As my kindly website administrator is keen to remind me, I am dreadful at remembering to write newsletters.
The trouble is, since I spend all day writing books, taking time out to pen a newsletter seems to be taking time off. It feels wrong. Which is daft, because writing newsletters is a part of the job, but when you're self-employed, it is hard to be rational. Especially when you can feel a deadline slipping out of reach!
This year I have had a significant milestone - it is twenty five years since I became married, and yes, we're still very happy. We have two wonderful children, the first of which we will lose shortly when Katie starts at university in Cardiff, and the second of which is looking forward (optimistically) to being spoiled when I become a multi-millionaire. So if anyone knows of a decent film company that wants to have a sure-fire success with a lengthy series of books that would move happily to large or small screen, do let them know. My son will be eternally grateful!
All of which means that next year will be another anniversary: the twenty fifth year since I first started writing novels. And oddly enough, the very first editor who took me on, the wonderful Marion Donaldson at Headline, has just taken me back, and will be looking after the books that Headline still publishes.
This year is consistent with the last twenty four since I started writing full-time: it's busy.
So far this year I have written one new book (A Missed Murder, which was published on 31st August by Severn House); a second, which is a new novel in a totally different crime direction, and which will be winging its way to my agent shortly; and I am about to embark on another novel that will be published by the wonderful folks at Sharpe Books; after which I will be writing the fourth in the Bloody Mary series, which must be finished before the end of February.
And in the middle of all this, I managed to take a holiday, too (very nice, very warm, very relaxed). While editing my book, of course. I couldn't sit in the sun and do nothing, after all.
So, what is there for me to write about? Books first, I suppose.
A Missed Murder is the third outing for poor old Jack Blackjack in my Bloody Mary series. This time, Jack thinks he has got himself sorted at last. He has been told to commit an assassination, and has had the brilliant idea of sub-contracting killings rather than doing it himself. He can ensure that he is unsuspected by enjoying a riotous evening with companions, in plain view of many witnesses, while the victim was killed. And, best of all, Jack would not need to see the body.
Which was all fine, until a messenger came to tell him that the man he had been paid to execute must now be allowed to live.
The concept of a hired assassin (whether willing or not), being told to stop a murder after planning it in some detail, was highly appealing. After all, one of my key pleasures with Jack is his incompetence. Every time I throw him into a difficult situation, I am eager to see how he will bounce back. He has had to bounce quite hard in A Missed Murder, though, with gangland killers, Spanish spies, and a number of others who want to find him. Jack's life is never easy!
The next book I will be writing is going to be a follow up to Act of Vengeance, and I'm really looking forward to that. It'll be good to get back to the characters I invented ten years ago, and I know that a lot of readers are keen to see what happens next as well. With luck, that will be published early in the New Year by the excellent Sharpe Books.
Another piece of good news is that Severn House, who publish the Bloody Mary series, have been bought by Canongate. Canongate have a great reputation in publishing, and Severn House is already having a good financial boost under Canongate's wing. This means that some of Severn's series will be getting promoted, and my Bloody Mary series is one: Black Thorn, a Canongate imprint, will be republishing the Blackjack books as mass-market paperbacks, which will, I hope, mean that they can reach a wider audience.
This year has been quiet in terms of speaking engagements. I've been out with the Devon Writers a few times, and had a wonderful weekend in north Wales at the Gladstone Library, where I gave a talk during the Alibis in the Archives event. That was great fun, although exhausting - the traffic was appalling and it took over seven hours to drive there. Happily the journey home was a lot easier!
However, Morris dancing has taken up a lot of time. Tinners' Morris have been all over, even travelling to Guernsey at the end of August to dance with several other Morris sides, at the invitation of Belles and Broomsticks, a local side. The other sides were Armaleggan Border Morris, Ridgeway Step Clog, Oyster Girls (Clog), Mr Baker's Dozen (Border/Molly/Playford), Waters Green (female Cotswold), Chinewrde Morris (Clog), and the brilliant Customs & Exiles (Clog). We had huge fun with all of them, although Chinewrde had the temerity to hold up score cards for our ability when we were dancing with them. We look forward to our revenge - although I can't be hard on them. Over lunch, one of their delightful ladies told me that she loved crime books, and on hearing I was a writer, promised me she'd be looking me up!
And that is about it for now. The puppy is now fourteen months old, and although she's quite small still for a Ridgeback (she weighs about 32 kilograms - our last girl weighed 40 kg), she has the character and intellect of a... well, a destructive toddler, I suppose. The Dalmatian can often be seen rolling her eyes in disgust at the Hound's behaviour, but the "pup" keeps us all on our toes, and keeps me exercised, which is more important!
I hope you all had a great summer, and look forward to presenting you with a new story very soon!