Monday, December 28, 2020

You Can't Skip Chapters Even if You Don't Enjoy All of It.

I stole this from someone on Facebook. I'm sure she won't mind, and I will let her know of the theft.

If you think of  Life as a book, this makes such sense. "You won't enjoy all of it." But the in-between bits are so worth the read. Treasure ALL of your story. No flinching.

Speaking of Life as a story, one of my sons has asked me to do a detailed history of the wildly adventurous and outrageous men on his father's side of the family, going back almost two hundred years, spanning the globe.  He completed the research some years ago, producing a large and informative description of the lives of Great-Great-Grandfather down to his own father, but believes it deserves a more lively and writerly version --- you know, humanizing the dates and places. These men were certainly not paragons of virtue --lovable scoundrels, if I am kind, irresponsible cads, if I'm less kind. It seems to have been a genetic thing, or at the very least the nurture effect, as they all seem to have shared the same moral code. I wonder if my skill is up to doing justice to them, considering my son's description:

     "Would you read a book about a Victorian middle-class family (The Cremers), whose seven sons strike out around the Empire to four continents, facing trials and tribulations, shipwrecks, cannibals, three wars, a Gold Rush, a South American revolution, mystery deaths and a young runaway who travels the world?"

(And don't forget abandoned wives and children on the way. Stories in themselves.)

These men were not average, but risk-takers, talented in the Arts, bold and adventurous in all they did. They seem to have wanted to leave their mark. I still don't know how I feel about them, but their stories were never, ever boring, and certainly deserve to be told in a reader-friendly, entertaining way.

Along with writing "Winnowing", which I'm determine to publish in 2021, I'll give my all to this Cremer epic. I'll let you know how I'm progressing with it. 

Almost forgot to say that I received my first royalty payment for "Summer Must End" for November sales. It was exciting, even as it was only enough to buy a posh coffee or two. I am not complaining, really. If we thought we were doing this for the money, we'd be unbalanced. I am forever pragmatic and balanced. 

Have a Happy New Year, all. Let's put this nasty one firmly behind us. 

Friday, November 20, 2020

Feeling Sad. Last Novel is on Its Own. Like Your Kid Going Off to College.

 I knew I would feel sad. I've been through this before. We talk about our books as if they are our babies,  struggling for lives of their own. The process can be difficult,  frightening, although eventually rapturous. We persevered.  We nurtured them to completion, to a kind of maturity. And then we have to send them off to find their own way. Summer Must End has graduated. 

There are three of them out there now. I must admit to constant checking-in on them. A bit obsessive, really, but after years of working on each of them, you need to know what they're up to, without being too obvious about it. At some point, I'll stop and just wait to hear back about Royalties.  I can always obsess again later if I don't hear back.

In the meantime, the novel-in-waiting, "Hafan Deg" is firmly on the backburner. I wanted to release it this year, but it just isn't doing it for me. It's not that it's a bad story, but I have changed. Just as we wrote angst-filled poems as teenagers (well,  I did), so a story about an aging woman's reinvention of herself only spoke to me when I was doing the re-inventing. I'm on a different path now. It can wait a little longer. My new book, "Winnowing" has been taking up a lot of my thinking time. 

Here's a tiny blurb, because we can't reveal too much at this stage.

    Megan is an editor for a tiny boutique publishing house in London. She is particularly jaded with the local dating scene, and has more or less decided to give the whole thing a miss for a while. Until she meets Alistair Clarke,  a young poet her boss has decided to publish. He is neither attractive nor fascinating, but she appreciates his talent and is intrigued by his shyness and reticence. She gradually learns more of his background, and is determined to promote him as fully as possible, falling in love with him in the process. Sinister people begin asking oddly personal questions about him, and she worries, pressuring him about it, dissatisfied with his response. 

When Alistair disappears, she becomes frantic. The only address she has for him is in Wood Green, London, but he hasn't been seen there for weeks. The police are ambivalent. 'Too early to formally report it', they tell her. But then, in his folder of work, left at the office, she discovers a council bill for a property near Shepton Mallet, in Somerset. She has come to love this small, strange man. It's up to her to find out what's going on, isn't it? No one else seems concerned.  Megan is driven; she has never been in love before. 

Talk to you soon. Perhaps you'll tell me what you think of this new novel. Comment below.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Third Novel Published, and Starting on the Fifth. The Fourth is Resting Quietly.

