THIS is the reason I have been absent from my blog for so long.
Yes, my father’s book, his first volume of his memories … and it only takes him up to the age of eighteen!
So, why would it be that editing a book for someone else absorbed every last spare minute I had (including my own writing / editing time).
As it happens, and as he will cheerfully admit, he was never given a good formal education but has had a ‘life-education’ in a lot of areas and is self taught in many others. He is also now ninety … so that means his writing is slow and difficult. He has a tendency to write as he speaks, and for the story to ‘just come out of the pen’ as it would come out of his mouth, including running on without a full stop.
AND THEN being the favourite link between what not only had to become sentences, with full punctuation, but then also paragraphs and chapters.
Then, there were the Devon dialect terms he used, not because he knew no different, but because they were used to him and formed part of this fascinating ‘education’ he received. These all had to be checked and, in some cases, explained.
Words into sentences, sentences into paragraphs and paragraphs into cohesive chapters with titles that form some kind of sequence of their own and … to keep it all in his words – not to change anything unless the meaning was obscure without some clarification..
This all took a lot longer than was expected … and the deadline was fixed – no fudging this one – His Ninetieth birthday!
So, this had now come and gone – and a successful ‘book launch’ made as he gave copies to the members of the family. After all – that was his only intention originally – to let future generations know ‘where they started from’ – ‘where they’d come from’.
We are rather proud of the finished article (click on the picture to read the blurb on the back) – it seems to have hit the right spot – it is in his own words – and a fairly easy to follow, great story with lots of insights into social history possibly not recorded elsewhere.
Currently the book is only available from Pendown Publishing but we are wondering whether to make it more widely accessible as those who have been reading it are reporting back as to how much they are enjoying it….
So – it’s welcome back if you have taken he trouble to read this weeks blog – and I’ll be writing again soon, completing that look at gut bacteria and starting out on something new…
And, even though I’ve been absent for so long, I still love to hear from you – so what’s on your mind 🙂
The next book is getting restless – I need to start writing it!
I know, I know… the book I have finished isn’t out yet … and I’m talking about writing the next one. You see, it isn’t as simple as finishing one altogether; writing, editing, checking and getting it ready for publishing before I start thinking about the next one.
The next one has been brewing for a long, long time, but recently it is as if the stars have become aligned and the book is asking to be written.
When I am not doing anything else (that requires my verbal brain) the words start coming in – I watch the pictures – like watching a movie, and describe it to myself. Tuesday, as I drove over to Milton Abbot to the climbing centre, a whole scene was revealed… and this keeps happening – too many times – I have to start writing some of it down in case I forget it.
In the meantime I have two projects I must finish before I complete A Respectable Life. One is preparing another person’s book for publishing – and as such is my job so has priority – and the other is preparing the first volume of my father’s autobiography for printing in time for his 90th birthday this summer. So those of you who are waiting for A Respectable Life – I apologise for the delay – but it should be out this summer some time … and I’ll carry on catching the new one as it arrives 🙂
Writing a book is just the beginning … here’s Fascinating Aida’s take on writing a best seller.
WHY were we there? Not just to sell our books (even though that’s what this picture looks like) no, we were recruited to help the sixth form A level English group tackle the new creative writing element of the English A-level.
Sally Newton, also published by Pendown Publishing, writes Historical Novels. With a PhD in Archaeology she is dead-keen to make sure all the history is correct – though her life-long love of writing fuels the adventures she puts her (real life historical) characters through.
I write contemporary novels, so, as such, I do not have that sort of research to do – though I do plenty of a different type of research – depending upon what my totally fictional characters are interested in, work at or end up being faced with.
While talking to the students, it was interesting to note that one of my contemporarily written novels, ‘Nothing Ever Happens Here’, was created in the early 1990s and as such, for the sixth-formers in front of us, was now ‘history’ as it all happened before they were born. In a different era – almost – when the common person did not even own a mobile phone (let alone a child!) and if they did it was a BRICK! Yes, there were computers, and this story dealt with computers, but not as they would know them, and the ‘floppy-discs’ that information was stored on (again – unheard of now) … and, of course, there was NO internet.
