North Devon local bookshops

Support your local bookshop.

We’re blessed with some wonderful bookshops in North Devon and here at Blue Poppy Publishing, our long term aim is for all books to be sold by retailers, while we only deal with wholesale. For now you can buy our books right here from our website, but if you want to support your local book shop we would love that too, even though we make less money on the deal.

Here’s the lowdown on your local book shops in and around North Devon.

  • Ilfracombe Bookshop” – 99 High St, Ilfracombe, Devon, EX34 9NH – 01271 864545
    This is a wonderful book shop with shelves stacked high with stock and the owner Paul will cheerfully order books for you. As well as books, he stocks a superb range of artists materials, catering for the many amateur and professional artists in the town. There’s no website so if you’re in town pop in and say, ‘Hi’.
  • Tarka Books” – 5 Bear St, Barnstaple, Devon, EX32 7BU – 01271 267090
    An unassuming frontage on the one way section of Bear Street in the centre of town opens into a large space crammed with books, although they have more second-hand books they do stock some new, particularly children’s books. Website.
  • Sol Books” – 2 Bridge Chambers, Barnstaple, Devon, EX31 1HB – 01271 327319
    Although this shop is almost entirely second-hand and antiquarian books, they do specifically stock books by local authors, including Blue Poppy publications.
  • Waterstones” – 42 High St, Barnstaple, Devon, EX31 1BZ – 01271 374433
    The national chain is a vital part of the overall book retail market.  Think of it as a game of ‘rock-paper-scissors’ but instead it’s ‘Amazon-Waterstones-Indies’ The Barnstaple branch is large and open with a great range and, like all bookshops, they can order any book in print. Website
  • Walter Henry Books” – 12 High St, Bideford, Devon, EX39 2AA – 01237 425727
    A beautiful spacious and well stocked bookshop in the centre of Bideford. hey don’t have a website, but there is a Facebook and Twitter account if you want to get in touch.

Beyond North Devon

Oakhampton – recently opened

“Dogberry & Finch” – 15 St James St, Okehampton, EX20 1DJ

Newly opened in August 2019 Kate McClosky and her partner Linus look forward to bringing a carefully curated selection of books to their hometown and becoming an important part of the Oakhampton shopping experience. Their plans include hosting special events as well as featuring local artists in the shop. For more information, check out their website.

Tiverton

Liznojan Books” – 25 Gold Street, Tiverton, Devon, EX16 6QB
Liznojan is one of the newer bookshops in Devon, opened in 2017 by mum and daughter team Jackie and Kayleigh. It’s not just a bookshop, it is a community hub with local art and craft, and independent magazines, as well as an organic cafe. It really is a gem of a shop and well worth a visit if you are in town. Website

Crediton

Crediton Community Bookshop” – 21 High Street, Crediton, Devon, EX17 3AH

Another lovely independent bookshop serving Crediton and the surrounding areas. Spacious and well stocked, offering a range of events throughout the year and working with local schools on things like author visits and book related events to promote reading. Website

Axminster

Archway Bookshop” – Church Street, Town Centre, Axminster, EX13 5AQ

You enter through the Gothic arch of this ancient stone building and find yourself in a large shop spread over two floors with a magnificent spiral staircase. As well as a huge range of stock there is, as you might expect, personal recommendations, and an ordering service which even includes local delivery. As usual, the shop is a community hub with things like a book club and they are a sales outlet for local ticketed events. The website is sparse but is a starting point.

Sidmouth

Paragon Books” – 38 High Street, Sidmouth, Devon, EX10 8EJ

Paragon books (not be be confused with Parragon books the publisher) has graced Sidmouth’s shopping scene for over twenty years. With a range of over 5,000 titles, as well as CDs and DVDs, you should find what you want, and if you can’t they can order for you. They also have greetings cards and paintings from local artists. They host author events and sell tickets for other local venues. Find out more on their website.