"Summer Must End" -- the paperback -- is published. (EBook was launched three days ago.) As it's via a European print company, I see my purchase price from them in Euros, which makes me feel quite grand and Monte-Carlo-ish. But, wherever you are, it will make no difference to delivery times or pricing -- from Toronto to Tenerife -- it's as if the printer is just around the corner, as if we live in one unified and all-embracing world. That's got to be good, if not a touch over-optimistic. It was only put to bed last night, so I don't know when the retailer information will be forthcoming, but you know I'll pass that on to you as soon as I can.

If you will go to my website, you will see the wonderful animation A.C.Merkel did for my book cover promotion. It's so pretty, I'm thinking of adding music to it...perhaps Clair de Lune.  A.C. is so creative, a writer himself, along with having the graphics talent. I am trying to think up other ways I can incorporate his art, but perhaps he'll just have to wait for my next book (early next  year). 

Unfortunately I can't seem to download it here, but my updated website is worth looking at anyway. Every single link I could  think of is there, but without over-cluttering (I hope), or confusing the poor viewer. I'm sure you've experienced that same overkill when you've opened a site that's so over the top, you get a kind of brain freeze. And click out of it. If it lets you...

I joined up with IAN --Independent Author Network-- and they made a very presentable job of my author listing, showing all of my novels. Very impressed. Might get some sales from this one, or at least some reviews. 

Speaking of which, as I cannot know who buys my books (unless they tell me), I cannot wag my digital finger at them and ask why they haven't reviewed it (whichever book). So I politely, but urgently, ask you now...if you should read something of mine, please leave a little feedback at that sales site. It's not just that we writers are insecure, and in need of the affirmation, but many marketing companies won't even consider your work unless you have reviews. Just saying.

I've started seriously working on the new book. I know it's serious because I can spend twelve hours working on it, not wanting to go to bed, That's intense. It's entitled "Winnowing" - a reference to the old farming method of separating the grain from the chaff, by tossing it up and allowing air to pass through it, 

to remove (as chaff) by a current of air; to get rid of something undesirable or unwanted; (winnow) out certain inaccuracies, (winnowing) what is true and significant; to free of unwanted or inferior elements.


"To get rid of something undesirable or unwanted..." Hmm, sounds like someone in this book is going to be meeting his/her maker a little sooner than expected. 

The story is tentatively set in London and the West Country (in a tiny cottage). Everything is tentative at this stage. Until I have my closing line, it will remain uncertain. 

I had mentioned getting Hafan Deg on the road. I am still working on this. The MS is finished, but I am so exhausted from all the edits and formatting for Summer Must End, that I really need to take a break. I do intend to publish it next year, after I've recuperated.

Your comments seemed to stop around the time I left Canada. They have only just kicked in again. I recall that I almost stopped blogging entirely for the longest time because I was overwhelmed by the changes in my life. So I'm thinking it's probably all my fault if you had nothing much to comment on. I'm sorry. I so look forward to hearing from you. We've been hanging around together for twelve years! 

Until next time.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Summer Must End - eBook Available November 11, 2020

 This is a terrible thing to admit to. I don't care for eBooks. I like the feel of a good, old-fashioned book in my hands, the look of it, the crispness of new pages, especially the smell of it. But folks these days like the convenience of an eBook. So I've produced one, especially for them. And please don't think that the process is easy. The atmosphere around here was decidedly blue a lot of the time as I battled with it.

It's not available until November 11, around the same time as the print version, so it's your choice. 

Preorder eBook Summer Must End

I love this story. Of course, a writer would say that, but this has a timely significance to it. I lived in the area where this book is set, and it's a lovely place. I left there just over ten years ago, and I miss it still. With my family scattered globally, I move around a lot. Just trying to explain why I'm still not living in Canada. It's Australia's turn.

I'm a little lost now that both versions of this book have been finalized, so it's time to set up the print format of 'Hafan Deg' (not 'Place of Dreams' as one agent wanted it titled). Hafan Deg is Welsh for Safe Harbor, and is set in Anglesey. That's one of the most beautiful places in the world. Hope I do it justice.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Latest Book, "Summer Must End", Available Soon.

I'm a terrible blogger. Sometimes I'm here. Sometimes I'm not. If you're still following me, thank you. You are truly patient and I never forget about you, even when I don't post a blog.

