Thursday, 19 December 2013

Amazing Writing Advice #27: Sub Plots

Sub plots, what are they? Well, say you're writing a book and, in the middle, everything gets a bit boring. That's when you use a sub plot. You remove the current ending and replace it with a substitute (just like in the sports!).

A great example of this is the Film From Dusk 'til Dawn. Half way through it changes from a run of the mill crime caper thing into SEXY MEXICAN VAMPIRES! They are the sexiest vampires there are. Though once they changed into vampires they weren't so sexy.
WITH A SNAKE!

But I digress.

So if you're writing about a caveman searching for the secret of fire have him kidnapped by aliens and fight in a sophisticated galactic war!

Love story into camel racing!

Pirates into pirates! YOU CAN'T GO WRONG WITH PIRATES!

Dystopian emo-fest into PIRATES!

Gothic horror in a Victorian school into PIRATES!

Dancing cats into PIRATES!

It will revitalise your story no end.

PIRATES! (no snake)


Merry Chrimble everyone!

Mark

p.s. PIRATES!

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Amazing Writing Advice #26: The Idea Stalker

WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR IDEAS FROM?

I hear people cry, wherever I go, high and low.

WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR IDEAS FROM?

I hear people cry.

Enough! Enough, dodgy rhymes and all-caps shouting. I will tell you how to find ideas, for I AM THE IDEA STALKER.

Sorry.

Lots of people say they don't know where their ideas come from, this is clearly a lie. Ideas can be found quite easily. But not in places, they are found in activities. These activities are generally ones that require your full attention. During these times random parts of your brain will fire off amazing ideas and insights!

You'll also find the more dangerous the activity (for yourself or other people) the better the ideas you'll have. Probably. Here are some activities that you'll find good for generating ideas, in increasing danger order:


  • Driving.
  • Driving in a car chase.
  • Undertaking brain surgery.
  • Undertaking brain surgery on the pilot of a jumbo jet as he tries to land the plane. Which is full of snakes.
  • Sidling past zombies.
  • Sidling past zombies holding a stack of cymbals.
  • Carving a pumpkin.
  • Giving an honest opinion to a loved one about how they are dressed.
Now you laugh, straight at my face, your most scornful laugh and tell me you've done these things but still no ideas come.

But I tell you they do. However, either you forget them as you are concentrating so hard or you don't know how to spot an idea.

So firstly if you are forgetting your ideas; you must immediately note them down. This can be difficult! Especially on a rain swept motorway at 3am in the morning. BUT YOU MUST.

Sorry. Again.

Still, note them down or they will drain through the cracks of your mind. Never trust the thought that tells you you can remember it. It is a traitor and the idea will be lost. Note that idea down, carve it onto the face of a  pumpkin or zombie. Stitch it into the head of the pilot as you finish up. Tell it to the loved one, which has the added bonus of changing the subject.

How to spot an idea? This is tricky due to their abstract nature. But if you suck the abstract essence from them they would look like this:
An idea with its abstractness removed


That is all the guidance I can give you. I must go now, go back to the idea stalking.

Alternatively this t-shirt slogan may be closer to the truth:



Congratulations if you made it to the end, buy yourself some Frazzles!

Cheers,

Mark

P.S. IDEA STALKER! Get it? It's the hat, it's a deer stalker. Idea stalker, deer stalker? See? Oh, go away.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Amazing Writing Advice #25: Being Inventive

25, eh? I'm surprised I got past five to be honest.

Anyway, as regular readers of this blog will have realised, I make quite a lot of spelling mistakes. Luckily I'm quite an inventive writer and I've come up with a full proof method to avoid spelling mistakes or difficulties with 'they're/there/their' or 'affect/effect' or 'it's/its/badger' ever happening again. From now on, if I don't know how to spell a word, I'll make up a completely new one! And if the problem is with words that sound the same but are spelt different I use the same made up word for all of them.

Synpsesisises is now TRUNDLEgrummm.
Tractor is now angel fish.
Badger is squirrel.
SCBWI is aweosme (subliminal - also I know I spelt awesome wrong, it's all very meta here at the moment).
Deranged is normal.
So instead of affect/effect I use booowyar.
Instead of they're/there/their I use karanga.
Instead of its/it's I use powow.

