A behind the scenes look at printing our book…

Proud author!I am bouncing around like Tigger at the moment waiting to take delivery of the paperback version of our book ‘A Sticky End’!

You can imagine how I reacted when, last week, our printer said, “Would you like to come and see it on the press?” I was out the door and sitting in the car before poor Richard had even had time to pick up the car keys! My writing partner, Julia Wherrell, was away and sadly couldn’t make the trip with us.

Maslands, our book printers, are in Tiverton, about an hour up the M5 motorway and Richard, my daughter Emily, and I were soon standing in the print room, boggle eyed and gazing at all the huge printing presses and computer gubbins. Emily said it was … “Just like being on Come Outside with Pippin the dog,” a favourite TV show when she was little!

Watching our lovely colour cover whizzing through the press and stacking up at the end was really gratifying – a dream come true for me to see my novel actually appearing before my eyes.

The cover actually on the press…The work that goes into the print process was really interesting and we were shown around the print works by Andy Jackson, one of the directors, and Ted Moore, who works in the studio, and who laid out the book. Of course, printing today is very different from the old printing press days as everything is generated digitally, but I was still surprised by how ‘big’ a process it still is. After printing, it goes off to be cut and then bound into the cover before arriving on Monday afternoon when you can buy a copy on the website.

Meanwhile… the Kindle copy has already come out! We had to get it loaded up in advance, but didn’t realise people would find it on Amazon quite so quickly. So far, feedback has been very positive and we have sold quite a few copies, so Julia and I are really pleased… if slightly terrified too!

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Primrose Cottage Cherry Jam

Primrose Cottage is the name of the jam company that features in my novel ‘A Sticky End’ that I am hoping you will all enjoy when it launches on Monday!

This is a very straightforward recipe and I am sure you could add some secret ingredients and make it your own. I have had some lovely cherry jams with added touches of brandy and kirsch in the past, so I would suggest it is worth experimenting. However, I think Grace, a character from the book, would not approve of anything as frivolous as putting alcohol in her jams!

Makes about 5 pots of jam

  • 1kg cherries
  • 600g sugar
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  1. Wash and remove stones from cherries
  2. Put cherries and lemon juice into a large pan and simmer until the fruit is soft
  3. Add the sugar, stirring until it has dissolved
  4. Bring to the boil and boil rapidly for about 10mins, until the jam sets when tested
  5. Remove any scum
  6. Pot up and seal at once
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My first novel is about to be published…!

I can’t tell you how excited I am about this particular blog… as I can begin to tell you about my novel that’s being launched on 23rd September and here’s a sneaky peek at the cover!

Although I’ve published over 40 non–fiction books, this is my first foray into novel writing. It has always been a dream of mine to publish a work of fiction and I can hardly believe the dream is about to come true. 

Entitled ‘A Sticky End’, I have written the book jointly with my hen-pal Julia Wherrell, who lives near me down here in Devon. The novel is based in the fictional village of Swaddlecombe deep in the Devon countryside. Julia and I have had great fun inventing the characters and places that populate our book, although it would be untrue to say it has all been plain sailing…

The idea that writers sit gazing out of the window for inspiration and then knock out a few chapters by tea time is a very long way from the truth – well, it was for us anyway! Writing is actually very hard work and, while writing together has given us the much-needed momentum required to finish the project, (we both have previously unpublished and unfinished books) it also made it quite a complicated process – but in the end, it has worked for us. We also, of course, had to fit in writing alongside our ‘day’ jobs, so it’s been quite a busy time for both of us… and our long-suffering partners!

’A Sticky End’ is a light-hearted murder mystery revolving around a character, Victoria West, who has recently moved to Devon from London. I think there’s quite a bit of both Julia and myself in the novel and it reflects our love of the Devon countryside – and our combined sense of humour! The title is a direct reference to strange goings on at the jam company at the heart of the book.

After inheriting a cottage from her aunt, Victoria leaves her stressful London life behind and moves to the tranquil backwaters of rural Devon. Feeling fragile, but positive after a recent brush with cancer, she is looking forward to an independent, laid-back lifestyle doing all the things townies like her always do in the countryside–keeping chickens, growing veg and, well, chilling out!

But Victoria hadn’t reckoned with the locals of Swaddlecombe. After only a few days in her new home she’s investigating a suspicious death, is a victim of road rage and has a nasty incident with a sheep. And then of course, there’s tall handsome farmer, Albert Moreton…

Well, I hope that’s whetted your appetites! Julia and I have all sorts of plans for book two – and even a whole series of Swaddlecombe mysteries, but we realise that will all depend on how much you like the book and the characters. Fingers crossed that you do and I wonder if you will guess whodunnit?

‘A Sticky End’ will be available on Kindle, priced £3.99 (on Amazon.co.uk) and as a paperback direct from Joanna Sheen Ltd, priced at £6.99. Both products will be available from 23rd September 2013. We will even sign the paperbacks if you fancy a first edition! 

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