Publication day panics and the story of my story

Murder Served Cold.

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I can’t believe Publication Day (October 19th) is just a little over a month away.  I’ll be absolutely honest and admit that the thought has me almost frozen with terror. They say having a book published is a bit like having a baby and I  am at that stage where I seem to be focussing on the negatives.  All the pain without the gain.

What if no one reads it?  Or, what if everyone I know reads it and hates it?  What if they’re too embarrassed to say they hate it? (I have some very kind friends)

And what if people think they recognise themselves in some of the characters and are offended?  This is my other really big fear.  All the characters in the story are pure products of my (some would say twisted) imagination but of course they are inspired by the people I meet.

In fact, Murder Served Cold (link here to pre-order) would never have come into being at all if it wasn’t for an overheard conversation in my local pub.  I was busy writing short stories at the time but realised that the idea that came from this overheard conversation had the makings of a much longer crime story.

DishSC In fact, it became a short, 2 part serial of just 8,000 words which was snapped up by the then Fiction Editor of Woman’s Weekly, Gaynor Davies, a lovely, totally professional editor who was a joy to work with and to whom I owe so much. (And still miss very much indeed)

How this 8000 word serial became an 80,000 word novel is the subject of another post.  But a word of warning:  if you remember reading “A Dish Served Cold” in Woman’s Weekly back in 2008, then I’m very sorry but you probably already know the identity of the murderer.  On the other hand, if you do remember the story that clearly from ten years ago, then I’m very flattered!  (And there have been lots of exciting plot developments in the meantime, I promise.)

The Blurb

Writing this was sooooo hard!!!!! (as Kat, my main character would say because she’s a bit of a drama queen).  The 80,000 words of the novel skipped off my laptop (well, more or less) but a 150 word blurb?  That was something else and I am extremely grateful to my publishers, Crooked Cat Books, for their experienced guidance on this. Blurb

So here, at last, is the blurb that graces the book’s back cover.

A quiet English village where nothing ever happens.   Until…..

After her boyfriend runs out on her with the contents of their joint bank account, Kat Latcham has no choice but to return to the tiny Somerset village of Much Winchmoor where she grew up.  A place, she reckons, that is not so much sleepy as comatose and she longs for something to happen to lessen the boredom of living with her parents.

But when she and her childhood friend, Will Manning, discover a body and Will’s father, John, is arrested for the murder, Kat suddenly realises that she should have heeded the saying “Be careful what you wish for”.

Much Winchmoor is a hotbed of gossip and everyone is convinced John Manning is guilty.  Only Kat and Will believe he’s innocent.  When there’s a second murder Kat is sure she knows the identity of the murderer – and set out to prove it.  But in doing so she almost becomes the murderer’s third victim.

Readers of Sue Grafton might enjoy the Much Winchmoor series of cosy murder mysteries spiked with humour and sprinkled with romance.

Talking of Which….

One of the ways authors who are far more experienced than me deal with the worry of how a book will be received is to get on with the next one.  And that’s exactly what I have been doing.

Like Murder Served Cold, the second in the Much Winchmoor series started life as a serial for Woman’s Weekly. This time it was a three part serial, entitled Rough Justice and featured the same characters.  You can imagine, I thought I’d hit the jackpot when I approached Gaynor with the idea for the next in the series and she said yes.

Sadly, she didn’t have the same enthusiasm for the third in the series (she felt there had been ‘rather too many murders’ in the magazine recently) and the idea stalled.  But Kat, Will and all the other characters in Much Winchmoor (at least, the ones who hadn’t been murdered or sent to jail) wouldn’t go away and kept nagging me to tell their stories.

Which is exactly what I am doing.

