Monday, 29 November 2010

A Small Announcement

It is with great pleasure that I announce I have signed with the Kate Nash Agency.

It is over four years since I wrote the first draft of The Bookseller and two years since I started subbing it to agents. During that time it has been through some changes, most notably the huge revision I did last year, and according to my agent (still getting used to saying that!) the renamed Jedza's Gate will still need some work before we sub to publishers. So the moral of this story is Never Give Up.

Sunday, 28 November 2010


It has snowed on and off for the past two days and nights. Yeah, I know, it's magical to look at, but the novelty wore off about mid morning yesterday when our cleared pathway got covered by another blizzard and I nearly got frost bite operating my camera. And the Met Office is predicting two weeks of these arctic conditions.

The roads are barely passable and uninviting. We live on the outskirts of a medium sized coastal town which hardly ever gets ice and snow because of its proximity to the sea. I can only assume the conditions are much worse inland because so far I haven't seen one snow plough or gritter go past here although we're just off a major trunk road. It's a weird feeling, the dual sense of connectedness as everyone suffers the same conditions, with the disconnectedness of being cut off from the rest of the world. Luckily we have a supermarket within walking distance so we shouldn't starve.

Theo is finding it all very confusing. The drifts on the golf course were taller than him this morning, so he was scrambling on his belly across the surface of the snow, almost as if he was trying to swim through it. Meanwhile I trudged through it the hard way. There's something about the whiteness contrasting with the black sky and boiling sea that makes you feel very insignificant in a blizzard.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

It's So Cold

Sorry to complain about the weather, but it is *&%$@y freezing!!

My post Nano giddiness continues. I'm getting the hang of the 2.0 version of Scrivener which I downloaded earlier this month. I've raved here about Scrivener before, so I won't bore you with the details, except to say it's definitely improved with lots more smashing features and more accessible buttons on the toolbar. Definitely gets Sandra's Seal of Approval.

With a view to outlining a comedy project next I raided my piggy bank to spring for John Truby's Comedy Class. I've already read his excellent Anatomy of Story (which you should read, if you haven't already) and heard enough about his genre classes to know the guy has a clue about his subject. He is a Hollywood story consultant so there isn't much he doesn't know about story structure, and with comedy more than any other genre, structure must be right from the word go.

What I got for my $50 (about £32) is six hours of MP3 files of his talks on the subject. So far I've listened to about a third of them, and taken notes which I'm transcribing. It's intelligent and thought provoking. He doesn't impose a formula but points out features and aspects common to successful stories. As I listen I find it is sparking my ideas, just like Anatomy of Story did. His talks are lean and relevant; no padding or irritating diversionary anecdotes, and so packed with information I sometimes need to listen to sections more than once. I'm impressed, but we'll see how it goes.

Here is one of his general story talks from Youtube.

Keep warm, folks!

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

What now?

This is my first non-Nanoing day (funny how Nano has spawned a whole new vocabulary) this month. After three weeks of constant pressure and feeling I should be sitting writing all the time I now feel very weird to have a few minutes of idleness. It's a bit like the day after the Big Exam you've been worrying about for months. I'm not quite sure what to do with myself.

I have one or two ideas I've toyed with lately so I might try and outline a new project out of one of them. I'm dying to have a go at a Romcom, and it would certainly make for some light relief after the heavy subject of my Nano book. And I really should revisit my historical play before long. Hmm...decisions, decisions...

Monday, 22 November 2010


Just made it across the finishing line. The last few thousand were the hardest, I must say. Some kind of fear of finishing seems to kick in, manifesting in the desire to clear out all the cupboards and wash the roof. But I managed to resist the urge and get my bum to stay in the seat to put those last few pages down.

Must say I thought I'd feel a lot happier but I'm truly just exhausted. It'll sink in eventually I suppose.

Meantime here's a Happy Dance to celebrate:

Monday, 15 November 2010

Downfall of Grammar

With all this frantic writing for Nano this is perhaps a moment to reflect on the Downfall of Grammar.

Well, it's a bit of light relief, anyway.

Hope everyone's well, by the way. I'm still frantically scribbling away so not long to chat. Reached 32k yesterday so the end is in sight.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Half Way

Phew - just dropped in here to say I've crashed through the 25k mark today and so that's me half way there.

It's not been a bowl of cherries this week. Quite apart from the Second Week doldrums of scenes not panning out and characters getting difficult I've been fighting the flu. Not only that I had a hot water bottle spring a leak on me a couple of days ago so I was sitting in a puddle - but still writing! So I'm either incredibly stupid or indefatigably driven to get this bloody book finished. I'll leave it to you to decide which.

One thing I've noticed is more than normal obsession with word counts this year. Don't know whether this is down to the new Novel Stats page on the Nano website which gives you a complete breakdown of where you are and what you need to do. True, it can be useful to see it all worked out for you, but the downside is it can make anyone falling behind feel a bit dejected. Nobody should ever feel like that - it's all about taking part and the word count is just a goal. Keep reminding yourself of what you've achieved and give yourself little treats as rewards. And remember to enjoy the journey!

Friday, 5 November 2010

Why would anyone hate Nano?

Haven't got long - I shouldn't really be here at all but wanted to share this preposterous article I saw posted on a forum.

What a load of crap. Of all the evils in the world, why would anyone choose to find fault with something as harmless and pleasure-giving as Nano? No one puts a gun to your head if you don't fancy it, so why the griping?

She says of herself
As someone who doesn't write novels
and therein lies the answer. The world, in my experience, is divided into two types of people: those who do stuff, take risks, go out on a limb; and those who stand around watching them, too afraid to try in case they fail and resenting anyone who goes for it. We nano fans fall into the former category. It takes a lot of guts, hard work and sheer determination to push yourself to meet that word count. It ain't easy but we do it. Sometimes we succeed, sometimes we fail. But that isn't the point. Life isn't about playing it safe, or it shouldn't be. And if no one ever wrote a first draft which sucked huge water melons there would be NO books in the world AT ALL.

Of course it's easy to stand on the sidelines and criticise. Maybe she should try Nano before she pours her supercilious, mean-spirited scorn on the rest of us.

(Ooh, and by the way - I've done over 11k so far!)