Being the right size

Old LorryCars are first on my list of things that are not the right size – they are just getting and wider and wider. A 1970 Ford Mustang was 59” wide, a Mark 1 Ford Capri was 64.8”, a 1963 Morris Minor 1000 was 61” and a 1968 Austin A35 was only 55” wide. Even a 2003 Rolls-Royce Phantom was only 78.3”. Yet since that time cars in everyday use are getting wider and wider. A Range Rover Vogue is 87.4” (without mirrors – and what car has no mirrors?) which is 4 inches wider than a current Ford Transit van and about the same as lorries of the 1950s and 60s.
It’s such a shame that many traffic lanes, car park spaces and most garages in urban areas were designed to accommodate Morris Minors and A35s.
Doorways are second on my list of things that are the wrong size. Having just moved into a house constructed sometime in the 1820s I feel that in those days a) they didn’t have much furniture and b) those pieces they had were considerably smaller than today’s. Even a comfortable armchair of the 1980s would be 71 cm wide, yet many in 2016 are over 100 cm and doorways have got no wider….
And then there’s people – they seem to be getting taller and wider by the generation – but don’t get me onto that.
Talking of size, if not width, I have been wondering about how long a book should be. According to www.huffingtonpost.com the average word count of a Top 10 bestseller is 121,395. My recent (2014) book, Her Parents’ Daughter, came in at only 109,800 words which is the length of a Top 25 bestseller but I was happy to sell 300 copies….. According to Huffington’s graph the shorter the book the fewer copies are sold with Top 1000 sellers averaging only 73,408 words. So I will make sure A Second Strand is as long as it possibly can be and I now hold out great hopes for Iniquities as it is currently 365,367 words! But then it is three books (the three books of the Iniquities Trilogy – The Last Dance, Walking Alone and Runaways) and amazingly that averages at almost exactly 121,395 words per volume.
Top Ten Bestsellers List here we come!

Into the second draft….

Second DraftI suppose it’s because it’s that time of year but there are so many things going on, so many things to do and to think about, so much work to do to clear the desks and the mind…… And it’s not just because of Christmas. But what with one thing – and several dozen others – I have not made the progress I had hoped to make in my second draft of the book which may or may not be called Another Thread (probably not!).
Progress is slow, so much slower than the initial writing as there are so many things to check and correct before I hand the manuscript over to husband Colin to read through and criticize and give me the ideas for the inevitable re-write.
Google ‘Second Draft’ and you find so much advice, so many horror stories, so much that is discouraging but every writer/author must do their own thing.
So what is my approach?
Firstly, with the first draft completed I know some of the seeds I have to plant earlier on in the plot.
Secondly, I have to correct spelling errors Word has failed to flag up.
Thirdly, there are the inevitable grammatical errors when some of the first draft was pretty ‘stream of consciousness’.
Fourthly, there is punctuation….. ‘Is this the end of a sentence or should I use a semi-colon?’ (I hate them – they seem terribly American). ‘Do I put a comma at the end of that section of speech?’ – but then I remember this is something my Editor will pick up (or at least their editing software will.)
And finally, in the best traditions of Just a Minute, I am having to recognize and remove ‘hesitations, repetitions and deviations’.
In three weeks I am less than one third of the way through, though with the Christmas break coming up maybe I will get the document to Colin by 2016.
Happy Holidays!

One step up two steps down

Down the upI’m currently going up the down escalator of life (or down the up?).
Because other things are getting in the way of the writing at the moment when I actually had some time to sit down at the laptop I realised I needed to re-read the whole 42,000 words to regain the threads. This re-read showed up some inconsistencies and repetitions which needed clarification and re-writing so, despite getting up at 3.15 one morning, incidentally completely confusing the cat,  I find myself no further forward in telling the story than I was last week.
Incidentally it became clear that the working title A Different Coast was not going to work so those hours I normally spend lying awake thinking what will be written the next day have, instead, been spent trying to think of the right title.
It is the sequel to Her Parents’ Daughter so I was thinking the title has to reflect that somehow but all those that sprung to mind (A Father’s Revenge and Three Fathers’ Sons etcetera) were either unwieldy or already taken.
At the moment I’m thinking of it as Tit for Tat but can you have “Tit” in the title of a book? I then tried Tip for Tap apparently the original saying and may go with that for the time being anyway.
Hopefully (in all senses of the word) progress will be made before my report to you next week.

