Monthly Archives: August 2012

reading old style

It’s interesting, in this age of ereaders and eBooks, how evocative the image of the printed page can still be.

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writing, tweeting, dogs & tags

This is a mish-mash diary kind of entry

I’m pegging on with the sequel to The Aunt Sally Team (http://amzn.to/MgZRmW & http://amzn.to/LJvFhf). Actually pegging on may not be the right description, as it seems to be pouring out at a rate of around 3000 words a day. I haven’t written this fluently since I was a teenager scribbling on my lap in class at school with my desk lid raised to hide what I was doing. Of course, me being me and being quite a perfectionist, I’m deeply suspicious of anything that’s happening so easily – what’s the catch? it’s bound to be inferior if it’s not causing me grief and sending me into displacement activity. But so far it seems fine.

I’m constantly amazed, while writing, at how characters emerge. I may start off with ideas about who they are and what they do, but they soon put me right and surprise me with facets of their personalities that I’d had no notion existed. And people who were minor suddenly thrust themselves into the limelight and take on a more central role in the book. It’s impossible, while in the midst of crafting a novel, not to relate to your characters as if they are real people.

Meanwhile, to return to the leviathan machinations of Twitter, I tweeted recently of how being part of the community of authors on there is akin to being let loose in a huge library: so many excellent books, like gorgeous offerings in a sweet shop window. Just love it! My Kindle is filled to bursting point with wonderful stuff that I’m looking forward to finding time to read. And very few of those books are published traditionally. Although there are some lemons published by indie authors, I would say that there is a vast body of brilliantly written, engaging, absorbing material that the mainstream publishers were mad not to have snapped up. Their loss – and, to be honest, I don’t know that I’d want to go the trad route now: indie lets you keep a much higher percentage of royalties. The Aunt Sally Team earned more in June than my traditionally published books did in six months in the past.

But it’s not all about writing. We take the dogs down to the Kidneys and Aston’s Eyot once or twice a day to run to their hearts’ content. This is a large green area down by the Thames and is filled with trees and wild flowers and various species of wildlife, including red deer, muntjac deer, buzzards, hawks, red kites, herons and jays. This area features quite largely in The Aunt Sally Team and its sequel (which is what I’m writing now).

Mind you, it’s been a minefield down there lately. One of our dogs (the new one, the Saluki lurcher) has taken to rolling in fox poo (which stinks!) and finding rabbit carcases and, last night, a wing from a dead bird – she carries these trophies off in triumph at great speed till yelled at to drop them. I washed her harness two days ago only to have her roll in unspeakable things again. The joys of nature and dog ownership.

Just a final word, while it’s fresh in my mind. If you have a book on Amazon, tags are important. You can do your own tags and hopefully this will encourage others to also tag your book. The tags section is halfway down the page your book is on. Tags help people find you when they are searching via key words, so they are actually pretty important.

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social networking again & writing, with a bit of dog walking thrown in

I’m discovering more facets of social networking, especially regarding Twitter. For a start I’m still trying to gauge how many retweets I can do for fellow authors before going over my daily limit. I’ve got a horribly over developed social conscience and can’t bear to leave anyone out. Consequently I keep being rate restricted, thus hampering tweeting about my own books.

But I’m also finding ways to streamline what I’m doing. Following an excellent series of articles by Rachel Abbott in her author friendly blog (http://rachelabbottwriter.wordpress.com/) I’ve started using SocialOomph to schedule tweets so that I don’t have to worry about composing those and posting throughout the day: you can even save tweets to repeat post later. However, coming back to being rate restricted, I’m finding that some of my scheduled  tweets aren’t going out because I’m over the limit. I really do need to get a handle on how many to do for other people and how many to save for myself.

I’m making friends and getting to know people on Twitter now. I didn’t think that was going to happen, given the brevity of a tweet, but happily there are ways round the 140 character limit, such as breaking a message into several tweets. There are some truly supportive people and my experience so far has mostly been positive and heartening  One or two other authors are less giving and don’t return the retweet favour and a couple are happy to offer swapping likes for your book but don’t fulfil their side of the bargain, but they are in a minority. The majority are courteous and helpful in the extreme.

With scheduling the tweeting of my books, I’m finding time to write now and have got nearly 13,000 words done of the sequel to The Aunt Sally Team. This may not sound like a lot, but the way I work is to reread and reread, polishing and refining as I go along. Walking the dogs in the local water meadows is helping my writing as the book is set in our home area of Oxford.  We see deer down there from time to time and tonight a heron flew over and buzzards were circling. The place is a mass of wild flowers at the moment: yarrow, convolvulus, vetch, teasel, cranesbill and red and white campion. The endless rain of this summer in Britain, followed by sunshine, has caused an absolute profusion of blooms. It’s all very inspiring.

So all in all life is interesting and fulfilling. The worst of the settling in problems with Isha, our new Saluki lurcher, seem to be behind us. She’s fun and very sweet. We still have some hairy moments with her, like when she ran at full speed into the net surrounding the tennis courts in the park today and did a double somersault, but she’s mostly much easier now.

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