The Last Post….(here)

February 26, 2013 at 10:45 am (Uncategorized)

Hello lovely followers and interested parties,

Please note I won’t be posting here any more as I have a *NEW* and *FABULOUS* website which has a blog incorporated in it. All my previous posts and comments have been moved to the new site.

I promise to write a lot more often than I have been!

I will be closing comments on this site now but you can comment on the new site. Please come and say hello!

http://www.elizabeth-haynes.com

Lots of love
Elizabeth

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Me and my shed

December 28, 2012 at 1:30 pm (Uncategorized)

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I know I’ve written about The Shed before – but I wanted to bring you all in to have a look. I got a fab coffee machine for Christmas, which means I can potentially overdose on caffeine as let me tell you, those espressos slip down very nicely and are gone in a matter of moments! I do have some de-caf, but where’s the fun in that?

The shed is now warm (two heaters in here), well-lit (proper lights and fairy lights AND a desk lamp) and cosy (comfy Ikea chair and footstool for when I have visitors, or for when I want to sit and read rather than work at my desk). It has book cases, stationery like you would not believe, a whiteboard (which fell off the wall the other day – I nearly wet myself with fright), coat pegs, a kettle, a biscuit tin shaped like a big old book, and a coffee machine. I’m not going to fit a bathroom in here however much I want one, so that will have to be that.

I don’t get many visitors. 

And lovely as my shed is, it hasn’t been very good for productivity. It’s funny, I always thought that once I had a ‘room of one’s own’ (essential for women who write, according to Virginia Woolf) I would be super-productive and would be churning out novels like you wouldn’t believe – but I still seem to spend a shocking amount of time staring into space.

I think it’s because I am accustomed to working in an office with lots of other people, with noise, and the shed is just too quiet. Even with the radio on. So today I am experimenting with the BBC World Service on quietly in the background, just so I have some voices rather than music or silence.

I continue to experiment with my writing routine, a whole year after starting my career break. I have one year left. What’s the betting I will establish a brilliant, effective routine the week before I have to go back to the day job?

Much as I want to write 9-5, I seem to be more productive in the late afternoon or early evening, which is a shame because that’s when the family is at home and I have a million and one other things to do, like supervising homework and cooking dinner. I suspect this is no coincidence.

Productivity aside, I love my shed. I love it. It is my space and I can’t believe how lucky I am to have that, and everything in it…

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I’m back, did you miss me?

December 22, 2012 at 11:19 am (Uncategorized)

Around this time of year, as well as the Christmas Anxiety that starts at the end of Nanowrimo on 1st December, I always seem to get yearnings to be organised, plan, do things a bit better next year. Whilst muttering “as if I don’t have enough to do” crossly at myself, I find myself thinking about why on earth I have a blog if I don’t write in it, when clearly I have plenty to say for myself.

Reasons for not writing here

1. I also (sporadically) write an online journal which is mostly private and shared with a few close friends. This takes up some amount of my creative juice.

2. I’ve written two (or three if we’re counting first drafts) books this year. This has taken up even more creative juice.

3. As part of my efforts to be a good writer, I’ve also done quite a few online interviews, guest blogs and other promotional things, not to mention visiting book groups, talking to book groups on Skype, talking at other events and trying to show my face on Facebook and Twitter regularly so people don’t forget who I am. This takes up even MORE creative juice!

4. I didn’t realise I have only a limited supply of creative juice, until I found I’d run out.

Nevertheless, this is a good place to write and at some point my lovely husband is going to perform some magic and integrate my blog with my website so that my online presence will look a bit more professional and a bit less like I don’t know what I’m doing.

Next year I am hoping that, with two books underway, things will calm down a little bit and I can devote more time to writing here, entertaining everyone, and farting about generally.

I will write again before Christmas to wish you all a happy one, but in case I don’t see you before then (I mean, you might have things to do, right?) have a lovely time and be good.

xxx

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Book Signings and Pictures

May 19, 2012 at 6:16 pm (Uncategorized)

I spent this afternoon doing a book signing at Waterstones, Tunbridge Wells and thought I should report back!

