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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Whom Should Writers Follow on Twitter?

OK, so you get a twitter account, find a few friends already on, then what should you do? Who else should you follow? And how do you find those people?

How about other writers? Here is a great list, all organized by genre:

http://mashable.com/2009/05/08/twitter-authors/

Or agents, publishers and publicists? Try this list:

http://editorunleashed.com/2009/01/15/twitter-tips-for-writers-25-good-follows/

There, that should keep you (and me) busy for a while!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

I'll Admit It: I Tweet

But only occasionally. I'm not a die-hard Twitter enthusiast, at least not yet.

In preparation for this blog post, however, I've spent the last couple weeks increasing my Twitter footprint. If that is even a phrase. If it's not, it should be.

Twitter, for the newbie, is an application used in social networking, where users can send out "tweets," or short messages of 140 characters or fewer. These tweets are seen by people who "follow" you. And you can see the tweets of those whom you choose to follow. You don't have to follow anyone you don't want to, and you don't have to allow other people to follow you. You can make your tweets private (not recommended if you want to actually network with people), and you can block certain users.

You can also follow the twitter feeds of celebrities, notable people, businesses, news agencies, colleagues, and friends--whoever is on twitter that you would like to hear from. The time required to use twitter really varies based on how many people you follow, how often you tweet, and how closely you want to follow the tweets.

When I first started, I would access twitter occasionally though facebook. It was interesting, but I really wasn't sure what to do with it. I treated it more like an email account that I had to check every so often. I missed a lot of tweets. I used it a little more when I figured out how to get twitter to update my facebook status. (I'll cover that in the next post about interconnectivity.) And for a while, that was all I used it for.

And then, the epiphany... Tweetdeck. While I can't say that Tweetdeck changed my world, it did rapidly increase my twitter usage. Now I leave Tweetdeck open on my laptop. I've started following a few writers, agents, and others who tweet about writing. The effect is having a ticker of quotes and links about writing update regularly on my computer. It's giving me a feeling of being at a writers' conference--all the time.

Of course, the downside of this is that, yes, it has cut into my writing time a little. But it has also made the activity a little less solitary, and I have been sometimes educated and other time amused by the content coming across.

Do you tweet? Follow me here.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Newbie Facebook Networking

Once registered on facebook, the key to effective networking is finding and making "friends."

Now, I haven't done this as rabidly as others have. In fact, I think there is an advantage to building a facebook network slowly over time. How can you effectively interact with people if they are only a name? And I don't friend everyone who sends me a request either. 98% of the time I do, but I always look at their profile. If there is no info there, or a lot of objectionable content, or if they seem like just a spammer, I ignore their request.

How to find new friends on facebook.


Watch the friend suggestions facebook gives you. I don't friend everyone that is suggested. (For example, I'm not going to friend my friend's cousin. Or the person I went to school with, but have no recollection of.) But I have added a number of friends that way.

Join facebook groups. Read the message boards, and add friends who say things that interest you. I'm a member of the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) and I joined their facebook group as well. Immediately after joining, I got several friend requests, and have since sent more to other members of the group.

Steal friends. OK, I'm guilty of going though other people's friends list and friending their friends. Especially writers.

Look for links on message boards, blogs, and email signatures. If you interact with someone in some way online, why not interact on facebook too? And why not put a link (or at least mention you're on facebook) in your signatures?

Search. I tried this last week. I searched through the Buffalo network looking for writers, and ended up adding a few local authors I didn't know about.

Now, I've learned not to take it personally if people don't respond to a friend request. Some people simply don't want to network on facebook. They use it to link up with family and friends. Agents, for example, are unlikely to friend writers. And that is certainly understandable. And sometimes people clean out their friend's list, and I try not to take that personally either.

But once you do make friends, try to interact in meaningful ways. I usually send a private message or "write on the walls" of new friends. I often don't do this if the person I'm friending has 1000 or more friends. When their friend's list is that long, I worry about just being "one more thing they have to deal with."

Which is perhaps why the best networking is often accomplished among other aspiring writers: Make friends at the same level, and grow up together.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Facebook for Writers 101

All writers should be on facebook.

I always have trouble with universal statements like that. But I heard this one enough that I had to check out facebook for myself and draw my own conclusions. Are you ready?

I like facebook.

Why? Not entirely sure. Maybe it is the illusion that I have friends. Or perhaps it is the social interaction that makes writing a slightly less solitary occupation. Facebook has great potential for developing a network of advisers, colleagues, and a potential market--all those things I was promised going in.

