Friday, October 27, 2006


By the way, what the hell is up with Snowmail? I had 45 messages when I logged on today - the usual 20 or so offers of cheap porn and generic Viagra, followed by 19 old Snowmails, and they keep on coming. I was very confused at first, being told that Charles Kennedy was having a tough time with the press over his income tax plans.

J. K. Rowling

Thanks for the tip Anonymous, I'm not trying to write a Harry Potter-alike so I don't have to worry about that. I don't think my story is derivative. I've read a great deal of crime fiction (only because I've read a great deal of everything - but never enough of course) and I haven't come across anything like it. Of course that could be a very bad thing - meaning they don't publish books like mine because no one WANTS books like mine. I've given this some serious thought. I even got a 'How to...' guide from the library but, in the end, there wasn't much of a dilemma - I decided I'll write this one exactly the way I want and if it gets nowhere I'll aim for something more saleable next time around. If I wrote with someone else's template in mind I'd lose any spontaneity I have. The parts of my book I am best able to re-read without cringing are those that came out in a flood - the ones I hardly remember writing at all.

I read an article in my local paper recently about a girl in her early twenties who had written and self-published (although of course she didn't say so outright) a medical crime novel. When the interviewer asked "And what kind of books do you like to read?" the author replied "Oh I don't have time for reading because I'm writing all the time. I did used to like Stephen King though." Surely, I think to myself, surely I have more chance in this career than her? If there's any justice in the world. I probably just answered my own question.

Speak soon,

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

New mag calls for submissions

Any writers out there with a connection to Leicester, Derby or Nottingham and who want to get paid for their poetry or short fiction, should submit their work to the new Tripod magazine. It's just being launched off the back of the successful Three Cities short fiction competition last year. I don't live there now obviously, but I used to so I'll probably have a go. See their website if you fancy it:

Good luck

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


Well, as you know I've listed my unfinished manuscript on ebay. I've been logging on now and then to check the counter and somehow managed to spend nearly £60 on children's toys at the same time! It's amazing what bargains they seem until you factor in the postage costs. So no more - I'm sworn off it for at least a month.

It's half term where we are so the word count stagnates...


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Dear Sam

Dear Sam
Thanks for the constructive criticism, however I will not be taking your advice and giving up. I'm sure you're vastly qualified to be making such negative comments about my writing, but so are several other objective readers who've been a lot more helpful and encouraging than you. Of course I am horrified that my work doesn't match up to your exacting standards - all this time I was sure I was writing the next Nobel prize winner, rather than just a popular crime novel.

Kind regards

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

No advance on 45,438

Hi all,
I put the rights to my unfinished novel on Ebay for a laugh. It's listed under NOVEL IN PROGRESS 45,000 WORDS !!

Love A

45,438 Words

Hi, rubbish word count I know. The baby's had me up every three hours, every night for five days. I haven't been this tired since she was a newborn. Every day is a blur. Everything is grey. All the food is tasteless. All the sounds are too loud. Effervescent? You've got to be joking. I'm going to bed.


Thursday, October 12, 2006

Still 44,624 words

Dreamt I was seduced by Russell Brand last night. Very odd. Not unpleasant though.

I like the word effervescent today. I'm going to try and work it into the book.

Speak soon,
Love A

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

44,624 Words

Hello again,
I wonder if anyone will read this? I was thinking last night about how History, as taught in schools, is of course usually the geopolitical story of developed nations, as recounted by the winners - not a new idea I grant you- and that it has always been difficult to locate a complementary 'people's history' with which to balance out the picture. I think this is changing, especially with the recent 'history boom' in popular publishing, but I think about how in school we were encouraged to make 'time capsules' and bury them in the garden, or save the newspapers from important dates or events, or letters written to you by a loved one. People saved calendars and diaries - all for posterity. What a difference there will be, for people looking back on the 21st century, to be able to trawl through the thoughts and feelings and photographs of millions of people worldwide. All this is getting recorded, and yet it is all so ethereal - all stored in boxes of components thousands of miles away, transmitted over phone lines, reliant upon electricity.

