February 27, 2015 @ 9:41 PM

Do you have a system for sorting the end matter of your book? Mine is hopeless.

Having recently finished cutting and revising the second draft of the current work, and sent it to my editor for a first read, attention has now turned to the Acknowledgements, References and Further Reading, and all the other material that has to go at the end of a published book...

...Chapter notes, photographs and illustrations, picture credits and captions – not to mention the horrors of an index.

I must say that, with me, the process of preparing the end matter is always a mess, and I wonder if anyone has a better method I could adopt?

In fairness, I do try to be systematic. I keep a list of contact numbers with the relevant book files on the .........

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February 20, 2015 @ 8:05 PM

Scrolling through the computer files the other night, I came across some old friends I hadn’t seen for years – had largely forgotten about – and was able to spend a pleasurable hour or so renewing our mutual acquaintance.

Not long after I started my career as a writer, a friend sent a collection of sketches she’d made when a travelling circus came to town. They were vivid and highly entertaining little drawings: the ringmaster …  trapeze artiste … a clown … the high-wire rider…

And I wrote a set of short poems – or at any rate verses – to go with them, thinking it might be an amusing illustrated book for young readers.

Alas, the publisher didn’t. ‘Not .........

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February 13, 2015 @ 10:03 PM

Do you sometimes wish the Internet had never been invented? That we could go back to those more innocent times before lost passwords, suddenly deleted text, endless emails, spam, cybercrime and online advertising? To those more leisurely, writerly, happier times altogether? At least as they were in retrospect.

Such thoughts crossed my mind the other day when I got a message on the iPad from Apple and the iCloud asking me to re-enter my password. Which I did. Correctly.

Only to have it rejected. I entered it again. And again. And after the third attempt found myself locked out of the site. No emails!

I was bereft. Incommunicado. Cut off from the world.

The only thing to do was to ring my ever-helpful computer doctor and ask for a house ...

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February 6, 2015 @ 8:29 PM

How often have you found, when editing a manuscript, that it's the sentence you treasure most that becomes the one that has to go?

A correspondent made the point in our recent discussion ‘Cut, Cut, Cut’.  While I recognised its validity at the time, thinking of examples from my own career, I suddenly found myself confronted with the dilemma again. And really it's the hardest cut of all.

I've been cutting back the For Love of Country by about 10 per cent from its initial draft of 145,000 words. Not all that difficult, for as a friend remarked the other day there’s barely a sentence that cannot be improved by revision.

 So, I was cutting away when I came to the opening lines of one of the later .........

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