I am usually quite apprehensive of book signings because you never know quite how they are going to go, and what usually happens is that I spend a lot of time standing looking a bit awkward beside a disconcertingly large pile of my books and feeling like a fraud. And I obviously don’t exude the confident air of a successful author because what usually happens is that people come up to me and ask me where in the shop they might find a particular book they’ve come in for.

At previous events I’ve thought this might be because I’m invariably wearing mostly black clothes (this is apparently a cunning way to disguise the excess weight, works particularly well in the dark it seems) which happens to be pretty much the standard Waterstones staff uniform.

Today I deliberately wore a nice bright turquoise top, but even so I was asked about The Hunger Games, Of Mice and Men, and the whereabouts of the map section, whether I could recommend a good general guide to European Literature and, separately, Financial Planning. If I know where the requested item is I’ll happily point them in the right direction, but if I don’t I usually say something like “I’m sorry, I don’t actually work here.” What happens then is generally one of three things. Some people will apologise (unnecessary but very nice of them), some people will walk away without another word (fair dos but not quite so nice) and still more will look at me with an expression that says “why are you standing like a lemon at the entrance to the store looking vacant, then?” (a bit rude I think).

Putting aside the people who need help I can’t always provide, there are usually one or two lovely people who have either heard about my event and made a deliberate effort to come and meet me, or they might have been sent by a friend, or former colleague, or a relative – which is also lovely. 

At every signing I’ve done, there has always been a couple of people who have made the whole slightly awkward experience worthwhile. The ones who come in on purpose, but also the passing strangers who stop to chat for a while, sometimes buying the book and sometimes not, but who treat me to a few minutes of their time. I love these people. I don’t think they’re always aware of the karma points they notch up just by stopping to chat for a moment, and thereby making me feel less of a spare part.

ANYWAY – enough about signings, for now.

But talking of books, I have a picture to share with you:

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The picture above was posted on my Facebook page by my lovely niece, Carla. My books have made it all the way to Swan Hill, Australia, and Carla’s local bookstore.

This was hugely exciting to see – and I still get excited every time I walk into a bookshop here in the UK and manage to find them. It got me thinking that, now my books are gradually making their way around the world, how cool would it be to get pictures of them in all sorts of exciting places? 

So, dear readers, I have a special request for you – I would like you to take a picture of either/both/any of my books in any of the following categories:

1. A picture of my book in your local bookstore, library, or airport

2. A picture of you with my book in an exotic or unusual location

3. A picture of a random stranger reading one of my books ‘in the wild’

4. A picture of my book in amongst other books on your bookshelf (I like being nosy and seeing what people have on their bookshelves, don’t you?)

You can post these direct to my Facebook page, or show me via Twitter, or even email me if need be (there’s a link to my email on the About Me page).

All pictures very gratefully received!!  I shall have to think of some sort of prize for this, really… I was thinking that everyone who posts a picture can have a signed postcard sent via the mail, but that’s not much of a prize and in any case you might all post hundreds, who knows? But my phenomenal gratitude just seems a bit pitiful!

To give you all a bit of inspiration, here are some I’ve already been collating:

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Posted by my friend Barbara – Revenge of the Tide in some illustrious company in the window of Waterstones, Fremlin Walk, Maidstone.

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My friend Emily’s son selecting something possibly not age-appropriate from his mum’s bookshelf…

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This is my friend Lindsay (we’ve been friends since school!) when she found
Into the Darkest Corner in her local bookshop

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My friend Natalie’s haul of birthday presents!

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My beautiful niece, Paige

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Revenge of the Tide featuring on the bookshelf of @dj_cardi (via Twitter)

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The next read for @toxicmusing (via Twitter)

 

 So there you have it!  Many thanks to everyone who has already sent me a picture (possibly never suspecting that I was going to post them to a blog for the whole world to see), please send me more!

