Sunday, 31 January 2010

Writer seeks publisher with GSOH. Must love animals.



I wish it were as simple as the title of this blog to find a publisher.
I started 2010 thinking I would send my novel off to hundreds of publishers, hoping that one would be interested. I identified no less than 30 publishers from the Writers and Artists Year book, but on researching each one, I found that I was only left with four who would look at unsolicited manuscripts. Many of them refer you straight back to the excellent 'Artist and Writers Year book, and others state they only want work via an Agent.

This is not intended to be a doomy post, but it does show how hard it is for a writer to even get their work looked at. I am thrilled that I have those four publishers that will be getting a copy of 'Red Kite' very soon. I will also be sending it off to Agents. My list of agents is more than double than that of the publishers, and if I secured one, it may help me get a step further to publication.

I have also found that the Writers' News magazine which is available if you subscribe to 'Writing Magazine', is a wonderful source of information. I found two large publishers that were now accepting manuscripts from un-known writers, so I have already sent Red Kite off to both of those.

It gives up-to-date information on the market at the moment which is crucial. As you can see by the photograph, my Artists and Writers Year book is 2009. Many of the entries in there could have changed dramatically since it going into print so well worth checking websites before sending of material.

Saturday, 30 January 2010

Cold Moon



At the moment, most of us are struggling to get through this winter. We are certainly experiencing some of the most extreme conditions that I have known , though I know there has been worse in the past. But today I thought about how we deal with it. I am fed up of being fed up, if that makes sense to anyone.

I recently learned that the native American tribes such as the Cherokee linked their months and moons to nature and what was happening around them at the time. January is harsh with freezing and brutal conditions, so the Cold Moon' was named. Other tribes have different and equally fascinating names for such moons, but it is wonderful to see how other cultures can embrace things in a different way to others.

This morning when I took these photographs, I had to admire the beauty and wonder of our wonderful planet, despite the way it seems to fight us sometimes by unleashing some of the most devastating natural disasters that we have encountered in our time.

I found it quite magical that the 'Cold Moon' appeared inside the lamp which stands on my window sill. Perhaps not such a cold moon after all if it can find it's way into something that brings light and warmth?

Sunday, 24 January 2010

The Art of Writing



As a self confessed internet addict, it was charming yesterday to receive a hand written note from my Mom. She had enclosed some newspaper cuttings; one about a poetry festival, another on a book review and a story about a creature which is reported to be half wild boar and half wolf which is terrorising people in Lancashire.

It was lovely to open such a delightful package full of strange and interesting stories along with her comments, but it was the fact that it was hand written that appealed to me. I felt like a character from a Jane Austin novel as I unfolded the delicate pages and read her words.

She had written it while sitting in Telford Library. I could just picture her sat in a modern building, surrounded by technology while she practised the wonderful and ancient craft of actually putting pen to paper.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

The other side of blogging


"Wonder what's on the other side?"


I only recently found out about guest blogging or being a team member of another blog. It's fantastic, what a great idea.

Carole Anne Carr invited me and a few other members to do a guest blog and become team members of her excellent own blog 'Children's Books at the Cake and Custard'. It's great to see what's happening on other blogs and what sort of followers other writers have. It opens up another side with opportunities to talk to a wider audience.

I admit to letting all my fellow bloggers go first as I had no idea of what do on someone else's blog. But once I started, I felt at home, so thank you Carole again for making me feel so welcome! I will certainly be returning to her excellent blog in the future.

It's coming up to my first aniversary of blogging and I can't believe how much it has helped me. I have gained confidence in my own abilty, learned new IT skills by asking fellow bloggers 'How on earth do you do that on your blog?', I have sold more copies of my book, and made some wonderful new contacts, as well as keeping up the wonderful support and encouragement from my existing followers.

I would certainly give guest blogging a go, especially if you have a lot of followers as it just shows how many topics most people are interested in.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Snowed under



Well here I am again. This morning the snow was very bad in South Shropshire. Most of the main roads were blocked due to accidents and heavy snow, making it impossible to get to work. However, I have used the time at home well.

I was really becoming snowed under with several years worth of writing magazines. I hate throwing any of them away, so decided to go through each issue and pick out the bits I need. I was amazed how useful this was. I divided them up into subjects such as dialogue, pitching, writing for children and general hints and tips. I also kept the letters to the editor as these provide a quick source of help and advice.

It was wonderful to see how many times members of Wrekin Writers have contributed in some way or another in Writing Magazine, Writers Forum, Link Magazine and Writers News, with numerous articles and letters from Simon Whaley, Julie Phillips, Sue Ross and Fee Smith. I also found an excellent leaflet on dialogue that Mike White had produced for a workshop he presented a few years ago, and Simon's booklet on article writing.

