Tuesday, 23 December 2008
I've put my disappointments of 2008 behind me and am busy writing my current book. It's turning into a dual-purpose MS. I hope my publisher gets their act together and this current MS becomes Book 2 in the Geraldine Steel series. If the problems of 2008 persist throughout 2009, I may start again with this current MS featuring a different detective.
Now that I've stopped devoting time to promoting Cut Short, I've more time for writing again, which is great. I might even dust down two more MS I wrote last year and even consider what to do with them . . . although I'll probably think twice before approaching any more publishers!
Wednesday, 10 December 2008
I'll post an update about CUT SHORT when I know more, probably in a couple of months.
In the meantime, I'm forgetting all about this confusing episode and writing another book!
Monday, 8 December 2008
I wonder why was I put under pressure to rush the changes I was asked for?
At least people who suffer rejection can take comfort from knowing that being accepted for publication really isn't that great either! I suspect I'll be drowning my sorrows rather than partying on the publication date that appears on the publisher's website. . .
Sunday, 23 November 2008
Thursday, 6 November 2008
I was asked to write a "full synopsis" that was "concise and punchy", explained "how it ends" but left the the reader "wanting more".
The good news is I had to write something for Crime Time so when my school magazine asked for an article urgently, I had one ready made. (I wonder if it was suitable?)
Why is everything urgent these days?
Thursday, 30 October 2008
Then it was back home and onto the keyboard to snip and reshape - I felt like a hairdresser.
The whole has now gone back to the editor who will subject it to microscopic examination for typos etc. It's frightening how easy it is to miss glaring blunders, as the MS inevitably alters through the writing process. So a character might finish lunch and then begin their morning's work, for example. I think my worst (which thankfully I spotted) was when I first sent the MS to my publisher, hoping to impress. Skimming quickly through it the night before, I noticed my detective reading through her notes on a meeting which took place 5 chapters later . . .
Changing names is another potential pitfall. Of course you can use the find and replace function, but you have to be careful to search for whole words only. In one of many now discarded extraneous subplots, I had a character named Ron. As I knew someone of that name, I decided to change it to Rob. The MS was peppered with words like wrobg, and strobg, crobe and drobe. All in a day's work!
Wednesday, 15 October 2008
Friday, 3 October 2008
What a marathon producing a book is! Or am I inordinately impatient? (Yes to both, I fear.)
I can only compare the experience to being young and in love, waiting for the phone to ring...
Tuesday, 30 September 2008
Sunday, 14 September 2008
Sunday, 7 September 2008
1. I've asked this before but make no apology for repeating myself. I'll probably never stop asking this question. Is it possible to judge one's own work?
2. Is this all just about my ego?
Thursday, 21 August 2008
I'm told the reading public don't like "coincidences" in plots. Life isn't as critical. My hard drive gave up on the very day I'd promised to send my MS to the editor. Only Thomas Hardy could get away with such a dire coincidence. My obsessive backups (see previous posts) came into their own, and I think I've retained a tenuous hold on sanity. The MS has gone and a new hard drive has been installed. So I'm waiting to hear from the editor again.
Publication date is moving closer... My book has moved up the list on my publisher's website. Since sending the MS back to the editor, I've been busy distracting myself. When that fails, I check my emails half a dozen times a day (understatement).
A friend at work is in the early stages of a relationship. As she wonders volubly if he will phone, I'm wondering when my editor will contact me. Our situations are not dissimilar. It's frightening how our life experience is transformed by the actions of strangers - a job interview, a random act of violence, a publisher's decision. And the other side of the coin is how our own actions can affect others' lives.
So I'm back on the blog, not prevaricating, but as a distraction. The best way I know of doing that, is to dive into another world. So I should be working on book 2. It's well on the way. But first, I think I'll visit a few blogs...
How do other writers cope with the waiting when they've sent their MS off? Any helpful hints gratefully received. Reading them will help pass the time...
Wednesday, 16 July 2008
In between editing, I've been writing some short stories. It's very different to writing a whole novel. I might try my hand at a play script one day. So far, I've restricted my efforts largely to crime stories, because that's what I do, but I might try a different genre, just for the fun of it. Perhaps the pressure of having to produce for my publisher has made me appreciate writing for myself again. (But I'll let you know if I ever manage to get any of my short stories published...)
I fluctuate between feeling amazingly brilliant, and thinking that my writing is absolute rubbish. Is that a common ambivalence among writers? How do other people feel about their writing? Can you judge your own work?
Tuesday, 24 June 2008
It seems like a long time since I first began scribbling. It was actually eighteen months ago, no time at all; not long even as a proportion of my life. I believe I've blogged before about how I started writing because I found myself with time on my hands when my children left home and I relinquished a position of responsibility at work, although not my job iself. So, in a moment of boredom, I picked up a pencil and discovered I can write. I wrote compulsively for a few months and actually thought it was easy. I still find writing easy; producing a book is another matter altogether. Back to the confession... where was I? (OK I'll stop prevaricating) I completed a 'story' and thought, "this is rather good." So, in the spirit of having nothing to lose, and without having shown a word I'd written to another soul (talk about fools rushing in!) I typed up my 'work' and sent my MS off to 3 publishers who specialise in crime fiction.
