Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Fodder



Ah, it's all over for another year.

Being newly single, this was the first year in a very long time that I spent it with family (without the guilt associated with WHICH family I decided to see etc). I must admit, I had a lovely time. Missed Mummy who's started a new life in the States but it's not like she missed out on a white Christmas or anything. It was bizarrely mild in Manchester.

Anyway, I'm not on here to write about the weather.

I'm writing about the realisation that my writing, to other people, is quite a big deal.

My grandmother asked me repeatedly whether I'm published yet.

"Gran, when I'm published you'll be the first to know, I promise."

My dad's friend in the working mens club on Christmas Eve even asked whether I'd had any luck and what the book was about.

"Erm, no luck as yet....and the book....it's...well, it's a girly book."

I really need to stop saying 'girly' book because I think people are starting to think it might be some kind of erotica judging by the raised eyebrow reactions and the clearing of throats whenever I say this.

I'm still apologetic about the whole thing. I just don't think I can talk about writing a 'book' or being a writer when all I've done is sit at my computer and bang out a few thousand words in my spare time on the very self-indulgent topic of live music (and the journey of self-discovery...and maybe a teeny bit of romance...you know the score).

"No!" My friends and lifelong supporters cry whenever I share this opinion with them. "Em, you ARE a writer! It's in your heart!" Ah, gotta love friends.

But hey, it's a good thing I've got my aforementioned grandmother to keep my feet firmly on the ground in a series of fabulous little pearls of wisdom that, I swear to god, you just could not write. No one would believe me if I included a character like her in a book.

My favourite had to be when I told her I was going to the Manchester United game on Boxing Day, bearing in mind this came straight after a conversation about my writing and getting published:

Gran: "Oooh, well I'll tell you what you need to do - wear a low-cut top."
Me: (fork raised halfway to my mouth) I beg your pardon?
Gran: You know (nudges me), wear a top that shows off your cleavage. You need to bag one of those footballers.
Me: (Looks desperately at Dad who just carries on eating) Erm....
Gran: Think about it, you'll be set up for life. All the money they've got. Wear something tarty, they'll like that.
Me: Are you kidding?
Dad: She's got a point...
Me: WHAT?!

Ladies and gentlemen, my staunch feminist grandmother.

Unbelievable.

Sitting around the table having Christmas dinner made me wonder whether I did have some comedy gold right there under my nose. As I said, the reality just wouldn't be believable but maybe diluted versions for upcoming books is a goer...

I'm not the only one she offended. She referred to Bruce Springsteen as Bernard Brucesteen and made a hilarious (yet totally unprintable) comment about a certain young male popstar that brought tears of laughter to my eyes.

I still haven't got started on the last scene of the Side Project as I left my laptop at the flat but tonight is the night I'll get it finished. While I was eating Christmas dinner at my aunty's house, I caught sight of a book on her cabinet in the dining room.

"Is that Point Horror?"

My cousin, who's the same age as me, raised his eyebrow and made a face. "Yeah, its mine. Been there for years."

"Really?" I asked half-heartedly as I dived out of my chair and practically over my dad to retrieve it, turning it over in my hands to read the blurb.

"Do you...want it?" He asked, still looking at me as though I'd landed from Mars.

"Oh my god, yes please!" I knew I sounded about seven years-old but I didn't care.

So, over the last day I've been making my way through the Point Horror Diane Hob collection, consisting of The Fever, Funhouse, and The Invitation. It's really whet my appetite to get the Side Project finished now.

As I left my Aunty's house, hugging the book to my chest as though not wanting to be parted from it, my cousin appeared at the door.

"You can have that book on one condition," He said sternly, pointing at me.

"What?" My heart actually sank thinking he'd changed his mind.

He hadn't. Instead he grinned, "Promise me I'll get a signed first edition of your book when it's published?"

So, I left with my new book, feeling well and truly stuffed from all of the food and also happy that at least one member of my family didn't want to marry me off to a footballer.

All the best folks,

Em

x

Sunday, 18 December 2011

The end is nigh...



No, this isn't a cry for help.

It's about what's known to be the toughest thing for a writer to complete when working on a novel.

The end.

I once saw a really interesting tweet from a literary agent who was working their way through a slush pile where they made a public complaint about how authors never seem to be able to get the ending right.

It's a bit of a weird one. With Driving Exile, I had the ending planned right from the start, before I even had most of the plot in place so, for me, it was writing the middle of the book and still managing to keep the momentum going that was the challenge. The most taxing decision I had to make was whether I went for the cheesy ending or the super cheesy ending. My reading panel opted for just the cheesy one (apart from the out-voted Uno who likes her books with a large chunk of cheddar).

