I'm not sure why I'm sitting here writing this with a temperature of 38C and the usual Christmas cold I get every year once my employment finishes for the break. Despite just wanting to lie down somewhere and snuggle into the warmth and gooiness of a duck down duvet I'm upright on the sofa with the laptop perching, like an evil vulture, on my knees as I hammer out words to you.
What has happened over the last four weeks, you ask, or maybe you don't. In addition to attending and signing books at two further Craft fairs, I've enjoyed an amazing once-in-a-lifetime experience, no not this stupid cold. I was asked to step in at the last minute to take over from my husband who was unable to maintain his obligation on a One-Day Course which he'd paid and organised.
I have been fascinated with blades for a while now since writing Aquasapien and moving into the military arena - not literally. I love Japanese blades of Kanatas and Tantos plus the macho-stance of all combat knifes. My most alluring blade though has to be one made of Damascus steel. Imagine my surprise when my hubby says, he can't go and can't take part with our son on a Blade Smithing day which he'd set up for our boy for Christmas. Would I step in and save the day by driving him there and taking his place at the forge.
I was excited, terrified and excited some more, but mostly excited. Little me, was going to stand inside a real forge, next to a blazing hot fire, banging hot steel with a hammer on an anvil. I'm not sure who was more frightened me or my son, who had the anvil next to me.
The process for the day was clearly explained and we each faced off with our piece of flat rough steel. Using the forge, we were expected to turn and lengthen one end of the steel to make a rudimentary handle. From there we formed a blade at the other end, then turned and folded the handle and finally ground the edge and polished it to sharpness. Okay, so my measly pounding with a hammer didn't make much of a dent on the steel so my tutor stepped in to use the power hammer - which was so awesome. Then he also sharpened the blade because we weren't considered safe to turn a lump of metal into a lethal weapon. I didn't mind that either because I have a knife that, "Will Cut"!
Already I can see a new book coming now I have some rudimental experience on forging, (book Five) for the Witch on the Warpath series. Chasing The Shadow, a side story about Phrack Blaster the forging Stone Dwarf from Book Two Gristle's Revenge. Another use for the knowledge may be in Aquasapien Prodigy Book Three where I see the hero learning forging skills to create his own feature blades.
Its amazing how one day doing something different can inspire you to evolve your personality and life in a new direction. If someone offers you a chance, a lifeline, a new experience. Don't turn away from it. Grab it, adapt it you your purpose, but never say no. Only a fool would turn down evolution.
I've just returned tired and hungry from three days in Reading attending their two day Comicon event. Met some lovely people at this event. All the traders were lovely people and especially Jo to my right and Sarah Day (who draws the most mazing dragons, ravens and wolves etc) to my left, who had to put up with my endless chatter, off-key singing and generally meandering about and groaning about my lack of food while I stuffed my face with chocolate.
Fortunately, there were only two of us authors present so I didn't feel too much competition, in amongst the famous people, celebrities and actors from Once Upon a time and Games of Thrones to name but a few. And everywhere were cosplay folk. It was great, my kind of place with people doing what I love from Trekkies and Star Wars to Anime characters, Autobots and zombies. How I did not manage to buy tons of memorabilia is beyond me. There was a blade smith to die for (bad pun?). Every blade from Tantos and Claymores to combat daggers, Kukris and Karambits, my personal favourite.
I really enjoyed this event and as usual at these places, a significant number of would-be authors came to pick my brain on how to make it in the writing world. Seriously though, why they think I know is beyond me because would I be sitting there in a drafty hall for seven hours if I'd, 'made it' as they often say. No, I'd be sitting in my heated writing studio, stroking my cat and dictating my sixtieth novel to my assistant while my publisher organisers the £20,000 needed for the next marketing strategy and my agent negotiates my fee and his percentage for my next interview on Breakfast TV.
The dream, I can't live the dream so there it must remain inside my head while I hear, "I've plans to write a story" for the 74th time. Don't tell me about it, write the thing! In conclusion, these people never consider buying one of my books once they've emptied my brain cells of all the relevant facts they require. I feel I should say, "if you buy a book I'll tell you the secret of success."
What success? I'll let you know when I find it, providing you purchase a book first.
Apology for the grumble, good to have a place to breathe.
