Saturday, 30 August 2008

Magic Tiles?

Thank you to everyone for all your comments and well-wishes after yesterday's news. I'm really, really touched that so many people dropped by and left a message. And to the friends that called me up as soon as they heard the news. As I said in my last post this development isn't my dream come true yet (getting my book published) and it could still go horribly wrong, but it is a very reassuring step in the right direction!

I'm not quite as manic today as I was yesterday but I'm still incredibly excited and nervous about Wednesday when I'll go to the agency, meet everyone (including NiceMrAgent who first asked for the full of my novel back in November last year! Gosh...this has being going on for 10 months now!) and then go out for lunch with my agent to talk about my book, what happens next and discuss book 2. I've sent her two synopses - one for book #2 (which, like novel #1, has a supernatural element and I've written 20,000 words of it) and one for book #3 (which is 'normal' women's fiction, no supernatural bits and I've plotted it but not written a word!).

I've got a feeling that the agent will go for novel #2 but who knows! Maybe I'll have to come up with a totally new idea?

Anyway, on to the 'magic tiles' of this post's title...

For quite a while now I've been a big fan of an artist called Rob Ryan. He creates screen prints (on paper and tiles) from handcrafted cut outs/stencils. His work is incredibly imaginative, detailed, romantic and just, well, beautiful and I've wanted to buy something from his online shop for AGES. Unfortunately I can't afford one of his prints (about £200-£300 each) at the moment but the tiles are much more reasonably priced at £30 each.

Last week I ordered two and, after yesterday's developments, I'm starting to believe that they might possibly possess magical powers!

This is the one that arrived yesterday morning, a few hours before my agent called me...

And this is the one that arrived this morning...


I'm going to cherish these tiles for a long, long time.

Friday, 29 August 2008

The Most Wonderful News in the World!

Those of you who are my facebook friends will know that I posted a status message "Cally is rubbish at keeping secrets but can't say anything for at least a week".

Well....I can't tell you what that secret is yet but I received some more good news about half an hour ago...

The foreign rights agent at NiceMrAgent's agency rang me to say he'd given her my novel to read on her holidays and...


She said it made her laugh and cry and she thought it was such a clever, believable idea and she'd fallen in love with it. She said she had UK publishers in mind she thought might love it and that foreign publishers were after a book like mine and she'd like to take it to the London Book Fair. And we talked about 'the secret' and she thought that was great too. And we talked and we talked and her excitement and enthusiasm were palpable and I said, in a little voice,

"So, um, are you my agent then?"

And she said, "Yes!"

And she said there were a few things she'd like me to tweak ("but it's pretty much perfect") and she asked me to send her a bio. And just now I received an email from her saying my contract was in the post and could I meet her for lunch next week?

And I can't stop crying.

Obviously there's still a long road to go down and I know of lots of authors who've got themselves an agent but couldn't find a publisher but hearing MY AGENT (oh wow, I still can't believe I can finally type those two words) say "I fell in love with your book" made all the hard work and the stress and the late nights and the self-doubt and the worry worthwhile.

I'm the happiest woman in the world.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Writing Fear

I've too'd and fro'd SO MANY TIMES about character #4 in my new novel and her plot it's not true.

And I'm still not sure which plot to go with.

I have plotted one idea in some detail and know it'll be as interesting/enjoyable to write as the plots for characters 1,2 and 3 but I'm not sure how well it fits the rest of the novel and the plots of the other characters. Their plots are reasonably straightforward and quite 'normal' whereas the plot I've got in mind for character #4 is a tiny bit 'out there'. And I'm thinking "Will the reader buy it?" or will they think it's just a bit too outlandish?

And I can't help but wonder what agents will think of it (even though everything I've ever read said you should write the novel you want to write and not think about readers and agents and publishing). But I don't want to spend months (or years) of my life writing a novel that won't get published.

I feel like I'm going round in circles and can't make a decision.

I've got writing fear.

Friday, 22 August 2008

Lucky Cow!

Question: What's better than a new book?
Answer: EIGHT new books (and a bundle of mini books beautifully tied with a purple ribbon).
Question: And what's better than eight new books?
Answer: Eight FREE new books...carefully packed in bubble wrap with my name on the box!

What you see on the left is my prize for winning Lucy Diamond's limerick competition. Lucy could quite possibly be my favouritest person in the world EVER!!!
So go buy her new book "Over You" if you haven't already, she deserves to sell millions for being such a star!

Thursday, 21 August 2008

More SAF success!

