Slack blogger

Slack blogger

I’ve been slack again. WordPress tells me it’s been a whole month since my last post. And I had such good intentions.

Here’s my pictorial storybook (read excuses) of the events that conspired to divert me…

edit-capture-1
editing…
dsc_0417
great breakfast butties in Suffolk
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Dizzy the geriatric cat
edit-capture-2
…more editing
dsc_0383
Jilly Cooper!
vat
those pesky accounts
dsc_0412
tractor driving (please read with a countryside burr)
edit-capture-3
…and more editing
a-20-havoc-used-by-the-9th-iwm-rfc-accredited
booklet about the USAAF in our village
jodie-the-horse
Jodie the horse
dsc_0469
Slovenia (wow)
dialogue tag
… and still more blasted editing

 

You would think I’d have plenty to write about.

I’m going to schedule my next post on Google calendar, and set a really naggy reminder.You might even get some words then.

The tail-end of summer?

The tail-end of summer?

What a shocker! Hot sunshine right through August and it’s still going now! It must be an Indian summer, because an English one doesn’t behave like this.

The quickest harvest I can remember, although the elders tell me that in ’76 it was so hot that they combined right through the night. I do remember something of ’76; the grass died in the pony’s field, and we made hay when the council mowed the meadow. Not just in the proverbial sense,  we actually made hay. But our DIY efforts over-heated in the hay-barn. We had to drag the grass-cuttings back out and spread them across the yard for fear of spontaneous combustion. There was camel racing at the village fete that year too. Those camels must have felt right at home on the desert which our village green had become.

This summer has its share of memorable moments too. Rebellious voters and gob-smacking Olympians spring to mind, although I also swum in the North Sea without freezing my extremities, and that was a memorable first too. Nick Skelton became a poster boy for the hip-replacement brigade (me); Theresa May became prime minister, and Jilly Cooper published her new book.  Ok, I get that you might not think that’s up there with Olympic gold medals or running the country, but come on guys! Six-hundred-and-forty pages of steamy English saga! And, right now, I can empathise with the effort that Jilly must have put into that, because I’m still slogging away editing my three-hundred pages of steamy.

I’m not wishing the summer away. Oh, no. I mean, no one in their right mind would be dreaming of cool weather, when the sun is blazing every day. It’s hot, hot, hot. Even in the middle of the bloody night.

I’m not missing that snuggle under the duvet, or winter stews for dinner. Salad is good, so are burnt barbecued sausages, and I love wearing shorts. Who could be nostalgic for comfy jeans, or baggy jumpers, and who would even think about slobbing on the sofa with the log burner going when it’s 30+ degrees outside?

The Farmer might want rain, instead of drought and the pestilence of beetles which this summer has visited on us, but not me. The drumbeat of rain on the lean-too, the gushing of water through ditches, our view from the farmhouse soft-focused  by the the mist of autumn drizzle. Nothing to enjoy there.

But what do we do for small-talk, if we can’t bemoan the disappointment of the English summer? I can answer that question myself, actually, because I’ve already been given pessimistic warnings of the savage winter that must surely follow. It’s nature’s payback, you see. The warnings are delivered with gloomy foreboding, and yet… some weird, English part of me is hoping that they just might come true.

Mood setting – painting a picture in words #amwriting #amediting

Mood setting – painting a picture in words #amwriting #amediting

As writers, we have a rich selection of words we can use to set a mood; an emotion; a moment. The art of good writing (and the joy of good reading) takes us right in to a time and and a place – and sets the mood of the moment – without telling us.

There’s a scene in the novel I’m editing (A Bed of Brambles – the sequel to A Bed of Barley Straw) where the hero (Alexander) is sitting above cliffs, recovering from the hurt of an emotional upset, and being soothed by the landscape around him. So, that’s me telling you what’s happening.

Amidst her pleas of “Show us!” My editor queried my choice of words in this scene – “would he be calmed by the waves crashing against the rocks?”

Good point; crashing and rocks are hard, angry words. How about “calmed by the waves washing across the pebbles on the beach?”

Here’s one picture of the landscape, similar to that which I’m seeing when I’m writing the scene:

Angry Anglesey coast

It is angry isn’t it? The waves are crashing against the rocks. It’s moody, and melancholy; in turmoil. Blacks and greys and an unsettled sea – all very Poldark! Passionate, oh Lord, there’s all sorts of angsty words I could use (and a risk of becoming clichéd)

Here it is in sunnier mood:

Sunny Anglesey-coast

Now I’m uplifted. The sun warming the cliff-face, ripples on the grey-green water… and I could talk about the clouds, but I mustn’t overdo it. I’m falling into that cliché trap again (frothy and fluffy, the ocean tumbling over the rocks).

