Archive | Work in Progress

Downhill Run

You need to put words on pages to make books. It’s more about quality than quantity but you must have both. And it takes time and hard work. Right now I’m focused on writing a new novel – my fourth book.  It’s zipping along but there have been moments of despondency – and doubt that I’d ever get it done.

Cartoon 1In the early part of 2016 I did planning and research, and began to write in May.  The actual writing is always exciting but it can be daunting when you realize what a long slog it’s going to be and how much there is to do.  It was like being at the bottom of tall wooded hill, gazing upwards. So I bolstered up my confidence and commitment. I galvanized the enthusiasm and energy needed to climb to the top and get back down successfully.  Inevitably I took a few wrong paths, stumbled, was unable to see my way and lost the thread. I wrote for three months until the end of July, when I felt rather bogged down with the large cast of characters and a complex plot. Words became tangled in thickets, blocked by obstacles, and there were moments when I floundered in the quagmire of confusion. I took three months off in the summer to spend time with family and to rethink the work in progress. During the break my only achievement was finding a title: ‘Dear Magpies’.

I recommenced work with a clear head and renewed zeal in October and finished about a third of the book by the end of the year. By this time some of the clouds had cleared and I could see the top of the hill.  When 2017 arrived, I set myself the goal of getting the rest of  the book finished by 31st March. Quite some undertaking!  I should state that the end of the book is not when you scale the summit of the hill but when you get back down to the bottom on the other side. I hit the top – the halfway point – in January and that was good.  By then I had much of the story told and many words had flowed from head onto page. The horizon was visible so I had a better perspective on how I was doing.  I could now see the ground far below and it looked easy enough to find my way back down to the end of the trek and the finish. So I set off down and disappeared among the trees and pitfalls of creativity.

Finishing postsIn February I discovered I was no longer footsore. On 1st March I found myself at the wheel of a little car which gathers momentum as I head downhill.  I had a month to go and about quarter of the book to write but I’ve worked out how to resolve the various plot lines and bring everything to a conclusion which will surprise and satisfy the reader.  But the going’s still hard and at times the book can be a real pain. Some days the words gush out like water from a tap and other days writing feels like wading through treacle.  Though I still have many thousands of words to compose, the end is in sight, although sometimes I have the illusion that the finishing posts are being moved further away.  So we drive faster, me and my car.  It’s going to be glorious to accelerate through the final paragraphs and sentences. Then the screech of brakes to the final words – and a sigh of relief. The story will be told. My book will be done.

 

Abbs and Acronyms

indexWe hear a lot about Apps and rather less about Abbs, unless you happen to be into bodybuilding. People who talk about their abbs are generally into flaunting their well-toned abdominal muscles. But an ABB could be an abbreviation of ‘Abbreviation’.

Some years ago, over a few glasses of wine, my husband and I decided to form the Non-Abbreviation Society. We deplored shortened names, such as Rodge for Roger, Bex for Rebecca, Seb for Sebastian, Sooze for Suzanne, Ant for Anthony, or Ginnie for Virginia. Such savagely pruned names were an abomination.  AGW (Another glass of wine?)  Gloriously beautiful names like Penelope, Leopold, Francesca, and Orlando should be allowed to roll off the tongue and not have their wings clipped. DMMD! (Don’t mix metaphors, darling!) I had a friend who was married to somebody called Martin, who was a delightful man, and she always referred to him, even to his face, as Mart the Fart – and I used to wince when I heard it. Even if she knew something about him that we didn’t, it was still horribly unkind.

MBH (my beloved husband) and I made a habit of creating silly societies. Some years back a Swedish acquaintance told us we were disgustingly politically incorrect, so we decided to invite selected friends to join the Politically Incorrect Peoples Society, or PIPS.  Clearly we had by this time blackballed ourselves from our own Non Abbreviation Society, which our son had always referred to as NAS. He was never allowed to join! PIPS proved to be a good dinner table entertainment, and we even got as far as designing a tie and scarf for it – a smart navy background with a neat scattering of lemon pips in pale yellow, though we never went into production. We doubted whether people would pay for the privilege of joining our society. They all thought it was a bit of a joke.

