A much delayed publication!

Two and a half months after completing From the Cave Wall: A Stone Age Story, I have finally completed and uploaded the accompanying non-fiction ebook.

A sneak peek!

This is available when lovely readers sign up to my readers’ club: The Source Detectives!

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It feels strange to be completely finished with The Stone Age, but now I can properly move on to looking at The Iron Age.

Soon I can introduce you lovely blog readers to Arlo and we can begin to learn what it was like to live in an Iceni coastal fort…

Back to it…

Schools are back to work…

Husband is back to work…

So I am back to work…

It’s been a lovely few weeks of summer. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the sunshine, time with family and friends and generally the opportunity to “switch off” temporarily. It has meant that certain ‘work’ has not been done, but I feel relaxed and rested!

And so we have reached September and must focus on what is to come in the next few months. My creative brain is whizzing with ideas and sparking with concepts – I walk around with a my hair on end…ok…not really but I like the image.

Later this week, I will be posting an update on the follow up to From the Cave Wall…

From a Father’s Hands: An Iron Age Story

…Watch this space…

Lazy days + annual leave = …v little!

Another quiet week from me. Sorry, I really must get into a regular blogging habit – it’s just hard when there’s so many other things to think about on this writing journey. I intend to do better…we will see how long this lasts. I quite like the idea of using Sundays as an update day, if I have failed to contribute anything during the week…what do you think?

It’s been my husband’s first week of summer annual leave, which I expect has contributed to my rather lazy approach to work! I did manage to almost complete Behind the Cave Wall – the companion ebook to my novel – and have only the final few bits and pieces to do on it, so if you’re a member of readers’ club, look out for it in your inbox next week (hopefully…). See there’s an element of hope in so much of my work atm – I blame the summer.

Speaking of the warm weather, the heatwave from last week thankfully cleared up and we had several quite miserable days (for which the garden rejoiced) followed by more clement and sunny ones. We are making the most of being able to go for walks and enjoying the glorious countryside in Norfolk.

I have so far done very little writing, but I do have my next MC’s name and I am making an about-turn and setting “From the Hammer’s Fall: An Iron Age Story”, at a known Iron Age hillfort in N Norfolk. It will be fun being able to visit and map out the story in situ.

Last night we sat outside until late. The chiminea was blazing away and I found myself staring into the depths of the fire, marvelling at how the discovery of how to control this force of nature, had such an impact on human growth and development right from the beginning. It’s interesting that through charting the societal story I will also be looking at how we have used and adapted technology – taking that fire and learning about its properties of energy to go from simple tool creation right the way through to industrialisation and modern scientific discoveries.

Yes this is the sort of thing that goes through my mind…!

This post has little actual substance but there we go!

How has your week been?

What WIPs are on your mind?

Am I the only one who has these philosophical/historical/societal reflections at odd moments? Maybe I should write them down more often!?

The dilemma of the indie book writer v reviewer…

I realise that I have been a little quiet for the last week or so and for that I apologise. It had been my intention to publish at least one blog post a week and I haven’t been entirely successful in this. For that, I apologise.

So why have I felt unable to post?

The answer lies in my blog addition of book reviews. I am thrilled with the positive response that TIBC has had. Lots of people have been keen for me to review their books and I have been happily reading some excellent ones. My dilemma rises from when the books are not excellent but could have been had they been subjected to rigorous editing and PROOFREADING!

Publishing a book takes time. It takes money too, but if you are on a tight budget paying for a proof-reader can seem an unnecessary expense. I get that. I didn’t pay to have my book proof-read, but I am very lucky to be surrounded by people who I could rely on to read my book and point out where there was a glaring missing full stop or speech mark. Leaving them aside however, I read and reread my book almost 100 times in the last 3 months or so, checking and rechecking the basics to ensure that I wasn’t submitting something with glaring errors.

I adore reading but I cannot read a book which is littered with errors, leaving aside any problems with the plot itself. In addition, as a reviewer of books for children, on a blog which is aimed at parents and children who want to read my books above all else, I am not going to be promoting books which in my view are unfinished. That is certainly not the self-promotion I want.