The same coastline, different angle – let’s do serene:

serene Anglesey coast

I’ll let you chose your own words, I’m not sure Alexander is ever quite this peaceful, still, enticing. Oh, hang on, he is enticing, just not in such a clean way 😉

It’s a maze and a labyrinth, feeling your way to the right words. And that’s before I’ve even told you how he’s sitting on the bench… Is he leaning forward with his head in his hands? Is he lounging back against the salt-bleached wood with his long legs stretched out in front of him…

It’s a mood, a moment in the novel. It’s why editing fries your brain.

 

Springing into March, and still editing

Springing into March, and still editing

So, I’m still editing, although I had hoped to be launching A Bed of Brambles about now; a year after A Bed of Barley Straw hit the shelves. Ho hum, it’s got to be right. Deadlines and launch dates are secondary to the life of the story, so I’m letting myself off the hook. But I’m still working hard, setting deadlines, but avoiding naming a launch date yet.

I’m editing on the sofa, because the new hip complains if I spend too many hours at a desk. Painting scenes with my pen (keyboard actually, but pen sounds more poetic), creating characters for you to meet, hoping you love them enough to want to dive in. Telling stories to make you laugh, gasp, cry (and get a bit hot under the collar). That’s important stuff. I sweat over the detail so you can be swept along, without being tripped up by disbelief, clumsy words, wonky timelines… That’s the hope, anyway.

I’ve got an editing mate with me, he’s just chillin’ in the warm.

Disney on the sofa

By coincidence, in Chapter 25B (rewritten/edited from chapter 25draft1, 25draft2, 25A), the chapter I’m currently working on, they are heading into March at Draymere Hall too. They’ve had snow, (so we’re doing better in the real world), Alexander is lambing, and Hettie… well, I won’t tell you what Hettie is up to, three quarters of the way through the book, but here’s a sneaky scene setting excerpt…

Hettie was at her mother’s old house, to clear out her bedroom. She’d been putting the job off for weeks, but the ‘for sale’ sign was up now, she really couldn’t delay it any longer. She found the key in the usual place; third flowerpot from the left under the larder window. Easy to find in daylight hours, she remembered it being more of a challenge in the days when she had stumbled home in the dark, from whichever pub her and her mates had spent the evening in. Her mum’s absence was obvious, even in the garden. The paths hadn’t been cleared of snow, shrubs bent underneath it. Hettie shivered. She had to give the door a shove to make it open. Empty room, squares on the walls where pictures had hung, undressed windows. Swept and hoovered of course, but the house looked sad and worn out. Someone would buy it as a renovation project. Hettie wandered through the rooms, reached her old bedroom. The furniture gone, most of it to the bungalow, but the floor stacked with boxes; old clothes, school books and knickknacks. It could probably all go straight in the bin. She sat on the floor, cleared space around herself for three heaps; rubbish, charity, keep, and got to work.

At the bottom of the last box she found her old diary; pink and grey stripes, broken padlock, dog-eared cover. “HETTIE’S DIARY – KEEP OUT!!!” She threw it on the rubbish pile, scooped the heap into an empty crate, picked the diary out again and shoved it into her shoulder bag. It was cold in the house, and the dogs would be wanting their dinner. Hettie carted the boxes down to the Landy, wrenched the back door shut. Slid the key into its hiding place; third flowerpot from the left, under the larder window.

… A Bed of Brambles, coming soon, I promise.Blank white book w/pathps If you haven’t read the first one yet, it’s free on Kindle at the moment.

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas

Plain, simple and homely is what I hope for this year. Good food, good friends and an eggnog or two.

Here’s a picture of a pretty pony to lighten your day in the frantic countdown to Christmas. (Cute isn’t he!)

pony in snow

 

2015, the year I published my début novel, is rounding off nicely. A big thank you to all of you who have followed my efforts and stumbles on these pages. I’m super excited to be doing it all again with the sequel in 2016.

Now I’m off to supervise tree decoration. Ed has returned with a red velvet cake, Yd will be back from work any minute and Dil is currently winging her way from Durham. The gathering commences, bring it on! Time to whip up the snowballs and festive music.

snowball

Cheers all, have a good one!