Posts Tagged ‘agents’

As I kind of said most of what’s been happening on Thursday, today’s post is a little shorter than normal!

This week has been all about submissions.  One thing I’m working on, and trying to improve each time, is the accompanying paperwork.

I’ve talked about the synopsis before but it’s also the covering letter, any additional short biographies and so on – all these need to be tailored.  Sometimes there are boxes on a screen to fill in, sometimes documents have to be uploaded, or emailed.  Some agents still only accept postal submissions.

For me, the key is to read the requirements at least twice before I start.  I also have to re-read everything I add at least twice at the end but that’s probably a nervous tic rather than a requirement!

Of course that doesn’t mean you won’t get caught out – when I first sent a submission out I got a response saying the agent was now focussing solely on historical fiction.  Once I contacted – the agent of a writer I thought was a great example of my tone and in the right genre – had decided to focus solely on non-fiction work.  Again, that wasn’t noted on the website or in The Writers and Artists Yearbook which had been my first port of call.

But putting those issues aside, we writers have one opportunity to catch the attention of our agent audience.  For me, that means if I don’t get a positive response I have to review how I am selling my work, and myself as a writer. I am not changing my story but I can change how I describe it, how I engage with the reader.  Even the most basic letter – a two paragraph description of myself and my story – has to be lively and capture attention.

I have to be honest and say that I’m still working on this.  But each attempt gets a little better and more natural, and that’s got to be good for the future.

Until I get picked up (or give up on being picked up) by an agent, part of my job as a writer is to keep improving, editing and revising my sales pitch, as I did the novel itself.

It will all be worth it when I get a positive response.

Happy writing,




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This post is unexpectedly late due to my husband getting ill, sorry about that, but he has been in need of a little tlc, and I’m going to keep this short for the same reason.

So a quick recap – last week was a positive one: editing was completed, agents were identified, appropriate synopses have been started.

I feel energised in my writing, and have a plan.

My plan involves agreeing with a friend that in 6 months, if no pick-up from agents, I will self-publish. I’m still not sure how I feel about it, but it is a plan, and it gives structure to my aimless amblings earlier in the year about what to do for the best.

It also means I can now get down to work on my next project – either a re-work of an earlier draft book or a follow-up to the one being sent out.  I have a brief timeline for the follow-up so could build on that but I kind of like the idea of revisiting something I’ve done, in my newly-positive editing mindset, and seeing whether it’s got potential to work. That is a decision for the next few days.

Yep, last week was a good week.  This week hasn’t got off to the best of starts but give it a few days and I should be back on track.

Watch this space!

Happy writing,



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I’ve been talking about my writing a lot recently – for a number of reasons and to a pretty mixed audience.  It surprises me how easy people think it is to be published; as though every writer has a raft of offers (if only).

I explain the options of traditional publishing vs self publishing and how literary agents are the first line of resistance when it comes to most traditional publishing, but still I get the ‘of course you’re published’ comments that make me feel a little like I’ve failed them.

Getting an agent isn’t automatic, isn’t that easy for most people, and doesn’t guarantee publication anyway!

It surprises me how many people don’t know what goes on for writers, really – questions and assumptions I’ve heard about my own ‘career’ can be really demotivating, and quite honestly I have rejection letters and emails for that, I don’t need it from people in general conversation!

On the more positive side, editing has gone really well this week, despite a few shaky days when I couldn’t fit writing work in because of other things going on.  In some respects I think the busy days helped me because I was so keen to make up some lost time that I’ve managed to do more in an editing session than I would normally expect.

I now have just 34 A4 pages left to go, and that is my task for tomorrow.  I hope it won’t take more than 3 hours but if it does, I’ll just have to hunker down for a long evening.  Luckily, as I am working a lot of extra hours from Tuesday onwards I should get out of work on time tomorrow!

I’m still enjoying revisiting the book; there have been a few changes to improve the flow but really, there’s not a lot of alteration.  I want to build on this little world I have created though, and explore where these characters go – so I am really keen to get going on the sequel.

