Friday, 26 October 2012

Violent sunset and sexy words

I took this three days ago. It heralded the change in the weather from 'Will we get that Indian summer?' to 'No, we won't!'

Half an hour ago, Mr Grumpy announced he was going to give the grass its last cut of the season as the cold wind was drying it all out nicely. I had just popped out to replenish the bird feeders and came back and told him - with, I admit, a slight smirk in my voice - that it was, in fact, starting to rain. Undeterred, he ventured out with his petrol mower and as the rain picked up, I sped out with the brolly I gave him with the rude finger sign on it and he finished mowing under cover!

The book is coming along well. I have written 20,000 words since a week last Sunday, though I am constantly revising and rewriting. My task today is to change a text message sex conversation to an actual telephone one as I am sick and tired of trying to think up abbreviations for rude words!

Monday, 15 October 2012

Grotty gloves

A fee months ago, I purchased a pair of smart black and red neoprene hand support gloves online. When they arrived, I soon discovered I couldn't type in them as they were too bulky. I had ordered Medium but they were a bit big, too. However, I decided to keep them, sure they would come in handy for something.

When my fingers were particularly bad last week - it's typing under pressure that does it - I sent off for a pair of compression gloves for arthritic hands. They have now arrived and while they are much thinner and expose enough of my fingers to allow me to type, they are simply too big (one size was supposed to fit all) and, far from compressing and supporting, they look like Norah Batty's stockings, wrinkling around my hands, and are also an ugly shade of old lady's corset beige.

At a fiver including postage, I couldn't be bothered sending them back, so I had the bright idea of wearing one inside the neoprene glove. Perfect! I can now do household chores with enough hand support. Which leaves my typing fingers still sans help. However, on Saturday, I did loads of Googling and found a much more expensive pair - £17.99 - in a woolly-looking grey. The reviews raved about them so I have ordered them in Small this time, instead of Medium. Let's hope these do the trick. If not, I shall just have to wear them in winter with my grey scarf and hat!

Sunday, 14 October 2012

The Veil of Death

That's the only title I can come up with for the nightmare I had last night. In it, I was a young woman with two others, searching for Gothic, Halloween-type clothes in a second-hand store. Up on the first floor, hung haphazardly on rails or lying in piles on the dusty wooden floor, were the old clothes. One of the girls grabbed a black lace dress and a white veil with clusters of black and white feathers on either side of the head part. Somehow, I knew there was something evil about the veil and I begged her not to buy it, but she did, and later that evening she was killed.

Then I knew that the veil brought death and that it chose its victims, always young women because its previous owner had died a virgin on the morning of her wedding day. In the dream, I was lying in bed and heard a whispery, slithery sound and saw the veil sliding under my bedroom door. It was coming to get me and I was to be its next victim.

In horror, I grabbed the thing and hurled it out of the window and blocked the gap beneath the door. Thinking I was safe, I returned to bed, went to sleep and awoke to hear that sinister slither again and there was the white veil sliding like smoke through the air vent in the wall.

I woke up, heart thudding, to find the sound was my silky bedspread sliding off onto the floor. But what a dream! I think I might be able to make a short story out of it. It took me right back to a horrible, spooky experience I had years ago on the Greek island of Spetses, but then, it was dark, shadowy fingers coming through the slats in the shutters, not a white veil. And the Vampire of Spetses is another story...

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Book 1 finished!

I had to rewrite the past chapter, then the editor tweaked the last paragraph, but it's finally done. With rewrites, I have probably typed 80,000 words in the last four weeks. On Tuesday and Wednesday I felt dreadful - well, 'deadful' would have described it better. I had aches and pains all over, I felt sick, I had a headache, stomach pains and my fingers were so sore, I thought I would never be able to type another word again.

And then the commissioning editor dropped a bombshell: he wanted Book 2 finished and on his desk by 9th November! I burst into tears when I got the email, as I knew I just couldn't carry on writing at this pace without a break. I emailed him back saying I just couldn't do it by that date... that I needed a couple of weeks off to recover and recharge my batteries. Fortunately, he has agreed, so it will probably be the end of November.

The provisional title is the title I gave it when I wrote the original book about seven years ago: PERFECT LIVES. The new version bears little resemblance to the first manuscript. Even the writing style is different. All that remains of the original are the names, the basic plot and a couple of paragraphs I have been able to copy and paste into the new book. Hachette, the publisher, plan to release it as an e-book at Christmas and follow it up with Book 2 in the New Year. The price will be £3.99. If there are sufficient downloads - 10,000 is the target, they will then publish a print version. I really want to see it in print, so I hope people will buy it, and that will depend on what kind of publicity they give it.

