Friday, February 29, 2008
These are just some of the thoughts floating is wreched circular paterns in a deterioating brain. I am also wondering if I should just throw myself into writing the book that is in my head before I lose it. The only deadline I have facing is the Romantic Novelists' New Writers Scheme and that will be ACH. I hadd planned to get that in early but if I am just going to piddle my time away.............
Last night I had a great treat. I forgot to ask her permission to say who but a best novelist came to dinner last night. She is lovely and doesn't look her years. DH said there was no way she was as old as she said she was. She was filled with encouraging words and I guess it helps to hear the great say that they too are still learning and still have doubts. Before falling asleep last night I was going to send August Rock off to who she said was a wonderful editor whom I met at the RNA lunch but then the earthworms of doubt had been busy all night and it no longer seems such a good idea!
I just finished Laying the Ghost by Judy Astley yesterday. It had such a satisfying ending I was smiling and humming for the rest of the day. What was also interesting from my current quandry is how she balanced the mother/daughter story lines in the book................ maybe I'll just go slash my wrists now.
But before I do that some good links....... Over on A Newbie's Guide to Publishing JA Konrath gives some sound advice for attracting visitors to your blog. The BBC Scotland Write Here Right Now has been brilliant this month even if I haven't been following too closely. Yesterday's email was particularlly spot on. I checked out the website here and they haven't put it up yet so I will cut and paste some of it for the impatient! So Senior commisioning editor at Headline, Vicki Mellor says........
As an editor who reads many submitted manuscripts, there are several key elements that I consider when choosing a book to publish.
The author should have thought through the plot from every conceivable angle. Most editors can spot a gap in the narrative very quickly...
The writing should be engaging and detailed, and the plot should be original – the book needs a hook. Whether that takes the form of a major new character, an unusual setting or, indeed, historical context, it needs to stand out from the rest of the market.
The opening scene is essential. It gives the editor their first impression of the author’s writing and only the strongest scene will make an editor read the manuscript beyond it.
There are a huge amount of talented authors writing today – be strong and be prepared to face some rejection because the old adage is true. If you are turned down by one editor, then perhaps you just haven’t found the right one for you yet. "
It's worth reading the whole newsletter when they post it.
Finally I will leave you with you a few fun photos of our Wadi Bashing in the UAE last Saturday.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
My rewrite has ground to halt with half terms, Oman and DH still being under foot. I am having great trouble finding a routine. Hopefully I can claw this back but sil is arriving on the 6th so it could all be just a dream.
Yet again Steve Malley has put together a useful post this time on size.....of manuscript that is and some useful tips for making yours fit the genre you are aiming for. Over on Susan Hill's Creative Writing Course here she gives some sound advice for writing dialogue.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
It was two in the morning and the airport was at fever pitch. My stomach toppled over as I scanned the crowds. The humid air closed my throat. I wanted to wipe the damp flannel feel away but there was no escape.
What was I going to say to Tom? His blond head almost glowed in the sea of dark ones. I wasn’t ready for this. His big smiled welcomed me. Had I just imagined the fight we had before I left? I could see no signs of the scares I knew I had inflicted before I left. Surely he should still have wounds. I cut him with words I knew I could never take back.
I pushed through the human masses around me to find myself in his arms. The scent of soap and spice greeted me as he pulled me tight. Even if I had wanted to pull back I couldn’t. His arms had me locked.
His voice sent a shiver down my spine as his breath tickled just behind my ear. I couldn’t be reacting physically to a man I had told I hated could I?
“Hi.” I tried to pull back so I could see his eyes. Were they light or dark blue? Was he calm or agitated? Without seeing them I wouldn’t know. He had a poker face to most people but I could read his eyes.
“Let’s grab a taxi.” He wrapped his arm around my shoulder and steered me towards the queue.
“You didn’t drive?” He loved his Porsche why didn’t he take it?
