Finally published

So, after delays caused by the house move, I have finally found time to finish editing my novella ‘Bobby Olsen’ set in late 1950s America. I can’t guarantee there aren’t errors here and there, I just reached the point where I wanted it published and finished, but the tale’s out there.

This is the ‘conventional’ form of the story, with the made-up hyphenated words removed. I will produce the original version later in the year as I know some of my Writers’ Group liked the language.

Now to consider publishing it as a paperback.

Bobby Olsen by Jamie Neve – find it on Amazon as an ebook now.

 

Preparing for Kindle

Finally, after a long drawn out house move, I have managed to finish editing my novella. I mentioned it earlier on this blog, the one where I had used a lot of hyphenated words I had created. In this edit I have removed these unusual words, partly because I was getting a bit tired of them after working with them for nearly a year and partly because I knew some of my Writers’ Group members were not keen on them either. So I now have a more conventional story. Later this year I will edit the hyphenated version as it was this style which gave me the inspiration for writing the story and also some people actually liked the use of these new words.

Last night I set up the chapter headings correctly and the page breaks, and inserted the front pages. Kindle seems to have produced a new beta version of a guide but I found that problematic as some of my chapter headings went in strange positions – my fault no doubt, I’ve played around with the original episodes so much. I used the simple guide Kindle had earlier in the year when I put up my long short story as a practice run for publishing on Amazon. With this novella I will try and publish it as a paperback too, just so I can have the book on my bookshelves.

It’s curious and amusing to read back over episodes of the story. Some of them genuinely bring tears to my eyes – and not because they sound awful! – but because I can’t believe I managed to write a certain phrase or paragraph. Some of the incidents also have great poignancy for the story and, as I was making the plot up as I went, some incidents were to have great significance on the outcome of the whole tale. One character I casually brought in for one episode ended up becoming a key figure right through to the end and into the follow-up novella. Those moments bring a lump into my throat. At that point I realise I don’t care if no-one else likes the story, I like it, and I realise it was a story I must have been waiting to write, simple as it is.

So now I must hold back from publishing straight away and go through looking for any obvious errors which are highlighted in red. I’m not worried about producing a perfect piece, I’m sure my friends will eagerly point out spelling errors and the such like, I just want the story finished and published.

 

Just another Bond mission…

(written a couple of years ago, cheap and cheerful, nothing special)

“So, Mr Bond, you have 90 seconds to save yourself. It’s been nice knowing you…I think not!”

The evil Dr Feelingstrange laughed and hopped aboard the helicopter. As it rose into the air he looked down at the prostrate James Bond who lay shackled to a flagpole. Several floors below him a massive bomb ticked to itself. On top of the black cylinder stood a two minute timer with the sand dribbling a quarter of the way through already.

James twisted onto his back, reached down with his manacled hands and managed to use one thumb to press against the heel of his shiny black patent leather shoes. A flap swung open and a minute saw flicked out and began buzzing at high speed. The sparks flew as the chains were cut away. James pulled his wrists apart and stood up. Removing his shoe, he used the drill to slice through the steel loops around his ankles. Free at last he raced to the door that lead from the roof terrace to the stairs.

As James pounded down the first steps he could hear the helicopter disappearing into the distance. On the third level he found the exit door locked. James unclipped his wristwatch, pulled out the winder button, set the second hand for ‘3’, looped the watch over the door handle and retreated a few steps. The door exploded inwards and James launched himself into the smoke filled room.

Ahead were two armed guards, either suicidely inclined or just ignorant of the ticking bomb behind them. Their guns raised, James dived behind a table to his right. Bullets thudded into the metal top. James reached into his jacket inside pocket and withdrew a pen. Twisting the middle ninety degrees he pointed it over the top of the table at one of his attackers and pressed the clip. A tiny dart flew out and struck the man between his eyes. By the time he hit the floor the second guard was stumbling back as a second dart pierced his left eye.

James rushed towards the bomb. His mind had calculated that he had twenty seconds of sand left. Long enough.

Dr Feelingstrange saw the massive plume of smoke rising from the explosion.

