Welcome to my Literary Soiree

Print by Honoré Daumier (French: 1808 – 1879)

It’s a Brave New World of Publishing
I have read a lot of e-books lately; diving into genres that I have not previously ventured. I’ll call it research, not procrastination, as I did learn of lot about contemporary self-publishing. Although, I did have to switch off my inner-editor and ignore a few typos, grammar mistakes and formatting issues. And they are there, in abundance, in the world of e-publishing; from new DYI writers to those under the wings of the big publishing houses. Aside from picking up some pointers for my own writing, including what not to do, I have come to view this e-publishing phenomenon in a different light; especially Indies.

Firstly, let’s be honest, there are more than a few unreadable e-books out there. And there are also hidden treasures; well written and professionally edited, with strong character development and enjoyable plots. Also in my on-line hunt, I came across many tragic home-made covers, as well as some inspiring, creative designs.  Without generalising, it would seem that, in the e-world, you can tell a book from its cover; as unprofessional looking covers often forewarned of novels that were lacking in craft.

My second discovery, well more of a realisation, was that among the multitude of indie publishers there are many talented emerging writers. Writers that have chosen a new medium to develop and refine their writing skills. Rather than be ultra critical of these writers, I believe it is important that we show support. After all, they do not have a stable of publishing experts helping them; they have us – readers and/or fellow writers. We can choose to become patrons of the art, like in times past. We can give feedback: honest but encouraging words. We can support these writers by inviting them into our ‘homes’ (i.e. buy their books for our e-readers, expand our social media communities/discussions) and into our hearts. We can be patrons of new literature and break-through writers.

In the spirit of supporting new writers, today I have decided to throw a Monday Soiree. On my invite list is my fellow moderators of the G+ community Literary Agents Hate Kittens…. and yourself, of course. Like all good hostesses, I have a delectable assortment of dishes and drinks. And, as a patron of the arts, I have invited the most interesting, most creative, most nouveau artistes of the written word. Come with me, let me introduce you to some of my exciting literary discoveries.

Welcome to my Soiree
‘Darling, you are here. Its so good to see you. you have taken your time to accept my invitation, You naughty thing. You are here now, so do come in.’
The guest stepped hesitantly over the threshold, thrown by such a welcoming; curious as to what they may find inside. They let the hostess take their coat, and waited expectantly in the hallway. Taking the guest by the arm, the hostess steers them down the corridor, stopping at the first door. The guest peers through, and is surprised by the sight of pale sock-clad legs resting on a small pouffe. The room appeared to contain a well-stocked library, and a warming fire in the hearth.

‘Oh there you are, Doc. I see you have made yourself comfortable,’ says the hostess, indicating the glass of scotch in the owner of the socks hand, and the book in their lap.
The friendly looking gentleman managed to get in a quick nod at me, before our hostess dragged me away. Looking over my shoulder, I saw him chuckling, before he returned to his book.
As we walked, the hostess asked me, ‘Have your read Timothy Hurley‘s latest book? No? Well, you should. On first glance, Shortstack is just another self-published book with a home-made cover. In this instance, though, you really can’t judge a book by its cover. Or the talent of the author by the self-taken photo on that cover (it’s an acquired taste, surely). Look within and you will find an amusing book, full of humorous short stories. However, look deeper and you will find some insightful tales hidden among the  funny anecdotes. Many of which are based on Timothy’s, a retired Doctor, rich life experiences and acute observations of human beings. My favourite is Uncle Bill’s Unicorn; such a vivid description of small town life through the eyes of an imaginative child. ‘
I paused, wishing to return to that warm, inviting library, to speak with this author, but the hostess would not let go of my arm.

‘Let me get you a drink,’ she said.
I followed without hesitation, keen to wet my whistle. She led me to the bar, and after enquiring of my tastes, made me a dry Martini sans olive. I sipped my drink, and took a moment to look around. The room was full of small clusters of people, all deep in conversations. The room was abuzz with talk, a scattering of laughter, and the clinking of glasses. My eye caught a strange sight in a far corner of the room.
‘Oh, I see you have noticed our resident conjurer,’ commented the hostess. ‘Perjos often follows Chaunce Stanton, but I will caution you to be wary of the man. The magician, not the writer. Chaunce is a lovely man, and I will introduce you to him soon. First, let’s see if the canapés are ready. To the kitchen, come on.’

