Finally! It has taken far longer than I would have hoped but my new Mike Malone story has now been published. I hope you like it. On a positive note, the next novel is already underway. Hopefully, it won’t take 18 months to publish the next one.
My idea of a perfect weekend – reading and baking. Nothing I love more that being in the kitchen – even if the sun is shining. So today – ginger biscuits and lemon and blueberry cupcakes. Have decided to try adding stem ginger to the biscuits this time. I’m sure you all do that already, but I have never tried doing this before. Why? I think the only reason is that sometimes I am a little afraid of straying too far from the recipe. At my age, I think I can now start to be a little more daring. Lemon and blueberry cupcakes are an old favourite. Once everything is out of the oven, then time to sit in the garden and read.
In the middle of Zadie Smith’s ‘NW’ at the moment. Wasn’t sure if I would like it, a bit different to my usual read, but I do like the characters. I am still editing Mike Malone’s latest adventure and he will be appearing very soon. Watch this space.
Nothing revives you like a break in routine, does it? A week off work to recharge the batteries. Thing is, a week off work often leaves you wanting another break to recover but not this time.
We have just spent a few days in Whitby and have walked and walked and walked. Never having visited the town before, and living in the flatest area in England, my poor muscles were unprepared for this picturesque little town with its ups and downs and cobbles. There were also the climbs. The 199 steps upto St Mary’s Church and Whitby Abbey just had to be done, especially when there was such a prize awaiting the intrepid traveller at the top. St Mary’s Church was breath-taking. Never before have I seen a church with box pews, some with little heaters, or a three tier pulpit. It had a really cosy feel to it. Incredible.
Next to it, Whitby Abbey’s magnificent ruin overlooks the town almost like a guardian. What struck me was the way that the stone has been eroded by the elements. The striations could have been painted by an artist, they were so intricate. Beautiful but deadly, this brushwork will in the centuries to come, eventually destroy this wonderful, evocotive building.
Whitby is a gem, and now that I have discovered it, it is a place to which I will return in later years.
Now that I have returned home again, and with a renewed vigour, I have been able to finish the latest Mike Malone. Once it has been edited, it will be put on Amazon. I really should have a break away more often.
Cannot believe that it is about eighteen months since I last logged on. Life gets in the way sometimes, doesn’t it? Changes in circumstances, jobs etc take their toll. The writing is also suffering – poor Mike Malone has been struggling with his present case for so long I’m not sure if he’ll ever solve it. Time was when I would have had the time to sit in the evenings and write. Doesn’t seem to happen a lot now.
But I do love this time of year when the nights get lighter and the weather gets warmer. It’s re-energising and I’m hoping it will re-energise my writing arm. I’m nearly there. Just two to three thousand words to go and Mike will return.
Still reading – presently whizzing through a batch of Young Adult novels for school. Really like these – quick to read and sometimes there are some real gems. I’ve recently finished ‘Beck’ by Mal Peet and ‘The Pomegranate Tree’ by Vanessa Altin. I’d recommend both books. They are very different but gripping
‘Beck’ would be suitable only for older teenagers as it is a coming-of-age story about a mixed race boy transported to North America when he is orphaned. He is abused by those supposed to be caring for him, acts which leave mental scars. It is set in the Depression and shows what life was like for a young black man. Excellent story that I would recommend.
‘The Pomengranate Tree’ is about a Kurdish girl and her life in Syria and although a Young Adult novel, it will engaeg all ages because of the relevance of the subject matter. It is written as a diary of a teenager, Dilvan, in her fictitious city in Kurdish Syria which she is forced to flee from when the ratmen (ISIS) attack and her mother and sister are kidnapped. This book depicts what war is like for the ordinary people, things we do not see on our safe Western TV sets. Although it is an ecxiting story on one hand, it is not always enjoyable, but it is relevant and will present teenagers with a view of life that is very different to their own.
I’ll finish now – so pleased to be back and this time I’ll try to update my blog more regularly.
