Archive for the ‘Novel Blog’ Category

First review, and new opportunities for The Soul Consortium

It’s been an active week – lots going on. Things are still ramping up towards the launch of The Soul Consortium and I have a mountain of things I need to get done. But whilst things are getting busier, they’re getting exciting too…

I got the pdf version of the novel back from my editor this week and I’m loving the look of it; there’s a nice sphere theme going on in the page template which marries nicely with the central character’s setting. Over the next couple of days whilst Medallion are proof reading this final version, I also have to do the same. And when that’s done I believe the next step is the print run. Various reviewers will be reading ‘advance review copies’ before the main release, so I’ll be looking forward to what they have to say.

You might be interested to know that there has already been a review of the book over at SingleTitles.com. You’ll find an overview of the story and a few lines about their overall impression there.

But that’s not all I found out this week. I’ve had word from the foreign rights consultant that a German publisher has requested the book too! Naturally I’m very excited about that, but know very little about it at the moment. I have more to tell, but need to get cracking with the proof reading today. I’ll keep you all posted.

It’s about time…

For a minute, I thought I was about to write some sort of clever blog entry about the mysteries of time travel, but no, I’m not. At least, I don’t think I am. I haven’t come back from the future yet to tell me what to put in this entry anyway. No, I just popped by to say I have an opportunity to get some writing done this week. I won’t be able to work on my non-writing project for a few days, so that gives me some space to do what I like best… write!

Must go… the wife and the dog have returned!

Those odd little coincidences…

It’s three or four months away from the release of the movie ‘Prometheus’ (the Alien prequel – which I’m more than a little excited about). It’s also four months away from the release of ‘The Soul Consortium’. And in one of those little quirks of serendipity, the two are connected. Anyone who’s seen an early draft of my novel may remember that the myth of Prometheus features quite prominently – there’s an entire chapter dedicated to the tortures that this god had to endure. So whilst the publicity for the movie ramps up, have a small taste of what you can expect from my book…

Prometheus Viral

One step closer…

It’s done! Last week Medallion sent me their edited version of The Soul Consortium for me to correct and tweak, and after a few days of diving headlong into it I got through the other side in one piece.

I really didn’t know what to expect. I’ve heard stories about authors getting broken-hearted about some of the parts they have to cut from their novels, but, I’m very pleased to say, that wasn’t the case here. That’s not say it didn’t need a fair amount of work – with the suggestions and errors highlighted in red, it looked like someone had taken a big mouthful of tomato soup and then been slapped in the back of the head with a large plank! But that’s to be expected. Even after countless times of staring at the words, and then having other people stare at those words, it’s still difficult to catch all the errors that creep in.

Writing is a never-ending learning curve, and I learned some good lessons from these edits. For example, I managed to develop a habit of repeatedly slipping character names into the dialogue. It’s not what we naturally do when we talk to people, but for some reason, I found it necessary to do it almost all the time. It’s an easy fix though, just a lot of deleting!

The next step will be seeing the book formatted and ready for printing. I’ll keep you all posted with what happens next…

Busy, busy, busy!

As The Soul Consortium edges towards its release, the list of things I need to do is growing. This week put two significant items on my to-do list, both of them exciting developments on the road of publication, but only one of them expected.

First, I was contacted by Medallion’s foreign rights consultant to arrange an informal chat in a couple of months’ time. She has the task of representing them at the London Book Fair and the Frankfurt Book Fair, and she will be trying to sell translation rights for my books to other agents, editors and publishers around the world. How exciting is that?

And second, I’ve now been sent the ‘redlined’ version of my manuscript. It’s at this point we really get down to the nitty-gritty, pawing over every last detail of the book, so that we can get it as perfect as it can be. I’ve had my first flick through the edits and have to say that I’m really impressed with what I’ve seen. These editors know what they’re doing you know! There are no big changes, just some tightening and tidying up to do, so I’m ready to roll my sleeves up and deliver. I’ll let you know how all that goes next week…

It Started With The Orange Tree

So now that Gaia’s Engine is on the back-burner for a while, I’ve changed the look of the place. Nice? Good. But why the sci-fi theme? Simple — I’ve been watching that stargazing show on the BBC and I have a thing for black holes and spatial anomalies right now. Besides,  it fits nicely with the theme of my novel The Soul Consortium which is near the top of my agenda at the moment (more on that soon – lots happening).

Anyway, seeing as this site will no longer be dedicated to just the one novel, I can tell you a bit more about what else I’m up to in the writing world.

