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!

Firsts and Lasts

In my first book, The Last Dance, Alicia Donaldson says that the last time a person does something is as significant as the first. But I have to argue that the first time you do anything is going to be more important for the simple reason that it is always possible to know when you are doing something for the first time but not necessarilyThe Last Dance Cover possible to recognise a ‘last time’ until it’s already in the past.
Usually a ‘first time’ can be anticipated. You know (admittedly not always exactly) when you are going to start at a new school or job, first exchange of bodily fluids with a new partner, move into your first home, get married, do a book-signing. The first time for all of these is important and is usually no surprise. You can plan for them – and worry.
Perhaps it’s an age thing but I have to admit to worrying about the less important ‘firsts’ to do with moving house for about the thirty-first time.
I put off for days driving up Crowther’s Hill in Dartmouth for the first time; I’ve had to master how and when to put the correct rubbish out for collection by South Hams District Council and tomorrow we must let The Lodger out. The poor cat has been stuck inside for more than two weeks and is getting stir crazy but I cannot help but dread that on that first ‘escape’ he will not find his way home.
Yes, many firsts are significant steps and are recognized as such.
But also, recently, I have done a lot of things for the last time; booking a return ferry from Yarmouth to Lymington, walking into The Wheatsheaf or The Kings Head to find our drinks already on the bar. But I didn’t worry about these things because I had done them before, they were familiar and anyway, were they necessarily the last times? Who can tell?
I know The Last Dance was my first published book but is A Set of Lies my ‘last’ or simply my ‘latest’?
Will A Second Strand (sequel to Her Parents’ Daughter) ever see the light of day?
Will there be others after that? Who can tell what the last will be?
So, Alicia, I have to disagree, first times are always more significant – and more difficult.

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.

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!

 

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.

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.