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Showing posts from May, 2012

It didn't make my heart sing

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Here's an interesting article: http://futurebook.net/content/do-editors-not-say-no-because-they-can-no-longer-say-yes It's not too long, so I'll leave it to you to click through and read the whole thing. I hope agents and editors take it to heart! As for me, I have gone through the first three chapters of Matho 1 - now entitled The King's Business after several titles changes - checking for conflict, suspense, drama and emotional intensity. Not to mention repetition, poor grammar, awkward sentences and the occasional missed word. Yes, in spite of all the work and time spent on these three chapters over the last three years, I spotted two instances where a small, two-letter words had been omitted. (Of course, I blame the computer for that!) So later today I shall be printing the pages out, and if I think they're up to scratch I'll think about sending them to an agent. I'm getting more and more reluctant to send things out. There's something truly di

Plot

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I'm wrecking my first Matho story. I have a safe copy tucked away, and currently I'm going to town on the experimental copy. Chapter One has been discarded. I loved it, worked for hours on it, but no one else ever loved it as I did, so now it has gone. The scenes that made up the original chapters 2-4 are getting the treatment now. At least one scene has been discarded. The fragment of necessary info it contained has been transferred into another scene. I'm juggling the scenes around seeking a better story flow, and giving  the protagonist Matho greater prominence. Some scenes I'm re-writing, others just need a few tweaks. In at least two places I found a basic mistake - in one  instance mentioning something and then contradicting it. In the second, I realised the time sequence was so flawed my characters would be eating raw meat! It's an interesting experience, critiquing my own work. I've read that top novelists cut and hone each scene to make sure each

Millionaire's Club

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Evidently those in the know about book publishing are aware of something called the Millionaire’s Club. To join, a book has to sell more than one million copies. Joanne Harris’s novel Chocolat, which came out in 1999 has now officially passed the magic mark. Jodi Picoult’s My Sister’s Keepe r (2003) is there, too. Their books are among the 68 titles that have found their way into the Club since records began in 1998. Other British female novelists to top the one million mark are J K Rowling ( Harry Potter ), Helen Fielding ( Bridget Jones ) and Kate Mosse ( Labyrinth ). Durham Cathedral 118,000 books were published in 2011. Of those, 21,000 were adult fiction, so maybe my idea that publishers aren't publishing much in these days of recesssion is quite wrong! Only nine authors have sold more than one million copies of more than one book: Rowling (eight titles), Dan Brown (five), Stephenie Meyer (four), Stieg Larsson and Philip Pullman (both three), Julia Donaldson, Khaled Ho

Accepting criticism

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"Any writer who dismisses the negative but laps up the positive had better be ready for the negative reviews of her book which will come. I have had books published. Some of them have won awards. Some of the ones that have won awards have had yuckity reviews. Some of those reviews I (try to) ignore because I don't value the opinion of the giver, BUT if someone says something positive and negative, how on earth could I justify believing the good but not the bad?? If I value someone's opinion I cannot only value it when it suits me. That doesn't mean I have to kow-tow to it but it does mean I should not dismiss it out of hand as this writer seemed to, and to dismiss it so disrespectfully. For a start, the critique opinion seeks to give you the best chance of publication, about which there are no certainties." This morning Nicola Morgan's blog  here  has an interesting piece about accepting criticism even if it criticises something in your book, and

Things I really wanted to do

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One of the things I really wanted to do was fly Concorde, but before I could get the money together, it was forced out of the sky. Watching it, which I did whenever I got the opportunity, used to bring a lump to my throat. There are machines that just seem both beautiful and right, and for me, Concorde epitomised beauty and power. It was the most graceful aircraft. Coming in to land, it looked like a giant white bird of prey. It was also one of the few planes that did what it was designed to do, according to John Taylor, Editor of Jane’s All the World’s Aircraft. It crossed the Atlantic at twice the speed of sound almost every day and in spite of vast sums of money and years of trying, no country has ever produced a larger, faster competitor. I’ve flown the Airbus A380, and it is a lovely plane, but I couldn't call it beautiful and it doesn’t bring a lump to my throat.  I sat in it as it sped down the runway, and wondered if such a huge machine would ever become airborne. I was q

The art of Reviewing

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Joanne Harris started something when she complained about reviewers: here Basically I think she was irritated by reviewers who give away too many plot twists and turns when they review her books, to the point that it made reading the book unnecessary. It was a long article, and interesting, but made no mention of the current craze for non-professional reviewers  to post their thoughts about books on Amazon. Reading these thoughts can be entertaining, or heartbreaking. Sometimes I suspect people have dashed onto Amazon, clicked on a book title without actually reading the blurb or sampling the text, and several hours later wondered why they didn't enjoy the story. Their review naturally disses the book in question. After all, the book is to blame,  isn't it? At others it is hard not to notice that authors from the same publishing house review and praise each other's books. It's noticeable even among the hardbacks these days. If the gushing comments are genuine, tha

