Trip-karretjie 2010-1Late 2010: I heard that one of our “fellow” white residents, a cantankerous bachelor who lived 2 blocks from Sheila, had been going around swearing at random locals because of the break-in he suffered recently. This included even the folk who reported it to the police! Sheila was angry as it affects our (as whites) position here in this brown village as to how we would be treated in future if the locals assumed we whites were all  the same.

It is a natural tendency for humans to generalize and this is no less true for the New South Africa where the legacy of Apartheid’s racial focus will still be a bone of contention for the foreseeable future.

So it was not surprising when the reciprocal racism is still very evident in that whites were heard to mutter “typical” when the local branch of the supermarket, Saver’s Lane, was being closed recently for a few days of stock-taking as the manager had been arrested for pocketing R7000-00 and burying it in her back yard. She claimed she had been hi-jacked on Potjiesberg Pass!

Horse whisperer 2010

With Charlie & her kids.

It was typical of school holidays, with bored kids getting up to nonsense. We had to fetch my horse, Charlie, from a neighboring farm. Being such a tame old mare, children living on the farm would “borrow” her from the commonage to ride home on. They would abandon her wherever they felt like. It would be fortunate if she was reported to me as to where she was before she caused any damage in their orchards, or worse, allowed her to get onto the main road to be hit by a vehicle.

Constitution St, Haarlem 2010

Constitution Street, Haarlem, Western cape. 2010.

In mid-October 2010 my brother-in-law, Neil Maling, and I went to a farm sale some 40 km from Oudtshoorn on the Calitzdorp side. We both love farm sales; not for the sale of the farm itself but for all the myriad items available, collected over a lifetime, sometimes several generations. There were probably nearly three hundred people there. A lot of farmers, of course, but also speculators, antique dealers and people like us who simply love sales. Some will remember those bins in farm kitchens and storerooms made of bent galvanized iron sheets for keeping grain or sugar or mieliemeal in? Neil was delighted when he managed to close the bid on a 3 compartment meal bin for R50-00.

I had my eye on a pile of harnesses. There was a bit of competition from a man from Dysselsdorp, a place not far from Oudtshoorn, where, like Haarlem they use draft horses and donkeys. I managed to close the sale for R1600-00. When we loaded it all, the leather works filled the bed of Neil’s one-ton bakkie! We left early as there were a lot of implements on sale in which we were not interested, after a set of 4 harrows that Neil hoped to get for about R800-00 went for R2350-00.

The next few days were spent sorting and repairing the harnesses. Mostly they were broken but roughly there were about 12 bridles, 10 breast sets, 2 full cart sets, 20 harness-saddles, 12 riems, bundles of reins, loose bits, straps and a tin of horseshoe nails. An absolute bargain for the price I paid, because the full sets alone were worth roughly R2000-00 each.

Posted in Backgrounds, Exploring Africa, racial development, Shaping a writer, South Africa, Writing novels | Leave a comment

On GOD’s Wavelength.

Notice how some novels are swapping genres without changing their content? Where some stories were planted solidly in the Sci-Fi category ten or so years ago, they sit comfortably in the mystery or thriller bracket now, even with their content of psi, mediums, telepathy, etc. These below are not novels, but would certainly be references for a writer including these scientifically proven phenomena in their novels.

Entangled MindsAlso called Entanglement, according to Dr Dean Radin, or the A-Field, as Dr Erwin Laszlo has it, consider it to be an Internet which encompasses past and present, physical and ethereal with a connectivity that can be accessed to use the force there. So, more than a net; perhaps like a gel, or a jell-o that quivers throughout with recognition of even the tiniest of touches.

Science and the Akashic FieldSome call this force “God”. Those that do, do not say they call it God, they say they know that it is God. So, for them, it is. For me, for now, that will do well. Scientist, Dr. Francis Collins, head of the Human Genome Project, finds no problem with reconciling science and faith, as he tells in his book The Language of God.

