#authornotwriting. Is it time to step down?

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I’m a writer. I love writing. I’ve been writing since I was seven. My first poem was published shortly after my seventh birthday. That was over thirty years ago. So, for me to consider not writing is a huge deal. But that’s what I’ve been considering the past year and most certainly in a big way the past few months.

Why, you ask? Are you running out of ideas?

No, in fact I have many ideas but no inclination to write them. The final straw came when I read on Facebook that Amazon have begun to remove reviews from author’s books; the reason seeming to be that the reviewer knows the author and therefore the review cannot be genuine. If you’re not aware of this and have written reviews for your favourite author, then do check to see that they are still there.

I interact with my readers. I have friended many of them on Facebook. It seems this may have to change and that upsets me beyond words. This is not the only reason I’m disillusioned. But let’s go back to where the disillusionment started.

Some time ago and I can’t put a finger on when it happened I got sucked into what I term ‘The Chart Race.’  I’m referring, of course, to the Amazon charts.

I use to sell books at £1.99. I never wanted to sell books at 99p. I was adamant when authors reduced their books to a low price that I never would. I also said that if it continued many of us would have no choice but to sell books at 99p. But low priced books continued to be seen on Amazon. Many authors sold their work for as little as 77p. You couldn’t buy a magazine for that. Readers then expect cheap books. Why wouldn’t they?

What does that say about an author’s work? It takes six months to a year to write a book, providing you are serious about it. It takes months to edit. Authors put their whole being into a story. To sell your work for less than a cappuccino in Costa coffee is degrading. It also under values your work, your time and commitment. I find it painful to say I’m only worth 99p. I’m worth a hell of a lot more. Why were books cheap to begin with? I believe it was so authors could race up the charts. The chart war began. Everyone wants to be in the charts. That’s clear because of the FB posts telling us where authors now are in this chart. Books are released at 99p every day. It is impossible to compete and I have decided I don’t want to. The prediction that 99p books would damage the book business has come true. The reason Amazon are now removing reviews is because the business of posting fake reviews is real. Sock puppeting is a term for the practice of faking favourable reviews on Amazon, in an attempt to inflate ratings of the author’s own work. It’s clearly unethical. But now it is almost impossible for Amazon to differentiate between genuine and fake reviews, so they are removing all that seem even slightly suspicious. So, a loyal reader who has enjoyed a relationship with their favourite author is now being penalised by having their reviews removed.

This is the fault of the ‘Chart Race’ A no holds barred quest to climb the Amazon chart.

Social media, of course, has the ability to make us all too aware of how well others are doing. It produces a sense of failure in many of us. We begin to question everything. Do we have a good family life? Are we successful? Do we have enough Facebook friends? Why doesn’t my husband buy me bouquets of flowers? Why hasn’t that celebrity followed me on Twitter too? Why is my hair not that gorgeous? Why can’t we afford to drink champagne on a Friday night? Why am I not that high in the Amazon chart? Why, why? Am I useless? Am I failure? And finally, if you’re an author, how can I get my book up in the chart? The answer: Drop my price.

I’ve seen authors fall out with other authors because of the chart race paranoia.  

Of course, I will be called bitchy. Or people will say ‘sour grapes’ No! I just want to write good books and sell them for a price I know they are worth. I’m worth more than 99p. I don’t need to post constantly about how well I’m doing. I don’t write for praise. I write because I love it and I love it when a reader tells me how much they enjoyed it. If they now are unable to do that, then it no longer feels like a business I want to be part of. I’m moving away from the chart race. It doesn’t interest me. I’m interested in writing good books. If readers only want 99p books then I guess they won’t have mine. I have to see it as their loss not mine.  

My latest book ‘When Archie Met Rosie’ is currently 99p on Amazon but that will go up in price soon. It’s worth far more than 99p.

I will link to my books below if you are interested. If you have bought read and reviewed my books, I thank you very much and I hope you will think £1.99 is a reasonable price to pay for a book.

https://goo.gl/PN9wcJ

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Blathering on about everything and nothing and what makes me sad.


Hello, it’s me …

How are you all? Okay I hope.

I’m hiding upstairs. Well, not hiding exactly. The Doctor has a meeting of the book group he’s in. So I’ve come upstairs with my crochet, except I decided to write a blog post instead.

It’s been a funny week. Well, it’s been a funny few weeks actually. I’ve not been entirely myself. I’ve not been anyone else, obviously. I’ve just felt a bit sad. Now, I wasn’t going to write about this, so I don’t know why I am now. I figure people want to read happy blog postings don’t they? Not that this is going to be a miserable one. I’m just digging a hole here aren’t I? I’m generally a happy person. Anyway … more on that later.

