And so it begins… confusion, mayhem and reminders to myself #writinganewbook

I’m a few days into my new writing now, and things are starting to get muddled interesting.

Like an idiot, I decided to keep writing the story I was already writing, which is of lower priority than the new one. And, at the same time, I’m wrestling with THE NEW BOOK and trying to keep my head clear – and the right characters and scenes in the right book. I must admit, my brain is beginning to complain about the hard work it’s having to do.

One of my main problems is names. Place names, character names, I forget most of them apart from those of the major characters. I resort to writing an X as a placeholder for the character’s name. the trouble is, by the time I’ve written a few pages, this can be complicated. it’s not as though my characters exist in isolation, they are a sociable bunch and soon they are out of the house and wandering along the street to have tea and cake or a pint of beer with loads of other people, all also known as X.

Occasionally, in a bid to keep things straight in my mind, I might put ‘write Pete’s mate’s name here’. But this doesn’t work either, as Pete – annoyingly, has several ‘mates’ and sees them all as often as possible.

And then there are the places, the settings. At the moment they are variously recorded as ‘Pete’s mate’s pub‘ or ‘Pete’s mate’s lock-up‘ or Cemetery/Graveyard/which one do I mean?

Now if I was more like you, dear reader, and properly organised, I’d probably have remembered to create myself a list beforehand.

Well, in fact, in my defence, I did write out a list, but I can’t find it. I think it’s in a notebook, but I’m not sure which one and by the time I’ve found it, the fabulous idea for my scene might have fizzled away, so I plod on with my Xs and my hints. I like to do things my way. It may not be tidy, elegant, efficient, or even sensible, but it’s worked for me, kind of, so I stick with it. By the time I come to rewrite, I will have fixed all these little annoyances and – theoretically – created a nice, polished draft.

Though once I forgot and Mr Amazon had to email me and say, ‘This book you’ve uploaded looks like it might not be your final version, would you like to check and make sure?’ Nice chap. he was right. There were the ‘Pete’s mate’ and Xs. Oops, good thing this was spotted by Mr A!

So what am I writing?

Well, I’m working on the not-at-all-urgent book 4 of the Criss Cross trilogy (go with me here) as I decided I would extend the series to a ‘ten years later’ scenario, I just felt suddenly inspired. Book 4 will be called Dirty Work, and I have no idea when it will be out, sorry.

The more pressing new book is book 2 of the new series, the Miss Gascoigne mysteries. it will be called A Wreath of Lilies, and you can find out a teeny bit more here. It’s going to be a while before it’s finished, so don’t get too anxious. It’ll be October, I should think, a year after book 1.

So that’s my February sorted.

***

The film of the book…

Here’s a reimagined post from three years ago, slightly updated for you. I still need your help with this big problem!

Writers are at heart, fantasists, and for many of us, there is no more entertaining fantasy than to ask yourself who would play your main characters if some movie mogul had the urge to transform your book or series into a blockbuster movie or a Netflix/Acorn TV/Prime/Paramount/You-get-the-idea weekend TV binge.

I think we all know that there can be a massive difference between how each of us pictures our paperback ‘hero’, and how that is translated to the big screen. For fans, and no doubt, writers, this can lead to a terrible sense of disappointment.

Movies/TV Series from books that I loved:

Inspector Gamache from Louise Penny’s fab Canadian-based crime series, now known as Three Pines on TV streaming services. Alfred Molina has brought the most wonderful gravitas, compassion and depth to the role. You’ll need a tissue or two for this series, though.

The Harry Potter series: I felt they nailed all the characters perfectly – Yay!

Dial M For Murder or the remake The Perfect Murder both sensationally wonderful adaptations of Frederic Knott’s stage play Dial M For Murder: a collage for voices. (It helped that the sexy Viggo Mortensen was in The Perfect Murder.)

Murder on the Orient Express now obviously there have been several versions of this, and I’ve loved them all, although for me, Peter Ustinov was always a little better at portraying Poirot at his most mournful and ridiculous, and also managed the quality of moral indignation much better than others, although David Suchet was truly excellent in the TV series. I remember when the first episode aired, I held my breath as it began, waiting to see how this ‘new’ chap would manage the character, would it be everything I hoped for? It was, and more!

