An Electric Eclectic insight of the Pandemic’s effects on book sales.

Despite shops being closed for much of 2020, figures show Britons bought books in volume – although many authors continued to struggle.

UK

More than 200m print books were sold in the UK last year, the first time since 2012 that number has been exceeded, according to an estimate from official book sales monitor Nielsen BookScan.

Although physical ‘bricks & mortar’ bookshops in England were closed from 23 March until 15 June, and then again from 5 November until 2 December, with differing lockdowns in place around the rest of the UK – Nielsen has estimated that the volume of print books sold grew by 5.2% compared with 2019. This equates to 202m books being sold in the UK last year and was worth £1.76bn, up 5.5% on 2019, said Nielsen.

The Bookseller magazine (https://www.thebookseller.com/news/bookscan-estimates-2020-full-year-print-market-55-value-1234212 ) said the figure represented the biggest volume rise in the books market since 2007 and the highest annual value since 2009.

Waterstones, Kate Skipper called the figures encouraging. “So many people have turned to books for sustenance, information and joy through this difficult year.”

USA

Physical retail and online retail have taken dramatically different paths during the pandemic. Well-established chains like Brooks Brothers, GNC, J. Crew, and Neiman Marcus have all made Chapter 11 filings, while Amazon, eBay, Walmart, and Target reported record sales.

While book publishing, generally, has performed strongly thus far during the pandemic, bookstores have not.

Despite much positive news around publisher net sales, the U.S. Census data show that bookstore sales declined 28.8% in October 2020 vs. 2019 and 31% YTD.

Through the summer of 2020, Barnes & Noble, like most independent booksellers, balanced opening restrictions against offering online order pickup and greatly expanded online sales. By late fall, cafe and magazine newsstand sales were still down significantly, but book sales were running ahead of a year ago, aided by a doubling in online sales.

COVID-19′s impact on publishing sales and the supply chain has been less than many feared it would be. Whatever doom and gloom surround the publishing industry during the COVID crisis, sales cannot be singled out for scorn. Trade sales in 2020 were almost uniformly ahead of 2019, and in several categories, unit sales were up over 20% through mid-December.

EBOOKS

The ebook format has been to some extent reborn during the pandemic, recovering from shrinking percentages of overall sales, and publisher disdain for the format.

AUDIOBOOKS

After years of spectacular sales growth, audiobook sales growth slowed significantly in 2019: 16.4% versus 34.7% in 2018, based on data from the Audio Publishers Association (APA). NPD Group reported that unit digital audiobook sales were up 15% through May 2020. The AAP calculated that downloaded audio sales were up 17.3% to the end of October.

In the library market, Overdrive, which had been seeing year-over-year growth in audiobooks, saw depressed audiobook adoption in the pandemic. A possible reason cited by the company: commuters who had been listening to books in the car (or on mass transit) were no longer going into the office.

ELECTRIC ECLECTIC asks…

Overall, the numbers are positive for audio; only the pace of growth is slowing.

Podcast consumption offers an interesting perspective on this data.

Spotify reported in July that in its second-quarter 21% of users were listening to podcasts, up from 19% in Q1. Overall consumption of podcasts more than doubled.

Podtrac recorded 47% download growth for the 52 weeks ending November 01, 2020.

Are these listeners being lured away from audiobooks? Or are podcasts just part of an overall burgeoning audio trend?

PUBLISHING

The pandemic has had an enormous impact on how publishing companies are staffed and how staff execute their work. And, by all accounts, that impact may mark a permanent shift in publishing workflows.

In early August, Penguin Random House confirmed it will not return to its offices “until sometime in 2021… or until it’s safe and it’s practical, whenever that may be.”

Also in August, Hachette CEO Michael Pietsch sent out a note that “we will not be requiring anyone whose work can be done remotely to return to any of our offices for the foreseeable future.”

GENERAL

Overall retail sales changed only slightly in 2020, but there were huge swings month-to-month. April sales were down 14.7% from March but were followed by an 18.3% jump in May. November retail sales dropped 1.1% from October but were up 4.1% from November 2019.

Book retail is a set of businesses. First, it’s both physical and digital. More than half of all book retail takes place online (with Amazon accounting for at least half of those sales). Physical retail, on its own, has several components, broadly speaking: chain bookstores, independent bookstores, big-box retailers like Costco, and “newsstands” at drug and grocery stores, airport stores, etc.

