Monday, November 28, 2016

Update on The Back and Associated Problems

The Culprit

It is now almost four weeks since the cat tried to  kill me. After my last blog post, the surgery decided to send out another paramedic, and the result was a trip to hospital, driven by Lou, for Xrays. And a ride in a wheelchair! Phone call the following day from one of the doctors at the surgery (my own was on leave) to tell me "Sorry, Mrs Cookman, I'm afraid you have a fracture."

Since then, Miles has bought me a stick and I have only been able to attend one of the functions I was supposed to attend. Haven't been able to audition for the big production next year, nor go to the First Night performance and party of my friend Dr Evadne Hinge. My Big Launch Party in Wales on Thursday has had to be postponed.

I am very pleased Louise has offered to "do" Christmas at her house again, because I'd never lift the turkey out of the oven, and I'm even more pleased that I can do my present shopping online. But there are little lessons I learn every day. Some I can't write about, having due respect for my readers' sensibilities, but the biggest ones are: don't try and cut your medication too drastically and when you're feeling better, don't do silly things like changing the bed on your own. That sent me back to the sofa and the painkillers with a vengeance.

Today, in a final admission of weakness, Miles is coming round to move the office computer and the lovely big office chair which currently lives in the conservatory into the kitchen. I will be able to work.

Murder On The Run will be out on Thursday, and my author copies arrived last Friday. Some things are normal!

Monday, November 07, 2016

What I've learnt since damaging my back - a cautionary tale.

Last Tuesday, 1st November, I went to lunch and the theatre to see The Woman In Black with some friends. Thoroughly enjoyed myself, and it was just as well. That evening, on my way to bed, I was trying to shut the cats into the kitchen when one of them - the naughtier one, Lady Godiva - decided to have a game of hide and seek. Now both my sons have said since "How can you fall over a cat?" I put it to every cat owner I know: "How CAN'T you?"

I fell - and badly. Hit my head on the sink (butler) on the way down and landed on my right hip. It didn't occur to me at the time that I was - er - getting on a bit  and hips are a bit dodgy, especially with mild osteoporosis. I managed - somehow - to get to my feet and get upstairs to bed, aware that I was more or less in agony all over. By the morning I felt as though - well, actually, I don't know. I had to phone my poor son Miles to come and get me up - after all, the loo waits for no one. Luckily he lives round the corner. He stayed all day, collected a prescription for me (I phoned the doctor) cooked me dinner and generally made sure I was all right.

The following morning was very little better, and to my shame, I called daughter Louise in tears. She appeared very quickly (good job they are both musicians and not working during the day) and was there to let in the paramedic (yes, really) attached to our local GP practice who arrived to assess me. Torn back muscles is the diagnosis - and I was lucky.

So, what have I learnt? I have learnt that my children are wonderful (as if I didn't know that already) and that Facebook is terrific for keeping the immobilised in touch with the world. My friends have had to put up with inane postings every five minutes. I have also learnt that advice is freely given and not always appropriate, but nevertheless appreciated. My friend Suzanne and I both already knew this, as migraine sufferers we have received much well meaning advice in the past.

The other things I have learnt have been more practical. I regularly go and have my nails painted with gel polish, which does not respond well to ordinary polish remover. And I currently cannot go and have it removed, with the consequence that my nails look quite interesting at present. I cannot stand, so I find it difficult to cook anything - and peeling potatoes! Well. I haven't been able to wash my hair. As someone who has tried, despite age, to keep looking presentable, this a blow. I have to throw the cats' bowls at them as I can't bend down. I couldn't put the bin out. (Enter Miles again.) I can't get up and attend to a sudden banging noise - or to anything else. And I'm dead worried about other things which are coming up - looking after the grandchildren next Sunday while Louise does a Children In Need event with Len Goodman at The Waldorf, going to an audition, going to a friend's special birthday dinner and going down to Wales for my special publisher's party. Will I be able to travel by then?

I also discovered that constant pain is very wearing and actually makes you feel ill. It affects the ability to concentrate and has therefore put the writing of the next book on hold, although as we have a nice long deadline that isn't too much of a problem.

And one thing that surprises me, I hate the fact that I can't do the automatic tidying or sink cleaning that we all do all the time, even if we aren't great at housework. (I'm not.) I can't pick things up. I can't reach up to hook my dressing gown on the back of the bedroom door. I can't make up the fire.

I have a much better appreciation of those people confined to a wheelchair permanently, like my friend Caroline, and I want a zimmer. And I was touched at how many people, some of whom I haven't known long or well, offered genuine help.

And another thing - are you still reading? - I have been presented in a variety of ways with several - yes, several - plot ideas. One involving Thames mud. (Courtesy of Judy Astley.)
And actually had a real think about my own books and writing style. It don't 'arf focus the mind, damaging the back. Or it does when the mind clears enough to think properly.

Today, I am dressed. It took forty minutes to do it, but I do feel better for it. I am just about to make the difficult journey from sofa to kitchen and find something to eat. And now I've written this blog post, I almost feel like having another go at the next book.

Oh - and I forgot the side effects of three different sorts of pain-killers...

Sunday, July 24, 2016

The 20th Book!

Yes - Murder on the Run will be my 20th title published with Accent Press. That's 17 Libby Sarjeants, 2 romances and the Pantomime Book. Not counting the novellas...  So, Hazel Cushion, indefatigable publisher, is throwing me a party: here!

