In Which I Am Distracted By Sheep

The bestselling novelist Adele Parks is in the Sunday Times today (I know because my mother waved the paper at me as I arrived to make her lunch!), talking about ‘Fame and Fortune’ and how her first novel – ‘Playing Away’ – was snapped up in 2000, as part of a 2-book deal for £300,000.

Yes, you read that correctly. And 23 years ago that was worth even more than it is now! (I’m sure you’d worked that out for yourself, but I’m just saying…!)

Gob-smacking, isn’t it? Good for her, and all that (no, no, not jealous at all).

And at the other end of the scale, the ALCS has recently published a report which states that, despite rising book sales, the average annual income for a full-time author is £7,000.

Also at the other end of the scale, a debut novelist admitted to me recently that their most recent monthly royalty statement was something like £6.83.

Here’s the full Adele Parks article, if you want to read it but it’s behind a paywall so unless you register with The Times (free for a limited number of articles a month, I think!) you might not be able to see it.

My earnings.. (ahem) are somewhere in the middle of those two – but nearer to the £6.83 a month, obviously.

There are some authors, clearly, who make a lot of money from writing and because those are the names and the figures that make the newspapers, it leads to a general misconception that we’re all making a fortune!

Ah, if only that were true! 🙂

The Vanishing Sheep

This is where they got out!

In other news, I was distracted from writing the you-know-what (or should that be the ‘ewe-know-what’?) on Friday by the appearance of 3 runaway sheep! (Two big ones and a lamb).

They climbed – very nimbly and goat-like – over a collapsed wall in the field across the road, just as I was turning into our drive, so naturally, I parked and then ran up to the road, to see what I could do.

By this time, about four cars had stopped and one man opened his window and asked, “Are they yours?” (because obviously I looked like a shepherd).

The sheep were now careering down the grass verge, clearly delighted to be ‘free’ and the drivers got bored and all drove off, narrowly avoiding them.

I didn’t have time to take a photo of them, sadly but you all know what sheep look like, so perhaps not necessary? I DID get a photo of their exit route from the field though, as, once they’d disappeared, I posted it on the village Facebook page, with a description of the woolly wanderers and I also phoned our neighbours, who have sheep themselves and who I thought might know the owners of the runaways.

The owner was traced and I’m assuming/hoping, that he got the sheep back!

Nickname Ideas?

I need a new nickname for a tomboy, rough-around-the-edges female character in my new book.

It was going to be ‘Spud’ but I decided that was too English (she’s Scottish), so I changed it to ‘Tattie’ but then I realised that it’s too similar to another name in the book, so I can’t use it.

I want it to be a nickname, perhaps based on a surname but I don’t want to it to end in ‘y’ because I have too many characters whose names end in ‘y’ or the ‘y sound’ (eg: Seffy, Joey, Angie).

Any ideas, anyone? Leave a comment if you can think of something because my brain is melting at the moment!

Thank you, in advance for any suggestions!

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20 Responses to In Which I Am Distracted By Sheep

  1. Penny Alexander says:

    I can recommend ‘The Guinness Book of Names’ by Leslie Dunkling, if you can find a copy. It has all kinds of information on names and places, plus three sections on nicknames – rhyming, to-names, borrowings, pet-names, reversals etc. (suggestions: ‘Gnat’ from Natalie, or ‘Lyle’ from someone originally called Tate and so on).
    Good luck, Helen!

  2. Kate+Blackadder says:

    I love Leslie Dunkling’s books, Penny. Helen, trying to think of nicknames from my (Scottish) childhood (although I think Spud sounds equally Scottish and English) – Mac (maybe too obvious); Tosh (Mackintosh); Fudge (MacFadzean); Ham (Hamilton); Stot (Stoddart); Dod (MacDonald/Gordon/Donaldson).

    • Thanks, Kate. I did actually really like ‘Spud’ but because one of my other main character’s name starts with an ‘S’ as well (Seffy), I found that a few times I’d written ‘Seffy’ when I meant ‘Spud’ and I thought if I was getting confused between the names, then the reader almost certainly would too! Some good suggestions there, though, thank you! I will have a think!

  3. Margaret Garrod says:

    It would help to know the girl’s surname but seeing the author’s name I thought of Dunk. Random! Her surname could be Duncan. I’m sure you’ll find something better.

    • Well, her surname’s not set in stone. It’s ‘Edwards’ at the moment – which is where the Spud/Tattie thing came from (King Edwards potatoes) but I can change it to anything. I like Dunk.. it’s going on the ‘possibles’ list! Thank you

  4. jacpye says:

    Caz, Shaz, Den? The book sounds a good bet, though.

  5. Karelann says:

    My daughter Joanne had the nickname Ding x

  6. Eirin Thompson/E.D. Thompson says:

    I find it impossible to proceed without names for characters and feel so much better when names are settled. In my latest mystery-suspense I had a character called Darcy, which felt right, but I realised that it clashed with another name and changed it to Jodie. This was such an improvement, because the characters of her parents are in the book, too, and would never have come up with Darcy – Jodie was much more ‘them’. This reminded me of a tip I was given eons ago about considering what a character’s parents would have named them, when making your selection – worth a thought? (I realise this doesn’t help at all with nicknames, but just thought I’d mention it.)

    • Thanks for your comment, Eirin. Interesting about your ‘Darcy Dilemma’! I think characters names are so important and like you, I spent a lot of time thinking about them and trying to get them right! If the name’s not right, the character just doesn’t work. I find naming men especially hard! I like that tip about thinking what their parents would have called them. I’ll definitely remember that!

  7. Sharon Boothroyd says:

    It can be difficult, thinking up names but once you’ve cracked it, you just know it’s right. Here are some names for you to consider Helen, but I’m not sure if there are nicknames, Scots and suitable for your era: Tam, Mika, Lena, Mitch, Peta, Finton, Eve, Veta, Shula, Ria, Hodge, Jenna & Murray. Let us all know which name you’ve chosen!

  8. Kate Hogan says:

    Lovedyour new novel, Helen. So very well done. Re your character, just thinking, Rags – short for morag. Is that a scottish name? Also hope your mum is soon better. Hope you back is soon better, too I’m in similar boat re back pain etc after lifting too many bags of bricks and rubble high into a skip! Put’ the kibosh on a lot of activities good wishes. Kate Hogan.

    • Sorry to hear you’ve got a bad back too, Kate (I’ve decided that mine’s from all the driving I’m doing. Have shoved a cushion behind my back in the car and am also doing back exercises twice a day and it seems to be helping.

  9. Kate Hogan says:

    I Meant Morag!

    • I guessed you meant Morag, Kate! Thank you so much for the lovely review you left for ‘The Highland Girls’. That did really cheer me up as I battled to get to the end of the first draft of the sequel (which has now gone off to the editor!). More about that anon…!

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