Another day, another coffee

A terrible habit, three bought coffees in three days. Well, blame it on the Bank Holiday weekend. And to make matters worse I added an almond slice to today’s latte. My excuse? I’d driven some twenty miles to get to the coffee shop and was in need of sustenance. You only live once, don’t you? No doubt my doctor would counter with ‘You only die once…’ So, no more bought coffee until the weekend, back now to decaffeinated, milky coffee at home.

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Mr Bean’s Coffee House in the small town of Tenterden is worth a visit, friendly staff, good location for people watching and newspapers available. Only drawback can be when young mothers come in with screaming kids, then it’s time to vacate the building.

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Yesterday I finished editing the original version of the Bobby Olsen novella, the one with the made-up hyphenated phrases that the main character uses. These divided opinion at my Writers Group but a few people liked the novelty so I think it’s worth making this version available for them. I’ve started making the necessary alterations for uploading as an e-book and should get it up in the next few days. Then, finally, that story is finished with! Until I decide to rewrite it as a full-blown 100,000 word novel…one day.

Now this is ready for blogging I shall pop outside and plant a few daffodil bulbs as the packet has sat on the kitchen floor for two weeks now. And it’s a lovely sunny day again, too good to spoil in front of a computer. Tomorrow rain is forecast so I can type away then…maybe.

 

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So where are we..?

It’s hard work thinking of something to blog and all too easy to click the browser off. What with moving house and getting used to a new location there hasn’t been much time to think about writing. I was just getting back to editing a version of the ‘Bobby Olsen’ book when this week I decided it was time to find a new car. So that was the end of writing for most if not all of this week. The old car had lasted from 2002 so I can’t complain really. With my mileage being very low and the car paid off many years ago there seemed no reason to update it. But with several years of warnings from garages about ‘heavy corrosion’ on the suspension I bit the bullet on Wednesday and started looking around.

And here I am just two days later with a new car lined up and hopefully ready for collecting next Tuesday. Once I make up my mind on something I hate hanging around, I like to go out and get whatever it is done and dusted. Maybe I’ve been influenced by these rapid delivery companies, you order something in the morning and it’s on your doorstep in the evening. Anyway, after sorting out the insurance yesterday, a little complicated due to my annual insurance renewing three days after I get the new car, I hope by next Tuesday everything will calm down. After I’ve sorted out the switching of cars on the parking permit! Of course, with a new car I will no doubt want to get out and drive it around more so there goes the plans to get back to writing or editing…

On the book front I have decided to publish an e-book version of ‘Bobby Olsen’ which has the original hyphenated words in it, the version I wrote for the Writing Group and which was loved and hated in equal degrees because of the double-barrelled words. I’ll probably call it ‘The Original Bobby Olsen’ and make it clear in the blurb that the story line is the same as the earlier published version. A little complicated but I feel the original style deserves a chance out in the public domain.

I have managed to write several short pieces for my Writing Group over the last month so new writing has not stopped completely. With an August break from meetings I hope to have something new written for early September. I’m also reading part of a fantasy novel written by another of the group members, to give some feedback. It’ll be nice to one day go back to writing most of the day then go for a stroll along the seafront. One day…

 

 

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.

 

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.

 

Change of plan

There I was happily editing my novella of hyphenated words when I began to grind to a halt. Having spent a year developing this curious style and being absorbed in using it to write not one but two novellas I found I had had enough of these creations, at least for a while. So yesterday I began editing a second version of the first novella, this time editing out all the hyphenated words and turning the story into a conventional tale.

I have to admit it was quite therapeutic to carry this out and to end up with several chapters of ‘normal’ script, something which I can promote without having the added weight of convincing people that hyphenated words were the language of the future. I haven’t given up on the new style, I think I just need a rest from its complications and implications. The aim now is to produce two versions of the story.

Here’s an example of the difference between the two versions:

Hyphenated style of opening chapter

New York, mid-December ’58, and my snowshoes were basement-stored but ready for unpacking should the hanging snowflakes hold hands on the ground. The blizzard back in March had dawned slow weather-wise and in folks’ brains; no-one wanted catching second time with their pants down in a snow drift.

Now I was out walking down 48th Street with the words of ‘Sugartime’ lyric-lashing my head. I tried forcing phrases of the Everly’s ‘Dream’ into the early evening air but the McGuire Sisters’ sugar rush kept returning.

After a weekend celebrating twelve months since my PI registration with Dirk and his alcohol-awash sidekicks, I wanted something more carefree cerebral. I stopped outside the Plymouth Theatre and watched people shuffle inside. The Marriage-Go-Round was rave-reviewing and the chance to eyeball Boyer and Colbert was not to be missed, promising light laughs easy-jawed. I took a position second balcony high and played writer eye-watching near eight hundred people creaking worn seats.

 

Conventional style

New York, mid-December ’58, and my snowshoes were stored in the basement but ready for unpacking should the hanging snowflakes hold hands on the ground. The blizzard back in March had dawned slow on the weather horizon and in folks’ brains; no-one wanted catching second time with their pants down in a snow drift.

Now I was out walking down 48th Street with the words of ‘Sugartime’ lashing my head. I tried forcing phrases of the Everly’s ‘Dream’ into the early evening air but the McGuire Sisters’ sugar rush kept returning.

After a weekend celebrating twelve months since my PI registration with Dirk and his alcoholic sidekicks, I wanted something more carefree cerebral. I stopped outside the Plymouth Theatre and watched people shuffle inside. The Marriage-Go-Round was getting rave reviews and the chance to eyeball Boyer and Colbert was not to be missed, promising light laughs in abundance. I took a position second balcony high and played writer watching near eight hundred people creaking worn seats.

I intend to read the latter opening chapter at the next Writers’ Group meeting. It will be interesting to see what the reaction is, I know some like the hyphenated style but others don’t. I’ll probably get the same division of opinion.

Still, two books from one story – can’t be bad!

To contract or not to

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By ‘contract’ I mean shortening a word, not a contract you sign. I hadn’t thought of the identical spelling until I wrote the blog title just now.

So I have finished editing my novella for the first time. As I went through it I decided to have no contractions in the narration but to keep them, of course, in the dialogue, unless there was a particularly well spoken character. Now I’m not so sure. The narrator is the main character. He’s American, in the late ’50s, mixing most of the time with lowlifes and the cops. Surely then he would think in contractions? Would he really be thinking in full sentences with perfectly formed words?

I think the reason I edited the contractions out of the narration was that I was worried the story might come across as being too too informal, too aping of the ‘hard boiled’ PI form which is so copied and in some areas so derided. I didn’t want the story to become too much like one man’s long moan about life and its trials and tribulations. But will it sound too formal now, and at odds with the dialogue?

I had a glance through a compilation of Raymond Candler stories and was quite surprised to see he used a mix in his narration, some words like ‘had not’ contracted to ‘hadn’t’ and others not. It doesn’t seemed to have harmed his sales. I think I will have to read through my novella again and make up my mind one way or the other.