2013 A Year of Books

I’m rather startled to find myself very busy being published this year – after the long lean years of rejection and dejection it’s astonishing (and very gratifying) to realise that in 2013 my fifth and sixth novels will be published. It’s still a source of wonder to me to find that a publisher is prepared to invest in my work and even though my present publisher, Robert Hale Ltd, sell mainly to public libraries and almost exclusively publish hardbacks which don’t get into the shops, it’s still a great thrill to get an offer.

1) The year kicks off on 31st January with the publication of my second contemporary cosy mystery, A Crowded Coffin, which features intrepid former headmistress, Harriet Quigley and her clergyman cousin, Sam Hathaway, in their new adventure.

It’s late summer in Hampshire and former headmistress, Harriet Quigley, is enjoying life. Her cousin Sam is moving next-door and the only cloud on the horizon is village gossip about a man who disappeared months earlier, along with a more recent near-fatal accident.
Suddenly it’s all going pear-shaped – and sensible, practical Harriet has only herself to blame. Sam has warned her not to play at being Miss Marple but despite her cousin’s strictures Harriet is suspicious about several newcomers and she’s been asking discreet questions. There’s an enigmatic artist; a good-looking vicar; a handsome Texan; a millionaire orchid-fancier; and Elvis the plumber. To cap it all someone’s seen the family ghost and only her young cousin Edith takes Harriet’s anxieties seriously. With a sudden death in Winchester Cathedral; a treasure hunt that attracts unwelcome attention; and history that looms uncomfortably close, Harriet finds herself trapped somewhere very nasty – and she’s not alone

2) Next – probably somewhere near Easter – sees the re-issue of my first novel, Scuba Dancing, a romantic comedy, in e-book form. The very talented Linda Gruchy, http://linda-gruchy-author.blogspot.co.uk, is editing it for me and I hope to find a whole new readership for it. Lots of people loved it when it was first published in 2005 by Transita Ltd and it’s great to think of it having a new lease of life.


‘It was late summer when the angel first manifested himself to Ursula Buchanan in the village shop, beside the notice board and just along the aisle from the bacon slicing machine…
‘Go on,’ he urged, pointing a glowing golden finger at the notice. ‘Join the group, Ursula, it’ll change your life.’
And so it does.
Ursula’s life is not the only one to be altered for ever.
Finding her life empty as she hits forty, Finn Fitzgerald takes a leap into the unknown, in search of fulfilment. Moving in with her sister, Julia, and meeting gorgeous Charlie Stuart is great, but how on earth has she ended up working as a clairvoyant?
Julia’s friends include wealthy, gin-soaked Delia; ex-Brown Owl, Bobbie; Sue who despairs of her unfaithful husband and Rosemary who despairs of her demented and sex-mad mother. Soon Finn and Charlie find themselves entangled in the mischief of the older generation, and love is in the air. Until, that is, they find out what their elders are up to and Finn finds out about Charlie’s wife…

Gradually, Finn, Charlie and the rest of their new friends come to recognise that a cliché may also be a truth – that love really can strike at any time and in any form, and that the first step towards fulfilment can be the simple act of reaching out to others.
3) June sees the publication as e-books by Robert Hale Ltd of my first two Victorian mysteries, Murder Most Welcome and Death is the Cure, featuring Charlotte Richmond, a feisty young widow who simply can’t help tripping over the occasional dead body.

4) And September is the month when Charlotte Richmond turns up again, in her third adventure, The Dead Queen’s Garden.
No cover illustration for this one yet but you might like to see the inspiration behind the story, The Great Hall, Penrhyn Castle in North Walespenrhyncastlegreathall http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penrhyn_Castle
and Queen Eleanor’s Garden in Winchester, http://www3.hants.gov.uk/greathall/queen-eleanors-garden.htmQEleanor'sgarden

Young Victorian widow, Charlotte Richmond, has lately found herself tripping over the occasional corpse, but surely the festive season, beginning with a christening party, can’t present the same hazard?
Oh yes it can…
There are some strange incidents and a death, apparently from natural causes, that leaves Charlotte puzzled and anxious over questions that seem to have no answers. Over Christmas, however, she does manage to learn a surprising amount about mediaeval gardening, some unusual and unpleasant ailments, London property values, and how to conduct a rat-hunt.
As if that isn’t enough, Charlotte encounters someone who may know far too much about her unorthodox upbringing in Australia, and then there’s Florence Nightingale who keeps making an offer that she insists Charlotte can’t refuse.
To cap it all, Boxing Day finds the resourceful Charlotte in a garden dedicated to a long-dead queen, fighting for her life and armed only with what is possibly the least likely weapon ever.

And tomorrow, 13th January, is our 45th wedding anniversary. We thought we mark the day by going to see Les Miserables. It seems fitting, somehow. 🙂 (We were very young, of course!!)


9 thoughts on “2013 A Year of Books

  1. Enjoying reading all your blogs and looking at you lovely book covers and photos. I hope everything continues to go well for you and I do hope you survived The Glums (sorry, Les Mis), which I have to say I didn’t when I saw it on the London Stage….but I am weird! Anyway, dropped in to wish you well with everything and I shall be dropping in again.

    • Thanks, Jane. We had mixed views on Les Mis; neither of us likes the singing instead of talking and I thought it really dragged until the action moved to Paris and the young revolutionaries turned up. Must say I came away feeling the only thing worth watching in the whole film was the actor who played Enjolras, the leader of the revolution! (Aaron Tveit in case anyone’s interested!)

      • Oh thank God! the stage play was an Xmas gift from a younger brother for mum and I about 2 years ago. He came too, full of expectation as his partner has seen it 3 times (now with the movie, 4), and it drove me nuts. Mum snored all the way through it and only woke when the huge lady with massive boobs and a low cut top emerged from the stage floor, and nestled herself there, only that part of her visible whilst she sang goodness knows what! Several people slept. My brother kept a running commentary of his own whispered version of the dialogue which was hilarious. By the first interval we were both almost suicidal and so we headed for the bar. After a vote we three decided not to return but to head for the pub across the street. Boring, bland, dark and I know the world screams in amazement at us, but if we had remained for the next half we would have needed treatment. We were not the only people who walked out, about 15 did. Apparently the film is so much lighter and happier!! I shan’t be finding out.

  2. What wonderful news, Nicola … Of course publishers would want to published your work, because you write what every reader wants to read, wonderfully enjoyable books. Have a great evening out for your 45th… Hope you’ll be sitting in the back row holding hands 🙂

  3. Congratulations on such a fantastic roll of books – and in different genres as well. I’m not usually keen on mystery and murder but Harriet has piqued my interest [maybe it’s the teaching connection] so I’ll be looking out for that book.

  4. Can’t wait to read the new Harriet book, Nicola, and medieval gardening is right up my street! Very pleased to see that Scuba Dancing is coming out, too, I enjoyed it very much – think it must have been the first of your books I read. It’s going to be quite a year for you!

    • Harriet2 should be winging your way soon, Jodie, the publisher knows where you live! A friend says it’s ‘Famous Five for grown-ups’; and the publisher says the third Charlotte is actually a melodrama! I can’t disagree with either diagnosis…

  5. How wonderful Nicola, congratulations on a well deserved publishing jack-pot. Looking forward to seeing everything in print and e-book. So much fun and so satisfying for you. I know you will sell loads and loads and make a splash wherever your books go.

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