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Monday, 22 August 2016

It's Not a Horror Story (ref: The Birds), but bringing three books to their conclusion at the same time is a little... unnerving.



Goodness knows why this starling took a fancy to me, but it did. I'm not even a Hitchcock fan, either 

I feel almost as if I'm under siege. In a way, having three book projects all coming to fruition at the same time ought to be a cause for celebration. Right now, with summer coming to an end, and a pile of autumn projects looking at me, yes, I am a little nervous.

The bounty hunter project is my main concern right now. I have delivered 85,000 words to the man and await his comments. With luck, we will have something we can start sending out next month. There's always a tense moment in these projects where the client realises I have cut some of his or her favourite anecdotes which, in my opinion, aren't as funny/dramatic/significant as they think. My worst case of conflict in this area was a woman at British Petroleum, many years ago, who never messed with the actual content of the book I was writing (a history of the company's operations on the banks of the Humber), but, every time she read a draft, insisted in stuffing it full of extraneous commas. Each time I took them out, she put them back - and I regret to say that, since she was writing the cheques, she won out, even though her degree was in Chemistry, mine in literature and history. She also inflicted upon me the ugliest title I have ever been associated with, Molasses to Acid. To be fair, the company's installation did start out producing molasses derivatives, and it did end up doing amazing things with acetic acid, but... Anyway, the fact is that I never came up with a title I liked either. Mea culpa.

As well as the bounty hunter, I am still waiting for the publishers of the York Brewery history to say something - anything - about the manuscript we submitted months ago. It's unnerving when people insist 'it'll be out for Christmas', then let July slip into August, with September looming, and still no word. Some time, I guess, I will get a request for a cover blurb, some page proofs, and will then be able to tick that off as 'job done'. And besides, this publisher has some way to go if it's to bid for the laurels as The Worst Publisher I Ever Wrote For. That was the late lamented Hull University Press (aka Lampada), whose sole employee managed to set up a book launch for me (with people coming in from all across the country) without any books. His last word on the subject, prior to said fiasco,  was, 'They're in a van coming up the M5.'

Okay, third project. I have a publisher willing to take on the novel I completed when I was in Taos last year. Cause for celebration? Not yet. They want me to slice 11,000 words from it. Originally they appeared to be wanting a reduction of 21,000, which I was going to refuse flat out. 11,000? From 91,000? A different matter. There is always room for a reduction of that kind. I could get excited about this.

So, three books at that end-stage all at once. As the days tick by I feel rather more like this: