Thursday 31 July 2008


Proofs for two of my novels came yesterday. I’ve already started reading them. It’s amazing that at this stage one still finds mistakes – of the copy editing variety. Have the gremlins got into the computer programmes and reverted the text to what it was before the copy edit began? Or am I having an argument with the copy editor?

It’s all about “dad”. I maintain that when it’s used as a name for a particular person it should be “Dad” e.g. “Come on get a move on,” said Dad, or “Eh, Dad, can I watch TV now?” However, when it’s generic, even if you are referring to a specific person’s dad, it should be “dad”. E.g. “All the mums and dads were waiting outside the school gates. Robbie’s dad had a battered old car.” But my text seemed peppered with idiosyncratic mixed examples of these. And I’d swear the copy editor and I had corrected them all before.

That aside, it’s exciting and scary at the same time getting final proofs. You get a sense of how the book is going to look. The text in this format seems slightly strange to you – you have seen it so often before in Word, on screen or hardy copy, but anyway double-spaced and ragged right. Now it’s single or 1.5 spaced and justified right. The pages are smaller. In addition, it’s a while since you saw it. You’ve forgotten things and you’ve actually probably moved on as a writer.

I’m reading Kiters at the moment, a fantasy for 9-11 and possibly the most literary novel I’ve written to date. That infernal inner critic was mumbling something about “Beautifully written, but will 9-11 year olds really appreciate it. Isn’t the main character a bit too old to be interested in kites?” The answer: “But the teachers will probably appreciate it. And the children who like to read about people Robbie’s age probably do still like kites.”

It is a material fact – especially in my case – that writers do move on and change. And often what we’ve written before makes us cringe.

Thursday 24 July 2008

Insomniac Writers

I was awake at five today. A good time to get up, though this does involve the cup of tea in bed and the reading of a good book first. I’ve just started Life of Pi and so far, I’m hooked. Writers must be readers.

I actually read yesterday an article by a writer who recommended getting up and starting to write even before you’re washed or dressed. In that half-awake state you tend to suppress the inner editor, who is perhaps your harshest critic.

I did get up early several times whilst I was on Tenerife I actually felt less sure of myself as I wrote then. I certainly wasn’t as awake and as raring to go as I am after breakfast and the extra strong coffee. But as usual, I actually write better when that inner critic is out of the way or performing badly.

There is something delightful, anyway, about the quiet of that early morning time. And getting up this early, I can have do half of my daily quota of writing by the time I finish getting up and getting dressed.

I am actually editing at the moment. This might be the time to find out whether my editing skills are actually more acute when I’m not properly awake. Watch this space!

Monday 21 July 2008

Becoming a Publisher

So, now I am a publisher as well. I have advertised for short stories for my “Advent Calendar” of short stories. I got about twice as many as I needed. I then had to make those sorts of decisions that editors and publishers have to make all the time. And I only had a small slush pile. I have to confess to being irritated by people who did not read the guidelines correctly. That even includes some people who were accepted. I had asked for contact details to be put on the bottom of each page, for instance. Some didn’t. Then it was quite a job fining out who they were in order to accept or reject.

Still, we’re up and running. Twenty-four stories have been chosen. This includes one of my on, four by one lady, and one – in fact the lead one – by a very good friend of mine. Hers shines out as the story which is the signature of the book. Another person I know has also got a contribution going in. She, and our star, were members of a critique group I joined in when I was in North Wales.

The cover is being designed. I’m just about to start the editing.

We’re all set for it to launch on the 13th of November 2008.

Wednesday 16 July 2008

Writer's Break

I’ve just spent three weeks on Tenerife. I’ve finished the first draft of a 40,000 word novel. I’d written 11,000 before. I also got part of the way through a second draft. I guess being away form home and one’s normal routines means that you can concentrate more. I really did get close to my characters and really did get absorbed into my plot.

I think also the more relaxed pace of life and the sunshine there helped as well. Interspersing the writing sessions with some swimming and walking, some good food, some exchanges with other writers and some cultural visits gave some objectivity.

Plus it was an awe-inspiring location. In Tenerife you are living on the side of a very dramatic, very dynamic and very steep-sided volcano. The weather is very localised. I was on the north side, which is often covered in cloud. The cloud comes up off the Atlantic and gets stuck half way up the volcano. The south side is therefore very sunny and hot. It rains a lot in the west – though I particularly like the west. And it’s warm everywhere.

Of course, I’ve come back with another story in my head. It will be a fantasy, but will be based on what happened on this fascinating island centuries ago.