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It’s a strange old time, this just-starting-a-new-book phase, as there’s not much I can tell you by way of update.  For instance, I wrote about 600 words this morning, and spent rather too long finding out how coal was delivered (if indeed it was used domestically) in London in 1828, just so that I can could write the sentence: “Her grandson has offered to take me in his cart – he’s a coal man.”  As ever, I became fascinated by a totally irrelevant piece of history, and spent twenty minutes reading about how coal was measured (weight versus volume) in the nineteenth century, and how it was brought down to London from the north on boats called colliers.  That’s the trouble with historical writing: if you’re interested in history, every little detour is fascinating, and meanwhile poor old Martha is left tapping her foot and waiting for her lift in that cart.

One thing I have done this week is order some bookmarks.  If anyone professional shows any interest at all in the Sam books, I always pick their brains for promotional ideas.  And two separate booksellers have said that bookmarks are always very popular, and that a quality bookmark – i.e. on thick card, colour printed on both sides – will often reappear months later when someone comes into the shop and says, “I want the book on here”.  As you know only too well, I have no artistic talent at all, but thankfully my fabulous cover designer has plenty to spare, and in between covers (not bed-covers – book covers, you naughty people) he amuses himself by creating bookmarks.  And here is what he has done for Sam:



Aren’t they terrific?  I’m not sure which is the front and which the back, but I don’t think it matters.  I’ve ordered 250 – I can’t quite picture how big a box that will be, so here’s hoping I can fit it under the desk – and I’ll start sneaking them into local bookshops, handing them out to friends and so on.

(And in case you’re wondering, I still haven’t plucked up the nerve to hand out actual books – maybe it will be easier to hand out bookmarks, or leave them placed strategically on seats, or even tucked into other books in shops…)