A short blog to let those of you interested the outcome of Pitchwars 2019. Of course it was nothing. I didn't expect anything else, but I hoped...
Back in the land of reality, I've sent off my 4th novel What If? (that could be 5th novel if you count Aquasapien as two books now). I selected an agency name I knew and one that has some prestige and lineage in supporting and promoting not just authors, but also film, theatre and celebratory personas. Their turn-around is reportedly 2-4 months and it is considered very bad form to approach another agency meanwhile, so I will abide by their rules despite wanting to move What If? along. Instead I shall work on Quest for Courage.
I'm off to Reading Comicon next weekend staying in a nearby hotel. I'm hoping it'll be as good as Wyntercon in Eastbourne was in September. Naturally I'll give you the low down on the event and provide more photos on my events page.
This month has flown by despite it being half term. I'm sitting anxiously waiting for Sunday 3rd November to see if I've won the literary lottery and obtained a mentor from Pitch Wars 2019. I don't actually hold out much hope. I hear some folk have already been contacted for the rest of their work which puts the mockers on the whole 'wait until 3rd Nov' vibe.
At least I have a letter, synopsis and my 4th novel to go. I've unearthed some Literary agents too. There don't seem to be many in the UK any more and where there are, a proportion have their submissions 'CLOSED' sign up. Several are names I remember from the past and I get that sinking feeling in my stomach like I've swallowed a spider and it won't die inside me. I might resurrect my old folder of rejections letters to see if I can find the same letter word for word trotted out to me again. "We're sorry but..."
Is that being a tiny bit defeatist? It might sound so, but regardless I still manage to plod along despite my moaning and wincing. One of my mottos learnt from living this writing life is, "expect the worse and you're not disappointed," another of my wise adages is "If its horrible, it can only go uphill from here." I have a whole brain-full of these in my skull including some rather crude ones which I won't share here.
Meanwhile, in another part of Carol's brain - "lets get back to writing." This weekend I've been skirting around Quest for Courage and added a few more thousand words. This is the third book in the series which started with only one book initially and is starting to get cluttered as I try to keep the continuity going from the first book.
I hate introducing characters that don't do anything and don't have any investment in the main storyline. I see this is other novels where they seem to be brought in to fill a hole and then disappear. As well as new characters and white witches this time, I'm trying to bring back Lenny and Hope from book one, plus Maximus Mallory the sixteenth and Knife the Spider from book two. Can't give too much away though, just in case it doesn't pan out.
I haven't looked at Aquasapien three in a while so that's ripe for a catch-up. I remember leaving it at the climax (pun intended) of yet another sex scene. Also, when the full-length hard copy edition goes for re-print, like the kindle edition, it'll come back out as two books instead of one.
Finally, I left my exciting piece of news - potentially - until last. I have been approached and requested translation of my Sci-Fi work for the Asian market. Still checking the contract, but I'll let you know whether that amounts to anything in November. I think the reason it is at the end of this blog and not the beginning is because I'm probably in denial that it will happen. Its a case of; "Don't get your hopes up or you'll end up eating more spiders," another of my useful mottos.
These last four weeks have been busy in my writing world. In the beginning of the month I ran a session for Westgate Literary Festival on all aspects of publishing which though not snowed under with attendees, hopefully provided some insights for several interested folk in getting their work out there.
Following this it was nose down to hone an awesome query letter and synopsis, then final polish the first chapter of What If? my next planned novel, Well I say awesome, that includes crossing both fingers and my legs in the hope someone thinks so. The last time I completed a letter and synopsis was over ten years ago and my failure rate is 1st novel = 87 rejections, 2nd novel = 72 rejections. Honestly, I could have papered the downstairs loo twice with the amount of rejection letters I did not want to receive.
Thankfully times have moved on. No more letters just emails, or no reply at all. Since those early days my heart, dented, bruised and squeezed just a little too many times to cope with the ordeal, girded itself in steam punk armour, enforced with Unobtainium and Dilithium stepped onto another train and independantly published both my rejected novels. My 3rd novel went straight to independant publishing and my heart unsheathed its armour because I learnt I could do it on my own.
Now, a dear friend and internationally published author, Tara Moore, has thrown a spanner in my carefully constructed fantasy world.
"It's time. You need to approach traditional literary agents again. Get your work out there to a bigger audience."
"I know but..."
