I meant to do this last week but what with Christmas shopping, the weather, the excitement over at Goodreads, Mr Flappy, and the excitement of finishing next year’s summer story, I forgot all about it.
Anyway, setting aside my inconvenient private life for one moment, I’ve made a cup of tea, put on an episode of DIY SOS for Mr Flappy, and picked up a pen. So, without further ado – as promised – here’s the publication schedule for next year:
For those of us who have made it this far into the new year – And the Rest is History, Book 8 of the Chronicles of St Mary’s will be will be published. It will be available for pre-order on Amazon in paperback very soon (with the Kindle pre-order going live in February).
The long-awaited paperback edition of all the St Mary’s short stories will be available and will include the new summer short story. The edition will be entitled The Long and the Short of It (look out for the paperback pre-order in January and the Kindle pre-order going live in March). The summer story is, at the moment, entitled ‘Cleaning the Toilet.’ Don’t ask – it was a bad day – but is more likely to be entitled A Week in the Life ….
A Week in the Life … will be available in ebook form – we’re doing things the other way around for a change.
The sequel to The Nothing Girl will be available for pre-order. We’re still discussing the title. It’s likely to be either The Someone Girl or The Something Girl. Could go either way. There’s going to be blood up the walls.
Publication of the above. By the survivors, presumably.
The Christmas story. No it’s not written yet. Before anyone asks.
Anyway, that’s it – subject to climate change, adequate supplies of chocolate, author failure, or any combination of the above.
Have a good week…
P.s. Just in case you haven’t seen, Accent have revamped all my covers – for Kindle UK!
Well, here I am, back from Cardiff Comic Con and the fantastic time I had there. Giant thank you’s to everyone who was kind enough to drop by and say hello. Double thanks to those of you who bought a book. Or a mug. Or a disaster magnet. Or a St Mary’s tote bag. And huge thanks for the comments and encouragement. It’s lovely to get feedback from readers. And suggestions, too. So yes, although And the Rest is History is a little dark, the short stories will – hopefully – be great fun. And yes, to the lady who begged and pleaded with me – and in public, too! – there is a very faint possibility that Dr Bairstow might find a lady capable of getting to the end of the book alive. And huge thanks also to the gentlemen who gave me the title for Book 9 – I’m definitely considering What’s the Worst That Could Happen?
The slight delay in posting this blog is due to a sudden and very inconvenient bout of travel sickness on the train coming back from Cardiff. One minute I was sitting quietly, staring out at the fog and thinking of that film I was forbidden to watch as a child – The Terror of Trollenberg – the one where hideously tentacled monsters live in a cloud half way up a mountain and rip the heads off passing mountaineers – as you can imagine, I’d seen it three times by the time I was nine – and imagining millions of tentacles boiling out of the mist to eat the 0912 from Cardiff calling at Newport, Chepstow, Severn Tunnel, etc etc, when all of a sudden the carriage rotated 180 degrees and I had a sudden and very desperate need to get off. Now. The train was packed and there was no chance of getting to the loo. In fact there were only two carriages so there probably wasn’t one anyway. However, I’m very resourceful, and I was actually considering vomiting into my handbag – Great Western Railways inexplicably failing to provide sick bags – when it began to subside. I was fine so long as I kept my eyes closed so my I had to find and hand over my ticket by Braille. It did subside eventually, only to rear its head in the taxi home. My apologies to the driver – he would have had a bigger tip but I had to nip off a bit sharpish.
So now I have the hat trick. I’m air sick – that’s always fun at 30,000 feet! Car sick – I have a vehicular range of about twelve feet. And now train sick. There’s only bicycles left. I can see now why vampires travel in their coffins. Such a practical idea.
Anyway, that’s it for this blog. Autumn is here and I’m helping my brother, the eminent author, in his garden. Since we both see ourselves as purely supervisory, there’s not a lot being done at the moment. And apparently, it’s my turn to make the tea again.
PS – I should be receiving the publishing schedule for next year, so the next blog will advise the dates for
And the Rest is History
The Long and the Short of It (an anthology of short stories previously only available on ebooks),
The summer short story – not written yet.
The Someone (or possibly Something) Girl
And the Christmas Story. Also not written yet.