I read about how authors, aware that annotated early drafts of manuscripts sometimes become valuable, are painstakingly printing out each stage of their book as they wordprocess it and filing the copies away. I couldn't do that. Besides the fact that I haven't the time, with each new version of the first half of my book, the previous draft seems to me embarrassingly bad in comparison. Of course the problem is that I am able to keep snipping and polishing at it indefinitely, so were the old drafts really so bad? Is the current version just as bad? Will I ever manage to finish the bloody thing if I keep re-writing what I've already done? Will someone read this blog one day, saying to themselves "Wow, isn't it funny to read how she agonised over every word? You wouldn't think it to read the book would you? It seems to flow so effortlessly off the page." Yeah - in my best dreams.

Speak soon,
Love A


Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Still 43,260 words

Well, I've spent much of the day playing around with the settings (I can't get the html code for the Google Search box to work), trying to find a photo under 50kB for my profile (I haven't got any), and worrying about not having done any actual work. Yes, I've cooked dinner, tidied away the toys, paid the bills and taken care of the kids all day but I still feel crap if that word count isn't creeping towards the finish line. I expect the finish line to be somewhere between 80,000 and 90,000 words. It seemed monstrous when I started but I'm gradually picking up speed.

Regarding agents and publishers, everyone keeps asking me why I haven't sent it off to anyone yet; citing examples of authors like Monica Ali, who got an advance after completing only five chapters. Well I did send it out, a long time ago. I ploughed through the Writers' and Artists' Yearbook and the Writers' Handbook for places that sounded like they might be interested; they weren't. I only managed to send off five sets of my first couple of chapters in the end; so stringent were the submissions criteria. In fact 99% of publishers listed wouldn't even countenance an unagented submission. So, I flicked through to the sections marked 'agents'. No joy here either. The opening paragraph read something to the effect: So you've finished your magnum opus and are seeking representation... It doesn't seem like they want to hear about partially finished manuscripts. I don't blame them, I mean they're trying to make a living and it's no matter to them whether they get a book this year or next, but obviously it makes a big difference to me; to my plans.

Basically, my husband would like me to go back to work. I won't. I certainly won't go back to what I was doing previously (local government energy efficiency/climate change advisor) and the only other thing I can really see myself doing is the job I had before university (Leeds): I was a library assistant. I loved being a library assistant; I loved every part of it, from the hours spent shelving to the tramps weeing in the corner. I used to carry a little notebook in my back pocket, in which I scribbled down the titles of all the books that I would one day read. Needless to say, the list grew much faster than I could cross them off. I wish I still had it: goodness knows where it went. I wouldn't have knowingly thrown it away - perhaps it went through the wash. Anyway, pity the pay's so poor. Still, I'll do it, just not yet. I'm really enjoying doing what I'm doing and, at the risk of jinxing the whole thing irretrievably, I think my book's quite good. It's not going to win the Booker, but I think it's readable. I hope it is.

Speak soon,
Love A

43,260 Words

I'm writing a book. It may turn out not to be a very good book, but I'm writing it anyway.

It all started when I was pregnant with my second child... no, actually it started when I was about eleven and I tried to write a romantic novel about a pretty young brunette named Poppy. I had just read Menfreya and I'm afraid to say it had affected me deeply. Anyway, this novel is crime fiction, but I'm hoping it's more literary than most - it's a sort of cross-over thing I'm after; not strictly genre, as they say in the Guardian Review.

I'd be doing a lot better if the baby would stop growing up and go back to those two- and three-hour naps I used to love! (I'm going to try and stop using so many exclamation marks; I do think they look tacky.) I'd also be doing better if I didn't have to spend five minutes every day waiting for fifty or so pornographic spam emails to load onto my computer, and then another five deleting them all off. I've tried unsubscribing (ironic, since I never subscribed in the first place) but to no avail. I need to investigate the spam settings on my email programme more thoroughly I think - another afternoon lost, with no advance on the word count.

Speak soon,
Love A