September prompts

for advice on how best to use these, see my post Writers’ Prompts.  A limitless supply of story inspiration

1. Getting caught in the act.

2. ‘Accidents will happen in the best regulated families’. Charles Dickens (David Copperfield)

3.Lady in red (song title)

4. A day that starts badly and gets progressively worse.

5. A sprat to catch a mackerel. (Proverb)

6. The UK’s first public lending library opened on this day in 1852 in Manchester.

7. Harvest festival.

8. ‘Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone (WH Auden)

9. Standing up to a bully

10. A pair of buzzards drawing lazy circles in the sky

11. Hiding the wrong object.

12. The pen is mightier than the sword (proverb)

13. These are the things I saved.

14. ‘A sadder and a wiser man/he rose the following morn. (ST Coleridge)

15. Write about a small rebellion

16. Your mother’s cooking

17. And then there were none.

18. Getting what you want.

19. Until the twelfth of never (song)

20. Dubious intentions

21.My mother said I never should…

22. Lighting a candle

23. A woman of substance (book title)

24. Getting on the wrong bus/train

25. A still tongue makes a wise head (proverb)

26. When the children are asleep, we’ll sit and dream..(Carousel, Rogers and Hammerstein)

27. Nothing to lose

28. A girl of her time (book title)

29. The old lost road through the wood

30. ‘Love is not love/which alters when it alteration finds (Shakespeare)

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…. And finally, I would like to thank…..

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Last week, I was working on the final, final stage of my novel, Murder Served Cold by writing the dedication, acknowledgements and author bio that will appear at the front.

This was surprisingly difficult and caused me to think really deeply.  Who to dedicate it to?  There are so many people who’ve played their part in my writing journey and I agonised over who it should be.

Finally, I realised there could only be one person to dedicate this, my first full length crime novel to and that had to be my mother.

Mum was an avid reader and her great love was crime fiction.  When I was about 12, she introduced me to Agatha Christie and I have been a fan of hers ever since.  Over the years I have got very used to getting my ‘Christie fix’ from the television – those wonderful David Suchet performances as Poirot and, in my opinion, no one ever bettered Joan Hickson’s Miss Marple.

But last year, we were staying near Dartmouth in Devon for a few days and took a ride on the  Dart Valley Railway  the line that runs close to Agatha Christie’s lovely old house, Greenway.  While we were waiting at Kingswear station for the train to arrive, I bought a copy of ‘The Big Four‘ to while away the time. 

It was ages since I’d actually read any Agatha Christie – and I’d forgotten what a great story teller she was.  I thoroughly enjoyed the book, so much so that I couldn’t put it down and was actually quite sorry when the train arrived.  The Big Four made a perfect holiday read and there was something truly magical about reading it there in one of Agatha Christie’s favourite parts of the world.

Since then, I’ve had huge pleasure rereading many of my old Christie favourites, experiencing  the various twists and turns of the plot through my own eyes and imagination, rather than that of a film director.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve nothing against film and TV adaptations and am a huge fan of series such as Shetland and Vera.  But there is something really special about reading a book.  It rewards the reader with a much deeper sense of involvement in the story than the more passive pastime of watching a film can do.

I have a lot to thank my mother for, not least for instilling a love of reading for pleasure in me, particularly at a time when as a first year Grammar School pupil, my ‘English literature’ reading for that year was Homer’s The Iliad! (In English, thankfully!)

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So, this one’s for you, Mum.  Although I have a sneaking suspicion no one ever reads these … apart from me, of course. 

What about you?  Do you read dedications and acknowledgements?  Who would you dedicate a book to?  And why? I’d love to know.

Murder Served Cold is due to be published October 19th and is now available to pre-order.  Link here

 

Daily Prompts.  August 16th-31st

for instructions on how to use these, see my post Writers’ Prompts.  A limitless supply of story inspiration

16. Write about stealing something.

17. What is this life, if full of care/ We have no time to stand and stare? (WH Davies)

18. Giving in to temptation

19. Stolen moments.

20. A time to laugh, a time to cry.

21. Gratitude preserves old friendships and procures new ones. (Proverb)

22. On the eve of the funeral…

23. Going home.  At last.

24. On this feast day of St Batholomew, patron saint of tanners and leather workers., write about the smell of new leather. 

25. My mother’s birthday.

26. Rainy days and Mondays (song title)

27. If I had my way, I would…..

28. Summoned by bells. (To commemorate the birth of John Betjeman, born this day 1906.)

29. Missing the last train home.

30. Write about a fortune teller.

31. The longest mile is ……

Murder Served Cold. Exciting Times.

