Autumn is definitely upon us. The apples in the orchard behind my house have been and gone, the Wormside Ploughing Match is over for another year, and… this has arrived! At last! Bound proofs of all I Ever Wanted.

It’s the bound proof for All I Ever Wanted, which is out on December 1st, in all good bookshops (Fact: no such thing as bad bookshops) just in time for Christmas! I was rather late in finishing my final draft (see previous post for sad reasons why) but the team at Hodder have worked miracles, as usual, to turn my Word doc into finished proofs in record time. Aren’t they lovely? The final, finished, actual book should be in my hands very shortly, and that’s always a magical moment. If you haven’t read anything about All I Ever Wanted, it’s the story of Nancy, a troubled little girl who can’t speak outside her house, her mother Caitlin, who can’t stop pressing the self-sabotage button on her life, and her Auntie Eva, a widow who’s starting to wonder if she knew her late husband at all. And Eva’s pugs, Bumble and Bee, who somehow end up bringing these three confused human beings together. We’ve got all sorts of brilliant things planned for publication, including some competitions, and I can’t wait to tell you more about that when I’m allowed. I’ll probably tell you before I’m allowed. I am so bad with secrets. Sorry, Naomi.

What else has been happening? Well, there was the Wormside Ploughing Match at the start of last month, where I won second prize for these butterfly cakes…


It’s a traditional country ploughing match, where farmers compete to plough strips in the straightest lines, using tractors and also these beautiful, beautiful creatures.


Result? Little perfect patches of brown corduroy stitched into the field. What an art.


Meanwhile inside the tent, it’s very Great British Bake-Off. I went in far too cocky, being a veteran of the horticulture classes up at my village show in Cumbria, but as I soon found out, every local show has its own rules – when my chocolate cake was disqualified for having icing on TOP as well as inside. I think my butterfly cakes were overly fancy-pants too, and ran in a disappointing second. (I make no apology for my squishy lemon drizzle cake. It was a shambles, though it tasted nice. Always use a cake liner, kids, even on a silicon loaf tin.) The standard of baking was very, very high, as you’d expect in an area with so many farmers, and I felt sorry (#notsorry) for the judge who had to taste her way through dozens and dozens of immaculate fruit cakes. So many raisins. So much sherry.

Oh, yes. A timely email reminds me to deliver the following advertising break… for today, November 1st, at least – there are not one, not two, but THREE of my novels on special e-book offer for 99p on Amazon. Ninety nine pence! You can get all three of Lost Dogs & Lonely Hearts, One Small Act of Kindness, and A Hundred Pieces of Me for less than a coffee and a slice of cake. And Walking Back to Happiness and The Secret of Happy Ever After are also discounted to £1.99 each at the moment too, so you could really go to town and get the lot for less than, ooh, a pumpkin spice latte and a bun. All I Ever Wanted, I should add, features the return of one of my favourite characters from The Secret of Happy Ever After, so it’s a great time to revisit Longhampton’s calmest bookshop, complete with book bouquets…

And where are your dogs? Please send me some for the Dog of the Month – I’m suffering mild withdrawal symptoms at the moment, and some adorable doggy pics would really ease my dog-cuddling needs!