Month: September 2023

Pip Williams and I

Pip Williams and I

Now, I don’t know Pip Williams, the Australian author, but after reading her second novel, The Bookbinder of Jericho (brilliant!), I was struck by the similarity and differences between Pip and I and our books. So, this post is about me and Pip Williams or Pip Williams and I, whichever grammar form you prefer. I know, you may laugh, an unlikely comparison, since she is famous, and I am a nobody, but you will get the drift in a moment if you keep reading. It’s a bit like Yellowface but with no evil intent.

Pip Williams; Travel, language and history

You see, Pip Williams and I are both Australian women who grew up in Sydney. We are both writers, albeit at opposite ends of the spectrum. Pip is a New York Times best-selling author, and I am an unknown nobody author. But we both love travel, language, history and books. Pip obviously loves the meanings behind words and as a previous Latin scholar, I also fell in love long ago with the origins of words. The other commonality is our novel plots, stories of two sisters set in World War One and on the university campuses of Oxford and Cambridge. Probably, that is where the personal similarities end. sigh.

Pip Williams; Australian Historical novels

Pip is young, I am not so. Pip had a career in writing nonfiction that led more easily into her novels being published. But I am a biochemist who accidentally wrote a novel then did not know what to do with it, so stumbled along in my newfound writing career to write five books. Maybe one day we will run into each other at a bookstore or maybe Pip is attending the Australian History Novelists Society conference this October (can’t wait!) Would love to meet her.

Pip Williams; World War One era

As I prefaced above, book wise, Pip Williams and I write novels set in World War One. My latest, Time Heal my Heart, has many parallel themes to those in Pip’s best seller, The Bookbinder of Jericho. Two sisters, love and loss, family, the futility and savagery of the war and the status of women in society. They both feature a foreign female character with a mysterious past (Pip’s Lotte and my Lisbette character) and a character attempting access to a socially restricted university education. Pip’s novel is set in Oxford. Mine is partly set In Cambridge. Both our characters swat for the university entrance exams around the time of The Great War of 1914-1918. No plagiarism involved. My novel was at the publishers long before Pip’s came out. It is the companion or sequel to my first Whispers through Time.

Pip Williams; Book Companions

I do love that Pip calls her second book a companion not a sequel or prequel. That is so much less limiting. A companion suggests that the books can be read together but not necessarily. So, each of her books, like mine, can be read as stand-alone novels. That helps me to pitch my fifth book as not a sequel but a stand-alone or companion novel set in Sydney prior to and during World War 2. I am preparing a pitch for an Australian publisher, and this gives me another angle. It is too hard having overseas publishers in London. I feel out of touch, can never do local book promotions and now since Covid the author copies cost a bomb to import.

Love Pp Williams? Take a chance on me!

So, wish me well. I just hope for a tiny ripple of book attention, nothing much. Aspiring to be a Pip Williams is ridiculous, I know, but authors have to self-promote somehow otherwise no one at all will know about their books. Writing a book is easy compared to marketing one. Publishers don’t really do it for you. They get you published and then it’s sort of goodbye at the school gate. Haha and thanks for reading if you did. Take a peek at my website or books. joniscottauthor.com. and if you are a Pip Williams fan, take a chance on me!

Joni Scott is an Australian author with four published novels; Whispers through Time, The Last Hotel, Colour comes to Tangles and Time heal my Heart. Read about her books on https://joniscottauthor.com.

The Terrible Giro d’Italia of 1914

The Terrible Giro d’Italia of 1914

Feedback from readers of Time Heal my Heart so far tell me that my protagonist’s brother, Oscar is again a hit. Due to popular demand, I continued his story in this sequel. This older brother of Winifred seems to be a popular character for readers. I enjoyed creating him too. Although most of my characters in the two Time Trilogy books so far were real people, I never met them as Time separated us. They are but Whispers through Time. My family knew nothing about our grandmother’s family, including Oscar. As he disappeared without trace, I was free to make him whoever I wanted. I chose to construct Oscar as a wanderer, philanderer and adventurer. That is how he becomes involved in the terrible Giro d’Italia of 1914.

There had never been a race like it and never will be again. Plagued by the most horrific storms, rain and set to cover enormous distances and altitudes, it was the most grueling bike race ever. You can read all about it in a very entertaining book called Gironimo by Tim Moore or just read his BBC blog. Tim decided to re-ride this race in the modern age wearing the original cyclist’s apparel and travelling the huge 3162 km distance on a 100-year-old bike. He bites off more than he can chew. He soon discovers how easy life is for the cyclists of today. They have gears and comfortable bikes with proper brakes not just wine bottle corks.

Neither do they have to contend with nails strewn in their path and saboteurs at every bend. Cyclists were not popular sports heroes back then. The bicycle was seen as a threat and imposter to the traditional way of life. Add to that, strangers riding through one’s towns and locals became outraged. The weather was most foul of mood too. The first part of the race was the worst and the heavens opened upon the eighty-one contestants as they climbed the formidable Mt Sestriere peak and navigated the dirt roads awash with water. Their woollen maillot outfits with wool padded crotches became sodden and heavy. They shivered and slithered about on the mud. This stage alone was enough to demoralise many of the entrants. Half of them were just local boys, not professional cyclists. they entered for the fun of it and mostly for the prize money.

Like my character Oscar and his mate Luigi, they rode on borrowed bikes and had little experience or stamina for this endurance test. of the eight odd entrants only eight finish the race. This makes this Giro not only the hardest bike race ever but also the one with the longest overall distance and stages but also the one with the highest proportion of dropouts. Reading about it in Tim Moore’s book, It comes as no surprise. See some old photos here.