The Language of GodOthers accept its existence without being able to name it. Can we learn to develop our natural ability to access this force beyond the mere knowledge that it indeed exists? What would we use it for, if we did?

Access to what I think of as the InterGel: Considering the brain to be one’s transmitter/receiver is easy, but not necessarily accurate. If plants can also access the InterGel, where might one find the brain of a lily? There is no doubt, scientifically, that plants react to the InterGel.

For us, the Receiver examples, or downloads, are sight, gut-feeling, intuition. These are impossible to influence as received, only in interpretation. At a hundred metres, too far to see the eyeballs of the target person, one knows when one has been seen in return, even if one may pretend this is not the case. The signal of acknowledgement of having been seen is too strong to suppress and is sent simultaneously. Also the powerful feeling of being watched… a message on the InterGel. Dr Rupert Sheldrake has done a huge amount of interesting research in this regard.

Sender Access, or uploads: It seems that signals of query or intent need purity, or honesty. Not just moral honesty, but intention uncluttered by human deviousness. It would be nice to think that the power can only be used by good intentions and frightening to suppose there is no obvious reason why this might not be so. Prayer in desperation can be honest, but is often tainted by ego manipulation. I’ll be good, if you just grant me this one favour, Lord.

Some people are trained to purify their connectivity and can do so at will, e.g. some philosophers, religious persons, mediums. Some people in special segments of the autistic spectrum are incapable of distorting the output of their transmitters in an impure fashion, but presumably some are much more well-tuned than the broad majority who style themselves as ‘normal’. It would be of significant interest to observe the abilities of ‘autistic’ people in this regard. Or to test ‘mediums’ and the ‘fey’ with respect to their position in the autistic arc. Has much research been done? will introduce those interested in this paradigm quake to a whole new world.

One of Sheila’s cows fell ill with mastitis (Staphylococcus aureus), which should be easily treatable with penicillin, but it evolved into blue udder and gas gangrene, which the new vet, Gordon Strick, told us was more often than not a fatal disease. He did what he could. Sheila put a stretcher bed at the side of the suffering animal and slept there. The cow’s skin seemed to have air bubbles under it so that it sounded a bit like bubble-wrap when you passed your hand over it.

I placed my hands lightly on the cow and asked the Powers That Be for help. Gordon was amazed that the cow recovered.
Sheila was furious. It was not my hocus pocus but the vet’s attentions and her dedication that had healed the animal! (In years to come, when we had a sick animal, she would apply her nursing skills and modern medicine, then she would say: “Alright, now bring those healing hands!”

2006:  Kitten. At the Backpackers, while doing a stand-in stint without a manager, my Alsatian, Nigby, snapped at a kitten that came to take a mouthful of his supper. His canine pierced the kit’s skull and some brain appeared. The poor thing started shitting and spasming. I cried and held it in my hands, praying that it might  live. I laid it on old carpet under-felt on a tool box in the store room. The next day, when I went to check up on it, it had disappeared. Probably jerked itself off the box, I thought, and was lying in amongst the picks and shovels stacked in the corner of the room. I would look for the body later, before it started smelling, but forgot.

A week thereafter I saw it hunting the ducklings on the pond, living in the reeds along the fence. It was very wild, no longer the friendly kitten it had been, but definitely the same animal. It gave me thoughts of Stephen King‘s Pets Graveyard. The next manager managed to tame it enough to feed it, but it remained in the reeds…

2007:  Sat 9th June – Lunch with my son, Ryan & his wife Elaine; their elder son, Thomas, is growing in leaps and bounds, but baby Nick has some-or-other syndrome manifested by twisted feet. When nobody was looking, I held them and communed with The Power to get them sorted, tears running down my face. Can’t do any harm, I thought, although I’d never tried on humans before, only animals.