Topsham

Topsham Bookshop” -27 Fore Street, Topsham, Exeter, Devon, EX3 0HD

A large bookshop set over three floors, although mostly out of print and previously loved books, they do have some new books of local interest. Website.

Newton Abbot

Waterstones” -7-9 Courtenay Street, Newton Abbot, Devon, TQ12 2QH

Set in the centre of historic Newton Abbot; like all Waterstones you’re sure of a professional service and a great range of books with an ordering service, and occasional author events. Website.

Torquay

Waterstones – 15 Union Street, Torquay, Devon, TQ1 1

Website.

Exeter

Waterstones (High Street)” – 48-49 High Street, Exeter, Devon, EX4 3DJ

Another large bookshop over four floors. Book Group meets on the first Thursday of every month (excluding November and December) and there are regular author events.  Website.

Waterstones (Roman Gate)” – 252 High Street, Exeter, Devon, EX4 3PZ
Spread out over three floors with the children’s section on the ground floor, a cafe on the 1st floor and a quiet section on the 2nd floor (sensibly far away from the children. Website.
Dartmouth

Dartmouth Bookseller, 3 Foss St, Dartmouth, TQ6 7DW
Describes itself as “a busy little bookshop in the beautiful coastal town Dartmouth, Devon. We’re part of a family-run company, Mabecron Books Ltd. Friendly booksellers happy to recommend interesting reads for all ages and occasions.” Website

Kingsbridge

Harbour Bookshop, Mill Street Kingsbridge Devon TQ7 1ED
A friendly and well-stocked independent local bookshop in South Hams. Website

Tavistock

Bookstop 3 Market Street, Tavistock, PL19 0DA
Bookstop is a general book shop stocking all categories of books and audiobooks on two floors along with a wide range of music on vinyl and CD in a dedicated Music Room. website

TBC

BBC Radio Devon interview with David Fitzgerald – “Fitz”

Dateline: Friday 5th October
Time: 12:09 – 12:19 approx

Well yesterday was an experience and tremendously interesting, and fun.

David Fitzgerald is a lovely bloke who managed to sound interested in my maundering nonsense. I just hope I didn’t send all his listeners to sleep.

I got in touch with the show with considerable trepidation, fearing that I would either be ignored, or worse, rejected as not sufficiently interesting. (n.b. this is why I self-published in the first place, because I dread rejection far too much)

Contrary to my worst fears, Elsa got back to me almost immediately and, to my huge surprise, offered me an interview the very next day! 

So there’s me driving down to Plymouth (I had thought the BBC Radio Devon studios were in Exeter) on Friday morning, and waiting in reception, then being brought through by the delightful Elsa and introduced to Fitz.

I knew I wouldn’t have long, and I tried to splurge as much information as I could in an incoherent stream. Fitz managed things with utter professionalism and natural charm, bringing out some of the important points I had glossed over, and making sure I could plug the website.

You can listen again using the BBCs own iPlayer app, This requires an account and you have to be signed in. My interview is at approx 2:09 into the three hour programme.

If you live abroad, or if you can’t bring yourself to sign up for an account, then I have made a  recording of the specific bit for you to listen to.

I left thinking of a hundred things I wanted to say but didn’t but listening back over the interview I got about ten minutes and covered almost everything I could have hoped for. Thank you Fitz, and BBC Radio Devon.

Until next time.

Launch Day MMMM

Mystery, Magic, and Mayhem,
– and a Sprig of Mistletoe. –

I am writing this at 10:00am on Saturday 29th of September and the brand new book is here and available to buy but ONLY in bookshops or from our shop.

If you are coming to Barnstaple Library today from 2:00 – 4:00 pm there will be fun and activities, a chance to meet some of the authors and get them to sign your book. We will get a few extras signed too for those who can’t get there.

We would LOVE you to buy the book from your bookshop!

“Why?” We hear you ask, “Surely you get more profit if I buy directly?”

