Tuesday, December 27, 2011

New Year, new contracts

I was gratified to see that several people with whom I exchange Christmas Cards, especially Mary, Marian and Susan (you know who you are) keep up with the family via this blog, so I must try and keep it slightly more up to date.

My big news is that just before Christmas my publishers offered me a new three book deal (that's after Murder By Magic) with all the books going into B format and being re-jacketed! That includes the back list, so we're hoping to see a boost in back list sales, too. So that's good - I can eat and pay the bills for another three years. On the downside, I have to come up with new blurbs for all the back list and (which I'm flattered about) suggestions for the covers. They've all been re-jacketed once already, so I'm a bit stumped on that one.

Phillipa arrived back in the country on December 4th and has been camping out here in between visits to Bristol, Brighton and Saffron Walden. She returns to the Disney Dream on January 7th (I think). Leo has been here since last Friday and returns to Manchester tomorrow (Wednesday). Miles, who lives round the corner, has been here every day, and Lou, Jarrod and the children joined us yesterday. My house is really not big enough! Jarrod's other daughter and his dad joined us in the afternoon, so it was hanging off the rafters time. As it will be tonight, when I hold my annual what-used-to-be-called-Leftovers party. I never quite know who's coming, and one year there were only about eight of us until midnight when the hoards descended after the pub. Note to anyone who might read this who may be coming: please don't do it again!

May I take this opportunity to wish all readers and followers of the blog a very happy and hopefully prosperous new year - and let me know when you've you've read it! (There is a comments box, you know...) See you in 2012.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Dating Direct

A long time ago I joined Dating Direct to see if there was anyone in the world who might just be a possible soulmate for me. I soon discovered there wasn't. But I wanted to use online dating in the Libby Sarjeant book I'm currently writing, Libby number ten, Murder by Magic.

So I rejoined, under a different onscreen name. Not that anyone would remember the original, it was too long ago! A friend, Danuta Kean talked me through my personal ad and suggested that I'd joined the wrong website, but I couldn't afford to pay for another subscription, so I left a free ad on the slightly more upmarket site - which has produced nothing - and carried on waiting for someone to turn up on Dating Direct. I was as honest about me as could be, as I didn't want to be using the site under false pretences, but I've decided that the men who appear on the site in my preferred age range (OK - elderly!) are completely deluded.

Now, would a young (!) woman of 50 really want to start a relationship with a wrinkled, balding man of 65? If Sean Connery was on the market it would be a different matter, but he isn't. But that's what most of these men want. And there are men who are recently separated, divorced or widowed. No - way too soon! "I lost my wife last year after thirtyfive years and think it's time to start meeting other women." In order to get the shirts washed and the dinners cooked, perhaps?

I have to be honest, the fact that I haven't found anyone I would even share a drink with is matched by the lack of interest in my own profile. Oh, yes, a lot of people view it, but no-one has yet got in touch. (No, I'm still pedant enough not to use "contact" as a verb.) But - this is not for real. And thank goodness. Because do I actually want someone else in my life? To moan about my cavalier attitude to housework, meals and television? Let's face it - no. But I really would like to know what prompts some men to be so unrealistic in their search for that elusive soulmate. Any ideas? I'd really like to know.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Launch of Murder At The Manor

Well, it finally escaped. Murder At The Manor is now available in a bookshop near you. Possibly. And on Amazon. Probably. Not that I have my author copies yet, but you can't have everything. Apparently there was a problem with the bar-code. Which makes me feel like a product rather than an author.

To launch it, I sent out hundreds of invitations on Facebook and Twitter, as I did for the last book, Murder To Music, and as I expect I shall for the next one, Murder By Magic. Lots of people popped in to say hello and congratulations, have a glass of virtual fizz and a piece of cake. The canapes went down well, too. Last Saturday, coincidentally, I was the guest of the Whitstable Book Club at their 25th Anniversary celebration, which fitted in nicely. I was given champagne, wine, lunch and a book token, just for burbling on about books for an hour. Also a cupcake, made by a friend of mine, Val Tilley, in home made cake cases made of that Penguin Titles wrapping paper, and surmounted by a tiny little book with the dates "1986 - 2011" on the front in gold. I have taken a picture, but can't manage to download it, technically challenged as I am.