“No, one of the bridges is closed so I thought this would be easier.” He still wasn’t looking at me.
“How was Julia?”
“Good. You had a fun few days then?”
“Yes.” I pinched myself. We were talking like our old selves as if things hadn’t been said but they had and I couldn’t forget them. Could he? I doubted it.
“Did you see much of Harry?”
“No, he was working all hours as usual.”
“How were the kids?” He led me forward.
“Great. Asking after Oliver. How is he?”
“Good but missing you like me, I guess.”
“Look, Tom, your acting as if things are okay.” I pulled away from him and bumped in an older Indian woman in the queue. I mumbled my apologies as she scowled at me.
“They are okay.”
“You have got to be kidding me.” I swung round to face him.
“No.” He studied the crowd avoiding my eyes.
“What about what we said before I left.”
“Let’s just forget that. We were both too angry. Heat of the moment and all.”
“I can’t forget. How can you?”
“I can forget because I want to.” He turned towards me. His eyes were deep blue. “Look this isn’t the place to talk about this.”
I nodded. He had a point there. People were watching us closely including the large Russian man. He was on his phone again with his free hand flying wildly. The action stuck me as more Italian than Russian.
“Who are you looking at?” Tom pushed me into the waiting taxi as we reached the front of the line.
“Oh, that large man was on the flight with me. He was in the loo with a woman during the worst turbulence I have ever experienced."
“He was in the loo with a woman?” Tom’s eyebrow rose.
“Yeah, I know but I saw them come out together.”
“He’s big enough to fill the space on his own. Was she was tiny?”
“Yes.” I could see the workings going on in his head. Would it lead him to disgust or lust? I was repulsed by the thought but I didn’t need him to go all horny on me. I should have kept my mouth shut but I wasn’t good at that.
“Sounds like an interesting flight.”
“What I heard made it more so.”
“Oh, what was that?”
The taxi driver’s eyes pleaded with me to reveal all and realized that I didn’t want to share this with him. I knew his mind was working on the two in the loo.
“I’ll tell you later.” Tom threw me a look but I cast my eyes toward the front and he nodded. I couldn’t help but see how bloody handsome Tom was. Some of the boyish charm I had fallen for all those years ago still appeared when he smiled but there were now lines around his eyes and a few grey hair had started to dilute the blond.
“What are all the flags up for?” I asked.
“The president is visiting.”
“Isn’t he here already?”
“Not the UAE one but the US one.” Tom cocked his head at me. I was always getting things wrong according to him.
“He’s visiting here?”
“Yes, where have you been?”
“Jakarta. No mention of it there but then I didn’t watch much telly while I was there.”
“No you where shopping with Julia no doubt.”
“Actually no, I was asking about divorce.” Once the words were out of my mouth I bit my tongue. Why had I said that? I know it was the truth but I didn’t need to say it. It was his jab about the shopping. I looked at Tom’s face and he aged in front of me. Here he was pretending that nothing had happened and I couldn’t leave things alone. What the hell was wrong with me?
Sunday, February 24, 2008
After Ar Rus we stopped in two villages whose names I can't remember but by the time we reached the last one which was hung onto the edge of cliff the light was gone and the moon was rising over the mountains.
When we made the trip to Venice back in June I became obcessed by the laundry lines well in the mountains it was the trees with the tortured knarly trucks that kept drawing my camera......
The following morning we were feeling a little jaded after celebrating our glorious day out with a bit too much wine but nothing the less we opted to take the route through the mountains towards Rustaq that would be beyond what we could have imagined.
We left the main road a Tanuf and took the steep switchbacks up the mountains and cut across to the route we wanted. The road was tarmaced which deflated us as we steadily climbed to about 2600 metres. We stopped on the top to enjoy the view before heading of our way. The tarmaced road ended and we found ourselves of gravel path hugging the side of the mountain as we wound our way down. Not only we DH's hand sweaty mine were as I tried not to look at the 1000 plus metre drop just a few feet away! Unfortunately I didn't take any photos at the top as my hand shake would have ruined it.