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Who stole July?

My grandchildren used to love a story about the Grinch who stole Christmas but what I want to know is: who stole July?

One of the pieces of advice I read when I started this blog was write regularly and I really meant to.  Honestly.  But sometimes, life – and families – get in the way.  And the best laid plans…  well, you probably know the rest.

But I have been writing.  Just not blog posts.  And I have really, really exciting news. (Spoiler alert!  The picture at the top of the post is a bit of a give away!)

Murder Served Cold.  Cover reveal.

Yes indeed!  I have a cover as you can see above.  And I’m thrilled and scared in equal measures.  In fact, I’m beginning to feel like I did when my eldest started school.  School uniform, shoes, bag and books all bought and looking smart. Photograph taken of him looking neat and proud.  (I could be really mean here and post the photograph of him in his first ever he’ll-grow-into-it blazer but he’d never forgive me)

But that’s when the reality hits.  The moment you realise it’s not a dressing up game any more but it’s real.  My baby is about to go out into the big bad world all on his own.  And he’s not ready.  I’m not ready.

(Actually, he was ready and loved it! But that didn’t stop me worrying about him.  He’s all grown up and (reasonably) sensible now but guess what?  I still worry about him and his brother.  The only difference now is that neither of them take a blind bit of notice of what I say.)

So, will I still be worrying about my book when it’s all grown up and sensible?  Of course I will.  I’ll be worrying that no one likes it, no one buys it and if they do, they’ll hate it and want their money back or leave nasty reviews on Amazon.

The cover reveal was the easy bit.  The buying the school uniform bit, if you like.  But now, I am on the final, final read through of the pdf that’s going to be turned into the actual pages of my actual book.  So I am at the moment re-reading it for a final check.  The last time I looked at it was several weeks ago at the end of the editing stage.  (I was going to keep up the ‘starting school’ analogy here and compare the editing stage to nit-hunting but thought better of it!)

Much Winchmoor 2 and an unexpected bonus

I’ve discovered an unexpected bonus to this final, final read through.  I am now on chapter 5 of the second book in the Much Winchmoor Series and it is really helpful to go through Murder Served Cold and realise that Will had blue eyes (and not brown as I’d thought) and that Gerald Crabshaw favoured tweed jackets and a regimental tie.

Of course, I should have made these notes at the time.  That’s what organised people do.  But when I started writing Murder Served Cold, I wasn’t sure I would ever finish it, least of all go on and write another in the series.

Murder Served Cold is now available to pre-order at mybook.to/murderservedcold .  Publication date: October 19th.

I’m now 15,000 words into Much Winchmoor 2 (working title) and yes, I know I said that I was at 15,000 words when I last posted but I had a bit of a crisis and cut 7,000 words which was painful.  But well worth doing.

And finally,

Daily Prompts for August 1st – 15th

(Check out Writers’ Prompts.  A limitless supply of story inspiration For hints on how to use these.)

  1. write about a secret you wish you hadn’t been told.
  2. the best (or worst) holiday you’ve ever had.
  3. write about a ‘meeter and greeter’ at an airport.  What would happen if they collected the wrong Mr Smith? (or whatever name)
  4. write about an old man (or woman) coming back to the farm where he worked as a boy.  Only it’s not a farm anymore.  It’s a ….
  5. When life hands you a lemon ….. (you fill in the rest)
  6. Once when nobody was watching.
  7. All animals are equal.  But some are more equal than others.
  8. Think about a time when, as a child, you were really frightened. Then transfer that fear to an adult situation.
  9. write about a mirror
  10. At 5 in the afternoon
  11. write about someone who’s left
  12. write about masks
  13. a secret revealed… but too late
  14. “The truth is rarely pure… and never simple.” Oscar Wilde.
  15. Packing a suitcase.

 

 

Murder Served Cold, the next step.

Spot the Dalmatian?

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This week’s picture of our Dalmatian Duke was taken on a six mile walk on Dartmoor that we did earlier in the week.  It was a lovely day but very hot and he was very happy to find this pretty little stream.  As were we – but there are no pictures of us having a cooling paddle though.  Nor of us enjoying a well deserved pint at the end of our walk.