Congratulations to Karen for selling one of her Story A Fortnight stories to Take a Break magazine. That's the fifth sale the group has made since it started back in April. Brilliant stuff! Here's to loads more.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

2 years and 16 days ago...

...I started this blog.

And I forgot it's blimmin' birthday.

Back in August 2006 I probably imagined I'd be a published author by now.


But on the plus side I'd probably never have imagined how many short stories I'd have published (and be paid proper money for too!)

Some of you have been reading this blog for a long time. I know a lot of you found me through my posts about the Miss Write competition and you've stuck with me ever since - though moans and groans and holidays and blog breaks and I just wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you. For reading the blog. For offering advice. For offering congratulations and commiserations. For giving me awards. For mentioning on your blogs how my blog inspired you to start your own. And for sticking around. It's a great community we've got here in t'internet land and I wouldn't still be blogging if no one was reading.

So please help yourself to a big slice of virtual cake!

Wouldn't it be lovely if, by the blog's 3rd anniversary, I've got myself an agent?

Better get plotting novel #3 then....
p.s. For those with Google Reader you'll have noticed I thought this month was the blogs THIRD birthday not its second. It just feels like I've been blogging for longer! ;o)

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Happy Left Handed Day!

According to what I've been reading on the web today only 10% of people in the world are left-handed (I always knew I was unique!) and, depending on which source you read, it's either caused by too much testosterone in the womb (is that why I'm so tall?) or there's a left-handed gene.

Apparently left-handers are at greater risk of schitzophrenia (marvellous) but they are better at multi-tasking than right-handers and are more likely to be high-achievers (still waiting on that one).

Left handers often having trouble with their handwriting (you can't see the words because your hand is in the way so have to twist your hand round or turn the paper), scissors (the blades are on the wrong side), kitchen knives (ditto), corkscrews (watch a left hander next time you give them an old fashioned corkscrew, they'll turn the bottle instead of the screw), vegetable peelers and can openers to name a few impliments!

But you can buy left-handed versions of all of the above (and more)!

Happy Left Handed Day my cack handed friends and blog readers!

Am considering buying myself this pen to celebrate. Any excuse for a bit of new stationery!

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Did I say I'd sold a story to Take a Break Fiction Feast?

Actually it's TWO :o)

I had no idea until the typesetter at Bauer emailed to thank me for sending her my story and could she have the other one too?

"What other story?"

"Did Norah not mention that she wanted to buy XXXX as well?"

No, no she didn't!

Woo hoo!

It's a story I submitted back in March and thought might have got lost in the post (or the rejection had)!

So that's 4 sales to TaB this year and 1 to MyWeekly. I couldn't be happier! Still no closer to cracking Woman's Weekly but I'll do it - even if it takes me years!

Still no news to report on novel #3 although, just as I was falling asleep the other night with the question "How the hell do I structure it?" running through my head, a solution appeared! I jumped out of bed and scribbled down the order of the first few chapters. And it still made sense in the light of day. Hoorah!

In other news "Over You" by Lucy Diamond arrived in the post yesterday as did one of the books on characterisation I mentioned in the previous post. Better go - I've got some reading to do!

p.s. Thanks for all the comments on the title debate. I'm definitely going to stick with the one I came up with. As one of you said - it would probably get changed by the publishers anyway (if I manage to write it, if an agent wants it and if they can sell it to a publishers that is!)

Saturday, 9 August 2008


So last night I went to a friend's house for dinner. I got talking to her about novel #3 and she asked what the title was. When I told her she pulled a face.

"What?" I said. "Don't you like it? Don't you think it would make someone curious enough to pick it up if it was on a 3 for 2 table?"

"Maybe," she said. "It's just that I'd feel a bit of a loser reading it on the train."

"Really?!" I said. "Why?"

"Because people always check what other people are reading and they'd probably think I was like the title, even though I'm not."

Now I don't really want to give away the working title of my book but let's say...ehr...that the title of the book was "The Fat Girl Society" for example. Would you not buy it because you wouldn't want people to think you were a 'fat girl'. Or, how about a book called "Big, Fat, Loser" or "Little Miss Dumb" or "The Love Loser" or "Single and Desperate". Would you worry that people would think you were fat, dumb, a loser, desperate etc? You get the idea.

Would other people's opinion on what you're reading bother you or is it just my friend that feels self conscious about people judging her on the title of the book she's reading? Should I let her opinion influence my book title or keep it anyway? (I think it's catchy and very women's fiction).

