May 27, 2010

Here’s the third chapter of my novel, Railroaded, which means the first three chapters are now online, the requirement of most literary agents. So now you can read the opening to this novel, put yourself in an agent’s position…and send me a rejection.

I’m blaming the cover letter at the moment.

You can read the first chapter here.


The huge sprawling office complex of The Pharmara Corporation stretched across the entire 15 mile brow of the hills overlooking Wigthorn. Deemed an ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’ by The World Heritage Foundation in the past, the trees and hedgerows once lining this landscape had been replaced by pure white buildings sealed with black solar panels, no windows or doors faced the town of Wigthorn. This was the view a Wigthornian would see if he or she looked northwards, if one were to look south across the sea towards France then the horizon would be filled with the tops of wind turbines like rows of runaway wagon wheels careering through the English Channel out towards the Atlantic Ocean. Wigthorn was a town cannibalising its natural assets in order to survive, as all towns were.

The Pharmara Corporation headquarters up on the hills of Wigthorn were only on one floor and designed to have no right angles or curves, every corner was irregular and every surface flat like a stealth fighter plane. Each department has its own building, the biggest being ‘Statistical Acquirement and Analysis’, it tracks every single item leaving the factory floor; from products and packaging to pallets and people. Every item has its own CBID tag (Constant Broadcast Identification) transmitting, via satellites, its vital statistics 10 times every second. Temperature, location, speed, humidity, human DNA in vicinity, other items in vicinity, the speed, temperature, location of those nearby humans and other items…and so it went on, every statistic was vital.

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I’ve finished the first chapter of my second novel and I’ve also got a title for it.

All this has happened in a couple of weeks and the first three chapter plan I had before starting has totally been thrown out of the window.

One of Elmore Leonard’s writing tips was ‘Do give the work a name as quickly as possible‘ and not having a title did feel a little weird.

I had a bunch of tentative titles which never really grabbed me and  ‘Broken Branches’ may not stand up all the way to the finish but it’s doing the job of ticking off something on the novel writing to do list.

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Holy crap! Hell must have frozen over, eskimo’s must be buying ice AND arabs must be buying sand plus other such impossibilities because one of my short stories is actually getting published.

Spikethecat had a competition called ‘The Last Laugh‘ so I submitted my story ‘The Lost Journeyman’. Recently I got an email saying it had been chosen to be published in ‘The Last Laugh’ anthology, along with 11 others.

In the top right of the site I’ve written ‘unpublished’, so I’ll cross that out as soon as I have a hard copy or ebook in my grubby little hands.  One down, two to go.

So until then, let’s run some numbers.

All my writing has been rejected a total of 35 times, the 36th time this short story got accepted.  So 1 in 36 times I’m successful, which, if my maths serves me right, means I’m batting 0.027, not major league.

It also means I’m accepted 2.7% of the time, which means I’m doing better than being rejected 99% of the time.

Thank you cold, hard maths for providing me with a warm embrace.

I’ll let you know when this anthology is available to buy.

Update 21st Sept. 2010: The anthology is now available, looky here.

Four months late but I finally cracked open the laptop and fired up Word, created a new file and wrote ‘Chapter 1’.

I don’t have a title which is annoying as the file is saved as ‘Novel 2 – 1st Draft’ but it’s better than no file at all.

I have a basic idea, plenty of notes to back me up incase I find myself down a dead-end, so now I just need to keep freestylin’ and moving forward, never pausing to rewrite, rethink or be repulsed.

The second draft is for rewriting, the first draft just has to be forced out in some kind of vaguely intelligible diatribe. Memories and thoughts of a painful, drug-free birthing process is not an attractive or inviting image to escort me down this road but hopefully it’ll all be worth it.

My aim at the beginning of the year was to start and finish the first draft this year, that’s still my goal even though I’m starting four months behind.  We’ll see how that turns out in 8 months time.

I’ll keep posting updates and key events/dilemma’s as I go. A title sooner rather than later would be nice.