As you can see, I’ve been busy and need to be busier still…
P.s. If you fancy getting your hands on the disaster magnet tote bag in the pictures, it’s available from Zazzle here.
I’m finally back home after Thursday’s podcast debut at the wonderful Blackwell’s bookshop in Oxford, where I participated in their Ex Libris Live event. It’s a kind of literary Call my Bluff where authors invent plausible first or last lines to a book and endeavour to convince their fellows that theirs is the correct version. Fellow panellists included Richard Llewellyn – Kryten from Red Dwarf, Fiametta Rocco from The Economist, and fellow Accenter Paul Burston, author of the wonderfully dark The Black Path. After a small and informal competition to see who was the most terrified, we got stuck in.
It really was enormous fun. I enjoyed it far more than I had expected and there were some lovely people in the audience. Hello again to Julia and Julia’s mum – glad you enjoyed yourselves – and to Alison, whom I met the next morning. Alison – thank you for the truffles. They are gorgeous and no, there aren’t many left.
Anyway, the stunning news of the night was that Paul and I were equal first! Neither of us has any idea how we managed that. My only disappointment being that my classic line, ‘The pages of the book were so stiff with his own blood that he had difficulty prising the pages open,’ was not the panellists’ first choice for the opening line of How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, which I thought a great shame. And my handwriting came in for regular criticism throughout the evening, as well. Other than that it was a very enjoyable evening.
It was my first visit to Oxford and I would have liked to have stayed much longer and been a tourist, but sadly, I was on cat duty that week. Unable to return home that evening, I poured massive amounts of cat food into bowls, opened a window, instructed her that under no circumstances was she to sleep on my bed, crossed my fingers and departed. On my somewhat anxious return, I discovered she’d consumed everything in sight and covered my bed in cat hairs. I was so relieved to see she was OK that I abandoned all safety protocols and bent down to greet her. She bit me. She’s here now and the two of us are glaring balefully at each other from opposite ends of the room.
So the next thing to look forward to is Cardiff Comicon next weekend. I had such a good time there, last year. I always think it’s so comforting to be surrounded by people with the same slightly skewed attitude to the world as mine. There will be the usual Accent Press stall with books and St Mary’s merchandise, and if you bring your own books along then I’ll happily sign them. Or stand around and talk about St Mary’s with anyone who just wants a good gossip.
Before anyone asks, Book Eight – And the Rest is History – is safely with Accent Press, all ready for publication next year. Anyone plying me with chocolate at Comicon might well get a sneaky insight into the story! I can be bought, you know!
The cat has just sneezed on my keyboard which is now splattered with all sorts of unpleasant substances. Does anyone want a cat? You could take her now and I can tell my family she was snatched by aliens. Given my suddenly sticky keyboard this is entirely plausible.
What else? Yes – I’m off to Audible for another interview in November. Apparently the first one went down so well that they want another. Yes, I’m gobsmacked too.
And finally, thanks to everyone who has pre-ordered their copy of My Name is Markham, which is doing really well and raising an enormous amount of money which, with luck, will be a really lovely Christmas present for the charity, Help for Heroes.
I shall now depart in search of a household product with a proven record of cat mucus removal.
I shall see you all at Comic Con!
If you haven’t already, here is the link to pre-order My Name is Markham!
When I was a child I was always in trouble for teasing my brothers. I think I might have been a bit of a bully. For instance, I was always Robin Hood. The middle brother was Maid Marion and the youngest, I think, was a horse. Or some sort of horse related product. Anyway, they deserved it and it did them nothing but good. I’d like to think I’ve moved on, but obviously I haven’t because I’m about to do it again.
You’ll never guess what I’ve been up to. Well, it doesn’t matter whether you can or not because I’m not allowed to tell you. I can tell you I’ve just returned from a meeting with Audible, the lovely people who do the audio versions of my books – the ones so beautifully read by Zara Ramm.
There’s something in the works which hasn’t actually ever been done before and it’s very exciting. Which is pretty much all I’m allowed to say. If it helps, I can tell you the sun was shining and it was a beautiful day in Bristol.
Perhaps I should toss out a crumb or two. The meeting was very long because everyone had lots to say – especially me. It’s going to take some time, but we’ve made a start. There – that helped, didn’t it?