As I walked into the kitchen I noticed a tall man hovering over a tray of food, with a thoughtful look on his face. He straightened, and smiled.
The hostess said, ‘Ah, Phil Simpkin, darling where have you been lately? You are looking so good. All that dieting and exercising is really paying off. I see you have found the special treats I have ordered just for you; healthy and tasty. Be a dear and carry the food out.  Just find a spot out there. I’m sure the guests will be eager for some nourishment; with all that talking about writing, they must be in need of energy.’
Eager to be of assistance, I picked up some of the platters and followed this man called Phil out the door. We placed the food on small tables scattered throughout the very chic salon, and it wasn’t long before the other guests gravitated towards the delectable treats. Picking up a warm pig-in-a-blanket, I turned to Phil, intending to make his acquaintance. However, my overly eager hostess took my arm once more, and steered me away.

‘You must find time to talk to Phil. He is a most interesting new writer. He’s writing the third book in the exciting crime series, The Borough Boys. A retired policeman, Phil has a knack with writing authentic tales of crime. He is also a talented English historian, as he is able to vividly recreate Leicester, London 1850.’ She leaned closer, whispering in my ear, ‘Now don’t get me wrong, I fully recommend his books, but I need to advise you to be patient. Phil obviously has a passion for research, and there is a wealth of back-story, so book one starts off a bit slow. Keep reading and you will soon be a fan of Phil’s work, and the grimey under-belly of old England that he has created. I am looking forward to book three, to see how much Phil has developed as a writer. For he is serious about writing, and is dedicated to honing his skills.’

Before I could comment, or ask more about these interesting sounding books, I heard a cry. In the doorway, leading to the garden, stood a man; holding a wriggling child.
The hostess made cooing noises as she approached them, ‘Oh look at the little sweetie pie. And you brought your child too, Todd Grundle.  Let me hold that little darling. Yew, I meant the child.’
The man handed the child over, and our hostess handed it promptly back, looking in dismay at her dress. I passed her my handkerchief, and she proceeded to wipe off the trail of dribble from the front of her red silk cocktail dress.
‘Never mind,’ she said. ‘Its not the first time someone has dribbled on me. I don’t think children actually like me. Anyway, Todd, it’s so good to see you. You have been hiding in that van of yours, down by the river, for too long. I heard you have been frantically writing another book in your hideaway van. I must tell you, I really enjoyed The House That Smelled Like Urine. Its content is as unusual as its title. I have to admit, it’s not my usual taste in books, and perhaps I didn’t understand the main story as much as I should have, but the side-stories are an entirely different matter. I see you as the next king of hilly billy gore, for sure. Its my predication of the day. Now, I must show my new friend around, let him meet more of my wonderful writer friends. If you care to find your way to the kitchen, you will find some candy in the top drawer, where I hid it from Phil. You might even find a treat for the child, if you look in the freezer.’
As we walked back inside, she said to me, ‘Do have a look at Todd’s work. He writes under the name of Giovanni Russano. Or perhaps he actually is a Giovanni, and goes under the name of Todd? I must ask him about that. In the meantime, let’s go and find the girls. You are probably thinking that I only invite men to my soirees. These men are all good-looking, talented writer-types, I know, but we must leave them and go in search of the amazing Amazons of Literary Agents Hate Kittens.’

