cake. Saffra was selling the first in what is to become a series of fantasy books, and both her cover and she herself were very eye-catching. Poet Michael Brown arrived a little while later, and finally Georgia Rose joined us. Georgia had the furthest to travel and wasn’t familiar with Cambridge, so I was very relieved when she arrived safely.

authours group pic at mill road fair

The authors! Top row l-r: Georgia Rose, Michael Brown, Shahida Rahman. Bottom row l-r: Saffra Monteiro, Susan Grossey, Alison Jack

Obviously, with six authors running one stall, space was at a premium. We managed to lay claim to a narrow strip of stall each on which to display our sample copies (the idea being that customers would thumb through those books and not our pristine selling stock), and Shahida had room to mount the banner advertising her historical novel Lascar behind our stall thanks to the ever obliging gift wrappers shifting towards the door to give us more room. When Shahida had sold a book before the fair had even opened, I started to believe we might actually have a lucrative day…

Let the carnival begin! At 10.30 Mill Road Winter Fair was officially underway, and almost immediately the crowds poured in through the marquee entrance. Sue and Shahida, both far more self confident than I, went out to meet and greet potential customers. I stayed behind the stall, smiling inanely and getting to know Michael and Georgia while Saffra went in search of refreshments. Michael had brought a Cambridge News cutting about the release of The Exhibit, his collection of poetry, and coincidentally the article had been published right next to a column that Sue regularly writes for the same paper. Thanks to Sue and Shahida, visitors stopped and looked at our stall, and before long Michael had sold a copy of The Exhibit. He was even able to supply the customer with a handy gift wrapping service as she intended the book as a gift – bonus! Michael was chuffed at the idea that someone will be unwrapping a copy of his book on Christmas morning; I remember feeling the same last year when Dory’s was purchased as a gift, but it didn’t look as though I’d be getting that buzz this year (sigh)…

It was about half an hour into the fair that things went downhill. Our neighbours – not the friendly gift wrappers, the other neighbours – took umbrage at the fact that Sue and Shahida were mingling with the crowds entering the marquee. The neighbours’ request that Sue and Shahida try not to obstruct their stall was reasonable, but the aggressive way in which they put it wasn’t. Sue and Shahida did as asked, but that wasn’t good enough for the narky neighbours.

‘Can you stop approaching people as soon as they come through the door? You’re stopping them from coming to our stall.’ No, dear, we’ve every right to attract customers. I think someone got out of bed on the wrong side on Saturday morning!

Before long the narky neighbours were the least of our concerns. I’d noticed water pouring down from the side entrance to the marquee as the sun moved round and melted the frost, but hadn’t thought too much about it. I’d even watched, mildly amused, as a young man wiped down the ceiling of the marquee with a mop. Oh yeah, ha ha. Hilarious. A drop fell on to our stall, shortly followed by a second. Young man with mop to the rescue. Job done?

No chance! The drops began to fall with alarming regularity as the condensation rolled down the slope of the ceiling and gathered above our stall. My request that everyone stop breathing wasn’t met with very much enthusiasm, and it wasn’t long before the mop man had a full time job protecting our precious books from the deluge. He was heard to comment that he didn’t pray for an easy life, he prayed for the strength to endure. Personally, had I the faith to pray I’d have been asking for a dry pitch at that moment in time.

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Our soggy stall

Outside the marquee the sun continued to shine, and it was dry. Beautifully dry. Watching the crowds passing our stall by as soon as they saw the water pouring down on us, we made the executive decision to up sticks and move outside. Mop man did radio those in charge to ask if this would be alright as we weren’t supposed to move our stall from its intended position, but drastic situations call for drastic measures. By the time he came back with the thumbs up, our stall was already outside and we were collecting our bits and bobs.

In the unlikely event that Alanis Morissette reads my blog, she might be interested to know that rain on your wedding day isn’t actually ironic. Rain on a stall pitched inside a tent expressly to avoid it getting wet should the weather be inclement – now that’s ironic!


Ready to go again

It wasn’t long before the lovely gift wrappers had also moved outside – falling water would play havoc with wrapping paper as much as it would with books. Happily, the narky neighbours stayed put in the marquee. Michael was having lunch and a look round the fair with his husband John when we’d moved out, and as none of us had thought to take his phone number he was a bit baffled when he returned to the marquee and found a soggy gap where our stall had once been. The winter sun did its best to warm us, and we were able to display our books without a care in the world. We had more room to move around, plenty of visitors passing by, a great view of a group of hunky fireman pulling a fire engine along the road (mmm, that warmed us up!) and I even made up for the fact I never got a chance to see the Winter Fair parade last year.

