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Sunday, 31 August 2014

A few wintery things to look forward to...

Sigh.  It's nearly September already, and we all know that means it's practically Christmas, and that the next time we look up it's going to be dark, and probably 2015.  And, since winter is quite clearly the longest season EVER, and manages to last at least sixteen months of any twelve month period, I thought we should take this opportunity to look forward to some of the more pleasant things about winter.

No, me neither.

Oh, no, wait, I've got one.  Winter is the only time you can legitimately, and without being ill, retire to your bed at 5.15 pm with a well-angled lamp and a packet of cashew nuts, to read a book.

Try doing this at the height of summer and you will a) be constantly disturbed by the feral pack of local five year olds playing 'kick the can around the street and yell at the tops of our voices', b) spend at least half your time wondering whether you're missing something more exciting that may be going on downstairs - barbeques, ice cream runs, visits to local places of interest and c) boiled.

There is something about nights that start at 4pm, when you draw the curtains to block out the sight of the cats' faces pressed against the window as they try to claw their way back indoors, despite the fact that they have a perfectly comfortable bed in the garage which is, not to put too fine a point on it, several degrees warmer than the inside of the house.  Making a mug of hot chocolate - merely, we all understand, a vehicle for the whipped cream and marshmallows, but a mug of whipped cream and marshmallows alone does tend to attract stares and clicked tongues, and taking it upstairs.  Settling oneself under a snuggly duvet and on top of an electric blanket which has been switched on to maximum at least an hour earlier and is currently causing your valence to smoke.
Not dissimilar to this, but with more dust, fur, dropped clothing, paperwork and books

Getting yourself into the perfect position under the duvet, so that enough of you sticks out to make turning the pages possible without an arctic-level of draught getting in and to gain access to the hot chocolate.
And possibly listening to either the wind, snow or rain falling outside.
There. Now, are you all looking forward to the winter?

No, me neither.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

A quickupdate

I'm sorry.  No, really, I am. Very, very sorry.

I have been absent, you see, just lately.  There were reasons, I didn't just fancy a few days under my duvet with only my nose poking out and enough room to insert a Giant Chocolate Button where my mouth should be.No, I have been accommodating family, who regard my particular part of North Yorkshire as a pleasant place to spend a couple of days, and also dealing with a recurrence of my Old Trouble, which is not, as you might imagine, being visited by a geriatric wrongdoer, but a playing up of my shoulder problem.

In consequence, I have not been typing much lately.  Having an arm that seems to have all the animation of an old log is not conducive to writing, and having a house full of people is even less so, but that was all right because if I wasn't typing I might just as well be entertaining, so I did.

Also, this
Hopefully next week things will be back to normal. Or have less drunk dog in them.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Wharram Percy - Peasant Farming for Fun and Profit.

Writing progress 23,000 words yada yada, but you don't really want to know about that, do you?  You want to know about my trip this week to a Spooky Deserted Medieval Village!  Yes, you do.  No, running away with your fingers in your ears won't help.  Anyway, it counts as research, so there.

Not far from where I live, as the crow flies anyway, is the Wolds.  Are. Is.  Not sure if the Wolds are singular, as in there is only one of them but it's very big or there are many different Woldishnesses all welded together and therefore being plural.  I learned, long ago, just because something has an 'S' on the end, it doesn't have to be plural, when I had a friend called Tess, of whom there was only one.  So, anyway, these Wolds...  Upon them (or it, the jury is still out), there is a well-known and much explored village that was periodically deserted.  Not because of plague, although I'm sure the more picturesque sites would like you to believe that, but for the far more mundane reason that the lord of the manor (who I can't help but picture in a monocle and spats, even though those hadn't been invented) wanted the place cleared so he could keep sheep, which were more profitable than peasants.  I think he probably just hadn't got the whole 'peasant keeping' thing down and that's why he wasn't making money out of them, maybe he should have tried free-range peasants, but anyway.

So I took a representative sample of the young people who currently clutter up my house, two dogs, a picnic, and set forth for the Deserted Village.  And here are the photographic results. Pictures 1, 3 and 5 were taken by me, pictures 2, 4 and 6 were taken by Vienna, who is much better with a camera than me.

Vienna and Will survey the ruined church. They weren't, on this occasion, responsible for the ruination, although I docked their pocket money anyway, on principle.

One man and his dog. Actually, one scheming, conniving probable criminal and her boy.

The church. Still ruined.

Dylan swimming in the reconstructed fish pond on the site.  This is probably frowned upon, although there was nobody there except us to frown, so we let him.

