What's the saying? "If you want something done, ask a busy person?" Well take note: please don't ask me. I have managed to volunteer myself for a variety of interesting and exciting things, but, like London Buses, they are all arriving at once!
Ripples in the Sand
has gone off to be edited - and I have managed to leave out an important chunk of plot. Jesamiah sails off to C�diz to sell his tobacco, but in the preceding chapters he states quite clearly that if he wanted to go to Spain to sell it, he would have gone there in the first place, not Devon. But then I have him gaily sailing off. oops. So I have a few scene tweaks to do, and an entire chapter to write as an addition. I think I know how I'm going to concoct a plausible reason for his change of mind. And no, I'm not going to reveal what it is.
Then I am responsible for several things within the Historical Novel Society's forthcoming London 2012 Conference. I am a speaker in two workshops; one 'Ship Ahoy - The challenges and joy of writing nautical HF' based around writing the nautical novel. This should be fun. We are going to run it as if we've invited people to sit at the captain's table - and we hope to have a spare, empty chair for the spirit of Patrick O'Brian. Other speakers are authors Linda Collison (main organiser) JD Davies, myself, Margaret Muir & Richard Spilman. If you are a lover of the sea, nautical stories, or just like a good yarn, this one is for you.
With author Richard Denning, graphics designer Cathy Helms & SilverWood Publishing Director Helen Hart I am presenting 'Success the Indie Way - The advantages of being self-published in HF and how best to go that route.' So, two talks to prepare.
The Conference, held at the University of Westminster in London's Regent Street, promises to be a grand and exciting affair from the reception evening on Friday 28th September, through Saturday evening's Banquet and Sunday September 30th morning. There are two additional trips arranged: on Friday during the day, to visit the Maritime Museum at Greenwich - with a chance to take in other Greenwich attractions such as the Royal Observatory and the Cutty Sark - and on Sunday afternoon a guided tour of the Museum of London, with tea and cakes to complete the day.
Add in all the wonderful authors and speakers to look forward to meeting: Bernard Cornwall, Lindsay Davis, Margaret George, Phillipa Gregory, Elizabeth Chadwick. and me!
I am collecting and collating items for the free goody bags which are to be given to every attending delegate. That's 300 bags. With give-away books included, postcards, bookmarks etc, my office now looks more like a warehouse. I have to climb the cardboard equivalent of Everest to reach my desk!
I have my website journals to write, blogs to keep up to date. oh and my dear daughter decided to go away for a few days, so Ron and I were left Horse-sitting. Fortunately, now that the weather is somewhat better, they can be turned out in the field. Trying to look after them when it was pouring with rain for days on end was no joke.
Having passed the trial period of three months, we are now proud, full owners of Jasper the ex-racehorse. He is such a sweetheart. Lovely manners, so willing to please - although he does tend to get a bit excited when you take him out. Fair do's, he assumes he's going racing. It will take a bit of time and a lot of understanding patience to help him comprehend that his racing days are over.
Lexie, meanwhile, continues to grow. 17.3 hands
at the last measuring. The little madam (ahem, big madam!) knows full well that me at 5 foot 3 inches cannot reach her head to put on her headcollar or fly fringe when she is in the field. Not even on tip-toe. Kathy is just going to have to teach her to kneel down.
Sybil the cat has managed to scalp herself; she has a bald patch about the size of a standard egg-cup on the back of her head. It isn't cut or anything, just grazed, but she keeps knocking the scab off.
I have soundly told her and Mab
that they must stop playing cowboys and Indians.
Our poor old dog, Rum, is getting very wobbly now. He is completely deaf and his sight is going; he also has the doggy equivalent of dementia. But while he still enjoys a walk, is eating well, and not incontinent or anything we are helping him enjoy his Winter Days of Old Age. Every night, though, when he seems so deep asleep I think he has finally slipped away. He is a lovely dog, very loyal and loving, which is astounding when you think that for the first four years of his life wicked people treated him cruelly. I won't go into detail, but suffice to say we know he has had broken bones, and his loss of hearing is probably a result of bad treatment.
Bless him - when we first had him the pads on his paws were as soft as a new-born puppy. Which meant that despite being four years old he had never walked on hard ground, a pavement for instance.
The very first ditch he came to with us, he had no idea how to jump over it, or what to do with it. He does now! The deepest, smelliest stagnant-water ditch - he's in. He used to love paddling in shallow brooks in Epping Forest, but his old arthritic legs prevent that now. We'll miss him when he's gone to the great Doggy Field in the Sky.
So what with horse-looking-after, slow walks with the dog and playing with the cats, it isn't all work!
My to-do list seems to double itself overnight. I'm sure the gremlins climb in through the window and add new tasks while I am asleep. At least this Newsletter is now done, and I have updated my new H2U section of the website, an exclusive extra for opted-in
That's two jobs less. Next up is writing down a few ideas for the Self Published Indie workshop at the Conference I mentioned above. I want to include the necessity for good editing and the importance of publishing a book that is written and produced well. Too many people think that self-published books are second-class reads. At best amateurish, at worst a load of rubbish. Our aim at the HNS is to prove that misconception wrong. Indie published books can be every bit as good as - if not better than - traditional mainstream novels.
We will be including the hows, whys and wherefores of self-publishing a book. There are no hard and fast rules for this. Writing a novel is all about individuality of style, but there are
rules for producing a book correctly. A good, easily readable font, correctly spaced margins, text printed as fully justified, not left or right-hand aligned. Not too many typos or errors, no glaring double spaces. No widows or orphans - one word or one sentence on a page at the end of a chapter - good editing at the proof-read stage should take care of that.
There are technical things to consider also. Not too many Point of View changes, (head-hopping from one character to another), good continuity and believable characters, but, beyond this, there are no rules really.
The list above is like the quote from the Pirates of the Caribbean
movie - the "Rules" are more like "Guidelines".
There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no-one knows what they are.