Oh The Things You Can Think…. Finding The Space Between The Words… Progress on Book 3

I appear to in the throes of a writing frenzy. Whether it’s the longer days, or the (slightly) warmer weather I am unsure.  It doesn’t happen often so when it does, I strap myself in and type as fast as my stubby fingers will allow. Then I hit the wall. I lay exhausted in a crumpled heap until chocolate and caffeine (or wine) revive me. I break only to feed the hungry teens and walk the dog. Everything takes on increased speed and unwavering focus as I hurtle towards my word count. Sound familiar?

What I hadn’t banked on was the rest of my life becoming equally as crazy.I do like a good dose of procrastination to balance things out, but sadly this week there was no time for it! Procrastination, for me, is like an annoying friend. You can’t wait to see the back of them but then miss them when they’re gone! It has only been a four day week (due to the bank holiday), and even then I had Tuesday off, so technically… well actually, I only worked three days. I know  – I’m a light weight!

So the book, how’s the book coming along? Well, I’m glad you asked! Last night at precisely 11.45pm I hit 40,000 words! 40,00 words on a book that I had no intention of writing, not bad eh? Yeah, I was impressed with myself too! Suffice to say Lady Virginia Penrose has been very busy and very bossy! I’m aiming for around 85,000 words so you could say I’m almost half way. I’m hoping to get finished before the end of the year, but I’m not going to hold myself too firmly to a date. Writing this book has taken me by surprise so I want to try and find the space between the words, give them time to breathe. Hopefully, it will help the different strands find their way. Which is why this weekend I am leaving it be. Yep, you heard me, I won’t be going anywhere near Lady Ginny. I shall of course still be writing! I have an interesting blog post to write about an Alien and some wine, no I haven’t been drinking, well not yet.

So me hearties ( oh no, I’ve gone all West Country… must stop thinking about the return of Poldark), pop back tomorrow to hear about the Alien. Until then here is a picture I took at St James Park in London a few weeks ago… I am desperately trying to channel the Swan!

 

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Friday Feature….The Curious Tale of Creating an Audio Book….

Creating an audio book was not something I had thought about too deeply until recently. My friend and fellow mystery author Phyllis Entis began the process of converting her Damien Dickens Mysteries trilogy sometime back in 2016. I watched with interest as each book was brought to life. It was not an althogether smooth process, but the end result was amazing. It got me to thinking (yes I do still have a few brain cells left in good working order). How much time do I spend in the car or on the train or even doing the washing up? Surely it could be time better spent.There is never as much time as I would like to read a book, so why not listen to one? And that is exactly what I did! I chose a book by one of my favourite writers – Robert Bryndza. The Girl in The Ice is a book I know very well, I think I’ve read it three times! Hearing the book read aloud despite knowing the story gave it a new dimension. How you read something in your head compared to hearing it read out loud gives it a different flow, different punctuation. It surprised me.

I’ve ‘ummed and ‘arred about whether I should go down the audio route for All Tomorrow’s Parties .My main doubt revolved around my protagonists voice. Would it be possible to find a narrator who would be able to portray Laine Marshall exactly as she sounds inside my head? I made myself a promise. If after two months I was unable to find a narrator who was a solid vocal fit then I would take it as a sign it was not meant to be. I would park the idea on the back burner and leave it there… Well life has a way of kicking up the preverbial don’t you find? This week I am very excited to announce I have found my Laine Marshall! A young British actress who will be giving a living voice to All Tomorrow’s Parties I am bowled over. More news on this over the coming weeks but to say I am excited is an understatement! If all goes well  there will be an audio version of All Tomorrow’s Parties by July. Just in time for your holidays. Sometimes life is just grand!

If you can’t wait until then you can downlaod a kindle copy or grab yourself a paperback version here –

A Room of My Own

I sit writing this blog post in the room pictured above. It’s a room I love, it’s my writing room. It used to be the ‘spare room’ but I have converted it into my little piece of bookish bliss! I am currently sharing my space with the contents of the bathroom due to ongoing building works. I think our tiny bathroom is, in fact, a Tardis judging by the amount of paraphernalia that surrounds me. Ah, the beloved foot spa, such a great idea, but sadly never used. Maybe I could use the foot spa and write at the same time? Now there’s a thought!

