Friday, 7 October 2011

Penny Legg's Travels

I have covered a few miles recently.  Somerset, Dorset, Hampshire and London - all to talk to people for my commemorative Diamond Jubilee book, due out in May 2012.

This book, Under the Queen's Colours, a collection of memories from serving and former forces personnel, showcases the wealth of experience from those who have served their country in the sixty years of HM the Queen's reign.  I have been busy talking to wonderful men and women, who have trusted me with their stories, happy and sad, and let me into their lives for a short time.  The resulting book will, I hope, be worthy of commemorating Queen Elizabeth's milestone.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Penny Legg at the Royal Garden Party, Buckingham Palace, 19th July 2011

The Queen looked lovely in emerald green, Princess Anne was very fine in a dull gold coat dress and Prince Philip came up and had a chat with my husband, Joe, about his South Atlantic Medal Association tie. This made Joe's day and he and the prince had a laugh together, which was lovely. Other Royals attending were Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall (in a cream dress with square box pleats to her skirt - ver smart), the Duke and Duchess of Kent and the Countess of Wessex (with very tall feathers in her hat!). I was not expecting so many Royals to be present. It really was a family affair!

The weather let everyone down as it repeatedly showered heavily. I had had the forethought to buy a couple of the tiny umbrellas you can get nowadays that fold down into an unobtrusive size. These were invaluable but disappeared into trouser pocket and handbag respectively between downpours. Their covers were waterproof, so that was useful.

The lady guests were very splendid, particularly those from overseas, whose outfits were very colourful. There were some very fine hats to be seen but a bigger array of fascinators than I was expecting. Mine fitted in perfectly.

We walked around the lake - one mother duck had a brood of 7 tiny fluffy ducklings trying to keep up with her, which was sweet to see. The rose garden was particularly fragrant because of the good soaking it was receiving.

The queues for the tea were not too long and the afternoon tea itself was splendid. I have never thought of putting mint into cucumber sandwiches. This was both refreshing and very tasty. The mini scones (the size of a 10p piece) were delicious with their generous spreading of clotted cream and jam. I love Dundee cake and was pleased to see that was on the menu too! Other items included salmon bites, ham and tomato and egg and cress sandwiches, slices of Victoria sponge and chocolate ganache squares. The ice cream, which came around later on large trays carried by the uniformed staff, was super. We had strawberry and it was full of whole frozen fruit.

The palace itself was interesting. I have never taken a tour but would be tempted to do so now I have been inside. The few rooms we were allowed to see were very nicely decorated, with fine china on display as well as some very good portraits. 

In all, it was a super afternoon. The organisation is very well practiced and if anything had gone wrong, well, we did not notice. 

Our thanks, Your Majesty, for the kind and very welcome invitation.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Penny Legg at the London Book Fair

I was disappointed with the London Book Fair this year.  Usually I go there for the first two days but this year I had other commitments and so found myself amongst a lesser throng on the last day for the first time.

What a difference.  The buzz was non-existent.  It was as if all the important deals and excitement had happened and the last day was a day too much for most exhibitors.  Yes, I know the publishing names were there, but the decision makers were gone.  By early afternoon some of the stalls were packing up.  This short changed those who could only make the event on its last day.

Still, saying all that, I did enjoy being there.  I always learn a lot from the LBF and come away with huge amounts of information, both printed and verbal.  It is a useful event for all in the writing and publishing business, but, in future, I will make a point of being there on the first day, not the last!

The next London Book Fair is the 16th - 18th April 2012, at Earl's Court, London.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Penny Legg at Lordshill and Lordswood History Society

A few months ago, my publisher forwarded to me a letter sent by the secretary of the about-to-be-launched Lordshill History Society.  The sender had seen my book Southampton Then and Now and wanted to know if he could use some of the information inside it for some of the talks at the society.

I contacted John Gurney, the secretary, and we have since become good friends.  On Monday 13th April, I was the guest speaker at the second meeting of the society.  A goodly sprinkle of local people turned up, which was gratifying, and I talked about some of the things I had come across in my writing about Hampshire.  John had produced some super colour acetates, which he projected on a screen for me.

I had a good time at the Lordshill History Society.  This is a growing group and they have now launched a blog site, which is full of  a growing number of interesting blogs posts, in particular the list of forthcoming talks and outings.  Have a look at the new site and consider following it.  I think it will be one to whet the appetite for history in this part of the world.

