Tuesday 30 August 2011

When will I have time?

Next week peace will be restored at home when school starts back and I will have quiet again.

Sadly I've still got to go out and buy a few bits and pieces yet, and I've put off the labelling until everything is gathered. Shoe fitting of teenagers is the worst bit, and still to be done...

I've decided that I'm going to set myself some rewards for getting tasks done- writing tasks that is. It might help with the motivation.

It occurred to me, when I glanced at the book shelf and saw a number of DVDs (history related) that I've bought and haven't had time to watch yet. So I decided that I'd reward myself with time to watch one of the DVDs when I reach a preset target.

My first target is to get the first five chapters of my novella written.

Now the difficulty is choosing which DVD to watch as the reward for getting to the end of chapter 5:
  • Casanova -with David Tennant as the young Casanova.
  • Becoming Jane- about Jane Austen.
  • The Duchess- about Georgiana Spencer who became the Duchess of Devonshire- big hair and dresses a plenty.
  • The first series of Poldark...
There's probably a few modern ones I could borrow from my sons if I wanted something different.

At the moment Casanova is in the lead...:-)

So do you use a reward system at all or just when writing is getting tough?

Friday 26 August 2011

One Woman's Too Hunky Hero is Another's Delight...

Don't worry the sun hasn't gone to my head- well not too much...

If you have popped into Sue Moorcroft's blog in the last few days you will have seen her latest post 'Call To the Nation's Women: Help Us Find The Perfect Man!'

There you will find the results of The Festival of Romance's poll on romantic heroes- from asking 58 UK Romantic Novelists their opinion.
Can't say I'd entirely agree with every the items in each category: essential, desirable but not essential and not important.
I'd possibly move one or two around...

[The poll even made the Book Blogs slot in the online version of the Guardian. Do read the comments below Alison's Flood's piece, especially Sue's response to one of the commenters about hygiene...:-) ]

So if you want to give your personal view, follow the link to take the survey-further down the page on Sue's post.
The survey closes 19th September and the winning entry drawn (of those who include their name and e-mail address at the end of the survey) will win tickets to the Festival of Romance being held 21/22 October in Hunton Park, Near Watford. (You can still do the survey without leaving your details.)

While I certainly agree with the 'essential' list, I would add 'height' to it from the 'desirable but not essential' listing, but I could be biased as I'm married to a wonderful man who's
 6ft 2.

So what do you think of the author results?

Wednesday 24 August 2011

Back to Reality...

Well I'm back to the computer today and have been able to get some writing done- hurray!!!!

Now I have to admit that I've not physically been here the last few days as I was away from home- an extended weekend break-as well as trying out the writing with pen and paper (in different locations).

What worked?

I tried writing on Scarborough beach on Sunday and did get one side of A4 done (I do have large handwriting though) but the temperature was 25 degrees and it was just too hot for me to concentrate.

Monday afternoon was better, I went into the bedroom and shut the door and managed an hour's writing, plus I found out something about my hero that will be very useful- it hadn't occurred to me when I was writing his character profile a few months ago...

So the four pages I managed were not a complete waste of time.

I have learnt:

I DO need quiet to write. It doesn't have to be complete silence but low level background noise that isn't intrusive is fine.

I do go into 'the zone' when I write at the computer. It is easier to put myself into that state where I am with my characters in their surroundings, watching and listening to their conversations.
With a pen and paper I couldn't do that properly, it was a superficial level.

Personally for me, using pen and paper to record ideas and scenes that come to me at any time, works, but I write better sat at the computer without interruptions.

I've been adding to my current work in progress this afternoon and incorporated some of the pen and paper insights from the weekend, so I'm satisfied with the progress I've made.

BUT I have a deadline, so there's still work to do yet...

Thursday 18 August 2011

I Need To Write....

I need quiet to write. I can't write on the computer with the noise my family create and the interruptions they bring when they're around.

School summer holidays are frustrating and by the first week of September my fingers are itching to get the keyboard for extended sessions to let all the pent up creativity out.

