A very belated Happy New Year to you!
Yes, I know I should have posted this nearly a whole month ago but I’ve had lots of other demands on my time - mostly good, exciting things I’m happy to report.
In the real world, husband and I have been busy ticking off items on our ideal home and garden wish list. So far we’ve got a lovely, new kitchen, have redecorated some of the other rooms, put lots of shelves in the garage for ‘his’ workshop, added a small greenhouse and shed to ‘my’ back garden, and re-designed the front garden. Still lots to do but we aren’t giving ourselves any deadlines.
It hasn’t been all work. We’ve also allowed ourselves plenty of days off to explore some of the towns, villages and beautiful countryside in this part of the world.
In my writing life, I decided to have a go at NaNoWriMo in November after giving it a miss for the past three years. As expected, I didn’t manage anything near the magic 50,000 words target but I did end up with some interesting new characters and a very rough outline of a story that might have the makings of a novella, so I’m hoping it wasn’t a completely wasted month of frantically scribbling nonsense.
2018 ended on an encouraging note with one of my short stories being long-listed for the Bedford Writing Competition. It’s one I’m particularly fond of so I gave it a few little tweaks and sent it straight off to another competition. Fingers crossed again!
I’ve also dusted off an abandoned children’s novel, decided it’s not all as bad as I thought, and have nearly finished a revised first draft. It still needs some ruthless editing before I even think of showing it to anyone, but I’m quietly pleased with it – so far.
And this year?
Lots of things I would like to do but my only firm New Year resolution is not to have an impossibly long to-do list. It's too stressful! Instead, I’ve adopted a new motto:
Let’s just see what happens, shall we?
How do you write a book cover blurb? When I needed one for Fashion Circles I made the mistake of looking through my bookshelves for inspiration - and cringed at some of the exaggerated claims I found there.
This book will make you laugh and cry, one novel promised. Really? I remembered some amusing scenes that might have raised a smile but I hadn’t shed a single tear.
A crime story assured me it would keep me guessing right to the last devious twist, so how had I managed to work out whodunnit by the end of the third chapter? Historical sagas would sweep me away (they didn’t), every thriller was terrifying (nope), and as for the sensational masterpiece by a famous author - well, I’d found it so boring that I gave up halfway through.
Of course I want people to read my little book, but how to attract readers without actually lying to them? My first attempt at an honest blurb went something like this:
That’s not going to sell many copies, is it?
In the end I decided not to make any claims - false or modest - about the quality of the book. Instead, I tried to give a rough idea of what the stories are about so potential readers can decide if they're the kind of tales they might like.
All I have to do now is wait and see if it works.
What’s the most outrageous book blurb you’ve ever read?
What do you think of the cover for Fashion Circles, my first collection of short stories?
The ebook version is going to be published by the lovely Alfie Dog Fiction on 25thApril, but you can already sneak a look – and pre-order it – from Smashwords, iBooks, Amazon and most other popular ebook retailers’ websites.
If you prefer 'real' books, the paperback edition will be available from 16th May.
We didn’t get to move before Easter as we’d hoped, but all the legal paperwork has been completed now so we might have a moving date soon (she said, with fingers still tightly crossed).
When it does happen, packing up shouldn’t take too long. We had a big de-cluttering session when we first put our house on the market, and since then have resisted the temptation to buy or hoard anything we don’t actually need. Books are a necessity of course, but I’ve even forced myself to donate several bagfuls of those to charity shops. (My consolation is that I’ll have space for more bookshelves – and new books! – in the next house.)
I was looking around, trying to estimate how many packing boxes we’ll need, when I realised I could probably discard some of the old papers/ files/ magazines etc. that I’d been keeping on my writing shelves ‘just in case’. I sorted through them and came across this …
I recognised a few plot outlines and character sketches because I’d already developed them into finished stories, but most of the other scribbled notes turned out to be either disappointing or puzzling. There were plot ‘twists’ involving unrealistic coincidences, pieces of flowery, descriptive prose that I couldn’t believe I’d ever thought were any good, and even some lines of dreadful poetry.
I dropped each of these rubbish ideas into the wastepaper bin, until I came across what appeared to be a title followed by a book jacket blurb.
Who? What? When?
Ah, yes! It all came rushing back to me.
It was an idea for a novel I’d started, but quickly abandoned, during an early NaNoWriMo. I’d hit a problem after furiously bashing out a couple of thousand words and, rather than waste time staring at a blank page, I’d switched to a completely different story.
Now, I not only remembered the opening scene of the novel in vivid detail, but I could also see why it had gone wrong and an easy way to fix it. I grabbed a clean sheet of paper and started writing a very rough synopsis of the whole thing before I forgot it again. I'm sure it has the makings of a bestseller!
And the moral of this story? WRITE IT DOWN. It’s vital to turn those first thoughts into visible words as soon as possible. You’ll be certain you’ll never forget such a brilliant notion but, if it does get lost beneath a myriad of even more exciting ideas, a few sentences might be all it takes to hook it out again.
writer, reader, dreamer,
wildlife watcher, walker, gardener,
optimist, lover of life,
I wouldn't dream of stealing your words or pictures so please don't take mine.
But I'm happy to share if you ask first!