Then there is digital, capturing more than 10% of most book publisher sales, and the vast majority of self-publishing sales. Amazon controls at least three-quarters of that market.

TO CONCLUDE

The changes in the retail landscape speak volumes. (Pun intended).

On the one hand, from now on publishers must treat bookselling as online- and digital-first, physical-second, with no further questions asked.

Pre-COVID it was still valid for publishers to ponder “where does Amazon fit within our reseller channel strategy?”

The question henceforth is “how do our reselling channels align with an online-first strategy (particularly for Amazon)?”

And the mouse in the corner might be heard to squeak “and what should we do about the bookstores?”

Although the sudden pandemic-driven shifts may slow or revert toward the mean with the achievement of a “new normal,” we believe that important underlying changes will persist and continue to evolve.

Keep Happy, Paul

Something special for writers comes this way…

We writers can be a funny old lot, scribbling notes, making sketches, writing links for research sites.

We also like to our minds to be stimulated, given ideas, offered hints, motivated, inspired, and fueled with all those thoughts only creative minds can conjure.

Electric Eclectic knows this only too well; after all we are an international alliance of authors.

Now, for the first time, Electric Eclectic has designed an Authors Journal specifically made for our often-overactive minds.

While we leave plenty of room for notetaking, sketches, and ‘random’ material, we include helpful pages on a plethora of inspirational and helpful author and writers ‘stuff.’

Order your copy today, even get extra, so you can gift them to you friends.

Find the Electric Eclectic authors journal on Amazon, https://amzn.to/3rBStYQ

Meetings in Time & Distance

Today, as its Electric Eclectics third birthday, (hip hip hooray), rather than post about books, or writing, or authorship, or ‘being Indie’,  I thought I would share a useful tool with you.

It is one I often use when communicating ‘overseas’ via the ‘net’.

I am sure you will find it as useful and as helpful as I…


As the founder of Electric Eclectic, part of my job is to keep in contact with our authors, which is not as easy as it might appear.

One of the main reasons is, Electric Eclectic authors are dispersed around the world, from the USA, through Europe, right to the Antipodes, which means there is no suitable panoptic time to engage with everyone simultaneously.

Okay, there is UTC – Universal Time Coordinated, which is another term for GMT – Greenwich Mean Time. It has nothing to do with Greenwich village and everything to do with Greenwich in the UK, which is on the Zero Meridian, that’s 0° longitude meridian, also known, unsurprisingly as the Greenwich Meridian.

Now, to have a standardised time the whole world can utilize when communicating, especially when using the internet or worldwide web sounds a great idea… but for a few issues.

One is DST – Daylight Saving Time, or in the UK, BST – British Summer Time, (Other countries have various terms for the same thing), it is where the clocks are advanced for one hour in the spring.

The other is Local Time. Knowing which Local Time Zone you are in.

Considering the USA has 9 time zones, Canada 6, Europe 7, Asia 11, Russia 11, China 5, Australia 3 and New Zealand 2, you can see arranging an inclusive scheduled event on a global scale is not as easy as it may first appear.


I often query those who create Facebook events without considering the above. Those who do so are surely naïve if they do not understand the importance of looking further afield than their backyards?

Therefore, to schedule a live global meeting between, say, seventeen authors, who reside over four continents needs to be planned carefully.


One tool I have found to be immensely helpful is World Time Buddy https://www.worldtimebuddy.com/  Here you can see your time and those of locations you select so you are in no doubt of what time it is, anywhere.

The ‘Event Widget’ is an excellent tool, schedule your event using the Widget and all those using World Time Buddy will have the time automatically displayed in your time AND there local time… you need do nothing, its automatic.

Bookmark ‘World Time Buddy’ now. There is even a mobile/cell app for Android and Apple.

Better still, the basic mode is FREE. (Paid upgrades available).

Check it out, https://www.worldtimebuddy.com/


mybook.to/Authorstuff mybook.to/FrugalAuthor

Two books any good writer and author should not be without

Give your books their best chance

We are all guilty, at times, of taking things for granted, and that includes me.

For example, I have taken it for granted you know what Electric Eclectic is and how it works, which I know you, or at least many people, do not.

So, I shall endeavour to explain…

Whether you are an established author, an emerging writer or a debut novelist, all of us have one main wish when it comes to our works; we want our books to be read.