Friday, 8 August 2008

Novel #3

Thanks for all the well wishes and congrats on my most recent sales. The news couldn't have come at a better time. Really, really cheered me up.

Novel #3 is progressing nicely. I haven't written a word apart from a few notes and ideas I've jotted down in a little notebook (that I bought from Paperchase specially for this novel) but that's a good thing. I MUST NOT rush into this novel. I need it to bubble around in my subconscious until it all falls into place.

For example - This novel needs 4 main characters but I only had 3. I already love those 3 and I just know I'm going to enjoy writing about their trials and tribulations but character 4 was elusive. Throughout the day various alternatives would pop up in my mind. Instead of grabbing them desperately I thought them through by asking various questions:

1) Would this character's crisis work with the timeline?
2) What would her 'stasis' be at the beginning of the novel?
3) What would the crisis be that interrupts her life?
4) How would she grow?
5) Who would be her antagonist?
6) How could I make the conflict become more and more intense throughout the novel?
7) What would her secret be?
8) Will I enjoy writing about this character? Will I be passionate about her?

Every single idea for character 4 I had fell down on at least 2 of the questions so I dismissed them (the most important, in my opinion, being number 8!). I started to feel a bit desperate. I NEED a good character 4 but pushing the issue wouldn't help. I needed to relax and let her come to me.

And this afternoon she did.

Not fully formed. She's still a bit vague and there's a lot of questions I need to ask her before she's definitely going into the novel but the more I think about her the more excited I get.

The book on plotting that I mentioned in my last post (Plot and Structure: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting and Plot That Grips Readers from Start to Finish (Write Great Fiction)) is coming in tremendously useful - asking me to work out the LOCK for each character before I get going.

I've also ordered two books on creating characters. A few weeks (months?) ago I wrote a blog post about how lots of writer's books are rejected by agents and publishers because they don't "warm to" the characters. So what's the secret of a character a reader warms to? I'm hoping I find out when:



I tell you what, I'm SO enjoying this bit of writing a novel - the thinking, the scribbling, the crossing out, the notes, the scraps of plot and the "Oooh yes" moments. In fact, I'm enjoying this so much more than I enjoy actually sitting down and WRITING a novel.

Is it just me or does anyone else feel the same?

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

A Quickie!

I am still officially on blog hiatus but wanted to share three bits of good news.

1. I won the limerick competition over on Lucy Diamond's blog and my amazing prize is a box full of newly published books from Lucy's publishers. Can't WAIT to receive them.
By the way, Lucy's new book "Over You" is out now. I totally LOVED her last book "Any Way You Want Me" so go buy the new one on Amazon (or in your local bookshop) asap (I've ordered my copy)!
2. Erotic short story site A Woman's Goodnight have been in touch to say they'd like to buy an erotic story I submitted to them back in November. It's the one, and only, erotic story I've ever written so I'm pretty chuffed. It's the only story I've written under a pseudonym too (you'd understand why if you saw how smutty it is! ;0)) and no, I'm not going to tell you what that name is!
3. After two rejections in a row Norah from Take a Break got in touch today to tell me she'd like to buy one of my stories for Fiction Feast. It's the first story I ever wrote for my Story A Fortnight group which makes me hugely proud. That's three womag sales from the group now (the first two were by Maddie and French Poppy) and the quality of the stories we're producing are so good I just KNOW there's going to be lots lots more (she said modestly on behalf of the group :o))
Still no news from BigShot agent on the rewrite but that's okay, with the stress of trying to rent out my flat and find a new one in London that's been the last thing on my mind recently! But I HAVE been thinking about novel #2 and have decided to put it on the backburner for a while. Something that's hugely important to me is that writing should be enjoyable (or else why do it?) and I haven't enjoyed writing novel #2 for some time now.
I AM very excited about the idea I've got for novel #3 (which will be my first non-supernatural woman's fiction book). I'm not going to rush into this idea like I did with novel #2 and am spending a lot of time thinking about the characters and formulating the plot. Talking of which I can thoroughly recommend this book:
I think the big mistake I made with novel #2 was not plotting enough before I started writing. That's not a mistake I aim to make with novel #3. I also didn't get to know my characters enough before I put fingers to keyboard and this time around I genuinely want to care about them. When I wrote novel #1 at superspeed (under 4 months, speedy for me!) I really, really cared about my characters, thought about them all the time and hurt when they hurt. Not so with novel #2.
So yes. On with novel #3....