Monday, 18 December 2006

Oh, United...

We have to do it the hard way, don't we? Can't see Celtic off and cruise through the game with Benfica. Can't just rack up an insane lead on Chelsea and cruise to the Premiership.

We bumped into my neighbour Gabby and his son, munching burgers in their car after a driving lesson. "Chelsea are losing," Gabby said happily. "United play at four. West Ham!"

Great, I thought. A chance to go eight points ahead. But no. The minute he said 'West Ham', I knew we'd inexplicably lose, like I knew Saha would miss the penalty against Celtic.

Nothing against West Ham, it's just that, well, as I say, we can't ever have it easy.

Sunday, 17 December 2006

Yanno - Copyright Miss Snark

I may, from time to time, use the word 'Yanno'. It's an ironic version of Tony Blair's 'Yenno'.

I didn't invent it, Miss Snark may have. Miss Snark is a literary agent whose blog provides snarky advice to aspiring writers. I am a fan of Miss Snark. There, I've said it.

MG's Books

I have a two-book deal for the first books of the series title: 'The Joshua Files'.

Book 1 is 'Invisible City'. Book 2 - first draft written - no title yet.

'Invisible City' is due out in Feb 2008.

The deal was recently announced by Scholastic Children's Books and reported by Publishing News. You can read Redhammer's (who represent my writing) announcement here.

Meanwhile I am now working on another project. Quite Secret! I'm not giving anything away about it except that it is set in Cuba and has the working title 'Jaguar's Realm'.

"The Joshua Files - Invisible City" is now listed at online retailers like Amazon.

It will be available from Feb 4th 2008.

And the publisher is...

Well now, that would be telling.

We're keeping this project under wraps just a leetle bit longer. They will reveal their identity when we've good 'n edited the manuscript.

They sent me flowers, bless 'em. Lovely ones, too!

Friday, 3 November 2006

Best. Week. Ever.

What a week it turned out to be.

About two weeks ago I received an email from my agent, Peter. Could I come to London to meet some publishers?

I hadn't let my hopes get up. I didn't realise that Peter had only recently gone out with it - he'd been waiting for the right moment.

So when Peter began with all the phone calls, I didn't take it too seriously. I was deeply into my new project - working title - 'Realm of the Jaguar'.

Monday rolled around. I met Peter at his club and we chatted for half-an-hour, mostly about a certain press story involving him and a well-loved celebrity, which had caused Peter to be chased by paparazzi.

Then I started to meet publishers. One in particular had some excellent ideas about how to improve the book. Peter sat by and said very little. Later he told me that I'd been a tad too business-like. "It's not a business meeting," he said.

We jumped into a taxi and drove to yet another publisher, where I had one of the major surprises of my life. As we sat down with the editor, I was presented with a suede-covered box, on which a sticker decorated with Mayan glyphs pronounced something about a prophecy from a codex... Inside was another sheet, continuing the story...

(I'm honestly too embarrassed to write the contents of those sheets, but in short, it said that in 2008 they would like to launch my book.)

There was a marketing proposal stuck onto papyrus, and a separate sheet (folded concertina-fashion, like a Mayan codex!) with the 'Offer', which I passed straight to my agent. Everything was gift-wrapped and tied with a bow. There was a box of Maya Gold chocolates on the table, I realised. I frankly could hardly believe my eyes. It was one of those situations where there's a two-second gap between perception and reaction. "Wow," I said, nodding, struggling to comprehend what I was seeing. I was banking on 'wow' being the appropriate reaction, but I wasn't exactly sure.

Then I met the rest of the team. They told me how much they liked my book, asked me some questions about what inspired it and where the story was going...

Well, I used to tell anyone (who'd listen) anything I could about my books, but for the past year I haven't. Guess I've realised that unless you've read and love a book, it's no fun to hear about one. And sometimes even then...yanno. So to suddenly have a crowd of people being so fascinated, was pretty overwhelming. As we left their office, I had the sense of being slowly disconnected from reality. What the hell is going on? I thought.

Back at Peter's club, we met even more publishers. One carried a large aluminium tube decorated with stickers made up in black and red, with the book title in a logo. This 'offer' came gift-wrapped with six bars of Maya Gold chocolate, toys that tied-in with the book and the financial and marketing proposal printed on glossy, "Joshua Files" logo-headed paper. They'd actually knocked up a logo! More enthusiastic chat about the book, favourite films and TV shows, writers, influences, things in the story pipeline, plans for how to sell and launch the book.

I simply didn't know this kind of thing happened. "I need to take a moment," I told Peter after they'd left. "This is a little overwhelming."I wasn't kidding. I worried that I might actually burst into tears...I was having a pretty unprecedented experience. The last time I remember feeling anything close to it was when I was interviewed for a place at Oxford and my soon-to-be-tutor put me out of my misery and told me that he would be offering me a place.

Peter was sympathetic. When I told him that it was beyond my wildest dreams, he said, "This is just the beginning."

So...that's how it begins. Who knew?

Thursday, 12 October 2006

Mr. Agent Back In Touch

Mr. Agent has been very busy doing deals for his clients, yay him!

Finally, he emailed me to suggest we arrange a catch-up session. I was planning to be in London anyway for a thing at the Oratory so we decided to meet yesterday.

First good news - he loved the sample of the new novel I'm writing. Not the plot-less character story - I've shelved that until I think up a cure. This is another story; essentially an escape-and-chase story. Gosh I love those, so I thought I'd try to write one. Working title is 'Jaguar's Realm'. After a week of so drafting a trial plot, I started to write. It was fun - I didn't have to wring out every page, as with the coming-of-age character story!

We discussed Mr. Agent's criticisms. There were many! It's back to the plotting for me.

Second good news. "We're starting to see some interest from publishers in 'The Joshua Files'. No offers, but interest."

Now you're talking, pal.

Friday, 15 September 2006

Writing - the progress

No word from Mr. Agent since we talked about the manuscript of my third novel, (fourth if you count Blake's 7 fan fiction...), which I sent him sometime in May.

I'm not going to post anything about the new novel yet. Pretty sure my friends and family are fed up with hearing about my unpublishable novels.

So, let's wait until the jury's back with a verdict before I bore you again.I've been working on some new ideas. Got 20,000 words into a coming-of-age novel for older teens, before realising that there was no proper plot. I wanted to see if I could write a story with no gadgets, chases, mystery, no adventure at all in fact, just characters and relationships. Crumbs, it was hard work.

Then my kind friend Alison read it and said politely "The writing is good...the sentences are good...but there doesn't seem to be a story". Yikes - she was right. I was concentrating so hard on, yanno, the characters and the descriptions, that I forgot to put in a hardcore structured story! So it's back to the drawing board.

Saturday, 20 May 2006

And what's with the book?

I finished the manuscript for novel #3, which has the working title "The Invisible City", series title will be "The Joshua Files".

I was relieved to find that Mr Agent loved it. He sent me an email saying 'This is REALLY good' and then we spoke by phone, wherein he said lots of very nice things and then perhaps sensing the dangers of praising an author too much, he stopped saying, "I could go on but I'd start burbling".

Still doesn't mean there'll be a book deal, even if there is doesn't mean the book will sell.But I'd say this is as good as result I could hope for up to this stage. I'm happy with the draft, he's happy. Could be a lot worse!