Ryan took my daughter and me to the airport to fly to the UK to attend my Uncle Claude Arkell’s funeral the next day. The exciting news from Ryan when he picked us up on Sunday, 17th was that Nick’s feet diagnosis had been changed to something he’d soon grow out of…

2015: I had never heard of Locked-in Syndrome, before my new dentist in George (City) told me that his wife suffered from it. For three years she had lain in a home unable to move anything except her eyes, and blinking. All the voluntary muscles except the eyes are paralysed. ( › wiki › Locked-in_syndrome.)

For weeks, I was tormented by the thought that prayer might help, and the laying on of hands, but I battled with the knowledge that hundreds of devout folk had undoubtedly prayed for her recovery for years, obviously without success. So why would The Power listen to my pleading; it seemed to be a totally arrogant assumption.

Nothing ventured, I eventually decided. I wrote to the Dentist to ask his permission to visit his wife, having told him a story about cows and cats and kids, insisting that it had nothing to do with me personally, but perhaps I could sometimes serve as a conduit? He agreed, and informed the nursing staff of my intended visit, making an appointment.

I drove to George, to the home, and found the reception where I gave my name and the name of the woman I was there to see. They asked me to wait while they prepared her for visitors, then showed me to a nearby three-bed ward. Her bed was curtained off to give privacy.

She was semi-reclined in a wheelchair; a beautiful blonde of about thirty-five, lightly made up. Her body was slim, although I guessed she would have been more muscular with normal activity and diet. It seemed she was fed by gastrostomy tube, and breathed with a trachyotomy airway. I have no idea if I was able to hide my discomfort at seeing her helplessness as I once again was tortured by the thought that I was making a big mistake.

Haltingly, I introduced myself and apologised for disturbing her routine, while thinking that maybe she would welcome any deviation from that. I explained that if she permitted, I would like to pray for her, to ask God to release her from her prison. I took hold of her hand, the tears pouring down my face, swallowing the recurring lumps in my throat, and I told her about cows and cats and kids and begged for The Power to aid her release…

Then after a bit she got agitated; her breathing became ragged and I was afraid that I had badly upset her. I apologised as best I could and said goodbye, not knowing if I had been a help or a horror.


She passed away about ten weeks later. Was that a release? Not the one I had prayed for, anyway. The whole experience shook me, but I suppose enriched me in some ways to keep searching for answers. Some say it is better to journey than to arrive.

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The Matter with MATADOR

Having met the charming and convincing Jeremy Thompson of MATADOR publishing house at the London Book Fair earlier, I was persuaded to re-publish both The Barros Pawns and Purgatory Road with them, the so-called vanity side of Picador Publishing, so as to make use of their UK marketing force.


In mid-June 2011 I got an email from Matador notifying me that ‘Purgatory Road’ had been reviewed on ‘Reading Fuelled by tea’ blog, and re-printed in the Self Publishing Magazine (Issue 19, Summer 2011). It seemed to be really quite positive.

Matador -review.jpg

From SELF_PUBLISHING MAG – reprinted from Reading Fuelled by Tea Review Blog



A South African tale of crime, terror, escape and constantly looking over one’s shoulder for the past to catch up, Purgatory Road grabs the reader’s attention from the first chapter as the protagonist reacts unnecessarily violently to attempted extortion. While the subject matter remains unconvincing for the first third of the novel, the plot motors along and we sense Everyman’s darker side in John. With some surprise, I found myself two thirds in and the story slipped along to a conclusion rich with conflict and intrigue.

Earle conveys the African setting marvellously – a strong sense of dialect comes through almost effortlessly (although he could rein in the exclamation marks), and the beauty of the rugged veldt is well portrayed. John’s motivation is initially puzzling, but the character is strongly developed (as are the supporting cast) and quite likeable, by the end.

Matador Selp P Mag.jpgThe cover is a little unnecessarily loud, (Matador had used my design but changed the colour from sepia-orange to red)   but it does serve to convey the brutality within and warn off a timid reader. The quality of the self-published book was pleasantly surprising – while the cover could be thicker and a chapter heading had displaced itself, the general standard of publication is excellent. A solid debut effort from a promising author.