Well yes we do, but Blue Poppy Publishing is a publishing company and in the long run we hope that everyone will buy our books in bookshops and we won’t have a retail operation at all.

If people order our books from local bookshops there are two major benefits.

  1. Bookshops make money which helps the local economy.
  2. Bookshops find out we exist and that there is demand for our books.

This book is not available on Amazon!

“Whaaaat?”

You heard! There are technical reasons why, but we decided not to even try to overcome them at least for now.

This book is ONLY available from us or from UK bookshops.

ALL UK BOOKSHOPS.

If you want to buy a copy in Birmingham, or Manchester, or Nottingham, or Sheffield, or Aberdeen, or Belfast, or London, just go in and say, “Hello, can you order me a copy of ‘Mystery, Magic, and Mayhem – and a Sprig of Mistletoe’. It’s from Blue Poppy Publishing.” They will look puzzled and then type it into their computer, whereupon you will see their little face light up as they find it. Just in case that doesn’t work for any reason give them the ISBN 978-1-911438-53-3 (you don’t need the hyphens but it’s easier to read that way.

They will then order it and take your details to let you know when it arrives.

You pay £6 they make a small but certain profit and everyone is happy.

 

 

The Dreaded Facebook Jail

Getting booted off social media for no good reason SUCKS.

Link to Ian Nathaniel Cohen’s website  See below for story.

Authors need to promote their work, so they use social media like Facebook and Twitter etc. to try and encourage punters to visit their website.

Then for sometimes seemingly arbitrary reasons, Facebook takes it upon themselves to lock your account.

“You seem to be posting spam. Please complete this Capcha to prove you are not a bot.” is just a gentle one.

I got forced to change my password because I posted a comment on a school’s Facebook page thanking them for making one of my books a ‘set book’ for their year 4. – Huh?

They let me back in when I assured them that my post was not spam. Yeah, they actually took my word for it. Bless!

But you don’t have to get booted off completely for it to be a right royal pain. Pity this poor author who has been banned from linking to his own website, even though there is literally nothing wrong with it.

See for yourself. https://iannathanielcohen.weebly.com/

Ian Nathaniel Cohen is such a regular Joe from Miami FLA who has written a umber of academic works and what looks like a rip-roaring pirate adventure The Brotherhood of the Black Flag. Go check him out and show him some love.

 

On the Order of Intensity of Meaning – Angry

In the light of the current admonition  against ‘adverbs of degree’, I was thinking about words for angry, and how they relate qualitatively to each other.

I could have started with any number of adjectives, but this happened to occur to me on the subject of ire, so I’ll start with that. If there is a smattering of a response in the comments which does not relate to buying aids to sustained performance in an intimate setting then there may be other similar posts to follow.


Let’s try to put these words in order, starting from the least severe and working up.

Let me know if you think I should change the order, or if I have missed any out (probably) or included any that are too obscure (unlikely!).

Rules :

  • There are no absolutely wrong answers. I am as interested in how others perceive these words and their meanings as what the dictionary actually says.
  • I didn’t use a thesaurus or a dictionary, but you can.
  • Try to avoid straying from the core meaning of ‘annoyed’ so not words like ‘hurt’ or ‘upset’.

 

My list :

  1. Put out
  2. Miffed
  3. Peeved
  4. Disgruntled
  5. Irate
  6. Annoyed
  7. Angry
  8. Furious
  9. Incandescent
  10. Apoplectic

 

Updated list :

  1. Put out
  2. Miffed
  3. Peeved
  4. Irritated
  5. Disgruntled
  6. Annoyed
  7. Angry
  8. Irate
  9. Furious
  10. Incandescent
  11. Apoplectic

 

Now I am wondering about “irked”

Old photographs Poles Montaland genealogy france

Other People’s Ancestors

When researching your family tree, you can’t help but turn up interesting stuff about friends of the family who are no relation to yourself. I have been writing about my great grandmother, Fanny Chalk Austin, whose memoirs I have edited and expanded and published on Kindle. UK Link  –  Global link 

I have since been digging out old family photographs and hit a rich vein in a big old scrapbook that my father had. In it, there are photographs and newspaper cuttings relating to lots of my own family, but also some which bear no relation to my tree. (as far as I can tell)

Photographs of a wonderful looking woman who, judging by the pictures, had a vibrant sense of humour and a ‘jolly-hockey-sticks’ approach to life. Her name was Dora Boobyer, and I haven’t the faintest idea how she connects to my family. But it was a pleasure to be able to send the images to a genealogist who has researched her in their tree.

