Posted in Personal life, Reading, Writing

All for One and One for All

In October I was invited to take part in some medical tests by the research organisation Biobank, for which I’m a longstanding volunteer. I’ve taken part in various tests for them over the years, most of which have been short and uninvasive, but my latest call-up was for a whole afternoon of full-body and brain scans.

Continue reading “All for One and One for All”

Posted in Writing

The Mystery of the Disappearing Books

A news round-up featuring my book publishing schedule from now until Spring 2023

If you’re currently trying to order any of my novels, you may be wondering why they’re proving tricky to find – or at least, my original editions. That’s because they’re all in the process of being relaunched by publishing houses to whom I’ve licensed the rights – ie I’ve signed contracts with trade publishing houses.

Over the last few weeks I’ve therefore been in the curious position of having to UNpublish my novels, which feels odd after spending the last five years publishing them! This has been necessary to make way for the new trade-published editions.

I am in the very fortunate position of now having not one but three publishers about to launch their own editions of my books, superseding my original self-published editions.

I also have a contract to write two new books a year, one in each of my series, for Boldwood Books.  Boldwood will be publishing an all-new third in my boarding school series in November, and the all-new eighth in my Sophie Sayers series in the spring.

Over the next six months, they’ll all reappear in beautiful new editions as paperbacks, ebooks, and audiobooks, plus there’ll be a new German translation of the first three books in the Sophie Sayers series.

At the bottom of this post, you’ll find a summary of what’s happening with the my two series. All of them will be available worldwide, online and to order from wherever you usually like to buy your books and audiobooks.

You may still find the old editions for sale secondhand – there are a lot of them out in the world, so it’s inevitable they’ll still pop up now and again. I’m especially pleased when I see them in charity shops, knowing that they’re having a new life raising money for good causes.

But by the end of March 2023, they should all be reissued in their new editions – along with a new novel in both the Sophie Sayers and Gemma Lamb (St Bride’s) series.

I will still continue to self-publish other books in my back catalogue, for example the Tales from Wendlebury Barrow novellas, The Clutch of Eggs and The Natter of Knitters, and to self-publish any new books that don’t fit the lists of my new publishers or find homes elsewhere.

GEMMA LAMB COZY MYSTERIES (The series set at St Bride’s School)

cover of Dastardly Deeds at St Bride'sThe multi-award-winning Boldwood Books is launching new editions of both books previously published in my school series, with new jazzier titles and bright new covers hand-drawn by the wonderful Rachel Lawston. They’ve rebranded them as the Gemma Lamb Cozy Mysteries to focus on the central character, English-teacher-turned-amateur-sleuth Gemma Lamb.

The publication schedule for the Gemma Lamb ebooks, paperbacks and audiobooks is as follows:

  • 15th September 2022 Dastardly Deeds at St Bride’s (formerly Secrets at St Bride’s) – *out now*
  • 11th October 2022 Sinister Stranger at St Bride’s (formerly Stranger at St Bride’s)
  • 14th November 2022 Wicked Whispers at St Bride’s (all new – not previously published)
  • July 2023 – Book 4 – no title yet!

SOPHIE SAYERS VILLAGE MYSTERIES – Ebooks and paperbacks

The new editions of the first two Sophie Sayers Village Mysteries will be published on 1st November with bright new cover designs, to be revealed shortly. Unlike the Gemma Lamb stories, they’ll all be keeping their original titles, except the second one, which Boldwood have renamed Murder at the Vicarage. The publication schedule for the new editions of the ebooks and paperbacks is as follows:

  • 24th November 2022 – Best Murder in Show & Murder at the Vicarage
  • 15th December 2022 – Murder in the Manger & Murder by the Book
  • January 2023 Springtime for Murder & Murder Your Darlings
  • February 2023 Murder Lost & Found
  • March 2023 A Fling with Murder (working title – not previously published)

To receive news via email about my books from Boldwood Books, sign up for their Debbie Young newsletter here.