I also did the infamous "Blog Tour", which means being guest blogger on other people's blogs or being interviewed on their blogs. My favourite is the Monty and Rosie Blog which is also going to appear permanently on my website. For some reason, Blogger is not publishing the link, although I have done it just as they ask! It's the blog home of my friend Susan Alison, who created the lovely map which now appears in the front of every book and on my website. I'd love you to take a look and tell Susan how much you like it.

And so, onwards and upwards. Next up, Murder By Magic, available next June. I am currently battling with it, having already discovered I'd made a mistake about the murder method. Good job I found out now - right at the beginning, rather than...shudder.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Success for Rhythmix!!!

I know hardly anybody read my blog yesterday, but I'd just like to say that the charity won, and my friend Russell, who is the regional co-ordinator, has been all over the radio this morning. Go Russ and Rhythmix.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A plea for compassion and sense

This press release has come out today. A friend of mine works for this charity, and it has already done them some damage. I urge all my followers (Hello? Anyone out there?) to make their feelings known. (If they're the right feelings, of course!)

On 23 September 2011, Simco (a company owned in large part by Simon Cowell) lodged an application in Europe to trademark the name "Rhythmix" for use by the programme X Factor. At the time of lodging that application, X Factor and Simco were fully aware that "Rhythmix" was an existing trademarked name of a music charity that works with vulnerable young people. Rather than seeking any discussion with the Charity, considering any of the moral implications of their actions, or checking with the Charity whether the pursuit of an exclusive trademark might have any negative impact on the activities of the Charity, Simco and their legal representatives sought a way to use the law to circumvent the trademark of the Charity.

The two questions for X Factor, ITV, Syco, Simco, Freemantle and Talkback Thames are simple:

1. You knew it was a music charity working with very vulnerable young people, so why did you try to take the name, aggressively seeking to limit the use of the name by the Charity by lodging applications to grant you the exclusive right to record, create promotional items and even use the word in printed media?

2. If you thought it wasn't going to be a problem, now you know it is. Professional people who work in this field are telling you it is. The media are telling you it is. The public are telling you it is. Why have you so far failed to make a public statement clearly laying out your reasons why you need to keep the name.... or why do you not simply change the name?

On the 14th October, Simco and the other parties connected to the show claimed to be having an urgent meeting to deal with this and that they would come back to the Charity on or about 17th October. This morning (24th October), the Charity have received another holding letter from legal representatives for the programme, claiming to need further time to consider their position.

Rhythmix the music charity feel that it is a reasonable supposition that instead of dealing with this promptly and reasonably the various parties connected to the programme are intent on delaying discussions about this matter until either a) the group are removed from the show by the audience or b) Simco's claim to the trademark is granted whilst the parties are supposedly discussing what to do about it. Unfortunately, this tactic by Simco means that the Charity has no option other than to pursue the legal means available to it to object to their trademark application, at a financially unjustifiable cost that Simco are fully aware of but refuse to act to mitigate.

There has been some suggestion across social media that the Charity should regard this situation as a publicity opportunity, with some fans of the programme stating that the charity should be grateful for the publicity being given to it by X Factor. Without going into the inappropriateness of the publicity offered by a connection to X Factor for a music charity that works with very vulnerable young people we would draw everybody’s attention to the fact that X Factor and Simco have not actually offered one single publicity opportunity at all to the charity and that all the publicity and good will that has been generated to date has been created by independent people through the press, media, social media and public support. Awareness and publicity for this issue is being spread because the public think it's wrong. The matter was raised on the ITV programme Xtra Factor on 23 October by the band Rizzle Kicks, and was immediately covered up by the presenters and floor managers:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UMnxFavfMFE

The Nirvana for Xmas no 1 campaign (http://www.facebook.com/nirvanaforno1) was created in response to Simco's actions. It is fast approaching 60,000 likes. The Rhythmix Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/RhythmixMusicCharity) page has soared to over 2k likes. A private group of social media gurus and online activists (Raging for Rhythmix - http://www.facebook.com/groups/150197561745614/) is in direct contact with the charity and helping Rhythmix on a number of fronts.