January is turning out to be a notable month and it’s not even over yet. It started right at the beginning when an interview that I was asked to do by Alexandra Amor went live on her podcast – Itsamysterypodcast.com -and YouTube. Seeing myself was strange and unsettling. So many mannerisms! I really must sit on my hands if I ever get asked to do an interview again. However, it was nice to talk about Mike Malone and my books for a change, it’s not something I usually do.
It’s not that I am embarrassed by my books, it’s just that I don’t feel comfortable introducing the topic. How do others do it? If people find out about my books and ask about them, that’s different, but to actually turn around to someone and say – “did you know that I write books?” – I can’t do it. For me to start talking about myself in that manner, I’d feel as if I was showing off. I prefer to sit in the shadows.
The second reason that January is notable – for the first time in many years, I have had to close a novel that I was reading without finishing it and move on to the next. I have always prided myself for being able to read books of all genres. This one defeated me. I found the characters annoying – they didn’t engage me at all – and the story line seemed so predictable; after the first few chapters I could see which direction it was taking. When I started to dread picking it up, that was the time to move on. So why did I choose it? This is my guilty secret. I have followed Richard and Judy’s Book Club ever since it started several years ago. When their reading lists are released, I go out and buy the books and add them to my pile of Nordic Noir and crime thrillers. The books on the list are of all genres and are generally readable; they add a touch of variety to my normal reading diet. Sometimes I even come across real gems – that was how I discovered Jo Nesbo – his book ‘The Snowman’ was on one of their lists. Another novel, ‘Me Before You’ by JoJo Moyses had me work my way through a box of tissues. But, for the first time, Richard and Judy have let me down; this book, taken off their Autumn list, just didn’t inspire me to finish it. Having just purchased the books on their Spring reading list – I hope that this was just a one-off. I’ll let you know – when I finish the rest of the books on the Autumn list.
I have now finished and uploaded the 13th novel in the Mike Malone series to Amazon. I hope that No 13 is not going to prove unlucky. Read the first chapter below.
Have A Heart
He laid a hand across the pillow, shivering at its chill. His body had already been so ravaged by the pain of her leaving, he didn’t think that his suffering could get any worse. He was wrong. Waking up and finding a space where there had previously been warmth and love was devastating and the ache for her was excruciating. Why had she left? He had given her everything.
“I never broke it off,” he whispered. “It’s not over.”
He couldn’t believe that it had been so easy to get into the house; a child could have picked the lock on the back door. Standing in the middle of the kitchen, he felt the silence holding its breath around him, waiting for him to make a move before deciding whether to shield him or reveal him.
It let him pass and the stairs whispered softly as he climbed them, allowing him safe passage. Finally, he arrived at her door and pushed it open. Her hair was caressing her cheek, hiding her beauty, but he resisted the temptation to sweep it behind her ears as he used to. It was enough to be in the same room as her again. Settling himself on the dressing table stool, he felt her gentle breaths wrap themselves around his shoulders. He was where he belonged. She might think that she didn’t need him but he would make her see that he was her salvation, her very life.
“Tracey! Are you getting up or not? It’s seven o’clock!”
Tracey Dean pulled the duvet over her head and groaned. She hated Monday mornings, the start of another working week. Yes, she knew that she should be grateful that at least she had a job. Yes, she should be grateful that Matt Fairhead had thought of her, but honestly! Did she really want to sit in a stuffy office everyday taking bookings for taxis with only Matt’s boring, mousy little wife, Ellen, for company when she popped in to sort out the banking? But, she was stuck with it; there was very little else around at the moment and she needed the money. With hindsight, it had been a foolish thing to do, give up her decent building society job to go to Canada. Her parents had been dead against it, but as she had argued – if she didn’t do it while she was still relatively young, when would she do it? Added to that, she also needed to get away from a string of bad relationships. She kicked the duvet to the bottom of the bed and stretched out, catlike, and reached for Tom. Fingers and toes found nothing. Tracey opened her eyes and looked around. Where was he? She was certain that she had pulled him into bed with her when she had crawled in late last night after a couple of glasses of wine with Courtney. Well, maybe four or five glasses according to the pain above her eyes. Pulling herself up in bed, she realised that she was still wearing her charm bracelet. Frantically, she checked that all the charms were still there. How stupid of her not to take it off before she got into bed, they could easily have snagged on the duvet and been pulled off. She must have been drunk.
