Wednesday, 31 October 2012

It's almost November... It's NaNoWriMo Time!

A very quick post this evening as the witching hour is approaching on this spookiest of evenings...!

So our daughter Ellen is just over 5 weeks old today - hard to believe. The days and nights have blurred past in 3-4 hour slots of feeding, nappy changing and catching some sleep when the opportunity presents itself. But don't worry, I am exacting my revenge by getting as many comical photos of her as possible. I look forward to showing them to prospective suitors in the future...

And of course the end of October means only one thing - tomorrow is November and the start of NaNoWriMo. I believe the usual target is 50,000 words but I've decided that might be a tad ambitious with a newborn baby. So, my personal target will be 10,000 words this month. I suspect they will be pretty awful words but no one can fault my optimism. It's not too late to set your own target so if you want some tips check out the NaNoWriMo website.

And one final bit of excitement. The book (out next year) is called Death & Co. - and by spooky coincidence the bound but uncorrected proofs arrived with Hot Key today, ready to head off to Australia! A very suitable book for Halloween of course. You can check out the temporary cover here - but I can't wait to reveal the real book cover because it's AMAZING!

Happy Halloween!

Friday, 5 October 2012

A tale of 3 Jane's...

Well world, I'd like you to meet someone. This is our brand, shiny new daughter Ellen Jane, born on Tuesday 25th September at 1.01pm. She came out with eyes wide open, a squawk of indignation and a thick head of dark hair which is greatly admired (and petted cat-style) by all.

Choosing a name can be fraught with difficulty but we went for Ellen because it was beautiful and classical and means 'bright light'. Her middle name is Jane, which is also my middle name - when the book comes out next year it will be published under D J McCune.

So two Jane's so far - but both Ellen and I were named for the third - or rather the first. This is my Granny Jane Oakes,  known as Jenny. She died on the 5th of October 2011 at the age of 95. She lived through two World Wars - the first as a baby herself, the second as a mother with babies of her own (she told us about hiding in the cupboard under the stairs when the air raid sirens went off and bombers flew towards Belfast). She originally came from Newcastle in England but moved to Northern Ireland when she got married.

Granny absolutely adored books, poetry and reading and would often sit up reading into the small hours of the night (a habit she passed on to me). I never got to tell her about the book deal but I know she would have been proud. I also know she would have been proud of her newest great-grandaughter, named in her honour - just as she was proud of all her other children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

There's always grief when we lose someone we love. I was still writing Death & Co. when Granny died and it added a particular poignancy to the whole thing - writing a book about life and death and free will and family and the afterlife when the memories of a real bereavement were so sharp and fresh. Sometimes it seems insane that the world still turns when someone you love has died; that the other players keep walking the stage with all their triumphs and tribulations.

In the end, we all find our own ways to remember the people who have gone before us - place flowers, pull out old photos, light candles. But maybe the best thing we can do to honour the dead is to live well and do the things we know would have made them proud.
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