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A lot of writers talk about second book slumps. I ask about it a bit on Inky Inspiration. (P.S Shelley Harris popped in to chat this month https://jodyklaire.wordpress.com/2015/01/21/inky-inspiration-shelley-harris/ )
I'm not sure if it's different for a writer of a series to one who does stand alone novels. I can imagine that it's a lot harder for the latter, you have to get to know new characters all over again.
Why am I talking about this anyway?
Well, two things happened this month. The first is that I took the massive decision to rewrite Fractured. That's the book I was writing on the self-edit course, the one that has driven me nearly as loco as Nita the protagonist (although less knives, more cake.) I'm glad I did it because now, now I am seeing a whole other book on a different level that I know I'll be proud to stand behind. I was before but I've learned a lot since Fractured was taken on. I've grown, I think my writing has grown. It's strange how you spend time taking on board the advice but suddenly that information brings a new meaning and new light. You finally get that nugget of wisdom and how to apply it.
For me it was truly getting the importance of 'the heart of the novel.' ( https://jodyklaire.wordpress.com/2015/01/11/first-lines/ ) The lightbulb moment that Debbie often talks about.
While Nita was being elusive, Aeron my protagonist in The Empath has been completely different. The second book of her series Blind Trust was far easier to write. She seems to know where she's going and what she's doing, even if the plot doesn't quite point that way. True to her character, she's made everything so simple and straightforward. Blind Trust will be released in the new few months and continue Aeron's journey.
I'm really excited about it, a little nervous that I need to build on the success of The Empath, sure. Readers have been so kind and supportive of Aeron that I really want them to love Blind Trust as much, if not more. Although I wasn't thinking about that when I wrote it, now it's in Bedazzled's hands, things become a bit more real.
It's funny that I thought once I'd released my first book, I'd not be too worried then but oddly, I feel exactly as I did the first time. I'm excited that Blind Trust is raring to go. I'm excited to see what readers think, terrified no one will buy it or like it, and laughing at myself for worrying about it all.
The wonderful thing is that I have a publisher and an editor who is behind me every step of the way, who is calm, wise and has faith in me. The process with Fractured has already proved that to me. It makes my decision to follow my heart really feel like it was the right one.
To celebrate, I wanted to share something special with you.
Blind Trust now has its cover and blurb. (you can see
the full post here:
Aeron Lorelei finds herself part of the mysterious Criminal Investigations Group and is looking forward to catching up with Commander Renee Black after being locked in bootcamp for six months. However, something isn’t quite right with Renee and Aeron can’t figure out why she is pushing her away. When mother nature puts a mountain in their path (literally) and Renee does the unthinkable, it is left to Aeron to clear Renee’s name. Stuck in a small Colorado town with only a few days to solve a mystery, Aeron needs some ‘spiritual’ support.’ Saving Renee involves using the burdens she loathes and every ounce of belief she has.
It looks bleak for Renee, and when the danger lurking in the past snakes its way into the town, it is up to Aeron alone to stop it.
So, I hope you are having a great Sunday. I hope that your writing experiences are as much fun, as challenging and rewarding as mine and I hope that you get those little lighbulb moments like me that make you think... ah... that's what they meant!
Oh yes, and to spice it up --- can anyone guess what happens next? I'll send a twelve-foot marble angel to anyone who guesses right.
Yesterday we saw a visiting production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time at York Opera House. Excellent production, energy, acting, ingenuity etc. But something else struck me, the ‘natural’ language (and to convey it without any possibility of offence, I’ll use a few soundalikes).
The dramatic first words in the play were “Fussing Cripes!” (or their equivalent). Soon we had “Jeepers! Fuss!... Jeepers Cripes!” and so on. Did I object? Yes and no. As a twenty-first century person, I can shrug and accept what is ‘normal’. But I nonetheless had a few sideways thoughts.
Thought number one: try substituting Islamic terms for Jeepers and Cripes, and we’d soon be into Charlie Hebdo territory, watching our backs for gunmen and issuing urgent proclamations about free speech. Would there be any excuse for the gunmen? Of course not, but you’ve got to live in the Third World to understand the offence our casual disrespects can cause. Years ago, I was teaching in Zimbabwe, a very Christian country, when the Satanic Verses furore broke. How did the locals react? Hurt. Anger. Not against Islamic overreaction but against First World contempt. They felt the insult. Again. Like all the times they’d been called ‘kaffir’ (which means, ironically, ‘unbeliever’). Like all the times rich whites had treated them with disdain – or much worse.