“Shucks, that’s bad luck, Mr Bond. These cheap Chinese imported timers just can’t be relied on…”

Train of thought

(a long time away – moving house, unpacking boxes, cleaning kitchens and bathroom, changing addresses, registering doctors and dentists. Maybe nearly settled now…)

Train of Thought

The first carriage; heart-stopping, alcohol-hazed, dry lips mouth-mouthing words of double-dutched ineptitude, he opened the gambit with her. Her. The blonde lobbed hair, wild-hanging calculated cut, wrapping a face denuded of make-up, diffidently demanding adoration.

The second carriage; the dinner diary-dated in heavy pencil, circled and gouged in disbelief, with time counted down in seconds over hours. Clothes mirror-stared in multi-coloured disarrangements, mismatched for a perfect match. The awkward answerings across a table plastic flower posed and house-wined, wished-for lives exchanged in nervous narrations, deciphering the content for half-truths disguised within, eyes mind-reading the true intentions concealed. Goodbye smiles slipped between glad glances at a door marked Exit and Freedom, a tentative talk of texts and calls okayed with half-convicted conviction.

The third carriage; inhibitions uninhibited, clothes unclothed, all bared except the soul secret-suspicious, bodies tango-tangled around duvets shredded in unpaced passion with minds conjuring the unshared images of lovers wished for and out of reach. A hand-held touch, relief equal mixed in indecision with window-stared thoughts glass-rebounded, until palms sweat-swipe apart and fumble-find clothes to disguise the cold unpassioned skins before glances can photo-pick flaws smooth-shopped by earlier desperate desires.

The third carriage; families familiarised, glimpses of her in future years, fuller, wrinkle-creased, heavy-thighed. The parents’ ordered house of ordered years, generations frame-ranked, and invisible future frames floating for filling by you and her. The father’s strong-handed handshake challenging control, the old order’s last stand to protect their eternal child; the cool light weak touch of the mother resisting a touch tendering ownership of the family’s human shares.

The fourth carriage; aisle-ambled, stained glass streaming, he waits for her, heart tight-folded. ‘I do’s echo-sound, murmured by ghosts of long dust-ground lovers; ‘I don’t’s whisper up cracked stone slabs from heart-broken ethereal voices. Glasses later raised like spirits, clink saluting speeches rewritten till fiction becomes almost truth and drunken cheers drown behind hand-hid gossiped slights.

The fifth carriage; he caught a floating wisp-waft of aftershave unknown, a fleeting flicker lying air-cushioned on her blouse collar and neck skin. The eyes leaving contact scarce seconds early but half-noted in a black-doored corner conscience, the lost distance stare mid conversation self-corrected too late and logged alongside late homecomings flushed and febrile, and the semi-smile lip-lingering with kisses shallow and slight.

The sixth carriage; he waits dark enshrouded, hoodied-hidden, watching and watchful, hands deep pocketed next to sharp-edged retribution. She passes alone, thoughts deep-woven of another, heart beat-beating in recaught teenage angst, sees not him, shadow stood, nor when he enters full light lit at home as she follows a routine daydream dreamt.

The seventh carriage; as he slides a knife blade, sleek and vengeful, skin splitting open like a guilt-weighted soul, and she slides spit-splutter down the door, her eyes unsurprised in understanding.

The eighth carriage; as he turns the blade, wet washed with her blood, and slices himself; their bloods mingling as the train of thought stops in sympathy.

 

 

Slow editing and distractions

I am continuing to edit my novella set in 1950s America, about one episode or chapter a day. As this is the ‘conventional’ version with none of the made-up hyphened words I am finding that the word count is increasing as I rewrite the phrases into ‘normal’ sentences. It already stood at near 43,000 word,s which is long for a novella, but now it is edging towards 45,000 with about a third still to go. I keep thinking about editing out a whole chapter or two but just can’t bring myself to do it. Maybe I just have too much in the story. It would be possible to build it up to 80,000 or more by expanding each chapter and adding more detail as the story does zip along but at the moment it’s all I can do to keep editing the short version.