I will be speaking there again in October.

My thanks to John and the Lordshill History Society for making me feel so welcome.

Penny Legg book signing ...

Sometimes, it is nice to be able to help someone out.  When Waterstones in West Quay, Southampton, contacted me at short notice to see if I could come along for an off-the-cuff book signing event there on Saturday April 9th, I was happy to help.

They were lucky I was free.  I am a volunteer tutor on a Friday morning at the U3A and was running my writing group, Writing Buddies, on Friday afternoon.  On the Sunday my husband and I were invited to a friend's home for the day and I was the guest speaker at the newly-formed Lordshill Historical Society on the Monday.  Saturday was my only free day.

I have found both branches of Waterstones in Southampton (Above Bar and West Quay) incredibly supportive since I began to publish books and it was nice that it was to me they turned when they needed help.  I had an interesting few hours signing copies of my books and meeting my readers.

The York Festival of Writing

Catching up with what I have been working on lately, I am going back to the end of March and the York Festival of Writing.  

This was a weekend-long fest of useful workshops, talks, networking and information for writers of all ages.  Top agents, publishers and those in the business were there and some of the delegates have since been signed coveted books deals and gained agent representation - wonderful!

I went along to sit on a panel about useful writing groups and I presented a workshop on the covering letter and synopsis.

My thanks to Harry Bingham and the whole organising crew.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Book launch - Haunted Southampton

Haunted Southampton, my latest book, has been in the shops a short time and so it was time to give it an official launch party.  A small but perfectly formed group descended on The Station pub in Bitterne, featured in the book, for the launch.

Ghost stories were told, a toast drunk and books were signed.  In all, it was a fun event and the book is well and truly launched on its way!

My thanks to Chris and his staff at The Station and all who attended.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Haunted Southampton - a Number 1 Best Seller!

I am pleased to announce that since my latest book, Haunted Southampton, entered the Waterstones Above Bar best seller chart at number eleven, it has steadily climbed.  Last week it was at number six and now it is number one!  I am chuffed to bits and very grateful to Waterstones and all those who have bought the book to send it flying up the chart. And yes, it is outselling John Grisham's latest novel!

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Ghosts coming to Waterstones, Above Bar, Southampton

An Evening of Ghosts Stories hosted by Penny Legg


Wednesday, 16 March 2011, 7:00PM

Do you enjoy ghosts stories and horror tales told around a camp fire? Have you an interest in local history? Do you have a creepy story all your own to tell? Why not join Penny Legg, author of the fantastic Haunted Southampton, for an evening of ghost stories and creepy history at Waterstones, Above Bar branch Southampton.

Further details: 02380 633 130

I am really looking forward to this event. The evening starts at 7pm and is by ticket only (£3).  Everyone is welcome.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Penny Legg talking at the Northguild Lecture Theatre, Civic Centre, Southampton

Venue name:Northguild Lecture Theatre
Venue address:Civic Centre Southampton
Venue postcode:SO14 7LW
Contact telephone:023 8083 2205
Start date:17/03/2011
End date:17/03/2011
Additional details:On Thursday 17th March 2011 at 7.00pm local author Penny Legg will be giving a talk in the Lecture Theatre. Penny had published a number of works on the history of Southampton and Hampshire including Southampton then and Now and Folklore of Hampshire. Her latest book, Haunted Southampton, will be published soon.
Penny will be telling us how she researches her books, how she organsises and writes her books and how she set about getting them published.
There will be time for questions at the end of the talk.
The talk starts at 7.00pm. Entrance is free.

Friday, 25 February 2011

Writing Buddies, 18 February 2011

An extract from the Writing Buddies blog:
The Writing Buddies met at The Art House Café in Southampton on Friday 18 February 2011, where a slightly smaller number than usual were gathered. Regulars Jacqueline, Catherine and Glen sent their apologies.

Lisa has self published her book The Terrible Zombie Of Oz, which is available in paperback on Amazon and e-book in the Amazon Kindle store. Lisa did all the work herself including the jacket design and really enjoyed the process. See The group congratulated her on this achievement.

Tessa is looking to get her books on Kindle, however, Amazon are insisting on 35% of the proceeds.

