Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Sing Out!

Just finished appearing in Sing Out! at the Whitstable Playhouse. An enjoyable experience with no pressure, except that I got so nervous about my solo, a vaguely comic song called It's Harry I'm Planning to Marry, I actually felt ill on stage on Saturday. Perhaps it's time to hang up my microphone.

I received my copy of the audio version of Murder at The Laurels this morning and I LOVE the cover. They do their own, rather than reproduce the book covers, and it really looks as though they've taken note of the story. So many of my friends, particularly in the category romance field, have covers which bear no relation to the story or characters whatsoever. My friend Elizabeth Chadwick, a highly respected author writing in the medieval period, used to have terrible trouble with covers which looked more like Disney representations of Sleeping Beauty.

Murder in Bloom is struggling on and with any luck I'll deliver it to the publishers by the end of February for publication in May. On Thursday this week (December 4th) I'm on Radio Kent at 3pm talking about pantomime to Pat Marsh, and next week I shall be talking about the same thing to a local WI group. The following week I shall be talking to Radio WFM in Manchester again, as I did last year, also about pantomime! 9.30 am on 15th if anyone in Manchester reads this.

Family all well, Philly home from the Carribean tomorrow and straight up to London to play at an awards evening, so I'm driving up to take evening dresses and music and stuff and bring home her holiday case, as she won't be back in Kent for days.

If I don't post again before Christmas (as if I would) Merry Christmas to all our readers!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Holidays and families

Late as usual. Murder by the Sea has been out for nearly three months and is apparently doing all right. Holiday in Cavus as relaxed as ever, met all the old lags and generally did nothing. Had a book signing as several of them had taken copies with them, and have some great pictures of people (Sue, Marie and Alison) reading by the pool!

Book, however, not doing nearly so well as my friend Julia Williams - whose Strictly Love hit the zeitgeist bang on the button, and is a fantastic read. Comes with a free "How to Dance" book, too!

Also had a lovely weekend with my cousins in Burnham-on-Crouch. Lovely place. Unfortunately my poor cousin Penny is now going to have to put up with me more than she wants as I liked it so much I'm transporting it to Kent to use it in the next novel. Yes, folks, despite public opinion, there will be a new Libby Sarjeant book out next June. Let's hope the credit crunch doesn't affect the book trade.

Eldest daughter is happily half way through her second pregnancy, and I'm still fighting against my "Nanny" title. I shall have to coach my grandson when he's a little older, then he can choose a name for me - which could be dodgy. Eldest son still gigging and he and his partner Clare looked after cats for me while I was away. Needless to say, one of them ran away (just like school guinea pigs dying during the holidays) but came home again with an abscess. All sorted now.

Younger daughter currently on tour with a prog-rock (?) band called Karnataka, playing London Astoria2 tonight and having to dash back to Cambridge to teach. Younger son still living in frequently flooded "garden" flat in Manchester, working hard and not playing as much as he'd like.

That's up to date. I'll try and remember to update a little more frequently, but I'm so lazy!

Monday, September 08, 2008

A Crime Novelist's Progress

On Saturday, I did a signing at Waterstone's, Westwood Cross, Kent. I didn't sell that many books, but met some very nice people, some of whom had read all the books, one of whom bought the latest and then an hour later came back and bought the rest. The manager showed me my sales over the months on their computer - a bit of a blur as I hadn't got my glasses on - and both he, Neil, and his assistant, Claire, were absolutely charming.

Since Murder by the Sea came out, I have been on the cover of a Saturday Review magazine (only in Kent, unfortunately!) and been interviewed (again) by our local papers, and, impressively, by a Kent glossy for their October edition. I have also featured recently in a magazine called This England in a piece about Kent based crime writers. I have also been asked to contribute to a charity anthology alongside such luminaries of my genre as Simon Brett and Reginald Hill and been asked to write a feature for the local paper.

Fears for the future were unfounded as the fifth Libby Sarjeant book has been commissioned for release next June and I have already started on that. This year I have also served on a panel at CrimeFest with other luminaries Andrew Taylor, Lesley Horton and Stephen Booth and, as previously anguished about, organised the Crime Writers' Association Conference.

