New book – Trace Evidence

The last few months have been pretty quiet, especially with our son back at university, but I’ve been using my time surprisingly well. When I look back at this year it seems I’ve been more productive than I thought.

Thus far, 2020 has seen the release on sale (although still also free via this site and my mailing list) of Vanishing Point, a novella that introduces the character of Kate Carpenter, art consultant and art crime investigator. I’ve also released Don’t Blink, the first full-length novel in the series and the second, Trace Evidence, will be released on September 30th. And I’m well on the way with the outline for the third book, Exit Wounds.

My most frequently muttered phrase over the last few months has been ‘keep on, keeping on’ and it’s even made it into Trace Evidence as what Kate keeps telling herself when hunting for a missing person and running into dead ends. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t dreading the cold darkness of the Scottish winter, but I’m trying to find pleasure in small things such as knitting and I’m planning to try quilting over the next few months. And I’ll be writing for that gives me enormous comfort.

Look after yourselves and your loved ones, reach out for help if you need to, and do take care. xxx

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A long overdue update…

Way back in January, I made plans for this year, breaking it down into quarters and working out what needed to be done. It was always optimistic but I was feeling pretty productive back then. I reckon a fair few of you did the same and, like me, saw those plans fall apart as the world shifted on its axis.

Endless weeks of uncertainty and two months (and counting) of lockdown haven’t been great for my writing. I’ve been distracted and procrastinating which has prevented me actually sitting down at my desk. I’ve struggled to push away my worries enough to let my mind free itself enough to fall into new writing. I think – I know – that many people have felt the same, whether their intentions were to write or learn to make sourdough bread or go running every day.

Instead, I’ve concentrated on less creative but still important tasks. A publisher loves my writing but needs me to create something more targeted to their market so I’ve polished up a pitch for them. The more I worked on it the more I fell in love with the setting and my heroine and whether they like it or not, it’s definitely an idea I’ll be going back to.

I’ve taken the novella – Vanishing Point – that I wrote and added to this site as a freebie for readers signing up to my mailing list and I’ve made it available to purchase in order to bring it to a wider readership. It’s still free here (link up top) and I really don’t mind whether people take the free option or pay 99p for it. Vanishing Point is short – about 20k words – and introduces the character of art crime investigator Kate Carpenter. Readers seem to be enjoying it and one reviewer even said “I think I found my new favorite thriller series” which was fantastic to hear.

The first full-length Kate Carpenter thriller, Don’t Blink, is also now on sale and I’m looking forward to seeing readers’ response to that. It’s been a very quiet launch because of some health issues in the family and my blog tour had to be pushed back, so I’ve not made a huge fuss. I’ll have to ramp up the marketing when the tour starts on 1st June!
I’m also doing the copy edits for the second in the series and once that’s gone off to my beta readers (last stage before final tweaks and proofreader) I’ll be making that available for pre-order.

Having written all that, it reminds me that I have actually been quite productive. As a friend said, I should stop beating myself up about all the things I feel I should have done and look back and appreciate what I have achieved. I’m not fluent in Finnish, my sourdough starter (named Kerouac) is clearly not thriving, and my early lockdown resolution to use my rowing machine daily fell by the wayside when I realised that it gave me excruciating lower back pain. Nor have I been disciplined about communicating with readers so apologies for that – if you ever want to drop me a line about anything do feel free.

But, most importantly, I’ve kept in touch with family and friends, gained a new appreciation for the kindness of my neighbours, been reminded again just how amazing our NHS is, and realised with pleasure that I can spend all this time at home with my husband and student son and that we’re all still getting on okay.

I hope that you’re getting through this okay too. Stay safe, stay well and know that you are valued. A new normal is coming and we’re still going to need to help each other along as we get used to it.

Take care x

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(Almost) end of year updates

 I have been shockingly bad at updating this year. There’s no excuse, just a whole load of tiny justifications ranging from feeling overwhelmed by the pressure of starting out as an indie author, to getting my head down to write more, to personal stuff relating to home and family. All excuses, none of them really enough to warrant going so quiet that kind people took to emailing me to ask if everything was ok!

It’s been quite a year and although I knew what indie publishing entailed, the actuality of being the only person responsible for every aspect from writing to marketing is exhausting. The idea of it, never mind trying to do it all. Consequently, I’ve treated Death Will Find Me as a bit of an experiment. I’ve tried some different marketing approaches including wrestling with ads on Facebook and that was successful although I’m very aware that to be worth the investment of time and money, I need to have more books for readers to discover once they’ve read the first one.

