Meet Meggie. My car.
Meggie is an MGF, originally built in 1996, which I bought from a retired mechanic a couple of years ago. She is a sports car, of course, as are all of the best MGs. Needless to say, pretty well every woman that I know has accused me of having a mid-life crisis. That is ridiculous, I am well past mid-life. Two that haven't are my wife, Helen, and my American author friend, Elaine Waldron. Helen actually had her own sports car in her youth before she met me, so she appreciates them. Elaine likes things that are different, and sports cars are. Being a 22 year-old vehicle, however, comes with baggage. I have had to replace all the brakes and the exhaust. The driver's window is slightly misaligned, so it leaks in the rain. I could get that fixed, but it would cost money that is currently required elsewhere, so I have a free workaround for now instead. Two bin liners - one torn and stretched over the seat back, and the other folded on the seat cushion. The night before last, it rained heavily. Yesterday morning, I found a veritable puddle on the driver's seat, but not so much of a drop of it had touched the fabric because of the bin liner.
I did not get a word written yesterday because I was not well. Stomach bug, I think. Instead, I spent most of the day flaked out in front of the television. This may just be me, But I find that when feeling unwell, watching an old BBC adaptation of a Jane Austen book very therapeutic. Fortunately, Netflix has several. I spent the day binge watching 'Sense and Sensibility' (with Hattie Morahan and Dan Stevens), followed by 'Emma' (Romola Garai and Johnny Lee Miller). Needless to say, I am much better now and ready to write again. Sadly, 'Sense and Sensibility' is to disappear from Netflix at the end of the month, so watch it while you can, it's wonderful. Fortunately, the DVD is still available, so I will be buying a copy.
Remember that picture of the Schloss Itter that I posted back on the 23rd of February? Well, here it is, masquerading as the Schloss Blitzenfels, scene of the climax of 'The Secret Angels'.
Its development was a protracted affair. This is actually the third cover that I made from the original photograph. The other two were fine, but neither looked really appropriate to the subject matter of the book.
The original image looks like a postcard, all sunshine and gloss. It also shows a much wider view. For the cover, I wanted to concentrate on the building, but keep it in its mountain setting. As the book draws towards its climax, Rutter spies on the castle through binoculars, and by evening light. Through the technological wonder that is Photoscape, I was able to simulate all of that, and also to add a layer of graininess to give it a gritty feel, which is entirely appropriate when you discover what is inside the castle. The effect that I was trying to create was of a truly beautiful place that hides something much, much darker.
I hope you like it. Feel free to let me know what you think.
Right now, however, I still have to finish the book. Rutter and Trudi are outside the castle, and night has fallen.
Not quite as terminal as it sounds. It simply means that I am now on the cusp of writing the climax to the story. 'The Secret Angels' currently stands within 150 words of 130,000 and 8 pages short of 500 (double-spaced - the published book will be single-spaced and, therefore, shorter). Both of those landmarks may well be passed today.
Why is it double-spaced? It is normal practice in the writing world, actually. By putting gaps between the lines, you get about 25 to a page instead of 40. The published book will use Times New Roman as its typeface. Times New Roman (or TNR as it is commonly called) is an attractive serif font, which is commonly used in books and newspapers. I don't use it to create the book, though, because it is proportionally-spaced and packs the letters together tightly. I used to write in the plug-ugly Courier (the traditional typewriter font), but I switched to Arial for 'The Secret Angels'. Arial is an excellent sans-serif font, and it looks nicer than Courier. To be honest, almost anything looks nicer than Courier. Sans-serif means 'without serifs'. Those are the squiggly little flourishes on fancy letters. Sans-serif doesn't have any flourishes. It is the plain letter, just like this blog.
So, why use double-spacing and Arial? Because it makes it much easier to read. Once the first draft is finished, which should be before Easter, I have to edit it. That means going through the text repeatedly in both directions, weeding out errors, improving passages that could have been written better and getting rid of any waffle. It also involves printing it out on paper and going over it with coloured highlighters as I polish the text until it is as good as I can make it. It is much easier to do that if the work has gaps between the lines (where I can add annotations) and the actual letters are large and clear. Far less likely to miss something that should be sorted out that way.
Once all that is done (and Cuzzie has had her say), then it will be converted to single-spacing and Times New Roman.
On the subject of editing, publishers will often hire a professional editor to do the job instead of the author (in practice, they work together). As I am my own publisher, I have little choice but to be my own editor. 'Angels' will probably tip the scales at over 140,000 words by the time it is finished. With editors charging a penny per word, do the arithmetic yourself. It took me a long time to develop an effective system for editing, but that is a subject for another post.
As anyone who has their own website or blog will know already, the letters, S.E.O. stand for Search Engine Optimisation. Search engines are the likes of Google, Bing and Yahoo. They find the websites that you are looking for. They are distinct from browsers, such as Chrome, Firefox, Edge and Internet Explorer, which control your internet activity.
As anyone who has ever tried to find a website on the Internet will know, a search engine is pretty well mandatory. Unless you happen to know the exact web address of the site you are looking for, finding it among the zillions of other sites out there makes looking for a needle in a haystack seem like a simple alternative. What search engines do is narrow the choices down to the sorts of thing that the user is looking for. For example, if you want to research music in medieval Europe, there isn't much point in looking at websites about space travel.
But it works both ways. I have my own website. You knew that already because you are looking at it. So how did you find it? There are several possible answers. (i) You have already read one of my books (this website is advertised in all of them) and are simply curious about what I am up to now. (ii) You were browsing for people called David and came across it (less likely, I know, but it does happen). (iii) You were looking for information on writers of specific genres of books. It is this last group of surfers for whom this website is provided, in particular - not that the others are unwelcome, because that is not the case at all. Everybody is most welcome. The more the better.
Personal websites are produced for all sorts of reasons. My own concentrates on my work as an author, although it does mention other things that I do from time to time. People who visit this site, therefore, are usually interested in books. This is not an eCommerce site. If it was, I could have sold my books directly from it (and paid heavily for the privilege). Instead, it tells you about my books and provides links to where you can buy them online. Click on the link beneath each book, and you will be taken straight to the appropriate Amazon page, where you can buy a copy if you wish.
This site is targeted. As I mentioned before, I do this with Search Engine Optimisation. This provides the search engines with clues about my websites, so that people who are looking for the sorts of book that I write will be directed towards this site. I am not going to give away any secrets, but there are ways to maximise the effectiveness of the S.E.O. and I have been trying a new one. I am delighted to report that traffic through my website has doubled in recent weeks, and is continuing to grow. That, in itself, increases my ranking on the major search engines and makes it more likely that my site will come up on the first couple of pages of their search results.
Many independently-published authors do little in the way of promoting their work, with the result that they sell hardly any books. I am bucking that trend. The Internet is our prime sales channel. If we ever want to see our books for sale in bookshop windows, we have to establish ourselves on the Net first. That process is not yet complete, but it is growing.
Writer of Fantasy, thrillers, comedy - and anything else that takes my fancy.