Another shameless act of link-baiting to increase site traffic and Twitter followers to tempt any potential agents or publishers into thinking that not only can I write but I can do promotional stuff too.

I can dance like a little chained monkey with cymbals on his knees to the hand-clapping beat of my master, the spare change falling into his crumpled hat signalling the level of contentment I can expect from that nights meal and sleep.

Except now, I’ve given the game away.

Here’s one I wrote for ProBlogger featuring the apps I use when writing: 8 Non-writing Apps for Writers.

 

September 14, 2012

The time has come. No amount of procrastinating or ‘research’ will better prepare me to start.

It’s time to dive in.

It’s interesting to read this equivalent post from the beginning of my second novel – Second Novel Finally Started! – it’s funny to see I’m in exactly the same position again, especially after reading this post from 3 months after that previous one – New novel binned, starting again – why do I do this?!

I’ve got two main characters, motivations, a plot, some interesting bits and bobs…and that’s about all I need.

A title would be nice but I’m still undecided. So far I like ‘Blindsided‘ and ‘The Rejected‘ but neither have solidified themselves as the final title so ‘Novel 3‘ will have to do for now.

I’m not a freestyler who flies by the seat of their pants and I’m not a detailed planner, I’m what I’ve just christened, a ‘structuralist‘. I can tell where it starts, who with, where I have to get to in the middle and where the end ends. I have a few themes and ideas to guide me and that’s it.

Now I’ve got structure sorted, I plan in about 3 or 4 chapter chunks. So I’ve got currently got the first 3 chapters planned in about 4 sentences each. The rest I leave to serendipity, chance, luck, and dare I say it, skill and experience!

I love the idea gathering stage. Just a pen and notebook, you can write what you want, scribble anywhere you want, cross stuff out, draw arrows all over the page and make a general mess. Nothing is wrong, nothing is superfluous, nothing is crap, nothing is diversionary.

But working in chaos can’t last forever, eventually you want to bring together the good bits and sculpt something meaningful. All these disparate thoughts and ideas won’t stand up by themselves, they need to be weaved into a plot using the personality and situations of your characters (I’m not going full-blown literary – there will be a plot).

I love this beginning stage too. Luckily, I love editing subsequent drafts as well.

A selective memory is a vital tool for starting a new novel; experience has told me that much!

August 27, 2012

Featured in a recent tweet from @kerrynlaws was a link to this article ‘“A Right Fit”: Navigating the World of Literary Agents‘ which highlighted the need to visit conferences and actually get networking.

Coincidently, only a day later, I listened to this podcast by Joanna Penn interviewing CJ Lyons who essentially said the same thing.

Both article and podcast basically stated that agents have a mountainous slushpile to get through, an almost impossible task meaning the time and energy they devote to yours…and my manuscript could be minimal.  It might be opened when the agent is pissed off, hungry, in a bad mood, tired, deflated…they read your name, have no idea who you are and think ‘Bollocks’ whilst firing off a form rejection with one hand and pouring a whisky with the other.

Get out there and networking actually helps…apparently. Agents get to see if you’re a nutter, have the ability to talk, pitch, interact and generally be a decent person.

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I buy the i newspaper most days. Along with it’s modern web influenced layout, fully clothed Page 3 figure, condensed news reports, a strict one page only of celebrity coverage, keen price and effortlessly Zeitgeisty name, lies a treat. Her name is Christina Patterson.

About once a week, more if the wind’s right, Christina writes the main opinion piece. What I love about her is her writing style, plus she’s right 99% of the time. I’m confident I could pick out an anonymously credited ‘CP’ article at about 20 paces…and that’s just from the first paragraph.

This blog post is a tribute and an exercise. I’m going to try and write a post detailing what you need to do to write like Christina Patterson, in the style of Christina Patterson.

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You’ve probably heard of Trent Arsenault by now. The sperm donor who’s fathered 16 children but still remains a virgin.

You can read more at The Sun and The Daily Mail websites.

Now, your first question might be, ‘Why the hell are you reading The Sun and The Daily Mail?‘. Fair question. Visit Trent directly – http://trentdonor.org/.

In my short story, ‘Branching Out’ (the prequel to Broken Branches), the protagonist is a professional sperm donor, or ‘Donorsexual’ as Trent has now coined it (Although Trent does his donating for free). This is in a near future where sperm counts have deteriorated to a point where only a few men are able to procreate. They sell their services ‘directly’ not via cups, turkey basters, IVF or suchlike. The classic ‘Wham, Bam, Thank you Ma’am‘ method being the most guaranteed and cheapest way.

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I only went and bloody won something!

Transition Town Worthing‘ held a competition to imagine Worthing in 2030 and how energy would affect life in the town.

A near future story based in Worthing? That’s my niche! It would be rude if I didn’t enter.

Click here to read my entry – ‘From The Sea, Plenty‘ – for the Worthingites (I think that’s what we’re called), see how many Easter Eggs you can spot.

I won a DVD, ‘Collapse‘, which is a great documentary interviewing Michael Ruppert about the state of the world and his reasons why it’s going to collapse, when and how.

If you like Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein, Michael Moore and other anti-laissez faire capitalists then you’ll like this. btw another great documentary is ‘The Corporation‘ if you haven’t already seen it.

Here’s another short story I wrote a couple of years ago that’s picked up a few rejections along the way.

It’s an actual, full-monty, sci-fi story in space. I like the anthropomorphising of planets in it.

The idea of life coming from distant planets and not evolving by itself here is something I’ve never forgotten from a Star Trek TNG double episode where it explained why all alien races (Klingons, Humans, Ferengi, etc) have two legs, arms, one head, etc and basically look the same in the series (can’t remember the name of the episodes edit: 21st April 2014, just watched it on Netflix, it’s called ‘The Chase‘ – although it was about an ancient alien race dumping DNA on various planets and left to evolve on it’s own).

Anyway, let me know what you think.

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This is another short story I wrote which gained a few rejections. I initially wrote it for an alternative fairy tale competition. I still quite like it but realise it’s more of a vent against bankers than a ‘pure story’ and now it’s probably a bit dated for anyone to publish it.

So here it is before the financial crisis becomes a distant memory we’ll all look back on and laugh, recalling how things were so much better in the good old days.

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That’s it! I’m all done with writing and have started the submission process.

Done a cover letter and a synopsis. Dark arts that bleed the very lifeblood and momentum you’ve generating through writing your novel, but necessary evils nonetheless.

Researched the agents I want to contact. A couple take emails which is handy. Got a couple of rejections back already from two American based agents who took email submissions (They’re obviously highly organised and efficient, nothing to do with the novel itself).

How do you know when you’re ready to submit? I’m not sure. I wait until I can flog it no longer and the time spent on it achieves the ‘laws of diminishing returns’, eg. if you spend an hour on it, was that an hour well spent or were you just rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic?

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I’m just throwing this out there. It’s an idea to be bashed, smashed and totally trashed.

I’m starting the submission process for my second novel, the first novel became a magnet for rejections. I did get a couple of requests for the full MS, one of which was rejected, the other is probably lost by now.

So what was wrong? I have no idea. Could’ve been the cover letter, the synopsis, the first 3 chapters, the first 6 chapters, no market for it, a similar novel was already being progressed, the novel was OK it was me…I’ve no idea.

I appreciate every rejection I’ve received…and continue to receive. They’re better than being ignored.

In this post-Simon Cowell world, I can take rejection and a middle finger into an eyeball. In fact, I invite it – I stepped out of the peace and quiet of my own little bubble and put my novel out there!

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