A criminally good Christmas meal?

For once there was no snow, no ice, no flooding (just about), and no sign of any nasty flu bugs, so yesterday Other Half and I drove to Gretna Green for the annual Crime & Publishment Christmas bash. This is, believe it or not, the third year in succession that we’ve made it, having missed several before that for the above reasons, sometimes all at once!

This year there were slightly fewer attendees than sometimes thanks to work commitments and ill health, but those of us who turned up more than made up for their absence. The meal was its usual high standard, served like clockwork by the ever-efficient and friendly staff, and it was lovely to catch up with everyone again.

This year’s high point during the round-the-table news catch-up was hearing about Mike Craven, who has just won the CWS Gold Dagger award for his book ‘The Puppet Show’, but everyone had something new to share, be it short stories accepted, novels sent out to agents, or even finding the time to write something… anything. In my own case I was able to mention finishing the first draft of ‘Embers of Bridges’, and getting a short story accepted for an anthology which I’m not allowed to say anything about yet… More news on that in the new year!


Sorry – and watch out for the stockings!

It’s been an absolute age since I wrote anything on here. Partly that’s due to Real Life getting in the way – we’ve had major surgery on the house, plus a family bereavement to deal with. Partly it’s due to dissatisfaction with my writing. I finished the first draft of a new book earlier in the year and disliked it so much that it made me rather despondent, and I’ve been avoiding things ever since!

So, sorry for the long silence, but hopefully normal service will now be resumed. And to kick things off again, here’s some advance news on something I’ll have coming to the blog in December. Called A Crime in My Stockings, it will feature a whole bunch of crime and noir authors talking about the one crime book they’d like to receive in their Christmas stocking – and why.

The answers are flooding in as we speak and I’ll be publishing them throughout the coming month, so do stay tuned to see who turns up and what books they’ll be recommending. It’s sure to be entertaining!

Where the heck is where the heck?

Where the heck2You may well be asking what’s happened to the Where the Heck Wednesday feature the last couple of weeks. Well, don’t worry – it hasn’t vanished into a black hole never to be seen again. Instead, it’s taking a short break over the Christmas period and should be back with more authors, more books, and more odd but intriguing locations. Watch this space – and in the meantime, have a great festive break yourselves and don’t eat all the turkey…

A criminally good Christmas meal

Last night it was the Crime & Publishment annual Christmas meal, held at the Mill Forge hotel in Gretna Green (home of the crime writing course that spawned it). Those of you who read this blog regularly will know that most years, I’ve planned on going, and most years, I’ve missed it, thanks to various combinations of snow, road closures, floods and flu. Last year for the first time Other Half and I went along and thoroughly enjoyed it, and this year we were determined to repeat the experience.

And in spite of Storm Deirdre’s worst efforts, we made it again, much to the amazement of our friends who made various witty remarks about it not being Christmas if I actually turned up. Thanks for that, I’ll see you afterwards…!

Once again it was a lovely event. Around 40 writers, other halves and miscellaneous sundries turned up for drinks, chat, a super four-course meal (delicious braised gammon for me as a change from all the turkey), more chat, a round-up of our writing news, and yet more chat. I don’t think I stopped talking for more than 30 seconds at a time all evening, and that was only to chew. Great company, fascinating people, and a really lovely event.

I can only say thanks to Graham Smith and the team for organising it so flawlessly. And hope for good weather and no lurgies next time round so I can startle everyone and get there three years in a row!

Christmas celebration

P1000012The Far North of England has mercifully (and for once) missed the worst of the snow and ice. This meant that for the first time ever, Other Half and I were able to drive up to Gretna Green on Sunday for the famous Crime & Publishment Christmas meal.

Much to my annoyance, the last two years I’ve had to miss it. Last year we both had a nasty bout of flu (at the same time!) and the year before that, we’d only just dried out after Storm Desmond, and then we got snowed in. Sigh. Even bigger sigh as it was pretty much the only snow we got all winter, and it happened just a few hours before we were due to set off… and then thawed again the following day. Typical.

This time there were no such problems, in spite of temperatures that were so far below freezing that the duck pond at Tebay Services (above) had frozen solid. (The ladies loos weren’t much better either.) But the scenery on the way up, especially over Shap Fell on the M6, was amazing, and we arrived in Gretna a little chilly but unscathed.

And the event was well worth the three year wait. Lovely food, lots of fun, great company, great chance to catch up with folk – some of whom I hadn’t seen for the best part of a year – and a chance to hear how much success everyone has had during the year. And successes they have had – in spades, by the sound of it. Everything from TV deals to debut books, and quite a bit in between.

I had my own good news to share (more on that in the next day or so!) but it’s so good to hear that I’m not the only one. The Crime & Publishment weekend is one of the best things I’ve ever signed up for, bringing so many new friends and above all, so much support.

Merry Christmas to the lot of you – and I’ll see you again for the next Crime & Publishment weekend in March!

Antidote to the turkey?

rabbitstewAnother quick update, this time on the subject of cannibalism.  Well, an anthology of cannibalism, to be precise – Kannibal Cookbook, edited by Dana Kabel.

I had a story called ‘Rabbit Stew’ accepted for the collection but ill-health has delayed the book’s release.  Now the good news is that it’s all happening again, and Kannibal Cookbook should be available around Christmas this year.

As the title suggests, it’ll be an interesting antidote to the turkey.

Season’s greetings…

Popping in to say ‘happy Christmas’, or whatever other festival floats your boat (although that might be a poor choice of words after all the recent floods…).


Anyway, I hope everyone has a lovely break, and a very happy, healthy new year with lots of inspiration for writing.  I’ll ‘see’ you all again once the big day is over.  Have fun!