Category Archives: Cade Books

Olive Miriam Johnson

At last I have finished writing the memoir about my maternal grandmother.

Had I written this book fifty years ago, it would have been far more revealing. Olive, my maternal grandmother and Nanna as she was known to the close family, was alive and could have answered many of my questions in the blink of an eye. My great uncles Archie and Bob could have helped fill in missing details, and my mother was there to tell me about her early life in Great Yarmouth.

Fifty years on, that golden window of opportunity to discover more about the person who probably influenced my life the most, has been missed. There is nobody left to ask.

Although when I started my research I had little knowledge of my maternal ancestry, a few facts had become vivid memories. They may have been vivid, but I soon discovered they were not necessarily accurate. Of most help was a small and battered brown suitcase, probably a century old, containing a few documents and photographs accumulated after Olive’s death in the late 1970s and the untimely passing of my mother in 1982.

Inside the suitcase, which had rested in our loft for longer than I can remember, were two old address books, a birthday book (these were fairly common through the first half of the twentieth century but lost their popularity to cheap throwaway diaries), and an autograph book dating back to the First World War. Also inside were various receipts, some photographs (including one of my great grandmother stuck onto wood so it would stand up by itself), wills and certificates of births, marriages and deaths.  At the bottom of the case was a poignant document that entitled Olive a burial plot in Caister Cemetery alongside her first husband.

Researching and writing this account of Nanna’s life, and touching on the lives of her close relatives, triggered lots of memories for me which were long forgotten. It also brought to light a few incidents, some happy and others quite tragic, that I was not aware of and believe that my mother probably didn’t know about either.

Sadly, there are no close family members left to share the memories with, but at least the record is there for posterity and serves to keep memories of Nanna alive.

If anyone would like to read it, the book is available in e-Book format from Amazon here.

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Thirty months on…

There’s a good chance that anyone following my blog will have given up any hope of an update by now, but after two and bit years I have decided to go for a Big Clean-up of my blog site.

Prior to posting this update, I will have removed some of the tabs. Book Reviews has gone, and so has Probate DIY. Neither of these have been updated for almost ten years! The old probate diary is still in print though, and also available as an e-book here.

It has been far too long to cover everything that has been blog-worthy since my previous post, so I won’t even try. There are a couple of highlights though!

After nearly two years of painstaking research, I finished my grandfather’s memoir. It turned out be quite a substantial piece of family history, covering his ancestors back two generations, his three brothers and sister, and significant events in his life between 1885 and 1971. The book is on Amazon here.

Over a year ago I completed the MA in Creative Writing with the OU. If anyone tells you an OU degree is ‘easy’, don’t believe a word of it! I now have four OU qualifications, and although each course of study was immensely enjoyable, they all turned out to be a significant challenge. My brain is getting old!

four certificates

Writing-wise, I like to try my hand at quite different things. My latest fiction book is a short farce – about a quarter the length of a full novel. I found it incredibly difficult to write, mostly because of the need to intertwine the plots, characters, mistaken identities and slightly strange situations in a way that everything comes together at the end. It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, and I probably won’t write another, but it was an interesting experience! It is free to read with Kindle Unlimited, or 99p should you feel like splashing out! If you want to take a look, it is here. Please let me know what you think, and maybe leave a review on Amazon.

Which brings me neatly to the book website. I have updated it along with this blog, so if you would like to know more about my books then please take a look here.

cadebooks website

I really shouldn’t leave it so long before the next update, but…

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Filed under Cade Books, Creative Writing, Open University

Self Publishing One Year On – Has it been worth it?

It’s just over a year since I took the plunge and published my local history book about Whomerley Wood Moat in Stevenage, and since then have made four more available to the book buying public.  Five paperbacks in a year, each one quite different. Probate – A Personal Journey is a diarised account of events during carrying out probate on my late mother-in-law’s estate. Three Courses is an anthology of twenty five short stories, Thinking in the Cloud is a compilation of thirty five poems and Twelve Dozen Limericks is, well, what it says it is! The limericks were written over a period of about three months, and to be honest I was lucky to get to 144 without running out of inspiration!

book covers - all five

The cost of self-publishing the books was quite low, the biggest expense being the purchase of a wedge of ISBNs. It is only possible to buy a minimum of ten, and that was a whopping £144. Apart from the monetary cost, there was also the time spent in preparation for publication. Having said that, it needn’t be a huge commitment.  For instance, for the Limericks book I decided to take advantage of a free shipping offer from Lulu which only lasted two days, uploaded the text and the covers on a Sunday afternoon, received the print copy for checking on the Tuesday morning and the print book was available for distribution that evening. From my computer to worldwide publication in two days!  Mind you, the text was already laid out and proof read many times over, and the covers were ready to go before I started with Lulu.