Did I tell you I’ve got builders next door? I probably have. I’ve become quite anal talking about builders. I’m going insane with them. They only seem able to bash things with a hammer and they’ve been seven months banging away with a hammer.  I’m sure they are doing a lot more than just bashing around with a hammer but from my perspective, it doesn’t seem so. Honestly, I’m really surprised more builders aren’t murdered by the neighbours. The owners of the house are coming over from America next week, so that will be fun, especially as they are supposedly going to camp in the garden. That’s what one of the builders told us. The house isn’t finished. How unfinished can a house be that you can’t actually camp in it, as opposed to the garden. Quite honestly our house has been unfinished for years but I can’t see us camping out in the garden.  Anyway, how can it not be finished after seven months of hammering?  I could have done loads in our house if I’d done all that hammering.

So, I’ve finished a novel as opposed to hammering about the house. I’ve probably rabbited on about this ad nausea. But I’m so excited because yesterday it went to number 2 in the Amazon chart in Canada. In case you don’t know about it, I’ve put all the details below. I’d like to celebrate with a glass of wine but I’m on another diet and that of course means no wine. Well, you can have wine but not if you want chocolate and if I have to choose then chocolate comes first every time. What would you choose? I need to diet. It’s unhealthy being overweight isn’t it and I hate it when I can’t squeeze into my clothes. I can’t keep buying a size larger as tempting as that is. I’ll be as big as a house soon. No, it’s time to take action. Otherwise I will outgrow everything they sell in ‘Evans’

Anyway, back to writing. It’s hard work writing. You spend all day, every day, alone, stuck in a little room having a weird relationship with people who don’t exist, at least not outside your head. Then you get confused and start calling people by your character’s name. I spent most of last year calling Andrew, Adam. If you’ve read ‘Secrets and Lies’ then you’ll know what character I’m talking about. Then your book is published and you spend days biting your nails worrying that no one will buy it and then when they do, you spend more days biting your nails worrying if they will like it. Then you spend more time worrying that your book won’t climb the charts and that you’ll be a total failure. Then it doesn’t sell as you’d hoped and you spend days crying in the loo.  It’s hellish and if that wasn’t enough, members of your own family don’t seem interested in your work. Hence the sadness I mentioned earlier. It’s odd how they just seem to make out that the books don’t exist. My own brother unfriended me on Facebook, I mean who unfriends their own family? I did think hard about writing about this on my blog. But I always seem to be hiding my feelings from everyone and I am human and it does hurt, especially when they turn their eyes away when someone else mentions your books, almost like it’s something to be ashamed of. This happened only the other day. It’s not just close family but extended family too. Am I tapping into something? Friends are very supportive but I’m cautious about people on Facebook who suddenly turn around out of the blue and accuse you of all sorts and then block you on Twitter. This happened shortly after my mum died and it was quite devastating. Their accusations were extremely hurtful. I’ve worked hard for my success, as little as it is, and I’m happy for anyone else who has success. Especially if they have huge success because it shows what is possible and that inspires me. But, just recently, I’ve wondered if it was worth all the work and the disappointment when certain people disregard it. Still, I’ll mull this one over. Meanwhile I’ve almost finished a romantic comedy. It’s an unexpected love story. I’ve really enjoyed writing about these characters and can’t wait to share the book with you. It’s a romance with a difference.

More news! ‘The Dog’s Bollocks’ has just had its cover reveal in Brazil. I love the cover. The title has changed to ‘Harriet’s Misadventures.’ It was difficult to translate ‘The Dog’s Bollocks’ apparently 🙂 I can well imagine it was!

Anyway back to the psychological thriller ‘WATCHING YOU’ Here’s the blurb.

‘When Libby receives a friend request from her dead uncle she knows it’s time to be afraid.’

Here’s what one reviewer said.

‘The book alternates between present day – after Ewan Galbraith’s release from prison, focusing on his promise that he will take revenge on everyone involved in his murder conviction – and the build up to the carnage of Millennium Eve, and the structure works really well. The writing is taut and just wonderfully edgy, and the characterisation is excellent: as well as the main characters, I particularly liked the police team – involved in the investigation of the earlier events, again handling Libby’s protection – and the light focus on their personal lives as the main story twists and turns around them. Doubts that you’re getting the full story start to creep in as the pages turn faster, the threat increasing and getting ever closer with every new text message and photo. But the “stunning twist” of the Amazon description took me totally by surprise – convincing, credible and a suitably shocking climax to a book that had me on the edge of my seat from its opening pages.’

I hope you’ll like this. Do let me know what you think. It’s currently 99p/99c to download. You can get it here

 Aw, this is so annoying. My laptop is doing the weirdest thing. It’s like it’s been taken over by a weird entity. It’s just doing its own thing and jumping all over the document. I think the cat is responsible for this. He sat on it earlier. That cat is so much trouble. Yesterday he forced himself into a hole at the back of the cupboard under the sink. He never goes into cupboards. I was quite calm at first and then when he didn’t return, well you can imagine.   He just disappeared. I was frantic and getting ready to call the fire brigade when the Doctor, all calm and collected said.

