Sunday, 15 April 2012

Colouring The Maps

The best moments in reading are when you come across something - a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things - that you'd thought special, particular to you. And here it is, set down by someone else, a person you've never met, maybe even someone long dead. And it's as if a hand has come out, and taken yours

The History Boys by Alan Bennett

I discovered this passage in Susanna Kearsley's 'Sophia's Secret' and it really struck a chord with me:

My father would have called what I was doing 'colouring maps'. That is what he called it when I filled in time and wasted effort, in his view, by taking lots of trouble to do something wholly unessential, as when I coloured maps in high school for geography, feathering blue round the shorelines and shading in valleys and hills. But he always said it fondly, as though he also knew and understood that there were times when what the brain most needed was to simply colour maps.

My experience was almost identical, in that despite being told not to waste my time with unnecessary details, I too found it cathartic to colour the maps. I still do, figuratively speaking, by setting up a timeline database, collecting pictures of where the story takes place, outlining each scene, 'drawing' my characters appearance and personalities. All necessary to a writer, but prompts others to say,'Why don't you just write the story?'

I will - but colouring maps helps me think.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Reviews - A Balanced View

Today I posted a review on the HNR Blog by a historical fiction author [no surprises there then] whose work I haven't come across before.

I engaged with the author's main character straight away, and found it to be one of those books where I wanted the day to end so I could go to bed and read some more. The historical part of the story was a little slow, but the author made it clear she was staying true to the facts of the time. This said, everything that happened in the early eighteenth century was slow, from transport to correspondence and political events, so I could hardly criticise her for that.

Her characters, descriptions and the way she portrayed the romantic inner feelings of the love interests was mastery, so I posted my review on Amazon, and was not surprised to see how many others were there. [Over 300 on] What did surprise me were the bad ones. These constituted only about 10%, but those readers didn't like any aspect of this book; not the style, the characters or the storyline. Comments varied from, 'boring' to 'I gave up halfway through', and one felt compelled to add, 'I wish there was a zero star option'.

These bad reviews didn't detract from my own enjoyment, in fact they reaffirmed my belief that we all get different things from books. What some readers love and will re-read until they know passages by heart, [and 65% of readers loved this book] others dismiss and seem incapable of saying anything positive at all.

So those bad reviews authors take to heart and which we allow to obliterate all the goods ones, really don't mean much, because we cannot please everyone with our particular brand of writing, and shouldn't expect to.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

My Book Has A Title

Thanks to everyone who took the time to vote for a title of my latest novel, and especially to those who added a comment and the reason for your choice.  Some unexpected things came out of this exercise in that we don't always anticipate what certain words conjure in our heads. Thanks too for the humour.

I submitted the results of the poll to my publisher and they have made a decision as to which title they felt most accurately represented the story - and for those of you who would like to see what that decision was:
Click Here

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Lucky No 7 Meme

I am so unreliable with these Meme things, I either forget to pass them on or get muddled with what I am supposed to do - due to either laziness or cynicism I am not sure. However this one was sent to me by good buddy Lisa Yarde and I have no wish to upset her, so I will join the party and pass it on.

Here's the thing:
*go to page 77 of your current WIP
*go to line 7
*copy down the next 7 lines/sentences as written and post them on your blog or website
*tag 7 other authors
*let them know they've been tagged

Below is an short excerpt from 'Royalist Rebel' my 17th Century Biographical novel scheduled for release in early 20123 by Pen and Sword Books

‘It is a gentlemens' club,’ she lowers her voice, despite there being no one but myself to hear. ‘The members take an oath as Royalists, and swear to further the cause.’
‘Further -? You mean they work against Parliament in secret?’
She shrugs, but my insistent gaze finally penetrates her veneer of reluctance. ‘They call themselves stonemasons. Do not look at me like that, Betty, besides,’ her plump shoulders rise in dismissal. ‘I said it was secret. Why would they discuss something like that with a mere woman?’ Her light laugh is unconvincing.
I push Sir Lionel to the back of my mind, enthralled by this talk of secret societies. ‘Is that why Robert Moray is a prisoner, because he is a spy?’
‘Oh, dear, I shouldn’t have mentioned it, your father-’
‘Father is a member?’

That wasn't so bad, and I got a plug in!!!

My 7 - in alphabetical order so as not to offend . . .are

Jen Black 
Alison Brideson
Tara Chevrestt
India Drummond
Vicky English
Evangeline Holland
Rosalie Skinner