Archive for February, 2010

Lazy weekend

Is it possible to blog about a weekend where you do, well, not a lot. The last few weeks have been exceptionally busy. Work at the office has been incessant and shows very little sign of easing off. Not only has it been busy it has not been without problems adding to the load. So we decided, this weekend, to stay put; not see anyone and generally just plod about and that’s what we did. The guilt, though, does build up a number of things round the house are now screaming to be done and the deadlines I set for the book are slipping by the day. However, the breather is good for the soul and allows space for some reflection.

Much of the weekend has been taken up watching the Winter Olympics. I love winter sports, particularly ice hockey, but the 8 hour time zone difference has made it difficult.  Watching has also presented a bit of a challenge as the BBC coverage hasn’t been that great. We have mastered a combination of Sky plus, BBC and Eurosport to see us through it. In addition, I love Vancouver.  It is three years now since we last visited and the Olympics has brought back some fond memories. Hopefully, we can get back soon – albeit the piggy bank is empty just now.

Where does this weekend leave the book. In short, it leaves things behind schedule but I hope this week to make up for lost time. All the plans are in place so it depends on me getting a move on. I know exactly what I need to do. Twitter and those who tweet provide an enormous reservoir of knowledge. Reading various tweets, blogs and websites have provided an amazing education without which I wouldn’t be in a position to launch the book. So Bernie Bolts Bergen will launch soon with no more false dawns so watch this space.


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Feb 26th

This week has been full of distractions and late nights resulting in no blogs over the last few nights and only a little editing being carried out.

I am also working through the ideas for a second book. The second book will also involve cats. Imposing values, voices or characters on animals is not everyone’s cup of tea but it is a wonderful way to explore ideas and issues and can attract children and adults alike. The key character this time will be a young boy though not a cat although cats will play a major part.  As before the book will will combine real events, places and real cats (they can’t complain about me attributing characteristics to them) with some animal fantasy.  My problem with my second book is that as it stands just now the opening chapter is on the dark side. The chapter uses a very personal part of my early years as a building block for the story and allows me an opportunity to deal with these issues but in a manner  that engages the reader and sets up what I hope to be an exciting mid grade (top end of mid grade) story.

The next few weeks will see a concerted effort to get Bernie’s story finished and published. Then it will be to flesh out my second story.

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The Cats

For those following Nemie’s progress he seems to be doing well.

The rest of the squad are all fine. The vocals in the house and outside are a little loud just now as we have three queens in call and  a singing tom. We may decide to start breeding again a little later this year but not just now. Last year was a hard one losing two cats in a short space of time. It us quite hard as we adore the cats. They are family but they are not child substitutes; we have 5 of them between us and 5 grandchildren so we know the difference. We haven’t put the cats to any shows either and we might just wait a while before we go back to the circuit.

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The Book

Haven’t progressed much today. Playing catch up in the office and haven’t had much time since getting home tonight.

Editing continues and some minor rewrites are taking place. The book cover and book title I have wrestled with for over a week now. I think that some of the thinking reflects yesterday’s comments relating to self doubt and making that final surge. The book title stays ‘Bernie Bolts Bergen. A cat’s adventure tale’ .  I think it works so here’s hoping. The cover has changed in design and cover comments with a cracking picture of Bernie.  So I am now working on a promotional/marketing plan.

Book 2 is on hold as I need to get the promotion for this one right. I’m toying with acouple of plot plans but I’m a little worried that the opening is on the dark side. The key meantime is Bernie.

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Been quite active today doing jobs around the house so I haven’t done much on the book. Some of the jobs were must dos especially the leak from the upstairs shower room which was dripping through to the kitchen. Anyway I think that it is fixed now.  We will find out  in the next few days meantime we are using the bathroom.

The book is at the final stage and strangely enough it is the stage that seems to require the greatest effort, thinking and coordination. It’s a bit like some of these Winter Olympic stars in that it doesn’t matter how well you do in training you need to pull it all together for that last few minutes for your fans and the general public. It also requires confidence and faith in what you do and in yourself.

