Monday, April 30, 2012

Paragraph Planet - reminder

As promised, here's a quick reminder that my tiny story Armed and Dangerous is appearing today at Paragraph Planet.

The story will only be live for one day (although it will appear in the archives at the end of the month) so hurry along now if you don't want to miss it. It's, um, sort of fun!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

New paragraph

Watch out at Paragraph Planet on Monday 30th April for my latest 75-word offering, Armed and Dangerous.

This is a tongue-in-cheek little tale about a robbery with unexpected results, told as ever in exactly 75 words.

I'll post a reminder on the day so you don't forget.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The reading pile

The last couple of weeks I've slowly been working my way through the toppling pile of books next to the bed.

I gave up on 'Mr Clive and Mr Page', at least for now. I still can't get my head round what's going on or who's who and when you only have time to read a few pages before you go to sleep, it's even more baffling. The book is exceptionally well written, original and intelligent and I'm hoping to pick it up again eventually, but just at the moment my head hurts too much.

Instead, I read 'The Sense of an Ending' by Julian Barnes, which you might remember I picked up during a special offer at WH Smith a few weeks back. This book won the Man Booker prize of 2011 so I wasn't expecting it to be particularly readable - I've tried Booker-prize-winning books before and they were all rather strange. Added to that I tried Barnes' previous novel 'Arthur and George' and found it too tedious and slow to finish. But this one was very different. It's much shorter for one thing, and the prose bowls along, especially towards the beginning where Barnes is describing the main characters as teenagers. Actually, that was the best part of the book for me - very evocative with real insight into the trials and tribulations of being at school and being slightly different. After that, although the pages kept turning, it did rather descend into internal musing as the main character tried to work out whether he was responsible for a terrible event in his past or not. Overall I'd have preferred a little more action and a little less angst, but I was still pleasantly surprised and would happily read the book again. Not something I could say about one or two other Booker titles!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Busy busy...

I know time flies, but quite what happened to the last ten days is anyone's guess. They flew by so quickly that I'm hardly aware they've gone! To be fair, we've been incredibly busy. We've had people viewing the house (the original deal hasn't quite fallen through yet but the chap is dragging his heels). We've had tedious appointments with dentists, opticians and what-have-you. We've got two different removals firms coming to give us a quote, so we've had to go round putting different coloured labels on all our furniture to make sure we know where it's going.

On top of all that I've had a couple of deadlines with work. I submitted the novel I finished a couple of weeks ago, and am chewing my fingernails while the publishers consider it. I've submitted a couple of short stories to various magazines and contests. And I've also been putting the finishing touches to the blog tour that I'm going on (in a virtual sense!) once Necessity's Door is released by Riptide at the end of May.

Phew! Hopefully by next week I'll have got my breath back, because I'm itching to start rewriting a ghost story/novella that I finished, sort of, but that Needs Work to bring the minor characters to life. Again in a virtual sense - they can hardly come to life if they're ghosts!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Spellchecker hilarity

Over the weekend Dave was catching up on some long overdue admin and one of the things he finally got round to was leaving some glowing feedback for the architect who designed and project-managed our extension for us.

The site where he left the feedback had an online pro-forma to fill in, which rather unusually had its own spellchecker.

Dave was part-way through filling the form in when he suddenly collapsed with a fit of the giggles, which rapidly turned to uncontrollable cackling, which turned to howls of laughter. The reason? The spellchecker had taken offence at the word 'Windermere' in the address line and wanted Dave to change it to...

... Wonderbra.

I seriously think this is the best spellchecker prompt EVER, but if you have any that can trump it please let me know.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Better late than never...

Yesterday was a real red-letter day for me because I finally finished my second-ever novel. Gleams of a Remoter World (based on a quote by the poet Shelley) is a ghost story set on the wild west coast of Ireland, and I first started writing it during a holiday in Co. Galway with Dave. The scenery was stunning and there was a ruined church a short walk down the coast that screamed 'ghost story' at me the minute I saw it. I grabbed some paper and a pen and scribbled some notes before we'd even packed up to go home.

