I finished printing out Winds of Change yesterday afternoon, checked the manuscript yet again, then packed it up. I've just posted it. 129,000 words on 504 pages is a hefty weight and cost £10.30 to send first class. But that was only a little more than parcel rates and will arrive three days sooner.
So, what now? Clean out my office - I've forgotten what colour the carpet is. Tidying my desk and putting away all my research files will help me move on from this story so I can begin work on the next. Ideas have been bubbling for a while but I needed to get Winds of Change on its way first. Not putting anything on paper allowed me freedom to consider all kinds of possibilities without commitment.
But now all that changes. I have to decide the year, background, locations and characters for the new book. It's an exciting feeling, exhilarating and slightly scary. For me one of the joys of being a novelist is learning from each book I write and carrying that forward to make the next one even better.
Where will I start? Reading about the period and locations I've chosen will suggest events, plot-points, and – most importantly - characters whose conflicts and choices will drive the story and explore my chosen theme. Often during this preliminary reading a title will suggest itself. Fingers crossed.
But first things first: vacuum cleaner, duster, screen wipes ...