Progress?

The first draft of the book I would like to call Hostage to Fortune is finished! (Time for a celebratory glass of wine?)
Begun on 15 March this, the follow on to Her Parents’ Daughter and Second Strand, is the quickest I have ever completed the first draft of a book.
Of the thirty-four days, only eight were without progress. I achieved an average 1,793 words per day which isn’t bad, with a maximum number in a day 6,427! One or two days were pretty much failures with only one hundred odd words, but there were always extenuating circumstances.
This incredible rate of progress was only possible because I spent three weeks plotting out the chapters in advance, (memories of teachers telling me to plan out essays before putting pen to paper – thank you Miss Nicholson, Mr Sant and Miss Honeyball!) so I knew where I was going and who was going to do what to whom and when before I started.
It was only in the last but one chapter that my characters strayed off message. One, Guy, was supposed to do one thing but as the words spewed from my fingers on the keyboard he decided to do something completely different.
I can only say that this turned out to be his mistake.
Unfortunately, the title Hostage to Fortune has been used before. Sometimes A Hostage to Fortune, sometimes Hostages to Fortune, sometimes with a subtitle sometimes not.
Shall I go with it anyway, since the other books date from 1931, and the fifties?
I don’t know.
I can’t think of any better for this book; it works on so many levels.
Mind you, since I’ve only just finished the first draft, I have lots of time to think about it.

Anomalies and Black Sacks

black-plastic-bin-linerMy resolve to give up writing (see last blog) lasted all of three weeks; well not even that really as I have continued with reworking the first three books of The Iniquities Trilogy into one.
While doing this I have found a number of anomalies and inconsistencies which I have been correcting – some of my readers have been very kind in letting me know of errors such as Charles sending Ted that postcard from Spain when it should, of course, have been Carl.
One anomaly no one has pointed out to me is that I have Holly using black bin bags to clear up after a party held in Oxford at the end of June 1976.
As I re-read that passage I wondered whether black bin liners would have been around then. I tried to remember what I did with the rubbish forty years ago and, unsurprisingly, could remember nothing – so I resorted to the internet.
It appears that plastic bin bags were invented in the 1950s (green, in Canada, for commercial use only) but they weren’t black and widely used in UK homes until well into the 1980s though when I wrote Walking Alone (in 2008) it seemed like they’d been around forever. The people behind the TV programme Mad Men had the same misconception as one is reported to have been used in an episode set in 1963!
I’m now well into the consolidation of The Last Dance, Walking Alone and Runaways into one book and no doubt will find more anomalies to correct; that (being really picky about things), and doing the research to check it all out, is so much part of the fun of writing.
It’s great having another chance at those first three books of mine – no wonder so many artists painted the same subject many times and so many recording artists re-record their music.

Washing-Up Bowls

Washing Up BowlsResearch seems to be done into everything and anything and then the resultant press release forms the basis of news bulletin after news bulletin. What I want to know is why research has not been done (at least doesn’t appear to have been done because if it had it would have led the BBC News for at least 24 hours) into that most common of household items – washing-up bowls.
Why are they used in the first place when they are placed within perfectly adequate basins?
“I’ve lost the plug to the basin” “It’s useful to have a space down which to pour cold tea without dirtying the washing up water” “It’s quieter to use than a metal sink” “It’s less likely you’ll chip a plate or glass against plastic” “It uses less water” “The water can be chucked over plants after, rather than being wasted down the drain”.
But they are not all good news.
“They’re not healthy – they’re breeding grounds for bacteria” “They are, like greetings cards, an unnecessary accessory creating a whole unnecessary industry” “Why would you want to put a piece of cheap plastic in an expensively designed kitchen?”
Perhaps we only use them because we were brought up doing the washing-up in a plastic bowl.
So we use them. By the millions.
And so someone, somewhere should do some research.
Are they (like cars) becoming available in fewer and fewer colours?
Are they, as they seem to be, getting smaller and smaller – so small that even reasonably sized dinner plates don’t lie down in them?
If they are getting smaller is this a response to the need to save water. Is it in response to the need to reduce the amount of plastic used? Perhaps it’s in response to smaller houses, smaller kitchens, smaller sinks, less washing up being done (more take-aways?)
I call upon someone to research this most important of household items. An anniversary must be coming up. “One million years since the first human being carried water from a watering hole in an animal skin and, rather than pouring the water over the eating implements and pieces of wood used as proto-plates, put those re-usable items in the carrying vessel.”
Which brings me on to washing up liquid….

