Had a visit from six friends from my old writers’ circle in Warminster. The Warminster Circle started in my front room when my husband and I retired to a bungalow in a small village six miles from Warminster. It flourished and grew and when we left the area and moved to Sussex it continued to do so. Each year they hired a coach and came for a day by the sea with us and we travelled to Wiltshire for the circle Christmas Party in December/January. I am proud to be their president and have made many friends among the members. Happy, happy memories. I am reminded of something my father wrote in my autograph book when I was in my teens:
Make new friends, keep the old, the new are silver, the old are gold.
The latest paperbacks from my backlist are DAISY and VENETIAN MAGIC. I love the new covers. I wouldn’t buy a book from its cover alone but they are very important because the cover is the first thing you see. It needs to attract your attention and make you want to look inside. If the first paragraph makes you want to read on you are halfway towards buying the book. The blurb on the back shows you if it could be of interest to you and if the price is right for you… This is the window dressing and it pays to get this part right. Of course the story you tell needs to live up to its cover and first page, which are the doors which invite readers’ in to meet the occupants. Happy reading. Joan
Do you keep a notebook in every room? It’s useful, because, unless you have a fantastic memory you will lose the best idea you thought of if you don’t jot it down when it comes. R.W.Emerson said, ‘Take notes on the spot; a note is worth a cartload of recollection.’
That apart, there is no right or wrong in authorship. If it works you have it right, if it doesn’t, you haven’t. It’s not like maths where there is only one correct answer. There are rules of course, which can sometimes be broken. The reason for them is to make the book/story/article readable. To make it flow. To make someone need to turn the page and read on.
One more quote which is valid for every kind of writing comes from Ernest Hemingway, who said in 1958, ‘I always try to write on the principle of the iceberg,. There is seven eighths of it under water for every part that shows. Anything you know you can eliminate, and it only strengthens your iceberg. It is the part that doesn’t show. If the writer omits something because he does not know it, then there is a hole in the story.’
Many years ago when I was running weekly courses I compiled a book which I handed out at the end of term . This was the introduction and now, all these years on, I still love having a notebook in every room. Would love to hear some of your notebook stories. There is a box below for your replies.Until next week happy writing, Joan
A Little Bit of Luck
What is the additional ingredient that most writers’ need? I would say it was a little bit of luck . I have written and told stories all my life. I began with short stories, largely because of time – I could write, revise and send out a short story within a month, whereas a novel needed much longer. My husband and I ran a newsagent’s business for many years and that entailed early mornings, late evenings and long country rounds delivering papers ourselves. We also had two young children and various animals and the novels were put on the back burner for a while. They were still there, in my head and in my jottings book, sometimes a title, sometimes a character and sometimes a plot. In 1979 the first one was published. Since that time I have written many more and enjoyed writing them all. When my hardback publisher retired a couple of years ago I had that stroke of luck that all writers’ (except the genius’) need, to be introduced to a paperback publisher who was interested and has now published six of my back list with two more coming at the beginning of July. I am currently working on a new book (Twin Murders) which features DI John Carding and Sergeant George Binns who first appeared in Script for Murder. Although I’ve never been in the best seller lists I have been lucky. A lot of people seem to enjoy my books and I certainly enjoy writing them and really miss my people when their story is told. So here’s a toast to hard work, stickability, and that little bit of luck.
Who remembers prefabs? They worked wonderfully well in the 50s and lasted many, many more years than was planned. Some are still going now I believe. With the materials and technology we now have they could solve some of the housing problems prevalent now. Just a thought.
This photograph was taken in the lavender fields at Lordington a few years ago on a day when it was open to the public. Just looking at it now I can smell the lavender, hear the buzz of bees and see in my mind’s eye the butterflies fluttering gently over the field. We went with friends and took pictures of each other in this wonderful place. Lavender has so many pluses. Apart from the scent, colour and gracefulness it has healing qualities. It evokes calmness and peace. There are many varieties suitable for large estates, tiny gardens and anything inbetween. It is also easy to grow and gentle to the eyes. Enjoy.
I see it is three weeks since my last ‘weekly’ blogpost. Sorry about that. Partly my fault and partly this laptop, which is behaving rather like an unruly child that I am not handling well. If I need to find a reason I will blame it on my foot – yes, I know we don’t write with our feet and I have always told any group I have been in charge of that you can write anywhere and I hold to that. The foot first, Mostly a bad flareup of osteoarthritus but each time I tried to settle with the laptop the…. thing let me do a couple of pages and when I tried to save it the words had disappeared. Which makes me wonder if we are all relying too much on our machinery. Anyway I resolved some while ago that I was going to use pen, pencil and notebook again but of course you do need eventually to put it onto a machine to send it out. Never mind, I have finally got some power into it and must make the most of this spurt while I decide on the best computer to suit me. Suggestions welcomed – would be interesting to hear views about your machines. Joan
During my growing up years I was taught never blow your own trumpet. If something is good enough it will succeed. That was a long time ago but old habits die hard and I still find it difficult to say to anyone this is a brilliant book about one of my creations. I am much better at doing it for other folks books. Actually I don’t think I have ever said that about any of mine. This is not false modesty – I do think some of mine are good and sometimes when I have read something I haven’t seen for a long time I think, Gosh did I really write that? It gives me a real boost. Then I remember that old showbiz saying, you’re only as good as your last show, song, story, book, whatever it is you do that appears in public.
Time seems to go faster as you grow older, doesn’t it? Or maybe it is simply that we become slower. In my case that is certainly true. Used to be able to do several other jobs while dinner was cooking for example. Not any more. I need more than twice as long as I used to for almost everything, and while my fingers are much slower with pen, pencil or keyboard, I’m grateful they do still work. Writers are fortunate in that they can go on producing for longer than a lot of crafts and trades. Which brings me to an exciting piece of news, for me anyway, and that is the paperback and kindle of The Straw Halter is now out. I left some of the first chapter on this blog last time to give you a flavour of the book and if you either buy or are given a copy as a gift I hope you will enjoy it. I grew fond of Betsy while I was writing it – would be interesting to know which of your characters you found empathy with.
After running Meet the Authors in Selsey for 11 years on behalf of Selsey Writers’ I retired from it this year. Thank you to all the authors who supported this event – we had some fun, didn’t we? Some of you sold lots of books, some not so many, but it did what the idea was from the start, writer and reader met and talked to each other, enjoyed tea/coffee and biscuits or cake and, after the first few years, a twenty minute ‘entertainment spot’ which we tried out and which proved popular so we kept it on each year. There was always a raffle and once or twice we had a quiz too. In my next blog I will try to put in a few pictures of various MTAs. The Straw Halter is available , as are my other books, from Amazon, most bookshops and from me . Until next week, happy days. Joan