I'm now drawing the Side Project to a close and writing the last few scenes. I think it'll still take me several solid days of writing so it will probably be complete over Christmas some time and because I've written it in sequence, I'm now feeling the apprehension of writing the ending.

You see, with the Side Project, I do have a very clear ending in my mind which is great. But it's quite...final. Well, for one character it is anyway...The problem is that I've now grown close to all of the characters and I'm starting to get cold feet about it.

I think this stems from my lame-ass phobia of saying goodbye to people...

I know what I need to do but bloody hell, the feeling of responsibility is bearing down on me. I was up until one o'clock in the morning last night, no mean feat for someone who's full of a cold and I just sprang awake at seven thirty after dreaming about my characters. It was one of those cliched dreams (well, it is in Emma land anyway...) where someone is shouting my name from a different room and I can't get to them. I could see them all through a window but I couldn't reach them. My heart actually sank when I clapped eyes on the character who's going to meet a rather sticky end and I felt like a murderer.

I might as well have been dressed as the Grim Reaper, clicking my fingers at the poor soul and shouting, "Come on, love. You're with me."

I'm also finding that the end of my book and the unfolding of the 'mystery' in the plot has had to be moved along by dialogue between the characters. There are no huge chunks of descriptive texts or massive mind monologues from my lead character. No, just a hell of a lot of conversation as they all figure out what's going on in their creepy town.

It's times like that, when I read back over what I've written, where I wonder whether my strength is in scriptwriting rather than novels. You end up running out of ways to make 'he said, she said' sound interesting and new.

So, now I'm worried that a literary agent might think the same about the Side Project. Is the ending already weak before it's even completed? I suppose that's what several rounds of editing is for....

That'll probably be me over Christmas, sitting there with a red pen and trawling through the Side Project while I make a New Year's Resolution to get Driving Exile in front of more agents.

Soon I'll have two books doing the rounds. Then what?

Actually, I've been thinking that I might dive straight into Side Project Part Two...

Jesus Em, shut up and concentrate on your ending.

One thing at a time and all that.

I think this rambling blog post serves nothing but to prove the point that I struggle to end things.

And say goodbye.

Wish me luck,

Em

x


For my Side Project characters...

Monday, 12 December 2011

Goodbye Mr Moonshine



"Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit drinking." Airplane.

I wasn't intending to broadcast to the whole blogging community that I'm ditching the booze but I think it's worth mentioning given the connection it's always had with my writing. 

You see, in the early days of writing Driving Exile when I hated my job with a passion, I used to sit up at night, long after Dos had gone to bed with a bottle of wine or vodka and plough my way through it while I furiously typed away. 

With this an amazing thing would happen, I'd forget my crappy job and all of the idiots in it and I'd become absorbed in the words on the screen. Not just the words, but the world I'd created. 

"Sod work!" I'd giggle to myself as I topped up my glass. "I don't care!" 

10,000 words later, I'd stagger to bed at about 3 or 4am and then get up in the morning and cry in the shower because I was so hungover and had to go to work. 

Now, this wasn't a nightly occurance. Probably happened once a week, maybe even once a fortnight. I'd console myself in the fact that I'd written some really good stuff (albeit stuff that required some serious editing...) and that I was a Writer! Capital W! That's what us arty types do. I'd found my true calling and the day job just funded it. 

I still very much believe that's the case. I was born to write and I'll do my very bloody best to make it a career for myself. 

However...

Aside from the novel I wrote whilst I was in alcohol heaven (honestly, I wonder why my characters always have booze in their hand in almost every scene...), I've actually made some terrible errors in judgement while hitting the bottle. All of the crap things I can associate with 2011 have been largely due to how drunk I've been. 

Like I said, I don't get drunk all the time but when I do...I do. 

I went to several concerts this year and have got to say, don't remember much of the fabulous bands I saw. I've tried to wrack my brains to remember the Iron Maiden gig in Manchester but I can only remember bits of it. Know I had a great time but that's neither here nor there when you can't recall it very well. It's not like I can regale people with tales of it in years to come. 

At least I could always console myself in the fact I wrote some of my best stuff when I was under the influence. 

Or did I? 

Probably not, actually. I bet I wrote most of Driving Exile when I saw sat having a nice cup of coffee in my favourite Caffe Nero in Liverpool. Or when I stopped at the Starbucks at the services on the way home from visiting friends in Manchester. Or when I was just sat in my flat, sans vino. 

I tried to write after having a few to drink about a week ago but I found I couldn't do it. With the Side Project, I've written it in sequence rather than all over the place like Driving Exile and found that my brain couldn't process the linear story so I gave up and listened to Nights with Alice Cooper on Planet Rock instead. 

It's Christmas and there's booze-a-plently but I have to say, I'm not feeling tempted at the moment. 
 
