Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Here's the proof I braved the blizzards to travel up North to York for a book signing at WH Smith's and an interview on BBC Radio York with Russell Walker.

OK, the wintry weather hit after we travelled to York. Despite the freezing conditions, we had a brilliant time.

Monday, 21 December 2009


CUT SHORT - 2nd reprint in 6 months!

My publisher is pleased (phew)

A HUGE thank you to everyone who bought CUT SHORT this year.

Here's hoping sales continue to snowball in 2010 . . . talking of which . . . it's snowing again . . .

Monday, 7 December 2009

Thoughts on Writing - Plot vs Character

When I write, I am aware of tension between plot and character. Most of my readers are sophisticated in the genre, and they come to a book with expectations. As an author I can observe conventions, or play with them, by setting up prospects which are fulfilled or confounded. But the unwritten parameters are always present.
Crime thrillers are plot driven. I would like to write a murder story where I do not decide the identity of the killer until the very end, taking the same journey as my readers, trying to establish which of the suspects is the culprit. In practice, the story has to be neatly planned so that every detail leads towards a conclusion that is satisfying yet unpredictable. I have to know where the journey ends in order to take my readers in the right – or the wrong – direction on the way.
Working out plots is fun, involving a lot of problem solving. My main interest, however, lies in my characters. Sometimes a character has to perform a certain action for the sake of the plot but, as any writer will tell you, characters sometimes take off in their own directions. I cannot allow a character to act 'out of character' or the illusion is broken. Readers must never think "I don't believe this character would ever do/say that". So there can be tension between the direction in which a character develops, and the requirements of the plot. My readers should know nothing of this conflict. It is my job as the author to create a believable fictitious world with plausible characters whose behaviour produces an elegant plot.
In the meantime, I am on a journey of my own. For an unknown author on a miniscule budge, Cut Short has been a great success. My reaction to the overwhelmingly positive response is relief. But there is no room for complacency. Like a thoughtless remark, once a book is put out there, it cannot be recalled. The second book in my series will be published in 2010. My manuscript for Road Closed is finished. I can only hope it will be as well received as Cut Short.

After selling out at Waterstones in Harrow and St Albans last weekend,
A few more signings before Christmas -
12th December WH Smith's in Harrow
17th December WH Smith's in York
19th December WH Smith's in Brent Cross

Cut Short is in stock again at and - delivering before Christmas


Friday, 4 December 2009

Back down to earth after my intergalactic sales on the last post - I have been sent this fabulous photo of Cut Short in Paris.

Several readers have sent me photos of Cut Short from different places.
Thank you.
This weekend I'm signing in -
Waterstones Harrow Saturday
Waterstones St Albans Sunday
Please come in and say hello if you can.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Sales of Cut Short go intergalactic

My last post was rather sad so I thought I'd be more cheerful today and share some exciting news with you - sales of CUT SHORT have gone intergalactic! If you don't believe me, here's the photographic proof:
A dalek buying Cut Short from Leigh Russell and paying cash!
And here comes a jedi. He also bought Cut Short . . .

Spiderman wanted to buy a copy but he has no pockets so didn't have any money.
This pirate, on the other hand, had plenty of loot - and a parrot!

It was lovely to meet fellow members of the authors' group Mystery Women. I'm looking forward to signing with you all again.
Back on planet earth . . . I'm signing at
Waterstones HARROW Saturday,
Waterstones ST ALBANS Sunday.
Please come along and say hello if you're in the area! (also on
youtube - Leigh Russell reading from Cut Short

Thursday, 26 November 2009


I'm very excited that CUT SHORT has been reviewed in Publishers Weekly in the US BEST BOOKS 2009 as the only starred title in the Mass Market category.

On a very sad note, all my events at Borders have been cancelled. I will be doing more signings at Waterstones and WH Smith's but will really miss the friendly and helpful staff I've met at so many branches of Borders. I hope the future holds some better news for them.

Here are some photos of book signings at Borders.

You can see how hard the staff worked to help make

these events a success and I am very grateful for
their support.

I wish them all well in what must be a worrying time
for them all.

Monday, 23 November 2009


On a more cheerful note, my after school activities have been lively this week. I met a lovely group of readers at Ruislip Manor Library, I've been invited to speak to an audience at the King's Fund in Oxford Circus, and I'm visiting a local school for an evening event. After my busy week, I'm signing at Collectormania Olympia on Saturday & Borders in Cambridge on Sunday.
(I just discovered that PETER FIRTH from SPOOKS will be at Collectormania. I'm so excited! Peter Firth and I - and a mere few thousand other people - at the same event!)

