15 September 2019 - Happy Birthday Sally!
Today marks the 2nd anniversary of the publication of the Galahad Porter critically acclaimed debut novel At Reception! Whether you like Sally or not, at least she has come alive with the book. Written in an extreme version of first-person writing, everything that happens in the hotel lobby is from her viewpoint. She will re-appear in the first novel of the trilogy, but mainly from the perspective of other people. You may want to re-read At Reception after you get the insights from that!
Meanwhile, the novel about pregnant bar worker Lucy is nearing completion. Very much a prelude to the trilogy, you get to meet some of the characters before the events in Sally's hotel lobby. At Reception was written 'to get a reputation, any reputation' for Galahad Porter's writing. Many readers found the first person approach, where you get to understand everything Sally is thinking, challenging. The novel about Lucy is more traditional in nature, and the added depth that gives to the characters has been a pleasure to work with.
So, today have a slice of cake, glass of fizz and sing Happy Birthday Sally! She, of course, will be celebrating at home alone with her soft toy pets, her birthday forgotten by both her co-workers and employers...
For more information on At Reception see www.sallyatreception.com.
22 August 2019 - Do it while you can! Preludes & A Paperless Life
Do it while you can!
'Yes, I have regrets,' you will say one day, 'if only I'd have done it earlier!'
Having your hair cut into a Mohican and dyed blue can always be put off, can't it? Especially if working for an investment bank! It was after a spell in the Amazon jungle that I started to cut my hair shorter. Unable to speak Brazilian Portuguese, I just let the barber use the clippers. A number 4? He indicated with 4 fingers so I just nodded, I had no idea what that meant, I'd never had my hair cut so short before. I walked out looking like a toilet cleaning brush! But it felt good, lighter, my head fresher.
A few years later I was sat in the chair in Miami at a unisex hairdressers. The Spanish speaking lady asked if I wanted a 1 or 2. The problem is how fast your hair grows, a 2, as I discovered turns into a loo brush very quickly. So I tried a 1, with little improvement, and eventually decided a zero every two weeks was about as good as I was going to get.
My regular trips to Italy brought me into regular contact with a delightful Italian barber in Perugia. He took great pleasure using his clippers to create patterns on my head and threatening to stop at that point. One day he left me with a very short Mohican strip down the middle of my head. 'Blu!' I explained. He laughed and cut it off. I was serious.
It is only in recent years that I came across the darts player Peter Wright. I was very inspired. I was going to give it a go. After a longer than normal period between haircuts I had it cut into a Mohican. DISASTER! My hair, by this time of my life, was too thin!
'If only I'd have done it earlier!' I cried. But I learnt the lesson too late... how many other things in my life will I regret not doing earlier? Writing is definitely one!
So, progress with the Lucy novel has picked up. With enough words now largely set, completing it in the next few months looks likely. The change in style away from first person has opened up a rich seam of depth to everyone. Seeing inside their minds has revealed slightly odd characters to be complex and have issues of their own. I am having a lot of fun creating backgrounds to each. Letting the reader understand why someone behaves the way they do, not just Lucy's take on them works well.
This change in emphasis has pretty well made Lucy's novel an opener to the thriller trilogy, effectively a prelude to the series. I may try pitch the book to agents as effectively the first in the series.
A Paperless Life
Galahad enters the paperless age! Now, instead of paper, I write on a 'tablet' computer when travelling or out and about. It is much easier to then transfer and edit my work on the laptop! I find it a little slower typing on a tablet than handwriting but, because there is no typing up to be done, overall saves time. I am also now leaving my middle of the night ideas on my phone rather than write on a pad by the bed - easy to transfer to the laptop, and there's no need to turn the light on!
For more information on the Lucy novel see www.lucyatthebar.com.
