Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Out with the old - in with the new

Well, it's goodbye 2014 (I've only just got used to writing that and now it's going to change again) and hello 2015.

Life chez Cookman goes along much as usual, except that my youngest son is back home again. As he is a writer this is quite nice, and we've actually had some plot busting sessions, though sadly all his, not mine. Murder In The Blood is struggling along, and I have three months in which to complete it. Murder At Mallowan Manor did really well in its pre-order state on Amazon, staying at number one in the Cosy charts and British Detectives for ages.  It's still 3 and 4 in those charts, which is lovely. I did laugh at the review that, while giving it one star, complained that it "really IS a short story"!

After Murder In The Blood I shall start work on Murder En Pointe, which, as you might imagine, has a ballet theme, which I think will be out towards the end of the year. But alongside this fairly heavy work load, I'm also thinking about other projects. I asked my newsletter and blog readers some time ago about what they would like to read in a new series, and the consensus was still an amateur sleuth and possibly 1960s, which my children are convinced I could write about because I was alive then.

However, being a mad fan of the Golden Age detective stories and authors, and having an enviable (possibly) collection of original editions, my thoughts have been turning in that direction. I had also thought of a plot line that would fit, and finally, the new incarnation of Mapp and Lucia on BBC television has made me quite excited. The poor 1960s series, (with plots already worked out by my elder son!) looks as though it will go on the back burner, and I'll see if I can if those plots could fit into the new one.  I'd be very pleased to have your comments.

Meanwhile, I've been attending panto rehearsals in my mentoring role, and it's almost made me feel I'd like to direct again. But the work involved is so tiring, I might think again…

So have a good new year, keep buying books - not just mine! - and stay healthy.

Lesley xxx

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Launch of Murder Out Of Tune and news

Well, Murder Out Of Tune was well and truly launched.

Three of my children attended  - and yes, the middle one was holding a book, and the one on the left did it on purpose.  The presentation is for downloading 200,000 e-books, the group shot is part of the crowd, and finally, that is me before the wine kicked in! The ebook stayed at number one in its categories for nearly three weeks, which is pretty exciting, and is still riding quite high, I'm pleased to say.

In other news, the short story which was going to be in an anthology is now going to be released on its own - ebook only - on December 15th and is called Murder At Mallowan Manor. I shall post a cover picture when I can work out how to get the pictures and text where I want them!

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Murder Out Of Tune and other stuff

 Hello all!
At last, after many vicissitudes like the resignation of my editor in the middle of the final edits, Murder Out Of Tune has emerged as an ebook today. The Kindle link is here Murder Out of Tune - A Libby Sarjeant Murder Mystery eBook: Lesley Cookman: Kindle Store 

It went straight to number 5 in the Amazon Cosy Crime chart and 29 in the British Detectives, which was pleasing to wake up to. It will be out as a print edition at the end of the month, and I'm having a little launch party here in my home town in a tiny micro pub, where my local bookshop will be selling books. (Yes, we still have a bookshop!) The MD of Accent Press is coming all the way from Wales, most of the children will be there, maybe a couple of fellow writers and an industry professional or two, but mainly friends and family to have a knees up. It's on a school night, so an early one, but I have no doubt that wine will be taken long into the evening by the boss and me!
I have just got back from Adrasan in Turkey once again, but as the person I travel with fell on the first morning and, it turns out, cracked her ankle, I spent most of the time around the hotel, except when my other friends kidnapped me to go on boat trips. This is me on one of them.

I also wrote the first brief chapter of Murder In The Blood, which is set in a fictional village in Turkey and will be out next May. This appears at the end of Murder Out of Tune, but before that, there will be a Christmas Short Story in a Christmas anthology from Accent Press, which may well come out on its own, too. I'll keep you posted.
Meanwhile, life goes on. Both the younger children have been on holiday in the States - not together! - and the eldest daughter is soon to move back here, which may mean I get called upon to do more babysitting. I am not a natural grandmother, so I'm viewing this with mixed feelings. This same eldest daughter has been recording an album over the past few months with fellow musicians, so I shall be boasting about that in a future newsletter. And no - it isn't pop! So far, her career has been big band and swing, spanning the thirties, forties and early fifties. She leaves the modern stuff to her three siblings, although there are some modern-ish tracks on this new album.
I am due to start my "mentoring" of a brand new panto director at our local theatre in the next couple of weeks, although I don't think he'll need it. I might need to curb his enthusiasm a bit and remind him it isn't the London Palladium.
Have a good month.
Lesley x

Monday, June 16, 2014

Adrasan again, a writing retreat, and other stuff

Well, I'm back. Flew out to Turkey on May 29th and arrived back home late last night.

