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New year, new book

Hello, good morning and welcome

Hello from Brisbane, Australia, or perhaps I should say ‘G’day’. For those of you who don’t follow my sailing diary ( and why not?) I arrived in Australia on December 23rd and moved to my present anchorage off the Botanical gardens on Christmas day. If you go to the sailing diary home page you’ll see a picture of the anchorage on Google Earth.

When is a novel not a novel?

On the trip over from New Caledonia I started thinking about the next series of short stories to self publish but instead came up with the plot for a new novel, or perhaps it’ll be a long short story. How do you differentiate? I’ve read that a novel should be a minimum of fifty thousand words, although some say forty to fifty thousand. Amazon class a short story as up to thirty thousand words and that leaves us with the novella. Collins dictionary says a novella is a short novel which is perhaps not so helpful, particularly as it defines a novel as an extended work of fiction.

Wanna be a speed writer?

I have also read a short work (ah, but is it a novella, novel or short story?) by the American author Dean R Koontz entitled ‘How to write popular fiction’. Now I can’t claim to be a great fan of Mister Koontz which perhaps reveals something of my lack of literary judgement, but he makes a couple of interesting points. One is about being a professional writer as opposed to a dilettante and the other was the time he takes to write his novels. I don’t think he was suggesting that he wrote all of them in two weeks but he certainly claimed that he had written at least one in that timescale and went on to say that there was no reason why a writer, a professional writer, couldn’t produce eight to ten novels a year! Who am I to argue with a man of his impeccable credentials? In fact, it rather sounded like a challenge to me and in the words of the late, great Peter Sellers speaking as Jacques Clouseau, ‘I accept the challange’ (deliberate misspelling in an attempt to emulate ‘Le accent’).

Work in Progress

In this new work, I’ll avoid putting a label on it just at the moment if you don’t mind, I already had a cental cast of characters.  By the time I reached Brisbane and was ready to start work I had the plot. I’m not sure if Mister Koontz was writing about two weeks from conception to birth, I think that would be a tall order from a standing start, as it were but I certainly felt I could produce the new book in two weeks. I should say that I’m not including my attempts at proof reading and editorial checking, although I must say that four days in I’m not only easily writing four thousand words a day but I’m also ‘fine tuning’ the story as I go along. I’ve also succeeded in constructing a book cover which no doubt goes to prove I’m not working hard enough. Mister Koontz would surely take me task and label me a ‘slack Alice’.


I am writing this new work as a classical ‘whodunnit’ and perhaps that’s why I’m finding it easier to write. Have I found my true genre? As the author of course I know very well ‘whodunnit’, how and why. Poor old Karno, a detective sergeant in this case, is having to discover things as he and detective constable Gundry conduct their investigations . You, dear reader, will accompany them on their voyage of discovery. Researching the genre (whodunnits or Mystery genre as Mister Koontz puts it) I discovered that the best stories not only liberally sprinkle clues and red herrings throughout the book but, most importantly, don’t withhold any clues. The reader knows and sees what the detective sees. The difference is what is deduced from the clues and the ace detective doesn’t always reveal his or her thoughts as the story unfolds.


A future interactive book?

Now here’s a sporting proposition for you, although it has been done in some shape or form before I believe. It’ll be a bit like the topical calypso songs of the Caribbean. That’s where a singer stands up in front of the audience, starts a song off about a current event then shouts out for ideas. Some time ago I attended an event in Trinidad which had been sponsored by a local company. Most of the company employees had turned up to enjoy the fun and naturally most of the suggestions were connected with the company and the people who worked for it. Great fun if a little difficult to follow at times.

Here’s the plan and obviously it depends on my having a good internet connection. I’ll start the ball rolling, probably something like Karno is in his office and gets a phone call from ‘somebody’. You tell me what the phone call is about and I’ll write the story. Not for commercial publication, I’ll put it on the blog here.

Hold your horses!

Not yet but what do you think of the idea for a bit of fun? Right now I have a good internet connection courtesy of an Optus 4G dongle. It promised to take my breath away but thus far I’m not experiencing any breathing difficulties. On the other hand I don’t sit and swear at the speed, or lack thereof, of the connection. Do let me know what you think. In the meantime I have a book to finish and publish and a couple of other projects. Not to mention boat repairs but those who follow the sailing diary know all about that!

I should be in Brisbane until late April /early May so we’ll have time for a bit of fun. In the meantime I hope you all had a great time over the holiday period and I can only repeat what I said in my last sailing diary entry…

So, Happy New Year. May all your wine be uncorked, your beer chilled to perfection, all your Alka Seltzers fizzy, all your upset stomachs be transitory in nature and all your breathalysers negative.




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