Tag Archives: Carmarthen Book Fair

The Book Fair Blues

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I was at the Carmarthen Book fair on Saturday, sharing a table with my good friend, Nicola Beechsquirrel.

The book fair was founded by Sarada and John Thompson (You can find out more about them here https://wendysteele.com/2018/08/06/john-thompson-author-and-gentleman/

and here https://wendysteele.com/2018/08/08/sarada-thompson-giver-of-light/

It’s always a friendly book fair; the authors are always helpful and happy to share ideas, and the public are there because they love books. A great range of genres were represented and special guest this year was Dr. Paul Wright, Head of Cultural Studies Lampeter & Course Director for the BA in English and the International Foundation programme, manning the table for the University of Wales, Trinity Saint David, featuring course studies of Literature & Creative Writing.

The morning was quiet, a gentle trickle of shoppers seeking out a little diversion and tea and cake from the fabulous Caffi Iechyd Da. I had a great morning, chatting about magical writing and listening to the general public’s take on magic.

And then the rain came down. We had a few soggy customers, but not many, which was a shame with all the gorgeous goodies on show. Nicola had a good day, chatting about her family history and sending book buyers home happy.

The blues began in the afternoon, drip dripping into my consciousness, started by a comment made to the delightful children’s author Angela Fish. A lady stood at her stall, so Angela began telling her about her books. “You needn’t bother,” said the lady, “I don’t read books and nor do my grandchildren.”

On Sunday I spent the morning thinking about how we can attract more adults and children to books fairs. In this age of celebrity, who wouldn’t want to meet the author behind the words we love to read? Social media gives us the opportunity to form a link that wouldn’t have been possible twenty years ago, but is that why meeting authors ‘in real life’ is no longer so exciting? Has the creation of the digital format for books taken away the ‘real person’ behind the words?

I handed out more business cards on Saturday than I’ve done at any other book fairs, to readers who read on kindle, so some of them were there, but in the same way as I believe there will always be a place for real, tactile, gorgeous paper books, we mustn’t lose the opportunity to interact in person. You can’t beat meeting people in the flesh, listening to their stories and sharing their lives, if only for a few minutes.

I beat the blues with a walk on my riverbank in the rain. I watched the drops bounce off the leaves from my seat in our shelter, ripples forming and spreading on the water as the river hurried by. The rain refreshed me, the Welsh landscape soothed me and I hurried home, inspired to pick up my fountain pen and allow the magic to flow once more.

 

 

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Sarada Thompson – giver of light

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The Carmarthen Book Fair is this Saturday, 11th August, created and organised by the fabulous, John and Sarada Thompson.

I invited them both to share a little more about themselves on my blog. John was earlier in the week https://wendysteele.com/2018/08/06/john-thompson-author-and-gentleman/ and today is Sarada’s turn. I’ve never met anyone who radiates warmth and love the way she does. Thank you so much Sarada for sharing with us.

1 How do you write? Is everything plotted, planned to perfection? Do you ever change tack as

you go along or always stick to a pre-made plan?

I write when the muse calls. An idea which could develop into a plan, which gets derailed by the story which usually has a life of its own. Having started as a reporter for newspapers, always thought myself as a writer of non-fiction, until I found myself writing fiction and enjoying it.

 2 Do you have a writing ritual? Meditation, certain cup for your tea, writing trousers?

 No rituals, but I do like my cups of chai-tea. And a hot-water bottle for my feet as I do literally get cold feet.

 3 Aside from writing, what makes you tick? Tell us 5 things about yourself we probably don’t know.

  1. My family & friends
  2. I love my Hindu cultural heritage
  3. I love drawing and painting
  4. Classical music – both Indian & Western
  5. Listening to different stories.

 

4. If you were stranded on a desert island with shelter, food and water, what 5 items would you

want with you?

  1. Paper & pens to draw & paint, to doodle
  2. My favourite CDs
  3. A good supply of chai-tea
  4. My beads
  5. A kit to signal, ‘I’m Ok.’

5 On said island, what 5 books would you take and why?

 

  1. Mahabharata by Kamala Subramanium – I will have time to digest the finer points thoroughly.
  2. Siddhartha by Herman Hesse – always my favourite
  3. Judas, Man of Myths by John Thompson – I’ll have time to reflect and be inspired on this view more than the institutionalized one.
  4. Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – The issues addressed here – religion, hypocrisy, coming-of-age, domestic violence – would be derivative and clichéd in the hands of a lesser writer. Powerful.
  5. Sort Stories by my grandchildren Shivani12 & Raman Cook 9 Although so young, their insights in the open childlike way enthrals & inspires pride & hope.