Murder Served Cold.

The edits are finished and the book has now gone on to the next stage in its journey to publication.  I’m feeling more and more like I did in the months before my children started school for the first time.  With mounting dread I would watch the days on the calendar slip by all too quickly as the start date drew closer.  I’m getting that same feeling as October looms.

So now we’re talking covers and it’s all beginning to feel very real.  This is the ‘buying the school clothes’ part of the process, I suppose.  At the beginning the words were everything and I didn’t give the cover much thought.  It was a case of “I’ll know the right one when I see it” – and my publisher, Crooked Cat Books have come up with some great ones so I’m really looking forward to this part of the process.

This the first time I’ve had any input in the choice of cover art.  In September, my eighth Large Print book,  Brought to Account,  will be published in the Linford Mystery (or Romance) series which are sent to libraries.  I’ve had mixed feelings about some of the covers as the art work usually consists of a picture of a woman who bears no resemblance to my character.  It’s often the same with magazine illustrations as well.  But I figure they know their market.

And for my next trick….?

I have started the sequel to Murder Served Cold and it’s a delight to be back with some of the characters again and to move their story on.  But it also brings problems.  Like when did I decide Betty was called Sandra?  And if I’ve used the ‘gone to seed dandelion’ analogy in book one, can I use it again in book two?  I’d be very flattered if someone remembered what I’d written from one book to the next (I often can’t!) but the reader might feel short changed.  I wish now I’d been more organised when I was doing the edits for Murder Served Cold and made notes as I went along.

But I’m now 15,000 words into the first draft and it’s going well.

And finally….

Here are you daily prompts for the second half of June.  I hope you’re finding them useful.  Check out Writers’ Prompts.  A limitless supply of story inspiration for hints on how to use them.

  • 16. Not all Grannies knit.  (the title of a book by Jane Fearnley Whittingstall)
  • 17. Old friends, old wine and and gold are best. (Proverb)
  • 18. The battle of Waterloo was fought this day in 1815.  Write about something you believe is worth fighting for.
  • 19. On this day in 1975, Lord Lucan was found guilty of murdering his children’s nanny.  Write about disappearing.
  • 20. “Stands the church clock at ten to three?/ And is there honey still for tea?” (Rupert Brooke)
  • 21. Burying bad news.
  • 22. Write about a ceremony
  • 23. It’s raining, you’re late for an appointment and someone nips into that parking space you’ve been waiting so patiently for.
  • 24. She was the kind of woman who….
  • 25. Write about an eclipse.
  • 26. Grandmother’s secret.
  • 27. What would you do for £10,000? (note: it’s for £10k, not with!)
  • 28. You have a new neighbour.  Is that good or bad?
  • 29. Listeners never hear good of themselves.
  • 30. Write about your own version of Paradise.

 

 

Dog walks, hurdles and a murder mystery.

I’m later than I meant to be getting down to work because today’s dog walk took even longer than usual.  Several of the fields around our village have been cut and baled and our Dalmatian Duke insisted on stopping to wee on every one of them!  (It was a big field and there are a lot more bales out of shot, all duly marked by Duke).

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The first hurdle – and how I fell at it.

I started writing this blog after reading “The Author Blog: Easy Blogging for Busy Authors” by Anne R. Allen  ( Anne’s blog) which is crammed full of useful advice for newbie bloggers such as myself.

Unfortunately I’ve  fallen at the first hurdle because one of Anne’s pearls of wisdom is  about being consistent.  Blog regularly, she advises.  

Ah yes, I thought.  I can do this. So  I set up a schedule (I’m very good at setting up schedules.  Keeping to them, however, is another matter) and decided I would blog fortnightly.  I then entered the fortnightly publication days in my diary.

I chose to post fortnightly (a) so that I wouldn’t clog up your inboxes and (b) it would give me some breathing space to get on with my life… and, of course, the day job.