Sorry but I am not at all a fan of Kenneth Branagh in this role. At all. He’d have made a great Hastings. Ish.  I mean, Hugh Fraser really nailed that part and made it his own. For me the new movies are all panorama and no substance. I hate them.

Dalgliesh: There has been a new outing for this with Bertie Carvell (Jonathan Strange and Mr Norell, remember? Also lots of other stuff including Midsomer Murders…) and in the title role of Inspector Dalgliesh, created by P D James.  Bertie gives us a beautifully nuanced role, and the opening credits are sooooo beautiful to look at, I could have them on my wall and gaze at them all day long. Feels slightly out of its era, with a sense of being in the 60s rather than the 70s, but that’s easily overlooked as you get stuck into each story.

Whitstable Pearl: Kerry Godliman, whose stand-up comedy I absolutely love, plays the title character, a private detective with a restaurant in this series based on Julie Wassmer’s fabulous series. I love this show!!! It helps that it’s set in Whitstable on the North Kent coast in the UK, which is very close to where many of my ancestors come from. If you haven’t read it or watched it, there’s no excuse, stop reading this and do it now.

Anyway, this is the game I’ve been playing at home. ‘Someone Wants To Turn My Book Into A Film’.

I’m talking now about my 1930s Dottie Manderson cosy mystery series.

My main characters are:

Dottie Manderson, aged 19 at the start of book 1 which is Night and Day. She is 5’ 7, has dark wavy hair, hazel eyes, lovely skin and a gorgeous, slender figure. She comes from a wealthy background, and lives in London with her parents. She is a wee bit shy, loves her family, loves dancing, and works as a mannequin for Mrs Carmichael. She’s idealistic and a little naïve. In the books, we see her maturing as she learns about the world, and about relationships between men and women. She is nosy and gets into murder-related situations. She is compassionate and detests bigotry and moral ideas that put appearance before compassion and respect.

The original image I used for the covers for the Dottie Manderson series. Apart from the blue eyes, she was the perfect match for Loretta Young. Image by Artsy Bee from Pixabay.

William Hardy is the detective she frequently ‘runs up against’. (Yes that is a double-entendre, if not a triple…) He is a little older at 28. He is a policeman working his way up the ranks after his father died and left the family penniless. They had to leave their privileged lifestyle and he had to leave his law studies to earn a living. He is (of course) six feet tall, if not a bit more, and well-built. He is fair-haired, and blue-eyed. He quickly develops a penchant for a certain dark-haired young lady which makes him awkward and embarrassed at times. He has a slightly different attitude to women than the majority of men of his era in that he is respectful and does not think of women as inferior or as domestic drudges or as potential conquests. He is determined to improve his family’s fortunes by sheer hard work and devotion to his work.

There are other recurring characters too:

Mr and Mrs Manderson, Dottie’s parents: Her father Herbert is largely to be found behind a newspaper. Her mother Lavinia is brisk and no-nonsense and all about etiquette and social niceties, but as the series develops we see that there is a deep love between these two, and that Mrs Manderson has a marshmallow heart under the stern exterior.

Flora, Dottie’s older sister is married to George, a very wealthy young man. In book 1, Night and Day, they are about to become parents for the first time. They are devoted to one another and to Dottie.

So here’s the big question: Who would play these roles if my books were made into a TV series or a movie? I’ve been thinking about his quite a bit. But I’m somewhat hampered by the fact that I really don’t keep up with who’s who in the acting world, so my ideas are probably really out of touch.

Make sure you tell me who would work better, in your opinion. Obviously I need all the help I can get here!

Dottie: I’ve got a couple of ideas. I originally based Dottie on the 1920s actor Loretta Young, but you know, time doesn’t stand still, does it?

1. Claire Foy

2. Flora Spencer-Longhurst

Though I must admit they are both a bit older than Dottie is in my books. What do you think? Do you know of another actor who might be better?

Gary Cooper…

William: the problem here is that I originally based William on the young Gary Cooper acting in the 1920s and 1930s…  So I’ve got almost no contemporary ideas for William Hardy. Except for Alex Pettyfer.  Or maybe Rick Edwards, who isn’t even an actor… Can you take a look and tell me what you think? I urgently need help here: you never know how soon someone might knock on my door or flood my email with requests , pleas and big fat cheques.

