IT’S TURNING OUT TO BE HELL WEEK.

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You may think I’m blogging a lot this week, but as I can’t get any work done, writing-wise, I thought I would add to my ambition of reaching 100 blogs by the end of this year, which is my 2nd anniversary as a blogger and published writer.

My day started out quite well. I knew Hubby was out from noon until about six this evening, doing his voluntary work for the NHS, so I thought, get-in there, I’ll spend the whole afternoon writing. No such luck I’m afraid. All my plans were thwarted by the arrival of two grandchildren and a dog.

As it’s half-term in England, I thought I’d got away with baby-sitting this week, but it was not to be. The thought of taking the grandkids sky-diving crossed my mind, but I’ve been lumbered with a dog with vertigo, so I’m afraid sky-diving’s out, for the dog anyway.

Oh, well, I suppose it could be worse, I could have been inundated by 10 grandkids, four dogs and two horses. Now that would have been costly taking that lot sky-diving, we’d have needed a Hercules.

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AFTER THE SLOW BURN, PERHAPS THE FIREWORKS.

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I said some time ago my novels would be slow burners. I was proved right; after two years my little rocket has finally taken off.

It is only this last month I have been amazed by the sales of three of my books. A LIFE ONCE HAD is metaphorically flying off the shelves, followed by the second book in the Doctor Schmidt saga, A NEW BEGINNING, and the fictional biography TO THE EDGE AND BACK is still selling, along with my last book FORBIDDEN LIAISON.

As I am a non-genre writer, I knew from the beginning I might have a long path to walk before readers found me amongst the millions of book in the Amazon forest. But, I was found by some intrepid readers, and I thank them for bringing me back from the wilderness.

It must be the stubbornness in me, but the book I am breaking my neck to release by Christmas time this year, is a detective story. I have never written one before, and am finding it the most difficult book to write to date. Even I, at this point, don’t know who’s-dun-it, but I woke up this morning with a clear line of enquiry in my head, and am now on the home stretch; as long as the horse doesn’t give up.

But there’s still life in this old bird yet, and I am planning to stay around for a few more years, even though my kids have threatened to put me in a home if I don’t behave myself. There’s nothing I can think of as worse than this old duffer sitting with a lot of other old duffers staring blankly out of the window. When I go I want to go out with a bang, or should I say having a bang.

Incorrigible, aren’t I.

THE BIG ‘O’

'I couldn't get all her candles on one cake, so I had to add on.'

The BIG ‘O’ – I am not alluding to Roy Orbison. I am referring to one of those landmarks in a persons’ life, like reaching 30, then 40, then 50. I had heard that 60 is the new 40. If that is so, then 70 must be the new 50. As I have a big ‘O’ looming, and it is getting nearer and nearer, I am realising the time I have left cannot be wasted with pussy-footing around.

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When one reaches a certain age you begin to realise there is little time to do the things you have always wanted to do, thereby you want the time you have left, to count, which, sometimes can lead to living life at breakneck speed, trying to get everything in you’ve ever wanted to accomplish, therefore, I can’t be doing with people griping about inconsequential things when you see all those refugees fleeing their war-torn countries, and my namesake, Hurricane Patricia, causing havoc in Mexico. No, I personally don’t cause havoc wherever I go – Hubby might disagree with me there though – but I have learned to speak my mind, and am not the shy, unconfident girl I once was, but a confident woman. I read recently that the actress Helen Mirren said she wished she’d had the confidence to tell certain  people to, ‘Fuck off,’ when she was younger as it might have saved her a lot of time and trouble.

I am now considered to be of ‘Old Age’. It is true,  physically I can’t do the things I once did: for instance dancing the can-can, holding my right leg in the air as I hop around – that is probably the cause of my now dodgy right hip. I cannot get up off the floor without holding on to something, and various sex positions are now totally unattainable.

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But, what I can positively say about getting older is my wit is sharper than ever, and my capacity to write gets better every day, and I can still remember what I had for dinner last night, along with everything else that’s going on around me, and I like to think I could win hands-down in any banter competition. In fact as I’ve grown older I think my brain has finally blossomed to it’s full potential. So, if I ever hear anyone singing, It’s over, whilst strumming on a harp, I’ll simply say, ‘Fuck off, I’m not ready yet.’

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FIRMLY STUCK IN THE 21st CENTURY.

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Three weeks ago my son decided it was time I became familiar with 21st century technology. As he was buying a new phone for my granddaughter, he, at the same time, catapulted me into the 21st century, by buying me my first smart-phone. I thought I would have difficulty using it, but found it really quite easy, and since then have been on it several times a day.

It’s made my life a lot easier as I can download my emails wherever I am: send messages via various apps without it costing me any money, and last night I used an app to phone my son who was on a business trip in Sweden, and it didn’t cost me a thing. I had become accustomed to speaking to him using Skype when he lived there, but now I can phone him without logging on to my computer. It’s great. All I’m waiting for now is an app that will transport me into another time, another place, and I’ll be a very happy bunny, as it will do away with air fares.

Am I pushing technology too far?

DOES SIZE AND LENGTH REALLY MATTER?

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I am referring to books here, not alluding to a question one might ask oneself when browsing a sex toy website.

A lot has been written about size, and we authors can get into a bit of a quandary when it comes to what an acceptable length might be when submitting for publication. If I took on board everything that’s been written about it, I would become paranoid and would probably never write again. I personally consider size to be the amount of pages, and length, the word-count.

Most fiction, I am told, ranges between 75 – 120,000 words in length. A novel of 180,000 words, amounts to 650 pages, and for this epic size I would expect the storyline to be great. I am also told that detective stories should be longer than women’s fiction. Why that should be the case, I do not know, but Amazon state the median length of their novels are 64,000 words.

The longest Novel I have come across is Vikram Seth’s A Suitable Boy (594,000 words) beating Tolstoy’s War and Peace by about 7,000 words. Margaret Mitchell’s epic story Gone With The Wind (frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn – sorry I just couldn’t resist that) was approximately 418,000 words in length, whereas George Elliot’s Middlemarch weighed-in at approximately 316,000 words.

There are not many hefty tomes written these days, but there are many at the lower end of the length chart, so to speak. For example, William Golding’s Lord Of The Flies, approximately 60,000 words. The Colour Purple, by Alice Walker was only about 66,000 words in length. Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf, approximately 64,000 words. Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mocking Bird, approximately 99,000 and Steinbeck’s, The Grapes of Wrath and East of Eden approximately 170-225,000 words respectively. JKR’s Harry Potter series ranges between 77 – 257,000 words.

It has been said that a good short literary novel could be only 60,000 words in length with the proviso it is very good. But a really short novel of perhaps 45-50,000 words needs to be really, really, good. Christopher Isherwood’s work comes to mind here. So, this takes me back to my original question, “Does size and length really matter, and is it important to the quality of the novel?” I really don’t think it is, so I will carry on letting the length of my novels look after themselves, because I do not wish to implant any unnecessary prose prosthetics into my work. My motto with everything, has always been, “Less is more”.