But that is where the problems started.  Life , the day job and the local farmer’s hay making (see above) got in the way which is why, according to my schedule, I am now two  postings behind.  So, if you’ve been waiting impatiently for the Daily Prompts from May 16th onwards, please accept my sincere and grovelling apologies.  

To make up for it, I’ll put the Daily Prompts from May 16th – June 15th  at the end of this post.  And if you’re new to this blog and wondering what on earth I’m going on about, check out the post (Writers’ Prompts.  A limitless supply of story inspiration) on how to use the prompts.  

I’ve written a pantomime.  Oh yes I have!

In my post of 25th March The Path Less Travelled and why it (sometimes) pays to take it I described the fun I was having writing our village pantomime.  This year, we’re doing The Fladdams Family – the Panto, which is based, very loosely indeed, on the TV programme The Addams Family.

I have finished it.  Almost on schedule.  And if you’ve ever wondered what goes on during the creative process of writing a pantomime, take a look at a (totally unedited) page of my notepad which  sits beside me when I’m writing.  It’s either a snapshot of the creative mind at work – or the ravings of a madwoman.  You decide.

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A new serial.

Yay! I have a new serial coming out at the end of the month.  My eight part murder mystery entitled All The Birds of the Air starts in the People’s Friend on June 23rd.  

This serial is the result of an approach by People’s Friend’s Fiction Editor, Shirley Blair, asking  if I’d be interested in writing a crime serial for them.  Now I’d love to let you go on thinking this is an everyday occurrence for me and that editors are regularly contacting me in this way.  I wish!

Usually it happens the other way around.  I get an idea for a story, write it and then spend the rest of my time and energy trying to persuade an editor to buy it.  So after I said yes to Shirley I found myself in the unusual situation of looking for something to write about.

This was where my ideas box came in handy.  It’s an old document box, crammed with tattered files and dog eared notepads, most of which make as much sense as the one in the picture above.

But then I found a notebook from a creative writing class I took at my local Further Education Centre many years ago.  I enjoyed the class very much except for those times when the tutor would set us a challenge to write something really clever which we then had to read out to the rest of the class.

I was, and still am, absolutely rubbish at that sort of thing.  My brain freezes and I  sit there doodling while the rest of the class scribbles away furiously.  That particular day, the brain freeze was obviously a full on glacier because this is what I wrote:

Who killed Jock Dobbin?

That was it.  Apart from a weird drawing of what I think was supposed to be a cat and a reminder to myself that my son had cookery in the morning and not to forget the sultanas. (He’s all grown up and sensible now and buys his own sultanas.)

But the line intrigued me and I started thinking about a man called Jock Dobbin who dies suddenly.  His death is put down to natural causes until a series of anonymous notes begin to appear around the village.  These notes are all based on the rhyme “Who killed Cock Robin?” and that, of course, gave me the title as well. Then I started thinking: “What would you do if a total stranger left you everything in his will?”

All the Birds of the Air was such fun to write and there will, I hope, be a sequel.  But that depends on whether the readers of People’s Friend enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Fingers crossed.

Daily Prompts

Today’s writers don’t have to hunt around in dusty old boxes for inspiration. At least, not the ones who follow this blog.  So here, better late than never, are the Daily Prompts, as promised for May 16th – June 15th.  And I promise I’ll be back before June 15th with the prompts for the rest of the month.  I’ve already put it in my schedule.

16. Write about being bullied.

17. When you fear the worst and the worst happens, there comes that moment when you realise there is nothing left to fear. 

18. My brother/sister had this really annoying habit….

19. Write about what you didn’t do.

20. Opening line.  Where were you last night?

21. Dark behind it rose the forest (The Song of Hiawatha.  HW Longfellow)

22. Once, when nobody was looking…

23. The end of the day.

24. You are in a hotel room.  Alone.

25. Actions speak louder than words. (Proverb)

26. Buried treasure.

27. Write about a time you felt abandoned.

28. Something you bought mail order.

29. You’re taking an exam you are totally under prepared for.

30. You walk into a bar and a sudden silence falls.  But no one will meet your eye.

31. Slipping in and out of the shadows.

JUNE

1. Married in the month of June/Life will be one long honeymoon.* (see below)

2. It was the family wedding from hell.

3. Write about an anniversary.

4. ‘I’m playing all the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order”. (Eric Morecambe)

