Wednesday, 9 September 2020

Catching up...

 Goodness - HOW long since I wrote a blog post?! 

Well, here's one just to bring you up to speed on what's been happening since the middle of July...JULY!! And we're now in September. Blimey.

First off, I hope that wherever you are when you're reading this, that you are still safe and well, and coping with these strange times and any restrictions you may currently have imposed upon you and yours. Life seems to consist of wash hands, wear a mask, keep your distance! And its all very samey as one day blurs into another. 

But we're still here, and there have been some exciting things happening since you last dropped by...

Tilda and the Mines of Pergatt was launched, the competition was won, and at some point (Californian wildfires permitting) there will be a video compilation taken from the launch for me to share with you.

We've discovered some printing issues with Tilda and the Mines of Pergatt - I discovered several copies with pages missing, pages cut short, and even shifting text... If you had a print copy and you have any issues with it, please do let me know. 

Tilda #3 has been delivered to Bink. They like it, I've got a couple of kinks to iron out, but nothing humungous. No idea when it's likely to be published - I'd guess middle of next year at the earliest.

I've begun a non-fiction project, and am slowly working my way through it. Problem is, there's so much stuff I could include, it's hard to know where to stop! I'm working little and often on that one as the story begins to settle in my head.

I've NOT begun to work seriously on Tilda #4 yet, mainly because of the non-fiction project, but also because I have been doing some paid editing work for a friend I reconnected with recently. I won't say too much at this stage, but I am very excited to be working on a collection of steampunk short stories he's putting together. I have to say I wasn't sure about being paid for the editing to begin with, but the more stories I've worked on with M, the more my confidence has grown. It's a bit like when I started doing author visits - I daren't charge because I didn't have the experience, but I need time to prove to myself that what I can offer has value and is worth paying for. It helps that he writes well and between us, we've knocked the collection into very, VERY good shape.

I am hoping to attend a couple of book fairs later this month...although the UK has today introduced a legal limit on social gatherings of no more than six people, and I've no idea how that will affect the planned events. 

What else? Squidgeling T has gone back to his new house in Manchester ready for a new uni year, while Squidgeling J goes back to Bristol later this month. Have to admit I am nervous, as both Squidgelings are in the age range most affected by coronavirus infections at the moment. In other family news, my Dad celebrated his 80th birthday with a socially distanced weekend of visits from various family members - and had three cakes, one to celebrate with each of his children's families. Not quite what we'd originally planned for him, but still a lovely occasion.  

And that's about it for the moment. I promise it won't be as long before I post my next blog!! Although something more exciting has got to happen for me to write about, first...

Monday, 27 July 2020

A Tale of Two Versions

As every author knows, you often end up with multiple versions of a novel's manuscript on your computer. Mine go something like this;

Version 1 is the really rough one. Often doesn't have much formatting in it, no speech marks, sometimes notes instead of proper sentences.

Version 2 is the first polish. Fills out the story, gets formatted, looks much more 'proper'. Usually ends up hanging together as a story much better. 

Version 3 is often the 'voice' version, where I really get into my character's head and often rewrite sections from their point of view. It's really where the story comes alive, and often the one that gets sent to beta readers - or the publisher if I'm feeling really confident about it.


You remember I had a bit of a rough time just before Tilda #2 was published and launched? (It went great, by the way - a few issues that others might like to learn from, but I'll blog about that another time).  I was working on Version 3 of Tilda #3. I'd found a few glitches and worked out some issues, but took a break from the third novel to give Tilda and the Mines of Pergatt a really good start.

After the launch, I picked Tilda #3 back up - and realised that, although I had begun working on a third version, at some point I'd switched to Version 2 of Tilda #3 to continue working on. 

This means I now have a beginning of Tilda #3, Version 3 that's been tightened and put into Tilda's voice, and a middle of Tilda #3, Version 2, that's had the same treatment. 

You'd think it would be simple to fix - just combine the two bits of the different versions and carry on, yeah? 


Cos when I was working on Version 2 more recently, I was grappling with some issues that had implications for the earlier part of the novel - and I went back in Version 2 to change them. This makes it VERY complicated to use Word's combine/compare function, and I decided not to go down that route for fear of complicating matters even further.

I'm left with two versions of the same novel, neither of which is the most up-to-date on its own.

This has resulted in me printing out a hard copy of Version 3 and transferring any sections I changed in that to Version 2 on the computer, mainly because Version 2 is the larger file which suggests there is more content in it. The result is Tilda #3, Version 4. 

It is slow, painstaking work to correct. Every now and again I come across a section and I don't know which version has the most recent changes in it - both sound OK. As a result, Version 4 - in places - has ended up with something entirely different again. Hopefully it'll all come together in the end. 