These items are a wonderful source of information, so thank you all for adding to my now bursting file which is packed with the information I need in a place I can find it.

On looking through all the copies of the writing mags, I also found how often the same topics were published over time, which is great as it means as long as we do our research, there is no reason that we can't submit similar articles after a suitable period, even if the subject has been tackled before.

Still snowing here, but at least my house is de-cluttered and I have room to collect even more writing stuff!

Friday, 15 January 2010

A positive rejection


I started off today feeling quite positive. The rain came in the night and started to wash the snow away which meant after more than three weeks, I could get into work and continue with my normal life.

I feed my ponies every morning on my journey to work and this morning discovered Chad, my lovely old boy had got his back leg trapped in the strap of his rug. It had been suspended for possibly hours. He had been standing in the same position on three legs, in the snow, fog and rain. When I released the strap, he couldn't put his weight on it, I suppose it was like us having cramp. Humans would try to ease out of it, understanding that they need movement to recover, but he was in too much pain. I called the vet and have spent the next few hours getting him moving gently out of is pain. This meant tempting him around the field with some chocolate, his favourite treat. After spending most of the morning with him, I got him walking again.

I have been going down to his field every two hours and after the second visit, he screamed with delight, surprised at my frequent visits and that I should be giving him yet more food. He appeared to have moved on from the trauma that we had gone through, whilst I was a weeping frazzled wreck!

When I returned home I found a big brown envelope had come through my letter box. Yes, It's another rejection. I didn't even read it properly to start with. I was so cold I couldn't be bothered to subject my self to studying it, but after a while I picked it up again, and on turning over the standard compliment slip they had sent, I noticed that the editor had written some comments by hand, despite their website saying they never give feedback.

They said my story was sweet but the picture book market is saturated at the moment so they have to be cautious.

I felt so good in a really odd way, perhaps just the fact they had been bothered to write something personal to me, and that sometimes it's just the market at the time that is stopping me and not the fact that my writing is not good enough.

Of course my beautiful Chad helped. He showed me in his own way how we can move on from anything, with a little time, support and encouragement.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Inspiration - The sequel



Hi folks

Well I'm here again. Due to the snow, I could not get into work today, so decided to sort some of my books out. I found the one pictured and it brought back lovely memories of my first joining Wrekin Writers. It's come full circle as our very own Sue Horder-Mason was chair back then and from the moment I walked in I felt welcome. I was so shy then I couldn't stand reading anything out but the group has helped me overcome that with years of support and encouragement.

Sue often used this book to give us exercises which were a fantastic way of getting instant inspiration. Some of them were against the clock and she would quite literally open to a page, close her eyes and pick one to do. It has pages of 'five minute fictions' where you are invited to write a story about anything from 'something old' to 'a chair' to 'being afraid' etc. This is a great way to get limbered up for your own writing, a bit like stretching exercises for the brain before you go into your full aerobic exercise of writing.

I never forgot it and only last year I managed to get a used copy of the book from amazon. It really is a good read and very informative. Roberta Allen the author of 'Fast Fiction has a website so is well worth look at see www.robertaallen.com/

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Inspiration

video

Inspiration is a funny thing as you never know where you are going to find it. I made this little slide show to capture some of the things that have inspired me.

This morning I fed the ponies as normal. Chad is the first pony in the slide, all rugged up as he is an old boy now. I bought him as a six year old when I was just 14years old. We have actually grown up together, in fact apart from my mom, I have spent more time with him than any other person in my life. He, along with my Mom are the ones responsible for giving me the first inspiration to write. He had quite a history before coming to me, but that's another story. Brodie is the little fury pony, quite a handful and a bit grumpy some days, but he is a wonderful companion to Chad. It touches my heart that these two huge creatures are so dependent on me, it's tough every morning and night feeding and watering them in the freezing cold, but when they whinny at the sound of my car, it's an incredible feeling.

As I approached Chad's field shelter to spread the hay, I thought I could see two birds fighting. It was in fact a kestrel that had just caught a mouse. It was darting about in the hay for a while then flew straight past me with the unfortunate rodent gripped in it's claws.

Then the marmalade cat that thinks he is a horse came strolling over the field. He didn't seem to notice the two rabbits who were kicking up the snow as they fled across the field. I find him quite often in the field shelter, it's deep with shavings and straw, so it's lovely and warm and he is probably looking for the mice that the kestrel has already nabbed! He seems to get on very well with the horses and prefers to spend his days in their field rather than hang out with the other village cats.

After that I noticed a robin sat on the rim of Chad's bucket while he was eating. Chad was clearly not bothered by the hungry intruder who only flew off when I started cracking the ice on their water containers. The birds often come close to the ponies, and in the spring when they start to shed their winter coats, I have experienced several Jackdaws waiting in turn to pick up the discarded hair so they can take it for their nests.

