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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Paperback version

‘Bobby Olsen’, my novella, is now available as a print-on-demand paperback from Kindle. Both the e-book and paperback have a different cover too. There may be a few tweaks to be made to the layout, to try and get all pages nicely filled with text, but the basic story is there on paper. An interesting exercise getting it up as a paperback and probably not helped by all the changes I made along the way, especially starting the tale as a sequence of separate 1500 word exercises. Putting them all together may be the reason my chapter headings are in different positions on the pages in the paperback version!

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.

 

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.

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.