"No, you've written and published three novels. You run a successful writing group too. You can do this."
"Can I? Should I? There are far better writers out there than me."
"But not with your drive, determination and imagination. Do it now."
I'd been dithering on the fence since this conversation and then Pitch Wars rolled up. Pitch Wars, as I understand it is an opportunity to improve your manuscript till it doesn't just shine it glitters like a multi-watt bulb in a supernova, somewhere off the crab nebula, but I digress. This amazing concept offers the very slim change of obtaining a mentor to assist in getting your piece to the eyes that matter, a Literary Agent. I feel like there should be a fanfare, or trumpet this point. Dah, Dah, Dah!
I entered the first part, a twelve hour segment on twitter to post a pitch. The lucky ones received 'likes' from agents and then were able to sent their work onwards. Some had 3 or 5 likes. I had none. Reading some of their posts I'm guessing I should have found a large jar of wacky-baccy or some such. Yes I am teeny bit disappointed, shades of ten years ago call.
The second part is the most important, the chance to submit to up to 4 mentors in the hope that one will take on your manuscript. The lucky people get a whole 3 months support and advice to produce the best novel they've ever written. There are only 19 mentors in my section and the event is global. I'm thinking lots of thoughts, not least that I've more chance of painting myself in chocolate, running through my village and Johnny Depp finding me... I'll leave the rest to your imagination.
Will they read it?
Will they like it?
Will they contact me?
Will they ignore me?
Will they read the letter then ignore me?
Will they read the whole thing, and then ignore me?
Am I being vain to consider this?
Am I being too insecure to consider this?
Should I have sent them chocolate?
Johnny Depp's phone number?
Whoever said writing was good for the soul needs a lobotomy. Naturally, I'll let you know how it goes, I like to ensure all my trials and warts are exposed for the world to view, metamorphically speaking that is, physically it doesn't paint such a pretty picture. If one person learns anything from my blogs (even to become a brain surgeon) then my work here is almost done.
I've submitted my application. The 48hrs ends tomorrow at midnight. The release date is 3rd November.
Meanwhile my mind is moving on to Stranger Things. I'm off to Eastbourne tomorrow evening to do a weekend book signing at Wyntercon VI. (see home page for details and address) Please pass the word. I'm quite excited because I'm staying with an old friend who used to put me up when I worked in Hastings over twenty years ago. She now lives in Eastbourne where I used to live and work too.
Memories of the DGH, being proposed to by my husband in the grounds of the local psychiatric hospital Hellingly, I worked there honestly and no, he was not a patient. I'm guessing everyone I knew there has moved on, or died, or moved on then died. I'm hoping I'll sell well, but like Pitch Was I'll let you know how it goes.
One last note, I really would love a chance to move into traditional publishing. I've four more novels in this laptop and several others in concept stage. Cross your fingers for me too.
When you write about a great many things, its difficult to pinhole them into a specific genre. If demons aren't called demons, what are they? If demons live in space, is it Sci-Fi or not? I struggle with this on a daily basis. One day someone will ask me about my work and I'll say,
"Contemporary Sci-Fi." The next moment I'm trying to quantify that.
"Well its not Sci-Fi with spaceships and stellar rays. and all that. Its Science Fiction because its fiction and there is scientific theory to back it up."
But is that Sci-Fi?
There are monsters and men who are monsters. Does that make it horror?
There are creatures who drink blood. Does that make it paranormal?
Then there's the fact I made it all up. Does that make it Fantasy?
Sometimes it is so confusing, I end up confused myself.
"Its contemporary Sci-Fi with Military Action Adventure for Aquasapien, but when you register the ISBN number etc it only lets you put in two genres. Then its Adult too with actual sex scenes, so is that Erotica? How do I choose? Which genres sell the most? Sex and Science?
Walk around any bookstore or library and the chances are you're going to miss some amazing book because its publisher/author has entered it into a genre you don't read and wouldn't think of looking at in a million years.
I don't read romance. Can't stand it. So clichéd. Boy meets girl (or boy meets boy etc) fall in love, fall out of love over some hidden secret. Fall back in love. Either happy ever after or gone or dead.
But I love Twilight. Its a romance. If they had put it on the romance shelves, I never would have considered it. Okay the film and song helped too. But my point is, a book wins or loses all on its genre, its USP (Unique Selling Point) and I've yet to create mine for What If?
