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May 6, 2022

6 May 2022

On my own again. In 2014, my brother Arnold joined me here in the UK to run Holland Park Press. During this time, we organised so many events and other activities to promote our books. We also published wonderful books by authors who are making an essential contribution to literature.

We had plenty of critical acclaim but sadly not yet enough commercial success. I think we are a rather special phenomenon: a literary publisher not compromising on quality but at the same time very keen on being commercially successful.

Did this scupper our recent Arts Council Bid? We’ll never know, but I think giving older authors a chance to get published, as we do, is a very noble cause, and I’m determined to keep going and make Holland Park Press successful.

You, readers out there, are essential to make this happen, please support #SavedByOneBook by buying a book from our website.

Anther way to support us is by making a donation. Thank you very much!

This is the last entry in this series of the diary. Now Arnold and I are working from different countries I will start a new one tomorrow.

I leave you with a picture of the three of us, hopefully not together for the last time.

4 & 5 May 2022

In the Netherlands 4 and 5 May are momentous days: remembrance day for those fallen during the wars and liberation day respectively.

How appropriate that just during these days my brother Arnold and I had to make one of the most important decisions of our lives: in order have a chance to keep the company running Arnold is going back to the Netherlands.

Our double act continues but we’re no longer no longer in the same picture. Even worse, Harry is probably having to go with Arnold because I can’t hold him  when he pulls on the lead. I will miss them both dreadfully.

Harry will be here for 4 more weeks until his rabies vaccine is active and his health certificate is issued. Due to new rules introduced after Brexit, Harry can at least stay a bit longer.

Arnold is off tomorrow evening (6th) and I’m, for he moment, lodging with a lovely lady called Catherine.

It have been some very emotional days, we even managed to run the car over Harry’s water bowl which is now crumpled. It was somehow symbolic of our situation and made Arnold bust out in tears.

I now need to try to sell as many books as I can while still being based in lovely Malmesbury. I hope you can help me to be #SavedByOneBook.

This weekend, I won’t be able to run the bookstall at Shambles Market in Stroud because with Arnold our twenty-year-old Ford Fiesta is gone as well. I’m trying to  put a new transport system in place for the market next week.

3 May 2022 – 3

It’s come to this: we’re sleeping in the car tonight after a day of not making much progress on the housing front. Arnold and I had a long discussion and if nothing turns up we decided that it is better to split up, at least temporarily, until we are on a more secure footing.

After 50 years waiting for a dog  and 5 years with Harry it’s going to be very hard to be parted from him.

Catherine, the lady who offered a spare room, is away on an important matter, but hopefully we can meet up on Friday.

On a good note, we managed to post the orders that came in over the bank holiday.

Even though we sleep in the car, we are still together, and enjoying a quick drink. You can just about see Harry’s snout peep out from behind the front bench.

3 May 2022 – 2

Long shots spectacularly unsuccessful. And do Arnold and Harry have to go back to the Netherlands? We have just booked Harry in for a rabies vaccination for tomorrow. More news as we live it.

3 May 2022 – 1

Today, 3 May, we are going to give it two very long shots, and I will keep you posted.

Books ordered via our website has increased somewhat but we need much more activity. Tell all your friends to support #SavedByOneBook. Otherwise, I will be left quite alone out in the fields.

2 May 2022 -2

We’re sleeping in a bed tonight but need to make decisions and take serious action in the coming days. We’re determined to keep the press going but it is taking its toll as you can see from these pictures.

On a happy note, one of our national media contacts wants to speak to us tomorrow, hopefully this will set things in motion. We live in hope and believe in #SavedByOneBook.

2 May 2022 – 1

We’ve checked out of our room on the farm and the car is chock-a-block with essential items to survive on the road including the Holland Park Press books.

We don’t know where we will end up tonight but we’re thinking very hard out of the box.

If you know of someone who would appreciate having a small literary publisher in residence complete with author and black lab Harry, please contact me: 07792611929 or bernadette@hollandparkpress.co.uk.

1 May 2022

It’s International Workers’ Day. Well, that’s very appropriate because we were hard at work to keep us and the press going, even though it is also a Sunday.

An added complication, if we haven’t enough of those, is that the internet connection on the farm we’re staying is intermittent. Well, I’m being generous, when I see the message ‘no internet secured’ a lot. So today we went in search of WiFi, in a location suitable for getting some work done.

Strangely enough we found it in the Rose & Crown, a pub not serving Sunday roast, so quiet, and it was also the local of our good late friend Gavin. We put together a good plan of action for tomorrow, thanks Gavin.

Because tomorrow, 2 May, is D-Day, we have to leave our room on the farm and have no idea where we will sleep tomorrow.

Then, this afternoon, I got a phone call from the remarkable Catherine, saying we could stay in her house, even though she has only one spare room. I think this would only work for a couple of days to put in place a more permanent solution, but it’s extremely generous.

So, tomorrow, we’re out on the road, to find a way to afford a roof over our heads and keep the press going.

I’ve put all I have into it, now we need to be #SavedByOneBook on #WorkersDay

30 April 2022

It was a good day on Shambles Market, that’s a relief because selling our books is what matters most.

We also had an offer of temporary accommodation, much appreciated but they couldn’t take in Harry our black lab, so it was a no go.

We have to leave our room on the farm on Monday, 2 May, so as well as selling books, I spent quite some a bit of time looking for a new place to live, as well as attending to essential company business.

Thanks to modern technology I can run a pop-up business from anywhere, and that makes all the difference.

If you fancy the idea of a literary press in residence, contact me forthwith, if not, just tell all your friends to buy one of our books, because we can be #SavedByOneBook.

29 April 2022

Today on the Shambles Market was unexpectedly eventful. I wish it was because we sold a lot of books rather than black lab Harry getting all excited about a girl dog  in season who lives with drunks in the park outside. Poor Harry (he still has all his bits) did nothing but barking and yelping.

But the other good news is that the film producer definitely wants an option on the film and TV right for one of our novels. I expect the contract to arrive at the end of next week. More details when it is signed.

Back in our spartan room we were prepared to eat our evening meal cold when around 7pm there was a knock on the door. Farmer Richard came with a bit of good and bad news: a microwave! We could heat up our food. However, we can stay for an extra night in our free room but have to leave on Monday. There we go again on the road with the prospect of having to sleep in the car.

I leave you with a picture of Arnold and Harry expecting rough times.

28 April 2022

We’re still on the farm! For the next two days we are sleeping in a rather spartan room. It has a bathroom ensuite without hot water and a shower without walls. A kitchen without any cooking facilities though we have been promised a microwave. But I don’t mind because most importantly we don’t have to pay for it.

Yesterday we ran into an acquaintance on the High Street in Malmesbury. We explained our situation and today Sion sent us two promising suggestions of where to find affordable accommodation. I will keep you posted.

It all means we will be able to run the bookstall tomorrow and on Saturday at the Shambles Market in Stroud. I’m looking forward to it.

In the midst of it all, I’m negotiating with a major film and TV producer about the rights to turn one of our excellent novels in a film or TV mini-series. Of this too I will report on progress.

On the way to our new room, we pass a vast amount of interesting looking pieces of stone. I’m reliably informed that they are the building blocks for a Spanish castle. Apparently, the uncle of our hostess has plans to rebuild it here in Malmesbury.

It’s quite exhausting having to live the roller-coaster film of your own life but I’m determined to keep going. Keep buying our books #SavedByOneBook

27 April 2022

Our last day at the farm, or is it? I just heard from Richard who runs the farm with Klaudia, that there might be a chance we can stay on for a couple of days. We will know more tomorrow morning and are keeping our fingers crossed.

I’ve been very busy emailing people to drum up publicity for our plight of keep a small press running and being homeless while discussing the rights for one of our novels with one of the major film producers.
Do tell all your friends to buy one of our books because that really helps.

#SavedByOneBook

26 April 2022

Today, 24 years ago, my father died, unexpectedly, he was a very good man, and I wish he was here to support us.

It’s going to be crunch time: we don’t have a place t0 stay lined up, but the day after tomorrow, we have to move out of our airbnb.

Who needs a bucket list when you’re living through such a surreal experience: being homeless and also getting a proposal for the rights from a well-known film and TV producer for one of our books.

If you like great literature, you can support us by buying on of our lovely books.

Arnold and I in happier times

25 April 2022

Harry, our wonderful black Labrador, was born on this day five years ago. We first saw him when he was a 4 weeks’ old pub. I took him to my heart because he came out, ate some of his kibble, did a poo and a wee, showing us he was in full working order. He has been ever since and brings us so much happiness.

We’re currently staying in an Airbnb on a lovely farm near Hankerton. It sounds great, but it was only made possible by donations of good friends and on Thursday we have to move out and we’re going to be truly homeless.

Yet today, for the first time, we spotted the lovely 12th century church in Hankerton. When we parked outside, the gentleman who lived next door and had the key asked us if we wanted to have a look inside. We did and it was such a lovely experience, just what we needed in our current troubles.

Otherwise, I’ve been very busy generating more support, to keep the press going. It’s very critical, I don’t know where I’m going to sleep on Thursday 28 April, but I do know which new books I want to publish so I need your help to achieve this, support #SavedByOneBook and order a book from our website.

24 April 2022

It was a Sunday today, expected to be quiet, but it gave us time to plot our next move. If we’re going to survive, we need more help. It’s looking increasingly desperate, but there is still hope.

I owe to our authors and the people who have supported us to keep going but we need people to buy books from our website to make this happen. So, tell all your friends to support #SavedByOneBook

In the meantime, I put my trust in Mary, the Mother of God.

Sadly, this statue, which has been with me since the late seventies, is now also into, hopefully not permanent, storage.

23 April 2022

Today, we had quite an interesting set of customers on Shambles Market. First off, we sold a copy of Yugoslav Requiem to a girl from Sarajevo, you can’t make this up because Girls of Sarajevo is one of the poems in this collection, read it here.

Besides this, Arnold signed two more of his books we sold, and we met quite a few memorable people. That’s what I like about markets, it’s such a great place for making new contacts.

I want to continue promoting our great list, but after investing all I’ve had and earned, I now need an investor or partner to rescue me, my brother, and our dog. Because we need a roof over our heads and some financial backing otherwise I’ll have to close our list which has so much potential, and has now even attracted the interest of a major TV & film producer who called me himself from New York.

Until Thursday, we are in the Airbnb on a farm and until this time, I’m trying to take comfort from looking out onto the paddocks and woods from our window.

22 April 2022

It was quite a good day at the Shambles Market today, but we need more sales to survive.

Still, it was good to meet readers, and one of our regulars, a 96-year-old lady, told us her son in law, also a poet, enjoyed reading Arnold’s The Refrain of Other People’s Lives, she had bought for him recently.
A couple of weeks ago, one of the stallholders in Stroud took this lovely picture of Arnold and dog Harry, very characteristic of both.

photo by Steve Hurrell

We also received some loving reactions from friends who support us in our fight to save the company.

Yesterday, within minutes of receiving the rejection of our ACE bid, I also got a phone call of one of the UK’s major film and TV producers, expressing interest in buying the film/TV rights of one of our books. That’s what we’ve been waiting for and now it arrives maybe too late.

Why? Because we need a roof over our heads and because of there being no ACE grant we need a partner to keep us going.

Good literature needs to be published, and we need your help to continue to do this. Thanks for supporting #SavedByOneBook

21 April 2022

April is the cruellest month according to TS Eliot. I couldn’t agree more: both my parents died in April and today we found out that our bid for an Arts Council England grant has been unsuccessful. So, we’ll have to put our thinking caps on to see how we can get out of this new pickle.