I went to see Steel Panther, Motley Crue and Def Leppard last night at a gig in Manchester and was determined to remember it. Glad I was sober or else I doubt I would have met Michael Starr from Steel Panther or remembered the (excuse my French...) fucking awesome drum solo from Tommy Lee, or perhaps how surprisingly good Def Leppard are and how much I actually like them (I was unashamedly there for Crue). 

I'm not at a stage were I feel like I need to empty the cupboards and drain every drop of alcohol down the sink, which was rather beautifully pointed out by Uno yesterday. "Em, I don't think you're quite at the AA stage yet but perhaps work on exercising some self-control first. I'll help you with that," She said to me yesterday when I ploughed in with my usual all-or-nothing-bull-in-a-china-shop approach to anything in life. 

"Yes, cutting down is a good idea. You're just a...terrible drunk," Was Dos' response with a small wry smile. 

Both correct. 

I made a comment yesterday that people sometimes find confiding and keeping promises to strangers is easier than with those you're closest to. I firmly believe that, despite how messed up it is. 

So, with that in mind, I'm telling all of you and making a promise that I'm cutting the Sauce, Giggle Juice, Canned Heat, Red Eye, Hooch, Tipple, Hard Stuff, Poison...whatever you want to call it. 

It'll make me a better writer and a better person in the long run. 

Wish me luck. 

Em 

x 








Saturday, 3 December 2011

Comfort in failure?


Where the hell have I been? God, I've been off the radar for far too long. 

I feel like a broken record but work is still stressing me out. I'm doing a good job apparently but I'm certainly feeling the strain. In PR you're judged on a month-by-month basis and some clients have good months, some have bad. Got a couple with bad months that I have to report on and it makes me feel sick to my stomach. 


I wish I didn't care sometimes but I suppose it’s a bit of a comfort that I do.

I'm still hammering away on Side Project, which is rapidly taking shape, and I reckon I'll be done by Christmas. Need to get Driving Exile off to more agents as well. In honesty, I quite like waiting for the rejections. Weird, I know. I suppose I just want to be sat one day with a pile of my own best-selling books next to me and be able to say, "I was rejected 6,321 times but look at me now!"

In fact, I don't know whether this is a good or bad thing but I like reading success stories that started with failure. They help to scrape you up off the floor when you feel as though you're just not good enough. 

Here are some really good ones: 

Theodor Seuss Giesel: Today nearly every child has read The Cat in the Hat or Green Eggs and Ham, yet 27 different publishers rejected Dr Seuss's first book To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street. 

Stephen King: The first book by this author, Carrie, received 30 rejections, finally causing King to give up and throw it in the trash. His wife fished it out and encouraged him to resubmit it, and the rest is history. 

Jack London: Writer of White Fang and Call of the Wild. His first story received six hundred rejections before finally being accepted. (Wowzer!) 

And my favourite....

Walt Disney: When trying to get funding for his first Walt Disney theme park, he was turned down and rejected by 302 bankers before someone finally believed what he had to offer. 

You see, comfort in other people’s rejection is inspiring. Rather than doing the ‘English’ thing and wallowing in other people’s failures, it’s finding the positive from their determination not to give up.

With Christmas rapidly approaching and then the hope and expectation that a New Year brings, finding positivity in the seemingly…blah, is important. Especially as this is the first festive season alone for me.

Not that I’ll be alone. Turns out there’s quite a lot going on at Christmas when you’re not cocooned in couple heaven
:-)

All of that aside, I’m still enjoying writing from the perspective of a moody teenager. May have found my niche and I’m really not sure what that says about me!

I’ll keep you posted on the progress of Side Project and also one how the next wonderful rejection is worded.

Enjoy opening those advent calendars.

Thanks for reading,


Em

x












    Friday, 18 November 2011

    My truly horrific side project

    Oh dear.

    Driving Exile came back from another agent today. Another rejection. I think that's four but hey, who's counting? Still, at least I got a personal message with this one:

    Unfortunately the market for this type of novel has collapsed and editors are dropping rather than taking on new authors. So, sorry ok! 

    I placed the letter down and raised an eyebrow. I should have been grateful for the 'warning' about the current state of the women's fiction market. I mean, wow...I can stop sending my book out now and wasting my time and money.

    Yes, I'd have definitely valued this nugget of information if they hadn't have also enclosed a postcard advertising a brand new novel from one of their women's fiction writers.

    Yay! I'll run right out and buy it!

    Hmmm...

    Onto the next one, methinks. Keep on keeping on and all that.

    I should be more disheartened. After all, I've been off work ill over the last few days which I think has a lot to do with stress. I haven't been to the gym in weeks. My book has been rejected again.

