An Editing Conundrum…..

My wonderful editor just threw me a bone…In fact the bone is actually a problem, not a gift. Now, don’t get me wrong, it isn’t a nasty problem, and he has a very good point. It has me thinking.

What unit of measurement should I use in my book; imperial or metric?

Metric I hear you say, but before I jump on that leaving train, consider this. My time travelling opus visits several different, non metric centuries, and as you will know, Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management and her Book of Needelcraft are as imperial as imperial gets.

Why am I bothered about an 19th century ladies books on household management and needelcraft I hear you ask? Simply dear reader, as every time traveller knows, Mrs Beeton had a plan. Within her two books, she clever disguised co-ordinates for the opening and closing of time travelling worm holes.

So readers, what would you do, metric or imperial?

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Great Aunt Polidori…Time Traveller, Matriarch & Bastion of the Stiff Upper Lip….

My protagonist Tarquin, in my novel Tarquin Jenkins and the Book of Dreams due for release late summer, has a Great Aunt. Ever since Tarquin’s parents disappeared in a plane crash, Great Aunt Polidori has been keeping a beady eye on his upbringing. She visits unexpectedly, and as a writer this was my opportunity to show her to the reader…….

I hope you enjoy this snippet!

Opening the door, he felt a cold shiver ripple across his shoulders and into his stomach. An uncompromising and aged face wearing mud-splattered flying goggles cocked its head sideways and looked up at him. Then there was the smell; a heady mixture of stale sherry, rough shag pipe tobacco, mothballs and camphor.

“Great Aunt Polidori!” said Tarquin, half asleep, as he choked back the over-powering odour.

“George, Gordon Byron!” barked the woman, “stop cowering behind the door and let me in.” Ever since his aunt had first set eyes on Tarquin’s pale complexion, curly black hair and dark, brooding eyes she had called him George. Pushing him forcefully from the doorway with her regimental swagger stick, Great Aunt Polidori strode with a swish of her kilt into the house, her polished gillie brogues scrunching loudly on the acrylic carpet. She stopped in the hallway and sniffed the air.

“Have they gone?” she asked.

Taken aback by her unexpected arrival Tarquin nodded, open-mouthed. Great Aunt Polidori dropped her Gladstone bag on the floor and removed her Lenin cap, revealing cropped, spiky black and white hairs; an aged zebra having a bad mane day.

Tarquin looked at her clothing; masculine, brutish and strikingly out of place; nothing unusual there. Shrouded from head to knee in a hound’s tooth tweed cape, Argyle jacket and heavy kilt, Great Aunt Polidori looked like an overdressed bouncer at a Scottish workingmen’s club. On her legs, she wore the black and white hooped socks that caused so much angst the last time she visited. Woollen and grossly oversized, they hung around her ankles like hoops on a hoopla stall. She claimed they came from a famous Barbarian she had met, though Tarquin had a hard time believing Genghis Khan or Attila the Hun had conquered half the world wearing those socks. Her dress sense was comical, but no one dared question the matriarch’s unique and uncompromising style.

“Well, George, don’t just stand there,” she said, moving toward the living room, “I’ve travelled a long way and I need to sit down.” Tarquin followed unquestioningly. Great Aunt Polidori arrived at the sofa, threw off her cape and irritably puffed up a cushion. Satisfied it would not cause trouble, she threw the fawn square of velour into the middle of the settee and sat down, crushing any lingering resistance. Dropping her stick on the settee, Great Aunt Polidori pulled off her goggles and gauntlet gloves.

“Tea,” she commanded.

Tarquin fled to the kitchen and opened the cabinet above the sink. His aunt and uncle always kept a packet of chrysanthemum and chinese wolfberry tea in the house, just in case Great Aunt Polidori dropped in. Tarquin put the kettle on. He found her, ‘Keep Calm & Carry On’ mug and prepared the concoction. The instructions for making the tea were on the inside of the cabinet—they had been there, unused, for two years.

While waiting for the kettle to boil, Tarquin watched his Great Aunt through the open door. He shook his head, remembering Jeremiah calling her Churchill’s backbone. The knowledge that his Great Aunt also time travelled scared him to death. From one of her numerous jacket pockets, Great Aunt Polidori produced a tarnished silver tin with the name ‘Audley Bowder Williamson’ written in faded gold letters. She scooped a wad of emerald green slime from the canister and rubbed it into her hands. Tarquin never had the courage to ask why her hand cream was green, not white like his aunt’s. Satisfied with her work, Great Aunt Polidori pocketed the tin and from her waistcoat took out a cut glass atomiser. He recognised it immediately. She called it her ‘pocket rocket’ throat spray, made by ‘The Rocket Chemical Company.’

First used when dinosaurs ruled the earth, thought Tarquin.

Great Aunt Polidori sprayed some atomised liquid into her mouth, and then smacked her lipstick encrusted, rubbery lips several times before rolling her eyes and returning the ‘rocket’ to her pocket. With the kettle boiling, Tarquin poured water into her mug and prepared her tea according to the instructions. He checked the colour against the colour chart, and satisfied he would not get a rollicking, he took it into her. She eyed it carefully. Taking it from Tarquin, she placed it on the table beside her. With a deep breath, Great Aunt Polidori then took a leathery, hook shaped object from her waistcoat. Tarquin felt sick. His Aunt held an emaciated finger with a curving, ivory claw in her hand, cut from its unfortunate owner just above the knucklebone and neatly capped with a silver end plate. She prized open the lid, emptied a small amount of dull, black powder onto the back of her hand and snorted it hard. Tarquin shuddered. He remembered the first time he had seen her take snuff, or rather, ‘snort the Prime Minister’ as she called it. At eight years of age, Tarquin was convinced the powdered remains of the ‘odious Mr. Wilson’ as Great Aunt Polidori called the ex- labour Prime Minister, were disappearing up her nose. Sadly, she did nothing to dissuade him from that day to this. After wiping the snuff residue from her nostrils with a flourish, Great Aunt Polidori returned the macabre snuffbox back into her pocket and sat glaring, po-faced, at Tarquin. An oiled kiss curl, lip service to long lost femininity, lay flaccidly on her forehead.

The Not So Bad, Bad Guys….

Clurichauns really like a drink or three. Unlike their cousins the Leprechauns, they are surly, bad tempered, and are obcessed with stealing art, precious stones, gold and silver. Personal wealth is everything to a clurichaun.

‘Screwball sneered and spat a wad of masticated tobacco into a priceless Ming Dynasty vase by his feet. Hugh Willard threw down another marker and pointed at the board.

“That’s rooked yer,” he said, venomously. They all looked at the Raggedy-Rook board.

“Yeah, you’ve been well rooked Paddy, hand over the loot,” said Shamus DeWoods Kelly.  Paddy snarled and threw a handful of pearl chokers, jewellery and precious stones on Willard’s pile.’

And, in a couple of sentences I’d created, the Raggedy Rook board game, played when we first come across the clurichaun. I had also given myself an idea, and a problem. What if the game could be given away with the publication of the book?

So, first we need to create the game….

By chance, the name of the game  is covered nicely in the Urban Dictinonary –http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=rooked and fits hand in glove with the clurichauns personality.

It would have to be simple – there is nothing complicated about a clurichaun. Furthermore, it would have to promise vast riches to the winner, and utter dispair for the loser.

I like the idea of a chance based game with 2 dice. Add the numbers together and move along the board. Landing on certain squares either gives you riches, or takes them away.

I’ll be back to show you my board game soon!

Writing Is The Start…..

You sit there for hours. Time means nothing. Your fingers fly across the keyboard and your character, or characters, are doing wonderous things. You are writing YOUR story! Days pass and then you hit the ‘wall’. Something isn’t right. That epsiode of furious activity long gone. You struggle on, finally leaving your novel for days, weeks, months, even years. The fun of writing your novel is not lost, but the glee and abandonment you felt when you started rarely comes now. Then, after rewrite after rewrite, deleted chapters, new beginnings and new endings, your book fools you into thinking it’s finished.

What to do? The word count is over 130,000 words, it has a beginning a middle and an end. You’ve done numerous line-edits, but it just sits there, waiting.

This is the story of my novel, Tarquin Jenkins and the Book of Dreams.

Now, before we all get depressed and decide that writing isn’t for us, I have a ray of sunshine, hope if you will, for all of us.

You need a qualified editor, someone who knows all about writing – shares the pain of dashed expectation – but also knows the joy of being published, and being read by more than your close knit friends and family.

8 years ago, simply by chance, my first chapter (which is now the third in my book), was seen by John Grant, also know as Paul Barnett. John is a Scottish author who has published over 70 books ranging from fiction to various encyclopedias on the film industry. I won’t bore you with his resume, you can find it on his website at; www.johngrantpaulbarnett.com

I still have his critique. John doesn’t mince his words. He’s in the business of writing, not pandering to ego’s. Simply put, though he liked the premise, there was an awful lot that needed to be done. I repeat, an awful lot that needed to be done.

Over the next couple of years John and I have shared our love of cricket in sometimes cryptic, short emails, sometimes longer depending on the game involved. Occasionally he would ask how my book writing was going, and I shared the occasional snippet.

About a year ago, I decided to finish the book and get it edited, properly. John is a very busy man, but I knew that if anyone could shove, push, pull or kick it down the right path John was that person. I put money aside for the editing and John and I made a deal.

I was very lucky in being introduced to John, but there are good editors out there, you need to research them. If you harbour dreams of publishing your book, whether through a publisher, or by yourself, you owe it to your characters to be polished and ready for their public.