All I want to do is publish great literature and promote our authors’ books. Is this too much to ask?

I will have to find a new way to survive but I’m determined. Tomorrow and on Saturday we’re running the bookstall at the Shambles Market in Stroud. I, my brother Arnold and dog Harry, will be there. If you’re in the neighbourhood, come along to buy a book, otherwise you can buy one 24/7 from our website, print & ebooks.

Today, being able to walk the dog made me happy. A break for Arnold to smoke a cigar and I’m wearing my reading glasses to check up on my email messages and other developments.

This was before the bad news which made me think of that other day less than two weeks ago, when I  thought I had to sleep in the car.

20 April 2022

It was quite a quiet day today, and that’s not what we need. When you’re in emergency accommodation sponsored by friends, albeit on a lovely farm, but essentially living out of a suitcase, you want to see progress. It didn’t happen today.

So, no breakthrough on our housing situation, yet there must be people out there in need of someone to look after a building, walk the dogs, run a shop, provide help with chores, in return for very basic accommodation. In addition of having the kudos of having a publishing press in residence.

Just two weeks to go until we find out of our bid for an ACE grant has been successful. We live in hope!

Support our wonderful authors by buying one of their books. #SavedByOneBook

19 April 2022

Carpe diem, that’s what keeps us going, and today there were glimmers of hope. We received a lovely donation from a Dutch author. She attended one of my brother’s creative writing courses and is now published by a renowned Dutch publishing company.

Unexpected, but much appreciated, and it buys us vital time to keep going until we know the outcome of our bid for an ACE grant.

We also met up with a great lady, a stalwart of the community, who understands our plight, and is actively on our case regarding our lack of a roof over our heads.

We can’t afford to give in now, not we at least with two smashing two new books on the horizon: The Past is a Dangerous Driver by Neal Mason & A Diamond in the Dust by Michael Dean. Available to pre-order now.

From our very temporary accommodation until Thursday, an airbnb donated by friends, we, my brother Arnold, I and dog Harry, salute you & encourage you to buy one of our books & support #SavedByOneBook.

18 April 2022

Running a small literary publishing company is a vocation, you are compelled to do it, even though you know it won’t make you rich.

However, it gives you many other rewards: giving deserving authors a chance to be published and making a lasting contribution to humanity. Literature is one of the things we leave behind for future generations. That’s what matters to me even though it causes me hardship. Because, being homeless is no small matter.

But even in very trying situations you have to be grateful that you are alive. Harry our dog is a constant source of unconditional love and it keeps us going. Thanks to him (taking him out for a walk) we found ourselves surrounded by bluebells.

Looking for a great novel, short story collection or poetry, check out our list, with you buying plenty of our books we can add to our list and give many more mature authors a chance to get published.

#SavedByOneBook  It’s essential, because on Thursday we’re homeless yet again.

17 April 2022

Happy Easter! Traditionally a day of hope, and that’s exactly what we need to hang on to now. We have so many good plans and lovely books are lined up to be published.

After all I’ve put into the company, I’m not going to give up now. Besides, I owe it to my authors and the people who have supported us to keep going.

Why not have a publishing company in residence? A good way of generating good publicity and we’ve have been quite successfully at making this happen recently.

We, publisher, ex scientist, and author, ex Dutch Grenadier Guards Officer, plus black Lab are urgently (no home on Thursday) in need of a cheap place to live and are very happy to contribute in kind, looking after a building, running a shop, walking the dogs, etc.

Thanks very much to all of you who have already supported us!

This isn’t a painting but the view out of our window from the emergency Airbnb on a farm (move out Thursday), money kindly donated by some wonderful friends. It’s run by a very friendly couple, who work extremely hard and are both extremely good looking, and so is the view.

16 April 2022

We had a good market, which really makes a difference. My brother Arnold and dog Harry also stayed with me today, a first, and I hope we can repeat this many times. I love @ShamblesMarket, it’s been very good for business.

More promising developments today: our #SavedByOneBook campaign got several boosts. Support, a donation, and help with finding new and affordable home. I’m so grateful for this during  Holy Week, and it makes it possible to continue publishing great literature and give mature authors a chance to get published.

Due to help from good friends and loyal customers we’re still in business and we’re working very hard to make it a great success. So, please buy one or more of our books for yourself or to surprise a friend with a great gift.

15 April 2022

Today is Good Friday, for me personally, an important day in the year. On this special day, I would have liked to bring you some progress of our lack of housing situation but that’s not to be.

Life is incredible tough if you’re technically homeless albeit not as tough as for the person who died on the cross out of love for us 2000 years ago.

Tomorrow I’m at the @ShamblesMarket in #Stroud again, doing what I love best: selling our wonderful books. Hopefully not for the last time. Do come along if you, like me, think important new literary books deserve to be published.

We’re fighting for our authors and our life, everything helps, thank you for supporting #SavedByOneBook!

14 April 2022

Our home for a week is on a real working farm with horses, cows, sheep and rather beautiful chickens. We have bought some time to celebrate Good Friday and Easter and more opportunity to secure a home we can afford.

Literature loving people out there please consider the novelty and kudos of having  your own publisher, author & dog in residence. I and my brother are very happy to put in the work: house sitting, caretaking, providing security, walking the dogs, that sort of thing.

In the meantime, we can continue promoting our books and at least one of us is very happy. At long last Harry, our black lab, has a basket with a view.

13 April 2022

We managed to find an affordable self-contained airbnb today for a week because some good friends helped us out. It buys us some crucial extra time to find a more permanent solution because we are determined to continue publishing wonderful books.

By now, I have lived most of my life in the UK, it is my home. The first time I visited the UK, a trip to London and a present from my godmother, to celebrate getting my high school diploma, I vowed to go and live in the UK because it felt I had come home.

Now, I’m in trouble, but strangely these are also quite exciting times, and we may well have to leave Malmesbury in order to survive. So, today it felt like a goodbye and I leave you with these lovely views from the terrace of the King’s Arms in Malmesbury, one by night and one by day, in the latter you just can spot, in he middle of the top half of the picture, the house we lived in for the past five months.

12 April 2022

We’ve moved out of our home of the past five months and thanks to support of friends we’re not sleeping in our car but staying in a hotel in Malmesbury for, hopefully, two days. This gives us a bit of time to plan our next move with the aim to keep running the company and publish the wonderful new books we’ve lined up.

I can’t stress it enough:

We are very flexible, all our possessions are in storage, we’re willing to move to any part of England (has to be England because of our bid for an ACE grant), housing can be very basic and we are very happy to contribute in kind: house sitting, caretaking, providing security, etc.

It’s holy week and so it’s quite fitting that I continue to be surprised by the kindness of friends and the quite surreal happenings this week.

Now all our belongings are into storage, the things that are still with me take on a special meaning, my mother’s toileteries bag, a few (one pictured) hats, and my trusted handbag. It helps me to soldier on.

11 April 2022

Today we’ve been very busy taking our remaining belongings into storage, so that we are vey flexible moving into a new place to live. Not that anything affordable is forthcoming just yet, which is very worrying.

Taking things things into storage turned out a much larger task than anticipated, partly due to the fact we don’t have the funds to hire a van and so our twenty-year-old fiesta had to be driven back and forth, as well as the fact that, physically, I’m quite decrepit these days.

Just when it looked as if we had to spend the night in our car, we managed to persuade the lady who puts us up for these five past month, to spend one more night in her house. Thank you once more.

Whatever happens, come on someone must be interested to have a literary publishing company in residence, in return for care taking duties, it looks as if I will be living out of these three bags for the next couple of weeks. Getting the ACE grant in May is make or break.

And what about our beloved Harry? He loves his two big baskets (our beds) and will miss them enormously, see picture below. He knows something is up and has even gone off his food, this is quite serious when you are a Labrador.

But we determined to keep the press going and today we received a lovely quote from Ian McMillan for a The Past Is a Dangerous Driver by Neal Mason we plan to publish this autumn. Check it out or even better pre-order a book.

10 April 2022

Sad news today: Jacob, Laura Del-Rivo’s son, phoned to tell me his mother had died on 30 March. The world will be a much duller place without her wonderful knack of making us see life from a different angle.

I’m proud to have published her short story collection Where is My  Mask of an Honest Man? and her swansong short story ‘Bird and Words’. She actually came to visit us shortly after we had moved to Malmesbury. We had a wonderful time showing her around town. She very much enjoyed it.

My brother and I, too, have been very happy living in Malmesbury but money has run out so we have to move. Tomorrow we will by very busy to packing our last remaining belongings and putting them into storage.

We don’t yet have a have secured a place to live in come tomorrow. Wish us luck, we, my brother and I, are doing everything we can to keep Holland Park Press going. You can support us by buying a book from our website or by putting in a donation.

9 April 2022

Today, it was quite busy on the Shambles Market and we did better than last week but, in these uncertain times, sales are still a bit underperforming. You can help us a lot by buying from this page.

Apart from doing a wonderful reading at the London Book Fair, (see link in yesterday’s entry) today Arnold moved three of our four remaining pieces of furniture (there’re pictured in the 7 Apr entry) into storage and put my clothes bags towards the front of our sea container, which makes it easier to switch between winter to summer wear.

Tomorrow, I will go through the last of my personal possession to consign more items to go into storage in preparation for being homeless on Monday. No news on the housing situation but several friends are on the look out.

Help us to close down our storage space by supporting #SavedByOneBook: if you all buy one book and tell all your friends to so too, we can continue to publish exciting literature by wonderful authors.

8 April 2022

Today was another day at Shambles Market in Stroud. They play lovely vintage music and Ron, who runs it, is very laid-back, and in our current unsettling circumstances it’s remarkable therapeutic.

One of the stallholders, after inquiring how we are getting on with finding new accommodation, got so concerned about hearing about us having to move out by Monday (11 April), that she immediately contacted a friend who had told her about being concerned her mother’s old home being empty.

It turned out that the place is currently uninhabitable, and that’s too basic, even for us. But, yet again, I was impressed by an acquaintance unexpected compassion.

Having said that, we are very flexible, all our possessions are in storage, we’re willing to move to any part of England (has to be England because of our bid for an ACE grant), housing can be very basic and we are very happy to contribute in kind: house sitting, caretaking, providing security, etc.

It really made our day to find out that a lady from Happy London Press had put the audio recording she made of Arnold’s reading at the London Book Fair on the web. Enjoy!

7 April 2022

Only 4 days before we are homeless, but Arnold had a very successful reading at the London Book Fair today. The audience substantially increased during his performance and there was a massive applause at the end. Plus a lovely photo to mark the occasion.

The housing situation is still dire, so this weekend the four main pieces of furniture that are still with us are also going into storage. Do check out our video.

6 April 2022

Only 5 days to go before we are homeless, but I’m willing to risk it to keep the company going. It’s frightening and exciting at the same time but it’s toward a good course: to promote our authors and their wonderful books.

If you are at the London Book Fair tomorrow (7 April) you’re in for a treat because, at 2pm in the Poetry Collective/Poets’ Corner (stand no 2A106), my brother Arnold will take you on a whirlwind tour of 100 years of Dutch-language poetry in his own inimitable way, not to be missed!

I’ve been very busy drumming up support for finding a very basic roof over our heads. Our dog Harry needs nothing at all, he just wants to be near us. I and my brother are very happy to put in the work: house sitting, caretaking, providing security, walking the dogs, that sort of thing. Think about having the novelty and kudos of having  your own publisher, author & dog in residence.

Otherwise, you do really help us by buying a book from our website. Thank you very much for supporting #SavedByOneBook.

