Monday, 21 February 2011

Be obscure clearly.

Be obscure clearly.  ~E.B. White

So I went through the manuscript- clearly I did not do this well enough the first time because I had 21 errors, and I thought, hang on I checked this manuscript it must be their mistake so I checked the copy I sent them and yes the errors were mine- only three were major the others were not so bad. The writing group has changed the way I look at my work- oh and if you write and you have never read your work out aloud- you should- you will pick up a million more errors. 

I have now sent these corrections to them to make, and I am hoping that this will be done soon so I can get on with it!!!! The cover still needs a few changes as well. My target is to have this resolved by the end of Feb but we'll see- watch this space with any luck I'll be published soon! 

Sunday, 20 February 2011

I try to leave out the parts that people skip.

 I try to leave out the parts that people skip.  ~Elmore Leonar

So my Galley and front cover has arrived. I was very excited indeed when the email came up on my blackberry truncated due to size. I rushed home opened it up and had a look. I was excited, so excited that my cheeks started to hurt from all that smiling. I was definitely glad I gave them the photo for the novel. They have used a good font (my design skills are zero) and actually made the back quite classy too. I am very happy with it. Just a couple of tweaks and I am done!!

Now again I face the arduous task of going through the book with a fine tooth comb checking for any errors. I am hoping there are none. I went through it carefully last time so I am hoping that there are none and I am hoping the publishers didn’t add any.  The publishers have been very efficient in fact they have sent the galley copy through a good three weeks before they said they were going to!!

I have a few concerns though about the self publishing business. Well several really. Setting the price is another task set for me, the money I make per book is minimal. Don’t get me wrong I am not looking to make money from this – but to break even would be nice. Never the less. It is minimal and the pricing structure seems odd to me. 

Another disappointment is that you are only allowed one set of changes (25 changes of your own mistakes) – the next you have to pay for – so you have to get it right the first time. there are add on costs everywhere and if you are not decisive or know what you like you could end up paying a lot- after all this is your work of art, your baby– so the pitfalls of self publishing can be very costly- different to traditional publishing- but the benefit is you write exactly what you want to in it!!

And why  have they only furnished me with one design? A couple to choose from would surely be better. Especially as your changes are so limited. I wonder how much people actually spend if they are not sure of that they want – but want it perfect! I am glad I did my internet research first and knew about these add ons etc- although I say that now, maybe check again next week.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

You must stay drunk on writing...

You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.  ~Ray Bradbury

Well a couple of days have passed and I have submitted my novel!!! I even sent through the author picture and my front cover picture. Finally, I feel like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders.  I received a very prompt response as well from the Publishers. It will take them two weeks to go through it, about 4 weeks to design my front cover (I have already sent through the picture I want to use so I am hoping this will take less than four weeks) and then they will send a pdf version of my book (formatted after a design call) and the front cover to me for approval.

I am allowed 25 corrections (of my own doing) free of charge and then after my approval it will be ready for printing. Once I give them the all okay I will then be issued with a publishing date. I hope during this final stage they don’t go bankrupt!!!

I am excited, happy that it is now out of my hands- for 4 weeks only I hope- but I cant stop thinking about it.

So I went to the writers group- I was impressed- It was exactly what I thought it would be and it was nice- to meet fellow writers who would encourage and critique me. Critique they did- I liked it- They don’t tell you what you want to hear which is good. They tell you like it is. So I read my piece and in between the criticism were a few positive comments. More than anything I found it really refreshing to talk to people who were writers as well- facing the same writing issues, wanting to do writing things. They are very different to my current group of friends who have no interest in writing and don’t really know what I am talking about or the passion I have for it. Anyway I really enjoyed it – and am very happy indeed that they said that I could join!!! I have decided as my first book is nearing its final hurdle not to disclose anymore of that story to them. Critiquing something that I have just paid to have edited is too much to deal with at this point. Anyway!! I will keep you posted and let you know how its goes as I attempt the rantings of my second Novel.

But you are not so concerned with the second when you have merely looked at the first. You don’t even know the name. So let me introduce it to you. Here is an excerpt- Chapter ten, comments good or bad are welcome. 

From my debut novel “Goa traffic”:

Mia dug her spoon into the soft, white flesh of the custard apple. She tasted the sweetness of the fruit, being careful not to swallow any of its jet-black seeds. She had grown addicted to this fruit since she had moved here six months ago. The bumpy green-and-black exterior, so fragile and so easily broken, encased something most delicious.

She knew that she had been lucky to get this assignment, but of course, it was not just luck. It was determination on her part and hard work, and then, of course, there was Simon. She had known that he was married and that he had a child only a few months old. But he had pursued her for months. She had not even wanted him at first, but his broad masculine shoulders, his soft-spoken manner, and most importantly, his persistence, had eventually won her over. It had been a brief affair. As quickly as he had fallen for her, he soon grew tired of her. Mia did not mind. He was not even her type, but it passed the time in a world where she felt she did not belong. When he’d broken up with her, she’d been more than happy to walk away and not look back – but now this had cropped up, and blackmail was her only ticket out.

