Memories of Lee Child, maybe

I have a memory, perhaps a false memory, that 25 years ago, while running my own little short story magazine, Nutshell, that I once rejected a submission by someone called Lee Child.

That is the Lee Child, author of the Jack Reacher novels, and, today, one of the most commercially successful writers in the world.

Now, I could be wrong. It was a long time ago. But, like the campanologists who practise in the church across the road every Wednesday night, his name rings some very loud bells.

It is a very distinctive name, and an entirely plausible scenario. Lee Child is the pen name of Jim Grant. Mr Grant was born in Coventry and moved to Birmingham. Nutshell was a Birmingham-based little magazine until I took it on and moved it to Coventry.

I told this story at the launch night to demonstrate that having a story rejected, as many people were in the run of to choosing the final selection for Dorset Shorts, should not be taken too badly by those who failed to make it.

All writers, I assume, face such rejection at some point.

If memory serves me well, with Mr Child (if it was Mr Child), it was not the writing I did not like, it was just the genre - just not my kind of thing.

I like to think that whatever I said in that rejection note that it contributed in some way to his future success; but my thinking may be wishful.

One of the joys of Dorset Shorts is that it includes such a variety of stories that there should be something in there to suit all tastes - murder to mermaids; horror to humour.

Serendipity, the Lyme Regis bookshop has placed an order; and KB Willson, author of Father’s Day, has delivered some copies to the bookshop in Swanage.  More orders have arrived online.

Sales: 55

Bookshops: 34

Other: 105


Radio times

Launch day. Awake far too early:  Eating the leftovers and drinking wine too late last night? Sub-consciously worrying about over-sleeping? Re-running my talk at the launch night, remembering those bits I had forgotten to include, rephrasing parts I could have said better? Too late now. 

The only thing I really know is that 3am is not the best time to wake after getting to bed after midnight.

At least I am on time to pick up David Herring from Corfe Mullen and get us to Dorchester for our planned interview with Steve Harris on BBC Radio Dorset.

Steve was kind enough to interview us when we launched the Dorset Writers’ Prize competition to attract stories for the book. It is good to be back and see it in his hands.

David speaks very well about his writing life, and his story - Linda

Confirming our interview slot on the phone yesterday, the producer had asked what Linda was about. I told him:  “sexual obsession”. The producer re-plied:  “I’ll just say obsession.”  

David is very measured in his own description, giving mind to the fact that most of the breakfast show listeners would have their minds on a different sort of oats.Steve Harris, reading his notes, says to me: “It says here that you are the visionary behind the project.”  Visionary? Me? I never knew.  Comments like these in a radio interview can knock you off track, but altogether it goes well.

Back home later a friend says “you are probably the only visionary in the village.”  

I must get some business cards printed, and maybe a plaque for the door. (I hope people don’t think that I described myself as that).

Upstairs, on my laptop, is request for a review copy from a local magazine editor, a couple of sales orders from Jo’s family, and - excitingly - our first order for the book from a distributor - Bertrams.

I realise I don’t even have a proper invoice template in place to send with the book. The one we thought we might adopt uses the $ prefix, and I can’t change it to £.  I design another quickly and send it off.

It is also time to send off all those copies due to writers who submitted stories for the competition but didn’t, for one reason or another, make it to the final cut.

Direct & online etc: 32

With book shops: 28

Amazon: 0

Other: 100


And the good news is...

We have now received some early copies of our debut book as a small press publisher - Dorset Shorts: Winning Entries From The Dorset Writers‘ Prize.

Dorset Shorts Cover and Spine.jpg

Seventeen writers from all parts of the county are having their work published in this collection. We are very proud of that achievement, and of the fact that it looks great.

Only a few copies have arrived with us so far because our printers having been facing problems with glue seeping through onto the cover. Hopefully, that will be resolved (on their third attempt) sometime this week.


We have not settled on our launch date as yet (we are hoping we may be able to link it into another event), but we will announce it soon.


In the meantime we plan a pre-launch get-together with our authors on March 30. We are looking forward to that.  Strange to think, but we have only met one of them so far.


On another piece of good news, for me at least, I feel I have finally settled on where to focus with this blog.  It has been bugging me for months. Now, after receiving those first, pristine copies of Dorset Shorts, and feeling that we can now actually call ourselves small publishers, has made it more concrete.

While drafting a short talk, I wrote that I wanted to chat about: short stories, long tails, small press publishing, little-read writers and how we spun a book out of coffee beans, perseverance, a whim and a prayer.

At last.