Wayfarers’ Church, Somerset
Dear Auntie Romaniac,
I’m suffering from a bad case of impatience. Life seems to be one long wait at the moment, mainly for emails that refuse to arrive.
I know it’s good to have lots of projects on the go and fingers in plenty of pies (am talking competition entries, submissions to agents etc, not real pies, sadly) but how can I get away from this constant, obsessive checking of my inbox? I still need to be at the computer to finish the WIP and it’s way too tempting to just have just one more little glance…aaargh, I’m doing it again!
Jan: You have my full sympathy on this one, Celia. I had to take drastic measures recently when I was working on my edits by actually unplugging the internet router/modem, you name it … Other than that, I find what (sometimes) works for me is to set the alarm on my phone (stick with me on this!) for certain times during the day/eve, say 10am, 1pm, 4pm, etc, and only look at emails/Facebook/Twitter at these points. I’m sure you will receive better solutions than these, so good luck! :)
Since my last Life Cycle of a Writer post where I talked about how I plot my novels with Post-It Notes (click HERE for link), and how I was aiming to finish the first draft of my WIP, I’m delighted to say that I typed THE END! Yay! That novel had been put to one side for quite some time while I worked on other projects, so having finally completed it and sent it out, I’m now waiting for feedback.
In an effort to stop myself constantly refreshing my inbox for any news, I’ve been keeping myself busy by writing a novella. It’s a romance with a mystery set in France called The French Effect, which I’m aiming to publish around the end of October.
As a family, we have a great love for France and have a second home in Southern Brittany. I’ve wanted to use the location for a long time and finally had time to work on this project. I’ve enjoyed writing The French Effect so much, I plan to do a few more novellas based in the different areas of France we’ve visited over the years.
I’m self-publishing this time, under the Romaniac Press banner, and the list of things to do has been a bit longer than usual, including:-
Formatting for Kindle and Smashwords
Uploading to Amazon
Of course, there’s still the usual editing, revising and proofreading to add to the list, together with organising the promo and reviews but I’ve enjoyed the whole process. It’s certainly kept me busy. I look forward to sharing the cover and blurb very soon but, in the meantime, will leave you with a picture of our cottage in France. The door and windows are usually a lovely deep Breton red but they are currently in the middle of a facelift.
I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s in a small Gloucestershire village – back then, there were only four channels on the telly and as a teenager there was nothing to do and nowhere to go. My nearest library was ten miles away, my nearest bookshop twenty.
I was never one of the hanging-round-on street-corner kids, I preferred to stay in and read. As a teenager, I remember endless rainy Saturday afternoons when there was nothing but horse racing and darts on TV and my mum and dad’s bookshelves became my escape. Lack of access to bookshops meant I had to make do with what I could find and expand my reading genres – once I’d worked my way through the teenage reads in the school library, I read anything and everything we had at home. On my mum’s shelf, there was Mills & Boon and Catherine Cookson, Jackie Collins and Shirley Conran. On my dad’s, it was Alistair MacLean, Stephen King and James Herbert. I read my dad’s non-fiction books about nature and war, I read cookbooks, I read the bible. I read every copy of 2000AD stashed in my brother’s room and I even read the Watchtower magazines the Jehovah’s Witnesses stuffed through the letterbox.
I learned a lot from all of them, but most of all I learned not to be a reading snob: I appreciated a good thriller or a sweet romance as much as any of the classics we read at school.
Some of those books still sit on my shelves – all my old Enid Blyton and Noel Streatfield books, the Narnia books, What Katy Did and Little Women. But also my dad’s Stephen Kings and Alistair MacLeans, my mum’s Catherine Cooksons and Jackie Collins.
Now I’m all grown up and writing my own stories – whether it’s short stories, flash fiction or novels, I’ve written thrillers and romance, comedy, fantasy, sci-fi and horror. I like to think the access my parents gave me to all those wonderful fictional worlds has helped shape me as a writer and I want to thank them for that – I only wish they were still alive to see where their love of books has taken their daughter.
At the moment, my eldest daughter is only interested in books with horses in them and my youngest books about fairies, but I’m hoping they’ll find their own inspiration in my bookshelves as they get older – shelves that offer romance and crime and horror and fantasy, a fictional look into the past and the future, classic books and future literary classics.
I hope that some rainy afternoon when there’s nothing on TV will open up a whole new world for them like it did for me.
I made the decision at the start of the school summer holidays to lock my work-in-progress away and leave it alone for a couple of months. Complicated editing left my brain aching and I was no longer sure if I had something good or the worst thing ever written in the history of the written word. I couldn’t look at it objectively – all I could see was a big, tangled mess. Definitely time to let go and walk away before I deleted the whole thing. So I did think my turn on LCOAW would be a very short and not-so-sweet ‘I’ve done nothing in the last two months’… but sometimes the down times can be productive in other ways.
And most importantly, I’ve had time to spend with my daughters – trips to the park, the beach, the cinema – picnics and playtime and fun. Sometimes that’s as important for grown-ups as it is for kids!
Last week, I went on holiday – first week away in the sun for many years – and it was total bliss. A wonderful week of relaxing and reading. Mostly there was a lot of this:
But I did also put the work-in-progress on my kindle to take with me. Having rested it, I was ready to read it through again – away from the computer so I couldn’t edit as I went along, but armed with a notebook so I could make brief notes.
The time away from it worked wonders – as did the lack of access to a computer. I read it through in one go and could see right away the problem that’s been bogging me down for ages, and I could see how to resolve it. And as soon as the children go back to school next week, I’m going to sit down, re-edit and finally call the book finished!
On the first day of our holiday, the first thing my daughters did was jump straight in the pool with all their clothes on. I was more cautious – one toe at a time… that’s how it’s been with this book. Changing genre is scary and I’ve been nervous about jumping straight in – it’s definitely been a one toe at a time kind of book, nudged and encouraged along by my agent. Maybe by the time I get stuck into the next one, I’ll be braver – maybe I’ll even jump straight in :-)