Lexie Conyngham's Blog: writing, history and gardening.

Thursday 28 July 2011

Mugs on windowsill

Contemplating mugs on windowsill. Slow thought day. Mugs are all cracked or chipped so retired from drink use and now holding porcelain painting pens (a large mug with fruit on it, present years ago from the school friend who walked into the lamppost), colouring pencils (RAF Cosford's Aerospace Museum), paper clips (Northern Line with Mornington Crescent reopened), scissors (Lifeboats mug), pencils (mug with my name on from many years ago), crochet hooks, rugger (for making rag rugs, nothing to do with rugby football), jewellery pliers, lucet, knitting loom hooks and other odd tools (Fair Trade mug), tubes of glitter (mug from Victoria Cafe, St. Andrews), cable knitting needles and other odd knitting needes (some odd tin to do with Italian cakes). To list the other contents of the windowsill would be to imply that my study is untidy, though actually this is fairly ordered, for once ...

Monday 25 July 2011

Busy Weekend

I had a family-free weekend so blasted on with the next book - it's called Service of the Heir, and with a following wind (and it was certainly a windy weekend) it should be out, as announced on Good Reads, by Christmas this year. Family have now returned to find I've been living on mangetout and lettuce from the allotment, completely ignoring all rooms but the study! No more peace - back to cooking and cleaning and preparing lecture courses ...

Friday 22 July 2011

Bit more of a profile (following on from Profile)

Bad sign - once I start it's hard to stop!
Living in a city is in some ways greender than living in the country round here. We have good public transport and the insulation of living in a terrace. The greenness sort of grew up around a kind of experimental archaeology, a desire to have a go at doing things as they used to be done, though I was also brought up by parents who'd been through the war and sorted their rubbish, grew our own vegetables, mended everything and walked where possible. Anyway, I've made my own candles and soap, turned sheets, learned to spin and weave (and incidentally to ride, fence and shoot). I think I have the vague idea that if the balloon goes up I'd like to be the one making soup over an open fire rather than the one clutching a worthless Blackberry and wondering why the street lights have gone out. I was of course a Girl Guide (in quite a practical unit - cake-icing one week and army assault courses the next). However, put me in front of a computer and I'm likely to ask how you light it (or warp it up, or cook it ...).
I started writing when I first realised that someone wrote those magical book things I was reading, and when I read my first Agatha Christie, on Boxing Day when I was about eleven, I realised I wanted to write crime novels. Long-suffering friends were forced to read these, quite often while walking to school (resulting in one friend walking into a lamp post). I started writing Murray's novels around 1995 but tried to give up around 2002 in the face of the unified apathy of the publishing industry. The final straw was a book called Mortification which was a series of articles by authors about the times they had fallen on their faces, and was less than encouraging. However, this seems to be my addiction, and I've been writing all kinds of things since, giving Murray a break, but ploughing on quietly on my own. Hence the reluctance to talk now - I haven't done it for so long!

Sunday 10 July 2011

Hitting America

Slightly surprised to discover I've sold six books in North America! One kind review from there, too, which is good. It's been a busy few days - one batch of elderflower wine has decided to recarpet the landing, the long-haired cat has needed pruning, the allotments are producing lettuce and rocket in vast and nearly inedible quantities (I looked like a vegetable stall on the bus the other night), and we've been at a wedding in torrential rain, where one bridesmaid keeled over during the service, narrowly avoiding hitting her head on a pew. Weddings in Scotland were a good deal simpler in Murray's day - even the date wasn't absolutely fixed till about a week before, then all you had to do was pin down a minister, get in a bit of food, gather a couple of friends and push back the drawing room furniture - the minister came to do the job in your house and attendance was generally very low. Yesterday there must have been a couple of hundred guests and the date has been fixed for about a year! Still, a good time had by all - and still the rain falleth ...

Tuesday 5 July 2011

Maybe linked ...

I've just managed to change the entry for Knowledge of Sins Past to include this blog address, and I've put up new format covers for both the books - I thought, since they were ebooks, I could get away with a nice uncluttered illustration, but feedback says no! Make them look like real books!

Thank you so much to the lovely reviewers who have taken the time to write about my books - and in such detail. I'm sure these will be very helpful to other readers, too.

Not such a lovely day today, but after a burst of editing I have to go and make some soap - friends' birthdays are coming up and I'm still trying to perfect my methods. At least I don't have to run stale urine through straw and add lard, or whatever the method was when Murray was around! I think I'm conflating two things there - must review my sources ...

Saturday 2 July 2011

Sunny Saturday

It's a lovely day, which means I should probably be heading out to Allotment Minor later. I transferred some wine to a demijohn this morning and then set to to edit Service of the Heir, the third book in the Murray of Letho series. Shocked to realise I wrote it fifteen  years ago! It certainly needs some work, which isn't surprising. Back then I was living in Edinburgh and as I walked about the town it was as if I was seeing it interwoven with the ghosts of buildings, streets and people that would have been there in Murray's time, walking with him to Greyfriars Kirk through Brown and Adam Squares (long gone, where Chambers Street is now). There are so many good text books on Georgian Edinburgh - Youngson's The Making of Classical Edinburgh and the more recent Edinburgh: The Golden Age, by Mary Cosh, are two of the best. Then C.K. Sharpe, Chambers and Cockburn were writing diaries and accounts at the time. But original documents are invaluable, and for those the best places are Edinburgh City Archives, the National Library, and of course the National Archives of Scotland. I quite miss doing all that lovely research!