I'm just thankful I realised before I sent anything off to the publisher... 

Half a polished novel, anyone? 

At least I don't have this many versions on the go...

Wednesday, 15 July 2020

Digital Book Launch - Preparations

I'm just a teensy bit excited... 

I've 'dressed' my garden room ready for Tilda's Book Launch on Friday! I now have a rainbow dreamcatcher up, my books out, and my very own gallery of imaginary gemstones ready for the competition winners to be announced...

(I've also spent a few hours drawing in the book that's going to be the prize copy as well)

See you on Friday!

Image may contain: indoor

Friday, 10 July 2020

You are invited to...Tilda #2's book launch!

It's official - I'm going to launch Tilda and the Mines of Pergatt in a digital Zoom session on Friday, 17th July 2020 at 6pm 
(London time, or GMT+1, for any international folk)

If you'd like to attend and celebrate with me, contact me via or Messenger, and I'll send you the relevant links next week. If you know someone who would be interested in joining in, please ask them to contact me directly for the link rather than forwarding it so I can keep track of numbers. 
Please note the event will be recorded! However, by sticking to speaker view (ie me!) muting participants, and handling questions through the chat function, no one else's faces will be in the final video. 

6pm       Event goes live
6.15pm  Reading of first chapter, followed by Q&A in the chat
6.45pm  Announce the winners of the Imaginary Gemstone Competition
7pm       More Q&A 
7.30pm  Event finishes

Looking forward to seeing you - virtually at least - and making Tilda #2 official!


Wednesday, 8 July 2020

Soxploits - or a Coronasock update

The pace has slowed, but I've not stopped knitting... 

Since I last wrote about my soxploits, here and hereI've knitted even more. Think I might need help for this unusual addiction, cos I counted how many pairs I have in my drawer, and I reckon it's almost three dozen! Makes it easy to do a full wool wash of socks though.

Anyhoo, onto what I've created more recently. 

The first pair I knitted since my last update, I didn't keep. The wool was a bit of a pig to knit with for a start and I knew if I wore these, I'd remember the issues I had with them rather than enjoy wearing them. Strands of wool are twisted you see, and sometimes the 'twist' goes opposite to the way you naturally knit, in which case your lovely smooth wool begins to separate into thinner strands. Or the twist goes with the way you naturally knit, and in some cases ends up twisting the length of wool back on itself. As it did in this case. (Sometimes you can prevent this from happening by starting your knitting from the middle of the ball, but as I couldn't find that end in this particular ball, I was stuck.)

Anyway, the number of times I had to dangle my socks in thin air to allow the wool a chance to untwist itself... Ugh! The colours didn't knit up how I expected them to, either. The label states no two socks will be identical, and that's fine, but the stripes of each colour were so wide, one sock ended up green and the other pink. Didn't like that, either.

Fortunately, a neighbour had asked me to knit her a pair of socks (and for sock-knitting lessons once we're allowed to meet up) and as her feet are the same size as mine, I gave her these.

The next sock project was for a friend I met at Charnwood 2016; Bridget had two pairs of West Yorkshire Spinner socks already (you can buy them direct from the company) but she asked me for another, long enough to be welly socks. So...Passionfruit Cooler was the wool she chose, and when it arrived I got knitting. I used a different pattern this time - one which uses a 3.25mm needle instead of the 2.5mm I'm used to, because as this was a longer sock than I'm used to knitting, it might speed things up. 

When I got to the toe of the first sock I posted it to Bridget, to check the sizing. All good, so when she posted it back, I finished the toe off, knitted the other sock and sent them off. They looked a bit odd, because they were knitted all in rib; it's a very stretchy pattern but the garment always appears too thin to fit when it's off a body. I chose rib because I'd wanted to be certain that, if my tension was a bit off on the different sized pins, the socks would be more forgiving when worn. 

Pair number eleven completed.

My rainbows on the left and
Bridget's welly socks on the right.

And then I knitted my rainbow socks... Squeee! Again, West Yorkshire Spinners wool (they are my new favourite brand, I think) in shade Rum Paradise. And yes, I know it's pink rather than red before the orange, so it's not a 'proper' rainbow, but I just love the colours. 

I had to get a bit clever on these, otherwise the stripes would have been wider and then all out of sync when I got to the bottom of the heel and beyond. So I ended up only knitting three/four rows of each new colour down the heel (lots of ends needed to be sewn in as a result!) and by luck rather than judgement, it all worked out so my colours continued in sequence. Hooray! Pair twelve...

