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: the book was typeset by St Leonard's Press, Exeter - aka Libby, and her husband, Orlando, my youngest son.. He was then assisting the Vicar of St Leonard's Church, and the couple were living at nearby St Leonard's Terrace. (almost out of print).
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. (Almost out of print)
JOSTLING WITH THE PEARS – the third part of my trilogy of writings was inspired by 28 years living in my beloved 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….
STAR SANDWICHES AND MOON CUSTARD
This Autumn, to mark the 30th SMH Anniversary, I am publishing my second children's book,* written many years ago for my four children, when small, chronicling our family happy years in Ireland. At last, after DECADES of searching, I found the ideal artist, The Happy Designer.
See sample illustration below - It shows the young brothers, quiet Will and noisier Charlie, looking out their bedroom window, and remembering playing among dead apple trees, and having their make-believe tea of Star Sandwiches and Moon Custard…
*My first children's book, THE GIANT AND THE MOUSE (2003), also written for my four children, when small, was illustrated by Martin Hargeaves, a nephew of Roger Hargreaves, of MISTER MEN and LITTLE MISS fame. It won for us a prestigious David St John Thomas Award, for my Marketing Strategy presentation.
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 they came in, many from Arundel Church friends; others from friends far and wide, and from family members. The result is an amazing collection of contributions, some prose, some poems, with colour and black-and-white illustrations to accompany them.
Priced at a modest £5, this is no ordinary little book, but one of which, as contributor, editor and publisher, I am especially proud.
‘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 supported my desire to publish my brother’s book, with the hardback long being out of print.
It was launched at Arundel Co-op, after its refurbishment, in February 2014.
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 you may like.
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 as a finalist and, sadly, having died in 2012, could not be there himself.
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 Awards Evening interview on YouTube: go to The People’ 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 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 like, free.
SMH DATES AND VENUES
Saturday, 18 November, 9 am- 1pm ARUNDEL FARMERS’ MARKET
SMH Special Offers for Christmas offers, including my brand-new book, STAR SANDWICHES AND MOON CUSTARD!
Saturday, 16 December, 9 am – 1pm ARUNDEL FARMERS’ MARKET