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

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…

Lake District to Lockdown Art – in 7 Days!

Lake District to Lockdown Art – in 7 Days!

Five days ago I was up in the Lake District at an event near Carlisle touring with my latest book, Utterly Dredged. A quick pause for breath and time to dry out after all the wet weather, and then today – lockdown art!

Tesco Staff Tributes

It was so moving to watch my cover design artist, Rebecca Moss Guyver present portraits she painted during lockdown as a tribute and thank you to key workers. Today it was the turn of the key workers keeping the Stowmarket Tesco food store open during lockdown – shelves stacked, tills manned and ‘click & collect’ baskets filled. So – six wonderful portraits of Stowmarket Tesco staff with Rebecca in the centre of the store – a very special moment.

Covid-19 Tribulations

Covid-19 Tribulations

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.

Bury Literature Festival – Negotiated

Bury Literature Festival – Negotiated

Held in one of Bury St Edmund’s most impressive buildings, the Unitarian Meeting House in Churchgate Street, it was a pleasure to attend and indeed feature in the Literature Festival on the 27th October 2019. It was a first for me to be talking  with a backdrop of a sweeping wooden staircase circling up to a substantial wooden pulpit! It was very atmospheric with the light streaming in through the tall windows and Waterstones there with a table of festival authors’ books.

We had a wonderful audience with plenty of interest and questions, as Jackie, Rachel and I talked about our independent approaches to publishing and our various experiences.  Our different genres lend themselves to contrasting methods of reaching our audiences, for example – Rachel writes post apocalyptic adventure for Young Adults, Jackie writes literary fiction as well as being a playwright, and I write contemporary crime novels set in Suffolk. That’s quite a mix of styles, and led to a lively talk about ebooks, paperbacks, audiobooks and the stage. We could have talked for far longer than our allocated time – it always feels good when you leave an audience wanting more!