Book Bereavement

I’m suffering book bereavement.

There’s probably an equivalent for artists and musicians and it hurts.

Book bereavement is when a piece of writing is complete, leaving a gap in your life you don’t know how to fill. (Readers can feel much the same when a good book ends.)

In my case, I’ve just finished writing a novel and I’m missing my main characters so much I don’t know how to stop thinking about them. It’s a really odd sensation to have about people who, let’s be honest *whispers* don’t really exist at all. The thing is, they feel real to me. 

This sensation may be intensified by the fact that I took last week off work purely to write and wrote nearly 36,000 words. Fundamentally, except for a few hours spent eating and having to live in the real world, I was imagining, dreaming, writing and living in my novel for nine days and nights.

For those of you who’ve stuck with me so far: who are these people who are still hovering about and what’s their story?

The main character is Margaret Demeray, the younger sister of Katherine from the Caster & Fleet series.

Liz Hedgecock and I decided we’d do spin-offs which we would write singly, rather than as a collaboration and I chose to see what happened to Margaret when she grew up. (You’ll have to wait and see what Liz comes up with.)

The book is set in 1910. 

I picked the year partly because the fashions – with the possible exception of hats – were lovely (which is perhaps not very rational) and partly because it was a kind of tipping point historically. King Edward VII has just died, the women’s suffrage movement is gaining momentum, the old monarchies and empires of Europe, including Britain’s, are quietly sabre-rattling as they struggle for dominance.

Margaret is thirty-six, the age when a woman is supposed to be in her prime. (I can’t really remember because at that age I had baby well under two and was expecting a second.)

Margaret’s life is much more interesting. She is medically qualified and working in a teaching hospital. She has been asked to speak at a scientific symposium, the only woman to do so. She has great women-friends, equally determined not to be overshadowed by men, and has maintained her independence. But somehow she has also become engaged to a man so hung-up, he appears to find kissing her a chore. Perhaps if he were a little more passionate, she wouldn’t keep putting off the wedding. But as it is…

Then a stranger asks about the nameless subject of Margaret’s most recent post-mortem and her world turns upside down.

Obviously, the first draft being hot off the fingertips so to speak, it’s too close to read through and see what works, what doesn’t and which loose ends are still flapping. And it doesn’t have a name either. 

Oh well, I’m sure my subconscious will tell me at 4 a.m. or during a business meeting sometime soon. 

Today I’m back at my day job (the one that pays the bills) where there is regrettably very little scope for creativity, unless you count obtaining statistics and then turning them into a pretty graph. So perhaps to distract myself from having left my main characters wondering what they’re supposed to do next, I did a bit of number-crunching of my own.

My husband and I have recently started counting steps and we have been making ourselves do a circuit of our town pretty much every day to reach our 10k. 

So I’ve created a graph to show how many words I wrote each day last week against how many steps I walked. On the basis that statistics are supposed to prove something, these seem to prove nothing except it is possible to write words and do exercise, even if your husband has to drag you out of the house and put up with your mind being somewhere else entirely as you walk. (For the record, it rained all day on Friday 8th, he wasn’t home till late and it was more appealing to stick at writing rather than waste time walking round town getting drenched. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.)

For anyone who actually cares about the words side of it, an average under 4,000 words a day may not seem a lot given that I was writing for around 8 hours a day and I’ve been known to write 1,500 on an hour and half train journey. Every writer has their own way of doing things. Some people write to a strict plan, some to no plan at all; some pour everything out and worry about it afterwards, some do a bit of editing as they go along. 

I start with an outline, some idea of who’s who, what they’re up to and where they’ll end up, but let the rest fall in place as it comes to me – which as I said above sometimes occurs at 4 a.m or in the middle of a business meeting. My process last week was: get up, review the previous day’s writing, tweak it, often move it about or hold it back, and then crack on with the next part. I think there was one day I did more tweaking than writing.

For now as I write this, I must put Margaret, her friends and her enemies firmly to one side, because it’s lunchtime and I’m going to do some steps. 

Only 7,353 more to do. Sigh. I’d rather be writing.

 

 

Words copyright 2019 by Paula Harmon. All rights belong to the author and material may not be copied without the author’s express permission.

Charming Gowns:www.designrush.com

Graph: my own with dodgy stats

Cat: www.pixabay.com

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Author Interview with GB Williams

Hi, I’m GB Williams, I write complex, fast-paced contemporary crime novels and didn’t realise they were hard-bitten till my publisher said so.  

Questions

Do you like to reflect a sense of place in your stories? If so, how/where?