I am very lucky to have such a wonderful place to write. The room is at the front of the house. It overlooks a field of horses. It is a lovely place to write, and to daydream in equal measures. Most of the time I am joined by Poppy my English Springer Spaniel. She will do one of two things. She will sit under the desk at my feet or, she’ll look for adventure.Guess which one I prefer? I am ashamed to say she has mastered the art of bin diving! I can often be seen raising my voice and running across the landing, in hot pursuit of a dog with an empty ink cartridge or worse, a chocolate wrapper! She chooses her moments with absolute precision, running off at exactly the moment I need to apply myself to a particularly complex piece of dialogue, or a red pen edit. She is a cheeky madam!

I do like a reasonably tidy desk. The same can not be said for the floor. No, I will not take a picture of the floor – trust me you really don’t want that image in your head.The floor usually sports three or four pieces of research in the form of open books, sheets of handwritten notes and photographs. This is another part of the bored dog vs human adventure that regularly takes place. I have learned only to place items on the floor that can be easily replaced. Sprinting is not my special talent. Some of my books are literally ‘dog eared’. Well I had better get on…. that book won’t write itself and I need to provide some entertainment for the dog!

A Snapshot from my Mind….. February

I had no idea I would be so happy to see the start of February. January was full of the ‘T’ word and the news from everywhere was depressing. February already feels more… dare I say it – optimistic! With a rather large spring in my step I am heading for my first ever writers retreat. I have some idea of what to expect, although my knowledge of such gatherings is based on my own expectations more than fact! I hope there shall be lots of writing, not much procrastination and perhaps a glass or two of some nice fizz. Do I expect too much? Quite possibly! I shall report back next week on my findings.

Work with my latest muse Virginia continues and is proving enlightening. Virginia Penrose is developing into an interesting character with a lot to say! I hope my retreat shall give me a chance to get to know her better. I can tell you the book is set around 1910. Whilst doing my research I came across this old photograph which sums up what’s going on in my head perfectly!

 

Picadilly London 1910

Thursday Spotlight ~ Kara O’Neal ~ Love’s Redemption

Please join me in giving a warm welcome to author Kara O’Neal. Welcome Kara. What a great title ‘Love’s Redemption’, can you tell us a bit about your new book?

Love’s Redemption is a story of forgiveness and courage. I loved writing this book. Willa is someone I admire. She’s had a tough life and does everything she can to protect her loved ones. I enjoyed exploring her heart and watching her achieve happiness. And she deserves so much happiness. Lonnie is the man she needs, loyal, steady and kind. He is, without doubt, my favorite hero in the Pikes Run Series (So far), And while he has a calm nature, he can be just as assertive and determined as Willa. Together they make a wonderful couple, a model of true love. You will not be disappointed in their journey!

Blurb:

When she was little more than a child, Willa Kramer went to extreme lengths to save her family from their abusive father. After that horrible day, her mother and siblings moved to Tennessee, and Willa had hoped to leave Texas, its memories and Lonnie Davis, the only boy she had ever trusted, behind. But fate is unpredictable.

Five years have passed, and Lonnie finds himself reunited with Willa, the only girl he’s ever loved. He’s determined not to let her slip away again, but a figure from the past looms, threatening his hopes for the future.

Snippet:

He paused. His chest tightened. He’d waited a long time to see her, had wondered if he ever would. Years ago, she’d wrapped him around her little finger, and he’d grown so attached to her, he’d thought about moving to Tennessee to be with her. But then she had stopped writing. To say it had hurt would be an understatement. But he hadn’t been angry. He could never be angry with her. Never. And now she was back and near. It was too tempting.

After taking a deep breath, he moved forward then went through the screen door. Even though it gave a loud creak, she didn’t turn. Did she know it was he who stood behind her?

 The light breeze ruffled her skirt. Her long, velvety hair grazed the small of her back. An ache centered in the pit of his stomach. He’d missed her. And now she was here. “Hello, Willa.”

Thank you so much sharing ‘Love’s Redemption Kara and here’s wishing you every success.

About the author:              Kara

Kara O’Neal was born and raised in Texas.  After surviving those awkward years of 7 to 16, she spent two years at Sam Houston State University where she met her husband.  He followed her to Texas Tech University and was proud when she graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Human Development.  Soon after graduation Kara followed her heart and became certified to teach Special Education. 

She married the love of her life in 1998 and had three children.  The happiest times of her life are spent with her family and friends.  Kara is fortunate to be surrounded by the best and most amazing people God put on this earth.

When she was pregnant with her oldest child, Kara wrote her first novel.  And then rewrote it.  And rewrote it again.  She did this while teaching, raising kids, and traveling across Texas with her husband.
Becoming an author was a dream she stumbled upon.  With the encouragement of her family and friends, she didn’t discard this risky adventure.  At this time, she would like to express her gratitude to her husband, parents, siblings, children, and friends for their support, love, and suggested revisions.