To achieve your dream, you must let the world know you have written a great work, a wonderful collection of short stories or poetry, an enticing novel, your mémoire, or whatever writings you may publish.

This is when things become difficult for indie authors. Few of us have the funds, the know-how, the contacts, the experience or the backing to compete with mainstream publishing houses.

Neither do most have the luxury of time; many indies hold down full-time jobs, have children and family members to care for, along with the many other commitments.

Life can be hectic and demanding.

These are a few of the reasons I founded Electric Eclectic.

Electric Eclectic is NOT a publisher. We do not take any royalties.

Neither do we claim any rights over your work. What is yours, remains yours.

So, what is Electric Eclectic?

In its simplest form, Electric Eclectic is a marketing brand.

Technically, Electric Eclectic is a decentralised international co-operative alliance, managed by members in various countries around the globe, forming a strong branded synergy of collaborative association specialising in authorship, book branding, publishing, marketing and promotions.

Using Electric Eclectic branding, being part of the alliance, allows authors to penetrate deeper and wider into the publishing marketplace reaching many more readers than one can do alone.

Electric Eclectic authors work together and for one another while promoting their books and author presence.

Electric Eclectic concentrates in promoting the brand itself, creating marketing opportunities and offering services for the benefit of its member authors.

As an Electric Eclectic author, you also have the backing of the other members, who will willingly advise, help and support you when required.

Electric Eclectic has a far-reaching, multi-platform social media presence encompassing, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, MeWe, LinkedIn and many more.

Plus, we have a great ‘friends’ network, these are other author networks and publishing houses who work closely with us in promoting indie authors books and those published by the small press, therefore greatly extending our market penetration.

We have a large range of information; Documents, Files, Links, Giveaway books, and various Services to aid and assist Electric Eclectic authors and to help and encourage the use of the marketing and promotional opportunities available through Electric Eclectics initiatives.

Electric Eclectic is not a membership scheme.

There is no annual fee or charge.

It is NOT FREE to join, but it’s darned close.

We do ask for a once off, lifetime author registration fee. This confirms you as an Electric Eclectic author. You’ll be surprised just how small this fee is.

The second cost is a licence fee, allowing you to use the Electric Eclectic branding. Each book using the Electric Eclectic branding requires a licence, as this is linked to the books ISBN or ASIN. Again, this is a very small amount.

We do NOT claim Electric Eclectic is the answer to your all your prayers.

This is NOT a get-rich-quick scheme. Nor do we promise the sales of your books will increase a million-fold overnight or the number of ardent fans will rocket through the roof.

Electric Eclectic should form ‘part-of‘ your authorship, publishing and marketing armoury.

It is NOT intended to replace it. You will still need to work at promoting your books.

What Electric Eclectic is, is a low cost, effective method of reaching a wider audience, connecting with likeminded authors, gaining accesses to help, information & documentation, and benefitting from Electric Eclectic’s marketing initiatives.

To find out more how you can become an Electric Eclectic author, please email us at, eebookbranding@mail.com

Keep Happy, Paul White, founder of Electric Eclectic.


Your Story

I first posted this in November 2014, on Ramblings from a Writers Mind my blog where I Write about Writing for Writers.

I am now including it here, on Electric Eclectic’s blog, as I think it is relevent for those of you who have not, as yet, attempted to write their story


Once again I sit here with a vague idea running through my mind, yet I have an uncertainty of how I am going to transfer my thoughts onto the page.

I do not view this predicament as a problem because this is one of my Ramblings and, the whole point of writing a Rambling, is I take a loose concept and start writing without any structured plan.

On good days the whole thing sort of stitches itself into a passable tapestry of cohesive substance.

I hope today is a good day.

Although, I have often heard people say ‘I could write a book about.. this or that’, or ‘that would make a fantastic story’, I rarely, if ever, find any of the people expressing such actually write a darned thing, about anything, ever.

It is all too easy to say such and such would make an interesting story, but far, far harder to write it; I am not speaking of the technical aspects of creative prose, simply the act of putting pen to paper and jotting out more than a few paragraphs.

One of the most difficult things to do is to start writing a story, your story.

I have known people who have journals, diaries and vast libraries of notes, all ready to start writing their story. Ten years later those notes have vanished, the diaries are collecting dust in the loft and the journals long forgotten.

