London Book Fair 2022

Like many events during the Covid pandemic, the London Book Fair was cancelled for 2020 and 2021. But in line with the general feeling in the UK that the Covid threat was diminishing, the organisers decided to go ahead with the famous publishing-fest.

Although I whipped it off for the photos, my FFP2 mask was clamped to my face for almost all of the three days I was there. I did take it off when eating and drinking! Then I discovered half my skin make-up came off with it. Sorry, Max Factor. At least I saved on lipstick.

In France, we haven’t long come out of the legal obligation to wear a mask indoors. We didn’t use namby-pamby words like ‘recommending’ or ‘face-coverings’ – you wore your mask or you were fined 135 euros. But it was more than that. The French do have a sense of and tradition of civil solidarity and the majority of people still wear masks in my local shops, post offices and public buildings.

My first LBF in 2010 – an extract from my blog

The year of the Icelandic volcano ash cloud. I went there, with my planned schedule, aiming to get a feel of the industry, to increase my knowledge, to talk to people and, of course, to meet up with fellow Twitterers(sic!). All this I did. But I got a lot more.

Although it was a trade show, and it was obvious that many meetings were prescheduled business deal-makers, what struck me was the friendliness and willingness to talk of all those I got chatting to, whether on the stands or in the coffee shops.

As a newbie to this world, I am not yet cynical or blasé, so despite my sore feet I was very satisfied with my day out.

LBF 2013 impressions

When people ask me what is there at the London Book Fair for authors, I reply that meeting and talking with other authors plus industry professionals is one of the most important aspects. The formal talks make up a good grounding in the basics, but the experienced authors come to make new  contacts and learn the finer points of the book trade. It’s not the place for authors to pitch to agents; the latter are here to sell rights for their current clients. Their schedules are punishing and they will become tetchy if you attempt to interrupt them!

Authors will find the usual friendliness and sheer pleasure of talking books and news has an abiding attraction…

This was the year I joined the Alliance of Independent Authors.

2016 – I launched INSURRECTIO at this one!

This was fun! I hardly sat down for three days with the launch itself (I was thrilled at how many people turned up), being interviewed by Kobo and attending some fascinating talks including one by crime writer Peter James. This was the first LBF I wore my (in)famous green jacket. But more and more, I was networking with other authors, possible publishers and the odd agent.

At LBF 2017, I was becoming established on my publishing journey and I learning increasingly more about publishing and marketing, and by then I knew more people – agents, authors, publishers, movers and shakers. My focus shifted from sitting in talks to talking to people. In fact, I spent 90% of my time talking to others. What about? Anything and everything to do with books, concerns, latest opportunities, how to do things and technology.

My take-home? However experienced you are, you can always learn something. I was probably more ‘cynical and  blasé’ than that newbie seven years before, but despite my sore feet (obligatory for LBF) I was very satisfied.

So, what did I do in 2022?

A lot of talking! I volunteered for one stint on the Alliance of Independent Authors’ stand and ended up being there for all three days. After many years of being a fully independent author and with eleven fiction books and two non-fiction under my belt, I was able to share my experience and knowledge with new and aspiring authors and hopefully welcome them into the ALLi community. Authors sticking together and mutual aid are the hallmarks of ALLi; it’s a non-profit organisation whose mission is ethics and excellence in self-publishing.

Allis (left to right): Carol Cooper, Jill (JJ) Marsh, Debbie Young, Karen Inglis, Helena Halme, moi, Jane Davis (Photo courtesy of Jill Marsh)

I was delighted to meet up with many friends and industry contacts post-Covid, learn what had been happening to them and make introductions. I was equally pleased to support my writing friend JJ Marsh at the 2021 Selfies award where her book White Heron was one of the finalists in a very tight field.

I wasn’t terribly impressed by the low quality of checking that attendees had proper vaccination passes /certificates, nor that the LBF staff were unmasked. I’ve heard anecdotally since it finished of many unmasked attendees being struck by the infection. And my favourite tea trolley at the back of the hall had disappeared! However, there was much to enjoy as long as you took precautions yourself.

So, a step back into a kind of normal book life. Next month, I’ll be in Bristol at CrimeFest. Come and say hello. I’ll be the one in the mask and the green jacket.