5 April 2022

Only 6 days to go before we are homeless, but we are determined to keep the company going. Today, my brother finalised his reading for the Poetry Corner at the London Book Fair. A great introduction to remarkable poems written in Dutch with a few poetic pearls of wisdom thrown in. Don’t miss it: 7 April at 2pm, Poetry Collective/Poets’ Corner stand no 2A106.

No new place to live has materialised yet, even though we’re looking for something very basic and are happy to help out with the chores. I do very much hope we do not have to put ourselves (and this includes dog Harry) into permanent storage in this sea container we rent for our possessions. So support #SavedByOneBook.

4 April 2022

Only seven days to go before I, my brother, and dog Harry are truly homeless. Frightening but also exciting because we fighting for the survival of Holland Park Press, our authors and their wonderful books, but also for our own future.

Where will we be on Monday 11 April? We’re working very hard towards a solution and quite a few friends are helping us but, so far, nothing has materialised yet, so that’s why we recorded this video this morning. In front of the sea container in which all our possessions, apart from our books, are stored.

I have faith and believe in people, that’s why we launched #SavedByOneBook. It doesn’t take much to support our wonderful authors and their books.

3 April 2022

Only eight days to go before we and dog Harry are not only technical but also genuinely homeless.

Today we passed a traditional gypsy wagon, complete with several extra horses in tow, lead by a happy man enjoying his drink. Well, he, too, is actually homeless but surviving nonetheless, so there is still hope.

Maybe we should take a leaf out of one of Norbert Hirschhorn’s books and start singing Yiddish folksong. As one of the reviewer’s put it:

‘It is Hirschhorn’s own re-imaginings that speak most deeply to me, as a Gentile, of the power of song and poetry to address unspeakable hardship.’ 

Maybe, you and I don’t have unspeakable hardship but, today and every day, many people are in this situation, and we can only admire their determination to continue going on living.

Literary fiction and poetry bear witness to all this, and it’s what will remain of us. That’s why I’ve invested all my worldly goods in it.

So, I encourage you to check out our books and support #SavedByOneBook. I have no favourite, people often ask me, but in light of today’s post I highlight To Sing Away the Darkest Days.

To Sing Away the Darkest Days

2 April 2022

April is the cruelest month according to the opening line of TS Eliot’s The Waste Land. I very sincerely hope this is not the case.

Though, it looks like that at the moment, both our parents died in April and we’re facing our own deadline.

11 April is not very far away, and that’s when we have to have left our present bed sitting rooms. We’ve been very busy with finding a new affordable home and are looking at all available options. I’m very grateful that quite a few friends have pledge their support and are also on the case, but nothing has materialised just yet.

On a positive, 132 years ago today my grandmother was born, she was a real Victorian lady. I wore one of her hats today at the Shambles market in Stroud and sales were better, so hopefully this is a sign of things picking up.

We don’t want to resort to putting more things into storage, apart from my father’s desk, there is also the cabinet containing essential mementos of our parents. It’s still with us in our very temporary accommodation and we want to take it with us when we move.

1 April 2022

Sales wise March was disappointing, and I had such high hopes, I wish it was a 1 April joke, but unfortunately it isn’t.

Why are people not buying? Is it concerns about the awful carnage in Ukraine? Worries about petrol and general energy prizes? I can understand that, but that’s when you need a bit of diversion, and nothing works better than a good read which takes you away from it all.

Our website is full of books that will cheer you up. You can also visit our roving bookstall in Stroud. I will be there and glad to meet you from 9am until 3pm tomorrow.

In the meantime, I hope to have a roof over my head after we have to move out of our current accommodation on 11 April. Wish us luck and help us to survive.

31 March 2022

It’s the last day of March, and so only 11 days to go before we have to vacate our two bed sitting rooms. We haven’t yet found a new place to live, it’s a challenge but also puts everything into focus.

We have been on the move in the past couple of years, but there has been one constant presence: my father’s desk.

My parents bought it when they married in 1951. When my mother moved from our big family home into a lovely apartment in 2001, actually on 9/11, I’m not making this up, the desk was despatched to me in London.

I’ve been running the company from it since we started in 2009. I hope I can continue to do so, but it’s all  up in the air at the moment.

But you can help us to keep going. How? By buying a book  from our website or by supporting  #SavedByOneBook. Thank you!

30 March 2022

Even before we had breakfast today, my brother took a call from a concerned friend who wanted to find out more about how things are going. Well, we’re still here, but matters are on a knife-edge.

There was also some good news, a donation from one of my brother’s fellow red berets, totally unexpected but another lifesaver.

Our 11 of April moving out date is looming ever larger, so we’re very busy putting out appeals for help. Someone, somewhere, will hopefully recognise the appeal of having an award winning publishing house in residence, complete with author and remarkable dog also on the premises.

Do check out our books, and if you like what you see, please tell all your friends.

Our future is in your hands and with the divine powers. It’s therefore quite appropriate that our moving out date is also the start of Holy Week.

29 March 2022

I love to devote all my energy to finding great new manuscripts and authors to publish. That and to sell and market our wonderful books.

But from time to time the mundane interferes, as it did today. From 1 April, no joke, and only two days away, VAT returns have to be compatible with Making Tax Digital (MTD), don’t ask, but it triggered an appointment with our new accountant today.

It went all very well, and I think I know what I am doing. That’s another thing sorted.

Now, to the meaty stuff: what are we going to do after 11 April? The answer is I don’t know. A new roof over our heads has yet to materialise. Maybe I have to put myself into storage but I live in hope.

To get us out of this pickle, because we don’t want empty spreadsheets and require an overflowing order book, we need to sell more books. That’s where you come in: buy now from our website and support #SavedByOneBook. Thank you!

28 March 2022

Being a publisher, you’re always on the look out for the next great book. It is one of the joys of this job to ‘have to read’ manuscripts that are sent in.

Finding great new authors is challenging but promoting and selling books is even more daunting. Actually, I love it, because our books are quite exceptional, and it’s not me who is saying this, see the entry of 26 March.

With the current uncertainties, a war in Ukraine, rising energy costs, interest rates going up, and lots of charity appeals in need of your hard earned cash, trying to sell books becomes an even more daunting task.

But, do you need some diversion, want to put things in perspective? Than good literature can make a difference. Eighteen percent of our books have been nominated for prizes and quite a few are written by more mature authors, several are first time authors and all our books have  received many excellent reviews.

I’m risking everything for these books, and will be homeless on 11 April. I hope this will trigger you to buy one of our novels, poetry or short story collections. I can vouch for them, I’ve read them all more than once. And by buying our books you also contribute to our authors earnings and rescue a publisher, her author brother and black lab Harry who is always hungry.

Buy now from our website and support #SavedByOneBook. Thank you!

27 March 2022

We lost a precious hour today because we switched to British summer time but on the bright side days are getting longer and the sun is at its most powerful as far as my skin is concerned.

More developments on new books: we added some lovely excerpts for the two books we have signed up so far:

Derelict Classroom: ‘The wilderness encroaches, unaware/ of culture, geography or names.’ from the Past is a Dangerous Driver

&

Chapter 18 – Bliss!: ‘He glanced at her, then blew his cheeks out with relief. She was shorter than him.’ from A Diamond in the Dust a novel about Charles I.

Housing situation update: we’re still homeless on 11 April. Virtually everything is in storage so we can move at very short notice and only require basic accommodation and are happy to contribute towards rent in-kind.

We just took two pieces of furniture to our current shared rooms: my father’s fifties desk and an antique bed step, the latter was completely accidental, we simply forgot to pack it but it’s come in very handy.

26 March 2022

This Saturday in Stroud was a bit disappointing though when I came home, I found this message in my inbox:

I wanted to email to say a huge thank you for publishing such a delightful book. I purchased 100 Dutch Language Poems from you this morning at Stroud Market. The recipients were absolutely blown away by it, and had no idea such a delightful collection existed.

It made my day, but we need more booklovers to endorse #SavedByOneBook.

We also received a very supportive email from one of my brother’s former army colleagues, a three star general, now retired. He’s really concerned about our housing situation and wants to help.

That was wonderful, because 16 days from today, we have to have left our current shared accommodation and a new roof over our heads has yet to materialise.

My brother and I are more than happy to work for an affordable home, we can look after a building, walk the dogs, cut the grass, help you out, anything as long as we can continue to run Holland Park Press. Our authors deserve it.

So we have to move, and I feel it’s in the hands of the almighty, although as my mother always said, ‘you have to encourage his grace.’ So, that’s why I want to share this picture of my crib cross which indeed hung above my crib and still hangs above my bed until this day.

25 March 2022

Today, started as most Fridays do: getting up early to set up our bookstall for two days trading at he Shambles Market in Stroud.

Except today was different: halfway through the day I had to abandon the stall to attend a dear former neighbour and friend’s funeral. He came to the rescue when my computer broke down by ordering a new one on Amazon and then delivering it to us when he could barely walk.

He was brave and a decidedly ‘glass half full’ man. Initially we said goodbye to him at a crematorium, I think that’s always a very dispiriting location, however well the event is put together, and it was, I was particularly impressed by his 15-year-old daughter poignant short speech.

However, we were then invited to celebrate Gavin’s life at the Rose and Crown where he was one of the regulars. This really did him proud and we even ran into our old landlord with his wife and daughter. They have been so supportive and now we could, unexpectedly, thank them in person.

We also received an unexpected donation this evening. Thank you very much to all our sponsors! Don’t forget you also help us a lot by buying one of our books.

Back to Gavin, he loved vintage scooters, so his funeral cortege was accompanied by a number of scooters  who revved their motors when the coffin was carried inside. It was a most poignant moment.

In tribute to Gavin I donned by ‘bikers jacket’ and a vintage (sixties) hat.

24 March 2022

We made progress today:

We found someone to video Arnold’s reading at the London Book Fair. Be pleasantly surprised, poetry can be very exciting & you’re invited!

I’ve been asking people for a quote to put on the back covers of our two new books. So far, Fiona Sampson and Ian McMillan asked for a PDF of The Past Is a Dangerous Driver by Neal Mason. You can pre-order it now.

Our housing situation is growing more alarming, so please read this appeal:

Sister, 64, publisher, brother, 59, ex-army officer now author & black lab Harry, nearly 5, are looking for basic accommodation. Happy to perform caretaking duties in lieu of rent. All suggestions welcome. Contact: bernadette@hollandparkpress.co.uk, 07792611929

We come without any baggage even Caroline, a gift from my godmother for my sixth birthday, is in storage. She used to sit in my old study. All very much missed.

23 March 2022

Actually, I forgot to mention in yesterday’s entry that my brother also received a lovely parcel full of cigars and Dutch liquorice. I love liquorice but can do without for a bit, but Arnold needs his cigars to write, so they are crucial. A great thank you to several Dutch friends who came to the cigar rescue.

The housing situation is still critical. Today, a very good friend offered us accommodation above the museum she runs in the Netherlands. So lovely and very kind, but in order to run the company we need to be here, quite apart from the fact that England is where I belong. That’s been the case since I first set foot on this island in 1976, during a visit which was a present of my godmother, I felt I had come home. Though it was not until January 1983 when I came to live her. How? That’s another story.

Back to publishing. I’ve been busy contacting people who could provide quotes for our two new books. Hopefully we will get some nice recommendations for the back covers.

Do check out our two new titles, you can pre-order them now:

The Past Is a Dangerous Driver, a new poetry collection by Neal Mason, about how general and personal history impacts the present.

A Diamond in the Dust, a new historical novel by Michael Dean, putting a new perspective on the much maligned monarch Charles I.

