Tuesday, July 22, 2008

CONF 563: SPEECHLESS

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Sorry for the delay.

I've been going over what's been happening & it's taken a while for it all to sink in.

Was in H&M looking at hopeless bikinis when The Call came. Well, it was partner actually, all excited saying my agent had just phoned & could I ring her. So I hurried out to a quiet garden square to make the call, notebook & pen at the ready to take down what she said.

It's not good news I'm afraid. I can still hear her saying that. The editor is very, very apologetic, she loved meeting me and thinks, as did my agent, that I did a really good job with the 3 book proposals but she didn't get a great reaction from her sales department. She was told they already have authors on their list writing for my kind of audience who she must focus on. They didn't see how my books were very different to those authors. What I'm doing is really what they should be writing and she's got to work on breaking them through.

Agent said it's just really bad timing. In six months' time it might be a different story but I mustn't hold anything up to that as no tends to mean no. Commercial fiction for the older reader isn't doing as well as expected. She can't really work it out. There are loads of older readers out there. She thinks it may be aspirational fiction they want, Richard & Judy, where they can learn something from a novel, be enriched. The more commercial end of the market is struggling and the upmarket commercial is not doing as well as it should.

She'd thought long and hard about why my book wasn't, in the end, picked up. There was another editor, too, another senior women's fiction editor from one of the major majors who liked it. Some of her readers weren't so sure though and she wanted to see the whole novel before making a final decision. Then a few weeks later I got an email saying she'd shown it to the CEO of the whole frigging company, also a woman in her 50s, who'd said no. So that was that. No point in going back there.

She then went on to talk about my writing more in depth, she's an amazing agent to have & it's not The End just yet. She's not dropping me. I told her about my other genre book & I am now going to concentrate on that for a few months. The agency is really strong in that area and though she doesn't represent those sort of books directly she would certainly pass it on to her speciality reader.

The saddest thing is how well the meeting with the editor went. She was so so lovely, completely got what I was doing and it all seemed so incredibly positive, talking 3, 4 books way into the future, discussing what name I'd call myself as my real name is similar to another author's, the large print-runs and marketing next to none. Followed up by email to my agent confirming how well it had all gone. Ah well, another zig in the zig-zag of it all. Not much'll change. I'll carry on writing of course. There's self-publishing if I'm so inclined, which I'm not, an offer of an e-book, which does excite me. Getting stuck right into the other genre book is priority though. I was 25% through the first draft when I left it. It's been good going back and reading about things I'd forgotten about and going wow! to myself. I'm transferring it all to index cards now. I've learnt a few things about plotting along the way that are going to blast the rewrite into a different league.

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

CONF 562: SPACE BETWEEN

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Don't quite know what to do with myself. Have stopped the work in progress for the moment until I hear what's happening. Am swinging between confidence that things will progress to the certain knowledge that confidence is dangerous and must therefore steel myself for the possibility that it could all go wrong. I don't even like writing that and might delete it, putting out negatives at the cusp of the moment when things are about to turn around and all that.... But there it is, nothing is sealed until it's signed. The recession jitters don't help.

A peek inside the world of children's fiction last week. Daughter and I were guests of author friend at The Branford Boase Awards held at Walker Books. As it was pouring with rain, partner gave me the cash for a cab. I couldn't, though, bring myself to hand over the rare wad of money filling my purse when a couple of bips of the Oyster card would get me there just as well. It was only a couple of blocks from the bus stop but I managed to get rat-tailed hair and, thanks to a classic van through puddle splash, soggy ankles.

I squelched in and made straight for the loos. I had my heels in my bag and I managed to dry my hair really quite well on the hand-dryer by putting my hand over my head into the heat every time it stopped. In the middle of this, a 20something PA clicked in in her black court shoes, all little black dress and glossy brown hair. She smiled with an amusement as smug as dry as dry smug can be.

Upstairs at the party it was all really interesting and inspiring. More colourful than the adult fiction crowd, fancy ties, bow ties, badges, some children, some eccentric hairstyles, a few fingerless gloves, hats, quite a few hats. The winner thanked her family for putting up with her endless, seemingly fruitless, bashings at her computer for hours on end. She said that whenever anybody asked what she did she said 'I'm an unpublished author,' loud and proud. Another good reality tick amidst all the publishedness wine and canapes was Philip Pullman's knowing 'me too' nod when, in the introductory speech, reference was made to the sometimes daily sludge of trying to get a few words onto the page.

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

THE END


To the village where I was born to bury my mother's ashes. She died last October but we couldn't co-ordinate availability of family and rental cottage until last weekend. It was the first time I'd been there with my sister since I was 4. She told me an author lived in one of the cottages and used to take us down to the bottom of her garden to see the fairies. We'd leave sherbet for them and were taken back the next day to find it gone. No wonder I always KNEW they existed.



The church is redundant 14C, tucked away in a hidden valley right next to our tiny old cottage. That was a 2 up 2 down, outside loo, no bathroom, no heating little place when we were there. Now it's all whitewash and hair extensions but still very pretty. All went well, my mother had a good, long life, going at 95, outliving all her friends but the one, a gravel-voiced chain smoker who was there to represent them all. It still hits you like a brick though. Funniest moment was unloading sister's boyfriend's car. They'd been to the supermarket and I was helping to bring in the bags. Picked up rectangular, burgundy box which I thought was a bottle of brandy or whiskey but which turned out to be my mother.


No news but about to hear any moment. The editor and my agent are talking any time now, so I WILL know pretty soon, like when I click on email in a minute, or, this afternoon, or tomorrow, or the next day or the one after that.









Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.