The first photo here is one of DS1's.
The road flattened out through the wadi with small villages scatted along the edges. Dates palms relieved the hardness of the rock and the vidid colours of the grasses brought the wadi to life.
Soon it was all behind us and we drove back across from Rustaq toward Ibri and then on to Al Ain and back to Dubai. As we skirted the Empty Quarter a Shamal began and the road was covered in sand that swirled like steam rising from a lake. First it would dash from the left in sinuous curves then come from the right sometimes obscuring the tarmac completely. It was so mesmurizing that I fell asleep - thankfully I wasn't driving at that point!
Saturday, February 23, 2008
As you take the road from Al Ain in the Emirates down into Oman the road skirts the Empty Quarter and sand dunes roll up to the road. Only the strangely elegent wirey tress break up the smooth curves. On the other side of the road the spine of Hajar mountains guide you further into this fantasic scenery.
Yesterday I brought you as far a glimpse of the the village above Wadi Bani Habib. On the climb down you heard the drone of bees and the strange contrast of the cherry blossom with the large boulders on the wadi bed. Looking up you see these wonderful slightly crumbling structures. There missing roofs and walls creating beautiful cutouts with the too blue sky. However it was the surprise of the beautifully decorated interiors that take your breath away.
We left the village reluctantly even after the thigh breaking climb back to the car. From there we drove across the plateau tempted by glimpses of villages in the wadi but only turned off the road when we caught a glimpse of this.
Road trips with the Fenwicks entail a great deal of photography - that includes the kids and forces our guests in the same. Here is the artist Paul Wadsworthfilming the gorge with DH in the distance.
Did I mention the fossil hunting? Well DH is a geologist by degree so he quickly spotted and pointed out the fossil in the roacks we were blithely trecking over. Its hard to look down when you have such stunning scenery but we did and were rewarded with finding sea shell fossils in the rocks below are feet.
Tommorw I will blog about remote village of Ar Rus and its friendly kids and our final day driving over the mountains on perilous switchbacks........
Friday, February 22, 2008
We also stopped at a village where we met this colourful fellow.
A brief stop in the the fortress town of Bahla and on through Nizwa to reach our hotel, the Jabal Akhdar Hotel, up some 2000 plus metres on the Sayq Plateau. According to dd it has very comfortable beds!
The following morning saw us heading to the abandoned village of Bani Habib. Nothing quite prepares you for the stunning beauty of it and the wadi it sits above. Cherry blossoms were in the bloom and the wildly noisy murmuring of the bees intruding on the silence. (first 2 photos here are ds1's)
Monday, February 18, 2008
(Here's the DH and I trying to fit in!)
A wave of humid air hit me as I stood in the galley waiting for a family of five to manoeuvre through the door. Welcome back to Dubai. Moisture sprang from every pore as I went down the stairs to the waiting bus. Lucky buggers in business were already on their way and I was nearly the last person off the sodding plane.
Squeezed into the back of the bus I realized I was pressed against the ugly bloke who had been in the loo. He reeked of the free cologne they leave in there. I began to imagine the chic woman had been trying to groom him and in the turbulence tipped the whole bottle on him, well that is what he smelled like. Yet there was something more about his scent but I couldn’t place it.
I felt his phone vibrate in his pocket as we rolled through a turn. Desperately I tried to make room between us as his ham fist went for the phone. I felt my stomach turn. They couldn’t have been doing it in the loo. He was just too revolting unless of course she was a certain type of lady and money had changed hands. That just might explain it but somehow I didn’t think the scenario fit.
The press of people was so great I couldn’t see much until the first lot left at the connections gate then I noticed the woman standing in impossibly high heals. The shoes were exquisite, the type I could only think about in my dreams. Only a woman with ankles that thin could wear an ankle strap with those heals and not appear ridiculous. I tore my eyes from her shoes to study her face. Porcelain features of an Asian doll looked past me to rear window of the bus. She didn’t seem to notice my scrutiny. I couldn’t place where in Asia she was from. Her suit could be Channel or maybe a good knock off which it must be otherwise why had she been in economy as I knew business wasn’t full.