And with the recent computer upgrades it has been even worse. My brood can access their favourite websites even quicker and their, 'I've just got to read this...'is annoying; the graphically gifted offspring can do so much more on this system that hours go by- I'm normally polite, but, friendly blog readers, you probably know I am silently swearing in frustration...

I have a deadline. A synopsis and first three chapters to get ready by the end of the month for one of the annual competitions at the writers' club I attend. So my current project- my WIP, work in progress, is going to take priority for the next few days.

Instead of trying to write at the computer- in quiet I can't get- I'm going the pen and paper first route-not my normal process, so it will be different.

I have the chapter outlines I'd worked out and the early (already printed) chapters I got down before school finished (so I'm not starting from scratch). I know it won't be perfect, but it will be as good as I can get it. I can type the hand written pages as I get time (before the deadline)...

(Then later in the year there may be a paraphrasing of the judge's comments- if I've not done really badly.)

But a writer has to do what a writer really has to do, so no Saturday or Monday blog posts. But there will be as soon as possible after then.

See you next week...

Monday 15 August 2011

Too Many Books?

I was browsing the radio stations on the tv Sunday morning- one of the joys of digital you can listen to the radio without needing a radio-and I came across a half hour programme on Radio 4, Too Many Books.
It looked at the difficulties that people face when they decide to reduce the number of books they have as a result of downsizing, death of a partner, or not enough room for newer books.

Don't know if you're like me, but I am very very reluctant to dispose of any of the books on my shelves-I have bookshelves full of books of all sizes and assorted subjects. (Admittedly some of the books do belong to my other half.)

Recently I've been thinking about sorting through them- I'm meant to be on a reorganisation spell at home- and have decided that I must get rid of some of the books I have, dust all the books and the shelves and rearrange those I'm keeping.

I suspect it will take a long time and in the end I won't have got rid of that many.

There are still books on the shelf that I bought in my late teens and early twenties and am very attached to, M M Kaye's 'The Far Pavillions', 'Shadow of the Moon' and 'Trade Wind', plus a number of her shorter 'Murder In...' stories.  Also the Poldark books by Winston Graham that I worked my way through after the series appeared on tv all those years ago.

(Sadly Kaye died in 2004 and Graham in 2003, both authors were of the same generation, born a couple of months apart in 1908. (Their books left me wanting more every time.)

They're only paperbacks but I'm certain they will be staying with me to the end...

Friday 12 August 2011

Are Hardback Books On the Way Out?

Reading an article by Alison Flood in the Books section of the Guardian online (Friday evening) I saw this headline 'Hardback sales plummeting in age of the ebook'.

"Sales of adult hardback fiction have fallen by over 10% this year alone, with e-books now accounting for 13.6% of US market."

The US has had e-book sales a little longer than we have in the UK, so this may explain some of the figures, but it could also be an indicator of the future in the UK too.

Already there have been rises in the recommended retail price of hardback fiction - 0.9%, so year on year 15p, according to this article on the Bookseller website (5.8.11).

The 'celebrity autobiographies' that appear in the run-up to Christmas are always hardback and when you see the prices they're starting at, it's not surprising the booksellers quickly put their eye-catching discount stickers on the covers and heavily promote their availability.

I wouldn't pay £20-£25 for them and I'm sure a lot of readers agree...

I do have a lot of hardback non-fiction but even I baulk at the prices being asked, so favoured books tend to be bought for me as a birthday or Christmas present by my family.

Even when I've seen the latest novel by one of my favourite romance authors available in hardback, I will wait for the paperback version to be released.

Though I know that in some genres die-hard fans will buy every new novel (by their favourite author) in hardback when it's released, and if they can get it personally signed, even better...

I've always thought that going straight to paperback was possibly better than having a hardback that sold poorly and never got the chance to go to paperback-because the HB sales weren't positive enough.
But perhaps it would be harder to get a paperback deal in the first place in that scenario...

When it was a choice between a book in HB or PB (assuming both formats were available) then it was only dependant on the personal preferences of the reader.

Now that same reader has the added choice of an e-book and perhaps even an audio book too. Personal choice still comes into play, but sales are now more diluted.

We all know publishers need to make money; without it there wouldn't be any writers taken on.
But with costs rising will it get to the point where only best selling authors get their latest novel published in hardback, or will hardbacks become the domain of non-fiction only?

