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.

Honorary mentions

Coming soon…

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.

 

 

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.

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.

Chris Mouse time is nearly here

Special Agent Felix Whiter returns in a brand new adventure.

Ok, now I know there will be more people saying “Who?” than “Yay!” about this, but that is going to change over time until everyone knows all about Felix Whiter. If you have already read “For Cats’ Eyes Only” you can scroll down, or click here.

Who is Felix Whiter?

Created to coincide with the 2017 Summer Reading Challenge, with the theme “Animal Agents” Felix is a special agent at A.I.S. (Animal Intelligence Services) based in Beech House. He’s a cool cat who always gets his man, although Swifty the Tortoise often gives him the slip.

His boss is a white mouse called M, and her assistant is a white stag called Jonathan Hart. There is also an owl called Olli who is a few feathers short of a nest.

The series is illustrated by Amii James, an art student currently at Petroc college and going on from there to university to study illustration with a view to becoming a children’s book illustrator.

Chris Mouse

The sequel “Dr. Gnaw” is set in winter, and the animals have a tradition that dates back to one very cold winter, when the animals were all cold and hungry. One brave mouse called Chris set off to find food, accompanied by Old Father Squirrel. They were gone for 7 days and nights, but on their return they brought sacks of cheese, and nuts.

Every winter, the animals remember, by exchanging gifts, and eating good food, and they all wish each other a Happy Chris-Mouse and dress up as old father squirrel in his acorn hat; although Felix isn’t really all that keen on it.

Felix has a new partner; a spaniel called Holly, and he has to get over his dislike of dogs. He and Holly get invited to a posh party at the Akita-Shibu Bank. Felix goes under an assumed name; John McClaw, but soon he is fighting for his life, and Holly’s too when a gang of villains, led by Hans the Rat, take everyone hostage, and try to rob the bank.

If the plot sounds familiar, you should see some of the jokes! Blue Poppy Publishing would like any film companies, or 1970s comedy double acts to send writs, in the first instance, to our contact email. We don’t have any money, but the publicity of a court case could well change that.

Funding a new book by a new author

Teeny Tiny Witch, by Sheila Golding.

Teeny Tiny Witch is, as her name suggests, is quite small. She also prefers the colour red, to black, and in addition, her spells often go catastrophically wrong.

As a result she is banished from Witch Island, and has to leave her mother, and all her friends.

Cold and alone, she befriends a dragon, named Quanga, and his mother, who works for a grumpy old wizard.

While Teeny Tiny Witch may be able to help the wizard to cheer up, but what she really wants is to go back home; and that requires not only all her courage, and strength; but she must to defy the odds, and get a spell right for a change.

Gloriously illustrated by North Devon graphic artist Colin Rowe (Corvus Design) this is a story that will charm younger readers, or make a perfect bedtime story for ages 4-7.

We are crowdfunding to cover the cost of printing and need to raise at least £1,000 Here’s the link to the Kickstarter project. It finishes on the 8th of October, and every pledge and share will help.

 

 

Pronunciation and Glossary for ‘Children of the Wise Oak’

Pronunciation

Some of the Celtic names in the book are made up from proto-Celtic, proto-Indo-European (PIE) or existing languages like Welsh and Breton. Others are actual names. Nobody really knows exactly how the Iron-age Celts spoke, but I have assumed a similarity to Welsh. In my mind, ‘R’ is usually rolled as in Italian, but if you have trouble with that don’t worry. In fact, please pronounce any name as you wish and if anyone tells you it’s wrong, point to this sentence.