So some people, members of aweosme, may find this method completely normal. I don't think karanga right at all. Everything is so much simpler now, like culling squirrels on an angel fish. Simple.

Cheers,

Mark

p.s. All the spelling mistakes in everything I do are deliberate. It's ironic!

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Amazing Writing Advice #24: The Secret of Synopsiseses

Synopsisesesses or, as I'll call them from now on, the pointless part of a query. I mean what's the point in writing the whole book and then trying to squeeze the whole thing onto one page? Madness! If it could fit on one page it would be about 400 words long. I have concluded that the pointless part of the query is never read by anyone important so you can just put what ever you like in as it. Here are some of my favourites:

Kitten ASCII Art

(.   \
    \  |   
     \ |___(\--/)
   __/    (  . . )
  "'._.    '-.O.'
       '-.  \ "|\
          '.,,/'.,,mrf


All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy
If you find yourself typing
like this, seek help!

The Words to Witch Doctor

Ooo eee, ooo ah ah ting tang 
  Walla walla, bing bang
  Ooo eee, ooo ah ah ting tang
  Walla walla, bing bang...
  Ooo eee, ooo ah ah ting tang 
  Walla walla, bing bang
  Ooo eee, ooo ah ah ting tang 

  Walla walla, bing bang

What ever you put, it will have no effect on your query. So enjoy yourself.

Cheers,

Mark

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

The Fidgety Pit of Procrastination: A choose your own adventure

Part 1
You sit at your desk preparing to finish that difficult chapter you're trying to add to your book. Instead of starting, do you:

Draw a zombie to stimulate your brain: go to part 3.
Make a cup of tea to refresh you for the coming wordsmithery: go to part 2.

Part 2
As you approach the kettle you notice several dirty plates on the work top. Do you:

Stay focused and make a cup of tea: go to part 6.
Decide to load the dishwasher: go to part 5.

Part 3
The zombie is is so good, with disgusting intestines dribbling from its mouth and an eyeball hanging out of its socket, that you decide to take a picture of it and tweet it. You get several responses from other writers. Do you:

Ignore the comments and return to your writing: go to part 1.
Ask the writers how they deal with procrastination: go to part 4.

Part 4
The writers tell you that they turn off the internet and reward themselves with wine, biscuits, cake and shoes. However you're not sure you believe them as they're all on the internet. You think you could write a good blog post on procrastination. Do you:

Go back to your writing: go to part 1.
Write a blog post about procrastination: go to part part 7.


Part 5
After loading the dishwasher you clean the kitchen counters. You notice that the lounge needs hoovering but it is getting late. Do you:

Do the hoovering: go to part 8.
Force yourself to go back to writing: go to part 1.

Part 6
You make the tea and the phone rings. It is the most talkative friend you have. Yeah, that one. Do you:

Answer: go to part 9.
Ignore the call, you have to do some writing: go to part 1.

Part 7
You write the blog post and then post it, spending the rest of the night obsessively refreshing the stats to see how many views it gets. You don't do any writing. YOU HAVE FAILED.

Part 8
You do the hoovering and then polish the ornaments and paint the walls. Now it is too late to do any writing. YOU HAVE FAILED.

Part 9
You answer and your friend tells you all about the dog walk they went on on Sunday. It is 3am by the time you get off the phone and crawl into bed. YOU HAVE FAILED.

Next week I'll write THE AGENT OF FIRETOP MOUNTAIN!

Cheers,

Mark

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Book Pitch Rejections #4

Here are some more books I've had rejected recently.

The Spiders' Wedding
Sarah and Sammy Spider are getting married and all the other woodland insects have been invited. But the spiders get a little carried away and eat all the insects. Feeling bad they go to bed but Sarah feels a bit peckish and eats Sammy in the night. Sarah is eaten by her babies in the epilogue. Picture book.

The Praying Mantis' Wedding
Same as above but with praying mantises and the female is eaten by marauding ants.

The Humans' Wedding
LOOK AT OUR LOVELY WEDDING CAKE! IT LOOKS LIKE BOOKS!

The only thing we regretted eating

Cheers,

Mark



Thursday, 8 August 2013

The Great Distract-a-tron!

What better way to distract yourself from the long wait  of the writer than getting married? And with only ten days to go Lauren and I have been sitting about, staring at each other and asking, have we forgotten anything? Yep, I think we've got pretty much everything covered (kiss of death - Future Mark).

