I’ve just spotted that this little paperback of my short story Lighting Up Time has been reduced to about half price (£1.52) by Amazon’s UK store just now, so I thought I’d flag that up for you before they put the price back up to its usual £2.99. (Usual price applies in other Amazon stores.)
Set just before Christmas at the winter solstice, 21st December, it’s a timely read for these dark, wet, windy winter nights, telling the story of a young woman trying to come to terms with her fear of the dark as she babysits her nephew and niece in a remote country house.
With equal touches of spookiness and humour, it’s a touching, feel-good quick read that’s just right for this time of year.
The small format paperback is the size of a postcard, which makes it a great stocking-filler or Secret Santa gift, and just the right size to slip inside a Christmas card. It’s also available as an ebook for just 99p/99c.
What Readers Say:
“Lovely story that perfectly captures that big sister/little sister thing, and Aunt Sophie is a lovely gentle presence throughout – I especially like the way you use scent (perfume, flowers) to evoke her.” – Lucienne Boyce, historical novelist
“You had me scared of the dark with you!” Melanie Spiller
“Lovely story and a great, feel-good ending .” – Christina Courtenay, romantic novelist
“Debbie Young packs so much into her short and poignant stories.” – Tom Evans
I don’t know how long Amazon will be running this special offer, so if you fancy it, best snap it up while you can!
It’s perhaps an inevitable phenomenon of our digital TV-on-demand era, with voracious viewers binge-watching whole series of their favourite shows at a sitting, that the equivalent should happen in ebook publishing.
The digital book box set allows readers to stock up on a whole batch of books in a series by their favourite author, or in some cases a collection of books each by a different author in the same genre.
Box sets are usually priced significantly cheaper than it would cost to buy the books separately.
Catching the Box Set Omnibus
I confess I’m jumping on the box set bandwagon myself this week, with the launch of my first box set of the first three novels in my Sophie Sayers Village Mysteries series. If you buy the box set, you effectively get the books as a 3-for-2 bargain, as the price is the equivalent to what you’d pay for books two and three if bought alone.
As these are ebooks, the box is of course only notional. Although I have to say I do loved physical boxed sets too – and single books that come in their own little slipcase, the sort that the Folio Society is so good at, not so much a box set as simply a book in a box.
There’s something very comforting about physical box sets of books. My mother’s gift to me of a P G Wodehouse collection of Jeeves novels twelve years ago was as much a cure for my pneumonia as prescription drugs…
…and I only have to look at this box set of the complete Sherlock Holmes to feel better.
When I was little, I only had one box set of books, a beautiful Disney-themed collection for my ninth birthday and still treasured.
But I did have several omnibuses – a collection of single books in a single fat volume.
In fact, I was quite grown up before I realised that an omnibus was “long” for the word bus, despite the handly clue provided here by Teddy Robinson.
Climb Aboard Sophie Sayers’ Omnibus
If you’re an ebook reader, and have not yet climbed aboard my Sophie Sayers Village Mysteries, I hope you’ll enjoy her first box set. And if you’ve already read these, and the following book 4, Murder by the Book, I’ve got something for you too: the fifth in the series, Springtime for Murder, will be launched in November. More news on that book coming soon…
If you’d like to be among the first to know when I’m about to publish a new book, and to keep up with other news about my writing life, just sign up here to join my free Readers’ Club. You’ll also receive a free short story. (Of course, your details won’t be shared with anyone else or used for any other purpose.)
Autumn: season of mists and mellow fruitfulness – and literature festivals!
1 LitFest Past: Ness Book Fest
Last weekend I had the pleasure of speaking not once but twice at the delightful Ness Book Fest in Inverness. This event, now in its third year, is a wonderful celebration of local writing talent (I loved the three-minute slot showcasing a local author at the start of each session) and authors like me from further afield (although the fact that Inverness is mentioned in my first novel, and my eighth will be set in Inverness may have earned me honorary local status!)
secondly, talking about my novel writing, with specific reference to my current Sophie Sayers Village Mysteries series, though also touching on future plans for other series, including Staffroom at St Bride’s, for which I’m currently writing the first book
The audience for both talks was highly receptive and engaged, and it was a joy to linger chatting to them afterwards, hearing about their own writing and reading activities, and signing books. One man even gave me a copy of a poem he’d written – what a lovely thing to do!
