Sunday, November 25, 2007


Long ago, in another life, I took a walk round the office corridors and thought about what lay behind the closed doors: quite a number of men of around my own age (then 55-60), grey-haired, grey-suited, grey-faced. Some of them weren't any too well. I decided it was time to go. So I did.

I retired from full-time employment. After which, of course, I had all the time in the world. Ha! If you only knew. First law of the universe: everything takes longer than you think.

Anyway, at some point thereafter I started blogging. Which took up an increasingly large amount of time, albeit in a most enjoyable and interesting way. Then, back in February this year, I gave notice here on the GOB that I was no longer going to be blogging on a regular basis. Why? Mainly because of the need to do other things, things which were either equally or more pressing.

Move forward a few months and it so happens that I have been able to blog fairly regularly once again. Now, however, I find that there are, also once again, numerous family and personal commitments which really do have a much higher call on my time than the blog.

What I found back in Feb was that it is all very well in principle, saying that you're going to do less; but if you do anything at all, then people assume (not unreasonably) that it is business as usual. So they write and ask you to review books, or they mention interesting things that they've seen on the web, and so on. And for all of these requests and pieces of info I was, and am, deeply grateful. Because I've found some amazing books and essays that way. And it is hard to disappoint people by ignoring what they say; it makes you feel bad, and it annoys the people who've taken the trouble to write.

So, the only sensible thing to do, I feel, if the quart will demonstrably not fit into the pint pot, is to stop blogging altogether. Which is what I intend to do, at least for a while. Call it a sabbatical. I hope -- and even intend -- to be back one day. But it will probably be a year.

As I also noted back in Feb, I am not the first blogger to recognise this problem. See Mad Max, Miss Snark, Poddy Mouth. And if you look again at Mad Max's last few posts, you will begin to suspect that the pressure of blogging on top of a more than full-time job did indeed make him a little mad. I'm not in that position, fortunately (or so I kid myself). But I do have other things to do which are undeniably more important than tapping away here.

In the meantime, the blog will continue to sit here, as a resource. There's well over a million words on it now, and if you wonder whether I've ever mentioned so and so, I probably have. Use the search instructions in the top of the right-hand column. For the moment, however, I won't be adding anything new.

Thanks for visiting, see you sometime, and best wishes for now.


1 – 200 of 201   Newer›   Newest»
Ron Morgans said...

Dear Michael,
A shame for us, your devoted followers, but quite understandable. You did so much for me personally. If you´re interested, the results of your magic touch are here: and here:
Thank you once more.

Bill Peschel said...

Now's the time to say goodbye, and thanks, for now. I hope you'll return and stay in touch in some capacity, but I understand how you feel.

Eric Mayer said...

Quite understandable. At least you have warned us. Some people just stop blogging. I do hope you will be back in the future.

You explained to me a lot of things about publishing and writing that I only half grasped and voiced perfectly many of my own feelings about it all that I couldn't quite articulate. Thanks.

Andy O'Hara said...

Yes, a healthy decision, one totally understood, I'm sure, by all who know His Grumpiness. Your blog has been immeasurably enjoyable. Thank you for leaving it on line as a resource--I do refer to it often.

I wish you well in whatever paths you follow, Michael, and hope to hear from you again down the road. Oh, and give my fondest regards to Georgy.

Keith Chapman said...

Your opening paragraphs have a familiar ring to me! And these days I find updating a website quarterly is enough of a chore, let alone a diary-style blog.

I hope you will soon catch up on your other pressing things and can enjoy some relaxation.

Once again, many thanks for your support of "non-lit'ry", genre fiction, and especially your mentions of Misfit Lil. I'm sure she'll miss your kind words!

For watchers of the western fiction scene, the December edition of Black Horse Extra is now available at . Articles tell the story behind the story of my latest Chap O'Keefe offering, Peace at Any Price, and introduce Brian Parvin, the Englishman who has singlehandedly been trying to put Shrewsbury, Shropshire, into the Old Wild West for fifteen years.

