The last month has been a busy one, although little that is actually new has emerged. Since my adoption of Grammarly, I have put all fifteen of my books through it and republished them. The changes are subtle, but they number into the hundreds for each book. The vast majority are very minor - a misplaced comma, that sort of thing - but the catalogue includes errors that I should have noticed when originally publishing, but didn't. No excuse for that, but it happens to us all. You get so used to seeing your text on the screen that you simply don't register some of the mistakes. One such example was that I was habitually referring to overhanging branches at the edge of a forest as the 'eves', when I knew perfectly well that it should have been 'eaves'. Cuzzie didn't spot that either when proofreading, which only goes to show that we are all human. At least Grammarly isn't human, so it has now become an invaluable resource. I recommend it to any would-be writer. It's free.
The more interesting news is that book number sixteen is now underway. At first, I wanted to call it 'The Painted People', which seemed to have a nice ring to it. It did not really go with the subject matter, however. I switched 'Painted' for 'Tainted'. That would go. Then I thought the word 'Tainted' sounded much more dramatic on its own - until I discovered that somebody else had already snaffled that title. Eventually, I simply dropped the definite article and it is now known as 'Tainted People'. It may keep that title or it may not. We shall see as things develop. 'Tainted People' is the sixth Rutter book. I have shelved plans to do a couple of prequels, set between 'Chained in Time' and 'Rutter's Reunion'. I did get a couple of pages written on the first but was unimpressed with what I had produced. Instead, 'Tainted People' begins just two days after 'The Secret Angels' ends, but it isn't a sequel. It's a new story. So far, I have written the Prologue, which ties up any remaining loose strands from the previous book before setting out on the new plot. Having seen 'Angels' clock up its initial sales, it became apparent that the book introduced a major new character, whom I simply have to develop further, hence the decision.
First upload in quite a while, I am afraid. Sorry about that. I have been very busy.
The first reason is because of my discovery of Grammarly. I do everything I can to keep my work up to professional standards, but I received a bit of a jolt a moth or so ago. I discovered Grammarly, a powerful grammar checker and gave it a try. That really opened my eyes. Don't get me wrong. My grammar is perfectly good, but it revealed a plethora of tiny errors that my eyes had simply not noticed. These were things like commas in the wrong place, instances of where I had deleted a sentence, but forgot to delete the full stop, unintentionally repeated words. You get so used to seeing your work on screen that you no longer notice these things. Grammarly weeds them out for you, which is why I recommend it to anybody who is considering becoming a writer.
For the last few weeks, I have been going through all my published works and subjecting them to the Grammarly treatment. The process isn't finished yet, but I am getting there. It shouldn't be much longer.
The other bit of important news is that Amazon have merged their CreateSpace service (which produced printed books) with their new KDP Print facility. All my printed works have now been transferred to KDP Print. The process only affects me. The books continue on sale as before.
More than a month after my last post, I have an announcement.
Sorry about the delay, but I have spent the past month doing exam marking (my annual penance to atone for my sins). That, however, is now over. The Secret Angels is published and has clocked up its first sales, which leaves me free to think about another book.
Therein lay a problem. What to write next? I thought tentatively of an eighth Avalind book, entitled The Baroness, and I even got as far as jotting down a few paragraphs. That was as far as it went, though. I will probably return to it later when it has matured in my mind, but that is for then.
I could have gone for a complete change of direction - and even have a request to write a specific story that is an entirely new departure. I am still considering that. Other things must be taken into account before I commit to it, however.
So what to do now? Then it came to be. The Secret Angels is the fifth Rutter book (sixth if you include the short story, Rutter's Rescue). Between the first and second there is a gap of nearly ten years. As has already been revealed in the previous books, Rutter moved first to Derby and then to Sheffield during that period. While in Derby, she met and fell in love with Malcolm Renwick, later to be her boss at Bow Road. Sheffield was the scene of her initial involvement with Julian Radcliffe. During the same period, she rose from Detective Constable to Chief Inspector. There are two stories waiting to be told there. Instead of slotting them directly into the canon, where they would affect the numbering, I have decided to call them supplementals. I began the first of these this morning. At the moment, it is to be called Sergeant Rutter. A check on Google did not reveal anybody else publishing a novel under that title, so it will do, at least for now. It will chronicle her time in Derby.
Don't hold your breath. At the moment, it consists of one and a half pages of disconnected musings, all of which will almost certainly be rewritten as the story takes shape. In the meantime, enjoy The Secret Angels. Hopefully, Sergeant Rutter (or whatever it is called by then) will be finished in time for Christmas.
After more than two years of slog, effort and redrafting (not to mention breaking three computers), 'The Secret Angels' has finally gone on sale. It was begun in Nisus Writer Pro on a Mac - until that died. It was continued in Libre Office Writer (in Linux) - until that also died. Then it was continued in WPS Writer on a third computer, running Linux. That machine is still alive. It was replaced, however, by a super fast Windows 10 machine, also running WPS Writer - until that gave up the ghost, temporarily. I will be able to fix it. Finally the book was finished and edited on the third computer, but using its Windows 7 side, and in WPS Writer.
Needless to say, none of this will be apparent to the reader, for the book is seamless and gives every impression of having been created on just one machine, using just one program - which it would have been, had my Mac not died on me.
Am I happy with it? Yes, I am. All the toil,sweat and frustration was worth it in the end. The Kindle edition went on sale, at least in the UK, this morning. For some reason, it has not yet appeared on Amazon.com, but that should be rectified by the time you read this. The paperback edition has also be submitted, but that takes a bit longer. It should be on sale early next week.
