You see, such is my dedication that, even though I’m STILL in pain with this dratted shoulder, I have forced myself to sit at my desk and write a blog post. Never say I don’t make an effort. 🙂
It’s been a busy month so far. A couple of weeks ago, DH and I abandoned our almost-finished living room and my nowhere-near-finished office and headed off to the Yorkshire Dales for seven whole days of peace and quiet. The weather forecast wasn’t particularly great but, to be honest, we didn’t much care.
For weeks we’d been surrounded by boxes and rolls of wallpaper and tins of paint and – well – junk! We’d had enough and were more than ready to escape to the country while we awaited the last of the furniture deliveries.
We’d stayed at our holiday apartment before, and when we arrived we found a lovely, welcoming greeting on the chalkboard in the hallway. It really did feel like coming home and we relaxed immediately.
I’ll be honest, we were both so exhausted that we’d already decided that we weren’t going to do what we usually do on holiday, which is visit as many places as it’s humanly possible to cram in. Instead, we decided to chill out: to spend time just taking it easy, recharging our batteries and going for the odd excursion. And, for once in our lives, we stuck to the plan.
We had a long drive out the first afternoon that encompassed North Yorkshire, Cumbria, and County Durham. The scenery was absolutely beautiful and we both agreed we’d like to visit Cumbria again one day, properly this time. A couple of days later we headed to Skipton, but we were surprised to find it absolutely heaving with people. It was much bigger than I’d expected. I’d never been before and, in my head, it was a small market town. It isn’t! I know it’s a beautiful place but we just weren’t in the right frame of mind for crowds, so we headed up to Richmond instead.
I’d wanted to visit the Lucy Pittaway shop for ages, because she’s one of my favourite artists and I was determined to buy a couple of notebooks from there. One day, I vowed, as I examined the various paintings on sale, I will buy a proper limited edition Lucy Pittaway print. When I’m feeling rich! I love Richmond, and we found some really quaint little shops to browse around. It’s one place I never tire of visiting, and I loosely based Kirkby Skimmer in the Skimmerdale books on the town, replacing the castle with an abbey instead.
On the Thursday, we spent the day in Masham, a place I return to again and again. We had tea and scones in the cafe, wandered round the churchyard and sat on the bench, soaking up the sunshine, listening to the birds and the bees, and letting the stresses of the last few weeks ebb away.
Back at the apartment we ate good food, read books, and binge-watched Manifest! If you haven’t seen it yet I really recommend it. It’s got kind of a “Lost” feel to it, and it stars Josh Dallas who played Prince Charming in Once Upon a Time (which I also loved). I’m really hoping it doesn’t lose its way like Lost did. (Ironic!) It’s not often DH and I get obsessed with the same programme, but we were both hooked on Manifest and we’ve finished the entire first series. Now we have to wait until some time next year to watch the second one. Boo.
On the Friday, we said goodbye to our holiday apartment and started the drive home, deciding to do a slight detour and visit Scarborough on the way. It was a gorgeous, sunny day, so of course it was pretty busy. We ate jumbo hotdogs and decided that our diet would have to wait another twenty-four hours, despite our good intentions to restart it that very day.
Back home at last, I had little time to prepare for the next big event. Saturday saw me heading to York for the Romantic Novelists’ Association York Tea. This is an annual event that sees members of the RNA gather to chat and exchange news over plates of scrummy sandwiches and cake. They were so scrummy, in fact, that I decided that the diet would have to wait ANOTHER twenty-four hours.
It was great to catch up with friends old and new, and I had a great time. I also noticed that my nerves had gone! Usually, when I head to events like this, I’m terrified, but this time around, even though I was expecting to go in alone, I was absolutely fine. As it happened, I was greeted outside by two good friends, Joy Wood and Sylvia Broady, and we all went inside together, so there was no flutter of panic whatsoever. I’m getting much better at this socialising lark!
The York Tea this year had a slightly different feel to it. For the first time, the Joan Hessayon Award was presented during the event. Usually, this takes place in London, but there had been a change of plan for this year (and possibly future years) so the tea attracted more people from the south and there were lots of fresh faces this time around. It was good that so many people made the effort to come all the way up to York, but it was a packed event and it’s hard to get round the room to talk to everyone you plan to. I got home to find people saying what a great time they’d had and I hadn’t even realised they were there! Such a shame.
Huge congratulations, though, to all the contenders, and special congrats to Lorna Cook, whose book, The Forgotten Village, sounds amazing and won the prize!
Once the weekend was out of the way, work concluded on my office and the living room. I am absolutely over the moon with both rooms, but it’s especially nice to have a pretty space to work in.
The only problem I have is that the new and expensive computer chair that I invested in is actually less comfortable than the old one I’ve promised to give away! I thought it would be better for me but nope. It’s always one thing or another, isn’t it? I’m hoping that, once I get my steroid injections in my shoulder, I’ll be less tense and things will improve. At the moment it’s hard to say which is most painful – my shoulder, arm, neck or posterior! (The seat on the new chair is surprisingly hard!)
Finally, book news! Yes, I have a new book coming out in the next week or thereabouts. It’s called The Other Side of Christmas, and it’s the second in my Home for Christmas series, following on from (but not connected to) Baxter’s Christmas Wish. Some of you might recognise the title as that of a short story I wrote back in 2014. That’s because this book is based on that story. I always really liked the character of Katy and wished I could find out a little bit more about her and her battle to keep her dream home, so this year I decided that I would expand the story and turn it into a festive, feel-good novella. It’s a quick read so perfect for when you’ve got a couple of hours to yourself and just want to curl up in an armchair with a hot drink and lose yourself in a cosy Christmas romance.
Here’s the cover and the blurb:
Katy’s driving home for Christmas – except an empty, cold caravan hardly seems like home, and it’s not feeling much like Christmas.
It wasn’t supposed to be like this: a few months ago she had her dream cottage, a loving fiance, and big plans for a perfect wedding. Now she’s in her car, travelling through the snow along dark, country lanes, heading towards a Christmas spent by herself, with nothing more to look forward to than a frozen turkey dinner and a box of Quality Street.
With her friends busy with their guests, her parents on a cruise, and her ex-fiance miles away, the only person Katy is expecting to see at all is Luke, the builder who has been working hard to transform Katy’s cottage before it goes up for sale on the other side of Christmas. Arriving at last in the Holderness village of Weltringham, she’s disappointed to find both the cottage and the caravan in darkness, and Luke nowhere to be seen. It seems everyone in the world has abandoned her to her gloomy fate.
Is she doomed to have the worst festive season ever, or is someone about to save Katy’s Christmas?
After all, it is the time of miracles …
I hope you all enjoy it. I know it seems a bit early to be talking about Christmas books already but, trust me, I’m not the first author to put one out this year. Far from it! Now it’s time for me to get on with the sixth and final Bramblewick book, as that’s due for a Christmas release, too. I just hope my poor, aching old body is up to it. 🙂
Ooh, and before I go, just time to tell you that Belle, Book and Christmas Candle is currently enrolled in the Amazon Prime programme, which means that if you have Prime you can read it absolutely FREE as part of your membership. Bargain!
Have a great week!