Wednesday, 10 August 2022

The Welsh Book Crawl

 I've been wanting to take part in the Big London Book Crawl for some time, but never managed to get a trip to the city co-ordinated on the right weekend. And then came Covid. But then last weekend the Book Crawl came to  me. Bookshops all over Wales took part from Friday to Sunday offering all sorts of treats and discounts and on Saturday afternoon I joined a small group for an organised walk around Cardiff. Ably led by Rhys we toured six locations, including several I would not have discovered on my own. Of course I bought books, but forgot the camera to take photos! 

First stop was Troutmark Books in the Castle Arcade. I have been there before, but many years ago. It's an amazing rabbit warren. Next, in complete contrast, the very sleek and modern Oxfam Shop in St Mary's Street. Then the book stall  in the Cardiff Market, where several of the party succumbed to the lure of an adjacent stall selling Welsh cakes.  

Then it was out to Canton on the bus - my first bus trip since pre -Covid. Glad to find my bus pass still works.  We visited Shelf Life - a non profit radical bookshop specialising in marginalised and underrepresented voices, Caban - a Welsh language bookshop and lastly, a real treat "And Penguins" a special pop up shop in the home of a Penguin book collector, where we we were able to browse some fascinating gems over tea and biscuits. 

It was a lovely afternoon, full of fun and surprises in good company. What did I buy? 

Coffee with  Shakespeare - a fictional dialogue by Shakespearean expert Stanley Wells.

A small volume on smugglers in Wales.

Those two are possibly for research.

The Angel of Mons  by David Clarke - an exploration of the strange legend that grew up in the First World War that has fascinated me for years.

A classic Nora Roberts that I haven't read - Blue Smoke 

And my pop up Penguins were all related to my studies for the PhD - a bit of nostalgia. Why War? by philosopher C E M  Joad who was one of the experts who was part of the panel for the radio Brains  Trust, Hitler's War  by Hugh Dalton M P, who served in the war time Cabinet and was Chancellor of the Exchequer after the war. And as light relief, Margery Allingham's Death of a Ghost - an Albert Campion that I hadn't read and am enjoying. These three were war time publications so are quite special. 

I also bought some oat milk chocolate -  which is very good and some cards to add to my stock of not quite birthday cards. 

All in all it was a very good day. 

Wednesday, 3 August 2022

Out and about

 I had a great time with Helga, Laura and Jo at Griffin Books last Friday. Thanks to Mel and her team for putting on a fun event and to everyone who came along. I think they all enjoyed it as much as we did. 

Thanks too to Kath Eastman from the Nut Press for the photo of me in the shop clutching the perfect yellow rose we all got as a leaving gift - sometimes being an author can make you feel really special. And Kath even managed to snap me with my eyes open! 

|It was lovely too to meet fellow Crime Cymru member Chris Lloyd in real rather than virtual life.  Chris is another local author who won the Historical Writers' Association Gold Crown Award and was shortlisted for the Crime Writers' Association Historical  Dagger Award for his Paris set World War II historical crime The Unwanted Dead. 

Having got a taste for gadding about, I'm now going to do it again!!!

 I'm planning a visit to Rhiwbina Beans Coffee Shop as Writer in Residence for the day. You will be welcome to drop in to chat, find out about my books, talk generally about writing and of course you'll have the chance to buy a signed copy for yourself or for a present. 

Rhiwbina Beans is in Heol Llanishen Fach, Cardiff. It's a quirky coffee shop with a 4.5 score on Trip Advisor and a fine line in cake. I'll confirm the date ASAP. It would be great to see you.  

Wednesday, 27 July 2022

In a mood

 Looking for a new small casserole dish last week - an apparent impossibility, they all seemed designed for feeding families of at least ten - I noticed a line of cookware from Le Creuset that was called Riviera. Bright, colourful and illustrated in use with pictures of some very nice food. Now as you know, my current series is also known as Riviera. It made me think about the power of a word to conjure an image, a feeling, maybe an emotion. My first stop on words is always the dictionary and the definition of Riviera from the Cambridge on-line edition is an area of coast especially with beaches where people go on holiday.  It's a popular term as Wikipedia, while pointing out that the conventional use is for the French and Italian Riviera, lists a large number of other places in the world that also use the designation - including the Torbay area in the UK.

Looks like we are all plugging into a mood here. 

The two aspects that I'm going for are coast and holiday. If they sum up my current series of books I'm happy. The word also says glamour to me - sea and sand yes, but also sunshine, beautiful buildings, fast cars, flowers, gorgeous food and drink ... That's a lot of freight for a single word.  

It's not the only word that does this. Think of beach hut - two very popular words in books titles and illustrations for summer reading. What does that conjure  - sand dunes, picnics, sea swimming, maybe surfing and watersports, family gatherings ...