Hard going…

A different Coast 4Did I write a blog post recently with the title Books write themselves?
Who was I kidding?
Progress this past week continues to be slow. The ‘day job’ has been time consuming and other things have kept me away from the lap top. 4,000 odd words in the week is not enough as I had hoped to complete the first draft by Christmas.
There are three threads in the book. Two sets of characters are trying to find the truth behind the murder that took place in Yarmouth (the police and the wife of the chief suspect) and one set of characters (including the chief suspect) is trying to do the same on the ‘Different Coast’ (Dartmouth, Devon). When I am able to write for at least an hour every day I can keep up with who knows what and when but if I have to leave it for a couple of days I have to spend the time re-reading bits to make sure I’m not laying any hostages to fortune.
I also have to allow for the fact that few readers will be able to sit and read the whole book through in one sitting, so there have to be recaps for them – but not too many or those who do read quickly get fed up with the re-caps (like in TV programmes where there is a resumé every few minutes in case a viewer isn’t keeping up!)
With a bit of luck I will be able to get back to being a full time author in the coming week and will report better progress next week.

Progress – but slow

Cat with KeyboardProgress with A Different Coast has been slow this past week.
I have had to do some work (until someone spots that my books would really make very, very good television mini-series and/or films I have to keep up with the day job and that has been quite demanding since last Monday) but progress has been made. There are now over 30,000 words. The format is set as we dart backwards and forwards between two sets of protagonists  and get some back-stories (Berlin Wall, East Germany) and already the characters are making their own decisions. One chap, who appeared in Her Parents’ Daughter, has decided he wants a bigger part in the sequel and has elbowed his way in to dominating a whole chapter. Still it was the right decision and I’m glad it was made. His appearance solved a problem I was beginning to worry about.
Apart from the ‘day job’ slowing me down I’ve had help from The Lodger.
As a cat he can’t really help though he does try. I suspect it’s the warm flow of air from the laptop’s fan that he’s really interested in – that and the clicking of the keys.
With a bit of luck I’ll be able to concentrate a bit more for the rest of the week and will raise my average to more than the 1,600 words I’m doing a day at present.
I would really love to have the kind of life where I could start writing after breakfast and end when supper was on the table – or do you have to be a male writer to have that luxury?

Going well…. So far

A Different Coast 4Last week I was doing really well with A Different Coast (sequel to Her Parents’ Daughter). The first chapters were writing themselves (almost) up to last Thursday when I had to go away for a three days.
Getting back into the routine on my return was not difficult but time was taken up by re-reading the 16,000 odd words already written to get ‘who knew what and when’ into my head again. And, as with any re-read, there was the inevitable need to change stuff. I also spotted some typos and odd words where Word had decided I had spelt a word wrongly and had auto-corrected it to a completely different one from the one I meant.
Having caught up with the plot (and incidentally a. changing the name of a protagonist when I realised to characters had very similar names, and b. moving the location of the ‘different coast’ ten miles further west) the story gathered pace and another 4,000 words have been added over the weekend.
Now over 20,000 words and on the tenth chapter it’s still going well…
I await the blocking wall… which will, no doubt occur.

 

A Different Coast begins

A Different Coast 1The follow up to Her Parents’ Daughter is underway….
The beginning, middle and end have been mapped out and the chapters have been outlined but whether the final book will bear any relation to these initial thoughts is another matter!
New characters appear (currently unnamed) and they will have minds of their own as to how the plot progresses, but those who have read Her Parents’ Daughter will recognise Jane Carmichael, Berndt Schreiber and Gordon Hamilton.
Also Skye Lacey and Fergal Sheppard from A Set of Lies make their appearance – as they are back on the island after their successful book tour of America and are now famous for their historical detective work.
New locations also appear.
Yarmouth, on the Isle of Wight, is again the scene of a murder but historical context is set by a visit to East Berlin in 1981. The ‘different coast’ remains to be clearly identified….
Keep checking this website for updates of progress…..