Life before the internet really does seem to be a different time. My children were born into the computer-era. We had a computer (BBC B) from when they were really quite small (with 32 KB of RAM! haha! The computer – not the children) By the age of seven our eldest was creating computer programmes to make simple games in ‘BBC Basic’ (the computer language) Then came Granny and her Archimedes (Acorn) computer, running the RISC operating system, much more powerful and the most advanced system at the time! This also found its way into my novel. But even that computer only had 4MB of RAM. It is hard to remember … how slow … how basic.
However, without access to that computer I may never have got into writing properly – for while my writing remained by hand in scruffy old exercise books it was never going anywhere. So when I wrote my first, full-length (never to be published/apprentice-piece) novel in just that way (while keeping half an eye on a toddler potty-training) it was only after I was encouraged to type it up on the computer – and saw the total words displayed (using the amazing ‘words’ function) at 84,000 … and realised that I could do it – I really could write a WHOLE book – that I let myself spend time actually doing that – gave my imagination permission to write – my aspiration permission to think ‘Author’.
We finished up the day at the school by helping individual students as they tackled the task of writing the first page of a novel; three-hundred and fifty words to convey so much … just what we aim for ourselves. They were a bright and interesting group of students to interact with and displayed a breadth of ideas that was pleasing to see!
Have you ‘gone back to school’ for any reason recently?
My cover designer has been working on some options for the cover of A Respectable Life – but we can’t agree on which layout would make the reader want to pick up the book most … this is where I hope you can all help.
We all know how important the cover is as, whether we like it or not, a book is first judged by its cover. So … please help me choose – just go to the comments* and say which one would do it for you. (*comments button is on the top right of each post and takes you to a response box – if you have never commented before the post will not appear right away, don’t worry, it will be fed through to me immediately and then appear later) Alternatively, go to my Author facebook Page (or my FB profile page) where a vote is also set up – via a Like for the one your think will work best. (click on any image to enlarge)
THANK YOU !
Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Peaceful 2016!
AnnFoweraker.com will be taking a short break and will return in the New Year – hopefully in a new livery and with a fresh approach… until then
Thank You for reading and sharing with me the past year
Are you a very organised person? Do you buy throughout the year as ideas come to you?
Sad to say – I’m not one of those.
Maybe you are a blitzer – make a list and blitz the shops notching up scores until the whole lot is got?
No, I’m not one of those either.
Maybe you like to sit at the computer in late November or early December and order everything on-line?
Now, I have to admit I’d like to do this. However, if I am stuck for ideas this doesn’t work very well for me – real browsing would be better at triggering ideas.
I have a confession – I do not like shopping.
There, I’ve said it. I know, I know, we women are supposed to like shopping.
But I mean – who says?? No-one asked me!
I do not even like shopping for things, clothes, treats or gifts for MYSELF – let alone any other type of shopping!
A trip to the shops usually has me returning with either something, which I later decide is not the right thing after all, or nothing – except a headache – which I always come back with. (which is why the internet shopping is attractive – don’t usually get a headache doing that)
More than anything – I do not want to go to Plymouth, our nearest metropolis, and trail around the shops there – it is not just Plymouth – I just do not want to trail around shops in any town or city – it is not my thing.
You get the picture – Christmas shopping is not a joyous time for me – though I love to give gifts that I know the other person will actually want and like!
For the main presents ‘want’ and ‘like’ are the key words to me – however I am now resigned to the fact that I cannot buy what my loved ones will really want and likeand make it a surprise. Oh, yes – I forgot to mention that. I really would like presents to be a surprise. A surprise that also happens to really and truly be ‘Just What they Wanted’ … Yeah, right, in my dreams.
And so … no surprises any more for the big stuff – now the esoteric gifts (climbing gear – for instance) is ordered via a link to the precise item, or a description given that cannot be mistaken in any way, for the more usual things.
