Saturday, 31 December 2011

Happy New Year 2012! I'm going to write my second novel at last!

Happy New Year!
My New Year Resolution for 2012 is to pick up the threads of the novel I started three or four years ago and finish it!
I've done lots of research as it's another historical one, but set this time during the First World War. Of course, I could have made it easy for myself and concentrated on the 1930s again, but I enjoy exploring the past, and writing about it is a great way of doing it. I would love to travel backwards in time, just as an observer, rather like Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, (so nothing could be changed) and see how people really lived, but as that's impossible, the next best thing is to use my imagination.
Writing my novel is going to take some time. My last one had nearly 40 chapters with about 2500 words in each, so even if I wrote as little as 500 words a day (that's 2 A4 double spaced sheets, Times New Roman font size 12), it would take 40 weeks, supposing I didn't write any at the weekends!
It will be quite a challenge, because for the past two years, apart from editing Gipsy Moth, I have been writing short stories of about 2000 words each. I wonder how easy I'm going to find it to extend my writing into a novel again?
As I said, I've done most of the research, but will have to read it through again. I've already re-read, the chapters that I've begun, and with my editing eye, I can see that there's quite some work to be done on them too!
I'm going to get some of the 'clearing up after Christmas' jobs done next week so I can make a clean start on January 9th.
Good Luck with your resolutions for 2012!

Saturday, 17 December 2011

A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens

In the week before Christmas, I love to read A Christmas Carol. The five staves, or chapters, are just right to read one a day and recapture cold foggy, nineteenth century London on Christmas Eve.
The copy I read is on the right and is part of a set of bound novels for children which I bought for my family over 20 years ago. Each was accompanied, as you can see, with a magazine telling about the author, and the times in which they lived.
2012 marks the 200th anniversary of Dickens' birth with major TV programmes marking the event, including Great Expectations, over the holidays, with Gillian Anderson as a chilling Miss Havisham.
As a child, I loved the BBC adaptations which used to be on at Sunday teatime, and I wonder how this will compare. Technically superior I'm sure!
One of the best Dickens' adaptations for Christmas is The Muppet Christmas Carol, starring Michael Caine as Scrooge, along with Kermit (Bob Cratchit), Miss Piggy (Mrs Cratchit), and Fozzie Bear as Fozziwig. It does sound a little corny, but none of the story is lost in this film which is best watched on Christmas Eve, when Kermit sings, 'There is only one more sleep 'til Christmas!'

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Yule Lads and Northern Lights in Iceland!

The temperature in Akureyri last week was minus 22 degrees, that's colder than the freezer in my kitchen! Luckily, when we were there the week before, it was only minus 2, a much better temperature to go hunting for the Northern Lights!
The snowfall made it feel very Christmassy, together with the fact that the local householders had already put up their Christmas lights to counteract the long winter nights.
On the first evening we drove about 100 miles on an included tour to find the Aurora Borealis, but we only saw a smudge in the sky. Happily, that meant that we could go out again the next night to try and find them again.
On the second day we took a minibus tour to Lake Myvatn to see the volcanic landscapes highlighted by the snow: pseudo-craters made by trapped water bubbling up, rather than lava; stacks of lava; geothermal pools where some of our party bathed - not me, it was snowing; sulphur fields; and mystic Dimmuborgir, home of the trolls. Harry, our driver on the first night, had told us how Iceland has not one, but thirteen Santas. They come on each of the thirteen nights before Christmas. Children put a shoe on their windowsill, and if they are good they get a treat, but if they are bad, they get a potato!
Rabbi, our guide on the second day, also told us the story, but I don't know whether he expected to see some of the Yule Lads, as they are called, at the cafe at Dimmuborgir! They were filming an advert for the Icelandic Tourist Board, and completely in character, fooled around like The Monkees or The Goodies whilst we had our lunch. Then when we moved on to the fissure where Iceland is splitting apart with the Eurasian plate pulling east and the American plate pulling west, we saw them again. It was like going to Lapland and seeing Father Christmas, only better because it wasn't at all commercialised, and felt very real.
At last the second evening arrived, and we went out again with Harri. We had only been going about 15 minutes when a lady in the back of the minibus pointed to a shimmering line of green in the sky, and said, 'Is that them?'
'Yes!' said our driver, finding a place to park.
We spent about an hour photographing the breathtaking Aurora Borealis which spread across the heavens. Keen photographers set up their tripods, and experimented with long exposures, but it was also good to lean back on the bonnet of the van and just look up at the sky and marvel.
It was a really magic trip and I would definitely return to Iceland, but maybe in the summer next time!