Sunday, 31 October 2010

Happy birthday - or is it?

Today is my birthday.  I’m 38 and wonder where all the time has gone.  It won’t be long until the big 4 0. 

Here are some of the things I have come to realise, that I wish I’d known when I was a teenager and in a hurry to grow up -

If you don’t eat like a sparrow you will put on weight – a lot.

You will still feel the same age inside as you did at 21.  When you're young and your parents say that, you laughed at them, but it's true. 

You will look in the mirror and get a fright when you realise that you no longer look 21.  Age has crept up on you unawares like the Boston Strangler. 

Wrinkles aren’t so bad when they are laughter lines, and I have laughed a lot.  Sometimes at a comedy programme, others at the ridiculousness of my life. 

You will look back on your life and realise that you had more opportunities than you ever realised.  These could be in your career, your love life or even your health.  There are doors you could have opened, and you didn't even realise they existed.

The things that you regretted at 21 are the things you will still regret today.  They haunt you and that’s made worse by the things you cannot change, but would if you could go back in time.  I have been hurt and I’m ashamed to say, I have hurt.  There are times I wish I could be the character in that Dean Koontz story Strange Highways, who is able to go back in time and take the right turning and alter what happened.

You know your youth is well behind you when the new hunk on Desperate Housewives, isn’t Bo Duke, the baby-faced, blonde heartthrob from Dukes of Hazzard, the show you loved as a child, no it’s the son of the heartthrob you loved as a child. 

And, one of your favourite movies from your distant days on the young team, Back to the Future, is celebrating its 25th anniversary.  When it first came out, it was the big teen film of the time. 

I never thought I would get old, but old age is something that creeps up at you like the drunken buffoon at a party and it seriously sucks.    

I guess though, it could have been a lot worse.  It could have been the grandson of John Schneider! 

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Caring for Your Dog: The Essential Guide

I’m getting very excited.  On Friday I received a copy of the press release for my new book, Caring for Your Dog: The Essential Guide.  It will be published by Need2Know on December the 1st 2010. 

I decided to write the book for two reasons – firstly as a tribute to my beautiful, brave dog Vic, who suffered from epilepsy from the age of 4-years-old and sadly crossed the Rainbow Bridge last year at the age of 13 and a half.  He enjoyed life right up until the end and I miss him greatly.  Caring for Your Dog has a chapter on caring for special needs dogs like Vic.  Sadly too many people have dogs put down because they see a dog who has special needs as a burden.  That does not have to happen.

The other reason was I wanted people to realise that instead of buying a dog, something that adds to the problem of too many dogs needing homes, they could welcome a rescue dog into their home.  There are so many dogs needing homes.  Vic was once one of them.  Now my partner and I have Benjy, whom we got from the Dogs trust in Glasgow.  My book has a chapter dedicated to the ins and outs of adopting a dog. 

Here he is –



I’d better go now as he wants to chase him around the room with a bone! 

Thorne

The other night I watched the TV adaptation of Mark Billingham’s Sleepyhead.  Although I enjoyed it, I was amazed at how the characters from the book had been translated to the small screen.  David Morrissey was good as DI Thorne, but he’s far too good looking to play the role and some of the rest of the cast could have come straight from Hollywood, like Natascha McElhone who played Dr Coburn and Aidan Gillen (who played Mayor Tommy Carcetti) in The Wire. 

I was also interested to read how an actor of Morrissey’s involvement with the show came about.  He read the novels and wrote to Billingham saying he wanted to play the part.  Budding authors like me can only dream about that happening. 

If your novel was published, who would you like to play your lead character?  I’d love it if Journeyman star Kevin Mckidd played my DI Waddell or David Tennant. 

BT Broadband Bollocks

Last night about , my BT Broadband went off and wouldn’t work.  This isn’t the first time this has happened and no doubt it will not be the last. 

I consulted the useless guide (sorry, I meant user guide) and it basically said ‘you’re stuffed.’  I checked up the service status and it said there was a problem with the service in the North of England, Scotland (where I live), but hey you will love this one (I loved it so much, I flung down the phone in a rage and shouted words my mum told me never to say) if I needed help with my broadband I could go to the BT website.  Wonderful, how do I do that when I can’t get on the Internet!

