Saturday, April 29, 2006

The Mystery of Annie

A great title for a book - now I just have to add plot, storyline and some other characters! Sadly, I don't have time as I received my romantic comedy back from the publishers who didn't feel it was quite right for them although they did think I was a 'lovely writer'! So, what now? Well, I'm taking the advice of the wonderfully helpful RNA and the two readers who read my book, doing a touch of re-writing and then sending the book out to some agents. As Eva says, difficult to do a word count for this (part of my cunning plan!) although so far I can tell you it's a big fat nothing, as I've been too busy working. Funny that, whenever I'm doing the job that pays I'm 'working' but when I'm writing and not getting paid I'm indulging in my hobby - at least that's how others see it. I liken it to the training of athletes - nobody sees the years of hard work that go before they make it to the Olympics.

Two weeks after the rejection, I was greatly cheered to discover that a short story entered in a Writing News magazine competition had been shortlisted - so all is not lost!

Now, I really must go and start my re-writing, well, actually, I've got to start by re-reading the entire book as it's now over six months since I did any work on it - I wonder how many that will score on the word counter?!

Any ideas yet who I am?


Friday, April 28, 2006


I've got a secret.

Don't tell anyone else....

But I'm hopelessly ill-travelled. In sharp contrast to Eva, who's on first-name terms with half the globe, I've spent my life getting intimately acquainted with every aisle of my local Sainsbury's and have considered a trip to a new mother and toddler group as the final frontier.

Anyway, none of that matters now, as I have discoverd Google Maps.

Honestly, check it out. I am now in a position to describe my heroine's motorbike ride from St Tropez town to Pampelonne beach in minute, loving detail. I hesitate to describe myself as a true armchair traveller however, as the computer is still heaped bizarrely in a corner of the kitchen while I perch uncomfortably on the arm of a battered, cat-furred sofa. I suppose not many people can justifyably call themselves 'sofa-arm travellers' though.

Which is a claim to fame. Of sorts.


Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Words, Words and Word

Today I managed 1211 words. Pretty pathetic, especially as it registers just over 1 measly percent on the word meter. I'm not sure I'm going to like our little tracker friend on the short term.

A recent article in WRITERS' Journal magazine (an American print publication) made a strong case for writing an entire book in one MS Word file. Personally I put chapters in individual files. When it comes to editing, the writer of the article believes, it's easier to make changes—especially when you revisit months later—by using the handy Find and Replace feature: to check the spelling of minor character's names throughout the entire manuscipt, consistency of description, and the integrity of a character's speech patterns and diction, for instance.

In the past I found Word went a bit mad if the document exceeded 100 or 200 pages. Is it time for me to give the program another chance? What's your opinion? Small, individual files or one big one?


Monday, April 24, 2006

Fresh Start

Tried to conceal my glee as I dragged 3 reluctant children plus lunchboxes, bookbags and various bits of PE kit (almost certainly not all the required items-- some won't be discovered until the ironing pile is conquered, and by then the girls may all be at university) to school this morning, and drove home dreaming of tall, sun-kissed men with slanting, come-to-bed eyes and cruelly mocking smiles.

I've been writing this book in my head since the beginning of January. In fact I even got as far as writing a couple of chapters of it on my laptop before I recieved a request for the full manuscript of the last book from a lovely editor at HMB, and had to break off to finish that. But I'm so excited by the thought of this one. The characters have been growing more vivid in my head as time has passed, until I've reached the stage where I'm half expecting to open my mouth and hear the well-bred tones of my posh-girl heroine come out, rather like that scene from The Exorcist. Slewed the car into the garage and raced into the house... and was brought up short by the extreme squalor that greeted me.

Worksurfaces pebbledashed with Weetabix. The cat thoughtfully finishing off the remains of milk in 3 half-drunk glasses. Papers, milk cartons and a wince-inducingly huge number of wine bottles spilling out of the recycling boxes. The fridge almost empty except for an industrial sized pack of lunchbox fromage frais, an antique wedge of cheese and a bag of silage that possibly used to be salad. Clearly the book was going to have to wait.

But the good news is that, having swabbed down the kitchen and been to the supermarket I was rewarded by immediate connection to the internet. For the past couple of weeks our computer has been behaving like some very erratic elderly relative, suddenly drifting off in the middle of a subject and having days where no communication of any kind with the world of cyber-space is happening at all. As a result of an extremely long and challenging phonecall to a helpline in India the other night, we've moved the computer from its old position at the end of an extension lead, and piled it up in a corner of the kitchen, where it can enjoy sole possession of its very own phone socket, which seems to have appeased it for the time being. And so, in the name of research, I spent the remainder of the time until the school run called happily visiting sites about luxury yachts and far flung destinations.

Which is all a long and convoluted way of saying that my word count is still 00000.

(If we had a little tool which showed how many times I'd checked my email to see if the lovely editor had got in touch, I'd be way up there in the thousands.)


Word Count Tracker

Since one of us is experiencing PC/Internet technical difficulties, and the other appears to be offline as well, I thought I'd contribute once again. Note that we've added some word-count trackers to the right column of our weblog (the zokutou word meter is cropping up all over the net, particularly with the aspiring writer set).

I'm currently working on Chapter 7 of my latest novel with apparently 32% of it complete, Imogen is starting afresh after just sending off her full manuscript two weeks ago, and Annie is fine-tuning her romantic comedy—or is it comedic romance?—in preparation for submission to agents. I'm not sure how we'll track Annie's progress but Imogen promises to get underway with her new novel just as soon as the kids return to school after the Easter break. I can't wait!


Friday, April 21, 2006

Editor/Agent Response Time

Naturally it all depends. Sadly, on a whole host of circumstances: on the editor's or agent's workload, his or her style of doing business and, in the case of a publisher, need. Recently I found two separate statements on the website claiming that Harlequin Mills & Boon (HMB) takes about 20 weeks to get back to a writer. According to that guideline, I should expect to hear back by the end of this month. I won't hold my breath!

In case you're interested, I found the information in one of the chat rooms and in the March article on tracking submissions. Joanne Rock's submission tracking spreadsheet is worth a look too (see the article for the link).

Labels: ,