One thing we have been doing is making the namey things that go on tables. All the tables are named after books we love, even some really depressing books, so we've given every namey thing a quote from the table book. Here are some examples, if you can guess the four books put them in the comments and, if you're right, I'll give you prize*!





Good luck!

Cheers,

Mark

The top image is from http://biddickcarmichael.blogspot.co.uk/2011_03_01_archive.html which is about Las Vegas weddings, but there seems to be some anticipation/fear about my wedding dancing...bwahahahaha!

*The prize is I will reply to you telling you that you are right.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

How I got an agent: the hat!

So I've received a lot of messages of congratulations in the last week (thanks Mum!) but I've also received lots of questions.

What hat did you wear? How did it help?

<- Well there it is in all its glory. As you can see it's a hat steeped in experience and wisdom. It's led a full life.

One of the first places this hat visited was India. Below you can see it at rest on its first day in Bangalore, recovering from jet lag. It was still in its prime, peak uncreased and not a single sweat mark on it. But India would test this new hat to the limits of its puggaree.

My young hat
Being a young hat, it made the most of its time in India, going on safaris, pub crawls and to illegal dancing clubs! It dragged me with it. I didn't want to go but I figured it probably needed me to look after it.

My hat and I enjoy the rooftop view
After India my hat and I had been through a lot. I knew I could trust it to stand on me and keep the slightly vexed sun off my vampiric scalp.

It wasn't long before we were off on another adventure, travelling to the wonderous world of Egypt, visiting the pyramids, exploring the restaurants and accidentally finding ourselves in the illegal dancing clubs.

My hat gazing at the pyramids
My hat learnt much in Cairo, how to get ripped off by dodgy shop keepers mainly. But yet again it kept my vanilla flavoured scalp safe from the annoyed sun.

Not long after Egypt we travelled to the other end of Africa, braving Lions, elephants and more dodgy shop keepers in the wilds of Cape Town.

Not my hat, that's a rock hyrax.
We met many a strange creature and drank quite a lot of wine while waiting for the British and Irish Lions to turn up and play a couple of games. All through this the hat stopped the angry sun from getting to my snow white scalp.

With all that experience my hat was an invaluable advisor and support when I met with Alice Williams. And it was quite hot on that day in London so he protected my milky white scalp from the raging sun.

But now my hat is long in the brim, it's time to put him out to grass and let him just be worn on my attempts at gardening. It's time for a new hat. A new hat for my wedding. And here's that beast, not long delivered by Pachacuti (Fair Trade panama hats FTW) and ready to crown my head on the 18th of August.  Hopefully my head won't swell up in the heat and burst through it...it happens.

The all new hat!
Cheers,

Mark

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Woot! Hoopla! and, indeed, Hurrah!

So in the universe where I'm not calling myself Manuel and living in a Brazilian hovel some very exciting things have been happening! Not only am I getting married in 25 days* and not only has my wedding hat arrived (and in the proper size!) but...

I've got an agent.

WHAT? I hear you shout.

WHO? I hear you exclaim.

CAN'T WE WARN THEM? I hear you cry.

No. No you can't. It's too late to warn them. I've signed with Alice Williams at David Higham. It's all been very exciting but I'm not going to tell you about that yet because I've got the other half of the bottle of champagne to finish and I have to pick my author photo.
The signing!

I'll be back soon (well within a couple of weeks probably) with the exciting details (which hat I wore to the meeting, how I overcame an exploding pen, the number of goats I had to sacrifice).

Cheers,

Mark

*Obviously had to put this in to keep Lauren happy.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Amazing Writing Advice #23: Legal Complications


Sorry for the lack of posts recently. An unfortunate series of events transpired that meant I couldn't legally post any more advice to the blog.

Someone complained about my advice.

Not only did they complain, but they undertook legal proceedings against me.

How did this transpire?

It all started when I offered my services as an agent. A lot of people told me it would come to a bad end. But I still feel it was the right thing to do, people out there need my guidance, none more so than this individual who has decided to sue me.

To be fair the historical romance manuscript they sent to me was middling at best. But with a few improvements that I made myself (Set it in the future, made all the characters cats, added a 300 page dream sequence about chasing wool) it was ready for publishing. And it was only fair that I publish it using my favourite publisher (Welcome to the Jungle Press) and put my name on the front.

