Friday, 30 May 2008
Voices are a great part of a person's attraction for me. Often I notice the voice before anything else. Some voices I find very hard to listen to for very long, and that's about as far as I took it. But reading a snippet on the BBC News website made me realise there's a lot more to it than that, and that I could use it in my writing. I think I already do, in so far as I like to give my hero a deep toned, mellow voice. But there's so much more! Check out
The perfect voice and you'll see why.
I'm off to find a more detailed report on the work....
Wednesday, 28 May 2008
Yesterday was a frustrating day. At 7am the house alarm woke us from sound sleep so dh had to rise and wander groggy-eyed downstairs and reset it. A power cut, he mumbled and climbed back into bed. The screech of the alarm when you're inside the house is nerve jangling - and deafening. By 9am we'd had three more power cuts and at 9.25 it went off and stayed off until 4.35pm. So that meant no computers, no lights, no tv or radio. No kettle, no oven. Had we been at work we'd never have noticed, but we're at home all day and there are so many things that need electricty. Mid-afternoon I thought I'd use the time to do a little housework - only to remember that the Hoover wouldn't work. Saved by the bell there!
Beans on toast for lunch. We have a gas hob, but had to use matches to light it instead of relying on the automatic ignition, and hold bread over the gas flame to make toast. It is a holiday week here for schools, and I pitied parents and grandparents trapped with kids who couldn't use their PCs, tv or any of the music gadgets they so take for granted these days.
The recorded message put out by Npower (our supplier) was intriguing: the fault is due to damage to an overhead power line caused by a third party.
My imagination went wild. What kind of third party manages to damage an overhead power line some sixty feet in the air? I was all for going out and searching for the break, just to see what had happened, but dh wasn't having any.
According to the BBC News, the weather was the third party, and it wasn't only Tyneside that suffered. High winds and heavy rain brought chaos from Kent to Northumberland. Check out the pictures: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/in_pictures/6275725.stm
Tow Law is about 20 miles from us - due south!
Monday, 26 May 2008
I can see why SHBs annoy authors, and publishers too. I can see why authors want payment every time a book is read by a new reader, because mid-and lower list authors cannot live on the proceeds of writing.
But as a buyer of books I want to be able to buy the book I want as cheaply as possible, because that way I can buy more books and not make an unhealthy dent in my bank balance. As a reader I want to be able to pass on a book to a friend or relative and say this was great - do enjoy it! (I gave up doing that when I found people did not return them - but that's another story!)
Authors seem to think I should not be allowed to do that. Yet they sold all rights to their work to a publisher and accepted a contract that paid them for that work. The publisher then paid to have the book printed, distributed, etc and I paid the bookshop for that book. Everyone ought to be happy. The book is now mine, to do with as I will.
If I like it, I'll keep it. If I don't like it, I'll offer it to my local library as a donation where it will hopefully be read and promote the author's skill to a new set of readers. Because I did not care for it does not mean that no one will like it. Sometimes, if it is more convenient, I'll give books to a charity in the hope that someone will buy them again. The buyer will enjoy a good read and the money will go to help someone in need.
(Some) authors would have me bin it instead so that no one else can read it. I can't do that. Not everyone can afford to buy new books, and rely on libraries or SHBs. I am not going to deny those people the pleasure that has given me so much in my life. And in these days of mounting illiteracy, it is important that everyone should read more. People who cannot read do not buy books at all.
And besides, no book, however much I dislike it, should ever be put in the dustbin. That seems like sacrilege.
The questions go on. Should we be obliged to pay BMW a fee if we buy a second hand mini? Or pay a designer if we purchase a second hand dress? What about that that sheet music, Vetriano's paintings, people who drive over Sir Norman Forster's bridge at Millau? should we start paying them a fee, too?
Thursday, 22 May 2008
I want to get this work finished soon, because I want to start another story when I'm away in France. It's a good place to write. There are so few distractions - no television, no radio, no neighbours. Mobile phones work only if you walk half a mile to the road, and if the house phone rings we regard it nervously - usually a French voice demands the owner of the house, and we have to say in our halting French that Monsieur is not here, that we are only guests. I really should start practicing my French phrases now....
I do hope the builders working on a house further up the valley will have finished when we get there. The shrill sound of an electric saw cutting through stone at intervals throughout the day did rather jar the peace and quiet. Having said that, I have to remember that the house we are going to has been having a refit.