Sideways thought number two: try time travelling back to Tudor times (Wolf Hall times, murdering psychopath Cromwell times) and see how you get on with a bit of loose speech. So far as I understand, the Catholic remedy would be to burn you, whereas the Protestants would hang draw and quarter you. Which would be preferable, I wonder? Cromwell had Richard Whiting, last abbot of Glastonbury, dragged on a hurdle through the town, hanged drawn and quartered on Glastonbury Tor, then his head displayed on the west gate of the desolate abbey, while his limbs were exposed at Wells, Bath, Ilchester and Bridgewater.
On the other hand, we could try behaving with consideration. I really don’t mind if someone draws a cartoon of the prophet or not, but if others are upset then out of politeness I’d prefer it not to happen.
Do I mind if people ‘swear’? Hmm. The two ‘worst’ words in the English language refer to the potential making of life (‘fuss’) and the body part through which living beings first emerge (‘cnut’). Do we really despise ourselves so much? Shouldn’t they be two of the most beautiful words in the language? Do we despise life – and love – so much?
And then the blasphemous words. Christianity is partly out of fashion (only partly, and only hereabouts, not in Africa for instance) but the concepts of Christianity underlie Western civilisation. So, like family, they are part of us (and, like family, we may not approve of them in every detail). But why trample names held sacred in a verbal gutter?
What I’m really talking about here is respect. If we can’t respect others, it’s hard to respect ourselves. If we can’t respect life, love, heritage, sanctity, it’s hard to respect ourselves.
Years ago I taught Slaughterhouse Five to an A level group (in Zimbabwe, as it happened). There are many striking aspects of the book, not least that Kurt Vonnegut, the author, was trapped in the bombing of Dresden. His life was preserved by the walls of the slaughterhouse (number five) which acted as his temporary P.O.W. prison, and, when he emerged, the city was so insanely changed he could only convey the effect by writing an insane novel (well, sane and insane simultaneously). The part that struck me most, though, came at the end when he and an old comrade flew back to Dresden decades later.
“O'Hare had a little notebook with him, and printed in the back of it were... key facts about the world... which he gave me to read: On an average, 324,000 new babies are born into the world every day... The Population Reference Bureau predicts that the world's total population will double to 7,000,000,000 before the year 2000.
“ 'I suppose they will all want dignity,' I said.”
That’s when I knew the book was written by someone with a large soul.
Dignity. Respect. Easily given. Easily withheld.
But why withhold it?
This morning I was in luck and was able to buy two boxes of San Miguel beer cheap at the local supermarket.
I placed the boxes on the front seat and headed back home.
I stopped at a service station where a drop-dead gorgeous blonde in a short skirt was filling up her car at the next pump.
She glanced at the two boxes of bevvy, bent over and leaned in my passenger window, and said in a sexy voice, I'm a big believer in barter, mate.
"Now what the tartarus did I do?"
I had enquired at this univerity many years ago. Yhis was to do a full time degree. But at that time attendance was four evenings a week which was not possible. I had previously completed some years of the Open University and, previous to that, I had attended a disasterous year at Essex University.
I also enquired about admittance on some open days before things started to go wrong from the personal point of view. (I became a carer)
My research interest is in Victorian journalism and Birbeck Cellege has expertise here.. This interest in Victorian journalism only become renmotely possible (for me ) when source documents began to appear on the internet.
Neither the OU or Word Cloud' offer courses on this subject.
On the Open Days, I found out that it was not possible for me to use the research facilities there. My aim would have been to do biographical research rather than obtain a degree.
Birbeck also offer a Master's Degree in Victorian studies, but I don't think I have the qualifications for this.
"Normally a good degree in a relevant subject such as English,
history, philosophy or history of art, but a degree in other
subjects will be considered, as will other
qualifications. Prior to interview, you will need to submit
a short piece of written work (up to 500 words) on any Victorian
I don't know what they mean by "other qualifications" On one of the open days i had asked if a biography I hsd written about a grandfather might be taken into consideration. It could not. I wonder why other people embark oncourses in Victorian studies? It is all very strange.
It is my day off work and I might go to the student's office at Birbeck and see if i can clarify things
Perhaps the skills needed to embark on a course in creative writing are different to those skills required for a literary agent? Who knows?
I think I would have been much happier being a novelist than my present occupation, though from the practical point of view I would only have removed myself to behind the library shelves and spent my time at the British Library!