Happily the legal dispute has been resolved now, though the police are still asking a few questions. But it did occur that I might be able to offer you some legal advice if a similar situation occurs for you. So here's my guide to resolving legal conflict:

1. Bin the first letter
And the second, keep binning them until some one brings one personally.

2.Go for the kneecaps
Literally, take that person down and tie them up. It's handy to have a cellar or sound-proofed attic at hand during this part. Oh, and a baseball bat. Also don't get over enthusiastic and attack the postman.

3. Negotiation
Feed him Frazzles and magic mushrooms for the next 24 hours then release him onto Clapham Common in nothing but a pair of psychedelic socks.
Your role model in legal negotiations

4. Counter offer
You should still have the last letter. Go to the address on it at 3am with 5 litres of petrol, a box of matches and a balaclava (put the last one your head, not the first). Burn the office down.

5. Resolution
Assume the new identity you created in part C. Flee the country after faking your own death.

And that's how to resolve any legal issue you might one day encounter.

Cheers,

Manuel Baracas

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Amazing Writing Advice #22: Ask Mark (again!)

Yes, I've found more people out there looking for answers to writing questions. Here are three recent questions I found on Twitter and my answers.
In a query letter do you prefer word count at the beginning or end?
Just send the word count. Repeat it over an over in differing sizes of font and colour. Don't send anything else, not the manuscript, not a synopsis definitely not your contact details. The agent will be so intrigued and desperate for your book they will HUNT YOU DOWN!

If I've self published would an agent still be interested in publishing the same novel? Or is it a catch 22?

I don't know where you heard that but Joseph Hellier didn't self publish Catch 22. If you've self published you don't need an agent. In fact you should set yourself up as an agent. All you need is a phone, pen and drinking habit. Make sure you sign up on Twitter so you can reject people instantly and in public.*

My Novel is YA. Been told the first two chapters need to be cut but I want to keep them. Help?
I suggest you keep them. Preferably under the bed.

I'll be back at some point with some more helpful advice. Either that or to weep uncontrollably into my vodka as I reject people on Twitter.

Mark

*If you are waiting for me to get back to you in my recently launched agent capacity, your work's rejected.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

MARK KWON DO

ARE YOU A WRITER?

ARE YOU SICK OF GETTING REJECTED?

My name is Mark and if you take my eight week course you will learn a system of submitting to agents that I developed over two years of watching marshal arts films.

I call it

MARK KWON DO!!

I need a volunteer...ok, you'll do.

Show me your query.

SHOW ME YOUR QUERY!

Ok, now I'm going to give you one chance, show me your best hook.

All right, that was pretty good but you might want to leave out the love story involving hedgehogs with alopecia.

As part of my eight week plan you will learn three things:

  1. If you're going up against an agent then you need a wing man. We use the buddy system, people.
  2. The best way to get a book deal is a roundhouse to an agent's head.
  3. Self respect, you think people laugh at me even though I spend a lot of time writing about farting? Only if they want to eat pain sausage!

For a one time, up front fee of £400 you can learn the art of 


MARK KWON DO!



Wednesday, 22 May 2013

How to Be Funny by Wendy Meddour

 Wendy Meddour's got an article in the Guardian, top tips for writing funny books. It might be in the kids section but I think everyone can take something from it. Particularly the bit about sheds.

I've got a crick in my neck so that's all you're getting. Go on, get lost. I don't want you cluttering up my stats page. Go write something or stroke a kitten or skin a kitten.

Cheers,

Mark

P.S. I'm going to Hay this weekend (clang!) so I might have something interesting next week.

The Hay Festival: CRAZY!

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Amazing Writing Advice #21: How Many Manuscripts Will an Agent Accept from the Slush Pile?

How Many manuscripts will an agent accept? In a year? In a month? In a day? Some agents will tell you that it all depends on what they actually get. They might accept three in a row or none in a hundred submissions.

But, not that long ago, I met an agent I know for lunch. She's a really good agent, so good that she asks people to pay her to read their work. After a bottle of vodka and some frazzles she revealed to me the five steps agents use to 'work' the slush pile.

Step One
Submissions are divided between the sexes at roughly 90% from females to 10% males. This is clearly sexist so she bins the majority of the ones from girls.