    I should be miserable.

    But I'm not.

    You see, something very odd happened on Sunday. I spent some time with Driving Exile editor and fabulous friend, Uno and we got to talking about...bloody hell, I can't even remember, but it culminated in us giggling about Twilight and how the worst consequence of stepping into the sun for Edward Cullen was that his skin went all glittery and magical. It funny because I'm used to the days of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and tales from folklore where vampires would burn to ash in the daylight.


    It got me thinking about my passion for Point Horror books when I was younger. The more terrifying and unpleasant they were, the more I loved them. I had the full collection in my bedroom, taking pride of place on my bookshelves and I read them over and over again.

    I remember a teacher scowling at me sat reading one when I was in the third year.

    "Emma, why on earth are you reading those books? They're for young children. My nine year old reads them and you're nearly fourteen."

    "I love them," I'd shrugged.

    I'd been reading them since I was nine after all, so I didn't care what other people thought. As soon as my mum bought me the first one from Bury market, I was hooked. I'd sat on the train home tracing the shiny lettering on the front with my index finger and looking at the cover for it (Dream Date if you're interested) depicting a girl asleep in bed and a shadowy hand reaching out to her.

    I ended up giving them all away to a young girl next door and I regret it deeply. I've spent a bit of time scouring Amazon to track them all down and eBay to see if anyone's selling a job lot I can buy.

    I class writing as a bit of a self-indulgent, guilty pleasure but as for Point Horror....well, that's as guilty as it gets.

    So, as I lay in bed on Sunday, I started to formulate an idea. A horror book for teenagers that's horrible again. No romances with vampires, no magics wands casting spells, no helpless females.

    It's very much a side project as I continue on my quest to get Driving Exile published and, because there's no pressure, I'm having an absolute ball. It's been strangely comforting to write as a teenager and put myself in that mindset again. In fact, I think it's done me a lot of good. It's only when you put yourself back there that you realise how much fire you had in your belly. It's made me realise how much of an 'adult' I've become - bogged down with the day-to-day crap of being a grown-up.

    I'm getting that stir of fire again though.

    And in the true mindset of a teenager, I've dedicated the below picture to the agent who told me the market for my kind of book is dead whilst sending an advert for a brand new book alongside.

    Your loss.

    You'll see.

    ;-)

    Em

    x

    Tuesday, 8 November 2011

    Tired.com



    I'm really tired.

    Tired to the bone.

    I can't even say I've been burning the candle at both ends because that would imply I've been partying like a maniac and I haven't.

    All I've been doing is going to work, coming home and writing my book into the night. I've not even been to the gym and that's really not like me at all.

    Got a funny feeling (and bear with me here) that I'm sad. Sad about all sorts of things. Sad and stressed.

    My new job stresses me out and the dark winter nights make me sad. Randomly enough, even writing makes me sad because I keep finding doubts creeping into my head about whether I'm any good or not. Is the book just really very...weak? I keep looking at copies of Driving Exile sat in a pile in my living room before completely ignoring them and concentrating on hammering out Book 2 instead.

    I know I'm not the best writer in the world. Not by a long shot and you can't help but loathe your own inability sometimes. On occasions, I'll be reading a book or a magazine article and I'll come across a word that I realise I've never once written in my life. Then I get angry with myself.

    "How can I have never written or even spoken the word effervescent? Am I completely stupid?"

    "And what about the expression fait de compli? Or the word consummate?" 


    God, I'm inarticulate. And the more tired I get, the less I feel like I can string a sentence together.

    I haven't even read a book (other than my own) for months.

    Now, that makes me feel like an idiot, especially as I profess to be a writer.

    I sent another pack of to an agent last week and have already received the receipt postcard I put in with it. Every time I open the door of the flat, I wince in anticipation of it hitting my manuscript and pushing it along the carpet. I had a false alarm today.

    My contact lenses had been delivered.

    Phew.

    A plus point has been music, and new additions to my life line (i.e. iPod) have been:

    1. Frank Zappa - Camarillo Brillo
    2. Rush - Working Man
    3. Queensryche - Jet City Woman
    4. George Thorogood - Who do you love?
    5. Paul Butterfield Blues Band - Work Song

    Ah, lovely :-) Typing those out has cheered me up.

    Come on, Em! Let's do this!

    Keep rockin'

    Em

    x

    Sunday, 30 October 2011

    Childhood

    I was sat on the train with Dos yesterday and lost in my own little world. We were heading out for a change of scenery as we reasoned that since the messy business of breaking up, we hadn't actually spent any 'nice' time together. We're still friends after all so its about time we did. So, off to Chester we went.

    Sitting across from us on the journey was a little boy with his grandmother listening intently as she read a book out loud to him. He, like me, was lost in his own world while she talked in hushed tones about magic and witches.