Meanwhile, at the US-based Saddlebums Western Review (, Gonzalo Baeza has highly recommended Peace at Any Price as "the quintessential action-packed western" (hush -- it's by an English-born New Zealander!) and wondered why London publisher Robert Hale's Black Horse Westerns don't have regular distribution in the American market.

Frank Wilson said...

Dear Michael,
I well understand. I just hope it's not forever. My best, F

Simon Haynes said...

I've enjoyed your blog, and I hope to enjoy your posts again in the future. However, family must come first, and you're making the right choice.

Daniel Scott Buck said...

Thank you very much for the books, Michael. I got them this weekend and look forward to finishing them this December.

I started THE LEAVERS, your first book published in 1963. 1963!

Thanks again,

pundy said...

Hi Mike

I've probably had more plugs on your blog than anybody over the years as I've struggled to get my novel out into the wider world. I shiver to see that I am the last entry in your last proper post, an epitaph I certainly didn't anticipate, or want.

I can never thank you enough for all your kindness and help over the last few years. What I can do though is wish you well in your retirement. You've certainly earned it.

Kindest regards


VP said...


All the best with your endevours - I shall keep reading as there is so much in your Blog to come back to. I hope you feel ready to come back in time.

Your words about retirement particularly resonated with me as I am about to retire (at the tender age of 48!) and already the new options and possibilities of what's out there are beginning to overwhelm me! My own Wiltshire based blog is the start of my own uptake of those options...

Shameless said...

I certainly hope you will return, GOB, because the industry clearly needs your measured, wise words! I fully understand what you mean about how the blog takes time though, even for just a few posts a week - I won't even begin to talk about the fact that I set up a writing circle of 48 bloggers! I've enjoyed your posts and I'm glad this will stay here as a resource in the meantime. Have a good, productive break, and we look forward to reading you again! :-)

Jim Murdoch said...

Rather sorry to hear that. When I'm reviewing other people's blogs your site crops up regularly and, although I've not been reading it very long, I've appreciated the quality of the posts.

Personally I'm trying not to get in the habit of posting any more than twice a week even if it means have a few blogs in hand.

Anyway, I hope your sabbatical will be refreshing and, if you decide to come back, just dig your heels in, set your targets and stick to them.

Clary Antome said...

What will our weeks look like without your contributions? But you are right, there is enough to explore on your blog as it is! I do wish you a pleasant (deserved!) sabbatical and, like many readers, am eternally grateful for your inspiring (heck, even life-changing!) views on literature.

Catherine J Gardner / Phoenix Rendell said...

Your blogs will be sorely missed...

Ronni Bennett said...

Oh, no. Another great blogger bites the dust. Just because it's understandable doesn't make it better.

I hope you'll let some of us know when you return so we can pass the word.

Jeff said...

Michael, though we have never actually met, I have enjoyed the fruit of our virtual contacts ..... thank you so much, for sharing.

Edmond Clay said...

Dear Michael,

Having done so much, for so long and so many, kept the virtues near, been a good friend to so many you've never met, been a grand example for us all as a professional and a human being, the tears of joy and sadness I feel are a well deserved pleasure and a poignant final gift from you to us. Good memories of good times are all. I'll put a candle in the window so that you may safely find your way back to us.

Edmond Clay

Juliet said...

So sorry to find that you're giving up the blog. But I can well imagine that it can expand to fit all the hours available. There is enough here to keep me going for ages - it forms a wonderful resource. (I do very secretly hope you will be back on an occasional basis, however!)

My very best wishes for your non-blogging endeavours (and relaxation) in the meantime. Juliet

Clare said...

I'll miss your posts -- following your links has led to me to many interesting places.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and expertise with the world.

jenny haddon said...

oh what a hole your blog will leave. But I quite understand the time it must take.

Do let us know about the rest of your writing though, Michael.


Jon said...

Having just seen off a Prime Minister who refused to be told when it was time to go, it's reassuring -- if a little sad -- to have someone go before they've outstayed their welcome. Good luck with everything and special thanks for Rats In The Slush Pile, which I despatch post-haste to anyone who is even brginning to think of a career in writing.

