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.

How long did it take you to write?

When I tell people I have a new book coming out people ask me ‘how long did it take to write?’, it’s not an easy question to answer.
Second Strand How longwas born (under the working title A Different Coast) in August 2014 – just after the publication of Her Parents’ Daughter. I made notes on the plot, the timeline and the cast but I was concentrating on working on A Set of Lies (which was to be published in June 2015 to coincide with the bi-centenary of Napoleon Bonaparte’s surrender to the British) so nothing was done (other than thoughts in my head) for months.
I returned to Second Strand in October 2015 and the first draft was completed on December 4. It stood at 66,439 words. Looking back, I am amazed I kept at it as the day job (PS Direct) was very busy at that time and also we were looking to move away from the Isle of Wight to Devon but the story was in my head and had to be written down.
I began the first read-through the next day. This was completed on January 2 by which time it had grown to 85,906 words. Then we moved house and I didn’t look at Second Strand for six weeks, taking it up again on February 15 for the second run-through (draft three). This was completed on March 22 by which time it had grown again to 108,460 words. It was then printed out and handed over to husband Colin to read through for his thoughts. Other things were going on in our lives and it took him a month.
My third run-through (draft 4, incorporating Colin’s comments) began on April 22 and was completed on May 2 (113,242 words); the fourth run-through (draft 5) began the next day and was completed on May 23 (104,581 words). My Final run-through (draft 6) began immediately and was completed June 2 (100,681). It then went off to the editor and was returned on June 25. Resultant changes (after read-through 6) left word count at 99,722.
The ‘final manuscript’ then went back to Troubador for type-setting, returning on July 22. Read-through 7, checking every line, every word, took a week. Anomalies were identified and fixed, words were tweaked here and there, the odd error was corrected and now I await the final proof.
There will be one final read-through (number 8) and then Second Strand will be cast in concrete as it heads to the printers.
So. How long did it take to write?
From inception? Two years.
From serious writing began? Eleven months.
In terms of hours? Very difficult to say as there were days, sometimes weeks, with not a word being read or written, then other days when nine hours or more could be devoted to it.
And after all that, it will probably take the reader just a couple of days to read.
Still… I hope they will find the hours they spend reading Second Strand as interesting, thought provoking, involving and enjoyable as I found the many more hours spent writing it.
The next question people ask is ‘what’s it about?’ – a far more difficult question to answer.

Bad Ideas

Bad IdeaThe words have flowed this past week and the story in the follow up to Her Parents’ Daughter has developed well. (At least I think so and if I don’t then it’s unlikely anyone else will).
I’ve given up worrying about the title – that will fall into place in good time – as most of the ones I’m coming up with are really not very good. Bad ideas like Tit for Tat and Tip for Tap have been floating around in my head.
The focus of my cast’s activities is currently in Dartmouth, Devon (not Dartmouth, Massachusetts, USA) which is a town I’ve been visiting quite often recently. But with only a small number of visits packed into a matter of weeks it is impossible to get a true feel for a town so I apologise in advance if I upset anyone in or connected to one of the nicest places I’ve spent any time in for some years.
The main progress this week is that I can now see what the denouement of the book is going to be and how it is going to come about and this is not quite as I saw it when I started out six weeks or so ago (was it only six weeks?).
No doubt when I read it through, and put in some of the back stories, it may change again – not all my ideas are good ones!
But then Steven Spielberg (no less) has been quoted as saying that all good ideas start as bad ideas – that’s why the creative process takes so long.
So there’s hope yet!

 

Non Napoleonic Projects

3 book coversAll the excitement around the publication of A Set of Lies is dying down (though sales continue apace) and there is time to look at other projects, unrelated to Napoleon Bonaparte.
I have to spend some more time re-jigging my first three books (The Last Dance, Walking Alone and Runaways) into one volume. Hopefully this will be done by Christmas…..
And there is also the next new book.
In Her Parents’ Daughter a murder was committed in Yarmouth, Isle of Wight in the last week of August 2014. We know, from the first chapter, that the woman charged with this murder of a policeman was innocent despite her being arrested with the ‘smoking gun’ still in her hands. What we don’t know until the end of the book is who stitched her up and why.
Unfortunately it seems that another murder is about to be committed in this small but busy ferry town on the north west coast of the Isle of Wight. This time it is not a public event and there are no witnesses. Again we will be led to believe that the man suspected of the murder is innocent, and again we will have to read the book (currently under the working title of Acorns on the Pier) to find out
a. whether he did it
b. if he did why would he?
c. if he didn’t who did?
d. is there any link to the murder that took place in 2014? And, most importantly:
e. if there is what, and who, might that connection be?