However, for ‘secondary’ or ‘stocking’ presents I like unique, interesting, different gifts if I can find them to suit the right people – and so, as I said in an earlier blog, I do frequent local quality Craft Fairs – like the one coming up at Upton Cross next weekend. (4th– 6th) where lovely things and beautiful paintings are to be found (as well as my novels) and these have to satisfy my longing to ‘surprise!’
I always fancied ‘a cup of tea’. They say it to all the humans that arrive (smelling delightfully of other places and other dogs) so I figured it must be something good. After all, a lot of them said ‘yes’ and sat down to drink this interestingly scented beverage.
So about a year ago I began the training; this is how it went.
They eat their breakfast and then give me mine – fine – I know where I am in the pack … but then she goes and pours cups of this ‘tea’ for everyone. So this time I stare at the back of her head as she pours – sending those thought-waves that signal ‘someone is staring at you’. She turns, ‘What?’ she says, ‘You’ve had your breakfast.’ True, and I have had to use this method occasionally when she’s poured their tea before giving me my breakfast – she is always contrite and apologises for forgetting.
This time I keep staring even as she turns back to pouring someone else’s cup. She glances round at me, then picks up the cups and takes them through to the dining room. I follow and sit so that I can get my head on her lap. I get a fuss – nice enough – but I want some tea… so I slip away – go and look in my bowl then stare at the teapot. Glance round to see if she’s looking. No! She’s got a book in her hand! Damn. I go and try to dislodge it, nose under elbow and a quick flick… usually works. She turns round so her elbows are on the table! Manners! But her elbow comes off the table when she picks up her cup of tea – I try again, almost spilling it. Maybe not my best move as she is now a little annoyed.
She always has a second cup of tea, so when she goes to pour it I follow. The milk goes in, and then she picks up the teapot. The thought waves I’m sending are really strong, pot in hand she glances round. ‘What?’ she says.
I open my eyes wide staring at the pot. She doesn’t understand so, as she tries to pour, I nudge her rear with my nose. She stops, turns, ‘What? You want a cup of tea?’
At Last! The message has got through! I lick my lips. She smiles, says again ‘You want a cup of tea?’ I lick my lips and glance towards my bowl.
She pours milk and tea into one of the emptied cups, then picks up her cup and starts back towards the dining room. ‘Whoa! Wait – Where’s my tea?’ I dance out in-front of her.
‘Out of the way,’ she says – I know those words – but when she sits down I put my head back on her lap and press down – give her the soulful look. ‘It’s got to cool’ she says.
No – I’m not sure what that means? But I decide against the elbow tipping as that was not good idea last time but I go back to the kitchen and try the staring at the bowl, staring at ‘my’ cup of tea routine again, adding a very tiny whine. She sees me and laughs. You know it’s great when my pack-lady laughs – good pheromones come wafting around – sometimes she’ll even roll around on the floor and play with me, like her pups do when they are at home.
‘You have to wait for it to cool’ she says again, but this time I think it will be okay – whatever it means.
She finishes her cup of tea, picks up plates, butter, marmalade and her cup from the table and heads into the kitchen.
I’m dancing around, can’t wait to have a ‘cup of tea’. She laughs again, sticks a finger in the cup says ‘Okay, cool enough’ and pours it into my bowl.
I go forward and taste.
Yes! I like tea! I soon lap it all up while she watches.
It takes less than a week from there to – a stare (she’s really good at picking up that vibe) then a gentle nose-nudge as she’s pouring their first cups of tea and she’ll ask ‘Want a cup of tea?’ I lick my lips and she pours some into a small plastic bowl to cool. I get my tea when she pours her second – works like a dream!
Within a month she’s pouring my tea everyday, without any reminders – and apologising if she forgets. Which is what she did when she was busy fussing round and going off to the Literary Festival early; forgot – and it was no use trying to get through to the pack-men around here – they just don’t pick up on the signals as well!
Anyway – the Lit Fest is all done with and life is back on an even keel again – breakfast followed by my tea.
