My London Book Fair 2017 #LBF17

Three days of trudging around Olympia with an increasingly weighty bag of goodies is too long, according to my feet, even when they’re well prepared.

well-worn Converse trainers

But two days, as I found out this year, isn’t nearly enough. While the London Book Fair is industry orientated, there’s plenty for authors to do. Here are some of my highlights.

1 Catching up with friends and colleagues, many of them from ALLi, the Alliance of Independent Authors.

With fellow author Helena Halme

with fellow author Helena Halme

 

me with cover designer Jessica Bell

with ace cover designer Jessica Bell

Making new friends is part of the fun too. Book people come from far and wide for LBF, like Aussie writer Rebecca Lang from Sydney.

ALLi authors

from L to R: Jessica Bell, me, Rebecca Lang, Glynis Smy

2 Talks at Author HQ.

Author HQ at LBF

The varied fare is excellent, and this year the seats even had proper backs for weary spines. Too bad Author HQ is once again tucked away at the far end of the first floor. You may need GPS and Kendal Mint Cake for the trek.

3 Author of the Day sessions.

They’re at the PEN Literary Salon, which is where I met the inspiring Alaa al Aswany a few years ago. Sadly, this year Roddy Doyle had to cancel his appearance, so, instead of a capacity crowd, there were half-empty benches where people collapsed to eat their sandwiches. As ever, there’s a dire shortage of seating, which is why visitors have to perch on the displays.

following the Yellow Brick Road

4 Learning more about organisations like the Society of Authors, Gardners the wholesalers and distributors, or the Booksellers’ Association. There’s a whole world outside sitting at a desk writing.

the Grand Hall, Olympia

With a bit of planning, you can also arrange one-to-ones with agents or publishers. There are other ways of publishing too. I should have spent longer talking audiobooks.

5 Admiring awesome new books. There are 20 new books published every hour in the UK. Some of them might even be yours.

General Practice Cases at a Glance

at the Wiley stand

6 Haggling over a bagel.

The sticker said £2.75 but it was £4.60 on the price list. In the end, I got it for £2.60. Nothing is quite what you expect at LBF.

salmon bagel

7 The bottle of Veuve Cliquot I won. This was thanks to Byte the Book‘s legendary networking session on the Tuesday evening. I also collected a dozen useful email addresses and a temporary tattoo.

With many friends and colleagues, I only managed snatched conversations between one meeting and the next. Others, like writers from the Romantic Novelists’ Association, I hardly saw. Next year, I tell myself as I get on the train home, it’s back to a three-day marathon.

On the subject of travel, I can’t resist a digression to add that my novel Hampstead Fever will be on special offer in selected WH Smith travel shops throughout the UK from March 30. That’s buy one, get one half price.

Did you go to the London Book Fair? What did you think of it?

Is There Such a Thing as Awesome Free Stuff?

Can you really get awesome stuff for free?

Course not, silly! As a smarty-pants friend always reminds me, the preposition ‘for’ is redundant here, and ‘for free’ is incorrect.  But I just threw it in for, like, free.

I’ll keep this short because you may need time to hunt for free stuff (see how ‘for free’ is correct here, Ms Smarty Pants?).  Here’s what I bagged this week.

1 The best thing was this bike, courtesy of a lovely friend of mine.

Universal Ladies' Bicycle

I hadn’t cycled since my teens, but, with a bit of encouragement, off I wobbled.  As well as the bike, I got three bonus bruises and a grazed elbow. Yep, this could be the gift that goes on giving.

2 Advice from a hairdresser.

Thanks to a cut-and-blow-dry on Wednesday, I’ve absorbed a ton of knowledge. Did you know acupuncture could cure hair loss? I got so much free info that I may have to start a new blog. Maybe haircourse.wordpress.com or headteacherblogspot.co.uk.  

3 Two free pillows from a bedding shop.

I know what you’re thinking. Yes, there was a snag. You had to be in Geneva to get them.

Geneva, Switzerland

4  The Indie Author Fair at Foyles.

It’s a free event at the iconic Foyles bookshop in central London, with loads of indie books, authors, and refreshments. Who wouldn’t want to be there? It’s on Friday April 17 from 16:30 to 19:30, so it’s still up for grabs. It’s unticketed, and did I mention it’s free?