 

Alison Morton is the author of Roma Nova thrillers –  INCEPTIO, CARINA (novella), PERFIDITAS, SUCCESSIO,  AURELIA, NEXUS (novella), INSURRECTIO  and RETALIO,  and ROMA NOVA EXTRA, a collection of short stories.  Audiobooks are available for four of the series.Double Identity, a contemporary conspiracy, starts a new series of thrillers. Double Pursuit, the sequel, is now out!

Find out more about Roma Nova, its origins, stories and heroines and taste world the latest contemporary thriller Double Identity… Download ‘Welcome to Alison Morton’s Thriller Worlds’, a FREE eBook, as a thank you gift when you sign up to Alison’s monthly email update. You’ll also be among the first to know about news and book progress before everybody else, and take part in giveaways.

March news – It's all been happening!

Dark days are on us again with the invasion of Ukraine. Romans can’t always hold their heads up in this respect, but this is 2022 Europe. Such a thing should no longer even be considered, let alone happen. The International Committee of the Red Cross is already active, bringing relief inside and outside Ukraine. I’m supporting them with my book profits from February and March.

If you’d like to donate, here’a the link:  https://www.icrc.org/en/donate/ukraine   #StandWithUkraine

What’s March about?

March (Latin, Martius) was named after the god Mars, and traditionally starts the Roman year. Usually seen as the god of war, he was also associated with agriculture ( something to do with ‘manly vigour’ and the rise of fertility in the spring?). Anyway, most of his festivals were held in March and October – the beginning and end of the season for military campaigning and the start of new crop growth and the end of the main season for farming.

Mars was second in importance to Jupiter in Ancient Rome, and represented military power as a way to secure peace, and featured as protector and father of the Roman people. In Roma Nova, he’s not so predominant and sheds the ‘father of the Roman people’ role, but symbolises strength and life force, which ties in with the agriculture, especially in spring.

Diving down into the alternative world…

Sea Lion Press invited me to appear on their blog – I felt rather honoured as they are the specialist alternate history publisher. Beautiful and rather penetrating questions!

One of my answers…
I came from the historical end of the scale and was very active in the Historical Novel Society, so my first audience came from historical fiction readers looking for something different. The Roman writers ‘adopted’ me which was very kind of them!

Many of my readers like thrillers per se, some like the feminist twist, others the ‘Romanness’ or even the romance, but many say they love the characters best. I think the idea of alternate history caught many readers by surprise and made them think – which is good!

Read the full interview here: https://www.sealionpress.co.uk/post/interviewing-the-ah-community-alison-morton

Portsmouth MysteryFest

I took my first hesitant steps back into the event world and spoke on two panels – historical mysteries and contemporary crime. Not only did I meet up with writing friends I hadn’t seen for over two years, I met new readers and fellow writers I’d only met before on Zoom. And, yes, the famous green jacket came out of the wardrobe.

Huge thanks to crime and mystery writer Carol Westron for organising us all as part of the Portsmouth Libraries BookFest season.

Where next – London Book Fair 2022

In a few days time, I’ll be meeting up with numerous other friends and re-immersing myself into the book world at one of the world’s biggest book fairs. Amongst other things, I’ll be celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) of which I’ve been a member for nine years. You can find out more (and join!) by clicking the link in the right column.

Book news

The new Roma Nova book set in the 4th century is now at 92,000 words and I’m about to write the final two chapters! Then it starts on its editing journey…

How you can help

Reviews are crucial for any book’s journey as they make the books more visible on the retail sites and introduce both Roma Nova and Mélisende to new readers. If can spare a few minutes to write one, I’d really appreciate it. Anybody can write one (subject to the retailer’s conditions); it only needs to be your heartfelt opinion.

And please don’t be shy about recommending my books to your friends, partner, online colleagues, online book club, your mum, her friends, your dad, brother, sister, in your Facebook group or on Twitter. Word of mouth is very powerful! 😉

 

Alison Morton is the author of Roma Nova thrillers –  INCEPTIO, CARINA (novella), PERFIDITAS, SUCCESSIO,  AURELIA, NEXUS (novella), INSURRECTIO  and RETALIO,  and ROMA NOVA EXTRA, a collection of short stories.  Audiobooks are available for four of the series.Double Identity, a contemporary conspiracy, starts a new series of thrillers. Double Pursuit, the sequel, is now out!

