Tuesday, July 31, 2007

93,020 Words

Three rejections so far, out of seven submissions. One didn't have time to look at it at all and merely sent his apologies, another responded with a form letter, but the third has given me some advice, for which I am extremely grateful:

I realise you're trying to do something different with the genre, and I admire your ambition. But crime readers like their rules to be observed before they are broken - or publishers do - and in my opinion your narratiuve shifts dilute the tension rather than adding to it.

Of course publishing is a subjective business, and others may take a totally different view, so don't be discouraged.

This is very helpful to me because it tells me what impression I am giving people of the book, through the opening chapters and the synopsis that I have written for it. Two things leap out at me, that need to be rectified a.s.a.p.
1) The murder part of the story takes too long to really get going.
2) My synopsis gives the impression that the ending of the book is left wide open, with the case unsolved. It isn't. The true murderer is not convicted but he does get his comeupance and is therefore prevented from hurting anyone else. The person who does take the blame for Amelia's murder is by no means a sympathetic character and does share some of the blame, albeit indirectly. I need to make this clearer in the synopsis.

P.S. My mum's advice was also sound. She says I am too concerned with the back stories of minor characters (so I have cut some parts already) and that I have used the word 'bubbling' one two occasions, when describing people drinking, which is one too many. She has also advised me to cut/re-write the sections relating to a minor character who is writing her own book about what happened to Amelia, in contrast to Caroline's memoir, which is a major part of the story. She says this is an unnecessary distraction. However, excising this 2nd book would involve re-writing so much of my story that I am tempted to leave it in for the moment. I have made changes to the way it is presented, and spelled out (what I see as) its importance in clearer terms when it is first introduced into the narrative. I hope this will suffice.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Literary agents

I'm just off out to post my first batch of submissions to literary agents - seven in total. There are eighteen agencies in the Writer's Handbook that sound as though they might be interested in the work I'm doing but I ran out of steam. My printer has decided to abandon the conventional 1 page of text = 1 sheet of paper method of working and takes as many sheets as it pleases, fanning them out and printing across all of them simultaneously. I have therefore been reduced to spoonfeeding it one sheet at a time and I've been at it for hours.
Love A

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Strange days

Still no news on what happened to Uncle A. Family found him dead in his bed yesterday morning. Doesn't quite seem real. Sent card to my cousin. Not 'sympathy' card, just little notelet saying we're all thinking of her and her mum and sister. Autopsy inevitable, sorry to say.

Until yesterday's bombshell, I was planning to update you on my reading.

  • For the Death of Me - Quintin Jardine (Awful, I mean awful. A definite attempt at a portrait for the attic - pure vanity.)
  • House of Sand and Fog - Andre Dubus II (Started well. Lost interest after a bit but will give it another go.)
  • The Vesuvius Club - Mark Gatiss (Self-consciously 'witty' but never the less pretty entertaining.)
  • Fictions - Jorge Luis Borges (Saving it as an antedote to the new Harry P, which will arrive on Saturday and be devoured within 48 hours - and yes, I am suitably ashamed of myself.)

Love A

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

First Eyes

What my mum said (by text message) in full, as promised:

Finished! Complex and well thought-out. We could send A and J out with the girls next Saturday whilst we talk about it. D & R can't make it. Are you coming Friday night? xx

I can therefore expect a more thorough verbal dissection on Saturday, which I will attempt to paraphrase for you. I should perhaps say that my mum has been a librarian for over thirty years and is currently Stock Strategy Manager for Leicester Libraries - that's why I wanted her opinion in particularl. I could have given it to my husband to read. In fact I offered him a look when it was only about fifty pages long - he didn't like it. Neither did my dad. I put a more recent printout on my husband's bedside table, it was about 75,000 words at that point. Well it sat, and it sat, and it gathered a little dust, and then a little more. Eventually I had re-written to the point where there was no use in him reading the printout as it was so out of date. I removed it. Nothing was said. I am still quite angry about it. He does read an awful lot, but not crime, perhaps he is afraid of not liking it and me being annoyed with him. Perhaps he is jealous that he can't give up work and live the life of a writer (and it is a good life - even though I haven't seen a penny yet - slow, meandering life that allows a person time to take in all the delicious details, both within and without).

Interrupted by phone call from mum. Uncle Andy dead. Reason unknown. Got to go.

Friday, July 13, 2007

92,070 (iii)

Sorry, the MySpace link doesn't seem to be working. We'll try another way: use the following link to get to my homepage and then select 'Blog'.


For FaceBook, register and then search 'Amy Whitehouse' to find my picture. It's the same pic I posted a few weeks ago of me and the kids - scroll down to see it.

92,070 (ii)

Hi, nothing to report from mum yet, so I've begun researching my next book. It will be called CrashPad and it will be similar in structure to Amelia's Body, with two intertwining narrative strands. One strand is of course the investigation and the other is to be composed of the characters' memories of their gap year travels (which all go towards explaining what is happening to them in the present). To whit I have put out a general call for 'gap year/travelling stories' on my FaceBook and MySpace pages.


If you have a story to add then you can either post it here, as a comment to this blog, or visit one of the pages linked above. (You will have to register on one or other of the sites in order to comment, and for FaceBook you will also need me to confirm you as a 'friend' before you can see my profile or read any of the other stories posted there. I will aim to respond to all requests a.s.a.p.)

Love A

Sunday, July 01, 2007

92,070 Words

I've finished the re-write and given it to my mum with instructions to be brutally honest. In particular, I wanted to know:

  • Is it always clear who's speaking to whom?
  • Are there any continuity errors or parts of the plot that otherwise make no sense?
  • Are there passages that digress too far from the story and ought to be cut?
  • Is it all just too depressing?

I'll post her verdict in full.