12 June 2019 - Beginnings, Perspectives and an Abundance of Options!
When I started writing the story of Lucy, our newly pregnant bar worker, I quickly settled on the opening scene. It would have her looking out from inside the bar across the street. In the novel At Reception everything is written from the perspective of hotel receptionist Sally, an extreme version of first person writing. The Lucy novel is without this self-imposed restriction to write from only one point of view. Although Lucy's story is written largely from her standpoint, with her opinions and decision making in mind, there is plenty that is not. The opening scene could be written not just from her perspective but that of anyone else in the bar, anyone in the street, or any random narrator! This has totally disrupted my writing process!
The story is now largely complete. I should be spending my time checking and rewriting in an iterative process, getting closer each time to the finished novel. But I am not! As I read each section I find myself torn over which perspective to take. Each choice of character has the effect of promoting or demoting their importance in the novel. I find one or two of the characters are screaming at me to be allowed their say. Giving every character a chance to express their take on things at different points in the novel can be confusing to the reader. I need some kind of pecking order. Obviously, Lucy is the lead character. But then I have a problem with who to come next, as some of the characters will feature in the trilogy.
Some of the scenes in At Reception are played out again in the trilogy, from which both it and the Lucy novel emerged. The At Reception scenes will be from the perspective of the other characters. This should add a wonderful depth to how the reader sees Sally, and should motivate people to visit At Reception again but in a different light.
Although there are no current plans to revisit the Lucy scenes, the timelines would allow it. Regardless of that, I have to be careful when deciding which perspective to take in each scene. In a thriller the mystery element often comes from not knowing what truly motivates a person, ie what the character is really thinking. I wouldn't want to compromise the trilogy by giving away key aspects of the plot. However, there is nothing wrong with dropping a scattering of clues. One reason for writing this novel is to generate interest in the trilogy. Getting this right is quite a task. As I said in my 13th February 2019 blog, the Lucy novel has naturally changed from been the story of a likeable young woman trying to get on with her life. It's increasingly about her manipulation in a web of intrigue!
The consequence of this abundance of options is that a book launch this year is unlikely. Hopefully I will make good headway over the next month or two and I'll have something to send off to prospective agents. I should be announcing the provisional book title at that time, and there will be some teaser promotional materials released ahead of that.
As a final note, I am thoroughly enjoying my writing! I just wish I had more free time to do it. No, I don't work, but there are lots of things that take up my time. Not least of which is a change of image which I am working on! Now that's a mystery, even a thriller...!
13 February 2019 - Prequels and all that!
It's time to give an update on how my writing is going! You'll be pleased to know that the next GP novel, about pregnant bar worker Lucy, is making excellent progress. As usual, my forecasting of completion dates has proven way too optimistic. But, as those who have read my blog articles on the subject will be aware, I usually have a good reason to delay things. The GP debut novel At Reception, about quirky hotel receptionist Sally, went through several changes. A light hearted novella eventually emerged as a deeper full length novel. The consequence was a constant pushing out of the publication timetable. The final draft was eventually completed around 12 months later than intended.
The Lucy novel was already clearly laid out before I started writing. The opening scene from the planned thriller trilogy had been written. The lead characters and outcome were set. The decision to explore Lucy's decision making about her future in detail was always going to be a full length novel. But writing is not a mechanical exercise. The writer has lots of options that can change the flow and feel of the story. Same people, same outcome, but many differing routes can be taken.
A significant issue was trying to decide how much of the story is about Lucy, and how much about the other characters. Sally in At Reception is the focus of the entire novel. Many readers found this extreme first-person approach challenging. In addition, her (deliberately) negative but realistic view of life didn't help those readers who needed someone to like. Lucy is more likeable. She has none of the psychological issues that beset poor Sally. Lucy is strong willed, and needs to get on with her life. She's not going to let her pregnancy hold her back. The clock is ticking down on how long she'll search for the father before moving on.