It only remains for me to say – Watch this space and go and put the kettle on. Happy Thursday, everyone.
At least you don’t have to wait too long until My Name is Markham is out! Pre-order your copy today and don’t forget all author royalties goes straight to Help for Heroes.
You think I just sit and write and drink tea, don’t you?
Actually, I do, but there’s a lot going on in October, so I thought I’d share what’s happening.
20th October – Blackwell’s Oxford.
I’ve been asked to appear at Blackwell’s Bookshop in Oxford. Yes – THE Blackwells! To appear in a live podcast – Ex Libris LIVE!
It’s very similar to Call My Bluff, but in this case, authors and wordsmiths come up with plausible but fake first and last lines for genuine books, and try to convince their fellow panellists theirs is the correct one.
As you can imagine, I’m alternately hugely excited and blind with terror. The whole thing is live and everyone who knows me well will readily testify that in times of crisis I go completely to pieces and can’t remember who I am and gibber endlessly and completely forget to punctuate so anyone reading this aloud has turned blue and died.
If you fancy trotting along to check it out – not necessarily on the 20th – they’re a regular occurrence – here are the links:
Here’s the link to Blackwell’s Oxford events with more details.
29th – 30th October – Cardiff Comic Con at the Motorpoint Arena 9.00am – 6.00pm both days.
Yes, they asked me back! I know – I can hardly believe it either and I’m so thrilled because I met loads of wonderful people there last year. The atmosphere – the costumes – everything is so exciting. It’s lovely to be surrounded by people who are plainly having a wonderful time.
Who can forget Lily, the Blue Angel. She was actually a Weeping Angel, bit I thought Blue Angel was a much nicer name.
Or Batman and Batgirl, carrying their nine-month old baby dressed as Robin the Boy Wonder and thoroughly enjoying all the attention.
I saw every incarnation of Dr Who, any number of Daleks, tons of Mr Spocks and just about every character from Game of Thrones.
The usual Accent Press stand will be there and I’m told there will be a certain amount of St Mary’s merchandise, loads of books, and some special offers. Do drop by for a chat if you’re in the neighbourhood – we’re a very friendly bunch. I’ll be there, doing my best to look normal and my wonderful editor has threatened to come as Editwoman. I intend to hold her to that. More details will be posted as they become available.
Last but not least, the new St Mary’s Christmas short story My Name is Markham is now on pre-order, with proceeds going to Help for Heroes, so tell you friends…
I thought I’d have a go at beating the retail industry to being the first to mention Christmas. I’m not sure how successful I’ve been – the first advert for Christmas cards usually greets us on return from our summer holidays, but here’s an update on things happening – and, astonishingly, in order of their happeningness, so everyone knows what’s going on.
(Happeningness? – doesn’t your heart go out to my editor?)
Anyway – to business. Because TODAY’S THE DAY!!!!
The Christmas Short Story, My Name is Markham, is done and dusted and will be published – as has become traditional – on Christmas Day. This one involves Markham himself, desperate to canter through this assignment as quickly as possible so he can return to Nurse Hunter, improbably dressed as Tinkerbelle and clutching a pump-action wand.
And – to anticipate the also traditional deluge of enquires, the story will be available for pre-order on Amazon.co.uk FROM TODAY – 26th September. Today is the 26th, isn’t it? Typical historian – I’m useless with dates.
At the of writing, I’m afraid I have no info on when it will be available for pre-order on Amazon.com. Sorry!
Here’s a sample from the blurb, just to whet your appetite:
Like a smaller and much scruffier Greta Garbo – finally – Markham Speaks!
It’s Christmas and time for the First (and almost certainly the last) St Mary’s Annual Children’s Christmas Party – attendance compulsory – by order of Dr Bairstow.
Discovered practising his illegal reindeer dance and poo-dropping routine, our hero, along with fellow disaster-magnets Peterson and Maxwell, is despatched to Anglo-Saxon England to discover the truth about Alfred and the cakes.
Told in his own words, our hero reveals Major Guthrie’s six-point guide to a successful assignment, together with the Security Section’s true opinion of the History Department. And historians in general. And one historian in particular.
And, just to be clear, it’s only time travel, for God’s sake. Forget all that pretentious ‘investigating major historical events in contemporary time’ rubbish. This is history without the capital ‘H’.
