BOOKS, BOOKS, BOOKS!

It’s hot. Thirty degrees out there. Where am I? Not basking in the sunshine. Oh, no. I’m at my desk in my study, grinding my teeth at the antics of my protagonist, who of course, I love madly.

JONTY'S WINHe’s the hero of a series of books about the progress of a hapless actor, who in my last novel JONTY’S WIN managed to acquire a huge amount of cash, through a lottery win. Now, when you’ve been a jobbing thespian, touring the byways of Devon, in search of a village hall or community centre willing to take your latest theatrical endeavour, a financial windfall like that can throw you right off track.

Since I began writing novels five years ago, my characters have become so real that I sometimes have to pinch myself. Will Jonty Greer walk through the door any moment in a state of total panic and ask for a cuppa and a Valium? Will lovely Edward D’Amato, his faded, elderly actor compatriot, slide between the french doors, holding a bunch of white roses, freshly picked from the rose garden? ( I have a yard that measures 4×4 – no rose garden.) Can I expect tough, hard-nosed-with-a-heart-of-gold Caroline Fenton, actress and waitress (the two often go together) with designs on Jonty’s millions, sashay into my kitchen, looking for a glass of red, or two? That’s what immersing yourself in writing a book can do. Lots of new and wildly interesting people invading your life, at least you hope they are, otherwise no one will want to read about them. It’s a kind of magic.Back Cover JW

Books always worked magic for me. How wonderful, the smell of my local library! Even the shushing of the librarian when I chewed my gum too loudly and tapped my foot in delight at discovering another naughty Emile Zola novel, (I was fourteen at the time and his books were a bit forbidden by the nuns, who taught me) couldn’t stop me getting hooked on books.

Then the expected happened. Marriage and kids and all that. I kept reading, though kid’s books were top of the list for while, and that was okay. When my four little dears finally escaped my clutches and ran boldly into adulthood, there was space again, to read, write, make theatre and film. Oh joy! My own stuff, at last.

Writers are a weird lot. We work in isolation but the outcome of all those alone hours, are audiences who will take the time, in this mad world, to snuggle down on a deck chair under an umberella and read your book. What a huge privilege that is!

You can find the Jonty books at Amazon and other online bookstores. Also at www.feedaread.com

Enjoy!

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SUNDAY MORNING RETHINK

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Me, not feeling guilty.

I should be going to church. Why am I not going to church? Backtrack to my childhood – a very long time ago. It’s eight o’clock and I’m marched to the bus stop with my mum, a dedicated Catholic, who, bless her, thought a convent education would keep me on the straight and narrow. She insisted I never ever miss Mass or Benediction or the ability to recite the Catechism on demand. What was she thinking? An uninterrupted programme for Sunday morning, lasting years.

Every Sunday, the parts of my brain, once carefully washed into believing hell wasn’t just a red hole in the ground you fell down once you’d clocked it – my interpretation of the devil’s home as a nine-year old – but a tangible ‘thing’ that really existed. At night, I visualised my time in that elusive city called Purgatory, a stop-over motel you stayed at before hitting the flames, if you didn’t get absolution (for those of you who don’t know what that means, it’s like the time you stole your big sister’s makeup and had to apologise profusely, if you didn’t want her to break your arm).

When I discovered I was adult (when did that happen?) and became enthralled with all things theatrical and literary, my opinions changed. Of course they did! That’s what being a grown-up means, doesn’t it? But, the echo of early indoctrination lingered, damn it and Sunday mornings was when Madam Guilt knocked on the door.

She’s a strange old woman, is guilt. She lies in wait in dark corners and shows up at just the right time, usually when I have a mouthful of buttery croissant and a mug of beautiful coffee, frothy and rich, a bit like Boris Johnson, bless him. (Does he get guilty? Politicians and priests, all a bit crazy, and all terribly guilty, don’t you think?)

How do I deal with this infestation of guilt that manifests as a malevolent old woman every Sunday morning? I turn my back and get writing. I’ve discovered the story you create can have a magical quality, capable of assuaging all sorts of guilt trips. You simply dump it in a maze of sentences and transfer Madam Guilt to the plot.

Of course, sometimes, I do actually attend Mass because I want to, not because I feel guilty. I don’t agree one jot with most of the rubbish the church puts out, but that’s religion for you, especially if you’re a woman. I do enjoy the theatrical performance that is the Mass, with the bells and whistles and men in dresses. It does give me a strange and unexpected infusion of peace, though when the church is full to capacity and I squeeze myself into a tiny corner in the back row, next to a very large man who reeks of sweat, tranquility is hard to access.

Jonty Greer, the protagonist in my new book, has his own issues with guilt. That’s what happens when you win 53 million on the lottery. Get it on Amazon (the book, not 53 million) and other jolly good online book stores, or at my publisher’s page: www.feedaread.com

Assuage your own guilt by reading it. You’ll feel better – promise!

