The last few years have been strange. COVID-19 took its toll on everyone in one way or another. From a health point of view, I got off quite lightly – a week of feeling as crap as I usually do if I’ve got a bad cold. That said, the timing of it meant I missed out on seeing Adam Ant (don’t judge me), and I had to pull out of volunteering at Newark Book Festival at the last minute.

Catching covid, though, was only one impact of its presence. It’s affected a lot of people, and continues to, especially in the field of mental health.

It’s also made a difference to the quality of healthcare in the country. Not on its own, of course. Investment in the NHS doesn’t reflect public need – but that’s a whole other topic. My partner and I have had a lot of experience with the health service over the last few years. Some of it’s been good, but a lot has been frustrating. Still, although regular contact with medical professionals has been part of the reason the last few years has been strange for me, I am digressing.

The biggest outcome for me personally has been the lack of interaction with the wonderful people in the world of books. Of course, that includes other authors, but also publishers, agents and the people we’re all aiming to serve – readers.

In the year or so before covid, I’d been building up the number and range of events I was attending. Some were to go along to author talks while some were to give talks or appear on panels, and others were opportunities to simply mix and mingle. All were good in their own way, almost always leaving me motivated to get on and write. Covid, inevitably, took its toll on that front. But, even after the restrictions were lifted, it wasn’t like we could just pick up where we left off. Some events that had existed before had gone. Some of the contacts I’d had before had gone – or were busy catching up on other things.

So, it’s taken a while to build things up, and there’s still a way to go. But, reflecting on the progress being made at the moment, I think momentum’s back again. And it’s made me realise that I’ve left my Events page untended for far too long. I’ll update that over the coming days.

For now, though, I wanted to share with you the fact that I will be in Stoke-on-Trent this coming weekend. On Saturday 2nd September, I’ll be participating in Tales on Trent Multi-Genre Author Event.


There will be book signings (though I’ll sign anything – except cheques), book sales, interviews and panels. I’ll have a stand, but will also be taking part in a panel in the afternoon. Although my panel has been listed as Allsorts, I don’t think I’ve been included because I’m sweet. Obviously, I’m intrigued as to what questions crop up, but I’m also looking forward to hearing authors on the other panels.


May be an image of text that says "TALES-ON-TRENT BOOK SIGNING EVENT KING'S HALL STOKE-ON-TRENT 2ND SEPT 2023 Changes DougieMac 11.00am PANEL Magical, MythicalMasters 1.45pm PANEL Lessons in Love 11.40am In conversation with SPECIAL 2.30pm PANEL 5 Chills & Thrills 1.00pm PANEL 3 Poisoned Pens 3.30pm PANEL6 All Sorts Stay tuned for more information..."


Whether you’re free on Saturday or not, do take a look at the event’s Facebook page. You can click on the first image above to go there. As you can see, the range of authors is fantastic, as is the range of genres they cover. Frankly, if you read a book, you’ll find something you enjoy, whether it’s something to read or learning from authors about their experiences.

A final point if you’re wavering. In the first image, you’ll see logos for Changes – and Dougie Mac. These are the charities being supported by the proceeds of this event. Bearing in mind my earlier comments, it’s good to see that one of them supports people with mental health issues. Selfishly, I just want to sell some books but, if you have a bigger heart than me, this might give you even more incentive to come along. The admission price – a very affordable £5 – will help add to the donations.

So, if you are free on Saturday, and Stoke isn’t too big a stretch for you to get to, come on over. I’d love to see you – as, I’m sure, everyone else will. More importantly, you can feed your reading habit, and support two great causes as well.