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Success (for today)

Good day on Saturday - I signed nearly 70 copies of CUT SHORT at BORDERS in WATFORD. I can't give an exact number. You'd think it would be easy - it's just a matter of counting - but I always get in a muddle.
I signed over 40 copies on Sunday at WH SMITH'S in BRENT CROSS.
Altogether that's about 110 books signed this weekend.
Tomorrow I'm giving another talk at RUISLIP MANOR LIBRARY. I and have been invited to give two more talks this week but may have to decline at least one of those as life is becoming a tad hectic... I like to keep busy, but this is becoming a bit too much, even for me!
CUT SHORT is on two listmania lists on - thank you OEJ (Debut Novels 2009) and Damaskcat (More Crime Less Violence).

Friday, 20 November 2009

Pistols at Dawn

I'm back!
After cramming an impossible amount of work into a few days I've finished, and sent the MS for ROAD CLOSED back to my editor. I daresay there will be a little more tweaking, but I'm relieved to have reached this breathing space. I have a really busy weekend ahead, signing at Borders in WATFORD tomorrow, and WH Smith's in BRENT CROSS on Sunday and am booked to give two talks after school next week. Things are getting busy in the run up to Christmas. Once ROAD CLOSED is done but not yet dusted, I'll post the cover and see what you think.

I was quoted by Hugh Muir in the Guardian diary yesterday. Fame at last! I've been caught up in a spat between crime writers. It's not quite pistols at dawn but not far off (oh, these authors!) It's only a very short quotation from me, in the third paragraph, but still, I'll be getting hold of the paper for my scrapbook...

(I can't work out how to include a link - although I've done it before - so you will have to copy and paste the link onto your browser if you want to read it. Sorry!)

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

The Joys of being an Author

I've been going through The Editor's suggestions for ROAD CLOSED, the second in the Geraldine Steel series.
Was it hard work? No, not at all.
Has the experience changed me? Of course not. Look at my picture. Do I look any different?
That's about as coherent as I'm able to be at the moment. I have lots of exciting news - I'll be at CRIMEFEST 2010 - but will post about it another day. I'm too tired right now.
Last word - this weekend I'm signing in WATFORD (Borders) on Saturday and BRENT CROSS (WH Smith's) on Sunday. Please come along if you're in the area and would like a signed copy for yourself or for a Christmas present. I'd love to see you there. And hopefully I'll be looking more like myself again!
For some reason my blog is refusing to upload any more images so I'll show you the cover for ROAD CLOSED next time. I'd be interested to know what you all think of it.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Radio Interview, Lunch and Tea

I've had a wonderful day (after I finished cleaning the kitchen this morning...)
I met Joyanna at my talk at Gayton Library in Harrow in September. She invited me to an interview which will be broadcast on Radio Northwick Park and a women's radio channel. Joyanna seemed pleased with the interview and she has invited me back for a LIVE INTERVIEW on January 30th. er. . . I hope I don't slip up . . . um . . . Seriously, as those of you who have attended my talks can testify, once I start talking about my writing, I seem to have plenty to say!
After the interview, I met my daughter for lunch, popped into my local bookshop for a chat, and met my husband for tea.
All in all, it was a lovely day (apart from the housework . . . )

Next weekend I'll be at Waterstones in UXBRIDGE on Saturday, and at WH Smith's in OXFORD on Sunday, and hope to see lots of you in the bookshops!

Sunday, 1 November 2009

fifty years on... Book 2

Just randomly I thought I'd include this photo on my blog. The two girls at a book signing at WH Smith's in Oxford are old school friends I've known for . . . half a century . . . (I know we're not exactly girls any more)
I'm back in WH Smith's in Oxford on Sunday 15th November so please come along if you're in the area and say hello.
As for news - ROAD CLOSED is now with my editor . . . I finished it while on holiday in Italy (how's that for dedication?) Job done (I hope!) Now I just have to wait and see what comments come back.
For those of you who haven't been through the process, here's how it works. As an author you submit your manuscript to the editor who sends back content edits - any general comments on the balance, the plotline, characters etc. After making these finishing touches to the manuscript, it goes back to the editor who goes through in detail: the line edit. I'm keeping my fingers crossed the editor is happy with it.

Monday, 19 October 2009

A lovely surprise

I had a lovely surprise at a book signing at Waterstones in Gower Street last Saturday. As usual, the bookstore staff couldn't have been more helpful. Sales went well and, to add icing to the cake, a fan took the trouble to come along and ask if I'd sign her copy of Cut Short. I was very flattered! Here's the photo she sent me.

I seem to be in demand at the moment, with two invitations to talk in libraries tomorrow. I'm visiting a book group at Oak Farm Library in Ruislip in the afternoon, and a writers' circle at the new Shepherds Bush Library in the evening.

And yes, I'm still working on the edits for Road Closed...

