Flower Festival

Flower Festival

My flower arranging skills are non-existent. So, I was surprised to be asked to take part in our village flower festival, “A Celebration of Village Life”, last October. It was to be held in our tiny village church, mentioned in the Doomsday Book!

The brief – I was to celebrate my crime-novel writing with flowers. But how to keep it respectful, representative, and avoid using poisonous plants and seeds a child might eat or touch on passing? Moreover, I had been allocated the church font for my display; a location associated with joy, celebration, new life. It was indeed a challenge for a crime writer.

 Then I asked myself, What would my characters from The Utterly Crime Series have done?

Chrissie would have depicted poisonous flowers by using wood shavings for petals and leaves, and turned wooden, flower heads, and bulbs on a lathe.

Matt would have asked his friend Rosie, the librarian, and researched flowers and flower colours representing hidden meaning when sent in a bouquet, such as beware, betrayal, doom, anger, goodbye.

Nick would have visited the local florist. For the purposes of the plot line, the florist would have been really helpful and a lovely young lady!

So, what did I do?

I created mystery shoe tracks – the Chrissie in me walked shoes across wet plaster of Paris and painted it the colour of soil when dry.

The Matt in me asked a friend, who suggested orange lilies for hatred, yellow roses for jealousy, begonias for beware, black dahlias for betrayal and doom. My talented cover designer, Rebecca Moss Guyver (https://www.rebeccaguyverart.com) mocked up a fictitious book cover, The Language of Flowers, in an orange, yellow and dark red colour palate – to include in the display.

The Nick in me asked my lovely, helpful, local florist, Khloris (https://www.khloris.co.uk) to help with the floral design which, because of seasonal availability, followed the colour theme rather than specific flowers with meaning.

Chrissie’s advice for what to do when in a jam – eat chocolate, phone a friend, and make a plan – pretty much worked.

What do you think – photos were difficult!

Writers of Bury and Beyond

Writers of Bury and Beyond

I’m honoured to be a founder member of the group of Bury St Edmunds authors called ‘The Writers of Bury and Beyond’. The driving force behind the group is Rachel Churcher, award-winning author of YA sci-fi, who also provides editing services for other independent author/publishers.

The group have established a Local Author bookshelf at the iconic Market Cross in Bury. Thirty-three titles by twenty local authors, including me, are currently represented and books are free to read with coffee and cake supplied by the in-house café.

A different group of authors are in attendance each month, at the Makers’ Markets held at the Market Cross every month from April to November. It was my turn to attend recently and what a rewarding session it was, with lots of local interest and shared stories and experiences.

You can read more about the group, the Market Cross itself and the events there by following this link – we are in the February 2023 edition.


P.S. The Local Author Shelf is under the window opposite the café counter

Photograph courtesy of Writers of Bury and Beyond

No. 10 in the Utterly Crime Series

No. 10 in the Utterly Crime Series

Utterly Concealed

Book number 10 in the Utterly Crime series is now available on Amazon as both a paperback and Kindle ebook.

In this, the 10th novel in the Utterly Crime Series, old friends Chrissie, Nick and Matt unite again to solve a local Suffolk crime.

A body is found in the Poachers Basket – Wattisham’s disused village pub. But what seems like a simple misadventure becomes a murder inquiry. DI Clive Merry’s investigation soon turns into a nightmare.

Can Nick’s preoccupation with an old musical box shed any light on the history of the pub? The past may hold clues, but the present-day investigation stokes increasing danger.

Pauline’s quirky plot plays out with village thatching and cowboy boots under the long shadow of Wattisham’s wartime airmen. Bodies mount up and tensions erupt with dire consequences. The action moves between Wattisham and Woolpit, Bury St Edmunds and Stowmarket, Needham Market and Shottisham Creek.

Wishing Shelf Awards 2021

Wishing Shelf Awards 2021

Utterly Explosive is a FINALIST in the 2021 Wishing Shelf Awards

I’m pleased to tell you the audiobook for my crime novel Utterly Explosive is a FINALIST in the 2021 Wishing Shelf Awards.

The Wishing Shelf Book Awards (thewsa.co.uk) are well-established and respected awards run by Edward Trayer (pen name Billy Bob Buttons). Edward is the author of sixteen children’s books including the UK People’s Book Prize Winner, I Think I Murdered Miss. He is also the organizer of The Wishing Shelf Book Awards.

Each adult entry is judged by two reading groups, one based in London and one based in Stockholm. The children’s book entries are judged by groups of children from six schools. This approach ensures the entries are read, appraised and judged – not by the publishing industry and individuals heading creative writing courses at academic establishments – but by genuine book readers in more than one country. They are judged by the audience the books are aimed at.

And so you can imagine how thrilled I am to learn that my audiobook Utterly Explosive is a finalist in the audiobook category of the 2021 Wishing Shelf Awards.

My sincere thanks go to narrator – Andy (AJ) Deane. (andrewjamesdeane.co.uk) He is a wonderful narrator – his rich voice and acting training make his narration mesmerising and brings the characters to life. A real pleasure to listen to, and his Suffolk accent for some of the characters, is to die for! Spot on! Well done, Andy, and thank you again.

From Cressing Temple Barns to the Diss Publishing Bookshop in a week

From Cressing Temple Barns to the Diss Publishing Bookshop in a week

A week or so ago I was at Cressing Temple Barns with my books to take advantage of their Christmas fair. Built by the Knights Templar, these barns date back to the 13th century. They are some of the oldest (and largest) wooden structures of their kind in Europe.

While I sat waiting for interested buyers, above me spanned an ancient, beamed roof. As the day progressed and the temperature rose a degree or two, fine wood powder started to collect in minute piles at one end of my table.

Was it the result of past woodworm activity falling like magic dust in the increasing warmth? Or had some new inhabitants of the beetle persuasion (woodworm are actually the larvae of woodboring beetles) worked their way into the ancient beams?

Diss Publishing Bookshop

In what seemed like the blink of an eye, but was in reality some days later, I was at the Diss Publishing Bookshop. Saturday 13th November to be precise, and I was promoting my latest novel in the Utterly Crime Series – Utterly Dredged. I had my book presentation set up again, but this time was surrounded by 20th century wooden tables and bookshelves.

Diss Publishing is a locally run business, in Diss, South Norfolk, first established in 1864. They are well worth a visit if you are in the area. As their website says – ‘We offer an ‘old-fashioned’ service, so you never have to be afraid to ask for help. At the Diss Publishing Bookshop the customer always comes first!’

As the day progressed and the temperature rose a degree or two there was no magic dust accumulating on the table. But there were mouth-watering aromas that drew me into the bookshop’s wonderful café. There I ate a slice of delicious cake made from finely ground almonds.

Mmm…fine powders, both ancient and modern, it set me thinking…