Self or indie publishing (whichever way you want to phrase it) is incredibly easy to do and monstrously difficult to succeed at. We are seen as the rejects who couldn’t get book deals and the perception is our books are littered with errors and lacking in cohesive plot or believable characters. These are unfair sweeping statements that hinder the indie author before they have even published their book. I’m guilty of it too, before I started this process, I looked down on self-publishing and would avoid purchasing books from indie authors because of my bias towards them. I now know how passionate, talented and dedicated to their craft many indie authors are. I have read some brilliant self published works which any sensible agent/publisher should jump on. Given all this, it is depressing and frustrating to read a book which matches the stereotype and fails to meet my expectations.

My dilemma then has very much been how to address this. I am not going to write a public review but I also recognise that despite my frustration, I cannot leave a fellow author without any kind of feedback. My response was to respond in email with apologies and explanation as to why it wouldn’t be appearing here. I’m not sure what else I could do?

It is the first time but I’m sure won’t be the last.

Please comment down below,

Are you a book blogger? What do you do when faced with this situation? Do you think I did the right thing? How do we tackle this bias against self-publishing?

If this rant got you intrigued, you can find my book…here!

If you want to read a review of an excellently written and proof-read indie book for children, TIBC #1: Trouble with Parsnips, Laurel Decher

What I have learned this year…

Last night, I went to my writing group which is made up of teachers from across the region. It is run by a former lecturer/tutor on the course, who is undeniably passionate about writing and in particular, writing for pleasure.

One of the exercises that we did was to reflect on this past academic year (with being a group of teachers, this was our last session). She asked us to consider what we had learned in regards to writing and what we had learned in regards to teaching writing. With my status as ‘former teacher’ I was unsure how to proceed with this latter question and so focused on the ways I have grown as a writer in general, not just within the sessions. After all, my profession may no longer be within the day-to-day education of children, but I feel that the best writers are those whom we can model ourselves after.

And so to my list. It isn’t long or particularly innovative. It is purely a self-reflection on how far I have come since I first sat down at my computer screen and introduced myself to Osha et al.

This year I have learned…

To write without inhibition.

The joy of interesting language.

To respond to what’s around me and be inspired by the mundane.

To view things differently.

To enjoy the writing process not just the results.

The power of good writing.

That less is often more.

To make mistakes, change, write again, change, try a different way, change, before maybe being satisfied???

Punctuation can come last.

To be a writer/author who taught as opposed to a former teacher who writes.

The last one feels particularly of note.

That day, 18 months ago, that I chose to begin my story, and saw in my mind’s eye the little girl staring in awe at a cave painting, I thought of myself as a teacher who had left the profession and was going to write. The difference is subtle but it’s an important one. I am an author and I was a teacher. Both feed off one another and I can draw on skills and ideas which I used in the classroom, but they are two separate spheres. When I go into schools it is as an author not as a teacher; my passion is books, reading, writing, language, plot, character, dialogue and all the rest, as opposed to education and teaching.

Thinking about this year, I can see this big difference in the “pruning” that I gladly did of my book. Ironically, it was the removal of those aspects of writing that we teach children (…thanks Mr Gove!…) that helped the flow and brought the book to life. I let go of the feeling of rigidity of ‘writing to teach’ and instead allowed myself to write a plot which children would respond to. That was the key.

I really hope that a child (or several) will read my book(s) and enjoy them. Yes they can learn historical ‘facts’ and draw lessons from them, but that is not the focus as it once was. Writing Osha, I fell in love with her as a character not as a literary device. She is real to me, as I hope she will be for others and these are lessons that I can take forward as I embark on the next one.

…I just hope it doesn’t take 18 months this time!…

What have you learned this year?

Is there a difference in your writing now than previously?

Comment, like, share. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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Announcement: From the Cave Wall available for purchase now!

And so the journey has arrived at its conclusion. Or maybe it’s better said that this section of the journey has. The book is now available at Amazon!

It has been a long labour of love and devotion, and I have loved every minute (mostly!)

I hope you enjoy it. Please leave a review and remember, if you want more then please join my readers’ club: The Source Detectives (aimed at children…whatever age!)

Now comes the hard part!

Timeline…a fun addition!

I have just added a timeline here on my website – wow it’s interesting. It’s so large that it is almost impossible to read on the screen. Luckily, the page describes what is in the image and there is a downloadable version for a more detailed view.