    It made me smile.

    An author will have sat on their own, probably in silence, writing that book completely unaware it would be enjoyed in such a manner further down the line.

    It also made me think about my own childhood and often having my nose buried in a book or listening with almost obsessive intent to my mum or my school teacher reading a book out loud. When your imagination is as overactive as mine, a book is perfect. I loved painting my own picture rather than being shown every last scrap of detail like in films.

    The last few weeks have made me think about being a kid a lot. I think its all of the melancholy moments of living alone and having the time to take stock and really think about things.

    Continuing with the theme of childhood, Uno and I packed our little selves off to Blackpool today - the place I spent many a joyful day out. The place that holds such a special place in my heart that I dedicated an entire chapter of Driving Exile to it. It's like a living, breathing comedy sketch for all of the right and wrong reasons.

    Whenever I'd return from Blackpool as a child, I'd write. I always wanted to write a story about a fair or about being an entertainer. For a while I thought I might actually run away to Blackpool to 'make my fortune' which now makes me smile when I actually see the lack of opportunity there.

    To say I've 'regressed' is spot on. I'm somewhere between melancholy and determination to succeed. Getting that burning fire in my belly to achieve my dream, yet at the same time, crippled by confusion and fear of the unknown.

    I've got a pack to send to one very lucky agent this week and I'm struggling to choose who to send it to next. It feels like I'm playing Roulette sometimes. I suppose the publishing game is a bit of a gamble - right place at the right time and all that. Some of the lovely people who read my blog and follow me on Twitter/Facebook have asked whether I'd ever consider self-publishing. I have.

    But I'm not ready to give up on this approach yet.

    What would the seven year old Emma say?

    The eleven year old Emma?

    Fourteen?

    Well, the fourteen year old Emma would probably tell me to fuck off and then carry on watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer without another word, but you get the picture.

    I'd hate the face the childhood version of myself and kneel in front of her, take her by the shoulders and say, "Emma, when you grow up, you'll write a book and you'll love it but after a few rejections, you give up and carry on working a nine to five for the rest of your life."

    She'd cry and probably hit me for being such an idiot. Then ask me what would have happened if the Spice Girls just 'gave up'. I'd have to shrug and bite my lip to refrain from telling her that she actually goes off the Spice Girls and gets into classic rock.

    One thing at a time, eh?

    And that's what I think I need and probably all of us to some extent. We need to remember who we were as children and imagine meeting ourselves now and explaining why we're doing what we're doing. And, more importantly, where we're planning on going.

    When I'm feeling like I can't be arsed writing, or putting together another agent pack, I'm going picture myself, pad and pencil in hand, as a little kid, jotting my stories, poems and song lyrics and dreaming of getting older so I could make it all a reality.

    I already feel like I've got a lot of making up to do to her.

    However, if she can forgive Geri Halliwell for leaving the Spice Girls then I have every faith she can forgive me for stalling on my dreams.

    Love,

    Em

    x

    Em, I forgive you for being crap, and hope one day you'll
    forgive me for this ill-judged Kays catalogue pose.
    Lot of love, 11 Year Old Em x
    (Girl Power!)

    Saturday, 22 October 2011

    Where do all the hours go?


    I've just sat down with a coffee in my flat.

    Nothing unusual about that. However, this is the FIRST time I've done this in the last few weeks. The one thing I was worried about has happened - my new job has taken over my life.

    Don't get me wrong, after a hellish couple of weeks desperately trying to keep my head above water after being thrown in the deep end, it's going okay. I think I'm starting to get it. Hope so anyway. As with any job though, I'm sure it'll get worse before it gets better so we'll see.

    Bloody hell, doom merchant or what...

    On a lighter note, the location of the job is walking distance so I get to listen to my music and get lost in my own little world. During this dreamtime, I've been thinking a lot about Book 2 and then going home in the evening and typing away, sharing it with the wonderfully eager Uno and Dos.


    Slight issue....

    Teeny tiny issue...

    Not even worth mentioning really...

    But, I've kinda stopped thinking about trying to get Driving Exile published. Why? Oh, I don't know really. Time plays a massive part and the last few weeks haven't granted me much of that unfortunately. No excuse though, I need to get that manuscript on the desks of agents. Lots and lots of agents.

    I need more than three rejections under my belt. Especially if my plan to wallpaper my bathroom with them comes to fruition...

    I've sorted my first three chapters out once and for all and I'm on fire with my little printer now! Printers and I have historically had a bit of a stormy relationship but this one seems to finally be playing ball. Runs out of ink quickly though. Honestly, what with the ink, paper, folders, envelopes and postage, it's turning out to be an expensive game this book malarkey.