This week I’ll tell you a little about this year’s project. I’ll be work-shopping a completely new story which I’m calling ‘It Started With The Orange Tree’ (until I can think of a better name). This isn’t going to be a massive novel, in fact it may only be a novella. What’s the difference you ask? Well, the difference is in the word count. One source says this…

  • Epic – 250,000 words or more
  • Novel — 40,000 words or more
  • Novella — 17,500–39,999 words
  • Novelette — 7,500–17,499 words
  • Short Story — 7,499 words or fewer
  • Flash Fiction — 1,000 words or fewer

My novella will probably land in the region of about 35,000 words. At least, that’s the plan; my books usually end up larger than that. Writing a novella isn’t the norm for me, but it’s necessary to write something smaller this year because—aside from the fact that I’m working on a non-writing related project—I’m finally getting around to challenging a concept that’s been accepted for quite some time in writing circles, and a bigger word count might be biting off more than I can chew. The concept I’m challenging is conflict: it’s generally accepted that conflict is essential to telling a good story, but I don’t believe that.

I think conflict is just the dark child of a larger parent: contrast. It’s contrast that makes life interesting and it can come in many forms, conflict being only one of them. Contrary to what many believe, I don’t think you need to have evil to appreciate good. You just need to have ‘difference’. Expressing the bad to highlight the good is very effective but it’s just a quick and easy path – the dark side, (yes I did just say that in a Yoda voice).

So there’s my challenge – to write a story that has no conflict in it. Of course, conflict is part of everyday life. Even internally we often have to deal with opposing points of view, so any story I come up with must have a strong fantastical element to make it work. To that end, I’m having a crack at a sort of urban fairy-tale. I’ll try to hold the reader’s interest by weaving in and out of strange and bizarre concepts as the narrative unfolds, and that’s going to involve diving into a modern-day fantasy world where new miracles are thrust upon the characters in each new chapter.

Here’s the blurb:

“The Earth is growing tired and the world we know is about to change. Dramatically. Angel Goodsun recounts the days when the miracles began, when the sky grew bright with the light of two suns and wars ceased. When death and sickness fled, when soul-splitting began, and when Nature took pity on humanity instead of revenge. In the midst of the unexplained phenomena that are systematically restoring the planet into a place of unspoilt beauty and impossible harmony, Angel begins his pilgrimage to seek out the Green Man, and learn the secrets connecting him to the miracles. As the answers unfold, Angel discovers that the truth is even more astounding than the miracles themselves, and his destiny equally profound.”

The first couple of chapters have been seen by some of my group at WriteClub, and so far, the feedback has been positive. I’ll keep you posted. This isn’t going to be easy, but hopefully, it’ll be fun.

 

Time for a change…

So it’s a new year with new projects. WriteClub has got started full speed ahead and I’m writing a new novel, or possibly a novella. It’s going to be a busy year – The Soul Consortium is already available for pre-order ready for its 1st July release date, and I should be receiving the updated and edited manuscript ready for me to make final adjustments in the next couple of weeks or so. I’ll let you know how that goes.

-
In the meantime, if you were following my progress with Gaia’s Engine, you might be curious about what’s been happening with that. Well, the submission went in, Medallion asked to see the full manuscript (which is always a positive sign), but then it was rejected. Was that a gasp? Don’t be shocked – rejection slips follow writers around like shadows. It’s quite uncommon for a publishing house to explain why they rejected a manuscript too, but on this occasion, they were gracious enough to explain, and they’ve given me permission to share this with you…

-
“Thank you for the opportunity to consider Gaia’s Engine. While your writing is superb, we’ve determined this particular work is not a good fit for Medallion Press. I’ve attached the formal notification for your records.

For your review, the following are some of our concerns:

1. We feel the manuscript should be tightened up, word count reduced, pacing increased.
2. We feel the orbs themselves aren’t graphically haunting enough to carry many scenes. People can certainly relate to them, however, so they are crucial in the beginning of the MS and should be used in moderation throughout. However, the “possessed” humans do quite well capturing the imagination and maintaining suspense and carrying scenes.
3. We are not certain that the references to the specific religious culture alluded to in the MS will appeal to a broad enough audience. For example, will Christians accept that a believer would embrace a fourth deity? Will others understand the significance of certain phrasings and actions specific to niche Christian culture?
4. We felt the events of the small town—the deaths and strange sightings—would have a bigger impact on the outside world. For example, how would national media and the government respond?

We would love to see more submissions from you in the future. Thank you for the wonderful opportunity to partner with you to publish The Soul Consortium and The Beasts of Upton Puddle and also to review this manuscript. We wish you the very best with placing Gaia’s Engine.”

-

So there you go, that was the response. So how should you respond to a rejection? You should respond graciously, especially to a rejection as nice as this. Whilst this might seem like common sense, I have heard and seen examples where the rejected writer has responded badly. I suppose it’s natural – you can pour your life and soul into a manuscript and invest months of time on it, so there’s no question you’re going to feel bad. But place yourself in the editor’s shoes for a moment – what must it be like to tell someone (and they have to do this many times every day) that they weren’t successful?