If you want to support Rhythmix, and you haven’t already done so please

1) Share this statement

2) Go to our facebook and like us - http://www.facebook.com/RhythmixMusicCharity

3) Follow us on Twitter - http://twitter.com/RhythmixMusic and get tweeting - anything that includes our @RhythmixMusic #Rhythmix #xfactor #changethename

4) Please donate some money to help us fight this - any money not used in the legal battle will be used to do what we do everyday - help vulnerable young people make music - http://fb.me/100C1MbNq

5) Join Raging for Rhythmix and help the Charity protect it's identity:http://www.facebook.com/groups/150197561745614/

The Charity wants to put it on record that we wish Jesy, Perrie, Leigh Ann and Jade the very best of luck and hope they do well under a new name. Could we please ask fans of the four and supporters of any pro-charity campaign to respect the fact that Rhythmix is a charity that works almost exclusively with children and young people when making comments.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Fifteen minutes of fame

Recently, I have had a spate of publicity. First, it was Kent Life, then it was Writer's Forum and finally the Daily Express. Sorry, Blogger doesn't seem to be letting me post links. The Daily Express feature was to tie in with a series coming to BBC about Pan Am air stewardesses in the 1960s. Although I was a BOAC stewardess, they wanted me, too. And as a result of that, The One Show got in touch, filmed me on Tuesday and showed the interview last night, Wednesday 12th October, currently available on iplayer. Unfortunately, they didn't mention the fact that I wrote books, which was really why I said I'd do it, although the Express, bless them, called me a "bestselling novelist". As publisher Hazel said, I am Accent Press's best selling novelist, so not exactly a lie!

Now open to offers of appearances from all TV channels. NO? Oh, well. At least I'm doing the Adderbury Crime Festival on Saturday.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Goodbye Manor, Hello Magic

I've finally sent off Murder at The Manor to my patient editor, and now await revisions. Now I have to start Murder By Magic which is due to be delivered in January, so not long. I've decided I really must plan this one, instead of flying into the mist.

Added to this, I also accepted an assignment to do a report on a new reader's ts (for money, not for free!), which I found extremely difficult, and a contracted novella. After completing the report and trying for ten days accompanied by two boomerang migraines, I gave in and asked to be excused from the contract for the novella, which was not in a genre I have ever considered before. I shouldn't have accepted in the first place, knowing I wasn't comfortable with the content, but there were royalties for print, ebook and audio dangled in front of my eyes.

Meanwhile, third child Phillipa is temporarily home, flitting in and out like an elongated butterfly before returning to the Caribbean to entertain the troops - sorry, the Americans. And on Saturday and Sunday, I will once more don the Pearlies and be off to the Faversham Hop Festival.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Feedback required

This photograph is of a lovely young lady called Hannah Rogers and me. And this is the press release that went out with it:

" Here We Are Again ‘‘ As Deputy Head Brings to school Her Childhood Play by Local Author

Whitstable author, Lesley Cookman, was guest of honour as Lorenden Preparatory School revived her play for their end-of-term production.

Hannah Rogers, Deputy Head of Lorenden, in Painter's Forstal, Faversham, fondly remembered the play " Here We Are Again,'' about wartime hop pickers in Kent, from her own school days as a pupil at Whitstable County Junior School.

Hannah said: "As the children have been studying World War II this term it sprang to mind, and so I got in contact with Lesley to ask if we could borrow the script."

Lesley said: " I was very honoured when Hannah, who had been in the original production as a child of 11 asked if I still had the script, and could she use it for a production at Lorenden. When I actually came to see it, I was overwhelmed. The beautiful ration book programme, the shining letters above the stage, the posters - all had me quite emotional before they started, and then - well! I had a lump in my throat all the way through, and I can honestly say I've never felt so proud. And the presentation of a completely unexpected bouquet was the icing on the cake."

It's the tradition at Lorenden to invite local friends from the community to watch the children perform the summer musical, though we don't usually have them writing the script as well! '' Said Hannah.

Now to something else on which I really do want feedback. Recently on the RNA members email group we've been discussing self promotion and social networking. These days, publishers, especially small publishers, have very little to spend on marketing and promotion unless the author is a bestseller. RNA president (and friend of mine!) Katie Fforde is one of these, as is another friend, Jill Mansell. Their books go straight into the supermarket and straight into the charts, something most of the rest of us can only dream about.