    Yes, I have ink in my printer but nothing but a tin of tuna, two eggs and a lime (at least I think its a lime...) in my fridge. I'd knock on at my neighbours flat and ask for some bread or leftovers but I fear I've pissed them off royally over the last couple of months by blasting Planet Rock at all hours of the day and night. It's on right now. If I never blog again, its because the police have hauled me away for anti social behaviour.

    Or is it disturbing the peace?

    Oh god, I don't know. I think I might need more sleep.

    Keep rockin' (albeit quietly)

    Em

    x



    Wednesday, 12 October 2011

    All work and no play..



    I think I've used that quote in the past, however, I do think Jack Torrence and I have a lot in common. I mean, I'm a writer, I live alone (forgot the wife and son element, the dude was practically only alive in his own head), I have a fear of spooky twin girl ghosts, I have conversations with imaginary people, I have a manic stare sometimes (usually when I'm supposed to be paying attention to something but start thinking about my book). And last but not least, there's the axe connection...

    Okay, I don't have an axe but a member of my family was once arrested for chasing someone down the street with an axe (my heart swells with pride...)

    Here's Johnny!

    In short, I feel myself to be really rather mad these days. I spent the entire evening on Monday in tears about...well, everything really. I started my new job last week which has been slightly overwhelming and my head has been spinning. I'm conscious of neglecting my book as I talked about in my last post but I suppose there's going to be a bit of give and take over the next few months as I get settled in work.

    I've managed to bang out more than 40,000 words of Book 2 though which is a result. I've even managed to stick to the same scene the last few times I've written which was unheard of when I wrote Driving Exile as I'd get bored and write random bits and bobs. The fun and games really started when it came to editing and trying to make some sense of what I'd been writing for the last four years. Think I've learned my lesson for Book 2 though.

    Speaking of Driving Exile, with three rejections in the bag, I've had a bit of a rethink with my chapters. I deliberately made my chapters short and snappy but when most agents just want your first three chapters to evaluate, there's not a lot to go on. Most say they want no more than 100 pages so I've decided (for the purposes of agents getting a clearer idea) to revise these first three chapters and make them longer. At least then, they get to meet all of the characters. If they get that far of course...

    Anyway, I printed off the 93 page wonder (lucky agents!) and I now need to purchase a folder, hole-punch, padded envelopes, new black ink cartridge, and sticky back plastic (not, really). Just need to choose the next agent on my hit list...

    Keep rockin'!

    Em

    x

    Ps. This week I'm mostly hearting Blue Oyster Cult and Mikky Ekko!

    Saturday, 8 October 2011

    Fear

    Did I start my last blog with the line 'what a week'? Wow, that was a bit premature...

    This has been quite a week what with starting the new job and all. It's been tiring but exciting to be doing something new and to be back in PR again.

    That aside, the self-indulgent writer in me has been left feeling overwhelmed by everything. So much upheaval for a little person to take in such a short space of time has left me almost ready to bolt for the hills.

    The new job has also made me feel melancholy about my book. It's all consuming when you start a new job - your focus has to be with that for a while. It's tough for someone whose focus had drifted away from the day job a while ago to make space for my writing. Now, it feels like writing is just a pipe-dream again and that I need to forget it and focus on what pays the bills. It's like I'm playing around and half-heartedly picking up a pen and paper on occasion or just melodramatically blogging to you guys about how I remain unpublished.

    It's like a dream slipping away from me rapidly and I'm desperately trying to claw it back.

    Melodrama and self-indulgence are clearly the order of the day but these are the sort of thoughts buzzing around my head.

    Due to how busy I've been this week, I've not had the chance to post my book out to any other agents which means it's not out there at all. No one is reading (albeit rejecting) it so it's just sat on my laptop. A pretty little word document serving absolutely no purpose.

    In order to try and connect with my old feelings of excitement, I took myself out today for a coffee with my laptop and did some work on Book 2. It was merely a few paragraphs but it made me feel slightly better.

    I think I'm just scared of the reality of getting published slipping away from me. I joined an awful lot of clubs and tried various hobbies as a little girl and they completely consumed my life...for five minutes. Then I'd get bored or disheartened I wasn't very good at it and give up. It followed me into adult life and I lost count of how many times Dos would grow frustrated with my 'I can't' and 'I give up' attitude. It culminated about four years ago with me taking a look at my life and coming to the conclusion I had no tangible interests whatsoever. I'd promptly picked up my laptop to get on with writing Driving Exile (as well as invest in some decent trainers so I could take up running - the only sport I ever really enjoyed).