 6 Off the island now, which famous person would you like to have dinner with?­

Amma – The Hugging Saint

7 Your current writing projects?

  1. A similar story yet different – quite bizarre for it is founded on legend: ‘The Celestial Flower’
    Theme: ‘Every Saint; a sinner.’
  2. Quite a few more of the picture stories – I hope my hand is steady to continue illustrating.
  3. Some Short Stories over the years , which are not typical of what people would expect of me.8 Other published work and links….Neem Tree – Publication Date – 11th August 2018 – to be launched at Carmarthen Book FairPicture Books : Ten Tales of Ganesha;
    Meenakshi Devi: The Green Goddess;
    Savitri; Durga: The Demon Slayer. Here we have ten stories of the famous elephant-headed Lord Ganesha – from how Lord Ganesha got his elephant head to the story of Lord Ganesh and the frogs! The stories are esentially an allegory of the soul’s journey toward enlightenment, but some stories are utterly down-to-earth, playful stories about simple folk with a God.   Savitri is about to lose the love of her life. Is there any way she can prevent this from happening? What will Savitri do? Will she be prepared to go to the end of the world and beyond – to the Land of the Dead and perhaps intercede with Lord Yama, the Soul-Collector, himself?This is the story of the legendary Meenakshi, the Warrior Princess of Madurai. Born in ancient times in a land ruled by men, Meenakshi refuses to be ruled by them. Who is this courageous soul and what will become of her?

Check out the website http://thompson-authors.com/

Thank you so much Sarada and John for joining me this week and sharing with your readers. Don’t forget, you can meet them and a host of other fabulous authors at the Carmarthen Book Fair this Saturday. We’re waiting to talk books with you all!

 

 

John Thompson – Author and gentleman

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This Saturday 11th August is the Carmarthen Book Fair, created and organised by two of my favourite people, John and Sarada Thompson.

I met them at the Llandeilo Book Fair a few years ago and we’ve been friends ever since. I invited them to come and share a little more about themselves.

Today is John’s turn to let us into his creative mind and tell us more about what makes him tick, and I have to say, I learned a few things and love so many of these answers.  Thank you so much, John for sharing with us..

1 How do you write? Is everything plotted, planned to perfection? Do you ever change tack as

you go along or always stick to a pre-made plan?

I have a general plan of how the story should go, but often find that as characters develop, the plot has to move in a direction I had not envisaged  –  including bringing in more characters.  I never stick rigidly to a plot-line  –  I’m a great believer in letting things take their course.

2 Do you have a writing ritual? Meditation, certain cup for your tea, writing trousers?

 No, no rituals.

3 Aside from writing, what makes you tick? Tell us 5 things about yourself we probably don’t know.

1) I’m a sports fanatic (excepting snooker and golf!)  –  have supported Arsenal for over 60 years

2) I’m very sentimental –  I still cherish the moment I held my first grandchild over 16 years ago

3) I love India and can’t wait to go back  –  but you probably knew that

4) I’m very left-wing  –  you would probably have guessed that too

5) I worry that I won’t live long enough to write all the stories that buzz around in my mind

4 If you were stranded on a desert island with shelter, food and water, what 5 items would you

want with you?

1) a solar-powered hi-fi set

2) a complete set of classical CDs (excluding very modern stuff)

3) a set of wine-making equipment

4) lots of paper and pens

5) a bundle of puzzle books – sudoku, word wheel, crossword etc.

5 On said island, what 5 books would you take and why?

 1) War and Peace  –  having taken years to read it when I was much younger, I feel I’d have the time to get through it again

2) Wolf Hall  –  I just loved Mantel’s take on Thomas Cromwell

3) Pride and Prejudice  –  probably my favourite book of all time, filled with wonderfully drawn characters;

4) The Lord of the Rings  –  I’ve read it a dozen times over the years, so a few more wouldn’t hurt

5) Bleak House  – or any other Dickens novel  –  the supreme story-teller.

6 Off the island now, which famous person would you like to have dinner with?­

No-one.

 7 Your current writing projects?

 Currently planning the final volume of the Brindavan series, and in the middle of writing a number of children’s books: 1) a boy who wants to be a good footballer is coached by the ghost of Stanley Matthews; 2) a boy from the 15th century who was transported into a magical world through an enchanted mirror finds himself in the 21st century; 3) the Ringo stories  –  about a magician turned into a dog but retaining his magical powers.

