Ch-ch-ch-changes!

If there’s one certainty in life, it is that things are constantly changing.

And yet I am being consistently inconsistent by not posting every weekend, like I had planned to do, and like I had probably written somewhere on here that I was going to do.

I know, because I know roughly how social media works, that if you aren’t consistent in your presence, it negatively impacts The Algorithm and The Metrics. You know what else I know? Life is way, way too short and my mental health is way, way too important, to get myself tied up in knots over that stuff.

To be perfectly, bluntly honest with you, I get overwhelmed by the accounts on the tiny number of social media platforms that I use that are unfailingly, Swiss watch consistent in their output and/or have an aesthetic that makes their posts instantly recognisable. Maybe it’s just me who feels like that, maybe there’s something wrong with my attitude to the whole social media bandwagon. (I’ll just add a little side note here – I admire the people who have the ability to ride the wave of social media and have the energy to be so consistent, polished and professional. I don’t have the resources to be always ‘on’ in that way, sadly).

Despite my somewhat lackadaisical approach to the social media aspect of self-publishing, I have reached the point where Anti-Virus is now with my lovely ARC readers, or as I somehow managed to name them ‘Team AV’ (sometimes I can be down with the kids and get a tiny little bit social media savvy). Other authors are reading my work – gulp!

All joking aside and all social media ambivalence aside, I am damned proud I I have got this far. Sometimes I have wanted to tear my hair out, sometimes I have given my manuscript the side-eye and hated it with a burning passion that has been breathtaking (often when I have got up from my working from home computer after a long hard day and then sat down at my own laptop), but now, now all is forgiven. It has all been worth it.

I’ll be firming up my publication date and announcing it to the world in the next few weeks.

And I can introduce you all to Callie Hannigan. She’s been waiting so long. So have I.

Welcome to the world of Anti-Virus.

So close, I can almost taste it

Although, what do books taste like?

I imagine the boys in J2 could tell me, as they used to chew up pieces of paper and spit them at anyone within spitting distance (except teachers). Charming, but then nine year olds are pretty uncouth and (literally) unwashed, aren’t they? Or maybe that was just the 1970s. Or just Birmingham. I dread to think. Although having said that, I am reliably informed that it wasn’t just the Wumpty buses that had ‘No Spitting’ signs painted on the interior walls…

What’s a Wumpty bus? Ahhhh… So, here’s a bit of history. The Transport Act of 1968 created Passenger Transport Executives in four major British conurbations. Each PTE was managed by transport professionals carrying out the policies of a Passenger Transport Authority made up of elected representatives from local authorities. Their task was ‘….to secure or promote the provision of a properly integrated and efficient system of public passenger transport to meet the needs of that area….’

The initial tools were the municipal bus undertakings in the relevant areas. The West Midlands PTE absorbed the Corporation buses of Birmingham, Walsall, West Bromwich and Wolverhampton with effect from 1 October 1969. The largest contribution to the new WMPTE came from Birmingham City Transport, accounting for around two-thirds of the new 2,100 strong fleet and 8,500 employees. Birmingham’s dark blue and cream buses were well constructed and maintained so the new PTE operations began life in good condition. (I found this information on the Transport Museum Wythall website, in case you’re a fan of public transport!).

So, WMPTE becomes Wumpty, and Wumpty was also a cheerful bus conductor mascot for the transport executive, as you can see (I remember him well!). I found him in the comments on the Beauty of Transport blog. Ah, the 1970s, when bus conductors were still a thing… (along with power cuts and three day weeks). How times have… improved…?

Anyhoo… back to my initial reason for picking up the blogging ‘pen’ again. I’ve finished my final post-editor edit. There’ll be just one more read through to check for those sneaky typos that seem to regenerate when your back is turned (I know, right?), and then Anti-Virus will be winging its way to the magical Becky at Platform House Publishing who will be waving her formatting wand and making it look professional on the inside (thank goodness for Becky, I have minimal patience for that kind of task). Her husband James is the marvellous book cover designer – they are a dynamic duo between them and I highly recommend them!

So, this is the state of play. It’s getting closer, ever closer, this publishing my first novel lark.

Gulp!

Decay

As I mentioned last week, the editing process for my work in progress novel came to a halt round about the beginning of lockdown here in the UK. I know I’m not alone in suddenly feeling like I just couldn’t be creative, at least not in a literary way.

I felt like the words had been sucked out of me, also not uncommon in what is now known as ‘these unprecedented times’. However, peculiar to my novel was the oh so ironic title of…

ANTI-VIRUS

Now, whilst my novel is set in the UK and takes place in a pandemic-type setting, the central plot isn’t about the pandemic itself (not really), nor is it about finding a cure (well, maybe it is), nor is about the heroic survival of a selection of characters against the odds (although perhaps it is). There is jeopardy, there is intrigue, there are twists and turns and characters who turn out to be, well, wrong in the head, but

IT’S NOT ABOUT A PANDEMIC! (EVEN THOUGH IT IS, KIND OF)

Sorry for shouting. It’s just that I had to do this to myself (in my head, I don’t actually shout at myself) in order not to let my novel shrivel up and die and become a largely insignificant – in the grand scheme of things – casualty of 2020. As you can probably tell, it’s complicated. I just didn’t have the energy to explain it back in March, April, May when things were really bad here (although not Anti-Virus bad).

That, dear reader, saved my novel, or at least meant that I felt connected enough to return to my literary offspring before the end of the year. It also meant that my pandemic era, government-approved, one hour walks turned into treasure hunts – if you consider treasure to be sinister, ugly broken things that are menacing in monochrome. Luckily I do. Also luckily I live in a city where there are pockets of these places tucked away, if you look hard enough. I am nosey and curious, so I have found them. I also found a new source this morning, a full seven months later, which pleases me immensely.

I know that this post is somewhat a reiteration of last week’s, but it’s important to me. I look to my left and I can see that I have increased my word count in the editing process. That, in this case, is a good thing. I mostly wrote Anti-Virus on my commutes to and from work, so in hour long snippets. This meant the writing was quite spare and my chapters were more like scenes – in-fact it read a bit like a screenplay. The extra 10,000 words (so far) are contextual so that there is more description of the world in which my characters exist. Not so much that there’s no room for imagination, but enough so that it doesn’t read as if everything is happening in an empty space.

I’M EXCITED!

Next week I’ll move on from the ‘thank God I didn’t let my novel die’ phase. But I’ll still be hunting for more photographic treasure, you can be sure of that!