Wednesday 29 August 2018

Brand New Website

First I'd like to introduce Reggie, my new writing companion.

Everyone needs a pink unicorn in their lives.

And the BIG news is that I have a brand new website. You can see it HERE  I'd love it if you'd take a look.

Many thanks to Dave for all the hard work putting it together. I'm really pleased with it. I hope you like it too.

Wednesday 22 August 2018

The Owls of Bath

Bath is one of my favourite cities, which is why I decided that Cassie's concierge service would be located there in Summer in San Remo. I made a trip over last week - very nice lunch and a visit to the theatre - and the streets, and the occasional shop, were full of these handsome chaps. 

He was in the new shopping precinct

And he was outside the theatre

This rather startled gentleman was in Jolly's department store

This handsome fella was outside a restaurant

Not sure where this one was, but the building behind looks impressive

If you look to the right, you can see me, taking the picture

Isambard Kingdom Owl
was in the railway station

Wednesday 15 August 2018

A book of words

High on my list of things a writer cannot do without - like an endless supply of pens and a bottomless teapot, is my thesaurus. Good old Roget -lots of vocabulary, not a lot of plot - boom boom. Oh well, please yourself.

My little darling is 50 years old and cost me 12 shillings and six pence and worth every penny. I'm making a lot of use of it at the moment, writing up the PhD and trying to make what I want to say sound more academic. Said PhD is currently a messy pile of knitted fog, but at least it is a pile - and growing - slowly -  and the sooner it is done, the sooner there will be more books - hurrah!

But back to the thesaurus - I have been know to get lost between the covers, just reading it. Words - the tools of the trade. It seems almost impossible to work out how all those wonderful connections are put together - it must have been another job like a pile of fog. And my copy has a very distinctive scent - essence of bookshop - probably the paper. I could pick it off the shelf in the dark just by the smell. Is it weird, to get a buzz before you open a book, just from the aroma? Don't answer that!

Of course, having an actual paper version is the old fashioned way - when I'm typing I use the one that comes with Word, but it's not quite as much fun. You don't go from romance to ingratiate by way of sugar daddy and the goddess of love very often - 885 page 355 in the Penguin edition - oh heck, now I'm footnoting the blog.

I do use the thesaurus a lot, as I have a thing about repetitions - if I catch myself using the same word more than once on a page, I have to change one - and I've learnt that it's not always the second one that needs to be altered. I get stuck in a rut with words sometimes too. I suspect the word of the moment for the PhD is 'significant'. I'll need to keep an eye open when I type it up. Figuring out how to make changes is one of the technical challenges that for me make writing interesting - small but important.

But when it comes down to it, I just love words.

Wednesday 8 August 2018

Thought for the day - or the month?

I have one of those calenders that have inspirational messages for each month, along with a picture of a fireside, or a bluebell wood, or something else with a feel good factor. This month it is a sunset and the message is - 'Do something today that your future self will thank you for.' 

Okay - so where do I start on this - is it something new every day, which means thirty one somethings? Or something that you do every day that will have long term effects - or with the pay off in the future?

Hum. Big decisions here. I started on the thirty one somethings by buying a tin of oranges. Every morning, for breakfast I have an orange. That's been happening since I was in school. Sometimes if I am away from home, at an hotel, it's orange juice, but the principle is the same. Only on Friday the last orange in the bowl had gone bad on me, so no orange - I had strawberries instead, which was nice, but not the same. I'm clearly a creature of habit. So- when I went to the supermarket I bought a tin of mandarins, so that if that should happen again, I get my oranges - which my future orange-less self, will thank me for.

I've bought some books - which my future self will enjoy reading - well some of them, some of them are research - day job and writing - which are sort of enjoyable, but not so much as a Jayne Ann Krentz that I haven't been able to track down in the library. I've booked some theatre tickets, which will be enjoyable later in the month. I intend to order some bulbs, which will cheer me up no end next spring, provided that they flower before the slugs start moving. I'm intending to defrost the freezer too - about time - and will be re-filling it, so my future self will be very pleased when she has something in there to eat. (Food seems to be looming large in this post.) I've sent off a cheque for a workshop that will be happening later in the year and told a friend I'll come to her book launch and put some other friends on notice about trips and celebrations that have yet to be organised. And at some stage I will probably get around to doing some ironing. Hmmm. Doing better than I though on the every day things.

In the long term - the day job is something for the future. When I finally graduate. Which will probably be summer of 2020. At the moment it's pushing treacle up hill with a salt spoon. Have you ever seen the size of a salt spoon? Not much used these days, but  they are tiny. I have a silver one inherited from somewhere - probably my grandmother, which is how I know. I'm also learning to meditate, which is supposed to help with all that catastophising and other stuff that writers are prone to - comes with the 'What if ...' mentality that goes with writing the books. On the days when I'm not doing something that would be part of thirty one, then those are filling in the gaps as the long term future self things.

Looks like my future self will have a lot more things to look forward to, and be thankful for, than I expected. Actually that little message is deeper than it first seems - all about looking forward, planning for the future, remembering the importance of gratitude and above all - hope. 

Wednesday 1 August 2018

Does your age really matter?

The clock is ticking ...

There has been a bit of discussion in the Society of Authors' magazine and elsewhere lately on the implications of age for authors. The latest edition highlighted a new prize for a debut novel by an author over the age of sixty - the  Paul Torday Memorial Prize. Paul Torday was sixty when he published Salmon Fishing in the Yemen and now his sons have endowed the prize in his memory. I think this is a fabulous thing, and deserves a round of applause. There are are awards for young debuts - so why not this too? Writers are writers, wherever they are on the age spectrum. 

Elsewhere, however, it is rumoured that agents and editors will not take on an older author, as they are not expected to have a long enough career to make it worth while. So, if you have plans for your retirement - maybe it's time to re-think them? 

Or should we be re-thinking the definition of 'old'?

With pension age ever rising and life expectancy increasing, is the idea of 'an encore career' as a writer really beyond reach? 

I have to say authors can be just as guilty of portraying age in a way that might no longer be realistic. I have read several books lately - and I'm not naming any names - where people in their sixties are portrayed as frail, decrepit old dears who need their afternoon nap, presumably while wearing their cosy slippers. It was reading these that got me thinking about this post in the first place. 

I mean sixty is old, right? Well, maybe once it was, but this year Madonna, Simon Le Bon, Viggo Mortensen and Michelle Pfieffer  all turn sixty. Not sure that any of them are ready for their slippers yet. The Rolling Stones are still filling stadiums, Liam Neeson is still filling cinemas as an action man, Jeremy Irons is still filling theatres and Cher is playing what might be the most glamerous grandmother on the planet in Mama Mia - and none of them are going to see sixty again.  

They're all still doing what they love - and shouldn't writers be able to do the same - whether this is a longstanding or a new career? 

Maybe it's up to authors themselves to start readjusting the clock? One of the books I have floating in my head, for when the day job is done,  has a character who is one hundred years old. He's not so much of an action man now as he was, but he's not ready for the cosy slipper either. I'm really looking forward to writing him.