Wednesday 29 July 2020

Quiet please, I'm editing. And going dark.

The edits arrived for A Wedding on the Riviera, and it looks like I'm keeping the title, so Yay! for that. Can't wait to see cover art.

But before that fun stuff, comes edits, which is when the book you wrote becomes the book that finally gets to appear in public. It's a process of concentration and fine tuning, so pardon me if this post is short.

After some exchanges with my editor, the book has taken a sudden turn for the dark, which pleases something disturbingly black in my soul and meant that I spent Saturday afternoon organising a murder. We writers have interesting lives.

Strawberry Hill 
I'm doubly happy about being encouraged to go darker, as this means that the next in series can follow the lead of its older sibling, and I can indulge myself in some Gothic style shenanigans, which will be great fun. (See black soul, above.) Gothic has taken my mind back to a visit a few summers ago to Strawberry Hill. Something to think about later.

I have to go now, but will find a picture of something pretty to prove I'm not entirely gone to the dark side.

This is apt, as the WIP has a garden, with roses. 

Wednesday 22 July 2020

Creating a smokescreen.

I had a good weekend with the WIP, which is coming along fine, creating some smokescreens. There has been some obscure stuff in the family's past which will only be pieced together as the book unfolds and it got me thinking about how rumour and gossip works, when people only know a small part of what really happened. As a result I am having a fun time creating a lot of Chinese Whispers, where snippets of the story get passed on and distorted and are partially true but only in bits. In a strange way, it has also helped me unravel the backstory, but don't ask me to explain how!

Anyway, all that is at an end now, as the edits for the last book have arrived, so there will be no new work for a while. I hope when I go back I can still remember where I was!

I'm being brave too and going out for a walk in the mornings, if the weather is good. I haven't taken the camera, but the picture below shows the view I haven't seen for several months.

Wednesday 15 July 2020

And the next book is on the horizon ...

It's been a busy week, as lock-downs go - several zooms, including the Romantic Novelist's Association  virtual conference  on Saturday. Lots of great speakers, and didn't even have to leave the house. The downside was that all the catering and washing up was down to me. It was remarkably   tiring too. I thought it was me, but at a chapter catch up later in the evening, everyone else said the same. There were the usual 1-2-1 sessions with agents and editors, that usually take place in person, and many friends got requests for manuscripts, so  lots of finger crossing going on.

The very big news since I saw you last is the I have signed the contract for the second Riviera Rouges, so I am waiting for scary edits. I also managed to send in the completely final version of the thesis, for publication on the university website, so now I am official and the project is now complete. I might even get some paperwork, eventually.

Getting the day job finally out of the way means that I should be able to concentrate on more writing, so I am hoping that it will not be two years before the next book comes out. I'm working on it, honest.

Except that there will be those edits ...

Wednesday 8 July 2020

Time line - then or now?

There has been a certain amount of discussion in writing circles about what people are doing about portraying 2020. Some are writing pandemic books, and I'm sure that there will be some interesting things emerging some time down the line, although it's not a route I personally plan to take. But then, I write escapist stuff.

Historical novelists don't have a problem, but those of us who write contemporary? Having begun a new WIP this week it has been very obvious to me that the things I am writing about now, and the events in the book I have just completed, simply couldn't happen at the moment.

So what's the choice, given that I'm not planning to start with a new genre - and I think readers are also looking for a bit of escapism in troubled times? Some are planning to adjust the clock a little, which means that there may well be a glut of books set in 2019. Another choice is writing in a sort of suspended present, a parallel universe with a version of 2020 that does not include a pandemic. It's a trope that has long been popular with writers, but in a much more overt way - stepping through a portal into somewhere, or sometime else - not just simply bypassing current reality.

I've not decided yet where I stand. But then, everything that is on the page comes out of the writer's imagination. It's a story. It doesn't have to be real.

Wednesday 1 July 2020

On being improbable

First - with an update on last week's post, there is now no dust under the sideboard and I have 34 pages of heiroglyphics otherwise known as the first draft of Riviera 3 - probably about  10,000 words. Sadly today I have to tackle the kitchen.

But now - back to being improbable. The deadline for submitting claims for PLR was yesterday - that's the payment that writers get for loans from libraries -  very welcome, and sometimes more than my annual royalties!  As another housekeeping exercise I just squeaked in with books I had not managed to register. Hunting for appropriate details I scrolled down my entry in a certain e-book seller, which included reviews - and the word 'improbable' jumped out at me. 

Yes - I will own up to that. My brain has a habit of throwing scenarios at me with a flourish and a demand that I 'Get out of that!'. Unfortunately often I cannot resist the challenge, hence the improbable. Actually, in my own mind I would define the things I write as fantasy - but these days that means elves and wizards, so it's a no go. It is though - a book creates a world of its own, and often that world is an escape from reality, and I don't see anything wrong with that. I mean - if you're going for improbable, look at Shakespeare! I'm not Shakespeare, but he's a fabulous role model.

Romance books often get a bad press for presenting a rose coloured view of love. This may be true, but I would give readers more credit for knowing the difference between what happens in a book and what happens in real life. Genre fiction, like popular TV, is larger than life and only shows a small part of it. We know that not every village in England has two or three murders happening every week - Midsomer Murders, I'm  looking at you - but we still enjoy watching them.  If you haven't caught up with Caroline Graham's books, from which the series began, by the way, I highly recommend them. Different from the  TV, and well worth a read.

Genre fiction is meant to entertain, to provide escape, to foster relaxation, to amuse, maybe to scare, if that's your thing. It is not real life. Suspension of disbelief is required. Plots might be improbable - yes alright, mine are - but within that, genre fiction requires is an examination and portrayal of emotions - and those - well, they are real - but that's a matter for another post.