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Off and running…

I love New Year. It’s one of a control freak’s favourite times because there are all those lists and plans to make during the dark time of the year where the weather even down here in my lovely soft corner of the soft South is frankly, horrible. We’ve had so many severe weather and flood warnings and the reclaimed land down at my beloved Harbourside is so sodden with water that it splashes up when the dogs run across it and little children sink up to their ankles in mud when they ignore their parents and leave the path that’s patched with debris that’s been swept up by the sea.

But on New Year’s Day there was a gap in the weather so I got outside to clear the plants that became slug and snail food and then plan what new plants and lights I want in my garden and how I’m going to reorganise all the pots this year. My goals are to switch to bulbs, perennials and annuals I can grow from seed with a framework of indestructible shrubs and grasses. I want a comfortable haven for the wildlife, especially since last year I realised that the honey bees who come into my garden actually make honey that I can buy at our farmer’s market. Not only does it taste amazing I can’t think of a nicer way to reduce food miles.

I also spent a happy time chatting to readers, and I still can’t quite believe that so many people follow this blog. I’m not sure what I expected when I started it, but I can’t thank you all enough, and especially Jan, Kate, Lisa and Sarah who’ve asked for more of specific series and given me some excellent ideas for another Christmas anthology. It’s going to be called ‘By Special Request…’ so if anyone has any characters that they’d particularly like to see again then please let me know while I’m in the planning stages.

This year, I’ve caught up with my backlog of old scripts, so there’ll be fewer books published and in theory I will go for a better work life balance. In practice, I love everything I do so I’ve decided that my resolution is to be happily busy because I know that that encourages the ideas fairy to pop by. And I don’t care if that sounds daft because I can’t find a better way to describe the moment when characters start talking in my head, usually at the worst possible moment.

Another thing that encourages her is reading eclectically, so at the moment I’m reading ‘The WI Country Woman’s Year 1960’ and ‘The WI Calendar of Feasts’ which was originally published in1985, which was the year before I got married. (Which, obviously I did very young…) It’s fascinating seeing how attitudes have changed and how trends like cottage core and upcycling are nothing new. I also love reading fiction set in the eras I’m researching, so I’m revisiting the Lucilla Andrews nursing series and the D E Stevenson and Elizabeth Goudge books and immersing myself in a quieter, gentler time . That’s not to say that I’m not keeping an eye on the news, but I don’t believe I’m doing myself any good by getting wound up over what I can’t change. So I’ve donated to the Red Cross and my plan for 2024 is to be kind to people whether or not they deserve it.

As a token of that, here are this weeks special offers for the UK and the US at 99p or 99c respectively. I know this isn’t fair on my lovely, lovely readers in the rest of the world, so there will be more anthologies this year so that you can try books at the same price. And so, of course, can people from the UK and the US…

So we have Vintage Girl Summer and Elf n’ safety from the current Windy Bay anthology, if, like me, you fancy a bit of escapism. Only it’s only fair to warn you that where I live, on the Poole side of the bay, also has the same sense of community, especially down by the Quay, where I used to work for a bank many years ago. Reconnecting with that area when I was well enough to walk long distances again has given me back that community…

We also have the two Esther and the Professor books - A Very Private War and a Very Personal Invasion. There is a third one of these in progress and they all draw on my love of local history and admiration for the women of the Home Front in World War Two who got on and coped and did things they never dreamed of and found out things about themselves that they weren’t expecting.

And finally there’s the series that I hope people will try in 2024 because it’s the least popular one and one of my favourites. It’s Christians Cross, which is a very strange Dorset village that’s on a portal between dimensions. In Time’s Veil, my heroine’s past quite literally comes back to haunt her…

So there they are. Have a great week, and today’s picture is of the beach down at Fisherman’s Quay on a calm day. It’s only a little beach, but we almost always have it all to ourselves and there’s a bench where I can sit and watch the birds and the fishermen at work and look across to Corfe Castle in the distance and think and plan and dream. There’s also a brilliant deli a few minutes walk away, so who could ask for more?


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