 

 

 

 

 

MY NEXT BOOK(S)?

 

 

JONTY'S WIN

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Completing my latest book JONTY’S WIN made life quite difficult, once I’d put in the last full stop.  You see, I have fallen in love with my main character, Jonty Greer, the hapless actor who has won 53 million pounds on the lottery. Well, who wouldn’t fall in love with a man that rich, I hear you say. 

Actually, it has nothing whatsoever to do with his money. Promise! You see, I have known Jonty for some time. He was the star in my first novel, PRETENDING, written in 2013 and it’s not the last time his febrile antics will fill the pages of a book. I am, at this moment, preparing the next episode of the ongoing chaotic adventure that is his life. Back Cover JWIt’s because he is so extraordinary, so optimistic, so completely unaccountable, that I love him. He has now become a permanent fixture in my mind and heart and I can’t wait to see what he does next.

 

 

17190949_1265474693500898_8349464218403510824_nI have this weird feeling that Jonty is destined to become a cult figure in the literary world. I’ve always been an optimist, like him.

He had a slow start in PRETENDING and speeded up in JONTY’S WIN, as he spread his exuberance across the pages.

 

Dear reader, I must impress on you, he means well. Oh, yes, he means very well. He just doesn’t quite understand real life. The life on a stage or in front of a camera or on YouTube is his reality. No-one can change that. I should know. I created him. Like the monster in Frankenstein, I have let him escape, and he will plunder his way through a series of forthcoming novels like a tribe of wildebeests on the African Plains, seeking satisfaction, fame, adoration and, because he has a good heart, love.

There is no going back. My plans to write an autobiography, a book about bees, a novel with Trump as the protagonist, have all gone up a chimney. Jonty will consume my thoughts and I guess, my life for the next few months.

Here it is: available for you to read and review and give me your hate/love feelings for the boy. Of course, you might fall in love with one of the other characters. That’s okay. They’re all pretty lovable. 

JONTY'S WIN

 

Book number two, RURAL CUT is altogether a more sombre affair.

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About to be published! If you live in rural England, this is the book for you, but read it behind the sofa, if you are of a delicate disposition.

You can get your copies from Amazon, Foyles, Barnes and Noble, Waterstones and a host of other online book shops. Also, at my lovely publisher’s site: http://www.feedaread.com

Please leave a review so I can decide whether or not to give up writing and become the oldest DJ in the West.

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Spooky read! Good for keeping you up at night.

 

REVISION TIME

Below are the cover proofs of my second novel. It was first published a couple of years ago.

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I’ve taken the plunge and revised the book. It will be out very soon. I’m still learning my craft and it’s hard graft.

My time is limited now, since my partner became ill and I have become a carer. Writing has always been a way for me to withdraw from my surroundings, immerse myself in another world and meet new people – my characters. The beauty of this circle of friends is the way they stay silent and allow me to manipulate them, create lives and loves and stories in which they cavort about at my command. It’s bliss, it really is. They make me laugh, cry and all feel all emotions inbetween in the safety of my writing room, with no repercussions.

That’s the magic of creative writing. I started writing novels five years ago. My first book – Pretending – was a terrifying ride, rather like getting stuck on the top of the London Eye during a thunder storm.

I had no idea what I was doing, and those of you who have read the book, may feel that I am still scrabbling about, pretending to be an author. But, nothing ventured, nothing gained (so my old mum used to say) and once the last fullstop is in place, I move on.

That’s what all those life coaches tell you, don’t they? Don’t linger, don’t procrastinate on the past, move, move, move ON!

One thing that moves me along is my dog. He needs walking at least twice a day, so when the muse decides to open the nearest windoimg_4290.jpgw and flee, my lovely old spaniel is there to move me to the door and drag me, rain, sleet, snow or sun on a long walk. It works miracles. I nearly always return to my desk feeling better and full of new ideas. ( I said nearly always…) By the way, if you are wondering what that strange thing is, in the bottom right hand corner of the picture, it’s my foot. Charlie dog got very angry because I was stuck on a chapter and made him wait for his walk, so he chewed up my slippers.

If you want to follow the path of this meandering writer who keeps on trying, please read my books and tell me what you think. If I don’t like what you say, I can always walk the bloody dog! (Thanks).

Perhaps, you might like to read this one, too? Jonty’s Win has just been published. You can get your copy at www.feedaread.com or online at Amazon and other Internet book outlets. Thanks again!

JONTY'S WIN

A FOURTH ATTEMPT

Very soon, my fourth novel JONTY’S WIN will be published and available to buy online or borrow from my local library. 17190949_1265474693500898_8349464218403510824_nI will now go back to the beginning and start the revision of the other three: PRETENDING, RURAL CUT and THE MAN WHO THOUGHT HE WAS HAPPY.