But here is one thing that I haven't seen often enough: facebook is a social networking site, and NOT a professional networking site.

Why is that important?

Two reasons.

1. Writers going into facebook looking for professional contact may be perturbed by the social aspect of it.

People play odd games, take stupid quizzes, play Scrabble (I love Scrabble), tease, flirt, poke, adopt imaginary pets, and throw virtual pillows. Some applications I like, some I don't. But mostly it is fun.

I have, however, been really turned off by authors who, after "friending" lots of their fans, turned around and groused about people clogging up their home page with their status updates. Um...that's just stoopid.

For one thing, you don't have to friend everyone. You can always say no. Secondly, you don't have to see everything all your friends post. You can turn off the feed to certain friends and filter out certain applications if the content proves objectionable or the volume overwhelming. Thirdly, you can separate your friends into lists. I have one list for friends and relatives that I don't want to lose as the number of friends increases. I have another list for writers. Visiting that list reminds me of being at a writers' conference.

2. People going into facebook for the social interaction may be turned off by "professionals" zapping the fun out of it.



Facebook friends who use all their posts to promote and network professionally might be perceived as spammers--like that obnoxious person who came to the party and pigeon-holed them in the corner trying to sell them a timeshare.

So what is an aspiring writer to do?

Join facebook, but think of it as a party. Walk around. Meet people. Have fun. Make friends and contacts. Don't be obnoxious in marketing, and don't be annoyed by people having fun. Build a network slowly by being friendly. Post blog updates, but don't be pushy. And then when you have big news, like a new book, you'll have a network to announce it to. And if you never get a book published, you still have a network of friends and a place to play scrabble.

And friend me while you're there: Barbara Early on the Buffalo, NY network.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Learning to Write, revisited

Okie dokey. Just when I changed my blog title from "Learning to Write," I'm going to revisit the topic. And here's why: literary agent Rachelle Gardner's great post entitled "How Do You Learn to Write?" There's a checklist (I'm a sucker for a checklist), and I just have to see how I stack up.

Check out her post here: http://cba-ramblings.blogspot.com/2009/05/how-do-you-learn-to-write.html


→ You read books on writing, and books in the genre in which you write.

(Oh my, yes)


→ You are a member of writers' organizations and online forums.

(Yep!)


→ You take workshops offered whenever and wherever you can find them.

(Not so many around here, but I'm working on it.)


→ You take creative writing classes, like at a local community college (although I've heard these can be a waste of time).

(Haven't seen too many offered locally.)


→ You have a critique group (this may or may not help, depending on the qualifications of your critique partners, as well as your own personality).

(Have several. Each helpful in different ways.)


→ You submit your project to agents and editors, hoping for scraps of feedback.

(Not ready for that yet. One piece of advice I've heard is not to rush this.)


→ You pitch your project at conferences, again hoping for feedback.

(Hope to do this soon.)


→ You enter your manuscripts in contests, hopefully getting feedback as part of the contest results.

(Yep, working through that feedback now, as a matter of fact)


→ You take advantage of the "paid critiques" offered at most writers conferences.

(I've only been to one conference so far, and have done that. Am planning on doing that again soon.)


→ You hire a professional editor to evaluate or edit your project

(May think about this in the future, although I really think it best to learn to self-edit properly)


→ You find someone to mentor you and walk alongside you for a time.

(Hmmm. Would love that. But I'd probably drive him or her crazy.)


→ You simply write and read and write and read and trust your instincts.

(LOL. I've been writing seriously less than one year. I'm still in the process of developing my instincts. I'm questioning everything lately.)


Overall, I think I'm on track. I just wish I knew where the track was leading!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Widgets

When I was in high school, our math texts had a number of word problems involving a widget factory. We all joked with the students who were naive enough to think that there really was such a thing as a widget.

Well, now there is...

A widget is a little bit of pre-written code that you can add to your blog. Almost all the items on the right hand side of my blog are widgets.

What can you put there? There are many choices, and a lot of it depends on the focus of your blog. Some of the things I've chosen to include are:

Followers.



When I first started reading blogs, I was a little shy about commenting and following other bloggers. But this is a great way to network and "meet" people online--people with similar interests. Following other bloggers and allowing others to follow you is really networking. And networking takes time.

About Me.


I have to admit, I haven't taken full advantage of this feature. The advice I've heard is to complete your profile exhaustively. People search the profiles, and use them to find other bloggers of similar interest. Mine is rather sparse, so that is my homework for tonight.

Twitter Updates.