I haven’t watched Masterchef for several years but have found myself absorbed by it this year. I got caught up with the early rounds when there are many contestants and couldn’t help but play that game of trying to spot the winner from just the first round. I think also the fact that I have adopted a healthier diet over the last three months has heightened my interest in food – even if I can’t eat most of the dishes they concoct on the show! I’ve also taken more strenuous exercise and have lost half a stone even though I didn’t need to, consequently I find myself feeling quite hungry at times and really looking forward to my next meal. I probably need to have more healthy snacks around the place so I don’t get these hunger pangs, I’ve probably overdone the diet and exercise.

Another distraction has been a proposed house move. We started over a year ago, have ‘sold’ the house three times and still not moved. Long story. Right now we are sold, have a place to buy and are waiting for our solicitor to get answers to her ‘further enquiries’. We will probably still be here at Xmas. I’ll vote for any party which promises to hang, draw and quarter solicitors…

Ahhh, only forty minutes until food preparation time, my stomach is rumbling at the prospect.

Slow edit

Just an update on the editing of my novella. It is hard-going, particularly when you’ve gone over the story several times before. And there are so many other things to be done and you’re in the middle of a house move where the solicitor moves at the pace of an arthritic snail. I manage a couple of pages a day, usually in the morning, then that’s it. I may get to the end by Christmas…

Once a fortnight I go to a local writers group. Usually they are fun, a welcome break from sitting in front of the laptop and the source of many good ideas. Unfortunately you do need a strong chairperson for the meetings to be worthwhile. if you don’t then the people who are there primarily to have a good gossip dominate and others sit there becoming increasingly annoyed and frustrated, so much so that you start to wonder if it’s worthwhile attending. I hate to define these people who waste our time but they do seem to be widows. They are often members of various other activity groups and I get the impression the socialising is the main reason why they go. Chairing the meetings can be hard work, keeping everyone on the agenda and making sure everyone has a chance to comment and read out their stories or poems. I can see me fading away from the group unless the house move goes through which will necessitate a change anyway.

Presently listening to Yes’ The Yes Album on YouTube, bringing back happy teenage memories of the ’70s. Having got rid of my vinyl albums some years ago I have started looking to replace some. I think going round boot sales and secondhand shops may be the cheapest option as online the records seem very expensive, understandable I suppose.

Going back to the editing…as I remove the made-up hyphenated words in this ‘edition’ of the book I am realising that I could lengthen the story up to novel length, but I don’t think I have the appetite for that right now. With the hyphenated version I think 100,000 words would be too much to endure, both for the reader and the writer! I shall plough on as I am.

 

Social media

If you search the web for help in promoting your book most ‘experts’ will suggest setting up a presence on the various branches of social media. Facebook and Twitter are the obvious ones but all the other regular ones will be thrown in too. Having run my own Twitter account for my writing over the last couple of months I can see why other ‘experts’ argue the other way and say you will never sell many books via your social media outlets.

Apart from the large commercial accounts which follow just about everyone, most of your followers will be other writers, some experiencing mild sales from their ebooks and others like yourself with few or no sales. The chances that any of these followers will purchase your book is very small. Perhaps if you give away a copy of your book they might download it but it will have to be pretty fantastic for them to read it all. Most writers want to sell their own books, not help you sell yours, in my opinion.

Setting up a blog, maybe on WordPress, could have some benefits. If you put up lots of your writing it is possible to gain a lengthy list of followers and interaction via comments can strike up something of a relationship. If you put up poetry you can build up substantial numbers of followers quite quickly. I’m guessing this is because it is very hard to get published a a poet and very easy to put up your poems on a blog. And it’s a lot easier to keep writing poems, even if of poor quality, rather than write a story of say 1000 words. I know that sounds a little cynical, it’s just my impression from running blogs over the last ten years. I’ve been guilty of writing crap poems just to get a few comments from people who are desperately hoping you’ll comment on their work in return.

So, with Twitter and Facebook I think you can only really grow your readership if you are already a successful author. People will then seek you out, hoping for news of your next book, or freebies, or news about you. Even then, unless you’re selling thousands and thousands of copies, I don’t think social media is going to improve your sales. Only my opinion, maybe people out there making money from scratch with books can let me know how wrong I am.