Perhaps that’s the part I miss when talking about writing.  Publication is an ideal, because I want people to read what I’ve produced – but writing is the goal.  I don’t write because I want a lucrative career, or a twitter following, or the film rights, or to be able to wear designer dresses to fancy awards.  I write because I need to write.  When I don’t sit down and build a story, or poem, or moment on a piece of paper, I am missing out on joy.

The rest is just wrapping paper.  The writing is the gift.

Enjoy your gift,



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Well, following on from last Sunday’s post, I am officially an employee once more.  I can no longer say I have given up the 9-5 to write, as such, because here I am going back to something similar.  Perhaps fewer hours per week, but the principle remains the same – it is the end of my writing life in its current form, at least for a while.

Since I gave up work I’ve studied creative writing, written a complete novel, drafted another and am bashing out a third; I run a small but successful writing group; I have performed my poetry to the public. So those are successes and show that I have made something positive of my time off.  In non-writing terms, I have become heavily involved in a local charity which is something I would never have done if I was still in my old role – this is also something that brings me a great deal of satisfaction and a sense of being part of my community.

So what changed from the start of my journey?  Well, I didn’t enjoy writing short stories so my original idea of sending them off regularly got pushed aside to make way for novels; that ended my plan of earning regularly through writing which has led me to where I am now!  I haven’t found an agent willing to take on my slightly contentious story and have not yet reached the point where I want to pursue self-publishing.

In my more confident moments I think I can carry on as I am, much as I suggested last week.   My desire to write hasn’t ended, it’s just how I use my time (and the amount of time I have) that’s shifted.

It’s another new beginning which is exciting in its own right – and after this one there will be another in November when  I get married.  In fact, life is full of them.

The reality is I’ll probably do less writing than I hope, but more than I did before my break – and that will be enough for now.  When I get into the swing of work again I can assess everything and see what I can manage.

I can’t feel too bad even if  the writing life has changed – I wouldn’t give up these four years for anything, nor the joy I have found in them.  What matters most now is that I remember I’m a writer, and keep getting those words on paper.

Happy writing,





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Some years ago a writer friend told me he enjoyed reading books written by poets, as the way they use language is different from non-poets.

The conversation came t mind recently, and now I can’t put it aside.  I keep examining the sections I’ve written of my new novel to see signs of this poetic ‘difference’…

There are certain techniques I use which follow from one writing style and medium to another: I can certainly see how my poetry-writing influences my prose, or vice versa.  And, following feedback from my writing group on other work, it seems to be the same in all my prose.

I probably use metaphor and simile more than some writers, and I use a lot of imagery generally.  But to me that’s part of the ‘showing, not telling’ ethos – I want readers to visualise things in a certain way, and for that to happen I need to make sure I’ve given them all the clues they need.

It also comes from literature courses when we examined the structure of books which clearly left me with a sense of the ‘right’ way of writing.  It’s right for me, anyway – and that’s all any novelist can offer.

But I am now forced to consider how accessible that makes my writing: is it too ‘lyrical’, like DH Lawrence (who also wrote poetry), or too ‘complex’ like Henry James?  Is it too wordy?

This is a hold-your-nerve moment.

I have long thought that book one suffers from having a controversial element to its storyline, and that to give it life will be a risk for any agent – and yet I will not change things to make the storyline more agreeable. If that means I self-publish, well, so be it: many people think this is a better option than the traditional model, anyway.

I have to be as bullish about all my writing.  I have to believe in it, and write the story I want to tell in the way I want to tell it, and stop trying to second-guess myself.  My writing style is part of who I am as a writer, whether people enjoy it or not.

So when I go back to writing again tomorrow, I’m going to keep writing my poetic prose and remember that it’s not just about that page, or that line: it’s about who I am as a writer, and the journey I’ve travelled to get here.

And 50% will change when I revise the work, anyway 🙂

In other news – It’s book 36 of the 100 novels list this week – The Golden Bowl by Henry James.  After the painful process of reading The Turn of the Screw, I think I’ll give this one a miss.  Having read the comments and some examples of sentences, I feel it’s only sensible!

And finally – I was pleased to see this snippet about Michael  Morpurgo’s writing room. It’s so old a snippet it pre-dates me giving up work to write but it popped up as a suggested article and has vindicated my position about writing in comfort with a load of pillows behind my head!

