It is so easy to get used to hot sunny weather. I share a beautiful large garden but the plants on my patio are my responsibility and it has meant being out with the hose every evening giving them a good watering. Yesterday I took an hour long walk in the sun – ridiculous I know – but I took it gently and had my sun-hat on, sunglasses and was covered up. I am reading a book about Agatha Christie, a writer I much admire who also loved Devon. The more I read her stories the more I appreciate the little touches of humour that are dotted through them. Sometimes, as a writer you find yourself analysing the way a writer is working and it can spoil the reading enjoyment.  As soon as I forget that and realize I am just enjoying the story then the writer has won me over.

Have been busy checking through the edits of a couple of books coming out as e-books but had to break off that for a trip to London. Sitting in the sunshine at Lords for the opening day of the test match against Sri Lanka takes some beating and it was a wonderful day. Persuaded next day by my son to go up to the viewing area at the Shard – 68 floors up – but a fabulous view over London on a clear sunny day. London Bridge and St Paul’s Cathedral looked so small way down below. We followed this with a visit to St Paul’s and we climbed up all the steps (no lift this time) to the Whispering Gallery. Great day but, after all the hustle and bustle of the city it was lovely to be back in the calm and quiet of Devon.

Being away from the desk for a few days is a good thing – at least for me. I have been visiting the Welsh Borders. I don’t make notes as such but you can never be quite sure where the next idea is going to come from. It’s never just one idea but a collection of ideas that start to string together. Strolling round a grand country house and its vast gardens does tend to make the imagination run riot and I did just that a few days ago. Any ideas from that will have to go onto the back burner for the moment.

Dog sitting – gorgeous golden labrador – so took a long walk on Dartmoor. I miss my previous old dog and it was good to have a reason to walk – I do still have a daily walk but I still feel a bit odd without a dog.  At one point on the moor there was nobody in sight and then we came across a few ponies – the little ones are a delight. Dog on lead then although she is very good and just ignores them.  For the writing it’s important to take note of the weather  because often it helps to set a scene, having a character making a dash for it through torrential rain or sweltering through a particularly hot day.  Things like that can affect your character’s mood.

Drove to North Devon to meet with some writer friends. Beautiful morning – the drive is along very bendy roads but it is worth it to chat to other writers. We are a solitary lot when working so we need to talk about it to people who understand the highs and lows of the process. Don’t shut yourself away as a writer – you need to observe and meet as many people as possible.

 

It takes time to get to know your characters so don’t rush it. After a while you know exactly what they will do and won’t do so as I get to know them better I sometimes need to make adjustments at the beginning. Thinking back to some of the earlier characters, it isn’t always the ‘nice’ ones that stick in my head.  On the subject of rejection, it is hard to take and don’t I know it. Your work is precious to you and it is hurtful when somebody rejects it. Take note if a comment is offered and act on it and do persevere. If you are writing short stories make sure that one is always ‘away’ with a magazine or a competition to keep your hopes alive.

The new book I am working on divides neatly into 3 parts. In the first part, I am telling the story through the eyes of 3 women and am back in the Seventies for this. It is interesting to feel I am back in those days and I’m immersing myself in that time. It is surprising too how much you forget about what happened in those far-off days!

Short stories are a good place to start. I started this way because the thought of writing a full length novel was just too daunting. Funnily enough though those first short stories of mine often formed the basis of a novel so they are certainly not wasted.  It is a good way of honing your writing skills so do have a go.

I have been busy preparing some of my backlist of books so that they can go out as e-books. It has been fascinating to look back at some of the things I did years ago. Useful too because I did find myself making small changes as I went along. I have also started something new and although I am still feeling my way with it, I am enjoying it.