Jane Austen Country

Working as a full time writer means many hours sitting in front of a screen and keyboard, and it is way too easy to forget just how lovely the local countryside can be.

Especially when you live in the Jane Austen country of North Hampshire, as I do.

Jane spent the first 25 years of her life in the village of Steventon, which is very close to my home, and wrote Northanger Abbey, Sense & Sensibility and Pride & Prejudice in the rectory there.

thatched cottages

The grand old houses with famous names and the huge estates still exist, although the villages which served them have been transformed into expensive homes, with quaint thatched roofs, small old village churches and surrounded by lovely farmland.

Dummer church


So this is how I spent my Easter Saturday yesterday – walking down quiet lanes the width of one car, so that you have to dive onto the wild flower verge to escape being swiped by a wing mirror, although the drivers always slow down and wave. 

And then the countryside, all dressed up in April flowers and showers.  Wild primroses and woods full of bluebells. Rabbits, pheasants, stoats and so many birds it was hard to count.

There was one special treat – I heard and then saw my first swallow of the year.

And, just in case you were looking for an excuse why your manuscript was late…

nest box letter box

rape seed oil fields in flower P1050201 P1050203


Total Book Indulgence

Now and again I think that  it is crucial for any writer to take the time away from their day life and wallow in a complete and total immersion BOOKFEST.

I am lucky enough to live an hour away by train from one of the largest book trade shows in the world - the London Book Fair.

This is where literary agents come together to make deals for their clients, and publishers show their fabulous catalogues to booksellers from around the world. But it also has developed a terrific program for authors.

The last time I was there it was struck down by the Icelandic Ash cloud, but this time Earls Court was totally buzzing!


London Book Fair 2014

Why was it such a terrific day? This was my chance to:

* Meet my tribe and talk to real people, face to face, and not just over the web. [ Great fun!]

* Visit publishers. [ Waves to the lovely team at Harlequin who were doing a fabulous job] 

* Catch up with members of the Romantic Novelists Association who were visiting or manning publisher stands. 

* Attend top class presentations by internationally recognised stars in their field.

For example; the lovely Katie Fforde on genre fiction, with Manda Scott for contemporary and historical, and Jo Fletcher for speculative fiction.

London Book Fair 2104 b

And a stunning and animated presentation by Bella Andre on Self-Publishing who is working with Kobo on the foreign translations of her work.

London Book Fair c

* Come away with notebooks full of furiously written notes which I am slowly going to break down and use.

* Walk through aisle after aisle of fabulous new technology, publishing services and BOOKS!

There truly is nothing like spending a whole day with people who share your passion and want to make a difference with books of all shapes, sizes and format. 

I had a great time.  Sigh. Lots to do.