Photos taken by me, Allison Symes. Many thanks to Lynn Clement for taking the image of me reading work. Other images created in Book Brush but using one of my photos.
It is always a joy to get to go to the Bridge House Publishing celebration event and it is equally lovely to blog for Chandler’s Ford Today about it! This year it was held at the Theodore Bullfrog pub in London. They do have some great pub names (and if you can think of any you’ve come across, do share them in the comments). It is an especial pleasure to go since Covid-19 has put paid to previous planned get togethers. It was by no means certain this year’s event would go ahead either due to other outside events beyond BHP’s control.
But we made it and it was lovely to get into a cosily warm pub, given it was bitter out. (Coldest places on the planet must include railway stations. They make for very good wind tunnels… brrr… and I’d nominate Southampton Airport Parkway as one of the worst there).
Why The Celebration?
Bridge House Publishing was celebrating the launch (a little earlier in the year) of The Best of CafeLit 11 and the more recently released Evergreen – an Anthology. I am very pleased to have stories in both. I have been part of their editing team this year too.
I was especially pleased a dear friend I know thanks to The Writers’ Summer School, Swanwick, June Webber, had two stories of hers in The Best of CafeLit 11 and came to the event. It was a joy to travel back home with her on the train after a fun time in the capital. We often meet up on Zoom with other Swanwick friends, including Val Penny whom I interviewed recently, but you can’t beat getting together in person. All attending enjoyed chatting with friends over drinks and catching up with our writing news. That took a while!
After a buffet lunch, Gill James of Bridge House Publishing shared the latest news from them and gave us advance notice of the theme for next year’s anthology. There were readings from various authors including yours truly. It is a great joy to be read to as well as to share some of your own work.
There was an appreciative audience for all of the authors reading work out and I think that stems from (a) wonderful tales we all enjoyed and (b) taking sheer pleasure in being read to ourselves. I was touched and amused when June read out one of her stories where the lead character is 4’11 – she had said before doing this that this was a tribute to me!
I was also pleased to meet up again with Lynn Clement whose book, The City of Stories, I edited for Chapeltown Books. I was delighted she read out one of my favourite stories from that collection – Pelvic Thrusts at the U3A. If you want to find out more, you’ll need to get the book! (And a big thanks to her for taking the images of me reading using my phone. It is really tricky trying to do that yourself!). Also great to hear she is out and about giving talks about her stories.
And it was a joy to catch up with old friends who are regulars at this event – Janet Howson and Debz Hobbs-Wyatt in particular.
Just ahead of the event, I had a little time to explore the local area. It was lovely to walk around the Victoria Gardens on the Embankment. In Buckingham Street, just opposite the pub, was a plaque commemorating Samuel Pepys living in what is now at least two houses but in his day would probably have been one. Why? Because there were two plaques for him on two buildings. Both are likely to be correct. Not a huge fan of the man myself but, even now, probably the most famous diarist this country has produced. (I do like his taste in cheese though – he buried a Parmesan to save it from the Great Fire of London).
It was lovely seeing London lit up on the way home (but not in the way Pepys experienced it, thankfully!). Battersea Power Station, of all places, is always nicely lit.
Oh and I was quite taken by the Haribo Christmas tree at Waterloo Station. I couldn’t believe it either until I went and had a good look. How often does a sweet fried egg make it as a Christmas decoration?!
My Contribution to the new Bridge House Publishing anthology (Evergreen – An Anthology)
But back to the publishing event, it was so encouraging to meet new writers for CafeLit and Bridge House Publishing. Any publishing house needs a reasonable stock of authors! People stop writing or they move on so publishers do need new writers.
Events like this are lovely because a lot of the time writers are on their own at their desks. Give us a chance to be social and we’ll be very sociable indeed!
My copies of Evergreen – An Anthology arrived shortly after the event. It is a joy to have a story in here. Mine is called Never Old – Ever Green and Good To Go (and I do consider that to be a kind of motto!).
With anthologies, it is always interesting to see what the other included writers have made of the theme. That too makes a great and varied read. Those putting the book together have to consider the balance of stories. You want a good mix of humorous and other kinds of story so the anthology is truly representative of its theme. And then, of course, comes the editing of the individual stories which have been picked. Never underestimate the amount of work that goes on behind the scenes when it comes to putting a book together.
My own story went through several edits before I submitted it. So a story may come in at, say, 1500 words but so often an author has worked hard to ensure every word “punches its weight” and moves the tale on before even thinking of submitting it. And even when accepted there will be more work to do (though that is always a pleasure given you know the finished result will be seeing it in a book).
I’m already looking forward to next year’s event. I will give some thought to the theme for next year’s book. I like to give myself thinking time here. Getting stories into published anthologies is a great way to build up publication credits (you show a publisher someone else has thought your work was worth putting into print) and you learn to work with an editor too. Well worth trying, I think, and it has been my route into getting published at all before going on to have my own collections with Chapeltown Books.
Read blog posts by Allison Symes published on Chandler’s Ford Today.
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