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All was quiet…

The most recent draft of Forest Brothers went to the publisher and I am hoping for an update next week. I’m sure more tweaks are on the way, but that is part of the process.  The art work is progressing nicely and I am working on getting this blog automatically linked to facebook and twitter, so it’s one click rather than the current cut and paste.

The waiting for editorial feedback has created a lull, which I have tried to backfill with a few things:

  • I have been asked to do some paid blog-writing work.
  • I have a new project based in the Edwardian slate mining industry in Wales.
  • I am trying to shine some of my previous works for submitting to a competition in September.

I am always asked why  I write and I have to admit to an over active imagination! At least  one that conjurs up scenes and stories in my mind like a TV show. I always have. I find the process of creating a story through to completion is very therapeutic and allows me to escape from the stresses and strains of the here and now.

The problem is, i get emotionally involved. I cry at the sad bits and I’m down with the dark bits. Mind you, I smile at the lighter sections too. It does help to keep everything on the level!

The perils of many edits

Well, I have finished the run through of the editorial comments made by my prospective publisher for Forest Brothers and – yup, she was right in 99% of cases! There is a serious problem when you edit your own work. You know the story. The action and dialogue has come from your mind, and it is to your mind you return to check it for errors.

After a while you can get blind to some mistakes. Technology can help you with spellcheck and some structure, but not always. Even now, some wayward commas and quotation marks were found in the returned manuscript. God knows what version this one is.

The secret is to do many edits using different methods. I always start by hand-writing my stories. The typing up is the first edit. the read-through is the second. There then should follow a reading out loud to yourself. Don’t be shy! It shows up how breathless your prose may or may not be for one thing.

I found transferring the prose to an e-reader helped also, the presentation on the screen seemed to make it slightly different.

Finally, if you belong to a forum or a Writers club that is healthy enough to give out constructive crit, use it. (and repay the complement to others) Third party feedback is essential.

Onwards and upwards

A Forest of Biro Marks

To give you an idea of what producing a novel entails, I thought I would try and update my blog every so often. Then you get an idea of the journey that the story ‘Forest Brothers’ has gone through. It will be like walking through a deep Estonian forest but with less midge bites.

I received back my manuscript from the publisher. She put a sheet of lined A4 paper at the front, where she had written in big letters ‘This is going to be a superb novel.’ Well, I’ll attach the photo so you can see. It’s very informal and a wonderful boost to morale. I have it as a screen saver,for when I need inspiration.

So what to do first? Nothing, of course. I felt knackered after so many years of  trying to make the break-through. More time hoping than trying, I suppose. Those rejection letters were flowery and complimentary, but still a no. Of course, JK Rowling was rejected 35 times before Harry Potter made print, so that’s all ok then…

The manuscript that was returned was full of biro notes, done in a very artistic and pleasing manner. Seriously though, my initial emotion was amusement. I immediately saw why she said ‘will be’. You can look through a story a hundred times and it won’t have the same effect as a critical opinion from a third party. You’ll even miss spelling mistakes. Your eyes become lazy. Your mind tells you the story it knows, rather than you reading the page. You can lose perspective. It’s hard to stand back.

Also, colloquial speech, social networking, e-mails and texts makes me incredibly lazy with the English language. Read my blog further, and I’m sure it will stick out like a sore thumb. English wot she is wrote.

I am busy working through the manuscript (Mss) and have sent the first 20 pages back for a sanity check. The response was positive. Exactly what was required – only can we do these extra changes, followed by more biro. It seems to me, that when you edit sometimes it gives you a clearer picture of what needs to be done, so you can tweak the tale even further. It’s like clearing a box room and believe me… I have an untidy mind. Should I feel frustrated? I actually feel happy. The fact is the tale is getting honed and it’s a step closer to the end goal. Even if it feels like baby steps on occasions.

On another point, I had a quiet chat with a local independent bookshop. ‘Do you do book launches?’

‘Oh yes, we love promoting local authors. Here’s our number, let us know when it’s out.’



Forest Brothers

Forest Brothers is the name of my new novel, due out hopefully Q4 or early next year.

I may subtitle it Metsavennad, as that is the Estonian word for the bands of fugitives that lived hand to mouth in wartime Estonia.

The story is set in 1944, as Germany retreats and the Soviet Union is poised to retake the small nation. This is the current blurb although it may change to reflect the change in title:

December 1919 – The Royal Navy send a squadron of ships to the fledgling Estonian nation to aid their fight for independence. Huw Lloyd, a young navy officer jumps ship, sacrificing his career for the love of a woman. In time he is recaptured and made to suffer for his actions, as the Navy reclaims its own.
September 1944 – Huw is selected for covert operations in an Estonia ravaged by two armies and living in misery fuelled by pain and fear. Though helped by friends, his mission is compromised. In  his flight, he is forced to make a choice as he is  faced once more with the ghosts of his past and the realisation that nothing remains the same.
As I say, it may change to reflect the title, but it gives you an idea of where we’re going!.
I will be posting progress reports as I go. At present, I am editing it with a lovely small press publisher. We have started once more at the beginning and I reacquaint myself with my characters in a great edit with spit, polish and a dab of Brasso where needed.I have been searching for a good cover pic and have found one  to form the basis of a painting.

So now all of a sudden, I’m thrust into some delightful dilemmas that I have never even thought of before.

How and where to market?
Where to personally push?
What online and what not?
Market paper and e-versions separately?
Who to send promotional copies to?
Who to send freebies to in thanks?
Distribution of books
Even what name do I put on the title?I can think of worse decisions to make!


Stuck in a limbo and desperate to do something meaningful, what to do? That is where writing began for me. A creative way of expressing myself and a chance to harness my wondering imagination. I close my eyes and I’m there. Wish I’d picked ‘there’ as a warm sunny day on a sandy beach, with the waves gently lapping on the shore…but I have to let the story load in my mind, then watch it unfold, wherever it may be. Currently I’m in an Estonian forest being bitten by midges