 

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Choreographing the final scene

May 17, 2012 at 11:33 am (Uncategorized)

Sooner or later, you get to a point in the story where there is a big old confrontation. I’ve never been very good at this bit, because I’m so excited by the build up that I get carried away with the drama and write so quickly that, reading it back later, things don’t make sense. People move from one side of the room to the other by a process akin to teleportation. Potential weapons appear in strange places. The relative height of people becomes irrelevant, as does the restrictions of their personalities – would she really stab him with a pencil? If she was desperate? – and their strenth, after all, we all have the potential to find inner strength when it’s really needed.

What I end up doing is writing it quickly, excitedly, churning out the battle without a care in the world, and then later – much later – going back and realising that it’s howlingly bad. Then I have to stop and choreograph the whole scene, moving people into position and bracing them for impact whilst trying to hold on to the excitement and the adrenaline and the thrill of it all.

It’s a very hard thing to get right, the confrontation. After all, the whole story has been building up to this point – the wrongdoer meeting up with the person, sometimes an unexpected person, who is going to bring to an end his evil deeds. What if that person isn’t used to fighting people? What if they usually avoid confrontation at all costs (sounds like someone I know)? What if they’re overweight and out of breath and wearing nothing more threatening than a blue cardigan over a cotton blouse, slightly damp from the rain?

And, come to that, what if the wrongdoer actually doesn’t much like confrontation either? What if he is a loner who has never knowingly caused anyone harm? What if he thinks he’s doing the right thing (even if he does get a surreptitious kinky thrill from it)? What if he’s actually, secretly, very afraid?

What they should do, and I suspect what might happen in real life, is sit down and have a nice cup of tea and wait for the police to arrive, but of course that doesn’t make for a very exciting battle. So I think I need to inject some unexpected things right at this point. Something neither of them expects. Something that suddenly throws everything up in the air…

* * * * * *

In other news, the shed is lovely today. Husband fixed the electrics last night, by which I mean the extension lead now runs to the ‘shed’ part next door to the ‘office’ part, and there are now electric sockets in the shed. This all means I can have the door closed now because the cable runs to the other room. Of course, the likely result is that summer will finally turn up, because now I can close the door it’s inevitable that I won’t want or need to. So if the temperature rockets, you’ll all know why!

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That ‘racing towards the end’ feeling

May 16, 2012 at 2:48 pm (Uncategorized)

While all you lovely people are considering whether Catherine could have got away from Lee sooner, or where Dylan gets his money from, I’m busy with a whole new group of imaginary friends… I’m hoping you’ll all get to meet them fairly soon, but for now I’m still exploring their boundaries and their limits.

Today, I’m doing one of my favourite writing tricks of putting them all in highly difficult situations and seeing what happens to them. So I have locked doors, a flat-headed screwdriver, a dirty divan bed, an overgrown garden, a mobile phone that doesn’t work and a race against time. 

And – of course – just at school pick-up time, when everything seems alright again, there’s a sudden bang from somewhere in the house and it’s all just about to get very scary indeed.

See what you’re all missing??

It’s alright for you, I’m sitting here just a bit scared to carry on….

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On the mystical delights of having a shed…

May 15, 2012 at 9:08 am (Uncategorized)

Good morning world, I hope wherever you are the sun is shining on you or the moon is bright. Here it’s raining. Hard. Which is nothing unusual – I believe we have had one day of sunshine since the middle of March, and maybe a further two days since March when it hasn’t rained. The south east of England, having had a dry winter, currently has a hosepipe ban in force which seems beyond ridiculous given the constant, heavy rain we’ve had for the past seven weeks.

Since I last wrote here (a shocking number of months ago) so much has happened that it would be difficult to catch up, so I will write about one thing at a time and see if I can coax myself into writing regularly.

I HAVE A SHED!

Sorry about that. I’m a bit bursty with excitement about it.

