Monday, November 30, 2009

My weird weekend

Collectormania - I'll let the photos tell the story. (More here to give a full flavour.)

Many thanks to Ayo, Lizzie and Sara at Mystery Women for setting this event up, looking after us all and for your tireless efforts to promote our genre.

It was great to meet and spend time with such a warm and friendly group of authors ...
*waves at Cassandra Clark, Suzette Hill, Lesley Horton, Joan Lock, Linda Regan (accompanied by her husband, Brian Murphy), Leigh Russell, Zoe Sharp and Kate Stacey*

Between us all, I reckon we're going to spawn a whole new sub-genre based on this last weekend ...

Mystery Women are running a short story competition for unpublished writers. 1000 words exactly, entitled Mystery Woman or Mystery Women. £10 per entry. Winning entry will be published in Mystery Women magazine and the author will receive £100 and a conference ticket for CrimeFest 2011. Entries must be submitted under a pseudonym. Closing date 31/01/10. Send submission and entry fee to Ms L Hayes, 2 Darwin Close, Broughton Astley, Leics., LE9 6XD.

Friday, November 27, 2009

We came, we saw, we hoovered ...

... and we ate, drank, read, bought, laughed, shared, signed ...

From which you will gather it was a great evening at the fabulous Bookseller Crow on the Hill last night.

Nineteen copies of Hoovering the Roof sold and one local bookshop has run out before we've even got it into all the others!

Next event will be 7.00-8.30 pm Monday 30th November at Dulwich Library.

More info and photos on the EDWG site.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Hoovering the Roof - In Praise of Writers' Groups

Once upon a time, way back at the fag end of the last millennium, a lone writer decided he’d like to meet up with other local authors to share their words. He put cards in shop windows (this was long before the days of internet forums) and half a dozen people responded. The East Dulwich Writers’ Group was formed.

To begin with, the group met in the back room of a local cafĂ©. After the first few meetings, they decided it would be more comfortable to meet in each other’s homes, where they would have access to kettles, toilets, back gardens and – yes – roofs.

Twelve years later, over a hundred people have joined the mailing list for the group. In spite of the huge numbers, EDWG has remained intimate and informal, retaining an ethos of mutual support and constructive criticism. The ages of our members range from teens to octogenarians and we reflect the diversity of culture and class in this corner of south east London. We have people at every stage of their writing career, from absolute beginners to published authors and competition winners. All those who have attended regular meetings have appreciated the feedback and advice, as well as the motivation provided. For some of us, EDWG has literally changed our lives.

To celebrate over a decade of local creativity, EDWG presents their first anthology, Hoovering the Roof.

Now you're faced with a choice. Do you want to come to our launch event at the Bookseller Crow on the Hill on Thursday?

Or what about the event next Monday at Dulwich Library ...

Or perhaps you'd like to pop by the stall we'll be running in Northcross Road on Saturdays from 5th December ...

For details of all events, go here and click ... er ... 'events' on the sidebar.

Or maybe you can't come to any of these real life events but want a copy of the book anyway, in which case you need to go here and click 'Hoovering the Roof'.

Alternatively, leave a comment on this post with the words 'lucky dip' included in the text to have a chance of winning a copy of the book signed by the contributors.

If you want to know what I personally owe to EDWG and the way it has changed my life, check this out.
I still rely on the group. No matter how many edits I have done for other people, it's almost impossible to be objective about your own writing and the feedback is invaluable.

By the way, did I tell you how excited I am by this ...?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Lost for words

Oh, pooh! I've just lost 5,000 words.

There I was, steaming ahead with my WIP and assuming I was nearing the end, when I saw something that didn't feel right and realised I've duplicated several chapters. I think it's fine cos I also realise I need to insert stuff earlier but it's still mega irritating.

At times like this, the lure of pharmaceuticals is hard to resist ...

NOTE: This image and the one on the previous post was sent to me many moons ago by the magical Minx. Though she's barely blogging these days, so probably won't notice.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


I'm stamping my foot, grinding my teeth, tearing my hair and I'm just about to start thcweaming and thcweaming until I'm thick.

So I thought I'd come in here to let off steam instead.

Design your own cards, they said.
Easy, quick and free of charge, they said.
Takes just a few minutes, they said.

So why am I still sitting here after several wasted hours and no damn cards at the end of it, just a pdf that no matter how much I Google and troubleshoot and access help options and act on them still won't fit into the sodding template to print properly?

Time to give up and hit the button.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

95 years ago ...

10th January 1914
Pancho Villa leads the Mexican Revolution

2nd February 1914
Charlie Chaplin makes his film debut in the comedy short Making a Living

10th March 1914
Suffragette, Mary Richardson, attacks a painting in the National Gallery with a meat cleaver

20th April 1914
The Colorado National Guard attacks a tent colony of 1,200 striking miners, killing 24 people

25th May 1914
Parliament agrees to Irish Home Rule

28th June 1914
Gavrilo Princip, a Serb nationalist, assassinates Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife, Duchess Sophie, in Sarajevo, sparking off the First World War

28th July 1914
Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia and its army marches on Belgrade

August 1914
War spreads in Europe

September 1914
Further battles in Europe. Casualties already exceed 500,000

October 1914
33,000 Canadian troops depart for Europe - the largest force to cross the Atlantic

14th November 1914
A son is born in London's East End to Bluma and Isaac Alper, their 4th (and last) child. They name him Morris (Moshe ben Yitzchak in Hebrew)

Happy 95th birthday to my dad!

