Friday, 28 October 2011

On our way to the Cote d'Azur

Nine or ten years ago I decided to take a week's holiday in Liguria, Northern Italy. I flew from Bristol airport to Nice arriving late in the evening. Because of the late hour of my arrival I had already booked a hotel from England. When I told the bus driver where I wanted to get off he gave a shrug which I could not fathom.

When I got off I began to understand. The district I had arrived at was something like the Vienna of Carol Reed's film, 'The Third Man.'

The streets were dark and had an atmosphere of mystery and threat. People hurried past in buttoned up clothes, avoiding the gaze of others. Any moment I expected to hear the sound of a zither and Orsen Welles lurking in an alley. I hurried on myself, keen to find my hotel.

In fact it seemed less of a hotel and more a venue for petty criminals and ladies of the night. I felt distinctly uncomfortable, reminded of my stay in the less salubrious quarters ofNaples.

Still, I had only booked for one night.

My plan was to head across the border to San Remo so the following day I caught a train from the central station in Nice. A lovely older lady, as fragile as a china doll, apologised for the state of the train. 'It is not a good advert for the Cote d'Azur,' she explained. It may not have been, but the journey certainly was. I split my time between talking with her and gazing out at the scenery with excitement. There was something truly fascinating and beguiling about the coast.

The lady left the train at Monaco and I travelled on. By the time I had reached the last town on the French border, I had made up my mind. I would postpone my journey to Italy by a day and see what the French Riviera and this border town had to offer. I hopped off the train.

I did not know it but I had arrived at the town of Menton.

I walked down from the station, loving the warmth of the air and the calm and attractive buildings. I went into the first hotel I saw, the Hotel Moderne, and was surprised to see a virtual double of a friend on the Reception desk. 'We have a room with a balcony but for one night only,' the Receptionist said. 'It overlooks the church so you'll hear the bells.'

I snapped up the room there and then, threw my bag on the bed, and went off to explore the town.

I was entranced by everything I saw. I eventually ended up in an old square with a strange statue staring down upon me and ate at one of the lively restaurants which crammed around it. As I sat there, I felt a warm sense of peace inveigle itself into me.

Then I strolled back along the Promenade to my hotel.

It was as I walked along that the magic happened.

Four beautiful young black women strode out into the busy road and halted the traffic. They then began a lively and good-humoured dance. They were replaced immediately by two young men who made the road an arena for their athletic and daring display. Any town that allows this to happen must be something special, I thought. Talk about life-enhancing.

I had fallen in love with Menton.

Now, after many years of visiting the town with my wife Janine, we are on the count-down to moving there. Only five weeks to go.

A Storm Hits Valparaíso

I’ve just found out that David ‘s Gaughran’s forthcoming novel about the the liberation of Argentina will not be available until late December.

That’s a shame. I’ve been interested in the Spanish Wars of Independence since reading The Liberators by Robert Harvey. I was hoping to have David’s book in my digital Christmas Stocking. Never mind, it will make a good New Year read.

If you’ve not read any of David’s work, I recommend his short stories and his book on indie writing; ‘Let’s Get Digital.’

His blog can be accessed by clicking on my blog list on the side bar.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Kobo to become a publisher

Kobo has just announced it will follow in Amazon's footsteps and become a publisher, dealing directly with authors.

This is good news for all authors, including, let us hope, indies. Not such good news for traditional publishers, booksellers and agents though.

This just goes to show that the world of writing is in greater turmoil than at any time since, well, you choose the dates: the invention of printing, perhaps?

Personally I think that what is happening is akin to the infant phenomenon that was Dickens writing and publishing Pickwick Papers and Oliver Twist in cheap, monthly serial form. He was told that such a move would be the death of his ambitions to be a man of literature. He chose to ignore this advice.

Good on you Kobo.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

New cover for The Lost King: Resistance

Just uploaded a new cover for The Lost King: Resistance.

The picture is courtesy of jgmdoran. Thanks for letting me use this. You can get it with the new cover from Smashwords immediately. Kindle may take 24 hours.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Clearing the Clutter

I have always been a hoarder. Not of objects or possessions but of books and paper work. Much of the paper work has been essential to my teaching and training career; a lot to do with my interests in things as diverse as history and NLP. A huge amount is made up of my writing; an accumulation of stories, half written novels, plays and notes that go back to childhood.

My books have been accumulated over a life-time. Each is precious, either because I have enjoyed reading it or was looking forward to enjoying the reading of it.

Now, however, we are in the final stages of our move to the South of France. We will be leaving our two bedroom, three reception house for a one bedroom apartment with a terrace as big as the living room and a view across the Mediterranean to Corsica. We are renting this apartment, fully furnished, for we are going on what I delight to call my 'Gap Year.'

Space, therefore, will be at a premium. So my wife Janine and I are busy sorting out what is absolutely essential to take, what can be stored and what can be given away to friends or charity.

Many treasured things can go to our friends who will love them or need them most.

It feels a good process, although not an easy one. Most difficult is giving up my books, some of which have been friends of mine for far longer than any human friends. Thank goodness for Kindle and Sony Reader because I can at least replace the physical books in this way. It is hard, nonetheless.

Then I think about our new apartment and the beautiful view which will be ours every day and I gird myself to select books to dispose of.

My writing, however, the sheets of half-formed stories and epics, that will prove perhaps more difficult.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Back to Work

It's now been over a week since my Mum's death. The funeral was held yesterday and was lovely, a celebration of a long life well-lived.

Now I want to get back to work. I have written well over 50,000 words in my current novel and had planned to spend October finishing it off. Well, I've lost some time so I'll either have to increase my daily word rate or delay publication by a week or so.

The problem is that I have a deadline. We will be moving to France on 1 December and there is much to do to get ready for that move. Fortunately, we have already decided that this is to be out gap year and have decided to rent an apartment rather than to buy. This will minimise the tasks we'll have to do considerably. Still, there is still plenty of things to keep me from my writing.

Including writing this post.

I normally don't read the whole of a novel until I've finished it but I am now pondering reading the whole of it before picking up again.

One useful tip I've found, by the way, is to upload it as a PDF file on my Kindle. This gets the closest to the eventual reading experience and I am able to annotate it - although this isn't as easy as making pencil notes on a print-out. A good tip is to make your font large as Kindle can't make a PDF font look bigger. I found that a font size of 20 is the minimum.

Anyway, back to work. I'm looking forward to it.

Friday, 14 October 2011

My Mother in the Chapel of Rest

My wife and I have just been to say a final goodbye to my mother in the Chapel of Rest. She looked beautiful.

I am so impressed at how the people who prepared her body in death have been able to capture the essence of my mother in life.

Thank you.