Find out more about Roma Nova, its origins, stories and heroines and taste world the latest contemporary thriller Double Identity… Download ‘Welcome to Alison Morton’s Thriller Worlds’, a FREE eBook, as a thank you gift when you sign up to Alison’s monthly email update. You’ll also be among the first to know about news and book progress before everybody else, and take part in giveaways.

The authors you love – the results!

Well, thank you! When I asked you to let me know about your favourite authors, I didn’t expect such a varied range.

Of course, picking five authors is a terrible squeeze for any reader, let alone a voracious reader. I went through similar agonies selecting eighteen books for my appearance on Amazon’s Book chat, so I sympathised. Inevitably, and much to my amusement (and pleasure!), several of the respondents added ‘reserves’, ‘bonuses’ or ‘extras’ and specified preferred books. 😉

So who are some of the top favourite authors?
Lindsey Davis, Kathy Reichs, Lauren Beukes, James Lee Burke, Robert Ludlum, Peter James, Kate Atkinson, Dreda Say Mitchell, Ilona Andrews, Alison Morton (who?), J K Rowling, Emily Brontë, Helen Hollick, Harriet Mercer (Gargoyles),

And a selection of the others (totally random, as is the order!)
Lindsey Davis (several times!)
Simon Scarrow
John Le Carré
Douglas Adams
Sarah J Maas
Elizabeth Chadwick
Ali Smith
Eric van Lustbader
Jeff Vandemeer
Kathy Reichs
Ann McCaffrey
George R.R. Martin (not for A Song of Ice and Fire but for his 1980s stories and novels)
Jeff VanderMeer
Jo Walton
Nora Roberts
Awais Khan
Owen Sheers
Alasdair Gray
Faye Kellerman
Matthew Harffy
Lucretius
Stephen King
Joanna Trollope
Nalini Singh
Sharon Penman
Donna Léon
Steig Larsson
Dan Brown
Jayne Castle/ Jane Ann Krentz
Loretta Livingstone
Isaac Asimov
Alison Morton
Ellis Peters
Jordan Vezinay
Jo Nesbo
Anthony Doer

Some of the ‘reserves’, ‘bonuses’ or ‘extras’
James Rollins
Ken Follett
Ian Rankin
Nigel Slater,
David Rugerrio,
Nero Wolfe
Michael Connelly (Bosch)
Patricia Briggs
James AS Corey (The Expanse)
G J Caesar

The list is huge, but I’ve picked out at least one from all the entries. The five winners from the draw – Will, Dave, Eunice, Juanita and Norma – have all been contacted so they can pick their free ebook. Congratulations to them, but many thanks to everybody for entering the competition and for sending in such terrific answers.

Happy onward reading!

 

Alison Morton is the author of Roma Nova thrillers –  INCEPTIO, CARINA (novella), PERFIDITAS, SUCCESSIO,  AURELIA, NEXUS (novella), INSURRECTIO  and RETALIO,  and ROMA NOVA EXTRA, a collection of short stories.  Audiobooks are available for four of the series.Double Identity, a contemporary conspiracy, starts a new series of thrillers. Double Pursuit, the sequel, is now out!

Find out more about Roma Nova, its origins, stories and heroines and taste world the latest contemporary thriller Double Identity… Download ‘Welcome to Alison Morton’s Thriller Worlds’, a FREE eBook, as a thank you gift when you sign up to Alison’s monthly email update. You’ll also be among the first to know about news and book progress before everybody else, and take part in giveaways.

Getting back to normal? Booking events?

Multi-image photo of Alison at conferences and literary festivals, fairs and conferencesThe other day, I had a mental leap. In a rash moment, I arranged to meet friends I hadn’t seen for two years and it was thoroughly enjoyable, especially as there was cake.

Now, I admit to being fairly risk averse along with a curiosity to do things others don’t. (I’m a Libran which explains this urge to balance things.) Anyway, over the past 24 months, the risk averse has won. Easily. But after my cake and tea with friends, I decided to shake off the torpor.