    I'm just a bit nervous that Driving Exile is just a phase - another 'moment' in my life that I move on from soon when I inevitably decide I want to be an astronaut or something equally as daft. Just like my cupcake business I wanted to start a couple of years ago (I still have an obscene amount of baking books and cookie cutters in my kitchen). And the coffee van I so passionately wanted to drive around in, serving hot beverages at festivals.

    You can probably tell I'm stuck up in my head at the moment. Feeling sad about various things and scared about others. It's the threat and the promise of a new chapter, I suppose.

    I'll be posting some more manuscripts out to agents next week. I'll keep doing that until I run out of agents, or until I make that first trip into space.

    Em

    x

    Sunday, 2 October 2011

    Though she be but little, she is fierce

    Ah, what a week.

    Myself and Tres indulged our love for all things literary on a lovely break to Stratford Upon Avon to see where our mate Shakespeare was born. Admittedly, we did decide to spend our cash on cream tea rather than tours around famous landmarks but it was still classed as educational. Honest.

    This was also the last week in my job so I've been spending the weekend preparing myself for starting my brand spanking new one tomorrow.

    Oh, and I got another book rejection. That makes three. I was doing a bit of Internet research (AKA trying to make myself feel better) and stumbled upon the following list which gives a list of famous books and how many times they were rejected before getting that all important YES.

    Auntie Mame, Patrick Dennis (15)
    Carrie, Stephen King (30)
    Chicken Soup for the Soul, Jack Canfeld and Mark Victor Hansen (140)
    Diary of Anne Frank (16)
    Dr. Seuss books (15)
    Dubliners, James Joyce (22)
    Dune, Frank Herbert (23)
    Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell (38)
    Harry Potter book one, J. K. Rowling (9)
    Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Richard Bach (18)
    Kon-Tiki, Thor Heyerdahl (20)
    M*A*S*H, Richard Hooker (17)
    The Peter Principle, Laurence Peter (16)
    The Prncess Diaries, Meg Cabot (17)
    Watership Down, Richard Adams (26)
    A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L’Engle, (26)

    I'd had it in my head JK Rowling was turned down thirty-something times but alas, not true. Goodness me, I can't help but wonder whether those nine people who rejected Harry Potter are able to live with themselves...

    The list has made me feel even more fiery and determined. Driving Exile is of course my baby and I feel protective of it but at the same time, its genuinely a bloody good book. I know that sounds big headed but it's true. It's a great book and I truly believe its destined for big things. I'm embracing my new found confidence (hoping to god, it doesn't come across as arrogance...) and had to smile when I saw t-shirts and fridge magnets in Stratford with the quote in the subject line. I think it sums me up at the moment, well, I'll always be little so perhaps the fierce bit, I mean.

    Yes, it was a big week.

    Made even bigger by the fact I've been hammering away several more thousand words of Book 2. I'm on a roll now. It's funny how Driving Exile took me four years to get my finger out and get finished, yet I can see this one being done by Christmas at this rate. Oh god, then I'll be back to editing hell again....

    Wish me luck with my new job tomorrow. Scary stuff!

    Em

    x


    Sunday, 25 September 2011

    And the survey says....




    Dear Emma,

    Thank you for giving us a chance to consider your work.

    Unfortunately, this is not right for us. We are replying as soon as possible to give you the best chance of finding the right agent. We specialise in commercial fiction and non-fiction tailor made for the mass market and therefore we have to be confident of substantial sales quantities before taking on a new project.

    We receive over 300 manuscripts a week and can only take on handful of new writers every year. The result is that we have to be incredibly selective, so please so not be too disheartened. Another agents may well feel differently. 

    We wish you the best of luck in finding the agent who will be right for you. 

    Best wishes. 

     Ah, I love the smell of rejection in the morning. Received the above letter from Agent Two this week but you'll be pleased to know there were no tears this time. I just read the letter with a curled lip and proceeded to go out and get pissed. 

    It's currently pinned to my fridge, which is where the others will go as well. Well, until I run out of space on my fridge anyway and then I think I'll have to dedicate an entire wall or something. 

    I've written approximately 10,000 words on Book 2 over the last week and have been well and truly in the writing flow again which is nice. Any writer will identify with feeling jaded by the editing process once you've written something - countless read-throughs, cut scenes, extra scenes added etc. So to be able to get back to the creative element is lovely. 

    I know it's foolish to write a follow up to a book that's yet to be published but I can't help it. The mind wants what it wants! 

    I'm off on a city break with Tres over the next few days to Stratford Upon Avon. Maybe I'll get some inspiration from the homeland of the Bard...

    We'll see. 

    "Oh Romeo, Romeo! Where for art an agent for Driving Exile, Romeo!" 

    Keep rockin'

    Em 

    x


    Saturday, 17 September 2011

    It starts...