The woman created more question than answers as I watched her push open her phone and dial. Those nails bothered me. I longed to get close to see if she bit them. I don’t know why this was so important but I just felt that everything about her was right except those short pink nails.
The phone rang beside me again. The oaf spoke.
He was Russian? Now, that I hadn’t expected. I tried to piece together what he was saying but it was mostly numbers which made no sense. I wondered he was in the economy cabin of the plane. Most of the Russians visiting Dubai were very wealthy.
He hung up with out saying good bye. The bus lurched to a halt at arrivals and I prepared my self for the mad dash through the hall to the e-gate section. Modern technology at it’s finest – the e-gate. No queues just a finger print scan and I would be standing in Duty free stocking up.
My elegant woman had put her phone away and swung her Louis Vuitton bag over her shoulder. I wondered if she was just a visitor or was she a resident.
The two Indonesian women pushed past me across the hall. I had forgotten about them. They didn’t detour to the visa desk as I expected but joined the long immigration line. I swung past them and my phone rang.
“Tom.” My stomach flipped and knotted. What comes next I wondered. What does one say to ones husband at one in the morning when you told him you hated him as you left days before? I didn’t have a script for this one. I thought there would be a text but a call caught me off guard. He shouldn’t be awake he had to be work today. Maybe Oliver was sick?
“Yes.” I sounded breathless. Was it from the dash or just hearing his voice?
“Good. We have been missing you.”
“Have you really?” I tried to keep sarcasm from my voice. Why didn’t I believe him? If he was calling me at one am then just might be.
“Yes, Sam. Where are you?”
“About to go through e-gate and you?”
“Waiting for you outside.”
“Yes, don’t sound so surprised. I love you.”
“That might be a good question for later but not for now. See you in a few minutes.”
The phone went dead. I fumbled with my card and the gates swished open. I tried to remember which finger was required. Eventually I got it right and was released through the other side. My mind stayed with Tom. Did he really love me or after all these years were we just going through the motions to afraid to let go. Then of course there was Oliver. He was the glue that held us together. Was there anything else?
On autopilot I filled my basket with the requisite bottles of gin and whiskey. The joys of the expats life in Dubai accumulating your liquor supply without the 30% tax on alcohol.
My head shot up as I bumped into the chic woman.
“Sorry.” I was stunned by her flawless English accent. I was presented with a puzzle where the pieces were the wrong shape. The suit was genuine but the bag was not.
“How will you be paying?”
I looked up at the cashier and handed over my Dirhams. I stole a glance at what the woman had in her basket - four bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue.
I moved toward the exit and one of the Indonesian women from the plane was watching me. I glanced around me and looked back at her. She quickly averted her gaze. I wondered was it me they were looking at or the elegant woman behind me.
Saturday, February 16, 2008
A Novel Way to Support Victims of Abuse
When In Search of Adam was published I was overwhelmed by the response of readers. I had explored themes of sexual abuse and self-harm and this prompted many people to contact me, to tell me of their own experiences.
I wanted to find a way to give something back to those whose lives have been touched by abuse.
The novella, Disraeli Avenue, has been published as an ebook, asking only for donations to the charity ‘One in Four’ in return. The charity offers unconditional support for people who have experienced sexual abuse and sexual violence and as a small organization, desperately needs funds to continue its work.
Dianne Ludlow from One in Four said “We are delighted that Caroline is doing this for us and as a small charity any funds raised will make a real difference.”
Disraeli Avenue (the street in which In Search of Adam was set) is a collection of short insights into the lives of the people living there.