Because this is the way the Security Section rolls!
The brilliant people at Accent are attaching a copy of the cover somewhere on this blog – because I can’t be trusted to do it right – so you know how it’s going to look.
I’m going to be making blatant and shameless plugs for this short story because I’m particularly keen for it to do well. Royalties are to go to Help for Heroes so I do hope you’ll not only buy a copy yourself, but recommend it to your friends as well.
Following on from that, the manuscript’s not finished yet, but we’ve finally fixed on the title for Book 8 in the Chronicles of St Mary’s series. Max and co will be back with the usual bang next year. Look out for ‘And the Rest is History.’
There’s no cover yet, but the tentative blurb is:
No one knows quite how, but Max and her baby are safe at last.
No one knows quite how, but Peterson has persuaded Dr Foster to marry him.
No one knows quite how, but Markham’s marital status remains unknown.
Certainly no one knows quite how a twelve-foot-high teapot could mysteriously materialise on the South Lawn, but it does.
But they do know that Clive Ronan is back.
They do know that he hates them and that this time he has good cause. And they do know that he will bring death and destruction in his wake.
Follow the disaster magnets of St Mary’s from the Egyptian desert to the Battle of Stamford Bridge, from Hastings to the Sack of Constantinople, and from tragedy to triumph and back again, in this, the eighth book in The Chronicles of St Mary’s.
I believe this one is due to be published in June of next year, and before anyone asks, yes, I’ve made a start on Book 9.
And finally, for those of you who have been calling for the return of the inmates – sorry, inhabitants – of Frogmorton Farm, the sequel to The Nothing Girl has been completed and is with Accent Press at this very moment. The working title is ‘The Someone Girl,’ and all the old favourites are back, together with Jack the Sad Donkey, the fearsome Ananda Balasana and Francesca the Hairy-Legged Chicken. There are no publication dates yet, but I’ll keep you posted.
Pre-order My Name is Markham here!
I think I may have terminal concussion. An uncaring world says I only have a small red mark on my forehead, and that any idiot who ventures into a long barrow without a torch is suffering from terminal stupidity – not concussion. They’re wrong.
As you’ve probably guessed, I’ve left the relative safety of my desk and ventured out into the world again. That rarely ends well.
I set off with my brother, the eminent author – who also never thought to bring a torch, so blundering around in the dark is obviously a writer thing – to visit the World Heritage Site at Avebury, followed by a visit to the West Kennet Long Barrow and then on to Silbury Hill.
The whole thing was a bit of a disaster. Well, how could it not be. We’re writers. We don’t do outdoors. I fell into a hole – and believe it or not, the eminent author managed to capture the moment with his camera, and the word ‘blackmail’ is being bandied about. He couldn’t get the nice one of me posing, writer like and staring thoughtfully at the horizon, could he?
Anyway, we did the usual Avebury things – counted the stones, paced the distance between them and speculated – which is author speak for argued violently – as to their origins, our theories getting wilder and wilder until we were discussing a fictional plot containing giant serpents, aurochs, ley lines, and an unlikely heroine named Plain Jane with a Brain, the daughter of Tarquin and Jacintha.
As you can see, we have to make these trips together because no one else will go out with us.
From there, still casting aspersions on each other’s theories, we journeyed to the West Kennet Long Barrow, which is where the head banging occurred. I could barely see for the flashing lights in front of my eyes. I think it was there that I fell into the hole, but it’s all a bit blurry. The eminent writer nearly fell over laughing, obviously forgetting we’d had to leave Avebury in a tearing hurry because one of us had been terrorised by a field of cows who, although lying down, WERE LOOKING AT HIM IN A FUNNY WAY.
I did try to explain that cows don’t have any other way of looking at you, and reassured him that they don’t bite, they slobber, and that the only danger he was in was that of being soundly licked or encased in cow mucus, but I was wasting my time. I’m actually very brave when I’m out with my brother because I know I can run faster than he can.
From there we walked to nearby Silbury Hill which is pretty impressive, and after a careful check for cows and other hostile entities, walked around the base, evolving even more theories. Hippies, the pyramids, primitive fertility rites, human sacrifice, hidden treasure, subsidence, and so on. I remember there was a lot of arm waving and personal ridicule.