We went back into the salon, which was now abuzz, many more guests having arrived. Hearing the sound of unabashed laughter, I noticed a small group of women by the bar, looking like they were having a great time.
‘Ah, there’s Jane Turley  and Susan Rafferty. Two wonderfully sexy writer / bloggers, who never fail to surprise me with what they can achieve amidst the chaos of children. Don’t be thinking they are just stay-at-home domestic goddesses. Their sense of humour will have you unashamedly chuckling. Best not to read their blogs whilst on public transport, or at your desk at work. Not unless you want people giving you strange looks. Jane is editing her first novel at the moment, and I can’t wait to read it.’
I went to take another sip of my drink, and noticed that the glass was empty. The hostess also noticed, and thankfully went to make me a new one. Finally free, I walked towards Jane and Susan, intending to introduce myself. However, I too soon felt that hand on my arm again.
‘Here is your drink, Now, darling, there is plenty of time for talking to the girls later; after I have introduced you to one more guest. If I can find him. Unfortunately, Carmen Mytris-Garcia  isn’t joining us this evening. She is too busy enjoying that island hide-away of hers. Roze Fleming, another little kitten from Literary Agents Hate Kittens, is also absent. Then again, she has not been seen for some time. I do hope she is doing well. Karen Wyld might be around here somewhere. I haven’t seen her as yet, but she often turns up to these little shin-digs of mine. I suspect she’s a lush, likes the free booze, if you ask me. One more form of procrastination. I’m starting to suspect that she will never publish that damn book she bangs on about. Ohh, listen to me; quite the sharp-clawed kitty, aren’t I. Let’s move this subject on, shall we? ‘

Hearing an unusual braying sound, I turned towards the large picture window. In the garden was a large mule, which appeared to be protesting to the man pulling on its halter. Muscles rippling, the man refused to let the mule win; and the mule appeared to be just as determined.
‘There he is, there’s Buzz. The elusive Buzz Malone is the owner of Literary Agents Hate Kittens, and all the moderators submit take direction from his leadership; even if he has been too busy for idle chit-chat of late. Buzz has written a number of books, including the Silence of Centerville. This is another book that should not be judged by its cover, for inside is a poignant tale of post WWII small-town Southern Iowa. The style may not be as common these days, with its drawn out descriptions and long inner-dialogues, but its a formula that suits the story. He is a talented teller of story, and I’m planning to keep an eye on Buzz; as I am sure his work will become more polished with each book that he produces. My only itty bitty issue with the story is the age gap between the protagonist and his love interest; it just feels like an elephant in the corner.’

As I watched the battle of mule and man, a blur of skin flew past the window. I wasn’t sure, but it appeared to have been a naked man. I turned to my hostess, expecting a look of shock on her face and, hoping for an explanation.
She casually remarked, ‘I see that Andrew Buckley has decided to make an appearance. I’ve only just started reading his book, Death, the Devil, and the Goldfish , but it’s looking like a crazy, fun-filled adventure. Very professional looking, and a pleasure to read; Andrew ticks all the boxes for how to publish and market an indie book. Too bad he has a thing for public nudity.’

From behind the mule, a box laden with vegetables appeared; and then a man carrying said box. He was strolling towards the house, and the hostess went to open the door for him.
‘Chaunce, you shouldn’t have! I so loved the last gift you brought, all those yummy organic goodies from your backyard. I’m glad you popped in. I wanted to chat to you about your latest book, The Blank Slate Boarding House For CreativesSuch an imagination you have, its a wonderful story, full of the most interesting characters. Although, I must say that as I am a fan of magic realism, I do have a soft spot for your earlier book, Luano’s Luckiest Day. I wanted to talk to you though. What was it again? Yes, your books. You are such a talented story weaver, truly creative. However, I have to say, I want a bit more dear Chaunce. Your characters are so colourful, so intriguing, but they fall a bit flat in some areas; their motives are sometimes not clear, and the relationships not quite believable. Look, I only tell you this because I believe in your talent, in your future as a writer.’

I shifted uncomfortably, a bit embarrassed; feeling as if I was eavesdropping. I  wondered how Chaunce was feeling, being the target of this overbearing woman.
Before Chaunce could reply, the hostess turned to me, ‘Darling, are you ready to find your own way around? I’ve introduced you to a few of my writer friends, so perhaps you could go and start a conversation; find out more about their work. I want to talk to Chaunce some more, if you don’t mind.’

With that, she turned away, shifting her focus to the hirsute writer-gardener. Seeing my chance for escape, and wanting to refill my empty glass, I wondered off; eager to talk with the other guests. Already, I knew that I wanted to come to the next soiree.


  1. Terrific, clever. This would would be a great format for a regular column in a magazine or some other media for readers! It made reading about potential books more palatable than just listing them.


    1. Susan, my first thought to your comment was ‘How will I find the time?’ Nearly 2 weeks later, and every time I read a book I’m thinking of possible scenes to stage a review. Could be a bit of fun….thanks for the idea.


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