I could say I haven't posted for a while because I've been hard at work on the next novel, and that would be partly true. But it's also because it's too easy to get distracted in a literary city like Edinburgh.
Take this evening, for examp[e. National Library of Scotland hosted a 'New Voices' event featuring four debut novelists in conversation with literary agent Jenny Brown and reading from their books. Well, it would have been churlish not to attend, wouldn't it? But, of course, that now means even more distraction - all those new novels that need to be read: Shelley Day's The Confession of Stella Moon (matricide and family secrets - compelling, dark and left me desperate to read more), Allyson Stacks's Under the Heartless Blue (widowed book-keeper takes job in boarding house only to find it's a brothel) and Dorothy Alexander's The Mauricewood Devils (based on a real life, terrible mining disaster where the culpable were absolved of responsibility).
For those of you that have been counting, you're right - that's just three. I've omitted Lesley Kelly's A Fine House in Trinity from my list because she hasn't added to my heavy work load; I've already read it, loved it and can highly recommend it, if you like your Tartan Noir with a healthy dose of humour.
Looking forward to the next New Voices event in November...
They say things come in threes and today that's true, and three good things at that.
Firstly, the sunshine - never underestimate the power of a clear blue sky to brighten a mood. I'm finding myself smiling every time I look out the window, which is more often than it should be when I'm supposed to be finishing off a new draft of novel number two. The smiling may also have something to do with the other two good things that have happened today.
So, second good thing: Ursula's Secret has now been in the Kindle top 100 for 84 days which my calculator tells me is 12 weeks. 12 weeks! I'm very grateful to everyone that's reading it so if you're reading this too, thank you and I hope you enjoy the book.
Lastly, I've just heard that Black and White have secured a deal for Ursula's Secret to be published in Poland. When I spent all that time creating characters, giving them voices and putting words into their mouths, I never for a second imagined they might end up speaking those words in another language. Especially one I don't speak myself. Happy days!
In the midst of those second draft, second novel, still-no-title blues, a lovely friend tipped me off to this - number one in Women's Literary Fiction on Amazon. I can't tell you how much it's cheered me up, and even though these rankings change in the blink of an eye, and even though it's not exactly the most expensive kid on the ebook block, I am allowing myself a few minutes of joy.
Then I'll get back to work.
Just back from an 'internet-challenged' but beautiful few days in Spain...
And before the miserable weather could get me down I was delighted to see the Ullapool Book Festival has announced its guests for this year here. It's always good and looks like this year will be no exception - see you there? There might even be sunshine and cherry blossom.
I saw Ursula's Secret in the library the other day here in Edinburgh and was ridiculously pleased and excited. In fact, I think more excited than when I first saw it in a bookshop. I don't really know why, except that I love libraries and always have done. Like so many people, I have great childhood memories of the Saturday morning trip to the local library, a green library ticket with my name on it and the three book limit. But three books in a week was no problem in those days - it's only now that life admin and so on gets in the way that my reading rate has slowed. I'm still a frequent visitor to libraries and love browsing the shelves and selecting titles at random. I like to think of other people doing just that, happening upon my novel and then taking Ursula home with them. Just another reason we need to do what we can to keep libraries open...
Not long back from a writers' retreat in Spain (Casa Ana again) where I got on really well with the current work in progress. Still a long way to go of course, but have got most of a rough draft down. Once it's on the page the real work can begin - and there's a lot of it to do including rewriting or deleting the first 30,000 words so that will keep me busy through Christmas and into the New Year. However, two weeks solid work on the book meant I felt justified in taking a couple of days off at the end in Malaga which is one of my favourite cities these days. I went to the new Centre Pompidou Malaga for the first time and came across these wonderful tinfoil ladies. Not sure why they appeal so much to me but they do and I feel they may trigger a story one of these days. But in the meantime, thought I'd share in case they trigger something for one of you.
I also loved the Christmas tree and lights on Larios and sneaked in just one breakfast of chocolate and churros. The wonderful thing is that because the next book is set mainly in Spain, I might just have to go back again soon for more research...here's hoping!
I went down to London at the weekend to do a signing at Blackwell's HIgh Holborn and was delighted to see that not only was Ursula;s Secret their indie book of the month (which gives purchasers a cup of coffee in the onsite Benugo café with every copy of the book), they have also included it as part of their current 3 for 2 promotion and put Ursula in the window! Very exciting, and really appreciate the support- thanks Blackwell's. Enjoyed meeting two of Blackwell's lovely booksellers, Wil and Dave, on the day who were very welcoming and I just generally had a good time - despite the rain. Thanks also to Black & White Publishing for organising it.
Very excited to find Ursula's Secret on the crime table in Waterstones West End today snuggling up to Agatha Christie, so just had to share the moment...
And also pleased to find a copy lurking a little more discreetly on the bottom crime shelf here...
Great night last Wednesday at the launch of Ursula's Secret here in Edinburgh and a huge thank you to everyone who came along and made it such a special evening. Black and White Publishing took a few photos and have posted them on their Facebook page here. They have also put up another couple of videos where they interviewed me about writing and about the book - we covered a lot of the same ground at the book launch so if you couldn't make it along but are interested to know a bit more, there's one about the book here and another here just where I'm talking more generally. Hope you enjoy!
PS I was sitting in Waterstones' Café W earlier last week and smiling that probably for the only time in my life I was ahead of Ian Rankin in Waterstones...then watched as they wrote up SOLD OUT...
The lovely people at Novelicious.com have published a piece about where I write in their 'writing room' series here. Unfortunately they could only fit in one photo so here are the missing two that they had to edit out. No great loss, I think we can agree. The last photo is the view from my 'old' writing room and has a lot to do with why Ursula's Secret took me three years to write.
City flat desk space best described as compact and only for use when no visitors...yes, it's in the corner of the spare room.
Then this little beauty is a folding laptop table from The Futon Company that lets me set up writing camp anywhere I want to - kitchen table, armchair, bed. It even has a drawer tucked underneath - love it.
I used to spend hours of writing time just losing myself in this wonderful view. Fabulous for soothing any jangling nerves but not so great for productivity. But hey, what is this life if, full of care, we have no time to sit and stare. (Apologies to William Henry Davies.)