You can connect with Kara O’Neal here:

Author website: www.karaoneal.com

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/KaraONeal84/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/karaoneal7/

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Kara-ONeal/e/B00FL19TH8/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1465007993&sr=8-1

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/kara+o’neal?_requestid=845025

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KaraONealAuthor

Today is Brought to You by The Letter U

Providing a taxi service for number 3 son last night, I found an unexpected nugget of writing gold. Anyone with children of a certain age will be familiar with the ‘taxi of mum and dad’. Hours of tiresome journeys, interspersed with sitting and waiting, followed by further tiresome journeys.  I’ve often wondered why the legal driving age is not 12 –  that would be OK wouldn’t it??

I digress… Last night, awaiting the return of my Tae Kwondo enthusiast, I sat aimlessly flicking through the car radio stations. A word caught me, it was unfamiliar and sparked my interest, so I scrolled back. The word was ‘Uhtceare’.

Uhtceare ~ ( pronounced oot key-are-a)

An Old English word that refers to anxiety experienced just before dawn. It describes that moment when you wake up too early and can’t get back to sleep, no matter how tired you are, because you’re worried about the day to come.

Unbeknownst to me, I had long been a sufferer of uhtceare! I listened avidly to the show, absolutely enthralled. A radio programme devoted to forgotten words. Who knew there were so many? I was in heaven! Our language constantly lives and evolves. Words come into, and go out of fashion. Some change meaning, whilst others fade and sometimes disappear. As any writer will tell you, the sound and meaning of unknown words, is like nectar to the Gods. Each word carries its own sense of identity and purpose. New words allow you to expand your linguistic creativity even further. It’s like Christmas and birthdays and chocolate and wine – you get the picture! The words I heard were all part of a book called ‘The Horologican’ by Mark Forsyth. It is a book devoted to the most extraordinary words in the English language, according to the hour of day you may need them!

After doing a bit of research on the big G, I have decided to make it my mission to include a few of these unusual offerings within future works. Here’s a few examples you may/may not find useful:

  • Snollygoster – A 19th century American word for ‘ a dishonest or corrupt politician’.  I can not think why on earth we might need this word ( tongue firmly placed in cheek).
  • Flabergudgion – A mischievous or nasty person
  • Wamblecropt –  Overcome with indigestion.

 

Right then I am off to gongoozle………

I’ve put a link here for your enjoyment – happy reading!

Thursday Thoughts

At this time of year it is so easy to get caught up in….well, in everything! I become reflective and start to look back at the year as impartially as I can, looking for the good, the bad and the could do better moments. As a writer I am very fortunate to be able to spend time doing what I love. My thoughts turn to those who, for whatever reason are not fortunate, whether through war, deprivation or ill health they do not wish to look back. This year has been tough for so many people. With that in mind I would like to draw your attention to a few charities who are doing some outstanding work.

Give a Book

Give a Book is a UK registered charity. It was set up in 2011 in memory of writer and playwright Simon Gray who loved to read and to share his reading. The organisation facilitate the gift of books to selected charities and other organisations.

How it works: Donations are used to source new books at cost price, then package and post the books to selected charities. Every donation you make buys and distributes a book to someone who – for differing reasons – might need one. Every £5.00 donation Gives a Book.

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Book-Cycle

“All life should be granted an equal opportunity for expression.
Freedom; being our highest ideal is governed by the
parameters of the environment and the liberty of others.”

Book-Cycles main aims are;

The Advancement of Education for the Public Benefit

To improve literacy and the love of learning, Book-Cycle is committed to providing free access to books and information both in Britain and abroad.

The Reforestation of Britain

To take responsibility for the books we read and give something back to our surrounding flora and fauna, Book-Cycle is committed to the planting of trees, the creation of permaculture and the extension of mutually beneficial habitats.

The Dissemination of the Knowledge and Practices of Permaculture

To give fairer access to the principles and practicalities of self-sustainability, Book-Cycle will endeavour to provide free information and examples of such practices in a local context.

 

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“One of the secrets of life is that all that is really worth the doing is what we do for others” – Lewis Carroll

Please give generously and have a happy, healthy holiday season.

 

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The Joys of Formatting an eBook

I have spent the best part of today getting my head around formatting my forthcoming release Forbidden Colours for  eReaders. Oh the pain, I would rather be sticking pins in my eyes! I have neck ache, back ache and am in urgent need of wine – which, I have promised myself will be my reward when I finally beat this spawn of the devil!