I booked some conferences. Yes, I’m on the move again. Hello EasyJet, hello Ryanair, hello booking.com.

I’m triple vaccinated, a confirmed mask-wearer and gel-bottle carrier. In France, we still wear masks where there are four walls and a roof. I distance myself from anybody that looks like a human being, large or small. But I’m naturally optimistic, so I’m cranking down my recently learned heightened alert reaction and will start to get used to being near people again.

I had a brief glimpse of the joy of meeting writing friends again last November. We were a little wary, but all tested. The energy flowed, the friendship flourished, we even wrote some words. So I’m going to rinse and repeat. But the mask and gel stay.

Where am I going and where can we meet up?

Portsmouth MysteryFest
Saturday 12 March 2022 10am-5pm
Third Floor, Portsmouth Central Library
On a contemporary crime panel with Peter Tickler, Graham Minett and Christine Lawrence
Mystery Fest is a day festival of crime fiction and crime fact, and is a collaboration between Mystery People and Portsmouth BookFest.
https://librariesandarchives.portsmouth.gov.uk/public-library-service/mysteryfest/

London Book Fair
5-7 April 2022
Olympia, London
Attending, but also lurking around the Alliance of Independent Authors’ hub in Writers Block
https://www.londonbookfair.co.uk/

CrimeFest
12-15 May 2022
Bristol
Attending and meeting up with ‘criminal’ friends and gawping at the famous
https://www.crimefest.com

Historical Novel Society 2022 
2-4 September 2022
Durham, UK
Panel on ‘Augmenting Historical Reality’ [Provisional]
Anna Belfrage, Nicola Cormick, Christina Courtenay and me
We’re just a group of time-twisters but we know how to have fun with history…
https://hns-events.com

SEE YOU THERE! Come and say hello!

 

Alison Morton is the author of Roma Nova thrillers –  INCEPTIO, CARINA (novella), PERFIDITAS, SUCCESSIO,  AURELIA, NEXUS (novella), INSURRECTIO  and RETALIO,  and ROMA NOVA EXTRA, a collection of short stories.  Audiobooks are available for four of the series.Double Identity, a contemporary conspiracy, starts a new series of thrillers. Double Pursuit, the sequel, is now out!

Find out more about Roma Nova, its origins, stories and heroines and taste world the latest contemporary thriller Double Identity… Download ‘Welcome to Alison Morton’s Thriller Worlds’, a FREE eBook, as a thank you gift when you sign up to Alison’s monthly email newsletter. You’ll also be among the first to know about news and book progress before everybody else, and take part in giveaways.

Meet Steve Morton, Filofax guru!

Photo of Steve Morton holding his new book File of Facts and a Filofax organiserMy blog guest this week is… my husband, Steve Morton! He’s just published his first book, an expert guide to using a Filofax (an other organisers and planners) ‘File of Facts’. Although he bought his first Filofax organiser in 1986, like many people Steve moved to an electronic organiser in the 1990s. A change of job in 2005 to a security-conscious environment prompted his return to paper, specifically a Filofax. He has used one daily ever since.

He now devotes his time to the Philofaxy blog website and the planner community. Quirky fact: he featured in the highly acclaimed ‘The Dull Men of Great Britain’ book published in 2019 by Random House due to his Filofax dedication.

Since 2016 Steve has been co-hosting a podcast – The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Plannerverse  – devoted to making better use of planners.

Welcome Steve!
(This is a little surreal, interviewing one’s other half, but I’ve grilled him in the same way as I do my other guests. 😉 )

Let’s do the easy one first! Why did you write this book?

I wanted to bring together all my acquired knowledge from the last 10 years or so into one easy to access reference book.

Who is the audience for your book?

Any keen paper-and-pen planner user and somebody who is a Filofax or other brand of ring-bound organiser user who wants to know a little bit more. Or anyone considering using a Filofax and isn’t quite sure what the advantages are or how to choose the right one for their needs.

Filofaxes were the essential accessory for the self-respecting Yuppie in the 1980s and 1990s. Aren’t we all electronic and digital these days?

