|Durham Castle from the riverside|
Friday, 29 June 2012
Wednesday, 27 June 2012
Monday, 25 June 2012
Twelfth century words included: chastel,(Fr) castellum, arx, mota, turris, oppidum, munitions, firmitas and municipium (all Latin). Sometimes, we use one of the rare medieval terms today without realising we are doing so. London’s castle is called The Tower of London; and the name comes from its medieval name Turris Londiniensis.
Friday, 22 June 2012
|Durham - motte and bailey castle keep|
Wednesday, 20 June 2012
The paperback has been lying forgotten on my shelves for a couple of years since Quaestor
ceased trading in 2010 due to the owner's ill-health. The book had just over a year of life as a viable paperback, and I suddenly thought - why waste all that effort? why not put it up on Amazon Kindle?
Checking my pc, I didn't have a file for it. None of my USB sticks held a copy. The thought of re-typing it all from the paperback, or scanning it, was not encouraging. Finally I found a copy on an old hard disc, which reminded me How Things Have Changed in a few years!
So I began with an old computer version. I put it into text to take out all the Quaestor formatting, and then began the laborious task of putting all the punctuation back in again. It takes time. As I inserted paragraphs and suchlike, I began tweaking the words themselves; a word here, a deletion there, but soon, I was taking out and rewriting whole chunks. All I can say is I wrote FAG, as I call it, about six or seven years ago, and I've learned a lot since then.
So, it's now a smart, sexy, romantic tale of a young Christian girl bought as a slave by a young Viking warrior.
Here's an excerpt:
Monday, 18 June 2012
At one stage I thought the Olympic Torch going through Newcastle was going to jam up our arrangements for getting Jean back on time to the 4pm train to London, but all worked out well.
She spoke of cringing when she looked back at some of her early works (books that didn't get published) and I so sympathise with her, because I recently set out to get an old title ready to go up on Kindle and got quite a surprise as I started reading.
The storyline was fine, but there were signs of muddled motivation and a fair bit of repetition, not to mention some odd sentences here and there. As I read through I certainly cringed - and immediately started putting the thing right. Far After Gold has been truly re-edited over the last fortnight, ready for its second debut. I've almost re-written it!
The uploading process to Amazon had updates in April this year and the process certainly seem to work better for me than they did last time I tried it. I have a cover to sort, but in a few days, I'll chance uploading my story and see how it goes.
Thursday, 14 June 2012
|Durham Castle Keep|
So: I'm going to cheat a little by giving you the gist of Nicola Morgan's take on synopses. It's relevant, because I've been thinking about the darn things, since our writers' group is having a session on synopses on Friday. (Her blog, btw, is a mine of info: Help I need a publisher)
Here's what she says:
If your book is a journey, the synopsis needs to include:
1. Who is on the journey and why?
2. What is the intended destination and why?
3. What terrible thing will happen if they don't reach their destination and who or what is trying to stop them?
4. What happens to knock the travellers off course?
5. What characteristics and tools do they use to get back on course?
6. What is their actual destination and who survives and with what injuries?
Here’s what we do not need to know:
1. All the detours they took along the way - unless without it we can't understand the book
2. The weather.
3. What they said to each other.
4. What the scenery was like.
5. The people they met along the way, unless without them we can't understand the book.
6. The route in order.
So my message to you today is: when writing your synopsis, cultivate a really crappy memory like mine, a memory that forgets everything except essence. To paraphrase all of our mothers: if you can't remember, it can't have been very important. And if it's not important, it has no place in your synopsis.
Therefore: whatever you do, don't look at your book when writing your synopsis. Your book has no place there.
PS Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible. Possibly by Saturday.
Monday, 11 June 2012
I can look forward to the rest of the men's single final at Roland Garros - if it isn't rained off. If it is postponed again, then they may as well scratch it, because Rafa and Novak will have other commitments and what kind of a match is it that goes on spasmodically over three days? On Sunday afternoon - starting at the idiotic time of 3pm despite the weather predictions - the balls must have been soggy and thick with red dust and, depending where they'd been on the court, at different weights due to the water they'd picked up. If three grams on a tennis rackets means weeks of relearning one's shots, then how do they cope with balls of various weights in one match? Plus which the light was dismal, and the footing insecure.
Novak must have the best trainer in the world. Half an hour in the locker room, and he comes out transformed, first serve perfect after two sets of banging it into the net. What on earth did the trainer say to make such a difference?
With such a lot riding on this final for both men, it was no wonder they were nervous and played tentatively, anxious not to make the slightest error - which of course, led to lack-lustre tennis and errors all over the place. Hardly conducive to making them feel good about themselves or their tennis. Add in the on-court conditions and is there any wonder tempers got heated? Novak wrecked two rackets and a bench seat, and Rafa vented his feelings verbally with the umpire.
The culprit in all this? I have to wonder if tv schedules and the ensuing payments and contracts make all the decisions these days. Arguments and temper tantrums on court make for good tv, so the tv people are happy while the RG people (whoever runs the tournament) knuckle under and let the cameras roll regardless of the danger to players who may well injure themselves in such conditions. Money talks, as ever.
Saturday, 9 June 2012
Then the four day celebrations of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee - so much to watch on tv! At the beginning of the week we had the living room emptied while dh painted it, but we managed to finish it before having people in on Wednesday night after a lovely meal at Caffe Vivo on the Quayside in Newcastle.
Yesterday I put FAIR BORDER BRIDE up for free for a day on Amazon Kindle and almost 1200 people downloaded it - 1 in Spain, 2 in France, 24 in Germany and the rest split between the UK and the US, with the bullk in the US. One day I might reach Italy, too!
I have an equally busy week coming up. A walk with a friend either Tuesday or Wednesday, depending on whcih is the better day weather-wise, a hair appointment and the usual mundane grocery shopping. Thursday and Friday will be taken up with Border Reivers activities. Orion author Jean Fullerton is coming from the deep south (London!) to talk to us about various topics to do with writing, which promises to be entertaining as well as instructive. We're planning a BBQ on Thursday night to welcome her, and the meeting is on Friday.
Monday, 4 June 2012
|My clematis is in flower|
Then I find the Telegraph review section on Saturday with its article by Hilary Mantel in which she describes how the book she thought would be done and dusted in one volume turned into three. "Cromwell is a work in progress."
I quote her: "It is the privilege of the imaginative writer not to retell but to relive. I was rigid with tension, rinsed by fear." I have been lucky enough to feel a little of what she describes, enough to know what she means, certainly; but sometimes it's more of a struggle to try and get into the mindset of a sixteenth century character.
I've seen Mantel on tv a couple of times, and she speaks to camera in a slow, measured way, in perfectly structured sentences, almost as if she wrote a speech that morning, edited several times and is now prepared to share it with viewers. Perhaps she always talks in this way, perhaps she even thinks this way. I have to confess I find her ability alarming, but I'm also totally in awe of it.
Fiction, she says, is inherently unpredictable. Even when you know the end of the story, you don't know how you're going to arrive there. There is a choice of route maps, but at a fork in the road you hesitate; the scenery is not as you imagined. And that, I suppose is where the trouble, or the delight, begins. Read the article - it is well worth it.
Friday, 1 June 2012
So there will be food, drink, games, and quizzes out on the street on Sunday. Most of the neighbours, adults and children, will join in, and people come and go all the time. The last one was for the marriage of William and Kate, and the weather was rather on the chilly side. The weather forecast for Sunday has the north of England in sunshine, but the south has a blanket of blue across it - but these forecasts are often wrong!