This has been my project as a part of Behind the Cave Wall: Osha’s World – the accompanying guide that I have been working on for the last few days. I am thrilled with how it has been progressing. The intention is to release it just as an e-book at present (the pages will move by clicking on them – it looks like a real book!) however, if there is enough interest, I may look to have it produced in print.

As a a part of this project, I have been returning to a lot of my research that I gathered over the last year. As I have always said, it is not my intention to ‘dumb down’ (a loathsome phrase!) the history for children. Instead, I will make the ideas in a lot of historical research more accessible, while maintaining the information and facts that are put forward.

In particular this week, I was thrilled to be able to make contact with some people behind the research and images that I have filed away! One of these was the anthropologist Leslie Van Gelder, who very kindly allowed me to use a lovely image of finger flutings from the Rouffignac caves, which I had come across when reading about their use as evidence of children’s involvement in cave painting. Through forensic analysis, they have been able to determine that these particular markings were created by a young girl around 13/14,000ya – perfect timing for Osha!

This has been one among several communiques with copyright holders. As I stated on social media the other evening, it’s a lot easier making the stuff up!

The deep end

Having made this decision to self-publish, I am now having to confront my near-crippling fears that I’m not good enough. We all have anxiety (particularly when facing the unknown) but somehow I have managed to convince myself it’s a good idea to throw myself into the deep end and…I have just never been ANY good at diving!

Consequently, I am standing at the edge with the dark abyss in front of me and I wish I could see the bottom. That is always the worst thing for me. Looking down and being unable to see where the journey will end. The greatest fear is not that I will hit the water, but that somehow, like a still from a Warner Bros cartoon, I will land smack on the concrete at the edge and…well I guess you know how that would end…

At this point in time, I am just about climbing the ladder to the diving board. I can’t see the pool, (which is a good thing) but I know it is there…waiting for me.

So that is where I am this week…

A new website…and an apology…

As is obvious if you are reading this, I have dramatically changed and updated the website to reflect my work and the plunge that I am going to be taking in a few weeks…

I have decided that I am going to self-publish From the Cave Wall. This means that I am going to be marketing it strongly over the next few weeks and months – after all, I would like it to gain a decent amount of interest!

I have also started thinking about the next in the series….

I would like to apologise for the lack of posts for a year! This will not be repeated. On that note, if anyone is interested in any aspect of my writing, which I have not discussed here, please feel free to get in touch via my contact page.

Down the Rabbit Hole: Stone Age Research

Over the last week, I have been down the rabbit hole!

I started properly writing last week. I am now at 2 complete chapters. This may not seem much, but my feelings of accomplishment are enhanced by the amount of research and “setting” I have been able to do.

When approaching a story about the Stone Age or any prehistory, you must first work out which epoch you are going to look at? The simplest way to separate these epochs is to split them into 3:

Paleolithic (Early Stone Age)

Mesolithic (Middle Stone Age)

Neolithic (Late Stone Age)

This is a very simplistic way to look at this complicated and detailed subject area, but as a starting point it helps.

Due to the nature of the story I wanted to tell, I knew that I would be setting my story during the Paleolithic times. I knew that I wanted to explore the nomadic side of the people of the stone age – more than anything because it is so vastly different from most 21st Century living arrangements. The concept of migration due to climatic and seasonal changes was something that I felt would be an interesting starting point.

Putting it very very simplistically, by the Mesolithic into Neolithic times, this behaviour was not necessary in the same way: the highly changeable climates of the Ice Age were largely over and the climate was more settled. This meant that people were able to begin to develop the skills to build more permanent settlements, create homes and learn the skills of planting crops for consumption; a situation which is far more recognisable to modern children.

The next problem that I faced was deciding which end of the Paleolithic I was going to focus on: Lower/Middle/Upper (again very simplistic). I settled on the late Paleolithic as this fit with a lot of the ideas that I was mulling over. From millions of years of the development of early man, I had managed to bring my focus into about 40,000 years of history.

I was thrilled with this. I could generally place things in Europe and work around the discoveries and evidence of human activity from about 50,000-10,000 BCE.

What I didn’t expect; in fact never dreamed of, was to be able to pinpoint my story down to 1000-2000 years…

…Down the rabbit hole: Into the Wonderland of writing!