But none of that matters, they say, because… ‘it’s all here in my head’, ‘it’s my life story, so I know it anyway’, or ‘I plan on starting it after…’

I have heard it all.

Once upon a time, I used the same lame excuses to procrastinate about writing the stuff I had bobbling around in my own head. Now, if I go a day without writing at least a few paragraphs, a short story, a poem or one of these Ramblings, I get tetchy and irritable.

Honestly, I suffer withdrawal symptoms.

It is my love of writing and, by ‘writing’, I mean actually transcribing words onto paper, (or in this modern world, onto a computer screen); the more I write, the more I need to write. The more I write, the more I learn about writing, about words, syntax and grammar.

But most of all, I learn about the pliability of words, how they can be moulded and shaped, crafted as a glassblower would fashion his works from a semi-molten liquid into goblets and vases. It is akin to a cabinet maker taking great lumps of raw wood and, carefully whittling and chiselling away until an intricately polished dresser stands proudly displayed.

Words can be shaped and formed in a million and more ways, they are the basic raw materials of a writer’s art, the fundamental building blocks for wordsmiths, the elemental ingredient of the author’s labour.

What is more, these words are free. They cost nothing and are readily available to everyone, including you.

So why not take advantage of this?

Now is the time to clamber into the loft and bring those diaries into the daylight, time to dust off your old journals and to recall your history. Now is the time to sharpen your quill, your pencil, or charge up that laptop and start to write the story you have within yourself.

I shall leave you with this wonderful quotation from ‘I know why the Caged Bird Sings,’ by Maya Angelou,

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

Paul.


Wheter you are a ‘newby’ or experienced author, there is much to learn about writing and publishing and any advice or guidence that can save you making mistakes and a ton money is a must.

These two books, The Frugal Author and Lots of Author Stuff you Need to Know do just that; they save you heartache by stearing you away from common mistakes and pitfalls, show you ways of doing things which could save you hundreds of pounds (or Dollars) in both the creation and the publishing of your books.

These two books contain the answers to those questions which have been plaguing you for an age. The ones you really want to know the answers to but have been afraid to ask. They are full of the distilled results, the acquired knowledge and personal practice of being a successful, award-winning, Amazon bestselling indie author, one who dislikes paying out more than is necessary.

These ARE NOT a ‘how-to books‘. They ARE NOT a step by step guides or tuitional publications. These books simply share methodology, ideas and principles which you can adopt fully or partially, implement in part or whole over time, and adjust to suit your working practices.

Download your copies today, The Frugal Author and Lots of Author Stuff you Need to Know.

Two books ALL authors NEED

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Whether you are writing your first book, consider yourself an emerging writer or are an established author, there is always something more, something new to learn about our business.

We may be well versed regarding grammar or have a literary doctorate under our belt; it does not mean we know what Etherpad or Zoho are. Trim sizes and paper weight may confuse us and we may never decipher the difference between the Frontispiece and a Colophon.

If you are looking to publish small press or mainstream it is good to know the accepted word counts of various genres. It also makes sense to understand publishers and agent’s jargon, such as Boilerplate, Permissions and Blues.

What does 4/0/0/4 mean to you? Or Casewrap? Are you familiar with Endsheets?… I’m just asking.

Who should write your books Foreword and who should write your Preface? Do you need either one if you include an Introduction?

Do you understand Copyright and why you might need a Disclaimer? Is it a legal requirement to have an ISBN… and where do you get them anyway?

How would you like some clear advice regarding the difference in formatting eBooks and Print books (Paperback and Hardcover) along with font style advice and free downloads?

How about some samples to help you write your back cover ‘blurb‘ and getting to know how literary agents work and what is it they do… exactly?

All these questions and more are answered, many with examples you may copy and use; along with links, site addresses and downloads to make your life a whole lot easier, to save you money, time, and ton of wasted effort and frustration.

EEnewLogoPaul White, the founder of Electric Eclectic, has two books designed to aid authors and writers to understand the publishing world and what you need to know to be a successful indie author.

Paul’s books are not about the writing process, neither do they offer advice on promotion or marketing… there are a plethora of publications, blogs, vlogs and podcasts which portend to do that.

Do not expect his books to be ‘self-help’ handbooks or a ‘step-by-step’ instruction manuals… they are not.