    I found myself stuck in traffic yesterday while I was heading home from work. The rain was hammering and I just sat there, staring out of the windscreen watching the workmen dig up the road.

    When the traffic finally got moving, I drove home in a zombie state, parked my car and knocked on Dos’ flat.

    “Oh…hello,” He said after opening the door.

    I was soaked from the walk from my car to the building and raised my hand in a feeble wave. “Hi, can I please have my dongle thing back, seeing as I’ve got no broadband?”

    “Yeah of course. Come in.”

    I stood awkwardly in the doorway of his kitchen for a few moments. “Can I have a drink?”

    “Sure, help yourself.”

    I nodded and flicked the kettle on and just stared at it for a second before returning to stand awkwardly in the doorway again.

    “Are you okay?” He asked, peering at me.

    For a moment, I thought I was going to be brave but instead, my face crumpled into a cry and I shook my head.

    “Jesus, what’s wrong?” He asked, pulling me into a hug.

    He probably thought I was going to tell him I’d lost a family member. Instead I looked at him and said the words I thought I’d be able to avoid saying for another few weeks. “I got my first book rejection today.”

    Listen folks, I didn’t plan on crying at all. I didn’t think in a million years it’d get picked up by the first bloody person I sent it to but there’s still something so…soul destroying about it. There will be many more of course, but seeing as I was a rejection virgin until I checked my emails at about 3:30pm yesterday, it was a big moment.

    Anyway, I’ve decided the rejection is merely a sign that the race has well and truly begun. I’m not at the starting line anymore, I’m out there and, more importantly, my work is out there.

    I ended up having a weird dream last night where the characters of my book were apologising to me for what they called ‘letting me down’ and then I was apologising to them for not doing them justice. Very bizarre indeed. Shows I care, I suppose. 

    So, I’m going to collect my rejections and publish them on here. Almost like a little collection. I won’t identify the agents but I think it’ll be strangely cathartic to share them with you all.

    With that in mind, here’s the very first one.

    Not even a bloody personal one.

    Cheeky mares ;-)

    Em

    x


    Sunday, 11 September 2011

    The rebound





    "I looked up at the community notice board and started to read the different cards. There were a lot of bands looking for drummers. I made a promise to myself to learn to play the drums one day so that I could join one of these hopeless bands and help them achieve their dreams of stardom. I stored this onto the mental checklist I’d started building in the one week since Steve and I split which included learning a foreign language and running the New York marathon."

    They say life imitates art, but surely life shouldn't imitate your own art? The above, as I'm sure you can guess, is a paragraph taken from my book after my heroine splits with her partner. I wrote it more than a year ago and now as I read it I realise it's exactly the 'stage' I'm going through at the moment. 

    It's not just from the 'split' (seriously Dos, I'll stop dining on our split at some point...) but from finishing the book as well. I'm in terrible need of a new project and keep pondering over Book 2. However, it seems a bit...pointless at the moment. I have no idea whether Driving Exile will get picked up (trying to think positively though) and even if it does, the story might need to change, characters might need to be dropped etc. So diving into writing a follow up seems a little silly. Of course, I could just write it for myself in order to get the ideas from flying around my head. I've written a few chapters already. 

    However, I have something else to occupy me at the moment. 

    My rebound. 

    Nope, not a bloke. I DID promise this wouldn't turn into a naff blog about men and dates. I hate all that shit. 

    No, it's my little acoustic guitar. I'm plodding through learning chords which is going a bit better than I thought to be honest. I used to play bass when I was a teenager (and wanted to be a rock star) so I'm picking it up fairly quickly. Not a clue what I want to come out of it as I'm not the type of person to just have a hobby for the sake of it. Maybe I'll be one of those tossers who post videos of themselves on YouTube crooning into the camera in a cringy manner. 

    Hang on, maybe I WILL become a rock star after all! Don't new artists get discovered on YouTube these days? 

    I've also started running again and am determined to achieve a certain time for my 5km so I can enter some races again. 

    Oh, AND I've dusted off my French for Beginners podcasts that were hiding on my computer. 

    I'm rebounding aren't I? I'm just a dramatic haircut away from the newly single cliche. Either that or I'm trying to morph into the main character in my book. Any rock bands looking for a driver? Any at all? 

    No? Oh, okay then...

    I think I'm trying to pass the time until I hear back from the agents I sent the book to as well. 

    Eight weeks. 

    Eight flan-flinging weeks. 

    Holy crap, where's my chord book. I might have a number one single by the time I hear back from them...

    Keep rocking.

    Em 

    x






    PS. Turns out the jokes are correct - Status Quo really do only play three chords. Excellent for a learner like me! Think my neighbour is a tad sick of hearing Rockin' all over the World blasting though..