Monday, 5 October 2009


I have heard readers boast that they never buy books from bookshops, and never spend more than fifty pence buying from amazon or charity shops. I have nothing against shopping in charity shops – I do so myself – or against online suppliers who are efficient and cheap. But for every book that is sold for 50 pence or less, a publisher loses their profit. There’s nothing wrong with publishers making a profit. There is a great deal wrong if they don’t.
3 for 2, buy one get one free, brand new books half price . . . we all love a bargain, but our gain is someone else’s loss. If publishers lose too much, there will be no publishers. Already the market is swamped with self published books. I don’t claim that all self published books are poor quality, or that all traditionally published books are superior. But, like the proliferation of television channels, more quantity inevitably dilutes quality. And publishers do set some standards. At the very least, they are hoping to make back the money they’ve spent producing the book.
We are moving towards a world where everyone can produce their own books, downloadable free. As for professional authors, they won’t have time to write, they’ll be busy working to pay their bills. There’s precious little money to be made from writing now. With no advances or royalties, the cupboard will be completely bare.
If you never spend more than 50 pence on a book – or even one penny as a reader boasted recently – bear in mind that you may be approaching the point of no return. Like lemmings, many readers are rushing over the precipice to a Brave New World where the book as we know it will cease to exist, lost in a morass of blog-like semi-autobiographical works of flaccid fiction whose prose has never heard the scissor snap of an editor’s keys . . .
We all like to feel we are getting something for nothing. Let's hope we don't end up paying a higher price than any of us bargained for.

Friday, 2 October 2009

Finding a publisher

I promised to write about how I found a publisher. I’m afraid my account won’t be of practical help to aspiring authors as, due to my ignorance, I made just about every mistake possible in my attempt to find a publisher.

The reason I think my story is worth telling lies in its outcome. I found a publisher, and reinvented my life in my middle age (if I live a long life). And if I can succeed, why shouldn’t you?

For reasons I may retell in another post, I wrote a story. It was a little jumbled (more so than I realised – I hadn’t researched my market properly – mistake number one of many). Nevertheless, I thought my story was rather good so, without any expectations, I looked in the Writers and Artists Year Book, found three publishers who specialise in crime fiction, and sent off my manuscript.

I’m quite an impatient person. If I hadn’t received a positive response from any of them, I don’t know whether I would have sent the MS off to any more publishers or given up on the idea. I’d only sent it off on a whim.

Two weeks later I had a phone call from the wonderful woman who is now my publisher and, to cut this rambling tale short (!) three months later I signed a contract for three books in a series of crime thrillers.

It’s a long process, producing a book, and there were times when I thought it would never be published. But the process rolled on as planned – and now I’m an author.

I wrote somewhere that I fell into being an author as clueless as Alice when she fell down the rabbit hole . . .

Thursday, 1 October 2009

The Icing on the Cake

I had a lovely visit to Havant. We stayed at Brookfields Hotel in Emsworth, a short walk from the sea - highly recommended.
I was fortunate in the audience for my talk at the Literary Festival. They were generous in their comments about Cut Short and probing in their questions about my experience as an author.
Lucy, the festival organiser, and Tim at Nineveh Bookshop made us feel very welcome and all in all I thoroughly enjoyed my first appearance at a literary festival in my new guise as Author.
And the icing on the cake? Here's a photo of the 'literary cake' Tim gave me as we were leaving - a cake decorated with a tiny book made out of rice paper. Almost too good to eat . . .

Friday, 25 September 2009

I posted on another blog somewhere - I can't remember where - that the Summer is over. So here's a picture of Cut Short in the Summer before I write any more.

It's September and the evenings are drawing in, here in the UK. A few weeks ago it was light until after ten, now the sun has set by seven thirty. The evenings have vanished almost overnight. The weather hasn't yet made up its mind. One day it almost seems to be winter, reminding me that I'll soon be scraping the ice off my windscreen in the mornings. The next day is sunny, reminiscent of Summer. In the UK you don't know from one day to the next what the weather is going to be like: hot or cold? wet or dry?

My publisher has produced a new poster : LOOKING FOR A UNIQUE CHRISTMAS GIFT? What could be better than a book personally inscribed and signed by bestselling popular author Leigh Russell In bookshops, several people have already bought copies of Cut Short for Christmas presents. Christmas? I'm still clinging on to memories of Summer.

It feels like a few weeks since Cut Short was published, and now the MS for Road Closed is with the publisher. I've seen design ideas for the jacket. I'll know when a decision has been made because I'll see the book cover on my publisher's website. You might see it before I do, if you happen to look at my publisher's website first. When it's finalised, I'll post a copy here and see what you think of it.

The time has flown by so fast. I still can't believe I'm a published author. It has been a life changing experience, changing not only my lifestyle, but who I am, how others perceive me, and how I see myself.

Some authors say they want to feel their books have changed other people's lives. I don't believe for one second that my crime thrillers are going to have that effect on anyone. I hope my books engage and entertain; that's the most I would aspire to. But I would like to think that my experience might change other people's feelings about their own lives. Because if I can reinvent my identity in my fifties, anyone can do so at any age.

