The Appropriate “Grade Level” For Your Novel Is…

The other day Kindle sent out a note suggesting we authors optionally “age rate” our books. I thought I’d share it. I’ve removed the superfluous and “personal” parts and screen captured the core of it:

Edited message from Kindle.
Edited message from Kindle.

Kindle sends out lots of stuff – some useful, some not. But this just seems a sloppy tech issue from their end. There’s a straightforward reason I haven’t chosen an under-18s level for my novels and Kindle knows it already.

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In The Sunshine

Calm has returned after Lebanese journalist Hala Feghaly’s presence on my modest blog here attracted a pop star-level horde of visitors yesterday.

Visitor source countries yesterday, most visitors to fewest.
Visitor source countries yesterday, most visitors to fewest.

Yet I’m seeing yesterday’s trend beginning again this morning. I’ve had many more visitors than usual this early in the day (around 7 am, as I post this), which makes sense as Lebanon is two hours later than Britain. If you’re here for Hala, “Hello,” and this is the post you are probably looking for: just click the photo to see the whole thing:

Screen capture of the opening of my chat with her.
Screen capture of the opening of my chat with her.

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“Urgent cable for you….”

FROM: ROBERT
TO: YOU
SUBJECT: FINISHED

WINDS OF WAR DONE 1428 UK TIME REMEMBRANCE SITS OMINOUSLY ON SHELF STOP
WARMEST REGARDS

One gargantuan novel down. One more to go. [Photo by me.]
One gargantuan novel down. One more to go. [Photo by me.]

Surely I had to share that amazing news in the style of a 1941 telegram! ;-)

______
UPDATE: Don’t forget, tomorrow (Monday), I’ve got quite an interesting post planned. If you can, pop by! :-)

Grown Ups Only

As you may know, the Mad Men TV show is ending. As you may also know, it is a favorite of mine. Having watched the first of the concluding episodes, and also having this week rewatched on DVD some from the first season/ series as well (how young they were!), led me to reflecting on just how much drinking and smoking they did.

That also got me thinking about my own books.

Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a waiter with wine glasses.
Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a waiter with wine glasses.

I have some drinking:

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Sneak Peek: The Khoury Sisters

I hadn’t “planned” it this way, but as I began to write Passports, I found myself drawn to exploring those who don’t really have “intimate” sibling relationships. My younger main characters tend to be “only children,” have much older siblings, or are essentially estranged from them. In many ways, their friends come to serve as “replacement” brothers and sisters.

There’s one notable exception: the Khoury sisters. In their mid-late 20s, both Valérie and Juliette still live at home with their French mother and Lebanese-French father. Valérie is the older by about two years. Extremely close, they even holiday together without their parents.

Free Stock Photo: Illustration of dancing silhouettes.
Free Stock Photo: Illustration of dancing silhouettes.

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Sneak Peek: “A girl in the apartment”

A “sneak peek” into another chapter I finished drafting recently in Distances. James’s father, who runs the family’s Long Island construction company, has just come home from work. He found James’s mother, Joanne, sitting at the kitchen table.

Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a house.
Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a house.

Joanne had spoken to James in Paris hours before. She’d rung their son at about two o’clock in the morning New York time (Jim had been asleep and later went to work without knowing she’d had), catching James, she believed, with a female overnight guest at his apartment. It had been too early in the morning in Paris, Joanne is sure, for that to have been innocent:

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In So Many Words

Commenting on my “Marathon Man” post in which I’d shared an extended look at the rough draft of a scene, Naseer wrote:

Interesting to note how Americans are when they meet each other in foreign climes, be it Paris or Kathmandu (Said with affection) Your writing adds a lot of colour. I get impression colour around you is somehow very important?

“Colour” is indeed vital to me. Background. Setting. Personalities. A sentence. A nod. A look. Taking a hand. The tiniest of moments that have the most gigantic of life consequences. As in our real lives.

A major purpose of my site here is simply to convey something daily of what I am. In doing that, I like to share the hows and whys of what I write: a journal of ups and downs. I also touch on broader topics that go beyond just my books, but which are related to my subject.

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Sneak Peek: Marathon Man

I am dreading this “writing streak” drying up. I had another “productive” day yesterday, when I finished a draft chapter. It features “James,” “Isabelle” and “Béatrice” in something of a light-hearted situation.

It also includes an unexpected reference to “Uncle Bill.” After all, when you are connected personally to someone “famous,” well, you never know who else out there might also “know” that “celebrity.” Nor do you ever really know where you might encounter a fan.

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Happy Mother’s Day (UK)

Most weekends I don’t do much original writing. I try to confine it to the “work week.” Weekends I usually aim to take a break (aside from my journal here).

In recent weeks, though, I’ve felt I’ve been on something of “hot streak.” Yesterday, an idea for a small plot twist struck me too. Fearing I’d lose some of it in my head by Monday, I wanted to get it into the manuscript, so I spent some time working in the morning and it was time well spent.

Afterwards, I thought again about how the characters have come to mean a lot to me. True, we have all been grabbed by “people” we’ve gotten “to know” in novels. But how about when they are swirling around in your head uncountable hours each and every day for years because you are writing them and thus creating their very existences?

Free Stock Photo: Young woman taking a photograph.
Free Stock Photo: Young woman taking a photograph.

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The Difference Between “Friends” And, Uh, “Friends”

I stumbled on two thoughtful recent Guardian pieces on internet friendships. They seemed worth sharing for a Saturday post. The first: “How do you tell who’s a real friend and who’s just a ‘Friend’ on the internet?”:

….Being eliminated from a friend’s life used to mean ignored phone calls and mutual, public recriminations to third parties; today, it’s as easy as untagging yourself from an ussie and clicking unfollow on Twitter. On the other side, you’re at even more of a loss when you click on the profile of a Twitter friend with whom you’d had a long and fruitful online discussion the day before and see a blank space where it used to say “FOLLOWS YOU”. Every time you log-in, wherever it may be, you could find yourself invisible to someone you thought was your friend, and found out was only a fair-weather follower.

We live on the internet now. That whole idea about how we have to look up from our phones and digital devices to have real lives and experiences is over. There isn’t always a difference between emotion and emoticon. Our challenge now is to integrate our humanity into our online lives….

Then there was this one from early February on Internet “loss”: “How do you grieve when you lose an internet friend?” – and the author is not talking here about merely being “unfollowed”:

….In an age where the internet acts as a force-multiplier for sociability (if only for those who are native to it), it is now possible to develop friendships with people we’ve never met at all. Twitter is more than just a conversation; it is a schoolyard, a lunchroom, a water cooler. “Internet friends” are still friends – at least as much as “friends” on Facebook who we haven’t seen in years.

I found out that my friend had died late at night, and reflexively direct-messaged her boyfriend on Twitter. The next morning, I wasn’t sure if I’d made a mistake: I was a stranger to them, really….

It is fascinating what has evolved in only a decade or two. Once upon a time my (internalized) general rule was a “friend” was someone I knew in person and could call on the phone and he/she would NOT be stunned to hear from me. But if any of our mobiles rang right now and on the other end (without pre-planning of course) happened to be someone who “follows” us and whom we also “follow,” but whom we’ve also never met, let’s be honest most of us would probably think something was, umm, not quite right here. ;-)

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