I hope that this will help any other canines out there who need to train their human.
Choosing the receptive one is key, then perseverance and love.
Do let me know what you think (humans too – I love to hear both sides of the story)
It is THAT time of year – when people are thinking about *whisper* Christmas shopping …
… and my favourite place to shop is a proper local craft fair – where the goods are made in the area by the hugely talented lot of crafters we have in South East Cornwall (and around) There are two I always go to – and attend with my own books too – one is in my local church, which happened this weekend, the other is at the Parish Hall (for Linkinhorne) at Upton Cross which is also a treasure house of art as well as crafts … and happens on the first weekend of December – truly into the Christmas season!
Art and Craft … and books? It may seem strange to have books along at such events, but they fit in very well – what an art and what a craft, it is to create the worlds, characters, plots and lives held within the pages of a novel! And they are local – in that the authors are local and are often present to sign or dedicate the books (though not ‘sitting behind the stall’ in either of these style of craft fair they can be found at certain times stewarding).
Today, if you do not count on-line book sales, there are as many books sold through non-bookshop outlets as there are though bookshops. Every supermarket has books for sale, usually the most popular, the newest and the heavily discounted – but books that catch the casual shoppers eye – and get bought. To have books at a craft fair therefore is no different in retailing terms – and a signed (and dedicated) novel can make a very special present.
However, it is the Literary Festival that holds up the book in the spotlight. Here the readers go to hear the stories behind the stories. How the authors come up with their plots. Where do they get inspiration from to create the characters? What are the trials and tribulations … and the highlights and triumphs. What was the hardest part to write, indeed, how do they write – most authors have their own way of working – finding out can be fun.
So it is with great pleasure that I can tell you, if you didn’t know, that I am invited along again to the Looe Literary Festival starting on the 12 of November – 15th.
If you go to their website you can find the schedule – I am talking about Some Kind of Synchrony at 2.45 on Saturday 14th and would love to see you along there – and it is totally FREE. The venue is Upstairs @ Mama J’s – which is down towards the sea in East Looe. Scroll down the Full Schedule page to see a map.
Before me, at 1.30pm, you will have the chance to hear my fellow Pendown Publishing author Sally Newton talk about what she learnt when researching her novel, the first of a trilogy, ‘Caradoc – The Defiant Prince’ set in iron-age Britain in AD25.
Not only that but, on Sunday at 11.30, you can catch me again with the rest of The Liskeard Poets with our set called ‘Festival’ – also at Mama J’s and also for free!
In fact this festival is so great because they have ensured that there is always something to be seen and heard, regardless of how deep your pockets are, and it is one of the most relaxed and inclusive literary festivals out there – turning the bucket-and-spade town into something completely different – a place where people wander from talk to talk with books tucked under their arms, eat and drink in the pubs, restaurants and cafes and enjoy the peace of being by a Cornish river and close to the sea, with authors, books and talks all around the town.
So – I hope to see some of you along at the weekend – if you read this blog do let me know when we meet!
Do you frequent Literary Festivals?
What do you like about them?
If not – here’s your chance! A laid-back friendly festival to try.
It’s not something most people think about unless they are a writer or a publisher – and here’s the thing – STYLES CHANGE!
I read only yesterday that the guide to use when formatting a book should be the Chicago Manual of Style (which is a paid-for online service) self designated as ‘recommendations on editorial style and publishing practices for the digital age’.
‘Recommendations’ … a style guru for the digital age of publishing that seems to be trying to be the go-to and one and only way to set-up a book.
Today I went to my book shelves and picked up a couple of books, one published in 1998 and one in 2012. What did I find?
The style of speech-marks – 1998 — all doubles “…” – the 2012 — all singles ‘…’ . I did wonder if it was just the ‘House’ style – as the old book was Penguin and the new was Orion.
Not at all, I found a new Penguin on my shelf and that also had single speech-marks.