‘The Frugal Author’ focusses on the cost of self-publishing, giving detailed information Publication1on reducing expenses while maintaining, if not increasing, quality.

Paul says’ “No one needs a large ‘book debt’ before publishing. I advise how authors can be in profit from their first few book sales.”

Following the success of The Frugal Author, (revised edition now published), Paul received many questions about publishing and writing. This encouraged him to write a second book on ‘being indie’ where he addresses, in detail, the most frequent questions asked.

AuthorStuffThe result is ‘Lots of Author Stuff you Need to Know’, a weighty tome of understanding, knowledge and experience of the printing and publishing world. It is a book every author needs to have to hand regardless of experience.

“These books are full of the distilled results, the acquired knowledge and personal practice of being a successful, award-winning, Amazon bestselling indie author.” Says Paul.

The Frugal Author: https://mybook.to/FrugalAuthor

Lots of Author Stuff you Need to Know: https://mybook.to/Authorstuff

Prices on hold until the corvid 19 crisis is over. So, now is the perfect time to download both.

 

The Secret Entity

I first posted this in November 2014, (how time flies) on my writer’s blog, Ramblings from a Writers MindHowever, I am re-posting it here, on Electric Eclectic’s blog simply because I think you will find it enjoyably informative… at least I hope you do.


Books, novels, novellas, whatever term you use it does not really matter. Neither does it matter, in this instance, if you are reading a hardcover book, a paperback or even an e-reader. Because this post is about the story that lays within, not the format, the genre or classification of the book.

A story is a most wondrous gift which can be bestowed on anyone. It affords an avenue of escapism from life, from reality. A tale can whisk you away to worlds which do not exist but feel real, feel true as you read and absorb each word on each and every page.

A great story will draw you in, make you part of its netherworld, a place where you can battle the bad guys, or be the bad guy, or girl, or dog or horse… or simply watch, from your lofty viewpoint, all that transpires below.

No matter if you love a twisted plot of dirty deeds, or raunchy romance, fast action with death and destruction, a private detective prying into everyone’s business, or a love and betrayal saga of family and ever-changing fortunes;  as a reader, you must consider how the author weaves such magic, how they are able to draw you into their fiction, into their deep mindbending imagination.

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Whether you are laying on a recliner by the pool, soaking up the sun at the beach, or simply curled up in your armchair at home, a book is a magical portal, a gateway to another life, through which you can escape the humdrum of everyday tasks, at least for a while.

When you immerse yourself into a story the mundane evaporates, it disappears into the shadows of forgotten responsibilities, while you become absorbed into your own private world, a world that no other person can ever become part of.

Now, you may find my last statement somewhat beguiling.

Why would I say no other person could possibly enter the same world as you? After all, you are reading just one copy, a single edition of a book. Many other people must read the same story? They too have visited this fantastical world you now find yourself in?

WRONG.

Unlike watching the television, a downloaded video, or visiting the cinema where you sit with family and friends watching precisely the same action, hearing the same sounds, the same voices, a book is a far more personal experience.

It is a unique individual encounter.

When you read a story your eyes will be scanning the chains of words which are sequenced by the author. Yet it is not the author who is telling you the story. It is not these chains of words, mere ink blobs on the pages which paint those pictures in your mind. It is not they which lead you from one scene to another.

You see, in between the words there lies an invisible entity.

It is this entity which connects your mind to the authors, no matter how far away they may be in distance or time. Alive or long dead… you will become connected.

It is this which is the true magic of a book.

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Wonderful plays and fantastic films work from the basis of good creative script writing, however, assisting the scriptwriters to deliver the words to an audience in a manner that will capture their attention are the actors and actresses. Their ability to deliver a speech or to convey dialogue convincingly is a wonderful skill.

Cameramen, directors, special effects, best boy’s and grips… and so on, produce the scenes and effects. But that vision, the moving images on the screen and the actor’s voices are not your story; they are the director’s interpretation of the screen-writers construal of the theatre play, which is based on the television series of the original book written by… whoever it may be.

Therefore, you are separated by degrees from the creators own thoughts.

I prefer a direct connection to the author, one without the intervention of another person, or persons, translation being foisted upon me.

Without becoming too technical, I am writing this post in a style far removed from the one I am using to write my novel. The way you are reading this is the way I have deliberately formatted my narration. In this instance as if I am speaking, talking directly to you personally. (Which I am)

In my fictional stories, the voice you hear is inside your head, may be omnipotent, or it may seem as if one of the characters is speaking, telling you the tale, it all depends on how I intend you to hear my story.