Another surprise came just before my first event, when I nipped to the public toilets next door to Waterstones – and found myself facing a picture of myself on the back of the toilet door! An ingenious bit of lateral thinking for advertising the Ness Book Fest, whose posters were dotted strategically all around the town!
Oh, and yes, I was wearing the same actual hat for both talks, but next day I did snap up a second hat in Harris Tweed, to which I am addicted, and whose warmth I appreciated next day on my constitutional around the National Arboretum at Westonbirt.
2 LitFest Present: Cheltenham Literature Festival
I then had just a day at home to draw breath and finish reading the BBC Radio Gloucestershire Book Club‘s book of the month, this time the intriguing and unusual (and, millions claim, life-changing) fable The Alchemistby Paulo Coelho, before hot-footing it to Cheltenham for an outside broadcast with the station’s lunchtime presenter, Dominic Cotter, in the Festival’s VIP tent. I spent a very pleasant couple of hours there, talking books with the BBC team and with other guests, including my friends Heidi Perry, Vicky Pember and Wilf Merttens from the children’s reading charity, Read for Good. By coincidence, they were there to do an event with one of the charity’s storytellers to a packed audience of younger readers. We managed to squeeze them into the show too!
You can share some of the fun of the Festival by listening to the show here on iPlayer any time during the next 28 days. (The Book Club slot starts about 13 minutes into the show, and Read for Good’s about 20 minutes before the end.) And if you’re a regular Book Club listener, you can get ahead for next month’s show by reading Daljit Nagra’s poetry collection, British Museum, which fellow panellist Caroline Sanderson chose, in between chairing numerous Festival events!
Meanwhile the Cheltenham Literature Festival will be in full swing till the end of Sunday – visit their website to see what else is coming up in their programme.
3 LitFest Yet To Come: Bristol Literature Festival
And now the dust has settled on those two outings, I’m gearing up for my next event, which is a fun celebration of crime writing organised by thriller writer A A Abbott as part of the Bristol Literature Festival. Following the success of the launch of her last but one novel at the old police cells at Bridewell Street, Bristol, she dreamed up the idea of a multi-author crime book fair in the same atmospheric setting, to take place on Saturday 20th October from 2pm until 4.30pm. At “Crime, Thrillers & Horror in the Cells“, there will be talks and readings by the crime writers present, and also of course the authors will be happy to sign copies of any books you’d like to buy. You can find more details of the event here on the Bristol Lit Fest website. It’s also a great excuse to have a look round this historic site, completely free of charge.
Next on my Festival to-do list will be to get the planning under way for the next Hawkesbury Upton Lit Fest (Saturday 27th April 2019) – more news on that soon!
It’s an annual tradition in the village where I live to have aScarecrow Trail each September, organised by Louise Roberts. Each year I try to tie it in somehow with the Little Free Library on my front wall, and this year I chose Roald Dahl’s Matilda, possibly the most well-known and best-loved booklover in fiction.
Free Roald Dahl Books to Borrow
Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been raiding local charity shops to find secondhand (pre-loved) copies of Roald Dahl’s children’s books, and I’ve amassed about a dozen – so this week only, the children’s section of my Little Free Library (the one on the right in the picture) will contain exclusively Roald Dahl books for young visitors to borrow. (Donations of more Dahl books will be most welcome.
Happy 30th Birthday, Matilda!
By chance I discovered last weekend that this year is the thirtieth anniversary of Dahl’s Matilda, and this autumn there will be special editions of the book published featuring cover illustrations of what she might be like by the time she’s 30 – doing great things in every one!