My advice for success in becoming who you would like to be? Work hard, be lucky and be brave. The last is perhaps the most important, and the most difficult. More difficult even than being lucky? Well, perhaps.

I hope that made sense. I'm not very good at giving advice.

What's your advice?

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Havant Literary Festival

I am at HAVANT LITERARY FESTIVAL on the evening of 28th September where I'll be talking about my writing, and answering questions.
There are still a few tickets left if anyone is able to come along.
It would be great to see you there!

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Friday, 4 September 2009

Enjoying achievement

Here it is again - back to my original picture. I'm feeling philosophical today. I've written enough about the promotional tour for my first book. It has been a very exciting summer, so I'm sure you'll forgive me for having wittered on - and on - about my book signings, talks, interviews, blog, etc etc and all the shinnanigans that go along with being published. But you must be getting very bored with reading about all that by now. So, the summer's almost over and I'm going to return to the original purpose of this blog: asking questions and sharing experiences. I hope you join in the discussion. Otherwise it's just me, and I don't want to sit here talking to myself . . .

What I want to know is, WHO MOVED THE GOALPOSTS? Let me explain. It involves travelling back in time, but don't worry, we're not going far.
If anyone had told me just two months ago how many of my books would have sold by now, or that I would have been interviewed on BBC Radio (not once, but 3 times!) or met so many enthusiastic readers, I would have jumped for joy so vigorously I would have been over the moon in no time. Probably hit my head on a distant star on the far side of the moon . . . Yet here I am, two months on with all that 'success' to bolster me up, and I'm wondering why Cut Short has fallen down the amazon sales ratings today. Why aren't more people buying Cut Short on amazon?
So here's the big question -
Does enjoying our achievements only lead to complacency?
Is it better to feel dissatisfied, because that is what spurs us on?
What do you think?

author schedule - - -

Thursday, 27 August 2009

In the Summertime . . .

I went out for lunch with The Curzon Group today and then called in at my local bookshop for a chat with the manager. The staff there are as helpful as they can be, but sadly they're limited in what they're allowed to do to promote Cut Short. It doesn't have a big enough marketing budget to interest Head Office. Such is the way of the world.

Why is no one buying Cut Short on amazon at the moment?

Here's a lovely photo of Cut Short in someone's garden. It looks like a good summer read, doesn't it?
(Cut Short, if you're new to my blog, is the first in my series of crime thrillers).

Here are a few links (yes, I'm being a lazy blogger) -

a link to The Bookseller blog

the link to my schedule of appearances on my publisher's website
and links to amazon

Monday, 17 August 2009

three gentlemen, one bag lady

We signed at a civilised time at Manchester Airport on Friday (midday start) - no photographers turned up. Here we are at East Midlands Airport (5am start) - and yes, a very nice photographer turned up to record the bags under my eyes for posterity . . . It's the best picture I've got, so I swallowed my vanity (not much to swallow) to share this with you. Also in the picture you can see, from left to right, author Richard Jay Parker, the manager of WH Smith's East Midlands Airport, me and author Matt Lynn (who is clearly a morning person.)
It sounds a little more glamorous on the East Midlands Airport website but you know the truth behind the real bags I carried with me to the airport . . .

I probably told you that my publisher is currently reprinting as Cut Short has been selling so fast! Thank you very much to all of you who have bought it and helped to create this fantastic success. If you'd like a copy - or even another one for a friend - order now for the first edition (!) and remember to email me on for a personal inscription and scanned signature.

link to my schedule of events - please come along if you can!

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Following in Cut Short's footsteps...

This will be me tomorrow . . . on a train to Manchester Airport! Off on my holidays? Not exactly . . .
Tomorrow sees the start of the Curzon Group Airport Tour. Authors Matt Lynn, Richard Jay Parker, and I (yes, me!) will be signing copies of our thrillers from midday. When we finish, we're driving to East Midlands Airport for an overnight stay ready to start signing again at 5 am!!!
I'm feeling really guilty as I haven't posted here for such a long time, but I've been a whisker short of insanely busy. Bath, Bournemouth, Cambridge, Harrow, Hatch End, Hatfield, Henley, Central London, North London, London Colney, Pinner, Shepherds Bush, Uxbridge, Watford and after Manchester and East Midlands it's Brighton, York, Kenton, Heathrow T5, Richmond, Ruislip, Oxford, Ealing, St Albans - plus lots of local talks and signings. And then there are the festivals, and the radio interviews (yes, me on BBC Radio Bristol, BBC Radio Sussex, BBC Radio Solent - I have to go to BBC Studios!) Did I mention my interviews on the BBC ?
Other news - hot off the press - Cut Short has been selling so well that a reprint is in hand as I type this! New stock will be ready at the end of next week . . . but I won't be here to see the new books, I'll be in York, or is it Richmond . . . ?