‘Shake his treats.’

Well, I thought that would get him more worked up. I mean, can you imagine being trapped somewhere and hearing your favourite sweet jar being rattled? How upsetting would that be? Anyway, in this case, it worked and he squeezed himself back through the hole much to my relief. This cat! When I was writing my thrillers I would play really scary music to get me into a tense mood. I’d be really into the novel. The music would get scarier and scarier and then suddenly the door would open and in walks the cat. I’d jump out of my skin which in turn caused him to jump out of his skin. What a pair!

Anyway I’ve been ‘blathering on’ as the character from my new comedy would say. I think you will like her. I hope you do anyway. There I go worrying again.

I’m going to make a cup of tea. I’m crazy about Angel Grey tea at the moment by The Tea Experience. They make fab teas. What’s your favourite? I’m a touch obsessed with tea. I have lots of teacups and boxes and boxes of tea. Right now I’m addicted to ‘Fikka’ by The Tea Experience.

I’ll say bye for now, until next time. I will put the links below to the books.

Much love

Lynda

x

Easter, Novels, Stress and Building Work

AVAILABLE TO DOWNLOAD ON 5TH APRIL.

YOU CAN PRE-ORDER TODAY. ONLY 99P/99C

Hi Everyone,

I can’t believe how long it has been since I last chatted to you on here. I do mean to post but things have been so hectic with writing that there just hasn’t been the time. I’ve also been contending with building work but more about that later. Not my building work, I hasten to add. I would hire decent builders to do my work. (Note to self. Calm down before blood pressure rises … again.

The exciting news and that most certainly isn’t about the builders but about my new book. It isn’t about me murdering a builder, in case you were wondering. That’s for my next novel. You see, I can’t seem to stop talking about builders. It’s like I’m suffering from builder overload. There must be a medical name for this. BST, I imagine. Builder stress disorder. Anyway enough of this, I digress and that’s no good.

So, my exciting news.

 I have a new book out. It is the third thriller. You may know me for my romantic comedy novels. Then again you may not know me at all,which is fair enough.

I was in the middle of a romance when this thriller came to me and the characters Libby and Ewan just wouldn’t leave my brain so I knew I had to write their story. I’m so pleased I did. I enjoyed writing it so much and I so hope you enjoy it.

I’m giving you a little taste of the novel in with this blog post. I hope you enjoy that.

Here’s the blurb.

Ewan Galbreith is out of prison. Libby Owen is scared. Fifteen years earlier she saw Ewan murder her aunt and uncle with their own shotgun, and now he’s coming for her.’

The novel is currently available for Pre Order at the promotional price of 99p/99c so get yours before the price goes up. The audio book will be out later in the year and the paperback is out on the 20th April. BUT the kindle version is released this coming Thursday 5th April. Hurrah. I can’t wait for you to read it.

There will be a romance out in the summer so keep your eyes peeled for that.

So, it’s been a difficult book to write as the cottage next door ‘has had a few repairs’ Those are the words of my neighbour, not mine. I have a word for those few repairs. it’s Gutting.’ I have a word for the builders too but I won’t use it here.

This whole episode has been very disappointing to me. I had a wonderful neighbour. She was American, highly intelligent. She had a doctorate and could debate any subject. I miss her terribly. They loved their old cottage which was originally an old pub. The cottage still had the old doors with lounge and saloon printed on them. There was beautiful oak panelling in one of the rooms and there is still the old pub sign outside. I live in a very quintessential English village and it’s in a conservation area which means there is a limit to what you can do so as not to ruin the beautiful aesthetics of the village. My neighbour died and left the house to her American relatives. They love it (they say) they love the history (they say) So with this in mind they proceeded to remove the lovely panelling and knock down walls. They neglected the old pub sign and knocked down an outhouse that was an old urinal from way back when. Heaven knows what else they are doing as the builders are now boarding up the windows so no one can see. Meanwhile my little cottage trembles with the thuds and the drilling as they break up floors, knock down walls, install a modern kitchen and plastic windows The builders are often rude when we ask questions. They block off the road outside our cottages, even though no one owns the road, so no one else can park there. They’ve been working on this cottage for six months. I’ve written a whole novel in that time and am halfway through another. How have I written it with the constant drilling and hammering? By putting in earplugs and then headphones on top of those. Madness!! I think perhaps I work better under stress. I remember I wrote Pink Wellies and Flat Caps when we were having our own extension. Which I have to say was much quieter by comparison. Still, on a positive note, let’s hope we get lovely new neighbours when the house is sold.

Phew … end of building work chat. Except to say it has had a detrimental effect on me and I have had to watch my blood pressure which has a tendency to go up. Onto nicer things. I hope you have a fabulous Easter with lots of chocolate. I’m attending Slimming World so no goodies for me. An Easter goodie for you. ‘Remember Me’ is 99p as a special Easter promotion. So two novels for £1.99 which can’t be bad.