Jimmy's article has now been published on The Motion Online publication.  He is proof reading his book Growing Up in Wartime Southampton: Someone Else's Trousers and this has to be completed by 26 February  and returned to The History Press.  He has been informed that his book  will now be in the shops mid April and his book launch will take place on Sunday 8 May 2011.  Jimmy has also finished Java's Revenge and is looking forward to beginning his 15th book.

Elizabeth has now sent off her entries for two short story competitions and is starting the first assignment for The Writers Bureau.  She has also done a little more work on her book.

Jacob, at the moment, is just writing for the love of it.  He is currently writing counter cards for a board game.

John has reviewed six shows and has received payment for the first four.  He recently had a job interview for an Art Workshop and although he was not successful he did  gather lots of information.  He showed the group IdeasTap literature. See also

Laurel is aiming to enter the Bridport Prize writing competition.  She is preparing three entries, a poem, flash fiction and a short story, which she says, she hopes will be 'off the wall.'  She is trying something not already thought of. The group gave her encouragement with this.

Annette is contacting various publishers. The Editor of Scots Magazine requested that she email her ideas and the magazine would like to publish her work, for which she will be paid. Regarding the 1950's stories, The History Press like the ideas Annette has put forward.  Penny advised Annette that The History Press are good at contacting so will not keep keep her waiting long for a decision. Low royalties though, perhaps only 5%.

Mo has started turning one of her stories into a play. She was at the Nuffield Theatre on Monday and has a meeting in London regarding her poetry.

Penny's latest book deadline is the end of February.  The Writing Buddies Anthology is now almost finished.  Penny is working on DSFA magazines and has been offered work on Twitter. 
She is also considering writing another ghost book.

The next meeting of Writing Buddies is on Friday 25th February at the Art House Cafe, Above Bar, Southampton at 2pm.  All with an interest in writing are welcome to come along.

Post by Elizabeth Streatfield.
Events coming up:

19 February: Penny will be joining the Haunted Southampton group
                     ( at the Duke of Wellington pub.

24 February: 7.00 – 10.00pm, again with Haunted Southampton at The Saints Pub, Millbrook where
                     Andy Ford will be giving an evening of clairvoyance.

16 March:    An evening of ghost stories will be held at Waterstones in Above Bar.

16 April:       Bitterne Historical Society are holding a history fair at  The Gregg School.

A discussion took place regarding selling Writing Buddies' books.  Tessa mentioned that the Echo interviewer she had recently spoken to, had expressed an interest in any forthcoming events. Also she felt that selling on the internet would be better than trying to sell at a market.

Jacob suggested inviting local publishers to a group meeting.  This was thought to be a good idea  and Penny asked him to look into this further.

Penny mentioned that Catherine has already set up Buddies on Twitter and that it is easy to put Pay Pal up on site to sell books. The setting up of a sub committee was suggested to further discuss advertising and sales of books.

The Art House Café has given over the front window to Writing Buddies for two months and Penny will send members an e-mail with details.  Many suggestions were forthcoming for displays ranging from Anthology contracts and book cover, mobile of writers business cards, Thorn Press advert and ink cartridges.

Penny advised that Lordshill are launching a new history society. This will be funded by Southampton City Council and will be a way of getting elderly people living in sheltered accommodation out in the community. Penny has been approached to be a Fellow of the Society.  The first meeting is on Monday 14 March at 10.30am.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Penny Legg - Review of 2010

It is about time I reviewed 2010.

I began January working like mad to finish Folklore of Hampshire in time for the 5th January deadline for delivery to the publisher.  My diary on 3rd January says, ‘There’s nothing like a deadline to focus the mind!’ I was right, there is not! At this time I was also editing The Woman Writer magazine for the Society of Women Writers and Journalists (SWWJ) and had a deadline looming for that, too.

After the demise of Borders, my group for writers, Writing Buddies, moved to The Art House Café, Above Bar, Southampton.  This proved to be a good move and the Writing Buddies quickly settled into their new home.  We held a first birthday party in May, to which 25 Writing Buddies came and the Art House did us proud with a splendid (and very big) chocolate birthday cake.  We then launched the Writing Buddies First Birthday Anthology Competition, which ran until July and had categories judged by Simon Whaley, Nik Morton, Doris Corti and Val Dunmore.  The results were announced in September. The Thorn Press will publish the resulting anthology, Wordfall, in the near future.