Katie Wadlow is a normal woman living in a normal town.
One evening she discovers nothing will ever be normal again.
There are bad guys and then there are Demons.
Just returned from warmer climes back to the everyday world of work and getting up early. First time visiting Malta. Loads of history, stunning architecture and heat. 41C at the height of the day. Fortunately, lots of water to cool off in and alcohol to drink in the form of cocktails. Should have been the ideal place to write considering its the home of Games of Thrones. Many scenes were filmed here including Kings Landing, the Red Keep and of course the notorious brothel, Little Fingers place.
Took my handy notepad to write but didn't manage it initally. Also took my Mindfullness notes with a plan to do my exercises too, but I decided that I was "being there" nearly all the time and apart from my toothbrushing routine and several body scans that was the extent of my endeavours - until week two.
Generally, I find that the first week I'm still buzzing about trying to find things to do and its not until the second week I finally chillax. That's when my writing vibe comes on. I wrote a new Chapter for Aquasapien three staring Malta and also another for Quest for Courage so not a complete disaster.
Regards my last novel What If? I've decided to submit to Pitch Wars this year. May not be successful but its made me write hopefully a good query letter and synopsis for it. On the downside there's a unexpected hiccup with the editing, but I'm still planning to submit the first chapter that needs to go with it. As a result I've now got my material for the next Inspirations meeting sorted so raring to go now.
Next meeting this Saturday 10am to 12.30 Westgate Library all welcome.
I spread my arms wide and rotate my shoulders to ease the ache of sitting several hours at the laptop for the third time in as many days. Yet I do it with the immense satisfaction that novel number four, What If? is finished. When I say finished, I actually mean the completed first draft that I m happy with, has winged its way via the magic of the net, over to my Copy Editor Karen. She will I'm sure, groan, gasp, shake her head and need several coffees before she begins. Eventually she will sit down to the task of trawling through my latest adventure, highlighting my many errors in storyline, plot, grammar, spelling, punctuation and continuity. But she is brilliant, so it will be great. I have complete confidence in her wonderful abilities. Too much? I don't think so.
What if? is a full-length, contemporary sci-fi novel set on Earth. It is the first I've completed using multiple points of view. You will either love it or hate it, I'm guessing. Its in six parts and each part has a chapter viewing a scene from a different person/agency's point of view. So I'm hoping its compelling and also easy to follow, because if you put it down for a while, its easy to figure out where the story left off. Well that's the plan anyway.
Set in the town of Hewell, its about a girl called Katie Wadlow. Brought up by her elderly aunt after her parents are killed. At the age of twenty four, Katie discovers that her aunt isn't her aunt, that she isn't Katie Wadlow and to top that she isn't human either. With not one, but three parties interested in capturing or killing her for different reasons her life is on the line, several times.
You can see where the different points of view come in. There is violence, having someone's face ripped off is always a winner. And before you ask, no sex in this one.
I'd like to thank Trish for given me an idea for the cover if I decide to independantly publish. I remain on the fence on whether to approach traditional publishers/literary agents with this one. Not sure whether I'm tough enough to be let down again. I still have my Shrine to Rejection in the study consisting of the 80+ Thank you, but, rejection letters. "Thank you, but no." "Thank you, but this is not something we feel can represent." "Thank you, but... Good luck submitting elsewhere." Maybe a good title for book two, if there is a series. I'll keep it in mind. Thank you, but...
It's days like this that make you feel good. No, make you feel great. For an event to be a success several things need to happen. People need to commit to your vision, they have to stay engaged and they have to follow the dream that started in your own head.
My dream of organising an author signing event became a reality today, as Westwords 2019 became centre stage at Westwood Cross. This was due to several factors.
First, the forward thinking support of Westwood Cross Management who were able to see my dream venue and make it exist, by providing several luxury marquees and magnificent staff to support and advise us on protocol and procedures. Thank you WWX.
Second, the members of Inspirations Writers Group who came, either to wish us well or support the event in a number of ways. By promoting it with me for hours the day before or staffing the Inspirations stall, or reading out poems (without a mike or stage) in the Park. A daunting prospect for anyone with a mike, but without, this involved projecting their words loudly across and down the parade.