You can see from this post that I’ve made no progress with A Second Strand in the past weeks. I’ve been busy with the day job – but next week it’s the final read through before sending it off to edit! I’ll be in touch Matador….

The birth of Empty Boxes

Ten BobCurrently I feel a tad over-whelmed with projects and the last thing I wanted was to start another before the ones under way are a little further down the line.
After my recent completion of the fourth draft A Second Strand is currently being read through by my most honest critic (husband Colin) so I can do nothing with that until he’s finished. But I must begin to think about the cover illustration, the blurb, the press release, the marketing plan and timescale. Writing the book in the first place is, in some ways, the easiest part. Certainly it is the most enjoyable. I write because I like writing, and I have stories to tell, not because I want to be a salesperson.
Then there is the Tenth Anniversary edition of The IniFiverquities Trilogy. This was completed last Autumn but has not been looked at while I have been concentrating on moving house, the “day job” and A Second Strand. I really want to get that out into the world with the best chance possible of reaching a wide audience but because it is so long (currently over 350,000 words) it will probably have to be an e-book only – no one would be able to hold the physical book. Decisions have to be made (is it a project worth pursuing? If it is what will the cover be? The blurb? The marketing plan, etc. etc….) It, too, is unfinished business.
And then, sitting having a quiet Easter Sunday drink in the Dartmouth Arms (Dartmouth, Devon not the one in West London) I was talking about my mother’s charm bracelet (no, me neither) and I mentioned the fact that she had raided the charm that had contained a tightly folded five pound note and the one containing an equally tightly folded ten shilling note and I had no idea why. The seeds of the next book were planted and now, when I have nothing else to think about, the plot is beginning to form.
So after A Second Strand and Iniquities will come Empty Boxes.
And maybe by this coming Autumn I will be back to the part of being a writer that is fun – the putting together of a plot, the creation of the characters …. the writing. 

 

Anniversary? What anniversary?

Castelreagh McCartney First: Happy Birthday for 18 June to Sir Paul McCartney – a 73rd anniversary to savour.

Also born on June 18 (173 years earlier in 1769) was Viscount Castlereagh. He was British Foreign Secretary in 1815 and instrumental in what happened to Napoleon after his surrender to the British on July 15 1815.

Second: in A Set of Lies Bernard Lacey is in Paris finalising the arrangements for his plan and Ennor Jolliffe is on the Isle of Wight (under the protection of Lady Frances Frensham) in the final preparations before playing the part of his life.

Meanwhile: just south of Brussels, Napoleon Bonaparte prepared to fight the battle he was very confident of winning…..

 

 

2015 ? So far so good!

It’s nearly the end of (for me, a dry) January and progress on A SET OF LIES has been made.
The style proof was received and approved – the designers at Troubador have done a grand job – next step there is the typeset proof and – for me – the final chance to read and make any necessary amendments. Hopefully these will be minimal. Since its conception (in Plymouth in 1999/2000) it has been a very long gestation but it is about to engage!
Running alongside this is the beginning of the marketing and sale process.
The Advanced Information has gone out to booksellers and local shops. This, hopefully, will encourage at least a few shops to stock it!
The Facebook page for A Set of Lies has been set up https://www.facebook.com/pages/A-Set-of-Lies
The Twitter account has been set up (so my fellow The Archers tweeterers are not inundated with book related stuff and my readers are not inundated with information about what used to be ‘an everyday story of country folk’ and is now contemporary drama in a rural setting’ @carolyn_mccrae for the author bits and @iowauthor for The Archers.
I also have a page on www.goodreads.com – which includes all my titles – and which I am trying to get my head around.
All I have to do is keep all these social media up to date – will there be any time to write the next one?