A round-up of what I’ve been up to this month.
Bleddfa Centre Self-publishing Workshop (16th June)
This month I was delighted to revisit the beautiful Bleddfa Centre near Knighton in Wales. It’s an inspiring setting for creative activity, and perfect for the self-publishing workshop that I’d been invited to run there with fellow authors David Penny and Katharine E Smith who also runs Heddon Publishing, a self-publishing services company.
Together we provided an eager group of delegates with an overview of how to become an independent author, drawing on our own extensive experience, and with much reference to the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi), of which we are all members and of which I’m UK Ambassador. I was especially pleased to meet John Musgrave, who had been on another publishing course there two years before, there I had spoken about self publishing. He had since joined ALLi, self published his first book and had more in the pipeline.
I’m kicking myself for forgetting to take any photos of the gorgeous setting, but the expressions on our faces in the photo above taken by event organiser Caroline Sanderson, author, journalist and Bleddfa Centre trustee, at the end of the day, shows how much David and Catherine and I enjoyed ourselves.
Do take a moment to check out the Bleddfa Centre’s website for the details of further arts events in their programme. It’s always good to have an excuse to go there.
BBC Radio Gloucestershire Book Club (26th June)
On this month’s show, the usual gang – lunchtime presenter Dominic Cotter, fellow panelist Caroline Sanderson (yes, the same Caroline as at Bleddfa – she’s everywhere!) and I discussed The Salt Path by Raynor Winn.
The book is an extraordinary tale of a middle-aged couple whose way of dealing with a double crisis – bankruptcy and the diagnosis of terminal illness for Rayner’s husband Moth – is to backpack and wild camp their way around the south-west coastal path. In turns poignant, shocking, funny and lyrical, this is an unforgettable memoir of triumph over adversity and the redemptive power of nature. It is also beautifully written. Caroline and I had the good fortune to attend one of Raynor Winn’s many speaking engagements, organised at the Nailsworth Quaker Meeting House by the Yellow-Lighted Bookshop a couple of months ago, and we can confirm that she speaks as beautifully as she writes.
As always on Dominic’s show we talked about all manner of bookish things, and also chose next month’s book, Daniel Defoe’s seminal Robinson Crusoe, arguably the first English novel and inspiration for so many further works from The Swiss Family Robinson to Lost in Space to Desert Island Discs. I can’t wait to see what we all make of it when we reconvene at noon on Wednesday 24th July.
In the meantime, you can catch the show on iplayer here – Book Club starts eight minutes into the show, just after the news. And if you’d like to track down a Raynor Winn talk near you, her current schedule is below – and you can find out the latest news on her Twitter account at @Raynor_Winn.
Evesham Festival of Words (27th June)
At the time of writing, this event has yet to come! Tomorrow night I’l be chairing a panel of crime writers as part of the Evesham Festival of Words, with a fabulous trio of authors: David Penny (yes, as at Bleddfa, above!) who writes historical thrillers set in medieval Moorish Spain; Barry Faulkner, who writes contemporary police procedural novels; and Angela Buckley, who writes true crime. We’ll be discussing all different kinds of crime fiction, past, present and future, both as professional writers and as avid readers. The event is at 7pm in the enticing setting of Evesham Rowing Club on the banks of a beautiful stretch of the River Avon. Tickets are still available at £7.50, so if you are in town, do please come along on the night – it would be great to see you!
In Between Times: Lots of Writing!
I love doing events like this and am always open to invitations – so if you would like me to speak at an event for you, please don’t hesitate to ask. I’m now taking bookings from mid-July onwards. At the moment I have no bookings for July and am looking forward to spending lots of time with my daughter, now on an extended holiday from school after completing her GCSE exams.
It’s also been good to have space to catch up with online activity, including this delightful review on YouTube of Best Murder in Show by vlogger J P Choquette.
However I’m also pleased when I can space them out in the diary to allow plenty of writing time – and this month I’m thrilled that I managed not only to finalise the manuscript of my next novel, Secrets at St Bride’s, due to launch next month, but also to write an 11,000 word short novella, The Pride of Peacocks, a bonus extra to my Sophie Sayers Village Mystery series, and which also segues into the world of the new series! Also coming soon is the new audiobook of Best Murder in Show, narrated by Siobhan Waring, who I thought was the perfect voice for Sophie Sayers.
If you’d like to get an email telling you when Secrets at St Bride’s and the new audiobook of Best Murder in Show are available – and also to receive a free ebook of The Pride of Peacocks next month (it’s an exclusive gift for members of my mailing list – not available to buy in shops!), just leave your email address in the form below, and I’ll add you to my list.
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