Posted in Writing

New School Year, New Start for my School Mystery Series

As the new academic year starts in my local village school, I’m getting ready for a fresh start for my cosy mystery series set in an eccentric English boarding school for girls.

Until now there have been two books in this comedy cosy mystery series, which readers have described as a cross between St Trinian’s and Malory Towers for grown-ups! These first two books were originally published under the titles Secrets at St Bride’s and Stranger at St Bride’s.


This autumn, the multi-award-winning Boldwood Books will be reissuing them with bright new covers and snappier titles as Dastardly Deeds at St Bride’s (on 15th September)…

…and Sinister Stranger at St Bride’s (on 11th October).

Then on 14th November, an all-new third instalment of the adventures of Gemma Lamb and friends will be launched, called Wicked Whispers at St Bride’s. The cover for that one is still under wraps, but I’ll share it with you as soon as I can.


If the style of the cover looks familiar, it’s because it’s the hand-drawn artwork of the wonderful book designer Rachel Lawston, who last year created the cover of my standalone romantic comedy novella, Mrs Morris Changes Lanes.

cover of Mrs Morris Changes Lanes

I’m really looking forward to seeing what Rachel comes up with for Wicked Whispers at St Bride’s!

While I wait for that cover reveal, I’m already dreaming up ideas for the fourth book in the series, which I’ll be starting to write very soon.


All of this series will be published on multiple platforms and in multiple formats by the energetic, expert team at Boldwood Books, including ebook, paperback, hardback and audio – so however you prefer to read, there’ll be a format to suit your preference.

You’ll be able to buy them online and from bookshops, and if you ever have any problems tracking down the one you’re after, just let me know and I’ll help you out.


In the meantime, I’m 15k words into my next novel, which will be the eighth Sophie Sayers adventure, set in the Cotswold village of Wendlebury Barrow. Its working title is A Fling with Murder, although that may well change by the time I’ve finished with it. The Fling is an allusion to its Scottish setting – Sophie is whisking Hector out of his comfort zone in the Cotswolds to take him to meet her parents in Inverness, a city I love very much. This series is also about to get a relaunch and to become available in multiple formats. More news on that soon…

Now back to my writing desk, my notebook and fountain pen… there’s homework to be done before I can have my tea! 

Debbie at writing desk with pen in hand
(Yes, I do write my books by hand with a fountain pen!)


Dastardly Deeds at St Bride’s

🇬🇧 Amazon UK 🇺🇸 Amazon US

Sinister Stranger at St Bride’s 

🇬🇧 Amazon UK  🇺🇸 Amazon US

Posted in Writing

Scenes from my Cotswold Cottage #2: My Book Nook

This is the second in my new series of posts inspired by Dame Joanna Lumley’s charming memoir, No Room for Secrets, in which she tours her London house giving a commentary on her possessions. I’m sharing snapshots from my Victorian Cotswold cottage in which I write my books, with a commentary on what the objects in each picture mean to me.

Also in this post: news about the book I’m writing now and of a new self-publishing course that I’ll be teaching for Jericho Writers from 1st March. 

All authors ought to be avid readers too, so my house has many cosy corners in which to curl up with a book.

This book nook was built by my husband to my specification from a couple of planks of wood to fill in the space left by the vintage Rayburn solid-fuel stove that finally fell to pieces a few years ago.

But as my grandma would have said, “It didn’t owe us anything,” as we’d bought it for £50 twenty years before when we spotted it abandoned in a neighbour’s back garden. They were only too pleased for us to take it away.

photo of my book nook
The perfect place to curl up with a book

Starting from the top, the old enamel sign on the wall above was lying in the garden when I moved in, a relic from when my cottage used to be the village post office.

I made the crocheted lace that hangs from the beam about 25 years ago. Not sure my eyesight would be up to it these days!

On the two pillars hang two small embroideries:

  • The “Home Sweet Home” on the left was made my dad, who used to do a lot of counted cross stitch, usually on a much larger scale.
  • I sewed the Mrs Tiggywinkle on the right. I adore Beatrix Potter in general, and Mrs Tiggywinkle is my favourite, reminding me irresistibly of my late grandmother. I’m not sure quite why, but I can never see her without thinking of Grandma!

The bookshelf above the seat is for my “books about books” collection, which is constantly growing. The flat-iron acting as a bookend also came from my garden. The little photo beside it is my young neighbour who sometimes helps feed our cats when we’re away. She is especially fond of Dorothy and left this picture of herself so that Dorothy doesn’t forget her.

The small painting on the shelf is by my nephew Dan Gooding, also a writer. He painted it in Cornwall and gave it to me for Christmas a few years ago.

The cushions, from left to right:

  • “A present for a dear child” is the sentimental Victorian-style message on the first one, given to me by my parents many years ago.
  • The large green and white cushions are made from Penguin brand tea towels, and the smaller ones from Penguin tote bags, featuring two of my favourite mystery authors, Agatha Christie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I wish they also made one for Dorothy L Sayers!
  • The cushion in the centre was hand-felted by my dear Auntie Sheila. (My house is full of arts and crafts made by various members of my family, and I value them more than any Old Master.)
  • The small cream cushion on the right panders to my passion for Alice in Wonderland.
  • The green, yellow-edged cushion was crocheted by me from very fine wool many years ago and won first prize for crochet at the Hawkesbury Village Show that year – a great source of pride!
  • By contrast, the blanket covering the wooden seat is a mass-produced IKEA number, but I love it anyway as it adds more warm pink to my book nook, and also matches my pink, green and cream china, which will feature in a future post in this series.

In case you missed it, here’s the first in this series of posts:

Scenes from my Cotswold Cottage #1: Reading After Breakfast


Latest News about my Books

Meanwhile, back on the writing front, I’m poised to write the final chapter of my work in progress, Scandal at St Bride’s, the third in my Staffroom at St Bride’s School series, which should be published in the spring. I’ll bring you more news on that as soon as I can. In the meantime, here’s the beautiful cover by Rachel Lawston to whet your appetite. This story takes place in January, and it’s been helpful to be writing it at the appropriate time of year!

cover of Scandal at St Bride's
Rachel Lawston’s fabulous design perfectly conjures up a chilly January at this unusual boarding school for girls

If you’d like to catch up with the first two in the St Bride’s series in the meantime, you can buy them online here:

Or order them from your local bookshop – good booksellers can order them in from their usual supplier, as can public libraries.

New for Fellow Writers: Simply Self-publish – a new course taught by me!

At the same time (January was a busy month!), I’ve been writing a new course for writers, commissioned by Jericho Writers, the highly regarded group that helps writers become authors, through its courses and other resources on writing, editing and publishing. If you’re a writer and would like to take charge of your own publishing career, my ten-week course, Simply Self-publish, will show you how.

For more information, hop over to my course’s page on the Jericho Writers website here:

In case you missed it, here’s the first in this series of posts:

Scenes from my Cotswold Cottage #1: Reading After Breakfast