Well, a few things have happened since my last post…
(1) http://5minutefiction.co.uk/ accepted my story ‘Careers advice’ – whoohoo! It’s on the site now and more will follow…
(2) MUCH to my surprise, I made it through to the semi-finals of the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge
This is a 4 part event where you are assigned to a group (there were 20 groups of roughly 25 writers) and given a prompt and a 48 hour deadline – everyone completes parts 1 and 2, then if you make it to the top 5 in your group, you progress to the next round. My first prompts were ‘beauty salon, box of tissues, romantic comedy’. A nightmare for me as I don’t really do romcom. Anyway, I did it and it got me placed 10th in the group – so I wasn’t out of the running, but getting into the semis would involve an almost imossible event – I’d have to come first in the group for assignment 2, and the winner of the first assignment would have to be placed outside of the top 5. Obviously, I did not expect this to happen. The prompts for this one were ‘a doctor’s surgery, a loaf of bread, ski-fi’. This was my second nightmare, as I don’t really do sci-fi either. The other drawback was that I was going to visit friends for the whole weekend of the challenge… Anyway, I ended up writing it late on the Sunday night and I was a bit unsure about it – in fact I almost didn’t bother doing it all, so sure that I couldn’t progress to the next stage… So imagine my extreme excitement when I got an email on Friday morning saying I was in the 100 writers going through. Surely I’d get a better set of prompts this time? Saturday morning email, start of the challenge: ‘a bake sale, a fire alarm, romantic comedy’. AAARGGGHHH!!!!! Not romcom again? Seriously? Anyway, I’ve written it. It needs 139 words removed and at least 3 put it. This is actually what I should be doing right now, but I’m not, because I’m hungover and I’ve been on twitter all day.
Oh – I’ve linked to both stories over on the right. ‘A Cut Above’ was assignment #1, ‘Pleasant Valley’ was #2. I’ll post the latest effort after the comp deadline has passed.
(3) I attended a ‘workshop’ at the Guildford Book Festival:
Well, a couple of things about this… It wasn’t really a ‘workshop’ as such, it was pretty much just a talk. We were put in a rather uncomfortable room for the event and I thought the 2 hours would drag, but actually it flew by. The other thing was that Jo Herbert is NOT actually an editor at the Writers and Artists Yearbook any more – she was until recently, and she did ‘fess up right at the beginning. It didn’t really matter though as her 14 years of experience in the publishing industry made her more than qualified to talk on the subject of how to submit and who to submit to. There wasn’t much in there that I hadn’t already read/heard before, but she drilled home the importance of the covering letter – something I hadn’t previously given much thought to (rather naively, I know). Considering this might be the only thing you can get an agent to read, it is of course CRUCIAL that you create the perfect pitch. It is important to buy this book if you want to stand any chance of getting published by a mainstream publisher (despite the scary stats that agents such as Blake Fieldman receive 50 pitches a day and take on 6 new writers a year…) https://www.amazon.co.uk/Writers-Artists-Yearbook-2012/dp/1408135809/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1319386253&sr=8-1
(4) I completely changed my plans for NaNoWriMo….
So, I had actually been outlining and plotting and making character notes for a few weeks for a novel I was planning to call ‘Bloodhound’. But then after the reviews of my short story ‘Careers Advice’ (mentioned above!) I had a re-think. Someone (I’m not naming names…) said ‘I didn’t want it to end – I wanted to hear more about her.’ I had a bit of a lightbulb moment just as I left the house to head to Guildford (I have realised that my best ideas tend to come to me when I am nowhere near my laptop, and most good ones come when I am not even able to write, e.g. in the car, walking through the supermarket, just about to drop off to sleep). Anyway, it was probably quite obvious all along, but it seems to me that the main character from ‘Careers Advice’ and the premise of the story contains a lot more than I’d first realised. Yup, this is now the new novel idea for next month’s frantic scribble-fest. The working title is ‘Black Sheep’ and I felt very writerly as I sat with a coffee and a cigarette outside the book festival, frantically scribbling my new plot outline, while lots of middle-aged ladies mooched around looking at books. Talking of middle-aged ladies, there was one in the workshop with a black velvet hat that looked like an iced gem. I couldn’t stop staring at her.
Right… back to the editing.