In other news, I'm pleased to tell you that Accent have contracted a further 2 Libby titles. I am currently writing (and researching) the second in the Edwardian series, which is to be called Entertaining Death and will be out just after Christmas.

After saying I could not possibly afford to go to Adrasan this year, I finally succumbed to pressure from friends, who bombarded me with lovely pictures, links to cheap flights, offers of lifts and convinced me I could afford it. Cats and house once more will be serviced by my friend Alison, who will repel boarders and burglars.

Have a good summer.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Apologies, alarums and excursions

In the last post I was talking about whether or not to carry on with the blog/newsletter and hoping for some feedback. Well, I got it. Except - I didn't see it!

This morning, I posted to the joint blog of which I'm a member, Novel Points Of View, and ticked the "notify me" box, so that I could answer any responses. "Notifications will go to..." it said, and they would go to an address I NEVER use. I unclicked, blinked and decided I'd better see if I could get into this mailbox. Who knew? There might be all sorts of stuff in there.

There was. Horrified, I set to the task of going through them and, ignoring the offers to get me millions of Facebook fans for a small consideration, replying where appropriate. A more humiliating exercise there never was. Practically every one was "You wrote to me three years ago and I'm sorry." Three hours later, I think I've captured them all, and I even managed to change the email address that it all goes to, so rest assured, if you use the "Contact" button on here to comment, I will now get it!

The upside to all this was that I received some of the nicest letters of appreciation I've ever read. I have replied to them all, (hoping they aren't dead!) and I hope they all forgive me for appearing so rude. I have already received one reply, an appreciative one, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Apart from that, Murder On The Run is on the home straight, I have the idea for the second instalment of The Alexandrians and my lost cat came back. Oh - and the play I was in has been nominated for seven - that's 7 - awards in the Kent Drama Festival. Very proud of us, I am.

Keep in touch - hopefully!

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Getting to grips...

Gosh, this is all so time consuming! I finally managed to get a new newsletter out, but now find I am contravening some kind of regulation. I do apologise, everyone. So let's have some opinions. Is it worth continuing with the newsletter? Is it worth continuing with the blog?

The newsletter was started before social media took us all over. So was the blog. The newsletter, which I havered about for a long time, was in response to requests from readers who didn't use computers much, except for email, and certainly didn't read e-books. Some of them have eventually graduated to social media, but it was interesting to receive replies to the newsletter that indicated that they didn't use it much, because there was information in there that they'd missed. So I feel it's worth keeping it up, if only occasionally. The blog I'm not so sure about. If there was a particular subject in which I was an acknowledged expert, I could rant on about aspects of that, but really - how many blog posts on pantomime could you bear to read?

To get this particular post up to date: on March 24th Murder Dancing came out, the sixteenth in the series. It also came out in the US where the books are now published by Start Publishing in association with Accent Press. The next Libby, Murder on the Run, will be out later in the year, probably early September, and the second in The Alexandrians just before Christmas, as far as I know. If I get them written, of course!

I have been doing all sorts of guest posts on other people's blogs, and next week sees the start of a US/Canada blog "tour". I've done them before, although I don't know whether they do any good, but we are supposed to do all we can to publicise our books and increase our "discoverability". (Buzz word in publishing.)

It's all a far cry from writers just writing books. I'm not sure I would have embarked on my later life career as a novelist if I'd known how hard I'd have to work! Retirement? What's that?

In other news, I recently appeared on stage again, in the cameo part of the Judge in Whose Life Is It Anyway. I was absolutely terrified, mainly, I think, because I've got out of the habit of it. However, once we were running I enjoyed it, so - anyone got any small parts they need doing? I've also been taken on by a Murder Mystery events company, and have been, so far, a widowed pub owner and a widowed "best friend of victim". It's great fun, and best of all there are no lines to learn!

Until next time - à bientôt.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Novel Points of View

Recently I was delighted to be asked to join a joint blog, Novel Points of View, with six other writers, some of whom I've known for several years.

Oddly, the way these things sometimes happen, at the same time I received a request to join a group of US writers of "cosy" mysteries all named Leslie. There are two of us using the correct (!) UK spelling for the female version, and I'm still a little ambivalent about it. Their approach is so different from ours, and I fear I will soon come to blows over correct (English) spellings and terminology. Because of course, even though I hate the term, I recognise that I write "cosy" mysteries, but I will NEVER spell them "Cozy." Oh, whoops, I just did.  Anyway, we shall see. I'll let you know what happens. Meanwhile, do have a look at Novel Points of View and all the other writers.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

New Year, New Books

Happy New Year to all my readers!

First, of course, is the news that the first in the new series, The Alexandrians, Death Plays A Part, was released on Boxing Day and has collected some lovely 5 Star reviews on Amazon.

Next, the sixteenth in the Libby Sarjeant series, Murder Dancing, is now up for pre-order, and both print and ebook will be released on March 24th. I've just worked out that this is actually my twentieth book, not counting the short Libby, Murder at Mallowan Manor, which came out for Christmas last year. Sixteen Libbys, two romances, How To Write a Pantomime and Death Plays a Part. Blimey! I think that deserves a celebration, don't you? Oh - and not to mention the pantomimes and the musical. My dad would have been so proud.

I hope you all have a healthy and successful 2016, and thank you for buying the books.