Since January when my career break started I’ve been trying to get into a proper writing routine, and failing at it. Writing at home is difficult. The house is empty, but far from quiet: it’s full of jobs screaming at me to get done. Added to which, writing at a desk barely big enough to accommodate my laptop, and sharing an office with the hamster (having been evicted from son’s bedroom because of nightly wheel scampering activities) was just not working for me. So I’ve been spending a lot of time writing in coffee shops, which has been great – but again, not ideal because I need STUFF. I need books and notes and power sockets readily to hand, and I need to spread research out on a desk so I can see it all. I need a whiteboard to scribble on. I need random stuff like a nail file, a hair tie, a clock to time myself with, and you can bet whatever I need won’t be something I’ve taken out to the coffee shop with me.

After much begging and deliberation we decided I could have a shed to write in. This sounds straightforward, right? But it involved a long old process which started back in March (before the rainy season).

We already had a shed in the garden, a big one. A big old one full of stuff and home to several big tube web spiders. Here it is:

ImageOur garden really isn’t very big. That’s pretty much it.

We had to do a lot of work to clear all the Stuff out of the shed. This is the Old Shed nearly emptied. It was full of stuff, and I mean FULL.

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before my husband dismantled it. (He’s using the bits to make a new smaller shed for the allotment). By that time the rain had started.

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 The new shed was delivered in bits on a Friday, and we had until the Monday to paint the sections which would make up the back of the shed (since it was going to be close to the fence, we wouldn’t be able to paint it once the New Shed was up). Of course, it rained. All weekend. Not only that: we had gale force winds, hail and overnight the temperature went down to just above freezing. My husband, being a genius practical person, constructed a shelter so that we could paint:

ImageWell, we painted… and the paint barely dried, but it was the best we could do. On the Monday, Shed Construction began:

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 And finally, after a very wet day outside, we ended up with this:

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My Shed, my Shed, my beautiful Shed.

Since then (April 23rd, Shakespeare’s birthday and World Book Night), it has not stopped raining long enough for us to paint the rest of the wood. So it still looks pretty much the same. Thanks to my wonderful friends Tony and Margo, it now has beautiful laminate flooring (they had surplus). We visited Ikea a couple of weekends ago and got the furniture for it – that’s a whole ‘nother story involving an inflatable roofrack and ripping up a curtain in the Ikea car park at 10pm to try and strap the desk top to the roof of my husband’s car, let’s not mention it any further – so now, apart from the electricity supply, the Shed is done.

And today, with the rain outside hammering down, I am writing in it. 

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We still have lots to do on it, but for now it is a space I can work in, a space just for me. And today it is enhanced still further by those beautiful roses, a gift from the wonderful Whitstable book group I was lucky to meet last night. Days like today, despite the rain, I feel so lucky. 

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Everything gets shredded in the end

December 20, 2011 at 9:06 pm (Uncategorized)

Today was my second-to-last day in the Day Job. On 3rd January I’m hopefully* starting a two year career break, and so with the fortuitous combination of Christmas, non-working days and a concessionary day, my last day happens to be tomorrow.

I’ve spent the past two weeks at work frantically trying to get all the jobs I’m working on to a nice happy place where anyone taking them over will not have to wring their hands in despair. I am hoping someone will be taking them over, and they won’t be left in analytical limbo, but you never know, and without wishing to sound smug, after tomorrow I won’t give a Sage and Onion stuff.

I have one more task to do tomorrow, and I will no doubt finish by shredding another four inch-high pile of A4 paper. I spent much of today shredding. Every time I thought I’d finished, I found another pile that needed it. Of course, I could have left it all, but given the nature of my role I’d rather it was properly disposed of before I go so that in a few years’ time some poor sod doesn’t have to read through it all to decide if it’s important. It isn’t any more, although it was, once: all the notes, telephone analysis, annotated witness statements, timeline drafts, copies of analytical reports – all of it was exciting at the time, and fascinating: peeling away the layers of data to get to the nuggets buried within them, the facts as well as the inferences that can make the difference to an investigation. I loved working on these jobs. Some of them had good results, some of them had partial results, some of them ended up coming to nothing. But for all of them, I kept my notes – because for those that got away, there is always the likelihood that one day they would come back again.