I followed the same process I used when I formatted my debut novel All Tomorrow’s Parties but, for whatever reason, this time, the computer says ‘no’ and has been saying ‘no’ for the past 4 hours. The problem is the different formats do not talk to each other! So I have to convert ( or in my case create a mess of) my book in different ways.

I have no option than to go nuclear. Smashwords has a rather helpful style guide ( link below), which shows exactly how to ‘go nuclear’. For now it’s more a question of time needed to press the button and un format to reformat. Oh the pressures of the modern world my friends!

So that I never, and I mean NEVER find myself in this situation again, I’ve put together a few quick top tips to all things eBookish. It is not a definitive guide by any stretch of the imagination – that is not what it is. Hopefully the tips below will help you and eliminate the need for you to go nuclear too!

  • There are three main eBook formats that are widely used – PDF, EPUB and MOBI. The formats are driven by the device on which they are to be viewed, so naturally they don’t all use the same platforms – that would be too simple!
  • Most eBooks are what’s called ‘flowable’ – allowing the reader to choose different size fonts. Therefore keep it simple with your fonts. Fancy fonts do not fare well when converted.
  • Do not include page numbers. As helpful as they may be for you, they are pointless on e Readers. Devices usually tell the reader how far along a book they are e g. 20%, 30% etc. If you have a table of content at the front with page numbers it’s irrelevant.
  • Headers and footers are a no no, take them out. They just confuse everything!
  • Separate paragraphs with only a single return not more, they do not convert well and your work will look disjointed with great big gaps everywhere.
  • The best thing I have discovered is the ‘non print characters’ button (see image below). It shows all of the extra formatting that’s contained within your document –  things you had no idea were there, such as extra spaces, extra returns, line breaks etc. It means you can strip out all of the unnecessary added extras which will hamper your file conversion.
  • A nifty thing that is very straight forward is to add hyperlinks to your table of contents. This is very simple and very effective It allows the readers to go directly to different chapters as if by magic! For full details tap it into a search engine, there are some super tutorials out there.

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  The non character formatting button – A revelation!

  •  The Smashwords style guide is a great free resource that can help you a lot Click here

So after everything how did I fare?

Let’s just say the Chateuxneuf du pape is going down a treat!

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Have you had any formatting nightmares? Please comment below & let me know that I’m not alone!!

I’m Going to Tell You a Story…. I’ll Make It Brief!

Long seen as the poor relation to the novel, short stories are back in vogue, and with good reason. The turnabout probably came, back in 2013 when Lynda Davis won The Man Booker prize for her collection of short stories. That coupled with the launch of Amazons ‘singles’ – (works of between 5,000 – 30,000 words) have spurred on its success. Since then the short story has grown in popularity, going from strength to strength.

The world today provides a perfect landscape for the short story to flourish.  We are all so busy these days. By trying to navigate and juggle our frenetic lives, our time gets consumed by all things electronic. This is both good and bad. It is within this world that the revival of the short story is showing its metal. The reading of a short story can be achieved on the commute to work, say on your phone or tablet in one sitting – it’s a perfect medium and fits well into that time and place. I personally love the short story form form. As a writer, it helps me to stay sharp and focused. Somehow it seems to drive my creativity for my longer novels if that makes sense? By losing myself for a couple of hours writing a short story, I return to my larger work refreshed and fully charged.  Writing a short means I have to be bold, be bright and be gone. No waffle just straight in feet first. Less is definitely more with a short and therein lies my love of writing them.  It appears I am in good company!

The short story has its roots buried deep within our culture. Dickens, known for creating some of our best loved  fictional characters was a prolific short story writer. His success began with the serialization of The Pickwick Papers. His novels were mostly published in weekly or monthly installments, a sort of short story for the times.

I have recently had some successes with my short stories. They have woven their way into a variety of longlists and this month saw my first short list addition! …. Fingers crossed.

With my second novel well into the ‘red marker’ editing phase (or slash and burn as I call it), I have set my sights on my next piece of work  –  a collection of short stories. They will be my toughest challenge yet but I’m game if you are?

 

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I am a 1 in 10!

A ray of sunshine shone into my world yesterday . My short story ‘Soaring’ has been shortlisted for The Black Pear Press Short Story Competition. Well, if that’s not headline news I don’t know what is! Not surprisingly I am very excited, even more excited than my crazy Springer Spaniel, and that takes some beating!

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I’m more excited than this!