As Lucy's story comes out of a thriller, how much of the thriller element do I include in the novel? In At Reception some of the characters from the thriller check in and out of the hotel. However, it is only at the very end that the thriller element emerges. Thriller lovers will probably have given up reading by that stage. But when you get to the end, the desire to re-read the novel in a completely different light is there to be enjoyed. Maybe I should have put the last chapter at the beginning, then added '... three days earlier...'!
Writing the Lucy plot lines, and adding some extra characters, has changed the emphasis of the story. It remains about Lucy's decision making, but brings in the question of free will. How much of what she thinks she wants is what she wants? Marketing and adverts are there to make you want something, even if you never needed it before. Why did you buy the stuffed unicorn to go on the bed with your teddy bear?!
The theme of manipulation never ran through the original story. But, as soon as you add an element of manipulation the feel of the story changes. Instead of a likeable young woman trying to get on with her life, you change to a young pregnant woman trapped in a web of intrigue. Yikes!
And, that's what has happened. I've ended up with a thriller. The trilogy characters have come back to bite me! So, the Lucy novel can be seen as a prequel to her character in the trilogy. It takes you straight into the action a few weeks before the events that occur in At Reception. Technically it's not a prequel to the series, but at least it's a good taster that hopefully will leave you hungry for more!
The novel featuring Lucy is currently planned for publication in late 2019. Note: All the characters created by Galahad Porter are fictional and not based on any living, dead or fictional person or character. Any similarities to such are purely coincidental. Image © Dave Hill 2018 (davehillsart.co.uk).
20 December 2018 - Season's Greetings from Lucy!
The Galahad Porter card for the festive season this year includes an extract from the forthcoming novel, featuring bar worker Lucy. Newly pregnant, she has to face all the issues relating to her unborn child and future life. Not least of which is the problem of finding the father of the baby! Below you can download the PDF, which is in higher resolution than the JPEG available through social media.
16 May 2018 - On Getting Side-tracked by a Young Pregnant Woman and a Short Story!
The opening scene of the thriller trilogy I am writing is set in a bar in the USA. Young and pregnant, Lucy, a bar worker, is desperately seeking the father of her unborn child. She has lots of options for her future. She really would like to at least discuss with him what happens next.
Should I gloss over her decision making process, and get on with the next chapter? I couldn't resist exploring the life of another trilogy character in more detail, the quirky hotel receptionist Sally. What started as a short story eventually emerged as my debut novel At Reception. That delayed publication of the trilogy by at least 18 months. Once again, I find myself with another character that has a story to tell that I believe should be heard. The bar has several customers who appear in the trilogy, and these early scenes set out the background for the first book in the series. Writing Lucy's story would give me the opportunity to explain in more detail why certain characters behave the way they do. I already plan a prequel to be published after the trilogy. That is intended to answer some of the underlying questions readers may still have on finishing the series. Nevertheless, telling Lucy's story enables readers to step into the world of the trilogy just days before it starts. Hopefully that will not just entertain, but arouse interest in the series!
I wrote a short story for a competition which could have seen it published. Originally the story was based on characters that appeared in the trilogy. Like the Lucy story, it covered a period of time just before the series starts. However, I worried that this could compromise my use of the characters in the trilogy. I therefore rewrote the story with different characters, and changed fundamental aspects of the storyline. The competition panel did not shortlist it for publication, so I am free to use it again as I wish. To me, the original version was better and readers may appreciate some of the links to characters in At Reception.
After some thought, and debate with friends, I've decided to write the novel about Lucy's early pregnancy. Unless published elsewhere first, the short story will appear in the same book. Lucy's story is already largely structured, and the short story just requires a bit of filling out. Therefore, I anticipate finishing a first draft by the end of the year, and publication in 2019. This will delay publication of the trilogy until late 2020 at the earliest. Hopefully the two stories will set the scene for the series. For all those frustrated thriller readers not interested in decision making in romance or pregnancy, I have no plans to write another novel before I finish the trilogy!
