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I write well researched but readable historical and contemporary novels and some non-fiction. I live in a Scottish country cottage with my artist husband. I love gardening and I also collect the fascinating antique textiles that often find their way into my fiction. This blog is about all these things and more!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

One More Reason To Love Amazon

Old Los Cristianos.
I'm in the middle of a new project which involves extensive rewrites and revisions of an old back-list title, which will be my next eBook publication. Actually, it will be two books, possibly even three, loosely based on a novel which was written and published many years ago. I don't often like to go back to old projects, but for all kinds of reasons which had more to do with changes in the publishing world, the publication didn't turn out quite the way I wanted. It was written (and acquired) as one kind of book and published as another. The novel I intended it to be - a book about cross cultural marriage and the adjustments that have to be made - disappeared somewhere down the corporate hole in the middle of the deal. It was reasonably popular at the time but when I read it now I can see all kinds of problems which should have been addressed at the editing stage. And it's rather dated. But at the heart of it, I think there's a good strong story in an intriguing setting. And I still like the central characters very much.

So I'm rewriting it. Drastically. Adding a lot, subtracting a lot, changing a lot and all of it in the light of experience. I seem to be a sadder and wiser person these days and it's showing in the story. By the time I've finished the first book in the series, it will - I feel - be quite different, although with enough of the old skeleton in there to satisfy the people who liked it the first time round.

So what has all this to do with loving Amazon, other than the fact that the new novels will be published on Kindle?

Well, this first novel in the series is set largely in the Canaries, on the islands of Tenerife and La Gomera. I wrote the first draft of this story back in the 1980s when I was living aboard a giant catamaran (called Simba - big cat - get it?) mostly at anchor in Los Cristianos Bay,  although with occasional sorties elsewhere, particularly to our favourite place in the whole archipelago: La Gomera. I'll be blogging a bit more about that time over the next few weeks. Needless to say, it wasn't OUR yacht. My husband was working as skipper for a charter company, and we would sometimes be joined by paying guests. Which wasn't all that happened. I came back expecting a baby!

But over the past few weeks, I've realized that I both need and want to know more about the history of these islands. Not because these are historical novels, but because one of my main characters is born and bred on La Gomera. I already knew something of his family heritage and was intrigued by it but - you know how it is with research - I had a hankering to know more, even if I didn't make detailed use of it in the new novels. Searching for the history of the Canaries, even online, doesn't elicit very much information. I had read as much as I could, back in the eighties, and still had some of the books and pictures from that time. I still had my notes from various sightseeing trips, and conversations with local historians. But there seemed to be a dearth of detailed histories in English and my Spanish leaves a lot to be desired. (Living on a boat, you learn the words for fibreglass polish and folding table but not much of an academic nature.)

I did a bit of googling which only pointed me to books, papers and sites I already knew about. So I turned to Amazon. Which, I now realize, was where I should have started. When you're looking for a book, but you haven't a scooby what it is, what it's called, who wrote it or even if it exists, Amazon is the place to go. I swear, within three clicks, Amazon had presented me with a couple of extraordinary accounts of the Canaries from the late 1800s, facsimile editions, complete with gorgeous pen illustrations. Not only that, but when I hesitated, wondering if I should buy these fat doorstops of volumes, I clicked on a review to read a charming, funny and detailed exposition by another reader who made the books sound irresistible. Another click and they were on their way to me. They arrived the following afternoon. (OK. I've succumbed to Amazon Prime. They even give you a two hour window for delivery)

And here they are. Beside me as I type this. Lengthy accounts of travels in the Canaries first published in 1887, written by an enterprising and engaging 'lady traveller' called Olivia M Stone.

So that's another reason why I love Amazon. There must be some seriously good and intuitive programming at work here. Within moments, they had suggested two books I didn't even know existed, books they delivered to my doorstep twenty four hours later, books which turned out to be exactly what I needed. Spooky. Like Lois Lane said of Superman: Can you read my mind?


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