But that was, I'm ashamed to admit, the best part of ten years ago. I don't honestly know why it's taken so long to write. I got part way through, lost the will to live and put it in a box. I took it out again and wrote some more. I got hopelessly bogged down with the love interest and put it back in its box. I changed one of the characters from male to female and wrote some more. I got stuck on one particular scene and put it away again. Finally, earlier this year, I unearthed it, found some inspiration from somewhere and finished the actual writing, but then it still needed editing, rewriting and polishing. The whole process has been not just like pulling teeth, but like pulling my own teeth while still awake. Painful, in a word.

But I've got to the finishing line at last (at very. long. last) and I'm absolutely delighted with the result. It topped out at nearly one-and-a-half times the length I'd thought it might and I like the characters, and the way they develop, and I like the ending. (Which isn't always the case with the things I write.)

Now I'm sitting on it for a few more days, just to be absolutely sure I haven't forgotten anything, and then I'll be sending it off to a publisher. I just hope my ten years of hard work won't be wasted!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Pre-order... and win!

I'm jumping up and down because I now have a cover for my new book Necessity's Door - see left for the fantastic artwork by L.C. Chase.

The book is available to pre-order at Riptide Publishing. Not only that, but if you do pre-order you'll be entered in a prize draw to win free e-books from Riptide for a whole year! Second and third prizes are also available and if you're not lucky enough to win, you'll still receive your pre-ordered copy a whole two days before it's officially launched on 28th May.

Necessity's Door tells the story of Jake, a detective working undercover as a male prostitute to try to trap a local crime boss, who finds himself being sucked into the lifestyle he's forced to lead. Will he get out again with his honour, his virtue and even his life intact?

The book is being published as part of the 'Rentboy' collection and if you pre-order all four titles in the series you get a massive 20% discount.

So go on, what are you waiting for? Oh, yes, a link to the ordering page at Riptide would be a good start. Well, here you go!

Monday, April 09, 2012

Easter break

We've treated ourselves to a few days off from gardening, decorating, and packing ready for the looming house move over Easter. The weather has not been great (cool with grey skies and occasional drizzle) but we've managed to pack a load of stuff into the four days: a couple of local antique fairs, a mooch round Kendal, the Aquarium of the Lakes, and today when it's been hammering down all day, a trip to the Lancaster Maritime Museum.

The latter is quite small, set out over a couple of floors of the Custom House and a neighbouring warehouse, and specialises in displays on local history of a watery nature. How Lancaster developed as a port; the history of the whole Morecambe Bay area; offshore gas drilling from Barrow-in Furness; a mock-up of a fast 'packet' boat that took passengers on the Lancaster canal. There weren't quite enough buttons to press for me (what can I say, I'm just a big kid at heart) but it was informative and fun and a great place to spend a very wet day.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

What a difference...

...a week makes. This time last week it was 20c and we were wandering around outdoors in t-shirts and enjoying working in the garden. Today it's blowing a gale, snowing, and only 2 degrees. I'm digging out my winter woollies as I speak.

Oh, the joys of the Great British Weather.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Good walk

Saturday morning was fine, if a little chilly, so we decided to beat the crowds, park up nice and early in Ambleside and have a walk. And it was glorious. The sun shone all the way, the recent haze had cleared to leave stunning views of the fells, and although it stayed chilly it was perfect weather for walking.

We headed up one of our favourite walks - the Scandale path as far as High Sweden Bridge. We'd have liked to go further but we only had a two-hour ticket in the car park which just gave us time to march to the bridge, take some photos and march back down again.

The Scandale path gains height out of the town quite rapidly and there wasn't much sign of spring once we'd got beyond the last straggle of houses. Until we reached the packhorse bridge, looked over the other side, and saw a host not of daffodils but of primroses along the bank of Scandale Beck. Pure magic!

Now we're back in the 'smoke' for a few days and the contrast is not a happy one...