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We have all come up with those excuses for lost/unwritten/forgotten homework – or even just missed phone calls home, and I just knew I had to  tender my apologies for running silent since the new year. In My Defence (see what I did there) I have been busy, busy, busy!

Now on to the grovelling.

There are times when you have to be so focussed that all other things fall by the wayside and so it has been for me since mid December. Like many other writing friends, I have found lockdown really draining on the attention-span front and getting anything down that I was even half pleased with was like pulling those proverbial hen’s teeth!

But in mid December I received a kick in the rear that got everything back into place. I was asked to carry out an edit on the next Bunch Courtney book In Cases of Murder and suddenly realised why it had been such hard work. I had taken a wrong turn around half way through. Not unknown but not noticed at the time as I doggedly slogged on instead of listening to my instincts and pausing to revaluate the plot.

With a deadline looming I had not only to make the requested edits to the opening sections but also ditch and completely rewrite the second half.

After which came the second draft of the whole manuscript… you get the picture! But finished this week at last!  (Bunch fans will be pleased to hear that book five is already in gestation.)

I put the slow progress down to missing input from my writing group (the Renegade Writers are meeting weekly online but my creaky computer, crap hearing and dodgy internet link simply can’t cope). Quite often however the most important missing impetus in previous years has been my regular brainstorming coffee klatches with fellow author Misha Herwin.

This is not an exchange of ideas or even inviting input from others but a part of the creative process that I find invaluable. It is more akin to holding the WIP up to a mirror and seeing it from the outside. The act of rehashing problem sections to a sympathetically critical ear really does allow one to sort things out. Many people use beta readers in exactly the same way and it is something that I share best with a fellow novelist.

Meanwhile – back at the ranch – I had also to read short stories for the up coming The Alchemy Press Book of Horrors 3: A Miscellany of Monsters. edited by Peter Coleborn and myself, after the submission window ended on 31st January. Peter, bless him, knowing I was deep in rewriting hell, took the heft on that one and winnowed the 350+ story submissions down to a more manageable 100 or so but still a lot of reading. His dedication in reading the whole slush pile knows no bounds plus he is a superb editor of short fiction!

So there you go. That’s my absence excuse note.

I trust all of you are coping with the rigours of covid in your own ways and looking forward to seeing an end in sight very soon.


PP: if you have read an liked any of the previous Bunch Courtney books (or indeed any of my titles)   please do leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads or any other site of your preference. A single line will suffice because every little really does help 🙂

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