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The parade

The day wore on, and the low winter sun gradually slipped behind the buildings. To say the fair was successful in terms of sales would be a huge exaggeration, but hey! I sold two books! One by one my stall mates gave up and went home as the temperature plummeted; soon only Sue, Georgia and I remained, chatting and laughing like the friends we had become over the course of the day. When the sun disappeared completely, we finally decided we’d had enough for this year and packed up our wares, promising to stay in touch and meet up again in the new year.

Waiting for Andy to pick me up after the fair, wondering whether I’d ever feel warm again, I looked over the darkening town and reflected on the day. Six people with a range of different ages and backgrounds had been brought together by a common interest – books. Yes, my early fears had been realised and I was bringing pretty much all my stock back home again, but I had great memories and five new friends. Can I put a price on these things? Of course I can’t, because they’re priceless.


The end of the day


Introducing – Susan Grossey @SusanGrossey

My final introduction post is all about Susan Grossey, author of both factual and historical fiction books about financial crime. I first contacted Susan as soon as the Mill Road Winter Fair organisers confirmed that Books, Beautiful Books would be a part of this year’s fair, and we’ve been swapping cheerful and friendly emails since (as I have with all the authors joining me on Saturday). I’m very much looking forward to meeting her.

From Susan’s website, here is more about her and her work:


My name is Susan Grossey.  I graduated from Cambridge University in 1987 with a degree in English, and then taught secondary English for two years before realising that the National Curriculum was designed primarily to extinguish every spark of creativity in its teachers.  I then became a technical author, and reached the pinnacle of this profession when I was asked to document the workings of a choc-ice wrapping machine in Cardiff, while wearing a fetching blue hairnet (which I forgot to remove until it was pointed out by a cashier in a petrol station on the M4).

From this unbeatable high point I moved into technical training, and one day was asked to help with a staff manual on fraud prevention.  As I wrote the chapter on money laundering, I realised thaAnti Money Lauderingt here was a topic that could keep my interest for years – and so it has proved.  Since 1998, I have been self-employed as an anti-money laundering consultant, providing training and strategic advice and writing policies and procedures for clients in many countries.  As part of my job, I have written several non-fiction books with exciting titles like Money Laundering: A Training Strategy, The Money Laundering Officer’s Practical Handbook and Anti-Money Laundering: A Guide for the Non-Executive Director.

Suspicious Activity cover-part-1[1]Suspicious Activity cover-part-6[1]










However, even this is not enough financial crime for me, and in my spare evenings and weekends I write fiction – but always with financial crime at the heart of it.

The ForgeryCanary waistcoat










To purchase any of Susan’s books please visit her website, or come along to the Donkey Green marquee at Mill Road Winter Fair in Cambridge on Saturday and meet her in person.

You can also follow Susan’s blog or connect with her on Twitter @SusanGrossey

Introducing – Shahida Rahman @shahidarahman

Shahida _colour


Click image for Amazon UK purchase link

The fourth author joining me at Mill Road Winter Fair on Saturday 6 December to be a part of Books, Beautiful Books is Shahida Rahman. I had the pleasure of meeting Shahida at Cambridge Central Library last December where she was marketing copies of her excellent historical novel Lascar, and we have stayed in touch since.

It will be fabulous to see her again on Saturday. If you visit the projects and events pages on her website you’ll see how busy she is, as well as being a prolific writer and regular guest on Sue Doogan’s Radio Cambridgeshire show, so I’m delighted she’s found the time to join us.

Here’s more about Shahida in her own words:

I am Shahida Nessa Rahman.

I was born and raised in Cambridge. I am an author, publisher and freelance writer. I am also the Director and founder of Perfect Publishers Ltd, launched in 2005 which is a print-on-demand book publishing company providing a range of services for authors and other publishers.

I write historical fiction, non-fiction and short stories including the following.

ibrahim[1]‘Ibrahim-Where in the Spectrum Does he Belong?’ (Perfect Publishers 2005) is a memoir about raising a child with a learning disorder.

In 2010 my short story ‘Homecoming’ was the inspiration behind the screenplay ‘India Ink’ which I co-wrote with US screenwriter, Halle Eavelyn. ‘India Ink’ was shortlisted for the Circalit First Draft Contest (2011) and a finalist of the WriteMovies International Writing contest (2011).

‘The Integration of the Hijab into Police Uniforms,’ which was published in the ‘Behind the Hijab’ anthology, in March 2009 by Monsoon Press. Also in 2009, I was commissionedbehindhijab[1] to write a radio play ‘The Lascar’ for the Lascar Heritage Project for Silsila Productions.

