Tag Archives: events

The Swan Hotel Bedford – Steeped in History and Surrounded by Character


The Swan Hotel Bedford

The Swan Hotel Bedford was rebuilt by Henry Holland for The Duke of Bedford in the 18th Century and is an imposing building on the Embankment, the River Ouse flowing beside it – is a perfect place for walkers, runner and rowers. Bedford Bridge was probably originally wooden and built by the Saxons but it was the Victorians who first enjoyed the suspension footbridge further along the Embankment, probably the most photographed view of Bedford. The hotel is virtually opposite St Paul’s Church and the Market Place and so it is a


The Embankment Bedford

central location for the town and spots of historical significance.

Castle Mound is next to the hotel and The Cecil Higgins Museum and Art Gallery is within the grounds behind the castle. Only a few minutes walk you can reach The Bunyan Centre, a museum dedicated to Bunyan and close to the place where it is alleged that he wrote Pilgrim’s Progress – many landmarks of which are in Bedfordshire. Another interesting and unusual place within east walking distance is the Panacea Museum, described as ‘a garden of Eden in the Centre of Bedford.’

Recently refurbished, The Swan Hotel oozes history with its chandeliers and wooden panelled stairs and yet their lunch menu is reasonably priced and would be a haven after a busy morning shopping or visiting the sites.  I have not been to the spa but have put it on my ‘to do’ list, having seen the photos on the hotel website.

I am excited that I will be holding an event at The Swan Hotel on August 3rd at 2pm.  ‘Murder in the Library’ – a fantastic setting to talk about local history and how an unsolved murder near the village of Wishamstead in 1919, inspired me to write my murder mystery ‘Murder, Now and Then.’ This will be accompanied by tea and cake, all for £5, but it needs to be booked.

You can either let me know and I’ll put you on the list or, better still, pop into the hotel reception or give them a call.

Swan Hotel Reception:  01234 346 565  email: info@bedfordswanhotel.co.uk

or contact me: diana@dianamaryjackson.co.uk

Swan Murder Flyer

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Filed under Bedfordshire, Events, Marketing your novel, Murder Now and Then

Author Talk a Resounding Success!

Well over thirty people attended my author talk last night in the small village of Clophill in mid Bedfordshire and they were certainly an enthusiastic and appreciative audience. Many had read ‘Murder, Now and Then’ prior to the evening, so it was a tricky balance to talk to them, as well as not to give too many details away to spoil the plot for the others. I sold a good few books too and much was raised for church funds, which was a major purpose of the evening.

As I tried to sleep last night and the adrenaline was still rushing through my body I began to evaluate ‘success.’ Yesterday evening was certainly a resounding success. You could have heard ‘a pin drop’ (if you’ll excuse the cliche) during the video, in the silence of the church. Here’s a link if you have not seen it before.

No one in the audience noticed the imaginary farmhouse superimposed on the countryside near Haynes Park, where the novel is set, not far from Clophill. It was a perfect introduction to the evening. People seemed genuinely interested in my local research and anecdotes about my writing life, asking pertinent questions – but no – I did not answer when asked what the murder weapon was!

It was a success in the way in which the event spread the word about my writing and to hear that copies had been bought and passed around. Isn’t that wonderful!  The comment was made almost apologetically and it made me evaluate why I write. As long as I continue to have that burning desire to write and that feedback from readers is positive, whether they read on Kindle or new, borrowed or second hand paperback or even from the library – I count that as a resounding success. Don’t you?

What do you think?What I love about evenings like that is not only sharing my own story but listening to theirs afterwards.

Anyway I’d certainly like to thank the Clophill folks for being so welcoming!


Filed under Bedfordshire, Events, Marketing your novel, Murder Now and Then

Reviewing my rewarding but rollercoaster year of events ~ Advice to Authors

First of all I’d like to say thank you to everyone who has supported me this year, both the familiar and new faces. I really appreciate it and I’ve gained so much pleasure from meeting and talking to so many people.

I’ve been out ‘on the road’ frequently since March this year and as a relatively unknown author I have to admit that my emotions have gone sky high with the successes but plummeted with the occasional less than successful events and it made me think.

Is it worth the energy, time and of course money spent in organising events?

Are there any hidden benefits?

Here are my thoughts:

1. Attendance at author talks ~I have had audiences from 5 up to 80 but usually somewhere in between. The high turn-out does tend to be with organisations which have regular meetings and you are on their ‘guest speaker’ list. The buzz from a large audience is electric and if you enjoy reaching out to people in this way, my advice would be to advertise it on your website, (which I haven’t yet) and try to get on lists, probably at the local library (if you’re lucky enough to still have one!) There’s a joy in being asked rather than touting for business too. It means that your name has been referred by another group or reader. Great news!

At one venue the organiser quoted another author,

‘I won’t agree to come unless there’s an audience of at least 100.’

What do you think of such a reaction?

Hidden benefits ~

  • Publicity, posters which reach a far wider audience
  • word of mouth
  • positive contacts with the organisers increasing your credibility and reach as an author
  • building your ‘platform’

 Downside ~ planning a talk takes time, travelling costs (ask if you are entitled to travel costs on top of your fee before the event)

2. Book-signings at Bookshops ~ Always a pleasure to me. (apart from one occasion when the timing and inclement weather led to a disappointing turn out) You are more likely have a favourable response if you are local, the content is set in the locality of the bookstore, you have been on the local radio or in the newspaper.

 If you have a book launch in a book shop then the store will benefit from visits from family, neighbours, colleagues and friends but if not, what is the good of only selling maybe ten to twenty books?

You are meeting new readers, engaging with them in conversation which does not always lead to a sale but is rewarding nevertheless.

 Hidden benefits:

  • As above publicity, posters but you are also making links with the people who matter.
  • If you sell well then the manager is likely to think favourably about selling your novels in future….which is harder than ever for an independent. Waterstones, for example, used to sell books from local authors and often had a section for them. Policies have changed and the decision of approval for stocking books happens through a central buyer.
  • Thus you are generating goodwill through your efforts and that must be good!
  • Reaching out to a totally fresh audience.


Downside ~ travel costs and time taken, especially when travelling distances and you must balance this with the need for Amazon reviews and this is a balancing act I’m not very good at.

  3.      Marketing Outside the Box (click on link for previous post)

Fetes, shows, stalls ~ all of these options are lots of fun and you may find, like myself, that you are reaching out more specifically to your target audience that way. For example I hope to have a stall at The Wrest Park, World War One event next year. It ticks lots of boxes for me:

  • It’s local
  • My novel ‘Ancasta Guide me Swiftly Home’ tells a quite different story of WW1
  • My murder mystery, out soon, mentions Wrest Park and is set in the locality, partly at the end of WW1 and for the most part in the future

Hidden Benefits: Other benefits could be

  • At a village fete you might reach more of your neighbours than before and maybe give a donation to a local charity or church too
  • At an arts and craft fair your book may just be that Christmas gift that someone was looking for, signed to an individual by the author no less!
  • You can hand out publicity or mention future projects too


I’m sure you can add many more ideas and benefits. You certainly need to handle your expectations carefully, but maybe, with a lot of time, good will and effort, one day you will have that queue waiting outside the store before you begin. Well, you can dream! There’s no harm in that, is there?

Let me know what you think and any ideas you have.

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Filed under Book Shops, Events, Marketing your novel, Talks, The Great War, WW1