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A long-winded invitation

20 November 2023

A long-winded invitation

A long-winded invitation…

There are only so many blog entries an author can get away with before having to tackle the thorny issue of actually writing stuff. The reasons for avoiding the subject are multitudinous, including the fear of boring one’s readers to death by over-sharing the secrets of the ‘craft’ and the fear of appearing to know any of those secrets in the first place. I hereby offer you the prospect of death by boredom or laughter – murder weapons you’d least expect even in the cosiest of cosy crime novels.

I first dipped my toe in the authoring water back in 2002, when city law firms still insisted women wore skirts to work, and most business start-up guides assumed all entrepreneurs were men. Spotting a gap in the market, my pal Bella and I wrote Make it Your business – the ultimate business startup guide for women, endorsed by Nicola Horlick, who at that time was the woman described as ‘having it all’.

It was our belief that ‘it all’ wasn’t necessarily a multi-million payout from a stock exchange flotation but simply the bounce-out-of-bed feeling of loving your job and the creative satisfaction of shaping it, without necessarily sending your children to boarding school at three.

There was a bidding war between five publishers and the first print run sold out in a month. We were plucked out of suburban anonymity to pinch-yourself moments - sharing the stage with Polly Toynbee at Lancaster House, representing women-owned businesses at the DTI and shaking hands with Gordon Brown at number ten before tucking into canapés at Peter Mandelson’s birthday party.

Apparently it’s all about capturing that elusive zeitgeist. If you are lucky enough to spot it, then be sure to ensnare it, wrap it in cotton wool and sell it to the highest bidder…

Twenty years later, I find myself in a rather different situation. Having received a chunky advance for my first two novels, I thought I was on another dreamy trajectory to stardom, until the publisher went bust and I found myself flung out from the most steadfast of cruise liners into the stormy seas with no lifeboat - and no mention of the over-use of similes either.

And yet, and yet… A part of me was excited about this. Book three in the DS Ronnie Delmar series – Last to Leave - was written and ready, and more zeitgeisty than ever, with a focus on misogyny and corruption in the police, post-Sarah Everard. Websites like Fiverr and Reedsy supplied me with an editor and designer, and trusty indie author friends were happy to share their own tips and tricks for the tech challenges - KDP for print book and e-book, IngramSpark for the print version that goes into shops. So far, so plain sailing. Book blog tour, launch party, press release, tick tick tick. For anyone with even the faintest trace of ADHD this is a heavenly way to fill your days.

And now, with all that enthusiasm powering me along like a superyacht engine on a dinghy, I’m ready four weeks early, which gives me time to reflect back on the last few months flurry of activity. What astounds me most is that I harbour no regret for the loss of my publisher. Instead of feeling rejected and not good enough, I’m actually grateful for having had the opportunity to strike out alone.

So, readers of mine, If you’ve got this far without drowning in a sea of maritime imagery, then I think you deserve a reward, which is an invitation to the online launch of Last to Leave, on 30 November at 6.30pm. email me for the link to join and I look forward to seeing you then, me hearties.

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