So that is that for upstate New York for the time being:

[Catskills, New York. Photo by me, December 10, 2020.]

We flew back here to London on Friday evening. We are now re-acclimating time-zone-wise. However, we cannot go out for 10 days.

[From my Instagram Stories. December 12, 2020.]

Fortunately, they have just reduced the travel “self-isolation.” It had been 14 days.

We have always tried to be careful – masking, distancing, washing hands, etc. – and had two Covid tests for travel (November 11 here, and November 18 in New York) that were negative. And we both feel fine. But of course we could have picked it up SINCE November 18 like anyone else.

So we wait – in self-isolation – for now.

Not that life will be all that different isolating from life before we flew to the US on November 13. While self-isolated, there are things to do for Christmas – either here inside the house itself or by online purchase.

[My desk. Potton, England. Photo by me, December 11, 2020.]

And I have no excuse now NOT to write more. So I intend to do so. For many a writer, “self-isolation” is in many respects “normal life.” LOL!

Kidding aside, at times while we were in New York I had some “spurts” of accomplishment. And I decided OFFICIALLY on the coming new novel’s title. That latter is big: I have learned through the five previous books that once you have a title (especially one you consider so well-suited to it that it is unlikely to be changed), the writing now takes on a “life” of its own.

While confined, I am also on Twitter. There are also of course authors on Twitter out there to read and see what they are up to:

To start with here, a Twitter writer now on Instagram.

It is worth pointing out I think that men can receive weird and suggestive Instagram messages too. Direct (meaning private) messages from those you do NOT follow do NOT appear in your normal messages, but end up in a “holding place.” Nearly all of them are from bot accounts or other spammers… and not worth wasting your time even thinking about: “delete” without any response is the best reply.

However, on the odd occasion you may get a real Instagram private message from a real person you do not follow. I have. So it is worth now and then just having a quick look for real messages that may have been accidentally misplaced in its private messages “spam.”

As a writer I feel that the last thing you want to do is accidentally offend someone, or leave them thinking you are “snooty,” in not acknowledging a reasonable message… and especially so if their message is “I loved your book!” LOL!

No one has ever told me directly that they have.

I have, however, occasionally found myself upset while writing something that I felt was not very good. LOL!

If you take a “1” star review personally, to be honest you should not be writing. There will always be people out there who simply don’t like what you do or even don’t like you… and often for reasons you do not understand. You cannot do anything about that fact.

I don’t consider struggling with this or that in a story to be “writer’s block.” That is simply trying to figure out the form of words when you know broadly what you want to write but cannot craft it essentially the way you wish. You are just momentarily “stuck.”

“Writer’s block” is when you sit at a keyboard and have no idea what to write.

I have never had “writer’s block.”

That was for the era of the typewriter. It is no longer a necessary practice. Indeed, it can look odd now.

Sure it is. For a writer – unlike, say, for an actor – hopefully “looks” do not matter as much. But likely they do in our social media era.

They vary. Three that immediately jump to my mind:

1) One was my (novelist) uncle having read my first two books, liking them, and telling me to keep at the writing.

2) My finishing Conventions: The Garden At Paris (a type of book I always wanted to write) and briefly thinking: I can die now.

3) Discovering to my pleasant surprise I was read (my first three books) in an informal local “Oprah-like” book club in Lebanon.

I don’t feel so compelled. I actually DO NOT have one. I am basically just what you read here.

And my books, as you may know, are full of the actual me, but fictionalized – especially the first three.

That is one thing. But I think tougher is sitting back and trying to read what I have written from a reader’s perspective – the view that matters the most.

On rare occasion, per the characters (in my first three), yes.

Don’t try to “force” or even “guilt” your spouse or life partner to read your books. Your writing simply may not be their personal taste. Find those who actually WANT to read your work.

Gosh, that is rather personal for Twitter, isn’t it? LOL!

I receive the occasional email. I don’t mind them. I suspect one such message speaks for many others who may never write.

Thank goodness THAT “Na-No-Na-No-Na-No” is over with for this year. No more “I wrote 1,500 words today!” tweets to wade through.

Incidentally, that tweet above is NOT how I write.

I ALWAYS START FROM AN OUTLINE – nothing too complicated, but perhaps a couple of pages initially of scattered ideas and “bullet points” I want the book to encompass. From there I gradually fill out more and more and more of the story (and I may add to those “points,” or delete them) as I write. Ultimately those couple of messy pages of thoughts are what expands exponentially in the next year or so to follow into the “500 page” novel.

One, a #writerslift, or similar, be warned, is considered by Twitter technically to be a “follow train” and thus “platform manipulation.” That is a violation of its TOS. Doing it could get you suspended. (They were also – I found – seriously annoying in my timeline, so I “muted” the “#writerslift” hashtag, and saw that tweet above there I suppose only because of the “#writingcommunity” additional tag.)

Two, I also find “Tweet me book suggestions…” tweets to be seriously silly. After all, would you walk into a library and just ask a librarian: “I’d like to take out some books. Could you suggest some I should read?” I can only view such tweets as yet another effort at attention-seeking from the book tweeter themselves – attracting replies ups engagement numbers and increases that book requester’s visibility.

Three, however, there is nothing wrong with pointing out your own personal writing efforts – particularly on your own platform. If you are here, you may already know who I am and what I write about, or you ended up here after you searched and clicked over because you saw something of interest. My five original published novels are easily found in my sidebar.

[Capture The Cause. Cover draft. Copyright 2020.]

And that sixth one will be available, I hope, by December 2021. As I wrote near the start of this post, I have a title now OFFICIALLY. For the first time I share that title and the novel’s tentative cover – and the meanings for both will become, shall we say, “self-evident” within the story itself.

And I say now from my self-isolation once more: thanks for reading. Hope you are having a good weekend, wherever you are in the world. 🙂

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