A lot of Filofax users aren’t afraid of using digital devices; some including myself use both. Digital devices tend to be slower to make entries in and they are overall much more expensive than a Filofax. And paper based organisers don’t need charging…

Is there any future for paper-based organisers?

They’ve been around for over 100 years, so I don’t see them disappearing any time soon. Unlike digital equivalents, they don’t become outdated or need constant upgrades. You can still read the contents many years later. The same can’t be said for modern digital devices.

What’s the difference between a Filofax and other planners and organisers?

Mainly the design and the quality of the materials used. Filofax tries to cater for the whole range of price points, whereas some of the other brands concentrate on the luxury end of the market. It’s a big market these days, bigger than it was in the 1980s, I would say, and there are enough interested potential customers for all the companies supplying organisers.

How big is the Filofax and organiser community?

It runs to tens of thousands! In the last 10 years, the number of ‘planner groups’ has grown dramatically, covering the different types and different brands. I started one FaceBook group with just 35 people that I knew from the Philofaxy blog, that group now has nearly twelve thousand people in it! And that’s only one group online. I can’t imagine how many there are offline.

What activities are there for enthusiasts?

We share details about new organisers, where to get particular models, the pros and cons of models and accessories and how to personalise them. Finding the right diary inserts for different people’s needs is a constant topic. People enjoy sharing their own set-up with others.

Philofaxy meet-ups in Los Angeles, Chenonceaux and Denver

And we meet in real life!  I’ve organised meet-ups in London, New York, Los Angeles, Edinburgh, Chenonceaux, Niort (France), Toronto, Denver, Washington DC, Stockholm – to name just a few.

Where can readers find out more?

The Philofaxy blog at https://philofaxy.com is the main outlet for my writing about organisers. We feature posts that include reviews, history posts and a whole gamut of posts about all aspects of organisers. We also have a large range of downloadable files for different diary inserts and a host of other useful pages to fill up your Filofax.

I have to say as Steve’s publisher that he’s enjoyed very good success with his book. Unsurprisingly, he’s sold more paperbacks than ebooks. Readers live all over the world: UK, USA, Canada, Australia, Germany, France, Italy, India, Japan, Spain – truly a worldwide community.

———

Connect with Steve

https://philofaxy.com
https://www.facebook.com/groups/filofaxusers
https://www.facebook.com/Philofaxy/
https://www.facebook.com/MrPhilofaxy/
https://twitter.com/philofaxy/<
https://instagram.com/MrPhilofaxy/

———

What’s File of Facts about?

Filofax – the great survivor turned indispensable cult

– But how do you choose the size and the inserts from so many on offer?
– How do you select the design to work best for you?
– How does your Filofax fit into and enhance your life?

Whether you’re thinking of getting your first Filofax organiser, have just bought it or are a long-term user, this guide will help you get the best out of it, from the basics to the clever stuff.

– Easy A-Z format
– In-depth review of different designs (and their quirks!)
– Secret features users might not suspect exist
– Timeline of Filofax’s history through the last 100 years
– Introduction to other leading manufacturers of organisers (Gillio, Van Der Spek)

Several years of pain, fun and experience are brought together in one book which will suit both new and established users.

Buy File of Facts:
Ebook (all retailers including Amazon)
Paperback: Amazon UK   Amazon US    Barnes & Noble  Book Depository   Abe Books

 

Alison Morton is the author of Roma Nova thrillers –  INCEPTIO, CARINA (novella), PERFIDITAS, SUCCESSIO,  AURELIA, NEXUS (novella), INSURRECTIO  and RETALIO,  and ROMA NOVA EXTRA, a collection of short stories.  Audiobooks are available for four of the series.Double Identity, a contemporary conspiracy, starts a new series of thrillers. Double Pursuit, the sequel, is now out!

Find out more about Roma Nova, its origins, stories and heroines and taste world the latest contemporary thriller Double Identity… Download ‘Welcome to Alison Morton’s Thriller Worlds’, a FREE eBook, as a thank you gift when you sign up to Alison’s monthly email newsletter. You’ll also be among the first to know about news and book progress before everybody else, and take part in giveaways.