I try really hard to accommodate my fellow writers. Honestly. I know that, whether in the short term or long term, a raised profile means more book sales, which in turn means more likelihood of another book becoming economically viable. Plus, as I have a foot in both Musa Publishing and A Word with You Press (not the same foot, silly), I recognise the importance of standing shoulder-to-shoulder and backing those who have backed you.
I know all of that, but sometimes - just sometimes - I would love to see Twitter (my favourite playpen) have a non-promo day. Just a blissful 24 hours of opinion and stupid jokes - even if they're not mine. Of course, I might feel differently if I had a clutch of my own books to sell right now, but in a way...and I'll whisper this next part...I'm pleased that I don't.
Right now, I can reintroduce myself to the business of writing, taking those scrappy notes from my writing pad and seeing whether they merit further attention. In short, I can be a writer for a time.
And the photo? I know you're dying to ask. It's connected with Scars and Stripes, my recently edited comedy drama, about a semi-fictional year spent living the American Dream. For a whole bunch of reasons, some of them related to Richard Bach and his books, Oregon was my Sarras island. Naturally, reaching there changed little for me, but it was the culmination of an inner and outer journey. Sounds hippyish, I know, but it was a long time ago - before I found my inner cynic.
And Grace Kelly? Surely it's obvious!
(Cue sound of spotlight being clicked on...)
1. What, if anything, has changed in your writing from the way you wrote at the summer school to the published version?
5. Was it difficult to say goodbye to your characters?
6. What would you have liked to have been asked?
7. What would you have not liked to have been asked?
With that in mind, here is a stranger-than-fiction tale of a recent foray back into project management.
Now, before we start, I'd like to do two things:
Freelance writing can be a fascinating and lucrative way to earn a living. It can also, in common with other forms of self-employment, be a case of feast and famine. So it pays to have a Plan B. Back in the corporate jungle, I became an accredited project manager, so I continue to look out for proj man temporary roles, among other work. Got that? Okay then let's move on.
Once upon a time...the telephone rang and it was a temp agency I'd registered with. And a good one too (and that's not just in case they read this).
And so they did, about a golden role that centred on Compliance and Project Management - in times past, two of my favourite subjects. Indeed, it was me who once coined the phrase about some of my product manager colleagues: Never Knowingly Compliant.
Anyway, the fairy jobparents sent me a job spec and, despite some hesitation on my part, due to the specificity of the role, I agreed to them sending in an application. Weeks passed before the fairy jobparents returned, with great news and gladness. I would be receiving a telephone interview.
The next day...
Day 2 (feel free to imagine a Big Brother style voiceover from here on in)...
There followed an awkward silence. "That's not the job," he said, a little wearily I thought.
I hastily scrubbed out the half dozen or so pertinent questions that I'd put together and changed tack, asking him what the job was about. Both being professionals, we quickly got back on track with the job requirements, the high-level project objectives and the key skills and experience ncessary to fufil the role. The call ended after 30 minutes, with all the bases covered.
It's been just over a week now, and it's all gone very quiet indeed.
Worst case scenario - it's a blog post...
*Proj as in Bodge
Update: The job was cancelled. Another red letter day for project management.
There's a definite art to naming your book. Or perhaps that's an indefinite one. On the face of it, it's the headline for the story - pure and simple. A title can create reader expectations about the setting - 1984, Animal Farm or even Great Expectations itself. Or, perhaps, act as a teaser - Tell No One. What has always surprised me is the confidence and the artistry with which some authors (or their publishers!) name their work.
So, in one of my replies to a comment last time (You mean you don't read those?), I mentioned turning some opportunities down. Naturally, someone has asked me to explain and I never like to disappoint an audience on a Thursday.
An excellent read; an exciting story, well paced and really well written. Strong, three dimensional characters and good dialogue. Starts well, straight into the action and hooks the reader immediately. Lots of action, conflict and a love interest. The characters are well drawn and I was immediately interested in the female character even at the first brief glimpse.
'Be still and know that I am God.'
"You'll love it," she said. "It's where you find your soul."
Find the bottom of my stomach, more like. "But what about the snow? Surely a boat can't sail..." I realised I was sounding like an idiot halfway through my plea bargain.
She smiled. The sea won't freeze, and anyway, it's going to rain later - it'll wash away your sins!
I put the phone down, stepped over a pile of unfinished work - the curse of the time-afflicted picture framer - and fetched out my coat from the closet.
Fifteen minites later, the car beeped outside. My stomach leapt. It was getting in practice for a command performance. The car was my gallows walk. When we arrived, I nearly kissed the snow-cpvered ground as I hear the words: dry dock.
When I'd finished dancing my jig - on the inside - I heard her voice waxing lyrical about the majesty of the sea and the power of the waves. Me, I gazed around silently, curious about her hidden world, but happy to remain at the edge of it. There were other sailors there, or boat people - whatever they called themselves; and a couple from France, judging by the accent. But Frankie, when I saw her hand touch the side of The Aspiration, her face lit up and I knew I'd seen a hidden side of her as well. Internet dating had been the starting point, but now it was something other. We lived in the same locale, yet never met except when she called me. That was the arrangement and it suited us both, for a time. It suited me no longer. The more I pushed, the more she retreated, and the more curious I became. I began to construct elaborate fantasies about her; I even wondered if Frankie was her real name or if the boat were hers at all. Or if I were hers at all...