Monday, 29 December 2008

Happy Hogmanay

Well, that's another one over with and this year I got a bumper load of useless gifts. It's at times like this you realise your so-called nearest and dearest don't know you at all! Ah, well. At least I got some book tokens so they'll come in handy.

So now there's New Year, or Hogmanay as we call it up here, to look forward to. I'm detoxing at the moment, so only the resolutions for me this year. One thing I must do is try to cut down on my internet forum usage which has almost eclipsed my writing lately. I'll try to keep blogging, but we'll see how it goes. I also must spend more time getting fitter as I've really become a couch potato in 2008.

Happy Hogmanay one and all!

Monday, 22 December 2008

Season's Greetings

Christmas is looming. This means:

The family are all home all day every day so no time to myself.

The housework, long dismissed as irrelevant while I tap at my keyboard, refuses to be ignored any longer.

My elderly relations will need to be fed and watered.

So, blogging will sadly have to drop down my priority list. I wish you all a very nice holiday and may all your dreams come true in 2009. I'll see you when I get the chance.

If you're interested in my friend Edie Tor's plans for Christmas please see them here. And feel free to leave any comments - I'm having trouble convincing her that anyone is reading.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

YouWriteOn (Again)

The YouWriteOn POD debacle shows no sign of cooling off, with some individuals making some pretty extreme and probably libelous accusations against the site and its founder, Ted, on the various message boards I visit. I don't want to add to it, there's enough hot air being expended already. But I will say this.

YWO was my first taste of an internet writers' site, and my experience of it was good on the whole. When I joined it had no forum to speak of so there was no "networking". The system seemed beautifully simple: post your work for review, and review other people's work. The positive feedback I got gave me the confidence to go on with my writing, and for that I am grateful to some lovely, well-meaning people.

The POD offer is free and no one is being forced to do it. In some cases, years of frustration and rejection have left people with no alternative. It's a free country (mostly) and they are free to choose that option. If it gives them the opportunity to see their work in print then good luck to them.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Introducing Edie Tor

Ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce...Edie Tor.
My good friend, confidante and editor par excellence. Hopefully her useful insights will help us all view the publishing business with less innocent eyes.

Visit Edie on her own blog "Edie Tor Talks Turkey".


I'm thinking of launching another blog. This one will star my alter ego, the editor from hell, Edie Tor. You know how all authors are really a split personality; the tender sensitive creative writer and the hard-as-nails bitch who edits the hell out of everything. Well Edie is my other half.

Watch this space.

Monday, 15 December 2008

Not right for our list

Finally heard from the agency who requested my full two months ago. While they enjoyed reading it they didn't think it was right for their list. No feedback other than that, so I've emailed to ask.

Oh well. It's disappointing of course, but I don't feel too bad on the whole. I'd more or less convinced myself this would be the outcome. So it's back to subbing and waiting.

Sunday, 14 December 2008


You may recall I mentioned the YouWriteOn free POD offer in an earlier post.
By all accounts, with the promised Christmas deadline looming, it has not gone swimmingly, with huge delays and many books listed on Amazon with mistakes on the covers. It's caused a lot of worry and distress, lots of bad publicity for the site and much frantic posting on writers' boards. I have to say it doesn't surprise me. The aim of publishing 5000 books in a few weeks always looked like wishful thinking.

But I really feel for the people who put their faith in YWO and have been let down, so I won't be joining in with the I-told-you-so gloating that some are indulging in. Nor will I be joining in with the condemnation of YWO which I believe provides writers with a useful free peer-review service. The whole thing just makes me sad.

Monday, 8 December 2008

Email from Agency

Someone give me a valium.

Just got an email from the agency I sent my full manuscript to seven weeks ago. They apologise for the delay and say it is currently being considered. She promises to get back to me as soon as possible.

There goes my concentration.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

How not to write a query letter

An antidote to query writing:

Dear Tony
You may recall we met at the Edinburgh Book Festival in 1992. I was the one in the green leotard shouting and waving at the back of the hall as you gave your keynote address. Anyway you suggested I go off and write or words to that effect, so here is the result of your encouragement. My debut novel, a sci-fi/western/supernatural/romance you-name-it-it's-in-there, entitled "Bungee Jumping In The Gobi Desert", is 560k words long. I realise that's a bit on the long side, but I reckon I could get it down to 550k with a bit of nip and tuck. It would make a terrific film and I'm sending a copy to Stephen Spielberg - does he accept email attachments do you know? I can see Brad Pitt in the lead role, and if he's not available then maybe George Cluney but definitely not Leonardo di Caprio who sucks big time.
Anyway hope you enjoy reading it. I've put my phone number at the top of the page, but for God's sake don't call after nine because the dog goes wild when the phone rings and wakes up the whole street.
Yours, Wally

Making writing special

A rejection comment that I see a lot on the forums I frequent is that someone's writing isn't "special" enough to be published. Technically it may be perfect but it lacks the zing that grabs the agent/editor's lapels and keeps him glued to the sofa.

I think it highlights the problem we have as writers. Usually criticism on peer review forums deals with the nuts and bolts of writing; technical skill which is easy to pinpoint and put a name to. Rules and spelling, grammar etc. Of course you need all that, just as you need a feel for structure, dialogue, scene-setting, characterisation. But having learned all those things you then need the passion to put it all together. Like a chef creating a dish from all the various ingredients, it is passion and energy that lifts it above the ordinary. But it's elusive. You can't find it in the grammar or the structure or any other components. It's there, driving the writing forward, keeping them reading.

There's a kind of channelling that happens when you concentrate so hard you forget yourself or time and it just flows. Has anyone else experienced that? Almost as if this story isn't coming from you at all but somewhere else. That is where this drive comes from, I believe. It's an unconscious thing, so perhaps that's why it makes us slightly uncomfortable. It involves forgetting ourselves and just creating.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

New Mystery

Getting the inkling of a new story. It started yesterday and I've scribbled a few notes. Another mystery - paranormal/psychological again. I'd begun to worry I had dried up, but this idea is exciting me like The Bookseller did.

But this time there's more to worry about at this stage. I confess to being a lot more ignorant about the writing process when I started The Bookseller. I didn't give a thought to tense or tone, I just wrote it. Rightly or wrongly, I relied on instinct. This time I'm trying to do more prep. At the moment I don't really have a story yet, just a few notes about events I want to happen and a nebulous idea about the resolution.

It's going to be all about paranoia. That's definitely my favourite stomping ground. Someone thinks they're going mad, the things happening to them make no sense, but once they change their mindset it all falls into place. This time the protagonist is a woman. I think. (Like I said, it's still early days)