From the ocean views of Okaporo, to the rocky heights of Eayan Aljibal, take a walk around the world of The Memory Trader series, exploring the important locations from both book 1, The Smudger, and book 2, The Sister.
My dad deals in stamps, and postmarks, and the like (you’d be surprised how much some postmarks can be worth!) Every now and again, he gets hold of piles of old correspondence: letters, envelopes, postcards, personal documents. And he lets me take my pick of the items that aren’t worth much.
To him, the interest is in the stamps and the postmarks. He can track and trace them, and that’s where his stories are. Where the letters have been, how much the postage was, where and when they were sent.
To my brother, the stories are in the actual paper itself. That’s what he gets excited over. The embossed pictures and patterns, the scalloped edges, the watermarks.
But to me, the stories are in the words. The names and addresses, the contents of the letters. The lives lived, the news shared. Even the seemingly mundane business correspondence has a story to tell.
This latest batch are all Victorian, dated between 1870 and 1900. Some still have their sealing wax, melted and pressed on more than 100 years ago. And even a Victorian mourning envelope, edged in black, used to inform of a death.
I love imagining these people; what they looked like, how they lived, and how this particular correspondence may have changed their life forever.
I like shiny things. I’m always getting distracted by them when I’m meant to be doing something else. And new story ideas are the shiniest things of all.
I’ve always enjoyed first drafts the most. I’m a recent convert to plotting, and I still leave enough wriggle room for my characters to chuck in a few curveballs to surprise me. First drafts are exciting and mysterious, they take you on unexpected adventures. They are, for me, the epitome of creativity.
Editing, on the other hand, is a beast. It’s the monster under my bed. I’ve never enjoyed it. It’s tweaking, and touching up. It’s dabs of paint rather than the sweeping strokes of the first draft. I know plenty of authors who love editing, but for me it’s a chore.
What makes it worse, even more monstrous, is the time between finishing writing and starting editing. It’s commonly given advice to wait before editing your new manuscript, to let it settle, so that you can approach it with a little distance and fresh eyes.
In that time, be it a month, a week, or just a few days, the self doubt creeps in. What if my story is worse than I remember? What if it’s not even salvageable? Or the equally terrifying possibility of it being the best thing ever written. It’s a Schrödinger’s cat.
Of course, once I start editing, it’s never as bad as I feared. And a few chapters in, I even start to enjoy it. It’s just hard to pluck up the courage to start, to face it, to answer those questions.
It’s like hearing a scratching in your closet at night.
It’s all over. That’s the end of it. I’ve been consumed with this for years, and now it’s done. Just like that.
I’ve finally written ‘The End’ on The Mothers. Well, metaphorically speaking, I haven’t literally written that. But that’s it, the last book in The Paper Duchess series. It’s a weird feeling. A strange mix of triumph, excitement, sadness, and relief. And one seriously huge book hangover.
I wanted to write this blog post straight away, while all the emotion was still raw and genuine, rather than a synthetic version of it. But I won’t post it until tomorrow. I’ve learnt my lesson about sending messages while drunk or hungover.
It is sad to say goodbye to the characters, to the world they inhabit. It may not have been an overly happy world, but they all found their own happiness within it and, importantly, they fought to keep hold of that happiness. Some of them even died for it.
As a cruel, vindictive author, I’ve enjoyed making them suffer. I’ve enjoyed taking things away from them, and crushing their dreams. Not because I enjoy watching them fall apart, but because I enjoy watching them get back up from it. It is somewhat God-like. But I gave some boys some uniforms, and gave them a little power, and things just got a bit out of control.
But you can decide for yourself, when the series concludes with The Mothers, coming this autumn.
My non-fiction book, How to Survive Working from Home with Preschool Children, has been reviewed by mumpreneur site Mum Boss UK.
She got it spot on, I did feel guilty when spending too much time behind my laptop, even though I knew I was doing it all for my children, I want them to be proud of me. So to hear the words that I don’t have to feel guilty and to get actual structure advice and tips was amazing!
I wrote this book because I found I was truly struggling to find the balance between working and growing my business, and my responsibilities as a mother and wife. I often found myself neglecting one or the other, and then sinking into guilt at doing so. The following day, I’d push the balance the other way, and there was that guilt again.
After reading this book I now have so many techniques that I am going to try…This book has allowed me to look past the things I didn’t do today and made me focus on the things I actually did do today
I spent a lot of time looking for advice on how to manage the work/life balance, only to find that all of the advice out there was written either by people with much older children, or seemingly without children at all! I couldn’t find anything specifically aimed at parents with preschoolers, and I can’t exactly tell my one year old to leave me in peace whenever I shut my office door!
I know I have taken away a lot from this book, but the most important point I will most certainly be using on a daily basic is that we as mums (and dads) can adapt, we can adapt to anything, we’re doing it everyday without even noticing!
The Mothers is the fourth and final book of my Paper Duchess series of dark dystopian books. Here are some excerpts for you to enjoy…