Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Sea Ice and Seamagic

The Seamagic website is now up and running and packed with all sorts of fascinating pictures and articles, even a poem or two, from a variety of contributors – all of whom share a passion for all things marine. If you haven’t been over there yet then I suggest you take a look – and do bookmark it – there’s new stuff being posted all the time and it looks to be shaping up into a fascinating project!

At the moment I’m talking about sea ice and posting pictures I took in the arctic during my days on board the survey ships.

But I’m also talking about sea ice because of its relevance to my forthcoming novel, Red Rock.

You may have already checked out the blurb for the novel which is now up at the Greenhouse website. And if you have you will have noticed the opening lines:

“The world is changing. The ice is melting. But as the icecaps retreat secrets are revealed” …

There isn’t any sea ice in Red Rock. In fact it’s all gone, but that’s the point. And as the ice melts this has an effect on other things – sea levels rise, the climate changes.

If I went back to the Greenland Sea I’m not sure how much ice I would find, compared with what I saw all those years ago. So I’m posting those pictures of the ice that was – a seamagic that may soon be gone.

The world is changing….

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

My first school visit – as an author!

School visits are something I’m already quite used to – I’m often asked by teacher friends of mine to take in my collection of rocks and fossils during Science Week, or when they are studying Rocks, or planning a school fossil hunting expedition.

But the other week, when I was telling one of these friends about my book deal, he asked me to come in and run a writers workshop with the kids.

Now this was something really rather different from handing around a load of ammonites, so I picked the brains of authors I know who do such workshops on a regular basis, and I came to the conclusion that the best way for me to do something a bit different, was to tie in my workshop with one of the themes in my book.

So that’s what I did, and we blasted into space. I enjoyed it! I hope they did too!

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

The Man Booker Prize.

The winner of the Man Booker Prize 2012 has been announced and is Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel – which makes her the first British person and the first woman to win the prize twice, having won it before with Wolf Hall in 2009,

Earlier this month I took part in The Booker Debate at the Octagon Theatre in Yeovil. This is an annual event run jointly by the Yeovil Community Arts Association (YCAA) and the local branch of Waterstone’s. A panel of six guests each review one of the shortlisted books and discussion is then thrown open to the audience.

I was, once again, invited to participate on the panel, and I have to say that this year’s debate was the best yet. There were a number of book groups in the audience who had read the shortlist and the varied views led to some lively discussions!

My book was Bring up the Bodies which I thought was superb. However, not all the panellists felt the same way about their allocated books, and the audience didn’t necessarily agree! More fuel for a lively debate!

And it was great to meet up with fellow authors Sarah Lean (A Dog called Homeless) and James Long (Ferney).

I’m so pleased that Bring up the Bodies won. In my opinion it was well deserved and if you haven’t read it I can strongly recommend you do!

Thursday, 11 October 2012


As you can no doubt imagine, the past few days have been a whirlwind of excitement. I'm still trying to get my head round the idea that my book is actually going to be published! I've been allocated an editor and I'll be going up to Oxford to meet her sometime in November, which I'm very excited about.

But there has been another interesting development too.

I've been contacted by a group of authors and illustrators and invited to take part in the Seamagic Project. This will be a collaborative blog based on a shared love of the sea and the magic it evokes in writers and artists.

Seamagic is the brainchild of author KM Lockwood and you can find out more about it here.

Readers of this blog will already be aware of my passion for all things marine. But in case you are wondering how this relates to Red Rock, the blurb has just gone up over at the Greenhouse Website, so why not take a look and judge for yourself.

I'll keep you up to date with Seamagic and how it evolves. And of course with Red Rock and its journey to publication.

Friday, 5 October 2012

I Have a Book Deal!

At last I can tell you!

My debut novel Red Rock, a thriller for the 10+ age group, will be published by Curious Fox in 2013.

The champagne is chilling and tonight I will be celebrating in style!

I couldn't be happier!

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Lessons in Patience

If you want to be a writer the first thing you must learn is patience, for you will need it in abundance. Writing is not something that gives instant gratification. Success takes time to arrive, but I can assure you, when it does it will be all the sweeter.

You need to have patience at every stage in the game – and here is why:

1. Learning the craft. This takes time. We are not born writers. It is a skill we assimilate over the years, first through reading and then through taking up a pen ourselves. Take time to learn the craft. Attend workshops, join a writers group or forum, but above all write! The more you write the better you will get. But all this takes time. Don’t rush it.

2. Finding an Agent. The reason this can take a long time is because many people start submitting way too soon. They haven’t got past stage 1 yet – they’re still learning the craft. But even when you are ready, it can still take time. Some agents take months to get through their submissions. They’re busy people. And if you have a full request it will take them a while to read it and come to a decision. It’s all right to prod if months have passed, but don’t be impatient.

3. Getting a book deal. So you’ve been signed by an agent. That means the book deal is just around the corner – doesn’t it? The answer my friends is no. First your agent may ask for revisions. Take your time to get this right, otherwise your MS will only come back to you with more red ink! And then, once you’ve honed your novel out it goes. Do they come back immediately? They might, but more likely not. Some people can be on submission for a year before their book sells.

4. Seeing your book on the shelves: Oh yes – now you’re in for another wait. If your book has sold to one of the big publishing houses with a full schedule ahead you can be looking at 18 months to two years before you see your book on the shelves. Smaller and newer publishers may have faster turnaround, but you’re still likely to be waiting a year or so.

So here’s to patience, and here’s to success.