According to the Gregorian Calendar, 29 August 1987 fell on a Tuesday. On that memorable day, I published COLDWALTHAM: A Story of Three Hamlets. That day marked the start of an Enterprise which David Holloway, a former distinguished Literary Editor of the DAILY TELEGRAPH, called my ‘garden-shed industry’.
Thus we are now celebrating 30 years of publishing under the SMH imprint! Not bad for a chiefly one-woman band, if you’ll excuse the immodesty!
Looking back through the years, there have been highlights. Our books have concentrated on country matters, Christian thoughts, poetry and memoirs, in no particular order.
Our two Sussex memoirs, AN EVER-ROLLING STREAM by Norman Wyatt (November, 1993) , and MOLLY: The Years at Ends Place by R A H Muggeridge (December, 1993), have been much-loved by our readers. ’Rural Life in the Slow Lane’ is how the FARNHAM HERALD described STREAM. The CHURCH TIMES wrote: ‘This charming book…is full of warm reminiscences and characters.’ (‘MOLLY’ is out of print, but we still have a few signed copies of ‘STREAM’ for sale.)
AN EXALTATION OF SKYLARKS by Stewart Beer (1995) with a Preface by Richard Mabey, is a 2,300-year anthology of Skylark prose and poetry – the only one in the world. With its beautiful cover painting by world-famous bird artist Terence Lambert, and a 29-minute, twice broadcast, Words and Music Skylark tribute on BBC Radio 4 (all the readings taken from our book), it went on to become a Triple Award Winner! (A nice family connection: (delete ‘is’) the book was typeset by St Leonard’s Press, Exeter, aka Orlando, my youngest n, then assisting the Vicar of St Leonard’s Church, and his wife, Libby).
REDBREAST: The Robin in Life and Literature by Andrew Lack, with illustrations (including cartoons by Euan Dunn, RSPB) received an equally generous amount of media coverage. Terence Lambert again painted for us, this time, a glorious wrap-round jacket painting.
JOSTLING WITH THE PEARS – the third part of my trilogy of writings was inspired by 28 years living in my belloved Pear Tree Cottage, and in its garden, in Watersfield, West Sussex. Parts 1 and 2 are o/p, but I still have some copies of ‘JOSTLING’.
Almost last, but by no means least, I published Patrick Moore’s only book of poems for children (of all ages!), WITHIN THE GLADE (2011) again with cartoon illustrations by Euan Dunn. Sir Patrick gave the poems to me as a tribute to our friendship of almost forty years. What a gift! Happily, the book came out before his death, in 2012, and he was ‘delighted’ with it. We have sold thousands of copies but I have some, left, signed and unsigned.
Now to the present….
To mark the ’30 Years’, I am travelling to Hull, the 2017 UK City of Culture, having been invited to give readings from my brother’s book, SIGNOR ROY (2016) by Roy MacGregor Hastie. From there, I will go on to give further projected Readings in Manchester, the city in which both he and I were born, and of which I still hold many happy memories.
Then, in early autumn, I publish my second children’s book, STAR SANDWICHES AND MOON CUSTARD, like THE GIANT AND THE MOUSE, written many years ago for my four children, and chronicling our happy years living on a small country estate in Ireland. (BOLD) At last (not caps), I have found the right artist, who is now completing the colour illustrations.
SEE SAMPLE ILLUSTRATION BELOW - It shows Will and Charlie, two of the main characters, playing among the dead apple trees, getting ready to have their make-believe tea of ‘Star Sandwiches and Moon Custard’…
*My first children’s book, THE GIANT AND THE MOUSE (2003), illustrated by Martin Hargreaves, a nephew of Roger Hargreaves, of MISTER MEN and LITTLE MISS MEN FAME, WON A SPECIAL David St John Thomas Award, for my Marketing Strategy.
I was looking at this photograph, taken many years ago, of two bunches of Mothering Sunday flowers sent by two of my sons. What if I could interest friends in St Nicholas’ Church, my church in Arundel, in letting me have short pieces on the thoughts and life-enriching memories they would like to share with others?
Slowly, in them came, from church friends, as well as from friends far and wide, and family members. The result is an amazing collection of contributions, some prose, some poems, with colour and black-and-white illustrations to accompany them.
