Advice for new players…

When I first started this writing lark I was given some great advice that, out of the goodness of my heart, I’m going to share with you today. There are two key elements, which will save you time, money and angst. What is more, I think you’ll find the principles apply to most things in life that you want to do well. 1. Do your homework Thanks to the marvels of technology it’s not difficult to visit the websites of publishers/agents/editors to find their submission guidelines, and what they’re looking for. If they say they want the manuscript in Times New Roman 12pt, double spaced, with no gap between paragraphs and a large margin on the left-hand side, they mean it. Don’t think, ‘That’s just a rough guideline and as long...

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The agent said…

I finally heard from the agent. There was good news and bad news. First the bad news. She said, ‘No.’ I felt the bottom of my stomach drop down to somewhere south of my knees. I had a little argument with her email (but! but! but!). I sulked. I shed a few tears. I complained to my husband. I muttered rude things to Rex the Wonder Dog, who licked my hand and batted his eyelashes in a very sympathetic manner. I sulked some more. The next day I reread her email, with feedback attached. First of all, it must be acknowledged that this was a momentous event: she gave feedback! She is the first agent to go beyond, ‘It doesn’t suit our list’. (Agent code for: I don’t like it. I’d already checked their lists and I knew mine would...

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When oceans roar.

I was going to begin a series on “How to improve your writing”. (Subtitle: things that bug the heck out of me when I’m editing/reviewing.) But then I watched the news last night. I saw that tsunami racing across the Japanese landscape, full of mud, rubbish, cars, sheds, houses, and people… And I find I just don’t have the heart to talk about that right now. I don’t live near the sea. In this area earthquakes are as rare as tigers in the wild. Sometimes we feel a vague rumble. Once in a very blue moon there’s a definite shake, but that’s about it. I cannot imagine the sheer horror of feeling the ground give way underneath your feet; or having your home or office building suddenly collapse around you; or to see that...

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Death by supermarket

Borders bookstore chain is wobbling on the brink of oblivion and considering the forces against it, I don’t think it’ll be long before it plummets over the edge. Voices lift above the muttering of the crowd: ‘They charged too much. Why pay $25.95 for a novel when I can get it at the supermarket for $10? If they’re going to rip off their customers, they deserve to go under.’ The mob brandish pitchforks and hold flaming torches aloft. ‘Tip ’em over! Tip ’em over!’ Who can compete with supermarket prices? If we can get a 4-pack of John Grisham novels for $12.95 the lot, we’re laughing all the way to the checkout. Supermarkets have already put many mum & dad petrol stations out of business; and friendly...

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