Thing is, when I'm either painting or writing, plus doing all the other day-to-day stuff needed around the house, there is so little time. You know that. You probably goof off from things that need your attention, too. But I always say I will to do better, and I mean it at the time. This fiction writing business is very time-consuming, and it's not just the sitting down at your computer and pouring your soul out. I mean the "business" side of things -- the marketing, promotion, email lists, BookBub, Booksprout, AllAuthor, Bookbrush, Booksweeps, bookfunnel, StoryOrigin, BookTuber, SilverDagger-BookTours-- and these are just the few that Victoria Jayne recently suggested. I have another list of my own in development.

The reason I'm blogging today is because my novel, "Summer Must End", will be available soon, finally released to the general fiction-reading public world-wide, through the usual outlets. Sounds like a best-seller, doesn't it, introducing it that way? But you all know how hard it is to find readers. I'm still waiting for them to find the other two books that were published a few years ago. A few reviews, or a couple of hearts, would be delightful. I'm not getting any younger...just saying.

It's a nice, suspenseful story, aimed at women who no longer consider themselves chicks--a lot of us out there, of course. I've included a link to the first chapter, just enough to whet your appetite. Just click First Chapter

Jacket Blurb (Still working on it)

Melanie Dwyer has had serious disappointments to deal with lately—she’s lost her job and her lover moved out. Over the hill, is she? Buying an old house, miles from nowhere, with the idea of running a bed and breakfast, might be considered an impulsive decision, but she is undaunted, figuring this is her last chance to prove her true calling: Taking care of people.

Along with the usual country education—raising chickens, adopting barn cats, getting a dog, plus a sheep called Marilyn, she makes friends with people who have far more interesting stories to tell than most city folk she’s known. And she discovers that it’s not too late for sex, even love. 

There is unexpected violence, too, something she is familiar with herself, but it won’t shape this new life. No one messes with Mel—not now that she’s found herself.  And who said country life was boring?

Before I close, I want to share a lovely poem written by a dear English relative, Sheila Richards. It's a  nice way to close, gentle and inspiring as it is. She's another (like me) painter/writer and the illustration is her own. Thank you, Sheila. You've poshed up my blog.

Until  next time. Should be able to point you to the  novel's actual availability.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Free eBook for download, Toronto mystery/suspense "Uncharacteristic Behaviour" by Fran Caldwell

My second novel, "Uncharacteristic Behaviour", set in Toronto, is now available as a free eBook for a limited period.

If you can spare some time to both read it AND leave a review, I would be most grateful. 

Nothing else to report, except it is ridiculously cold here (under 0 Celsius at 6 am) and we are just not used to it. 

Stay warm, or cool, depending on your location...

Saturday, July 7, 2018

I have a new website! Links to everything art and writing.

It took a day or so to do and much muttering and moaning, but I've a new website that links to everything related to my art and writing.

The old one was so tired after almost ten years, and I finally decided it was time for a change. 

I would so appreciate your comments about it.

In a few days, the eBook of "Uncharacteristic Behaviour" will be downloadable free in the hope of gaining some reviews. I'll let you know when it's available.

Just an aside about something that has been such a worry, and which definitely affected my urge to write or paint. My cat, Baby, is eating again.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

The Beautiful First Draft and Its Travail Through Self-Publishing

Obliged to write, for we have no choice in the matter, we impart the idea that it's fairly easy.  We love what we do, after all.  It's not that the writing is difficult -- on a good day, the words flow so effortlessly and that makes us very happy. For me, it takes around two years to write a book -- one of them took five. I don't rush things and I enjoy the process. When I get goosebumps reading the ending, I know I'm onto something good. I feel triumphant. This is the fun part of writing.

But then we have to put on our editor/proofreader hat and the real work begins. With the initial flush of success over, the manuscript has become your enemy.  It's waiting for you every time you pass your laptop. It whispers to you that there is probably another year of editing, proofreading, re-structuring ahead, and you'll never be able to stop making corrections which will grow and grow the more you get into the manuscript, and you'll need sudden re-writes at Chapter 19 or 20 that will change the whole idea, in which case you could need a new title.

You make it through to the end without losing your sanity and get a couple of friends to read it (certainly not able to hire a professional at this point, but you trust their avid-reader skills). One or two minor changes after that, and it's done.

