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  • Writer's pictureMichael Parker

Changing and Challenging Times

December 22nd. 2018

I expect this will be my last blog post this year. I would like to say that 2018 has been a tremendous year from the book point of view, but what began with me in high hopes has practically ended as a damp squib. On the domestic front of course, the main focus is now Pat’s cancer diagnosis: not so much a damp squib; more like a bombshell. However, let’s talk books for a moment.

As readers of my blog will know, I have been struggling with my WIP and failing to get to grips with something I’ve been pretty useful at for some time now: writing. I came up with the idea of introducing another character into the story, and that has helped. But yesterday, while mulling over something else, I decided I would bring the WIP to an end and publish it as a novella. It sounds like a cop-out, but there’s little point in stretching the story and making it weaker. So, one novella coming up (maybe!).

Another direction for me is the prospect of ghost writing. Most of you know I am a member of the Mark Dawson group. Mark has asked the thriller writers of the group if they would be interested in a project he’s working on. I threw my hat into the ring, as did many of us, so much so that he’s swamped with interested parties. He knew he would be. I made Mark’s short list with a small submission and as a result he spelt out the details of what was to be expected. Although I made the short list, he will only run with two or three ghost writers. If I’m selected, it will mean a lot of intense writing with a kind of self-imposed deadline. The only kudos for me would be the fee: quite generous too. Other than that, there will be no acknowledgement of the ghost’s input, which is understandable. I have a kind of thin plot to hand which needs a lot of work, and once I’ve buffed it up and lifted it to the standard Mark requires, I’ll submit it to him. If it’s a go, I’ll be happy. If it’s a no, I’ll publish it myself: another novella!

On the subject of ghost writing; some years ago I came across a group of writers who called themselves The Curzon Group. They are still around and one of their luminaries is Jeffrey Archer. One of the group was a ghost writer for Random House. He wrote action stuff the kind of which Andy Macnab writes. No, he wasn’t writing Andy Macnab thrillers. But he had decided to give up ghost writing and write for himself. He admitted it would be a wrench because he was earning £100,000 per year as a ghost writer.

Incidentally, the Curzon Group are up in arms with what they call thriller factory books coming out of America. Writers like James Patterson, John Grisham, Dan Brown and David Baldacci employ other writers to help them churn out thrillers. They claimed that Patterson has eight writers working for him, which kind of dilutes the authenticity and style of the Patterson books. They believe thrillers should be more cerebral like John le Carre novels. Not sure I entirely agree, but those writers in America are simply writing to a market and selling books.

Back to thoughts much closer to home now. I took Pat to hospital last Wednesday, both of us expecting to hear how the tests went and when the treatment could be started, only to be told that neither of the tests were any good and would have to be done again. Pat was extremely upset. Me? I was just pissed off! I felt so sorry for Pat, but she has Hobson’s choice and has to go through the tests again. She had one yesterday and the other will be on the 3rd. January. It would have been next week, but Christmas got in the way. This is probably the only time I wish they could have cancelled Christmas. So instead of singing The First Noel, I’ll sing The First Novella, and see what comes up.

Happy Christmas everyone. I’ll see you in the New Year. Wish us both luck!

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