My publisher, The Friday Project, are in full support. MD and Publishing Director Clare Christian said “This is a fantastic idea which will raise money for a very important cause and give fans of Caroline’s writing much pleasure at the same time.”
The eBook can be downloaded from http://www.thefridayproject.co.uk/disraeliavenue/ or from http://www.carolinesmailes.co.uk/disraeli.html
I know that each and every donation will make a difference and can be made at http://www.justgiving.com/disraeliavenue
So, if you can, please download, donate and even invite your friends to participate. I think I need some word of mouth. So if any of you blog or know of others who may be interested, please forward the link to them.
Many thanks for your support,
Stop by and help if you can.
Friday, February 15, 2008
I do know that I'm learning though. As I work through this rewrite of A Cornish House I can see things I never saw before - and the bonus is I know how to fix them now. So why is it taking me so long? I think it is too much other stuff in my life at the moment and fear. I do think I really feel I could mess this one up badly because the story has so much potential that I may let it and me down.
I also find I'm working differently now. Currently I print off twenty pages and read through for typos and repetition (to be sure to be sure) and just the general feel of the story. Once that is complete I print off again and read the work aloud. I hate doing this but what a difference it makes. Awkward sentences jump out at me and require fixing. This is very different from my past working methods. I used to do much more work on the screen and work with long pieces of the script. I think I like this method but we'll see.
What I'm not yet doing which is what I fear most is fixing the plot holes and dramtically changing the story. I haven't really dealt with ACH is months so I need to reaquaint myself with my character and remind myself what i wanted to acheive. It's hard sometimes to realize that I have written 94,000 words and may not have aceived what I wanted to or may have to change the whole thing. So after this rewrite I will have 94,000 well written words that don't tell the story I want them too! Help!
This week there have been some great things on blogs. Directly related to what I have been working with this week is here here on Michelle Styles blog. She talks about how it's fine to tell and not show in your first draft and then how to convert it in your second. I particularlly love RUE (Resisit the Urge to Explain). I think I may need that branded on my forehead.
As a follows on from C.S. Harris's post here here which talks about how a writer writes about the body's reactions to danger ( love her words Cardiopulmonary Reality) Steve Malley goes through the way a body reacts to danger - here. It's a great reference.
Finally there is a fantastic debate/discussion on two blogs that is well worth a read on two accounts - one it's content on the relative merits of catagory romance which begins from the male pov as he reviews one he's been challenged to read here and continues on the author's (Julie Cohen) blog here and two as it shows how how brilliantly the blogging world can work for enlightening and thoughtful discussion.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Monday, February 11, 2008
The plane began its decent into Dubai airport and I had not had any more sleep. The storm passed after a half hour but with the smell of vomit and excited chattering all around there was no way even a large whiskey would have knocked me out. Plus I couldn’t get the faces of the man and woman who emerged from the loo out of my head. Not a piece of clothing was mussed and her red lipstick was in place. Now many times I have tried to envisage joining the mile-high-club and in fact my husband and I almost did en route to our honeymoon but lost the nerve if not the passion when confronted by the reality of a small box of a space where the man before had missed his aim.
So their perfect composure as they slipped out puzzled me. If they had been banging away during a storm of such ferocity that many overhead lockers had spilled their guts surely at least something would have been astray. I mean why else would a man and a woman be locked in an airplane toilet together if it wasn’t for the supposed sexual high, why the risk of arrest and exposure so to speak? I’m not sure if anyone one else noticed them find their separate seats as the chaos of the storm raged around the plane. The stewardess did check the loo once she was allowed to move about the cabin but that was all. I was the only witness to their joint occupation of the loo.
My stomach clenched as I felt the nose of the plane lower. The lights of Dubai at night twinkled at me briefly as I looked across the aisle. Casting my eyes further along I tried to see the woman’s face but the crisp outline of her dark bob was all I could distinguish. Her facial features other than the flawless lips were a blur and something was compelling me to know what she looked like. I had had a good look at the man who was a stocky rough cut European sort, not English, not French, not Italian but more of a cross of all of the above. There was not a sexy bone in his body I can assure you. She however oozed class – this I could tell from the cut of her and the way she held her small shoulders. They were and unlikely pair but who was I to say. They could be a modern day beauty and the beast.