10 February 2018 - Life Changing Consequences and Random Events
You are now living with the consequences of decisions you made in the past, good or bad. You cannot change them, only make new decisions in the future. For the writer, every fictional character can change their mind at any time before the novel is published. A significant change in decision making can result in largescale rewriting of the novel, especially if it occurs early in the story! Alas, as much as some of us may wish to, we cannot do that with our own lives!
How long has it been since you had a major change in your life?
Was that a consequence of a decision you made?
If you had taken another option what would your life be like now?
In the Galahad Porter debut novel At Reception the main character Sally faces a number of dilemmas. Her decisions could lead her forward, but most often block her life. She is trapped in a crippling world of her own making, unwilling or unable to find a way out. Her life is one without any human friends: a vase of flowers, the large lobby mirror at work and stuffed toy pets are her confidants. If you read the novel you will experience how she struggles with the decisions she has to make. She worries about the consequences and frequently decides to do nothing. Click here for more on At Reception.
So much for the past. What is your current life changing dilemma?
How would making a decision change the story of your life?
For a writer, free to choose character decision making, the story can be forced to the planned events and ultimate conclusion. However, that is not how I write. I start with a few ideas and a framework story line. Allowing the characters to make their own decisions does not mean the ultimate conclusion will change. Nevertheless, the path to get there, and the colour/make-up of the ending could be very different. But, importantly, the story will read much more naturally. It can be that someone does something unexpected, and the consequences are creative and enhance the story. But these should be carefully built up to, a few hints given on the way to the surprise. You don't want the reader getting irritated when a character does something they would never, at least in their mind, do. For example, in horror films groups of people often split up and head off in different directions, with predicable dire consequences! In reality fear would probably lead them to stay together as a group.
That's decision making, but what about the impact of external events?
What seemingly random events have had a major impact on the development of your life?
Think beyond accidents: how about unexpected encounters with people/other creatures; the impact of a news item/book/article on you; the surprise discovery of an ability/medical problem; suddenly coming into/losing money?
The writer can insert random events, they are part of the novelist's toolbox. If a storyline is getting too far from the main plot, its course can be corrected with a push in another direction. It's time to meet two characters from the opening of my planned thriller trilogy. Lucy is a young bar worker, appearing newly pregnant at the start of the story. She is a significant character in all three books. Lucy, like anybody who is newly pregnant, has to decide what she does about her situation. There are many different choices. Grant is newly retired, he is in the bar, worrying about the breakdown of civilization and considering his options. At the beginning of the novel he contemplates leaving the city and moving to the countryside. I know when and where I want these two characters to appear later in the trilogy. Their decision making should get them there, but if it doesn't I could throw in a random event - when you get to read it see if you can spot if I needed to!
Let's hope our own decision making leads us down the path we want to go!
23 November 2017 - How negative are you? Take the Sally At Reception test!
The very positive reviews of At Reception (for example click here) have encouraged me to submit the book for a number of literary awards, more on this will follow at a later date. However, as At Reception is written in an extreme first person style, it is not to everyone's taste! In particular, some people find the attitude of our hotel receptionist Sally to be too negative on everything. As explained in the author's note and blurb, Sally is a very unusual character. Living alone and only confiding in inanimate objects such as her stuffed toy pets, the vase of flowers and large lobby mirror at her work, she suffers her psychological issues on her own. The story covers three days at work during which she opens up to the idea of a human relationship. But is her negativity, in fact, not much different to that of you the reader? If you think not, try this:
Think of a part of your day, especially if repeated several times a week, that only lasts around 30 minutes to an hour. For example, it could be one of the following: getting up first thing on a morning on a work day; your commute to work; getting the kids ready for school; your first 30 minutes after you arrive at your workplace; shopping in the supermarket; watching the daily news on TV.
Now, ask yourself how many times you have a negative thought during that period?
You'll probably start with the major gripes, those you tell people about. I guess you have no more than one or two and not every day.
