15 November 2009

Getting better

Some uplifting news this week. My novel made the long list for the Virginia Prize for an (as yet?) unpublished novel. Obviously, it would have been much better to make the short list, but given that Part 3 of the book is in need of a face lift, I was cheered by this. Also, over fifty per cent of the short list are novelists with form - they have published books. All six on the short list sound interesting, and I wish the authors the best of luck for the ceremony in Richmond later this month. The winning book will be published by Aurora Metro in the Spring. As for me... I'm beginning another rewrite and will start sending out again in the New Year, all being well. So three lucky agents have something to look forward to in 2010 - Hahaha!!!

05 November 2009


Anne-Marie Doulton has finished my book and said 'no'. Her feedback isn't all bad, she said some very nice stuff, but in the end it 'wasn't quite as involving as (she'd) hoped', so I'm guessing this means that she just didn't love it? Oh, boo-hoo. At least she responded promptly and I can open my emails now without my stomach turning over with anticipation and dread. Back to the Writers’ and Artists’ Year Book. Of course, I'm really disappointed and beset with all those 'what if no one loves it' and 'what if it's crap' feelings, but I understand that rejection is the norm in this business and not the exception. The worse thing is that in a funny way I feel like I’ve let her down – the use of the word ‘hoped’ has sparked this I’m guessing – because I think that most people want to like stuff. Anyway, onwards... It’s my boy’s birthday today, so I have to get my ‘happy mummy’ face on. Kids are great for stopping self-pity and navel gazing.

29 October 2009

Another day, another rejection

Strange one this. Or maybe not? Maybe this is common. I don’t know yet.
Anyway, I received a ‘thanks, but no thanks’ from a small Kent-based agent the other day. So what’s odd I hear you cry? Well, I received the email at lunchtime the day after I’d posted my submission package… So they’d had it for a maximum of four hours.
Either this agent doesn’t receive the usual gazillion MS a day like most others say they get, and hence their slush pile is so miniscule (non-existent) and they have so little to do for their existing clients that they have the luxury of being able to read each submission as it drops onto their clear desk, or they bin them straight away, unread. If so, fair enough, but why not make it clear on the website that they are not looking to take on any new clients unless they are JK Rowling or Dan Brown? The email was so standard that I wondered if the package had been read. (It must have been opened, they had my email address). It wasn’t even topped or tailed. No ‘Dear Laura/Ms Wilkinson/Misguided Fool. No ‘Yours sincerely/yours dying of boredom having just read the turgid nonsense you laughingly describe as the opening chapters of a novel’.
Perhaps the work experience kid charged with the daunting task of ploughing through the slush pile read it, chucked it on the ‘You’ve GOT to look at this’ pile, but it slid off, unnoticed, onto the ‘Chuck IMMEDIATELY’ pile? Ha ha. Perhaps someone read the synopsis and thought ‘Cobblers’, or read the opening paragraph and thought the same? After all, I will choose a book in a shop in this manner. Who knows? Perhaps many agents are, as the fabulous Mr Edit says, plain rude? I’d like to think not. In optimistic mood, ‘til the next time…

24 October 2009

The Whispering Wall

A short story of mine, The Whispering Wall, is published this month, November Issue 09, in First Edition Magazine. You can find copies at all good bookshops. Well, WHSmith and Borders at least...
You'll find the website here - http://www.firsteditionpublishing.co.uk/

23 October 2009

Good Golly Mrs Molly!

The almost unbelievable has happened. One of my four applied-to agents has requested the entire manuscript. Says she likes the first two chapters, though they may need a little work (a very good sign I feel. I know the book is flawed and will be suspicious of any agent who doesn't request edits), and would be delighted to read more.
Ohmagod! I had to read and re-read the mail to check that I hadn't missed something, or that it wasn't a prank. I wanted to scream out loud and laugh and cry... I will NEVER, EVER laugh at those actresses who blub on the Oscar podium as they receive their award... I was pathetic.
Anyway, I whizzed over the remaining chapters and I wait with baited breath. Now this was two days ago and the euphoria has worn off. I am still a long way from representation, let alone publication and I am already convinced that she will say 'no' in the end. However, I have to remind myself that it is a good sign... If she likes it, others will, and having validation from an industry person is priceless. Unless she's completely bonkers, of course.

Fancy a literary splash?

Fiona Robyn is going to blog her next novel, Thaw, starting on the 1st of March next year. The novel follows 32 year old Ruth’s diary over three months as she decides whether or not to carry on living.

To help spread the word she’s organising a Blogsplash, where blogs will publish the first page of Ruth’s diary simultaneously (and a link to the blog).

She’s aiming to get 1000 blogs involved – if you’d be interested in joining the splash, email her at fiona@fionarobyn.com or find out more information here.

Thank you!


19 October 2009

A Personal Odyssey

I've not blogged for a long, long while but I am feeling the need once more. And why I hear you cry?

For nigh on two years I have used almost every bit of free time writing and, more accurately, rewriting a novel. Like many who write I harboured a dream of writing a novel for years. For many moons fear held me back. That and two young boys and a full-time job. I continued to write non-fiction - journalism, copywriting, reviews and the like - and even wrote a small selection of short stories, with a moderate degree of success. But the novel existed in my head only. Finally, I read Jacqui Lofthouse's marvellous The First 30 Days, a brilliant guide to ending procrastination and getting a thousand words a day down on paper, or pc. It worked for me. Less than twelve months later I had a first draft and another eight months on I had a fifth draft that I was, if not exactly happy with, at least not desperately ashamed of. No doubt it is flawed, but it is 100,000 words of a coherent story, and I'm proud of it.
The whole thing started as an experiment - to see if I could do it - and I was always open to the idea that I might not be able to. It was only when I reached the 60,000 word mark and realised that I knew, finally, where the story would end that I admitted that I would complete a novel. Good grief.
What a journey it was. I learnt so much and, most importantly, I enjoyed the process. So much so that I am starting my second book and seeking representation for the first. Hence the blogging again. I will record the next stage of my journey here on A Scorpion Scribbles...
The story so far.
I have submitted a one page synopsis and the first 10,000 words along with a brief covering letter to four agents. I sent my submission package to three in the first instance - around five weeks ago - and pledged that as the rejections come in, another package would go out. So, I have had one rejection so far. And if one is to believe the stories by literary luminaries like Sarah Waters and Joanna Trollope I have 29 or more to receive before the six figure deal is struck and the Brooker prize awarded (ahem)! Although it was disappointing it was at least not a rejection of the 'have you considered taking up horticulture as a hobby Ms Wilkinson?' variety. Onwards say I.
Of course, being human I am beset with doubt and easily depressed by (the increasingly frequent) newpaper reports detailing the death of the publishing industry and difficulties faced by debut novelists struggling to get published. But I am a realist, and do not dream of giving up the day job and revelling in a life spent at the pc pouring out bestseller after bestseller. It would be a dream come true to have the book published and read by more than a few hundred people. Keep your fingers, toes and anything else you can think of crossed for me.

I'll keep you posted...