‘Lascar’ (Indigo Dreams Publishing 2012) is a work of historical fiction inspired by a paternal ancestor, a lascar (seaman). My highly acclaimed novel revives the story of these unsung heroes and draws attention to their plight, educating people through the use of fictional characters.  ‘Lascar’ was shortlisted for the Muslim Writers Awards, Unpublished Novel Awards (2008) and long listed for the Brit Writers Unpublished Novel Awards (2010).

I was awarded a Channel S ‘Special Acknowledgment Award’ in 2012 for my work. I also entered the annual publication ‘British-Bangladeshi Who’s Who’ in 2013. I also won ‘Mother of the Year’ at the Maa Amar Maa Awards in 2014.

I have contributed to the following magazines: Best of British, The Great War, Children of the New Earth, Sisters (the UK’s first magazine for Muslim women). I have also contributed to BBC Radio Cambridgeshire and BBC Three Counties radio. I write  regularly for ‘Asian World’ newspaper and I am a columnist for ‘Weekly Desh’ and have blogged for the ‘Huffington Post’.

I am on the judging panel in the short story category of the Young Muslim Writers Awards 2014. I am currently writing my second historical novel about an Indian Ayah.


To find out more about Shahida and her work, please visit her website or have a look at her YouTube videos.

You can also connect with Shahida on Twitter @ShahidaRahman or on Facebook.

Introducing – Saffra Monteiro @AuthourSaffra1

Saffra colour Today I’d like to introduce the third of the authors who will be sharing the Books, Beautiful Books stall with me at Mill Road Fair on 6 December. Saffra Monteiro has already achieved an impressive amount in her young life, having tackled teen bullying and severe ill health to gain academic qualification with flying colours. She has since become a published author with Pegasus, interspersing her writing career with acting and modelling. You can get to know a little more about Saffra from the following press release and links, and she would be delighted if you’d come and meet her in person next Saturday. Saffra with dog

Saffra Cover Art

Click image for Amazon UK purchase link


Title: Destiny Falls  

Author: Saffra Monteiro

ISBN: 978 1 84386 974 0    

Genre: Fiction/Thriller  

Price: £8.99  

Imprint: Vanguard Press 




Pegasus Publishers are pleased to announce the publication of ‘Destiny Falls’ by Saffra Monteiro available to order from all major book stores or direct from the publisher.


Destiny Falls is the first in a saga of three novels. It follows the unique story of a nineteen-year-old girl. Solly is beautiful, talented and courageous – the linchpin of an Alpine Search and Rescue unit, and the leader of a highly competitive ski tournament team. With the handsome and charming Gwain by her side, a host of colourful friends, and an abandoned wolf cub for company, what could possibly go wrong?   But hidden away among the snowy peaks, all is not well in the sleepy village of La Tourunche. Not long after Solena’s awaited return, a mysterious and elusive figure begins watching her from the woods. Is he a figment of her imagination or real? And what is the secret behind the talisman hanging on the wall of Madame Perregaux’s dress shop?   As the plot begins to thicken, a member of the team begins to wreak havoc and with time their motivations become all too clear. Events take a turn for the worst and matters are left on a jaw-dropping cliff-hanger – quite literally! As lives hang precariously in the balance, all hope seems to be lost. But will someone come to the rescue or is it too late for Solena?


Born in Cambridge, nineteen-year-old actress, model and writer, Saffra Monteiro, known by her friends as Bambi, is very young for someone who has already had a far from ordinary life.   Early teenhood was made impossibly hard for her by bullying, followed in her mid teens by extremely poor health after contracting a severe form of flu. As a true fighter she pulled through the worst of it – writing during her illness became a crucial life line and creative outlet which saved her.   Now a strong minded young lady, she has completed her GCSEs and A levels with flying colours. She has immersed herself in the world of writing and is passionate about what she does. It is a huge achievement for her to be one of the youngest writers to be published with Pegasus.  


Copies of ‘Destiny Falls’ can be purchased direct from the publisher by visiting our website at Pegasus Publishers or by calling 01223 370012. Contact can be made with the Author via: Saffra_19_pp-004 You can find out more about Saffra via these articles from the Cambridge News and Newmarket Journal.

If you’d like to make contact with Saffra, you can do so via:


Twitter @AuthourSaffra1,




Or have a look at her YouTube video:

Introducing – Georgia Rose @GeorgiaRoseBook

As promised in my Books, Beautiful Books blog, over the next week or so I plan to feature a post introducing the wonderful local authors who will be joining me at Mill Road Winter Fair on Saturday 6 December. So without further ado, let’s hear it for GEORGIA ROSE.

Georgia Rose Author Photo

Georgia Rose is a writer and the author of ‘A Single Step’ and ‘Before the Dawn’, the first two books in The Grayson Trilogy. The concluding book, ‘Thicker than Water’, is on the way and should be available 2015 – Spring…possibly Summer!