I also have several photographs of a French family who obviously had a major impact on mine but it is not clear why. My great-grandmother honeymooned in Paris, as did my grandmother, at Hôtel Britannique, and it looks likely that at least one family member had strong connections with Britain, but I still haven’t pieced together the puzzle and it isn’t even MY puzzle.

Granny Poles had three children, Louise, Richard, and Harry.

Louise married a M. Montaland apparently in England AND France.

I’ll continue this story later and add the photos. I have to go to a bookshop now to promote my physical books a bit.

Ilfracombe library Book Giveaway event

Friday the 15th of December
3:30pm – 6:00pm at Ilfracombe Library

Every child (age 0-16) with a valid Devon Library card, who comes to the library in Ilfracombe on Friday 15th December, between 3:30 and 6:00 pm will receive a FREE copy of “Dr Gnaw” the latest Felix Whiter book, and sequel to “For Cats’ Eyes Only”

This event is once again made possible by Ilfracombe’s very own David Tubby. Olli will be there with the illustrator Amii James to sign books. David Tubby won’t be able to make it but he has arranged for none other than Father Christmas himself to be there in his place.

make sure you have a valid library card

Check your card is up to date, or if you don’t have one, head on down to the library and get one. You don’t have to register at Ilfracombe, as long as you have a Devon Libraries card, and are 0-16 years of age, and you come into Ilfracombe Library at the time stated above, you will get your book.

See you there.

Check out Book Gobbler for FREE books

Who wants free books?

We all like to get free books, and we all know a few ways to do that. Well here’s another one.

Book Gobbler is a brand new site set up by Blue Poppy author Joni Dee.

For readers.

Especially avid readers with a tight budget, you can get hold of loads of FREE e-books from a wide range of authors and all genres. All they ask is for an honest unbiased review in exchange.

You can ALSO enter for a chance to win FREE physical books for many giveaways.

Because the site is new, you are in with a much better chance than with Goodreads.

For authors.

Get more reviews and readers.

We all know how hard it is to reach new readers, and get honest reviews on blogs and Amazon. By offering your e-book, and/or physical copies, you are able to reach a new audience of avid readers, including several influential bloggers.

Readers are required to write a review for any books they get for free. If they don’t write the review, they don’t get to apply for any more free books.

YOU choose, whether to offer e-books, or physical books, or both.
YOU choose, how many books to offer, and if you want to limit postage of physical copies to certain geographical areas.

Get in EARLY

The Book Gobbler is a new site, but it is building up users incredibly quickly. For now, the service is free, unlike many influential book review sites which charge authors money for the same service.

At some point in the future, they will have to charge something to maintain the growing site and cover hosting costs. So get in quick while it is still free.

 

Unfinished NaNoWriMo Chapter 2

Chapter 2 of my unfinished NaNoWriMo story
If you fancy reading Chapter 1 first, it is here.

2 Heaven

He had died. He laid back on the clouds, with St. Peter standing over him, clipboard in hand, accompanied by angels in white or blue robes. The light was bright, it was warm, not the freezing cold of Earth in winter. He blinked. The light of the Lord was too much, and he would be found unworthy. He tried to shield his eyes, but there was a wire in his hand, and it hurt to move.

St Peter took out a pen, and made a note on the clipboard, as he said, “Don’t try to move just yet, Mr …?”

John didn’t answer. He was confused. Why would St Peter not know his name?