Until next time,

Happy writing,




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Castles in the Air

This picture of Arundel Castle was taken last April when we visited Arundel; we didn’t actually make it up to the castle through the driving rain but my partner got a couple of shots through the gloom.  I made this one black and white as it looked fairly spooky otherwise.

It’s not actually in the air of course, just up a steep hill 🙂

‘Castles in the air’ is a phrase to describe ideas that are unlikely to happen.  Sometimes I feel like that about my writing but I know that I’ll carry on working at it whether an agent picks my novel(s) up or not, so it’s not really true.  It is something my characters have to face on occasion though!

But looking at the solidity of the castle, and thinking about what history this castle has survived, gives me hope.

We have no idea, when we create something, how long it will survive us.  It may not; it may be lost in the ether.  But the men who laid the stones of these walls, or who built the original motte-and-bailey castle on this site, wouldn’t have imagined the world that still looks in on this building.  They wouldn’t have imagined mobile phones, or cars, or the computer I’m typing on.  Their work outlived them by countless generations.

We can’t guarantee what will survive us of the work we produce – all we can do is work, and hope, and work some more.

Here’s to hoping that the clouds our dreams rest on are as solid as mountains.

Happy writing,






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This week I’ve struggled to find writing time – with family events including a big birthday party for my partner, helping arrange an event for the local charity I support, and illness (my own this time!), writing has slipped down the list of priorities.

Getting ready for my partner’s party, I was looking out a list of songs that were #1 singles on this date going back as far as I could, and I found this.  I love a bit of Bowie and clearly I am an 80’s girl at heart as that’s what I nearly always share!

Back to writing – I do have a new idea for the current novel but I’m going to scope that out during my retreat when I can give full attention to it; I was inspired by one of the books I’ll be talking about on Tuesday to think about the book in a more flexible way…

I’m also preparing to contact more agents which I want to do before I go away; my target is another 2 this week.  As I am going to be in rehearsals for a play every day the week after I might not get any more done before retreat but hopefully when I come back I’ll find out I won the competition I entered and I’ll have an agent.

I may as well keep the faith, after all!!

In other news – This week we’re on book 29, Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy on the 100 novels list. This is one of those I can’t remember if I read or not, back in my studious student days; I know I’ve read some Hardy prose and am not convinced I enjoyed it but it may have been Tess.  Oh, for a better memory…

And finally – I’ve been looking into writing competitions; one I saw might be of interest to some of you guys.  It’s The Bridport Prize, and is an annual competition across various categories.  The closing date is 31 May so have a look if you’re thinking of sending work off and don’t know where to start.

Until next time, happy writing,



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This week, I’ve tried to fill in some blanks in my to-do list; it goes back a while so am feeling a little better for it, but I am a bit frustrated not to have finished off more!

Firstly, I chased my outstanding responses from agents.  It’s always a bit unnerving – there’s a comfort in not knowing – but I also want to make sure I have explored the options in full.

Then I prepared some more submissions to go out – I had intended to hold off due to the competition but decided that the likelihood of winning was so small that waiting was simply a way to waste a few months.

Unfortunately the requirements are a little different so I have had to re-work my synopsis, but at least it’s done!

I’ve also been revisiting some early writing exercises.  This might seem a bit weird when I’m supposed to be planning my next book, but I wanted to try freewriting my story line to see if it would help me answer a few questions I have.  It’s a work in progress but if it works I’m going to try this approach for my characters too.  I know who they are and what they want but I need to make them live a little.

This idea came about when I was looking for exercises for the next writing group; I hope the group find the exercise as useful as I always have…

So that’s a start of my to-do list being done; here’s hoping for another few ticks next week!

In other news – I missed book 25 (Jerome K Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat) of the list – I haven’t read it but it sounds light enough to try after the one I’m just finishing off so I’ll see if I can download it.  We’ve now reached book 26, The Sign of Four, by Arthur Conan Doyle.  Again, I haven’t read it and I’m not convinced I’ll enjoy a full-length Sherlock story but I have got it and I will give it a go sometime soon.