Gladys Hobson said...

I come back from a much-needed break to find I have lost a friend; one who lifted from me the 'stigma' of self-publishing and encouraged me to believe in myself and my writing. I write this with a tear in my eye.
Having read your recent excellent books (and now reading your earlier ones), I sincerely hope you are going to carry on with your writing and that before long we will have another 'jolly good read' from Michael Allen — something I will look out for.
My best wishes to you and Mrs GOB — I can't believe this is a retirement but a new beginning for you both?
Thank you for everything.

Jody Tresidder said...

Drat, drat, drat!

I extend my selfish regrets - and warmest wishes. (That's too gushy - this Brit has lived too long in the wonderful USA!)
So - thanks for hours of happy reading,
Yrs etc.

June said...

I can't believe it either - you are one of those rare things Michael - a beacon that shines a light on all those who come to these pages. You helped lift me too by being the first blogger to take me seriously at all and I have made at least one cyber friend through my regular visits to this site. It will be very sorely missed, but as always, family comes first. Absolutely the right thing to do. Never say never though eh ?

Walter Ellis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I am so enjoying your novel, Lisa's Dad (for other potential readers, whole title is: " and why Lisa's Dad got to be Famous." One reason is that the voice surprises me. I was likely anticipating it to be written in your voice, from this blog, but Harry has his own voice, and well he should. This book will for sure not last a year on my bedside table, I'm already halfway thru it, so I look forward to your blog return whenever it happens, and use this time to write more fiction!

Marnie Schulenburg

Clare2e said...

Well, crumbs.

I'll miss your thoughts and words, but the archives are rich. Thanks for the perspectives and the free book- I fear it really is the Truth About Writing. Enjoy your retirement!

outburst said...

Although I found you a bit gruff at times, the value of your insight was not in doubt. I thank you for it.

Roger Morris said...

I hope you enjoy your sabbatical, Michael. GOB has always been essential reading for anyone with any interest in books and publishing. I personally appreciate the interest and support you have shown for my own endeavours.

All the very best,


elberry said...

i'm greatly enjoying your novel 'Beautiful Lady', thank you.

And thank you for helping me accept that novels generally get published because the author is famous or has 'contacts', not because they're much good; and that almost no one can live off their writing anyway. It's no exaggeration to say that helped keep me sane, as the rejection slips started to come in thick & fast.

Also i probably would never have read Le Carre, Alan Furst, Robert Littel or Charles McCarry if you hadn't written of them; their books have been a great boon to me.

i shall drink a toast to you tonight, as a fellow Englishman and writer.

Payton L. Inkletter said...

It was reading Gladys Hobson’s blog that alerted me to the unhappy news that you were suspending yours; I rushed over to here, feeling anxious, to learn, no, I wasn’t dreaming; sure enough, you were hanging up your blogging vestments. I wish you well during your very deserved sabbatical Michael, and I will miss, along with countless others, your refreshing take on the world of books, and your never ending quest to expose the injustices and pitfalls of the publishing world, to forewarn and forearm aspiring-to-be published writers.

You have been such a champion of the battler, and I look forward to your return. And thank you again for including me in your blogroll, which you did without me having to actually ask you. You’re a rare species, on the endangered list; we need to propagate you by the thousands, maybe even clone you.

Missus GOB: please feed His Grumpiness well, massage him daily, take him for walks, keep him wormed, give him something tough to chew regularly, but go easy on the distemper shots, and get him back online to try to keep the bastards honest (an Australian political expression). Despite the high quality already at GrumpyOldBookman, I choose to believe the best is yet to come...

archer said...

Well, goodness. There aren't many other places to go for a good shot of dry British wit. We will miss you. That said, blogging really is a difficult habit to break, and I hope for purely selfish reasons you find yourself unable to quit cold turkey.

Stephen Tiano said...

I wish that I had discovered your blog more towards the start of those million or so words, Michael. Thanks for them all, just the same. I hope this is what you want to do, and not simply something that you’re driven to doing, tho’ I suppose the net effect is the same.

