Tuesday, October 19, 2021

My New Novel-in-Progress - "A Kind of Winnowing" by Fran Caldwell

That's not my picture, although I would have loved it as a cover. I could find no source for this online, but I'm grateful for the chance to use it here. It's obviously a very old, classical painting. Shame I don't know who painted it. I just hope I can do it justice when I do the art for my cover.

"Winnowing": 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 distinguish valuable people or things from worthless ones

The weird thing about writing, I've found, is that most of the creative work isn't done sitting at a computer. Although I've acknowledged this for years, it's particularly obvious with this latest book. Computer work is the tidying, the proofing, tweaking the layout. The ideas are born elsewhere---often in unusual places. Having lunch with a friend, for instance, and she notices my glazed stare at nothingness. I don't have to explain; she knows me well. I'm writing. 

New characters, persistent dialogue, that perfect, fine-sounding word, new thinking about the actual structure---it all comes at me out of the blue. I can be in the middle of cooking, eating, showering (and during all the associated bathroom things), or trying to sleep---and it sweeps over me. During the day, I rush to the computer, or grab my notebook to make almost ineligible scribbles, but it can be very irritating when I've just turned the light out at night. Yes, I curse, as I roll out of bed, but I don't mean it. How lucky am I to be able to write at all?

This new book is based on a huge diamond heist that takes place in London in 1972, but it's set in the present, the aftermath of that robbery now threatening the quiet life of a grandson of one of the thieves, and others in his life. Millions of pounds-worth of diamonds were never recovered when the thieves were arrested, and Alistair is faced with the fact that some unsavoury type wants to claim them and believes he might know where they are.  Who's  after Alistair, and what can he possibly know fifty years after The Club of Diamonds job? 

The characters are complex, multi-generational, and the London/Bristol dialogue is demanding, but that's fun for me. Learning about  every facet (forgive the pun) of diamond quality was an eye-opener. Who knew there were such variances in value? 

I'm well into a third of the book, but had to take a break.  Some of the writing is a bit dark, and I'm taking a breather from it. It's violent in parts, and I have to deal with that, but there's humour, too, and romance, of course. While I'm lying low, avoiding the necessary confrontations that are due to happen, I have dismissed all prompting from the wings, allowing no new dialogue, etcetera, to invade my usual day (or night) thoughts. It seemed to be working.

Yet, out of the blue again, I had to write this post. What's that about?

Monday, September 20, 2021

eBook Version of "Hafan Deg" Available Now.

 So the "Hafan Deg"' eBook went live before the paperback, which could take another couple of weeks. You can read the first few chapters--"Look Inside". I'm not sure when other distributors will carry this, but probably also another couple of weeks. I'll let you know, of course.

And, for your interest, I'm back working on  my fifth novel, now renamed "A Kind of Winnowing." Had to take my mind off the stress of publishing "Hafan Deg".

Feeling a lot better this morning, thank you, all.

Update September 23 -- Paperback is ready now. Thought that some of you might prefer a real book in your hands. I know I do.

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Final Edit of "Hafan Deg" Paperback Proof

It's done. I've approved it for publication. I'm quite exhausted. But after working on this book, on and off, for so many years, it's on its own. Like another kid off to college...

I found 56 errors---23 of them were mysteriously-vanished quotation marks, periods, etc. I proofread the MS so many times, it doesn't seem possible that I missed so many, but my excuse is that the writing sometimes drew my attention away from the immediate task at hand. I found myself reading sections that involved me too much, all over again, and forgot what I was there for: looking for errors! This tidy-up work, after all, is meant to be done by a superior and dispassionate professional---The Editor.  It's hard playing two roles.

I know there will be more weird things in the final paperback, insignificant enough that perhaps no one will notice.  I'll curse a bit, when I see them, but I'll let them go. I'll think of them as hand-crafters' flaws -- the little imperfections in original art that make them all the more unique. 

