Wednesday, 29 June 2022

Grrrr ....

 Well, I didn't make it - the book is still here.

Been working hard, but got a bit sandbagged. Found another plot hole that needed fixing and now a wall in the back garden is on the move and that too wants fixing. There's a crack in it I can get my fingers in. Money and mess, I'm afraid. It's the lowest tier of three terraces  has a lot of soil behind it. The builder reckons we have at least three skips worth. And skips are apparently very expensive these days! Also concrete blocks. 

It will all get done, but sadly it might be at the expense of some of the nice things I wanted, like a new bedroom carpet. 

Oh well, that's life. I certainly don't want to wake up in the middle of a dark and stormy night to the sound of ominous cracking and rumbling and a very large pile of moving soil. 

I'm still working frantically on the book and I do hope that it will be done, as done as it can be at this stage, by next week.

Once it is out of the house I can get rid of the tunnel vision and start blogging about more interesting things. 

One good thing - A Villa in Portofino has a best seller flag again today. Blink and you miss it, but cheering when it happens. 

If you have any positive writing/editing/finishing the damn thing and getting it out the door vibes around, please feel free to send them my way. 

Wednesday, 22 June 2022

Miscellaneous

 The new roof on the house is almost finished - the new book is in the same state. I'm at the very last stages of proof checking and polishing so this post will be short and just a collection of bits and pieces, as I really need to concentrate on that. 

I'm really hoping that the book will have gone to the publisher before the next post. Then we will have to wait to see if they want it. 

Next on the programme for the house are repairs to the retaining wall in the back garden, a job and expense I could do without, but which has to be done as there is a crack I can get my finger into and it is only going to get worse. 

I had to take time out last week for a trip to London. Rivera 4 wasn't in a state that I could take with me, and I needed something sensational to read on the train, so I dug out the partial manuscript for what I hope might be  Riviera 5. It's a Christmas book and I shelved it at about 20,000 words as I wasn't connecting with it. 

I won't say it is sensational, but it kept me amused and it read quite well, so I'm definitely going back to it when #4 is off my hands. 

I have a chauffeur, a pet sitter, three Siamese cats and a portfolio of stolen art. No plot and no romance, but you can't expect everything! Will I get it into shape for Christmas 2023? I think it will be fun trying. 

Wednesday, 15 June 2022

Plot holes and rabbit holes

 Book 4 in the Riviera series progresses - slowly. I can't remember if I said, but I'm at the stage when I am working off a hard copy - that's when the nitty gritty stuff happens. Did I really mean to say that? Is that really correct? Have I got the same character in two places at once? 

Thankfully I have not found any instances of that last one. I've checked the time line - using a tip from author Kitty Wilson who actually uses a calendar and plots everything in. I made my own and did the same - and was delighted to find that the time line I'd been working to in my head was spot on. It's nice to have proof though.

It's always disconcerting to find you have plot holes at this stage. And yes, there were a few. Better to find them now than wait for my editor to ask innocent questions. My particular niggle is the logic hole - where my characters are having a conversation and what they are talking about doesn't add up. In real life that probably goes un-noticed most of the time, but on the printed page ...

Then there are the rabbit holes. I'm a compulsive fact checker = I do my best to make sure I have things right - the worst problem being that old chestnut, not knowing that you don't know. In the course of that you find out all sorts of interesting facts - Today I've investigated training courses for private detectives, a Phillip Glass opera about a mysterious Pharaoh and the origins of several slang expressions - and then of course you end up following links to places you never intended to go ...

It's slow, and a bit convoluted, but the book has to be the best I can make it before it leaves the building. Time taken fixing the holes is time well spend in the end. 



Wednesday, 8 June 2022

Let them eat cake?



Yesterday I had a really nice day - the belated celebration for making the final of the RNA RONAs with A Villa in Portofino for the Jackie Collins Romantic Thriller award. As I also have a "significant" birthday looming on the horizon and might finally make it to a graduation ceremony for the PhD (jury is still out on that one) I rolled them all together and had a celebration with fellow members of the RNA Cariad Chapter at our regular meeting place upstairs in Waterloo Tea in the Wyndham Arcade in Cardiff. Of course there was cake - pistachio and strawberry - and it was delicious. 


I always enjoy our meetings but it was very special to share this one with friends - support and companionship from fellow writers is important, and the Cariad Chapter always delivers 






Wednesday, 1 June 2022

In the background. Or in the office.

