Wednesday, 29 October 2008

The Great Agent Hunt

The hunt is now underway. I’ve rolled in their dung to disguise my scent and I’m creeping up on them from downwind. There’s quite a lot of slush around here mind, which is getting in the way.

I’m surprised at how many of them they are, all crowding round the publishers watering hole. So far they haven’t spotted me, and I’m inching closer, ready to pounce. Ugh, more slush – where does this all come from?

So many agents, but which one to target? Look there’s a fairly new one, floundering around over at the edge of the water. Should be easy pickings, but there’s not much flesh to it and it doesn’t seem to know anyone. That big fat one though, feasting on the riches in the deeper water, now he looks like a good wholesome meal. Oh, but see how he ignores the slush and tramples it into the mud.

Now there are other predators approaching too – I’ll have to strike soon, before one of them startles the prey and they all take off.

Like so many others I started my hunt with the Writers and Artists Yearbook, but I’ve also come across a couple of other useful things in my search.

Writersservices lists the Yearbook entries but you don’t have to buy anything. However I have noticed that a few Agents are missing.

This is a list of the Agents who are members of the Association of Authors Agents, useful to know when you are checking out a potential agent to submit to.

I’ve also come across this useful little website – Litmatch, which is full of useful information and has a handy little search facility – a great time saver!!

And not to forget Preditors and Editors, which has lists of the latest scammers and sharks that you want to avoid!!

Wish me luck guys - here I go...

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

The Novella Dilemma

If two editors come back with the same comment on a short story submitted to them, then they could have a point, and when three editors say the same thing then it’s definitely time to pay attention.

This is exactly what has happened with my short story, Fire Flood. Readers at Murky Depths, ASIM and now Sybil’s Garage have all come back with exactly the same comment – this story is trying to cram too much into a small space. It ought to be expanded to novella length at least.

Well, the story has now been pulled from circulation and I’ve been giving it some thought. They’re definately right. There’s quite a lot I can do with this piece. In fact it’s crying out to be expanded. But I’m not so sure about turning it into a novella. The market for work of that length is rather limited and I don’t want to pour a load of time and energy into something that will probably never sell.

But then it occurred to me – This should be my new YA novel!! Jess is the right age and the story is sufficiently dark!! The dual narrative structure might just work and I’ll have the scope to really develop the character of Nick. Maybe I’ll turn this into my new project while I wait to hear back from the Agents I’m submitting to.

Move aside WRRW – there’s a new kid on the block!!!

Friday, 17 October 2008

News and Radio

I’ve just heard from the Yeovil Prize administrators that they’ve been contacted by a lady from BBC Radio Somerset who is interested in reading out some of the winning stories. What an opportunity!! I’ve dropped her a line and I’ll let you know of any developments.

And I’m featured on the front page of Litopia. Check it out, it’s a great write up!

It’ll be good to see if Miranda, one of the panellists at the Booker Debate last week, puts something into the Blackmore Vale as well. Its coverage doesn’t extend down to Dorset but I’m sure someone will pick me up a copy if they do.

And following on from the prize, and taking the advice given on the Litopia Daily Podcast answering a question that I posted on Litopia about how to use this success to my best advantage, I’m starting to submit. So fingers crossed. This is the tough bit.

But in the meantime – on with plotting the new project.

Oh, and I see The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga won the Booker. I’m going to have to read it now!

Friday, 10 October 2008

Booker Debate and Yeovil Prize

Last night the Booker Debate took place at the Octagon Theatre in Yeovil, and as always the evening was a huge success. But for me it was particularly special since I was presented with my prize by crime writer Penny Deacon. The prize is the Western Gazette award which is awarded to a local author who does particularly well in the Yeovil Prize. In my case my novel, "Myth Making" was Highly Commended and my short story "Remember Normandy" was Commended.
The evening then went on to the Booker debate itself with a panel of writers reviewing the shortlisted novels. In the past years most of the books have been slated by the reviwers but this year three of them got a big thumbs up: The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga, The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Berry and A Fraction of the Whole by Steve Toltz. It will be interesting to see if one of these wins. Here is local author Malcolm Welshman reviewing Fraction of the Whole watched by Rosie Boycott and Penny Deacon.
And finally, there were a number of fellow Litopians present and here's a picture of three of us: Steve, me and Emma. Three people who met in cyberspace.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Starting the Edit

Having taken a break from writing over the summer, and having been distracted by writing another short story that was just screaming at me to be put down on paper, I have finally turned my attention back to my novel, and started the edit.

When I first started writing I thought that every word I wrote was precious. The thought of even changing a sentence around – let alone cutting it was appalling. And to cut out a paragraph or two – or even a whole chapter - that would be abhorrent!!

But as we grow as writers so we learn to edit and cut. I never send out the first draft of a short story – I always put it aside for a few days and then come back to it – hard on the delete key. Sometimes I’ll turn a story about completely, sometimes all I do is tighten and polish. But always it goes through at least two or three iterations before I finally read it through and decide that it is ready to be sent out on its first journey into the perilous world of the short fiction market.

This is the process I’m just about to embark on with my novel. I have a list of changes I want to make, some extra research I need to apply, and of course I need to polish it until it shines. Only then will it be ready to tackle the greatest challenge of all – finding an Agent!