Writerly Round-Up: October 2019
I know it’s a factor of age, but time really does seem to flow faster these days than it used to. It seems like to time at all since I was writing September’s Writerly Round-Up. And here we are, another month closer to the end of the year. It’s been a difficult month, where real life got in the way of work, and there were periods of several days at a time when I didn’t get to think about writing at all. But despite all that, there’s still quite a bit to report on.
Writing In October
This was the last month of the year I’ve taken off writing fiction, in order to recharge the batteries and prepare for the next series. I’ve continued to write non-fiction, including the scripts for my next booking on Pause for Thought, which is coming up from 4th November onward. But I’ve also been plotting the new book. I now have a title for the series, plus a tentative one for book 1; I have a location – a small village in South Devon – and a name for that village. I have a victim and a whole raft of potential killers. I don’t know yet who the real culprit is, but I’m looking forward to finding out when I start writing on Friday. Because, if it’s November, it has to be NaNoWriMo! Fifty thousand words in just one month. It can be done; I’ve done it six times before; and I’m really looking forward to making it seven in a row.
Sales and Marketing
Gorgito’s fifth birthday party came and went. There were nearly thirty bloggers who took part in the celebratory tour; I got lots of publicity as a result, and there was a corresponding spike in sales. Not as big as I was hoping for, but enough to make me think the exercise was worthwhile. And now all my novels, including the Suzanne Jones box set, are eligible for free download via Kindle Unlimited, I’m beginning to think about the run-up to the Christmas period.
As I’ve already mentioned, I’ve been concentrating on the new series this month. Research has mostly focused on locations, although I’ve also been reading around the genre, to make sure I get the tone just right.
Out And About In October
I was delighted and honoured to be picked as one of the authors to go under the spotlight at the first Exeter Novel Nights earlier this month. The format is a well-established one in Bristol and Bath: three or four local authors plus a local bookseller in the first half, and an established guest speaker in the second half. Big thanks to Grace Palmer, Pippa Marriott and David Lloyd for bringing the event to Exeter and here’s to many more such interesting and fun evenings. I read the prologue for Counterfeit! and enjoyed sharing the spotlight with Su Bristow, Colleen MacMahon and P R Bowler; and listening to Ben Smith talk about the story behind his debut novel, Doggerland.
We are now less than two weeks away from the start of Exeter Literary Festival and tickets are selling well. If you are likely to be in the area, do check out the website; we have a great array of author talks, workshops, plays and other writerly activities on offer. And a special plug for my own two session: I will be appearing with writing buddy and fellow Chudleigh Writers’ Circle member, Margaret Barnes, in The Lawyer and The Chemist Turn To Crime on Saturday 9th November, where we will be talking about writing from experience; using a writing buddy; and deciding to be an indie publisher. The following day, I will be sharing a platform with fellow Exeter Writer, Cathie Hartigan in Can’t You Just Make It All Up?, about researching the background to our dual narrative novels. And for any writers in the area, Exeter Writers are hosting a Write Hub networking event on Friday 8th November. These are always popular events and this one is free, although you do have to book as spaces are limited.
Writers Are Readers Too
This week, I hit my Goodreads target of 52 books in the year, with a whole two months to spare. Last month, I wrote about the first three books I’d read from this year’s Booker Shortlist, and gave 5 stars to each of them, including both eventual winners. I subsequently finished Quichotte by Salman Rushdie and although I only gave it four out of five stars, finding it a bit too clever for its own good, I suspected it would win, as it was full of literary devices and references. I was quite pleased to be proved wrong. And I have to confess to not even starting the remaining two on the list so far.
My favourite read this month was Cathie Hartigan’s lovely new book, Notes from the Lost, which was published this week. Like her debut, The Secret Song, this new one is a dual narrative, set in Italy. Here’s my review:
Alfie and Frank escape from a 1940s PoW train and begin a journey through the mountains of Italy that will have far-reaching results for them and for their loved ones. Fast forward to the early twenty-first century, and musician Ros receives unexpected news that takes her on a journey both to the West Country and into the past.
The two threads of the story overlap and interweave to produce an elegant and satisfying conclusion. I finished this dual-narrative novel in just one day; and I absolutely loved it. The historical story was beautifully told and speaks of much, detailed research. But I particularly liked the modern thread. Cathie Hartigan’s love of, and expertise in music, just shines through. Highly recommended.