Among the decisions to make was the quantity to have printed, but I had read from their small-print that copies of over 300 in their warehouse would draw a storage cost, so asked them to print 300 of each. They replied that 500 would be what to go for as review copies and sales would soon reduce the number to below the number that would attract storage costs, so I agreed.

Having a bank account in the Channel Islands was convenient for payment at first, but then HSBC closed my account due to my not being resident there, although other South African UK account holders told me they had no such stipulation. Up to that date Matador had made no payments, but I considered it to be early days.

Two years passed. The numbers in their balance did indeed reduce to below the 300 mark for Purgatory Road, but not so for The Barros Pawns whose balance stopped at 302. I was being charged £20-00 per month for storage, deducted from my balance, none of which I had actually received. I had by this time informed them about the account closure, but they had assured me that they would EFT monies to the South African bank account which I had supplied. Nothing was credited to me. On enquiry, I was first informed that they could not transfer funds to a South African bank, then later, when I complained, that they had paid me in full. When I asked for an account print-out as proof of payment, I was told that these records had not been kept, being too old.

Adding insult to theft, I was then informed that they could no longer store any of my books after two years, and that they would be pulping their stock at my expense. I was both angry and frustrated at not being able to fight back from so far away. The only thing I could think of was refusing to pay for pulping, and demanding that they give their remaining copies to local libraries or even to charity shops.

Another frustration is the fact that these two titles in eBook form have not been re-directed to my control, although Matador assured me that they released their own account to them in the eBook market. I wrote to Amazon about this and was informed that the original submitter has to arrange for transfer, which had not been done. So any sales in this sphere must therefore still accrue to the Matador account…

I really hope that other authors who have dealt with Matador have more success, especially those actually living near enough to broach them about shortcomings face to face.

In the meanwhile, I was selling a few soft-cover copies, from my local printing, on two visits to the Saturday market in Sedgefield on the Garden Route, a two hour trip away, meeting some interesting people and offering advice to some budding authors.

The thought of writing a blog to get my name out there, as well as practicing my writing, was beginning to take shape. The writing of novels is the easy part, but the marketing is murder.

I do hope others have had more satisfactory dealings with Matador, and no doubt you will comment here about your experiences, for better or for worse, until debt do you part.

TBPpic5528purgatory cov frontIf anyone should do me the honour of purchasing either of these as eBooks, please do not buy under these covers on the left as I will not receive a penny. Rather buy under these other two covers below. I thank you!


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A Kiwi Flies In

With my long-time Kiwi mate, Kevin O’Connell, inbound from Down Under to Cape Town, about five hundred km away from my home in Haarlem, the family decided to make an expedition of the trip. On Friday 13   August 2010 we loaded our kit and then, lastly, Neil’s bike on the rack behind the Venture’s rear door. Sheila, her brother, Neil, and I set off early to cut across country via Carlitzdorp on the R62. On to Ladismith and Worcester to the N1, the main artery from the north. We arrived at nephew Andy Maling’s place in Durbanville before dark. It was a very pleasant family get-together braai.


Kevin Barry O’Connell

Saturday dawned, mild to warm. Andy and Neil kept me company to fetch Kevin from the Cape Town International airport. He was looking very slim after his foot operation and needed a stick as he also had his knee replaced. I was surprised the airline allowed such a dangerous weapon on the flight. Back to Andy’s place to a great breakfast before going on to Tommy Maling, Sheila and Neil’s elder brother, in the village of Fish Hoek. We all went across the peninsula to Hout Bay to Fisherman’s Wharf for – you guessed – fish & chips. Back at Tommy’s, we beered late into the night.


Neil Maling

Neil had one of his cycle trips in mind, so, leaving Sheila with Tom and his wife Shirley, Kevin, Neil and I headed east again on the Monday up Sir Laurie’s Pass to drop Neil off with a friend of his who lived near Hermanus where he would cycle from for the following week. Kevin and I returned home to Haarlem to show him around and for me to check on my building projects. In the next two days we sank a coupla slabs o’ piss, as they used to say Down Under. Probably still do, unless they have been drowned in Political Correctitude.