Tessa Kilpatrick is quite a character and I like spending time with her, but I decided early this year to take a break – probably not ideal from a business point of view – and write the second early next year. My diary reminder for Monday 13th January 2020 says “Begin Tessa Kilpatrick Book 2”. I have some ideas…

In the meantime, I’ve been working on a new series about Kate Carpenter, an art crime investigator. The first is almost finished and I’m currently working on the final draft of the second. I’ve also written a novella, Vanishing Point, introducing Kate which will be available in a week or so as a free download to those on my mailing list. It’s taken time, not least because I wanted to get proper developmental editorial input on the series, but the books are far better than that and I’m looking forward to hearing what readers think in due course. They’re hard to describe although I’ll have to find a way. Not simply a heist thriller, though.

For now though, I’m off to wrestle with the formatting for Vanishing Point so that it’s ready to release next week.  In the meantime, if you’ve read Death Will Find Me, thank you very much. Do leave a review if you have time as it makes such a difference to writers and helps other readers to find books that they’ll enjoy.

See you soon x

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All systems go!

The launch of Death Will Find Me kicked off earlier in the week when Kelly Lacey at Love Books Group coordinated a cover reveal, filling social media with images of the book jacket. I love the cover – designed by the brilliant Mark Thomas at Coverness – and we already have ideas for how we’re going to carry that look on across the next few books.

So here we are – the end of January and bang on schedule, Death Will Find Me is available to pre-order and will be published on February 20th. At the moment, it’s only available in ebook, but in the next few days I’ll be adding options for print copies. And I’ve also ordered a short print run for anyone who’d like to order a signed copy directly.

I know that a novel by a debut author is a tough sell – I’ve been a bookseller long enough to know that while I can say to a shop customer ‘trust me, you’ll love this’, it’s harder to say that about a book mainly available online. Fortunately, reviews are stacking up and hopefully that will give readers confidence.

I hope you enjoy Death Will Find Me – Tessa Kilpatrick arrived in my life quite unexpectedly and I really enjoy writing about her. At the moment, as well as working on all the publishing aspects of Death Will Find Me, I’m writing the first draft of the second (as yet untitled) book. It’s coming on well and should be out in the autumn.

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Looking forward to 2019 – new opportunities

"For last year's words belong to last year's language and next year's words await another voice." TS Eliot At the turn of each year, I like to look at the previous year and think about what I want to achieve in the coming one. Well, you know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men… Last January, I had a verbal offer for the book, I’d done the requested edits (heaven forbid that there be a hint of romance between my protagonist and the man she’ll be marrying in a later instalment – don’t worry, I’ve put that back!) and my then-agent was very positive. My goals for 2018 looked very different to how the year actually panned out…

By July, my agent had been unable to convert that verbal offer into an actual contract and he hated the new, contemporary, crime novel so much that after ghosting me for a while, he suggested we part company. It was a shock, but as a friend pointed out, I hadn’t been happy with him for a while and already had an exit strategy…

But after a summer of licking my wounds, I made a plan and now, as I work towards becoming an independent author, I’m feeling pretty positive. I’m in control rather than being at the mercy of fickle publishers and I’m not having to share an agent’s time with a couple of dozen other – possibly more profitable – clients.

And it means that I feel able to make actual plans this year that are dependent on me, not other people who have other agendas. 2019 is full of possibilities!

What matters is whether readers enjoy my books and so far the early feedback has been really positive. But I want to be able to justify spending my time telling stories and therefore I need to build a big enough audience of people who like those novels. So, on the writing front, my goals for 2019 are:

1. To publish Death Will Find Me in February and the second book in the series in the autumn. There’s a sales figure I’m aiming for but I feel hesitant about sharing that publicly right now.

2. To write two shorts about Tessa Kilpatrick for people who’ve joined my readers’ club.

3. To write the next draft of Don’t Blink (the contemporary art-world thriller) and then get some professional editorial feedback so that I can decide whether it has potential. If I want to bash on with it, then I’ll do that once the second Tessa Kilpatrick book is published.

4. To blog regularly. I’ve been blogging for well over a decade, but posting has become very intermittent of late, not least because I was waiting for publication news that didn’t materialise. But I enjoy blogging and talking to readers and it’s a good way to talk about some of the background to the books and the way that I write. Hopefully Tessa Kilpatrick’s readers will be interested in that.

Other than that, my goals centre on sorting out our garden so that it’s both beautiful and productive; take a couple of foreign trips (I’m off to Minsk in later this month); to finally get on top of our admin with everything neatly filed away and our tax returns completed well before the deadline rather than just making it under the wire, and the usual getting fitter and eating better that we all promise outselves we’ll do.

I hope that you have a brilliant 2019 and that it’s as exciting and challenging (in a good way) as I think mine might be.








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