We call it research, of course, and occasionally one of us does sit down – usually in something quite unpleasant – and scribbles a few lines down, and then it’s off for another ice cream, or lunch, or a cup of tea, because we’re writers and we have needs.
And don’t forget The Great St Mary’s Day Out is available here!
Good afternoon everyone, I’m delighted to introduce Stewart Ferris, author of The Sphinx Scrolls. It is a tale of one passionate archaeologist Ruby, an aristocrat desperate for cash and an evil Nazi descendant and a race against time to prevent an ancient Mayan prophecy. Stewart has kindly agreed to be a guest blogger today. I can’t tell you how thrilled I am not only to have mastered the art of blogging, but of hosting other writers as well. Anyway, less of me – without any further ado, here’s Stewart to speak for himself.
The Sphinx Scrolls is essentially about the world’s oldest (and slowest) time machine: the Great Sphinx of Giza. If, as many believe, it was constructed to house the records of a lost civilisation, its purpose is therefore to transmit information and knowledge to humans of the future. It exists to travel through time, carrying important messages to the distant descendants of those who built it. Why would they do that? The novel explores the possibility that 12,000 years ago humanity needed to warn its descendants of a great peril that would threaten them. How else could they send a message to unborn generations than by encasing it in a stone marker? The novel begins as the looming catastrophe instigated by our ancestors is almost upon us, and only the scrolls hidden within the Sphinx can save us. But archaeologist Ruby Towers suffers a massive defeat at her moment of triumph…below is an extract from the opening chapter.
Extract from The Sphinx Scrolls by Stewart Ferris (Accent Press, 2016)
Dr Ruby Towers dropped the drill and wiped the grit from her goggles. Her pulse raced. After months of planning and overcoming bureaucratic hurdles, after weeks of scanning, measuring and arguing, and after days of gruelling tunnelling, this was her moment.
She poked her scuffed aluminium Maglite into the opening. Now she could see her prize.
The space was cramped. Objects were stacked in the centre of this timeless cavity. She counted them. Ten. They were clay tubes, greyed by immense antiquity.
Was this the fabled Hall of Records? Was this the repository of the knowledge of a lost civilisation? Would this discovery finally unravel the mystery of the age and purpose of the Great Sphinx of Giza?
‘Can we get the camera in here?’ she shouted over her shoulder.
The documentary cameraman and the presenter squeezed alongside her in the narrow shaft. The cameraman pointed the lens at the presenter, former soldier Matt Mountebank.
‘So tell us what you’ve found,’ he said, with calm authority in his Manhattan accent.
The camera swung round to Ruby’s face, almost pressing against her nose.
‘We’re directly beneath the flank of the Sphinx,’ she announced, her voice excited and high pitched. ‘This tunnel was begun a century ago by tomb robbers using explosives. Our scanners revealed a chamber just ahead, so we applied for permission to extend the tunnel to join up with that chamber. That way there will be no external damage to the monument. And now –’
She paused. Matt was pulling faces at her from behind the camera. As usual. She kicked him in the leg with her heavy Altberg boot.
‘And now we’re through,’ she continued. ‘This peephole is enough to prove that the Sphinx houses an archaeological treasure. The clay tubes will almost certainly contain scrolls. If they are intact and readable, the ancient riddle of the Sphinx could be solved. We might be about to find out who built it, when they did so, and why.’
‘Turn off the camera. Everyone out.’
Ruby turned around. The Head of Antiquities was silhouetted in the tunnel entrance, flanked by two police officers. Dr Shepsit Ibrahim did not appear to share Ruby’s enthusiasm for the discovery.
‘Keep rolling,’ whispered Matt. ‘This could be good.’
‘Your licence has been revoked,’ shouted Dr Ibrahim. ‘This dig is finished.’
‘You’ve got to be kidding, Shepsit!’ protested Ruby. ‘I’ve found the chamber. We can’t stop now!’
‘I’m sorry, Ruby,’ Ibrahim replied, her tone softening.
‘But you’re in charge, Shepsit. You can overrule this and get our licence back.’
‘I’m the one stopping it, Ruby. It’s over.’