I would post photos of our celebration lunch, but my cable's gone AWOL, so I'm afraid you'll have to make do with the one I posted this time last year.

All above info found on Wikipedia *blush* here with links.

UPDATE: Missing camera cable has resurfaced in the debris on a certain person's desk.
I name no names, but watch my eyes, dear First Born ...

Anyway - here are the pix.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Collectormania - proof I wasn't dreaming ...

Oooh - lookee here. I'd begun to think my forthcoming appearance at Collectormania was a figment of my feverish imagination ...

But no. It must be true. I'm going to be there. It says so here ...

In fact it seems like I'm popping up all over the place online because bookings are now open for the Festival of Writing taking place in York next April.

You have no idea how much trouble I had finding a decent photo of myself that wouldn't have people running for cover.

The important thing is (of course it's all that matters and no one but me gives a damn about how I look in the pic) the Festival looks amazing and worth the entry fee for the one-to-one pitches to agents alone. Except there's a great deal more on offer than that.

What's not to love? (Apart from the pic of me, but we won't go there, oh no we won't.)

Monday, November 09, 2009

Family matters

'Everybody in here, please. I need your help.'

G and the boys obediently gathered round while I explained the dilemma.

45,000 words into my WIP, a new character has come on the scene. His existence had been referred to in passing but, as is so often the case, I had no idea why I'd written him in. To prove the point, he'd just muscled his way into the narrative.

I knew who he was, knew a fair bit about his background, his impact on the other characters ... I even knew what he looks like.

But one thing was holding me up. I didn't know his name. Until I got that, I couldn't work out his full role - though it was only just occurring to me that he had one and it might be more significant than I'd realised.
I told G and the boys I needed a nickname, not a real one.

The men in my life rose to the occasion, bless 'em, firing random words at me. As fast as they came, they were rejected, including my own contributions.

Then ...
'Switch,' First Born said.
He'd been looking round the room, calling out the names of anything he could see.
'Switch,' I murmured. 'Do you know ... I think that's it.'

Later, soaking in the bath, scene of so many writerly revelations, the metaphorical switch had literally been flicked and everything fell into place.
I could see all the way to the end of the book; knew almost exactly what was going to happen and how, could see the resolution, the narrative arc, the whole megillah.

It reminded me of when I was writing Trading Tatiana. There's a scene set in Greenwich Maritime Museum where Tatiana performs some impressive acrobatics to escape from her pursuers. We spent an entire afternoon at the Museum, checking out the scene I depicted from every angle and working out the logistics. Then we came home and re-enacted it with toys.

Writing is such a solitary pursuit, but occasionally it can be a family affair.

So ... I have some questions for you:
  • How do you come up with names for your characters?
  • Do you ever enlist other people's help to come up with names or sort out any other sticking points?
  • Do you ever find a character has muscled their way into your narrative but you have no idea why until it suddenly becomes clear much later what their function is?
  • Does that blow your mind??? (It does mine - and I love it.)

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Are you a Collectormaniac?

This writing life sometimes throws up unexpected - and occasionally downright weird - opportunities.

I was contacted recently by the lovely people at Mystery Women.
(You may remember their review of Trading Tatiana.
And I just found this post that I wrote about them over 3 years ago.)

This clever bunch, whose aim is to 'raise the awareness and profile of female crime writers and provide a forum for enthusiastic crime fiction readers', has secured a stall at the forthcoming Collectormania event at Olympia on 28th and 29th November.

Just check out that link. Have you ever seen anything more glitzy? And this is an event you can come to yourself and meet with a dazzling array of mega-name slebs. It's run by Showmasters, who organise high profile signing shows mainly focused on TV & film actors, writers and directors.

For the Olympia event, rubbing shoulders with the Glitterazzi, will be a small band of brave authors and their books on the Mystery Women stall. I can't imagine many of the 100,000 people expected to attend over the course of the weekend will have come especially for the opportunity to meet one of us, but that's serious passing trade. And you never know ...

*Drifts off into fantasy of big-name Hollywood producer picking up a copy of one of my books and saying, 'Hmm. This would make an excellent movie. Let me just go over there and chat to John Barrowman and ask if he's free to take a starring role ... I predict this is going to be huge. Huger than huge ...'*

What? Oh yes. Sorry. Now, where was I?

Ah yes. So, it's an inexpensive day out for the collectormaniacs and should provide me with enough fodder for volumes of fiction and years of blog posts.
Steampunk zone anyone? Or maybe comics are your thing. Or perhaps you're a fan of Twilight. Or you like dressing up.
Then there are the guest days, photoshoots, autographs ...
And I'll have a guest pass and access to the Green Room.
I might even find out why it's called that ...

I could go on and on ... (and have been known to) so I'll stop there and just say that if you're going please pop over to the Mystery Women stall and say hello.

And if you're not, I will of course be blogging the experience. Just try stopping me ...