22 March 2022

It’s a lovely date today: 22/03/22, It’s of no consequence but cheers me up.

We had some very good news today. Our 20-year-old Ford Fiesta passed its MOT! A big thank you for Chris and his team at Hyams who have been looking after our car during the past five years. We love our local garage and they stand together with Ukraine.

It was a lovely spring day, this really makes a difference, especially as the spring sun is the only sun that has a chance to improve my ailing skin. No sunblock for me, sunbathing is a medically recognised cure for my particular skin disease, apart from the fact that sunshine is the ultimate source of vitamine D, and it makes you happy.

I’m in need of something uplifting, because the housing, or rather lack of housing, situation is looming extremely large.

Today I explained the issue to a very well-connected friend. She’s putting her feelers out and hopefully something, somewhere will turn up. We live in hope, much tested hope.

A couple of orders came in on our website today, that’s absolutely crucial. Orders through are website are the most profitable. So I very, very big thank you to everyone who ordered though our website and supported #SavedByOneBook!

21 March 2022

Today was another rollercoaster experience. First of all, my brother Arnold made more progress bringing his new, yet to be written, autobiographical novel to the attention of interested Dutch publishers.

Then, quite unexpectedly, we hit our target and a bit more in the crowdfunding campaign to keep our car going. A very big thank you to all who contributed.

Tomorrow it is going in for its MOT. We keep our fingers crossed and hope our twenty-year-old Ford will pass with a minimum of essential repairs. I will keep you posted.

The company’s annual accounts have been filed and another hurdle has been cleared. Our new local accountant has been very helpful, now I just have to digest his invoice, a bit less than expected but still a major upheaval in the state of our finances.

But we’re determined to keep going and I’m very excited about the two new titles I’ve signed up.

I’m worried though about the slow down in sales. I know things are tough; the devastating events in Ukraine, uncertainty, price rises, but isn’t this when you need a good book most: to take you away and put things in perspective?

We’re battling on, in search of new accommodation, it’s less than three weeks before we have to move out, but also snatching a moment in the glorious sunshine of spring, my favourite season.

20 March 2022

It was the first day of spring today. Buds are opening, days are now noticeably longer and everything springs back into life. Normally my favourite time of the year, but this year it feels quite different.

Not surprisingly, because three weeks from today we have to move out of our present bedsitting rooms. At the moment, we have absolutely nowhere to move into, except from putting up our tent.

Why am I even considering this? Because I owe it to our authors, readers and supporters to keep Holland Park Press going. We’re so close to being sustainable, and after having invested everything, savings, apartment, part of pension, you name it, I don’t want to throw it all away and claim benefits of any kind.

My brother and I are keen to give something back to the community in order for a roof over our heads and the opportunity to continue publishing great literature.

So that’s why we would like to become a literary publisher in residence in exchange of caretaking or security duties.  If this appeals to you, do get in touch soon: 07792611929 or bernadette@hollandparkpress.co.uk!

I leave you with a photo of a portrait of me in my springtime, it was drawn from life when I was three years old. It used to hang on the wall of my study but, as is the case for all of our things, it is now in storage.

19 March 2022

Today, I travelled to London to attend a book launch by a good friend. Caroline de Westenholz has written a book about her late husband’s life.

The occasion was something special and surreal, and full of very interesting characters, but you don’t expect anything less from a freiin.

It was a welcome distraction from our day to day worries, and quite strange to be in London after two years absence, especially as I’ve lived there for nearly thirty years. London appeared to be the same superficially, but at a deeper level I sense it has changed because of the pandemic.

This photo shows my brother and I (and dog not in the picture)  waiting for my train at Stroud’s lovely railway station after just having packed up our books at Shambles Market, Stroud

18 March 2022

Another day on the Shambles Market and it was a very slow one, market speak for: not many people buying. I think people are preoccupied with developments in Ukraine and how it will affect them. I understand but a book is a wonderful diversion of everyday life. Do try it!

I managed to sign off all the paperwork for the 2020-2021 accounts. Companies House gave me a three month’s extension and I found a good accountant here is Malmesbury. Finally, it seems it’s all sorted. That’s a relief, see my entry on 27 Feb, when I was still in despair. Now, I ‘just’ need to pay the bill, yet another worry.

Tomorrow will be quite something, as I’m going to be on the market during the day and attend book launch in central London during the evening. First time back in London in two years: wish me luck!

My overriding concern remains the same: will we have somewhere to live in three weeks’ time? Do consider this: if you like the idea of having a literary publisher in residence in exchange of caretaking or security duties, please get in touch: 07792611929 or bernadette@hollandparkpress.co.uk!

In the mean time I try to encourage my brother to relax in so far that’s possible. Dog Harry is always at ease that’s why he keeps us going.

17 March 2022

It’s St Patrick’s Day. I celebrated by going to mass in St Aldhelm’s our local church and coffee afterwards. Well, in the good Catholic tradition, it was just after 11 am when Irish coffee was served, but we have to honour the saints. They do give you the strength to carry on, especially the great Titus Brandsma.

Back to my beloved books. The Past Is a Dangerous Driver was sent off to a lovely person who’s happy to offer a quote. I hope to approach more people tomorrow.

Now, I’m working on getting A Diamond in the Dust ready as well. Like historical novels, and want to see the maligned Charles I in a different light, or learn something new about history? Then, do check out this book.

There have been some tentative green shoots about our housing situation but having to set up our tent is still on the horizon. Would you like the prestige of having a literary publisher in residence in exchange of caretaking or security duties? Get in touch! 07792611929 or bernadette@hollandparkpress.co.uk

16 March 2022

We’ve booked our car in for a MOT on Tuesday 22 March. So far, Arnold’s crowdfunding has raised £170, this means we can pay for the MOT and tax but repairs (we know we need some work done) and insurance still need to be covered. Many thanks to everyone who has donated so far. Our twenty-year-old car is essential to keep publishing and selling great literature. It still looks quite good but has it’s quirks.

I’ve been busy preparing our new poetry collection The Past Is a Dangerous Driver, so that it’s ready to be sent to people who can give quotes we can use on the back cover. It’s so great to work on a new publication again. You can really help us by pre-ordering Neal Mason’s exciting poetry collection.

With a working car and wonderful new books we can run successful markets and sell more books. That’s heartening, and you, too, can help enormously by buying directly from our website and make #SavedByOneBook a success. Thank you!

15 March 2022

My brother Arnold received some good news today. His on-off girlfriend did appreciate his poetic birthday card and another tin with Dutch cigars arrived today, to be or not to be with cigars makes all the difference.

Even better,  Dutch publishers are  showing an interest in his new novel which, with a contract in place, could lead to a bursary. We’re keeping our fingers crossed once more.

I’ve been promoting our two new titles: A Diamond in the Dust & The Past Is a Dangerous Driver which are extra special and with your help and funding we can publish them this autumn. We’re so agonising close to getting there, and I’m willing to risk everything.

Looking at the pictures coming in from Ukraine puts it all in perspective, people there have lost everything through no fault of their own, my perils are all of my own making in order to publish more literature that matters, but I’ve absolutely no regrets.

We are battling on because it’s worth every penny: encouraging understanding, celebrating humanity, preserving intellectual property and creating a more spiritual future.

14 March 2022

Everything seems to have grind to a halt somewhat. People seem to be holding their breath, not surprisingly when one country decides to invade another independent country, thereby putting us all on the brink of WWIII.

That’s why it’s important to champion the things that matter in life and will outlive us. Literature is one of these things and I’m proud to publish it. We have great plans but keep our fingers crossed for getting the essential funding.

Still, you have to appreciate being alive, and we snatched a few moments to enjoy a bit of spring sunshine, a first in 2022.

This was before our attention turned to our essential 20-year-old car. Without it we can’t go to markets and sell books but, before the end of the month, we need to pay tax, renew the insurance and get it through MOT, and we know it will need some repairs.

So, a new action is needed and you will hear from us. In the meantime, keep telling all your friends to buy our books, #SavedByOneBook, this really makes a difference.

There are things that really cheer you up. We bought our aging, very much second hand, car from our local garage located on the High Street. It’s good to see that they stand together with Ukraine.

13 March 2022

It was Sunday, so as usual I went to mass this morning. With all the trials and tribulations homing in on us, mass provides a moment of calm and puts it all into perspective.

There are green shoots, two of my brother’s poems are going to be published in one of the breaking the mould Dutch literary magazines. He’s delighted and has celebrated it with one of his recently arrived cigars.

I’m determined to keep developing our list, and I’ve added two new titles to our website today: A Diamond in the Dust & The Past Is a Dangerous Driver. Now we just need the funds to publish them.

You can help: by buying one of our books, persuade your friends to buy a book or donate, join #SavedByOneBook.

This will also help us to avoid becoming homeless. If you have a shop that’s need to be attended our a house that needs to be sitting, I, Arnold & Harry can help you out. We have to leave our current home before 11 April!

This doesn’t bother Harry, he’s happy as long as he is close to us.

12 March 2022

This weekend both days started very slow at the Shambles Market in Stroud, only to be saved by a last minute rush. Markets never fail to surprise you. If we, stallholders, could predict their behaviour we would only come out on good days and all become rich. That’s not how it works, you have to take the rough with the smooth.

There was a lovely surprise for my brother today, and hence for me. He’s been without cigars for days (the nearest supplier is in Bath & very expensive), this is grim because it interferes badly with his writing and makes him quite grumpy.

However two Dutch friends, not well off, but very well-meaning, send him supply of cigars which arrived today. Hooray! It certainly made my day.

Developments are afoot on other fronts, and I hope to report soon, but unfortunately not on the housing front. Having to put up our tent still cannot be ruled out.

Keep encouraging your friends and acquaintances to buy our books, support #SavedByOneBook.

Arnold anticipating England v Ireland in the rugby’s Six Nations tournament and what a match it was.

11 March 2022

Today got off to a somewhat better start. We managed to arrive at Shambles Market in good time to set up the bookstall.

First thing, I got an acknowledgement from The Arts Council England that they had received our bid for a grant. My newly found local accountant reported that he had received the information he needed from my previous accountant and was working on the figures.

That’s all good news, except funds from the former are still far from secured, we keep our fingers crossed, yet the latter has to be paid. Somehow, I will have to find the money.

That’s why I’m using all hours in the day. Fridays are usually quite quiet in Stroud but today was better than average. Except from a pigeon that seemed to take an extreme liking to our church hall. It took our combined efforts for three quarters of an hour to try to chase it away, until Kirsty, one of the stall holders, managed to capture it with her bare hands, I think she deserves the title pigeon whisperer.

Neal Mason, the new author I’ve just signed up send me a new picture, it captures him well.

The housing situation is still dire. Just one month to go before we have to move out. I know our plight is nowhere near that of bombed out Ukrainians, their fate was forced upon them, whereas I embraced mine in the full knowledge of the possible consequences. But it was for the love of literature which defines and records our society for future generations.

Even so, in a month’s time we may well have to pitch our tent though not quite in the lovely circumstance of being on holiday. Actually, my brother and I only managed to fit in three two day breaks in three years. I’m very grateful we at least managed that, it still cheer me up to this day.

10 March 2022

Today didn’t start off well. It transpired we really need to be out of our current accommodation before Monday 11 April.

There is nothing on the horizon yet but surely someone out there may well be interested in the novelty of having a small literary publishing house in residence in return for care taking duties. Any suggestion are very welcome!

We’re so very near in becoming sustainable, especially now we have, funds permitting, two great new titles signed up.