Georgia’s background in countryside living, riding, instructing and working with horses has provided the knowledge needed for some of her storylines; the others are a product of her overactive imagination!

Following a long stint working in the law Georgia set up her own business providing administration services for other companies which she does to this day entwining that work along with her writing.

Her busy life is set in a tranquil part of rural Cambridgeshire where she lives with her much neglected family of a husband, two nearly grown up children and two dogs.

And now, shamelessly lifted from her website, here’s a bit more about Georgia’s books in her own words:

I’m Georgia Rose, an author, and my novels A Single Step and Before the Dawn are the first two books in The Grayson Trilogy. The concluding novel, Thicker than Water, though still in my head – is bursting to get out! More on that later!

When it comes to telling you anything about A Single Step I find it difficult (great advertising, I know – I can hear you saying it!) I can tell you it’s a romance but there’s also an edge of suspense to it and a certain amount of mystery. However, I don’t like spoilers, not on the backs of books, not on trailers for films, so I found it tricky to write any sort of blurb, eventually ending up with…..

‘A Single Step’ – the first book in The Grayson Trilogy

‘The gun continued to be levelled at me. “Answer it…but don’t tell him I’m here or he’ll get to listen to you die.” That concentrated my mind considerably, and as I reached for my phone I came up with a plan…’

Emma Grayson was left devastated when her life was torn apart by tragedy and betrayal. Now someone believes it’s time for her to start again and puts an advert for a job through her door which leads her to the Melton Estate. Despite her desire for a solitary existence she finds herself discovering a life she could never have imagined, challenging her independence, her fears and her resistance to love.

A-Single-Step_Blue-Final-Ebook-187x300[1]This is the new cover, beautifully designed by SilverWood Books and the book is available as a paperback or ebook from Amazon either to a Kindle or there is a free Kindle Reading App for you to use on any other sort of tablet, phone or PC reading device.

A Single Step is also now also available from Smashwords, Kobo and Nook.

If you are interested in taking a look please use whichever link below takes your fancy and you’ll be whisked off to the correct site for wherever you are:-

Universal link for Amazon




And if you are kind enough to  download (or buy the paperback) and read my book, it is much appreciated and I hope you enjoy it. If you are able to leave a review that would be wonderful, it really does matter and it would mean the world to me!

So here we are with my latest release – the second book in The Grayson Trilogy packed full of romantic suspense (with the accent on the suspense!) the beautiful Before the Dawn!

The Cover!


The Blurb!

 …he moved closer and slowly ran the point of his blade along my jaw line as he spoke softly, intimately, to me. 

“So, you are Trent’s woman. Now that is very…appealing.” I glared back at him silently.

There are testing times ahead for Grayson and Trent as trouble threatens Melton Manor. When an attack is made against those on the estate, Grayson gets caught in the middle finding herself and those around her in terrible danger. Terrified when she thinks tragedy has struck again she fights to protect those she now views as family and, suffering bloodshed and pain, confronts her fears – both brought by the enemy and by the one she loves.

If this is in anyway tempting to you please check out the reviews here:-

Universal link for Amazon

If you do read either of my books and have any feedback, thoughts or observations (good or bad it all helps!) please let me know via the contact page on this website or direct on if you prefer – I’d be very interested to hear from you.

I have been very fortunate to be featured on some fabulous blogs this year – here are the links to some of them – others to follow!

I was interviewed recently by Wiz Green for his Around the Cauldron blog which I thoroughly enjoyed and if you’d like to take a look you’re just a click away here 

A Single Step has also been under the brilliant spotlight of Ngaire Elder on her Cecilia Spark BlogSpot, to go and have a look to see how Mary J Blige features just use this link!!

Terry Tyler recently asked me to write a guest post for her Literary Blog. I chose to write it on how my life has changed since I became an indie author and how I fit in all the marketing that comes with it – if you fancy taking a peek follow this link!

And now it is the turn of Before the Dawn to come under the spotlight!

Carrie Ann Lahain – Romance and Russian Gangsters battle it out in the English countryside 

A Woman’s Wisdom

Barb Taub

Lizannelloyd – Lost in a Book

And now the ‘more…later’ bit – I’ve started Thicker than Water…just…October has been all about clearing my desk and I shall be hitting the keys hard in November. I’m hugely grateful to all of you who’ve been in touch, who’ve asked when the next book is out, who’ve shown so much interest in my writing – it means a lot and I can’t thank you enough.


If you’d like to find out more about Georgia and her work, or connect with her on social networking sites, here are the links you’ll need:




The Grayson Trilogy Facebook page

I hope you’ve enjoyed meeting Georgia today. Coming up on Thursday – Meet Michael Brown.