  • Blodwyth – Blod-uith
  • Blyth – Rhymes with scythe
  • Cuilleana – Quill-e-aa-na
  • Darruwen – Long ‘a’
  • Durgal – Long ‘u’ rolled ‘r’
  • Elarch – Ell-ark – roll the ‘r’, ‘ch’ as in ‘loch’
  • Kaito – Kay-toe
  • Kyndyrn – Kin-d’yi-rn
  • Ruthgem – Roll the ‘r’ – the ‘g’ is not soft like the English ‘gem’ nor hard like ‘get’ it is more in the back of the throat like a cross between ‘g’ and ‘h’ I’m really sorry, even I don’t know why, but it is.
  • Teague – Teeg
  • Trethiwr – Treth-yewerr (hard ‘th’)
  • Urien – You-rr-i-en

 

Glossary

A few terms in the text may not make sense immediately. So here’s a handy guide to some of the more obscure names.

Gods and historical characters

  • Bellenos – sun god, equivalent to Apollo.
  • Brynno – my imagined Celtic spelling of Brennus.
  • Brigantia – Brighid or Bride, the Celtic goddess who releases spring from the grip of winter.
  • Cernunnos – a horned god.
  • Govanno – a god of alcohol.
  • Poeninos – god of a specific mountain in the Alps.
  • Leucetios – a god of lightning.
  • Taranis – a god of thunder.
  • Lenus – a god of healing.
  • Deus Pater – also spelled Dis-Fater when pronounced by the Germanic Celts of Entwalen-Dun (equivalent to Jupiter/Zeus).

 

 

Places and tribes

  • Armorica – an area equivalent to modern day Brittany.
  • Ba-dun – a hill fort not far from modern day Dorchester.
  • Bibracte – Gaulish town.
  • Boii – a Celtic tribe.
  • Carnuti – a Gaulish tribe.
  • Catuvellauni, Trinovantes, Belgae, Atrebates, and the Cantiaci – some Celtic tribes of Britain.
  • Cosedia – a port in northern Gaul, now modern day Coutances in Normandy.
  • Dumnoreix – a Gaulish chieftain.
  • Dwr-y-tryges – tribal name for the people who lived in Dorset and parts of Somerset.
  • Eceni Mawr – the Iceni (hard ‘c’).
  • Eiru – Ireland.
  • Entwalen-Dun – hill-fort between two lakes.
  • Eryri – Eagle people (fictional name of a tribe from a mythical era in the distant past).
  • Genabo – a Gaulish town, Cenabum in Latin, equivalent to modern day Orléans.
  • Helleni – Greeks.
  • Keltoi – the Greek name for all the Celtic peoples.
  • Lingones and Morini – Gaulish tribes around modern Belgium.
  • Lugh-Dun – Lugdunum, another Gaulish town. Modern-day Lyons.
  • Massalia – modern day Marseilles. Founded by Greeks but under Roman protection/control by the period of the story.
  • Maywr-dun – a larger hillfort. Maywr means big or great.
  • Narbo – Roman garrison town – modern day Narbonne.
  • Nevez-Dun – a Gaulish town. The name is back- imagined from the Latin Noviodunum.
  • Pretan – the island we now call Britain.
  • Pretani – the people of Pretan – a general term and not a tribal name.
  • Roma – Rome.
  • Romani – Romans.
  • Sennoni – a Celtic tribe usually written as the Senones.
  • Silures and Ordovici – Celtic tribes of Wales.
  • Suindinum – chief town of the Cenomanni – modern day Le Mans.
  • Unelli – Gaulish tribe in modern day Normandy.
  • Unellia – land of the Unelli.
  • Ynis-Mona – Anglesey (modern day Ynis Mon in Welsh).
  • Y-Trwsgani – an imagined Celtic rendering of Etruscans.

