Archive | June 2012

Winchester Writing Conference

Three days at the Winchester Writing Conference has left me too exhausted to put fingers to keys. I went to workshops, lectures and had the opportunity of discussing my novel Crucial Evidence with a number of literary agents and authors. I know the publishing industry is struggling with Amazon and the supermarkets cutting the price of books and now the rise and rise of the e-book, but their response seems to me to be inadequate. In order to cut costs they us literary agents as gate-keepers, assuming that they as publishers and agents have the same agenda. During my career at the English Bar, I soon learnt that my clerk, the man who took 10% of my earnings, did not have identical objectives to me. I think the same applies to literary agents. They all say they are looking for some amazing talent, but in fact they want someone who will sell books so they stick to the familiar.  I have no doubt that someone will say that it is sour grapes because none of the agents I spoke to wanted to represent me and my novel, but I find that strange when one of the authors whose class I attended described my writing as brilliant, another as marketable and a consultant editor of a major publishing house wanted to read the complete transcript. I wasn’t the only writer with a similar experience. One of the men in the class on ‘Writing a Page Turner’ read out to the class the beginning of his SciFi/Comedy book, which had us all doubled up laughing. The agents he saw told him they found his work incredibly funny, but they didn’t want his book because they wouldn’t know where to place it. Which all suggests thet anything new, different or original will struggle to get published. I think self-publishing is the way forward. Has anyone else had similar experiences

Rules of Social Media Etiquette

I have just read Ashley Jillian’s post on Social Media Etiquette and whilst I agreed with most of it, I do like GoodReads so I’d say if you like books then it’s quite a good place to do a book review and pass on some good recommendations. But, when did cats ever do socializing. I love the creatures feline aristocrats, snobs to  their last claw, but social they are not. Now dogs, and that’s my baby, are great socialites. Rudi is really smart too. He was adopted from a rescue centre when he was eighteen months old, the product of a broken home. He’s a working Springer Spaniel and that spells energy. He loved hunting and we don’t, so he would go off and hunt for himself usually for an hour or so, leaving us hanging around waiting for him to get back to us. We tried all sorts of training techniques, but unlike most examples of bad behaviour disobeying a call to return is very hard to deal with, if you chastise the dog when it gets back to you, he’s more likely to stay away, so you give him a reward, in our case a small treat. Now he’s 11 and an old dog, so he doesn’t want to hunt so much, but he is greedy so he plays a game of hide and seek with us. He goes off and hides behind trees and bushes and then comes back, sits down besides you and looks up at you and then at the pocket where he knows you have the dog biscuits, willing you to get the bag of treats out and give him one. Like I said smart.

Typical English Summer

I wrote this poem two summers ago, but it seems to be so appropriate now as we approach the longest day of the year.

Wet summer

The sun was shy this summer,

Hiding behind darkened clouds

                                As if ashamed.

 

Clouds changed from polished pearl

To dark purple bruises,

                                And it rained.

 

The earth soaked up the water

Until it could take no more,

                              And overflowed.

 

Pools of peat brown water,

Bright green sponges of moss,

                              Watery footprints.

 

Everything dripping wet.

Winchester Writing Conference

As part of my campaign to find either an agent or a publisher for my book, Crucial Evidence, I am attending the Conference run by the University of Winchester. In addition to  workshops on ‘How to write a Page Turner,’ and ‘How to get to Know your Characters’ there is the opportunity to have a ‘One to One’ with a selection of literary agents, editors and authors. I had to choose up to six individuals of whom four could be agents or editors and two authors. I found making a selection from about fifty people difficult. Of course ruling out some-one who has no interest in my genre was the easy bit, it’s not much good sending a crime novel to a poet or an agent who only wants children’s books, but that still left a considerable list from which to choose.  Having made my choices I had to put together copies of a letter introducing myself and my novel, a synopsis and a section of the book. No two of the authors, agents or editors want the same thing. The number of pages of the book varies from two chapters, first ten pages, first 3000 words, first three chapters, first 500 words and first chapter. Making sure the right number of pages went with the right letter took me a whole day. Obviously one hopes that one of the agents or editors will love the book, and want to read the complete novel. I went to the same conference about three years ago and saw one agent who loved the sections I had sent her, but by the time I had finished writing the book, she was on maternity leave and her replacement was not so keen. They were very complimentary about my writing, but didn’t want to take it on. I hope I am more sucessful this time. Has anyone got some good advice on getting an agent or is there a problem with an industry in paralysis.

Perhaps the answer is self publishing.

Swifts- Apus apus

Each year in May we watch for the return of the  swifts who nested here under our thatch, hoping they have survived the long journey to and from Africa. They have now arrived and it seems the three pairs who left last year have returned or their offspring have. I wrote this poem about them coming back here.

Swifts‘ Return

On early summer evenings we wait

For the swifts, impatiently.

Arriving dramatically

They circle the house

Remembering the way under the eaves.

Each evening they fly

Screaming, winged speed hurtling

Straight towards the thatch

Thump against the board and vanish

The noise reverberating through empty rooms.

We shelter them until late August

Until they imprint this place

Hardwired on their homing systems

And fly south, their nests empty.

Only the creaks and groans of the house

In the wind, recalls the summer months.