Finally on my way home, I had to stop the car at the sight of some sheep feeding. Two had climbed right on top of the bales of hay and were tucking in with glee. The others stood side by side munching away oblivious to me grinning like a fool as I snapped them on my camera. (Although I think the one is looking right at me in the slide show)

In just that short space of time, I had seen so many wonderful things that are living around me all of the time. They are simple things that many people may not even notice or care about, but to me they are precious. They are my inspiration. It is ironic though that many of the things that inspire me, are usually the things that prevent me from writing in the first place. I know I probably spend more time inside the chicken coop just watching my funny little hens than writing about them, and once I get out into the woods nearby, I can stay for hours, just walking and taking in the natural beauty. Then I come into the house, sit by the fire and stare into the flames as I reflect on the things that inspire me.

But right now, I am at my computer, with magical images in my head, and plenty on my camera. I just have to find the time to start writing about them before I go out again!

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Snow helps Red Kite fly



I said I would make sure I used this snowy weather problem to my advantage and now I am very happy to say that I will be sending two chapters and my synopsis off tomorrow to yet another publisher. (as long as we don't have anymore of the white stuff that is)

I was shocked to find that I had only sent Red Kite off 3 times last year. I submitted it to two publishers and one agent. In fairness they all wanted to see it in isolation in that I had not sent it to anyone else, so it took ages before they rejected it and the year was ticking by, but the last rejection I got was in July 2009. I have no excuses there and should have worked on it, and sent it out again, as I have in these last two days.

I shall therefore put it in writing now, that IF (oh the positivity, note I did not say when) I get it rejected again, I will send it out at least a month later.

No going back now, I have to make it happen.

The photo is one I took at the Red Kite feeding station, at Gigrin Farm in Wales. I really tried to see these magical birds through the eyes of my main character. Every step I took around the place, I imagined how he would see it. A little scary as he is a 14 year old lad, but it is a challenge. It is said that you should always imagine your novel as a film. These birds would all be stars if this was the case.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

What a difference a day makes






These four photos really sum up the day I have had today.
I started off for work this morning feeling the same as millions of other people, dreading the journey to work. Not wanting to be late, I set off early. After passing abandoned cars a few yards from house, I should have seen the signs but it took half an hour before I had to turn around and come back home. I felt so stressed, it was horrible having to contact work and feel that I was letting people down.

However, after a while and several cups of tea, I spent some time with my hens, fed the garden birds and had a quick walk in the woods near by. I then returned to the comfort of my house, had more tea, blogged about my beautiful chickens, pitched an idea to an editor about a future article and did some work on my novel.

After the endless tea drinking, I ran out of milk so had to walk a mile and a half to the nearest shop on clee hill. It was a long walk but worth it as it gave me time to think about what had been had been bothering and what I could do about it. I realise sometimes you can't change anything, we certainly can't change the weather, but I can change how I deal with it. I think that applies to so many things that influence our lives and certainly our writing ( by this I mean the dreaded rejections)

It was a hard walk up the hill in the heavy snow, but I managed to reach the shop for my provisions before continuing on to some of the wilder parts of the clee hill where people where sledging down the steep slopes in the bleak weather. It was a lovely atmosphere filled with people laughing while the snow fell in silence.

On my return, I took the last photo of the stunning Shropshire hills in the snow. As I am no great photographer, I cheated with the star burst effect as I thought it would add an even more magical effect to a stunning landscape.

I really thought about how my day had panned out and how stressed I had got about it all. Time had changed that, as it does with everything we do and experience.

I realise tomorrow I may have a similar journey, but tomorrow I will sit back, relax and not panic about how much time I have to do something. I guess that applies to writing too. However much time you have, as long as you use it effectively, you will reap the rewards.

Friday, 1 January 2010

A burning ambition



Sorry for the cliche in the title of this blog but it really does say how I feel. I spent this morning having my New Years Day bonfire. It's something I have done for years and it really is a cleansing experience. I burn all the Christmas wrapping paper, old diaries and calenders and what ever will give a good blaze.

I love teasing the flames and allowing the air to give new life when it starts to die down, the warmth on my face, the smoke spiraling into the cold air, and the ashes dancing around the ground like confetti as the breeze catches them.

I see New Years day as a chance to reflect on the year gone by, especially with my writing. What worked? What could I have done better? And what am I going to try next?

My main ambition is to get my novel 'Red Kite' back out into the world again. A friend made a lovely comment on my facebook yesterday and it really inspired me to start working on it again.

I shall also continue with the article writing as this so far has been my most successful so far.

Hope 2010 is a good one, I intend to do everything I can to achieve my goals and hope all you writers out there succeed too.