It’s great to announce a new historical novel by one of our existing authors Michael Dean. This time he tackles the Stuarts to great effect, starting with the first 28 years in the life of the notorious Charles I.

I’m delighted to have to have discovered another wonderful poet, Neal Mason, of the same seventies vintage as Michael Dean. Neal is a keen pole vaulter and a most remarkable author.

More details will appear on the website soon but I can reveal the titles.

9 March 2022

Today, I was all set to receive the write-up of our bid for an ACE grant. Saskia, our trusted arts funding specialist, had a few questions throughout the day, but they were easily resolved, and the final bid arrived this evening.

Being a complete novice to applying for funding, I was a bit taken aback by the language, but that’s I suppose only to be expected, as I’ve mainly been exposed to scientific and literary texts, this is quite a different cattle of fish.

I’m putting my trust in Saskia, I’ve given her lots of excellent information about how we can push Holland Press forward and she has been such a help putting the proposal together.

Now, we can do nothing but keep our fingers crossed. Special thanks to Anthony Ferner who persuaded the Tindal Street Fiction Group to fund Saskia to put together our bid.

Anthony Ferner - Author for Holland Park Press

8 March 2022

Today, I sent Alice at the Poetry Book Society a write up of our event, Arnold’s bio and his picture, another task done.

I’ve started a new campaign to find us an affordable place to live. I so much hope I can give something back to the community and earn the right to live in a very basic small place. All we need is a bed to sleep in and a desk to work from. Harry is happy as long as he is near us all the time. He keeps us going!

But company work takes centre stage, so I’ve also been working on copy for the two new books, I’ve now signed up, funds permitting. A very remarkable poetry collection from a pole vaulting gent in his seventies, and another cracking historical novel from Michael Dean.

More details are coming soon but I’m very excited about these two new books. That’s what keep me going too!

Michael Dean - Author for Holland Park Press

7 March 2022

Today, we secured our slot in the Poetry Corner at the London Book Fair. On Thursday 7 April, between 2 and 3pm Arnold will read from his own published poems that have been translated and introduce the audience to some gems from 1000 years of Dutch poetry taking his inspiration from our award-winning, bestselling 100 Dutch Language Poems.

Also today, I uploaded all the information to our new accountant’s portal and it now seems quite likely that with his help we will be able to file our annual accounts before the deadline at the end of this month.

The housing situation is still dire, we need not much, and someone must have a spare space that needs a bit of house sitting and would benefit from one dedicated publisher, a remarkable and controversial published author with their very cuddly black lab.

All suggestions welcome, just email, bernadette@hollandparkpress.co.uk, or phone me, 07792611929.

6 March 2022

I’ve been quite busy this Sunday with catching up on administrative tasks I couldn’t fit in during the week.

Otherwise I’ve been quite preoccupied with what is happening in the world. At least I’m facing becoming homeless in time for Easter by choice, but that’s no comparison to the people in Ukraine who have lost all they had and are without a home because of war.

I hope for more positive developments in the coming week. In the meantime, here is a picture of snow on the balcony of my central London apartment which I sold in 2014 to fund Holland Park Press.

5 March 2022

It was a bit of a slow day at Shambles Market. I think our readers are distracted by what’s happening in Ukraine and the worries and uncertainties that this brings. I don’t blame them.

Luckily I bring my laptop to the market and put together a pop-up office which allows me to wear several hats at the same time. No problem there, I love hats.

We’re still looking for a new place to live, we need one before Easter! I can’t afford to pay rent but, even though I have a fulltime job, I’m very happy to work extra hours to pay for my rent by looking after a home or building. Have you thought about having a publishing company complete with author and wonderful dog in residence?

Any suggestions very welcome, I’m more than happy to think outside the box, so I leave you with a picture of my office for the day.

4 March 2022

Another market day today, and I always love meeting and chatting to people who, like me, love all things literary.

The authors of the two new books I’m signing up, emailed me to say that their signed contracts are in the post, so that’s real progress. More details will follow soon.

I expressed my interest in booking a slot in the event space part of the Poetry Corner at the London Book Fair which is on from 5 to 7 April. This hopefully will be finalised on Monday.

It would be so great to be back at LBF, we were there last in 2019 with the very special dynamic poetry duo Joolz and Hilaire reading from London Undercurrents, see picture below.

This year, we’re planning to create a real spectacle to celebrate being back in front of a live audience. The #SavedByOneBook campaign is certainly marching on.

3 March 2022 

Today, I and my brother were invited to a very special birthday party.

Late last night, good friend and former neighbour Debbie texted me to say that her husband Gavin had died that morning. On Ash Wednesday, and one day before his 53rd birthday, but Debbie had decided to go ahead with his birthday party and we were invited.

So there we were today, on a remarkable celebration of life, and Gavin couldn’t be there in person but was very much present in spirit.

Two and a half years ago Gavin was diagnosed with terminal cancer, but he still managed to live life to the full, because he wanted to. It was he who gave me a new laptop when my old one broke down. He could barely walk (this was five months ago) but delivered it himself.

Today was a wonderful occasion and a tribute to a very brave family. It gives you hope in humanity and very much helps me to carry on.

2 March 2022

I think I may have found an accountant who can complete our annual accounts in time for the deadline at the end of this month. It’s still expensive, but much less than charged by my previous London based accountant, so hopefully we can clear this hurdle.

We’re still homeless come Easter, so this Lent I have my work cut out, not to give something up, I’ve already done so, but to gain something, a roof over our heads.

Today was Ash Wednesday, I received my ashen cross this morning, and inspired by the Pope’s call to pray for Ukraine today, our small St Aldhelm’s parish organised a nine hour adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, so that people could pray for those caught up in this terrible war.

To make sure that we had people there all the time there was a rota for two people to cover each hour. Mine was between 4 and 5pm. It was very peaceful and inspiring just what was needed in our fight to survive.

Only 40 odd days to go before another crunch time. I’ll keep you posted, #SavedByOneBook.

1 March 2022

Meteorologically, it’s the first day of spring. Well, I and and most of the world at this point long for a new beginning.

No progress to report on the major issues that are haunting me, but I am working on it. Though, there are glimmers of hope.

I’m delighted to report that I sent out a contract to two authors today. One for a remarkable novel by an existing author and another for wonderful poetry by a new author. It’s so good to be working on new titles again. I’m looking forward to reveal all the details soon.

Now I ‘just’ have to secure the funding. Wish me luck!

But, as always, you can help by buying one of our books and support #SavedByOneBook.

28 Feb 2022

When selling books on markets, I tend to say when talking about Yugoslav Requiem or King of Tuzla, that they are about the most recent war in Europe. It’s sad that this is no longer the case and that there is another war going on in Europe. Let’s hope that peace will be restored in Ukraine soon.

Back to our personal battle which is far from over, but we too, are determined to fight our way through. So I leave you with this tongue-in-cheek classified ad:

Sister, 64, publisher, brother, 59, ex-army officer now author & black lab Harry, nearly 5, are looking for basic accommodation. Happy to perform caretaking duties in lieu of rent. All suggestions welcome. Contact: bernadette@hollandparkpress.co.uk, 07792611929

27 Feb 2022

On 20 Feb I told you about four vital deadlines. I’m glad we have met the first two of these but that means we’re left with two crucial ones:

Find a new accountant (our previous one is far too expensive) to do our annual account before March 31.

Find a new place to live before Easter.

I continue to be astonished by the generosity of people and we had some thoughtful suggestions about solving our housing situation. Unfortunately, none of them have  worked out so far.

I’m just looking for a very small place, two bed sitting rooms with access to a kitchen and bathroom will do, with some form  of caretaking in lieu of paying rent. Any suggestions very welcome.

On a happy note, our market activities this weekend also generated orders on our website. That’s what we like to see, our books and authors deserve it. Once you’ve bought and read one of our books, please tell all your friends about it and spread the word on social media. This really makes a difference and makes #SavedByOneBook happen.

26 Feb 2022

Today, we ran the bookstall at two markets at the same time.

Arnold was at the Big Crafts Fair in the Town Hall in Malmesbury

and I continued running our stall at the Shambles Market in Stroud

Trade was slow in both locations. You never know with markets. If you knew, you would only come out on good days and become rich. Today Six Nations rugby was on and it was half term and, for some reason, these two events seem to interfere with people buying books. Not just today but we have experienced this in previous years. It’s quite an interesting fact but doesn’t help book sales.

Arnold and I did meet some interesting people and it does temporarily provides a diversion of war and the battle of finding a new home.

Buying one of our books is the best way of helping us: join #SavedByOneBook.

25 Feb 2022

Harry was good as gold on the market this morning. Don’t take my word for it, this picture tells the tale.

My brother Arnold did the impossible and moved all of our personal books to the new storage space in one day. Many thanks to Andy, Tilly and George for helping Arnold to load the boxes into the van down two flights of stairs. Many thanks to Jane who provided the new storage space in a lovely rural location.

Quite astonishing Arnold moved all the boxes just by himself into the new storage place this afternoon. Luckily Harry was on hand to keep him company, even though he hates travelling in the front seat of a van.

I had a good day on the market but novels were out of favour today, I sold poetry and short story collection. Markets move in mysterious ways. We’ll see what tomorrow’s Shambles market brings.

The housing situation didn’t improve today, another possible solution didn’t materialise. I’m working on a new campaign but in the meantime I leave you with a picture of our personal books in a new and, hopefully very temporary, home.

24 Feb 2022

Tomorrow is going to be a very challenging day. Not so much for me, I’m going to be on the Shambles Market, although with our dog Harry for a couple of hours, never done this before, I will report to you tomorrow, but my brother Arnold is going to shift all of our many books to a new home.

Luckily the wonderful Andy has managed to secure hopefully three additional pair of hands, which should make it more manageable.

My zoom meeting about our ACE grant application went well, and our advisor was very happy with the extra information I had managed to pull together.

I’m still very worried about our housing situation. Nothing is on the horizon just yet, we only need a small place, and are willing to look after a place in return.

One of the things that keeps me going is Harry, he only wants to be near us, and actually thinks our current lodgings are wonderful. There is no other place but to be very close to us.

Today, the sun was high enough in the sky to create a patch of sunlight in my attic room. It didn’t take Harry long to take full advantage of it.

 

23 Feb 2022

Booked train tickets to attend a launch of biography written by a great friend about her late husband. It will be the first time in two years that I’m travelling to London.

I’m looking forward to it and it helps taking the mind off looming deadlines, finding a new roof over our heads is the most pressing. Any suggestion very welcome!

I think I’ve dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s for our ACE grant bid but still not happy about the summary. Not sure I have time to make it better before another check in with our advisor at 9am tomorrow.

On  a domestic note: the boiler in our current lodgings had to be replaced, so no heating for the last two days but, by accident, I was well prepared. When packing up the last of our stuff while the rest of our belongings were carried out of the house, I didn’t have space in a box to pack the fan heater found at the last minute lingering on a shelf in the utility room, so took it with me to our new place.

I actually had quite forgotten I had it, but it came in handy when the heating was off , and took me right back to my student days. I couldn’t have survived without it in my top floor, top of the hill, flat in Cotham Bristol. It was drafty but had lovely views. I once spend hours doing all I could to get the temperature up to 18 degrees in the heart of winter in order to entertain guests at my farewell party. I just about succeeded.

22 Feb 2022

Have you noticed that it was a lovely date today: 22/02/22 and also 22/02/2022. It’s one of those things that cheer me up.

And I need cheering up because I’m strangled by deadlines, see my entry from 20 Feb.

The good thing is we cleared one off our list today. We found a new storage space for our books, we booked a van, and found the first pair of extra hands. Now we need one or two more.

