Bits and Pieces

The light at the end of the tunnel...

The light at the end of the tunnel…

I’ve been a little bit absent from the blogosphere this week – mainly because I’ve been working on the final edit for No Quarter, the second book in my Ambeth series. This is the part of writing I like the least. (though I still know how fortunate I am to be able to do this at all).

I had some issues with my proof copy, as you know – thankfully the lovely people at Createspace got right on it and it is now resolved, plus they are replacing my faulty proof copy. It hasn’t stopped me from reading through and sacrificing endless quantities of sticky notes as I record small changes and the occasional typo. These corrections have been made, the new file uploaded and, once I get through the fiddle-faddle of formatting for Kindle, I should be ready to publish.

One part of the process I find frustrating is that everything always takes longer than expected. This is why I’ve not yet explored the option of setting up pre-orders for my books. I’ve already had to push my (self-imposed) publication date out several times, due to health, family life, the edit taking longer than expected, and issues with the proof. I would hate to be in a position where I was locked into a date and had to deliver a book that wasn’t finished to my satisfaction

The other thing I don’t like about this part of the process is the doubt. Scurrying up like beetles from under the floorboards, doubts come to plague me as I read through my book for the last time before pressing ‘publish’.

Is the story good enough? Will people like it? Have I covered all the different storylines? Does the language flow? Will anyone read this, ever?

I don’t think I’m alone in this, nor am I alone in thinking I will unleash dragons or some form of unpleasantness onto the internet once I hit that publish button. And yet, I’m still going to do it. And then I’m having a couple of days off. 🙂

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‘Look at the tree..’

Oh, and in my post the other day, Autumn Sky, I recounted the tale of a teacher I once had. A few of my commenters suggested I look him up and, guess what, I did! I had thought maybe he would have passed away, as I remember him being about 60 when I was in his class, almost thirty years ago. And yet, a google search of his name and my high school revealed… he is still working there??!!!

And a further link revealed, complete with photo to corroborate, that he was also working there in 1961!!

So we have four options: Either he was younger than I remembered when I took his class (though I distinctly recall him having silver hair and a beard), or he has been working at the same high school for 54 years and refuses to retire, or the website listing him as employed at the school has not been recently updated, or he is a vampire.

What do you think?

Oh and finally, the lovely Geoff LePard is coming for a virtual visit on Monday, with a guest post to promote his new release, My Father and Other Liars – yay!

Autumn Sky

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I’ve posted photos of this sky before, and it seems to be turning into a bit of a series. The photos are taken somewhere I visit regularly, and at the same time in the evening, so are a good illustration of the seasons as they change. Now the nights are starting to draw in, the leaves burning with autumn colours. Soon it will be full circle again, back to the original image I took.

When I was in high school, I had an Ancient History professor called Mr. Mawson. He was always dapper in jacket and tie, his beard silver, his tone dignified. He had two sayings that he used often – one was, ‘Don’t be sorry, be on time.’ That one is self-explanatory, I think. The other was, ‘Look at the tree.’ This was a little less obvious. When he said it, he would gesture to the tree outside our second-floor classroom, and we would all look at the tree. There would be a moment of silence, then he would go back to discussing Sparta or Corinth or some other city-state, as though nothing had happened.

I never really knew why he said that. We all talked about it, of course. ‘What is the deal with the tree?’ I wondered whether it was to remind us of the impermanence of things, a commentary that everything comes to an end, just like the mighty civilisations he taught us about, their cities and accomplishments returning to dust. Or perhaps it was to mark the passing of the seasons, a reminder that time was marching on, taking us with it. I never asked him, and I wish I had.

And now, as I take pictures of the same tree through the seasons, I wonder if it was just about observation. But I guess I’ll never know.

 

Feeling Light

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I love the way the light falls at this time of year.

There is a golden richness to it, one that invites you to sit outside for a while with hot tea or cold cider, savouring the last sweetness of summer before the long dark of winter sets in. It feels melancholy to me as well – the bittersweet turning of the year seen in the way that the sun sets earlier each night, sending long furls of colour across the sky.

This may sound like a whole lot of waffle – however, light is something that has always fascinated me. I’ve travelled to quite a few places and each had their own light, caught in the feel of the sky and the way the sun hits the land. The high wide skies of Canada, speedwell blue reaching north. The blinding white hot of a Sydney beach at midday, when to be without sunglasses would render you almost blind. The pearl grey light of the Irish coast, mist from the sea softening the sky. The silver-blue-grey of a Melbourne winter, dark nights and frost on the gum trees. The shimmer of Venice, light reflecting from the water onto ancient pastel palazzos, crumbling into the dreaming lagoon.

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I saw the northern lights once. It was in the mountains north of Vancouver, the sky full of stars as there were no man-made lights to obscure their show. I woke in the night to see a slowly expanding starburst of light above me, floating above the dark pine-clad peaks. While it wasn’t the rainbow shimmer of Scandinavia, it was still awe-inspiring to see – one day I hope to go further north and see the curtains of colour ripple across the sky.

I also like the way light behaves at different times of day, and often use it in my descriptions when writing. I think it’s a nice way to convey to the reader what time of day it is, as well as adding mood when necessary. My favourite time of day is sunset, though I do enjoy the early light of dawn as well – there is something about the transition between day and night that I find to be full of potential, stories lying in the shadows between light and dark.

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The Turning of the Year

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It’s the last day of school holidays.

Autumn beckons, though no doubt we’ll have several weeks of warmth and brilliant sunshine once the kids have gone back to school. And I am having the slight wobble I do at this time of year, as the wheel turns and my daughter goes into a new year.

I’ve written about this before, how empty the house feels when she goes back, how much I miss her. Despite all the dancing orangutans and minions and Keep Calm posters showing up on my Facebook feed, extolling various joyous captions about ‘the kids going back to school!’, I don’t really feel that way.

And yet.

There is a delicious sense of freedom that first day back, coming home to a quiet house, the hours stretching before me to work uninterrupted. For I have a lot of work to do. Yesterday my editor sent me the final edit of No Quarter, the next book in my Ambeth series. It’s just sitting in my Writing folder like an unopened gift, waiting for me to delve into the pages and make final adjustments before hitting Publish and sharing it with the world.

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So there is a lot of planning to do, some promotion and finalising the cover, updating Goodreads and Amazon, getting in touch with libraries and reviewers to let them know it’s being published.

The spreadsheet documenting my daughter’s summer social activities* will come down from the study wall, to be replaced with a marketing schedule for my new book, and a list of term dates as we count down to the next precious days we get to spend together.

And I will turn my focus back to work, the balance swinging to the other side of the page.

*yes, I had to do a spreadsheet, after missing an arranged ‘date’ with a friend – it’s the only way I could manage it. The child has a better social life than I do! 🙂