Calling London – a new title for Threadgold Press

On the 12th June, Threadgold Press is very proud to be releasing a book outside its usual genre. This book is scholarly, genuinely readable and historically important.In the twentieth century men from the Midland Bank travelled the world to try and understand how overseas centres of finance and industry functioned, to promote their business and meet their counterparts in other countries.

They were inquisitive, openminded and energetic. They sent back reports from Chicago, New Orleans, Montreal, St Petersburg, Vienna, Stockholm, Paris, Tokyo, Prague, Hong Kong, Buenos Aires and many, many other cities. They had an uncanny knack of fetching up in these centres at moments of high drama. And they reported back in detail and without political allegiance.

These reports are available for study in the archives of HSBC in London. Calling London set these reports into historical context with fascinating extracts along the way. 

Calling London: Travels by British Bankers, 1904-63

The back cover says:

There is hardly a happening in the world that does not have its repercussions, immediately or eventually, on Overseas Branch. Midland Venture, 1933

From 1904 to the 1960s managers of the Midland Bank in London travelled the world to visit centres of finance and industry and then report back. They often arrived, by chance or intention, at crucial moments in history – Russia in 1909, Austria in 1931, France in 1944, Chile and Japan 1948 and for example Germany in 1933:

Dr. Fischer was careful to explain to me, quite irrelevantly, that Hitler was a most peaceable and peace-loving man to whom war-like intentions were entirely foreign… W.F. Crick, Berlin, 1933

In a scholarly, informative and fascinating account, Edwin Green sets this rich resource in historical context. While Calling London throws light on local conditions in some serious times, it also includes delightful insights into how British Bankers were seen abroad:

Mr. Holden is no dreamer. The way he hands out a cigar is suggestive of the rapier. Toronto News, 23 September, 1904

Edwin Green was appointed as the Midland Bank’s first archivist in 1974. From 1993 until his retirement in 2007 he was group Archivist at HSBC in London, where the records of the Midland’s Overseas Branch are located. He is the author and co-author of many publications on banking and business history, including histories of the Midland Bank, The Mercantile Bank of India and the Institute of Bankers. He is uniquely placed to guide future researchers to this gold mine of twentieth century business archives.

From 12 June book will be available directly from Threadgold Press, or from Amazon.

In case you think a gremlin has taken over my blog… here are some peonies. 

Marketing, a necessary pain?

Last autumn I went on writing course run by Patricia Mullin at The Sainsbury Centre in the University of East Anglia. This was a fun and positive experience and Patricia packed in an immense amount of information and writing practise and managed our diverse group in the gentlest, most effective way. She has kindly posted a guest blog from me on her website:

One October day I found myself, aged 52, standing on top of a telegraph pole. Below me the rest of my ‘team’, five youngsters half my age, two of them clinging to the free end of my safety harness, were urging me to jump. At eye level to my right, but way out of reach, dangled the bar of a trapeze.

Another 867 words at Patricia’s blog

Reader, I met my readers.

Almost the first question an agent or publisher asks is who are your readers? I can’t be the only writer who fails to conjure up a collective market-speak noun for the person who has just turned the last page of my novel with (I hope) a sigh of satisfaction.

The people who read, and give me feedback, are people who know me. They have read my books because they are kind friends or relatives, fellow-writers or new online friends. They are male and female, aged 16 to 90, and include a wide spectrum of interests and incomes. As a writer I could not survive without these people, but they are not the distinct target group the agent or publisher is looking for. What is more, I really didn’t know who else in the world, would want to read my novels… but I got lucky.

In December I wrote about the moment when dreams and real life coincided (Writer (almost) faints). I met a reader totally unknown to me who loved my second novel, Unseen Unsung, and so, apparently, did her book group.

Last night I was the surprise guest, invited by this reader, to a birthday meal for a member of her book group. So I met Tracy, Susanne, Janet, Sarah, Marie, Tracey and Judy (who couldn’t stay to the meal).  My presence was for the fun of it, I didn’t have to perform, or sell myself, I was able to eat, relax, and discover who my readers were as people.                   IMG_0938 IMG_0926                           Tracy                                                      birthday girl Suzanne (Goldie)IMG_0933  IMG_0939 - Version 2   Janet                                                        (left to right) Tracey, Marie and Sarah

So what, if anything, makes Tracy, Susanne, Janet, Sarah, Marie, Tracey and Judy a group. They were vibrant, funny, unsentimental, open and tolerant people. Their energies and concerns were first for their family members, then for each other, and after that any individual in their orbit who was in need. In doing all this they also looked after themselves and made their own fun. They worked, played and read widely. In every other sense each was a distinct personality. We were in Tracy’s house, her mother was upstairs, recovering from an operation, her father appeared from time to time as did a fifteen-year-old son, an undergraduate son and her husband (and there was a daughter elsewhere). Apart from her own spaniel (?), she was temporarily caring for a couple of pugs to help a friend.

The Chinese proverb runs – Women hold up half the sky. These women were certainly holding up more than they share share of the sky and I feel all the better, as a writer, for being their choice.

Mea culpa – red-faced publisher

Umm, I have a confession. All this stress over Amazon making my life as a publisher (Threadgold Press) into a nightmare and endangering sales of my new book (Border Line) may be my fault. I asked them, yet again, why they did not send an email to me about an order, and I put in the email address I expected them to use. They replied that if I wanted to use this email address I had better change my settings, because the one they had was… They had a non-existent email address, a mixture of two of my three addresses. This particular stramash is an error I have made in the past, so I’m sure it is my fault. Apologies Amazon Advantage (ouch!).