OK - now. My problem is this. Can I now call myself a novelist? Can I now call myself a CRIME novelist? I can tell you (if anybody's reading this) I certainly don't feel like one. I feel as though I'm playing at it, and someone will pop their head round the door sooner or later and say: "Come on, now, Lesley, time to stop playing those silly games."

Oh, well. I suppose I just go on playing...

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Murder by the Sea - out at last!

After various vicissitudes, the 4th in the Libby Sarjeant series is now out. I have had the report from my top fan, who always tells me the truth, and despite my misgivings, she really enjoyed it.

I have been researching material for a stand-alone novel, although no-one's asked me for one, but I'm ever hopeful. Hoping that the 5th Libby book will also pass muster, but daren't ask Accent as they are so busy setting up the New York office, which will be releasing the first three Libby books as US editions next year.

I'll try to write more often - promise!

Saturday, May 03, 2008

New Style Blog (thanks to Jan Jones)

Sorry about having to wade through the cover pictures before getting to the nitty gritty, but I don't seem to be able to get the book covers small enough to fit neatly along the side like Mandy did before! Digitally challenged, that's me. And I used to write for Which Computer. Makes you weep doesn't it?

CWA conference

Well, it's over. And after all my worries, it went superbly well and I had a fantastic time. I've received so many compliments my head will hardly go through the door, but I have to say most of the compliments belong to the hotel, the Hythe Imperial. The service, rooms, presentation and food were simply amazing. My four speakers were praised fulsomely, and I was told afterwards that rarely had they speakers of such uniform excellence. So thank you, Will Randall, Simon Hall, Sebastian Lucas and Tom Harper.

Will and Simon are both writers, and they, together with Simon's lovely wife Jess, Tim Bates, who is our rights agent and my second-in-command for the weekend and Hazel, MD of Accent Press and my and Simon's publisher, spent the weekend with me. With the addition on Saturday of Simon's agent Darrin Jewell, we formed the Naughty Table and much drink was taken.

So now I can concentrate on The Book, which is coming along nicely at last.

Oh - and the glass still hasn't been replaced in the back door...

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Gigs, Cats and emails

Judy Astley featured large in my last post, and here she is again. Dd1 (writer-speak for Dear Daughter One - ie the eldest girl - whew!) had a gig at the 100 Club last Monday. As Katie Fforde wanted to see Lou perform (research for a book) we were going together to watch. Big treat for Mummy, going to watch little girl on stage.

Lou's partner Jarrod, also a musician, was in Holland for a mini-tour, so his mother was going to babysit our joint grandson - until, that is, she fell over and broke her hip. You've guessed it. I had to babysit. So MY friends went to see MY daughter without me. And to make matters worse, they had a good time! Ah, well.

Catching up on cats: their first mini-outing into the garden, fairly early in the morning, me in dressing gown. After a few minutes, acting on RSPCA advice, I collected mother cat Godiva and put her inside, shutting the door to keep her in. I then retrieved daughter cat from under a bush, sustaining mild injuries along the way (inevitable with cats, I find), and took her to the back door. The handle fell off.

So there was I - out in the garden with a struggling cat and the door locked fast against me. Visions of walking into town in my dressing gown and slippers and going to the police shop - we don't merit a police station, here - played horrifyingly in my head, and Gloria finally struggled to the floor. I abandoned her and did the only thing possible. Smashed the glass. All over the inside cat.

Luckily the back door is the original with small panes, so only one small one has to be replaced, and this of course is the problem - the whole handle/lock mechanism is also the original, circa 1926, which is why we can't get it back together. Ah well.

Glass swept up, with help from the cats - luckily Godiva had escaped the first fine shower - taped card over the hole and had restorative cup of tea.

The following day, as I went to the bathroom for the morning ablutions, accompanied up the stairs, as usual, by the cats, Gloria did her normal thing of walking unsteadily along the curved bannister rail. And fell off. All the way down the stairs.