P.S. I am writing this offline in the hope that eventually BT broadband will deign to give me what I pay for.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Where would you keep a human finger?

'Last night, I turned to my boyfriend in bed and calmly asked him 'where would you put a human finger?' Once he had checked none of his were missing, he asked me why I wanted to know.  I told him that my character was going to find one, but I wasn't sure where, so he suggested in a jar of pickles.  So, that's what I've gone for. 

It could have been worse.  The other night I asked him what a kick in the dangle bag felt like.  I can't print his reply!

I'm a loser

As writers, we constantly seek validation that our work is any good.  Today I received news that made me think mine is utter, utter tosh.  I had applied for a New Writers Award from the Scottish Books Council.  Had I got it, it would have made me think my work wasn't rubbish.  But, I was turned down.  200 people had applied, they told me.  The standard was so very high.  We cannot give out any individual feedback, they said. 

Rejection has hit me hard.  I won't deny it, as I had sent an extract from Vile City.  Then I decided to remind myself of those who had succeeded.  The list of previous years' winners were listed.  There was a recurring theme throughout them.  Most of them had done a masters degree or even a Phd in creative writing.  I have done neither.  Instead I have written, without any professional qualifications and I have being selling my work for the past 23 years. 

And, that's the good thing about writing.  You don't need a degree to do it.  Most of the top authors have just written and that is what I will continue to do. Right now it feels like someone is giving my innards a kicking and disappointment sickens me to the core.  But, I will not let this finish me off.  I will keep writing away and hopefully one day I might get some validation.

Monday, 25 October 2010

One more edit may be an edit too far

I finally have my almost finished manuscript, but the editing stage has gone on for so long I am starting to question why I even bothered to write my book.  is it really any good?  Will anybody want to read it?  And, if I start sending it out to publishers and agents, will it come back to me so fast it's like there was a boomerang attached?

All sorts of worries go through my head and the thought of them makes me doubt my work and then I start to think - do I need to change what I have written?  Should I keep this bit? 

One of the best pieces of advice I read came from a very successful author who said that there is a danger of making changes to your manuscript not because they are better, but because they are different.  I have that on a post-it note and every time I consider making changes I stop and ask myself 'is this going to make my book better?'  If the answer is no, then I keep it as it is.

Ramblings of a Frustrated Crime Writer: About Me

Ramblings of a Frustrated Crime Writer: About Me: "I began contributing to magazines when I was 15-years-old and had my first piece in Jackie magazine - a piece on superstitions. From then ..."

Why Vile City?

My novel is set in Glasgow and begins with a young woman getting off a bus with her boyfriend. They take a short cut down an alley (not a wise thing to do anywhere) and are attacked by an assailant unknown. The boyfriend thinks he's been stabbed, but he's been knocked out cold by a sedative and his girlfriend is abducted. Vile City follows DI Duncan Waddell, who wishes he'd become a history teacher, as he tries to track down three women who have been taken by the beast the press have dubbed 'The Glasgow Grabber.'

The title comes from the fact that DI Waddell is becoming disillusioned by the fair city he once loved thanks to the nasty underbelly he uncovers in the course of his work.

As well as this novel, I am also working on a book of 23,000 words aimed at one imprint in particular, about Kirsty, a one legged barmaid who goes on the run after killing a gangster's goon who got a bit too touchy feely by putting her stiletto through his pug ugly head. You had to have been there to know her violence was justified.

Weird and wonderful research

Throughout the time I have been writing Vile City, I have found myself having to look up some pretty weird stuff in the Internet.  Things like what car would have the least leg room for a 6ft 2 gangly detective, so he would have to unravel himself getting out and curl up getting in?  Can you buy sperm on the Internet - the madwoman in the novella I am writing How Kirsty Gets Her Kicks tries to impregnant my hero with it - and if so how easy is it to inseminate someone.  And, my personal favorite - is it possible to use thumb screws on a man's ganglty bits?  Well, the psycho in my novella has a unique line in torture techniques.