January and February were characterised by snow, snow and more snow and I was out and about when I could, trying to take photographs for my book, Southampton Then and Now.  This was not fun.  With a deadline on this book looming, the lighting was awful and I lost a lot of time because I physically could not get to some of the places I wanted to photograph.

In February, I gave a talk and workshop to the Southampton Writers’ Circle on the fun to be had writing magazine articles and I ran a workshop for members of Writing Buddies on how to set up a blog.  Later in the year, I talked about my life and work at Writers in Southampton and ran a workshop on article writing for New Forest Writers.

In April, I was at the York Festival of Writing, co-presenting a workshop with Silja Swaby and Jay Cole.  We were also there as ambassadors for the SWWJ.  Several new recruits to the Society’s ranks joined up as a result of our efforts.

I attended the London Book Fair in April, too.  For me this was a mixed blessing.  While I was fortunate in being able to take advantage of the fact that the volcanic dust clouds had prevented large numbers of people attending, thus allowing those who could get there better access to the publishers and others at the event, I had my portable hard drive stolen from my bag on the train travelling there.  Just how serious this would prove to be did not dawn on me at the time, but suffice to say that I am still feeling the consequences of this, as so much of my writing life was on it, including most of the notes and a lot of the first draft of my next book.  This had to be pieced back together again and meant that all of the other work during the rest of the year was knocked out of sync.  I went from a calm and reasonably ordered state of busy activity to playing catch up and keep up.  It taught me the importance of backing up work elsewhere.

In the summer, I was the official photographer at the Swanage Armed Forces Weekend and I started working on the staff for Carousel and the Bulletin magazines. I am now a regular writer for Carousel, in addition to editing Bulletin. 

August saw the launch of Folklore of Hampshire and it was nice that the weather stayed fine for the outdoor party at The Brushmakers Arms, who made us feel very welcome.  Lots of people, who had helped me with the book, turned up for the launch and all seemed to like it, which was great to hear!

The following day saw the second major technical problem to hit me in 2010 – Microsoft Word corrupted and took down most of my computer.  I was not impressed as Haunted Southampton, the book that had already been delayed from April, was due with the publisher a few days later.  Much time was lost while I tried to sort it out, both at home and at the Mac store. I did get the book in on time, but this ultimately delayed the next edition of The Woman Writer as the software I was using was one of the casualties of the crash.  It was after this that I decided that it was time to move on, after nearly two years, from the editorship of this publication and so resigned my position.

All year I have been marking scripts for The Writers Bureau. My students are a super bunch, full of enthusiasm and ideas. I now also tutor on the Biographies, Memoirs and Family History course.

October saw me at the Bournemouth Literary Festival once again; this time working with Martin Baum, John Haughton and Jackie Edwards on a panel discussion on getting into print.  I also finished my next book, Winchester: History You Can See, a photographic look at the history all around us in the city.

November saw my Southampton Then and Now book arrive in the shops and readers have been very kind about it.  I must say that the modern colour photographs look good against the sepia archive shots. The launch was a small affair as so many people were busy getting ready for Christmas but The Old Farmhouse did us proud.

I ended the year judging a creative writing competition for the Writers’ Suite and in editing Wordfall, the 2010 Anthology from the Writing Buddies. This has taken much longer to produce than I thought it would, mainly because I have, once again, had problems with software.   

I won third place in The Lady Violet Astor Rose Bowl Competition at the Society of Women Writers and Journalists and was Very Highly Commended at the 2010 Scroll Award at the Southampton Writers’ Circle.  I do not have time to enter many competitions, so these results, from the two I did enter in 2010, were encouraging.

In between all of this, I have met some charming people at the many book-signing events I have attended.  I would like to thank the staff at the various bookshops, supermarkets and events who have welcomed me into their midst and to the many people who have taken the trouble to come up and chat to me and to buy my books.  

I am looking forward to the publication of my book, Haunted Southampton, on 28th January, of Winchester: History You Can See in May and of Voices of Southampton in August.  I have talks for libraries and writing groups lined up. I will continue writing for Carousel and editing Bulletin. I look forward to reading the scripts my students send me and, in February, I will begin a term of tutoring a creative writing class for Southampton’s Age Concern.