Wednesday 29 April 2020

Finally getting there?

One from the archives this week. In the midst of lock-down, I decided to have a prowl around the past for this week's post - and I found this one. It's from November 2016 would you believe and it's a post about finishing the draft of A Wedding on the Riviera. It was finished before Summer in San Remo  and What Happens at Christmas were published and has been waiting patiently ever since! I was well aware then that it was a draft, and that it would be a while before it would see the light of day as a (possibly) publishable project. I must admit it was a bit of a shock to discover that it has been that long, but in my defence, I have acquired some letters in front of my name in the interim, which was just a bit labour intensive.

Well, as regular readers know, I 'm currently doing the work on it that I mention in the post, which includes rewriting the last third of it. I'm enjoying that, and fingers crossed it will be moving out of the building fairly soon, even if I can't at the moment!  And it is very definitely full novel length, currently 85,000 words and counting.

So - here we are, from 2016 ....................

Well, people, this is a new book. Actually it might be a new novella - as you can see I write longhand, so word counts can get a bit slippery until there is a typed version. At the moment I think it is about 66,000 words, so it is a biggish novella.

But whatever it turns out to be, IT IS NEW WORK. The first since caring, bereavement, surgery and all the other joys that life can throw at you erupted and took my mind to other places.

It's not a thriller - I haven't been able to contemplate something dark for a while, although I have some partial manuscripts in the tin chest. Thanks to some lovely encouragement from the Romantic Novelists' Marcher Chapter at a recent workshop, I think one of them is going to be the next in the frame - thank you ladies. I also have to get back to the day job.

Right now, this minute, there is this romantic comedy, or whatever it is, currently titled  A Wedding on the Riviera, which kind of gives you an idea of what it might be about. It's a follow on from the light novella that has got gummed in the works (See above) but which I hope will be out some time in 2017.

As you can see from the picture, there is going to be some work going on before it is allowed out on it's own. If it ever is. I've loved keeping company with Nadine and Ryan, and had a lot of fun, and some angst, with them on the Riviera and in Paris, but I have to tell you that this is the one with the very outlandish plot. It may be that the powers that be decide that it is a bit too outlandish. We shall see.

In the meantime it has got me back to writing again, and given me the boost of finishing a manuscript, which I haven't had in a long time, so I will always be grateful to it.


Who knows?

Wednesday 22 April 2020

But where is it set?

When an author talks about books, the subject of location invariably comes up. It can be very significant. Some locations, like Cornwall and Scotland, are known to help sell books, particularly romance. Some locations, not so much. Sadly Wales does not put a book into the auto-buy category. Why that should be so remains a bit of a mystery, as the Principality has all the scenery, history and legends that Cornwall and Scotland have. And we have our own language, in daily use!

I was prompted to write this post after reading a couple of Phillip Gwynne Jones’s Venetian thrillers. Yes, he is Welsh, but is also an ex-pat living in Venice, and it certainly shows. The books are steeped in the details of the city and you really feel as if you are there, experiencing it all through the eyes, and senses, of a local.

Not all of us have the opportunity to live in such lovely places. This is when research kicks in. You can do a lot these days by Internet – and at the moment, that, unfortunately is ALL you can do – and by visiting, but, speaking as a writer with obsessional tendencies, there is always that sneaky feeling that you might somewhere, somehow, have missed something that a local would have picked up.

The Albert Bridge, in London, which features
in Never Coming Home
I lived in London for many years and I always use places I know in the books, when I need scenes set in the capital. I also have an ambition to write a ‘London book’ that makes use of the city as part of the action. The homicidal potential of Tube trains also has a horrible fascination. Does this make me a horrible person? No – don’t answer that! I suspect that I will want to go back and stay for a while if that book ever rises to the top of the To Be Written pile. Suspect? Make that know. I love London. Any excuse to go back.

