Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Book editing and The Rolling Stones

Evening gang,

How's things? It seems that where I live is about the only place in the country not to be flooded. The down side of that is I have no excuse not to go to work. But I am counting the days now, and todays number is 23.

Anyway, regular readers will know that I was aiming to have two new books out for Christmas. Tonight's announcement is...that's not going to happen. I know, I know, you're all upset. But fear not. It's something to look forward to in the new year.

Both books are written it's the editing that's taking the time. I'm about half way through the second draft of what is currently called The Trust. It's one from the back catalogue but it's better than I remembered and as I've started playing with it the story has developed further and I've started tweaking character relationships and moving scenes to - hopefully - make it all better. Anyway, the word count currently stands at 83,500. I reckon it might end up around 85,000 by the time I'm done which is a bit more than I usually average but there's a lot going on in this book.

I'm planning on taking a couple of days away from the editing to launch a revised version of my short story The Storyteller in time for Christmas. It's a little bit of money for old rope but I'd be daft not to promote my festive book at this time of year.

I'll also be taking a couple of days off to dash down to London to see The Rolling Stones at the O2 on Thusday night. Unless you've been on the moon you'll be aware that they did a triumphant show last weekend at the O2 featuring original member Bill Wyman and later member Mick Taylor. The reviews have been superb, especially for Mick Jagger. Yes, the ticker prices are ludicrous (we paid £250 a ticket plus hotel plus travel!!) but sometimes, just sometimes, you have to worry about the money another day. I'll be having a quiet Christmas as a result of this concert but it'll be worth it.

Anyway, I'm currently battling some sort of cold so I'm going to edit another few pages then slump on the couch with a brew and watch tele.

PS Sales are slow this month because I'lve not done any promo so if you could spread the word for me. Thanks

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

How do the writers demonstrate the disturbed mind in their work?

Evening folks,

The rewrite is progressing quite well so I won't bore you with that. Sales are slow but I haven't done any promo for weeks. On the plus side a chap at work is about to start reading a paperback copy of The 24 Hour Jazz Cafe.

In other news I came home tonight to a request from the wife. Her oldest niece has to do some sort of essay based test on Thursday which answers the question I've used as the title of this post. The texts in question are Macbeth and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

Now this might seem odd, or not, but it was actually thoroughly interesting. I have the necessary qualifications to help with this sort of thing in terms of related exam results and degrees but it's not every day someone asks for my help writing an essay.

I do have a decent working knowledge of both books but obviously I don't read them regularly. Anyway, I had a quick flick through my copies of both, then a quick look on Google, made some notes and rang the girl. Apparently the class had never studied Jekyll and Hyde which doesn't bode well for the essay but I have to admit her knowledge of Shakespeare's text was pretty good and she had a good grasp of the relevant themes.

Anyway, I talked her through my ideas, kept it simple, suggested she compare and contrast, use the obvious character elements, the environment and then back up her points with relevant quotes. It seems I must have done something right as she posted a Twitter message later saying it made sense now and asked if she could make notes and then email it tomorrow for feedback. Needless to say the wife is delighted with my efforts.

For my part it was great to delve into the books again and I actually wrote four pages of notes on the topic and could happily have written the essay. Pity I spend my days dealing in numbers and figures rather than words. Ho hum.

Anyway, time for bed. Until next time...

Saturday, 10 November 2012

French sales, choking and chimney sweeps

Evening gang!

Exciting news. I've only gone and sold a copy of Playground Cool in France. Why is this a big deal? I suppose it's not in the wider context but I generally sell sod all in Europe unless I'm doing a promo of some sort. Whoever you are...merci! You see what I did there?

In other news, as per my previous post I was struggling creatively so me and the wife went to watch Skyfall the other night. Blimey it's good. Good story, plenty in it for the long term Bond fan, some brave decisions in terms of key characters and all the usual stunt madness you'd expect. Top drawer.

