For some reason, coming back to Book Number The Third after an brief work-related hiatus, it's not a dreadful as I'd feared. Maybe this is because I've not just finished reading THE MERMAIDS SINGING this time round. Not easy to compare oneself with Val's writing at its very best -- it's no surprise the thing won the Gold Dagger, it's a bloody good book. But whatever it is, I'm thinking that BROKEN SKIN isn't actually all that bad after all.

Of course the proof of the pudding is in the blurbing and the ordering. The Bound Galleys arrived on Friday, (or ARCs if you're all transatlantic and don't mind the people in Otterstones taking the piss out of you for using the American terminology, like you're some sort of rock star) and they'll be going out to all the booksellers and reviewers so that they can line the bottom of their bird cages with them.

The really odd thing about the Galleys is that they're going to be different from the final, finished book. Previously they've all been identical, but for some reason the whole process seems to be running a little behind the thing. Probably something to do with me sodding off to the Midwest this August when I should have been editing. Bad Stuart, naughty Stuart.

Something else that's going to be different is the cover, which needs a new bedstead and fewer shiny pee-stains (don't ask).

I've been sending them out to those kind souls that have promised to blurb the thing, if they've got the time -- which as we know from last year is the 'get out of jail free' card, in case they hate it with a passion most people reserve for Lawyers, Traffic Wardens, and other assorted cock-weasels.

I however will go back to obsessing over the first four chapters, convinced that if I go off and read something else, then come back to it again I'll suddenly see why I should stop pretending to be a write-ist and go crawl into a darkened cupboard and never coming out again.

And for those of you keeping score, the work / writing debate has taken a lurch to the left. More news as events warrant.