REMEMBER ME https://goo.gl/Y6jSJQ

WATCHING YOU  https://goo.gl/JYytX9

HERE’S YOUR SAMPLE

‘WATCHING YOU’

Prologue

1st January 2000, 1 A.M.

 

Her bare feet pounded the gravel, the sharp stones cutting mercilessly into her skin. The wind whipped cruelly at her hair and played with her new chiffon dress until her legs became entangled within it. She pulled herself free from the material without once slowing her pace, her heart drumming in her chest. She could hear the blood pulsating in her ears like a wild war dance. Her scalp tingled. Something had touched her. She fought back a scream. It was a branch, just a tree in the blackness of the night. Keep going. She couldn’t stop. A firework boomed and lit up the night sky. She tripped, scattering the detestable gravel. A small sob escaped her lips before she dragged herself up and continued on. He’d seen her. He’d seen her. That’s all she knew.  Keep running. Don’t look back. An orchestra of colours exploded in the sky and lit up the tall iron gates of Greystone Hall ahead of her. She thought back to the house and nausea rose up in her gut. Soon she would smell the pungent odour of seaweed. Her heart beat a steady rhythm now. She knew the beach wasn’t far away. Excited voices and the sound of drunken laughter broke through her pulsating eardrums. People were partying on the beach. It was the beginning of something new, something exciting, a new start.

‘Happy Millennium,’ someone shouted.

She tripped in her haste to reach them. Her mouth connected with cold sand, it scratched her skin.

‘Help me,’ she choked. ‘Please.’

‘Had too much?’ said a voice.

There was laughter from a small group huddled around a camp fire.

‘Hold on,’ said another. The voice concerned.

She felt someone touch her.

‘Fuck, she’s bleeding.’

‘Call the police,’ yelled another.

There was scuffling and someone wrapped a coat around her. It was warm and comforting.

‘Christ, what happened?’ he said.

‘Someone shot my Aunt and Uncle,’ she moaned, trying to get up. She couldn’t. She was exhausted.

‘I think they’re dead.’

 

Goodbye 2017 (fun, mishaps, books and some sadness)

Hi everyone,

I hope you had a brilliant Christmas and I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very Happy New Year and I hope it is everything you wish for.

I’m hoping 2018 will see fewer mishaps on my part as I well and truly overdosed on those in 2017. There were far too many faux paus to mention.  The time I fell into the river during a boating trip for example and how my first trip to the new shopping centre in Oxford resulted in John Lewis being evacuated. They are two that I remember but I assure you there have been plenty more. Bringing in Bendy when he was outside fighting, only to discover the cat I brought in wasn’t Bendy at all, was another. Bendy was happily in the kitchen eating his food. He wasn’t quite so content when he realised I had brought in another cat, of course.

Of course, I feel sure that your year was just as eventful.

It was also the year that I lost my lovely mum. So the end of 2017 has been a bit tough.

I released two psychological thrillers in 2017 and the first one ‘Remember Me’ surpassed my expectations and I would like to thank all those who purchased and reviewed it but more on those later.

2017 was also the year I discovered the fabulous craft of Crochet.  There will most certainly be more on that.

 

BOATING

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Now, you might love boating. Me? I’ve gone right off it. In fact I didn’t even want to go boating on this particular sunny day in October. I’m not an experimental person and boating is for the summer. That way, should you fall in the water, which apparently is very rare according to the boat owner, (huh, is all I can say) then you’re not likely to freeze to death if you don’t drown first.

The Doctor (aka my husband and if you want to know why he’s known as The Doctor you may have to refer back to older posts) and my grandson who is aged 7 decided they wanted to go boating. Obviously not wishing to be the killjoy I agreed to go too.

The Doctor hired a canoe for three. We trotted behind the owner who threw it over a wall and beckoned us to get in. Now, I don’t know about you but I prefer to get in and out of a boat when the boat and wall are on the same level as opposed to the wall being two feet higher. But, all was well, as the boat owner held onto the boat for us. It did vaguely cross my mind whether he would be there to hold it when we returned but hey, live in the moment right? So off we went. Now, I hate to admit this, but I can’t swim. At least I can swim but I don’t believe I can swim. That makes perfect sense to me. So, when out boating I’m just a touch anxious. After about forty minutes our grandson had had enough. We headed back. I began looking around for the jetty. You know, that safe place to climb out of a boat where you don’t have to reach up to a wall? There wasn’t one. I casually mentioned it to The Doctor, struggling to keep the anxiety from my voice. He looked around too but not with the same anxious look that I had.  Finally he said ‘We obviously have to get out the same way we got in.’

This did not cheer me.

We made our way to the wall with several OAP’s watching us from the benches on the green.