 

As for Flora and Mr and Mrs M, what about these lovely people:

Tuppence Middleton for Flora, she’d be brill…

Herbert Manderson: What about the omni-gorgeous Jason Isaacs? He’s a little older now (sorry Jason, but you know it’s true) and he’s nicely craggy.

Mrs Lavinia Manderson: Well there’s Kristin Scott Thomas, I think she’d work really well in this role: the only problem is, can we afford her?

So, dear readers, please help! We need to get this cast list sorted before MGM or 20th Century Fox or Nertflerx come knocking on my door.

***

A New Year – that means new books!

It’s a bit bright! Is it too bright?

Being a writer is an experience that goes in cycles, for me at least. As soon as the final draft of a book is complete, and all the other checks are done, the book is published and the cycle ends. But then, it’s not very long before the cycle begins all over again, with the first few tiny wisps of ideas and before you know it, I’m into the first draft creative part of the process again.

Once upon a time, this used to begin around September for me. I don’t know if that’s because when my children were young, that was when they went back to school after the long summer holidays and I had two minutes to sit in peace with a notebook and a cup of coffee.

But these days, it’s the beginning of the year that is this creative time for me now, and the second part of the year is always spent in revisions, rewriting, chipping away at the block  that is my rough draft.

When I’m creating, dashing out those mad, unfocussed, often-discarded new chapters of a new book, I love to do this is a cafe. There’s something about being surrounded by anonymous, happy bustle that helps me immediately find my ‘zone’, roll my sleeves up and get on with my next scene.

I know I often talk about sitting in cafes, notebook and pen in front of me (my first drafts are always longhand), with a cappuccino and – ooh, naughty – maybe a bit of cake. It’s my favourite thing.

Yes, I know we have coffee at home. And even – occasionally, cake, or I could buy a supermarket cake and eat a slice at home for a fraction of the cost of a cafe. Or, I could bake a cake of my very own – it could be any size, shape or colour. I could have any flavour I like, and it could be a tray-bake, a torte, a good solid fruit cake with cherries on top, a long sugary loaf oozing with bananas or dates. It could be a sponge with ganache or cream or even just jam in the middle. It could have nuts on the top, or frosting, or strawberries in a creamy heap.

There are just two problems with that: 1. I’m a terrible cook. And 2, that wouldn’t inspire me to write. Which is, after all, the whole point of this exercise.

I love to go to cafes with my family. But those are occasions for talking and laughing, not times for me to be alone with my thoughts. And as Winifred Watson said, ‘You can’t write if you’re never alone.’ (She was a very successful author in the 1930s who gave up writing once she married and had children. Her book Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day was made into a film starring Ciaran Hinds and Frances McDormand and I highly recommend it.)

So there I sit. Usually ideas have been bubbling for a while at this point, or I may have made a few cryptic notes – not always helpful as I don’t always remember what I was on about. Soon I’m scribbling away, and if I don’t fill 10 or 12 pages in my notebook, I feel rather cheated. If I write more than that, you can bet I will float out of that cafe on cloud nine, feeling pretty smug and pleased with myself. That would be a good day’s work.

So that’s the current situation at Chez Allan. I’m currently working on a new Dottie book – the first draft of Midnight, the Stars and You: Dottie Manderson mysteries book 8 is already a whopping 1500 words long. To put that in perspective, the finished draft should be at least 80,000 – so it’s not even a chapter. But it’s started, that’s the main thing.  And another book is at around the 20,000 word mark, which I’m really happy about.

Later on, I will be getting on with Miss Gascoigne book 2. Not sure yet what the title will be, I had an idea but now I have another, conflicting idea, and my poor writer brain can’t decide which one is best, so that’s on the back-burner for a few weeks. But I’ve got so many notes and ideas!!!

It’s a time of great excitement, and giddy childlike anticipation. It’s a bit like being a toddler sitting on the floor surrounded by all my toys and trying to decide what to play with first.

***

Let It Snow… just a little

I have a very childish love of snow. I get such a sense of excitement in the pit of my stomach as those first few flakes trickle down, a little teasing gift from the heavens, as if someone up there is saying, ‘Don’t take it all so seriously, it’s okay to smile and play.’