-
So what’s the plan now with Gaia’s Engine? The plan is a re-write. But not just yet. Usually, to stop after one submission is unthinkable. Some writers I know send off to hundreds of different places before their work is accepted, and I’d be confident that a publishing house somewhere would take this novel, especially after following Medallion’s advice, but the more I think about the book, the more I can’t help but think the story belongs in the 19th century, with a first person perspective. So I’ll go where my gut tells me. It’s unlikely I’ll do that for at least another three or four years though – I have too many other projects on the go and I’d like to give this one chance to breathe for a while.

-
Next time I’ll share some plans about what I’m writing next…

Still here…

Thought I’d disappeared? No. Actually, it’s all part of the process. The draft was finished, I’d tweaked, fussed, worried, cursed and fussed a bit more over it until my brain cells had switched themselves off in rebellion, and then came another hard thing to do. I had to leave it alone and stop picking at it!

If you really want to be able to look at your work critically, you need not only to get objective and honest feedback from people your trust, you need to get some distance from it too. That means forgetting about it for a reasonable amount of time. So that’s what I did.

I didn’t touch the thing for about two or three months, and then, a couple of weeks ago I read the whole thing again with the benefit of a relatively fresh couple of eyes. The result is that you notice some of those niggling plot flaws and typos that escaped your attention before. Now, there are bound to be a few errors hiding behind some of the paragraphs and lurking between the dashes and dots somewhere, but I reckon I’ve uncovered and fixed most of them.

And with that all done, it’s finally ready.
Keep your fingers crossed folks, and wish me luck – the submission is IN!

I’ve sent a query letter outlining what the book’s about, a full synopsis (these are hideous things to write because you have to cram 120,000 words into about 5000!), and the first 10,000 words of the novel.

Now it’s the waiting game – there are no guarantees – only bitten fingernails as you wait for the publisher’s (or agent’s) opinion of your baby!

I’ll probably expound on the process of query letters and the synopsis on a later date, but for now, think kindly thoughts for my manuscript as it undergoes consideration…

Where did I put my fat lady?

That’s right, the fat lady is not singing. I don’t even know where she’s hiding! I think it’s because she knows her voice isn’t going to be needed for a little while longer yet. Gaia’s Engine is not finished. By this time I thought I’d have sent my first three chapters and the synopsis off to Medallion Press, and be biting my nails down while they made a decision about whether they want to see the full manuscript. But that’s not the case.

Yes, I did complete the final draft a few weeks ago, but that’s not the end of the process. Here’s what I do after that…

I’m still getting feedback from other writers at WriteClub, but there are other people that need to see the novel too. It’s always good to have two or three people read your book in its entirety. People you can trust to give you honest and constructive feedback. They say you should never do this with friends and family. However critical they try to be of your work, it’s very difficult for them not to hold back. Nobody likes to offend people, especially people they like. But I always break that rule, and I’m glad I do, because the best critic of my work has always been Ruth (my wife, for those of you who don’t know). And she came up trumps this time too.

I did what I always do with a new novel – I got the full manuscript printed up as a private print job so that anyone reading it feels like they’ve got a real book in their hands. I find it helps get a really fresh perspective on the novel. Somehow, it’s easy to pick up mistakes. Anyway, I did that, read through it myself, found a load more typo mistakes and some continuity errors, but all in all, I was pretty proud of what I’d written. So I gave it to Ruth. asked for her to read it with a critical eye. The result? Boy do I need to make changes.

Basically, without giving you spoilers, I’ve got to…

Rewrite one of the characters (she’s a terrible cliche), add five more scenes, cut two, seriously alter four others and fix a couple of plot holes. Major work, but the good news is that the novel will be so much stronger as a result. And it might not end there. I’ll need a couple more eyes on it first before I feel confident enough to submit. I’ll update again when I’ve made a bit more progress.

Still plugging away

I spent the last week scrutinizing the various chapters of my draft for errors, plotholes and various other niggles, but I’m still editing away. I have decided to integrate my “Covenant of Gaia” Scriptures into Tyler’s prayer journal. It’ll make the novel slightly bigger, but I think the different voices will add another layer of richness to it. Plus it makes more sense of his thoughts on paper.

So I’m busy finishing that off at the moment. I spent this morning perfecting the back story and completing the historical timeline so that I can have a clear picture of what needs to go in my fake Scriptures. Once that’s done (I anticipate another week), I’ll have a completed draft. I’ll still have some feedback coming in from my WriteClub critiquers, but the novel is looking in much better shape now and I think that in a couple of weeks I’ll be in a position to print up a private copy to give it one more look over. That’s when a few select friends will get to read it so that I can hear some more overall opinions, and whilst that’s going on, I’ll be submitting the first three chapters and the synopsis for submission to Medallion Press. So, nearly there.