We also went to our local pub for tea the night after which was excellent as ever. A particular highlight was a woman choking. Hang on! I don't mean that it was a highlight to see her choking obviously. You see, I live in a bit of a leafy village full of doctors and retired well to do types. I'm the youngest person on my street by a distance, and the poorest. So the village pub is generally filled with these folk on a nightly basis and it's a bit of a running joke with my friends i.e. the best place to collapse is in my pub because half the NHS are in there every night. So this woman suddenly jumps up from her tea, clearly struggling and immediately someone says "Don't worry love, there's a doctor sat there" and points to the table next to ours.

Anyway the lady was fine, blockage cleared, she sat down and carried on with her tea. It rather summed up where I live and supported the running joke. If you need a doctor, head for the pub.

So after so much entertainment I was all refreshed and ready for some writing. A big help in getting me back into the mood was the superb Imagine the other night featuring Ian Rankin. Today I edited thirty plus pages and am aiming to do the same tomorrow. Good times.

Speaking of Ian Rankin, my tickets arrived today. For our wedding anniversary the wife is taking me to Preston to a reading and signing with my fave writer. Hurrah! Well done wife.

Did I mention we had the chimney swept as well? What a life I lead.

Anyway, enough rambling. Bottom line is, the muse has returned and the book is back on track.

Night folks.

Monday, 5 November 2012

How do you manage distractions?

Evening gang,

I've been away, but now I'm back.

Pardon the dodgy quote from The Shining but I went to a special Halloween screening last Wednesday and it was awesome. It was the extended US version and it remains one of my favourite films and both the film and particularly the book have been a constant source of inspiration.

Examples? Okay. In my book All the fun of the fair the bar in the Narracott hotel is called the Overlook after the hotel in King's book. The scene in the ballroom is based on the party scenes in The Shining. Ben Torrance, in my book Playground Cool, takes his name from Jack in the Stephen King original. There's more but I'd have to refer to the books themselves to remind myself. The point is, it's one of the best stories King has written and, even though the film differs from the book, it's powerful largely because of the central performance by Jack Nicholson and the awesome camera work.

As regular readers will know I've got two books on the verge of publication yet the editing process has stalled. Why? Too much else going on coupled with a little bit of writing fatigue. I wrote the sequel to the Jazz Cafe in a matter of months while working full time. I then started to edit a book from the back catalogue days later.

End result? I stare at the pages and nothing happens. It's occurred before and I know I just need time to recharge. I never know how long but all of a sudden it will hit me and I won't be able to keep up. But for now we appear to be done. Does this mean the books won't be out before Christmas? Maybe it does. But that's okay. You can't force it. Or you can, but the result will never be quite right.

So that's it in a nutshell. I'm now distracted. Trips to the cinema, the local pub, work is frantic and driving me mad and I lack the motivation in the evening to write. But only for now.

My question is this? How do you manage your distractions? Work, kids, tele, life. Stuff gets in the way. This stuff is fine for everyone else, that's their life. But to us writers all that is research, background noise, a distraction from the real purpose. But when the words won't flow it can be very hard to turn off X Factor or not sink another beer. Yet when I'm in the middle of a story the tele could be on full blast and I wouldn't even notice.

So for tonight I'm just going to write this blog piece and that will be enough. Tomorrow I'll chalk off another day at work and pray for a lottery win to end that particular misery. I'll keep doing that until one day the words turn up and drag me off on the next leg of our adventure.

On the plus side there's plenty of football on the box this week and we're planning a trip to see Skyfall later in the week so it's all good.

Carry on...

PS While I was just on Amazon UK grabbing the links for this blog I noticed I've now got 9 reviews for the Jazz Cafe, 8 of which are 5*. The other is a 3* and it's tone is totally different to the other reviews which makes me wonder if it's from someone I've upset. Or I'm just unable to accept someone was not totally in love with my book. Either way, it's great to know folk like what I'm doing.