So we get our internet presence. I was lucky in that before the Libby books started, I already had a website, thanks to Brian, who was one of the very first Apple trainers (Apple Macintosh, as they were quaintly known then, not Cox's Orange Pippin) in this country over twenty years ago, so we, as a family, were ahead of the game as far as t'internet was concerned.

But it was at the suggestion of my publishers that I joined Facebook, and subsequently Twitter, and as far as I remember, started this blog. Just to prove how timewasting they all are, I just went back to the beginning to see when that was (October 2006) and ended up reading several old posts.

What we all want to know is: is all this social networking helping our sales? Do people get fed up with seeing our statuses (stati?) complaining about deadlines, shopping, cats etc? And do they mind if we say "Look! I've got a book out today!"? I have to say my online launch of the last Libby went really well and shoved my launch day sales at Amazon right up the lists, but I don't do it very often.

If I see constant promotion on Twitter and Facebook I unfriend or unfollow. What we all want to know is do readers also find that a turn off, and do readers enjoy seeing our silly little status posts? I shall post this on Facebook and Twitter, and I really, really want feedback. This will probably be shooting myself in the foot, but never mind.

Please post a comment wherever you read this - if you do, of course. Or if you have. If you haven't I'm not actually talking to you, am I? Oh, dear.

Monday, July 18, 2011

A Will To Love

The second Rosina Lesley book is out and people I know are downloading it. This is Scary. It was actually quite exciting to attend the Romantic Novelists' Association conference last weekend as a bono fido romance author, and the buzz - and a lot of the sessions - were about epublishing, so I fitted right in. Met a lot of old friends and some new ones and should have come home fired up, but instead had chronic conference lag. However, I'm back to schedule now, and with a bit of luck and the traditional following wind I should get Murder at The Manor in on time.

I was extremely flattered over the weekend to be asked to become a reader for a literary advisory service. Now, there are a proliferating number of these, but this particular one is one of the originals and extremely well respected. I feel as if I've arrived! I've also been asked to write a piece for a magazine and a guest blog on a US Mystery blog. (No, the blog's not a mystery - it's about mysteries. Get a grip.)

In a future blog I will tell you all about another nice thing that happened - not earth shattering, but quite lovely.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Metamorphosis and Boat Trips

OK, here it is: the first Rosina Lesley to be published. The first review, on a US review site more used to reviewing erotica, is a bit odd, saying that she didn't like the main characters but loved the book ?!?!?! I think it's because they're 80s characters and don't behave the same as the current heroes and heroines do. You wouldn't believe there was such a difference in such a short time, would you?

In other news, I am doing a talk with fellow author Nina Bell in Faversham tomorrow on How To Get Published, for the very first Faversham Festival. This is not the Faversham Hop Festival, in which I take part every year, but a new venture with dozens of different events.

And, of course, I've been back to Turkey. No, I couldn't afford it, but I'd paid for the flight in January and I couldn't waste it, could I? While there we watched the perfect Lunar Eclipse - on the beach with wine in hand, brilliant - and had the boat trip from hell. Well, it wasn't really, but it was jolly exciting. George and Timmy would have loved it - Ann wouldn't.

The boats would never pass Elf'n'safety in the UK, but we enjoy them. The "Captains" all do the cooking - fresh fish, salad and the best chips in the world on Hassan's little boat, which was the one we were on. And he heard that the wind had blown up in our home bay while we were lunching in another one, so we waited as long as we could before setting off home. And then we hit the wind.

Have you seen those programmes of deep sea fishing where the boats dive 10 feet down into the waves and a 10 foot wave then crashes over them? Without lifebelts? Yep - that was it. At first it was quite exciting, until we were all soaked, so was everything on board and we were hanging on for dear life. How no-one went over I've no idea. Then, of course, we couldn't get into harbour and had to get to a little cove where we could get fairly near the shore and yes - we waded. And THEN, we had to climb up a cliff. Now remember - I have arthritis and osteoporosis. Cliff climbing in sandals is not something I do regularly.

