Thursday, 30 April 2009


eeeek! Just realised I haven't posted here for over a week. Sorry about that, but this has been a very eventful week. I can't go into detail but there has been some movement on the agent front and hopefully I will have some news to give you in the not too distant future.

Meanwhile I'm having fun researching the witchcraft aspect of WIP. I recently purchased some new tarot cards (I dabbled once before many moons ago but let it lapse) and joined some Wicca forums. The cards have been giving me some startlingly accurate predictions and I've discovered that Wiccans are lovely people who contrary to popular mythology wouldn't hurt a fly never mind turn anyone into a toad. They've been only too happy to give me advice. I'm wondering how they ever came to be so reviled and burned, but then people do the strangest things!

Research is one of the things I really love about writing a story. It gives me a chance to dip into another world, to live the experiences of my characters. Mind you it has its dangers. I have a tendency to get sucked in and then it's hard to pull back and use the information in the story. Or worse, get an idea for a whole different book that takes me away from the original project. Argh! Discipline, woman! It's self-indulgence, pure and simple. You'd think I'd know better at my age.

To close here is a link to another new agency looking for clients which I spotted on my surfing travels.

Toodle-oo the noo!

Wednesday, 22 April 2009


Anyone involved in creating anything has to live with criticism. It's a tough one to swallow but it's true. For every eager fan there will be an unimpressed critic only too willing to demolish your ego with the wrecking ball of their scathing remarks.

I've recently read a few best sellers and as always took a look at the reviews on Amazon to see what everyone else thinks about them. It never fails to amaze me how two people can view the same book so differently. What makes one ooze praise gets the other's goat. I often come away wondering whether they read the same book at all.

I've never felt annoyed enough by a book to post a bad review. That's not to say I haven't been disappointed by plenty and given up before reaching the end. I have given fullsome praise at the other end of the spectrum. Not sure why it's easier to say nice things; perhaps it's to do with not wanting to seem like a bitter old crone. Some negative reviews do seem fuelled by a vehemence borne of more than disappointment. I sometimes wonder how many bad reviews are the product of professional jealousy rather than critical insights.

One thing in favour of peer review sites is the process of being reviewed teaches you to be philosophical about the subjectivity of other people's opinions. You need to be more objective about criticism and not completely destroyed by it. Because criticism is the name of the game if it's your aim to be published. Agents and editors will want changes, inevitably. If you think your world has come to an end any time someone doesn't fall in love with your precious manuscript you're in for a rough ride.

Let's face it. No one likes criticism. But if you're wise you'll take from it what you can. It might be an opportunity to improve, disguised as a slap on the face. Resist the urge to throw a tantrum, mull it over and then decide whether you agree or not. Not all critics are right.

Here's a humourous take on it.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Never stop dreaming

Well, that’s another Easter over with. Elder son now back at Uni and I’m another year older, a few pounds heavier (thanks to birthday choccies) and £1.08 poorer thanks to my brother putting the wrong postage on my birthday card (8p short to be exact, but Royal Mail add another £1 “handling charge” Godbless’em).

The trouble with birthdays at my age is all they do is help sound the death knell for your hopes and aspirations. For years I believed I was too young to make a career as a writer – everyone says you have to live a little (or preferably a lot) before you start putting pen to paper. Whether one believes that or not, I don’t think I’d have had the patience or staying power for it in my youth. And you need a lot of those, I’m coming to learn.

But now I have another worry. In the intervening years attitudes have somehow changed – now it’s hip to be young and successful. Being middle aged and having experience doesn’t seem to count for much. I’ve even heard whispers that some agents are less interested in an older writer because they haven’t much mileage left in them.

So I was seriously chuffed to see this on Janet Reid’s blog yesterday. Not to mention moved to tears. There is something about the individual spirit confounding expectations that uplifts us all. And if one dumpy Scottish housewife can knock their socks off, there’s maybe hope for me too!

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Nearly the worst query letter

I had a bit of fun this week entering Nicola Morgan's Bad Query Competition. I'm a bit chuffed to get mentioned as a runner-up. Do take a look at the winning entry and some excerps from the other contenders. In case you're interested here was my entry:

Dear Derek

I’m sure you’ll remember me from last year’s Duffleberry Writers’ Conference. I was the one shouting and waving at the back of the hall during your keynote address. Anyway, you may recall advising me to go off and write, or words to that effect, so it is only fitting I give you first look-see at the fruits of my labours.

“The Gore of Edna” is my debut novel of 250k words. (I know you don’t normally handle fiction, but this sci-fi/detective/romcom/thriller crossover is bound to change your mind). I would say it sits somewhere between Agatha Christie and A.A.Milne. Hector Brash is a troubled, pipe-smoking, crossword solving, ex-wrestling detective, still haunted by his wife’s demise in a bizarre knitting accident. Called in to solve a particularly brutal murder, he finds himself drawn into a web of vice by the prime suspect, pert paraplegic Edna. But there’s a snag. Not only is Edna in the frame for murdering her millionaire playboy husband, she has a penchant for drinking the blood of live animals and decorating her house in Seventies memorabilia. Can Brash come to terms with these failings and find true love? Or will he stick to his crosswords and send her down instead?

I don’t want to pressure you at all, but I should warn you I saw a very similar storyline on Afternoon Theatre last week so it can only be a matter of time before Meryl Streep’s agent comes looking to buy the film rights. Trust me, this is going to be HUGE, so act now or you’ll be kicking yourself.

I am happy to send the manuscript, so if you are interested please call me on 23456 567890. Any time is fine, only please don’t call after 9pm as the phone ringing makes the neighbour’s whippets go mental and it takes hours to settle them down.

Yours sincerely,
Kevin Futtock

P.S. At 250k words I realise it’s a tad on the long side, but I could probably cut it down to 240k at a push.

P.P.S. Please excuse the smudges on the page but I have a heavy cold.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Spring Has Sprung

You know what - I think summer has come! The sun is shining, there are no puddles in the drive and the lawn is farting out of the ground like stubble on a navvy's chin.

But as always there's a down side to this rural idyll. After months of studiously ignoring it I now have to start paying attention to my garden. For the time being that really means keeping everything under control; weeds, grass cutting, hedge-trimming, etc. Time was when I was heavily into propagation (back in the days when this garden was little more than an overgrown paddock). Now I'm getting too old to lug barrow loads of soil - the old elbows give me gip - so I'm scaling down to the low energy level of gardening which means lifting nothing heavier that a hoe.

The Easter holidays start tomorrow so elder son comes home from University and the house will be a much less peaceful place for a week or so. The blogging might have to take a rest for a wee while, but I'll get back to it when I can.

Happy Easter one and all!