8 Other published work and links…

The first two volumes of the Brindavan Chronicle –  Genesis and Nemesis  –  were published in 2015 and 2017; Judas, the Man Behind the Myth is due to be published on 11th August.  I have also a number of short-story booklets: 1) Adventures in Time – stories for children; 2) Beyond Boundaries  –  unearthly tales; 3) The Female of the Species  –  stories of women who seek revenge for ill-treatment; 4) Strange Encounters  –  ghost stories.

 

You can find links to these books on John’s author page https://www.amazon.co.uk/John-Thompson/e/B012NZ3V8W/ref

 

 

 

Face to face at the Book Fair

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On Saturday 21st July, the National Botanic Gardens of Wales held a storytelling event and book fair called Plant & Plots. I was invited to bring my books along to set up a stand in the Great Glasshouse.

All began well at 8.30am. The plants are amazing and the thought of spending all day with them, and meeting the plant loving public, filled me with excitement.

More authors arrived. I was opposite the fabulous children’s author, Angela Fish and we chatted about the prospects for the day and our books. Her stories are wonderful with glorious illustrations. I was sure every parent and child who walked passed would love one of her books.

I’d recently linked up online with Cheryl Beer, a poet and organiser of a new book fair for September 29th this year in Llandysul, so it was lovely to meet her ‘in real life’ and have a chat. Thorne Moore was there with her clever book stand to keep the drips off her books, and her books of course, psychological mysteries or ‘domestic noir’, exploring the reasons for crimes and their consequences. It was lovely to see Judith Barrow after she interviewed me for Showboat TV, and her wonderful family sagas. Thorne and Judith are the brains and beauty (and damned hard work!) behind the Narberth Book Fair, this year on 22nd September. Check out the fabulous website they have created. http://www.narberthbookfair.co.uk/

Sarada and John Thompson, organisers of the Carmarthen Book Fair on 11th August, invited me to the event, so it was lovely to catch up with them and their work.

And then the sun came out…. and nost of the public chose not to come in. I didn’t blame them. I love the sun, am very happy in it, but the heat and humidity were unbearable. Angela and I took turns to get fresh air, but it was a struggle returning. After a few hours, we nabbed someone to put an industrial fab on which helped a bit, but by 3pm, I was beginning to feel unwell. A meeting of authors was called. Graham Watkins spoke to those in charge of the event and we were offered a table in the Gallery for the following day, but I chose to leave space for others on this occasion; my broken toe is still mending!

I shall definitely return to the Botanic Gardens and I did meet some lovely people. I talked at length to a wonderful gentleman about the magical landscape of Wiltshire and I danced with a little fairy who called me the purple lady. In this digital age, you just can’t beat chatting about books and inspiration face to face.

Don’t forget my Summer Special Giveaway Be in a Book! In three easy steps, you can be yourself in my next novel!

 

The BEAUTYof a Book Fair

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Love books but never been to a book fair? Let me tell you how much fun they are…

B is for books…one of my favourite dreams is finding myself in a room surrounded by books.14441101_928492490589252_1450220905486666353_nTables weighed down with glistening covers and colourful banners fill the hall and all you have to do is browse. It’s a wonderful spectacle and an exciting opportunity to find a book that transports you to another world.

E is for education…because you can talk with the authors, you hear the books synopsis but, more importantly, learn why an author wanted to share their story with you. 14492328_10153797841252327_6965602039928982529_n

We don’t just talk about books either…authors are real people. At Carmarthen Book Fair, I shared about lime mortaring and learned great tips on organic gardening as well as talking about magic. Often, there are talks and workshops where authors share their passion for their work and educate with tips on writing or opportunities to delve deeper into a specific genre.

A is for authors…a book fair is a great place for authors to meet, share and unite. Most of us are introverts by design, creating our stories alone in our own world of words, so book fairs are a great place to feel part of the writing community. 14462752_928492613922573_8779798483905616230_n

U is for universal…at a book fair, there is something for everyone, books spanning all the genres. They are inclusive events, often using the opportunity to raise money for charity. 14440912_928494113922423_5699407015268787620_n At Carmarthen, money was raised for Multiple Sclerosis with a raffle. Prizes were donated by authors and the local community.

T is for time…as an author, it’s time to be yourself and time to share the writing you love. The atmosphere buzzes with excitement yet there’s no rush…time to relax and share with our readers. 14449818_10210590035252262_8255655491257185578_n

Y is for you…we wouldn’t be there without you! Book Fairs give authors the opportunity to be there for you, answer your questions and inspire you to immerse yourself in the world of story.14463312_10153797841292327_4601279399998354486_n

Look out for local book fairs in the press and on social media. If you’re in Wales, I look forward to meeting you at Llandeilo in December.

Happy reading!