Wednesday, January 30, 2013

How not to get published

Lists of do's and don'ts on getting published, finding an agent or annoying your editor do the rounds all the time, but this one is slightly different because it's based on genuine comments from editors and agents.

Recently a group of them got together and held a 'mass tweet' publicising some of the dafter author queries and pitches they'd received, and explaining why these were rejected, and what writers should be doing instead.  The result is this helpful list of what to do and what to avoid, and this amusing article in The Guardian which reveals one or two of the wilder pitches.  (I particularly liked the divine mandate.)

I've read in the past about writers doing extraordinary things, like filling their query envelopes with glitter so that it would fall out all over the agent and thus be remembered.  Well, remembered it certainly would be, but I wouldn't rate their chances of engaging said agent to act on their behalf all that high.

The fact that agents are still complaining shows authors never learn.  Which is depressing in some ways, but gives those of us who can put a business letter together a modicum of hope, and the rest of us a jolly good laugh.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Wild ride

Dave's been hankering after a new pair of 'back-up' boots ready for a long-distance walk later in the year.  He'd seen some advertised that looked suitable, so we hurtled round the lake to Hawkshead, to the huge outdoor clothing emporium called, appropriately enough, Hawkshead.

As a shopping trip, it was successful.  He tried three pairs on, quickly whittled them down to one, and bought them on the spot.  We also had a sandwich, in a chilly and slightly unwelcoming cafe in the store.

But the journey there and back was incredible.  The snow has almost completely gone now, but has left in its wake the sort of debris and destruction you'd expection after a minor hurricane.  There are stone walls collapsing into roads.  There are huge branches and even whole trees down across the roads.  There is water absolutely everywhere, to the point where the roads no longer resemble roads, but a series of lakes connected by streams.  The fields are flowing; the streams look like raging torrents; and the rivers are quite frankly frightening.  And the whole time we were out, it was bucketing down again.

In a 4x4 it was interesting, bordering on hairy where we had to dodge the larger branches or whoosh through huge areas of standing water.  In anything less than a 4x4 I reckon it would be dangerous.  And if it doesn't stop raining soon, we're going to get floods again...

Monday, January 28, 2013


We'd managed remarkably well with the weather this year, avoiding the worst of one snowstorm after another.  Until Friday.

It started to snow before 9.00 am, and came on really heavily about 3.00 pm, after which we had nightmare conditions until at least 11.00 pm when I looked out just before going to bed, to find it was still thumping down.  For a while it was so bad that we couldn't get a satellite signal for the tv, and had to open the back upstairs window very wide, lean out at a precarious angle clutching an old roll of wallpaper, and poke the worst of the snow off the satellite dish.

By Saturday morning we'd had somewhere between 6 and 8 inches and for a while at least, until they got the snow ploughs through mid-morning, Windermere was cut off.  Although we drive a 4x4 now, we took one look at the roads and said "Oh, bugger that,", and set off on foot.  The pavements were horrible; lots of people had had the same idea so they were already well-trodden, compacted and very, very slippery.  But we made it down the hill as far as our favourite cafe, called in for a coffee, and trudged back again.

By Sunday it was thawing fast, so we risked a trip to the supermarket in Kendal.  On the way, the main road was littered with cars which had simply been left, some of them slewed across the road where they'd obviously lost all traction, or all patience, or both.  I've since heard that over a hundred cars were abandoned in the ten mile stretch between Windermere and Kendal; someone joked that "most of them were BMWs".

It's all gone now, thank goodness, and we're back to normal for the region - sloshing rain on Saturday night and more forecast, plus gales, for later on today.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Cover art vote

I promised to remind everyone when voting opened in the You Gotta Read Reviews cover art contest, which features Necessity's Door.

Voting opened today, so ::poke:: please consider this a reminder, and think about voting for the book.  The process is easy - simply follow this link to You Gotta Read, then click on the first part of the first line in red where it says "Click Here for Poll".  (Please ignore the second part of the link for "Online Survey" which seems to have tagged along for the ride and leads somewhere else!)

Voting is open until Saturday (26th January).  Don't forget, a vote for Necessity's Door isn't so much a vote for me, as a vote for my talented cover artist LC Chase, who spent ages juggling the various elements until she had the perfect cover.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Death of the bookstore revisited

You might remember I posted about the death of local bookstores back in the autumn.  If you didn't see it and would like to, you can find the original post here, but basically the owner of our local book shop wasn't taking new stock because he was struggling to make ends meet in the current digital age/economic climate.

The situation has moved on.  Last time I walked past the shop I noticed big printed signs in the windows, and assumed the worst.  However, further investigation revealed that he isn't (yet) closing his shop, or at least not permanently.  He's closing for a short period of refurbishment, after which he'll re-open as a gift shop where you can order books you've seen on the internet, or pick up books you've ordered via the internet.

This hasn't happened yet, so I'm slightly in the dark about how it will all work.  I do wish him well, though, and take my hat off to him for at least trying to keep up with modern trends.  Whether I'll be able to use his shop to buy books (or sell mine, come to that) is another matter...

Friday, January 11, 2013

One hundred and twenty five words

That's how much I wrote yesterday.  Doesn't sound like much, does it?  It doesn't feel like much, either, but it does represent progress because they're the first words I've written, on anything, since before Christmas.

I always find it hard to concentrate on work over the holiday season, what with all the preparations, shopping, travelling, and spending time with friends and family.  This year has been even worse as I've had not one but two nasty bugs to contend with, and haven't felt like working for weeks.  So although it doesn't sound like much, I'm actually quite pleased to be scribbling again.

The current project is a noir romp (if that isn't a contradiction in terms), which I'm hoping to submit to a publisher in Italy once it's finished.  Wish me luck, and here's hoping I'll be writing a bit more than 125 words a day from now on.  Two hundred would be nice...

Monday, January 07, 2013

Cover art contest

A while ago now I entered the Necessity's Door cover art into a contest run on a regular basis by the blog You Gotta Read Reviews.  I then forgot clean about it, but had a very nice reminder the other day to say that the cover has been entered into the January 2013 contest, is now available for viewing, and will be open for voting between 21st and 26th January.

You can see my entry here, or check out all the entries for the month here.

I'll post a reminder once voting opens (presumably once all the entries for the month have been posted) but do please consider popping along and putting a tick in the box for Necessity's Door.  You won't just be voting for me, and the book, but more importantly for my cover artist LC Chase, who spent many hours fiddling with the various elements to get the overall look just right.  She deserves all the credit she can get for that!

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Unclean, unclean...

::Tinkle::  I really need one of those little bells that medieval lepers and plague-carriers carted about with themselves to warn the rest of the population they were approaching. 

When I wished everyone a happy and healthy New Year, I must have forgotten to pass that wish on to ourselves, because Dave and I have been absolutely clobbered by flu.  I'm finally sitting up again after two days under a duvet on the sofa hugging a toy sheep, but am still far from well so am just popping in briefly to say 'happy new year' to everyone.  Then I'm heading back to the medicine cabinet, and bed.

I'm sure you'll be able to hear me coming.

::Cough::  ::Tinkle::  ::Cough::