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It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas!

I know it’s only July the third, but I’ve already had two ‘it’s time to get ready for Christmas’ emails from quilting shops offering discounts because ‘Christmas in July’ is a quilting thing because starting now gives us a chance to actually finish the project. I’m trying to convince myself that I won’t look because I’ve got this year’s Christmas projects all cut out and one Christmas quilt is finished thanks to the less than inspiring spring we’ve had. But hey, we’re friends here and you know me. Sooner or later my fingers will hit the trackpad on my laptop and I’ll be there. I'll claim it's an accident of course and my family will pretend to believe me because they're lovely.

It’s also feeling Christmassy because I’m working on this year’s short story collection which is going to be called ‘By Special Request’ for the simple reason that it is made up of stories that I know people want to read because they answered my shout out after Jan asked to hear more about the Adams family from Windy Bay. This has been a joy to write and I’m hoping to do a summer collection next year so if there is anyone you want to hear about, please let me know.

And, of course, we had 3 hot days last week and now we’re back to my favourite sort of summer weather, which is the kind that's right for lightweight cotton trousers or a skirt or dress and a cardigan. I can go for walks or sit out without risk of sunburn which we’re paranoid about as a family because my husband lives with stage 4 multiple cancers because of a malignant melanoma that spread. I can cook without making the house too hot, and currently I’m working my way through my collection of authentic Dorset apple cake recipes. I’ve got twelve of them, and they’re all different so we’re trying to find our favourites. This picture is of the one with a layer of cake mixture, then a layer of eating apples, dried apricots and almonds, then a layer of cake mixture and more almonds sprinkled on top and it’s lovely and moist and yummy with just a hint of cinnamon and ginger. My clever husband made the perfect cappucino beside it because we bought a milk frother as last year's 'kitchen toy' and he took it over because it appeals to him. This year's toy is currently going on a guided tour of Royal Mail delivery offices for some reason. So far, it's been to Tyneside and Durham but it's back in Poole today so I may be united with my soup maker soon. I'll update you about that on Sunday but when I've looked at menus at the pubs and restaurants on the Quay the homemade soups with crusty bread or cheese on toast have leapt out at me and said 'make me.' Then one came up as a special offer on Amazon so it seemed rude not to try, especially since processed soups have so much sugar in them.

My seaside crazy quilt that I’m embroidering when I have to have a break while on my walks because my joints aren't brilliant at the moment is coming on very nicely. Here's a picture of a block in a lovely place overlooking the salt water lagoon in Poole park and I’ll enjoy quilting it in the wintertime and remembering. I’m excited about that and the blue and white one with the inserted lace that I’m embroidering with butterflies because I love butterflies too and the next one I’m about to start piecing is going to be a very Stacy-ish quilt. You met her as Peter’s goddaughter in Death by Misadventure and she’ll be back in ‘Crazy for death’ which will be out in early September.

Speaking of books being out, on Thursday ‘The Crafty Sew and Sews’ comes out. This is the second book in the Harbourside series and is about the craft group that meets at the retirement complex and how the women support each other in this new stage of their lives. I’ve experimented with changing viewpoints in this one and I hope you like it. By now, you’ll know how important I think craft and the fellowship of women is to our lives and our mental health. While your head’s bent over your sewing you can talk about all the personal stuff that even the best of men (which I married) don’t understand and even if they can’t help you, you feel understood and that they’ve got your back, which is very important to me. I hope you enjoy it.

If that’s not for you, there are some special offers starting tomorrow at 99p UK and 99c in the US. As always, anthologies are available for all my lovely readers who can’t access these deals (and the ones who can but don’t want to wait for them to come around!) They’re priced at £2.99UK and $2.99 US and I’m adding to them as time allows.

Vintage Girl Summer is one of my favourite Windy Bay books because I love vintage and second chances and the slightly dizzy heroine who’s the unacademic one in an academic family and is following her dream. An accident leaves her literally in the arms of reclusive, brooding Adam Grant who’s struggling to find reasons to go on after a tragedy… and I bet you can guess the rest!

Then there are two in my historic Shadows espionage series which I write as Eleanor Neville. There’s a little bit more sex and violence, but honestly not much.

Raven’s Knowledge is set in the early 2000’s and is about Hannah, who is deputy manager of a hotel and is struggling because her manager isn’t pulling his weight. A mistake with a double booking leaves her facing the guest from hell, who’s lame and angry and running away from his past because he can’t be a Shadow agent any more. Or can he? And what is going on with her boss?

Lastly, there’s ‘Be Thankful you’re living’ which is set in the run up to World War Two and explores a period that fascinates me when the Nazi’s are gaining power in Germany and some very brave people are getting Jewish children out. It’s well worth googling Nicholas Winton and the Kindertransport if you ever need reminding that there are more good people than bad in this crazy old world. Anyway, Jenny Stannard is on her way home from her Austrian finishing school when she overhears an argument outside the door of her sleeping compartment. It’s followed by a shot and…. You’ll have to download a sample if you want to see what happens next!

Have a good week and we’ll catch up on Sunday and remember to let me know if there are any characters you’d like to hear more about in a summer anthology.


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