Author on a roll!

Having finally (after over three years) completed the re-write of Iniquities (and mastered uploading it to Kindle) I have been tackling those of my books which are not available in e-book format.

Yesterday Highly Unsuitable Girl became available in Kindle format and I’m currently working on Second Strand.

The really strange thing about all this is re-reading books I haven’t really been close to for years – it’s almost like reading them as a reader rather than the author and I ‘ve been rather surprised by how readable they are. I even cried at one point in HUG.

The other thing that has struck me is how interlinked the books are (with the exception of HUG) even though they are standalones with beginnings, middles and ends of their own.

Carl Witherby from the Iniquities books turns up (a lot older) in A Set of Lies.

Skye and Fergal, who meet in A Set of Lies, are central characters in Second Strand and Hostage to Fortune (they were in America when the murder in Her Parents’ Daughter occurred). And quite possibly they will populate more books as I get back into it.

The murder suspect and central character in Her Parents’ Daughter appears (briefly) in Second Strand and Duncan Hamilton appears in Her Parents’ Daughter, Second Strand and Hostage to Fortune.

Other minor characters crop up in the oddest places – usually Spain.

All you have to do, to understand what I’m getting at, is read them all.

I’ve done it! I’m an author again!

Finally Iniquities is finished! Finally the three separate titles of the Iniquities Trilogy have been merged and the final e-book is currently with Amazon and will be available in Kindle form in the next couple of days.

Over 300,000 words have been reduced to 255,746 (or thereabouts). The story has been tightened up, typos and other errors which got through the editing process for the original books have been corrected. This is the best I can get it. 

All that for £2.99! Very good value for the reader but not such good value for the author unless hundreds (thousands?) buy it. So buy it … Enjoy it … and Spread the word!

A Writer’s Block

I haven’t written anything for this section of my website for a long time as I have found it very difficult to string three typed words together following the combination of various events.
Firstly the anti-climax of the publication of Hostage to Fortune. This took something less than a year to write and publish. It has had some good reviews (mainly on-line) and some media coverage (thank you Fitz at BBC Radio Devon) but, although it has no doubt sold more than some titles (even by well known ‘personalities’) it hasn’t ‘taken off’. Every book I publish I hope that it will be the one that catches someone’s eye and that that ‘someone’ decides that it and others of my books are worthy of mention even of adaptation to film or even a television mini-series. (That was a joke – possibly.)
Secondly another anti-climax. Since 2012 I have been working on revising my first three books (The Last Dance, Walking Alone and Runaways which made up The Iniquities Trilogy) into one. Starting at over a quarter of a million words I have worked through it eight times(tightening the narrative, erasing red-herrings, reducing examples of three adjectives/adverbs to two) and almost halved its length. I finished, what I promised myself would be the last ‘read-through’ the week Hostage was published.
What then? I had no idea. I literally had no idea.
Thirdly, I finally retired from my day job, ended my company’s trading (after 35 years). What should have been liberating was, in the event, disturbing. I instantly felt old. There was nothing I ‘had’ to do, no need to make a ‘to do’ list, no need to prioritise tasks, no one depending on me to get something done better than anyone else could.
So I didn’t post anything onto my website for fear that whatever I wrote would be too depressing.
So what has changed? Why am I back at my keyboard?
Firstly, I received a royalties payment from Troubador. It wasn’t large but it existed. People (apart from friends and those in the local pub) were buying (and from the emails and reviews enjoying) my books.
Then I decided to read through Iniquities (yet again) to further reduce the size so it can be published as a proper paper book (not just e-book).
And the weather improved so some of those empty hours (no longer filled by sitting at my computer) could be spent in the garden and trying to persuade our two rescue cats (now with us over 6 months) to be more friendly.
And finally, a chance conversation gave me an idea for my next book.
This will go back to the ideas I first explored in Highly Unsuitable Girl: a woman of mature years learning to accept who she is. The working title Triumph of Hope. Note: Nothing autobiographical!
So perhaps the long winter of 2017-18 is finally over and the bright sunlit uplands of the summer of 2018 lie ahead.
And I can again post these random thoughts on the website for you, my loyal fan, to read.

