Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Good news!

I haven't blogged about Caroline's book launch yet (it was excellent!) but just HAD to post this first...

Just found out that my story "My Daughter the Deep Sea Diver" has placed 3rd in the Writers Bureau short story competition! I've been trying to crack this competition for years (well, three or four) and now I have!

I couldn't be more delighted!

I think my story will be available to read online in the next couple of days if anyone's interested.

No news on the novel. I completed the edits last week and it's in the hands of the gods (well, my agent/editors) now. If it sells I will squeal like I've never squealled in my life before (and I'm not a squeally type of girl!) but I've been reading writers' blogs/forums for long enough now to know that getting an agent doesn't guarantee a thing. It could still all go horribly wrong and I might be one of those writers that has to write 3, 4 or 5 books before they see their work on the shelves. If ever. But we'll see. Fingers crossed and baby steps and all that.

And in the meantime. Third place in the Writers Bureau comp. Squeeeeeee!

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Guardian Writing Tips

The Guardian newspaper are running a series called "How to Write". So far there are articles by Robert Harris, Wendy Cope and Catherine Tate.

Talking of Catherine Tate....this made me laugh out loud....

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Short Story Challenge

Like short story competitions?

Like writing to prompts?

Thrive on a deadline?

Got £15?

Want to (potentially) win £110?

Got enough time in the next 20 weeks to write a story a fortnight?

If the answers to the above questions are YES! (or even Yes Please!) get yourself along to Slingink and sign up for the Eurofiction competition.

It's called Eurofiction because, a bit like Eurovision, the submitted stories are given a score (some stories get 'nil point'!) and the scores are collated in a league table. Over the 20 weeks (10 stories) you'll see yourself rise (or fall!) in the table and the writer with the highest cumulative score at the end of the competition is the winner. You'll also receive your score via email with a couple of brief lines of critique.

I entered last year (and the year before that) and while I didn't win I did get a lot out of it. It increased my short story productivity for one and I even went on to sell a couple of my stories.

I should note here that this competition isn't without its hiccups and, pretty much every year, entrants moan that they want to know who the judges are and what qualifies them to judge a short story competition (the judges are anonymous and plan on remaining that way!) and there are some heated discussions about whether or not the top scoring merited its score or not. Oh..and if you're a very literary writer you probably won't score very well. This is a comp for the genre writers amongst you.

I say go for it. It's a bit of fun and you'll be 10 stories up by the end of it if nothing else. You'll need to sign up as a Slingink member before you can enter the comp (membership is free). Oh yes, and it all kicks off on 1st October so make sure you register in good time.

Friday, 12 September 2008

Screenprints and Sunsets

A few posts ago I talked about the magic tiles I ordered from talented artist Rob Ryan. Mister Rob, as he is known, is based in London and has a shop in the east end that's only open on a Sunday. I really, really want to go and visit his shop but, what with the rewrite for MsAgent and everything, I haven't really got time.

So imagine my delight when I received an email from Mister Rob yesterday saying that a gallery on Brighton seafront was exhibiting his work.


...the first 50 people to step through the doors at 6pm on opening night would receive a free lazer cut (shown above).

I couldn't believe my luck!

I hot-footed it down there and arrived at the door five minutes early (but it was okay, five other people were already in the gallery so I wasn't the only obsessive fan to rush down there). After a bit of faffing about and confusion I was given my free print, paid to have it framed (ooh it's going to look soooooooo lovely) and wandered round looking at Mister Rob's prints.

They were absolutely gorgeous and if I ever have a spare £1,500 I'm so going to buy one of the original lazer cuts (or a spare £400 for a print).

As I wondered past the cash desk on the way out I couldn't resist buying a copy of Mister Rob's book This Is for You*. It was more expensive than the copies sold on Amazon but I wasn't bothered. I just wanted to look at more prints and read more words.

As the sun slipped down the sky I took my book down to the seafront, sat down on the pebbles and turned the first page.

And discovered that it was a signed copy!

A perfect end to a wonderful afternoon :o)

* the most romantic book I've read in a long, long time. If you are a man and you want to buy your partner a present that will make her melt. GET IT! And if you're a woman with a romantic bone in your body, GET IT! Honestly, it's so lovely.

p.s. If you've found this blog via Caroline's widget please leave me a comment to say hello. I promise my blog posts aren't normally this mushy/gushy!

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

My new favourite thing...

...is the widget Stray created for the launch of Caroline Smailes's new book Black Boxes.

If you look over to the right of the page, under my profile stuff, you'll see a tantalising button marked 'Decide'.

Go on, give it a push and see where it takes you....

Oh, and I just wanted to say a big thank you to Lane for giving me a blog friendship award

I'm supposed to pass it on to three (or is it 5?) other people but I can't. Far too many of you have been a friend to me over the year(s) and I'd worry that I'd missed someone out.

So this is for all of you - all my blogging friends - for, as it says on the cups, your trust, kindness, honesty and caring. Feel free to put it on your blog and say I gave it to you. Because I did. x

Monday, 8 September 2008

The Secret's Out!

My novel is a finalist in the Chicklitwriter's Stiletto contest (Paranormal Chicklit category)!!!!!!

Someone rang me from America to tell me the news but my voicemail cut out part way through the message. Good job they followed it up with an email to confirm the details.