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Writers' block? No. Writers' panic? YES

Cut Short on

also now on

I've been working, on and off, on Road Closed, the second book in the Geraldine Steel series. I've been happily travelling around, visiting reading and writing groups, and meeting people in book shops (still maintaining an average sale of 44 books at a signing). Staff in the bookshops are friendly, and the readers writers I've met have been really lovely. And all the while, the elephant has been in the room, lurking in the shadows . . .

Someone asked me recently if I feel any pressure having to live up to Cut Short with the next book. "No," I answered cheerfully. "I'm really enjoying writing it." That was absolutely true at the time. But the day approaches . . . Soon, I'll have to show my new MS to my publisher . . . my editor . . . readers . . .

I'm in a complete panic! No one has seen one word of the new MS. Should I show it to my family or just send it to my publisher and hope for the best? What if no one likes it? Help help help! (That's the sound of me panicking). As for my blase reply to the question about feeling under pressure - I wasn't feeling stressed then. I am now. Oh help!

Monday, 27 July 2009

Cut Short in Cambridge

Cut Short in the window of Heffers in Cambridge. It looks very small. Can you see it?
Every year Heffers in Cambridge run an event called Bodies in the Bookshop where they invite crime writers to display their books. I was on the debut table with a group of intelligent, serious authors who all had vast piles of impressive looking hardbacks. They were talking about New York and Harrogate, their contacts and reviews, their international travel and their huge advances . . . And then there was me with my inexpensive little paperback, squeezed onto a corner of the table . . .
Many of the visitors were dealers who, I discovered, turn their noses up at paperbacks. Talk about judging a book by its cover! My low point came when a dealer upset a glass of wine over my folder. Not only did he not apologise, he didn't even buy a copy of my book. (I know, it is only a paperback.)
On a positive note, almost all of my books were bought, not by dealers but by ordinary readers who just wanted to read it - my kind of buyer. If anyone who came to Bodies in the Bookshop is reading this blog: I hope you enjoy reading Cut Short as much as I enjoyed meeting you.

And if you haven't yet managed to read Cut Short, it's in stock again on amazon. (Did I tell you that amazon sold out, resulting in Cut Short plummeting down the sales ratings - no books = zero sales. It went from 2 to 83 in one category in less than a day!)

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Cut Short goes to Istanbul

I received this photo of someone reading Cut Short in Istanbul.
I haven't been posting much lately. In case you think that's due to laziness, here's a peek at my coming week.
Saturday - Book signing in Waterstones Bath
Sunday - Visit to Waitrose after offer to stock Cut Short in 3 stores
Monday - Day off for husband's birthday! (I'll be working on Book 2 )
Tuesday - Bodies in the Bookshop event Heffers, Cambridge
Wednesday - Talking to local NWR group
Thursday - Talking to local writers' circle
Friday - Meeting local journalist to discuss blog
Saturday - Book signing in Waterstones Harrow

Not to mention the posts I'm writing for two local papers and the Curzon Group, and an article I've written for a book trade journal.
Did I say I was working on Book 2? I think there might be some description of Geraldine Steel feeling knackered! Should be a convincing description... very believable...
Just when I'm beginning to wonder why I'm working so hard, I see a picture of Cut Short in a country I've never even visited. I'm not sure why, but I'm very excited about that.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Blogs and more blogs

I'm busy blogging these days. But still here.
Please leave a comment on my other blogs.
I'd love to hear from you there as well.

2.40 on BBC Radio Somerset today !!!

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Blogs and twitter

I am now on twitter.I've done it! Not leighrussell1 or any of my other misguided attempts to arrive on the scene - just Leigh Russell (might be leighrussell) - and I know what my password is! (Yes, observant readers, there's a little subtext there...) But I will continue blogging here as well. I have too many blog friends to abandon this blog now. (and I still can't figure out how twitter actually works. I put my comments on and . . . then what?)

Signed at Borders in Cambridge yesterday. We sold out (as usually seems to happen) by lunch time and spent a lovely afternoon by the river. It was a brilliant day. I've really enjoyed meeting the staff at all the bookshops so far. They are so friendly and helpful wherever we go.

I am posting regularly on the Curzon Group blog every Thursday and hope lots of you will visit and comment there. And did I tell you I've also been invited to blog regularly on my local paper's website?

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

I wonder where my book is going?

It is a real coincidence that a fellow blogger sent me this great photo because I am also ON THE MOVE! Read on....
Every THURSDAY I will be posting on the Curzon Group blog, starting tomorrow. Please come and visit me there or I'll miss you all. I haven't abandoned this blog. I'll be back here the rest of the week. Please check my previous post for links to reviews in the press.

