Swifts and books

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It’s been a busy week, especially if you’re a swift. Every week is a busy week for those screamers, of course, but they seem to have upped their game of late. When they first arrived a couple of weeks ago they were intermittent visitors, their presence in our neighbourhood apparently decided by whim and caprice, but more likely by the abundance or otherwise of insects. But now they’re nearly ever-present, and I for one welcome this new initiative.

They nest in the eaves of our two neighbouring houses, but not yet in the posh swift box we put up to entice them (our eaves having been closed up by an over-zealous builder a while ago). I’m so glad to see them that I absorb this rejection with a casual shrug of the shoulders. Our box is there for their use, should they ever feel the need to avail themselves of it – until then, I’ll content myself with standing outside the back door watching their aerobatics with a gormless look on my face.

Also filed under ‘busy’: me, what with Why Do Birds Suddenly Disappear? coming out, and a pile of music to conduct, and everything like that. As I mentioned briefly last week, there is little to compare with going into a bookshop you’ve loved all your life (Hatchards, in this instance) and seeing your very own book, the fruit of your overactive imagination, sitting on the shelf for anyone to purchase – the poor saps.IMG_2447 It’s an ego thing – me, me, I did that! – but there’s also a sense of validation, a feeling that all those hours spent staring out of the window or at a blank computer screen (interspersed, of course, with frenzied bouts of typo-ridden activity) were in fact worthwhile.

It’s not that the worth of a work of literature (or art, or music, or anything creative) is contingent on someone else deciding to offer it for sale – Why Do Birds Suddenly Disappear? would be exactly the same if it was still sitting on my hard drive, unexamined by anyone’s eyes other than my own. But it would be a dishonest writer who pretended they didn’t get satisfaction from the kind words of others. And, somewhat to my relief, the recent blog tour which ends today has provided more than its fair share of those.Natalie Fergie quote-2

So, in the interests partly of completeness and partly of ego-pampering, I append below the reviews, plus a couple of guest posts I wrote for three kind hosts (click the names to read.)

I present them partly because of the aforementioned ego, but also because the people who wrote them are worthy of attention – quite apart from my gratitude for the time they spent reading and reviewing, there’s some lovely writing in there.

Alice Stringer quote

So, Paul, PaulaRebecca, Matt, AliceTiffany,  ChrisNatalieJohn: thank you for your kind words. And Shona, Nicola and Janet: thank you for allowing me to infest your personal cyberspace for a day.Tiffany Francis quote

This question of the definition of ‘success’ opens up all sorts of questions of why we do what we do. I know, deep down, that Why Do Birds Suddenly Disappear? is, on its own terms, a successful piece of writing – it does what it sets out to do. But whether it will meet with commercial ’success’ is an entirely different matter. There are things I’ve written that I know will never be read by anyone but me, but that fact doesn’t invalidate the hours I spent writing them. Chris Foster quoteBut in this case I wrote the book to be bought and to be read, so I hope you won’t find it too awful if I urge you to … well, to buy it and to read it. You can do so, if you haven’t already, (and I’ve got something to say to you lot as well in a minute, so stick about) by going to any of the outlets below.

There’s a whole blog post to be written about the ins and outs of Amazoning or not Amazoning – I offer their link as well, at the bottom. There are people I know who think me mad not to be pointing everyone towards Amazon, because of the potential sales on that platform have to increase the book’s visibility. But still, I like bookshops, and I especially like that I have half a dozen within walking distance of my front door, and I particularly especially like that a couple of them are stocking the book. John Fish quoteAnd I know that they depend for their survival on people actively choosing to buy books from them rather than taking the easier route. So:

London:

Bookseller Crow 020 8771 8831 @booksellercrow

Kirkdale Books 020 8778 4701 @kirkdalebooks

John Sandoe  020 7589 9473 @johnsandoe

Big Green Bookshop 020 8881 6767 @biggreenbooks

Elsewhere:

Woodstock Bookshop 01993 812760 @woodstockbooks

BH6 Books (Bournemouth) 01202 418403 @BH6BooksandHome

(These are all lovely independent bookshops – they’re just the ones I know about who have stocked it since publication. If you know of any others, do please let me know and I’ll update the list.)

And if you must do your shopping exclusively online without contact with actual human beings, try Hive – you get to support a bookshop of your choice every time you buy something there.

And, for completeness, or if you want the ebook, here’s Amazon.

And finally, reviews. It’s one of the most tedious aspects of modern life, this constant badgering for validation. But, again, the accumulation of reviews does wonders for visibility. So I ask, with the prettiest of pleases, if you might spend a minute or two either on Amazon or Goodreads. It need only be a couple of sentences, but it would make the world of difference.

Thank you for your patience. There will be a return to mildly comedic whimsy on a variety of subjects (yeah, basically birds) next week.


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