Re the book I hope everyone enjoyed ‘The Boy in the Train. It is a wonderful poem that I remember from my childhood and it is one that resonates with me as I remember the train trips to my grannies. She didn’t stay in Kirkcaldy but we caught the train from there and the smell was always there when we returned. The last part of the book actually started out as the first part I still like this as an approach to the story and a little part of me preferred it that way. However, young readers probably wouldn’t so it now stays as it is.

If I say too much about the ending it will spoil the story but it is my favourite  part of the book and it pulls the story and the characters together.  One ‘trial’ reader commented as follows  ‘Gawd. Just finished your book and I’m crying my eyes out. It’s wonderful. I started howling when Bernie ………. and I’m still sobbing. Don’t know what else to say. ‘  I’ve left out part of the statement to protect the ending. I just need to find more people of a like mind which takes me back to the opening part of the blog about the last few minutes and having faith.

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I promised last night a version of Mary Campbell Smith’s poem which had been amended for those unfamiliar with Scots.  For those who don’t  need any translation my apologies but I do hope it is of some use/interest to all. The poem is much better without the amendments, I have to say

The Boy in the Train

What way does the engine say ‘Toot -toot?

Is it scared to go in the tunnel?

What way is the furnace not put out
When the rain goes down the funnel?
What will I have for my tea tonight?
A Herring or maybe a haddock
Has Grandma gotten an electric light
Is the next stop Kirkcaldy

There’s a hooded-crow on that turnip row!
And seagulls! – six or seven
I’ll no fall out of the window, Maw
It’s locked, as sure as I’m eleven
We’re into the tunnel! we’re all in the dark!
But don’t be frightened, Daddy,
We’ll soon be coming to Beveridge Park,
And the next stop’s Kirkcaldy!

Is that the moon I see in the sky?
It’s awful wee and curly,
See! there’s a cow and a calf outbye,
And a lassie pulling a barrow!
He’s checked the tickets and given them back,
So give me my own one, Daddy.
Lift down the bag from the luggage rack,
For the next stop’s Kirkcaldy!

There’s a lot of boats at the harbour mouth,
And eh! do you see the cruisers?
The cinnamon drop I was sooking the now
Has tumbled and stuck to my trousers. . .
I’ll soon be ringing my Gran’ma’s bell,
She’ll cry, ‘Come through, my laddie’,
For I know myself by the queer-like smell
That the next stop’s Kirkcaldy!

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Some problems with wordpress last night so by the time it corrected it was time for my bed. So too late to blog.

I can’t say too much about the background to the last few chapters as it will give the ending away.  But towards the end I use a small extract from an old Scottish poem called The Boy in the Train.  The poem is well known in the area and is proudly displayed in the local train station.  I’ve posted the poem in its entirety below.

The Boy in the Train

by Mary Campbell Smith

Whit wey does the engine say ‘Toot-toot’?
Is it feart to gang in the tunnel?
Whit wey is the furnace no pit oot
When the rain gangs doon the funnel?
What’ll I hae for my tea the nicht?
A herrin’, or maybe a haddie?
Has Gran’ma gotten electric licht?
Is the next stop Kirkcaddy?

There’s a hoodie-craw on yon turnip-raw!
An’ seagulls! – sax or seeven.
I’ll no fa’ oot o’ the windae, Maw,
Its sneckit, as sure as I’m leevin’.
We’re into the tunnel! we’re a’ in the dark!
But dinna be frichtit, Daddy,
We’ll sune be comin’ to Beveridge Park,
And the next stop’s Kirkcaddy!

Is yon the mune I see in the sky?
It’s awfu’ wee an’ curly,
See! there’s a coo and a cauf ootbye,
An’ a lassie pu’in’ a hurly!
He’s chackit the tickets and gien them back,
Sae gie me my ain yin, Daddy.
Lift doon the bag frae the luggage rack,
For the next stop’s Kirkcaddy!

There’s a gey wheen boats at the harbour mou’,
And eh! dae ya see the cruisers?
The cinnamon drop I was sookin’ the noo
Has tummelt an’ stuck tae ma troosers. . .
I’ll sune be ringin’ ma Gran’ma’s bell,
She’ll cry, ‘Come ben, my laddie’,
For I ken mysel’ by the queer-like smell
That the next stop’s Kirkcaddy!

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