Last year, I blogged about Adrasan here: so I shan't bother to describe it again. It's still beautiful, but there are dark rumours about the Village Plan. This could ruin the charm the bay has for those of us who go there for the peace and quiet, and attract major investment which could well drive the locals out of business. I personally think the two hour journey through the mountains from Antalya airport will put people off - you REALLY have to want to go there!

However, this holiday was lovely, and I've booked again for September, despite the government raising the duty on alcohol by 12.5%. A major point for me, as I support the hotel's finances with my consumption of wine at the bar. Over the 18 days, we went on five boat trips, one of which was to Phaselis,
very well preserved Roman Ruins with a natural harbour. This trip was a birthday trip for a friend, and hugely enjoyable. Another one was also a birthday trip for a restaurant owning friend, who had to provide his own cake.

But most of the time, it's time spent by the pool, (although we could do with more shade..)
on the beach, eating, or drinking at the bar.
These pictures are from last year, but it's the same people, the same places and even the same clothes. We're terribly predictable. (Oh, and I might look it, but I actually WASN'T pregnant...)

The On Hotel is a lovely place, as is Adrasan, as you can see from both the posts. But don't try and book in early June or September. It will be FULL. Of us. But it has been suggested we pay a visit over winter or spring, and I write very well, there. So, writing retreat, anyone? I hear it's lovely in March...

In other news, I am in the process of signing contracts for three more Libby Sarjeant books after the publication of Murder Out Of Tune next October, the book I've been writing while I was away. I have also contributed a short story to an Accent Press summer anthology, about which I'll tell you when I have more details. Meanwhile, it's back to the book, the washing and the rather jungly garden

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake

A friend and I went to see Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake on Tuesday at The Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury. It seems incredible that this is eighteen years old; when I first heard the rumblings about the "All Male" version of Swan Lake I was an impoverished wife and mother with four children still at home, and much as I wanted to, the opportunity to see it never came my way.

Finally, with the sale of ebooks cushioning the worst of the impoverishments, and the production coming to my local theatre - I made it! And was it worth it! It is erroneously described as "All Male", there is a wonderful ensemble of gorgeous young women, too, it is simply the swans who are all male - and what swans they are. Not a pointe or a tutu in sight. Of course, I'd seen pictures and clips of them over the years, so I did know what to expect to a degree, but what I didn't expect was the sheer comedy in Act One. It isn't often I (or anybody else) laughs at ballet - indeed if you're talking traditional ballet you would probably be frozen out of the auditorium. The Northern Ballet, of whom I am very fond, provide lighter moments, and I frequently spend a whole evening in their company with a smile on my face, but Swan Lake actually makes you laugh.

Once Act Two is underway with the Prince stumbling into the swans' world, the comedy is lessened, obviously, but the emotional intensity is ratcheted up. And Act Three had me on the edge of my seat and holding my breath. And finally - the big finish. Yes, dear Reader - I cried. Properly. I felt a complete idiot until I noticed the lady next to me was surreptitiously putting away a handkerchief.

It's a wonderful company, and it seems wrong to pick anyone out, but I can't help it. Liam Mower as the Prince was so exactly right, and such a good actor - we knew what was in his head and what he was going through. Sadly, he isn't in the picture above. But The Swan is. THE Swan. Danced on Tuesday by Jonathan Ollivier, that swan has been swooping round  my head ever since. I've found it rare that a dancer is equally convincing in both roles in this ballet, but Ollivier manages that with bells on. I've said - often - I don't ever want to see the traditional Swan Lake again, but I could also say I don't want to see anyone else dance the Swan. He was magnificent. However, other Swans are available...

In case anyone reading this doesn't know all about it, I shan't give away any of the details. The friend I was with, although a ballet fan, didn't, to my surprise, know anything about the original Swan Lake, and found the story difficult to follow. And it didn't have the same effect on him as it did on me, but there, I'm an emotional old cow.

I am now trying to find other New Adventures productions to track down, and if I could, I would have gone to The Marlowe every day this week. Oh, and I can't stop without mentioning the Cygnets...

Go on - try and see it. You know you want to.

Saturday, May 03, 2014

My Writing Process

My friend Louise Marley tagged me to take part in this blog ramble. She writes romantic suspense, and I love her books. You can read about her writing process on her own blog here.

So here are the questions I’m supposed to answer:

What am I working on?

The answer is always the same, whenever you ask me! It’s always “the next book” and as I write a series, it’s always the next Libby Sarjeant book. I don’t mind discussing it with close family and my editor, but no-one else, and no-one sees it until I send it to Bob (aka Dear Ed). I hate each book as I’m writing it, and by the end of each one think it’s the worst one EVAH!

Which brings me to – why do I write?