Phoenix rising

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The little laptop is not dead - I should have had faith! It worked perfectly this morning, so that is good news.  The problem of incoming e-mails might be easily solved. I've noticed I get three copies of the same message with five mnutes on the same day, but from different groups, which certainly isn't necessary for me! Once will do! So some groups I'm going to mark as view website only, otherwise I'll never get any writing done. My pictures  for the next few days were all taken as I walked out of the hotel doorway and gazed across at the Castle and Cathedral, then walked along the river bank to Prebend's Bridge, up to the Cathedral and back down the other river bank back to the hotel. The weather was dull and threatening, with occasional flashes of sunshine. The river was high, full of brown flood water, but there was no flooding. Pity the little boy who fell into the river a little further upstream a week ago. He had little chance in such a torrent, because the

Requiem for a little laptop

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A nasty headcold drove me  to my bed on Saturday morning where I shivered for most of the day. Today, Tuesday, is ny first day out of bed, still coughing and with my husband crossing his forefingers against me everytime I do it. It's his birthday today, and the poor man is sanding skirting boards prior to painting them instead of having a jolly day out. Still, we have our new chairs to sit in, and though they took twelve weeks to arrive, they are lovely. Beige leather and wood, so comfortable, and so good for the spine. Our living room looks very different without the big three-seater sofa that took up so much space. One thing I have become aware of while I've been tucked up in bed is that I'm receiving too many e-mails. With time to think about it, I realised I was keeping three computers  going (don't ask - two "old" laptops that haven't quite hit the dustbin because they still function, though very slowly, and once they were top of their line....and

Beautiful Things

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I’m a hoarder. Tonight, turning out a cupboard in preparation for a little home decorating behind it, I found all sorts of wonderful things. An old Sunday supplement from the seventies with an interesting piece about Beautiful Things caught my eye. Since paper carries so much weight, I flipped it onto the throw away pile, and then couldn’t resist peeking at a paragraph or two about the crown jewels. All gone The Imperial State Crown of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, begins the piece, “combines history, beauty, rarity and value in a way which is unique.” At the front of the crown there’s the ruby King Pedro the Cruel gave to the Black Prince in 1367, worn by Henry V at Agincourt and found decorating the helmet of Richard III when he was killed at Bosworth. It’s actually a ballas spinel that was sold for £4 when the Crown Jewels were broken up, and then returned to Charles II when the monarchy was restored. Below that is the Cullinan diamond whose total weight was 3,106 cara

Reading

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harvest mouse on a fat ball Once upon a time, I used to work in a public library and had access to zillions of books. I read the reviews and put in requests (which were free back then) and read all sorts of novels on the basis that they sounded interesting. It was the best and probably the only perk of librarianship! I would not hesitate to admit that my reading matter was eclectic when I was in my early twenties. I barely covered the classics because I thought they would always be around and I could get to them later. Something more interesting was always just coming up on the horizon. I didn’t mind foreign countries. Mishima, Han Suyin and Lin Yutang made a big impression and taught me something of the Far East; Mary O’Hara taught me about Wyoming, and Evan Hunter’s Mothers and Daughters taught me about America. I devoured stories set in India and Iran, Tunisia and Greece, but rarely books set in England except for Jilly Cooper’s Riders which made me hoot with laughter. I

Here it is...

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This may not look like a book trailer for a romance, but I assure you it is. Reluctance is the story of Frances, said to be the richest widow in England, and her struggles to remain a widow. Yes, she wants to stay single, while fortune hunters abound, and simply will not give up trying to persuade her otherwise. In 1803, when a woman married, most of her  wealth went into her husband's hands. Not only that, but Frances, young and pretty as she is, does not wish to marry at all, for Marital Duties loom far too large on the negative side of any proposal she may receive. Discover for yourself how Frances solves her problem by clicking here: amazon "it’s a story with enough twists and unpredictable turns to make you dizzy, while Frances and Jack will alternately endear themselves to you and drive you crazy.   In any event, you won’t be able to forget these two or their story." From a review by Margaret Chrisawn.

Socialising

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Durham Cathedral from the east This week I have done no writing at all. Six social engagements in one week and  everything has gone to the dogs! The meetings were all great fun, (and I've just remembered there is another one tomorrow - a coffee morning to support someone who is cycling from Panama to Costa Rica for medical charity) but I couldn't do this amount of socialising on a regular basis and write as well. Dorothy Dunnett once said that she couldn't write if she was doing a lot of socialising - after all, she said, it all comes out of the same tap. I am full of admiration for authors who write with children playing in the same room - I know I couldn't do it. So - now I'll have to knuckle down and re-read a few chapters to get back in the groove before I can start. That's part of the problem - come out of the imaginary world for too long and I forget where I was when I was last in it!

Another Hexham Book Event

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Gorse, sometimes called broom Meg Rosoff is an American who has lived in Britain for a long time. She doesn’t approve of “teaching” creative writing but if she practised the art, would suggest that Archer, Brown and Meyer should take up other occupations. Thinks all writing is a reflection of the author, and that it takes seven years, like an ancient apprenticeship, to learn the craft of writing. Or to put another way, it takes 10,000 hours before you produce reasonable writing. (Though it occurs to me that in seven years the apprentices did more than a million hours, and that’s if they worked a five-day week.) Most people find that their first chapter is overwritten, overworked and often omitted in the final book. There’s too much exposition. Think of a Colander – everyday stuff rushes in and falls through the holes, but some things will stick. They’re the important bits and will be quite different to other people’s bits. The contents make you, and the particular you that