It was not that she was not qualified. In fact, she was more than qualified for the position. She had the added bonus of being fluent in Hindi. She spoke it like a native, although you would never guess by looking at her. Her stepfather had been from Calcutta, and as a child, she had been obsessed with India. By the time she was in high school, she knew more about the country than most Indians. College and boys had taken over after that, and her passion had subdued, instead taken over by cheap marijuana and vodka.

She had played her role very well, and did not flinch even when she heard the comments from groups of teenage boys who sat outside Dempo college or Miramar beach, where they gathered in break times and in the evenings. They would talk about her loudly in Hindi, about her smooth skin and her long legs, her clothes and her hair. She enjoyed knowing that she could understand what they were saying and that they would never expect her to. The words that they said were never derogatory. She thought of them as flattering, coming from frustrated, spotty teenagers. This talent had its disadvantages, but it most certainly had made her life easier, too.

So far, she had accomplished what she had set out to do. She had infiltrated the group, and like most groups she had worked with, she knew that behind the perfect exterior lay a labyrinth of complexities. She had started, as her training had taught her, with the weakest link. Simon might not have been the best lover, but he had taught her how to do her job with such skill and perfection that she was rarely uncovered.

She had been providing Simon with weekly updates. These had been a requirement of her position, and she always had new information to tell him. Lately, however, these weekly updates had turned into monthly updates, with less and less information to pass on. She knew she would have to provide some answers soon.

She had recently taken a lover, someone who she thought would prove useful. Instead, this had just created a further problem to her situation. The initial weeks had been full of lust and passion, a great tool by which to gather information, but the relationship had affected her more than she expected. The feelings she had were much stronger than she had ever had with anyone before, and as the weeks went by, a stronger bond was forming. This scared her. She was afraid she was losing control, afraid she was falling in love. She was not ready for a relationship like this – and not with the enemy! But that was love – it was never expected. It just happened, and then, like most beautiful things, it changed the way you felt and the things you did.

Mia discarded the casing of the eaten custard apple and took another from the six that were on the hotel dresser. She gently broke into it, her red fingernails piercing its skin. She had enjoyed the last six months, settling in Goa, and the lifestyle that accompanied it: the afternoon siestas, the richly spiced, fragrant food, and the friendly people. She did not have many friends, but then she needed to keep a low profile, which was difficult given that her looks instantly set her apart. Goa was a small place, and gossip spread like wildfire. She was better off not involving herself in a friendship group in a country where Desperate Housewives was more reality than fiction.

She had however, found solace and comfort in the arms of her lover. She had located a two-storey house with a small courtyard in Povorim, near the Mandovi River, away from the hustle of Panjim. The property had a cheap rent, and the landlord was keen to let it out quickly due to an incident that had happened with the previous tenant. The house was most beautiful at dawn, when the sun was breaking through the cloud and a thin mist of fog hovered above the river. She felt serene as she watched the fishermen in their trawlers heading out to sea. The location was perfect, and the property housed a curious mix of mismatched wooden furniture. Old green, black, and white Portuguese tiles lined the floors. Mirrors hung everywhere, some with cracks, some without, mixed in with an old stove and a well in the middle of the courtyard, amidst the pink bougainvillea.

Mia would go to the fish market every other day, ensuring that she always had fresh food. Both her mother and stepfather had taught her how to buy fish when she was a child; she could judge just how fresh a fish was by looking at how red its gills were and ensuring the eyes were not glassy. The fisherwomen had tried to overcharge her when she first started visiting the market, her white skin obviously flagging her naivety of the country. She had given them a wry smile and haggled fluently in Hindi. How startled they had been when she’d spoken with such grace in their native tongue; what respect she’d commanded! They’d wanted to know her roots, where she had been in India, and what she had seen. Most importantly, they’d shared their cooking tips and secret recipes with her, so that now her cooking rivalled that of some of the best chefs in Goa.

From the minute Mia had stepped off that plane at Dabolim, she knew that she had come home. Whilst she was growing up, she’d never quite known where she belonged. They had moved around so much, first with her father and then with her stepfather. She had the blood of four cultures running through her veins, and she had never before been at ease as she was in Goa. Finally she had found her home.

She was now determined to carve out a life for herself here, even if it did mean making some cutbacks on the lavish lifestyle she was used to living on her current wage. She would no longer be able to treat her lover to weekends away at the Taj or the Leela.

Mia discarded her second custard apple and lay back on the cool, white sheets of a freshly made bed. Her lover would be here soon, and she would need to decide. She had been given a year as a maximum timescale to accomplish what she needed to do here. It was not a generous time frame, but results were expected from her. And, for the first time in her career, she had begun to lie, being creative to disguise her relationship with one of the group members. She needed more time, and she needed to stall, but she knew she could not continue this way. Her lover’s proposal had come at just the right time. She needed to make a decision, and quickly, before she had to go back.