Within 2 weeks (I kid you not) I had a phone call from a publisher who was interested. She asked me to send her the rest of the book. This is where it all began to unravel. In my ignorance - may I call it naivete? - I'd submitted what I thought was a book in its entirety, all 25,000 words of it. Discovering that a real book is a minimum of 80,000 words, I (oh the embarrassment!) cobbled together four stories I'd written (remember I'd been scribbling compulsively for about 4 months by now, 2,000 words a day every day, over 1/4 million words now if not more) and submitted that as my 'book'. Sensing a cornucopia of plots, my publisher promptly signed me up for 3 books, and brought in a brilliant editor to sort me out. Said editor read my work and immediately commented that it read like a collection of stories cobbled together. I was busted!
My publisher (whom I adore not only because she spotted potential in my (very) raw talent and gave me an opportunity to develop as a writer, but also because she is a genuinely lovely woman) and my editor (who could hone in on a splinter in a forest) have allowed me time to sort my ramblings into a coherent narrative. So I feel it's only fair to come clean and admit that the delay in publication hasn't been entirely down to 'other people'. It was me all along!!! I can only add that the past year has been the most amazing experience for me. Most writers work for years before finding a publisher. I've done it the other way round, finding a publisher and an editor and subsequently putting in the work. I've been incredibly lucky to have benefited from their advice. I only hope the book sells after all this and that my publisher feels it was worth the punt, speaking as a pig in a poke.
All of which raises the question: can writing succeed as a creative outburst, or is it a craft requiring thoughtful planning and careful refining?
1. What was I doing 10 years ago?
Running a large department in a school with a team of eight teachers, and raising teenage daughters. A busy but enjoyable time of life. Ten years on, I look back and think, "How did I manage to do so much?" and "Why?" I couldn't do all that now. I watch younger, energetic colleagues running themselves into the ground and feel an overwhelming relief that I've stepped back to become a mere foot soldier. Although I have to admit, the only reason I'm sitting here answering these questions is because I'm off work with no voice (not conducive to teaching) while they're all busy working.
2. 5 things to do today
Unusual as I'm off sick. I must remember to take my antibiotics. Also my cough medicine and hay fever tablets. I'm going to be rubbish when I'm old with lots of pills to pop. And it won't be any good giving me those tablets with the days of the week on them, because I won'd know what day of the week it is. And all this from someone who hates all forms of medication and has a healthy distrust of doctors, having been brought up by one. Seriously, I think it's quite amazing what the medical practitioners achieve, the problem being that we all expect them to work miracles when they're just people doing their best within the confines of their limited knowledge.
What was the question?
3. What would I do if I was a billionaire?
I always have problems with questions like this. I can't think bigger than fixing the bit of damp on the ceiling, and the loose slat on the garden fence and a rack for the newspapers that always seem to lie around our house. Not exactly billionaire stuff? And then there are the hospital wards closing for lack of funds. I think I'd want to put enough by so that I'd never have to worry about paying the bills, and then quietly siphon the rest away into a worthy cause. I like to sleep at nights. And I wouldn't forget my children, of course.
4. 3 bad habits
talk too much, can't cook won't cook, hate shopping - are these habits? I'm not divulging anything personal!
5. snacks I enjoy
not got a sweet tooth apart from pastries (yum!), kettle chips, pretzels - those little salty ones.
6. Last 5 books I've read
Lynda La Plante, Simon Beckett, Jeffery Deaver, Ian Rankin, Val McDermid. This bears some relation to my last post... I've been doing some homework.
7. 5 jobs I've had
working in a burger bar, tomato picker, factory sticking metal components in something or other person, taking classified ads on a newspaper, and teacher.
8. 5 places I've lived
Ealing, Canterbury, Whitstable, Herne Bay, St Albans - all over 20 years ago.
That was surprisingly quite fun. I'm off to check my instructions as I believe I now have to 'tag' someone else.
Sunday, 22 June 2008
Wednesday, 21 May 2008
Sunday, 18 May 2008
I love my new room with my spacious new desk and absence of distraction so much that I've written another book since my last post. I'm in the process of self editing it and have even passed the MS on to my trusted readers (3 members of my family). Is that a good enough reason for not blogging for a while? One of the advantages of my new room is that my laptop has no internet access BUT the new cable is now in place and my desktop will shortly be moved up there. I wonder if I'll be as prolific once I can access my email and ... my BLOG! or will the temptation prove too great?
Other news is that CUT SHORT has reappeared on my publisher's website with a new publication date of March 2009. By this time next year, all being well, I will (finally) be a published author! I know I shouldn't be feeling this excited after such a protracted wait - and I have been in this position before - but I'm really excited. Let's hope it all goes ahead this time.
Although the book is still a way off, you can read about the book, by googling CUT SHORT Leigh Russell and clicking on No Exit Press Stock List and finding it there.
Tuesday, 22 April 2008
Is location important? If I was really inspired, I'd be able to write anywhere. When I first discovered my passion for writing, I scribbled whenever and wherever. Now, after a year of incessant and obsessive creativity, I've slowed down to take stock. Will my new desk herald the start of a new burst of creativity? I plan to be very disciplined...
Today's question is linked to the last post about the need for silence or bustle - how important is it where you are when you write?