Also – Recently one of my cousins posted a link about speed-reading, and then I saw this article, and I felt obliged to talk about it!  The purpose of the various bits of software is to get you through a book as quickly as possible. Now, I generally read pretty fast, but the speed of these things is ridiculous and I don’t understand the purpose for most people – why rush a good book and finish in an hour or two, and not have taken on board the ideas, concepts, motifs etc…  It might be useful for people behind on their deadlines I guess – but maybe not for people who read for pleasure and like to linger in a comfy chair with a packet of biscuits and their latest tome!

And finally – I’d like to say hi to all my new followers – well, all my followers actually!  I really appreciate your support and encouragement as the blog undergoes another round of changes 🙂

I hope you are all enjoying the new Thursday posts and the more in-depth challenge updates on Tuesdays – please do let me know what you think!

Until Tuesday,

Happy writing,



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With barely more than 48 hours left of 2013, I have been looking at this year’s progress and where I need to get to in the next few weeks.

This time last year, I was still working on the family tree novel.  Now, after the waiting game I’ve played with agents, I have decided to speed up the agent approaches and work out a timetable for possible self-publishing.  It’s still not my preference but I didn’t write the book to let it sit in a drawer for the rest of my life!

I now want to give some attention to increasing my public profile. My blog merrily flows onwards but I really need to gain more followers; I should sort out a Facebook and twitter account. This is all possible outside of my personal pages so I’ll target those things for January.

As part of that, I’ll add more of my own prose to the blog for feedback and comments to see what I need to improve, and what works well.

Alongside that I want to do more poetry performances and perhaps make them a regular event – say once a quarter so I have time to write new material. As the poetry exists under my own name and not my writing name, I can keep the two separate which will please any agent I do eventually secure!

But all good things must end, and I think I’ll have to start looking for paid work in the new year too – it’ll mean less time for writing but looking on the positive side, it’ll give me new things to write about!  Besides, I am saving up for something important and it’ll all be worth it!

In other news – Book number 14 on the 100 best novels list is Vanity Fair.  I think I’ve read it, and I’ve certainly watched both tv and film versions of it!  I can’t remember much about it though so I think it might be one I go back to.

And finally – I’d like to wish you all a happy, peaceful and creative 2014.  This year has been difficult at times, but there has also been love, laughter and happiness – and a great sense of camaraderie, including on WordPress.  I want to thank you all for commenting, reading and liking posts, and following the blog 🙂

Until next year – happy writing!



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Having had an intermission last week, and being pretty useless for a few weeks now, I thought I’d try getting back into the swing of things.

It hasn’t entirely gone to plan, but at least I’m heading in the right direction. I’ve been doing research, having discussions about storylines, reading up on different styles of poetry and so on. I’ve also been involved in a fundraiser which has taken up a reasonable amount of time so I should have realised that this wasn’t the week to catch up.

It’s bugging me a little that I feel so disengaged from work, but I know from previous experience that I just need to get back into a routine.  So tomorrow the timesheet comes back into play – I’ll start with 15 hours this week as a target, and go from there.

I feel more confident when I can tie my work down a little and I really need to get to grips with book 2 as I wait for further info on book 1 (looking for an agent required oodles of patience and it’s good to be diverted) and start working towards my target date for completion of this draft.

So there’s not really a lot of news, as such, but just putting this stuff in writing makes me feel more confident I’ll get things done!

In other news – I missed books 6, 7 and 8 on the 100 best books list but I looked them up – and finally got to some I’ve read! Woo hoo!

I have read (or at least started reading) Emma and completed Frankenstein.  I will give Emma another go, I have it in my study and will aim to read it by the end of the month; I find Jane Austen very easy to read nowadays so that’s a reasonable target.   Suddenly I’ve gone from 0% of the list to 25% and I feel much more literary!

Also – I liked this interview with Children’s Laureate Malorie Blackman, specifically what she says about getting on and working, and ways to deal with writer’s block.  Mainly because I’ve said the same things before and it validates my opinions!  I also appreciated reading about the number of rejections she had – I know I have to keep the faith but that’s quite hard some days.

And finally – I’ve talked before about public reading events.  Well how about reality-TV writing?  Is this the future of literature?

I really, really hope not!

Happy writing



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