I suggested grandson get out first (anything to put off getting out myself). We held the boat tight against the wall and he slid out easily. The Doctor looked at me and my stomach lurched. How was I to get myself out of the boat, onto the wall, without the boat rocking? There was no one to hold the boat against the wall. All The Doctor could do was steady the boat. He did his best, I’ll give him that but the minute I shifted my weight to lift myself up onto the wall, the boat tipped over and in I went. Into the icy, dirty river. The Doctor said he tried to reach out to me but the boat toppled and he had to keep it steady. He watched the river calmly (he only does things calmly) and then saw a hand rise out of the water like something from a horror movie. This followed a gasping me who could barely breathe. He grabbed my hand promising never to let go. It did feel like that romantic moment from Titanic (huh, who am I kidding).  Convinced this was the end, I clung onto his hand like it was a life raft. Then, came help in the shape of the OAP’s. Yes, only I could be saved from drowning by OAP’s. I’m not proud of it. I could have given anyone of them a cardiac arrest. I’m no light weight. But they got me out, offered me tea and blankets and were so kind. The owner then came (a bit late you have to agree) and said ‘You’re not the first to go in.’ (huh, he’s changed his tune) We skipped the tea and cake we’d planned for after the boat trip and headed home. The Doctor and grandson were very quiet but I knew they were fighting back their laughter (the rotters). We stopped at the supermarket for chocolate cake and then home where I showered and the boys made tea. I came down from the shower and my grandson said earnestly ‘You know I couldn’t have saved you. I’m only seven and have my whole life to live.’

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I think this was his sweet way of telling me I’m now old. This didn’t help. The chocolate cake soothed things a bit and a few days later I felt much better about it and then grandson came to tell me that I had been his show and tell at school. It was titled ‘When Lynda fell into the river’

It has to rate as my most embarrassing moment so far.

BOOKS

2017 saw the release of ‘REMEMBER ME’ my debut thriller. It did exceptionally well, better than I could have dreamed. It went to number 9 in the US Kindle thriller chart and 99 in overall Kindle in the UK. Thank you so much to all who bought and reviewed it. We got an audio publishing deal for it and you can now buy it as an audio book on Amazon. It’s narrated by the fabulous Rosie Akermen Apparently if you already have it on Kindle you get the audio for a much lower price. The kindle price is now £1.99 You can purchase it here 

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Following on from ‘Remember Me’ I released ‘Hunters Moon’ which has since been re-released as ‘Secrets and Lies.’ and also been given a new cover. This has also been signed up by the audio publishers and will be released in the New Year.  If you loved ‘Remember Me’ then you will certainly enjoy this. It has been described as a flawless thriller but judge for yourself. It is currently 99p/99c You can purchase here

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‘Perfect Weddings’ was also released as an audio book. Purchase here

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‘Wedding Bels’ was re-released yesterday. Originally ‘Croissant and Jam’ It now has a fresh new cover.

WeddingBelsCover

2018 I will release two new novels. One is a comedy romance (a surprising romance) and other a thriller. I can’t say much about them as they are still in progress but I’m sure you will love them. I’m very excited about them and can’t wait to share.

Crochet

Crochet became my big love during 2017 and whenever there was some spare time, then that’s what I did. But this isn’t the blog for that. If you’re interested in crochet and want to join me on my crochet blog then pop over to www.countrycrochet.me  I’ve only written one post but another is due to go up soon. Please join me and share your crochet projects. I’d love to see them.

I lost my mum at the end of the year so the end of the year was certainly tinged with much sadness.

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May you have a HAPPY NEW YEAR .

Please join me on my new Facebook page

https://goo.gl/81zMGt

Much love Lynda xx

 

 

You’re Invited to Perfect Weddings

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Hi everyone,

I thought I would never get over here. Things were manic on my Facebook and Twitter page yesterday because … hurrah it was the launch day for my new novel ‘Perfect Weddings’

I’m so excited about this book as everyone is saying they think it is my best one yet.

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I love the cover thanks to Katie Grace Klumpp, who is so talented, you have to agree. Click her name to check out her work.

 

I hope you enjoy ‘Perfect Weddings’ If you like weddings then you are bound to.

Do you remember Amy Perfect who wrote ‘A Christmas Romance?’ Well, my bit of fun was to name the main character in ‘Perfect Weddings’ Amy Perfect too 🙂

A Christmas Romance Design!

 

And by the way, while we are talking about ‘A Christmas Romance’ it is now 99p. It is the first in the Little Perran series and it doesn’t have to be Christmas to enjoy it. So why not treat yourself to both. That’s only £2.98 for two books. What can you buy for that these days? Go here for ‘A Christmas Romance’

So what is ‘Perfect Weddings’ about?

‘Every bride wants a perfect wedding and that includes Georgina Winters. Amy Perfect is the crème de la crème of wedding planners so who best to plan Georgina s wedding… except the man Georgina plans to marry is the same man who jilted Amy three years ago. Will her plan to give Georgina the most imperfect wedding backfire on her? Is this the chance for Amy to win back the love of her life, or will insufferable Ben Garret put a spanner in the works? Arab princes, spoilt brides and wedding catastrophes make Perfect Weddings a page-turning romantic comedy that will keep you guessing until the very last page.’