She's fine, of course. I am slowly recovering equilibrium. Conference is almost sorted, book is still not going well, and the erstwhile Swain from Switzerland and I are still e-corresponding, and have even had one or two telephone conversations. I do hope his partner doesn't mind...

Monday, March 17, 2008

Laying the Ghost

Now, this is the title of the latest book by my friend Judy Astley, and very good it is too. It is also a very good title for this post, because the book deals with finding - or being found by - people from your past. Which is what has just happened to me, and I'm stunned!

Once upon a time, when I attended Clapham County Grammar School for Girls, a group of us occasionally interacted (!) with a group of boys. Over the years, I lost touch with most of them, girls included, but Brendan stayed a constant. Tall, dark and handsome, he was around to take me for drives, to parties, even to the theatre on one memorable occasion. We last spoke on the phone six months after I'd got together with the late dh, and that was that.

So imagine my surprise, dear reader, when an email turned up in my inbox yesterday morning. He had just joined Friends Reunited, and I'd forgotten I had a brief profile on there. Terribly excited, I paid me money and replied.

This morning I had a long, long email from him remembering all the incidents from our joint past that I also remembered, including some I'd forgotten. As he hasn't got broadband in his flat (in Switzerland) I shall have to wait for him to visit the next internet cafe for the next instalment, but we did spend a lot of this morning when I should have been working emailing back and forth.

Exciting, but is it a dangerous occupation? In her book, Judy comes to the conclusion that it can be, and of course, we all remember the problems Friends Reunited had when it was in its infancy. It's very tempting, especially when drearily over the hill as I am, to fantasise a little, isn't it? And I am...

Bother Judy. I can't use it for a book, now...

Friday, February 29, 2008

Lunches, departing children, Hamlet and the CWA

A little better - only two weeks since the last entry.

In which time, I have been to the Lady Mayoress of Canterbury's Ladies of the District lunch - invitation only, of course! - where the guest of honour was Lady Mountbatten. Very interesting, good food and service in Abode, the former Chaucer Hotel. The following day, to London with daughter Louise, to lunch with Katie Fforde, who wanted to interview Lou about her job, as she has a character in her next book who does the same. We are going to the next of Lou's public gigs in London together for Katie too see how it all works in practice.

This week, daughter Philly has finally moved out, to go and live in Cambridge with fellow band members, and take up a temporary job with the Faculty of Engineering. Hollow laughter. I feel rudderless. All four have now gone, and although I was on my own for a couple of years before, it never felt permanent. This time it does.

Yesterday went to see Nothern Ballet's production of Hamlet which was superb. Very controversial and explicit, sexual and torture scenes depicted with graphic realism. Made me cry at the end, though. Difficult thing for a ballet to do...

Still battling on with the CWA conference. Nearly there as far as bookings go, but now have the ghastly finicky bits to do, as well as paying for my own place. Can't afford it, either, but there you go. Where's my second-in-command? Not heard of in ages.

Murder by the Sea has taken a new turn and I feel somewhat happier with it. It won't bear much relation to the original idea, but you can't have everything...

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valentine's Day

Must try and be more active on this blog, as it was my publisher who wanted me to start it and I don't think it gets read much... Anyway, it's Valentine's Day, and after the postman had knocked to ask me to sign for a parcel for the daughter, and we had commiserated on our lack of Valentine's Cards - although, as he said, he had an awful lot of red envelopes in his sack this morning - I sat down at the computer ready to work (ha!) and promptly rejoined three online dating agencies. This is truly the triumph of hope over experience, though to my horror I realised that on one, which I had joined some three years ago, my email address hadn't changed, and there were several messages from men with good taste to which I'd never replied, because I hadn't known about them.

I do have a friend coming round this evening to drink a lot of red wine with me and watch a couple of old films. I will, meanwhile, be recording Ashes to Ashes and the wonderful Philip Glenister, who is in my own personal top ten.

Now, I really ought to do some work...