Wonderful thing, these forever friendships. I have been seriously blessed with quite a few.


We reminisced about our previous get-togethers: My visit to NZ – Godzone – and Kevin to Botswana and Warmbaths, as well as our mad times in London in 1969.

KBOC & PJE on board Inter-island.JPG

PJE & KBOC on the NZ inter-island ferry – 2004

On the Wednesday 18 August in colder weather, Kevin and I set off back up the R62 to the old town of Montagu where we had an enjoyable evening and night in the Mystic Tin Backpackers.

On Thursday, sunny and mild, we headed to the beautiful orchard valleys and mountains of Ceres and then took backroads – mostly metalled – through the craggy Cedarberg mountains area to Clanwilliam where we were given a nice double room by Eric and Joan Lever, my old Botswana friends, who had a guest house there. Great to see them again and Kevin liked them, too.

The next day, we headed from Clanwilliam to Lamberts Bay, then Elands Bay, where we had some golden refreshment, to Picketburg and on down the M7 to Malmesbury where I took the R302 to Durbanville to once again stay with Andy & Colleen. Next day, after a wonderful breakfast with all the trimmings, I took Kevin to the airport and had a couple of parting beers before his flight was called. On to Fish Hoek where Sheila had been having a good time at sales and music/record shops. After overnighting there, with an early start we got to Neil’s friend in time for breakfast. We loaded Neil and his bike and set off home, arriving just after dark, all of us pleased to be back with our animals again.

Shortly after that, I was surfing the Net for family tree stuff, and came across an amazing coincidence – a relative of a relative of mine had a duel with an ancestor of Kevin O’Connell’s, more than a century ago!!

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Apples for Zebras

Nicc - apples cover

Prairie AlphabetA copy of Prairie Alphabet by Jo Bannatyne-Cugnet in 1999, shown to Nicci Earle during a visit to a friend at Swift Current, Saskatchewan, Canada, gave birth to the thought that her home country of South Africa needed a similar book.

An alphabet showing the multi-hued folk of her homeland became a mission that finally bore fruit in 2019.

She began and wrote most of the delightful alliterative text as an alphabet incorporating South African life with children in all aspects, while working as a physiotherapist in Australia in 2000, but it got shelved as life got in the way. She returned to practice in the UK for awhile, then back to South Africa to drastically change career direction.

Accepted in the University of Natal from January 2001 to December 2002 for a Master’s degree in Social Development Studies, she briefly considered politics to make a difference. She soon realised that it would be policies and not politics that would make the difference, and in that she has certainly done her small but vital part.

While studying, she was acquainted with Justin Barnes who later persuaded her to join his company, Benchmarking & Manufacturing Analysts where she worked in the automotive sector until 2004.

Nicci - Social Work book.jpg

SOCIAL WORK in Social Change by Nicci Earle

When an expected transfer to Gauteng didn’t materialise, she joined HSRC, Human Resources Research Council from 2005 to2007, as part of their research teams. Her book Social Work in Social Change (The Profession and Education of Social Workers in South Africa) – ISBN 9780796922083, published by HSBC Press in 2008 remains the primary reference for the subject.

For the possible publication of her Alphabet book, Nicci approached a small publisher specialising in the education sector, who was a huge help with suggesting other forms of the book such as a blank version for colouring in, and a guide for teaching in introducing younger children to the alphabet. But the main, and most obvious requirement was of course for an illustrator. Knowing the expense involved in hiring a professional, the publisher asked if Nicci knew of anyone who might be suitable.

Of course she did! Her step-mum, Sheila Maling (Earle).