At any rate, I hope that whatever your personal and professional commitments are, they prove as rewarding as reading your blog has been.

Three cheers for the Grumpy Old Bookman!

Wood said...

I am so sorry you're closing, even if (hopefully) for but a short while. Many, many thanks for all the pleasure, help and advice you have given to so many people over the years.

Your input to publishing has been invaluable and I, for one, am very grateful.

Best to you and yours.

LitWatchdog said...

Hear hear. You will be sadly missed indeed.

Walter Ellis said...

If Jody Tresidder is Megan's sister Jody, drop me an email:

Elaine said...

I hope you log on and check these comments so I can thank you for sending me the copy of Scrooge and the Widow of Pewsey which arrived today and which looks terrific! Do come back to us as soon as you have time

Anonymous said...

Come back soon, and thank you for all that you have done for many reader and writers alike.

Emmett James

Claudia said...

I truly enjoy your blog. I still have so much to read and learn that for me you are not really gone. Thank you for all your articles and your books. Take care1

K.G. Schneider said...

I will miss you, GOB, but your absence at your blog will force me to read your other writing. Enjoy your sabbatical, and come back if you can, and don't if you can't.

richard charkin said...

This is very sad. The best book blog in the world closes - at least for the time being. Perhaps we should box and cox one at a later date.


Suzan Abrams said...

I'll say goodbye for the moment Michael and that you'll be so missed, even for a Sabbatical.
Have a glorious Christmas.

L. said...

Oh, my. I'll just have to re-read. Stay well. And thank you so much for my book, which arrived safely in St. Augustine.

Peta said...

I hope that you enjoy your sabbatical very much. You'll be missed!

Thank you so much for the copy of Scrooge and the Widow of Pewsey that arrived today as well - such a lovely idea and very much appreciated.

prairie mary said...

At least I have a couple of your books on my shelf and a role model for grumpiness. You've been such a companion at a risky time.

Prairie Mary

Mary Witzl said...

Sad news, but perhaps you'll be back? You've steered me towards some fine books I wouldn't otherwise have found, so thank you for that -- and more! Enjoy your retirement; as far as I'm concerned, it is vastly underrated. Clever people know how to stay active even when they have the chance to wallow.

Errol Lincoln Uys said...


You will be missed by this long-distance writer whose story you listened to with such empathy!

All the best, my friend, in your every endeavour.


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Anonymous said...

This was one of the few genuinely useful round-ups of stories about publishing and writing around. Very unhappy that you've stopped! Good luck, though, and all the best for the future

ivan said...

This is too bad.
I enjoyed reading the blog.

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Rob Hopcott said...

Thanks GOB for all the hours you have put in creating those million words.

I think all of us who try to achieve something of value on the Web wonder whether it is worth continuing these days.

I have been writing a new online flash fiction short story daily now for several months to add to the many I already had online, but have seen my traffic hardly improve.

Yet sites supported by 'black hat', wise guy activities can be found everywhere in high search engine positions receiving, presumably high levels of traffic.

Is there room on the Web for honest writers of quality articles and short stories?

Every quality writer, like yourself, that leaves to do other things is a wake up call to those that remain to consider packing up our efforts as well.

Anastasia said...

No (!!!)

All the best on your sabbatical Michael, and a belated New Year; life can be like that, as they say, 'it just happens.'

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sarahsbooks said...

I miss you, Grumpy.

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Cathy Dobson said...

Good luck and enjoy your sabbatical... I hope i doesn't become a habit!

Cathy Dobson

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dh said...

I keep checking. Hope you are well and enjoying life. dh

Anonymous said...

You pillock!
Disappear for a bit and find that your fav blogger needs a break? Terrible!

stevent said...

Sadly I've arrived to your blog too late.

savannah said...

cheers, sugar!

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Iain said...

Life isn't the same without the Bumpy Old Groupman, is it?

I blame myself. I'd been unfaithful for months -- horribly busy finishing a damned book. And now this. But that's how it goes, you see. When you walk out, you can never be sure they'll still be around when you walk back in again.