I do hope you enjoy it. You can get yours here

http://goo.gl/Vp78vS

Much love as always

Lynda

x

Woo Hoo, Christmas Is Coming

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Christmas is not far away. I love this time of year. Lot’s of great things happen don’t they?

So, what better way to celebrate than this!

Today for one day only my new Christmas novella ‘A Christmas Romance’ is only **99p**

I couldn’t let Black Friday and Cyber Monday come and go without doing something special could I?

So hurry over to Amazon here and get yours.

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Coming soon is my Christmas newsletter. So if you haven’t signed up for that then please do. Just go to the right hand side and scroll down to the newsletter subscription and simply click.

Meanwhile here is a little extract from the Christmas novella … Enjoy.

 A Christmas Romance

Lynda Renham writing as Amy Perfect

Chapter One

Frankie opened the oven door and gently prodded the fruit cake, the rich aroma making her mouth water. Fruit cake was her favourite. She wiped her hands on her apron and began cracking eggs into a bowl. There were just the fairy cakes to make now; the mince pies to go into the oven and the filling into the sponge, and she would be finished. She turned from the bowl and stopped to drink in the view from her kitchen window, the smell of a freshly baked Victoria sponge wafting past her. The tree in the garden twinkled under the dusting of snow that had been falling gently all morning, and she reminded herself to get some Christmas tree lights to go around it. This was going to be one of the coldest winters in years. The weather forecast predicted a white Christmas and Frankie was looking forward to cosy evenings by the fire with a hot chocolate and a good novel. The kitchen was lovely and warm with the heat from the oven but she still shivered at the sight of the falling snow. Then, not for the first time, she wondered what Paul was doing right now. Of course Christmas in Australia would be very different from Little Perran. Frankie couldn’t imagine Christmas on the beach. It seemed unnatural. She shook her head, irritated with herself for thinking about Paul, and turned back to the bowl of eggs. She didn’t need a man in her life. She was coping very well, thank you very much. Her eyes fell on the small Christmas tree in the corner of her living room. Buster slept happily underneath it. It was no good telling a dog that only presents go under the tree. I wonder if they have a Christmas tree in Australia, she thought idly. Of course they do, she reprimanded herself. After all, it wasn’t the back of beyond was it? She beat the eggs angrily. She must stop thinking about Paul. He was most likely sunning himself on the beach with …

Her thoughts were halted by a tapping on the back door. Birdie popped her rosy cheeks around it and sniffed appreciatively.

‘Primrose Cottage always smells good,’ she said, quickly closing the door. ‘It’s bitter outside. I went to the library but you weren’t there.’

‘I took the day off to bake cakes for the Christmas fete.’ Frankie felt the cold air brushing against her bare feet.

‘And fabulous they look too,’ said Birdie, pulling off her wellies and throwing them outside the back door.

Birdie’s thick brown hair had been wound into a tight plait which she had secured at the nape of her neck with a hair pin. Her cheeks were rosy from the cold and her lips pink where she had applied some lip salve.

‘I’m knackered. I’ve been cleaning out. That’s the trouble with having the animals inside. And the tractor is knackered too. Ben has asked Joe to come and look at it for us. Aren’t you glad you’re not a farmer? I wish I worked in a library. Mind you I’d be reading all day.’

Frankie laughed.

‘You’d be bored to death. You know how you love the outdoors.’

Birdie spotted the Christmas cake on the kitchen counter and gasped.

‘You’ve made it?’ she said, looking at the cake admiringly.

‘That was the easy bit. I’ve got to ice it now. I’m nervous about being too experimental though.’

‘Don’t be silly. It will be great. I so want you to win. I heard Cynthia is hiding hers.’

Frankie felt her heart sink.

‘I bet it’s lovely. That’s why she wins every year.’

‘A bit of cheating helps,’ scoffed Birdie.

‘Birdie, I’m sure that’s not true.’

Birdie nodded.

‘As sure as eggs is eggs, it’s true,’ she laughed.

Frankie carefully pulled a sketch pad from the kitchen drawer and opened it.

‘This is a rough plan of my theme, Santa falling down the chimney. What do you think?’

Birdie’s eyes widened.

‘Oh Frankie, that’s amazing.’

‘It will be if I can recreate it with icing,’ Frankie said worriedly.

‘You can do it, I know you can. Any chance of a cuppa and a piece of that sponge?’ she smiled licking her lips. ‘We should celebrate.’

‘No.’ Frankie wagged her finger. ‘That’s for tomorrow’s fete. But I have some chocolate cake?’

She opened a Quality Street tin. Birdie peeked inside and sighed.

‘I love your chocolate cake. Now, I have some exciting news. But I think you already know don’t you?’

