Monday, 25 June 2007

Time to get started!



Just like this little guy in the fields by the river last week, my head is up again and I've started work.

I threatened to take the scalpel to the Rimrock Caper, and so I have. The first four chapters are done. Now on with the rest.

Wimbledon starts today but it is rained off, as expected. Rained off - there are floods again. I wouldn't like to be living in York right now! There will be no droughts in this country this year, that's for sure. The rain has bashed my roses to bits, but no doubt the frogs are happy.

Saturday, 23 June 2007

The aftermath

It's kind of hard to dig yourself out of a pit sometimes. A few rejections, a publisher closes and suddenly you wonder why you bother to write at all.

The rejections I can handle. Well, after a few days moping around, to be truthful. I know (mostly) (with hindsight) why they did not succeed, but when I sent them off I was full of enthusiasm and confidence. Now my poor little orphans are back with me again and I have to sit down, take a stern look at them and do what needs to be done.

I think I'll take the metaphorical scalpel to the Rimrock Caper first and tighten that up before I send it off to some as yet unselected e-publisher. By then I might have heard about the last remaining partial which has been out for nearly six months now, so going back to it will be almost like going back to something new. After that, I need to work on my late Victorian epic. There's something not quite right with it . My CP tells me it has no discernable spine, so I need to go back to the beginning and give it some backbone.

It seems my Triskelion book Shadows had a very spotty life on the Trisk website - here today, gone tomorrow, back on Wednesday - so if any of you have been frustrated in your attempts to buy a copy, I can only apologise. Don't forget I have two other books with a different publisher!

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Update: Triskelion

Triskelion Publishing has closed down as of today. Bankruptcy proceedings begin on 2nd July.
This means the rights of my book Shadows, along with every other Triskelion title, are frozen until bankruptcy is declared. I doubt if the Triskelion website is working, but even if it is I would not risk buying anything from it now.

The news is not what I wanted to hear the same day I invited fellow Trisk author Maggie to my blog, and just a day after I put the Shadows cover up here! It was an invitation to disaster, and I should have known better!

Welcome to Maggie Nash (1)


Welcome to Maggie Nash who lives in Australia! Maggie and I almost met during my visit to that amazing continent last authumn.

What turned you into a writer rather than a reader?

The Truth? I ran out of books to read...really!

How long does it take you to write a book from first idea to final edit?

I’m getting faster, thank goodness! My first novel took 3 years. Now I can knock off a book in around 3 months. Yay me!

Which bit of writing a book do you enjoy most?

I love it the most when the characters take on a life of their own and the words just flow through the end of my fingers as I type. There is no better feeling J

How long did it take you to find a publisher?

Triskelion was the second publisher I submitted to. They bought the book after 36 hours which was pretty amazing. One of the things about epublishing I like. Less waiting...LOL

Do you have any bad writing habits?

I just have to lose that habit of using just...and well...and a few other overused words...and that ellipsis thing. I mean...it’s just plain annoying...LOL


Is there a book you’d love to write someday?

A New York times bestseller of course!

Can you write whenever you want to?

I would, but the kids need feeding and I have to pay a few bills. Maybe one day - sigh
I know you don't have much time right now, and maybe you'll come back and tell us more in a few weeks when things are calmer. Thanks for being my first guest blogger, Maggie!

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Promotion


Promotion seems to be the name of the game in electronic publishing, and I notice even Nora Roberts does it! So in promotion mode, I've asked some guests to write for my blog, and I'll write for them in return. It should spice up all our lives a little over the next few weeks.

First off though, I should promote myself here! The trouble is, being British, I find it very hard to talk about me in a self-promotional way. So let's just say that I've written six books so far, with another on the go. Three titles are published as e-books -


The Banners of Alba ~ set in 11th century Scotland (also as POD)

Dark Pool ~ set in 11th century Dublin

Shadows ~ set in present day France





The other three I am currently editing, critiquing and sending off to publishers. Editing can go on for everbut there comes a time when it has to stop and I'm almost at that point with these three.

Rimrock Caper involves skiing and fraud in the Rockies; Far After Gold is set in 10th century Scotland, and Silver Age is late Victorian England.


I get around! I love writing about places I've been, using them as locations in my books, and I think I would find it very hard to write about somewhere I'd never visited. That's probably why I don't write science-fiction or fantasy! I like to visualise something and then catch it on paper (or a computer screen).


I had a great time with Silver Age - I looked up costume, found a beautiful book with really detailed photographs of actual dresses, coats, caps, corsets - and then used my imagination to dress my characters. There are balls and ballrooms to describe, and libraries and rides over the moors, and yes, I recall wintery rides and put it all down. It's as real as I can make it!

Friday, 15 June 2007

Silly Season


The silly season is almost upon us and I think this year I am about to join in!


There is a promotional push at Triskelion slated for July. Trisk authors are invited to contribute by writing two or three pages of a story and then pass it on to the next author to carry on. I did my segment today. Someone with more technical knowledge than me is going to put all this together and start the ball rolling on MySpace. Some kind of pointer sends readers from one site to another to read the next segment, and a new segment goes up every day. So at some point, I may load what looks like a very strange story segment on here....be warned!


It has rained here almost constantly for over a week. The river is flooding down at the bottom of the hill and though we are safe, people in Yorkshire are already being evacuated. More rain is scheduled. The stream at the bottom of the garden in someone's dream garden may turn into a raging torrent overnight and pour into their home! Looking at the tv footage tonight it looked as if York is suffering again.


Trapped indoors by constant rain, I have completed seven critiques in one day, so some good has come out of the bad weather.