English Language students looked on amazed at our outburst. Customers of Costa and Greggs watched on bemused and interested. I watched one little pre-school girl, shyly at first, then with more confidence turn in her chair to listen to Tracey's words about an elephant going to school. I couldn't help wondering if this child would be facing the same situation come September. Maybe those words touched a nerve and made her feel better, because that elephant had a good time. Thank You IWG
Lastly, the event would not have happened at all without four brave writers and poets taking a chance on me. Everyone of them is a star in my eyes. Christopher Hopkins , Tom McColl, Mark Holihan and Paul Hobday were the participants I could only dream of. Kind, caring, supportive. They seemed to have a good time networking and generally learning about each other despite the low sales. I even managed to get two of them to launch themselves into the Park to read poetry, something that doesn't come naturally to folk especially mike-less. Thank you my newest friends. Please forgive that I forgot to take photos of you all.
This event wasn't about getting rich or famous, at least not yet. It was about getting our foot in the door, finding our feet, learning the ropes and all the other relevant clichés that spring to mind.
a) I learnt, no we learnt, many valuable lessons for next year and there will be one. That is the first lesson I learnt, Westwords 2020 will be bigger and better. Today for me was a rehearsal for next year.
b) Next, I learnt that those attending will need to already have valid PLI to attend (can reccommend Graham Sykes Insurance. Tell them Carol Salter sent you) I had to pay £165 for event insurance for one day so my financial loss was more than I bargained for.
c) If you use a marquees make sure your stalls/table face the outer sides. Although its comfy to sit back inside away from the wind and weather, it puts folk off viewing your books. Once they step inside the confines of the interior there is the expectation for them to buy something and rather than face the pressure of that they avoid the whole structure completely even avoiding eye contact.
Tables facing the edges, enable to folk to glance or stop and chat, but one thing is sure they can't miss you. Experienced advertisers know that brands/books receive greater chance of sales by the gradual subliminal exposure to images. Yesterday at the promotion one little girl squealed to her mother, "Mummy I've seen that book before!" I was chuffed.
d) More advertising of the event
e) Longer notice for 'important' authors. I have four international authors requesting dates for next year already.
f) Ensure a stage and microphone is in situ, even if we have to pay for it. The surrounding customers commented how nice it was, but several were disappointed that they couldn't hear all the words.
g) To set up the Messenger group for confirmed attenders only. Or perhaps a closed Facebook Page instead. There was a lot of unnecessary chatter, so much so that we lost several people annoyed with the constant pinging as a result.
I'm sure other improvements will come calling once I begin organising. If you want to be with a chance to join us in 2020, you can leave a comment here initally.
WESTWORDS 2020 is only 365 days away (roughly)
I couldn't be more excited than;
a child on Christmas morning getting a bicycle, someone passing their driving test for the first time, finding a small grey kitten in need of love on the doorstep, or a goose laying a proverbial golden egg in my laundry basket. (Feel free to add to the list by commenting below)
With the backing and support from a very forward-thinking, proactive Westwood Cross Management, who identifies that improving literacy is a priority goal in Thanet, I am about to step into the unknown with Westwords 2019. This WILL be the first of an annual event Westwords, hopefully enticing and attracting more authors year on year.
We will have humble beginnings, but I'm expecting us to grow with time. I've just watched Stormzy headlining at Glastonbury - brilliant by the way. His honesty and awe at being someone somewhere so huge is something he never imagined. He describes it as the highest point in his life. A humble underground rapper from South East London, he obtained the first ever number one by a British rap artist in the UK charts and from there, as they say, the rest is history.
Now I'm not comparing Westwords to Glastonbury (the hell I am), but everything starts somewhere. Glastonbury in a muddy field, which is still muddy on occasion, and Westwords 2019 with a handful or so authors, but who knows where it could go? Both require support and commitment at the outset, plus a willingness on the part of the public, to invest in an event that has huge future potential. Like the poster says, you could be meeting the future English Poet Laurate or global award-winning novelist.
Having had the opportunity and honour to meet Terry Pratchett at Fantasycon in Brighton a few years ago, plus a couple of my other idols in the Sci-Fi world, Brian Aldiss and Robyn Hobb, just like Stormzy on the pyramid stage, I can honestly say I never expected to meet the authors whose books I handled with respect and affection.
Who can say whose authors you meet at Westwords 2019 might not be your future literary heroes? MIMO