Will let you know when the book is available.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

"Hafan Deg -- Safe Harbour" is at the Printers!


After constantly referring to it over the years, I finally finished my fourth and most demanding novel and it's at the printers now. I don't recall feeling so emotionally drained by my three earlier books. Hafan Deg was both a joy-ride and a slightly obsessive journey. But it's done. If you write, you'll guess what I've just been through. 

Once I'd PDFd the manuscript to the printers, I swore I would get straight back into that London crime novel I was working on -- remember Winnowing? Thought it would take my mind off things, didn't I? It didn't, and I had to put it aside for now. Until I've (corrected?) approved that printer's proof copy of Hafan Deg,  I can't think about anything else.

I'll let you know when the new book is released -- figure early October, unless there are some serious issues. 

Here's the brief back cover blurb, for your interest. It could change, of course. Not much room to get too eloquent there. 

Karen Miles is a successful London book editor, a single mother in her late fifties. She seems to have it all, good income, beautiful West London apartment, regular travel, two adult children she is proud of, and the occasional man. She appears in control, confident, yet she is deeply unhappy, unresolved issues from the past re-emerging. As her days become more deadening, she acknowledges that this is not life; this is merely existence. A derelict house, 'Hafan Deg', in North Wales, where she and the children vacationed many years earlier, becomes the catalyst for her transformation. A touching and sometimes irreverent study of an older woman's struggle for  reconnection and validation.

Talk again soon. 

Confession: Those comments I never received? Kept nagging you about it? My comments folder was full. I had never deleted one in the fourteen years I've been here. Today I deleted over 500 and the comments box works again. My sincere apologies for being such a twit.

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Brazen Promotion of an Earlier Work - The Attic

 I know it's been a few months since I posted,  but I've been torn (again) between editing and writing my two manuscripts, "Winnowing" and "Hafandeg" (which was also renamed briefly as "Place of Dreams"). I think of scenes and dialogue for both of them at the most inopportune moments, usually as I'm trying to go sleep, or even - really! - cleaning out the cat litter tray. They both want to be published, I know. Somehow, one of them will take control. I'll let you know when that happens. I really intend to publish at least one of them this year.

Meanwhile, I re-read "The Attic" (which I so enjoyed writing) the other day. My sister, who inspired that book, died last year, but she was near me, I felt, during that reading. What a life she had! How much of her did I really capture in the novel? She loved it, but did point out, rather crossly, that she was a virgin when she married. I laughed, and said it was a fictionalized biography, that the spicy bits are expected with contemporary novels. I think she voiced a distinct "Hurumph" at that. 

Anyway, brazen or not, I've popped the details of The Attic here for you. Perhaps you'll "hurumph" at my audacity. Who do I think I am, promoting a novel that came out eight years ago?  But good books never age, do they? I still re-read oldies like "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" on a regular basis. I identify strongly with Francie. No comparison in subject matter, readability - or profitability - between me and Betty Smith, in fact, but I think we would have been friends.

I must thank Sarahbeth Purcell for her lovely review. I think she's a better writer than I am, incidentally, although her books are edgier than mine. I envy her that.

Until next time. Stay safe.

PS -  I think Hafan Deg might be the major player this year. Can't stop writing it in my head.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

FREE eBook "Summer Must End"

Best Book Monkey with all the links.

This is big for me. I have nothing else to say. 

Saturday, March 13, 2021

FREE eBook 'Summer Must End"

It's taken a lot of admin work, something that no longer comes easily to me, but "Summer Must End" now has free eBooks. 

All sounds so simple, doesn't it? You have no idea how many weeks it's taken, particularly with Amazon, to achieve this.

My new friend, Shea Oliver, at Best Book Monkey, has been inspiring. I don't think I could have managed  this without him. Thank you, Shea.

Now no one has an excuse not to read about Mel and her crazy country life, do they?

When you do, please let me know what you think here or (better!) leave a review at the sales site.

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. 

Monday, November 23, 2020

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.

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