A new bedroom was added on in October, when we were last there, and work is still going on. An inside staircase has been added, so we won't have to go outside, round the corner and down the steps to gain access to the lower rooms. That will take some getting used to. And the upstairs loo has moved. I probably won't be able to find it if I wake up in the middle of the night and want to go - it's always pitch dark there, unless the moon is just at the right position to shine in through the bedroom window.
Plus which old habits die hard - I imagine that for a couple of days at least I'll still head outside to go downstairs, and fumble about for the loo where it used to be before the brain clicks in and re-directs me.
Friday, 16 May 2008
It seems a long time since I climbed Stac Polly but dh has just found pictures on his mobile phone! This is one of me he took when we were half way up, with Loch Lugainn beneath us. It was the end of February, I think, which explains why we were so wrapped up in winter clothes.
I'm working on fine-tuning HsD in fits and starts, and thinking about adding a new plot line to an earlier novel that I'm very fond of but which received 2 firm rejections for not having a) enough plot (Robert Hale) and b) not having enough internal conflict (HM&B). There are some good scenes in it that I'm loath to waste - but I quite accept that both publishers had valid complaints. My cp always said it had no spine...she was right.
Internal conflict is difficult, I find. There are only so many believable issues that can stop a couple who love each other from marrying and I'm sure you can think of them all in a twinkling. HM&B admit it, but say that the journey, and how it is handled, is the important bit. H'mmm. Then they ask for original voices and exciting stories. Ah well, nobody makes me do this. I do it all for my own pleasure.
I'm varying my diet of romance reading at the moment. I found biographies of Nigella Lawson and Byron on the library shelves and brought them home. Since Byron died in 1824 I can claim I'm reading around issues contemporary to my current wip, but Nigella? That's sheer nosiness on my part. I didn't know both her parents were Jewish, and that both her former and current husbands were/are Jewish, too. I use her How To Eat more than any of my other cook books - it is a joy to read - except perhaps for Delia's How To Cook.
Monday, 12 May 2008
As for writing - though I'm tinkering and fine-tuning the last chapter of H'sD to get a gripping finale, really it is finished. It is time to start something else, and at the moment, my ideas are blurry. They need a little more time to come into focus, so meanwhile I'm tinkering about with all sorts of odd jobs such as editing my pics onto cd's - correctly labelled, and dated. I discovered I had 6 or 7 cds bearing pics and some items were endlessly duplicated, misnamed or not named at all - so they would never be found. Now, I have but 2 cds with each photo in its correct, labelled folder. I can feel my halo shining!
Another thing - I've finalised my record of submissions. I have two paper files of letters and an incomplete spreadsheet, or rather I had - now the spreadsheet is up to date and the paper files have been vastly reduced. One thing stands out like like a beacon - UK agents are not interested in taking on new authors writing historical fiction. I never got the slightest hint of interest from any of the, and believe me, I approached quite a few.
I have WsB, HsD, FAG and Shadows out on submission at the moment, and I should push the others instead of letting them just sit on my laptop. Publishers take so long to answer, some to even acknowledge that they've received my work. I should have another look at RC and decide what to do with it, since it seems People's Friend are not going to answer me. They've had a 30k version since last July without a peep out of them, so I think it is time to give up on that one. I telephoned HM&B last week about FAG. They asked for the whole ms last August and I'm still waiting to hear, but Ms Mentell promised to bring it to an editor's attention as 9 months was a very long time to wait. Almost time to bring a baby into the world!
Friday, 9 May 2008
Tuesday, 6 May 2008
Monday, 5 May 2008
After lunch we walked down to the cove, pictured above, and found the tide still very high. We also found ourselves with a one-legged seagull. We seem to be haunted by one-legged birds as we have a second one-legged robin in our garden at home, and now this seagull. He found it difficult to land exactly where he wanted, especially in a gusty wind, and we didn't have anything to feed him but tangerine segments, which he did not even investigate. (I went back with a thick, fresh crust of bread next day, but other people commandeered the seat that he'd chosen as his spot, and when they left, he left. I waited, but he didn't return, so I left the bread anyway. I like to think he came back and found it.)
We were up very early next morning and stood in the rain at the bus stop outside the Methodist church. We were not alone, even though it was only 7.45. The bus breathed in and squeezed around the narrow Mullion streets, hurtled around the lanes to Helston at alarming speed. If you've never been to Cornwall, you need to know that driving through country roads is like driving through a leafy, sunlit tunnel. The hedgerows at this time of year are littered with primroses, bluebells and orchard spikes, but behind that beautiful greenery lurks two tons of solid stone and soil, often six feet high and not something with which you, your car or the bus outght to collide. The Cornish hedge repells all invaders. Your car, person or bus will suffer irreparable damage.
