Happy New Year peeps,
I hope everyone has had a good time over the Christmas period. I have been writing every day, so it has been lovely in that sense for me. I have made sure I've isolated either a morning, afternoon or evening every day. That is not easy, but has proven very fruitful in terms of moving the next novel of The Cambridge Murder Mysteries forward.
I wanted to share that for the first week of January only, I have decided to drop the price in a 'bonanza sale' of my mystery series and sell them at the knock-down price of £1.99 UK, $2.99 US, $2.99 Canada, and $3.99 in Australia. (Normal prices are £5.99/$5.99).
That is every single book in the series, so either click on this image below, or the links above to find a holiday kindle bargain for you or your loved ones.
Happy Days, and a peaceful New Year. Cxx
I cannot believe we are already in December? Where did the time go? I feel like it was only a few weeks ago that I was in Southwold at the beach and the sun was shining. Now, Cambridge has had a week of sub-zero temperatures, and we have been lighting fires and throwing blankets over ourselves to keep warm.
I remember it was a while back when I wrote A Christmas Mystery, Bk 4 of The Cambridge Murder Mysteries. I wanted to set something in Oxford, as I had lived there in Jericho while lecturing at the university. I had been so busy, but everytime I stepped out to get some fresh air, I would not have to go far to be surrounded in history and beauty, much like we have here in Cambridge.
My novel, A Christmas Mystery, is set in the heart of Oxford, near where I used to live. I remember all the streets, parks and colleges that inspired the novel.
If you like Oxbridge, and want to imagine you are there, then The Cambridge Murder Mysteries might just be the books for you.
If you do take a trip to Oxford, maybe take a walk out on Port Meadow and visit The Perch pub. It is such a dreamy place to walk to in the summer. You'll come across boats and cows and little bridges. It is more rugged than the manicured lawns of the colleges, but well worth a trip. If, on the other hand, you just have an hour to spare and find yourself in the centre needing a warm hot toddy, then The Randolph Hotel bar is another gem. You might just find yourself inspired to write while sitting back in an armchair. I know I did.
A Christmas Mystery is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Kobo
This year, for the first time, I had some time away from writing. There has been a lot going on in my life which has pulled me away from my favourite thing to do.
The main reason though has been to give my eyes a break. I have dry eyes. There is no cure for it. I've mentioned it before, but as I get older I want to take more care of them. This has meant time away from the computer screen writing. Though, I have not stopped my plotting and working out the story. On that, I have been very busy.
I have decided to start writing Book 7 of The Cambridge Murder Mysteries, from tomorrow, December 1st! A Christmas treat to myself. I am going to try something new in terms of my writing. In the past, I have written up novels on paper first and then typed them up. This time, I am going to write them up on paper and then rewrite them on paper, and see how that goes. I might also use the dictate function on my computer.
So off we go, on another adventure.
It seems such a long time ago when I started the mysteries. Writing Poison seems like forever ago. It launched me into this experience, and for that I will be forever grateful. It took hold and wrote itself in the end.
I'm hoping for as much fortune when I start today. Hoping I can bring another novel to you soon.
p.s. I took the photo of this typewriter in an exhibition of art in Vézelay, France. I didn't catch the name of the artist, but the piece grabbed my attention
2023 has been the year of Holiday Mystery for me, Book six of The Cambridge Murder Mysteries. I really enjoyed writing this book. I finished it a while ago, and found myself deciding not to shout about it. I don't know why. I think I felt like I'd just see how it was received naturally for a while. I will probably bring out a newsletter soon.
Now, I feel ready to blog and tell you that I am so happy with this novel. It means so much to me. It captured a moment in my life when I was remembering my mother, travelling to Portofino, to Florence and Siena. When the words felt like they were tumbling out of me.
I hope if you decide to read it, that it transports you to those streets of Tuscany. That if you have been there already, that it evokes happy memories and perhaps if you have never seen the delights of the architecture, tasted the food and driven over the undulating hills, then it might tempt you to book a flight.
Thank you, to all my readers. I want 2024 to be a year when I am more available to answer questions, more present on line for my readers. After half a year mostly away from the internet, I'm ready to come back and share with you more about my writing process, my life and hopefully inspiration for any writers out there too.
Love and peace, Cxx
Over the past week in Cambridge, the temperature has dropped down to minus eight at night. It won't last long, and will rise again. Am sure there are colder parts of the country.
It's not the coldest I've experienced. When I was young, I worked for an animal welfare charity, and we flew 90 miles off the coast of Newfoundland onto the ice floes, to watch seal pups being born. We flew in helicopters and landed where the temperature was minus 20 or 30. We wore survival suits which made sleeping bag puffer coats look like summer vests. Our eyelashes grew ice in on them in minutes. We didn't stick around long. I remember feeling like my brain was going numb as everything was shutting down. I also remember that the bars we frequented at night back on dry land afterwards were mainly under ground, in basements. Like the one in 'Cheers' in Boston (sitcom style), to keep warm. Cambridge is tame by comparison.
It's all very well having exciting anecdotes like that. All it makes me think now is how much I've lived a charmed and exciting life. What the cold leaves me feeling now is having a strong sense of guilt. Guilt that I'm warm. Warm in my home, in the day and at night.