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


In time for Valentine's Day, the RNA - Romantic Novelists' Association - have published a list of heroes. This will probably appear on everybody's blog - everybody who reads mine, anyway!

My new cats seem to have been here for ever. They are entertaining and affectionate and so far, not too destructive.

So, here's that list. Please note, it isn't necessarily my choice!

Johnny Depp and Pierce Brosnan make Romantic Novelists’ hearts throb

Members of the Romantic Novelists’ Association have voted Johnny Depp
as the
Number One Perfect Romantic Hero in a poll to mark Valentine’s Day.
According to these authors, a romantic hero should be gorgeous,
sexy, intensely masculine and have a commanding presence.

‘We should be qualified to judge,’ one writer commented. ‘After
all, we
create these heroes on paper every day.’

The top ten male celebrities voted the Perfect Romantic Hero were:

1. Johnny Depp

2. Daniel Craig

3. Sean Bean

4. Richard Armitage

5. Hugh Jackman

6. Colin Firth

7. Alan Rickman

8. Pierce Brosnan

9. George Clooney

10. David Tennant

A second poll, taken by members of the RNA bravely admitting to being
a certain age’, voted for male celebrities over fifty who’ve
‘still got it’.
Remarkable for his appearance on both polls, Pierce Brosnan took the
for the over fifties by a huge margin.

The top ten Over-Fifty Perfect Romantic Heroes were:

1. Pierce Brosnan

2. Harrison Ford

3. Ranulph Fiennes

4. Bill Nighy

5. Liam Neeson

6. Sam Neill

7. Sean Connery

8. Peter O’Toole

9. Clint Eastwood

10. Omar Sharif

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Books, Pantomime and Cats

Yes, yes, I know, I should have updated this months ago. And my new book covers aren't even up!

Since I last posted, Murder in Midwinter was released, the local press made a big deal of it and my local bookshop held a very successful signing for me. How to Write a Pantomime was released, in a rush, the week before Christmas and I was interviewed by several local radio stations around the country by presenters desperate for a Christmas-related item.

After a quietish Christmas with two of the children suffering with various bugs (Miles couldn't eat any dinner and went to sleep in my bed), we resumed rehearsals for Sleeping Beauty, which finally opened on January 21st for its two week run. We played to packed houses,vocal, nay, vociferous, in their appreciation. One of my favourite moments was my Philly, playing Prince Florizel, and her trusty jester, our friend Martin, doing "I'm Gonna Be(500 Miles)". It raised the roof every night. If I'm lucky, someone will have some pictures and I'll post them on here. I believe there will be some on Facebook in The Playhouse Group: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=40835&page=1&id=518275930

After a brief flirtation with the idea of moving (comes up every year) I decided to get a cat instead... No, of course it wasn't quite like that. If I had decided to move, I would have waited to get the cat, but as it was; well, along came the RSPCA inspector, who inspected me and the house, I was then invited to the rehoming centre to choose my cat. Make that cats. Well, there they were, 18 month old Lady Godiva and 9 month old Gloria, her daughter, purring, mewing climbing onto the scratching post to dab my cheek...what would you have done?

It is now Thursday, they have been with me for 48 hours and have taken over the house.

Philly is still living with me, although house and cat-sitting for friends this week, but hopes to be moving to Cambridge very soon. Miles and Clare are in New Zealand visiting family, having first been to Oz to do the family thing there, and Leo is still enjoying Manchester. He made my year so far by turning up on the last night of the panto as a surprise for Philly and me. I disgraced myself in the middle of a packed bar and shed a few tears. Our lovely (pregnant) Sleeping Beauty, Gemma, already distraught at the thought of the last night, joined me.

So there we are. I'm now managing to get on with Murder by the Sea, due out in August, and trying to get my head round the upcoming CWA conference, of which I am the extremely reluctant organiser. Very tempted not to go myself and let them get on with it. Sigh. Also, despite saying, as I always do, "I'm never doing panto again", I'm now toying with Jack and the Beanstalk, and wondering whether I could get it written in the next few weeks...