(click on any picture to enlarge)
Then there is the ‘one gap after a full-stop (period) or two?’ This has just about reached the final stage – two seems to have been dropped – though you will still find people citing that it should be used in manuscripts. (Often difficult to tell – as the full-justification of pages evens out all the spaces making it look like two sometimes)
So publishing style is mutable and does mutate over time – and I, for one, am wondering why the idea that all speech should be indented still hangs on. I think, as a reader, that I am perfectly capable of reading the speech-marks and that, alone, telling me that someone is speaking. I even find some novels with a lot of speech – all indented – annoying to read / look at. Especially the convention that has a line beginning indented but not with speech-marks … because a piece of speech is coming up. NOW that just looks like it is a new paragraph to begin with – and can actually be confusing when the speakers are in a full-flow conversation!
To Indent or not to Indent – that is the question
so … I’m doing something different – I’m missing these speech-indents out on my formatting. What do you think – does this make my books weird or just ahead of the game?
A couple of weeks back I was talking about reviewing books and I mentioned that a good review can help someone choose what they want to read (as well giving the author a boost – especially newbies and Indies) and it made me think of how I choose my next read … and wonder how you do it.
Right now I am on a Lee Child ‘Reacher’ string … I had read one of these before a while back but I wasn’t too enamoured, then I happened to pick on one last week and enjoyed it so I headed straight back to the Lee Child section and took up the next one I could find.
Most recently before these, I read two authors recommended by friends. One was Lisa Scottoline’s ‘Look Again’ – which I followed up by reading her ‘Lady Killer’ as I had enjoyed the first one. The other was ‘Azincourt’ by Bernard Cornwell, which, though I like historical novels, I found not to my taste. Perhaps not enough engagement with the characters, even though they had all the makings of people I could have been empathetic with I felt too much of an outsider, not involved, partly, I think, due to the historical research getting in the way of getting to feel close to them – though I love (and expect) my historical stuff to be accurate I do not want to be browbeaten by it.
Prior to those my reading was a pick and mix; what did I have loaded on my kindle? Ah! An Elizabeth George ‘Inspector Lynley ….’ which I must have loaded a while back after reading another (which had been recommended to me as ‘set in Cornwall’) A Terry Brooks ‘The Measure of Magic’ the second I have read – but wouldn’t choose another, Snuff – Terry Pratchett – always clever, social and historical commentary in the guise of fantasy and funny with it (I think I’ve read all the disc-world series – except the last). A Sarah Paretsky and, at the same time, three collections of poetry’ (in hand) that have come my way.
How Do YOU choose your next read? By recommendation? By Author? By Genre (all crime or all romance for example) Lucky pick? Whatever is on the library ‘best reads’ shelf?
Which Authors would you recommend and why?
Do Share – I’m looking forward to hearing what you are reading and seeing what you’d recommend!
Are you always having to listen to tales of what happened in the ‘old days’ – what your parents did way back when? We are often too busy to stand and listen just when they have remembered something in particular, and as for the grandchildren listening …
I am in the process of creating a book from my fathers memories – for him. He is eighty-nine and has really LIVED a LIFE and would like his grandchildren and great grandchildren to know something of ‘where they came from’. He is writing it all in longhand and we are getting it typed up – then I am putting it into sentences, paragraphs and chapters – as the memories are written down as one long narrative.
Here is part of the first chapter …
I was born on 12th June, 1926, in Harrap Street, Poplar, in the East End of London, the first child of my parents and what follows in this first chapter is what I was told by my parents and memories that nobody could have told me – because I was alone in hospital from the age of eighteen months until the age of four years.