Step Two
Eats all the chocolates included in the submissions. Sometimes, if it's been a tough week, she'll get the chocolates out of the ones in the bin.

Step Three
Delete all the email submissions. No chocolates, no representation.

Step Four
Read the extract and act out the scenes with some ewok figures. If it works with ewoks it might just be good enough.
Your cast

Step Five
Make sure the cheque has cleared. This is what all the waiting around is about. If it does and the extract passed the ewok test then ask for the full manuscript and a larger cheque. Then prepare the Yoda and the droid figures...

So there you go, get filling in those cheques (and acting out the opening of your book with ewoks).

Cheers,

Mark

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Dark Thoughts


+++Project Babylon+++

+++ Artifact recovered, 12-34-4001+++

+++Recovered from orbit around 12th planet. Outer structure heavily damaged. Inside contained various
technology not of our origin. Included in this, several encodings of the below transcript via different storage methods and languages, not all of which we were able to translate. Those that we did translate all resulted in approximately the below transcription. Some parts remain untranslatable.+++

Where to begin? How to describe this desperate effort, this one last gamble? We’re too late to help ourselves but maybe whoever finds this will have the time to find a solution. The solution we couldn't  But before the solution I need to describe the problem.

Back in +++untranslatable+++ , our greatest astrophysicists were intrigued by the missing mass in the universe. We expended vast resources researching where the mass was hidden, coming up with the theory of Dark Matter; matter that could only be seen from its gravitational effects.

Through hard work and ingenuity our astrophysicists created experiments that hinted at Dark Matter but we still hadn’t discovered the conclusive answer. A great experiment was designed to reach an answer. A new module was created for our most valuable space station and used our own planet’s gravity well to conduct the experiment.

During the final stages of setting up this experiment there was one dissenting voice, +++untranslatable+++, calling for the experiment to be abandoned. She was ridiculed and ignored.

The experiment discovered that massive amounts of Dark Matter were forming around our own planet. We were left with the question, where did it come from? We analysed the data further, and discovered that it was being created at an increasing rate.

The Dark Matter started to affect our solar system, threatening our existence. Our people, for the first time in our known history pulled together, uniting experts from all scientific spheres to address the problem. At the meeting the rate of growth of Dark Matter increased massively. No one found an answer; no one except that one dissenting voice.

We were creating the Dark Matter. It was the physical embodiment of our thought. The more we thought the more Dark Matter developed around our world. The very conference we’d created to remove the danger only increased it, sending our world off orbit spiralling towards the sun.

Panic ensued. We needed more time. But to gain more time we’d need less thought. Some governments turned to extreme measures; genocide of their neighbours. A few of us tried to come up with an answer. We realised that the Dark Matter we’d identified out in space indicated there had at least been intelligent life out there at some point. We created the Hermes Project. And you’re listening to it. To understand this message you’re on your way to developing the Dark Matter problem. I just hope you can find a solution to it.

+++ Since the start of Project Babylon, our races largest scientific project to-date, Dark Matter has grown by 1346% and now offers a significant threat to our planet.+++

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Storing Ideas

MY BRAIN IS BURSTING WITH THINGS!

It's quite annoying that I have to go to work, I need more time to write and edit and occasionally send things off to get rejected. A backlog is developing and I have to store all this stuff somewhere, my brain...my wonderful brain...

BUT THINGS SOMETIMES SPURT OUT AND ARE LOST!

I've tried various ways to keep track of them which I shall summarise thus:

My Brain (obviously)

The ultimate store thing. I've got a really good one, people like me to be on their quiz teams because of it (this is not hubris, put me on your quiz team). But things still splurge out of it and are lost. Generally the really good exciting things that'll probably make me a fortune. Why do these things go and not the distance a short-bow can be fired in Warhammer Fantasy Battle? I haven't needed to know that for over 15 years...

Notebooks

Pretty handy, I can just note the thing down and forget about them, freeing up space in my brain for remembering obscure facts about goblins. The drawbacks are; losing them; proneness to water and beer; and ultimately my handwriting is so bad it drains motivation like a dozen rejections at once.


Springpad App

I like the Springpad app in Chrome. Drawbacks, I need to be online and they'll probably turn it off or something. There are other apps that do pretty much the same thing. Why did I pick Springpad? No reason, a whim, a fancy, maybe a goblin told me to...