 It's strange to think that three years ago talking about seeing friends on Zoom would have earned you blank stares. Now it's part of life, and looks like it will continue to be so. Meetings, get togethers, classes can all be national and international. I've attended a lot more meetings virtually than I would have been able to in real life and participated in courses that would have been impossible to attend in person.

 Attending the AGM of the Crime Writers' Association last week, in my dressing gown - well it was Saturday morning and for me, being a night owl, quite early at 10 am - I started to look at the backgrounds that everyone had in their zoom shots. (I don't think anyone noticed the dressing gown - with a lot of people present the pictures were quite small.) While a number of people had those backgrounds of gardens or fields or Sydney Harbour or whatever and I had a very nice view of the contents of my china cabinet because my home office is in a corner of the dining room, I notice most people had background views of their office. I've discovered, via a little googling, that you can get backgrounds of very posh looking libraries  and studies - who knew - but that was not what these were. These were the places where people worked, almost invariably with shelves of books in the background. I suppose that was a no-brainer really.

And of course I immediately wanted to be able to read the titles of the books on the shelves. Now that is something that you can't do on Zoom.  Unfortunately. I always think you can tell a lot by the kind of thing people read. And of course, being terribly nosy, I want to know. You probably can't tell much about me from a quick background glimpse of the decorated plates brought back from Spain and Portugal and the Clarice Cliff  style tea service that my grandfather won at the fair - or maybe you can. Books on the other hand... My taste in reading matter is weirdly varied, if you wander around the house. Mostly it's escapist fiction -  I don't do serious stuff, with a scattering of classics, inherited books and left overs from childhood. But then, in complete contrast, there are the research books from the PhD, heavy academic tomes about the war - no escapist stuff there. 

I suppose if I was choosing to display books on my Zoom background those would be the ones I would pick. The ones that make me look intellectual and grown up. Perhaps it's better that you get the china cabinet instead? 

Wednesday, 25 May 2022

Nearly there?

 The WIP - provisionally titled Masquerade on the Riviera - is in the third and I hope the last phase. I have 310 pages of typescript and just over 86,000 words. 

Now I do the toothcomb bit. 

Proof checking - of course. I use dictation software to get the words from hand written to typed, so there are always a few words missing or incorrect phrases along the way, although I usually scoop up the real howlers when it gets its first check on the machine. I know that in this manuscript one of the the supporting characters has two different spellings of his name, depending what sort of mood I and the machine were in at the time, and as I also changed his name when I was editing, as it sounded too like another character, there may well be three to pick up. There are a few XXs in there too where I couldn't remember what I'd called minor players.

I will be editing, naturally, to make sure everything adds up and ties together and most important, the time line stands up, and to polish the words so that it is fit to be let out.

The last thing, which I am borderline obsessive about, is fact checking. You can't know everything, and it is  often pointed out among writers that the worst hazards are the things that you don't know you don't know, but I might add the ones that you do think you know can be a problem too. I do my best to check everything,  which takes time, but worth it. 

The manuscript that leaves the building has to be the best I can make it, on this stage of the journey. Fingers crossed this time it won't be tooooo long! 

Wednesday, 18 May 2022

Its a bit hectic around here.

 Life has been little chaotic for the last few weeks, but it is settling down now. I hope so, as I do have a book I want to finish and get to my publisher! 

After the excitement of the CWA conference I came home and went straight into having my bathroom re-modelled. Long story, but the short version is that my shower sprang a leak and attempts at having 



a bath after many decades were traumatic in the extreme. You've heard the one about the three old ladies. This was one old lady who having got in, couldn't get out. The work took twice as long as it was supposed to, and I decamped to the nearest hotel for a couple of nights in order to be able to enjoy - gasp- a working shower. The picture is work in progress, which gives you an idea. The shower is done now, and it is beautiful. Still stuff to do in the room, notably the floor, but we will get there. 

In amongst all this, lovely and longstanding book buddy Margaret James had invited me in January to be a guinea pig for a new column she was trying out in Writing magazine, and the feature, Five Quick Questions was published in the latest addition. Many thanks to Margaret. It was fun to do and I hope it will give readers an insight into how I got where I am today. It was a long journey. Never give up should be the writers' motto. 


 Having got the bit between my teeth I am now attempting to organise other work that needs doing around the house and of course get that book done. The end is nearly in sight, I hope. It got a boost yesterday when the RNA Cariad Chapter had another on-line retreat day, again beautifully organised by the tireless Jessie. It gave the work a boost, as I had no excuse to be diverted to house type stuff.  And it was fun. So good to have support and hear about what other writers are achieving during their day. 


The book is top of the agenda for next week. Wish me luck.