Across the books and in person.

Welcome! Since I write two English mystery series, I thought it would be fun to chat about that. And about England. Specifically, Derbyshire, since that is the county I know the best. If you have questions about my books, about mysteries or your own writing, or want to know something about England -- perhaps you're planning a visit -- I'd love to talk with you. Let's start chatting, shall we?

Derbyshire VIllage

Derbyshire VIllage

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


Well, today I finished the new non-fiction book.  It's a hybrid of my calendars that I used to make each year and sell.  My book has the months as chapters, the first chapter being November.  Each chapter has a longish synopsis of the Taylor & Graham book occurring in that month, a longer explanation of the custom on which the plot is based, and recipes that are associated with or can go along with the custom.  I had such a good time researching more information on the customs -- I need to do something with my knowledge!  Of course, right now my novels reach only to June.  So, to make my non-fiction book hold a year's worth of books, customs and recipes, I had to figure out what the last four books would be.  I figured out which customs I would use, sat down one lovely spring day and came up with the plots of the four books, and wrote out the synopsis and then the customs sagas.  I plopped those into the non-fiction book and then the fun began of finding recipes for all twelve customs.

This is not as daunting as it might have been.  I have several British cookery books and I know some of the foods associated with some customs, like having parkin, baked potatoes and lemonade on Bonfire Night.  I also had two articles I'd written some years ago on two customs, so I used those.  Plus, of course, some lengthy synopsis on most of the books.  So I really had to write about half the book.

I'm excited about it.  I have a few drawings in there, illustrating bits that might be confusing to the American reader who doesn't know about change ringing or rapper dancing, for example.  I also included a page on planning parties if you want to host an event connected to one of the traditions.  There's also a list of suggested recipes to use for a specific event, like a picnic for the corn harvest custom, or a fireside tea for Valentine's Day.  As of now, I have 300 recipes in the book.  That could change, depending on my publisher's version of "a lot of recipes."  She wanted "a lot of recipes," so I put in what I consider a lot.  Yes, I know 'lot' is subject to individual interpretation, but I didn't think she wanted three or four per custom.

Next comes proof reading and waiting for Swan Song and A Well Dressed Corpse to come out.  I think it would be pushy on my part to submit another manuscript before my latest and greatest have left the printing press.  I'll wait at least a day after I get my copies of the novels....

My non-fiction book has the advantage of use as a standalone book (fun to read without having read any of the Taylor & Graham), a cookery book (hey, 300 recipes -- there's gotta be one in there you'd kill to have!), and of course a great companion piece to the T&G series.  And you'll know what's coming up in the next few years because I've got the four synopsis of the unwritten four books included.  And no, it's not the end of the series.  Unless you know something I don't know.  I just thought it would be a tidy bundle to have 12 novels, 12 customs, and 12 months of recipes within one book cover.

So that's where I am.  I'm extremely tired; I've worked on this nearly non-stop for over a week, putting in 10-12 hour days at the keyboard.  But I hope the effort will be worth it.  I guess I'll find out sometime.

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