The clunk of the wheels lowering reminded me that many a plane had crashed during landing and I needed to will the plane safely onto the run way. I had to get home safely so that I could see my little boy and try and repair the damage of the argument as I left with my husband. It was a humdinger and I wasn’t sure where to begin. I spent most our wine filled days with Julia hashing it out and that wasn’t what my trip was supposed to be about however having left with a raging row ringing in my ears I couldn’t leave it behind in Dubai. I, of course, had to carry it with me to Jarkarta and let it contaminate my girls’ trip away to celebrate my soon to be big 4 0. That dire event was three days away.
First one wheels hit the run way and then the other bounced down as the engines slammed in to reverse. We had come in fast instead of the normal gentle approach to Dubai. Half of me wondered why but the quick flash of the cell phone of the woman with the bob cancelled that line of thought. She was chic and impatient. They hadn’t even said it was safe to use phones yet. I felt for mine in my pocket. Would there be a message from Tom. Other than a text to say I had landed safely in Jarkarta and sending my love to Oliver there had been no communication. Did he care I was back? Quite possibly not. Did I care I was back? That was a good question and I didn’t really know the answer.
The woman was texting frantically and I notice the short pink nails. They didn’t seem to fit with the black hair and red lips. Her nails should be long and red.
I leaned out into the aisle as we taxied and looked for the two Indonesian girls. One of them was on texting on her phone too. I admired the model which was the latest new fangled job with camera and music and so on. I had thought about buying one but it seemed and extravagance when I had a great camera and mp3 player already.
My phone beeped. There was a message. My heart leapt, maybe Tom and I did have a chance.
Welcome back to Etisalat. Welcome home we hope you have had a good journey.
Shit. Well at least someone was glad I was home. I starred at the screen willing it to show me another message. A message that said all was forgiven and he did still love me and we could try again.
The plane juttered to a halt and I looked up to see the stocky man jump to his feet. He must have had bad acne in his youth as the face was textured to an extreme. Maybe he had a kind heart because to be honest with a face like that no one would go near him. In fact he could have a career frightening children or haunting nightmares.
“Please remained seated until the airplane has come to a complete stopped and the captain had switched off the seatbelt sign.”
There that tells you for being so keen I thought but he didn’t sit he continued to retrieve his bag from the overhead locker and then sat down. The plane began to move a bit more and then again stopped. I glanced out the window to note that we where no near the terminal and remembered the airport construction. Yippee we would be bussed in to the terminal. It was peak time at Dubai International Airport. Midnight and every form of human life would be swarming through. God, I hate travel which makes me wonder why I do it. Stupidity? Quite possibly marrying the wrong man in the wrong job with wrong goals in life. Clever woman, huh, to marry a man who wanted to see the world and worked in finance. Yet fifteen years ago it seemed a dream come true. What the hell went wrong?
Saturday, February 09, 2008
So if you haven't signed up do. This weekend's words of wisdom come from writer Paul Johnson and what he has to say ( see the whole thing here) is so pertinent to any writing.
"Write whatever you feel like - with the sole proviso that you write what you feel.
Fiction without a carefully calibrated emotional dimension is duller than a December day in Murmansk. That doesn't mean you need to write melodramatically, giving your characters free rein to emote all over the page. Controlled emotion across a range of characters is the heart of fiction - think Austen, think Flaubert, even think D. H. Lawrence, who did everyday feelings just as well as full-blown passion."
So I had better get writing!!!!
Thursday, February 07, 2008
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
Sunday, February 03, 2008
Friday, February 01, 2008
But even paradise has a phone signal as one of our guides demonstrates. Fancy a game of coconut catch???