Deadlines

July 1 had been my self-imposed deadline to send the pretty-much-final-draft of Hostage to Fortune to an old friend to read through and comment on. I’m afraid I missed it.
I began the third re-read/re-write run through on June 11 planning to do at least a chapter a day but it hasn’t quite worked out like that.
At first I made some progress but I was nowhere near meeting my schedule and of the 24 days since I began I have managed to concentrate on Hostage to Fortune for only ten – and then only for a couple of hours in any one day. In that period I reached only page 72 (of 299) in Chapter 7 of (currently) 34.
My reason (excuse?) is that my husband and I have, yet again, been moving house.
In the fifteen years since I first decided to try to write seriously for publication we have moved six times and at least one book has seen the light of day in each house: Woodnesborough, Kent (The Last Dance); Tenbury Wells, Worcestershire (Walking Alone); Ludlow, central Shropshire (Runaways); Maesbrook, north Shropshire (Highly Unsuitable Girl); Yarmouth, Isle of Wight (A Set of Lies and Her Parents’ Daughter); Dartmouth, Devon (Second Strand) and now Worth, Kent less than three miles from where we left just over ten years ago, where Hostage to Fortune – and others – will see the light of day.
But now the packing and unpacking has been done (we ought to be good at it by now) and we are settled Hostage to Fortune will return to the top of my to-do list and be the focus of my attention once again.
My new deadline is to get Hostage to Fortune to Jane by the end of this month and I WILL make it.
If the weather is hot I’ll just have to start early. If the cricket is enthralling I’ll just have to listen to TMS on the radio rather than watch the TV. If the garden needs attention then it will just have to wait.
I will finish this by the end of the month.
Really.
I will.

Weather Forecasting

Writing fiction set in the present is always difficult if the weather is important to aspects of the plot.
If characters do something weather related, on a specific day, it will be easy for any reader to say “That was wrong! It wasn’t hot and sunny that day it was cold and miserable.” Or a day is specified that has a particularly spectacular weather event – say, a storm – but no character mentions it.
It’s far easier to write about weather inWeatherfluenced events in the past. In The Last Dance the early months of 1947 can be described as ‘horribly cold’ with confidence – because they were. In Walking Alone much of the action takes place in the context of the long hot summer we knew we had, and the climax occurs when that drought was broken. In Runaways the ‘Great Storm (NOT a ‘hurricane’) that so affected the Sevenoaks area on the night 15 – 16 October 1987 is critical to the plot.
When I started writing (the soon to be published) A Second Strand, getting on for two years ago, I set the story in the future so I had to make my own weather forecast.
Well, that future is now the present.
I wrote that Alex, the only suspect in the murder enquiry who has disappeared seemingly without trace, spent the period from 7th to 15th July 2016 making his way from the Isle of Wight to Dartmouth in Devon. I had to have the weather reasonable for him as he was sleeping rough for much of the time and arrived ‘tanned’ but unfortunately the actual weather was not quite as I had ordered.
This coming Sunday, the 24th, he is driven by Rachel, the woman who befriended him in Dartmouth, to Wingham in Kent and I have it raining – which of course it will be doing!
I had to have bad driving weather so it ties Rachel and Alex’s timeline (as they drive across Southern England) in with Skye and Fergal’s who, as they begin to track him down, are driving from the Isle of Wight to Devon at the same time. Both encounter heavy rain.
Two years ago I said it would rain on Sunday 24th July 2016 and it will.
Met Office – beat that!

To Do List

Me and the World Wide WebI looked at my website (www.carolynmccrae.com if you’re not already on it) this morning, for the first time in over a month. Not good.
My tweets have been more about the oak tree and hops growing on my balcony than my writing.
It’s more than six weeks since I published a blog and a lot longer than that since I updated the text with news about my books.
I really must get down to it.
I’ve so much to change…
And I really have no excuse. Except…
A Second Strand has taken up a lot of time and I can’t concentrate on anything until that is done.
I’m now a third of the way through the third ‘final’ read-through before it heads off to the editor. I’m spending far too long agonizing over whether a particular sentence conveys the meaning I want it to someone reading the book for the first (not the umpteenth) time.
Are there any plot holes? Is every character in the right place at the right time? Does any character know something before they are seen actually finding it out? Do conversations flow – or does someone answer their own question?
But, no. No more read-throughs. This is the last one.
If it’s not right now it never will be.
So on Tuesday the manuscript (well the Word document) will be winging its way to Troubador.
And then I can get on with doing all the other things connected with getting a book out into the wide, wide world (www):
Writing my Author Information document. Well editing it really, it’s only a year since the last one (for A Set of Lies)
Thinking what should be in the Press release.
Focusing on ideas for the cover image and blurb
Working out how to contact all those nice people who bought and read and let me know they enjoyed Her Parents’ Daughter (A Second Strand is another murder in Yarmouth) – and, of course, all my other titles.
Working out how to change my Facebook pages
And. Most importantly. Updating my website…….

 

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. 

 

Getting back to it….

EditingAfter a break of over a month I am getting back into A Second Strand this week.
I finished the second run through in the first week in January and handed the manuscript (well, the printed sheets in a black ring binder) over to a friend, Darren Mann. Darren having read, and allegedly enjoyed, Her Parents’ Daughter, volunteered to read and comment on the draft of its sequel. This he did in very good time, handing it back to me little more than a week later. Ideally I would then have got on with attacking Draft Three except that at that time my husband, cat and I were in the throes of packing up our home and moving. By the end of the HPD Covermonth we were ensconced in our new home in Dartmouth and I was ready to return to A Second Strand.
But then the day job demanded attention. In the twelve years since I started writing seriously there have been many, many times when I have wished I could be the sort of commercially successful author who could concentrate fully on her books. Or, barring that elusive success, perhaps I could have been ‘financially independent’. But I am neither so I have had to earn a living. To date my books do not earn enough to pay the bar bills let alone allow me to retire to become a ‘full time author’. So for another two weeks the black file remained on my desk unopened.
This week, however, I am going to open the 286-page long Word document and the Excel spreadsheet which details who is doing what, when and where, and I will sort out the issues Darren raised.
For me this, the third edit, is the most important. It is now that back stories are added, where characters’ characters are developed more fully and where anomalies are resolved. I’m looking forward to it.

Goodbye Yarmouth

YarmouthGoodbye Yarmouth, Isle of Wight, it’s been nice knowing you.
This coming weekend I, along with my husband and our long-suffering cat, The Lodger, will be leaving the Isle of Wight for new adventures in Devon.
Almost exactly four years ago we decided we had to leave Shropshire and started looking for somewhere to live. We could have gone anywhere in the world really but we hit upon the Isle of Wight for reasons I can’t quite remember.
Now it is time to move on once more.
I have enjoyed being an Island Author and consequently my two most recent books (A Set of Lies and Her Parents’ Daughter) are firmly set on the island as is my next one A Second Strand so as I continue to market the old ones and set about selling the latest one the island will not be far from my thoughts.
My twitter tag @iowauthor (used more or less exclusively for tweets about The Archers) will not change neither will @Carolyn_McCrae (used for tweets about my books) but there are a number of amendments to be made to Twitter and Facebook profiles and to my website which will all take time and will, no doubt, make me wish we were staying.
Thank you Isle of Wight, and especially Yarmouth, for your inspiration, encouragement, friendship and hospitality for the past four years.
You will, no doubt, crop up in other books in the future as Fergal and Skye Shepherd continue their adventures.