Happy December!

Sadly, not my wreath. Or my door.
Sadly, not my wreath. Or my door.

Hello, my lovelies!

As the more astute will have already noticed – it’s December. I know I say this every year, but I cannot believe how quickly the last twelve months have flown. It’s been a mix of a year (with plenty of bad stuff in the wider world, for sure), but there have been lots of positives, too, and I certainly have a lot to be thankful for. In fact, I am living a charmed life (something I hate saying as I imagine a giant axe falling to punish me for my happiness/good fortune/smugness) but it’s the truth; I am an exceedingly lucky woman and I am very, very grateful.

I was a wee bit stressed last month with a combination of parental responsibility and book deadline, but I’ve spent the last couple of weeks enjoying the absence of that stress and getting things sorted for Christmas. This has involved Leaving The House, which is most exciting. I’ve been to Edinburgh with my lovely husband for some art-appreciation, Christmas shopping, some beautiful walks and a fancy writerly lunch with the fabulous Clodagh Murphy.

captainamericakiltI also enjoyed a family trip to the cinema to see Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them (so much fun!) with a bonus sighting of this Captain America kilt outfit.

Oh, how I love Scotland!

I’ve been working, too, of course, but now I’m going to ramp up and get as much done as possible before the holiday.

I’m taking a small break from fiction to write a book on writing. It’s a combination of everything I’ve learned over the last few years, with tips and advice from top authors I have interviewed on The Worried Writer podcast. Part of me worries ‘who cares what I think?’ but I do feel that I might be able to help other people. Basically, I want other writers who are anxious or filled with self-doubt to think ‘if she can do it, then I can, too!’.

In reading news, I loved Elizabeth Buchan’s The New Mrs Clifton and I’m currently enjoying The Quarry by Iain Banks (it came out a couple of years ago but, as the author passed away and I knew it was the last book from him, I have been saving it).

 

 

 

 

Thank you for reading – and for your support and encouragement this year. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas/holiday and that you will join me again in 2017!

Don’t forget, you can keep in touch by signing up for my free readers club (plus, exclusive content and giveaways!).

 

Summer Holidays, Reading, Writing and Catching Up

Hello, my lovelies!

As is often the way, I need to start this post with an apology for neglecting the blog. I find that writing here often slips to the bottom of my ‘to-do’ list and I need to have a good think about how I can remedy that…

In the meantime, for regular (but not too frequent – maybe every two months?) updates (plus exclusive free extras), please sign up for my readers group newsletter.

I also spend a fair amount of time on Twitter if you would like to follow me there.

Zelda can't believe the summer holidays are over, either.
Zelda can’t believe the summer holidays are over, either.

So, the summer was wonderful (lovely family holiday to France, lots of lazy starts and relaxed days, and some beautiful sunshine here in Scotland) but it went far too quickly.

I allowed myself lots of ‘reading for fun’ time, which was pure heaven. Some notable favourites include Paradise Lodge by Nina Stibbe, Peter May’s Lewis trilogy (Scottish crime fiction, book one is The Blackhouse), A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman and We Are All Made of Stars by Rowan Coleman (which made me sob on the plane back from France. Embarrassing, but worth it!).

I also recommend The Art of Deception; a fun fantasy novelette by my friend Stephanie Burgis. It’s stuffed with scintillating sword fights and delicious deception and is available from all good ebook retailers!

The children (who are both in their teens, now, so I should probably call them something else) went back to school last week. Yes, autumn comes quickly north of the border, and we are, once again, neck-deep in after-school activities, uniforms, and homework.

And, I’ve also been writing lots. I finished a supernatural thriller and sent it to my agent for her opinion (meep!) and am now diving into the edits for a book I wrote earlier in the year. It is set on the west coast of Scotland in the present day and 19th century Edinburgh, and I’m planning to finish it in the next couple of weeks. Then the terrifying submission process can begin.

In other news, the audiobook for The Language of Spells is on its way. I’ve been listening to the files as they are recorded and the narrator, Stevie Zimmerman, is doing an AMAZING job. I’m so excited!

Do check back next week for the cover reveal and publication-date, and thanks for visiting!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday Catch-up: Exams, writing and getting crafty

Hello, my lovelies!

I thought it was high-time I gave you all a personal update…

I’ve been trying to support my eldest with her first set of ‘big’ exams. In Scotland, these are called National 5s and they are roughly equivalent to GCSEs.

In truth, there hasn’t been much to do in practical terms (my daughter is one of the most hard-working and organised people I have ever met), but the subject has loomed large over the household and, being a soggy over-emotional kind of parent, I empathise with her deeply and will be very happy when they are over!

LandandSea
Land And Sea by Iona Mackenzie Laycock

I’ve also been trying to get a better work-life balance (ha!) and took a day off last week for a rare day out with my lovely mum.