Ruby stepped outside. In the unforgiving daylight, the two policemen seemed odd. Their uniforms didn’t fit, and neither did their features: more Central American than Middle Eastern. She grudgingly acknowledged them in her limited Arabic and received no response. They remained curiously clamped to Ibrahim’s side.
‘What’s got into you, Shepsit?’ Ruby pleaded. ‘And why are the police involved?’
Dr Ibrahim rolled her eyes sideways, left and right. Ruby followed her gaze and looked at the police officers again. They seemed edgy. As they turned she noticed one of them was pressing something firmly into Ibrahim’s back beneath a small rag.
Ruby glanced at Matt, fearing that his special forces training might tempt him to play the hero. His Gulf War memoirs were legendary. He was not a man to mess with.
‘Don’t try anything stupid,’ she grunted. ‘I don’t want Shepsit hurt.’
‘Sure,’ he replied, surprising her with his willingness to concede defeat.
‘Is that it, Matt? You’re not going to do anything?’
‘You just told me not to.’
‘I know, but you must have some trick you can use to overpower them?’
‘Rubes, those guys have guns. I got a damn microphone.’
She glanced back at the Sphinx. It had survived Napoleon’s soldiers using it for target practice. It had foiled tomb robbers for millennia. Now, dwarfed by the grandeur of the Pyramid of Khafre behind it, the Sphinx stared forward with serene nobility while thieves dressed in police uniforms plundered priceless secrets from its heart.
If that tantalizing taster whetted your appetite then you get The Sphinx Scrolls from amazon!
Jodi Taylor with fellow Accent Press author Jane Jackson.
Well, what an amazing day on Saturday. I was at the Octavo Bookshop, Cafe and Wine Bar – one of those magical places where books, endless cups of tea, good food, more books and a really cracking Zinfandel all come together at once.
It was lovely to meet old friends again and make new ones. There was a great deal of chat, then a reading from What Could Possibly Go Wrong? And we finished with an informal Q & A session. The Managing Director of Accent Press – all hail Accent Press – Q’d and I A’d.
For those who couldn’t make it on the day, the following points emerged:
- Book 8 is coming along nicely.
- I have an overwhelming urge to write a supernatural thriller
- I’m planning a spin off from St Mary’s, possibly aimed at Young Adults, because I remember that when I was a Young Adult, quite a lot was aimed at me and most of it not so pleasant as books!
- Shamefully, there is no structure to my writing life – or even my non-writing life.
- Audible are planning to dramatize Just One Damned Thing After Another.
- Proceeds from the Christmas story will go to Help for Heroes and I shall be plugging this shamelessly over the coming months.
- The Christmas story is told by Mr Markham.
- I’m writing a sequel to The Nothing Girl.
- There aren’t enough hours in the day.
Jodi Taylor with Accent Press MD Hazel Cushion.
Many thanks to everyone who turned up. It was lovely to meet you. And many thanks for the gifts. I’ve eaten the chocolates already. Sorry! And the beautifully crocheted Max, complete with long red hair and scratchpad is sitting on my dressing table as I write. Yes, I am still in bed – having been compelled to admit publicly that’s where I do most of my writing. Oh, the shame of it!Jodi Taylor with one her fans who made her a crocheted Max.
Anyway, apparently I didn’t disgrace myself – always a major fear – and there may well be similar events in the future.
Have a good week.
Jodi Taylor with Accent Press MD Hazel Cushion and all of Jodi’s books!
I’ve just had a patch test, apparently they paint the back of your ear and wait to see if it bursts into flames. I am, as you can imagine, peering anxiously into a mirror every four seconds or so – actually I do that anyway, but don’t tell anyone – just in case I’m suffering from aural conflagration.
Anyway, the real reason for this blog – apart from sharing the existential angst of my world – is to give a mention to my appearance at the Octavo Book Shop, Café and Wine Bar in West Bute Street Cardiff, on Saturday 16th July.
Kick off is at eleven when I shall be relating the series of accidents and errors that led to my being published, followed by a reading from one of my books, and a Q & A session at 1pm.
I shall be there all day (11-5), chatting to anyone kind enough to show an interest in my books, signing anything put in front of me, directing people to the toilets and generally getting in everyone’s way. Please do drop by if you get the chance.
Also, you can pre-order my new short story The Great St Mary’s Day Out here.