But the problem is even if I note them down in a book or App the idea hangs around my brain throwing the furniture around and beating up my memories (Why do I never forget an idea once I've noted it down?!). I need some kind of secure storage. I wonder if there is a device for writers' ideas, like the containment thing in Ghostbusters. It hangs on your wall and holds all those things that make you a little mad...der...



Maybe I could make it. It might make me rich, so I can stop working and write all the time. I'd better note it down so I can work on it later...

Hmmmmm,

Mark




Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Badgers!

BADGERS!

I'll do something proper next week, promise!

Cheers,

Mark

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Amazing Writing Advice #20: Ask Mark!

This week I've been investigating twitter and I've discovered two things.

  1. There's a lot of 'writing advice' going on on there.
  2. You can create these amazing things called hashtags (no, they don't come from Amsterdam, a-hahahahaha!) which let you sort of track your conversation. 
I witnessed some of this 'advice' being given out via a hashtag and decided to create my own so I could get the TRUTH! out there. I thought I'd include on this blog some of the questions I wasn't asked.

how do you present a text for story that's v dependent on images if not an illustrator? Would you describe at all? 
Anyone can draw, illustrators are overvalued. If they were necessary then the streets wouldn't be full of them scribbling bad caricatures. So do them yourself or, if that doesn't appeal, describe everything in minute detail.
Twitter

A question for a friend. How would you say the YA market feels about romance/werewolves at the mo?
Just like the rest of us, it feels like vomiting. Also, 'A question for a friend'? Is there a reason why you were ashamed of this question?

Ever disagreed with publisher on something regarding a book? Edits or whatever. (I have utmost respect for their knowledge, btw.)
Endlessly, most of them have restraining orders out on me. Utmost respect for their knowledge? I don't know why, most of them are frustrated writers, unable to create true beauty like those of us touched by the muse, by an angel, by something beyond description through anything but dance. And so they take their frustration and try to destroy us! PITY THEM!

if an agent passes on a full ms request, is it ok to resubmit later if you revise heavily? 
Just send the original, they won't notice.

Are there any Do's & Don'ts for writing a query for a fictional series? 
Make sure you send in the full MS for all the books in the series. This'll save a lot of time. I suggest printing the whole thing off and driving it around yourself. You can make sure they read it ALL and don't cut any corners.

If you'd like to send me a question via twitter then just append it to with the hashtag #amazingwritingadvicefromthatamazingwriterwhodoestheblogandgivesthereallyamazingadvicetellstherealtruthaboutwritingandauthoringdonotlistentotheothers

You never know, I might feature your question on the blog!

Cheers,

Mark

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Much Wenlock Poetry Festival

Last weekend we went to Much Wenlock Poetry festival! Lauren should probably be writing this post as she is much better at appreciating poems and poets. But she's run off to London to eat cake and drink tea so you're stuck with me.

Ultimately it was really enjoyable, we went to three events and saw Pascale Petit, Fiona Sampson and Carol Ann Duffy who also brought along Imtiaz Dharker and Sean Borodale.

I was fascinated at how well they delivered each poem they read out, each sentence dripped with meaning, these were not sentences cobbled together lightly. So have a listen or take a look at there their books. Or maybe go to the festival next year.

Pascale Petit
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UaYMhVqh6_I

Sean Borodale
http://youtu.be/U9vTh1v6e3U

Fiona sampson
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CjSKbIw4O-U

Imtiaz Dharker
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1To-F0xJjgM

Carol Ann Duffy
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cxrMznlN6i4

Cheers,

Mark

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Amazing Writing Advice #19: Translations

You may have got to the point in your career where, like me, you are looking to increase your sales from the solid looking three copies you've sold to the English speaking world. But where can you find those sales? Well I say look across the sea.

No, not Ireland. Look the other way.

You may recoil at the smell of the French, the arrogance of the Germans, the sleazy weird politics of the Italians but these backward countries are all on the lookout for new books. They really need something to distract them from the financial implosion they are going through.

But how do you get your book translated?

Well if you had fallen into the trap of 'traditional' publishing they might sell 'rights' to publishers operating in these countries. But do you really want to trust a Frenchman with you book? Of course not! The same goes for hiring a translator. You'll just end up with some Johnny Foreigner who will take the money and give you the menu from your local restaurant.