“Where am I?”

“St Luke’s hospital. You passed out in the subway station. We couldn’t find any identifying documents, so we don’t really know much about you. Rather difficult to treat you without medical records.”

John’s head slumped back on the soft pillow. Not a cloud, but a bed. It wasn’t St. Peter, but St Luke. No, not St. Luke, but a doctor. He wasn’t dead. He felt … what did he feel? Everything and nothing. If he had been dead, and this were heaven, it was pretty much alright. Clean sheets, warm enough, and presumably, there would be regular meals. But would he have made the cut. He tried to weigh up his own life without bias. He half laughed at himself for the audacity of such a thing. How could he possibly remain unbiased while deciding if he should be allowed into heaven? He couldn’t even be certain of writing an honest review about his latest song.

St Peter was speaking to one of the other angels, “See if you can find out some details about him. If we can’t I suppose we’ll just have to do the best we can, and then discharge him as soon as he’s fit enough to go home. Assuming he has a home.”

‘Home! Star!’ John remembered he needed to feed the cat. He sensed he was thinking more lucidly again. He could see he was in a hospital, but he felt fine. No broken bones, no cuts or burns, no infection or neoplasm, his heart was beating normally now, and he had no breathing difficulties. He was in fine physical shape. He didn’t need their help. Star, on the other hand couldn’t feed himself. Star was the cat, his name short for Astaroth. Ok, naming your cat after a demon might be a black mark on St Peter’s clipboard, he had to admit. But taking good care of the cat, when he often forgot to look after himself, that was a big plus mark, right? That must be like, fifty heaven points right there. Anyway, it was just a name, and Star could be a right little devil sometimes.

“Nurse.” The word came out as a feeble, almost inaudible, croak; as though a very sleepy frog was trying to get someone to lift a heavy log off their back.

‘Nope, that’s not how my voice is supposed to sound.’ He thought.

He coughed, experimentally, and did the shortest vocal exercise in the history of music. “NURSE!”

‘Oops, bit loud.’

He hid under the bedsheet as a nurse bustled over, looking aggrieved.

“Sorry, didn’t mean to shout. Errm, when can I go home?”

“The doctor will need to see you before you can be discharged.”

“I really need to feed the cat.”

She consulted the little fob watch on her pocket absently as she said, “Doctor will be doing his rounds later this afternoon.”

“This afternoon? What time is it?”

The nurse looked again at her watch and said, “Eleven thirty-two.”

John enjoyed, fleetingly, the fact that she had literally just looked at her watch, and then had to look at it again the moment he asked the time. Then he recalled that it had been early evening when he had been chased by the barbarian horsemen; sorry, correction, biker gang. So he had been in hospital overnight? Which meant that the need to get back and feed Star was even greater now.

The nurse bustled away. He looked at the line in his wrist. It wasn’t actually connected to anything. Just there in case they needed it. He gently peeled the retaining tape away and slid the thin metal needle out of the vein. It hurt. John wasn’t brave or tough. He was a musician not a fighter. But this was too important. He replaced the tape with the little wad of lint, and held it in place as it felt like the stickiness was worn away. His jeans and tee shirt were in a bag in the bedside table. His coat, which wasn’t warm enough hung on the chair.


Same rule applies. If you want to read more you just have to ask, and I will post up chapter 3.

I don’t want to bore people.

My unfinished NaNoWriMo story

I stopped writing my NaNoWriMo at 17,796 words on day 8

I only started it for a giggle, I was well on target, but the story just didn’t have the legs for 50,ooo words, in my humble opinion.

Actually, perhaps with time or sufficient motivation I could have done it, but I really do have better things to do.

Anyway, I thought I may as well offer up my efforts so you can have a giggle, at my unpolished pantsing.