On Facebook some people suggested we should give our books to a charity shop or a school. That’s a lovely suggestion, but in our case there are just too many books for these organisations to take in. Besides these books are part of who we are.

A wonderful lady on facebook expressed it like this:
You should not have to explain why you want to keep your own Lifetime collection of books of course you want to keep them! Unfortunately I don’t think some understand what ‘just books’ could possibly mean to someone.

Thank you for your support! We continue our rollercoasting journey and many thanks for supporting #SavedByOneBook.

Arnold, my brother, and I hope to be reunited with our on a more permanent basis books in the near future. In the mean time this is all I could take to our temporary abode.

21 Feb 2022

A bit of progress today, I think we might have found a place to store our books. We’re going to have a look at it tomorrow and hopefully it will do and we can book another van.

Then we just left with the problem of finding a few people to help us carry about 140 boxes down two flights of stairs into the van and unload it on the other side. If you know some young lads in need of a bit of pocket money let me know.

A bit of a déjà vu but hopefully things will improve. We’re working hard to make this happen, so today I did quite a bit more fine tuning on our bid for an ACE grant. I must say I find it hard to come to grips dealing with the, to my scientist ears, rather woolly question I need to answer.

I will persevere and in the meantime look back with pleasure on being featured in national and local media. I owe it to my authors to generate more media waves and I’m on the case.

20 Feb 2022

It was a very blustery, rainy Sunday, quite appropriate as I’m trying to get to grips with the many deadlines that are coming our way.

Get all information together for our bid for an Arts Council England grant before 25 February.

Find a new storage place for our unique collection of books, that are also essential to running our publishing business, and define who we are before March 1.

Find a new accountant (our previous one is far too expensive) to do our annual account before March 31.

Find a new place to live before Easter.

A very big thank you to the people who have been ordering our books and sending in donations! You keep us going, so that I can continue publishing great literature. We have already lined up two wonderful new books. Once I have secured funds, I can tell you all about it.

One very special lady is a great support. She didn’t go into storage but keeps me company here in my bed-sitting room.

19 Feb 2022

Last night my brother Arnold had to come to the rescue of the kind lady who temporarily gave us two rooms in her house. Why? She was confronted with a rat in her bathroom. She screamed and Arnold chased the rat away. I and my dog Harry, who sleeps at the foot of my bed, soundly slept through all of the commotion.

Actually, I’m not afraid of rats or mice. I lived in several places where I had the dubious honour of meeting them. In our previous home in Baskerville I was bitten four times by a rat who had taken a shine to our home.

Then it was on to Shambles market in Stroud. I was very lucky to be given a spot near one of the radiators. It was a quiet rainy day but sales wise I did quite well which was encouraging giving that we are facing two very daunting deadlines: find a new place to live by Easter & find a new home for our books by the first of March.

I’m not making any this up, it is really happening. I’m doing all I can to find solution, but you can really help us by buying one of our books and tell all your friends to do so too. That’s #SavedByOneBook and even better this also supports our lovely authors.

18 Feb 2022

Well, storm Eunice was quite something, we went out to walk Harry this morning but had to go back well short of halfway through our walk because it was quite uncomfortable, I felt I could have been blown over at any moment.

Harry was quite confused by it as well, his eyebrows were quite all over the place while looking at me questionably. His eyebrow performance is quite a match for Roger Moore.

No movement quite literally on the book storage problem. Some people suggested I should give them to a charity shop or a school. I don’t think they realise the number of books we’re talking about. Quite apart from the fact that they are part of me. I’m looking far outside the box to find a way to rescue them.

With the market cancelled, I, at least, could devote a lot of time on our ACE bid. I’m finding it quite a challenge deal with dealing with their woolly way of reasoning, but that’s probably just the scientist in me.

Some thing keep you going, my brother and Harry surely, but also a certain lady, I do not know who and how old she is, however I decided at the last moment not to put her in storage but to take her with me.

17 Feb 2022

Another bombshell landed on us today. The lovely Andy who has been storing our personal books since the end of October in his office is moving office so the books have to be on the go once again. The question is where will they find a new home? I’ve made enquiries and put the question on facebook, but at this point we are nowhere near a solution. They have to be out by March 1, so no pressure at all.

I can’t even escape to the market tomorrow because we’ve been served a rare red alert on account of storm Eunice. Well, I’m bracing myself not only for Eunice but for other calamities which may well come our way. I leave you with a picture of the books all boxed the day before we had to part from them. Will I ever see them back on shelves near me? We live in hope and you can make it happen by supporting #SavedByOneBook.

16 Feb 2022

Another very productive day.

First of all, two women entrepreneurs, I and a former cultural attaché, and an enterprising author, my brother, met up for a video call to sign off a good promotional article and exchange excellent ideas and contacts. No wooliness at all, just solid business.

Next on to Marlborough to meet a prospective author. Have you ever come across a marvellous poet who is also a competitive pole vaulter at the age of 74? No, neither had I until today. Actually he has his eyes on the world record in his age category, he just needs to clear one more centimetre, but anyway, soon he will eligible for the 75+ category and then he will hold the world record. Quite exceptional but even more so is his poetry and I’m delighted to add him to our list.

By the way, we saw him drive off in his car and it has a pole holder fixed on its roof, also a first, but wonderful and quite a sight.

Follow this diary for more developments and, with your help we can make all our authors famous, and they deserve it. So support #SavedByOneBook.

15 Feb 2022

I had another good Zoom talk with Saskia who is helping me to put together our bid for an ACE grant. She gave me some useful tips of points and figures that need a bit more work and I will be busy in the coming week but I enjoy putting it together.

Nowadays every day is interesting and I can be devastated or uplifted in equal measure. Today, however, I was delighted to receive a substantial order from thee Royal Academy of Arts. On the 26 February their exhibition of Whistler’s Woman in White: Joanna Hiffernan opens.

It just so happens that we have published Hold Still, a fictionalised account of the life of this very woman, a delightful novel by Cherry Smyth. Hopefully this gives this wonderful novel the lift off it deserves.

I live in hope, especially about our financial and housing, or lack thereof, situation.

14 Feb 2022

It was Valentine’s Day today, but for someone who has never received a Valentine card in her entire life except those from my mother, they arrived faithfully each year until she died in 2013, this was always going to be a bit of a non-event, and so it proved to be.

I’ve been utterly amazed by the number of lovely people who have been so supportive of our endeavour to publish outstanding literature and many thanks to you all. However occasionally  you come across a person who, with the best of intensions, actually tells you to chuck it all in. Well, I can’t and I won’t because I owe it to our wonderful authors and the excellent people who have supported us in kind and with money to keep going and make Holland Park Press successful.

When I was a little girl I asked for a dog, I didn’t get one until Harry arrived in my life nearly five years ago. He is my Valentine forever.

13 Feb 2022

Normally we walk our dog on my way to mass but today it rained very heavily so we decided to take the car. Because of it, I ran into the lovely lady who gave us a generous donation last month. I have thanked her by email but hadn’t been able to do so in person until today. So wonderful and one of the many remarkable coincidences we have been experiencing over the past couple of months.

Our housing situation is now very precarious because we have to find a new place to live by Easter and that’s only nine weeks away. I’m pursuing all avenues and today I had a good chat about one of my thinking-outside-the-box ideas and it wasn’t rejected out of hand so I live in hope. Any other suggestions are gratefully received.

Both these events are linked to a small market town church named after St Aldhelm (7th century), author of the poetic riddles, thereby the inventor of the metaphor, and that’s quite appropriate.

12 Feb 2022

Today it was very busy on the Shambles Market in Stroud and many people read the Daily Mail article about us which is on display on our stall.

As we’ve been so very busy and can’t afford the money to go out for a meal in a nice restaurant, we decided to treat ourselves to an Indonesian meal with quite a few of the trimmings. It doesn’t cost much but takes hours to prepare.

My brother is the chef, I’m more like the sous chef (I do the chopping) and the plongeur (I do the washing up), so I’m before and after. The meal was delicious.

I also managed to find time to translate my brother’s tongue in cheek dating ad while being on the market.

‘Author, ‘war hero’ and assistant publisher (59), almost famous, destitute, currently living, together with sister/publisher and black Lab Harry, as a lodger in an attic in a picturesque English market town, lapsed Roman Catholic, still with his own teeth (in need of an overhaul), and proud owner of a 19-year-old car, seeks a lovely, free-spirited, plucky, intellectual girlfriend. No objection to having a bit of a past, drinking or smoking.’

11 Feb 2022

I finished pieces to promote our Zoom meetings for the Royal Wootton Bassett Rotary Club on 6 April, and Neerlandia on 17 May today at the market. A good example of multitasking which I aim to do whenever possible.

Often unexpectedly remarkable things happen. We have experienced this many times in he last few month and you can read about it in this diary. Today at Shambles Market in Stroud I had another lovely experience. A lady had a look at our stall, spotted the Daily Mail article and asked if she could take it away to read it. Of course, that was fine.

She brought it back a little while later and put it back on my stall just when I was away from it for a few minutes. She also left an envelope with a lovely letter and a ten pound note. I’m very touched and here is a quote from her note.

‘Thank you for your courageous spirit and for supporting writers from all over the world.’

My brother, dog Harry and I in front of our stall today.

10 Feb 2022

Today some more stock arrived from the printers much earlier than expected, at a pre-pandemic turnaround time. This is a good sign, especially as I will be a our bookstall at Shambles Market Stroud tomorrow and Saturday, now with a fully stocked display.

I also finished a writing a piece for Neerlandia News and, from my pop-up office, I will also write a promotional piece for our talk at the Wootton Bassett Rotary Club.

Our authors very much deserve to be promoted and I for one am doing all that I can to sell their books. That’s why I’m so happy today to leave you with an image of The Leper Squint, from A Sense of Tiptoe and other articles of faith by Karen Hayes.

 

9 Feb 2022

Today was a bit of a special day because 64 years ago something happened which made my parents very happy.

I’m doing my best to keep going because I owe it to all of you who have so generously supported us. Thank you very much for contributing to #SavedByOneBook. Keep ordering our books because that’s what really helps us.

A long time ago I was a toddler, so I leave you with a picture that was drawn from life when I was three. It used to hang on the wall of my beloved and much missed study in Baskerville. Sadly it is now in storage, but I live in hope and work very hard to bring it, our other treasured heirlooms, and especially our books back to a more permanent home.

8 Feb 2022

I’ve finished doing all the figures for our annual accounts. Very happy about that. But I need to find a new accountant because our central London based one, though she was good, has become far too expensive. Just another item to add to the to do list.

We recently arranged to give a talk about the trials and tribulations of Holland Park Press to Neerlandia on 17 May. They provide support for Dutch people in the UK, we’ve been a member for quite a few years, so it’s lovely to bring our press to their attention.

Today, I was also contacted by the Rotary Club of Royal Wootton Bassett. I met one of their members at our bookstall in Stroud and he suggested we could give a talk at one of their meetings. We arranged to do so on 6 April.

This is all great news, because we love to promote our press, authors and books. Now, I just have to write two short pieces which can they can use to promote these two events.

7 Feb 2022

I’ve arranged a meeting with a potential new author next week. It’s so good to start adding to our list of wonderful authors and books again. We now just need to secure the support to make this happen, and we’re working flat out to secure funds.

What really keeps us going is people buying more of our books, especially from our website. They are posted first class, so in the UK so should receive your copy the next working day.

Even better, after you’ve read one of our books, tell all your friends about it and put reviews on social media. We like to hear from you!

