Shop indie, shop often!

Spring is here! Hooray! The days are getting longer and warmer. Best of all, we’re into April, the magic month when bookshops are set, fingers crossed, to reopen for face-to-face shopping. Think of it, actually buying a book from a real human being!

As an indie-published author (published by Unbound), I’m a big enthusiast for indie bookshops. Their individual quirkiness and friendly knowledgeability beat shopping online hands down. Of course, Note to Boy is available from the big bookshop chains and the usual mega online channels but I’d love it if every indie bookseller in the land were to stock copies too. That’s impossible, I know. But that hasn’t stopped me doing my best!

During lockdown, I’ve been on a mission. In good time for the reopening of so-called ‘non-essential’ shops (who decides these things?), I set myself the task of approaching as many indie booksellers as I could to tell them a little about me and my novel, and ask if they’d care to order it. I figured their customers could do with a light-hearted book that offered plenty of laughs and a few tears.

The response has been amazing! It is a time-consuming but joyful job, and I’m not done yet. The encouraging and entertaining replies I’ve had from so many booksellers more than compensate for any effort involved. Below is a list of the many lovely bookshops who’ve responded positively so far. I salute you all! And I salute, of course, all the other bookshops I don’t know about who have Note to Boy on order or already on their shelves. Thank you.

When restrictions allow, I do hope you’ll go along to your local indie bookshop and have a good old chat and a browse. They’ve somehow kept going during lockdown so it’s only fair that we visit them to say thanks and buy a novel or three. I don’t even mind if it’s not Note to Boy, although that would be nice. And if you can’t get to an independent, remember You can shop online and benefit the indies too.

Happy Easter, happy indie shopping and, most of all, happy reading!



Adventure into Books, Blairgowrie, Perthshire.

Barnett’s of Wadhurst, East Sussex.

Book Buster, Hastings, East Sussex.

Book, Paper, Scissors, Belfast,

Bookingham Palace, Chester.

The Bookshop, Bridport.

The Bookshop, Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria.

The Bookstore, Abingdon.

The Book Vault, Barnsley.

The Book Corner, Saltburn.

Brendon Books, Taunton.

Brick Lane Bookshop, London.

Blue Bear Bookshop, Farnham.

Castle Bookshop, Ludlow.

The Clifden Bookshop, County Galway.

Cover to Cover, Swansea.

Dartmouth Bookseller, Devon.

Daunt Books, Summertown, Oxford and Hampstead, London.

Devizes Books, Wiltshire.

The Dornoch Bookshop, Sutherland.

Edinburgh Bookshop.

Fitzgerald’s Bookshop, Macroom, Ireland.

Griffin Books, Penarth.

The Halesworth Bookshop, Suffolk.

The Holt Bookshop, Norfolk.

Joe’s Bookshop, Chingford.

Kenilworth Books, Warwickshire.

The Little Bookshop, Cookham.

The Little Ripon Bookshop, North Yorkshire.

Max Minerva’s Marvellous Books, Bristol.

Midland Books, Tullamore & Mullingar, Ireland.

Mostly Books, Abingdon.

The Old Hall Bookshop, Brackley.

Our Bookshop, Tring.

Pages of Hackney and Shoreditch, London.

Parade’s End Books, Kingston Upon Thames.

Pigeon Books, Southsea.

The Portobello Bookshop, Edinburgh.

Stillwater Bookshop, Felixstowe.

Store 104, Rochester.

Stroud Bookshop, Gloucestershire.

Typewronger Books, Edinburgh.

Ullapool Bookshop, Ross and Cromarty.

The Wallingford Bookshop, Oxfordshire.

Wyre Forest Books, Bewdley.

Goodbye 2020. Welcome 2021, but only if you behave!

No need to state the obvious about the weirdness of the year. I’m going to take this chance to look back and find some positives and say some thank yous instead.

The biggest positive of 2020 for me, of course, is that Note to Boy was published. Yaay! Eloise and Bradley have been out ‘in the wild’ for five months and seem to be thriving. Certainly, reviews have been kind.

‘Comedy gold’, ‘brims with humour’, ‘wonderfully entertaining’ and even ‘genius’ are some of the generous comments received by this blushing author. It means a lot to know I’ve made some readers laugh and a few shed a little tear. Thank you, readers and reviewers. 

Here I must mention my publisher, Unbound. Throughout the many difficulties, they have been marvellous. It cannot have been easy to see my book through its final stages and into production and distribution during this strangest of summers. But they did it, and I shall be forever thankful that my launch wasn’t postponed, as so many were. Thank you, Unbound.

Let’s also hear it for the independent bookshops. Times have been hard for them but they’ve been a great support. Getting on for forty, from Bristol to Edinburgh, Bridport to Hampstead currently stock Note to Boy, and the list grows weekly. It’s also listed by, the new ethical way to buy books online. Thank you, all. 

People seem to have fallen in love with books again. The upsurge in the popularity of reading has been wonderful to behold and some compensation for the restrictions we’ve been enduring. Readers have not only been tackling the classics like Austen and Orwell, and weighty tomes like Tolstoy, Hugo and Dickens, but also turning to comedy, as we often do in times of stress.

Great to see comedic works such as Cold Comfort Farm, the Adrian Mole and Bridget Jones series, Nick Hornby and Nina Stibbe books and, of course, Richard Osman’s cosy crime debut, all enjoying success. Let’s hope humorous writing will get the industry recognition it deserves from now on.  

With time on their hands people have been writing too, turning the pandemic into a PENdemic. See what I did? Aside from hastily written celebrity books, there are bound to be some gems. I’m looking forward to reading some stimulating lockdown literature during the coming year. 

Another plus is, through necessity, I’m verging on becoming competent in various videoconferencing systems. If you want to be frozen just as you come to the punchline of a joke, or muted when you have something fascinating to add to the discussion, I’m your woman! 

Talking of which, the Note to Boy virtual book launch in July attracted more than fifty people and reached friends and supporters as far afield as the USA, Italy and Chipping Sodbury. A similar number signed up for an author talk I gave in early December to the Kensington, Chelsea and Westminster libraries, with one participant joining in from Riyadh. The international reach of virtual events is another big positive. I’m planning more for 2021. Thank you to those who work so hard to make them happen.

That’s it. I’ve run out of positives except to say, it’s been a funny old year and it’ll be a funny old Christmas but we keep on smiling, reading and writing. Merry Christmas to you all. 2021 will be better. Won’t it? Cheers. 




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Some good news (for a change)

Writers have a dilemma when it comes to the big online retailers (you know who you are!). On the one hand we want to support independent bookshops; on the other, the e-behemoths are so dominant, we need them if we want to get our books in front of as many readers as possible.

A solution may be on hand., launched in the UK this very day, is on a mission to support the indies by offering an alternative way to buy books online. It’s being described as a ‘revolutionary moment in the history of bookselling’.

Independent bookshops are marvellous things to be cherished. There, often housed in quaint old buildings, you’ll find people who, like you, love books and are ready and willing to answer questions and offer reading suggestions. Visiting an indie is in every way a much richer experience than clicking a ‘buy-now’ button. They are a vital part of our culture and the beating heart of many a town centre.

In these difficult times, it’s more important than ever to champion local bookshops. Even though up and down the land they are now having to close their doors for at least a month, you can still help them by visiting, the online bookstore that financially supports local independent bookstores and gives back to the book community.

Taking on the giants of e-retailing is a tall order. Whether has the clout to make a difference, we’ll just have to wait and see. 



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