My characters make it only from Lucca to Florence. They decide to rest but end up at Luigi’s uncle’s house for a sojourn. Oscar is introduced to real family life, Italian style and the delights of the beautiful Florence. He buys a Bradshaws guide and he and Luigi continue their travels not by bike but by train to the east coast and then by boat to Sarajevo. There by chance they witness the opening shots of World War One. Life will never be the same again, for these two young men and for millions worldwide.

This sets the scen fro the second part of the novel entitled The Agony of War. By then, hopefully if not before, you will be so engaged you can’t but help reading on…

Young love, family troubles, mystery, war and loss, this book, Time Heal my Heart has it all. Plus, you get to travel not only back in time but to the mysterious abbey of Mont-Saint-Michel on the Normandy coast, Paris, Italy, Yugoslavia, Argentina and Sydney, Australia where the story begins. It’s a sweeping family saga that can be read alone or after Whispers through Time. The third part of this story, entitled Last Time Forever is due out next year. I have already written it. So, embrace the past and discover Oscar, a popular minor but memorable character. Join him on his travels and see how he reacts to the outbreak of war. He is the lost black sheep of the family. Don’t you just love these naughty boys? You never know what they will do next.

The contestants of this terrible ordeal had no idea that war would soon erupt and plunge them into another hell on earth. Maybe the Giro was a good preparation for what lay ahead?

Joni Scott is an Australian author with four published novels; Whispers through Time, The Last Hotel, Colour comes to Tangles and Time Heal my Heart. Read about them on https://joniscottauthor.com.

Photo Source

Writers and readers hate errors in books

Writers and readers hate errors in books

Editing drives writers to distraction. Writing is fun when the inspiration and words flow but then going over it all is so tedious, often de-motivating and just boring. That is why we prefer to farm this activity out to the publishers who promise painstaking editing and proof reading. This is how it has always been. But I suspect these editors and proofreaders also find these tasks tedious and possibly fall asleep on the job. Or do they now just computerise the task, claim they proofread it but didn’t really? Writers and readers hate errors in books.

Readers find errors

It is bad enough reading over your own work and fixing it but imagine reading someone else’s and staying interested and awake. Well, this is my theory why every time I have a book released, it is my readers who find errors. Though I read the manuscript oh so many times and the editor supposedly did too during one, two, three four rounds of editing and then a final proofread, there are still errors. ARGH!

Types of errors

Now these errors can be punctuation; missed capitals, commas, apostrophes or full stops or they can be spelling errors. Maybe these are the most forgivable errors that we can blame on a printer. lol. My book The Last Hotel contained a few of these in its first edition because the writer, me, wrote it or rather tapped it out with one hand. I had lost the use of my right upper body to CRPS at the time so was a writing cripple for about two years. I really relied on the editor. But they let me down.

Reviewers also find errors

However, the reader did not know this, so had no sympathy for these errors and besides shouldn’t the editor have found these errors before publication? I had to make a fuss after an Onlinebookclub.org reviewer rated the novel one star down because of the punctuation though they said it was ‘the best book they had read that year.’ The publisher ultimately edited the book again for me for free and now the new version is all good. Yeah!

Historical errors

In my first book, Whispers through Time, there is a date error in the chapter about Lisbon that has a king living for over a century and a half. Oops. That one is a typo of the date. In Colour comes to Tangles, Josie drives a VW at the start of the book but has a Peugeot by the end. This sort of error is an inconsistency one. When I wrote it over the period of a year, I did not notice that I assigned a different car to her and neither did the editor.

In my newly released novel, Time Heal my Heart, I am disheartened to be informed again by a reader that there is an inconsistency as to who named Manly. It is the beachside suburb of Sydney where my characters honeymoon. In the beginning of the book, Sebastian tells his new wife that the suburb is so called because a first settler thought the original native people looked ‘manly.’ This is true. But at the end of the book, another character mentions a different first settler being the origin of the name.

No, it wasn’t Captain Cook!

Now how did this happen? I have the research that tells me the first guy Captain Arthur Phillip named the suburb so how did I attribute this later to Captain Cook who never really settled on Australian soil? A blonde moment? Dementia setting in? Brain fatigue after hours of rereading? Captain Cook was a sailor and voyager who mapped the coastline and died in Tahiti. But his name is more well known than Phillip’s so maybe it popped into my head at this point later in the book. Oh, dear and sorry!

Editors are meant to save us

Now this is embarrassing but there is no recourse to fix this error once the book is published as it is not a self-published book wherein you can just reload the file to Amazon. So, it has to stay there now and shame me forever. Sigh Editors are meant to save writers from this. Writers and readers hate errors in books.

Editors are meant to catch my mistakes, but they don’t seem to be up to the task as well as editors in the old days before digital. You never see many errors in the old classics or books before around 2000 but errors have multiplied in modern books. Do editors now just run our work through Grammarly or ProWriting Aid? Do they even proofread with their own eyes not a computer program? Because they are often young are they distracted by their phones or just can’t spell?

Should we self-publish?

I have no answer to this. In frustration, I am going to ask a reader to proofread my next novel. They seem to be the best proofreaders. And they do it for free! Thank you, darlings! Writers and readers hate errors in books!

It’s tough enough writing 120, 000 words into a story without having to edit, proofread and then market the book. No, publishers are slack there as well. They get all the money and don’t hold their weight which is why so many of us are turning to self-publishing. You have control over the rights to the book, can fix the errors and earn more royalties.

I am sure there are some excellent editors out there and I wish you writers luck finding one who does your work justice.

Image source

Joni Scott is an Australian author with four published novels: Whispers through Time, The Last Hotel Colour Comes to Tangles and her latest historical WWI drama, Time Heal my Heart. Joni has her own website; https://joniscottauthor.com.