Once again I have been very busy and I’ve neglected both of my blogs. I’m waaaay behind on my 52 books in 52 weeks, but I *am* still reading them, I *am*still digesting them. And there’s another finished one I’m about ready to review too.

I’m trying to get a bit of cash in, though. There are a few things I’d like to clear and I’m looking at buying a new car – this is the new car I’ve been promising myself since 2011, when I was going to get a VW Golf (Rabbit), and then lost my editing job.

But I’m getting a Ford Ka instead.

Now, I’ve always steered clear of the Ka as it’s always been a bit … dinky. But when we went to look at a new car for the poet last week, we both gasped with shock when we saw the new Ka+. It’s MASSIVE. In fact, it’s more like the old Fiesta than the current Fiesta is, which is actually more like a Focus these days.

And the upshot is … one new car has become two new cars (he’s having another Focus). I’m not getting the top-of-the-range model that I wanted, though. Instead, for now, I’m getting the basic model as the finance is just a bit easier to manage – or that’s the plan at least. But it does mean we need a few more “readies”, and that means I need to do a bit more guaranteed paid work.

My dad’s coming to visit at the end of the month, and I’d like to take some time off with him. And I have to go into hospital for a very minor, routine, no-worry procedure – well, I don’t even *have* to go in, but I think I will. Plus we have holiday coming up too. And this all means time away from the desk, so time *at* the desk is now suddenly at a premium.

I do have three books in to edit and one to proofread, and those must take priority.

However, I’ve been trying to write something of my own every day. This has mostly been at least a Teach Yourself creative writing course I’m doing just to keep the writing muscle exercised. The target for this is an hour a day, and I even set a timer. The problem is, though, the exercises keep giving me lots of new ideas – so many ideas, so little time!

At best, I’ve also been pantsing a new novel. Well, I say “new”, but it is, in fact, a very old idea that keeps resurfacing. My target for this is 500 words per session.

On top of this, I’m planning a new novel too, and I have two NaNoWriMo projects (2015 and 2017) to edit/rewrite/polish.

And then! One of the books I’m editing gave me the glimmer of an idea for a book of my own, and then another, and then another. And then I got a glimmer for another set of three! This is what happens when I exercise that writing muscle. They keep on coming.

Anyway, I tentatively pitched the first series of three books to my favourite editing client to see if (a) they already have something in the pipeline, (b) they already have something on the topic(s), and (c) they’re interested in *me* subbing a full-blown book proposal …and they said No, No, and YES!

Because, like, I could always do with the work! But at least, at this stage, it’s a better chance of a paid writing gig.

With all of this, and with me squeezing in the odd short story or article pitch here and there, I’m hoping the cash will soon start to drift in.

So … that’s what I’ve been doing and what I’ll continue to do for some time to come. What have you been up to?

PS I think we need a new ideas masterclass, so watch out for one of those in the coming weeks as well.

52 books in 52 weeks: Writing Crime Fiction

I set myself the goal of reading and reviewing 52 writing guides over the year. Here is book 15.

The first thing Writing Crime Fiction by Rosemary Rowe advises you to do is ALL of the exercises in this book – and there are plenty.

The second thing it tells you to do is to work on something fresh for the purpose of these exercises …

However, later in the book, the author does say that readers may work on something they already have in progress now that they’ve done all of the other exercises.

I love these writers’ guides from Teach Yourself Books. Some fall into the “get started in …” category while others, like this one, fall into the “creative writing masterclass” category.

Of the entire series, this is one of the shorter books, coming in at just over three hours to read the whole book from cover to cover. Obviously, joining in with the exercises will take much longer.

Topics covered include genre, setting, character, dialogue, structure, viewpoint, editing, etc.

The first few exercises are what I call exercises-for-exercise-sake. But from the middle of Chapter One the exercises start to build on each other with ideas for those who aren’t sure where they’re going just yet,

I’m not sure I see the point of the workshop exercises in many of the Teach Yourself books as they’re more of a comprehension exercise. True, this will exercise the writing muscle, but for me, I’d far rather be expending time on something that at least has the possibility of turning into something I can send out.

If you have a burning desire to write something but have no idea what exactly you want to write, then this is an excellent resource for getting the writing juices going. Personally, I’d like a few more write-along exercises that can be applied to new or existing material.

However, I do recommend the book for any level of writer at any point in their career, as we can always learn something new and fresh. And it might kickstart a stalled project.

Writing Crime Fiction  is available on Kindle for £8.99 ($11.38), and in paperback for £12.99 ($16.99 – although at the time of writing, the US paperback was out of stock).