I do try to.  My Locked Trilogy is odd in this respect, because I have been very careful not to state where they are set, not even a fake town name.  However, I think that they do have a sense of place.  “Locked Up” is set inside a prison and that sense of being shut in, how claustrophobic it can be, does come through in the writing.  “Locked In” is set during a bank raid gone wrong, so again there’s that feeling on being restricted, of knowing what’s there, including the stray cotton thread on the carpet.  “Locked Down”, releasing February 18th, is much more wide-ranging location wise, and I’ve done my best to give a sense of where my characters are at all times. I try to do this through the senses, how places look, what the weather does, how it smells, I find smells most evocative, but most importantly, I try to show how the characters interact with the place. 

What’s your earliest writing memory?

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t write.  Clearly there was one, one doesn’t get born writing stories.  But I do remember some distinct moments when I knew I was a writer.  The first happened when I was very young, probably 4 or 5, my sisters and I were over my grandparents’ house, a weekly event back then. We were at the kitchen table and they’d given us some cardboard boxes and odd bits, sticky tape and pens, general art supplies. I think I’d made a shop, was pretending people were coming in and out, having conversations.  One of my sisters had a sulk on about how things weren’t fair because I always made up the best stories, had the best imagination.  I remember thinking that was because making up stories was what I wanted to do. When older I went on a youth hostel trip with the school and told stories in the dorm. They asked for horror stories, so that’s what they got.  Some complained next day they hadn’t slept because of my stories, so I did my job. The first time I wrote a play was aged 11, a class exercise. I was embarrassed as hell when the teacher held it up as the only one that actually worked as a play.  He told me I should give it to the Drama Department and see if they’d perform it.  I never did, and that’s pretty much my earliest writing regret.

Who are your main characters in your book(s): can you tell us something about them?

The three that matter are:

Ariadne Teddington; Life definitely happened while Ariadne was making other plans.  When her marriage broke up after SIDS claimed her daughter, she took the prison officer job because it was there, and she could.

Charlie Bell; all he ever wanted to be was a policeman, now the ex-Detective Sergeant is a rightfully convicted murderer. Charlie considers his failed relationships as proof he isn’t half the man his father was.

Mathew Piper; A career copper, there is little in DCI Piper’s professional life that he regretted, except failing to stop a gang lord and having to arrest his own DS for murder.  

What is their happiest memory/ies?

Ariadne: The birth of her daughter

Piper: The birth of his children, his twin daughters or his son, he couldn’t pick between the two, though he cried when he had a son.

Charlie: The realisation that Ariadne loved him, that he was a free man.

What is the biggest challenge they face?

Ariadne: Finding out what happened to her brother.

Piper: Walking the thin blue line.

Charlie: What comes next.

Biography:

GB Williams lives in her own private dungeon populated with all the weird and the wonderful she can imagine.  Some of it’s very weird, and the odd bits and pieces are a bit wonderful.  With a vivid imagination fuelled by a near death experience at the age of three, there was really no other choice for GB than to write, something she’s been doing her for as long as she can remember.  She’s tried not doing it, but it never works for long, her brain gets itchy if she hasn’t written anything for a couple of days.  GB is English by birth, but Welsh by choice, married a Welshman they have two fantastic children. They live with the world’s most imperious and demanding cat.  A DBA by day, a freelance editor and keen writer by night and weekend, she really needs to learn to sleep. 

Shortlisted for the 2014 CWA Margery Allingham Short Story Competition.  GB is also a feature writer and comic book reviewer. Crime novels are her stock in trade, but she has had success with a steampunk series of novels, and short stories in assorted genres.  

My Links:

Twitter:       @GailBWilliams (for crime) @ShadesOfAether (for steampunk)

Facebook:  @GBWilliamsCrimeWriter (for crime) @ShadesOfAether (for steampunk)

Blog:           thewriteroute.wordpress.com

Website:     www.gailbwilliams.co.uk

You’ll find my books on Amazon or at the various fairs I attend, there are links to all from my website.

Masked Mayhem

As a child I loved dressing up. Romantic ideas of being elegant and majestic were forever thwarted as anyone who has read the first story in The Advent Calendar will know but that didn’t stop me hoping. As a young adult, still intent on looking sophisticated or at least cute, I usually attended fancy dress parties dressed as a cat or Cleopatra (plenty of excess black eye make-up) and once as Little Miss Muffet (hence picture below). Since then, apart from a period in my career which required wearing a combination of eighteenth century and medieval clothes, the last time I dressed up was as Madonna in her Like Prayer era to go to a fund raising disco and no, I’m not sharing that picture.

So naturally, when Liz Hedgecock said ‘what about having some masquerade balls in book 4 of The Caster and Fleet Mysteries?’ I rubbed my hands in glee.