I was sworn to secrecy because some of the other categories hadn't had their scores finalised but a list of finalists has been published on a few blogs now so I think I'm free to talk about it.
Basically I received my two crit sheets back via email a week or so ago and was given until 10th September to edit my MS for final judging (by a US agent and editor). I finally finished the edits this evening and the first 35 pages of my novel are electronically winging their way to the organisers as we speak.
The final results will be announced in November so cross your fingers for me :o)

Saturday, 6 September 2008

The Best Book Ever

Fionnuala got in touch to say she was linking to me so off I went to check out her blog and found this great animation about writing (and then I stole it, sorry Fionnuala!). I've seen it before but it still makes me smile.

The Best Book Ever...

Friday, 5 September 2008

If you've lost your luck fairy I think I may have her!

Either the luck fairy was blown off course and has landed on my shoulder or...well, I don't know really but I'm starting to wonder if I'm due for a massive fall because wonderful things keep happening to me!

First I won Lucy Diamond's limerick competition

Then I found out some secret news (sorry, still can't tell you!)

Then I got myself an agent

And earlier today I found out that Clare Christian chose my photo as the winner in Caroline's Black Boxes photo competition!

My truly wonderful prize is a signed copy of Caroline Smailes's fantastic new book Black Boxes and a book bundle from her publishers! Caroline is a wonderfully talented writer (have you read "In Search of Adam" yet? If not, you should!) and I absolutely can't wait to start reading Black Boxes.

I'm kind of gob-smacked.

A lot gob-smacked actually.

Please don't hate me internet. I'm sure this run of luck won't last!

Thursday, 4 September 2008

A new way to get published?

Very interesting post on Scott Pack's blog today about a website set up by Harper Collins (called Authonomy) where writers can upload their unpublished novels for review and possible talent spotting by agents and publishers or, as Harper Collins put it, "for promoting and recruit new writing and editorial talent". Worth a look.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

There is such a thing as a free lunch...

... and very nice it was too! :o)

I was REALLY nervous on the way to the agency's offices this afternoon but my agent was really welcoming and put me at ease. Her office was exactly as you'd imagine an agent's office to look - with bookshelves up the ceilings, lined with book after book after brightly coloured book and piled high with what looked like manuscripts. I so wanted to have a nose about but we only stayed in the office long enough for her to grab her bag and then we were off to the restaurant for lunch.

It was a Moroccan place and really nice (not surprising considering I was in a very nice part of West London). MsAgent asked me if I wanted a drink and looked a bit disappointed when I asked for a glass of wine so I let her talk me into sharing a bottle of very nice Chablis! She was totally lovely and as enthusiastic and excited about novel #1 as she was on the phone and via email. We made a bit of small talk as the wine kicked in then she gave me a copy of a novel by one of their newest chicklit authors (apparently it has sold over 90,000 copies. Wow...I can but dream!) and then talked about my novel a bit more and the changes she wants me to make before she starts approaching some editors. Luckily none of the changes are too substantial. Yay!

Then we talked about novel #2* and what I need to do to that. A bit of work to do on chapters 1 & 2 but she absolutely loved chapter 3. Hoorah!

After we'd eaten NiceMrAgent turned up to say hello (he's the one that owns the agency) and he was absolutely charming and had some wonderful things to say about my idea for novel #3.

Then we went on to have a general chat about everything and anything and, before I knew it, it was 3 hours later and time to go!

I've got a very busy month ahead of me. Somewhat optimistically (or is that stupidly?) I've agreed to make all the changes MsAgent requested by the end of September (for both novels!)

Better get moving...but maybe not tonight!

* If an agent asks for the full of your novel it's not a bad idea, whilst waiting for their feedback, to prepare an outline or synopsis for your second novel (and a first chapter if possible). That's because, as I found out today, if an agent signs you and wants to try for a two book deal they'll need to give editors your finished novel AND a synopsis/outline of novel #2 as well as 1-3 chapters.

Oh! And one more tip from today's meeting. When subbing to an agent make sure your cover letter is as good as you can make it. It's the first thing they read and they want to see some evidence that you've done some research about who they are and what they're about. So don't send a generic "Dear agent, here's my novel..." letter. Start your letter by saying why you've chosen that particular agency (you could mention other authors they represent for example, or the agent's reputation, or anything else that shows, as Ms Agent put it, "you've done your research").

I asked what MsAgent would read next and she said "the synopsis". I then asked how much of the 3 chapters she'd read before deciding whether or not a submission was for her. She said something along the lines of "if it hasn't grabbed me after 2 pages I'll stop reading". BigShot backed this up and said that the first page has to be as good as you can make it. So really, really concentrate on making your first chapter as good as you can get it before subbing.

Monday, 1 September 2008

Signed, sealed, delivered...

I'm yours! Or they're mine (depending on how you view the author/agent relationship!).

Two contracts (one for me to send back, one for me to keep), a covering letter and a map showing me how to get to the offices arrived this morning.

Here's me signing the contract this morning. I felt like I should do it with some kind of fancy pen (but I don't have a fancy pen so made do with my favourite ballpoint!)

The contract is now in the post, winging its way to London.

Is it sad that I've already framed the letter that says "Welcome to the Agency!" and put it on my desk?


I've been asked to send the agent the first 3 chapters of novel #2 so am currently working through it, desperately trying to polish it (considering it's a first draft) and worrying that it's not nearly as compelling/funny/loveable as novel #1! Oh that getting an agent meant you stopped worrying about your writing being shit!