Yes I know for most people it’s a pain in the neck, or a real inconvenience, and like all weather, in extremis it can be dangerous.

But still, if we get to the end of winter, and we’ve had no snow, I feel so cheated. I love its silent majesty. I love the sight of pure snow, unwalked, untouched. I love the snow which is speckled with bird tracks, or cat prints, or human prints, that say, someone has walked here.

So I thought it was time once more for a few literary quotes. Forget about me, what do writers say about snow?

 

 

 

 

That’s it for December, and for 2022. Thank you to everyone who has supported me, my work and this blog. It’s greatly appreciated. Whatever you do to celebrate the end of the old year, may it bring you joy and a little closer to those you love.

***

 

It’s here (almost) : Rose Petals and White Lace is out on 9th December 2022

I’m delighted to announce that Rose Petals and White Lace: Dottie Manderson mysteries book 7 is being released on 9th December on Amazon (eBook, paperback and large print paperback), and 11th/12th December on other platforms (regular print paperback only).

Here’s a little bit to tell you about the book:

Dottie Manderson’s relationship with Inspector William Hardy has recently taken on a whole new dimension, and that means getting to know his family. Whilst William is away clearing up the paperwork and red-tape following his recent case against the Assistant Chief Constable of Derbyshire, Dottie attempts to help William’s younger sister and her fiancé put a stop to the malicious occurrences that threaten both their livelihood and their relationship.

Meanwhile, Inspector Hardy has two problems to tackle:

Firstly, the unexpected, rather hostile official enquiry into the recent events in Ripley and, secondly – though from William’s point of view, far more importantly – will he ever find the perfect romantic moment to take the next big step in his love life?

There’s only one way to find out!

 

 

November exits the stage and the end of the year is approaching…

Recently released: A Meeting With Murder: Miss Gascoigne mysteries book 1 and coming soon – 9th December 2022 – Rose Petals and White Lace: Dottie Manderson mysteries book 7

Well, well, well…

Looking back over the year, now that the dust has (almost) settled, I realise it was quite a productive year after all, though sometimes I wondered if I’d achieved anything in 2022.

I am filled with gratitude at the moment. It’s partly displayed as relief at finally finishing another book, one that’s been in the offing for two to three years now (Rose Petals and White Lace) and partly surprise that I’ve finally done it.  So I want to say a big thank you today to some wonderful people. Love you all and thank you so much xxx

Today in the USA it’s Thanksgiving. That’s not something we ‘do’ in the UK, but there’s always a reason to be grateful, isn’t there? Oh yes, we have Harvest Festival in September which is a similar kind of thing, though it’s largely only observed by schoolchildren – a thanks to God for the safe gathering in of the harvest, guaranteeing another year of enough food. I think that’s pretty much the same idea.

Thank you to my dear family. Especially my poor husband who is constantly told, ‘I can’t do XXX, I’ve got writing/editing/rewriting/polishing/editing/rewriting/proofreading to do.’ He thought when he retired we’d have more time to spend together. Sorry, darling. On the other hand, it does mean he has more time to pursue his hobbies!

Thank you to my dear friends, especially Emma Baird, Angy Lloyd, Debaleena Mukherjee for the alternate pat on the back and kick up the bum to keep me moving on.

A huge thank you to Lila Dawes, contemporary romance author, daughter, best bud, and betareader supremo – you’ve been brill, sweetheart. Thank you!

And grateful thanks to two wonderful ladies, it’s been a privilege to work with you both for the last couple of years. Thanks to you, we now have FIVE books out in the German language, with plans for more (spoiler alert!)

So thank you, Stef Mills and Heike Wolf, expert translators, proverb-wranglers, vernacular-interpreters, morale-boosters and editors extraordinaire. It is thanks to you both and all your hard work that I have been able to release Der letzte perfekte Sommer von Richard Dawlish (Dottie Manderson: Buch 4) and coming on 16th December, Der Diebstahl von St Martins (Dottie Manderson Buch 5)

If one is good, two is better, right? #WritingaMystery

Writing a new book: it’s like being in love

Oh I am loving this writing something new lark.