Then, no doubt, you'll start thinking of a few other issues that irritate you. These are the ones you mutter to yourself about.
Finally you'll start to realise I am also talking about thoughts you not only think but maybe also feel. They are quickly forgotten, and you may not even realise you had such fleeting negative moments. In particular, don't forget the thoughts you have in anticipation of something, eg the train better be on time, which you may repeatedly think several times ahead of the event!
Try running through your 30 minutes in slow motion. Think about how you felt at each exact moment.
How long is your list of whinges now?
A lot of Sally's perceived 'negative attitude' comes in reality from expressing her opinions. How many of your opinions could be seen by someone else as reflecting a negative attitude? Politically correct types may even find a lot of your so called 'positive humour' as negative!
By this stage you may well feel that you are, in fact, more negative than positive...
One point I have made on a number of occasions is that I don't expect the reader to like Sally. I am sure that even your best friends don't tell you everything they are thinking, especially about you. If they did you may not like them so much!
Using extreme first person takes you into Sally's mind, giving you all her thoughts. If you like the sound of that you may enjoy At Reception. It's available worldwide through bookstores and online as a paperback and ebook. For links to reviews, a free to read extract, and selected retailers click here.
3 October 2017 - At Reception gets media coverage and reviews!
Recent media coverage of At Reception and interviews give the reader background to the writing process. There have also been a number of early reviews of At Reception.
If you have wondered what goes on in my mind, and why I wrote the book you might enjoy the following, click on the link to go to the article:
Female First: 5 Tips for Writing Fiction by Galahad Porter
Highlights: Interview with Galahad Porter, click below to download a copy:
The early reviews of At Reception are generally good. At Reception is written in first person, only from Sally's perspective. You get to read her thoughts as well as what she says. As a consequence, as I say in the author's note after the novel, you probably won't like Sally. You most likely never get to know everything even your closest friends think, and that's probably a good thing! I think these reviews reflect the range of thoughts, click on the links to go to the review pages:
Amazon UK: At Reception Reviews
Goodreads: At Reception Reviews
Waterstones: At Reception Reviews
12 June 2017 - Your invitation to meet the stars of the future!
Otherwise known as the pain that comes with the creation of fictional characters!
I'd like to introduce you to some of the fictional characters you will meet in my forthcoming novels. But, in order to appreciate them, I need you to try solve this apparently simple problem first:
Think of an English language surname, then add Miss to the front. Now search on your web browser. Repeat this until you do not get a school teacher listed on the first two pages of the search! Fortunately I don't have a school teacher in my novel, but I do have someone who Sally in At Reception thinks has the personality of a headmistress with cane whacking tendencies!
You would think Brandon, whist well known, would not be a popular first name. Try Brandon followed by any English language surname in your search engine until you don't find anyone with that name on the first page of your search. You will see under 'images' quite a few sports players! Fortunately Brandon prefers bars to playing sports! He is one of the main stars of the thriller trilogy, and makes a cameo appearance in At Reception.
By this stage you will be getting frustrated, maybe you gave up on both of the above! So, can you imagine the problems I had when I made a rod for my own back by foolishly calling a character John! He is a lead character in At Reception and plays a significant role in the first of the trilogy books.
In writing fiction you obviously cannot use a name that is registered as a trade mark, and that's easy to check online. You do well to keep away from any name associated with a celebrity or sports personality, they can be very touchy over their names, and web browser search rankings are useful for checking who's in. BUT the main thing is, you want your lead characters to have a name NOT used by anyone else. And that's the hard bit. I've been searching for suitable names for a long time. You will therefore not be surprised that the dog I refer to in my blog from 29th November 2015 (see http://www.galahadporter.com/the-blog/2015) still has only a 'working name'! I need to take some advice before releasing it, and I still haven't settled on a species yet! Fortunately it is not the handbag dog that appears in At Reception, alas that dog's name has just had to be ditched and I have to get a new one asap as the book proofs are soon to go to the printers!
