The art of imaginative escape.

This past three months, Ireland has been blanketed in the worst rain filled clouds on record. The gray has been unrelenting and the sun a source of bitter jokes. Yesterday we saw it most of the day. I stopped at the village shop to pick up a parcel of books from Createspace. Kevin the shopkeeper and I had an interesting conversation:

Me: “What’s that bright thing up there. I seem to rememeber seeing that.

Kevin: “Yes that is the sun I’m told. You must have been travelling and seen it somewhere else, not in Ireland.”


Weather complaints are not a new thing for we who live in soggy green Ireland or indeed the neighbouring islands of Great Britain. It’s the subject starter of almost all conversations. I have been writing the last of the Daniel Series – Trial and the chapter I’m on now is set in the Dawes home near the village of Eze Bord de Mer.


That’s an area I know well and have escaped to many times both in reality and in my imagination. I think I set this chapter there as an escape. The grey dullness outside my study window drove me to the bright sparkling azure blue skies and seas of the Mediterranean.

The smell and vivid yellow light of the Mimosa. The cheerful studding of Oranges and Lemons on the trees. The liberation of few clothes and the caress of the sun.

The beach Nice.

The sight of bare golden (mostly) beautiful people worshiping beneath it.

Wandering on the Promenade des Anglais taking in the sights. Calling into the Negresco Hotel to see the art opulence and old-world jet-set glamour.


Eating in it’s quirky La Rotonde restaurant amid bright hobby horses, funfair music and ancient women in furs cradling pampered poodles.

View from roof. Musee d’Art Moderne et d’Art. Nice

Walking on the roof garden of the Museum of Modern Art taking in the panorama and marvelling at being aloud to be in such precariously exacting place.

Eating Socca and Pissaladiere in the old town and trying not to notice the graffiti that is smeared on every wall.  Mostly though its draw is the Alps behind and the blue sea in front and the light, that very special light that drew the great artists to live and work in the area. That light penetrates deep and lifts the spirit.

I’m there now in my imagination, escaping the gray. Oh – the sun has come out as I write this. I must get out and say hello and maybe lay in the garden or see if the sun will make the water lilies in the pond bloom at last.

Drying up.

After almost six months struggle trying to get going with the next in the history trilogy: ‘Beloved Warrior,’ I’ve finally had a breakthrough – I ditched it!

I’ve been combining writing with editing all the completed novels. My editor and I have been doing one every six to eight weeks. That was one reason for the struggle with ‘Warrior.’

The other reason was more subtle and difficult. The form I’d chosen for the work was similar to the first in the trilogy: ‘Prairie Companions’; a chronological progression following the characters down a time-line.  That worked well on ‘Companions’ but somehow it was just not working for Warrior.  I managed five chapters over six months and that is snail slow for me.

I can usually do a first draft of at least one hundred twenty thousand words in three months or less. More importantly I was not enjoying the process. I was not enjoying the result either. It was good enough but that is not good enough. I wanted special and it just wasn’t.

I’ve had the distraction of a house move this past six weeks and didn’t write at all. I was bubbling the problem and a few days ago a solution surfaced.

I will scrap ‘Warrior’ and start afresh. I will abandon a chronological progression and use a more free flowing structure based on intense personal character impressions. I will throw way the time line completely and go for a more stream of consciousness style. Trying to capture the huge sweep of the first war and limiting myself by trying to get the history in there was a mistake. I want this novel to be about what it felt like to live through that cataclysmic event. The  history is too well chronicled to need repeating yet again. Free flow picture creation, nightmarish searing vivid events, raw passion and fear and living with that after is what I will go for this time. Throwing away the work I’ve pulled from myself like bad teeth is difficult but required and now I’ve made the decision, I feel liberated.

The other liberation was starting on a different novel. The last of the Daniel series- ‘Trial’ was begun today.  Just six pages in an afternoon but they flowed nicely. Easy and free like I’m back in the groove. I cannot begin to describe my relief.

I’ve not lost it. I’m not blocked.

I’m not dried up!

The writers toolbox.

Self-confidence and self-belief are essential implements to have in your writers toolbox. Without them you will flounder and be crushed in the unkind published world. For an Indie writer these things are even more crucial, however, there is danger too. Too much uncritical self-belief can send some astray. There are too many books out there that really are only there because of misplaced self-confidence or is that arrogance?

I think the trick is to counter ones one self-belief with a big dose of editorial balance. It is essential to have a relationship with an editor one trusts and listen to their advice. It’s not always going to be right and need not always be acted upon but one needs to engage with that editor. Discuss their opinions, think about what they say and ask yourself if there are babies to be killed?