Tuesday, 12 June 2007


Some success to report - my Clustrmap is now recording red dots again! How wonderful! One of them is in Japan, too, probably Tokyo, one on Australia and several in America. How international the Internet is!


Yesterday we drove to Corbridge and set off walking up Milkwell Lane. We found a ford and a footbridge, walked up the hill in the sunshine and puffed and panted just to show how unfit we are - but we kept going till we reached Halton Castle, where we sat in the sun and ate a hastily shoved together sandwich and ate an apple. I found the Roman altar in the churchyard, peeked into the church which is believed to have been there since Saxon times and dithered when I saw the notice declaring that there was a bull in the field that would take me to Onnan Roman fort on the Wall.


We scanned the field, which rose, an undulating riot of buttercups and daisies, towards the blue sky but we could see no bull. We decided that discretion was the better part of valour (it was a big, big field and I didn't relish the idea of meeting Mr Bull half way across!) and instead explored where the medieval village of Halton used to be and then set off down the road towards Aydon Castle. Views, tremendous views! With the Wall just behind us we looked down five hundred feet over rolling fields and woods across the Tyne, out of sight in the dip, towards the southern skyline of the Durham Hills and Hexhamshire. There's a story there one day about the heiress of the Regality of Hexhamshire, but for today I was more interested in Aydon Castle.


We ducked through the gate just below the Castle and set off down the precipitous path through the woods, blessedly cool in the shade, saw a squirrel and panted our way up the other side of the ravine and out into the sunshine once more. From there it was just a short walk across the fields back to the car. A wonderful walk that left us both with barely enough energy to speak to each other. We must do it more often and get a little fitness back!
PS There's no blue sky in the picture of Halton Castle because I took that last week. Forgot the camera yesterday. Wah!

Thursday, 7 June 2007



When we drove back from Nice we seized the opportunity to travel via the Millau Viaduct which crosses the River Tarn in the Massif Central mountains of France. It was designed by the British architect Lord Foster and at 300m (984 feet) it is the highest road bridge in the world, weighing 36,000 tonnes. The central pillar is higher than the famous French icon, the Eiffel Tower. Though the Bridge opened in December 2004 this is the first time we've been anywhere near it, and I'm glad we made the effort, for I thought it the most breath taking bridge I've ever seen. The picture is from the BBC website and there are more if you care to look.
The bridge crosses a 2.5km valley and really makes you feel as if you've taken off from land.

Wednesday, 6 June 2007

Strange things happen to websites, too!

I used Clustrmap on my website 'cos I like watching all those little red dots appear on the map of the world. I set it up in February, and it was doing well until I went on holiday on 10th May. When I got back, Ckustrmap had stopped working as of 11th May.
I took my laptop with me, but why should that affect Clustrmap? Since I got back I've tried to re-instate it, to no avail.
Now it seems like nobody wants to know me!
If you're reading this, do me a favour and pop over to my website, just to see if we can kickstart the wretched thing! http://members.lycos.co.uk/jenblack

I do so want all those little red dots back!

Monday, 4 June 2007

Strange things


Strange things go on at a Grand Prix!
This huge crane is tucked into the tiny hilly streets of Monaco and stands ready to scoop up any car that crashes.
Here it is swinging the car onto a loader which will drive it off to the garage once the race is over. This was one of the early saloon car races - fortunately the Formula 1 cars stayed safe - though I did see the cloud of dust fly up as Hamilton clouted the wall inside the tunnel.
I think I have finally caught up on all the backlog waiting for me. Now I'm about ready to start writing again, and perhaps I shall tune into all the e-groups and see what I've missed.
The trouble is e-groups are so damned addictive that they eat into writing time if I let them. Whole mornings can slide by and I suddenly realise I have not started to write and it is already lunch time!
The rejection letter I received a couple of days ago has been milling around in my head and I can see now that I had slipped away from HMB's required story form. Ideally the hero and heroine meet on page one or two, but I'd given the heroine almost a whole chapter to herself. I thought I was setting up her character prior to her first meeting with the hero, which came towards the latter part of the chapter. Now I see I should have worked that into and around the first meeting, which could and should have happened much nearer the front end of the chapter.
Worst of all, I know I've done almost exactly the same thing with my last submission. Groan! I guess I may as well print off another three chapters and send it off to another publisher because I know what HM&B are going to say...

Friday, 1 June 2007

Interviews and holidays

While I was away, my second interview appeared on the Writers and Authors blogspot. Here's the link so that you can pop over to Jo Linsdell's site and check it out:

http://writersandauthors.blogspot.com/2007/05/jen-black-interview.html



I promised you another picture from my hols. Well, how about this? A glass of wine and a barbecue suits me just fine most of the time, especially when it's a fine warm evening at the watermill that inspired me to write my third book Shadows.




There are odd spots of sophistication in my holidays, too. The picture below is Monaco on a warm and overcast morning before the sun burned the heat haze away. There were more and bigger boats moored outside the harbour, should you fancy your chances of catching the eye of a millionaire.





And the reason we drove all the way to Monaco? Well, you know what happens once a year in Monaco in May, don't you?





Yes, the Monaco Formula 1 Grand Prix!


I watch it on tv, but this is the first time I've attended a live meeting. The sound of those engines howling through the streets is truly unbelievable. It vibrates through the bones of the chest and quite likely ruptures the ear drums if ear plugs are not worn. Luckily I'd taken a quantity of cotton wool, and that deadened the sound enough to make it bearable.

The picture is at the bottom end of the circuit, just before the cars dive into the tunnel. I sat in an open stand with the sea only a pace away for upwards of six hours and my back ached for days afterwards! But I'm glad I experienced it and was especially pleased when Alonso won and Hamilton was second.

More tomorrow!