Monday, 6 July 2009

reviews & sales

Proof that I'm out and about signing books. These were taken in Borders and Waterstones. I have also signed in WH Smith's, but we forgot to take the camera there - will post a snap in Smiths soon as I have plenty more signings coming up in branches of all these chains, as well as in several independent bookshops.
Here are links to the two reviews Cut Short has had so far in the press:
'an excellent debut' - Mark Campbell, Crime Time
'a surefire hit - a taut, slick, easy to read thriller' - Melanie Dakin, Watford Observer
I'm also thrilled that a blogger has posted a brilliant review on amazon!
'gripping, fast paced psychological thriller... I loved it'.
Thank you as well to those of you who've emailed me for a virtual signature.
In the meantime, Cut Short continues to plummet down the amazon sales ratings so please, if you haven't bought a copy yet, but intend doing so, order it on amazon asap and email me for a virtual signature. If you're already reading it and like what you see - tell all your friends!
On a more serious note, I'd love to come and talk to reading groups and hear your feedback while I'm working on Book 2. After listening to comments from a reading group I talked to, I've already revised one idea (concerning a certain detective sergeant who had disappeared from Book 2 but has now reappeared...)

Friday, 3 July 2009

promotion promotion promotion

I gave my very first author talk today. It was nerve wracking in anticipation but actually enjoyable in reality. The reading group were very complimentary and also offered me some useful suggestions.

I'm off on book signings this weekend:
Saturday 4th July Borders in Watford from 10.30
Sunday 5th July Waterstones in Hatfield Galleria from around 12.30
Borders in Watford have ordered in 60 copies of Cut Short, so no pressure there! I didn't dare ask how many Waterstones in Hatfield have ordered. The reality of all this is beginning to sink in - book promotion is hard work! I'm looking forward to Monday when I can sit down at my computer and think about my second Geraldine Steel book, Road Closed. I just hope I'm not too tired to think coherently. I'll let you know.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

networking - we're all at it

This evening I met a lovely group of ladies I discovered through a website promoting local enterprise. I'm not exactly a businesswoman (couldn't be less of one I'm afraid!) but they insisted their new network is for people involved in the arts as well as commercial activities.
That's two networks I've become involved with in two days: The Curzon Group and the local ladies. It's official. I'm networking.

Tomorrow I will be giving my first proper author talk and I'm very excited. Yesterday I read my notes aloud to check if I was going to fill my hour slot. I finished in about five minutes . . . since when I've not had time to work on my talk at all. I've got some ideas, that's all. So if anyone reading this is coming along to my first talk (Pinner Library 1.15pm) please ask me lots of questions! Easy ones if you don't mind. And you may add some flattery. (I wish)

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Curzon Group

WATFORD 4th July Borders from 10.30
HATFIELD 5th July Waterstones Galleria from 2 (probably earlier)

Today I decided to accept an invitation to join the Curzon Group, a group of British crime writers who want to orchestrate a renaissance of British crime fiction. It's an exciting movement, which kicks off with a tour of English airports this summer. I'm thrilled to be on board. The only downside is that they all have far more prominent profiles than me. I appreciate that is really an advantage, but my review in the local paper - which is very cool - doesn't look quite so impressive next to their reviews in the national press. I feel like a gauche country cousin. I have to say they were all really lovely people and said nothing to make me feel this way.

I'm just feeling a little dejected. My sales rating on amazon has gone down from 5,100 to over 50,000 and although lots of people (well, a few) have emailed me fantastic comments about Cut Short, no one has written a review on amazon (hint!). The only one is the one I put on there myself, from the Watford Observer.

Do I sound grumpy today?

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Cut Short gets glowing review in paper!

"a sure fire hit... taut, slick, easy to read... accomplished"
WATFORD OBSERVER 26th June Here I am, with my book, standing next to a sign in a car park that displays both the name and the logo of my publisher. . . NO EXIT... NO ENTRY... I'm rooted to the spot!

Next book signing - 4th July WATFORD Borders from 10.30
5th July HATFIELD Galleria Waterstones from 2pm
and don't forget the virtual book signing. THANK YOU to those of you who have bought a copy and emailed me for a virtual signature.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

The Virtual Book Launch is launched...

NEWS: Cut Short reviewed in Watford Observer -
"taut, slick, easy to read" "it's fascinating to hear her say she 'stumbled into writing' when faced with a first work that's so accomplished."

Next book signings - Borders in WATFORD Saturday 4th July from 10.30, Waterstones in HATFIELD GALLERIA Sunday 5th July from 2pm

Sold out at both book signings this weekend - Saturday WH Smith's Harrow 50 books, Sunday Borders London Colney 40 books. Thank you to everyone who bought Cut Short at these events.

Please email me on when you have your copy of Cut Short. Include the name you'd like me to sign the book for, and I'll send you a signed message for you to print out and stick in the book - a virtual book signing! Don't forget to drink a glass of wine as you do this. Thank you very much for your support. I look forward to hearing from you over the summer.