It’s too easy these days to get published. So say the doubters and anti Indie types. There is some truth in that but… if you have an editor you trust and self belief and realistic self-confidence then. . . go for it.  There is a rich seam of wonderful literature available now that would never make it past the gatekeepers, not because it’s not worthy but because it’s not easily marketable or doesn’t fit neatly in a the genre slot that’s hot right now.

So dig in that tool box, get your confidence straightened by a good editor and get your wonderful words out in the world.

Free on Saint Patricks day.

The countdown to the free download of The Prairie Companions has started.

Four days to go to Paddies day.

I’ve been having fun on Pinterest and have created a few boards. One has images related to the novels. That has been an interesting pinteresting thing to create. Do stop by and have a look.

Salute to women.



I’d like to offer a salute to the glory that is the female on this the International Day of Women. It is a sad condemnation of our societies, that such a day is still required to draw attention to inequalities and iniquities perpetrated against women.

Prasie to you all.


No to squeezed cheese in a tube!


I read this in a blog on Indi writing: “An italicized word here and there for emphasis – that has become more common because of eBook formatting – which doesn’t allow for all capitals or underlines. So that’s absolutely acceptable. I’m more talking about people who use italics for thoughts – then write entire paragraphs of them.”

At first sight this seems reasonable, it was part of piece on the ten most common writing mistakes. It’s badly written by a person purporting to be an arbiter of standards. But that’s not what irked me.

This started me thinking about the whole ‘creative writing class’ mentality that has become almost a doctrine. We accept stuff like the above too easily.

No, no, no. I hate homogenised formulaic stuff. Be it bland industrialised hydrogenised fats playing at being cheese squeezed from mass-market tubes or perfectly edited, standard usage, poetry free, mass produced, creative writing class approved, dirge and pap passing for literature.

Would Joyce get anything past these gatekeepers of conformity? I think not. How many other rule breakers and original voices would be drowned out by the howling of the conformity freaks. Yes, be all means let us strive for good grammar and correct spelling but let’s not get carried away and allow personal taste to get confused with correctness.

The example I opened with is a case in point. If I’m reading an enthralling story, well written, full of humanity, warmth and poetry – I will not care if a bit of internal dialogue is rendered in italic for one or two or three paragraphs. I’ll not notice if the voice is real and true and involving. Nor will most readers. Nor should we.


The laying down of arbitrary rules of taste is to be resisted by all of us who love literature, both as readers and as writers. If someone wants bland formula driven sustenance well that’s allowed but I will not be told that real unpasteurised cheese is not permitted. NO.

Welcome pain.

Ria's work. See Creativeflux media.

The pain of editing is to be welcomed and recently I’ve been in a lot of pain. All my work is being re-edited, often more than two years after it was supposedly completed. That has been a fascinating process. It is astonishing how ones view of ones cherished words change when viewed through so distant a lens.  I find I am able to be much more ruthless in killing the babies now. My angel proofer/editor, Miriam has helped that process with her fresh eyes. I cannot over stress how valuable such eyes are. The work has improved hugely . The changes are each small but the difference overall is enormous.

Any Indi author who does not go through this process is doing themselves and Indi publishing a great disservice . When I put my first novel out six years ago, I made all the rookie impatient mistakes and the result was a worthy story let down by poor implementation.  I’m now thoroughly ashamed of that and wish I could withdraw it. I have done so as much as possible but there are copies floating about second-hand and in a few shops.  So speaks the bitter voice of experience.  Please authors, pay for professional editing/proofing and learn to kill your babies.  The result is always worth the short term pain.

My new Facebook pages are another new learning experience that is producing some birth pain. It’s so very easy to be discouraged and feel down about the slow start. But I’ve learned my lessons well and now know that patience and diligence is needed. I must not get discouraged and so I will plod on and hope my mistakes are not great. I’m trying to watch how the more experienced do it and will read good advice .

One thing I’ve learned about self-publicity – it is too easy to be drawn into threads on forums that are dominated by other writers keen to give voice. I withdraw from such places as soon as I see readers are absent or are leaving. Other writers are not who I want to reach, but even as I say that, I can hear the hollow laughter. For who, other than other writers, is this blog post addressed to?

It’s too easy to lose track of what ones social media efforts are meant to do.

Sell more books, right?

That and learn how to do it better. The later is what this post is about.

I am open to advice from those who have trod this path before me. So any Bakebook veterans out there with words of wisdom to offer, let me hear from you.