A criminally good Christmas meal?

For once there was no snow, no ice, no flooding (just about), and no sign of any nasty flu bugs, so yesterday Other Half and I drove to Gretna Green for the annual Crime & Publishment Christmas bash. This is, believe it or not, the third year in succession that we’ve made it, having missed several before that for the above reasons, sometimes all at once!

This year there were slightly fewer attendees than sometimes thanks to work commitments and ill health, but those of us who turned up more than made up for their absence. The meal was its usual high standard, served like clockwork by the ever-efficient and friendly staff, and it was lovely to catch up with everyone again.

This year’s high point during the round-the-table news catch-up was hearing about Mike Craven, who has just won the CWS Gold Dagger award for his book ‘The Puppet Show’, but everyone had something new to share, be it short stories accepted, novels sent out to agents, or even finding the time to write something… anything. In my own case I was able to mention finishing the first draft of ‘Embers of Bridges’, and getting a short story accepted for an anthology which I’m not allowed to say anything about yet… More news on that in the new year!


Embers of Bridges inches closer

burnbridgeI’m feeling oddly chuffed with myself this morning, because I’ve just typed those two important words on my latest work-in-progress: The End.

This is quite a milestone because the book in question is ‘Embers of Bridges’, which I first started writing a good six years ago. At the time it was quite a short novella, and over the years I’ve had many attempts at rewriting it into something longer, none of which seemed to work. Finally, late last year, I decided to have One. Last. Go. and called the file embersofbridges500 because it felt like the 500th time I’d rewritten the thing.

Like my two previous books, ‘Raise the Blade’ and ‘Gravy Train’, it’s set in Birmingham, this time around the canal network and the famous Jewellery Quarter, and involves a gang of petty criminals and the idea of honour amongst thieves. Or lack of it.

I’ve taken it back to something closer to the original, but speeded up, with more action right from the start and less of the characters sitting round in pubs chatting to each other. I’ve also tried to add more backstory for the main characters. And it’s worked. Well, sort of. There’s still a ton of work involved in polishing, editing, rewriting, making sure it all actually makes sense, and more rewriting. But that’s for the days ahead. Right now I’m sipping a celebratory cup of tea and basking in a warm fuzzy glow of achievement. Long may it last…

Can’t talk. Writing.

essay_writingDon’t worry, I’m still alive!  But likely to be a little quieter on here than usual, because after a longish break for flu and the holidays, I’ve finally got going on my writing again.

The current work in progress is yet another rewrite on my canal-boat-getaway-crime-book, ‘Embers of Bridges’.  I’ve tried, twice, and failed to get across what I really wanted to say.  Now it’s third time lucky and so far, it’s going much better than before.  So well, in fact, that I’m spending most of my working day scribbling, and have added four or five chapters since Christmas.

It’s good news for the book, less so for keeping the blog (and all my other social media!) up to date.  So if I’m a bit silent, please bear with me.  It’ll be worth it if I get a new book out of it at the end.

Scribbling again

I’ve been pretty quiet on here lately, and there’s a good reason for that – I’ve had my head down trying to finish various different projects by the end of the year.

And the good news is, I have.  Well, sort of.  One short story that I was trying to cut down for a competition ended up 400 words longer than the original, and 800 words over the competition maximum word count.  Best laid plans and all that.

But I’ve also been working very hard on a complete rewrite of my canal-boat-getaway crime novella, which I’ve now renamed ‘Embers of Bridges’ to keep the Pink Floyd theme going.  (For anyone who isn’t a fan, it’s a snippet from their track High Hopes, and seemed appropriate in all sorts of ways.)

The rewrite has been a tussle; the original version was far too ‘cosy’ and needed a good kick up the arse to bring it into the 21st century.  I’ve gone some way to achieving that (though still not as far as I’d like), and on Friday I finally got to type the two most important words of all.  The End.  It’s a nice feeling!

Of course, it still needs a lot of scraping, polishing, pruning, chopping and general head-scratching.  But at least now I have a framework to hang new ideas and new bits of writing onto, which should make things easier.  I’m hoping to have the whole thing finished by early next year, ready to start the submission process.  Publishers, you have been warned.  There’s just time to don tin hats and get your heads below the parapet!

And now I’ve got more time to fiddle about on social media, chat on here, and get on with other stories, submissions and what-have-you.  Phew!