May’s Pot Luck Club
Welcome to this month’s Pot Luck Club, a round-up of writerly bits and pieces. For the second time this month, we have a Bank Holiday here in the UK. And for the second time, the weather is behaving; at least it is here in sunny Devon. I’m sitting with my doors wide open, and strolling out every so often into the garden to soak up some rays and admire the roses that are just coming into bloom. Mind you, judging by the noise coming from the cow shed across the stream, at least one of the inhabitants is not happy. I’ve had to put my music on and my earbuds in, just to drown out the lowing. One of the joys of living in the country, I guess.
The Business of Writing
The first three parts of the series are being relaunched this Thursday, 31st May. And, of course, we’re having a party to celebrate. It will be online, between 11am and 3pm BST, and there will be (virtual) fizz and chocolate cake, plus music, games and a prize draw. Do drop in if you have a moment; you can find the details here.
The Business of Writing series provides a simple route by which writers can set up and run their own small businesses. It identifies the ‘basic minimum standards’ that must be achieved, while freeing the writer to spend the maximum possible time writing.
Part 1 Business Start-Up; Part 2 Finance Matters; and Part 3 Improving Effectiveness are only available currently as ebooks. However, once Part 4 Independent Publishing joins them next month, I will be bringing out a composite volume in paperback, as well as a full box set online. So there should be an option there to suit all tastes and preferences.
Huge thanks go to those of you who volunteered to be beta readers or advance readers. If anyone else would like to join them, do drop me an email. Part 4 will be available for reading in a couple of weeks’ time.
I’ve given myself a bit of a reality check this morning and rewritten my project plan for Corruption!, the third and final part of the Suzanne Jones series of thrillers set in the sometimes murky world of international pharmaceuticals. My wonderful beta readers all got their comments back to me on time, and there are some great suggestions, which will help strengthen the narrative.
However, working on the non-fiction books for the past few weeks means my editing of the novel has slipped back a bit. I’m still on track for a September launch, but I’ve given up on the hope of having the paperbacks available for the Writers’ Summer School at Swanwick in August. Which means I can concentrate on making this final part as good as it possibly can be.
I will be sending out Advance Reader Copies for Corruption! at the beginning of August. If anyone would like to join the team and be among the first to find out what happens to Suzanne, Charlie and Francine, do drop me a line and I’ll add you to the list.
Penzance Literary Festival
Full details are now online for the two sessions I am presenting at the Penzance Literary Festival on 7th July. The Business of Self-Publishing will be a workshop. limited to twelve delegates, in the Morrab Library and will be a highly interactive event. Later the same day, I will be transporting the audience in the Penlee Coach House from summer in Cornwall to winter in Russia with A Woman in the Snow. If you are planning to be in that part of the world in early July, it would be great to see you.
Dragons Come To Chudleigh
And the following week, on 11th July, we have our very own Literary Festival here in Chudleigh. This is the eighth year and once again, it’s grown. For writers, we still have a couple of places left on Jenny Kane’s short story workshop in the morning. Then after lunch and the Open Mic session, we are throwing open the marquee to writers and other literary folks from across the Southwest for a free networking session. And for the first time this year, we are inviting novelists to pitch their work to a panel of ‘Dragons’. It’s an opportunity to get some feedback in a risk-free environment, and there’s a great prize on offer too. You can find all the details here.
And in the evening, the writers will be joined by the town’s readers as we sit back and listen to our guest speakers: historian, Dr Todd Gray, and broadcaster, Kate Adie. Tickets are already selling fast for this, so if you are interested, download your booking form today to avoid disappointment.
The Last Word On GDPR
Well, we all made it. 25th May came and went without the world descending into cataclysmic litigation, as some foretold. And at least the deluge of GDPR emails has stopped. Talk about using a sledgehammer to crack a nut! There was a huge amount of confusion and, I suspect, that will persist for some time. And anyone who spent a moment or two perusing all those aforementioned emails will know that even the bigger organisations had conflicting views about what was needed.
Writers Are Readers Too
My Goodreads 2018 challenge is running even further behind than last month. I have read and reviewed thirty books so far this year, and am ten adrift of my target. But I’ve got some significant reading time blocked out over the next few weeks, so hope to be back on track by the end of June.
This month’s recommendation is a cracker. It’s one of those where I wish the star system extended past five. A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles is a beautifully written book. It tells the story of Count Alexander Rostov, sentenced in 1922 to indefinite house arrest in Moscow’s famous and luxurious Hotel Metropol.
Not only is it evocative of Russia in the first part of the twentieth century but also, as someone who visited Russia many times, I felt it captures the continuing Russian character and culture very well. It educates the reader about the history of the country and the development of a kind of stability, albeit a cruel one, out of chaos. It is a long, slow read, one to be savoured and enjoyed, (and that’s coming from someone who normally flies through plot and skips over details). And the gentle tone of the central character make the cutting observations on the idiocy of life in general and Soviet life in particular all the more rapier-sharp. I loved this book and would give it six stars if the system allowed.