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In praise of #bookbloggers…

Anyone who follows this blog must have, in addition to their excellent taste, a large supply of patience. I originally started this blog with the intention of publishing weekly. That soon slipped to fortnightly, then once a month became the without-fail.

Now I hear a lot of people saying ‘how is it December already’ and I’d love to blame them, the world at large, the price of fish and anything else that moves for the lack of posts. However, that would be cowardly, so instead, I’m going to cheat. I did write a blog post, just for someone else.

If you are into book Twitter, you may have seen a criticism of book bloggers. @SarcasticEnigma asked for contributions on what authors and publishers thought of book bloggers and, because of *insert excuse here*, I’m posting it here as well…

The act of putting words on a page sounds so simple and yet – I ask myself regularly why my blog is so intermittent. I generally scrape a daily wordcount on the current work-in-progress and far too many tweets (come and say hello ) but both of these outputs have the distinct advantage that they don’t have to be coherent (the novel because it will be edited later, the tweets, well, ‘nuff said). My jaw drops when I look at the work of book bloggers and the thought and effort that goes into their reviews. Their comments have a breadth of view from being keen readers, without the pretension of language that can come from someone who is trying to make a literary point. I love reading book blogs, both for their insights into works I have read and for new books to try. We should celebrate book bloggers and be grateful they are sharing their love of reading with us.

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Is this a book I see before me?

One of the factors that really unlocked my writing career was when my circumstances changed and I began to read. Prior to that, I had been studying, climbing the work ladder and didn’t read outside of set texts or work emails. Then, redundancy gave me time to discover fiction again.

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Now, the buying and reading of books is one of my greatest pleasures and, at the same time, my greatest irritations. There is almost nothing better than getting lost in a good book, when you look up from the pages and are suprised at where you are, because your head is in the book world. This particularly happens with Golden Age crime novels, when I look up expecting to be able to ring for my butler.

I do try and ease myself out of the comfortable warm bath of Golden Age (How dare you, Sir – no gentleman would ask a lady such impertinent questions) into other genres, in order to broaden my perspective. And this is when the irritation comes in. There are some books I find harder to read than others but I grit my teeth and keep going. There is normally something worth knowing in each book, even if it takes a bit of thinking about. There are some books where I forget the main character’s name each time I put the book down but there will be some phrase, some description that resonates. Most of all, I think it is the act of reading that trains my brain to be ready for writing.

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It lives…

Dear all, after a gestation period of approx 9 months, I’m delighted to present a bouncing baby draft. This is a strange creature, a novel-to-be. Who knows whether it will live, evolve and grow into something worth reading, or end up chucked out with some handy bathwater. Don’t worry, you don’t need to say how beautiful it is – it’s got a bit of evolving to do yet. But, it’s here, that’s the main thing. And now, I’m going to go and do something completely different…

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The sense of an ending…

How do you finish a book? This is definitely harder than starting a book – now I know I’m lucky that the blank page (or screen) has never held any terrors for me. If anything, the problem is not finding an idea but keeping to just one and focusing activity. No, the problem is how to finish it and I’m not talking about the pure logistical elements of making sure loose ends are tied up.

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From one angle, you could say this is a nice problem to have. Over time, I’ve got to know and like my character and she’s got places to go. So I don’t want her to end up just anywhere: really, I don’t want her to end up somewhere that I wouldn’t want to end up myself.

So, how to finish her story? I am half suspecting that I don’t want to finish because then I move from the creative phase to the editing phase which, in my experience, both takes longer and is harder than the actual writing. I feel like a bit of a life coach at the moment, asking my character, well, where do you want to end up? Here’s hoping she tells me…

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Meet the family…

This writing lark is very peculiar. You actively ignore real-life, flesh and blood people to spend time with made-up, paper people. Then, there is that magic moment when the characters you have created become real and, if you are lucky, start writing their own stories and all you become is a channel for their words.

But this isn’t so strange, because we do it all the time. Sitting on trains, I’ve heard fellow travellers earnestly discussing the contestants on Love Island as if they were friends of theirs.

‘Oh no, she wouldn’t do something like that – that’s not like her at all.’

‘Well, he’s always been dodgy.’

Story image for image love island from WalesOnline

They are basing this on a few hours of television, where the characters are portrayed in roles and wound-up to act out their parts (NB basing this on conversations like this as, shock-horror, I haven’t ever watched Love Island). So I don’t feel so bad about having conversations with the characters in my head because they feel as real as these figures on the screen.

 

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This blogging lark is harder than it looks…

Keep an author blog, they said. It’ll be good for your profile, they said. Well, so sorry I have left you all hanging for so long.

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Cable car in mountains – hanging, geddit?

I have no excuse other than (at risk of whining) they didn’t say keeping a blog would be so hard. I am constantly in awe of people who manage to produce regular (in some cases, daily) posts full of book reviews, writing tips and insightful observations. I’d love to say that I have lots of observations and don’t share them but the truth is, the majority of the time, my head is so full of the normal transactions of being an adult that there are no room for grand thoughts.What I do feel is a simple delight though about how She’s Fallen has been received and particularly the comments in reviews asking for more. Again, for those who leave reviews, thank you, you make this author’s life feel more meaningful by knowing that I’ve brought someone pleasure. And that makes everything worthwhile…

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Where did the last month go?

And they say bank holidays are bad for productivity – ha! With the rain falling steadily (and likely to continue to do so for the rest of Easter) I am now getting done all the tasks I have not got around to doing in March. One of them is updating this blog. My excuse is that it has been a busy month, filled with good things.

First was the the joy of having two books in the wild when She’s Fallen hit the streets on the first of March. Then, on a snowy weekend, it was meeting other authors at the Essex Authors Day. The really exciting things was that, for the first time, I was on the other side of the table. In my journey to publication, I have been to so many talks by authors, publishers, agents and all: it was incredible to be the one giving the talk. And it was a great day – my favourite bit was the questions and answers, so much enthusiasm. I really hoped I helped and, at least in a small way, began the payback for all the help I’ve received on the way to publication.

Then there was a signing. Not knowing what to expect, I just resolved to enjoy it all. And really, what was there not to like? I got to spend time in a bookshop and chat to lots of people, including a couple of passing policemen. It’s hard to think of a better way to spend time.

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The reviews are also coming in and I’ve been delighted with them. Some have even been asking when Robyn will be back…

 

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