Deal, Sandwich and East Kent

I had hoped, that with a new bookshop opening three miles away from home (The Deal Bookshop – A Waterstones ‘light’) I would get a chance to do a signing. Sometimes it’s not the best way to spend a couple of hours – standing/sitting being studiously ignored by most of the people who come into a shop and being very conscious of taking up valuable space in often very small shops – but sometimes it can be very rewarding talking to people who have read one or more of my books and, having enjoyed them, are looking forward to the new one.
However. Last week I had to have an operation on my hand, my right hand – and I am right-handed. With hand heavily bandaged I will be unable to do anything other than scribble something illegible for some time so a signing is, for the time being, out of the question.
But if you happen to be in Deal pop into the bookshop and buy a copy!

East Kent features in the book (if only for the one night Jenna Freece spends in Sandwich on her way to Spain) just as some part of Kent features in most of my books one way or another. Wingham and Canterbury crop up quite a lot in Second Strand and most of Highly Unsuitable Girl is set around the Sevenoaks area.
As I plot the next adventure for Skye and Fergal I am sure Deal, Sandwich, Woodnesborough, Wingham and Eastry will have feature – maybe even Hammill which is where I lived when I started to write my first book The Last Dance.

Dominica – a year on

A year ago today husband Colin and I were aboard Queen Mary 2 approaching Roseau, capital of Dominica. My impressions, as I took photographs of the approaching island, were (and I quote my diary of the time) “Mountainous, cloudy, rainy, green, steep.”
We spent a morning there, my diary reports: “Still an undeveloped island. Lots of rainfall to deal with. There aren’t many bars and restaurants. It seems to rain three minutes in every four but, despite humidity, not unpleasant. Walked along pavements reminiscent of Mumbai (uneven!) to the cricket ground (built by Chinese for 2007 Cricket World Cup?) before heading back to a bar on the waterfront, a couple of beers each before I investigate the markets (buy some soap first one $8 the next, identical, $4!) and a handmade shoulder bag. Nice woman with her daughter said she made it – I hope she did – everything else, including t-shirts, seems to be ‘Made in China’.”
Eight months later, in early August, I chose one of the images I took that morning as the basis for the cover image for Hostage to Fortune; after all, the Caribbean features in the plot, as do other brooding coastlines (Devon, Spain).
A month later the island came back forcibly to mind with the reports of Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
Now every time I see that cover image, as Hostage to Fortune approaches its official publication date (end January), I think about that woman and her daughter. I hope they are safe and well.
I can’t imagine the cruise ships have returned so how are they coping – that woman and her daughter, and even the woman who overcharged for the soap; how are they making a living? Are they making a living?
Now they’ve dropped out of the news cycle does anyone care?
What a difference a year makes.
May 2018 be better one.
It needs to be.

Punctuation!

Hostage to Fortune is now in its final stages before publication.
The copy edit came back with some well spotted errors marked (A company called FP became FM for some reason best known to my fingers and Berry Head (near Dartmouth) became Barry Head – I blame my fingers for that one too!). The most frequent changes/corrections were in punctuation. I wonder if this is what other writers find.
I have learned, in the ten years I have been writing and publishing my books, that speech ends with a comma if the following text indicates ‘XXX said’ or ‘XXX replied’ but with a full stop if the speech stands as its own paragraph or if the text that follows is, indeed, a new sentence. This is something I now try to do to save the copy editor (or the editor’s software) an incredibly large number of changes.
Another change that seems to have occurred in those ten years is the proliferation in the use of the semicolon.
When I was at school, admittedly over fifty years ago, this item of punctuation was frowned upon. My English teacher taught that, if a comma did not serve, the second clause should form a new sentence. Perhaps that was her personal preference rather than the prescribed wisdom of the day.
Looking at Wikipedia, that fount of all knowledge, the use of the semicolon in English texts since 1500 showed remarkable swings in popularity for the first 150 years, reaching a peak in the 1660s before declining sharply. Recovery through the Eighteenth century saw another peak being reached in the early 1800s before a steady and continuous decline through that century and the last, reaching a low point not seen since the 1650s in 2001.
Since then the trend has been reversed.
My (completely unscientifically researched) theory is that this is the influence of the Americans and American software designers – particularly in Microsoft – where Word seems to frequently indicate a grammatical error when a comma is used mid-sentence.
And don’t get me on split infinitives!
Or the use of the exclamation mark (point?)!
Or whether a question mark should be used after rhetorical questions?
Or when dashes are acceptable – or not.
Anyway, I do hope that people who read Hostage to Fortune (and my other books, of course) will find the story(ies) so gripping that they do not notice the punctuation at all!

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.