Chapter 1
John

‘Don’t look back,’ John thought, ‘just keep running’. He crossed the street and a cab screeched to a halt, the driver waving a fist. John looked back. They were gaining. Crowds; crowds were useful, he was small, with a low centre of gravity. He could twist and turn, disappear into crowds, invisible among tall people in heavy cloaks. A marketplace would be great; redolent of spices from the farthest corners of the empire, or a port! Ports were a good place to lose oneself among travellers. There was the entrance to the underground up ahead. People were entering and leaving in large numbers. He focussed his thoughts on reaching the safety of the crowd and put on an extra spurt. A gust of warm stale air rushed up the stairs as he dived among the harried commuters.

“Hey, watch where you’re goin’ asshole!”

A woman crossed his path dragging a bright red case on wheels. He hurdled it like he was a youth, jumping a bonfire. ‘The onlookers roared with approval as John the minstrel leapt the flames to purify his soul…’ his thoughts were interrupted by a man carrying two bags of groceries clasped to his chest between outstretched arms. There was no way to avoid a collision. He was a big man, the look in his eyes spelled murder, but somehow, despite the speed of the collision, nothing was spilled. John cradled the bags as though he was the saviour and not the cause of the whirlwind of chaos that had briefly engulfed the big man. Smiling cheekily, he said, “My lord, you dance divinely, but I must not tarry, I bid you good-day sir.”

And then after a brief involuntary tango, the two men parted, no better acquainted than when they had met, and John sprinted down into the cavernous dungeon where metal serpents roared through tunnels, spewing sparks. The barriers ahead were no obstacle. He slid under them. Timing was everything. He chanced another glance back, he couldn’t see them, but they would surely follow. Another sprint took him onto the train, and then moving along the carriage, between surly teenagers and elderly couples. A man with a bushy red beard, and amateurish tattoos, looked like he might be a Pictish warrior, although the MP3 player and the little earbuds suggested otherwise.

‘Come on doors. CLOSE!’

The background music was fast and intense in his mind, snare drums featured heavily in the mix, power chords, and… was that mandolin? The rhythm was intensifying, it was keeping time with his heartbeat, which was already too fast, but seemed to be getting fasterer. And there they were, sprinting towards the train where he was either a rat in a trap, or safe and sound. It all depended on the doors closing. ‘NOW!’

There were three of them. Warriors of the Eastern steppes, in leather and high boots, he couldn’t see weapons, but of course, they would be sheathed until combat, the blade sharp enough to cut through chain mail. The doors closed; the barbarians were defeated. The serpent moved forwards, slowly at first, then gaining speed, it roared into the labyrinthine tunnels towards the next valley. He fingered the item in his pocket. It seemed alien, a palm sized rectangle of smooth black obsidian. He touched a raised area on the side and the obsidian surface lit up. He slid his finger across the smooth stone and revealed the news that he had no internet connection. John put the phone back in his pocket and tried to focus on what was real and what was not.

The subway train slowed, and John stepped out onto the platform. In his haste, he had gone in the wrong direction. It didn’t matter, he had nowhere special he needed to be. The barriers were attended though. That was awkward, he would need a diversion. He looked around. The platform was deserted. His heart was beating faster again. He could feel it, bursting from his chest.

‘Run into him. The shock will give you time to escape. There’s nobody else around,’ the internal monologue said.

John shook his head. He had already spent most of the day running away from those other guys. He didn’t need to kick their horses, err, bikes. He didn’t need to call them hairy barbarian scum. But he had done it anyway. There was a rushing noise like another train coming into the station. But there was no train, no serpent, no magical sparks, and there was the royal guard, waiting at the gates to the city. He was an outsider, an interloper, outlawed. There was a price on his head, the King himself would surely oversee the torture, unless he could get past un-noticed.

He ran, only he wasn’t running, he was moving as though through treacle, the rushing noise was deafening now. Another metal serpent curved into the station spitting fire, but the sound was drowned out by the waterfall, the roaring screaming noise of water, falling and slowing him down, and then, there was nothing.


It only takes ONE comment from a reader who wants to read chapter 2, and I will post it up for you.