By this time, 2004, we were living in Uniondale at 10 Rose Street. Nicci came to visit and showed Sheila her text drafts. She needed a full-page picture for each letter, as well as a few alternative covers to select. After coming to an understanding as to Nicci’s requirements, and including Sheila’s suggestions, so it began. With each letter taking more than a week, it was a lengthy project, but I was blown away by Sheila’s fine carefully constructed work, including a lot more items than what the text called for. It became a challenge to see if one could find all the things or the activities beginning with that particular letter.

Finally complete, the publisher raved about it and set about approaching the education department for financial committal, but the problem finally became clear – each grade had its own separate budget for books and because the kit would cover several grades, nobody could decide on how the cost package would be distributed. Without this assurance, the publisher could not risk her own finance without a buyer.

The project became dormant.

Nicci was married in July, 2008, to Frederick Malleson. Children followed, but, as these demands became more manageable and Nicci rejoined Frederick in the entrepreneurial market place, her thoughts about the book resurfaced.

Eventually, deciding that it was worth the risk of committal, she has opted for self-publication. With Jacana Media taking an enthusiastic interest and committing to be a distributor, printing went ahead just recently. Potential for an expanded educational kit and a funnel from bedtime stories to colouring book to alphabet introduction and self-reading is obvious. This could just be the beginning.

Nicci & Sheila 1 2019.JPG

Nicci Earle Malleson & Sheila Maling Earle

It is also a showcase for Sheila’s artwork, and, who knows, maybe there are other stories out there just waiting for a talented illustrator?


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Monday, 12th April 2010: Having returned my hire car to Avis on top of a multi-level carpark in Manchester, UK, I caught my flight to Serbia, flying via Zurich. I had hardly landed when my phone rang and my nephew, Stephen Earle was telling me where to meet up with him. Getting through Immigration was a doddle and soon we were heading north to the city of Novi Sad.

The road was badly potholed, so Stephen had to swerve continually to avoid them. We stopped for an hour at a roadside bar for my first Serbian beer and my first Serbian word: Juvilee! (sp?) Cheers!

Stephen had settled in Serbia after finding the right timber there and cost-effective labour that he needed for his proposed window factory. Having worked to install windows with his uncle in the UK, he realised there was a market to fill in making the wooden windows and doors. The Serbian girl he met in London became his translator, and then his wife. I liked Jelena instantly, an intelligent woman with a good sense of humour who made me welcome in their little flat attached to the factory in the little village of Beocin on the bank of the Danube River. The following day we drove to another village on the river, where they had had their wedding reception, then to the Novi Sad Castle, an ancient bastion overlooking the river, where we had a traditional Serbian pork dish for dinner.

There was still the drab block-like architecture of the Soviet type everywhere, giving the country a depressing feel, but all very eye-opening for me.

iceland_volcanoFlying back to Heathrow on the Wednesday was fortunate as it was the day before Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland erupted and the subsequent ash cloud shut down Europe’s airspace for days. Again, I was welcomed to stay with my friend Brian Nicholson in Reading.

LBF2010The ash cloud prevented a lot of exhibitors from flying in to be at the London Book Fair, which Brian and I trained to Earl’s Court to attend on Monday, 19th April. £40-00 may not have been a lot of money for the entrance for Brits, but it dented my Rand budget a bit. That year’s country of focus was my own South Africa, but here again the exhibitors were scarce. The books on display were there, having arrived well beforehand.

Deon Meyer

Deon Meyer – author

Our thriller writer Deon Meyer had been expected, but there was a bearded friend of his trying to stand in for him. A lot of stalls were simply empty.

A book fair is more about the publishers showing their wares, making deals, getting rights and so on, rather than for illustrators and authors. New sign-ups are as scarce as hen’s teeth.
Orion publishing director Jon Wood, said he believed the money was still there for established authors. “People who’ve got brands are desperately trying to hold on to them, and money is going up for the right author,” he said. “It’s the decisions at the bottom of the market, when you’re thinking ‘shall I bid or not’, where people are being very cautious. You’ve got to feel very passionate to buy. It’s risky because you can’t get books into shops without massive promotion budgets – and if you don’t get the promotion, you don’t sell the books.”