Perversely, witty and complex abbreviations soon became more fun than eliminating them, and when we came across small children, whether delightful or disgusting, angelic or awful,  we would refer to as an ALP or an OLO.  This was coded language for ʼappy little person or ʼorrible little object.   Our non-abbreviation society became NONABBSOC and we then decided that acronyms were more fun and, as MBH aptly put it, ARS – which means, of course, Acronyms Reign Supreme.

Our lives are full of acronyms.  We don’t think twice when we read ASAP and we don’t blink at FYI.  Most of us are familiar with TTFN – Ta Ta For Now;  KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid;  and NYOB – None of Your Business.  And there are a whole raft of new ones used in texting and messaging such as BBL – Be Back Later; KIT – Keep In Touch, NP – No Problem, and LOL – Laughing Out Loud.  This reminds me that, some years back, I used to refer to my brother’s girlfriend as his LIL (Live in Lover), and after he married her and later on divorced her, she became my SOL (Sister-Out-Law).

There are many groups and societies which use acronyms – such as AA , and I particularly  approve of MADD – Mothers Against Drunk Driving.  Whilst on the subject of mothers, I recall that my mine, when she was laughing elatedly or driving fast (she often did both), had a habit of using words with 00 in the middle and repeating them, such as ‘boom boom’. She used to use ‘zoom zoom’ when overtaking cars, but if she swung out and realised she didn’t have the time, which rarely happened, she would shriek ‘mooz, mooz’ – and dive back – ‘zoom zoom’ backwards – got it?

It’s useful to have coded messages that don’t offend others but which can be used in company to agree on a plan of action. So MBH and I concocted some useful acronym, such as LUGTHOOH (Let us get the hell out of here) and HICSHAM (Help! I can’t stand him/her another minute).  Inevitably the insults became more personal, and on occasions at a drinks party, when I was holding forth to a group of people with glazed eyes, MBH would sidle up to me and say in a stage whisper ‘YABOB’ (You are being obsessively boring), and I would hiss back: ‘YIKSO’ (Yes, I know. Sod off!). We have the odd DOOM (Difference of opinion moment), but we never resort to GBH.

MBH’s most recent society goes under the acronym, PHIB which he pronounces ‘fib’, and its stated aim is to Put Humour Into Business.  As he and I spend most of our personal life doubled up in laughter, it seems appropriate that this should spill over into working life too, and because it’s such fun we’ve decided to encourage others to follow suit.

Since I spend a lot of time in my study, writing, reading … dreaming, I have developed the habit of leaving notes to remind myself of things I must do when I have time (TIMDWIHT) – such as ‘Buy Cat Food’,  ‘Cut Toe Nails’ and ‘Send Thank-You Letter’. I have a sheet of address stickers which are perfect for the job, and these reminders get stuck on the lamp, the telephone, the computer, a framed photograph or a paperweight. Inevitably, to save time when trying to fit in all non-creative activities into an ever decreasing window of time as my deadline get shorter and the spaces in between writing sessions gets less, these notes get shortened to BCF, CTN, and STYL. I waste precious time concocting witty acronyms and outrageous abbreviations, and then spend hours later on trying to work out what they mean. After all SSS could have meant ‘Send son socks’ or ‘Stop seeing sense’ or what it really meant : ‘Sow spring seeds’

I spent 15 minutes last week trying to decipher  PRAY, which is clearly important as I had stuck it three different places,  until I finally worked out that for once I hadn’t used an acronym at all.  I was reminding myself of the need to pray ‘continually’ as St Paul says. I then found two stickers which said PFE, and it took a while to work out this was not a spiritual exhortation, but simply a reminder to do one’s pelvic floor exercises.Acca and Abbs

I’ve had huge fun wasting the morning by writing this blog, but I really must get back to WIP (work in progress) on my next book. To conclude,  I should like to wish you all PEACE & HOPE in 2017 – Pursue Excellence And Cherish Everyone  & Hang Onto Positive Expectations.