So, after a frustrating struggle, Brandon became Brandon Menston, and John is unveiled as John Shedfield. I have updated the website by adding profiles of some of the fictional characters I have created for At Reception and the forthcoming trilogy. The profiles are very brief, but will get filled out over time, especially around the time of book launch. See http://www.galahadporter.com/characters.
Note that all the characters created by Galahad Porter are fictional and not based on any living, dead or fictional person or character. Any similarities to such are purely coincidental.
22 April 2017 At Reception cover revealed!
The book cover for At Reception, incorporating original artwork by artist Dave Hill (davehillsart.co.uk), is revealed today!
Matador, part of Troubador Publishing Ltd, will publish and market the book with release planned for September 2017.
Should you wish to receive an email alert when the book will be released and where it can be bought click here.
8 April 2017 Imagination and artwork!
What was your favourite piece of school artwork? Surely you made one thing that got put up on the wall at school, or at home on the fridge, something you were really proud of?
In my case I got an 'A' for a pencil and watercolour drawing of a sliced tomato. I had moved to a new class. My 'creative' reputation conveniently left behind, the teacher seemed excited. I think she thought I had real talent. Alas the next two pieces of 'art' showed a rapid decline in ability, she seemed to lose interest in me, and I later gave up art at school!
Try to imagine Sally, the receptionist in my forthcoming debut novel 'At Reception'. What does she look like to you? See www.sallyatreception.com for help.
Until today her internet image was a crayon drawing that I made. It was my take on a child's picture of Sally, which appears in a scene in the story. However, it's now time for a professional.
The book cover is important for getting people interested in what you have written (along with the 'blurb' that goes on the back). For 'At Reception' I have commissioned artist Dave Hill (davehillsart.co.uk) to create the artwork for the cover. I was so impressed with his draft sketch of Sally, her pink and red spotty bow standing out, that I decided to release part of the drawing as a bit of a teaser ahead of the book cover release. The sketch will also be used in some promotional materials - more on this to follow shortly!
19 February 2017 - Just when you think it's safe...
You know those childhood mornings, don't you? The ones where you are dreading the English class at 9.50am. You know the time exactly, it's burnt itself deeper and deeper into your mind. You gave in your two page story a couple of days ago, and now you are waiting for the teacher's red pen to smother the pages with corrections. You put your heart and soul into the dramatic storyline. But the school only cares about spelling and grammar, creativity is supressed, no marks for that! Last time the teacher said 'I've only highlighted the worst offences'. You've spent the last few days worried sick that you spelt beginning with one n. You have no copy of what you wrote, it's in your exercise book, so there was no way to calm your nerves. One 'begining' would mean having to write out 'beginning' 50 times or more, it's a very long word to get wrong. To crown it all, the absolute fear of getting anything less than a c- in a big red circle at the end. That meant a bad day would get worse when you got home.
Finishing a novel does not end there. At Reception is now in the hands of the copy editor. In a few weeks I will get my novel back. I am as nervous as ever. One morning I'll wake up and see the publishers email. I'll stare it it, frozen, as if facing a closed door in a horror film. What will it reveal? I'll probably leave it until later, not feeling up to the stressful task of opening a surely painful message. Eventually curiosity, driven by a deepening sense of dread, will get the better of me. 'Please read the attachment', it will say. Just think the worse, then it can only get better, can't it?
16 January 2017 - Finding a New Best Friend
Someone invites you to a party. You hardly know the person, but hey, why not go. Maybe you'll meet a new best friend.
You arrive at the door feeling a little apprehensive. You don't know what's behind it. Will you enjoy yourself? Stop it you say, I'm an adult. You touch the door and it swings open. You stand there frozen. You look for a familiar face, anyone you can latch onto. Nothing. You feel nervous, you feel the stares of people. Maybe I should leave now, but if I walk away they'll think I'm weird. Get a drink, just get a drink, walk around a bit and sneak out later.