I heard on the news last week that the death stats are the highest since records began for January - month on month in England. I wonder how many of those are the elderly who cannot afford to heat their homes. It is very worrying.
I have taken many photographs of frost and snow over the years in Cambridge. But, instead, I thought I'd share one of blossom I took in the Mill Road cemetery. This tree never disappoints, and always reminds me of wedding cakes. So cheerful, and won't be long!
Stay warm and safe.
Been missing my Ma recently. Long time now since I've spoken to her - 2014. Time stops, doesn't it, when you lose your loved ones. Then it hurries by, taking the memories with it.
This is a photo of my Ma as a toddler. I came across it today, whilst trying to delete photographs off my computer. I have too many photos of trees! And ducks, swans, rowers, colleges. The hazard of living in a beautiful place.
This one was amongst them. It is a small piece of card which I think came from a fair, where you'd put money and get a photo ticket. I'd taken a photo, to be sure I didn't lose that face.
Parents have such an indelible mark on us. I see my mother when I look in the mirror. I hear her voice when I speak. Her influence is strong and continues in my mind and actions. I grow into her skin more as I pass through the years, understanding why she chose the paths she walked.
What I love about this item is that it isn't longer than an inch or two, but captures the essence of her so well. I can see her eighty year old face in that small child. As a small child, she would have had no idea how much she achieved in her life and how many adventures she was going to have.
Hug your loved ones. Tell them you love them.
Morning lovely readers,
this morning, I was walking the dog when I chatted with another dog walker about how we hated Monday mornings. Hate. Often saved in common vernacular for more serious issues. Hate is a strong word to use, especially when attributing it to time. Time being one of the most precious things we have on the planet. And how short it is too.
On reflection, I don't hate Monday mornings. Especially when I have a lovely dog to walk. Note to self. Go with the flow on Monday mornings. We are all just twigs flowing down the river. This is a photo I took of a badger I spotted on a dog walk.
Happy Monday mornings.
Hello lovely readers,
People ask me when I started wanting to be a writer, and I can remember there were times in my youth when I would scribble ideas down. I wrote a project when I was about twelve, at school. It was to write a story. It took it really seriously, and of all the things I have thrown away, my first story I saved. I don't know why.
Then, when I was a teenager, I started to keep a diary, a journal. I'd write day diaries, but this was different. I'd write down ideas for stories. My father and mother had both been heavily involved in drama societies - acting, directing - but not really writing. Maybe, it felt like I could branch out and do something of my own. I didn't really get encouraged to act. It felt like their thing. The reality was, I enjoyed writing.
I found this photograph of me, just before Christmas, at the age when I started to take writing seriously. It never took hold until a decade later, but I think I've always been writing in some way.
Good luck to all those who are writing, painting, expressing themselves in some way through art. We are many things. Not just a label. I write, but I also do other things too - so don't see myself as just a 'writer'.
Hope art brings you as much joy as it has brought me.
Is it really 2023?
Here is a photo of a winter swan in Cambridge. I think it sums things up here in Cambridge. Beauty is everywhere at the moment, laid bare.
Hope everyone has a great weekend.
I shall be writing book six of The Cambridge Murder Mysteries, Holiday Mystery. Oh, and tidying! The house is still a mess post Christmas.
Recently, I took time out. I checked out. Mentally and physically.
I was hit by an electric bike, knocked off my feet a couple of weeks before Christmas, and because of the NHS crisis in the UK, decided not to bother with A&E. The bloke was drunk and probably doing around 20 or 30 mph. I hurt my spine, legs, face, head (I had a headache for a week) arms, teeth. It all hurt. So I checked out, stopped, gave in.
It made me appreciate how lucky I was. Nothing broken. I cannot imagine what it must be like to be elderly or the vulnerable and in need right now. I am clearly made of rubber.
When I stopped, I paired down my life. What did I really need. Turns out, it is not much, and those things don't cost a thing.
I wasn't sure whether to bother to blog on this. But wanted to share how much I enjoyed the so called 'little' things. Lighting a fire. Baking. Looking after my family. Sleeping. Watching great TV. Going for a walk and listening to winter bird song. Walking in the snow. Hearing the wind in the trees. Smiling at passersby. Laughing with friends. The so called 'little' things, aren't little. We all know that. So often pushed aside by the 'cut and thrust' and 'media hype' of how to live. The nonsense we are forced and goaded into following. Often thrust upon us by the worst of humanity. If only the quiet gentle people were our leaders. Sigh.
I listened to an Adam Buxton podcast, and on it, Richard E. Grant spoke about losing his wife to cancer. It was terribly moving as it was clear he dearly misses her so. She told him, just before she died, that she appreciated that he would be sad when she was gone, but to try to "find a pocket of happiness" in the day. Look for that golden nugget to hold close. Richard said it saved him after she died. And those nuggets he spoke about were the same things I mentioned. Just appreciating the beauty around us.
I spent a lot of time stroking my dog too - while I was particularly horizontal - who didn't leave my side. This is a photo of Moobear snuggled up in a duvet on the sofa this Christmas.
Hope 2023 is good for everyone. I know I shall be more consciously looking to find a pocket of happiness in every day. I hope you find yours too.