Monday, October 30, 2006

Published writer by 40...?

...think again.

A couple of weeks ago I received a beautifully written rejection letter from Mills & Boon, lauding my talent as a writer, the "fire and originality of my voice", and my command of history. It really is a very inspiring letter, obviously written after careful deliberation, and it is clear the writer of the note thoroughly read and enjoyed my book (in fact, she says so herself!).

Now, that is something! I'm sure we've all seen (well...except for India!) the other type of rejection letter, composed of one or two lines, perhaps sent in record time so you're skeptical the submission was even opened, let alone read.

Well, not this time. In fact, this letter, although ending with encouragement and a request to continue submitting, did confirm one thing: Romance-writing is not for me. (Although—dash it!—I'll miss creating heroes like Ashington, whom the editors loved for his "derring-do", and is reputedly "just the right side of alpha".) I believe I'll take my finely drawn secondary characters, the adventure, and the historical detail, all more appropriate to a "larger canvas", back to historical fiction writing. After all, the editors admit they felt like they were "reading a big, meaty nineteenth-century novel".

Look out Tracy Chevalier, Rose Tremain, or...wait, hang on a minute, what about the young adult work I've been thinking about...J. K Rowling!


Sunday, October 22, 2006


Sue, via Sharon, has tagged us again. It's the second time now, isn't it, Sue?

It's a worthy cause, so we don't mind. Here's the deal:
To help other writers by providing access to a repository of information, all drawn from personal experience, we are to list five things not commonly known about us. If our personal experiences prove interesting to writers out there, published or unpublished, they are free to contact us to draw from our vast wisdom.
So here we go...
First, Annie:
  1. I work as a legal secretary.
  2. I'm married to an air traffic controller/flight instructor/pilot (yes, all at the same time - well, I get bored easily).
  3. I have a slipped disc.
  4. I had a kidney removed at 21 (not brain surprisingly).
  5. I'm a licensed athletics' coach.
  1. As part of my English Literature/Language degree I did a dissertation on Virginia Woolf and Sylvia Plath.
  2. My second baby was a footling breech (i.e. her feet were the presenting part). I gave birth to her naturally — a practise which is now considered too high risk to be carried out by the NHS.
  3. Last year my husband and I bought my childhood home. I am now bringing my children up in the same house in which I grew up.
  4. At secondary school I played the bassoon.
  5. I used to work for Laura Ashley, so despite being rubbish with numbers am surprisingly good at working out how much fabric you'll need for your curtains, madam.
  1. I am a technical writer.
  2. I have lived in three different countries and visited another 20 (at least).
  3. I am lactose intolerant and wheat-free (think no pizza, no cookies, no sandwiches, no ice cream, only goat cheese and ewe cheese, only some chocolate bars...yes, depressing!).
  4. I had a car accident when I was eighteen and I only drive now when ABSOLUTELY necessary (i.e., the last time was five years ago).
  5. Today is my birthday and I am...gulp...forty years old (no kidding!).
A note from Sharon, the creator of People Collection posts: "PLEASE LEAVE THE FOLLOWING IN ALL ‘PEOPLE COLLECTION’ POSTS:
Remember that it isn’t always the sensational stuff that writers are looking for, it can just as easily be something that you take for granted like having raised twins or knowing how to grow beetroot. Mind you, if you know how to fly a helicopter or have worked as a film extra, do feel free to let the rest of us know about it :-)"

We, in turn, tag Brown, Amanda, and Stacy Dawn...sorry, that's all we could come up with, Sue/Sharon.

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Saturday, October 21, 2006

A writer's holiday

Normally I love holidays, but I've just returned from one exhausted and distraught. Why? Well, not only did I have my credit card stolen from the zipped-up compartment of my zipped-up rucksack which was concealed in the locked-up boot of the locked-up car which was parked in a public car park next to a public harbour - but - BUT - I didn't get a single night's proper sleep. Why? (so many questions, so little time) - Because the voices in my head decided a holiday was the perfect time to hold some fascinating, funny and highly entertaining discussions. The voices were not disconnected noises either. Oh no. They were attached to fully formed, perfectly rounded, exquisite characters who led the most incredible lives and clearly came straight out of the best selling novel that I know is burning bright within me. Oh yes, and, AND they spoke with accents. Naturally, at the time, this filled me with a rather exciting sensation - as soon as I got home I would write their story. And I have - and it's taken me approximately twenty-four hours to realise that they don't have a story and the characters that were up there have, by some foul trick of the keyboard and computer screen, metamorphosised into ordinary, dull, everyday human beings, who wouldn't know an accent if they fell over one in France.

Mind you, apart from the voices, my brian did come up with one rather brilliant idea which has stuck - if someone could invent a computer chip which could be inserted into the brain which recorded the conversations, characters and goings-on in my head and then the chip was flushed out through my ear by means of one of those wax removing pipe things and then the chip was inserted directly into my computer, the brilliance of those conversations, characters and goings-on could be transcribed directly onto my screen and then I'd have my best selling novel all done and dusted. See? Brilliant. I wonder if I should copyright the idea just in case?


Tuesday, October 17, 2006

History. And heroes.