5. Write about a balcony.

6. If you won the lottery, what is the first thing you’d do?

7. The first time I saw my baby brother/sister I felt….

8. Write about being the last person to be picked for a team.

9. “Last night I dreamt I went back to Manderley…”  (Or Myrtle Avenue, or wherever)

10. He walks into a room and there is complete silence.  All heads turn in his direction.  Then he smiles and walks up to her.  “Hi, I’ve been looking for you….”  (Feel free to change he/she etc)

11. I love you because (Do you remember the old Jim Reeves song?)

12. Ann Frank was born this day in 1929.  Write about keeping a diary.

13. “It wasn’t my fault, Mum, honest.  It just….”

14. “There are two ways of spreading light. To be the candle or the mirror that receives it.” (Edith Wharton)

15. A funny thing happened to me on the way to…..

  • Footnote:  I got married in June and, on the off chance that my husband reads this, yes, it has been one long honeymoon! (Most of the time, anyway)

Where do you get your ideas from?

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Angels on Oil Drums

As I started writing this week’s blog, the flag of St George was flying from the flagpole on the top of our village church for St George’s Day, England’s patron saint. 

I have good reason to celebrate St George’s Day because it was the inspiration behind the very first story I ever sold.  

 I can’t remember a time when I didn’t write.  As soon as I was old enough to hold a pencil, I was writing.  Plays, stories, comic books, poems and even a pageant or two. Throughout our childhood,  I bullied my three younger brothers  into appearing in various ‘plays’ I’d written which we’d then perform for all our neighbours – at least, the ones who weren’t quick enough to come up with a decent excuse.

My first publicly performed work was a bit of a cheat as it didn’t involve any original writing.  It was a pageant, enacted to the words of the hymn “For all the saints, who from their labours rest…” to celebrate St. George’s Day.  

The ‘stage’ was to be our front lawn, the backdrop Mum’s washing line with a couple of old grey blankets draped over it.  I’d filled two large jugs with armfuls of  pink and white blossom which stood at the front.  It looked perfect. Except for the oil drums.  One on either side of the ‘stage’. 

My mother drove a hard bargain and insisted that if she was going to allow her garden and washing line to be turned into a stage, then my two youngest brothers (three year old twins) had to be given parts in the pageant.  I was not keen.  But, in the end I capitulated and said they could have non-speaking parts as angels – as big a piece of miscasting as Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher.

But there was a slight problem (and I’m not talking Tom Cruise here).  The twins were quite small and so would not be seen. So I had the brilliant idea of standing them on upended oil drums, one either side of the stage. (Now why didn’t Tom Cruise think of that?)   

I then tied one of Mum’s sheets around their necks to cover both them and the oil drums and commanded them to hold their arms up as wings.  I also made them beautiful blonde wigs from unravelled binder twine which, they complained, itched.  (Did I say I was also the costume and set designer?  Not to mention writer, producer and chief press-gang officer).

I was St George, of course.  After all, it was my pageant.  And my other brother, Mike was the unfortunate dragon who spent most of the time being beaten around the stage by me wielding a wooden sword.

We were about half way through the first verse of “For all the saints...” when the left hand ‘angel’ started to fidget and fell off his oil drum.  The right hand ‘angel’, who probably had more sense than his brother, decided he was bailing out before he too fell off his oil drum and made a dash for freedom across the garden, trailing his sheet behind him and ending up hiding in the middle of the raspberry canes.  He was closely followed by the family dog who thought this was the best game ever.

I, like the trouper I was,  carried on singing.  And beating the dragon about.  Until he decided that he, too, had had enough.  So there I was, St George,  victorious and alone, singing away to myself and failing to notice that my mother had disappeared into the raspberry canes after my brother and the dog.  And the rest of the audience was falling about with laughter.

After all these years my brothers still claim they were traumatised by the event, which gets told and retold at every family gathering.  So when, about twelve years ago I was looking to break into the short fiction market and trying to follow the advice ‘write about what you know’, I wrote this short story based around my ill fated pageant.  