We both love craft and have dabbled in a variety of different projects and materials over the years. We went to the Knitting and Stitching show in Edinburgh and wandered around in a happy daze, discovering interesting new things and stroking the beautiful yarn, threads and materials on offer.

We also took a workshop with textile artist Iona Mackenzie Laycock, which was brilliant. Iona showed us a technique involving a hot iron and pearlescent acrylic ink to make a ‘layered landscape’ picture. Iona was really nice and it was lots of fun to be in a real-life class (I do most of my learning online these days).

It also reminded me how important it is for me to do other creative things which are just for fun.

Speaking of fun, I finally sent the first draft of the new book to my agent, and have spent the last week happily writing on an old project. It’s a slightly different style and genre to my other stuff and feels like a wee holiday!

I also finished episode #15 of The Worried Writer. If you haven’t listened yet, all the shownotes and episodes can be found at worriedwriter.com or you can subscribe via iTunes or Stitcher.

elizabethbuchanI’ve been reading lots, too, and highly recommend Elizabeth Buchan’s I Can’t Begin to Tell You.

It’s set during WWII in Denmark and London and focuses on the SOE/Danish Resistance. I finished it at the beginning of the week and I can’t stop thinking about it.

I’m also looking forward to reading Catherine Ryan Howard’s, Distress Signals, which came out yesterday.

I have been following Catherine’s blog for ages and was thrilled to speak to her last year for The Worried Writer.

 

 

So, how about you? Read any good books, lately? Seen any wonderful films? 

 

 

 

I have a book cover! Meep!

InTheLightofWhatWeSeeHello, my lovelies!

I have a cover and official blurb for my new book, In The Light of What We See. 

I think the designers at Lake Union have captured the mood of the book perfectly and I’m thrilled. Hope you like it!

Here’s the blurb:

Brighton, 1938: Grace Kemp is pushed away by the family she has shamed. Rejected and afraid, she begins a new life as a nurse. But danger stalks the hospital too, and she’ll need to be on her guard to avoid falling into familiar traps. And then there are the things she sees…Strange portents that have a way of becoming real.

Eighty years later, Mina Morgan is brought to the same hospital after a near-fatal car crash. She is in terrible pain but recalls nothing. She’s not even sure whom to trust. Mina too sees things that others cannot, but now, in hospital, her visions are clearer than ever…

Two women, separated by decades, are drawn together by a shared space and a common need to salvage their lives.

It’s out on 1st April 2016 and is available for pre-order. You, know. In case you’re interested…

(Not) NaNoWriMo

Mechanical Paper Art by the talented Jennifer Collier
Mechanical Paper Art by the talented Jennifer Collier – www.jennifercollier.co.uk

On the podcast this month, I interview thriller author Catherine Ryan Howard. Catherine was lots of fun and the interview has been described as ‘giggly’. Good thing I cut out lots of the laughter in the edit…

Hop over here to listen (it’s free!) or via iTunes.

In other news, I have been attempting to get a chunk of my new first draft done. I’m not doing NaNoWriMo, but a personal challenge to get 30,000 words down in November.

How’s it going? Well… Given that this first two weeks has been filled with visitors and life stuff and volunteering at my daughter’s musical theatre group for their annual production (backstage only, you’ll be relieved to hear), I’m pretty pleased: 9,288 words.

Yes, this leaves me with the lion’s share, but the next two weeks are infinitely quieter than the start of the month, so I have every faith I shall catch up.


I also finished reading this fantastic collection: P.G. Wodehouse: A Life in Letters, Edited by Sophie Ratcliffe. It’s a fascinating look at the life of a prolific writer and full of reassuring  lines such as:

‘I am now trying to get a plot for a new novel, but so far only incoherent ramblings.’

How about you? Are you taking part in NaNoWriMo?

[Wonderful typewriter art found via DesignSoak]

The Garden of Magic Publication Day. Huzzah!

TheGardenofMagic

Meep! The Garden of Magic, a novella-length prequel to The Language of Spells, is out today! You can order it from Amazon and Kobo for just 99p.

(iBooks and Nook links are coming soon.) Here’s the blurb:

Iris Harper has lived in Pendleford for decades. The local witch is mistrusted by the townsfolk, but that doesn’t stop them from coming to her for potions, spells, and quick fixes. However, time has marched on, and Iris is aware that her days are beginning to fade. Her sumptuous garden is turning against her, the sweet scent of rot potent, and now a young girl has come begging for a solution at her door. The problem she brings causes Iris to remember a man from long ago – a man she loved, the man she could never trust…

 

I had lots of fun writing it and I really hope you like it. If you do decide to check it out (thank you!), I’d really appreciate a quick review – they are so important.

And here’s a handy link so that you can add it to your shelf on GoodReads. You know, if you want…

For my part, I shall celebrate publication day by working on my book edits in my pyjamas. Maybe with occasional regular breaks to check my Amazon ranking.

Happy Friday, all!