Her feet touched the carpet, its roughness scraping her into wakefulness. She still couldn’t find Tom; he hadn’t fallen out of bed during the night. Where was he? A breathless panic started to creep up on her and she shook herself. What on earth was she getting worked up about? He was a teddy bear, an old, well-loved teddy bear that her gran had given her when she had been born. Tom would be around somewhere, her Mum had probably stuffed him into a cupboard without thinking. She’d ask her when she got downstairs.
With a final sigh of regret that the weekend was now well and truly over, Tracey dragged herself off the bed and stumbled into the bathroom..
Pete Dean raised his head as his daughter entered the kitchen. “Morning, love. Tea’s made, your mum’s just seeing to the hens.”
“Morning.” She kissed the top of her father’s head before grabbing a slice of toast off his plate.
“You cheeky mare!” Pete laughed. “I suppose I’d better make some more.”
“Yes, please.” Tracey poured herself a mug of tea and sat down watching Pete pop some more bread into the toaster. “Have you seen Tom?”
“Haven’t seen him. It’s a nice morning, he’s probably decided to go out to let his fur down.” Pete laughed at his own joke and picked up an envelope which he threw onto the table. “This was on the doormat, though, this morning. Got yourself another admirer, love?”
Tracey picked up the envelope and examined it. Who could be writing to her? The envelope had been typed and there was no stamp; it had been delivered by hand. Using her fingernail, she ripped it opened and pulled out a single sheet.
“Wow! That’s lovely.” In her hand was a delicately drawn picture of a teddy bear. She looked at it more closely. It was Tom. Someone had drawn a picture of Tom, she’d recognise that raggedy ear anywhere.
“That’s very nice.” Pete was looking over her shoulder at the drawing. “Who drew it?”
“I’ve absolutely no idea,” she said quickly, “there’s no signature. Why on earth would someone have drawn Tom?”
The scream from the yard stopped Tracey Dean from saying any more. Before Pete Dean could move, his wife burst through the door.
“Pete! Phone the police.”
“What is it, love?” Pete Dean had already noted the lack of colour in his wife’s cheeks.
“Someone has…” Shirley Dean noticed her daughter staring at her and froze.
“Someone has what, love?” Pete was at his wife’s side, leading her to a chair.
“The chicken house, Pete. Go to the chicken house and phone Mr Malone.”
My summer vacation is now at the halfway stage. Three weeks left before I am back in front of the classroom. I remember in a previous blog writing a list of things that I wanted to achieve. So, how am I doing? This was my list, as well as the writing goals that I also set myself.
1. De-clutter the bedroom. This is a job that has been on my to do list for the last few summers.
2. Take my 93 year old father out for day trips.
3. Catch up with friends that I have neglected during term time.
4. Experiment with new bread flavours.
5. Try to read at least one book a week.
6. Catch up on my sleep.
7. Try to visit my favourite nature reserve once a week.
No 1 – this can be crossed off, I have lost count of the number of trips that I have made to charity shops.
No 2 – we have been out for coffee every week and tomorrow we are off to The National Stud at Newmarket, so I can cross that one off as well.
No 3 – have seen some but not all – a work in progress
No 4 – this is a failure, so far I have just stayed with my tried and tested flavours – honey and beer. Although, I did add turmeric to a mix. It didn’t add flavour, but my bread was yellow! This stays on the list.
No 5 – not doing too badly with this one. I’ve been a bit slow putting reviews on the blog, but have now nearly caught up with myself. Presently reading ‘The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes’ which has me in tears of laughter and sadness. Review will follow when I finish it.
No 6 – this one is a success. I am getting plenty of sleep.
No 7 – failed! I haven’t even been once. This stays on the list.
So – at the halfway point, I don’t think that I am doing too badly.
As for the writing goals – 20,000 words into the new Mike Malone and Mike 4 – ‘Kissing The Devil’ is now available as paperback. I would have liked to have got further into my writing – but – at least I have another three weeks left.