This is no ordinary little book. Price £5, it is on sale in St Nicholas’ parish office, £1 going to The Friends of St Nicholas’ for the first 100 copies sold. (We’ve sold 85 no – a display and sale will be held at the Friends’ GM on 24 May- we need to sell fifteen more so that we can hand over the promised £100.00. Would you like to buy one?)
‘You can’t use up creativity.
The more you use, the more you have.’
Wise words, indeed, time from Maya Angelou, in
Conversations with Maya Angelou (1989) by Jeffrey M Elliot
Recently, I decided to go back to my writing, and stop publishing. But... I couldn't resist re-publishing Roy MacGregor Hastie's SIGNOR ROY. It took four years to get together the finances and carefully re-edit the book, for a paperback edition, £9.95 (UK post-free to my Personal Customers).
All kinds of local, national and international connections support my brother's book.
Local: I was asked to prepare a flyer to be distributed when Arundel Co-op opened, after refurbishment back in February.
I read in THE LADY magazine that 'New research by Vetsure reveals a third of dog owners over 55 are likely to confide or seek comfort in their pet'!
If only Fred, the family dog, was still around! We communed daily and often, inside and outside our old Sussex cottage; even more, when the children had left home. I also communed with Thely (Othello), another lovely dog at my son's parents-in-law's Cambridge home..
Here are two photos to prove my point.
In 1961, Michael Ramsey, a former Archbishop of Canterbury, went to Chichester Cathedral to dedicate the newly-rebuilt Arundel Screen, in memory of George Bell (1883-1958), one of the most outstanding Bishops of Chichester. (And, in my book, and in that of the 2000+ who have recently signed a Petition to have his name cleared and his greatness reinstated, a Bishop forever to be remembered.)
As the publisher of Patrick Moore's WITHIN THE GLADE Poems for Children of all ages! I represented him in May 2013 at The People's Book Prize awards ceremony in London. He had been nominated a finalist.
It was a glittering, glamorous evening, held in the Stationers' Hall of The Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspaper Makers in the City. Before the reception, I was filmed, talking about Sir Patrick, our long friendship, WITHIN THE GLADE and my own work as a poet and writer. (Click here to view the interview on YouTube: go to The People’s Book Prize 2013/Finalist interview with Sandra Saer.)
I met Patrick when I worked at the BBC, PR-promoting their books. We became friends when I worked with him on media interviews for two editions of The Sky at Night.
The friendship lasted almost forty years...
When my four children were small, Patrick invited us over to his Selsey home where, in great excitement, they walked round the garden with him, peering through the telescopes and getting a master stargazer's guided tour. What an adventure!
As a long-time published poet and lover of other people's poetry, too, I am totally committed to encouraging people to write poetry. For me, it is the greatest, most versatile, and most accessible art form.
On the front flyleaf of WITHIN THE GLADE, the late and great Sir Patrick Moore's poems for Children (of all ages!), I incorporated a mini-lecture!
For more than two decades I worked and re-worked THE LUCKY ONES. It is a series of eight plays, based-on and inspired-by The Eight Beatitudes, momentous teachings by Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount. They are now ready to be performed on television or radio, although the plays were first written with television in mind.
I am now seeking a production company who likes the idea of taking these on, for radio or TV production, and would welcome discussion with anyone showing interested.
My aim is to have these in production by the end of 2017.Any takers?
CHRISTMAS PLAYS were written for my own four children, when small; one a year, over a period of five years. They were performed in our Chelsea mansion flat, to entertain family, friends and neighbours - and they did! Quite undated (except perhaps that I am "Mummy", not "Mum"!), they are short, simple plays, requiring no special scenery, and very few props, for children aged between five and thirteen, and they can equally easily be put on either at home or at school. The names can could be changed, to suit any cast. PLUS: buy one copy, photocopy as many as you need.
SMH DATES AND VENUES
19-21 September – Craft Fair in the Norfolk Centre garden (if fine) 10 am - 4.30 pm
Saturday, 21 October – Arundel Farmers’ Market (SMH’S FIRST CHRISTMAS BOOK OFFERS!)