How to Visit the Scarecrow Trail
The Hawkesbury Upton Scarecrow Trail runs from today through next Sunday, and there’ll be tea and cakes served in the Methodist Hall from 3pm until 4.30pm both Sundays. Everyone welcome!
For more information about the wonderful Roald Dahl, here’s his official website: www.roalddahl.com
For the last two years, I’ve been a regular monthly contributor to the Authors Electric blog. As I streamline my workload to allow more time for writing novels, here’s my final post before I stood down from the AE collective at the end of August.
After a fortnight’s holiday near Glencoe in a minimalist cottage and abundant fresh mountain air, I returned to my own cluttered cottage ten days ago determined to ditch surplus possessions. Even (whisper it) a few of my large collection of books…
Fate sent me a helping hand in the form of a request from the landlady of Dinneywick’s pub in Kingswood, the next-but-one village from where I live in the Cotswolds. She asked me whether I could donate any secondhand books for the pub’s new free library scheme.
I’ve had a Little Free Library on my front garden wall for a couple of years, and there are more like this popping up all over the country.
A Bookish Pedigree for a Pub
Aggie’s interest in doing something similar came as no surprise. When she and her partner Guiseppe ran The Fox in Hawkesbury Upton, they gained a reputation as an innovative, energetic couple full of ideas for keeping a country pub afloat. One of these ideas was to support the first ever Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival when I founded it four years ago. They generously provided the venue, and for the next two Festivals were a key player in its success. As a tribute to their support, the cover of the first Festival’s anthology sported a drawing of The Fox by Festival author and illustrator Sophie E Tallis.
Earlier this year they moved to the delightfully quaint Dinneywicks pub in Kingswood, near Wotton-under-Edge. Dinneywicks customers will be able to borrow books for free from the Dinney’s Little Library whenever they drop into the pub.
This is a valuable social service to a small rural community without its own public library. Customers are welcome to access it at any time during opening hours. Aggie is hoping that it will encourage people to come in for a coffee and chat during the day, as well as during the busier evening hours.
All of the books are donated, and I was glad to be able to deliver two large bags yesterday to help fill their shelves. Most of the books are in as-new condition.
Sophie Sayers Sneaks In
The eagle-eyed reader familiar with my Sophie Sayers Village Mystery novels may spot a brand new set of them on the second shelf down at the right hand side. I was happy to throw those in for free for three reasons:
I was delighted to have the opportunity to return the favour that Aggie and Guiseppe did me when they were so supportive of the Hawkesbury Upton Lit Fest.
I know that Dinneys will be actively luring eager readers to the pub to enjoy their new facility, so this is a useful opportunity for me to reach a new audience.
When you’re writing a series of novels, free sampling is a handy marketing technique, assuming that if a person receives a free book in the series and enjoys it, it’s quite likely they’ll go on to buy the rest of them.
When Free Books Act As Ambassadors for Authors
It’s a similar situation to finding a book in a charity shop or jumble sale. When a reader picks up a book for £1 or even pence there, the author may not profit from that sale, but he does gain valuable exposure and a connection with a potential new fan. That fan may go on to snap up full-price copies from conventional bookshops after that.
I confess I only made this connection a few years back when I was interviewing Hereward Corbett, the proprietor of The Yellow-Lighted Bookshops in Nailsworth and Tetbury. I asked him whether he minded so many charity shops selling books in those towns, assuming he’d view them as competition undercutting his prices.
Not at all, he told me, because readers would often take a punt on an unknown author, and once hooked came to his shops to order brand new copies of their other books at full price.
I wish Aggie and Guiseppe every success with their new venture, and I hope their example will encourage other pubs to follow suit.
Of course, Dinneywick’s isn’t just about books: it’s a delightful pub, which they’ve just refurbished to a very high standard, with a cosy, attractive interior, pleasant walled garden and terrific food. So if you’re passing that way, do call in to see them – with or without a book to donate!