Monday 24 August 2009

This feeling called ... OMG 70,000 words is a very large number

Starting to write a totally new project seemed like a good way to fill in the time. Now I remember how it felt to start - not even a year ago. It was so mind boggling that I started twice.

In October last year I opened a Word document and stared at the blank screen for a bit. I decided that you should only write what you know and I know misery and grief. I invented a character then killed her mother just to see what she'd do if she was really p***ed off about it. And so Flower was born: a girl with a family of one, who turned into a weed, when her garden was annihilated. Of course, I hadn't factored into my thinking how sad it would be to wallow in misery - it got right in the way of real life.

Half-way through October I decided I wanted to write something a little more cheerful so I decided to put Jess' life in jeopardy instead. But Jess has a lot more control over her destiny than Flower does. Jess and Caleb's story is a simple tale of how love can grow even under the most difficult of circumstances - that it can withstand anything - if you are prepared to work at it hard enough. And, oh boy will they have to work hard!

The new book is convoluted like the Serpentine, or Westbourne River.




“Sod off, I’ve got better things to do with my time, Marcus.” Tom shrugged off the hand his friend had placed onto his shoulder, “You dragged me north of the river for this?”

The first time he’d peered through the greying, iron gates to the overgrown garden on the other side, it had reminded him of some fairytale princess’s forgotten castle. Tom had spent moments trying to decide which was worse: the fact that he’d been talked into coming over to Chelsea for a bit of wilful destruction or that he was standing outside a rotting building thinking about damsels in distress. But a little damage wasn’t going to be noticed in this dilapidated house.

It would have been fun to kick a door or two, crush a little glass, rip things up a little and, maybe, paint his tag without being disturbed and messing it up. But that was before he’d caught a glimpse of the house. Well, it wasn’t the house that had made his heart stop and forced the breath out of his body. It wasn’t the window that arced open; it was more what he’d seen in that window.

Tom wiped the perspiration from his forehead, pushing his brown hair higher with the back of his sleeve. The stain on his blue top made him frown. He leaned back against the crumbling, brick wall and rested the heel of his foot into a groove where the brick had worn away. He calmed the shudders more easily with this support while he maintained his image of bored disinterest. He had to rub the cuff over his eyebrows as the last drops of sweat threatened to make his eyes sting. He needed watering eyes like a hole in the head. He couldn’t let his friends see that he was shaken. Shaking.

‘There was a f***ing ghost in there.’ He yelled the words inside his head. Even the echo seemed to agree with him. But he wasn’t stupid enough to say the words aloud.

This feeling called ... loss

Near Edgeware is out with the cold readers and officially closed - for the moment.
I opened up the file twice yesterday, just to look and see that it was still there.

The first three chapters of Book Two are written so I can pick it up easily and get back into the flow. I know where Jess is and that with both Caleb, and her parents on their way there things could get awkward.

I didn't know what to do with myself without the writing to fill endless minutes (ignoring everything I should be doing with the same minutes). I researched and filled my head with information that meets a very exact list of requirements I once read.The new book should be a one off.

Finding working titles that are designed to make me smile but have some relevance to the book is one of my favourtite parts of the process. I have selected FOUND' ER as the new book's working title and considering how convoluted the whole thing is FOUND'ER is a good title - someone needs to.

FOUND'ER WORD COUNT: 1,785 (pages 1 to 5)

Friday 14 August 2009

Preface gets the punctuation treatment - probably a good idea

Editing is like polishing: you can see it needs doing, but put it off because it means you have to pick things up and put them down where they really ought to be. Polishing is never my favourite thing but I'm always pleased by the results when I get around to doing it.


The pain from shredded skin, ripped on the thorns and brambles in my path, drained what was left of my strength. Gasping and shaking, I scrambled to higher ground at the top of the mound. I dragged shallow breaths into my aching, ice-scorched lungs. Time, like my energy, was running out and I still hadn't delivered the warning.

I’d come back home to enjoy hanging out with my friends. Instead I’d spent time researching a little known sub-culture and walking, make that running, into danger. Before being ripped apart and dying, if I was lucky, it could be that I had just enough time left to invent a time machine, perhaps he really wasn’t worth all this?

I imagined myself in quieter, safer, alternate realities. In my head I agonised over the question but in my heart I found the answer: the excitement of knowing, and being loved by him. I loved him. He made even this seem like the right place to be. I smiled, and even though he wasn’t there with me, I reached out my hand as if we could really touch.

Time machines are over-rated; I’d stand by my choices.