The state of the economy was low and, though my father had a job, the wage was poor, as there were a lot of unemployed. It was a struggle to make ends meet. Consequently they were already in a bad nutritional state, and then the employers wanted to cut wages by a shilling a week. The miners called a national strike and evidently all the small employers locked their workers out, so my father lost the little income he had. Mum and Dad went to the relief office to ask for a bread voucher, and the officer said “Why don’t you send your wife out to work?” and Dad said she was not in a condition to work. The officer said “Bring her in and let’s have a look at her – is she crippled or something?” (nobody mentioned the word ‘pregnant’ in those days) When he saw Mum, he said “That’s not my fault, and if you can’t feed your wife, you should keep yourself to yourself, and not come here begging”. Dad grabbed his shirt front and hauled him over the counter. Immediately the copper on duty took Dad to the magistrates who were sitting full-time. Dad explained what had happened, so the magistrate sent for the relief officer who came, full of self-importance, and was soon told his job was to issue tickets, not pass obnoxious comments on the applicant’s condition and to go back and do the job he was paid for. Then he told Dad to go back and get the ticket. Dad thanked him and said that if that was what it took to get a loaf of bread he would sooner starve.
The strike was soon over because of starvation and the employers took their shilling off the wages, and then I was born. My parents struggled on, and when I was slow to crawl they asked the older women in their street what they thought was wrong, and in my case it was obvious to them that the child was just lazy in one leg. The only health service at that time was a scheme called ‘The Panel’ which only applied to actively working people, not wives or children, but at the end of eighteen-months they realised that I could not and would not be able to walk. I crawled, but only dragging my left leg, or stood, by standing by a chair with my left leg hanging free. So my parents tightened their belts and took me to the GP, who watched me crawl along the floor, and, for one shilling and sixpence, told them that I had a congenitally dislocated hip – just a bald statement – and then left them to get on with it.
Now, to add to their troubles, they knew their first-born was a cripple, doomed to wearing a leg-iron for life, useless and dependant on relief. Remember there was no NHS at the time but I think Dad had always belonged to the HSA (Hospital Savings Association), which, for a subscription of about three pence a week would finance any serious hospital treatment, the full cost of which you paid back in weekly instalments. (My father was still paying this back when I reached eighteen)
I was taken to Guy’s Hospital where they started the attempt to rectify the problem. The ball joint now was above the pelvis and had grown in, so over many weeks it was loosened and, by a system of pulleys and weights, the leg was stretched until the ball was in line with its socket.
My parents said that they couldn’t visit much, as they couldn’t afford the fares, so would walk when the weather permitted. I was only aware of strange faces swarming in and out of my vision. When the doctors were satisfied with the alignment I was put in a plaster cast from lower ribs to ankles for four months (my parents did visit at this time at least once, for years later I was told I was almost unapproachable because of the stink). At the end of the four month period the plaster was removed and I was fitted with a corset to keep the hip in place until it became stronger, and I was removed to Shadwell Hospital, where the muscles in my leg were to be exercised and strengthened. Bearing in mind that I had never walked, it must have been very difficult for the nurses.
The life was very confusing for me at the time – apparently during this time I caught all the childhood complaints, and I understand at this time my mother became ill, and visits were even less often.
Eventually I reached the age of four, still not walking unaided, and was fitted with a leg iron for support. I went home, except I didn’t know it was home, and my mother was ‘Nurse’, and when Dad came home, pulling faces, trying to make me laugh, I would say ‘That funny man is here again, Nurse’.
How many other people should be getting their memories written down? What rich heritage are families losing if they do not? What rich heritage of everyday life is the country losing – for instance if the memories of being a midwife in the East End in the 1950s hadn’t been written down then we’d never have had ‘Call The Midwife’ for instance. We have plenty of the rich and famous lives of each era – but, perhaps, not enough of the everyday people.
Here’s a thought, if your parents have retired*, get them to use some of their time in writing it down. (yes – I know this means they may be still quite young – but it takes a long time to write up fifty / sixty / seventy years – Dad began writing his story when he was about 68!) You don’t have to ‘publish’ the book to get it in print – Create Space is a wonderful set-up that you can use almost for free and only get as many books as you want printed for the family by Print On Demand POD (rather than the old way of having to have a lot done all at once)
*or this may be YOU?
What did you think about this excerpt from my father’s memoirs?
Are you, or your parents, on this task right now?
Do share – you know I love to hear from you.
ps – the grandchildren – now in their twenties and thirties – are, at last, standing still long enough to listen – and I am sure they will love the completed books