So, how many new potential best friends would you make that night? One, maybe two you think worth seeing again? Maybe everyone! Or maybe none. Maybe you would not invest the time to get to know anyone. You would politely chat, and then leave as soon as you no longer feel the eyes watching you.
The next morning you tell people there were so many people there you had no chance to get to know anyone. How you didn't feel that oh so necessary connection to anyone nor the event itself. It's going to be so hard to find a new best friend. I'll stick to the old ones.
Someone invites you to dinner at a new restaurant. You don't particularly know the person, but you would like to try the place so say yes. Maybe you will find a new favourite dish.
You arrive at the restaurant feeling uneasy. The decor is not familiar, it's supposed to be modern international, but to you it doesn't fit in any category. Not even fusion, which should cover everything. You push open the door and look around. You cannot see your host. You feel the stare of people looking at you, wondering why you are just standing there, frozen. You go to the bar to wait.
Your guest apologises for the late arrival, the traffic is so bad around here. Bollocks you think, everyone says that. You should have left earlier. You both take your table.
You look at the menu. Your host suggests you select from the 'Chef's Specials'. Nothing grabs your attention. Nothing familiar you feel you can relate to. Why did I bother making the effort you say to yourself. Eventually you select a couple of safe standard dishes.
The next morning you tell people that the menu was too varied to decide what to eat. How you never found a new favourite dish. How you'll stick to the old ones.
Someone gives you a book. You'll love it they say. You've read the work of only a few authors, you like them. Why would you try something new? But, hey, maybe you'll find a new favourite author.
You look at the cover. You already feel uneasy. It's not familiar. The name of the author, the design. No this is not your kind of book. You read the back cover. No, I don't like realism, I only like old fashioned romance novels.
You sigh. Damn, I said I would read it, so I guess I have to open it.
The dedication page says 'To Laena and all Guest Service Agents, my thoughts are with you'.
You think, well, the author wrote it for somebody. Why would he write about a hotel receptionist? What's interesting about that?
The next day you tell people how you now have a new best friend. Not the writer, no, but that poor girl. The one... At Reception!
1 January 2017 - Happy New Year!
I thought I'd let the star of the novel provisionally titled At Reception offer you a New Year greeting! Click/tap on it to expand the picture. It's also available as a PDF download below. I'm happy for you to print off or share it. There's a lot of activity going on behind the scenes - a publishing update will be given later this month!
10 December 2016 - Season's Greetings!
I thought I'd let the star of the novel provisionally titled At Reception offer you a seasonal greeting! Click/tap on it to expand the picture. It's also available as a high resolution and PDF download below. I'm happy for you to print off or share it. There's a lot of activity going on behind the scenes - a publishing update will be given shortly!
Click to download:
12 November 2016 - Going round and round in circles!
How many times do you read the same book? Once? Maybe twice after a year or two? Not only did I write the manuscript for the book provisionally titled 'At Reception', I now have to repeatedly re-read it, note the errors and make changes that improve it, and then type it all up again. THEN I have to repeat that cycle all over again and again. If you find the novel boring the first time, imagine how I might feel? Fortunately I like the storyline and am absorbed into the events and characters. They come alive in my keystrokes, and for me it's a delight.
But I am under immense self-inflicted time pressure. The manuscript should have been off to agents and my self-publisher a month ago and, I own up, it isn't. Once again, as with every stage of the book writing process, I am finding everything takes much longer than expected. Hopefully it will be ready by the end of November.
Do you recall when you wrote your first short stories for English classes at school? The ones that were no more than a page or two of handwriting? Every sentence had to be carefully constructed. You could only rub pencil out one or two times, and rewriting the whole thing would delay watching TV. By the time you got to the end of the page you knew you had finished. This was reinforced by submission deadlines that were immovable, and there were dire consequences if the work was not given in on time!