Mea culpa, mea maxissima culpa.

Claudia in Toronto said...

You are missed but you are still here! Amazing world...Thank you for the richness of your archives.

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watzabatza said...

but many still remains... by the way... how old are you sir?

savannah said...

like dh, i keep checking in hopes of your return. hope you're keeping well. xox

watzabatza said...

hhhmmm... a goodbye message..? what will happen then to your blog.. your readers gonna miss you..

Anonymous said...

You'll be sadly missed. I for one hope to hear more from you.

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just passing by to say take good care..

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by the way, why is it that there are words from other country that most readers cannot read. translate in english pls.

Anonymous said...

Still think of you and re-read your books. I have no plans of going to Samarra :)

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I wanna say that thanks for the sharing. keep it up soon again.

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aw.. saying goodbye is not a good word.

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Farewell, but hope to see u again on blog.

T. J. Forrester said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
T. J. Forrester said...

I'm sorry to see you go.

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Peter said...


I hope you're enjoying your sabbatical. I miss your writing -- I've explored the archives thoroughly -- and hope you return to blogging soon.

Since your blog continues to "sit there" as a "resource" is there any chance my book-related website could be added to your list of "Links to other book blogs"? If you take a look, I think you'll see I'm an excellent fit:

Thanks so much for reading this far and again, enjoy the sabbatical!

Peter Steinberg
(The guy who runs Flashlight Worthy)
Recommending books so good, they'll keep you up past your bedtime. ;)

Lauren said...

I'm so glad I found your blog, but saddened to read of your sabbatical. I have read through waves of literary blogs on blogspot to find yours -- so refreshing, honest. Just in case you happen to have some spare time, perhaps you can visit my blog. I don't mean to assume that you have "all the time in the world" just because you left the full-time job -- I know just how that is, I have practically no time at all, eventhough I put in very little hours for an employer. Anyway, I have 2 blogs, but am most interested in directing people to my literary blog, of which, I have very few readers (the other is

Thanks for some interesting posts.

Lauren M.

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I still come back.
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Gladys Hobson said...

It's been a long time and I miss your blog more than ever.
I trust you are well. I hope you are still writing. If so, I hope your latest book (best seller?) hits the market — soon I hope!

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Great information here. but what happened to the site? i see no new posts since 2007?

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Sometimes authors are so busy and even they can not write something of what happened they can not wrote anymore.

Gladys Hobson said...

There comes a time when we all have to weigh up how we spend our time. It seems a considerable amount of time and work has been put into this blog over the years and it is still here for reference. Likely this blog itself is one of Michael Allen's greatest achievements. He has entertained and helped a lot of authors in the process (including me). His retirement, if that is what it truly is, is well deserved.
But who knows — maybe one day...?

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This blog, last updated February 2007, feels a bit like a time capsule for me. I found it a few months ago, about three years after the last entry. And I just wanted to say, though probably no one is reading these comments, thank you. It's wonderful writing you've done on this blog and it's changed the way I view the blogging culture. Best wishes to you and yours, Grumpy Bookman.

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Reese M. said...

Just thought I'd see if you had come back lately. I hope you are enjoying your sabbatical, though you are missed, sir. :)

I have to say, it's too bad all the spam-tastic comments have taken over.

Warmest wishes,
Reese M.

Tom Wilson said...

This is very sad - I've just discovered you in 2010 and it is a lot longer than the year you said you might be away. Come back, all is forgiven!

Gladys Hobson said...

Yes, Michael is sadly missed. I hope readers will go on making comments of appreciation. It has been left for all to read. Words of wisdom and encouragement, especially for new writers who need that helping hand.
Some of those who made helpful comments regularly are also missed, but they have blogs that can be visited.
I feel certain Grumpy drops in occasionally to view the comments. It must be reassuring to know all the effort he put into his blog is still appreciated — like a good book. Words of wisdom are never lost, nor can wit be devalued by time.

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Despite the fact that you haven't written a new blog entry in 4 years, I still feel compelled to leave a comment.

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