I like this widget. This allows people who find your blog see what you're up to on twitter, and follow you on there as well. Nicely interconnected.

Links and Blog Updates.


I'll let you in on a little secret. I didn't add these widgets for anyone else. I added them for me. There are a lot of blogs that I read on a daily or every-so-often basis. And I used to have them all bookmarked. But these widgets are great because now every blog I read is listed, and I can also see when it has been updated and what the title of the post is. I love it. And visitors to my blog with interests similar to mine can access them too.

Some bloggers place links only based on reciprocity. I don't. If I find a blog helpful, and I'll read it again, I'll place it in the widget. I am the principle beneficiary. (Of course I'm always flattered when people link to my blog!)

The other widgets I added were a matter of personal preference. I like the word or the day and the verse of the day features.

How to add a widget through Blogger:


When you are signed into your blog, choose "Customize" on the blue navigation bar. On the "layout" tab, choose "page elements." Depending on which template you've chosen, you'll see "add a gadget" somewhere (mine is on the right hand side). When you click on that, you'll get a list of available gadgets or widgets. You can choose the ones that interest you, and then arrange them in an order that makes sense.

Third Party Widgets

Sitemeter is a third party program. It keeps track of blog visitors, and I can get a better handle on who is visiting my blog, how they are hearing about it, and where readers are. It is also encouraging to see that yes, people are visiting my blog, even when they choose not to comment. You can click on the little sitemeter graph (on the bottom right) to go to their site, and sign up there. There you will find the code, and instructions for placing it on your blog.

And the "Cutest Blog on the Block" background is also a third-party widget. There are many of them to choose from. And you can click on the upper left hand corner to go to their site and see what is available.

Now, this can take quite a while to set up, but you can build a blog a little at a time. And widgets are one way to add value to your blog--value that you benefit from and don't need to take time to create.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Just for Fun

Developing main characters for a mystery is a lot of work.

How about:

He's a sword-wielding chivalrous househusband on a mission from God. She's a warm-hearted hip-hop Valkyrie with the power to see death. They fight crime!

or

He's a one-legged dishevelled senator with a mysterious suitcase handcuffed to his arm. She's a psychotic out-of-work bounty hunter with a knack for trouble. They fight crime!

You can generate your own at this site: http://www.theyfightcrime.org/

Each visit gets you a different automated result. I'm hooked.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Branding and Blogging



One of the buzzwords I'm seeing everywhere is "branding." And in all honesty, it is still coming in a little fuzzy. While I go adjust the rabbit ears (yes, I'm giving away my age a little), there are a number of people who seem to know what they are talking about, so I'm going to defer to them.

I got a link to this blog this afternoon: http://www.booksandsuch.biz/blog/2009/05/kiss-of-death-the-renaissance-writer/

In the post, agent Wendy Lawton associates an author's reluctance to be branded with a lack of focus in writing. So perhaps before identifying some eye-catching theme or witty slogan that would summarize my brand, it might be a good idea to narrow the focus a little bit.

In my normal style of blundering along and doing everything wrong the first time, I originally named my blog "Learning to Write: On my way to that first dreadful novel." When I got some positive feedback, I crossed out the word dreadful. But while self-deprecating statements are a hallmark of my personality, is that really what I want to be known for? And "writing" is general. Now that I've covered many of the writing basics (does anyone ever really master them?), let's see if we can narrow the field.

Writing > fiction > mystery > cozy > inspirational cozy mystery.

I'm getting closer. I doubt I would write anything that was not a cozy mystery. Mystery is my passion, and can't see myself venturing away from the genre. I might write something that was not inspirational, as long as it was clean. So perhaps "cozy mystery" might be as narrow as I want to take that. I also read a number of secular cozies, and for the purpose of this blog anyway, perhaps it would be better to narrow the focus from "learning to write," to "crafting a cozy."

Why look at all this now? Because my brand and focus should be evident in the design of the blog. The blog should appeal to my target audience. The target audience of the book I'm writing should be the target audience of the blog. Right?

So while I work out how to give my blog a much needed face-life, let's talk about blog design.



There are a lot of different looks to blogs out there. And perhaps the first decision than needs to be made (after perhaps the title and focus of the blog) is what you want the thing to look like. Simple? Elaborate? Traditional? Modern? Professional? Whimsical? The simplest way to do this is to choose an appropriate template.

The template is a professional design for your blog. It includes a background and preset font types and colors. There are a number of them to choose from from Blogger, and even more available from third party providers. There are even some places that will custom-design a blog for you (for a fee), and online instructions on how you can make your own.