Using a computer you type away, riding a torrent of ideas. You rack up thousands of words of text with no thought of submitting it to anyone any time soon, and definitely not at school tomorrow. The words flow onto your screen in a raging stream. You even panic when you have too many ideas at once and fear you will forget one whilst still typing up previous inspirations.
In the world of fiction you are left with a novel, yes, but it's really only a mass of words that, if you don't edit correctly, could turn into a literary compost heap.
I worked for a number of banks in The City in London. I would read investment documents to check the spelling etc. Every word was important, some people may invest a lot of money based on your exact phrasing. As a consequence my editing reading speed is slow. How fast do you read? For me it's around 30 typical novel pages an hour. That may seem slow to some, but I've always tried to pick up the nuances, the secret lines between the lines. After all, the writer has spent time stressing and thinking about every word in every sentence, why should I just skip over them?
'At Reception' is not a light novel. Like many writers first novels it's concentrated and intense. If you try read it quickly you will miss many of the key points. As it's written in first person, it should be read as if you are there, in conversation with a friend. A sip of coffee or wine between every paragraph. Take it in, absorb the ideas and build your relationship with the lead character.
I suffered as a teenager for making that kind of comment! As a school kid one English teacher set an exercise asking the class to each write a poem and bring it to the next lesson. I wrote my poem, but it seemed to come across a bit flat. I wrote a note at the top of the poem to the reader saying that it should be read more quickly as it went along. In my mind that captured the spirit of it. At the next English lesson the teacher stood in front of the class. 'Porter has suggested I read his faster as I go along'. Everyone laughed when he made a rolling of the eyes expression. I don't think he actually read it out.
That's a bit of a depressing thought to end on. If agents and publishers are no more than school teachers then I have no chance. However, in my experience, there is always someone who can look around the corner of the current market, and spot a new commercial opportunity coming rapidly up from behind. I hope so. If not, with the world of self-publishing and an inspired marketing campaign, anything could, and probably will, happen!
22 August 2016 - From laptop to bookstore... may the games begin!
You will be pleased to know I have finished relocating back to the UK and it's time to get the ball rolling again on publication of the novel provisionally titled 'At Reception', and writing the thriller trilogy!
For those not familiar with the publishing industry, here is how the process of publishing At Reception should go. Those aware of it I suggest scroll down to the cute photo of lorikeets beating a path to my door... as I hope agents, publishers, media and anyone else who wants to know or have a slice of me will!
Those of you that have followed the saga of At Reception will be aware that originally it was planned to be a short novel (novella). It was to be self-published (ie at my expense) this year to showcase my writing, and get a reputation as a writer, no matter what kind of reputation! Based on characters from the trilogy, it was seen as a promotional item to open the doors of major agents and publishers, which are largely closed to unpublished writers.
The strategy changed earlier this year. The book evolved into a deeper psychological story, and later I took the view it deserved the chance to get a mainstream publisher, and become available to a wider audience. To achieve this it was necessary to double the word count, as novellas rarely make it to UK bookstore shelves.
Major UK publishers do not accept direct submissions from authors. First the writer has to be accepted by a literary agent. The agent usually requires a synopsis of the story, plus the opening chapters. If they like the work, which can take a couple of months to find out, they will request a copy of the whole novel. If they like that they may take you on. Agents know their clients and may require rewriting of the novel to make it more marketable. If the agent finds a publisher, the publisher may also require further modification, to meet what it sees as the market place, and bookstore demands. Needless to say, all this delays eventual publication, but if accepted, the wait is worth it.
However, only a very small percentage of unpublished writers will get a major agent or publisher. Therefore, in parallel to the agent route, I will kick off the process for self-publishing, targeting launch in early 2017. The process for this starts with copy editing. After incorporating changes and corrections it will go for typesetting. The book industry works on around 6 months' notice of a new title, so the publication details will be issued ASAP after I sign with the self-publisher. I'll give an update on this in a few weeks once I have an agreement.