Luckily I had a real life hero in friend Louise's husband Mike, who hauled me up without accident. I kept thanking my lucky stars I'd got decent travel insurance.

Hassan had called ahead and got the mini-market owner, Kadir, whom we all knew, to come along and pick us up at the top of the cliff. I should think he had to clean the vehicle inside and out afterwards.

Apart from that, the holiday was most enjoyable as usual, and on the last day I got an email from the panto publishers saying my royalties from them had been paid into my account, so holiday was paid for. Relief.

Also managed 1000 words a day while out there of next Libby book, so felt very self-righteous. Will update with cover of second Rosina book soon...

Monday, May 30, 2011

Romantic News

No, I haven't suddenly met the man of my dreams. At my age that's a little unlikely, wouldn't you say?

No - but after years of belonging to the Romantic Novelists' Association under false colours, I am finally to be published in Romance! Fancy that. Accent Press have the terrifically successful Xcite imprint which sells - ahem - erotic fiction. Lots of anthologies of every sort of eroticism you can think of: http://www.erotica-romance-ebooks.com/ but they have now started selling romantic novels, too. And they've bought two of my old ones! I had to go through them and replace "stereo" with "ipod" etc, but one of them has now been edited and I read the final draft on my Kindle yesterday. Very odd, reading my own book on my Kindle. I'm using the pen name Rosina Lesley, which is my own name, of course, but very much more romantic than Lesley Cookman.

Felt very embarrassed, as I've known the Xcite editor for some years now in real life, but apparently I didn't disgrace myself. This one, called Running Away, will be out in time for the Romantic Novelists' Association conference in July, at which I shall be taking part in a panel, so I shall spend the weekend with a split personality.

As soon as I have a cover, I shall put it up to be sniggered over.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Murder to Music launch at the London Book Fair

I had a terrific day at the London Book Fair with my publisher, Hazel Cushion of Accent Press. There were little bags with the picture of the Murder to Music cover on them containing copies of the book, a book mark and an Accent catalogue, which were given away to interested bystanders (whether they wanted them or not!) and I got happy hand ache signing. On the wall behind me was a huge poster of all my covers, so I felt like a star.

I've had a mini blog tour over the past few days, and if you haven't anything better to do, here are the links:
http://itsacrime.typepad.com/ A guest blog on the It's A Crime site.
http://forbookssake.net/2011/04/08/five-minute-friday-lesley-cookman/ Mini interview on the For Books' Sake site
http://www.janicehortonwriter.blogspot.com/ Interview on writer Janice Horton's blog
http://writerschecklist.blogspot.com/ Interview on writer Maureen Vincent-Northam's blog
http://stuartaken.blogspot.com/ Interview on writer Stuart Aken's blog

There are another couple to come, including a Skype interview - scary. And I had a virtual launch on Facebook, which was huge fun and I had so many lovely people raising virtual glasses of fizz. So all-in-all, the best launch day I've had. And thank you to Hazel and Accent for continuing to publish me - there are two more in the pipeline!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The gentle Face of Crime

Recently, crime writer Catherine Aird, author of the Calleshire series, starring Sloan and Crosby, hosted a lunch for four other gentle, modest ladies of a certain age. They were Amy Myers, author of the Marsh and Daughter series and the new Jack Colby series (among others), Susan Moody, author of the Penny Wanawake and Cassandra Swann series (among others) Joan Lock, author of the Detective Inspector Ernest Best series (among others) and me. Amy's husband, Jim, took the picture and is very involved in the new Jack Colby series. To look at us, you'd never think we were such a murderous lot, would you?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Once more unto the blog, my friends

Very late, of course.

After a frantic six weeks after Christmas I managed to send Murder to Music off to the publishers, from whom I'm expecting a mass of revisions any day.

Not much to report apart from that. I have already got the outline of the next due out in November and as yet untitled, and have a signing lined up in Tunbridge Wells on April 23rd at Waterstones, an author workshop at The Faversham Festival sometime in June, and I shall be guest of honour at a local book group's 25th anniversary in November.

I'm also hoping to organise a blog tour to promote Murder to Music, so if anyone reads this and would like me to pop in, let me know!