I think I might go with "scribe" for my redesign. It is very traditional, and seem appropriate for a writers' blog. There is something cozy about it.

After picking a template, it might be a good time to develop a header. The header at the top of a blog can be as simple as the text you type in, or can also be an uploaded picture. A third party program, such as photoshop, can be used to create and edit a header.

Next entry, we'll talk about pictures and widgets.

Question: What is your brand? And how have you reflected it in your blog? Or how do you plan to?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Blogging 101

Once you do decide to blog, you immediately face two questions: Where should I set up a blog? And what should I blog about?

Where should I set up my blog?

While there are a number of places you can set up a blog, my decision to switch to blogger (blogspot) was pretty easy. I read many blogs on a regular basis, blogs by writers, agents, and publishers. They are listed in the widget (sidebar) on the right ==>

That "B" in the orange square said it all. The vast majority of the writing-related blogs I read were created on Blogger, so it made sense to me to move my blog here. There are others, yes. Wordpress, Typepad, and LiveJournal. And each has their pros and cons. While I was on LiveJournal I liked the feature where you could share a post with certain friends only. But I haven't regretted my decision. Blogger has some nice features that allow you to create and maintain an individual blog with its own style and flavor.

What should I blog about?

Here's where it gets tougher. There are a few different options you can choose as a writer. And a lot depends on what you are trying to accomplish.

Writers can obviously write about some aspect of writing. I blog about writing, and it is a great place to showcase what I am learning. I've found it helpful. The problem with blogs about writing is that you're only going to attract people who write to your blog.

Non-fiction writers might have an advantage here. They can surely blog about whatever topic they write about.

But for fiction writers? It might be a matter of branding.

I'm a little new to the concept of branding.

I found a good article here: http://writing-journey.com/internet-writing/4-keys-to-establishing-your-brand-as-an-internet-writer

Now the article pertains mainly to people who want to earn money on the internet, but the concepts apply. And here's what I'm thinking. Perhaps it is time to rethink the blog title, narrow my content, and come up with a new concept. What exactly is my brand?

Which leads me to a question. What is your brand?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Social Networking for Newbies

Shortly after I began writing, I encountered the advice: If you're going to write you'd better blog, FaceBook, and twitter.

I started my first blog shortly after that, and proceeded to make almost every mistake in the book. So while going over the basics today with some writing friends of mine (who just returned from a conference where they were told that if they're going to write, they'd better blog, facebook, and twitter), I thought it might be a good idea to review what I have learned.

Where do you start? Perhaps the best place to start is with the blog. The most coherent description of how these things work together I found here:

To paraphrase, he said that your blog is your “homebase.” This is where you ultimately direct people. On the other hand, services like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. are “outposts.” The purpose of an outpost is to connect with people that otherwise wouldn’t find your homebase. (Michael Hyatt paraphrasing Chris Brogan)

Yes, blogging takes time. Yes, blogs need updating. But the primary advantage to a blog is that the constantly changing material is an attraction to people. I've learned so much reading blogs. It is information in bite-sized morsels that are easy for my mind to digest. Reading writers' blogs has helped to understand the process of writing. Reading agent blogs has begun to orient me to the business of writing.

And the advantages to writing a blog? I'd have to say the biggest one is that I tend to learn things best when explaining them to other people. All the topics that I've blogged on remain lodged in my memory. It is one of the best ways to learn. Secondly, blogging has brought me into contact with some new people I would have never otherwise met. There's a social aspect to it. And thirdly, a blog is writing. And every bit of writing you do makes you write even better. Words are never wasted.

So, how's that home base coming? Do you have a blog? What do you blog on?

Saturday, May 9, 2009

First Chapter Study: Summary

So, the analysis of first chapters ends at three. Why? I think I got it. I opened a few more cozy mysteries, skimmed them, and I'm beginning to see a pattern. So I abruptly stopped researching, and started rewriting my first chapter. But I think it might be a good idea to revisit what I've learned.

Recipe for a beginning a Cozy:

1. Start with character. Without exception, the cozies I surveyed began by introducing a character--a compelling, complex character who, although he/she doesn't know it yet, is about to have an adventure. Right out front, it seems important to engage the reader in the character's main goals, and obstacles to those goals. These may not have anything to do with the mystery that is to follow. This is not back story, although select elements of back story might be included. (Advice to other newbies: when sprinkling on back story, make sure you keep the top on the jar.) The character should be flawed, or at least struggling, in order to engage the audience.

