Thursday, 31 May 2012

New Addition to the Family

Yesterday we gained a new addition to our family, a lovely little fella. Lauren's been really excited all week, I've been checking on the scamp, making sure he's OK before we took full responsibility of him. Every night I'd go out onto the roof and make sure the fat pigeons hadn't nibbled his face off. Finally, he was ready and I brought him inside and we washed his delicate little body. Lauren's eyes lit up as soon as she saw how he'd come out and she just wanted to hold him straight away. We let him get used to the flat for a few hours while we ate our dinner, then decided the get to know each other a bit better.

Strawberry Joe
So here he is, Strawberry Joe.

Obviously we took a few photos with him and admired his size and beauty. The first strawberry from our roof, a deep red, not too squashy with an awesome shock of green hair.

Tragedy
We were well proud.

But tragedy struck! Somehow he split in two. I had a knife in my hand, it might have been that. Somehow in that moment Strawberry Joe was gone and our grief overwhelmed us. Things went crazy, I...WE acted out of character. That's the only way I can put it.
A Strawberry's Funeral

We ate Strawberry Joe.

We didn't mean to eat this delicious, plump strawberry.

Maybe it was for the best, though I'm worried he might come back to haunt us.  Hopefully his brothers and sisters will fair better when they come in from the roof...

Cheers,

Mark


Thursday, 24 May 2012

Amazing Writing Advice #12: Plot and Structure

Plot and structure are really important. You can't have a story without them. So I thought I'd show you my plot and structure.

Here's my plot:


and here's my structure:


Cheers,

Mark

Friday, 18 May 2012

Clear Editorial: A Rambling Review Thing

Quite a lot of the time writing feels like standing in a pitch black room with an elephant while shouting, 'Crumpets!'; pointless, dangerous and you've no idea if you have or ever will achieve something worthwhile.

Good feedback is the stuff of dreams. But getting feedback from people that really know something can be tough (that'll upset the crit group, bwa-hahahahaha!). The occasional agent might send back something helpful like, "The eighth line of the first paragraph wasn't all bad" but generally they're too busy helping out the people that are good enough to earn them some money.

So that leaves editing services and things like that. There's Cornerstones and some others that I can't be bothered to look up right now as I'm on lunch and really want to read Nick Cross's impending blog post. There's also lots of independent editors out there offering to take a look.

All these cost money. Usually quite a lot of money (in relation to the amount of money that doesn't sit in my bank account). Also what if the editor you get really, really hates the type of book you've written? On a purely subjective level I mean. I'm sure they try to avoid this happening but the idea of it still gives me the fear.

But a few weeks a go the cackling crones of SCBWI who spend their time emailing one another and occasionally turning an unfortunate illustrator into a toad posted a link to a new service  Clear Editorial set up by Tim Deakin, who worked for Egmont before going freelance and also holds the land speed record for riding a penguin (only one of those two things is a lie).

Tim offers a top line report where you send him about 5 pages and a plot outline and he'll give you some lovely feed back. Then you can decide if you want a fuller analysis, if you like Tim or just pack it all in and try a bit harder at your proper job. And this top line report costs £39.99

Yes.

£39.99!!!!!!!!!


Bargain.

As for the actual service, Tim provided the feedback by the agreed time, gave a  couple of pages overview covering plot, style and narrative in which he said nice things, highlighted what needed work (I think he could tell I didn't have a plot when I started writing it and still didn't have one by the time I finished). He also returned the extract I sent with sort of line edit-y things on it.

In summary it was marvellous, like someone flicked the light on in that pitch black room, showed me the elephant was just a fluffy kitten and gave me a laptop to do some actual writing on.

And you know, £39.99!!

So check it out if you are thinking you need some guidance or feedback (and join a crit group as they are good).

Cheers,

Mark

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Amazing Writing Advice #11: The Welsh Book

The time has come to tell you people one of the most important rules known by writers. It concerns The Welsh Book. The Welsh Book must never have its name said by any author anywhere. You can't even write it, which is going to make this blog post a little tricky.

The Welsh Book was written by famous Welshman Roald Dahl (strong Welsh name, that) which is why it is referred to as The Welsh Book. Obviously I can't tell you the name but it sounds a bit like The Vitches.

The book is cursed as it contains real spells cast by the evil antagonists in it. If any author says the name of the book they will have their work refused by agents and publishers from London to Wigan. Their pens shall run dry; their paper go all crispy and yellow; their computers will take ages to start up; wine will turn to blossom Hill in their mouth; chocolate will become like rice crackers to them.

So never say the title of this book. If you do say the title your only hope is to quickly do the cleansing ritual below:

Turn three times on the spot,
Bend over and spit between your legs,
Chant, "Witches, witches, can't get me, you all smell of poo and wee."

It might work, it might not. But that's the best I can do for you.

Good luck!

Mark

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Submitting to Agents via Email: A Time-Line

Wednesday Night
7:51pm: Check submission meets all the agent's guidelines. Snigger at joke in covering letter. Hit send.

7:52pm: Refresh mailbox.

7:53pm: Refresh mailbox.

7:54pm: Check submission guidelines again. Notice sending it in .Doc or .PDF weren't optional. Reassure self that scanned writing on  beermats is fine.

7:55pm: Refresh mailbox. Promise to wait until after 8pm before refreshing again.

7:59pm: Refresh mailbox.

8:01pm: Open wine. Go on twitter. Notice comment by agent. Check their time line for any comment about your MS.

8:04pm: Make funny comment to agent. If they respond they obviously love your MS.

8:10pm: They must be too busy gushing over MS to respond.

8:15pm: Finish wine.

8:25pm: Realise twitter joke to agent was just stalkerish and crazy. Pour vodka.

8:26pm: Refresh mailbox...

9:32pm: Refresh mailbox. Decide to check from another computer just in case this one's broken.

9:48pm: Reread covering letter. Notice four spelling mistakes and the joke is racist. Finish vodka. Shout at mirror. Collapse.
Please, sir, Can I be published?

Tuesday Morning


9:48am: Arrive at work late and reeking of booze. Refresh mailbox...

11:28pm: Refresh mailbox. Get suspended indefinitely as, "Mind seems to be on other things and not the heart surgery".

4 Weeks later
10:23am: Form rejection. Weep.

10:26am: Plan murder of agent.

11:32am: Start new book written on napkins stolen from KFC.