First pages done, and Winter is Coming…

Winter is coming…

We had our first frost last night and this morning the car windows were frozen. At the request of Gail, our landlady, Toby shrouded the olive tree in our back garden. Poor thing looks rather desolate now (the tree, not Toby!):


But if winter is coming, so is Christmas. The lights are up in Oxford and we saw the Christmas Tree at the Old Bodleian as we walked home the other evening:


There have been no blog updates for a while because we travelled to America (blog post to follow) and I’ve been so busy going through the manuscript for A Time of Secrets and making sure it’s exactly what I want to be published. The process for producing a book is time-consuming and sometimes frustrating. Pan Macmillan Australia put a lot of effort into ensuring that the book is the best that it can be, and expect me to do the same.

When the book is released it will have been reviewed by three professional editors from Pan Macmillan Australia (who don’t make changes, but simply point out plot inconsistencies and word or phrasing overuse etc), me and Toby. What is amazing that in this final edit Toby still found typographical errors, and I’m almost certain that the professional copy-editor (engaged by Pan Macmillan) who is considering it now will find some also!

Over the past month I was busy completing the final edit – known as First Pages. It’s the first time an author is able to see what the finished book will actually look like. And wow! It looks gorgeous. Only then I had to go through those pages backwards and forwards, chapter by chapter, making sure that the words were exactly as I wanted them to be, weighing each sentence for readability and sense, finding any mistakes and making those last minute tweaks to wording or plot.

As i said on my Facebook page, the first word is ‘You’ and the last is ‘Melbourne’. This is a very Melbourne-centred book, although my characters hail from all over Australia. The main protagonist, Stella Aldridge, is English, but she spent a lot of her life in Asia and the previous six years in Sydney. My to main male protagonists are from Perth (well, Eric was born in Wyalkatchem). In World War 2 many young people moved around Australia when they joined the services, and of course the men then were often transferred overseas. Stella is in the Australian Women’s Army Service and has been transferred from Sydney to Melbourne. I read many accounts of young women who left home for the first time, to join the AWAS, or the WAAAS, or the WRANS, or the Land Army or the nursing service, and who had adventures and romance as a result. And I spoke to women who had those experiences.

Anyway, the edits are now complete and I’m told that the proofread will be back later this week. So, next week Pan Mac will send me any outstanding questions about the book. Once that final check is complete the manuscript will be sent for printing. I’ll get a proof copy in January. It’ll be on the shelves in mid-February, although it’s a March release.

But, it hasn’t been all work. Last Monday Toby and I went to lovely Merton College to attend a symposium on Tolkein in Oxford. It was very enjoyable indeed

We wandered back afterwards along Magpie Lane and had dinner in a cafe in Turl Street.

Here is pretty Magpie Lane:


And this is Turl Street, crowded with students on a chilly evening:


I’ll try to update more regularly now that the editing is almost complete. Although, now I’m back to writing…