For a few reasons, I have been working on the same two books for about three years. As you may know if you’ve followed my ramblings on this blog before, I recently published my new murder mystery A Meeting With Murder: Miss Gascoigne mysteries book 1.

And at the moment I am still putting the finishing touches to Rose Petals and White Lace: Dottie Manderson mysteries book 7, which is due out on 9th December this year – only just over a month to go.

(Eek!!!!! What am I doing writing this?)

But… and you’ll think I’m mad. Okay, if you know me you probably already think that.

…I’ve started writing another book this week.

I won’t tell you what it is yet, I think that’s best kept quiet for now. It’s all far too early to start penciling in publication deadlines. It’s so new I haven’t even got a cover for it yet.

Not long now!

What I wanted to share with you is the sheer joy of working on a new NEW project after having a dodgy couple of years working with the same books and feeling like they were never going to happen.

It’s so invigorating, refreshing, inspiring. I feel like singing. Or dancing. Or just telling the world. It’s weird, I feel an urge to go up to actual strangers and–okay not hug them, I’m not a monster–but at least smile pleasantly. It’s just sooooo good to be creating not editing, feeling my way forward, laughing at my own jokes, mulling over all the myriad possibilities of a brand new story.

It feels as though anything is possible, anything can happen, and most probably will. I feel in control, I feel fulfilled. I even got up early to write!!!! New fresh ideas are buzzing, and I am writing feverishly, it’s like being in love.

My natural pessimism/caution requires me to just briefly add that by next week it could all be over, and I might be drowning my sorrows in a vat of hot chocolate, or I’ll be deeply mired in the slush that forms the slough of despond known as the soggy middle.

But right now, I’m just so ecstatically happy to be writing something new that I just had to tell someone!

Me, about a hundred years ago, but already books had the power to take over my life.

***

Vintage collectables #vintagestyle

Saw this recently at a Mill near us that is now a wedding venue. I’d love one of these!

I’ve got a guilty secret. Are you ready? Don’t tell anyone…

I love to collect old stuff. Whether it’s clothing, or jewellery, old books or magazines, accessories or postcards or new stuff recreated using old images or styles, I just love to sit and stare/gloat over it.

Birthday postcard, with 1920 postmark.

Part of the reason I write mysteries set in the 1930s and 1960s is because I love history and especially social and cultural history. As one of my characters in A Meeting With Murder says, my interest and pleasure is to be found in… ‘…Not the kings-and-queens type of history, no. What I liked was how ordinary people lived. What everyday life was like for normal people hundreds of years ago. I loved seeing the old kitchens, the bathrooms and even the servants’ quarters…’ And because of that, I’ve gradually accumulated a few vintage items.

1920s cloche hat made of navy felt with a beige cloth ribbon.

Happy shoppers in Jeannie’s store, getting ready for the 1940s weekend in Sheringham, Norfolk, Sept 2022

When we were on holiday in Norfolk last month, I found a shop called Colour Me Vintage in Sheringham, quite by chance, and I spent ages browsing and chatting with the owner, a lovely lady named Jeannie Read. I reluctantly resisted the urge to go really crazy and buy myself a WRENs uniform or a ballgown, but I did manage to nab this cute little 1920s cloche hat when my other half was looking the other way.

For me the most fascinating thing was that Jeannie sells ‘new’ vintage clothes. She is in touch with a fashion design student, a lady named Holly, who makes clothes from vintage patterns and sells them in the shop. I am thrilled that ‘vintage’ is so popular that people are buying these items to wear at parties or even for everyday wear. Unfortunately there wasn’t anything in my size, but still, my imagination was captured. It’s amazing to think that so many people are in love with styles that were old long before they were born.

Coty compact with powder puff design by Rene Lalique. (Yes, THAT Lalique, the glass bloke…)

You can get vintage bags, shoes, hats, other accessories such as jewellery and of course, make-up. Vintage-style new make-up is also quite the thing these days. I think designers and packagers realise that if we are going to spend our hard-earned cash, then we want something that is more than just functional, we want something that looks beautiful too, ‘eye-appeal’ so very important these days. We see something, we love it, we want it, it’s that simple. Bland and functional is OUT.

It’s not only older people who enjoy vintage styles!

