Monday, January 27, 2014

So, my New Year resolution was to kick-start my blog. Actually, it was my New Year resolution for 2013. Okay, it never happened in that year, but I'm back now for 2014. I've given the blog a makeover (wish I could give myself the same as easily) and a slightly different slant. I'm still in France, still accepting it warts and all.. Hence the title: France for Better or Worse. It's still for the better, so much so I feel like an alien on the rare occasions I return to the UK. After twelve years in France I'm beginning to feel this is where I should be, and England is a just somewhere I used to live. I haven't been idle these past three years. I've been concentrating on my writing, and hopefully honing my craft. When I look back at my early attempts at short stories, and the false starts on novels, I cringe. How could I have written such unmitigated drivel? I've advanced so much that in the New Year (I'm talking this New Year) I felt confident enough to enter my first completed novel … Moonlight Through the Judas Tree, into a competition run by This was for the opening chapters of a novel, and was I ever thrilled to see my name on the long list? Then I made it onto the short list... and then I had to do a double take when I saw I'd come 3rd. The prize was a critique by the author Jane Horland of the first 15,00 words. A review by a published author is such a help, after all they have their books out there on bookstore shelves while the rest of us are still striving to get there. Jane 's crtitique was an immense help, if only to tell me what I should cut out. So, at the moment I'm cutting a lot and pasting a little whilst still trying to keep a handle on the pace of the plot. Jane writes as JG Harlond and she has written a stunning historical novel - 'The Chosen Man ', a fictional account of the events that triggered the Dutch scandal known as 'tulip mania' in the early 17th century. I feel really privileged to have had her read my work. The winter has helped considerably with my editing. It's been the wettest since we have lived here, horrid for most of our friends and neighbours but great for me. There is nothing like a wet afternoon to give me the excuse to put my feet up on the settee, laptop on my knees and with the wood burner blazing away I can lose myself in Occupied France... the setting for 'Moonlight Through the Judas Tree' (more of that later). Reading the notice board on the village mairie this morning I see we have a flood warning set for the next 24 hours. I'm probably the only person in the village who is quite happy to see that. I'll just have to make sure I have a good supply of chocolate to keep me going.