Vienna, staring wistfully into the middle distance,  Behind her are some of the lumps that used to be medieval tofts, crofts and..errr...bofts.

On the way back we did some Urban Exploration.  This is the Wharram Percy Chalk Works as was.  Very atmospheric, if you like the atmosphere of terror.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Location, location, location. As long as the location has chocolate and ice cream.

Sunday 10th of August:  Wordcount 15,040.  Units of alcohol consumed 0.

Oh come on, it's only just lunchtime!  I know you think all writers are wizened old soaks who brush their teeth with whisky but...but...  Look, I hate whisky, all right?  Anyway, look at that wordcount, go on, just look at it.  You don't get to bang that many words out by being smashed by half eight in the morning, or, if you do, you have to go back and redo most of them because they've all got too many 'wvrrkks' in them and the punctuation is all to cock.

So, anyway.  I am continuing to make progress.  Next on the agenda is going to be Research.  Now, I know I always say that my research consists of simply Going Outside, but for this one I need to visit a Place of Interest.  I am quite interested in shops that sell chocolate and ice cream, but on this occasion I am going to visit a house. Nunnington Hall, actually.

It looks like this
And yes, coincidentally, they do have a shop that sells chocolate and ice cream, but that is purely by the by and nothing to do with me visiting, much.  Nunnington is the model for Monkpark Hall in the book in which I have just reached the 15,000 word mark, and I feel that I need a little kick up the historicals to get a little bit more Local Colour for the book.

Oh, not that the book is an historical, no, it's purely contemporary.  But even contemporaries have to have a location, something that will make people want to read on.  Most of my other books are set in York (apart from one in Nevada, where I still have never been, and, unless the Nevada Tourist Board want to recruit me and my book as a publicity aid, I am unlikely ever to go) and, from the comments of my readers that are repeatable in public, people like to read about places that are atmospheric and have a definite role in the book.

So, off I pop to Nunnington, to take in the furniture (oh, not literally, I'm not going there to make off with the Louis Quinze, always supposing they have any.  Most of the places round here have furniture that looks as if it was made by nailing entire trees together, and you're never going to get away with shoving it under your coat and walking out) and the sounds and the smells of the place, in the hopes of stuffing my book full of the feel of a sixteenth century house.  Am hoping that the sounds and smells consist largely of people unwrapping chocolate and eating ice cream...

 Also to find a likely location where someone might see a ghost...

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Writers. Making Words Make Sense since 1300... but only because of lack of cheap cider.

You remember how, last week, I told you I was struggling with the first seventy words?  Well, those are now sorted, phew.  The book is most definitely underway.  I would break a bottle of champagne across its bows to launch all those words that I'm starting to put together know, no champagne or anything, so I'm just going to drink this can of cheap cider in celebration. Yes, those words are just flying together!  There are some 2,747 of them now, all queued up in an order that makes some kind of sense!  And among them are words like 'glove' 'scone' 'nondescript' and 'Mr Spock', just to prove that they really do exist and the whole thing isn't some fabulous construct of my imagination.

Excuse me a minute while I just drink some more of this cider.  It really was fabulously cheap, you know.

Yes. Story.  'S got a falcon in it, called Bane and an owl called Skrillex.  And scones.

S-cown.  Not S-con.  I want to be very clear on this matter

Y'see.  What it is.. what is it again?  Oh, I remember, yes.  Y'see, I'm not much of a planner, when it comes to writing, I'm am a decided 'pantser', I write by the seat of my pants. Which are, as previously discussed, on my head. So, I've got this shtory..sorry, I mean story...and I've got certain scenes that I can sort of 'see' happening, but no real idea how they link together, so I just have to drink...I mean, I just have to write to find out what happens next.  Oh, whoops, can is empty now, better have another one.

And sometimes I just can't 'see' what happens next at all.  Or I can 'see' something happening but have no idea how to get the characters into that place in which it has to happen for it to happen.  Whoops, sorry, dribble... and when that happens, or rather doesn't happen, everything gets a bit sticky, with long periods of looking at the wall and muttering, which is where I am at now. I need to get a motorbike in there and my main character on the back of it with someone else, but no idea how. No Idea! None! Sorry, sorry didn't mean to punch you in mouth, was waving arms in fashion indicative of having no idea...

Only way to sort this out! More drink!  No, no, I mean, more writing! Musht sit down and write lots words where things happen and then will be story! Hic. Musht shtop procrahshnaitnnig thing and do..thing. You know, thing.  With letters.  Putting them in order so words.

Must schleep now...zzzzzz.....