Please click on this link to publisher's website where you can see a schedule of my author visits I would love to meet fellow bloggers at any of these events.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

We're on our way

Hats off to me - I've just made a sale! My local library service has ordered 15 copies of Cut Short. I'm intoxicated with success... on my way to beating the average sale of a first book (93 copies I read somewhere.) 93? huh! I'm going to sell at least 100... 1,000... 10,000... The sky's the limit. (What's that? Keep my feet on the ground? What ground? I don't see any ground...)

Wednesday, 20 May 2009


CUT SHORT is available -
Virtual Book Launch starts June (see post of 7th May for details)

The books (my book) will be with the distributor on 5th June - just over two weeks from today!

On 20th June - one month from today - I'll be signing copies of my book in WH Smith's in Harrow.

I understand more and more why people compare producing a book to giving birth. There's no going back now! I can't call a halt to all this, even if I wanted to (which of course I don't.)
I'm loving every minute of this experience. Nervous? Me? Why would I be?

(What if nobody buys Cut Short? What if nobody likes it? What if I turn up to sign copies and the books haven't arrived? What if I give a talk and can't think of anything to say? What if people ask questions I can't answer?)

Monday, 11 May 2009

Ideas needed urgently

A huge THANK YOU to everyone who's commented here so far with suggestions about what I can include in my Author Talks. As I've said before, Cut Short is a real team effort. Thank you again - and please don't stop.

Fellow bloggers, I need your help. Anyone planning to come along to any of the Author Talks I'm giving (schedule on post of 9th April) PLEASE LOOK AWAY NOW.

With my characteristic dash (dashing ahead without thinking, that is) I've agreed to give a number of Author Talks. I can happily ramble on in writing (as you well know if you follow my blog) but I'm not sure how I'll perform talking to an audience. To be honest, I find the idea rather daunting. (I have to talk for - how long? I've no idea! - about - what? . . .)

This is where you come in, my support network of brilliant blogbuddies.

If you have any ideas or suggestions about what you might want to hear an author talk about, were you to attend an Author Talk, please share your thoughts with me. I have quite a few ideas, but I also have a vague fear hovering in the dark recesses of my mind that I might run out of things to say and stand in front of my audience opening and closing my mouth like a gigantic fish . . .

CUT SHORT is available -

JUNE Virtual Book Launch starts here in June



Thursday, 7 May 2009


VIRTUAL BOOK LAUNCH UK Publication date is 10th June. I'll put my email address here. When you receive a copy of Cut Short, please send me an email. Tell me who you'd like me to sign the book for, just as you would at any other book signing. I'll reply with a personal signed message which you can print out. As you stick the message in the front of your copy of Cut Short, please feel free to drink a glass of wine. I promise to have a drink at the same time, so we'll be sharing a virtual drink. (I realise this means I may have to drink solidly for some time, but a writer has to make some sacrifices for her reading public...)
CUT SHORT is available to preorder from for dispatch in JUNE.
You can preorder from for dispatch in July.
Whenever and wherever you find your copy, please email me directly for a signature, and don't forget to let me know who you'd like me to sign the book for, if you're buying it for a friend.
Please check the schedule of my Author Appearances on the post dated 9th April. If you can come along to one of these events, I'd love to see you there.

Thanks to all of you who are sharing this experience with me through my blog. I'll be needing your help again soon with ideas for what I should include in my Author Talks.
VIRTUAL BOOK LAUNCH USA It looks as though Cut Short may be available in the USA in July. More about this when the date is confirmed. Readers across the pond are of course welcome to order from

Virtual Signings will continue until Book 2 is published in 2010.

Why does time slow down when you're waiting? And how am I feeling right now? a) excited b) proud c) confident d) petrified ? Answers on (not in) a bottle (Champagne would be fine)

Saturday, 2 May 2009


Virtual Book Launch - see post of 22nd April
Schedule of Events - see post of 9th April

The girls in my local bookshop showed me a proof copy of my book! A proof copy is sent by the publisher to bookshops, reviewers, etc. It says 'not for resale' on the back so is not the finished article, but it's A REAL BOOK. I held it in my hand!

The London Bookshop will dispatch Cut Short around 10th June, publication date. Link on No Exit Press website.

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

My name in print once more.

I've just had my first live interview as an author... (dramatic pause) ...
Three 12 year old pupils at my school interviewed me for their class news sheet. They asked searching questions about why I write, and where I find my inspiration. Then they set off armed with questions for one of the cleaners. ("Are you happy with what you earn here?" - oh, the innocence of youth!) "We tried to interview her yesterday, Miss, but she was too busy to see us. "

Cut Short was featured on the Bookroast on 30th April. Thank you to everyone who visited and commented.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009



Publication approaches and preparations to launch Cut Short on an unsuspecting world are gathering pace. Only you, my friends on the blog, are privy to these delusions of grandeur - Cut Short, best seller; Cut Short, cult book of the month - the year - the decade! ( loud crash as Leigh struggles to get her big head through the door) For a brief heady period I became an amazon watcher, studying the brief rise and fall of Cut Short in the Sales Ratings on At one point, my friends around the world, someone somewhere was ordering my book on, enough orders, in fact, to push the sales rating a significant way up the list. This was seriously good news. Then it began to fall and the whole exercise lost its appeal.

