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This week, l am back thinning and parting the vines. I came across a small bird’s nest that was empty and abandoned. It was in the way of growing grapes so I almost threw it aside but fortunately I hesitated. Next day it contained three tiny eggs. The lesson was, never act in haste. Working in the vineyard gives both mind and physical exercise, the physical being so important for someone who spends many hours sitting at a computer. In addition, the contrast has been most welcome too as I have been working intensively with my proof reader and editor as we prepare my latest crime fiction title: The Unwanted, by James McKenna for publication on 10th June.

Rhythmic and repetitive work often gives a writer the opportunity to think creatively and ponder last minute detail changes for The Unwanted. It also allows time to consider the plot for my new thriller, Global Raider, which is already bubbling along nicely. I only wish I can say the same for this year’s vintage which has suffering from the extra cold weather experienced over winter.

This week, alongside being James McKenna crime author, I became James McKenna wine producer as I went to see the wine technologist who tests the wine as it matures. I have to say, there was a lot of head scratching and ‘umming’ and ‘aaahing’ this time and I was dispatched to buy a special type of bacteria which will aid the maturation process. I am waiting with my fingers crossed. However I am reminded that last year I moaned like crazy about the wine at this point and it proved to be a winner. We have even sold a number of cases to very satisfied customers, who fortunately, return for more.

Another crime writer who is also juggling two professions is James Oswald who is both sheep farmer and crime writer and was featured in a great article run by The Daily Telegraph which outlined his very practical 5.30 morning start and which still requires him to do readings and book signings.

James Oswald, is a self-publishing phenomenon and his first title, Natural Causes and the follow up, The Book of Souls, sold 350,000 copies which were downloaded to Kindles, Nooks etc. How wonderful therefore that this success meant that all the best publishing companies took serious interest. As a consequence, James Oswald had people fighting over the rights to his next book. Ah, this is the stuff dreams are made of and helps working round the vines progress more quickly!

It was Penguin who managed to scoop James up when the book went to auction. In fact six other countries also took him on when they bought the rights. Not only this but he found he was on the Debut Dagger Award shortlist which is a prize awarded by the Crime Writers’ Association.

James admits that it’s his farming work which helps him write, the monotony of doing something practical frees up the brain to think about other more creative things. So James McKenna, crime writer and wine maker really is in good company.

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