As William Morris, designer, social activist and founder of the British Arts and Crafts Movement so famously said:

Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.

It’s not enough for ‘things’ to be efficient, fit for purpose or utilitarian. We want glamour, we want gorgeous colours and lovely styles. We want to surround ourselves with items that please the eye and make the soul glad.

Don’t we?

Jones sewing machine. Gorgeous!

***

A deleted scene from A Meeting With Murder: Miss Gascoigne mysteries book 1 #newbooks #murdermysteries

A Meeting With Murder: Miss Gascoigne mysteries book 1 came out 10 days ago, and so I thought I’d share a deleted scene from the book. It ended up being quite a long story, and I waffled horribly as I tend to do, which meant there were a number of scenes that didn’t really offer much to the overall plot apart from a pleasant read for a few minutes over a cuppa. So they had to go.

Dee Gascoigne, the title character, is on a train heading for the coast. She’s left  her husband, and as a result, she’s lost her job (It’s the 1960s, divorce and marital separation were a big no-no, especially for the woman). She’s also been ill, and has been sent somewhere on the coast to recover. Recently she ahs been wondering about work and what to do with her life. Here’s the train scene, I hope you like it.

The train was very full, and Dee was forced to squeeze into a half-seat next to a very large gentleman sporting the largest moustache she had ever seen. She quelled a childish desire to point and laugh, merely smiling politely as she sat down. She quelled a further childish desire to ask him if his name was Monsieur Poirot or if he was simply a walrus. Instead she sat neatly with her feet together and her hands folded in her lap, keeping her eyes down so as not to allow them to accidentally stray to the right to gawp at the glorious growth on her neighbour’s upper lip.

An elderly lady sat opposite. She was engaged in looking through her handbag in a distracted manner. She was growing increasingly upset. Next to the elderly lady sat a young man in a very smart suit whose face was hidden behind the business pages of a broadsheet newspaper. Dee mentally characterised him as pompous and snobbish as he did not deign to notice the distress of the lady next to him. Dee leaned forward.

‘Have you lost something?’ she asked, thinking she might know what it was.

When the old lady looked up, Dee saw her eyes were brimming with tears, and her heart felt for her. Impulsively she reached out her hand.

‘Don’t upset yourself, perhaps I can help?’

‘It’s my ticket. The man will be coming along in a minute and if I can’t find my ticket, he might make me get off, because I shan’t be able to pay for another. I’m old, you see, and my income is sadly restricted. I’m afraid I’m rather forgetful. And I mustn’t be late getting to my sister’s for she is sending her son to meet me and he’s terribly busy.’

Her choice of phrases reminded Dee forcefully of her old nanny, Miss Minter, not that Miss Minter would ever have lost her rail ticket. But this was exactly how Miss Minter used to speak. Even the antique outfit this old lady wore made her a sister in taste to Miss Minter.

‘Where have you looked?’ asked Dee and immediately felt stupid. She had seen the lady looking through her bag. And on a train, there weren’t so very many places to look. However the old lady held out her bag.

‘I’ve checked in here, but if you wouldn’t mind, could you just check again for me?’

How trusting she was, Dee thought with dismay. Anyone could just help themselves to the meagre possessions if they were so inclined. As discreetly as possible in the cramped conditions, Dee peered into the battered handbag. With great embarrassment she opened the tattered coin purse then looked into the bag’s little zipped side-pocket, but no ticket lurked in these recesses. There was so little in the bag it would have been impossible to miss the small rectangle of pink card.

Next she helped the old lady pat her coat pockets. They looked at each other in consternation as the door at the end of the carriage opened and the guard proceeded to call ‘Tickets, please,’ as he made his way slowly towards them, clipping and nodding to left and right as he went.

If necessary, Dee thought, I can pay her fare for her although she will no doubt insist on paying me back once she gets home. Just as the train jolted over some points, Dee helped the lady to get to her feet and together they checked the ticket hadn’t caught in the folds of her coat, or fallen onto the floor or down the side of the seat. The young man tsked loudly behind his newspaper and shook the pages loudly. The man with the walrus moustache watched with interest but offered no help.

‘Oh dear me, oh dear me,’ murmured the old lady, and her tears threatened to spill over and run down her cheeks. Dee patted the lady’s hand and was concerned to find it icy cold. And then inspiration struck.