SOPHIE SAYERS VILLAGE MYSTERIES – Audiobooks

The launch of the new series of audiobooks is already under way by audiobook specialist Saga Egmont. They have created their own cover designs, and the first two are below.

cover of Best Murder in Show autdiobooks

audiobook cover of Best Murder in Show

The launch programme for the audiobooks of the first seven Sophie Sayers novels is as follows:

18th August 2022 Best Murder in Show – *out now*
15th September 2022 Murder at the Vicarage – *out now*
27th October 2022 Murder in the Manger
2nd January 2023 Murder by the Book
9th February 2023 Springtime for Murder
9th March 2023 Murder Your Darlings
6th April 2023 Murder Lost and Found

SOPHIE SAYERS VILLAGE MYSTERIES – German translation

Meanwhile German publisher DP Verlag has undertaken to translate the Sophie Sayers novels and to publish them in ebook and audiobook format. As you can see from the cover image, the title is completely different, of course, and I don’t yet know what the German language titles will be for books two and three, but here is the production schedule:

cover of first German Sophie Sayers novel25th August 2022 – Sophie Sayers #1 ebook – *out now*
27th October 2022 – Sophie Sayers #2 ebook
15th December 2022 – Sophie Sayers #3 ebook
July 2023 – Sophie Sayers #1 audiobook
October 2023 – Sophie Sayers #2 audiobook
November 2023 – Sophie Sayers #3 audiobook

I’m hoping that if sales in Germany go well (which so far they seem to be doing for the 1st book, which has been hovering around the top 1000 mark in the whole of Amazon’s German ebook store), that DP Verlag will also want to translate the rest of the series.


By the way, if you have borrowed any of the previous editions of these books under your Kindle Unlimited subscription, rest assured you may continue to read them at no extra cost.

Also, if you ever have any problems getting hold of copies of any of my books in your preferred format, just drop me a line via the contact form here, and I’ll do my best to rustle one up for you.

Onward and Upward

As you can imagine, all of this activity, plus my new contractual obligation to write two new novels a year, is keeping me very busy, which is why I haven’t had a chance to publish a new blog post here since 1st September – but I’m hoping to share my latest columns for the Tetbury Advertiser and Hawkesbury Parish News here, as usual, before the month is out.

In the meantime, as well as pressing on with writing Sophie Sayers #8 (halfway through so far and I’m having great fun!), I will now be updating my website to reflect the new editions as they come out. Plus of course I’ll be doing the many other things that are part of my writing life – running author talks as part of the Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival series (the next HULF Talk on 29th October will be about The World at War – book your tickets here), teaching my Simply Self-publish course for Jericho Writers (next course runs October-December), keeping my Little Free Library stocked up, and, of course, reading voraciously!

Posted in Personal life, Writing

And Now Auf Deutsch…

cover of first German Sophie Sayers novelHappy German Launch Day to Sophie Sayers! 

I’m delighted to announce the launch today of my first ever foreign language edition, thanks to my new German publisher, DP Verlag.

Best Murder in Show, the first Sophie Sayers Village Mystery, can now be read in German under the title, Cottage Crimes: Ein Preisgekroenter Todesfall and the series title Sophie Sayers Ermittelt (which means Sophie Sayers Investigates).

I’m really pleased with their presentation of the book. As this was a trade deal, I had no input into the design, so I was thrilled when I saw their beautiful, eye-catching cover design and series branding.

It’s especially appropriate that Sophie’s first foreign venture is in German, because at the start of the story, she is living in Frankfurt, working at an international school, when she inherits her great-aunt’s cottage in the Cotswolds.

The author graduating from her American-style high school in 1978
On graduation day at Frankfurt International School

The reason I planted her in Germany is that I too used to live in Germany, thanks to my father’s employer, Burroughs Corporation, a computer company. His job had previously taken us to live in California for a year when I was eight years old, and when I was 14, we had the chance to relocate to Germany. I spent the last four years of my secondary school education at Frankfurt International School, which had pupils from over 60 different countries on the school roll.

Funnily enough, just a week ago, I was in conversation with the current Upper School Principal, John Switzer, who is doing a survey for his doctoral thesis about the impact of taking the International Baccalaureate on the lives of its former students. I was pleased to tell him that not only had the school broadened my outlook and made me many lifelong friends, but it had also helped inspire my first novel. I’ll be sure to send him a link to the new German edition!

If you’d like to practise your German, here’s a screenshot of the book’s page on Amazon.de, where it’s currently riding high in the charts:

screenshot of Amazon book page

And here’s the first review – thanks to Koetzi for being so quick off the mark on publication day!

screenshot of first review

DP Verlag have also published an interview with me on their own website, which you can read here.

The company has also bought the German translation rights for the ebooks of the next two books in the series. I can’t wait to see how they turn out!

I have to thank my agent Ethan Ellenberg of the Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agency for introducing my books to DP Verlag. I’m hoping this is the first of many translations of my books! 

