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Yesterday evening I attended an after-hours crime fiction party at a local bookshops, Heffers, called “Murder under the Mistletoe”.  There were about a dozen “crime writers” there (still excited to be counted in that group) and lots of loyal readers taking advantage of the opportunity to get their book-based Christmas shopping done in a quiet bookshop, with us on hand to sign any of our books that they might buy.  (Personally I would sign anything, but apparently it’s frowned upon if it’s not your own book.)  It was such a pleasure to catch up with a couple of authors I met at my first such event in July – and a great thrill to hear that one of them was so enthused by my tales of self-publishing that she went straight home that very evening and started preparing her latest novel for self-publication.  (And this is someone who has had a “proper” publisher for years – she just thought that the idea of having total control over the whole process sounded so exciting.)  Quite by chance, she had the very first copy of this new self-published work in her bag, and we were able to coo over it together.  (It’s “The Corn Maiden” by Barbara Cleverly – I’ll be reading it over Christmas.)

And meeting readers – what a treat!  One very kind lady came dashing over and asked, “Where’s the third?  I’ve read the first two and loved them and have been waiting for the third!”  Well, what can you say?  I somehow refrained from showering her with kisses, and simply grinned so broadly that I looked slightly manic and handed over a “Blossom”.  “Lovely colour,” she said, and – this was the best bit – started reading it straight away.  Now, don’t tell anyone as this is something of a guilty secret, but I am longing for the day when I get on a train or tube and see someone reading one of my books.  Well, this was very nearly as good.  Reader, I purred.

So for Sam and Martha, it has been a great week: they made new friends in Histon library and met old ones in Heffers.  And I am so fired with excitement that I am devoting the whole of today and the weekend to “Plank 4”; Sam has just discovered a body in a boarding-house, and I’m longing to know what he’s going to do about it.

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