The End = The Beginning. (Maybe.) :-)

Some weeks ago, I began a new novel, the details of which I posted here. Then I disappeared. Novelists do that.

This is me reappearing and saying, “Tada!” because the first draft is complete.

Having shown my agent the six-page outline in August, I felt confident to get on with the writing. I went at it daily for about eleven weeks, only missing days when it was unavoidable – perhaps five or six absences across the whole stretch.

The novel had to come in at under 150K so that it won’t be too long to sell (mss above this word count incur a significantly higher printing cost). I squeaked in at 146K, leaving some wiggle room.

There’s a good deal of editing to do before there’s a presentable draft, then it’s time to wait for a verdict from my agent. A thumbs-up means the piggy goes to market next year. A thumbs-down…well, let’s not talk about that.

Anyway, I’m back so, “Hello and hope you’ve been well!”

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Credit where it’s really due

So, Jeremy Drysdale and I wrote a novel called Clown Wars: Blood & Aspic. It was full of cool characters, wicked scenes, genius gags, tragedy, comedy and irony. And it was an ace story. Usual problem – no one wanted to publish it…

Five years later we thought: “Hey! We can do it ourselves! Easy!”

But it isn’t, actually. Especially for a pair of bozos like me and Jez. We needed help. But what do you know? Help was out there in veritable cohorts.

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And maybe it will come back to you…

There’s been an overwhelming response to yesterday’s post, in which I talked about releasing my next novel for free, chapter by chapter, right here on the blog.

I had emails, tweets, DMs, Facebook and blog comments. A lot of them suggested I charge something for each chapter. Others thought I ought to self-publish the novel as an eBook. I also received many offers of help. It was lovely to suddenly have so much input from people who are clearly very keen on my fiction.

The most profound contact came from my old agent, Brie Burkeman, who closed her agency a year ago for family reasons. After speaking to her on the phone, it was very clear that she was opposed to me giving my work away for nothing.

The combination of her pep-talk and all the comments and messages of support that I’ve had have convinced me to hold off just for a little longer.

I do have several ‘live’ submissions with editors and agents but these are peopleĀ  who are, often-times, too busy to respond – or, if they do, it’s months and months later. I wanted to make something happen fast and I thought I’d come up with a good way of breaking the deadlock. On reflection, however, perhaps I was a little hasty.

So, I hope you’ll keep waiting – as I keep waiting – to hear from the gatekeepers who can make or break careers with their decisions. Tentacles crossed, there’ll be some big yeses from them this time.

Some of you have also asked me what the novel is about, so I’ll do a post with some teasers for you soon…

Sad days as I wait for the end of winter

shut happensMy literary representative, Brie Burkeman, who’s effect on my career and profile has been tremendous, is closing her agency for family reasons.

You can see the full story here.

Brie has looked after me with great care for two and a half years, streamlining my productivity and securing a number of rights deals I could never have manifested on my own.

She made it possible for me to get on with writing while she handled everything else. In addition, Brie taught me a lot more about the publishing business and, by example alone, how a ‘good’ agent should behave. She’s been the perfect combination of rock and Rottweiler: always there when I needed support and utterly uncompromising if anyone stepped out of line contractually.

When Brie emailed me a couple of weeks ago, attaching the letter which outlined her plans to shut up shop, I completely understood her reasoning and her decision. Nevertheless, I was floored.

That sensation of solid ground liquescing beneath my feet – a feeling I’ve come to know well in what has always been an uncertain career – returned with knobs on. I’d hoped such uncertainty was forever behind me but perhaps that’s unrealistic, especially given the state of utter flux that publishing as a whole is in right now.

As with all Good News/Bad News stories, though, there is a positive aspect; a new chapter, no less. I’ve been taken on by Meg Davis at Ki. I met her for the first time a few days ago and was very impressed – not to mention relieved – by how focused and experienced she is. She was also surprisingly open to all my hair-brained ideas.

So, the journey is far from over.

After fifteen years or so of turbulence, I’ve finally bought myself a gravity belt and strapped myself in. Wherever the ride takes me next, I’m ready.