Well hello HELLO

Ta da!! My first ever newsletter – how about that?! I’ve been a published author since 1996… and yet it’s taken me until now to knuckle down and produce a regular newsletter. WELCOME!

I think you know by now how I LOVE connecting with all of you on social media – but for a chatterbox like me, there’s just not enough SPACE on those platforms for me to yak to my heart’s content… Also, I don’t much like Twitter anymore, since that megalomaniac nutter took over… and I’m way too old to be tiktokking. Plus – I like writing in full sentences with words rather than abbreviations and emojis… I guess that makes me either a dinosaur or incredibly cool in a retro-vintage kinda way (my kids would say the former, obvs .)
So, over here, what I’d like to do with my newsletter is natter, muse, meander and share what I’ve been doing, thinking, reading, watching, listening, eating… I was going to add ‘wearing’ but mostly I’m clad in my extremely whiffy and wholly unflattering ‘farm’ gear. For those of you who don’t know (huh? Where ya been?!) I live on a small farm in rural Hertfordshire with sheeps, horses, dogs, a hamster called Frog and a cat called Flower who disappeared for 5 years before strolling back.
Anyway, I digress. A couple of waffley and long paragraphs into my inaugural newsletter, here we are, you and me. I guess you could have me up before Trading Standards if I don’t actually share some NEWS with you. Obviously, there’s the news section on my website, and the updates on Facebook and Insta and That Other One (shame on you Elon!) – but my intention is that the official newsletter will be your one-stop go-to for exclusive access to behind the scenes updates, sneak peeks and unique, random snippets.
This week is an exciting one for Eadie Browne and me. The ‘proof copies’ have arrived. These are super limited versions of The Unfinished Business of Eadie Browne and are distributed early to the trade, the media and reviewers. ARCs (advance reading copies) are not quite the final version, there may be a few typos and also the acknowledgements and epigraph are yet to come – but it’s the first time that I have the sense of a BOOK… that all those words and all those months and all that hair-tearing really has come together to make… A BOOK!
**AND GUESS WHAT! By subscribing to this here newby newsy newsletter of mine, you are in with the chance of winning one of these, personally signed from me to you. They are super rare – I think we’ve printed 225 in all.
I really really love this book – but there was a time, around a year ago, when I truly despaired it would ever be written. It wasn’t writer’s block – quite the opposite, I was writing and writing but just couldn’t quite get a handle on what it was that I was writing. Who WERE these people? What WAS their story? HOW was it going to unfold? WHEN was it going to end?! I just didn’t know. This time last year, when the book was 60,000 words long, I gave myself a stern talking to. I printed off what I’d written so far and sat there with my red pen. If anything I read – be it a sentence, a paragraph, a whole chapter, an entire character - didn’t serve a purpose, if it didn’t ‘move the story on’ – then bye bye… I cut it out. Two characters had to go. Umpteen scenes were removed. Pages and pages of letters between the characters – GONE! I don’t actually delete anything when I edit my work – in the case of this novel, I just removed 37,000 words (yes, thirty-seven THOUSAND) from the main body of the text. So all those lovely letters are currently in a separate file now and, at some point, perhaps I’ll publish them too. As a writer, I feel I must constantly challenge myself and I certainly feel I rose to that with this novel. Of course, the next dose of torture I’ll self-inflict will be the extreme anxiety and self-doubt which I’ll suffer in the lead-up to publication next Feb… but that’s for a later newsletter!

Over the last month I have been:

Reading – Amanda Prowse and Fiona Valpy, both of whom are going to be guests on my Wednesday Writers live chat on Instagram soon…
Also read – The Escape Artist by Jonathan Friedland. Absolutely riveting true story about two teenagers who escaped from Auschwitz and ran to tell the world… but the world took months and months to actually LISTEN to them.

Watching The Woman in the Wall (through my fingers – it’s so CREEPY and Ruth Wilson is brilliantly unhinged)
Also watched– The 100 Foot Wave. I’m quite scared of the sea – and this is the most BRILLIANT documentary about surfers searching the world for the ultimate wave, the cinematography is breathtaking. The footage is jaw dropping - and they''ve really captured the spirituality of it all.
Also (still) watching – Gilmore Girls. Ahhh, it’s sublime. Unbeknownst to each other, my son and I actually started this at the same time – him at Uni, me at home and whenever he came back, we’d watch 3 or 4 episodes on the trot.

Listening – I am podcast OBSESSED. Over the last couple of weeks, I have listened to The Girlfriends, The Missing Madonna, The Retrievals and A Very British Cult
Also Listening – some of you know that much of The Unfinished Business of Eadie Browne is set in late 1980s Manchester so I’ve been dancing in the kitchen to a lot of Haçienda greats. Remember this??
Eating – I pretty much ate my body weight in delicious street food at The Big Feastival over the bank holiday weekend. By the time I arrived back home, I had really bad indigestion but there was no Rennie in the house. My other half said he ‘remembered’ his late Nana’s ‘magic cure’ – which was to chew on spent matches. Huh? Yep…. So, at gone midnight there I was striking a load of matches, waiting for them to cool BEFORE I ATE THEM. The next day I Googled it. The unanimous advice seemed to be (A) ‘Why would you eat matches?’ and also (B) ‘Don’t eat matches’. But you know what? They DID kinda help!
Also, found a superb recipe for Welsh Rarebit using char-grilled slices of cauliflower instead of toast. Let’s call it Cauli Rarebit. Here it is…. (that's not my pic, by the way - my result was delicious but not exactly photogenic...)


1x Cauliflower
125g cheddar
125g caerphilly
50g butter
50g plain flour
250ml ale
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp grainy mustard
2 egg yolks
· Heat oven to 170 fan/ 190
· Cut the cauli into ‘steaks’ – don’t worry about the other florets, you can use them too. Dry ‘fry’ them in a hot pan for a couple of minutes each side and then put on a baking tray.
· Melt the butter in a pan, stir in the flour and, after a couple of minutes, add a sloshes of ale whisking well in between. When all the ale is whisked in, add the Worcestershire Sauce and mustard.
· Stir in the cheese till it’s melted then add the egg yolks and mix well.
· Spoon the sauce over the cauli, and pop the tray in the oven for 20 mins till it’s golden.

Righty ho, that’s your lot for now. Keep in touch with me – let me know what YOU’D like from OUR newsletter. AMAs (Ask Me Anything)?? Competitions?? Writing Advice?? Playlists?? Reading lists?? Photos of sheeps?? Sneak peeks??

You can pre-order your copy of The Unfinished Business of Eadie Browne HERE – and good luck in the prize draw for that exclusive bound proof early edition! In a future newsletter, I'll be treating you to the opening chapter of Eadie... Stay tuned!

Sending you much much love for warmth and good fortune throughout September
Ps: don’t eat matches, yes?


The Unfinished Business of Eadie Browne will be published on 1st February 2024 and is available for pre-order NOW!!

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