I chose Lulu as the Print on Demand house, mostly because of the transparency of their publishing process and because they are free to use. Their profits come from the sale of your books, rather than setting them up. Actually, they are not quite free, because once you have your book uploaded and ready to go, you have to purchase an author print copy to approve before Lulu will release your work to the world. That still wasn’t big bucks though, and the print cost of the book was mostly overshadowed by the shipping charge. It’s worth mentioning that Lulu are happy to provide a free ISBN when you publish through them. It’s a matter of personal choice, but I didn’t want Lulu to be the named publisher of my books, preferring to use my own imprint Cade Books.

My sales expectations were not high, mostly because I wasn’t planning to spend a lot of time and money publicising the books, but sales to date have hit almost 200. To think that all those people bought a piece of my writing and some even came back for more is quite a thrill. The best seller out of the print copies has been the local history book ‘Whomerley Wood Moat’, with 93 copies sold, and the ‘Probate – A Personal Journey’ book is second with 54 sales. It’s interesting that of the Kindle sales, the ‘probate’ book stands far ahead of all the others with 28 downloads purchased out of a total of 40 for all the books.

Although ‘self-publishing’ means you get to do much of the book distribution yourself, Lulu has been responsible for distributing over a quarter of the print books sold. All of those purchased from Amazon or in a bookshop have been supplied directly by Lulu. Kindle downloads are made direct from Amazon of course, but almost half of the copies sold have been ordered directly from me either by email or using my eBay selling page. This is what the distribution percentages look like.


So, was it worth doing? The answer to that is a definite ‘Yes’. I realise that compared to best-selling authors, my contribution to the book market is very small beer, but seeing my local history book for sale in the local museum, and others sitting on the shelves at our town library and available on Amazon makes me break out in a huge grin!

Take a look at the Cade Books tab at the top of my blog if you’d like to find out more about the books.


Filed under Cade Books, Creative Writing, Uncategorized

Whomerley Wood Moat, Stevenage

My booklet about the medieval moated site in Whomerley Wood, Stevenage has been published.  Details about the book and how to buy a copy can be found under the Cade Books tab on my WordPress Blog, or go direct by clicking here.

cover 1e

In fact, if you’re in a hurry to get a copy, hit this button!Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

That was a shameless example of self-advertising, was it not?! But, with Lulu having probably hundreds of thousands of books for sale, and Amazon having millions, how else would anyone know about my little offering!

I went with Lulu in the end. The decision wasn’t easy, as there are so many different aspects to consider and each POD publisher had their pros and cons. Out of desperation as much as anything, I ordered a book from Lulu to see how they performed and promised myself that if it came back looking good I would take the plunge. The postage seemed a bit steep at £2.99, but like many Oldies I still compare prices to what they were in the sixties when half a crown bought a plate of pie and chips in the local pub.

The book was ordered last Monday afternoon, it was printed on Tuesday and it dropped on the doormat Thursday morning. That was pretty good service whichever way you look at it.  The quality of the book is far greater than I expected, with a fabulous glossy colour cover and clear easy-to-read text inside.

The physical act of publishing with Lulu was a piece of cake. They take you by the hand and lead you step by step through the whole process, and to be honest there wasn’t a single ‘gotcha’ that I can recollect. Even when I chose to use my own ISBN, that was handled easily and with no hiccups. The cover design would have been a bit tricky had I not realised it could be designed offline with MS Publisher and then uploaded as an image. A bit of form-filling and a few boxes to tick, and that was it.  My baby was on sale!

So, Whomerley Wood Moat is now out there for anyone to buy.  If you do, thank you, and I hope you enjoy reading about the moated site as much as I loved researching and writing about it.

Whoops, I nearly forgot to tell you which book I ordered for the test run. It was a copy of Nature’s Gold, by Penny Luker. I am an admirer of Penny’s writing, and this book contains a selection of her poems. Some of them are deeply emotional (Undeniable Love), others are light and easy going (Sneaky), a few bring a chuckle or two (Don’t Buy Me Apples). All of the poems are engaging, and it is clear they have been written from the heart with a profound sense of perception. If you think you might like Penny’s writing too, find her at her blog by clicking here.


Filed under Book reviews, Cade Books, Creative Writing