‘Have you got your gloves?’ she asked. Miss Minter had never travelled without gloves, even in the height of summer. In her day it was something a lady simply did not do. They would be black or navy wool in the winter, and white or tan cotton in the summer. The old lady cast about her in confusion.

‘Well they were here a moment ago.’

The guard was almost upon them. Dee checked the floor, but no gloves were there.

The large man next to Dee elbowed her sharply. His moustache jiggled satisfyingly as he said, ‘I believe he is sitting upon the lady’s gloves.’ And he nodded in the direction of the smart young man behind his paper.

All three of them turned their eyes upon the smart young man. Finally he felt the force of their gaze, and dropped his paper.

‘What?’ he demanded in the rudest manner possible.

Dee recollected Miss Minter saying very frequently that money could buy a lot of things but it couldn’t buy good manners. She treated him to a frown of distaste then asked whether he was sitting on the lady’s gloves.

‘Tickets, please!’ the guard said at Dee’s side, making her almost jump out of her skin. The suited man, with an air of great annoyance, stood to his feet, and on the seat beneath him, there were the missing gloves. Dee snatched them up and immediately felt something hard inside one of the pair. She took it out and with an air of triumph, handed it to the guard then quickly found her own ticket.

The guard looked, clipped and moved on. The suited man, without apology, retreated once more behind his newspaper. The large man squeezed past Dee to get off at the next station, and the elderly lady moved across to sit beside Dee, thanking her profusely for her help:

‘You ought to be a detective, my dear. It was so very clever of you to think of my gloves and then find them like that. I can’t tell you how relieved… Oh dear!’

Dee smiled and said she was glad to have been of help. Then the elderly lady was telling her all about the planned family party she was travelling to, until Dee felt rather sad that she would never meet any of them, she had them so well fixed in her mind.

***

 

Just feeling so… meh

In the small gap between one ending of one book and the beginning of another is the writer’s down-time. And there are so many things to cram into that small window of opportunity, I don’t know where to start. In a way, it’s easier to just start another book.

I feel a bit lack-lustre this week. A Meeting With Murder came out on the 7th, and now, what on earth do I do until I start revising Rose Petals and White Lace?

Sigh. Okay so I’ve done some laundry. I haven’t put it way yet. You can’t rush these things. And I’m not ashamed to say I vacuumed. I flicked a duster round in the sitting-room. I put out the rubbish. And the recycling! I swept the utility room. It doesn’t look any better, but I know I did it. I cleared out my cupboards. The fridge is full. As is the freezer. I bought more bird food. I threw away that old half-bag of flour that was best before something beginning with a 1 and a 9. I bought more tomato paste, only to discover I already had a new tube… I thought about wiping the skirting boards down, but I decided to save that job for when I need more excitement in my life. Next week, probably.

I am just lost this week. I’ve started reading a couple of books. neither of them ‘grabbed’ me. Not the books’ fault, I’m feeling like that about everything at the moment. Now that my WIP is no longer IP, I feel as though I’ve misplaced my glasses or left the tap running., you know? Like half of my attention is elsewhere. My brain is a bit frazzled.

I’ll let you into a secret. I’ve already made a start on revising Rose Petals. I didn’t know what else to do with myself.  I’ve done chapter one. It’s okay. I took out a bit, and put in a new bit. The word count stayed pretty much the same. I’m puzzling over some of the logistics the crime(s) require, but that’s something I need to really think over.

Even the back looks quite good!

I’ve made loads of notes for new story ideas. I worry that I’ll die before I’ve written them all, because there are LOADS of them. I might have to double or even triple up, using more than one audacious scheme for each book, just so I can get through them. I’d hate for any to go to waste.  And I’m wondering if I can get away with writing a contemporary Dottie spin-off – maybe her great grandson could also be a copper or a detective? Would that be a spin-off too far, do you think? And where would I find the time? Maybe I’ll just write a small sneaky one for my own amusement.

Tune in next week for a blog post I started writing two weeks ago and still haven’t finished. It’s about vintage collectables and the love people have now for the stuff their parents or grandparents thought of as ordinary. It turns out, value is in the eye of the beholder.

Have a lovely week, everyone.

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