2. Start before a change. The biggest challenge I had was knowing where to start. While it may seem intuitive to start a mystery at the scene of the crime, this might be counterproductive in a cozy. Once the reader knows that someone is missing or dead, taking the time to introduce your amateur sleuth will be perceived as taking them out of the story. Many of the cozies I surveyed had no hint of a crime in the first chapter. And those that did, popped the crime in unexpectedly at the end.

3. Add a cast of characters. Now is a great time to introduce a handful (don't go overboard) of the people that will feature in the rest of the book--relatives/friends, the sidekick (if there is one), an antagonist (there should be at least one), the victim, and a suspect or two. The introductions should be dynamic, not static: the protagonist and the supporting cast should be in motion and be interacting with each other in the cozy environment.

4. Generate tension from the conflict of the goals and motivations of the characters. This might be intuitive, or it might take some work. For me, it was like pulling teeth, but I hope it improves with practice. What helped me get a hold of this was developing a chart highlighting the handful of characters I had chosen, getting into their heads to determine what their goals were, and then brainstorming how these goals could cause them to clash. The result was a chart:

And while I didn't choose to develop all the potential conflicts I identified, I was able to pick out a few that seemed to add a little more interest.

5. Up the stakes. Oft-repeated sage advice is that it is not good enough to get your protagonist up a tree, you must throw rocks at him while he tries to figure out how to get down. Now, these can be rocks or pebbles, but the key is, they must matter to the character. It could be anything from a stab in the back to a snide comment to a broken nail. Now, the reader may glaze over if your character breaks a nail. But if she was about to visit her domineering, critical mother who badgered her for years about biting her nails, and she had spent the last six weeks breaking that habit, and had just returned from her first manicure... Now the broken nail is important. That's raising the stakes.

6. Sprinkle in details. Add enough sensory detail to aid the reader, but not too much, or you'll smother them. Balancing this will come from practice. I hope. But now is the time to start building the cozy environment, and the best way to do that is as the characters move through it.

Those are the challenges I've been working on. What are you struggling with in your writing?

Friday, May 1, 2009

First Chapter Study: The Quiche of Death

This is the third in a series of blog posts in which I'm studying how various successful cozy mystery writers structure their first chapters. The Quiche of Death, by M.C. Beaton, is the first book in her successful Agatha Raisin series. (3rd person)

You can read the first few pages here: http://www.amazon.com/Quiche-Death-Agatha-Raisin-Mysteries/dp/0312939167/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1241180188&sr=1-1#reader

Summary: Agatha Raisin, owner of a successful PR firm, retires early and moves to a cottage in the Cotswolds. Finding the pace too slow, she revisits London only to find that she doesn't seem to belong in either place. She returns to the cottage, determines to enter a cooking contest to win local favor (she doesn't cook), and then steals her neighbor's cleaning woman.

This is a great character introduction of a very engaging character. She is a once likeable and unlikeable, sympathetic and ruthless, an odd combination that keeps you reading, wondering how it is going to turn out for her.

There is no hint of a crime yet, only that Agatha has made some enemies, and considering her personality, is likely to make more. Beaton creates tension by the contrast of a very assertive, and perhaps aggressive, personality in a quiet village setting, and by establishing an important goal, and then dashing it in pieces.

Agatha's goals, which are unclear to her at the beginning (she thinks she wants peace, tranquility, and security) become clearer, when she realizes that she's lonely and needs friendship and acceptance. This is almost universally identifiable. The obstacles to those goals are her own ruthless personality and the closed nature of the small community to outsiders, as evidence by her neighbor's inclusion in that category after living there for twenty years.


In-depth analysis:

First paragraph: Mrs. Agatha Raisin sat behind her newly cleared desk in her office in South Molton Street in London's Mayfair. From the outer office came the hum of voices and the clink of glasses as her staff prepared to say farewell to her.

A lot of information in this concise paragraph. We learn her name, first of all. She is given the title Mrs., so we know that she is, or has been married. And the formality shows that she is probably someone to whom respect is given. She is not just Agatha, she is Mrs. Agatha Raisin. The fact that she sat behind her "newly cleared desk" (and yes, sometimes I guess you need those pesky 'ly adverbs) shows that the desk is not generally cleared, that this something new and significant. A change is taking place. We are given the address, which would probably mean something more to those who are familiar with London, but London is enough for me to get the location. And the second sentence is a very showy way, appealing to the sense of hearing, to say that Agatha is leaving her position. Since the staff is hers, we can guess that she is some kind of manager, at least, in this office setting.