6 Feb 2022

My brother Arnold has been very busy putting together the information needed to help him get a publishing contract and grant which will enable him to support himself and be able to write his new novel.

Today, we also heard that an order of twenty books safely arrived in the Netherlands, that’s such a relief after our previous parcel was sent back to us.

I’ve now put together all the information for our ACE bid and I’m going to send it to our advisor tomorrow. I will keep you posted on progress, and thanks again to the Tindal Street Fiction Group for making this possible.

The housing situation is still precarious. If you have an empty outbuilding or property that needs a caretaker free of charge in exchange of accommodation, we can help you out. Otherwise, by Easter, we will have to pitch our tent somewhere. At least our dog Harry will be his happy self.

5 Feb 2022

Today was a bit of a slow day on the Shambles Market in Stroud, but on markets you take the rough with the smooth. If stallholders knew which days were going to be very profitable, they would only come out and those days, and be very rich. That’s not how it works, and anyway, because people can buy our books from many places, you never know how a chat on the market may well lead to a sales elsewhere.

My brother had some good news from an old friend today which may really help him to get the financial support to write his new novel, which may well feature our continuing struggle to keep our wonderful press going.

To keep our press going is what keeps me going and, of course, I owe it to do so to all the marvellous people who have supported us in money and kind and especially our remarkable authors who have been very supportive.

I hope to have some good news soon and remember to tell all your acquaintances to buy one of our books because that’s what’s really going to pull us through being #SavedByOneBook.

4 Feb 2022

Another day in the pop-up office at Shambles Market. A lady involved with the Cheltenham Poetry Festival bought a copy of 100 Dutch-Language Poems, a good thing to cheer you up on a market day.

Ben at Reactive Graphics, our trusted designers and keepers of our website, give me very useful feedback and costings of a few improvements I need to implement on our website as part of the ACE bid. This put in place one of the last jigsaw pieces I need to complete our ACE application.

People sometimes want to be helpful and suggest my brother or I could just take on an odd job to earn some money. Helpful suggestions are much appreciated but the point of what we are doing is promoting our books and authors. Everything else distracts from the core business. Our books are great, you just need to tell all your friends about it. Make a difference and promote literature, one of the things that will remain, long after we have gone. #SavedByOneBook

3 Feb 2022

Great news from the Koning Willem Fonds,  a UK Charity run by Dutch nationals to help
people with Dutch nationality in need living in the UK, today.

They will give me a small sum each month for the next year and will provide us with a voucher towards our basic food shopping this month and next. Thank you very much managers of the Koning Willem Fonds and Marijke, the coordinator, who helped our bid along so splendidly.

It’s lovely when you get send a poetry manuscript, which is really makes an impact. I’m so glad at the prospect of adding another item to our already wonderful contemporary poetry list. Now we just need to get additional funding in place to allow us to publish more books by deserving authors. You, too, can help us by buying our books, or if you already have, persuade all your friends to buy a few more. Thank you for supporting #SavedByOneBook!

2 Feb 2022

I hope the first green shoots may be just around the corner, because I think we now have two spectacular manuscripts lined up that we would like to publish. We will need our ACE grant to do this but it’s a possibility and I’m so looking forward to repay the people who have been supporting us by publishing more outstanding books.

Also, a few more orders came in, but we need more, so keep spreading the word and encourage people to buy our books.

For example did you know we discovered Karen Jennings who was longlisted with An Island for the 2021 Booker Prize? We didn’t publish An Island, but we did publish her five first books, starting with her debut Finding Soutbek which was shortlisted for the inaugural Etisalat Prize for Literature.

1 Feb 2022

It’s the first of February already! Where has the long dark month of January gone? It must be because we’re so busy making sure we survive and had a lot of media attention. For which we are very grateful.

But we’re back down to earth because we have to find a new home before Easter. Luckily, this year it’s a late one falling in mid April. So, if we’ve not found a new place, at least the weather should be clement enough to pitch our tent.

Seriously though, we need a place to live. We can’t pay a deposit or a commercial rent but my brother and I are very much prepared to pay in kind, by providing security, looking after a building, walk the dogs, that kind of thing, in exchange of finding a bit of space in an outbuilding.

Spread the word and, of course, you can always help us by buying one of our books, a make us #SavedByOneBook.

I had a lovely study from where I ran the company of five years. My main aim is to keep the company running, and be successful enough to have to pay my authors substantial royalties from my resurrected study.

 

31 Jan 2022

Even though my brother and I work all hours some people don’t quite get it and think we live a leisurely life. Is this because intellectual activity doesn’t show on the outside? Or because we do work ‘from home’ and therefore can conduct business even when we are walking the dog or getting essential supplies?

A good discussion about how we can take things forward often takes place during these seemingly downtime activities. My brother is a full-time author but also works for the press, so you can’t expect him to take on anything else.

I love running the press, but it’s important to know to pace yourself. That’s where Harry our black lab comes in. He is an expert in showing me how to relax, and besides he is love personified. I couldn’t do without him. He can make himself comfortable in any available space.

30 Jan 2022

Even though it was a Sunday today, I was very busy. When I acknowledge manuscripts, I promise a turnaround time of 4 to 6 weeks, so I have to stick to it. So that’s why I’ve been hard at work, on what’s supposed to be a day off.

My brother is having a very difficult time with his girlfriend. He’s written a novel about their relationship. If you’re Dutch, you can find out more about Schurft from this page. If your mother tongue is English, you have to wait for the translation, and I will keep you posted about it’s appearance.

I love promoting our deserving authors and their wonderful books, but I could do with a little break. However, I have had only one two day holiday in 2021, that’s when we went camping in North Devon. It still cheers me up when I look at the pictures.

29 Jan 2022

The split bookstalls in Stroud and Malmesbury worked very well today and we sold plenty of books. Nearly half of them were poetry books which is a very good poetic performance. Otherwise we sold as usual right across our list.

Yesterday, we took advantage of the fact that we could upgrade our phones, it was quite essential as the battery in my brother’s very old phone needed even more than life support. It was essential that it got sorted as we needed to communicate between our bookstalls today.

My brother’s phone was switched over because it had to be done, but I haven’t yet sorted out mine because I was too busy selling books.

In the meantime, dog Harry had to stay at home alone and he was very good. But to attract attention, he’s got into one of his horny modes and thinks I’m his girlfriend. I’m telling him off as I write this but it is nonetheless lovely to feel so adored.

28 Jan 2022

Today, someone suggested that I or my brother could just take any job and earn a bit of money and that would help us. But we have a jobs, keeping a wonderful niche press going. We’re not afraid to put in a bit of work.

Tomorrow my brother is going to drive me at the crack of dawn to Stroud so that I can run our market stall, only for him to drive back to Malmesbury to run another bookstall at the Big Crafts Fair there. It earns us hard cash, it helps the company and it’s a job, not just any job, but one that keeps the company moving forwards.

I even take my laptop with me, so that I can wear several company hats all at once. I like wearing hats, so it suits me to a tee (keep these old fashioned saying going, apparently some people think they are on their way out), and I got quite a few things done today while selling our books.

Here is a picture the pop-up office. Just tell your friends to buy our books.

27 Jan 2022

Tomorrow is another market day in Stroud. I hope it’s going to be a good day but you never what’s going to happen on markets. If we did, we the stallholders would be very rich, because we only have to come out when the going is good. We don’t but wish me luck for tomorrow.

At least I will be wearing my favourite suit, not in order to be fashionable but it’s so very warm. Actually I worn it for a job interview in 1988. Yes, even I had to look this up, I worn this for my first professional job interview after I had decided to leave academia. I actually got the job and the rest is history.

Tomorrow, this trusted jacket will be on my shoulders and hopefully sales of our lovely books will be pouring in, I will keep you posted but please buy a book or tell your friends to do so to support #SavedByOneBook and keep us going.

26 Jan 2022

It was another busy day, and it’s lovely to work with my brother. We’re quite good at bouncing ideas off ideas of each other.

However, I do miss my sister but she doesn’t like us. It’s a shame but there is nothing I can do if she doesn’t want to maintain contact. I do however keep a drawing of her youngest son on my desk, he put it together during a Christmas dinner now quite some time ago but it still cheers me up every time a look at it.

We’re determined to fight our way out of the current crisis, and we look forward to better times and a more permanent solution to our ongoing housing problem. If you need a caretaker for an old decrepit building let us know. In the mean time you can always buy a book from our website to keep us going and help us to be #SavedByOneBook.

25 Jan 2022

It’s Burns Night today, and we celebrated by watching two lovely documentaries on channel 4, and we especially enjoyed the one with Maya Angelou.

If poetry is good , it immediately gets you hooked. That’s why I love publishing poetry but I’m still amazed by the continuing success of our anthology of Dutch poetry: 100 Dutch-Language Poems: from the Medieval Period to the Present Day.

Some people comment on it when they see it on our market stall: ‘I bet they don’t sell many copies of that.’ Yet we do, and the anthology continues to sell here, the the US and the Netherlands.  I’m amazed but grateful and love to have a poetry bestseller on our hands.

Many more of our books deserve to be bestsellers, and you can help us by just buying one of our books and tell all your friends to do so too. Thanks to you we may well be #SavedByOneBook.

24 Jan 2022

I did some more work on our ACE bid, and the basic elements are now in place. I will spend the next days finetuning the proposal, so that I’m totally prepared for the next meeting with our advisor.

I still can’t quite believe that we’ve made it this far but we’ve been greatly helped by our devotion to the great Titus Brandsma. A Carmelite, priest, and one of the founders and chancellor of the first Roman Catholic university in the Netherlands, he was also recruited by the Dutch archbishop and cardinal to make people aware of the dangers of Nazis. Thereby, signing his own death warrant after the Nazis invaded the Netherlands.

He was also a friend of my grandfather, and my father met him when he was a small boy. It prompted my father’s eldest brother to establish a resistance group with the aim to rescue as may Jewish people as possible from being deported by the Nazis.

So, Titus has had already a great impact on our family, but his support has really helped us to get to where we are now. We’re astonished but very grateful, and now we owe it all to you who have helped us,  to make a success of the press. Well, I’m determined and hope you can help us by buying one of our books, and we’ll be #SavedByOneBook.

23 Jan 2022

Over the Christmas period we were featured in the newspapers, national and local in the UK, national in the Netherlands as well as local radio and TV. This was a lovely surprise and generated quite a bit of sales.

But we need more, so now we’re now trying to build on this by finding more publicity for our press all with the aim to generate more sales of our books. As always you can help us by telling all your friends about us.

Did you know that 18% of our books have been nominated for prizes and we publish a lot of older authors? Do check out our list.

22 Jan 2022

Today was a better market day in Stroud. I even sold two copies of Hedwig’s Journey. I’m delighted, it’s a lovely book, an excellent translation of a classic Dutch novel, by an equally remarkable author, Frederik van Eeden, novelist, dramatist, poet and critic, a medical doctor,  interested in psychiatry, who wanted to reform society and was a pacifist. Maybe you should check him out, now Stroud has shown an interest.

Yes, I did manage to do more work on our ACE bid, I’ve made a start with putting together a budget. I’m looking forward to more developments tomorrow.

Hedwig's Journey

21 Jan 2022

It’s been a slow day in Stroud. Come on, I know there are lots of readers out there, do go to Shambles Market tomorrow and support a niche publisher and its authors, #SavedByOneBook.

I did however made quite a bid of progress on preparing our bid for an ACE grant. The timeline for the project has been completed, though it will need to go through several revisions, and tomorrow I will work on the budget. I’m actually really enjoying putting this bid together. Many thanks again for the Tindal Street Fiction Group for making this possible.