Angels on Oil Drums” was the first of many stories I sold to Woman’s Weekly and it still remains one of my favourites.  Not such a favourite with my brothers, though – although I did buy all three of them their very own copy of Woman’s Weekly which I’d like to tell you they have treasured to this day.  But I very much doubt it!

A few years ago now, my brother Mike (the ex-dragon) came to one of the pantomimes I’d written for our village theatre group  (link here to my thoughts on writing this year’s). He remarked what a relief  it was for him to come and see something I’d written that he hadn’t been bullied into appearing in.

My story, Angels on Oil Drums, will be in my first collection of short stories, entitled “Selling My Grandmother” which will be published later this year.  Watch this space!

Other News

I’m finishing the final edits of the final chapter of my serial, The Primrose Path, this week – and am at that stage where I think I’m never going to be able to cut it down to the required word length.  Although I always do, somehow.  As for tying in all those loose ends…

Duke, the Dalmatian has had a poorly paw and after a week on anti-inflammatories and antibiotics is now confined to lead only walking for another two weeks.  Trying to keep a Dalmatian quiet and rested is like trying to contain a Jack-in-the-box with a faulty lid. But if you’ve got to do an on-lead-only walk, then the beautiful Bishop’s Palace Gardens, in Wells, Somerset has got the be the place to do it.

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Daily Prompts. May 1st to 15th

I hope you’re enjoying the daily prompts. (For details of how to use them, follow this link)  I have now caught up with myself, so below are the prompts for the first fifteen days of May.

I always keep a note in my journal of where the ideas for each new story came from and I can see that of the fifteen, four made it as completed (and sold) stories.  So it does work!

  1. Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May (Shakespeare)
  2. A time when you wanted to leave but couldn’t
  3. Being discovered in the wrong place at the wrong time.
  4. “I have spread my dreams beneath your feet/ Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.” (WB Yeats)
  5. Suffering the consequences of doing something to excess.
  6. Write about a premonition
  7. Your first day at school, work.
  8. Look back in anger. (John Osborne’s play of this name opened in 1956)
  9. Fear of getting old.
  10. Things done in the heat of the moment.
  11. He/she is the sort of person who….
  12. Write about your earliest memory
  13. Living the dream
  14. Through the open window comes the sound of someone playing the piano.
  15. On this day in 1918 the first regular air mail service began. Write about receiving an unexpected letter.

Thanks for reading this far.  Each time I post, I promise myself that I’ll keep it short and snappy this time.  But I never do.  And that’s what I love about blogging.  After three days of trying to cut 5800 words down to 3300, writing this has been sheer bliss!

Roller coasters, editors and daily prompts

I’m later than intended getting this blog post written because last week was a real roller coaster of a ride with some dizzying highs followed all too swiftly by those heart stopping, stomach churning swoops down to the lows.  Some people love that sort of ride.  But I prefer a smooth, gentle glide with time to admire the scenery to the breath-snatching thrills of the roller coaster.

adrenaline-amusement-carnival-66143

Photo by Angie from Pexels

Progress in my works in progress

 I’ve always have more than one large project on the go at any one time but this week, three of them have suddenly pushed themselves centre stage, demanding my instant attention.  The pantomime I wrote about last time is going well. (The Path Less Travelled and why it (sometimes) pays to take it  I have finished Act One now and she-who-makes-things-happen is very pleased and excited about it.  Now all I have to do is figure out what’s going to happen in Act 2, because at the moment I haven’t a clue. 

I’ve also been writing a 5 part murder mystery serial, entitled The Primrose Path, and have now been given the go ahead for the fifth and final part.  And, as with the pantomime, I have a vague idea how it’s all going to work out but at the moment it resembles a basket of wool after a kitten’s been at it – a tangled mess with loose ends everywhere. 

The only thing I’m sure about is “who done it” and I’ve more or less got the “why done it” sorted.  But the “how done it” is giving me brain ache. More on this in a later post.  (Once I’ve worked on why she didn’t just get her phone out and call for help!)

My big news!

