Tuesday, March 31, 2009



and trying not to be too dispirited.

Non-fiction synopsis now done and e-mailed to 6 agents yesterday and 6 agents today. Have had fingers in ears and eyes tight shut waiting for inevitable rejections ever since. 2 'no's' so far and 1 'maybe'. 'Maybe' wanted sample pages, chapter summary, CV, market analysis and more so did that yesterday.

No news about the ghostwriting.

So it's carrying on with the fiction time. Am polishing off last novel, never finally completed, continuing with fantasy story, and, some time very soon, starting on the new novel. Don't know if it's mad but want to devote 1 full non-interrupted hour a day to each plus another hour a day on each for editing.

Started using Dr Wicked again for the ghostwriting and found it a really useful way of getting a first draft done quickly. You write onto the website, the background gets redder and redder and if you pause for too long it starts making horrible shrieking noises. It's easy to over-ride it if you have to. The thing is it really does stop me clicking through to email and Twitter all the time.

Addenum: Definite no just in from the 'maybe', even with my strong profile, not distinctive enough from the other books on the market. So that's a whole day's work yesterday down the pan.

Carry on. Carry on. Lots of people in this boat at the moment...

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.

Thursday, March 26, 2009



Have finished the ghostwriting type job I was invited to pitch for. I had to write 3 chapters on spec., about 9,000 words. Blithely thought I'd give it a week but it took 3 in the end with by no means any guarantee of work at the end of it. Still, done and sent. Direct, as my agent doesn't want to handle the unusual contract - if it should come to that. It sounds harsh but actually means that I don't pay the 15% on what won't be great earnings anyhow, and the company handling the project are, in a way, acting like agents already. This means I'll deal with them direct and if it comes off will get any contract checked over by the Society of Authors. I'm not a member any more as I can't afford subs, but if it should come to it I will re-join. Their lawyer in residence is just one of their valuable services. Anybody who gets offered a book contract who doesn't have an agent can join and then seek their advice before signing. Must seek their advice before signing anything.

The verdict also came in from my agent's children's reader on the fantasy novel that I've been writing for the past year whilst trying to stay afloat at the bank. It's a no. One opinion of course, and the first time it's been sent out, but apparently I need to comply with the conventions of the genre to a greater degree and there were other issues, like the age of the children.

Then the third no in the same email was to my non-fiction idea. She liked it but she's already working on a similar project and so can't represent me. She suggested I look for another agent. When I first read this I was heartbroken, but, actually it makes sense. She was generous enough to tell me that the idea has legs. I must act quickly and that's what I'm doing now, concentrating on selling myself again, trying to get somewhere.

Hey, one thing though, there seems to have been some sort of consensus between UK agents since I was last on the hunt and now most of them have caught up with the USA and ask for submissions by e-mail rather than post. This makes it all much much easier. Another good thing is that my own agent is keeping me on her books and will only sign me off when I find a new agent. So if the non-fiction comes to nothing I can start on one of the new fiction ideas I've been resisting and see if she likes any of those.

I sent one non-fiction query today, my first, to another dream-agent type. At the suggestion of a writer friend I shamelessly namedropped the Famous Author Next Door, as in I am poor struggling author living right next to London residence of ... gaah!, who would, I am sure, find some way of sueing me if she knew I'd taken her name... Except she's barely ever there anyway.

Am leaving off sending out the children's book again for the moment. Will keep it as my fantasy project, to be finished and lovingly polished up.

There. That's me. Nobody ever said it would be easy!

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.

CONF 589

Saturday, March 07, 2009


Violet, 51, moves to a small cottage close to the sea where a series of mysterious letters from the 1950s begin to plop through her letterbox. They’re written to a very close friend by Elizabeth, a pregnant, single girl who is seeing out her term in a mother and baby home. The mystery of the letters is juxtaposed with Violet’s own story of moving to the country and managing her relationships with the locals, her turbulent lover and her infuriating son.

Fiona Robyn's debut novel The Letters has just been published and I'm delighted to be today's stop on her blog tour. As my blog is about the trials and traumas of getting published, or not as, um, the case may be, I asked Fiona to tell me her getting published story.

It’s a lovely, original idea. I read in another interview on this tour that you’re a ‘seat of the pants’ writer rather than a plotter. Was the letter idea always there when you started writing the novel or was it one of those light-bulb organic moments that happened when you were writing which then ended up becoming such a strong part of the narrative, and, indeed, the title!

Definitely the latter! I can't actually remember at what point the idea of the letters 'arrived', but I do know that Violet was the first to appear. I tend to get to know my central characters first, and the story follows from that. I ask questions of Violet - what kind of job would she have? What stage of her life are they at? What makes her happy? What does she want? The book turned out to be about something quite different to what I thought it might be about when I started writing it, which is usual for me!

Your story is very visual. I’m getting such a clear image of Violet’s cottage as I read. Is it based on a real cottage?

I'm glad to hear that! I do use real things in my books occasionally, but Violet's cottage is my invention - a mish-mash of cottages I've known.

How long did it take to find a publisher? Did you have an agent or did you contact publishers direct?

I did have an agent for the first book I wrote, Thaw, but we couldn't find a publisher for it and eventually parted ways. It took me about 6 years to find a publisher - enough time to write three novels which are all ready to go!

Wow! Having two further novels already written and ready to publish is a wonderful position to be in. Not least you've escaped the 'now how on earth do I follow that with a second book?' trauma that so many writers seem to suffer from. What are the other novels about? When do they come out?

I know, lucky me! The second, The Blue Handbag, is out in August and follows 62 yr old Leonard as he becomes a reluctant detective after his wife's death - he thought he knew everything about her, but he keeps making discoveries about her that just don't add up. Thaw, out in Feb '10, is Ruth's diary as she gives herself three months to decide whether or not she wants to carry on living. She commissions Red, an eccentric Russian, to paint her portrait and as their relationship develops she starts to see her impoverished life in a new light.

Do you have an agent now?

I don't have an agent at the moment and will probably look for one before I publish my novel-in-progress, but we'll see.

What was it like, that ‘I’m getting published moment’ when you met your editor for the first time?

Because of their size Snowbooks work a little differently to other publishers, and so no lavish lunches for us Snowbooks authors. Instead Emma works hard on getting the books into the shops, which is how I prefer it. She is very available on email, as is Anna who works from America. My favourite moment so far was holding the beautiful book in my hands for the first time. Yay!

What was it like when you saw your novel in a shop for the first time? What were your thoughts? Did you (like me) lurk and watch to see if anybody picked it up?

This was a very happy moment. I thought 'I'm a proper author now!' I tried not to lurk as there were a lot of other books in the shop and I thought I might be lurking a long time but it was a wonderful moment - as you can see from the idiot grin on my face.

If you'd like to read more, The Letters is out in the shops now, on Amazon here or you can buy direct from Snowbooks here.

Thursday, March 05, 2009


I saw this gig at Wembley. He was completely amazing. Maybe it's best to keep the memories but I still wish I could go.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009


Synopsis & character profiles all done and ready to send. A lovely blogtour will be coming this way shortly but in the meantime here's how Londoners reacted to the recent death of Tony Hart.

Morph flashmob takes over Tate Britain.