Paragraph-by-paragraph:

2: Backstory and introduction of goal. She is retiring, and her goal has always been to move to a quaint cottage in the Cotswolds. She is on the brink of achieving her goal. My interest just perked up here. Someone was just telling me to focus on goals and the obstacles to those goals as a way of building up tension in the first chapter.

3: Introduction of the cozy setting, and a strengthening of the goal. The Cotswolds represent "beauty, tranquility, and security" to Agatha. And she had wanted it since childhood. Beaton raises the stakes here. This move is very important to Agatha.

4: Agatha had purchased the cottage. And is already a little disappointed in the name of the village.

5: Physical and character description of Agatha.

6: Description of how Agatha was perceived by her staff--she is a character.

In this description, Agatha pops out of the page, larger than life, but often in the negative sense. She is described as having no charm, no friends, a work-a-holic, and somewhat ruthless in her business practices. It's an interesting contrast to the peace and tranquility that she has apparently dreamed of her entire life. Already you suspect that this retirement is not going to turn out as Agatha has hoped.

7: Agatha begins to doubt that everything is going to turn out as she has hoped.

8: She goes into the outer office to say goodbye.

9: Roy made punch.

10: Her staff gives her gifts, and she begins to doubt the move more.

11: Agatha addresses the staff, and there is a bit of explaining here too, of what she has agreed with the new owners of the firm. And a joke about crotchless panties: a big hint that she is no Miss Marple.

12: Roy explains his gift.

13: Agatha leaves the party.

14: She elbows someone and steals their cab. Hmmm. Interesting person. You have to wonder how it is going to work out when she elbows someone aside on her way to peace and tranquility. Brilliant.

15: Train ride. Everything is waiting for her at her cottage.

16: Agatha falls asleep.

17: Foreshadowy passage. Agatha ponders the use of the word "terminate" when it refers to train passage. She switches trains. The day is now cold and grey, and her euphoria from the punch is going away. Nice mood transition. This is really a great paragraph.

Page by page:

page 4: A lot of great wording as Agatha continues her slow train journey. Dismal words: "straggily," "gloomily," "jaundiced." "Rising wind whining over the bleak fields." This is like a portal for her--a portal to a different world.

page 5: Description of the town and the cottage. The description of both contains elements of the fairy-tale idealism of what Agatha thought she wanted--a charming, cozy setting, but is interspersed with some contrasts that hint that all will not be as she expected. Very nice.

page 6: Continued description of the decor, which she had left up to an interior decorator. Much is fake, and it doesn't seem like her. She goes into town in search of a store for cooking ingredients. She is heartened by the greetings of people in the town.

page 7: She buys a quick dinner to microwave and a book. She goes home, turns her TV on, then off again, reads her book and heats her dinner.

page 8: After a week, she has toured all the local sights, spent every evening home alone, and has learned the difference between a friendly greeting (which she always got) and friendship, which she had not found. She heartens herself by saying that she can always go back to visit London whenever she wants.

page 9: Agatha returns to London to visit her former PR firm, unsure of how to explain that she is nothing in the eyes of the villagers--only she finds nothing at her PR firm either. It is shut down. She goes to visit the man she sold it to.

page 10: Agatha confronts the new owner, who tells her that most of the staff took 'redundancy pay' and no longer work for him. She tells him off and runs into Roy, who is now dressed in a suit instead of his more unconventional clothing.

page 11: Agatha inquires after the rest of the staff, which has been scattered, and invites Roy down for the weekend. He declines. She can't get a cab, and the tube trains are idle due to a transport strike.

page 12: Agatha, no longer feeling at home in London, reflects on her life.

page 13: More reflection (backstory) on her marriage, as she returns to her cottage. She goes back to the store, buys a frozen dinner, and sees a sign for a quiche-making contest.

page 14: Agatha contemplates that winning the quiche contest might put her in the good graces of the community. While in her garden, Agatha greets the neighbor woman, who refuses to respond. Agatha finds the rudeness refreshing, and goes over to her front door for a visit.

page 15: Agatha asks the neighbor about acquiring a cleaning woman. The neighbor has one, but doubts she has time to work for Agatha. Armed with the name, Agatha goes to the tavern and gets the cleaning woman's address.

page 16: Agatha visits the cleaning woman, and offers a higher hourly amount to lure her from neighbor.

page 17: The cleaning woman agrees to work for Agatha, and Agatha goes home and greets her neighbor with a huge smile, feeling very happy with herself.