I took a deep breath and screamed.

I cannot make that description at the start anything but clumsy - you shouldn't wake with that as your first thought of the day... oh, that's just me! I sense a little work still needed - it still goes out to the girls on Monday - argh!


Dark, clawing brambles shredded my skin. Gasping and shaking, I scrambled to higher ground at the top of the mound. I dragged shallow breaths into my aching, ice-scorched lungs. Time, like my energy, was running out and I still hadn't delivered the warning.

Yeah... reading is the font of all knowledge - Reading is the source of much anticipation

There is nothing that cannot be solved by judicious reading and trial and error - it was a trial and I didn't make an error - my alter-ego and split personality has split - I've found out how to de-blog - phew!

But the edit is 30 pages from completion - I'm getting completion-phobic. Then there's JJ and Flower and Book 2 - a few other projects that are already started.

I love holidays - so much time to fill and no pressure - the wind up is about to begin though; time to get ready for the Reading Festival!

Wednesday 12 August 2009

So, if I can learn to add all this why... oh why... can't I stop stalking me?

I've been having fun adding elements to the blog - now that I've found out how to do it.

However, I have stressed - been depressed - by my inability to stop stalking myself. You know how it goes, you intend to click to find out the fascinating details about the people who have stopped by and taken up residence when you hit the wrong place - no wandering off to pastures new just lurking with the one you knew - oh, well!

I'd ask for advice but I'd have more luck reading literature in French or German than translating from techno-speak.

Could be worse - I could've set off to pick up the cherub from Stanstead Airport - turned off for Stanstead seen signs for Gatwick and panicked. I do it all the time viz Stanmore verses Edgware tube station - but they're only 5 minutes apart.

McDonalds - I love them and all who work for them - I called at Epping - full of panic... 'cos it could have been the other one and the road works were manic - they let me use their phone (Why would you pick that up on the way out to pick someone up from the airport?!) - and gave me a coffee - and waved me off. CUSTOMER SERVICE!! I wasn't even a customer.

Must remember to pay attention to where I'm going - Jess (Near Edgware) says it's always a good idea - and she ought to know!

Back to the Twitter philosophical haikus - it's good to get back into the old routine. Working with cold readers on Near Edgware

iQuote"Sometimes when we are generous in small, barely detectable ways it can change someone else's life forever." – Margaret Cho

Kind thoughts are like ghosts:
insubstantial if-onlys
in manufacture.

iQuote“The things in nature are nothing but effects; their causes are in the spiritual world.” - Emanuel Swedenborg

Nature's harmony
links and grows organically;
we force the effects.

For a person not editing the book - I spent time putting things back yesterday and adding more depth to the bit parts. It will give my editor something to cut - which is good.
Created a tee-shirts to reward - and I use that word advisedly - my cold readers. You can't start the publicity too soon.
I'm nervous of letting copies of the book out in e-format - maybe I'll print 239 pages x 4 and increase the rate of de-forestation.

WORD COUNT - Near Edgware 77,906

Tuesday 11 August 2009

Twilight ... mentioned at the Writers' Circle

I know... what are the chances?

The visiting author mentioned how Steph Meyer is being sued - I know, total b****** - the April's Fools Day 'prank' !

I think this means her global domination is now truly complete though - custard creams and calumny!

Tis a daring thing I do here - risking admitting to a more than vague knowledge of the series but I'd have to be dead to not know they exist and stupid not to have made sure I'd read them.

There sure are no sparkily vampires here!

Friday 7 August 2009

Shakespeare - really... get a grip

I do Sonnet of the Day - sad... I know ... but he knows/knew rhyme and how to spin emotion. I don't normally have this reaction but:

LV... #55

Not marble, nor the gilded monuments
Of princes, shall outlive this powerful rhyme;
But you shall shine more bright in these contents
Than unswept stone besmear'd with sluttish time.
When wasteful war shall statues overturn,
And broils root out the work of masonry,
Nor Mars his sword nor war's quick fire shall burn
The living record of your memory.
'Gainst death and all-oblivious enmity
Shall you pace forth; your praise shall still find room
Even in the eyes of all posterity
That wear this world out to the ending doom.
So, till the judgment that yourself arise,
You live in this, and dwell in lover's eyes.

Look, Shakespeare - normally I'm right there with you but, really... you were writing with ink onto paper parchment - I can't help but think that unswept stones, war, fire or a mis-place cup of coffee could have, and nearly did, do for this rhyme - a little premature ... but it's good to think big! Sometimes it pays off - apparently.