Speaking for myself, the closest to dressing up I’ve done since making that decision is wearing a new outfit to meet Liz and discuss editing but it was great fun deciding the themes for the balls and imagining the characters’ costumes.

But of course the book is not just about Connie and Katherine’s clothes and dancing skills. 

In the year that has passed since The Case of the Deceased Clerk, their lives have changed immensely and there’s a possibility that their days of solving mysteries together may be over. Connie is bucking the trend for women of her class and has become a hands-on mother – complicated as that is in 1893. Katherine, meanwhile is looking forward to finally having a home of her own and has been managing assignments alone for some months. A night out at a ball will simply be a break from routine, won’t it? 

Well of course not. 

Before they know it, Connie and Katherine are tangled up in secrets and scandal which threaten not only their reputations but their friendship. Only some determined investigations, baby notwithstanding, will uncover the truth. 

The Case of The Masquerade Mob is available now for pre-order on Amazon as an ebook. Paperback to follow.

 

Words and photograph copyright 2018 by Paula Harmon. All rights belong to the author and material may not be copied without the author’s express permission.

Books by Paula Harmon & Liz Hedgecock

Katherine and Connie are back on the case!

 

 

 

A Magical Day in an Author’s Life

The Purple Pen

Hello everyone,

Today is a magical day in Paula Harmon’s life. Get ready to get immersed into her personal and writer’s life.

Here we go:

1. Can you please tells us about yourself?

I’m Paula Harmon. I live in the UK, south-west England in Dorset which is one of the loveliest places in the world: sea, ancient hill-forts, castles, beautiful countryside, pretty towns. I am married with two children aged 19 and 17. Although I have written stories for as long as I can remember, I only started to do it seriously from about 2015.

2. What was your favourite book from childhood?

I’m not sure I could pick one! My father read us the Narnia books and I so wanted to go there. In fact I still do really. I also loved the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, historical fiction by Henry Treece and Geoffrey Trease and fantasy works by…

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Headstrong heroines and hansom cabs: it’s The Case of the Black Tulips!

Wordster

It’s finally happened – The Case of the Black Tulips is now LIVE on Amazon! And for its first week in the world, you can buy it for just 99c/99p (or it’s available to read in Kindle Unlimited).

See the book on Amazon

When I say ‘finally’, though, Paula Harmon and I only wrote the draft in January, so actually we’ve been quite speedy. And we plan to continue being speedy, because book 2, The Case of the Runaway Client, is already available to pre-order and will be out in July!

This is what the three books in progress look like together:

And if you’ve managed to escape all my earlier rantings about The Case of the Black Tulips, here are some of the things you can find within its pages:

  • 2 – yes 2 – female protagonists, who move between friendship and utter exasperation with each…

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GDPR – the General Data Protection Regulation

GDPR – the General Data Protection Regulation – comes into place on 25th May 2018.

Here is what I have done to comply. 

If you follow this blog/website, then your email address will be stored by the website. I do not use it or access it. It simply forms part of the statistics on the website itself.

Because your email address constitutes personal data, I need to have a Privacy Statement. This explains what data I collect, why I collect it, and how I store it, including whether I share it with any third parties, who they are, and what their privacy policies are. My privacy statement is in my site menu, and also linked here. It touches on your other rights regarding information you share with me.

If you are one of my blog/website followers, because you have signed yourself up and as I don’t use the contact details personally (the website itself emails you with new entries), I will not email you to ask if you wish to keep ‘following’. You may ‘unfollow’ whenever you wish.

I now have a Contact Form which cross-references with the privacy notice. You can use this to contact me about anything, for example existing or upcoming books etc.

I’ve also added a cookie banner so that you know the site uses cookies, and can choose whether or not to enable them.

If you do wish to unfollow my blog/website you are very welcome to do so at any time, by clicking the Unfollow button.

Of course, I’d rather you kept following as there is plenty of news coming up!

And hopefully it’ll be a lot less dry than this post!

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A Community of Writers

Never Too Late

As tempting as it is to address the craziness of recent events and a certain writer’s lack of common sense, I will abstain from that. While what she did was selfish, uncalled for, and served no purpose other than burning all her bridges in the literary world, I don’t subscribe to the idea of name calling or finger pointing–be it in person or in cyber space.

What I would like to talk about today is professional courtesy and respect. When I first got involved in the romance publishing world, I was like most “virgins”–starry eyed and naive. I’ve never been good at making professional connections and having no one to guide me in this new world, I was pretty much a fish out of water–flopping around and gasping for air.

life-3089646_1920

Little by little, I learned the ropes, or at least enough to start getting some air into my lungs to…

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