And I’ve nearly finished shredding all that, knowing that, like me, every analyst  has a similar pile of notes for all the jobs they’ve worked on, and that sooner or later the ones that slipped through my net will be caught in someone else’s. You never know, in a few years’ time I might see a familiar face or two on the news, recognising that they finally made one mistake too many and got caught. I hope I do get to see that.

And so tomorrow I’ll finish off the shredding, and say goodbye.

*Hopefully by tomorrow HR will have got around to reading and processing the career break application – they’ve only had it for three weeks…

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About time too

December 2, 2011 at 5:28 pm (Uncategorized)

You know when you’ve been quiet for so long and you have a million exciting things to say but you can’t fathom where to start? Yes, that. I feel like I’ve been away from this blog for a year but it has only been a few months. So much has happened in that time, each Happening clearly deserving an entry all by itself. With a bit of luck and a tail wind I might get around to writing all of those entries. But, for now, I will draw you close and show you where I am right now.

I am sitting at my dining room table and it’s the beginning of December. I’m still tired from the last minute marathon sprint to get to 50,000 words on my third book, Human Remains (that one should get an entry to itself shortly). I’m working on the copy edits for Revenge of the Tide, but it’s very close to being finished – the cover design is done, everything is waiting for the last few tweaks and then it can be paginated, printed and bound. It has been through a lot since you last saw it; various characters have died, been resurrected, created and discarded again, or had their names changed; scenes have been written and scrapped; plot twists have come and gone. It’s a very different book to the one I wrote in November. But I’m very pleased with it and I love my characters very much, all of them, even the unpleasant ones.

If you have  a Spotify account and would like to listen to Genevieve’s pole dance playlist, you should be able to connect by clicking here. I’d love to know if that works, so if you try it please let me know!

In future I think I might put together a little playlist for my blog entries…

Or then again, that might be technological step too far.

So, here I am at my table with the copy edit manuscript beside me and I having procrastinated so far that I’ve even gone and written a blog post, the buzzer on the oven has just gone off which means dinner is almost done. I’d better clear off the table so we can eat and see if I can get some more done later.

Roast pork, veggies and jacket potato, in case you were wondering.

 

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Virtual Write-In, Anyone?

July 5, 2011 at 3:37 pm (Uncategorized)

As you all know by now, I’m a very effective procrastinator… if I’m writing at home, there will be any number of distractions to hand, usually things like laundry, Jeremy Kyle, the garden (oo! butterfly) and ice cream.

I’m sure there are quite a few of you out there who may be trying to get WIPs finished, edits done and rewrites conquered. So if you would care to join me, I would like to suggest a virtual write in on Twitter this Thursday 7th July.

What I suggest is that, starting from 10am, we write in 30 minute sprints – followed by 30 minutes break to discuss/show off/wail about how many words we’ve done, make a cup of tea, hang the washing out, put the dinner on etc. Then back again for another 30 minutes at 11am, followed by a break, and so on until we all get bored or have more pressing things to do.

Writing with other people, even just virtually via Twitter, works well – I do this a lot during Nanowrimo – it encourages you to carry on, especially if everyone else is doing better than you! And limiting breaks to 30 minutes stops you getting permanently distracted by something that was only supposed to take ten minutes.

SO!

If you’re going to join in, come and play on Twitter – just before 10am if you can, but if not, feel free to leap in at any time. Do one 30 minute burst, or do several – see how the mood takes you on Thursday. I suggest we can use the hashtag #vwi if it helps.

I’m aiming for 2,000 words on Thursday, and possibly those most beautiful of all words, THE END. Hope some of you will be there too.

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