The weekdays passed with their perfect regular patterns. I enjoyed every moment of the working, sitting, swimming and running because over, round and through each of these ... was Caleb. The waiting... glimpsing... being there times with Caleb.

CURRENT WORD COUNT - 78,152 Wup! Wup! Word-up ~ in reverse!

Thursday 6 August 2009

I'm bad - and I don't mean like Michael Jackson

I need a book fairy - the Magical Fairy of Leave the Bloody Book Alone - if you spot her, in passing, send her along to visit me ... or an agent... that would do too - I believe they take the book off you and they don't let you play with it any more; that is what I need!

The finicky little re-edit that isn't really happening is well over half way done - it all began because I was determined to get the total under 80,000 - as the new micro total is 80,406 words - I think I'll be well under - which is like ... highly unlikely considering where it started!

You know like I'm banned from touching the first 60 pages? Seems that I accidently re-wrote the preface today - oops!


The pain from shredded skin, torn on the thorn and bramble thickets – nature’s barbed wire – drained what was left of my strength. Gasping and shaking, I scrambled to the top of the mound – the resting place of some long-dead, warrior-chief. I dragged shallow breaths into my aching, ice-scorched lungs. Time was running out – like my energy – and I still hadn't delivered the warning.
I’d come back home to enjoy hanging out with my friends… instead I’d spent time researching a little known sub-culture - narrowly managing to not avoid danger and working hard to keep the right side of certifiably insane; of course, love has a way of making all that seem like a really good idea.
Before the being ripped apart and dying part – if I was lucky... because there was another alternative – it could be that I had just enough time left to invent a time machine… perhaps he really wasn’t worth all this?
I imagined myself in alternate realities – each one different – safer… quieter. My head agonised over the question but my heart found the answer - love… excitement… the knowledge that I knew the real him – it made even this situation feel that I was in the right place. I smiled, and even though he wasn’t there with me, I reached out my hand as if we could really touch.
Time machines… they’re much over-rated – I’d stand by my choices.
I took a deep breath and screamed.

Saturday 1 August 2009

Back 'Near Edgware' - this is the right weather for Jess and Caleb's story

It must be time to give the book the limelight - I dreamed it in Florence - that was amazing - must have been missing it.

Of course, there was also the one that included Nathan - I'm putting that down to the lack of internet access - I've never seen him in 3-D before .... as a whole person (not just fingers on the keyboard) ... minds back out of the gutter!

I looked forward to the cross-country run; Ife had the equal and opposite reaction. She threw herself down – draped across a chair in the Common Room.
With her head at an uncomfortable angle she groaned, “You just don’t understand. I feel sick – I don’t think it – I - am - nauseous!”
“Why don’t we just walk at the back?”
Ife snorted.
“This is a fun run; why don’t we just wander and sight-see?”
Ife raised her head and opened one brown eye.
“Why not?” asked Anna, “We can set a new course record in reverse? Slowest ever time around the route.”
“Is there a course record?”
They laughed at me.
“OK! Alright! So – I like breaking records!”
“I’ll walk,” Ife sat up – the grumpy expression changing to the defensive one as she ran her hand over her hair, “but I’m bringing a plastic bag – just in case!”
“My hair’s only just been relaxed; I could bring my umbrella!”
Ben grinned at Ife with the rest of us, but he shifted in his chair “I’ve got a bet thing happening with Joe and Matt; I… could… back out of it?”
I tried to look offended but failed, “This is a girl-only outing. You’re out anyway!”

The walk would be slow. I put my running vest under my tee-shirt and extra-large drama sweatshirt, to keep out the chill. Rubbing the healed lump on the back of my head, I eyed the route into the woodland. The runners powered their way up the slope; for a moment I wished I was up near the top.
Ali, Ife, Anna and I slithered up the churned mud of the track. We had to clutch each other when Anna slipped into the largest of the pool-sized puddles. Wet passed her ankles, she concentrated on plaiting her long red hair – muddied hair was so much more distressing than soggy feet. But, it could’ve been worse, Ife had her plastic bag hanging out of her tracksuit pocket – it wouldn’t be long before that was on her head. We waddled to keep moving forward; our mud-heavy trainers sucked along behind us. My sides ached but not from walking.
We wandered through oaks, silver birch and purple beech trees; to avoid the thickest of the mud we trudged shin deep in damp leaves and kicked them as we went. We were far behind the main group when something about the sights, sounds and smells began to register as ... wrong. I froze – mid-kick – to look around and listen – held out both arms to help me balance – sucked in an anxious breath.