Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Book Blurb

I came up with the blurb to go with my new book last night, lying in bed at 2am.  Its the daft sort of thing I do in the middle of the night.  The blurb is the bit on the back of the cover that makes you want to buy the book.  Its one of the things you can write to help focus your mind on your plot.  Here's my first bash at the blurb for 'The Butler Did It'....

Benedict, 6th Viscount Ashcroft, is a man with two problems.  He's a gay man in 1880s London.  And he is desperately in need of a male heir.

Sarah, Viscountess Ashcroft, is the woman he marries.  Consumed with love for a man who can never return her feelings, she teeters on the edge of despair and disaster.

George Crawford is their butler.  He knows the dark secret in Lord Ashcroft's past, and holds the key to Lady Ashcroft's future.

When the three enter into a secret pact, they unwittingly unleash passions that threaten to destroy them all.

One thing's for certain...
                ......The Butler Did It!

I'd love to hear your feedback - but please leave your comments below and not on Facebook.  Many thanks!

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Listen... Can you hear it? That grinding sound?

Doodled Dahlias - this is what I need to do when I'm grumpy
That grinding sound, dear reader, is me grinding my teeth.

I had a big light bulb moment in my counselling session last week, and I am carrying it with me into a new way of being (I hope).  Along with starting a new programme of body awareness as recommended in Jon Kabat-Zinn's wonderful book, 'Full Catastrophe Living' in order to tackle my chronic pain, I am trying to actively listen to both my body and my moods.

So, the grinding.  I get crabby a lot.  And grind my teeth.  I find myself ranting regularly inside my own head.  Recently I have noticed that this rage is linked to frustration.  And it usually goes away when I do something creative.

For instance, yesterday, I was in the foulest mood all day.  By the time Pat came home at tea time, I was ready for a scrap.  But instead of picking a fight with my beloved, I tried to think about what was pissing me off so much.

Turns out, Rebecca was pissed off because she wanted to write, and had been flaking about all day, putting it off.

So I duly sat down to write.  Two and a half thousand words later, and shaking slightly from the release of tension, I realised how much better life can be when I get out of my own way and do what I need to do.

So I am resolved that next time I feel angry, frustrated, grumpy, sad, miserable, weepy, spiteful, snide, or any of the above without reasonable cause, I need to recognise it as a sign that I am stopping myself doing what I want and need to do.  And I will sit down to write or draw.  Something. Anything. It doesn't matter what.  And that crabbiness will go away (because it always does).

So next time you hear that grinding noise, time how long it lasts.  Because that will be how long it takes me to quit punishing myself for wanting to be me, and just get on with it!

Monday, 7 March 2011

Sticky Problems

 I've been doing quite a bit of writing and drawing lately, despite constant extreme fatigue, so I am feeling productive in spite of everything.  The new book is coming on nicely, although I am not writing at the frantic pace that I was - my 'bull at a gate' method needs to be reined in somewhat!  I've started coming up against sub-plots,which severely complicate my 'just write the bloody thing' mode, so I've been trying to organise the scenes I have either written, or have in my mind, into a meaningful order.

Hey presto! The Yellow Sticky Wall!

Each sticky has a scene written on it, and can be moved around to change the chronological order of events.  It's my version of a data flow diagram for writing purposes.

Now, yellow stickies are good because you can move them around.  They are not so good, in that they don't seem to stick for very long.  (You can see some are already peeling off in the picture.)  The result is that when I come into the study the morning after a busy plotting session, the floor is covered in an avalanche of scraps of yellow paper!  (Will Self  doesn't seem to have this problem from the photos I have seen of his study wall, which is covered in neat lines of perfectly adhered yellow slips.  I wonder how he does it?)

Eagle-eyed readers will notice that the surface to which my plot notes are adhered is actually my precious advertising board from a distant visit to Norwich by Iain Banks, one of my fave authors, kindly donated to this throbbing fan by friends working at Waterstones.  (He's Scottish - what can I say?)  You will notice that stickies are not arranged over his adorable naughty face.  That would be a sticky too far.

I bet Iain Banks doesn't have trouble getting his yellow stickies to stick...

Friday, 4 March 2011

Unexpected Sun

Up the track in winter
Its been glorious today, and I couldn't help myself - I had to get out in it.  All this sitting about doing forced resting is so frustrating.  So I tidied the back yard up a bit (mounds of leaves left over from the autumn so I am doing it a bit at a time), put some washing out, and then sat on the bench in the front garden, basking in the sunshine.  Its not warm here by any means, 6 degrees at most, but in the sun and sheltered from the chilly wind, when you are wrapped up in fleeces, its very nice.  I could see my breath but I didn't care. 

I sat there listening to the birds singing.  Our resident robin and one of the bolshie bull finches from the woods were having a singing fight on the laburnum tree.  The lawn is full of daisies and a shiny new bee was visiting them in a lazy fashion.  I sat very still and he came and drank from the four daisies between my shoes, so close I could see how silvery his wings were, and the brilliant gloss on his head. 

There are lots of dead leaves in the front garden too, and I spent some time studying one or two.  If anything, I think they are even more beautiful at this time of year, when the frost and snow has dried them out sufficiently to see the stalkiness of the central veins and the fretwork of branches threading out to their curled edges.  If you hold them up to the sun, you can still see the rich gold and rust of autumn trapped inside, but the cold weather has also given them a lovely silver sheen.

I kept thinking I should be taking photos or drawing.  But sometimes, you just have to be, to appreciate what is around you, and try to let go of the endless desire to preserve things in digital aspic.  So I don't have a beautiful photograph of the bee or the leaf, which probably would not have done them justice anyway.  I just have the memory.  And memory will have to be enough.