Saturday, 31 August 2013

The burden of proof...

Or rather the burden of proofs... plural.

This week the new book cover design for the paperback and ebook of Blood-Tied pinged into my inbox for my comments. Exciting times! I was happy to agree with everyone at SilverWood Books that the designer has managed to capture the essence of the story in the strong and intriguing design.

I look forward to posting an image of the cover here as soon as everything is finalised - watch this space!

Meanwhile, the interior proofs (the book's text) are being carefully scrutinised for errors.

The Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP) defines proofreading as "the quality check and tidy up" before an author's work goes to print. But this goes way beyond merely checking spelling, punctuation and grammar.

And if you're thinking: anyone can be a proofreader, right? It's only about spotting a few typos, isn't it? Then I suggest you try the society's 'Self Test' and see how you get on. Click here to have a go.

You never know, you might find you've discovered a new career... or not...

Good luck!

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Late summer gems

When I first started gardening the jewel box of early summer plants was so extensive that I loved them all and we filled the borders with them.

By August the limitations of our choices became obvious - the garden looked flat and colourless as the early blooms finished for the season

So in this garden we made a positive attempt to make space for late flowering plants, a particular favourite being the beautifully vibrant Rudbeckia.

We can't remember where we got the gorgeous allium - we don't even know which sort it is but it's fantastic at this time of the year, like hanging pink pearls.

And with a few Dahlias in pots on the patio August isn't a wasteland of scruffy foliage and spent flowers any longer. 

It only took us about ten years to learn the lesson!

Friday, 16 August 2013

Slip back in time

If you're in the mood for some time travel, take a trip to Crowcombe Heathfield station on the West Somerset Railway around 11.15 most mornings and relive the age of steam.

Buy a cup of tea in the waiting room, take it out on to the platform and find an old Great Western Railway bench to sit on. 

As you sip your tea and take in the view around you - the leather suitcases piled high on wooden trolleys or the old 'lamp room' made of painted corrugated iron - listen for the distant huff-puff of a steam engine in the distance as it climbs towards you.

Soon after it arrives in the station you'll hear the sound of another engine from the opposite direction, rhythmically puffing its way up the track until it too pulls in alongside the platform. 

As you sit mesmerised, lost in the smell of smoke and coal, passengers will alight from one train and hurry cross the rails to the opposite train. Carriage doors will slam (very Railway Children, that bit) and with a blast on the whistle, the first engine will pull slowly out of the station, its speed increasing as the rhythm of steam builds.

When the second engine departs, its chuff-chuff-chuff gathering speed as it fades into the distance, you'll hear the clunk of the signal changing. And silence.

Finish your tea, take the mug back to the station master, return to your car... and back into the 21st century.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Plotting in the garden

Yes, I do mean plotting rather than potting - though I might do that too! But the garden is a great place to let the brain wander freely while pondering on a particular knotty plot problem.

It's also the opportunity to lift my head and see what's been happening while I've had my writing head down.

After the last rains, everything has suddenly found a new lease of life, breaking into exuberant growth and enlivening the garden.

Clematis niobe climbing up the roses on the house
Crocosmia always brightens up the garden at this time of the year.

The agapanthus we bought in the spring is looking stunning and it's not fully out yet!

Ironing gives me the same benefits as far as a free-wheeling brain is concerned - but the photographs aren't nearly so attractive!

Friday, 2 August 2013

To read... Or not to read...

There was a time when I would consider it an obligation to finish a book once I'd started it.

But as the years have gone by my perception of time has shifted. I've decided that life's too short to waste it reading a book I'm not enjoying.

Little wonder then, as I compiled the list of books I've read on GoodReads that none of them score lower than 3 stars! (I suppose I could recall a few which I metaphorically threw over my shoulder in order to redress the balance but that seems a bit mean...)

As far as I can tell, there are just three categories on GoodReads : 'books I have read', 'the book I'm currently reading' and 'books I want to read'. I have a suggestion for another. How about 'books I've read more than once'?

Some books are too good not to be revisited every once in a while. The book in my 'currently reading' category is one of those  - Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. It's a joy to lose myself in its pages. Oh to be able to write so beautifully!