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I haven't answered a question for ages and a good one has descended upon my inbox, so I thought I'd give it a go.

It's this - how do you cope with a full time job, and writing novels too, not to mention the other teaching and careers work?

Having given it some thought, I'd say the problem is not the answer but the question. I think I get on better because I have another job and lots of other interests.

I have a boredom threshold so low it could be a champion limbo dancer. And if there's one thing in life I really can't bear, it's being bored.

I rate time as our greatest asset - you never know how much you have - and I very much don't want to waste it.

So, I like to have plenty on to distract me, and that means lots of projects at any one time. At the moment, it's ideas for a new book (for children, since you ask), some teaching in October, and editing of the next novel in the tvdetective series.

Yes it's a fair bit to think about, but it keeps my mind switching and that seems somehow to refresh it and make it more inclined to produce some passable thoughts.

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The Reader's Eyes and a Thank You

I think myself very fortunate to have the readers I do. They're a kind and thoughtful bunch, and with very sharp eyes and minds.

It's been three months since Shadows of Justice was published, and I've been fortunate enough to get lots of feedback, almost all of it warming.

I do love my readers attention to detail. Only today, I got an email pointing out a typo half way through Shadows. It's remarkable how these still get in, given the proof reading and editing, not to mention modern technology, but they somehow do.

I appreciate knowing about them though, as they can be corrected in the re-prints.

But my favourite email about Shadows came last month, with a concern that Dan may have breached the law with some broadcasting he does at the end of the book.

I won't go into details so as not to spoil the plot for you, if you haven't read it (and why not?!), but my reader was concerned about transgressing the Contempt of Court Act, 1981, and had even gone so far as to look up its exact wording and precedents.

Wonderful! We entered into a little email dialogue, and I think (hope?) I convinced him the report should just about be ok.

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Illusions Ruthlessly Shattered

There is a distinction amongst crime writers, which can be put politely or more robustly.

Some of we strange creatures indulge ourselves in the true horror of crime and plunge into the dark and slimy pit of details - about the way people can be attacked, and suffer, and all the psychology that goes with it, and much more besides.

Others prefer skirting around such unpleasantness, preferring the more thoughtful elements of the solving of the mystery and the battle of wits between the good guys and bad.

I'm of the latter breed, as I have no taste for gore.

I've always liked to think of my books as gentle crime, or cosy crime as the sub-genre is often known.

Incidentally, as an interlude, here's yours truly snapped in a pub (shock!) being struck by a thought for a detail in a book and quickly scribbling it down.

Simon pub writing.jpg

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The Endgame

I'm coming to the end of writing the new tvdetective book, which is proving an experience both exhilarating and worrying.

The pleasure is seeing all the work come to fruition. The actual penning of the thing takes me about three months, on average.

But there were another six months or so of planning first, and this isn't the end of it by any means. Wasn't it that rather talented writer Hemingway who said "the first draft of anything is s**t"?

Which means there are plenty of re-writes to come - usually five or six - before the manuscript even gets to the agents and publishers, and then some more re-jigging to follow that.

In all, the process of publication takes about two years. But the completion of a first draft is a big moment, requiring lots of work and discipline, so I'm allowing myself a little self-satisfaction.

Incidentally, here's something odd I've learnt on this writing journey, which I so often go on about in these blogs.

It's not to rush the ending. It's an easy temptation, often because I want to see how things turn out myself (and I know that sounds daft as I've planned it, but I genuinely want to be able to enjoy the denoument as it materialises on the page.)

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