A short wait in Helston, another bus and off to Truro. Double the distance this time at 18 miles. Another change in Truro and off to Trispen, another nine or ten miles, 40 in all. We got off right outside the garage and joyfully picked up the Honda. A bad connection in the wires that ran beneath the driver's seat had been the cause of the problem. Something so simple! But we couldn't really complain after 8 years of trouble free motoring, paid our bill £85 and drove off back to Kynance garage to settle our account there. We paid out £150 but couldn't object, considering all the man had done for us, and on a Sunday, too; but I couldn't help thinking what such a small thing as a bad connection was costing us.
We drove another four miles to Cadgwith cove, parked the car and walked down through the woods to the cove and had lunch there. The sun disappeared and there was a brief fall of hailstones and lots of rain but we enjoyed a brief walk around once it cleared. It is such a hilly village that we didn't walk far, but headed back to the car and you'll never guess....it wouldn't start. Same probalem all over again. The immobiliser had immobilised us.
Saturday, 3 May 2008
Monday was busy day. We bussed into Helston, topped up dh's mobile phone as we thought we might need it in the next few days, and after lunch we set off to walk to the garage at Kynamce to see what was happening to the Honda. We went on one of the bridlepaths across the cliffs and were somewhat startled to see two riderless horses thundering towards us down the narrow, rutted lane. Fully bridled and saddled, they looked as spooked as we were and we edged by each other with some trepidation. One was a heavy boned skewbald and the other a huge gunmetal grey, both well turned out.
One mile down the track we met a limping young lady who immediately wanted to know if we'd seen any horses...another mile brought two more people and another horse...one of the horses had thrown the rider, which had spooked the second horse, which had done likewise. We never found out what had scared them so but there were a lot of helicopters chuntering around from the air sea rescue base at Culdrose, and flying pretty low, too. Perhaps they were the villains.
Anyway, got to the garage (3.9 miles!) and found the car had been loaded on something dh calls a beavertail and driven to Truro. So, all being according to plan there, we set off to walk across the Lizard Downs to join the coastal path back to Mullion. All went well until the smooth, grassy path petered out into heather and gorse, sudden bogs and hollows. Dh disappeared rather suddenly into one hollow and had to be pulled out again! We finally hit the coastal path and headed north, enjoyed the spectacular views, tried to avoid stepping on wild flowers in the grass and gradually got more and more tired and still the path went on. Mullion was not even in sight when we were overtaken by two other walkers heading in the same direction. They were being met at Windyridge Farm and they were kind enough to offer us a lift back to Mullion. I accepted gratefully. 10.6 miles over some rough country was more than enough for me!
This is Polurrian Cove, about half a mile from Mullion.
Friday, 2 May 2008
We had some adventures. After shopping at Tesco in Helston we drove down to the Lizard lighthouse, parked up on the grassy slope, looked around the Wolf Rock lighthouse, then ambled along the cliffs. When we grew tired of peering over the edge, we went back to the car. It wouldn't start. For some reason the imobiliser in the security system cut off the engine. The car wouldn't move. Ha! Five o'clock on a Sunday afternoon perched on the cliffs in a rising wind and a car that won't go. Wonderful.
Dh fiddled and probed, but nothing would shift it. About ten to six, after watching all the other cars zoom merrily out of the car park and beginning to feel very small under that wide sky, I volunteered to go to the tiny gift shop on the cliff edge and see if I could phone for assistance.
This offer was snapped up, and off I trudged. The young man proved most helpful and help was summoned from the local garage in Kynance. Ten minutes later, when I had barely recovered from trudging back up the hill to the car, the cavalry showed up in the shape of Mr Johnson and son, a tow rope was produced and off we went up horrendously narrow lanes back to their garage.
I rode with Mr Johnson, who told me he once towed a Rolls Royce backwards (because it's front wheels had locked) from the same spot, and that new Range Rover had gone right over the cliff last year. It's still there, he said, and I wished I'd known earlier when I was looking over the edge. I also wondered how a car as big as a Rolls Royce had fit in those narrow lanes....but then, a RR must be as wide, if not wider. Mr Johnson took us back to Mullion and promised to take our car to the nearest Honda dealer next day - which happened to be the other side of Truro, in a place with the quaint name of Trispen. All three men were of the opinion that only Honda could sort out the electronics that would enable to car to move again.
I think we were lucky indeed that Mr Johnson was willing to turn out on a Sunday evening...