Isn't it?

But we are self-publishing, aren't we? It's now time to become a printer. In this day and age it means re-formatting the whole book into a digital thing -- unrecognizable from the well-groomed MS on your hard drive. It is a bit of a torture at this stage. You do as you're told according to the instructions at your print site, but you have no real idea what you're doing. It takes ages. A little aside here -- when you've spent two years writing, more months editing, by the time you get back to the formatting thing that you did for your last book, you've completely forgotten how to do it. Just saying.

The new format, including the intro pages, ISBN (which you must obtain), index, chapter page numbers, is finally sent to your print-site. The robot at the other end digests everything you sent and either rejects pieces of it, or all of it, or offers a print copy (which you must buy) for you to proofread again. Things happen during the robot's digestive processes, and you'll be surprised what oddities have now occurred.

You fix them, uttering newly-acquired Anglo-Saxon words as you go. Back it goes to Robot. If you're lucky that's it. Your latest version of the book is now ready to be sold. (Which is a whole other story, where you learn about Marketing.) In my case, it took three submissions (and the purchase of three books) before Robot's version was acceptable. I won't say perfect. One friend found one or two more tiny errors. Robot did that, not me. My versions were absolutely perfect.

Last, you are going to need to offer an eBook. There are no excuses. It's essential. This means you're going to have to learn how to re-format your print version into yet another digital language. You'll manage. And on the way you'll discover a whole new vocabulary of curse-words. It could change your writing style for the future, which could be a good thing,

I'm at the "getting-MS-ready-for-first-submission-to-Robot" stage with my "Summer Must End" novel. I've made a deal with myself to work at it 3 days a week, and paint two days. The painting is such sweet relief.

Until next time.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Writers Who Paint

It's been over four years since I  last posted here. Perhaps you thought I wouldn't be back.

After my last post, I totally dedicated myself to completing my third novel. It had been stewing around, more or less finished, but it didn't feel absolutely right. My heart wasn't quite in it. There was more to say and I didn't have the words.

It has a working title of "Summer Must End". But that wasn't what I really wanted. Without a true, illustrative title, I just couldn't prepare the MS for publication. (Well, that was my excuse for avoiding it.) And so it has been dozing (or comatose) in my hard drive for four years, waiting to be completed. In the meantime, for two of those years, I painted. That took away some of my guilt.

Then I goofed off completely for the last two years. No writing, no painting. I was a slug. I felt like a cheat. But World Affairs did it to me. Until I took charge of me and threw myself, as they say, into my work...which isn't work when you're loving it.

Boadicea is back.

My full explanation for my absence is offered at my art blog, posted on Monday. I cleared the air. I felt better for writing it. I believe it's the way a  lot of us are feeling.

And with nice new paintings listed on a great art sales site, I knew the drought was over for me. I've been bouncing out of bed in the morning, planning my next painting or working on one from the day before. And then, today, a very strange thing happened.

I needed to write again.

Finally I've resurrected that poor novel and started the terrible task of formatting it for printing. I'm editing like crazy as I go, adding/amending things I've thought of during my non-writing time -- some on  little slips of paper, some as notes in my computer.

There is a prepared canvas waiting for me to start -- and I want to start. This time, instead of getting into some sort of seasonal mode -- painting through winter, writing through summer -- I'm going to share them on a regular basis. Painting does stimulate the writing. It's writing without words. As I paint, I have little stories running through my head about the picture. "Why is she there? Who lives in that cottage? Where are those sheep going?" That kind of thing.

Bouncing out of bed in the morning will never be the same.

Now the only thing I have to concentrate on, before I complete that darned manuscript, is getting the right title. I promise I will keep you posted. When I know, you'll know.

It would be so rewarding if you would leave a comment about my re-emergence. (It would also be a good way to find out if the comments button actually works after all this time.)

Quotes to Consider

"If you would not be forgotten, as soon as you are dead and rotten, Either write things worth reading, or do things worth writing." ~Benjamin Franklin

"Well behaved women rarely make history."~Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

“A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.”~William G.T. Shedd (1820-1894), theologian, teacher, pastor

"It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something." ~Franklin D Roosevelt (1882-1945), 32nd U.S. president

“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), essayist, poet, philosopher

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." ~Mark Twain

"You miss 100% of the shots you don't take."
~ Wayne Gretzky