Hazel McHaffie

cover design

Allow me to introduce you …

Well, here it is, folks … the cover design for my forthcoming novel. Killing me Gently in the flesh!

This is the point at which it feels real.

Huge thanks to my faithful designer, Tom Bee. All I do is give him a synopsis of the book, a résumé of the atmosphere I want to create, and a few pointers to possible aspects of the story which we might capture, and up he comes with a selection of options. We go back and forth a little on refinements and it’s all signed and sealed. This is the sixth of my novels he’s illustrated and he’s an absolute joy to work with.

And just to give you a taster, here’s the official blurb about the story-line.

Anya Morgan has it all – beauty, brains, dream home, handsome husband, and now to complete the picture, a new baby. But Gypsy Lysette doesn’t conform to Anya’s criteria for perfection. Sleep deprived and insecure, she searches for solace and reassurance.

Leon Morgan is torn between supporting his paranoid wife and the demands of his job. Increasingly stressed he starts to make mistakes, big mistakes, threatening the future of the family firm, jeopardising their marriage.

Tiffany Corrigan to the rescue; qualified nurse, mother of three, a fount of practical wisdom. She’s a shoulder to lean on when the crises escalate … when Gypsy is admitted to hospital … when the fingers start pointing … when suspicion and jealousy widen the rift between Anya and Leon.

Then inexplicable things start to happen. Frightening things. Baby Gypsy’s life as well as Anya’s sanity are under threat. Who is responsible? And will the professionals act in time to save this family from devastating loss?

I’ll let you know when it’s ready for purchase – not long now!

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Inside of Me

Well, here it is! An exclusive sneaky preview.

What d’you think, folks? Would this cover jump out at you on the bookshelves?

Inside of Me cover

After all the work and determination that have brought us to this point, I think we can deservedly bask in the moment and give the entire blog post over to the image of the finished product.

It should be available for purchase later this month.




It’s all relative …

Phew! It’s been quite a week.

My mind has been split too many ways for its own good, juggling preparation for a number of forthcoming speaking appointments all on different subjects, as well as finalising the text and cover of Inside of Me, plus a variety of other demands outside of my writing life. I confess I’ve felt unusually cross-eyed, and tense, and generally discombobulated.

I won’t bore you with the detail, except to share the most exciting development: the cover of Inside of Me is now chosen! Yeah! It’s been unusually tricky getting it right this time, but thanks to a very patient designer, Tom Bee, who provided lots of choice and properly listened to my quibbles, we have a striking end result that feels good. I’ll share it with you as soon as it’s finalised.

The Dean's DiariesSo, in the midst of all this angst, it was something of a welcome escape to go to a book launch for Professor David Purdie‘s latest offering: The Dean’s Diaries, held in all the magnificence of the Royal College of Physicians’ premises in the centre of Edinburgh. I found myself in august company. Purdie himself is a well-known and brilliant raconteur and was both witty and amusing on this occasion, offering, like Peter Ustinov, ‘all the various accents for his superb mimicry; and the rare combination of brevity of language with breadth of expression‘. Enviable skills.

His latest slim volume is a compilation of observations and anecdotes by the Dean of Edinburgh’s fictitious St Andrew’s College, ‘renowned for its academic oddity, interdepartmental warfare and explosive disasters‘. A happy blend of fact and fiction. I defy anyone to read it without laughing aloud. Clever, heretical, irreverent, stunningly good writing. A real tonic. Guaranteed to lift the spirits and banish tension. Just what I needed. Oh, and the Dean reckons that ‘Disparate activities, especially if novel, are apparently useful in staving off the onset of dementia … and … keeping the old frontal cortex ticking over‘, so perhaps I should be embracing more challenges not seeking less.

Alexander McCall Smith (who appears in the book as himself) was to have chaired the evening, but in the event he was in India … ahhh … therein lies a salutary and timely reminder. His life puts my present little alarms and excursions firmly into perspective. Sandy is probably the most prolific author I know personally, his daily word output is phenomenal, he’s constantly in demand as speaker/reviewer, juggles innumerable interests, and travels the world on a regular basis. And still finds time for friends and colleagues. Does he ever sleep?

OK, McHaffie. Take a big breath. Break down the tasks on your puny little list into manageable pieces. Tackle each one systematically. Tick them off; reduce the pressure.

There you go. Calm restored. Thanks to two professors and a hefty dose of laughter.


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Strength in adversity

What does not kill you, makes you stronger.‘  We’ve all heard it. You might even have had it fired at you, or worse still, directed it at someone else in an effort to bolster their resilience in the face of trouble. As you’ll also probably know, it was the German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, who originally penned it.

But just over a year ago a bunch of US scientists from Buffalo university reckoned they could supply scientific evidence that there was more than a grain of truth in this aphorism. Not surprisingly they found that major traumatic experiences – bereavement, assault and cataclysmic natural disasters – were more damaging than beneficial. However, a certain amount of adversity was more healthy than a stress-free life.  Their theory was that negative experiences encourage the development of coping mechanisms for life and strengthen the bonds of social networks.

What d’you reckon? True for you?

Me, I’m hanging onto that thought as I grapple with various stresses in my own life at the moment. They, and competing demands on my time and energies, have been getting in the way of work this week, so it’s something of a miracle that I have any progress to report. But yes, things are moving. ManuscriptThe manuscript of my current novel, Over my Dead Body, is now finished (wahey!), I’ve agreed terms with the cover designer, and I’ve started to approach reviewers – time now to finalise those last big decisions about publication.

Life certainly has a habit of surprising us. I mean, who’d have thought bombs would disrupt a harmless marathon, whereas Baroness Thatcher’s funeral would pass off without obvious disruptive incident, in the same week. Lessons to be learned there, I’m sure.

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