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A weekend off…

I work full-time and writing is a great way to escape from it. I also have another unofficial job as an official photographer. Twice a year, I pack a range of kit from tropical to polar and head off to wherever the event is and spend two days in woods taking pictures.

Isn’t this an irritating distraction, I hear you cry? Why aren’t you busy writing book 2 as you’re supposed to be?

Well, yes, guilty as charged – words written this weekend – zero. Photos taken – 1,034 (including one of this cute shaggy dog, you’re welcome).

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The other important statistic was people chatted to – approx 500 as my role took me around every area of the competition plus mingling with competitors before and after. So that’s 500 insights into people’s lives including an engagement, petty squabbles, a serious illness, imminent babies, tantrums, tears of joy, several rows, rivalries, complaints and, lest you think it was an episode of Eastenders, a lot of laughter.

Add to that a couple of long car journeys and I’ve got lots of little quirks I want to work into my characters. Here’s one to look out for: just watch this week how many different ways people hold their pens when writing…

 

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What would you do?

Have you ever had the ‘what would you do if you won the lottery?’ conversation? The ultimate rags-to-riches situation (ignoring the fact I don’t play the lottery), you’ve got millions and millions of pounds, so what would you do?

A number of people who know enough about me to know I’m a writer say ‘I assume you’d give up work and write full time.’ They always seem vaguely affronted when I tell them I wouldn’t: presumably it makes them feel as if they are not the shrewd judges of character they consider themselves to be.

I try to explain: writing is a solitary activity but what you write is all about people. If you are on your own the whole time, you won’t get the insights into people’s lives that comes from being around a community, any community. In the last few months at work, things that have happened to people in my immediate team have included an emergency operation on their father; a flood at home; a promotion; a bereavement; a fall and two birthdays with associated fun. There’s so much life going on and I love hearing about it.

Oh, says the person who asked the original question. Does that mean you write about me then? You know they desperately want you to say yes, so they can be mock-offended but I find it’s far more fun when you tell them (truthfully) no, because no one person fits the story you are trying to tell.

They normally find someone else to talk to at this point…

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It’s getting personal…

Another event-filled week. On Friday, I saw the first physical copies of my book, all splendid and shiny, which are going off to the reviewers. Even better, I will soon get my grubby, little hands on one, a moment I am looking forward to more than anyone over six should look forward to anything.

But the best thing that happened last week was meeting my editor, Rachel Singleton of Impress Books. Why is that, you might ask? Surely you’ve had lots of dealings with her as you processed the contract, then the book. Well, yes but these have always been remote, by phone or email. On Monday, I actually met her in person for the first time (and, as luck would have it, the second time too as we both went to the First Monday crime event that evening).

When I started looking for someone to publish my book, I read a lot of things about how crucial it was to pick the person to handle your book really carefully because the relationship with them would have a big impact on future success. Pshaw, you think, when what you really want is someone, anyone to just take an interest – if only I had such a choice.

Fast forward to last Monday and Rachel and I were sitting outside at a patio table in a patch of sun, slurping pasta. We laughed (but not with our mouths full – we’ve been properly brought up). We also threw a lot of ideas around and it was a joy to talk to someone who is as passionate about the book as I am.

There is still something special about actually meeting someone, even when business can be easily concluded via technology. I went back to the office feeling very positive and looking forward to what the first reviews say…

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Stuff, happening…

One thing, as somebody smart once said, leads to another. And that’s how this week has felt. First of all there was the joy of seeing the final cover for He’s Gone. Hearing all of the positive reactions was wonderful and it’s one step closer to the book being real (though I think this will only crystallise when I hold a copy in my hand).

Whether it was all the positivity or the stiff talking-to I gave myself, book two has started flowing. I write on the train and, when you aren’t writing, that is a lot of time to sit twiddling your thumbs. But, pleased to say that the ideas have started whirring into life and the word count is going up.

Inspired, I signed up to run a creative writing workshop at work as part of ‘Learning Week’. Trying to condense everything I wanted to say about writing into an hour and a half (remembering I had to breathe as well) was clearly impossible, so it was fun picking out what I thought were the most important points. There was then even more fun of finding quotes to back these up – you look at your bookshelf in a whole new way!

Finally, I was asked when the book was to be published in the US. Someone (the key point being, someone I don’t know and hasn’t had to listen to me going on about the book for ages) actually wants the book. I’m not sure it gets much better than that…

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Two blogs for the price of one…

This week, I wrote about where I write for my publisher, Impress Books… here

While you’re over there, have a look at the other brilliant works they publish and think about whether you have anything you could submit to the Impress Prize, a competition run for new writers. The deadline is 1 July (1 month before He’s Gone is published, hem hem), so plenty of time to polish that submission.

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