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Festival of Writing – 2010.

Having had both my books, PURGATORY ROAD and THE BARROS PAWNS, kicked into some sort of shape by The Writer’s Workshop, I grabbed the opportunity to attend their FESTIVAL of WRITING in the city of York, UK in April of 2010. But that wasn’t just down the road; I flew from George to Johannesburg on 7th April 2010 and boarded the evening flight to London.

Landing at Heathrow in the morning, it was easy to grab the Avis shuttle to their depot not far away and hire a car, having done the same only a year before. Again, my friend Brian Nicholson in Reading had kindly agreed to give me a base to move from and a bed for the night. After a warm welcome and catch-up evening, I set off for York the next morning, Friday, with a cheeky bit of machinery on my dashboard called a Tom-tom, which seemed to spend most of its time telling me to turn around…


Harry Bingham

Approaching York from the west, I took a circular drive south to get to the University, where I booked in before 13h30 and parked as near to my student room as possible. It was tiny, but more than adequate. I attended a workshop with Harry Bingham, the creator of The Writer’s Workshop, and Helen Corner, whose Cornerstones Literary Consultancy goes from strength to strength.

Harry was/is a lithe dynamic man with a penetrating stare that seemed to read me at a glance. I introduced myself and showed him a copy of my two books. Later, in a workshop on publishing by an Orion publisher, when she got to the option of Self-Publishing, he bounded up to my seat in the auditorium to grab them and wave them at the audience.

“These are two of the best self-pub books I have yet seen!” he announced. My ego wriggled in pleased embarrassment.

The evening was a satisfactory dinner laced with wine and good craik with over four hundred authors and wannabes literally exchanging thoughts and impressions.

katie fforde

Katie Fforde – author

On Saturday 10th April, the Festival was formally opened with the keynote address by that best-selling romantic novelist, Katie Fforde who was a delight to listen to and laugh with. We then split up into our various chosen workshops, or one-on-one sessions.

Each attendee was supposed to have two sessions – ten minutes with an agent or publisher during which they had a chance to pitch and discuss their work. This opportunity was, to my mind, the main draw to the Festival, but was a failure for me personally. Others, more fortunate, gained a huge amount of insight into their work, having also submitted a sample a month prior to be analysed. In my case, my first one-on-one target didn’t arrive at all, and the other was a stand-in for somebody else who was ill. The stand-in was a timid lady who read a bit of my submission as we sat through the ten minutes allotted. Her remark that she didn’t like all the violence blew me away. Just what her own genre was, I don’t know. Maybe cooking?


Fergus Smith – author

However, despite that, it was worth the networking with, and camaraderie of, so many like-minded folk and in some cases to make a life-long friend, like Fergus Smith who has since published two great novels.

After a good buffet lunch, the afternoon kicked off with an address in the form of ‘Confessions from…’ featuring literary agent Simon Trewin and publisher Barry Cunningham – both of whom provided humorous insights into their chosen literary fields.
Of the workshops that I recall attending, ‘Show, Don’t Tell’ given by Jeremy Sheldon stands out, then I had to miss a couple when I left the university to dash into York to find a travel agent to book a ticket to Serbia from Manchester to visit my nephew, Stephen Earle, who has settled there.

Meeting so many writers, published and unpublished, all of whom have an absolute passion for their work, was the highlight of the Festival for me. All of us learning to hone our skills, prune our excesses, establish our targets and avoid the pitfalls of our ignorance.

I set up a table to sell my books from in a quiet corner after breakfast on Sunday, but Harry shoved me into the open where passers-by had to swerve to avoid it! Sometimes you just have to push to get noticed, I guess.

From another table, I bought a copy of R.J.Ellory’s ANNIVERSARY MAN, at the time his latest, which he signed.

Then it was time to set off for Manchester to overnight with my old friends, ; always a pleasure to see them.

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