Isn’t life Gr8?

Winterborne Slepe

Winterborne Slepe is the name of an imaginary village in Dorset, where much of the action in my new book takes place. Whilst I was searching for an appropriate name, I drove through a small village in the eastern part of the county called Slepe. The name appealed to me, and I hope that the residents of that village don’t mind if I borrow the name, but alter it slightly.  I have also discovered that there are a number of villages and hamlets in Dorset, which are prefixed by the word Winterborne, sometimes spelled Winterbourne. So what does it mean?

A ‘bourne’ is an Anglo-Saxon word for a stream which flows from a spring.  So a ‘winter’ bourne is a stream that flows only in the winter and often dries out in the summer, leaving dry beds or stagnant pools with green marshy grass. Much of Dorset is chalk downland with clay valleys, and in the winter the porous chalk is saturated with rainfall, but in dry summers, the water table falls below the level of  a stream’s bed so it dries out. This is what happens with the water courses in many of the Winterbornes,  but not with all of them and not every year. It rather depends on how much rain there has been.

Bridge_across_a_small_chalk_stream,_Winfrith_Newburgh._I live in a village with the word ‘bourne’ incorporated into the name, but our stream is not a ‘winter’ borne, but runs the whole year round, flowing through many gardens and along the main village road.  It might be a low trickle in the height of the summer but it gathers strength in the autumn, and in the winter I am always surprised how much water hurtles down.  It occasionally floods, when there has been torrential rain.  Now, in glorious May, the stream is in docile mood, dancing past our house chortling to all  the grasses and plants along its banks.

I have been doing research for my new novel all winter and creating characters and thinking about the plot. I have been longing to start the writing process. Earlier this month with the advent of spring,  I began putting words on the page. I set the scene in Winterborne Slepe. It takes time to write a book and I probably won’t finish it before the winter comes, or perhaps not until next spring. But however long it takes me, I’m going to enjoy it because I love writing and telling a story.

And I’ve still got to dream up a title for my book!

 

Moving on to new Work

I woke up the other morning with a bunch of plot ideas in connection with my next book, a novel to be set in Dorset. In the earlier part of the year, I was doing research on the locations and working on the back history of my main characters, but I’ve only mapped out an outline of the story and need to work on this.   The new project was inevitably put on the back-burner whilst I wrestled with the editing process, corrected proofs and worked with the publishers of ‘The Lost Journey Homeward’.  Then I’ve had to get involved in the promotion of the novel, now that it’s published, and I’ve had a number of book signings and events already with quite a few coming up soon. But bubbling up from within my head, like a spring of water that won’t stay below the surface, are ideas and enthusiasm for the book I now want to write.   Get out the notebook.  I’ve another story and it’s a work in progress.

Research It!

Some writers do all their research before starting their book but I’m one of those who do it as they go along. I want to be sure that I really need the information to assist my storytelling before I spend time researching it. Attention to detail and accuracy are essential. This month I’ve been reading up about such varied topics as: the effects of severe concussion, trashing a house (I was amazed and horrified looking at YouTube on this!), bioterrorism, artists’ materials, venomous snakes, and shoulder dislocation. Fascinating stuff!

Change of Title

The title of my novel “A Day on the Fast Track” to be published next spring has been changed to “To the End of the Day”.  I came up with this after lots of discussion.  It more accurately reflects the story and the atmosphere of  the book.  Making progress with the production team – work has been done on the front cover jacket design, and the first proofs of the book came through on 5th November.  I’ve done the necessary corrections and sent back. Final proofs to come early in the new year.