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.


Books write themselves

I’m now three weeksLibrary into writing my seventh novel. It will be called A Different Coast and it was planned to be the sequel to Her Parents’ Daughter – a Cold War inspired murder mystery set in Yarmouth – on the north west coast of the Isle of Wight. The first days were spent, unusually for me, planning out the plot from beginning to end. The Excel spreadsheet with the relevant time frame was set up so, that I don’t have the same character in two places at the same time – or indeed somewhere after they are dead – and the characters were decided upon. I reminded myself of the characteristics of ones from Her Parents’ Daughter and set out the main traits of the new ones.
I started writing the words just over a week ago (again monitoring words/pages/chapters on Excel – I love spreadsheets). Now approaching 16,000 words – and on Chapter 6 of a planned 30 – the bloody thing has got a mind of its own.
In between Her Parents’ Daughter and now I finished A Set of Lies, a book that had been in the planning and writing for 15 years which chronicled the investigations by Skye Lacey and Fergal Sheppard into what really happened to Napoleon Bonaparte after he had given himself up to the English in 1815.
Well into Chapter Three of A Different Coast Skye and Fergal appeared. I did not expect them and I had no idea they were going to make an appearance. It was not in my original ‘word sketch’. It just happened. Bu then, it is entirely logical; action in Her Parents’ Daughter began and ended in Yarmouth, Isle of Wight, in 2015, much of the action in A Set of Lies was in West Wight between 2014 and 2015. It is entirely logical that the protagonists would have met and would become involved with each other.
Every conversation I begin to write now leads me in the direction the characters want, I feel that sometimes I have no say in it.
But it does make the writing exciting – I hope the reading will be as much fun.

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…..


A Different Coast

IoW4I’ve finally settled on the title for the follow up to Her Parents’ Daughter.
As well as writing this I am currently re-vamping the three books of The Iniquities Trilogy into a single volume to be published in 2016. In the second section, Walking Alone, Charles Donaldson, an ornithologist, is writing a series of articles whilst temporarily living in Polperro, Cornwall. He named the series of articles he wrote whilst away from his home in Hoylake, on the Wirral peninsula, A Different Coast.
Much of the action in Her Parents’ Daughter takes place in Yarmouth, on the north coast of the Isle of Wight. Much of the action in the sequel (to be published late 2016) will take place, not only in Yarmouth, but also elsewhere …… but still by the sea.
A quick check on a regularly used internet search engine revealed no book with that title.
So thank you Charles, whatever anyone says about you I think you’re quite a nice chap.


Finding a Title

I’m now concentrating not a little effort on the next book – a sequel to Her Parents’ Daughter – but what to call it?
I had wanted to find a title that had some form of familial relationship in it (as with HPD) but His Father’s Son and His Mother’s Son have been used more than once and His Aunt’s Nephew seems unnecessarily convoluted. Along with the fact that the main character’s name is ‘Peter Smith’ (hardly a sensible title for people to Google) I will have to look elsewhere for the title.
The book is firmly Yarmouth Pierset, once again, in Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight so I have been thinking of making the title relevant to place. The town has many recognisable features – the church, the town hall, the Square, the harbour – but perhaps the most iconic is the pier – allegedly the oldest working wooden pier in Britain.
But the book just can’t be called The Pier – there has to be ‘Something’ on the Pier and that ‘something’ has to have two syllables for balance – but what something? It has to be short (see influence of Twitter above) Should it be a noun or a verb? Roses on the Pier? Lobsters on the Pier? Walking on the Pier? – I did think of Murder on the Pier but that sounded too Agatha Christie – and anyway, the murder takes place elsewhere in the town.
Looking out of my window I can see an oak tree laden with acorns and so Acorns on the Pier it is for the time being. It will not make the final cut (for one thing #AcornsOnThePier would take up too many characters of a tweet – something that must be thought about these days!)
So every time I save that Word document I’ll keep changing the name and wait until the book has been completed to see what it wants to be called.

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?