 

Other

  • Belotonios – Beltane, the start of summer and the second most important festival in the Celtic year after Samhain. The Celts celebrated the cross quarter festivals, between the solstices and equinoxes. Theirs was emphatically a lunar calendar and it is likely that feasts were held at a significant point on the lunar cycle, not on a fixed date in the solar year. In other words, much more like Easter than May Day.
  • Brachae – trousers. The Celts appear to have invented trousers, instead of wearing tunics and togas as the Romans and Greeks did.
  • Contubernium – a small unit of Roman soldiers consisting of eight legionaries and two supporting servants.
  • Decanus – leader of the ten men in the contubernium.
  • Deru-Weidi – Druids – the name is a back creation based on an ancient word for the oak tree, ‘Deru’, and the root of our modern word Wise, ‘Weido/i’.
  • Deru-Weido – a Druid.
  • Imbolc – the end of winter when the ewes start to come into milk and lambing season begins. Around the end of February.
  • Lugunasath – Lughnasadh – the end of summer. Harvest time.
  • Retiarius – a type of gladiator who used a fishing net and trident
  • Riurios – a month according to the Coligny calendar, approximately equivalent to December.
  • Samonios – Samhain (pronounced ‘Sow-een’) – the origin of our modern Halloween festival and the Celtic New Year. The most important feast in the Celtic year, when the veil between this world and the next is thinnest, allowing for the possibility of communication with the dead.
  • Thermopolia – (singular Thermopolium) a kind of café, not to be confused with Thermopylae, the famous battle.

For Cats’ Eyes Only – Preview

Launching soon

UPDATE, For Cats’ Eyes Only launched at Ilfracombe Library on the 19th of July. You can buy the paperback HERE

If you prefer to get the Kindle edition it is HERE for the UK version, and HERE for the rest of the world

For Cats’ Eyes Only was commissioned to coincide with this year’s Big Summer Reading Challenge 2017 (n.b. it is NOT an official BSRC book)

If you are aged 4 – 11 yrs and live in Ilfracombe, you can get a FREE copy just by coming along to Ilfracombe library and signing up for the challenge on Wednesday 19th July

Otherwise, you can still get a copy shortly after that date from all good bookshops, as well as online here or on Amazon.

Young readers in Devon can also come along to their local library and meet the author, as well as do a fun craft session related to the book. See here for confirmed dates. If your local library isn’t on the list, then be sure to ask them why not.

Here’s a sneak preview of the prologue of the book.

Prologue

The End … Or is it?

“Not one more step, Swifty!”

Special Agent Felix Whiter sighted down the barrel of his Buckthorn and Beech .22 pistol at the tortoise, who had thought he was getting away. Swifty knew he could hide in his shell but, either way, there was no escape this time.

“Felix! I wish I could say I’ve been expecting you but, alas, it seems you have the upper hand.”

“Did you really think you could get away with it, Swifty?”

“Well, I guess I didn’t expect that you would be assigned to the investigation. You’re a cool cat, I’ll give you that.”

“My team are already rounding up your minions, and the lettuces are safely back in our warehouse. Now I just have to bring you in to make this a purrfect day.”

As the secret agent spoke, Swifty looked past him with a worried expression.

“I’m not falling for that old trick, Swifty. There’s nothing behind me.”

“Wanna bet?”

Felix swung round and sure enough, a little girl was coming towards them across the grass. She must have seen everything. Desperately he tried to hide the gun behind his back and dropped down onto all fours, purring and flicking his tail, but it was no use. He’d been caught.

The little girl looked at the cat, and then at the tortoise which was trying to look innocent and slowly sidling away towards a large oak stump.

“Did I just see you talking to that tortoise, puss-cat?” the little girl asked.

“Meow?”

“It’s no use pretending, I know I saw you standing up and pointing a stick at the tortoise, and you’re wearing clothes, and you were definitely talking, although I didn’t hear what you were saying.”

“Purr?”

Felix stalked over to the little girl and rubbed hard against her legs with his sides, purring and meowing for all he was worth.

‘Just a few minutes of this and she’s going to forget all about it,’ thought Felix.

Sure enough, the girl began to doubt herself. “I must have imagined it,” she said to herself as she scratched behind the cat’s ears. “I suppose some people do like to dress their cats in clothes as well,” she added.

At that moment, the cat turned its head to look at the point where the tortoise had been, only moments before. It was nowhere to be seen.

‘Drat!’ Felix thought.