Posted in Personal life

A Bellyful of February

Being a glass-half-full type, I always welcome the winter solstice as the overture to spring, my favourite season.

But January and February always disappoint, with February’s only redeeming feature its brevity.

Despite the longer daylight hours, the skies are often so overcast that it never seems to get properly light all day. What light there is feels wintry, and the spring equinox, when day and night reach equal length, seems a long way off.

I take comfort in discovering that in Celtic tradition, spring officially starts at the beginning of February, with the festival of Imbolc halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox.

Imbolc translates as “in the belly”, alluding to the stomachs of pregnant ewes and the promise of the imminent renewal of life.

photo of the cross of St Brigid
Culnacreann, CC BY 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0&gt;, via Wikimedia Commons

1st February is also the Feast of St Brigid, Irish patron saint of fire, poetry and healing. Brigid was originally a Celtic goddess with such a strong following that the first Christians in Ireland canonised her to keep the locals on side. Brigid’s traditional symbol, a cross woven from green rushes, was often nailed over the doors of homes to ward off evil spirits. It had nothing to do with the cross of Jesus, but its existence may have made it easier for the Christians to adopt Brigid as their own.

The ancient Romans celebrated a different feast in the middle of the month. Februa, a day of atonement and purification, was so important that they named the whole month after it. In the Roman calendar, February was the twelfth month, so Februa will have prompted a spiritual and physical declutter to help Romans start the new year in good shape.

Wondering why we adopted February for our own calendar, when it’s named after a Roman festival I’d never heard of, I discover other contenders. The Old English called it Sol-monath, meaning “mud month”, appropriate for the season’s weather. In medieval times, it was known as Kale-monath, or “cabbage month”. Perhaps as winter stores ran low, cabbage formed the bulk of peasants’ diet.

painting of the Venerable Bede
“The Venerable Bede Translates John” by James Doyle Penrose (1862-1932) (Public domain, via Wikipedia)

I prefer the Venerable Bede’s idea. In his treatise De temporum ratione (The Reckoning of Time), the Anglo-Saxon theologian suggests that “Sol” is another word for a particular type of cake. Does this mean that this month we’re meant to cheer ourselves up by eating cake? Finally, a reason to love February! There, I told you I was an optimist.

This post was first published in the February 2022 issue of the Hawkesbury Parish News. 


A GOOD READ IN THE RUN-UP TO VALENTINE’S DAY

cover of Murder by the Book
The fourth Sophie Sayers Village Mystery introduces Hector’s identical twin brother Horace, as mischievous as Hector is sensible.

If you fancy a light-hearted comedy mystery to lift your spirts during the dark days of February, try Murder by the Book, my Sophie Sayers Village Mystery set in the run-up to Valentine’s Day.

Despite opening with someone falling to their death down the well behind the village pub, there is romance in the air for eccentric village shopkeeper Carol and her secret admirer, and also for Sophie and Hector, despite the playful intervention of Hector’s twin brother, just back from Australia. Available to order online in paperback and ebook here, or ask your local bookshop to order it in for you, quoting ISBN 978 1 911 223 269.

Posted in Reading, Writing

My Christmas Gift to my Readers: A New Sophie Sayers Christmas Story

Each Christmas for the last three years, I have enjoyed taking part in Helen Hollick’s “Story Song” blog series, which is a bit like an advent calendar of stories.

Every day between 1st and 24th December, she posts a new story by a different author. Each story is inspired by a song, and readers are invited to guess the song by reading the story. You can read all of the stories on her blog completely free of charge.

This year, my contribution is a new Sophie Sayers short story set at Christmas, called The Secret Ministry of Frost.

It also features some characters from my St Bride’s School novel series.

Click the link below to read this heartwarming new story for free:

Read The Secret Ministry of Frost online now

  • Will you be able to guess the song by the end of the story?
  • Award yourself a bonus point if you have already recognised the poem that the title comes from!

***Please feel free to share the link to the story with anyone who might enjoy it.***

Cover of Murder in the Manger
The third novel in the Sophie Sayers Village Mysteries series is set at Christmas

Although my Sophie Sayers Village Mysteries series includes a novel set at Christmas (Murder in the Manger), the cosy world of Sophie’s Cotswold village, Wendlebury Barrow, is a rich source of festive stories, and I plan to write enough to fill a little book with them in time for Christmas 2022. More news on that nearer the time!

In the meantime, I wish you a merry Christmas, with lots of good books under your Christmas tree, and a new year filled with peace, joy and love.