I hope I have explained that clearly?

The second reason reading a book is such a personal experience is, as you read, your mind creates a world so real and so detailed and in such a subjective form, it is only possible for it to exist in your own imagination.

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Take a simple statement:

“The long black sedan drew up to the pavement outside the hotel.”

Simple?

Yes?

No.

If it were a film I would agree because we would have both seen the same car, drive up to the same hotel, from the same direction, in the same weather conditions, at the same time of day….same….same…same.

However, when you are absorbed into the story of a book, you have to create the car yourself, imagine which direction it is driving, how the daylight reflects from its bodywork, or the lights glint on its polished paintwork as it drives under the portico of the main entrance… oh wait, your hotel did not have a portico? And it was not in the city centre… well, that’s ok, because this is your story and yours alone.

In mine it was night, the car was a dark blue stretched Bentley continental, what make was it in yours?  Was it a stretch, was it blue or black… or white? What time of day, or night did you create for your story? Was it Chauffeur driven?

This is the reason you cannot read the same story as your friends, your mother, sister, brother, uncle, aunt or Little Lord Fauntleroy. You can read the same book, but you can never experience the same story.

Ahh, now you are beginning to understand the true magic of a book, the amazing mystical power of narration.

It is something unique, something no other medium can offer.

Which is why I love the written word, why I love books above and beyond any other form of media for regaling a great story.

It is why I love to write.

Talking about writing… have you read any of my Electric Eclectic novelettes yet?

If not, you are missing a treat; each Electric Eclectic novelettes contain an amazing and captivating short story.

If you prefer paperbacks, I have now published several of my novelettes as Pocketbooks, smaller sized paperbacks which are perfect for slipping into a bag or, dare I say, a pocket. They will even fit into the back pocket of your denim jeans.

How’s that for convenience?

Visit @open24, Electric Eclectic’s Amazon store for readers and writers…

 CLICK HEREfuture

Railways, nostalgia, memories and time travel.

I first published this post, in June 2015, on a blog called Ramblings from a Writers Mind where I ‘write about writing for writers’.

The subject, one of memory and nostalgia is, I feel, equally important to the readers among us as it is to those who write. It is on that premise I now re-publish this post here, on Electric’s Eclectic’s blog.

Enjoy.

I am sure I am not alone when I say stations and trains hold countless evocative memories for me. Many of these recollections are from my childhood, others from my adolescence and beyond. But most are essentially pure nostalgic longing.

I say nostalgic longing rather than reminiscent memory because most of the evocative scenes which play within my mind, when I contemplate railway carriages and station platforms, are false recollections. They are simply wistful yearnings for a time and place I have never been privy to.

Those of you who may not have a creative bent, those who are not writers, poets or lyricists may not, as yet, comprehend my words. So I shall, in my usual arbitrary, chaotic and irregular manner, begin to ramble away and hopefully elucidate you all too where my thoughts have wandered regarding this subject.

If you will humour me, I shall ask you to close your eyes for a moment or two and imagine you are on a station platform in the nineteen forties or fifties.

casablanca04Hear the sounds of the locomotive hissing steam as it waits for the passengers to disembark. See the porters as they wheel loaded wooden carts to the goods wagon, while others push handcarts laden with passenger’s luggage to the coach doorway where they assist the people to board.

In the waiting room, a small coal fire burns filling the air with a sooty but homely scent, a scent of warmth and comfort. From a small kiosk, a man wearing a scarf and flat cap sells newspapers to the passengers waiting on the platform.

All around, a cacophony of sound melds into this concert of life, whistles blow, milk churns clank, You can hear the ‘thunk’ as reams of newspapers are plonked on the platform ready for collection. Passenger’s voices are a constant murmur, a backdrop to the stationmaster’s call of “All aboard”. Doors slam shut, the train huffs and puffs as it pulls away. A metallic squeal pierces the air as the wheels begin to turn.

Those remaining on the platform wave off their loved ones who, leaning out of the windows, blow kisses back.

The pervading smell is of coal, steam, hot metal, wood, newspaper and soot.bacio in treno grande

This is how I remember railway stations. Or at least this is how my selective and partially false memories cause my mind to create this evocative picture in my head.