Today is 'One Day In History' day or something, and driving back from the school run I did briefly toy with the idea of making a blog entry for it. (I think they're all going to be kept and stored in a National Safe Place, which if my own experience is anything to go by, will mean that no-one will ever be able to find them again.) Anyway, having spent the morning scraping weetabix and rice crispies off various bits of kitchen and the afternoon indulging in lovely internet work-displacement activities I concluded I had nothing useful to contribute to the national effort and would only lower the tone.

I have, however, found a hero for the wip. By my standards, that constitutes a useful day's work. (You see my point? Future generations would be rightly disgusted.) His name is Alex Pettyfer, he's the hero of the film Stormbreaker and is merely a babe in arms. However, his face is perfect.

Just remember, I got him first....


Thursday, October 05, 2006

Interview with India Grey

India, thank you for granting us this interview — your first of many! Congratulations again on your recent book sale. We can’t tell you how excited and thrilled we are by the news.

Annie, lurking in the shadows: "We are? Oh yes, of course we are. Very excited and incredibly thrilled." [Annie rolls eyes heavenwards]

Now, let’s get started. First of all, tell us about the call. What were you doing at the time?
Annie: "Maybe, Eva, just maybe, she was on the telephone."
India: "Well, I was reclining on a pink velvet chaise longue eating Turkish delight—same old, same old [mutters Annie]—when the phone rang...(Oh, dear, my pants are on fire again, aren’t they? I’d actually just got back from picking the children up from school and was scraping yogurt and banana slime from the bottom of a lunchbox, but that’s totally sad. Do you think it would be OK if I stuck to the Turkish Delight version?)"
How shocked and amazed were you?
Annie: "Well, on the Richter scale of shock and amazement, I’d guess at a 10 – otherwise known as — now, what’s the word? Oh yes, ‘very’."
India: "Yes. Very."
Rumour has it that you’ve sold to the Presents line. Is that true?
Annie: "Well, if it’s not, Presents really ought to sue whoever’s responsible for spreading such an evil rumour. They have their reputation to think of, you know."
India: "Ok, Ok, so the Turkish Delight part was entirely fabricated but the Presents bit is true."
Did you specifically target that line?
Annie [sniggers]: "Of course she did."
India [sniggers]: "Of course I did."
Annie: "Because she thought she was going to get lots of prettily-wrapped gifts."
India: "Because I love the glamour and I love the settings and, yes, I love the heroes too. And I think that when your life involves quite a lot of yogurt-slime in lunchboxes all of the above are important."
Is this really your first book and first submission? Wow!
Annie: "Yes, wow."
India: "Yes. Wow!"
How long did the process take, from first submission to successful book sale?
India: "Hmmm. From the very first submission of the first three chapters and synopsis, it’s been about 18 months, but during that time the editorial staff at HMB have been astonishingly kind and helpful. In the end the time between writing the last words on the last page and getting that phonecall was about ten hours, and I spent at least two of them in bed eating cream cakes in celebration of finishing the manuscript."
Annie: "Cream cakes and Turkish Delight? Fat! Fat! Fat! The chaise longue will never hold up."
Tell us a bit about the story. [Eva immediately starts fantasizing about dark, dreamy Raphael, an idiotic smile on her face.]
Annie: "Raphael? Wasn’t he one of the Ninja Turtles who used to live in a sewer?"
India: "Oh, Annie, your cultural references are so limited. Well, Eva, it’s a story about a girl pretending to be someone she isn’t in order to find out if her man is the person she thinks he is. Does that sound confusing? Oh well, lets just say it’s about sex and shopping and saying sorry."
Have you a title yet?
Annie: "Now you’re getting carried away, Eva. It takes more than a published book to make a Lady out of a commoner."
India: "Yes! Yes! Oh, I’m so glad you asked that! I have a title and I love it. It is The Italian’s Defiant Mistress… Soooo Coooool."
When is the book due to be published?
Annie: "Good question, Eva."
India: "July 2007."
What are your next steps with regard to the book?
Annie: "To do a world tour and publicise it, Eva. Naturally, I shall accompany her."
India: "Thank you, Annie. I shall need someone to carry my designer luggage, tip doormen, etc. To be honest (and that doesn’t come naturally as you’ll see from the Turkish Delight incident earlier) I’m not sure what happens next. Do I get proofs to correct or something? I hope so—then when I’ve done them I can go back to bed and eat more cream cakes in celebration of finishing all over again."
We know you’re working on another contemporary romance.
Annie: "That would be the one stuck at 11,000 words, would it?"
India: "Ah, yes, I was going to mention that. The word worm will certainly need to be updated a little—to something more in the region of 00,000. I’ve learned so much in the process of revising the first book that I’m afraid there’s only one thing for it. Back to the start!"
Would you care to tell us a bit about it?
Annie: "Like the first 11,000 words perhaps?"
India: "I’d love to—if only I hadn’t deleted them all…"
To what do you attribute your remarkable success (besides hard work and dedication, of course)?
Annie: "Funny thing that, I attribute my remarkable failure to the same things."
India: "Duuhh. My lucky mug, of course."
Would you care to tell us your real name?
India: "Well, I could, but then I’d have to kill you. Just call me India...[India stares smokily into the distance in the manner of a Bond girl or similar]...India Grey..."

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