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…
Cast your mind back to the first COVID lockdown in March 2020. It unfortunately coincided with the publication of Utterly Dredged (my ninth novel in the Utterly Crime Series).
As I was preparing for a whirlwind of book signings, live launches and promotions it was whisked away! All plans were cancelled and it became a bleak time for everyone.
I couldn’t complain too much – many faced harsher realities than me – but I didn’t want to let publication slip by unheralded. So I decided to enter Utterly Dredged for the Wishing Shelf Book Awards 2020.
You can imagine my pleasure when this April (2021), as we sit in the last (sic) COVID lockdown, I learn that Utterly Dredged is a RED RIBBON WINNER!
The judges’ summing up: “A cleverly plotted murder/mystery populated with an interesting array of characters. A RED RIBBON WINNER and highly recommended!” The Wishing Shelf Book Awards.
Utterly Dredged – the 9th book in the Utterly Crime Series – is now published and available to buy – but the ‘book launch’ is on hold.
I thought, quite reasonably, that an early spring or Easter release date for Utterly Dredged, the 9th book in the Utterly Crime Series, would be a great idea. I had planned a book launch starting at the Cressing Temple Barns Spring Fair, to be swiftly followed by various library talks and bookshop signings/meet-the-author events.
And the plan started so well. My amazing cover artist Rebecca Moss Guyver had two of her egg tempera paintings chosen for the 2020 Royal Society of British Artists Annual Exhibition, held at the Mall Galleries in London on the 20-29 February 2020. The exhibition was a great success, and what better way to celebrate and validate the talent of the artist who has designed my latest Utterly book cover?
But the coronavirus pandemic was about to hit the UK. Three weeks into March the UK Government announced a shut down of events and public meetings, closed schools, pubs and restaurants, and advised social distancing – in a bid to slow the spread of the virus. All necessary steps, but they also slowed the spread of my book publicity! End result – the promo book launch is on temporary hold BUT…Utterly Dredged is published and available to buy (ebook and paperback), on Amazon, and at Waterstones and other local bookshops.