Indie Author Fair 2015 at Foyles

Whether you go or not, you can also enter a free draw for a huge number of prizes, including an awesome digital swag bag from the OUTSIDE THE BOX team. It includes a novel, music, a printable “Reading is Bliss” poster, inspiring wallpapers for your desktop, phone or Facebook, and all manner of playful surprises. You can enter the draw right here.

Women-Writing-Women-Box-Set-Cover_finalJPEG (1)See? There are awesome things to enjoy for free.

 

How to Be Single AND Happy on Valentine’s Day

Even if the whole world is loved up and you’re not, you don’t have to be a sad singleton on Valentine’s Day, according to my friend and colleague Christine Webber. She’s a psychotherapist who’s just updated her book Get the Happiness Habit, so you can expect her to know what she’s talking about. Here’s what she has to say…

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When you’re single, February 14 can feel like a nightmare – being one of those dates that loom large and trip you up emotionally. It’s nearly as bad as having to go to your sister’s wedding when you’re heartbroken after a relationship break up, or being forced into a family Christmas where relatives invariably – and loudly – ask if you’ve got a boyfriend.

On Valentine’s Day, everyone seems to be flaunting their flowers, their cards, and their plans for the perfect evening. Not surprisingly, you can easily allow yourself to feel a romantic failure in comparison.

But here’s the thing. How insecure, or unfeeling, must your boss be about her relationship if she has to have a Valentine’s bouquet delivered to reception rather to her own home? Maybe she sent it herself? And how many of your friends are going to be seriously out of pocket after a poorly-cooked dinner in an overrated and crowded restaurant? People’s expectations of Valentine’s Day are stratospheric; so much so that they’re nearly always disappointed. Well, you have no expectations. And no need to spend a fortune. So your situation’s not all bad!

paint the kitchen

Why not stay home on Valentine’s Day and paint the kitchen or something? But then go out with a bunch of happy, single friends on the 15th when everything is saner, cheaper and roomier.

Here’s something else to ponder. Most of us – in our fast-changing world – are going to be single from time to time. And it’s important that we view these periods of our lives as viable and productive – and not just as some sort of limbo till we fall for someone new. Individuals who place too much importance on the value of relationships are often guilty of believing that their single life can never be anything than a dilute version of the joys of coupledom.

heart in the sand

This is dangerous thinking – particularly when people believe that they must have a partner in order to be happy. When they have those thoughts and beliefs they’re anxious about relationships even when they’re in one – because they’re constantly terrified that it might end. That anxiety generally manifests itself as neediness, which is hugely demanding on any spouse and damaging to the relationship.

Christine WebberSo, this February, have a think about what being happy means to you.  And make sure that there is plenty about your single life that is contented and joyous even though – at present – you have no romantic liaison.

When people take responsibility for their own happiness, rather than expect someone else to provide it for them – they become more mentally healthy, resilient and optimistic.

Of course, having a warm, loving partner is going to augment your levels of happiness, but he or she should not be responsible for it.

Happy Valentine’s Day! 

Get the Happiness Habit front (2)Thank you very much, Christine.

For more insights and advice on being happy, see Christine’s book Get the Happiness Habit.

You may also like to read her guest post on How to Mend a Broken Heart.

By the way, in case you’re wondering, I’ve never seen Christine look glum.  

A Little Road Trip

This will be short as I’m going away for a few days with one or two old school friends. By which of course I’m saying that I’ve known them a long time. What else could it possibly mean?

It could be a navigational challenge, so I’m taking this.

map of Italy

And these, obviously.

magnifier and glasses

I don’t trust sat nav, not after it dumped me the wrong way on a dual carriage-way. I’m sure we’ll be fine. Don’t you agree?  If all else fails, I can rely on this to call someone.  

BlackBerry

Especially if I charge it this time.

And we’re taking this, because it’s not a proper trip to Italy without Eros Ramazzotti. Particularly when you’re stuck on the side of the wrong road with a flat tyre.

Eros Ramazzotti

Arrivederci a presto!