I am not quite old enough to had such an experience. I was not born into that era. My time came a little later. Perhaps I do have just enough knowledge, enough memory to blend some truth into this fantasy.

As a young child, maybe six or seven years old, I regularly watched the last few operational steam trains as they rattled over the railway bridge in Penge.

I remember ‘platform tickets’, tickets which allowed non-passengers access onto the platforms to say goodbye and wave off their loved ones, or to meet them on their return. I have sat in the comforting warmth of a British Rail waiting room which was heated by an open coal fire, the smell of which I shall never forget. I also recall when the green liveried trains had first, second and third-class carriages, as well as a goods wagon and guards van at the rear.

Some may say they were the ‘good old day’s’ and in many ways, I agree. But historical conclusion is not the topic of today’s rambling.

I was not born early enough to have encountered life in the forties, not early enough to truly know the scents, sounds and feel of travelling by train in ‘those days’. Yet I do have the ability to create with my pen an acceptable and, this is the important bit, believable account of ‘being there’.

This is where ‘false memory’ becomes a friend and not the enemy.

downloadMixed with the few true memories I have are the perceptions of what life was like during such times. I have absorbed and pooled many of these ideas by reading books and watching films from that era, such as Brief Encounter (1945), or The Lady Eve (1941) and many other such scenes from plays and television programmes.

If, as a writer, I do my job well I can utilise both the true, the false and the acquired to create a world which shall captivate the consciousness of the reader, draw them into my fantasy world as their eyes traverse the page. I want to fascinate and enthral the reader, not only with my characters and their antics but also by lending to them an illusory world where they can escape the mundane and humdrum of life, at least for the moment.

This is where nostalgia, or at least nostalgic imagery features. I believe it is something we all have a longing for. Who, for instance, would not wish to travel back, to at least one certain point in time, if they were able?

I know it is something I would do if it were at all possible.

So why, I hear you ask, have I focused on railways as a topic to discuss the past. The answer is simple. Trains were ‘the’ mode of transport for the majority of people ‘way back when’, when few owned a car, less could afford to board a ship and air travel was just an aviators dream, accessible to only the very wealthy. Most towns and cities, other than one’s own home town, were too far away to cycle and horses were all but history.

How many of us have not said at least one goodbye, waved off a loved one or shed a tear on a railway platform. Who has not been be45a6b16e065833331925e08c5acb93bursting with excitement and anticipation while awaiting the arrival of a train returning a family member, a friend or a lover home?

It is fact stations are a place many hold dear because this is where we have experienced numerous emotions, countless times.

The station, the train, the railway is a place indelibly ingrained, permanently embedded and entwined with both our memory and emotion, however true or however false those evocative recollections might be will still hold them close, we still cherish them.

We all carry within ourselves a simple wistful yearning for a time and place we have never been. If I can re-create that place in your mind, stimulate your emotions, have you feel the air, taste the scents of my imaginings as you read my stories then know I have done a good job.

Thank you for reading this post. I hope these few randomly scribbled words give you food for thought or simply entertained you for a short while, Paul.


 To browse my books please feel free to visit my website, https://paulznewpostbox.wixsite.com/paul-white

If you would like to read a shorter book, say as an introduction to my writings, then check out my novelettes and ‘Pocketbooks’ on @open24, the Amazon store for readers by Electric Eclectic.

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The ELECTRIC ECLECTIC NOVELLA FICTION PRIZE 2020… is now open

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Are you an aspiring writer or an indie author looking for a publishing contract? If so, the Electric Eclectic Novella Fiction Prize 2020 is ‘right up your street’.

Simply write a 20K to 30K word story, in any genre and about anything you want, and enter the Novella Fiction Prize.

Entry is just £10.00 GBP, (via official entry form) and the winning authors will have their manuscripts published as Novellas.

The top prize is a full paperback publishing package.  Second and third places having their work published as eBooks.

Also associated prizes; professional cover designs, marketing packages and author assist support, media interviews and more.

The Electric Eclectic Novella Fiction Prize 2020 is an international literary competition for emerging writers and indie authors.

Submissions are encouraged from all literary fictional genres with no restrictions on theme or subject.

The emphasis of the judging will be on ambitious, imaginative and innovative approaches which explore and expand creative writing.

See; ‘How to enter the NOVELLA FICTION PRIZE’