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

Sunday 29 March 2015

The jackdaws are back


The jackdaws are refurbishing their nest in the chimney pot vents. Mr. Jackdaw had brought back a variety of twigs and popped up the vent to install them, and everything was going splendidly until he appeared very proudly with rather a chunky twig, a good six inches long. Carefully balancing it in his beak, he approached the hole, only to find that the vent was nowhere near six inches wide. He tried a few times, jarring his beak each time, then, not to be defeated, hopped round the chimney to try at the back vent. It, too, was too narrow. He stood back and eyed the chimney, head – and twig – tilted. Then he set the twig down and nipped up the back vent, clearly going to sort out some of the twigs inside so that the prize twig would fit in.

At that point Mrs. Jackdaw returned, and slipped up the front vent only to come back down again sharpish, having presumably met her husband halfway up. They both emerged and went to inspect the problem twig. Then they went back inside, and there was a long pause. You could imagine the shuffling and rearranging going on inside. Then she appeared again and stalked to the far end of the chimney stack, staring out across the carpark, quite clearly counting to ten, and contemplating the sins of unsupervised spouses. Her husband peeped out but wisely retreated.

Mrs. J put her head on one side and thought. Then she returned to the prize twig, grasped it firmly by one end, paced round to the front vent and rammed the twig up the vent. Mr. J crept out of the back vent and hurried round to peer admiringly up the front entrance. There was just a hint of smug satisfaction in the angle of Mrs. J’s head as she went to follow the twig up the vent – but again she fell back. Mr. J tried, but he, too, slid back down. Both of them went round to the back vent, and in, then out again and back to the front vent, poking inside it with their beaks, before eventually shrugging and flapping off in despair. It was evident that Mrs. J’s canny manoeuvre with the twig had in fact blocked their front door, and neither of them could shift it!

The fourth from the left is the one most like our jackdaws’ home. This week they were also perching on the top, inspecting their nest from above, but they seem to have sorted out the blockage!

Saturday 14 March 2015

Waiting for a train

Waiting for a late train on the Inverness line, and a snell wind flicks rain in my ear and rustles the winter sedge on the other side of the tracks. The silver birches are nearly the same colour, but other trees stand dark against them. A trio of ducks rise, clattering, flapping away. A small mound sits green amongst the sedge, sprinkled with snowdrops, and beyond it two young roe deer tip and dart amongst taller trees. A pheasant creaks. An elderly Labrador waddles across to check my ticket, submits to having his back scratched with a luxurious tilt of his head, then disappears indoors to rest his tired old legs. Finally a light flickers through the trees, the tracks hum, and the train arrives.

We're into readers now for Death of an Officer's Lady, and wonder of wonders, I've commissioned a graphic artist to design the cover! It feels like a bit of a cop-out: after all, I'm indie, shouldn't I be knitting all the yoghurt myself? But at the same time it's exciting to see what she'll come up with. Waiting for her next slot means that I'm back to a launch date around June, whereas I had thought of bringing it forward, but that's probably not a bad thing. In the mean time I'm going to launch a boxed set (in an e-box, that is) of the first three Murray books as an experiment.

I've put the books all up on Kobo recently and I'm toying with the idea of adding I-Books, Nook and Tolino to the list - the only problem is it means buying more ISBNs, but perhaps it will be worth it. I've recently been reading the Indie Power-Pack, a boxed set of three books on indie publishing, and realising all the things I've been doing wrong! I hope some of my corrections aren't too late. I feel incredibly lucky at all the sales I've had given my complete ineptitude - thanks, everyone!