Gawd knows! I think it’s in the DNA. Like most writers I know I started writing my own stories when I was a child and just carried on. I slipped seamlessly into writing features for the trade press when I had my children, and could do it from home. One of my poor babies was dragged in her pushchair to such diverse locations as Simpsons in the Strand (sports department!) and the Cambridge Science Park. Then, as a vaguely trained actor, I began writing (and directing and performing in – try and keep me away) pantomimes, and even a musical, based on old Music Hall songs. The pantomimes are still being  performed all over the country, I’m happy to say, and pay for the annual hols. Then I fell over the short story market and finally into novels, my first and last love. And I write what I first read, starting at the age of nine – mystery novels.

How does my writing process work?

Oh, lordy, lordy. Um. To tell the truth, it’s very unromantic. These days, my publishers will ask me for a title for the “next one”. This will be well before “this one” is finished. So between us (publisher, editor, me and my eldest son – and occasionally the sales director) we come up with a new “Murder...” Then I try and find something to fit, and when I send “this one” to Dear Ed, I have to rush through a first chapter to go at the end as a taster. Eldest son has lots of ideas for settings and situations, and for some reason – because he isn’t actually the demographic – understands the books and the concept. So I’ll take one of his ideas and run – well, waddle – with it. As I write I’ll jot things down in a notebook which sits beside the computer, or in a Word document I keep open alongside the book itself. There is no plan, and I frequently tie myself up in knots, but my argument is: you can’t plan life, can you? It always throws up the unexpected. I’m quite likely to change the murderer at the last minute, so don’t believe anyone who says they spotted it right from the beginning. If they did, they’d better start writing the books – they know more about it than I do.

How do my stories differ from others in their genre?

They don’t really. Except that mine are proper novel length, and these days a lot of so called “Cosy” crime stories are barely novellas. I still say I write Murder Mysteries, but “Cosy” has become the accepted designation, which I dislike as much as my friends who write romantic comedy disliked “Chick-Lit”. My books follow the Golden Age Detective Authors and their amateur detectives, although it is so much more difficult these days to be an amateur! Luckily, most of my readers are willing to suspend their disbelief.

And that’s that. Next, I’m tagging the terrific writer Jan Jones. She and I have been friends for a long time, and she writes wonderful books. Her debut novel Stage By Stage is still one of the best books I’ve read, and her most recent release, Fairlights, a delight for readers who enjoy Mary Stewart.   

Friday, April 11, 2014

Murder In A Different Place is out today!

It's finally out! The ebook is published today, the print version will be out on May 15th. I've been having an online launch with virtual champagne and bacon rolls. At the last minute the copy editor found a mistake I'd made which would have brought Indignant of Tunbridge Wells out in spots, but he and my lovely editor corrected it immediately. See, this is why I like being traditionally rather than self published! So here is the link to the British Amazon site
And here is the one for US readers:

I hope you all enjoy it. I've already started the next one, Murder Out of Tune, which will see the light of day in October.

Monday, March 17, 2014

A Different Place is very near - and I laid the ghost

Murder In A Different Place is very close to being unleashed onto the public. It will be out as an ebook at the beginning of April, with luck and a following wind, and is on schedule to be released in print at the beginning of May. It is the thirteenth in the Libby Sarjeant series, and you may or may not be pleased to know that the first chapter of the fourteenth (and possibly, even the cover) will be in the back.

The other part of the title of this post refers to a post from March 2008 in which I talked about having an old boyfriend find me on the internet. Laying The Ghost We emailed, talked on the telephone and eventually met up. And I remembered what a pain he'd been...

Monday, January 13, 2014

My Writing Process Blog Tour and a Happy New Year!

A very Happy New Year to all. Sorry I've not been around much, but Christmas, panto...lots on! However, last week I was asked by a friend, Jane Jackson,  to take part in a Writing Process Blog Tour, so here it is.

What am I working on?

Currently the thirteenth in the Libby Sarjeant series of mystery novels.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

It fits very firmly into what the US dubbed "cosy" mystery series, which loosely follow in the footsteps of the Golden Age Amateur Detective novels. There is a proliferation of series in the US - Cat Mysteries, Quilting Mysteries, Coffee Shop Mysteries, Shopping Mall Mysteries - the list is endless. My Libby series is just about a nosy middle aged woman and her friends who somehow get involved in the odd murder - suspend disbelief here!

Why do I write what I do?

I started reading my parents' library of detective novels when I was nine, at the same time my mother bought me a copy of Jane Eyre which I read in three days. I was an only child of working parents - I didn't have much else to do! Detective fiction remained my favourite, apart from an excursion into writing romance, which was not my forte.

How does my writing process work?

Lordy, lordy - I have no idea! These days it's more finding another murder in a vaguely probable setting, then trying to fit my regular characters round it. I often don't know murderer or murderee when I start, which paints me into corners sometimes, but I manage to wriggle out of it - or Libby does. I write slowly at first, speeding up as the deadline approaches - which is right now! This is the book which will be out in spring: Murder In A Different Place

This is the link to Jane's blog last week: