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The character who can never be named (for that is telling and surely the first sin)

nodded and then shook his head and sighed, finally frowning as he realised his

motions were as cliched as his unnamed (telling, remember) emotions. "I can't go

on." He roared/yelled/cried. "There's no back story to explain my motivations in

a satisfying but suitably challenging and ambiguous way." The room fell silent as

the rest of the clearly drawn but somehow shadowy characters turned, from who 

knows where they'd been looking or facing or turning again. "Bugger this for a

game of soldiers." The character shouted/bellowed (but, please God, never

ejaculated). "You lot can subvert the genre and confound expectations (in a 

satisfying but suitably challenging and ambiguous way which avoids

repetition) on your own, I'm off to get a proper job."

Ah yes, dear readers (second person, really? and in italics? going for the ManBooker then?) the joy that is editing, surely the cruelest hashtag of them all. The draft (for that is what it will be called as opposed to the bastard thing that's drained most of my life force) has been drafted, oh so many times. The plot twist/weird structure thing which was meant to hit the 'wow factor' (aka the bit that's always missing but just beyond the reach of their words when editors love but don't quite love your manuscript) turned out, of course, to be the product of a fevered

over-caffeinated mind and not the birth of literary genius. It is gone. The delicately

crafted, poetically-rendered similes turned out to be no more than the blows of a 

purple hammer bashing my point to bits. They are gone. My agent unbelievably is

not - she is truly an angel among women, a sunbeam illuminating the darkening

twilight of my dwindling writing days. The final draft became a first draft and then

a series of ever changing loosely-connected ideas from which, by some drink-

fuelled miracle, apparently a story has emerged. There have been smiles, the word

'terrific' has been bandied about by people not bound to me by fear or drunk. I'm

holding that word for when the darkly dwindling days come back. And so, reader 

dear (am no longer presuming anything gets into more than single figures), I had a

draft that could be...edited.

​                                                             My characters shook their heads, a lot. They also shook out or away gowns and                                                                   cloaks and thoughts on a pretty regular basis. I may have constructed the first                                                                     medieval world made entirely out of jelly. There were a lot of birds, particularly                                                                   ravens and sparrows. The first may have been a metaphor, after that, who knows?                                                               Too much Game of Thrones most like and fighting the urge to add a dragon. There

                                                             were people travelling across too many borders or growing up without any                                                                           warning and apparently readers like to be TOLD these things not shown it                                                                           from a series of, frankly, quite clearly explained similes. Anyone would think                                                                       readers haven't studied Creative Writing 101. And there were issues around the                                                                   names for which I am now offering one simple, standardised response: EVERYONE

                                                             FROM 1100-1500 SHARED 4 NAMES AND THEN THE TUDORS GOT FANCY, DEAL                                                                   WITH IT. If that proves unreasonable I shall emulate Dr Seuss and simply have Thing One and Thing Two and Thingy for any children. 

But we got there, in the end, at least I think we did - there may be a tweak or two left. There may be a character still nodding madly in an unknown corner of an unknown field who'll meet a very painful death if I find them still lurking. There is, it seems, a 'proper' story now with characters and a plot and everything. My agent is hopeful and it's off to do the rounds. Maybe, if I wish hard enough and keep everything crossed (not just my eyes), it'll find an agent to love it and then I can start all over again, with the edits...



 And you just thought you were going to write a book...

 Redrafting, editing, finding, or not finding, an agent, understanding publishing,      becoming  an expert in marketing and social media, begging anyone and everyone who  reads you book to become a reviewer, apologising to the people you forgot to include  on the thank you page, losing any grasp on social skills. The reality of a writing life.

 I often use the analogy of Bambi on ice to describe myself 18 months ago when I started on  the process that would see me as an actual published author. I've certainly learnt a few  lessons on this writing journey to the  publication of Blood and Roses. I hope you find  some of the ramblings useful...




  A New Author's Survival Guide                                                    Medieval Masterchef

  Ireland's Revolutionary Sisterhood                                             Powder & Paint: Make-Up & the Medieval Woman

  Childbirth Rituals in Medieval England                                      Digging for Gold: Historical Research & Story Gaps

  Scotland's Pictish Stones & the Lost Story of Guinevere         The Bloody Battle of Towton

  Characters to Die For                                                                  The Green Children of  Woolpit

  Music to Write Books By                                                            Breaking Out of the Doll House: Women Soldiers of the American Civil War          Who Can be Patient in Such Extremes?                                    A Merry Medieval Christmas     

​  Witch Marks & Curses: The Rituals of Protection                          The Proust Questionnaire

  Mother's Ruin: A Tale of Gin & Drunken Women                          Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons: Hollywood's Killer Queens

 Scents and Sensibilities: The Not So Smelly Middle Ages?        Scotland's Medieval Monasteries

​ Through a Glass Darkly: Mirrors, Myths & Magic                        King Charles III and the Importance of Writing Things Down

 Jane Austen & Walter Scott: Not Quite Love & Friendship