October’s Pot Luck Club

Welcome to October’s Pot Luck Club, a round-up of writerly bits and pieces. I’ve just returned from a wonderful ten days in the Outer Hebrides with my sisters. Despite dire warnings, the weather was mild and mostly dry, although the wind reached gale force on a number of occasions. We saw some magnificent scenery, spotted all kinds of wildlife, and generally chilled. But now, I’m back and raring to go at the start of what promises to be an exciting and fun-filled twelve months. I’ve finished working on my two major series and plan to spend the next year writing what I want to, when I want to.

Suzanne Jones Books

My blog tour for Corruption! was a great success and I’d like to pay tribute to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources. She was a pleasure to work with, efficient and professional. And I must also thank all the bloggers who were so supportive. Some of the reviews were really wonderful. Book bloggers have been getting a hard time of late; but I know I’m not the only author who is very grateful for the time and effort they put in to reading and reviewing our books.

Several of the reviews lamented the fact that this book is the end of the series. I really don’t want to move forward in time with the sisters, although I would never say never, but I have to admit that Charlie Jones in particular has been trying to push herself to the front of my consciousness for a while now. So at some point, I will probably write her back story – and Suzanne’s as well. Watch this space.

The Business of Writing

The first draft of Part 4, Independent Publishing is coming along nicely; I have already written more than twenty-five thousand words. It looks like this is going to be much longer than any of the earlier parts of the series and may well come out both as an ebook and a paperback. However, I’m not going to rush it. I want to finish my experimentation with a number of aspects first. So I’m probably going to get the Workbook (companion to parts 1-3) out next and then come back to Part 4 later on.

NaNoWriMo

Yes, it’s that time of year again. On Thursday, thousands of writers all over the world will be starting a challenge to write fifty thousand words each in one month. It’s about quantity, not quality; about creativity, not editing. And it’s a personal challenge for each one of us. Although we’re all working towards the same goal, every person who hits the target is considered as a winner. And for many people, even if they don’t get anywhere near the final figure, it’s a trigger that gets them writing more than they would otherwise have done. And that can’t be bad, now can it?

NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and the Old SChoolers insist we should be working on a major piece of fiction, as the name suggests. However, there are lots of Rebels who look at it differently. We are challenging ourselves; no-one is judging us apart from ourselves. And so it’s the fact that we are writing which is more important that what we write. My first successful attempt produced twenty-five stories of two thousand words each. Since then, I’ve always worked on novels, but this year, I will be writing a mixture of fiction and non-fiction, as I begin my year of writing what I want to, when I want to – and having fun along the way.

So good luck to everyone who’s giving it a go this year. See you on the other side.

Out and About

October was a month of self-indulgence: apart from the aforementioned trip to Scotland, I had a couple of days in Oxfordshire, taking in some wonderful concerts. So little or nothing to report book-wise. I recorded a podcast with Paul Stretton-Stephens, but I don’t have a broadcast date yet. And of course, there was my blog tour. I’ll publish all the links on my website in due course.

November is going to be completely different. Between 3rd and 16th November, Chudleigh Writers’ Circle is taking part in an exhibition in Teignmouth called The Art of Collaboration. We’ve been working for the past eighteen months with other local writers, plus photographers and artists, on a joint arts project. A series of photos were interpreted in words; and then those words, minus the photos, were interpreted as works of art. Now each trio of pieces will be exhibited together. We’ve been delighted with the outcome of our project and will be possibly repeating the whole thing in reverse (starting with the artists) at some point in the future.

On 7th November, I am taking part in a community radio show, hosted by Michael Chequer on BBC Radio Devon. It’s been arranged by Ian Hobbs who runs Devon Book Club, an online community of around 3000 book lovers across the county. You’ll be able to hear the programme online between 8pm and 9pm, or on BBC iPlayer for a month afterwards.

And then between 16th and 18th November, I’m involved, as a member of Exeter Writers, in the Exeter Literary Festival. There’s going to be a great variety of events taking place over the three days including a networking event for writers and readers – with tea and cake, naturally; a series of free mini workshops for writers – where I will be talking about setting objectives and planning; and a wrap party in the form of a banned books quiz – cue prohibition costumes and cocktails!

Writers are Readers Too

I’m not going to talk about my Goodreads target at the moment; I’m quite a way behind. But on the plus side, I’ve read seventy-one books so far this year; and I’ve reviewed every one of them. Reviews are so important to authors, especially indies.

This month’s book is very different from the short, easy-to-read novels that I tend to read for relaxation. I had not come across Richard Powers before and only picked up The Overstory when it was short-listed for this year’s Man Booker Prize. It is one of the longest and deepest books I have ever read and although it didn’t win in the end, it was certainly a winner in my eyes.

Mimi, an engineer of Chinese descent, studies the scroll brought to America by her father. Douglas takes part in a shocking trial as a teenager and escapes death when his plane is shot out of the sky. Ray and Dorothy start life as amateur actors and stay together despite horrendous obstacles. Olivia’s life is spiralling out of control until a near-death experience jolts her into a different mind-set. Nick inherits much more than an artistic touch from his father and grandfather. Psychologist Adam finds himself being studied while studying others. Neely loses the unnecessary part of his life and develops a power all of his own. And Patricia hears what is happening and tries to communicate to the world. Each of these stories evolves and revolves around the real centre of the story: the trees.

The stories are cleverly interwoven; there is a hint of Cloud Atlas about it. The lessons it should teach us about what we are doing to our planet are not new, but they are lessons we still need to learn. And look out for the brilliant comment on online purchasing. As I switched on my laptop to write this review, the ever-changing and random Microsoft screen-saver brought me a magnificent landscape of trees in autumn foliage. It was there only fleetingly before the normal desktop appeared. It seemed appropriate somehow and reinforced the message of this magnificent book.

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By Elizabeth Ducie

Elizabeth Ducie was a successful international manufacturing consultant, when she decided to give it all up and start telling lies for a living instead.

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