Thursday, 27 August 2009

An Inspirational Rejection

Well, this is a new one: an inspirational rejection.

Thank you for letting us see "The Prison," but we've decided to pass.

Ok, that starts off quite normally...

This would make an absolutely gorgeous poem. It doesn't quite have the complete story arc I'm seeking right now for our Flash.

Um... do you know? They're right! It really would make a better poem than it would a piece of flash fiction.

And do you know what I'm going to do right now? Yes, I'm going to turn it into a poem. And then I'm going to go ahead and sub it straight back to them! After all, it was their idea.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

The Magical, Magical Internet

Every so often I take a step back and wonder how the world hasn't been blown off course by the explosion of the internet.

We have entirely absorbed it into our lives: email, Google, online banking, job hunting, blogging, travel booking, price comparison, information, information, information galore.

One group especially that has been able to take advantage of the internet revolution is the writers of the world.

The other day I was writing a short story and needed a fictitious company name. I searched for my company on the web to check it wasn't already in existence, thus possibly saving me a lot of hassle in the future. Before this information was available at the click of a button I would have had to go... where exactly? I'd have contacted (written to/phoned) Companies House in Britain for a start. But where do I go to find out about the rest of the world? Does it matter for legal reasons? Again, I can research this very question now: the information is all there.

And what would Charles Dickens have done if he needed to know how olives were processed? He would have had to have visited a library and waded through volumes of information to find what he needed. Of course, there is no substitute for decent research but when you just need a nugget of information to bring your short story to life the internet in invaluable in the amount of time and cost it can save you.

I really felt the connective power of the internet when I moved to America a month ago. I logged on and my writing group was still there, albeit five hours ahead of me. So much of the writing community is virtual, whether it is online critiquing groups or writers blogs, that much of the feeling of being alone in the universe is now removed; we have rich resources of advice and constructive criticism at our fingertips.

Submitting work is now increasingly reliant on the internet.
E-submissions of novels are lagging behind (oh, the cost and waste of resources involved in the submission process is just painful!) but new, smaller publishing companies are slowly turning towards the paperless approach.

Thanks to websites such as Duotrope the submission process for short stories/poetry goes something like this:
1) Write tiny, polished gem
2) Search Duotrope for appropriate publications
3) Go to publication website to learn more, read previous editions, find out submission information
4) Submit tiny, polished gem by email
5) Wait an inordinate amount of time for response
6) If paid for tiny, polished gem money flies through the virtual ether into Paypal/bank account.
7) No postage waste or trees cut down; orangutans and polar bears are happy.

The market for fiction has also expanded (despite the depletion of print short story magazines) because of the countless new online fiction publications that can be read from anywhere in the world and the increased access to foreign markets.

I can do all this from anywhere in the world, from a beach in the Bahamas to a bungalow in Reading. If I live in Siberia I can still write and quite possibly order all my books off Amazon, although I don't know how long they'd take to arrive. I can still procrastinate terribly on ICanHasCheeseburger from a houseboat in Vietnam.

The internet is truly magic.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Signs of Strangeness

I have three South African Signs of Strangeness up at my other blog today.

P.S. Do you like the new look? This is what I do at 3am when I can't sleep.

Saturday, 22 August 2009


A Saturday morning question for you, dear readers.
What is the plural of synopsis?
Or, what is the collective noun for synopsis?

Post your answers here, they don't have to be sensible.

The best will win a virtual trophy.

Monday, 17 August 2009

Novel Rejection

You may remember from a few posts ago that I was waiting to hear back from two independent publishers who had requested the full manuscript of my novel.
Months and months later I have finally heard back from one of them (we'll call them Turtle Publishers to protect the innocent).

Unfortunately we don't feel that we can publish the book. Your opening chapter was great and your writing style was fine. However, we felt disappointed with the story... The ideas that you talk about having in the book are great - mental health, issues over the pursuit of money, dystopian society., however, we felt that they didn't come over as well as they might have done.


So what's worse? When you are rejected before they have even read the novel, or when they've carefully read every page? I am beginning to think the latter.

I am also starting to think that dear old Maynard Hill may very well need re-drafting if I am to continue subbing it. I don't think it is hopeless, but I'm obviously not hitting the spot.

But, painful as it is to share rejection letters with you, chin up and keep going.

My plan?
1) The short stories and poetry seem to be doing well (I have another three acceptances in the pipeline, stay tuned for links) so I think it would be sensible to build up my portfolio with these. And I enjoy doing them so much.

2) There's no point in doing anything to Maynard Hill until I have heard back from the other interested publishers.

3) I have an idea for a new book, which I will begin researching.

4) By the time the New Book is written (how long is a piece of string?) I should have a decent publishing record that will surely dazzle agents and publishers alike (I do hear that these two groups are particularly easy to impress, as I'm sure all budding novelists will testify).

5a) A top agent will be amazed by my versitility, adore my book and get me a publishing deal worth megabucks. I will move to my own island where I will finish the Maynard Hill trilogy in between feeding the monkeys from my own mango tree.

5b) Alternatively, a tiny independent publishing house will finally take me on and my collection of short stories will win a well-respected prize worth £50. My novel will sell over ten copies and have an excellently-designed cover that will look very nice on my bookcase.

Time to boil the kettle for a cup of tea and get that nose back to the grindstone.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

English Slang

I always thought I was a resonably well-brought-up young lady.

Last night, however, I eating some rather delicious Mexican food in the company of my new American friends and it occured to me quite how much slang I use in my everyday speech.
"Knackered", "B*llocks!", "pop" (as in "pop to the shops"), "brilliant", "gorgeous", etc, etc.
And that's without all the Britishisms that are a respectable use of language, "pavement", "post", "shop", "cinema", "film".

There's nothing like a blank stare or an amused expression to make you intensely aware of how you yourself use language.

But I've mentioned before how difficult I find it to write dialogue, so maybe a new self-awareness can only be a useful thing.

By the way, everyone seems to like the use of "cinema", and as I can't bring myself to say "movie theater", that one will be staying.

Friday, 14 August 2009

Friday Ramblings

Another Friday post and at 11am, what's more, so we'll start off with elevensies, one of my favourite meals of the day. Mmm, delicious. More cake?

So I am newly settled into the Land of Unlimited Coffee Refills, Big Cars and Inspirational Presidents (when did you last wear your Gordon Brown T-shirt?).
Yes, America.

Hell, yeah.

The part of the East Coast I am living on is incredibly beautiful, with a sailing enthusiast's dream of a coastline (and a seafood enthusiast's), forested National Parks and two very different cities, Washington DC and Baltimore, in close enough proximity to fill up on culture.

I had a little explore around Baltimore two days ago and found a second hand bookshop that very quickly emptied my wallet. It was everything a second hand bookshop should be: towering piles of books, quirky little twists and turns (you go through the garden and into the house next door to get to the philosophy section), the right musty smell and arty-clothed men who huffily allow you to pay for your purchases and don't give a crap about you. Wonderful.

I then went for a bowl of Thai seafood noodle soup overlooking the harbour. A brightly T-shirted woman kept going past on a segway. I think she was something to do with the Visitor Centre but she was cruising so speedily there was no way of discovering what she was promoting. Seafood is a big thing in Baltimore: shops filled with happy crabs in chef's hats are everywhere.

So this is my new writing environment. Once I had the computer set up and connected to the PixieWeb it was time for me to start typing. Stay tuned to see the results...