So what's your view on hardbacks? Love them or hate them? Non-fiction only in hardback format?

Wednesday 10 August 2011

What Can You Say?

I'm sure like everyone else you've seen the terrible news reports of the last few days about the rioting and looting that has taken place in parts of London and other cities.

Sadly Tuesday night there were three deaths.

We've been fortunate in Nottingham in not having shop frontages smashed and the contents looted. Yes some of our police stations were attacked and one firebombed Tuesday night; cars have been damaged and people arrested but it doesn't compare to what has happened elsewhere and for that I'm grateful.

But my deepest sympathies do go to all those who elsewhere have lost their homes, their businesses, and also to the families who have lost relatives- whatever the circumstances.

It seems bookshops escaped major damage. Perhaps because they don't tend to be located among the big high street names that have attracted attack. Compared to the price of the goods they are taking, books are cheap...

In the 18th and 19th centuries the riots that took place had a valid cause (in retrospect)- agitation for political reform, near starvation and high prices among them.

Very different from now...

Monday 8 August 2011

Social Networking for Kindle Users...

I'm having difficulty getting onto the computer these past few days- school holidays and the novelty of all the things my family can now do on the computer. I haven't even been able to do any writing!!!! :-(

So I've only just seen this Kindle item on the Bookseller website. Apparently Amazon.com has launched a social networking site for Kindle users-kindle.amazon.com

Now how useful this could become to both readers and writers is yet to be seen, but it apparently allows users to set up a profile and review books they've read and see public notes made on the book.

We all know how valuable word of mouth recommendations are- even if they are digital and not face to face.

So it will be interesting to see how this progresses and if it spreads further...

Friday 5 August 2011

Murder Mystery and Thinking on My Feet...

For a few hours I was a potential murder suspect.
No, not in reality (if you haven't read my previous post) but as a suspect in a murder mystery event held on Wednesday evening (3rd) at the writers' club I attend.
It was not our usual writing related activities as August is the holiday month for many, so we have a fun social event for the members that are still available.

This year it was decided to do something different, and it was certainly different...

I'd volunteered to be one of the eight suspects- it gave me an excuse to dress up and put on full make-up (honestly you wouldn't want to see what my computer screen faces each day).

My character Florence was a former eye make-up model, so I concentrated on the eye liner, shadow and mascara. Honestly it looked good at the start of the evening but it was very hot in the room even with the windows open, so it smudged later...

My character's husband Donald- related to the victim- was also there.

The murder was set in the late 1930's and I actually had an outfit that would have been ideal, but it was too thick for the weather, so I opted for a long sleeveless maxi dress and one of my numerous wraps to give a general impression of an evening outfit.

'Florence' relaxes

As we went along we were each given information- some that had to be revealed during the round, and other information about our own character that it was important not to reveal.
Then it was up to us, act and react...

By the end not only had at least half of the audience been convinced that Florence and Donald were the murderers, even I thought I was guilty! It had to be the revelation about the acrobatics...

But as it turns out, although I did make an attempt the plan hadn't been thought out enough and I gave up.

When the murderer was revealed there was only one person who'd guessed correctly, blogger Keith of  Dream it, then do it.

From a writing viewpoint it just confirmed that I should never be a crime writer...

Wednesday 3 August 2011

Up and Running, News and Murder...

Well I'm back in the land of computer access and what a difference Windows7 makes. Pages load instantly, images too.

I've still got to put a few programmes back on the computer yet, but I'm secure and able to access the web.

Unfortunately I can see it will take me some time to get used to finding where everything is- but luckily one of my teenage sons is acting as technical advisor as I go along...

Now for a bit of writing related news.

Short story magazine writer Vivien Hampshire has a three page article (in the September issue of Writing Magazine due in newsagents from tomorrow) on the responses she received from the editors of the assorted women's magazines.

It makes interesting reading and not all the news is bad...

Anyway I'm off to get the rest of my programmes loaded and while that's happening I need to read through my part for the murder mystery I'm taking part in tonight-I do know I am not the victim... :-)