Mr Grumpy is buying me a Kindle for Christmas and birthday combined, so I can read my own book - and, of course, buy all the e-books my friends have written! I've been dying to do that for ages.


On Tuesday I took my painful fingers to be looked at by an orthopaedic consultant at Hillingdon Hospital. What a performance! Having waited half an hour to be seen, I was sent off for an x-ray. I came back, waited to be seen again, and lo and behold, they wanted my hands x-rayed at a different angle. So back I went again, waited for the x-ray, came back, waited to be seen again... and that wasn't the right angle, either. so back I went to x-ray again... Finally, with the right x-ray having been sent to the consultant's computer, he had a look, shook his head, said my hands are horribly arthritic and he could only give me a new finger joint on one finger, even though I have three that need one urgently as they won't bend any more. Not only that, he said unless I was prepared to give up typing and playing the piano and anything else that required using my fingers too much, it wasn't worth doing it as it would last less than two years and he wouldn't be able to re-do it.

So that's that. Sooner or later, my fingers will fuse in a rigid position and then the pain should stop. I have thought about Speech Recognition Software, but someone I know used it to write a book and said it never managed to learn his voice properly and the amount of corrections he had to do meant that it would have been easier to type it in the first place.

For the last two days I have been smothering my fingers in Glucosamine Gel and putting arnica gel on at night. Today, they don't feel too bad. In fact, I have just typed out a timeline for Book 2. Onwards and upwards!

Sunday, 7 October 2012

A race against time

Sorry you haven't heard from me for so long, but I am writing like a demon, trying to finish the book by Tuesday so there will be time for final tweaks before the Friday deadline. I was just steaming away when I hit a brick wall (sorry about the mixed metaphors) and realised that, in altering my synopsis to end Book 1 on the note he wanted, the commissioning editor has completely wrecked my plot by making something that should have been teased out until the autumn (in the book, that is), happen in July instead, leaving one of my characters with nothing to for the next six months!

I have just emailed him (hope he'll be in the office tomorrow), suggesting the only thing I can think of, which is that her flight gets cancelled and she has to come back instead of flying off to Brazil - which is the thing that shouldn't take place till the autumn, after the plot strand involving her long-distance romance has been teased out. It all worked so much better in my original book, before I had to change everything around and relocate a whole plot section from Italy to Rio. Oh dear...

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Tears and cheers.

Yesterday, I went to my friend M's funeral. He was only 55, had been in hospital since July 1st with a streptococcal infection that had damaged a valve in his heart and sadly, he didn't make it. He has been the partner of a close girlfriend of mine, G, for twenty-years and they have a beautiful daughter. He was a Sikh and she is half Chinese and the funeral was the first fusion funeral I have been to, incorporating M's favourite music, Bob Dylan and reggae, and Sikh prayers.

Many people got up to read tributes, there were lots of tears, yet it was joyful and uplifting, too, especially with the beautiful, moving Sikh evening prayer at the end. It lasted an hour and there were so many friends and family members there at Kensal Green Crematorium that quite a few had to stand. As a friend and I had nipped to the loo, we came in late and I would have had to stand, too, if a kind Asian gentleman hadn't offered me his chair. The end of the coffin was covered in a beautiful photo of M on a boat with a fishing rod. He had the biggest smile you've ever seen and he was smiling in the photo, as if he was bidding us all farewell.

When I got home, feeling very sombre, I switched my computer on and there was an email from my agent to tell me I'd got a two-book deal with Hachette. I thanked M, as I felt sure he'd had a hand in it. Luck like that doesn't normally happen to me and I haven't had a publishing deal for twelve whole years! I had to wait until this morning for another email giving me all the details, but my first book is to be published as an e-book at Christmas, and the second, a continuation of the same story, will come out in the new year. If they have enough downloads, the books will be published in a print version, too. So, having been glued to the keyboard for the last month, I think I am going to be there for a few months longer.Only bad news is, the arthritis in my fingers is getting worse from all the typing and I am seeing a surgeon on October 9th, and I've done something to my right hip and am hobbing around. How can you damage a hip just from sitting? I suppose it's a ligament or muscle. Hey-ho, writers' injuries. Shame I don't have insurance!

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

What literary agents want?

Just came across this interesting article explaining what literary agents are looking for. It boils down to that same old thing they've been telling us writers for decades - a good story, well told.