At the other end of the spectrum gothic gives me shadows, candle light, menace, cold, that classic picture of the woman in the nightdress descending a staircase ...

Words are wonderful things. They are my trade. So many of them come with so much baggage. Endlessly fascinating. 

Wednesday, 20 July 2022

Holiday reading event at Griffin Books

 If you are looking for some holiday reading - or advice on travel destinations - they will be available at a fab event at Griffin Books in Penarth on 29th July. I will be there, along with two other Welsh romance authors to talk about the books you might be packing in your suitcase - or taking into the garden if this year the choice is a staycation. I'll be there with Laura and Helga and Jo and I'm looking forward to a fun evening. It all kicks off at 6.30, there is a small fee and a glass of something bubbly. Hope you can join us.  

Dust off your favourite holiday outfit and head to Griffin Books for a very special party in the shop. We'll be joined by authors Helga Jensen, Laura Kemp and Evonne Wareham who will introduce their latest books - all perfect for packing in your suitcase this summer. Plus, we'll be picking the brains of local Travel Counsellor Jo Baldwin, and sharing some of our own staff recommendations for the ultimate summer read.
We might not be sipping margaritas on a sun-kissed Mediterranean beach, but we do have more books than you can shake a cocktail umbrella at - and that's much better, right!
Friday 29 July | 6.30 pm
Griffin Books, 9A Windsor Road, Penarth
Tickets: £5.00 - includes a glass of prosecco
or soft drink on arrival



Wednesday, 13 July 2022

Best laid plans

 Well - this week was meant to be a social week - a reward for getting the manuscript for Riviera 4 to the publishers at last. Afternoon tea at The Ivy in Cardiff with fellow members of the lovely Cariad Chapter of the Romantic Novelists' Association and then off to Telford for the RNA conference. 


An unforeseen  medical  issue has scuppered all that. Plenty of doctors, not too much social mixing. None at all actually. But I am doing OK, so no worries. Getting a lot of odd jobs done - shortened two pairs of trousers and let out a third, half constructed a cupboard for the bathroom, kept my workmen in tea. The back wall is slowly being renovated. Going to look good when it is finished and no more threat of an avalanche.

Some reading, some sleeping, no writing. I will get back to it, but not yet. 

I have some public appearances on the horizon, which will be fun. More details of that next week. 

Wednesday, 6 July 2022

The answer is a lemon...


Well, Riviera 4 has finally gone to the publisher. Now we have to hope they like it. It's not like anything else I've written, but they never are. 

Now that's over I have a whole mountain of jobs to be done, from the kitchen floor to the dismemberment of large cardboard boxes so that they fit into pieces about a foot square so they go in the recycling  bag. Always  a fun job.  

As I have said before, work is happening in the house - well, actually outside it. New roof is fine, but now it's the retaining wall on the lowest  tier of the garden. Messy and expensive and potentially detrimental to the things I wanted done inside the house. 

I am having fun day dreaming interior looks and researching things like paint colours. Not sure now that I'm going to get that new bedroom carpet though. Apparently the look of the moment is "coastal grandmother" I can manage 50% of that, so hope that's enough. It seems to be beach house sort of style, which suits me. Also apparently the look features ginger jars and bowls of lemons. Despite the picture and I don't know what I was doing with 3 lemons, I don't DO lemons. The only ginger jar I have is about three inches tall.  I can do while walls, lots of books and fancy cushions. I have that already! Not sure about the laid back lifestyle that supposedly goes with it. See kitchen floor and cardboard boxes, above. And if there are going to be deadlines in the near future certainly not laid back. 

I just need some more time to day dream paint charts. Did you know how many shades of white there are? 

Wednesday, 29 June 2022

Grrrr ....

 Well, I didn't make it - the book is still here.

Been working hard, but got a bit sandbagged. Found another plot hole that needed fixing and now a wall in the back garden is on the move and that too wants fixing. There's a crack in it I can get my fingers in. Money and mess, I'm afraid. It's the lowest tier of three terraces  has a lot of soil behind it. The builder reckons we have at least three skips worth. And skips are apparently very expensive these days! Also concrete blocks. 

It will all get done, but sadly it might be at the expense of some of the nice things I wanted, like a new bedroom carpet. 

Oh well, that's life. I certainly don't want to wake up in the middle of a dark and stormy night to the sound of ominous cracking and rumbling and a very large pile of moving soil. 

I'm still working frantically on the book and I do hope that it will be done, as done as it can be at this stage, by next week.

Once it is out of the house I can get rid of the tunnel vision and start blogging about more interesting things. 

One good thing - A Villa in Portofino has a best seller flag again today. Blink and you miss it, but cheering when it happens. 

If you have any positive writing/editing/finishing the damn thing and getting it out the door vibes around, please feel free to send them my way.