My penance is to tell you all and perhaps help one other person to avoid the same pitfall, and to check their settings when expected emails go astray. In spite of GIGANTIC embarrassment, I am happier than before, because an intractable problem has an explanation and a cure, so the problem should disappear.

All I need now is a placatory photo so that you will remember the photo and not my idiocy.PICT0001

Borders, borderlines and choosing when to die

DSCN6758 - Version 2

Border Line (as print and ebook) in the UK and ebook worldwide will be on sale from December 5th 2014

“Of course love is the ultimate luxury, but I am unwilling to continue the trek in the certainty of its absence.”

Eleven people travel across Slovenia in a small coach. Grace and the other nine members of the group all wish to die, while their leader, Daniel, appears only to want to help them. He involves them in actors’ exercises and therapeutic games. They tell stories, travel like tourists and surprise themselves with laughter. Daniel promises he will take them, at the end of the trek, across another border to die. Though they are free to change their minds at any time, by day twenty-one they must make their choice.

Border Line is written as  an entertaining and comfortable-to-read story about ordinary people. That said, its USP (Unique Selling Point – see, I have the jargon) is: ‘An upbeat love story about suicide’… So, any sane person may conclude that I have either trivialised a very serious subject by wrapping it in a love story, or the reverse; I have spoiled a decent love story by weighing it down with the heavy subject of how we choose to die. (I am long past judging whether it is either or neither).

Three things kick-started Border Line:

  • Some lines in a poem titled Rehearsal by Eleanor Green                                     … for an exercise/I look at his hands/to improve our relationship/onstage?…
  • A strange and wonderful day with a Frenchwoman, an American/Hungarian(?) woman and a taxi driver from Ljubljana, in which we communicated in many tongues while trying to see most of Slovenia. We got lost in a forest in fog.
  • Curiosity about people who feel a particular kind of guilt. We try to help victims, but what happens to decent people who cause bad events.

DSCN1906 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Borders in the story are Slovenia’s. This amazing country, about the size of Wales, and has four of them and, being at a cross roads in Europe, a lot of nations have tramped through it.                                                                          DSCN1940OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The borderlines in the title are also those of the mind. Suicide causes untold distress to relatives and friends. We all know this, and most people who contemplate it at some time in their lives recover and go on to complete their natural span. Yet living is, for some people, unbearably difficult and I personally have never felt I could blame someone who chooses the exit route. I also feel, ever more strongly, that we should have some choice about how and when we end our lives.

I also believe that there is much to live for and that the majority of people are kind, trustworthy, interesting and loveable and the world is an endlessly fascinating place that I will be reluctant to leave when my time comes.

(Self)publisher in a spin

Or Threadgold Press up the creek with not much more than a couple of lollipop sticks.

 T.logo

When you decide to self-publish it’s a good idea to remember that what you are taking on is at least six people’s jobs. You have to park the fact that you are the author and settle down at your desk. First you become a typesetter, an editor, a designer and a proofreader. Then your Office Manager gets down to the practical stuff of commissioning the printing, and getting it sorted and delivered (and hiring heavies to persuade everyone you know to proofread… again), then the Catering Manager organises the launch party and the Publicity Manager takes care of the press releases and the local newspapers and talks. The Marketing Manager emails every person you have ever met and persuades them to buy an advance copy. At which point the office supply personnel get busy with the packaging, the stamps, while the Accountant keeps records of sales and the paperwork to go with the orders. The IT Advisor sorts out (or fails to sort out) the glitches with the Amazon system for uploading e-books and images.

What have I left out?

The office staff let the author out this morning for a ten minute run around the garden. She got a little over-excited by her ‘Maple nursery’ (seedlings of Matzsukaze and Sengokaku) in autumn glory. And some brave autumn crocus mixed with primroses (!)   DSCN6789DSCN6792But she is back at her desk now, happily parcelling up an order for three more books (and worrying about whether the print run will last until publication day).

It’s even more DIY than last time round. The City newspaper, has asked the author to provide her own article ‘From the Author’s Mouth’ and supply book-cover image and author photo. The local farm shop is kindly allowing her to sign books in their cafe on the release date. Ah well, she can now drink the ginger wine – a thank you yesterday from the group at the sheltered housing in the village who, in spite of multiple challenges, listened sweetly to her babbling on about the joys of writing.

Threadgold Press – lessons learnt

[This is a moan, so feel free to jump to pictures at the end]

One of the privileges of being your own publisher is being able to choose your own book cover. Over the last month I have really concentrated on this (actually since April, if I’m honest). Ignoring the Really Good Advice to pay for professional work, I have become intimate with the foibles of InDesign; my numerous attempts to create a cover now run to over 50 files.

I am exhausted and depressed, I have used up all my credit with my nearest and dearest, the garden is untended, the vegetable plot a riot of weeds and my in-tray is overflowing. Each night I have new ideas and each morning I start again expecting the perfect cover to appear under my hands. But it hasn’t, and I am now finally ready to compromise. My daughter, Amy, has produced something better than any of the ones I attempted and while I still feel, churlishly, that it is not what I had in mind, it is simple and beautiful and I need to stop NOW.

So here are a few more rejected designs (and they are not the weirdest):

BL cover tests29.pr BL cover tests32.pr - Version 3 BL cover tests26.pr BL cover tests21.pr

That’s enough amateur graphics. Here are some lilies (smelling heavenly) and hydrangeas to finish with. Tomorrow, I will pick beans and weed the veg bed.

DSCN6205 DSCN6202 DSCN6201 DSCN6199I’ve been Lindy Hopping this evening, so I feel more human.