I got Baby Blues and Wedding Shoes out of the metaphorical bottom drawer this morning and dusted it off. I hadn’t intended to look at it again this year, having decided it needs too much revision and knowing how dangerous it is to revise it along side writing Two-Hundred Steps Home.
Last time I worked on it I kept confusing the protagonist Helen with Claire from Two-Hundred Steps Home, even swapping the names at one point. They’re not that similar, although I suspect they have a similar voice, as I’m aware I write mostly in my voice. They’re both late twenties, but that’s about it.
Claire is slightly older, more worldly-wise. She’s an Associate Director. Confident, maybe a bit arrogant in the beginning. Her career is important to her and she would rather lose her man than have kids.
On the other hand Helen chooses to give up her man to keep her baby, when her fiancé tells her to ‘Get rid or get out.’
Helen gave up her career to be with her fiancé, working for him as his hostess and diary planner. She isn’t a strong person, particularly where Daniel is concerned. She learns strength through adversity and necessity. She yearns for a happy home like the one she grew up in and is therefore happier in a relationship than out of one.
Claire is cynical about love and relationships because she didn’t really have a happy family home. Her formative years were spent in boarding school, with her family barely staying in touch. She keeps people at a distance. While Helen embraces her new photography friends and then Marcio and his family, Claire keeps everyone but Kim at arm’s length.
They both have a personal journey, and of course both are parallel-universe versions of me, taking tiny parts of my life and exploring them further. They’re different enough in character, if not in speech, that I can’t work on both novels together, not even to edit one while writing the other.
When I got Baby Blues out, though, and began skimming it to correct a grammar fault I didn’t realise I was prone to (not putting commas around names in dialogue) I found it wasn’t as awful as I remember. I can see some wordy chapters, probably a bit preachy, that want trimming. I need to find someone who reads Spanish to validate my lovely Google Translator bits of text, but it’s not awful.
The best part is I’d already formatted it for Smashwords so it only needed tweaking to get it passed the Autovetter. So, if anyone fancies reading it and helping identify the weaknesses, the woolly chapters, or if anyone speaks Spanish, drop me a line. It’s not live on Smashwords, as it’s not quite ready to be released into the wild. But if you let me know your preferred format, either in the comments or via email/facebook/twitter I’ll send you a copy.
Postscript: Oops! The book is live on Smashwords because I uploaded a version then went to get the kids from nursery, forgetting to ‘unpublish’ it. When I got home, 41 free copies had been downloaded. I want to keep it live in case anyone leaves a review (the ultimate Beta Reader experience) but I have put a price on it now, so I don’t expect to sell any copies until it is cleared for the Premium Catalogue. The above still applies: if you’d like a free copy, let me know.
Below is the next installment in my novel Two-Hundred Steps Home: written in daily posts since 1st January as part of my 2013 365 Challenge. Read about the challenge here.You can catch up by downloading the free ebook volumes on the right hand side of the blog:
“Where are we going?”
Kim looked over at Claire, who had her eyes on the road. “You could at least let me drive. The doctor told you to rest your wrist for 48 hours. I can drive, you know. Just because we can’t afford a second car.”
Claire bit back a sigh. When did Kim start worrying so much about money? I’m driving a Skoda, not a jag. She kept the words unspoken. Who knew what hormone-induced turmoil was churning in her friend’s mind. Maybe all the stuff with the wedding and the baby has made her realise that money is important. I doubt Jeff earns a fortune working for a charity and I know the acting doesn’t pay. Well, at least there’s one thing I can do without hurting her sensitivities.
“So, where are we going?”
“You’ll find out when we get there.”
“You sound like my mother.”
Claire laughed. “You sound like Sky.”
Kim tilted her head to one side and said in a sing-song voice, “Are we there yet?”
Claire turned the car into a side street and killed the engine.
Kim looked around the residential street, perplexed.
“And where are we, exactly? I thought you said this was exciting.” She pouted. “I don’t call visiting someone at 10am on a Sunday morning exciting. I could be reading the paper over coffee and croissants. Or toast at least.”
“Well, seeing as you’ve given me no notice of your impending nuptials, time is of the essence. Sharon was free to see us. Remember it’s early on a Sunday for her too.”
“But who is she?”
Someone I used to work with. Well, she headed up Compliance, but we got on well.”
“I don’t need a Pre-nup you know.” Kim went pale. “Jeff would kill me. Besides, neither of us owns anything. If I ever make my fortune on the big screen I’ll be happy to share.”
“She’s not in Compliance anymore, silly,” Claire said, as she led the way along a path of nodding daffodils to ring the bell.
“Well, what does she do?”
“You’re being horribly cryptic.”
“I know.” Claire giggled. “I’m getting my own back for your little bombshell.”
“You fiend. I didn’t mean to keep it from you.”
“Well, you’re about to be put out of your misery.”
Footsteps could be heard approaching the door, which was opened by a fresh-faced woman with short dark hair. She was wearing an apron.
“Claire! Lovely to see you, you look marvellous. I’ve been following the blog, travelling suits you. And this must be the bride. Come in. Only two weeks to the big day? You must be excited. I do love a whirlwind romance.”
Kim raised her eyebrows at Claire, before following the chatty woman down a corridor. “Actually, I’ve been engaged for ages. Call it a shot-gun wedding.”
“Oh.” The lady turned to face her, eyebrows raised, and her eyes twinkled. “Do you need a christening cake too?”
“I assume that’s why you’re here. I don’t do flowers.” She laughed at her own joke, while Kim scowled at Claire.
“What?” Her voice was a whip.
“You said yesterday you were going to buy a cake from Tesco.”
“What’s wrong with that?” Kim hissed at her friend. “They do three-tier iced cakes for thirty quid. I can’t afford anything else.”
“You don’t have to, this is my gift. Look, come and see Sharon’s scrap book. If you don’t like anything, you can have your supermarket cake. And I’m sure it will be lovely,” she added hurriedly, seeing Kim’s expression. “I’m not saying Sharon’s cakes are better, only more personal. I thought you could have something incorporating the theatre and birds, you know, unique to you and Jeff.”
Sharon, who had discreetly left the girls to their muted discussion, now came back in with a tray, laden with coffee, tea and pastries.
“At least have your Sunday brunch.” Claire smiled and Kim shrugged in defeat.
All through coffee she maintained a polite flow of conversation but Claire could tell she was itching to open the scrapbooks on the table. At last, Sharon passed them over, and Kim grabbed at them like a child reaching for a Christmas gift.
Sharon caught Claire’s gaze and winked.