Frankie’s heart skipped a beat. Was this something to do with Paul? Of course it wasn’t. When would she stop thinking about him? It had been almost a year now since he broke off their engagement. When would she accept that he wasn’t going to come back to Little Perran? More to the point did she even want him back?

‘I don’t know what you’re talking about Birdie.’

‘Really? I had a feeling you didn’t know. Otherwise I’m sure you would have told me. That’s why I popped round really. Make a cuppa and sit down. I’m not telling you until you do. I don’ want you going into a dead faint.’

‘Ooh heavens, what is it?’ asked Frankie, her hand poised to whip the eggs. Maybe it was to do with Paul after all. Her heart fluttered in her chest.

‘Sit down. Leave those eggs for a minute, they won’t go off.’

Frankie did as she was told and sat down. It was a relief to get off her legs. She pulled the scrunch out of her curly auburn hair and twisted it neatly into a bun before securing it again.

‘Okay,’ said Birdie, tapping a drum-roll with her hands. ‘The Biggest heart-throb ever is only coming to live at Little Perran. He’s moving into Briar Lodge in a few days’ time.’

She looked at Frankie with wide eyes.

‘Briar Lodge, are you certain?’ asked Frankie.

If anyone was coming to live at Briar Lodge then surely she of all people would know.

‘Isn’t it exciting? He’ll be here for Christmas. Every single woman in the village will be after him, except me of course, as I’ve got Ben, but I’ll be tempted.’

Frankie stared at her.

‘Well, what do you think?’ asked Birdie, pouring water into the teapot.

‘You haven’t told me who it is?’

‘Oh, I thought I did. I’m so excited that’s why. Roux Lockhart, can you believe it?’ said Birdie slicing into the chocolate cake.

‘Roux Lockhart, the film star do you mean?’

‘In the flesh,’ Birdie swooned.

‘But why is he coming here?’

‘They’re making a movie. He’ll be staying here for the filming. I’m not supposed to be telling anyone this yet. It’s top secret. The parish council will be delivering letters today. I’ve brought yours. We’re not to talk to the press, or anyone outside the village who asks about him. Only a few of us have been told he’s staying at Briar Lodge. I thought you of all people would have known.’

Frankie felt her blood boil.

‘But Aunty Rose never mentioned renting out Briar Lodge while she was in the States.’

‘Oh dear,’ said Birdie, her face flushing.

‘I can’t believe it,’ exclaimed Frankie, jumping up to beat the eggs.

‘Were you planning on using the Lodge over Christmas?’ asked Birdie worriedly.

Frankie grimaced.

‘Don’t be silly Birdie. You know I’ve got no one coming for Christmas.’

‘You can come to us, you know that? We’d love to have you.’

Frankie forced a smile.

‘I know, but I don’t want to leave Buster.’

‘He’ll be okay for one evening.’

‘I’ll see. I just can’t believe Aunty Rose didn’t tell me about Roux Lockhart. I’m supposed to be watering her plants. How could she forget to tell me a famous film star was coming to stay?’

‘Ooh you’ve got a good excuse to go over there then,’ Birdie grinned.

‘All the same she might have told me.’

‘I think it was all done very suddenly. Your Aunty Rose told the parish council. You know what she’s like. She probably thought she had told you. Can you imagine though? He’s got pots of money. I bet Stella will be round there before he’s even got the kettle on.’

Frankie laughed.

‘I bet he’s got pots of ego too,’ she said, rescuing the fruit cake from the oven.

‘I wonder if he’ll go to the Christmas ball?’ said Birdie thoughtfully. ‘Hey, he can be your date.’

‘Very funny.’ Frankie hurriedly dropped the hot cake onto a place mat. ‘Anyway, I’ve decided I’m not going to the ball this year.’

Birdie’s mouth dropped open.

‘But you always go.’

‘I’ve always had a partner,’ Frankie tried to keep her voice upbeat but felt sure she was failing miserably.

‘You can still go without a partner,’ insisted Birdie.

‘I’ll see.’

‘I’m going to put that on your tombstone,’ laughed Birdie, getting up. ‘Right I’d better get back. Ben will want to fix the tractor. You’re still coming to The Hand and Shears tonight aren’t you for pre-fete drinks.’

Frankie nodded, although the truth was she didn’t really want to go. She’d got into the habit of staying home these days with Buster for company. In fact she quite liked cosy nights in Primrose Cottage, doing her cross stitch while watching some rubbish on the tele. Honestly, she couldn’t get more boring if she tried. She’d be drinking Horlicks next and going to bed at nine o’clock.

‘Great see you later,’ waved Birdie, stepping into her wellies.

Frankie cleared away the dishes. It occurred to her that she ought to check Briar Lodge. Maybe leave a couple of mince pies there. At least someone famous in the village would stop her thinking about Paul. With that in mind, she placed the mince pies in the oven, switched on the radio and forced herself to sing along with the Christmas carols.