The French
All you need is Babelfish and that plucky British courage that won two world wars and landed us on the moon back when Queen Vic sat on her steam punk spider throne.

Here's an example from my latest book, in proud English:

Jack stroked the cat, feeling each individual hair, it's warmth and slight static charge, giving the whole experience a frisson of danger.
"More tea?" Grandma asked.
Jack sneered.

In weasel French:

Jack caressa le chat, se sentant chaque poil individuel, la chaleur d'it et légère charge statique, donnant toute l'expérience un frisson du danger.

"More thé? " grand-mère a demandé.
Jack ricana.


Now due to the strangeness of translation you can pipe that stinking French back into Babelfish and you'll get a whole new book in God Save The Queen English! There's an added bonus for you.


Jack stroked the cat, feeling each individual hair, heating it and its slight static load, giving any experience a frisson of danger.
"More the?" grandmother asked.
Jack chuckled.

That's the secret of translations and increased sales. And if someone buys one of your books you can go to that country on holiday and claim it as a business expense. Translations just keep on giving.

Cheers,

Mark

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Falling Down

We didn't really know what to expect on that sunny day in the small square. There seemed to be too many people, too many benches, and a fountain in the way for what was supposed to happen. Children played on the fountain, clambering over it, edging around it's top, high above the ground. Balancing on a thin edge of stone above the cobbles. Their parents weren't concerned. We were and wondered why they were allowed to do it.

Then the people in the square started to wrap cloth tight around their midriffs and wrists. They stretched out and flexed arms and legs before bunching together, arms raised to the centre. They pressed in and a man climbed onto the press of bodies, followed by another, then another, joining arms and bracing legs. Women followed then young girls, scrambling up the men and standing on their shoulders. Creating a human tower. Finally small children, about five years old, scampered up. Hitching feet around legs to get a grip. They arrived at the top and the cloud went mad, whooping and clapping. I turned to my friend, amazed at their skill and bravery. The crowd noise changed  and I turned back, glimpsing the falling child. A small arm or leg flailing as she hit the crowd of adults below her. 

No one screamed or panicked. More towers were built. I felt really confused. Why wasn't it stopped until we knew she was all right? Minutes later a woman came past holding the child, heading for the ambulance behind me, her shirt blood stained.

The ambulance didn't shoot off to hospital so I think the girl wasn't too badly hurt. Part of me wanted to make sure. But another part of me was gripped by watching the towers go up. These other small children climbing to the tops. They were her friends and they'd watched her fall but they still climbed up. Parents watched their kids climb up after watching one plummet. Each time they arrived back to earth safely I felt like bursting in to tears. But the castellers hugged each other, celebrating another amazing tower, how well they'd done. Their bravery and skill.

We left before the end, the tension of each new tower became too much.

But they still climb up. I think the girl that fell will climb up one again too. But I wouldn't blame her if she didn't.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Champagne Night

What are we celebrating? The first correct answer in the comments gets a reply.

1) We've caught enough cats to make Lauren a fur coat.

2) We've finally picked a dress for me to wear at our wedding.

3) We're surrounded by zombies, so why not?

4) Lauren's got a job!

5) I've got a 50 book deal with a £240,000,000 advance.

6) The lambs! The beautiful lovely, grass eating, tasty lambs!

7) Just trying to kill the terrible pain.

8) The zombies overwhelmed the wine rack and all I could save was the champagne.

9) Half way through the week!

10) All of the above.

Good luck, May the four be with you. (there may be a clue around here!)

Cheers,

Mark

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Book Pitch Rejections #3

Here are some more book ideas I've had rejected recently.

The Return of Black Beauty
Some kids eat dodgy burgers at a BBQ and get food poisoning.

Response from A. B. Toir Agency: Good idea but you've butchered it in execution.

Pirates vs. Bankers
A bunch of smelly, boozed up, cut-throat, immoral, bastards get murdered by some pirates.

Response from Stan Morley: A bit obvious.

Honk if you're Horny
The adventure of a bull called Horny brought up by geese. When the bull is taken to the slaughter house the geese track him down by his unique bull-goose honk and rescue him, sending a horse to be slaughtered in his place.

Response from Wings and Hoof Associates: Completely unbelievable. As if anyone could mistake a horse for a bull.

More rejections as I think of them receive them.

Cheers,

Mark