But the new big news is the one that’s really sending me in a spin and wanting to bury my head under the nearest duvet.

I HAVE AN EDITOR  

One of the reasons I started this blog, apart from the joy I get from just sitting down and writing about whatever takes my fancy, is that earlier this year I was signed up by Crooked Cat Books who are going to publish my debut full length murder mystery, later in the year.  I thought it would be interesting to blog about my journey to publication.

I’ve been published many times in magazines (and still continue to do so, says she with fingers, toes and anything else that can be crossed firmly crossed).  I also have five large print novels, some crime, some romance, available through the library service, with a sixth due to be published in August.  

But this is the first ‘proper’ book I’ve had published.  Not that any of my work is ‘improper’, you understand.

Murder Served Cold

Murder Served Cold is a murder mystery (the clue is in the title) set in a small Somerset village not dissimilar to the one in which I live.  Think Stephanie Plum follows a faulty sat-nav and finds herself  in Miss Marple’s St Mary Mead.  Like Stephanie, my character Kat is feisty and witty, with an answer for everything.  She also feels as out of place as  Voldemort at the Teddy Bears’ Picnic when  circumstances beyond her control force her to return to her parents’ home in the small Somerset village where she grew up.

I’m sure you’ll hear more about Kat Latcham in later blogs.  Most of the time I have difficulty shutting her up.  However, this is my blog and not hers.

But for the moment I’m trying to get my head around the fact that  I’ve been assigned an editor, the first step on the pathway to publication – and I’m absolutely terrified.  She’s reading Murder Served Cold as I write this and I feel like I’m waiting for my end of term school report, complete with the  ‘could do better’ comments.

Kat, of course, wouldn’t give a toss.  But she’s a feisty 23 year old, with cool spiky multi-coloured hair and cool, spiky boots to match.  She has an opinion on everything and is not afraid to share it.  I, on the other hand, am not 23 nor anywhere near it. (A glance at my author picture will confirm this)  I’m not feisty either, although I’d love to be.  I’m an introverted writer who prefers to spend my time sitting at a laptop and living vicariously through my characters, even (or do I mean, especially?)  the bad ones.

So, while Kat would be saying ‘Bring it on” to my newly assigned editor, I freeze in terror every time I check my emails.  Is she going to say it’s rubbish?  That my sentences are too long?  That my story arc doesn’t arc enough?  Or, the worst ‘could do better’ comment of them all, that she doesn’t think it’s funny?

I’m a proud member of both the Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Crime Writers’ Association.  I love writing murder mysteries, spiced with humour and lightly sprinkled with a touch of romance so the three elements of crime, romance and humour are very important to me.

I know my book will probably be put in the ‘cosy’ category.  But that conjures up what someone described recently as ‘cutesies’, where ladies in tea shops solve murder mysteries with the help of their cat. Or a psychic goldfish. Nothing wrong with that, of course, and they are incredibly popular.  But that’s not what Murder Served Cold is about.

So what is it about?  I hope you’ll come back for future blogs and learn more about Kat and the other characters in Much Winchmoor.  They’re a lot of fun – apart from the odd murderer or two, of course!

Daily Prompts.  April 16-30th.

As promised in an earlier post, here are the daily prompts for the rest of April.  I hope you’re  finding them useful.  Check out the previous post  if you’re uncertain how to use them.

16. All is forgiven

17. Being misunderstood.

18. Getting away with murder.

19. When the dust settled….

20. Jumping to the wrong conclusion

21. No man is an island.

22. In the heat of the afternoon.

23. “This is it,” I thought.  “Things don’t get any better than this.”

24. You can’t tell a book by its cover.  Or can you?

25. Things I wish my mother had told me.

26. My grandparents’ wedding picture.

27. Feast day of St Zita, patron saint of housewives, bakers and sometimes invoked by people    who have lost their keys.

28. Everybody stopped to watch the stranger’s arrival.

29. A pair of shoes.

30. Something that happened this time last year.

And finally….

Thank you so much for dropping by.  What’s happening with your work in progress at the moment?  Do you prefer roller coasters or a gentle ride?  I’d love you to leave a comment.