To read more, get your copy here.

 

 

 

 

My Normal, Mad Behaviour

 

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Me with the geocache in France

It’s been a whirlwind couple of weeks. I’ve been suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. And just when you think it has gone, it rears its ugly head again with a vengeance. Leaving you drained and shattered and with thoughts that you don’t normally have.

However, it hasn’t stopped my normal mad behaviour. Now there’s a phrase you won’t see very often. Normal mad behaviour.

I got back from my holiday. Ooh I never told you about the weird happening on holiday. Here I go digressing. The doctor and I went on a little trek to look for a Geocache. If you’re never heard of Geocaching, then let me enlighten you. Dotted all over England and in Europe are little treasures. Nothing big but finding them is fun and they are nearly always hidden in beautiful parts of the country. The doctor and I do this a lot. Yes, you always wondered what we did in our spare time didn’t you. It’s a good way to get walking and walking in a nice place. So, while in France we decided to go Geocache hunting. You can check Geocache hunting here

Off we went on a lovely walk. We find the treasure. Took photos for the web page and started to walk back. By now we were both thirsty and a little hungry. The walk took us onto a dual carriageway where we never imagined for one moment to find an eating place. But there was the sign. Large and bold ‘Creperie’

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‘How lucky,’ I said.

We turned the corner to where the sign was large and welcoming again and even more welcoming was the open sign. In French, of course, but luckily the Doctor can speak some French.  Ahead of us was a large wrought iron gate and hooked through it was an odd padlock. Hooked through but not locked. We looked at each other for a moment and then pulled the lock through the gap in the gate. We then pushed the gate open only to hit a large paddle which had been laid in front of it.

‘I’m not sure we should go in,’ says the doctor.

‘But it’s open,’ I say, my throat closing up from thirst.

I’m beginning to know what it feels like to be stranded in the desert. Was this some kind of mirage? My first thought was that dogs may come racing towards us, tearing at our throats like something out of a Stephen King novel. I hesitated at the gate.

‘It does say open,’ I repeat, feeling my breathing return to normal after seeing there is no sign of mad, snarling dogs.

We step over the paddle and venture in. We turn a corner and see the café. It is all set up outdoors. We stare for a few seconds and then both become aware of the eerie silence. The huge house to the right of us is imposing. We look at the table and chairs and then I realise. They are all pulled out, like people left in a hurry. On the tables are jugs, half filled with water, just sitting in the sun. Also there was a bottle of wine and glasses, also sitting in the hot sunshine. On one table was a lighter and glasses.  On others half-drunk glasses of water, but the worst part was the eerie silence.

And then … that awful feeling of being watched.

‘We should go,’ says the doctor.

There is not even the clatter of crockery. That usual noise you hear when in a restaurant. We backed out slowly and I nervously began clicking away with my camera, focusing on the windows of the house.

We then hurriedly left and for some weird reason I felt an overwhelming need to look behind for at least twenty minutes. Here are the photos but they don’t do justice to the spookiness we felt.

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Back to my normal mad behaviour.

I got back from holiday, went to fill my car with petrol and couldn’t get the petrol cap off. I was turning it the right way but it just went round and round. When I turned it the other way it made a strange clicking sound. I spent twenty minutes in the garage. Finally I came home and considered pulling it off with a knife. I phoned the doctor first though. I didn’t want his wrath when he came home.

‘Take it to the garage where you bought it,’ he says. ‘It’s still under warranty.’

So, off I go to the next village with my car. Of course, by now, I am very low on petrol. I pull up and march into the office.

‘The petrol cap won’t come off,’ I complain. ‘That’s not very good. I’ve only had the car for a few months.’

You have to stand your ground in garages don’t you? especially if you’re a woman and blonde at that. They immediately assume you’re a dumb blonde don’t they? Well I’m here to prove them wrong.

He follows me to my car and turns the petrol cap until he has it off and is holding it in his hand.

I stare flabbagasted.

‘What did you do?’ I ask.

‘I undid the cap,’ he says flatly.

Ever felt like a dumb blonde.

‘But how?’ I ask.

He demonstrates and I realise when I thought the cap was locked it was in fact the right way to turn and just needed a little more turning to come off. I’d only been away a week and in that time I had managed to forget how to take the cap off my new car. I mumbled something about being tired and drove home.

Still at least I have a good reason for this madness now.

Lastly, my novels. Well, you didn’t think I would write a blog without doing a bit of promotion. My readers say they will buy anything I write. So, I don’t understand why no one is buying ‘The Diary of Rector Byrnes’ which is me writing under the name of Edith Waylen. Please give it a go, it is only 99p at the moment and you don’t often get Lynda Renham books for 99p.

Here it is.  It’s a chilling love story. Click here to purchase  It’s a tale of love, faith and much more.

rector

Meanwhile much love to you all and thank you for your support. This CFS is a bugger and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.

Lynda

xxxxx