20 Jan 2022

Today, I paid most of the royalties, and it feels good to having been able to do this. A few authors offered to waive their royalties this year, but my answer to them is: you’ve been so supportive that the least I can do is pay your royalties.

Tomorrow is another market day, and the box full of books to replenish stock is ready. I’m taking my laptop, so hopefully I also find some time to look at new manuscripts and do some more work on our Arts Council England bid.

If you are near Stroud, come along, I’m looking forward to another busy day and new adventures.

19 Jan 2022

Another very busy day. Quite a few manuscripts came in. That’s one of the perks of being a publisher: having to read for a living and I absolutely love being surprised by a literary gem turning up in my inbox. Don’t forget, we accept unsolicited manuscripts all year round, and aim to make a decision within 4 to 6 weeks.

I’ve answered a few more questions from the Dutch organisation who may provide some support. The Dutch are very thorough about dotting all the I’s and crossing all the t’s when it comes to their paperwork. I hope I gave them enough information.

My brother Arnold was very busy with signing twenty copies of Schurft which were sent out today by our lovely post office part of the Co-op here in Malmesbury. I couldn’t help take picture of Arnold producing his signed copies.

18 Jan 2022

For a publishing company this time of the year is about calculating and paying our authors their royalties. It has kept me very busy but today I sent out the statements. It’s always a bit of a bittersweet moment. You want all the books to do very well but some have had a better year than others. But there is always next, now this, year.

I love all our books and certainly don’t divide them up in front and backlist. So they all benefit from the new promotional events we’re planning. We signed up to a new market at the end of this month and hopefully we can run another pop-up bookstall here in Malmesbury.

Today the copies of Schurft arrived to fulfil a big order which will go out tomorrow. So we’re working hard on #SavedByOneBook

17 Jan 2022

Another rollercoaster day, not that I am complaining. We got in touch with an organisation who may be able to provide some funding, and another group we are a member of, invited us to give a talk, but most importantly, today we received a lovely donation which couldn’t have come at a better moment. There are some wonderful people around, thank you very much! Now I have to reward you by publishing some really special books this year. I’m determined to be #SavedByOneBook.

16 Jan 2022

We ran a very successful pop-up bookstall this morning during coffee after mass in St Aldhelm’s Malmesbury. Thank you to all the lovely parishioners who bought books and to Catherine for suggesting it and all her help! Part of the #SavedByOneBook campaign.

15 Jan 2022

Some market days are good, others disappointing. If I could predict market sales, I would be very rich, but you can’t. Yet, today not once, but twice, a lovely lady came along to encourage me to hang on in there and bringing a gift. I continue to be moved and astonished by the generosity of people.

I also looked at quite a few manuscripts today. It’s one of the perks of being a publisher to have to read as part of your job and to discover new literary gems. There are some lovely new reads on the horizon and I hope to make some new announcements soon.

This was our stall today. If you couldn’t make it, you can order books in print and book 2/7 from our website and support #SavedByOneBook.

14 Jan 2022

It was a slow day at the Shambles Market. Good people of Stroud please come and support a small niche publisher. Our books are wonderful reads, and I can vouch for them, because I’ve read them all, decided they needed to be published, so put up the money and made them available. Look at this picture of me and one happy author at the end of this post.

I will be at the Shambles Market tomorrow, but I also will run our stall on Sunday in the St Aldhelm’s club room in Malmesbury on Sunday morning. Tell all your friends.

We had another good bit of news from a lovely friend who used to work at the Dutch Embassy in London. Apparently there is a fund to help Dutch people resident in the UK in need. Well, if that’s the case we definitely qualify so we live in hope.

 

13 Jan 2022

I had a productive day working on our ACE bid. It made me think about new ideas of promoting our books.

I’m looking forward to be on the Shambles Market in Stroud again, tomorrow and on Saturday. I’m also trying to arrange for our pop-up stall to make an appearance in Malmesbury, the town who has supported us so wholeheartedly, and I will keep you informed.

In the meantime, you really support us and our wonderful authors by buying books from our website. Support #SaveByOneBook.

12 Jan 2022

More books arrived from our printers today. Much needed as I had sold out of a few of our titles because of the many orders that came in after the two page spread was published in the Daily Mail on 27 December.

I had a good meeting about our application for an Arts Council England grant. It’s clear I have my work cut out for the next couple of weeks but let’s hope our bid will be successful.

As far a new titles are concerned, we have some very lovely prospects on the horizon, and I hope to report more details soon.

The best way to support us is to buy one of our books from our website. Thank you very much!

11 Jan 2022

I’ve been busy preparing for a meeting with the consultant who is going to help me put in a bit for an Arts Council England grant. This is something new for me and I must admit I find the rather woolly language of the instructions I’ve been sent a bit of a challenge.

But, for my authors, I will do anything and a great thank you to the Tindal Street Fiction Group who paid for the consultant and I’m certainly going to make the most of it. We have a zoom meeting tomorrow.

This morning when were taking our beloved dog Harry for a walk we were stopped in the street by several people who had seen us on TV and in the newspapers and wished us good luck. One even asked us if she could take a selfie with us and of course we agreed.

It’s a first, I’ve been invited for selfies at literary events but never by a stranger walking down the street. Life continues to amaze you as well as being a great challenge. I will continue and in the meantime you can support us by buying a book.

10 Jan 2022

Today, we had a lovely session in front of our temporary home with the people from BBC Points West. It was aired as the last feel good item on their 6.30 news bulletin this evening. You can watch it, we’re on at 22:50.

We’re vey pleased with the result, and a big thank you to all the people who helped us in as well as outside of Malmesbury.

We’re are working hard to repay your faith in us by publishing more excellent literature this year and exploring news ways to promote our authors and books.

You can always help us by buying a book from our website and support #SavedByOneBook.

9 Jan 2022

Sunday, but for a struggling yet determined to keep going small press it was also a working day. More work on royalties reports is in progress, and we’ve also been busy reading new manuscripts that have come in. It looks as if there are a couple of promising candidates and I will keep you posted.

Tomorrow at 11.30, some people from BBC Points West will come along to interview us. Arnold and I are looking forward to tell them our remarkable story.

Orders are also coming in on our website, and that’s great, thank you very much, because orders from our website are the most profitable, and hence they are one of the best contributions to save us by supporting #SavedByOneBook.

Here is a picture of two more orders that will go out tomorrow to the USA and Singapore.

8 Jan 2022

Another day on the market which is still a bit slow this early in January but I take my laptop so that I can also keep the office work going. Just as well because I get quite inundated with manuscripts at this time of the year.

Today there was a bit of a surprise, I received a printed manuscript in the post. We do say in our submission guidelines that we only accept submissions by email but this author added a handwritten note to his letter telling me not everyone is online even today & how much I might be missing out.

Very thoughtful, but for practical reasons, I prefer to stick with the online approach. I was endeared however by this sentence: ‘Enclosed is also a PDF file which means, of course, there is less work to do if you decide to publish my book.’

Even more so, when I found a floppy disk inside the package. Yes really, I too hadn’t seen one for ages. I had to take a picture of it together with a glass of wine to recover from it. It goes to show that authors are really very special human beings.

Keep sending in those manuscripts, I love receiving & reading them, it’s one of the key perks of being a publisher, but preferably by email.

7 Jan 2022

Today, the first market of 2022, was too quiet for my taste. Good people in Stroud, come out in force tomorrow, a small struggling but, absolutely determined to keep going, publisher needs your custom.

There was another it of news to keep us going. BBC Points West wants to do an item about us, and going to interview me and my brother Arnold on Monday. I will keep you informed of when it’s going to be aired.

Otherwise I’m very busy with putting together royalties statements and planning new promotional campaigns.

6 Jan 2022

Today our interview with Ben Prater (incidentally, his names translates to someone who is talking in Dutch, quite appropriate) was aired on BBC Radio Wiltshire this morning. It’s in two chunks of about 5 min each at 1:25:00 and 2:23:00. Listen to it here.

Also this morning, when walking Harry our dog, I was called by a lady from the BBC who was writing a article for their website about us. She wanted some photos, which was good news for us, but bad news for Harry because we had cut short our walk with him to send her a few pictures.

Harry is always moves with the flow, but I’m sure, like me, he’s looking forward to going to Stroud tomorrow. It promises a nice walk and lost of lovely smells for him, and hopefully an interesting day and quite a few sales for me.

I’m taking my laptop along because it’s there is so much catching up to do, but that’s how I like it to be. Do keep ordering our books, it keeps us alive, #SavedByOneBook

5 Jan 2022

Another action packed day and I got a lot of things done. All the sales data from the various distributors and other sources have now come in, so I’m now busy with doing the royalties.

A few good manuscripts are on the horizon and I will give your more details in due course.

We’re still looking for a more permanent place to live, we’re happy to contribute in kind towards rent, so if have a place that needs to be taken care of, please contact us.

Then, when you least expect it, a large order came in for signed copies of Schurft, the autobiographical novel by my brother. It made our day, and so I will be very busy dealing with it tomorrow. But that’s how I like it to be.

4 Jan 2022

Today started of well with a bit of good news from our distributor in South Africa: the sales figures of Karen Jennings books in December were very good and we sold out. Now I have to find the money to print more books. In South Africa I have to pay upfront to get the books printed. But it’s a nice problem to have to deal with.

We also had a lovely interview with Ben Prater who presents the BBC Radio Wiltshire breakfast show. We will be on his show later this week and I will keep you informed. By the way Ben’s surname translated in Dutch means talker or speaker, isn’t that a wonderful coincidence?

3 Jan 2022

Not quite the first working day in 2022, but nearly so, our post office was open and I posted the first order of 2022.

In the Netherlands, it wasn’t a bank holiday today, over there, if Christmas and the New Year happen over the weekend, it’s tough luck, you don’t get back you’re missed bank holiday. So therefore, this morning I was on the phone to our Dutch printers and distributors sort out a problem with dispatching a book. It’s now all sorted thanks to their excellent customer support team.

At the end of day when taking our beloved Harry out for a walk, just outside a front door we stumbled upon a calamity. There was a man in the middle of the road. He had fallen off his bike. A young lady had stopped her car and was attending him. We helped her to move him on to the pavement. Quite an achievement because he was quite  big man and also quite a well know figure in Malmesbury.

A NHS doctor arrived, she lived down the road and had just arrived home. She was an obstetrician and had delivered five babies today, but stopped to  give us a hand. She hadn’t even had dinner and her husband brought not only two chairs (one for the the stricken man and one for his wife) but also a bowl of pasta so she could at least have her dinner, even though it was out on the road.

Another wonderful example of the caring people in Malmesbury. An ambulance has been called but my brother is back yet, so this means they have been waiting for it for over two hours. More news when I get it.

Update: the police were called and they didn’t take long to arrive on the scene. My brother and the couple were ordered to take their leave took and the police took care of him. I hope he is OK.

 

2 Jan 2022

Our publishing adventure continues and 2022 may well prove to be a critical year.

Things change and stay oddly the same, who would have thought that Brexit would give a new lease of life to my father’s old paper scale.

My parents got married in  1951, when they bought my father’s desk with all the accessories which included a paper scale. It was then a essential device to figure out postage.

The desk miraculously made it into our new temporary accommodation and even more fittingly I put the paper scale to good use: to fill in the custom form’s when sending books abroad, and abroad has become much broader because it now incudes the EU.

Talking about markets, they an essential part of our marketing strategy in 2022, and we’re booked in on the Shambles Market in Stroud on all the Fridays and Saturdays in January. See you there!