Saturday, April 27, 2019

A post of Appreciation

This post was originally on my Facebook page and when it popped up in my "Memories" I felt moved to share it again. However, since I wrote it two years ago, I have tightened my FB privacy settings and I can't share it to either my reader group or my "work" page. So, as I had something else to say as well, I decided it could go in here. And here it is - with revisions.

 I have been reflecting on the most important person in my life - after the children and the cats, of course. She paid for the conservatory and the gazebo, pays the bills and keeps me in alcohol. Although the glory days have passed, when we all made quite a bit more money than we were used to due to the uprush of ebooks, she's still keeping us afloat. And I STILL haven't the faintest idea how she does it. For a woman who came into existence on a drive through the Kent countryside to pick up (or possibly having delivered) a daughter to friends, it's quite an achievement. I suppose it was my lucky day. And apart from her, bless her little cotton socks, there are all those people (some of you, I know) who are the real heroes. Who buy, or borrow from the library, her adventures. I'm sorry if this sounds impossibly twee, but it honestly did just pop into my mind and I realised just what a huge part of my life she's become - far more than a lot of- er - real people. Go on, someone's going to say "What? She isn't real?" 
But of course, coming up to date, there are four other people who are the mainstays of my life - my children. I am embarrassingly proud of them all, and naturally consider them more beautiful (even the boys) and talented than anyone else. I am not, as they will all tell anyone who asks, a naturally maternal sort of person, nevertheless they support me in all my endeavours. And Miles - eldest son and number 2 child - is a constant source of ideas. Indeed, without him I doubt that Libby Sarjeant would have had quite so many adventures. He has two jobs - one as a musician/entertainer and the other as a jobbing builder/landscaper. He started the latter when musician friends who had started doing the same took pity on him and started asking him to do odd jobs for them. A more unlikely labourer you had never seen at the time, but now he's hugely experienced and can turn his hand to most things.
This job takes him to all sorts of places; rural villages, isolated houses, town centre renovations. And there are stories... And I'll suddenly get a text, or an FB message with a photograph, or a brief description and then he'll tell me the situation. And they always work! I'm currently writing Libby 20 based on a Miles Idea, and have several more stacked up.
So this is an appreciation post. Thank you Libby for keeping us afloat, and thank you Miles for all the ideas. And thank you Louise, Phillipa and Leo for being there. And finally, as I said in the original post, thank you to my readers.
(How I originally saw Libby)

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

A little reflection on life, the universe and everything

This post will, of course, go out as a newsletter (because that's how the internet gnomes manage it), but it is nothing to do with my job, books or writing - or only tangentially, anyway.

I have been aware over the last few weeks of a feeling of general depression. I do not suffer with depression, clinical or otherwise, but as with many families, we have sufferers in our midst, some more severe than others. I am, therefore, quite conversant with what can be a devastating illness. So this feeling took me rather by surprise, as I was sure I didn't ever feel like this. Eventually, I realised what was causing it. And it might sound trite, even facile, but yes, it is the General State of Everything.

I realised that, no matter where I turned, the outlook was bleak. I now console myself regularly with the mantra "I have everything I want; a good job, enough food, enough money to buy me a few luxuries and four lovely children, not to mention two equally lovely grandchildren and two wobbly cats." And following hard on the heels of this comforting thought comes another: "And how long will this last? How long will the food last? How long will the economy remain stable? How long will we live in a war-free zone? How long before civil unrest breaks out in a big way?" And, of course "How long will it be before we completely destroy our world?"

This dystopian view of the future is no longer the province of the fantasy writers. It was something I could dismiss until recently, but now I find I can't. My son The Philosopher is getting married in less than two months to his American fiancee, and despite this happy circumstance, he descends further into gloom as the days go by. The world does not conform to his ideals, and the obstructions to his marriage from both US and UK governments have proven almost disastrous - and very expensive.

If we look back over history - our own and that of the rest of the world - we will see how close we have come in the past to total civil breakdown. We never learn. Just look at the Climate Change Protests of last weekend.. People really are beginning to take things into their own hands. And just supposing both the Remainers and the Brexiteers decide nobody is listening to them and they, too, need to show the government exactly how they feel? (I do NOT include Nigel Farage in this. He, I am certain, is a Spitting Image creation and Not Real at all.)

Well, there we are. I am delighted that these days there are platforms on which we can state our cases, and maybe, vent our spleens. But I am exceedingly sad that our cases - and our spleens - need this outlet. However, I have bought my outfit for The Wedding Of The Year and I have two very pleasant Literary Festival Events coming up, so as long as I keep the screens up round my recalcitrant thoughts, I'll be all right.

And of course, I have the luxury of being able to retreat into my own world of Steeple Martin, where I don't have to worry about anything - except Murder...

Wednesday, April 03, 2019

One down - one to go

After a heroic struggle, Death Treads the Boards is finished. Possibly the most difficult book I've ever had to write, and all my own fault, as I volunteered to write it "in between" Libby Sarjeant books. As I was also doing panto this season (something I'm NEVER doing again), I should have known better. So I've asked Accent Press to re-label the Alexandrians as a Trilogy, and I shan't go back to Nethergate in the early 20th century, either...

I fully expect my editor, Greg, to come back with pages and pages of revisions, but meanwhile, as I was reminded, Libby 20 has to be written and delivered by the end of June. As there is a bit of a fuss going to be made about this because it's the 20th and because it will be one of the first Accent titles released under a deal with one of the Big Five publishers, Hachette, it really does have to be in on time. Difficult, as there's only three months and in June my son Leo is getting married to his lovely American fiancee Carrie, which means a hiatus in normal life and an influx of new American relations.

Meanwhile, Accent are re-releasing my entire backlist of Libbies in print with new covers - as they currently appear on Amazon. If you aren't in the business, you won't know how rare this is and how honoured I feel - it really should put paid to my continuing "imposter syndrome".

In other news, younger daughter is home between cruises and tours, although she's been dashing around seeing people and getting things done, including a holiday in South Africa with her Uncle Roger (best man at my wedding). Elder daughter is still being a mother and singer going all over the UK and doing an Open University degree. Elder son is still living round the corner and doing what he's always done - leading his own band and helping friends with building projects to top up the finances. Younger son is, as I've said, getting married and his first book will be published later this year. No - he isn't following in my footsteps - it's on popular philosophy. I'll show you the cover when he allows me to. Meanwhile here are the floral tributes I received on Mothers Day.

I shall get back to normal as soon as I recovered from terminal tiredness...