'The Secret Angels' is back from Cuzzie, and it is still a work in progress. She pointed out a few flaws in the manuscript that need my attention. This is the purpose of a proofreader. These people spot the shortcomings that pass the writer by because we become so used to seeing them that we no longer notice. Anyway, the bulk of the book is fine. There is nothing wrong with it that a good re-edit cannot put right, so that is the next step. I still have a couple of weeks before exam marking takes over my life (my annual penance for my sins). All being well, it should be on sale before then.
The manuscript is still with Cuzzie. She told me last weekend that she had been having a bit of trouble with her eyes. Nothing to worry about, but it has delayed matters a bit. Hopefully, |I should get it back by the weekend.
In the meantime, I have been preparing for my annual penance by downloading the Emarker to mark GCSE English Language papers, as I have done every summer since 2007. That can only be done in Windows, so it was back to the other half of the hard drive to work in Windows 7.
The main reason why I installed Linux on the old machine was to breathe a bit of life into it. I have since made the discovery that its woeful Chrome performance was really down to an excess of cookies. Once these were cleared out, it began to perform more like it should.
That prompted me to experiment with a new browser that I have heard of recently. It is called 'Brave'. Its claim to fame is that it blocks all adverts and doesn't track your activities. I downloaded it, installed it, and am immediately impressed. It is hugely fast on even this old slug of a machine. Needless to say, it is now my default browser and the need to switch between Linux and Windows is greatly reduced. In the near future, I will have the monbey to get my proper PC repaired, and then I will be installing Brave in Windows 10. Recommended.
The last post about how my PC had recovered turned out to be premature. Shortly after I uploaded it, it started misbehaving again, and has continued to do so ever since. That forced me back onto Linux to complete the editing process, which I have now done. This book has seen off three computers since I began it two years ago. It has been written, using three different word processors (Nisus Writer Pro - Mac only, Libre Office Writer - Linux version, and WPS Writer - Windows and Linux). It has also been written under three operating systems: Mac-OS (called OS-X El Capitan at the time), Windows 10 and Linux Mint.
Looked at with hindsight, it is a miracle that it was ever finished at all. Yet it is finished - subject to Cuzzie's approval. I delivered it to her on Wednesday, and she has promised to have her appraisal ready for next weekend. Phew! The final version - the one that goes on sale, that is - was done in WPS Writer, my word processor of choice these days. None of that should be apparent to the reader. I take care over these matters.
Despite its distended gestation period, and all the technical problems that dogged it, I am happy with the result, and I hope you will be too. All being well, it should be on sale within weeks, after Cuzzie's appraisal and final checks.
Then I must turn my attention to my next book. I have another four stacked up in my head, one of them a commission from another person, one an idea from a friend, and two extensions of existing series. I won't be stopping any time soon. Exam marking will rear its ugly head before much longer, which will interfere heavily with writing for about a month. Before any of that, though, I need to get my proper PC fixed.
The PC is working again! My friend, Mark (who knows a thing or two about computers) suspected a faulty lead inside the machine. We got it going last night, but it relapsed overnight and further investigation was required today. Finally, I tracked it down to one of the fans and disconnected it. Problem solved. It is working reliably again. No need to worry about cooling. The machine was designed for gaming, so it is chock full of fans. The most graphically demanding use I ever put it to is watching YouTube videos, so it is more than sufficiently equipped to do that.
Now I can get back on with editing. Hopefully, I will be contacting Cuzzie for a proofread within a few days.
I ask you. Would you Adam and Eve it? My new PC has just gone and died on me. Well, perhaps not as draconian as that, but it will need to be fixed, and I can't do that right now because there are other things that I need to attend to.
Do not concern yourselves, however. The edit of 'The Secret Angels' continues unabated. The work is being carried on, in Linux, on the back-up PC that I bought to do exam marking a few years ago. That one, at least, still works - even if it does run Windows 7 at the pace of an arthritic slug (it's faster in Linux, though.) Fortunately, two of my previous actions worked in my favour here. Firstly, after the Mac died and the other PC followed it, I installed the Linux version of WPS Office on the machine so that I could continue writing. I have always made back-up copies of my work, for obvious reasons. The last thing you want is for your machine to go belly-up and take your almost completed book with it. In addition to the master copy on the computer's hard drive, I also made one back-up on on an external hard drive and another in Cloud storage. Because of that, I was able to download the latest version of 'Angels' to the Linux machine and continue working. Phew!
So, the actual editing is going very well. It shouldn't be long before it goes to Cuzzie for the proofread. Then come final checks and publication. If my main PC is up and running again by then, it will do the job, using Kindle Create. If not, I will make an ePub and upload that (Kindle Create doesn't work in Linux). The two methods produce very similar results, so I doubt whether a reader would notice the difference.
Most of the writers I know hate editing, but I don't mind it at all. There is a certain satisfaction in polishing your text until it is as good as you can make it.
New writers make the mistake of thinking that the purpose of the edit is to get rid of the errors. That is not true at all. Modern word processors check your spelling (and sometimes your grammar) as you type. In an ideal world, there wouldn't be any errors at all. It isn't an ideal world, however, and the odd one will always slip through. Those do need to be edited out, of course, but it is not the main function of the edit.
I go through my text onscreen once, improving the text as I go. Then I print it out and go through it with a fine tooth comb, using coloured highlighters. You would be amazed at how much text I discover that looked perfectly good on screen, only to be revealed as not cutting the mustard on paper. The reason for this is that you read much faster on screen, so you can miss stuff that isn't quite good enough easily. The process involves multiple passes in both directions until almost every page in the whole document (over 500 of them in this instance) has been altered for the better. The final book won't have 500+ pages - more like 400+ of them. This is because the first draft is double-spaced, which leaves room to pen annotations between the lines when editing.
Back to work. Still a lot of editing to do before it goes to Cuzzie for the proofread.
Writer of Fantasy, thrillers, comedy - and anything else that takes my fancy.