Not that where I am living does not have its attractions, including some fabulous local beaches, but I
I'm planning to locate
two houses above
this piece of local shore line.
don’t think it will automatically sell any books. If you live somewhere that does not lend itself as a location, so you don’t have the benefit of an insider’s knowledge, what do you do? The answer to that one is often to invent somewhere. Then you can move the scenery anywhere you like. As long as you remember where exactly you left that steep hill, the last time you used it, of course. I’ve got plans for a couple of romantic suspense novels set in created places, loosely based on the part of Wales that is my home, but re-engineered to suit the needs of the plot.

But that’s for the future. At the moment, I am firmly based in the Riviera, and really hoping that I will get to check out the locations I’m using again, in person, before too long!

Wednesday 15 April 2020

Vicarious living

My reading matter at the moment includes a bit of vicarious travel. Eloise James' account of her year living in Paris, Christopher Somerville’s January Man, about a year’s worth of walks in the UK. I would never follow in his footsteps, but I am enjoying the book. Cookery books for vicarious eating, and inspiration for what to do with things from the freezer. I’m doing nostalgia, by way of the British Library Classic Crime – I’ve enjoyed two by Michael Gilbert, one of which I had read before, one that was new. I’m sizing up very old favourites to revisit – Mary Stewart, Georgette Heyer. I'm also getting into some cosy crime.

That's the reading lists. I terms of writing, I'm spending at least part of every day on the French Riviera, re-writing the last third of what I hope will be the next book. It has rather an outlandish plot, hence the re-writing, making the whole thing hang together, so I am hoping that the Choc-lit tasting panel will not find it too far fetched and will give it the thumbs up. But in the meantime I am enjoying the hours of vicarious sun and mayhem on the shores of the Mediterranean. As well as hard work, Wedding on the Riviera is providing a lot of fun. Not only the weather and several scams and con tricks being played out, but food, the planning of an absolutely no-expenses-spared wedding (the title kind of gives it away) that includes a chocolate wedding cake, revisiting old friends from Summer in San Remo, introducing a few new ones, who I hope will feature in future books, and sorting out a pair of lovers who while not exactly star crossed, are definitely not finding the course of love running smooth. Researching the wedding cake alone kept me happy for hours. And no one actually gets married!!

I've also reverted to my addiction to holiday brochures. With two holidays abroad planned for this year - research, naturally - that will not now be happening, I'm back to the day dreaming. It's what writers do best, after all. 

Wednesday 8 April 2020

A few virtual views.

With walking routes restricted at the moment, I've been leafing through old photos and thought I'd share a few.


In other news, the long delayed sequel to Summer in San Remo is coming along. I'm on the last third of edits, but doing extensive re-writes as I go. I'll let you know about progress.

Wednesday 1 April 2020

Time for a new bucket list?

Bucket lists are usually a place for big ticket items – learning a new language, buying a house, writing a book, making a trip on the Orient Express. It’s aspirational, and probably expensive, either in time and commitment, or money. Often the list is time limited – ‘By the time I’m 40 I will …  Travel and experiences feature, with maybe  the occasional material treat, like a pair of earrings from Tiffany, thrown in on the lower slopes. Yes, they are on my current radar for the next time I write one. They have these dinky little gold hearts …  

I had a big item list some years ago, which is how I came to start the PhD eight years ago– but that is a whole other story.  I really must see if I can find that original list. I could cross off at least one item. I suspect that may be two, as I am now a published author.  

This post was prompted by a more modest list that I just found in the front of my diary – plans for what I wanted to do once the PhD was put to bed.  A haircut, a few exhibitions, seeing friends, cinema trips, some shopping, a concert or two, a couple of very long awaited holidays. Now all those have gone completely out of the window – although I am working on the next book, so that’s something. I suppose I shall get round to some de-cluttering and gardening eventually, if this is going on for three months or more. I have done the ironing …

I suspect that the current situation might cause a change in the things that get included on future lists, around the world. Spending more time with family and loved ones might move to the top. I suspect travel might still feature, but maybe material possessions and work ambitions might get a much harder look.

It might be time for a new list though, just for something to look forward to.