I boldly went ahead and published three books through an online publisher, Feedaread. They gave me the chance to dip my toe in the water and find out what it feels like to write novels and see them in print. In the past five years, I have learnt a great deal about writing and about myself.

I decided to take the online route because I wanted to learn the craft. Some might say it was because I was scared of rejection slips, but that’s not the case at all. Of course, I hope people will enjoy reading my books and I also hope they will see progress as I move forward in my new writing career.

My next novel, now a work in progress, in the one I will submit to mainstream publishers. I have at least six months work ahead of me and despite how different my life is today, since my partner had a stroke, I am determined to persevere and eventually find a publisher who will take me on.

Four is my lucky number, as it happens. I have four amazing kids to prove it! But, number five will be the one. I am talking about the book, not another child, I hasten to add; far too old for that. It’s important for me to prove that no matter what happens in my life, no matter how old I am, I can, if I am really determined, achieve my goal.

JONTY'S WINAs I sit at my new desk, (thank you IKEA) gazing out of the window at the woods covering the hills near my home, I sometimes wish I had started this novel writing lark a bit earlier. There was always so much to do; kids to raise, films to make, plays to write, all demanding my attention. Novels need quiet time, head space, a room of your own and if possible, a tree-covered hill in the distance?

I love the process of writing books. It’s so different from any other form of writing. It’s solitary and at times, lonely. No one but your imagination to draw inspiration from. Cups of coffee or tea, biscuits and cake – not good if you consume those every day as your weight will confirm – make the late nights and early mornings a positive experience. These are the times I have allocated for work on the new book.

I have become a carer for my partner in the last eighteen months. He gets it. He understands that my writing hold me and everything else, together. Thanks Mike.

 

 

The Fears and Tribulations of a Writer…

So, you have finished your novel? No opening the Prosecco and crisps.  It’s time to rewrite it. That’s a hard pill to swallow, but unless you do embark on this tedious journey, you will never know if your plot, your characters or your idea to write the thing in the first place, was worthwhile and had any mileage.

Writing is a craft. It takes time and the sort of care a new baby deserves.  I have been trying to write for the last five years. I have published four books through an online site called Feedaread, funded by the UK Arts Council. It’s given me a chance to flex my writing muscles and find my writer’s voice – every writer must find this elusive piece of kit. It’s hidden somewhere in the dark recesses of your mind and doesn’t come out to play willingly.

When I read my finished work, there is often a sudden urge to declare it a load of old tosh and chuck into that little dustbin sign or press the delete button. I’m a fan of recycling, so after a cup of coffee or two and possibly a chocolate biscuit (or two), I start to work on recycling my writing. That may sound a bit lame, but it works for me. If I tell myself to cut, cut, cut, I start to lose heart and eat more biscuits.

For many years, I worked as a theatre director and a filmmaker. Life wasn’t half so difficult. You see, in those salubrious professions, you are not working alone. You have the bonus of lots of people around you, to tell you when your work is rubbish, too long, badly edited, crap!

As a novelist, you are stuck in a room with a computer, lots of dirty cups, a miserable dog who needs a walk and hope, (that’s not a person with the capital letter missing, it’s an emotion and probably has an emoji). At least I am, most of the time. You see, I always thought I was pretty good at spelling and grammar. Oh, folly! When I write, everything I learned in those literature/drama/writing lectures goes up a chimney. Why is that?

The recycling brings all those horrible mistakes to light. Who spells striped with the letter P twice? That’s stripped; something you do to wallpaper, right? Who puts too many commas, too few semicolons, far too many exclamation marks? Moi? That’s right. Why? Why? Why?

I learned how to spell and use English grammar at school. Yet, somehow the words flow out of me like racing banshees when I’m starting a chapter and the rules those dedicated teachers taught me all those years ago, disappear in the heat of the writing moment. Spelling etc becomes a hit and miss affair, as my fingers hit the keys and the story unfolds on the screen.

How to remedy this rebellion that happens in the space between head and fingers? Well, one way is to edit and rewrite until your fingers and your brain disintegrate, like melting lard on a hot hob. Not very pretty, but essential.

The next job, once you’ve put down the last full stop, is to turn the bloody PC off and GO FOR A WALK! (Dog is thrilled). I try not to look at the manuscript for at least three days. It’s like a well-made Christmas cake; it needs time to soak up the brandy and let the flavours develop. The idea is that when you come back to your precious book, it will jump out at you as a work of genius and your fortune will be assured.

Nope. That is not what happens to most writers. Sorry. If this career is your chosen path, failure is inevitable. Rejection is something you will have to cope with without on-going therapy. After five years at it, I quite enjoy rejection slips, especially if I am assured that my work is ever so slightly better than most of the unreadable rubbish the poor hard-working editor has had to read that week.

Writer out there, don’t despair. Share your rejection angst. I promise I will read every word.

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Doing my bit, talking to other writers. Hope they are listening…