The date of the VIRTUAL BOOK LAUNCH approaches
I've succeeded in scanning my signature - (don't panic, friends - Leigh Russell is not my real name and no documents or bank accounts exist in that name.) Here's how it works -

On 10th June, publication date, I'll publish my email address on this blog. When you receive your copy of Cut Short, please send me an email telling me who you'd like me to sign the book for (just as you would at any other book signing.) I will reply asap, with a personal signed message from Leigh Russell which you can print and stick in the front of your copy of Cut Short.
As you do this, please feel free to drink a glass of wine. I promise to drink one at the same time, so we can share a virtual drink. (I realise this means I may have to drink solidly for some time, but a writer has to make some sacrifices for her reading public...)

Please send any questions about the virtual launch to this blog before 10th June. (I may not be in a fit state to repy after that.) And if you haven't already put in your order for Cut Short - what are you waiting for?
Remember to check 10th June post when you receive your copy.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

PUBLICATION APPROACHES - hope to see you in a local bookshop (see 9th April post)

Details of Virtual Book Launch will be here by 10th June. Try to order Cut Short before then.
Please check list on 9th April post for changes
I can hardly type for excitement. I've seen the pdf of the cover of Cut Short. Is that really my book? (naked corpses... a twisted killer... murderous obsessions... ) and then, just to finish it off... Leigh Russell is a secondary school teacher!
And as if all that's not scary enough - I see the url of my blog is on the cover! (What have I been writing here? how do I delete my posts? is my honesty about to come back and bite me on the - wherever it is honesty comes back to bite.) OK, I admit it. I'm not doing much of a job persuading anyone I can write anything worth reading. (Note to self - must try harder!) (But ... have I said anything uncomplimentary about my wonderful publisher over the course of this long rambling blog? And surely, surely I haven't been rude - not positively rude about Amazon?) Oh heck! There aren't that many people around who talk to me - I can see the number dwindling... I don't care. I'll lock myself in the garden shed.

Please see the list of my schedule of author events on 9th April post.

Links to sites where Cut Short's available for despatch in JUNE


Cut Short, available from bookshops & online from Waterstones, WH Smiths, Borders, & all other online UK book suppliers bar one. Due to a fault, can’t display this title at present. If you’d like to help my efforts to rectify their fault:

Thursday, 9 April 2009


check for new dates - come along if you can

30th April featured on the Bookroast
28th May Workshop at Harrow Writers Circle
20th June Book Signing at WH Smiths Harrow
21st June Book Signing at Borders London Colney
24th June London Book Launch
3rd July Talk at Pinner Library
4th July Book Signing at Borders Watford
5th July Book Signing at Waterstones Hatfield Galleria
9th July Harrow Book Launch
11th July Book Signing at Borders Cambridge
14th July Talk at Finding the Plot Uxbridge
15th July Talk at Finding the Plot Harrow
18th July Book Signing at Waterstones Bath
21st July Bodies in the Bookshop at Heffers Cambridge
22nd July Talk for NWR
23rd July Talk at Harrow Writers Circle
27th July Talk at North Harrow Library
30th July Talk at Big Green Bookshop Wood Green
1st August Book Signing at WH Smiths Henley
8th August Book Signing Borders Bournemouth
10th August Talk at Kenton Library
10th August Talk at Watford Writers’ Circle
18th August Talk at Ealing Library
20th August Talk at Borders Brighton
22nd August Book Signing at Borders York
28th August Book Signing at WH Smiths Heathrow T5
2nd September Signing and Talk at Ruislip Manor Library
5th September Book Signing at WH Smiths Oxford
12th September Talk at Gayton Library Harrow
Throckmorton Literary Festival tbc
21st September Talk at Hatch End Library
23rd September Talk at Pitshanger Bookshop Ealing
Throckmorton Festival date tbc
Havant Literary Festival date tbc
Haberdashers' School Talk date tbc
17th October Signing at Waterstones Gower Street Central London
20th October Talk at Oak Farm Library Hillingdon

Please contact me on for details of these events.

Some direct links for preordering Cut Short:

Publisher’s website

totally overwhelmed - chaos as usual

I spent hours trying to include links on my posts. I've just done exactly that and it took a second to achieve... The timing is quite amazing. Talk about doors opening when the time's right!
Taking a moment from manic activity... After a long wait (my faithful followers know how long) my publishers have brought the publication of CUT SHORT forward to June. I've been studying proofs - which merits a post in itself - what an experience - and running around setting up promotional events - more later.
The annoying thing is, now that I actually have some interesting news to blog about, I've no time to blog.
Will be back in a day or two, I promise, and you can READ ALL ABOUT IT, as they say.