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. 

Wednesday 11 May 2022

Greenway - Agatha Christie's Holiday Home

 This is the last post from my recent trip to the English Riviera. As part of the Crime Writers' conference a number of extra curricular activities were organised, I jumped at the chance to spend Saturday afternoon at Greenways. It was a perfect day to visit, as I think the photos below will show - bluebells, primroses  and ramsons (wild garlic) were in bloom in swathes under the trees, along with magnolia and rhododendrons. The grounds were glorious, on a glorious day, and the house, which is now in the charge of the National Trust, was fascinating. It also revealed a slightly spooky, writerly "thing", which I am trying to get my head around.  

For the work in progress I have created a wealthy family of collectors - some of them rather eccentric - who have been amassing their own particular treasures over generations.  With some it was first editions, Pre-Raphaelite paintings, alchemical tracts. One very significant collection from the 1920s is of Egyptian artifacts, which is central to the story. I decided that at least one of the collections would be slightly unusual, so I decided on the theme of clowns  - art works, sculpture, theatre costumes and posters - anything that would attract a collector, with the idea that some of the things might have creepy overtones - thank you Stephen King.  When I began to research art work that would have been modern and cutting edge at the time it was collected, I found that pieces by artists like Picasso and Jean Cocteau that were labeled as clowns, proved to be Pierrots and other characters from the Commedia dell'arte rather than the red-nosed circus clowns we are more used to now. This fitted in with older collectable art from French painter Jean Antoine Watteau, whom I had just studied in an excellent on-line course from the Wallace Collection in London. Watteau had a fondness for the Commedia characters, including Pierrot and Harlequin.  This was fine - I shifted my focus and we were good to go. The "Clowns" have their own important part in the story.  

It was very disconcerting, on visiting Greenways to discover that not only were the generations of Christie family great collectors, but that Dame Agatha had a lovely collection of Commedia figures that she had inherited which were on display  at the house. I really didn't know any of this. Or did I? Had I heard about it and forgotten until something surfaced from the past? Was it coincidence? Was it some sort of ESP? I know didn't change my plan from the circus/Stephen King type clown until I saw those pictures from Picasso.  

Strange and disconcerting. But that's life as a writer.

Greenways, in Devon

Beside the River Dart

Bluebells and ramsons

The upper garden, with lawns. There is a walled garden and tennis court too. 

Wednesday 4 May 2022

A Trip to the English Riviera

 Ever since I began the "Riviera" series I've had it in mind to set a book on the English Riviera. Now I've finally done it. The WIP opens in Torquay, which is not only on the Riviera but also has numerous connections with the "Queen of Crime" Agatha Christie. The book has Christie type overtones as it begins with a house party during which a valuable necklace goes missing. Add in that the necklace is alleged to have belonged to Cleopatra, among others, and you can tell how much fun I have had with this. And don't worry - the grand finale takes place in Monte Carlo/Monaco - so there is some Mediterranean sunshine in the mix too. 

My trip to Torquay for the Crime Writers' Conference gave me the opportunity to prowl the town and  get some pictures for atmosphere. I thought I would share a few of them below. 

The Pavilion that marks the entrance to the pier.

The harbour/marina - lots of fabulous boats

Dame Agatha herself comemorated in a metal likeness