They are gorgeous to wear...


And then I went on to pair thirteen. I should've guessed there'd be problems, by the number. The lovely plain purple merino is gorgeous to knit and shows lace beautifully (I'd already knitted two pairs in this brand of wool) but could I get the lace pattern I wanted to knit right? Could I heck. I eventually chose a 'zig-zag cable' pattern, which isn't a true cable at all, and they worked out fine; the end result was worth the hassle.


And onto pair fourteen... Another WYS pair, in either English Rose or Peony, I can't remember which! It's a lovely pinky-purple tweedy effect when knitted, but boy oh boy. Previously I'd knitted almost a whole sock in it before deciding I didn't like whatever pattern I'd used and pulled it all back. The wool has been sitting in my wool bag now since before Christmas, and I've not felt inspired to do anything with it. The time felt right to have another go.

I found a basketweave cable. Didn't like the look of it. Tried a lace pattern. Didn't like that, either. Tried another...aaaargh! Nothing looked right! I needed something that complimented the tweedy effect, but...then I started playing. I made up a pattern, based on a widened and elongated moss stitch and at last, I was off. And finally, I have socks I like!


My next two pairs will be for an old uni friend and her partner, who live down-under; they'll be odds-and-sods versions so I'll share them when they're done, cos I never know what they're going to look like until I get going on them!

At least you won't be bored reading about socks again any time soon... There's some news to be posted later this week about an official book launch event for Tilda and the Mines of Pergatt, so keep your eyes peeled for that, and get your competition entry in soon!

Bye for now!

Wednesday, 1 July 2020

A little bit of flash...The Midsummer Madness

Wrote this for the 'Midsummer Madness' themed monthly competition in the Den of was chosen as winner. (I get to set July's challenge now).

Anyway, I thought I'd share it with you, 'cos I'm rather proud of this one. It's less than 400 words.

The Midsummer Madness

“Are ye well prepared?”

Aliz nods, her eyes wide and dark in her face. “I soaked the rope in rosemary water like ye said, an’ the pegs were whittled fresh from holly.”

“Good. And the other?”

“I have it.”

No tremor in her voice. Will she remain as unaffected if she is forced to use it?

“Good.” I tap my finger on my top lip and glance around the clearing. Have I missed anything? The symbol is marked on the floor with white flour, thick black candles stand at each of its points, the jug is filled with rosewater… “Let’s get on, then.”

Aliz sprinkles the rosewater and the scent of summer blooms hang heavy in the air, masking the rancid stench of fear.

The earth is warm through my shirt when I lay within the floured sign. I keep silent as the still-damp ropes bite into my wrists and ankles, their aroma sharp and cutting against that of the roses. The ground vibrates under me as the pegs are hammered in and the other ends of the ropes secured.

Curtains of black hair frame her face when she leans over me.

“Is all done?”

She nods.

“Ye will stay by me, and watch to see if the madness descends?”

“Aye, my love.” She brushes my lips with her own.

“And if it does, ye will end me?”

Her eyes close then, shutting me out. But she nods. Again.

“Then move to yon trees and wait. Keep the blade near.”

I turn my face away so I will not see her leave. So little time we’ve had, Aliz and I, but if the madness descends on me, as it does on some men on the Midsummer of their twenty-fifth year, she will at least have something to remember me by.

Pray hope the babe in her belly is a girl, for I would not wish this uncertainty on any son. And I doubt I have Aliz’s strength to end a life if, by some miracle, I survive this night.

Wednesday, 24 June 2020

Book Launch Competition!

I'm working towards a date for a Zoomy or Facebook-livey kind of Book Launch Party, (which I'll post as soon as it's fixed) but thought I'd give you advance notice that THERE WILL BE A COMPETITION!
To enter, all you have to do is describe or draw a gemstone - but it has to be a completely imaginary one! I had great fun making up gems and their names; some ended up similar to real names, some described a gem's appearance, and others were completely made up from people's names...
My absolute favourite imaginary gem will win a copy of the book - signed and supplemented with hand-drawn (by me) illustrations, plus a small treasure box containing a few (glimmer-sized!) real-life gemstones AND some larger pieces of 'tomasite', 'jennisine' and 'black ruby'. The two runners-up will each receive a signed copy of the book.

So get that imagination working and please share this competition with anyone else - especially little people - who you think might like to enter.

I've also taken delivery of some 'proper' Tilda 2's now, with the right title on the spine. If you'd like a signed copy of either a 'proper' book or a 'duff title' version (remember, the latter might be worth a fortune in years to come!) then please drop me a message to arrange it.

Look out for the date of the launch event - coming soon!