WHERE NOW WITH SPIRAL OF HOOVES?

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My writing year has got off to a good start as I completed Stage 1 of my writing plans. Over the last month, I have managed to finish a re-edit of my debut novel “Spiral of Hooves” with the aim of getting it republished. For those that missed the original release, it was in December 2013.

So, I removed a subplot that didn’t work and garnered some negative comments. I also tidied up some strange sentence constructions, and corrected all the Americanisms, as it’s set in England, and I had a UK publisher in mind.

Then, everything went awry – I read more about the publishers including an interview with their main man and I concluded that my mystery was wrong for them – not gritty or dark enough. They also tend to go for writers with a few books to release at the same time.

The problem now is what next? Do I submit this novel to a UK agent, a UK publisher, a US agent, a US publisher, OR do I translate it into German or Martian? Joking…

Oh, in case you were wondering, it’s a mystery set against the horse world, but not a cosy mystery. It has action, darker moment, and a couple of erotic scenes, but it isn’t really bloody or violent except for a few brief moments.

A shorter version of this post first appeared on Facebook, and several friends made helpful suggestions, some of which I will mention here.

In the FB comments, and back on my January blog, several people talked about self-publishing. However, I know now that will require extra skills that I need to acquire or pay for – not just the editing services that I already use. I have been reassured that I am capable of learning to format but I’m a writer. I am aware that there are excellent companies out there that will help in that process.

My major concern is the money, as we face major health bills that look like a bottomless pit. When my wife spent two days in the hospital after her recent heart attack, the bills came to $30,000.

The logical alternative is to try to find an agent or a publisher in either the UK and/or the US. How many submissions should I do at once? Do I start with agents first? Does it matter where the agent/publisher is?

The big quandary: As I’m disabled, I’m very restricted in where I can go. Flying is out, so that leaves driving – well, someone else driving me. What happens if an agent in New York wants me to go there = 2+ days driving? Book tours would be a challenge.

Then there is the language – British-English and American-English. I changed the manuscript into British-English with a US address, but I’ve found a US agent that is interested in submissions on horses. Guess I need an American-English manuscript for US agents and publishers. Yikes. Back to Grammarly then.

That would then allow me to submit to publishers like Imajin Books when they open for submissions in April? Although they like to see reviews, Amazon deleted mine but my Goodreads reviews are still up. One of their star authors said, “I wouldn’t worry about it. You can do this.”

So, do I submit to agents first and then, come April, I submit to publishers?

Do I mention that I don’t stick to genre? “Spiral of Hooves” is a mystery with a sequel; then I’ve almost finished “Storms Compass”, Book I of my post-apocalyptic saga; then comes “Fates Maelstrom”, first of the Snowdon Shadows mysteries; and my alternative history, “Eagle Crossing”, is flying along.

 

Where am I going in 2017?

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Any realistic writing plans for 2017 are dependent on my health.

My multiple sclerosis has entered a vicious, downward spiral with side issues like pulled tendons and swollen legs aggravating the MS. The consequences are that first, I have to cope with constant pain, sometimes bearable but other times excruciating to the point that all I can do is scream. Second, a combination of medication and lack of sleep at night, from the pain, means that I doze for much of the day, or I struggle to stay awake when I need to do anything crucial.

Excuses over, here are my writing targets for 2017 in achievable order:

I fell asleep here at 17.45, I think [Day 1]

[Day 2] Finally, I’ve got a bit more energy to write.

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TARGET 1 – RE-PUBLISH SPIRAL OF HOOVES

My debut novel, Spiral of Hooves was published on December 9th, 2013 and was available for eighteen months. My publisher, Spectacle Publishing Media Group was changing hands, so I chose to terminate our agreement, receiving all my rights back.

As I don’t feel that the novel was promoted effectively, which is clear by the friends who ask if I ever finished writing the book, then a second release is needed. Furthermore, there has never been a paperback version, so that will be part of the publishing plan.

The first step, though, is to check the reviews, that I copied off Amazon and Goodreads, for anything that needs revising and reading the novel again myself. The resulting revision will also allow me to check the foreshadowing for the sequel Tortuous Terrain.

Next, I need to identify the publishing route. I had presumed that it would be impossible to find a publisher that handled previously published books. However, I discovered Fahrenheit Press that publishes ‘Crime Fiction’ and are “not too bothered if the books have been published before”. I need to check them out more, so if anyone knows about them, please let me know.

The other option is the self-publishing route, and the choice seems to be between Create Space and Book Baby, although there may be better options that I’m overlooking. All recommendations are gratefully accepted. This route means formatting the novel for both eBook and paperback, a major task and daunting – but worth getting right. There are also financial implications at a time when health care has to be the priority.

And then I need to promote Spiral of Hooves effectively and widely – having prepared a strategy in advance.

 

16:00 – can I rest now, please?

20:28 – rested and showered so sort of energized.

 

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Photo of a cloud illuminated by sunlight. ~ by Ibrahim Iujaz from Rep. Of Maldives

TARGET 2 – PUBLISH STORMS COMPASS

Storms Compass is the first book in the post-apocalyptic series Gossamer Flames. Books 2 and 3 are partly written already, as I constructed all three around short stories.

One of my critique partners has done an extensive page by page assessment that will be the basis for my final draft. Even though one of my two line-editor friends edited an earlier draft of Storms Compass, I will have made enough substantial changes to run it past the other editor. There are cost implications at this stage as well.

When I have the polished novel, I will attempt to find a publisher – having ensured that I have an excellent synopsis and blurb, that my author profile reflects the ones on social media, and ensured all recommendations for submissions are checked off.

That process could take me into 2018, so I need to be making other plans.

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A lot is dependent on (a) the response that I get to the re-release of Spiral of Hooves; (b) my financial situation. If sales are minimal and health care eats away at our savings, I can attempt to finish the re-draft of Fates Maelstrom and doing research for Eagle Crossing.

On the other hand, if both Spiral of Hooves and Storms Compass are well received, I will need to work on their sequels. Is that hopeful thinking?

Have you any advice on this crazy plan, please? Does my strategy make sense?

 

 

P for… Prep for Doom – a review

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Prepper  –  NOUN  –  chiefly North American

A person who believes a catastrophic disaster or emergency is likely to occur in the future and makes active preparations for it, typically by stockpiling food, ammunition, and other supplies:there’s no agreement among preppers about what disaster is most imminent whether you’re a doomsday prepper or simply like to be prepared, emergency foods should be kept on hand

 

Since I’m working on Gossamer Flames, a post-apocalyptic series of interconnected tales, I’m looking for similar fiction to read, not just to see how the best fiction works, but for the details about preppers and how they behave. “Prep for Doom” was therefore a must read. So on to the review.

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From the imaginations of twenty authors of dystopian and post-apocalyptic fiction comes PREP FOR DOOM – an integrated collection of short stories that tell the tale of a single catastrophe as experienced by many characters, some of whom will cross paths. What begins with a seemingly innocuous traffic accident soon spirals into a global pandemic. The release of Airborne Viral Hemorrhagic Fever upon New York City’s unsuspecting populace brings bloody suffering within hours, death within a day, and spreads worldwide within a month. An online community called Prep For Doom has risen to the top of a recent doomsday preparation movement. Some have written them off as crazy while others couldn’t be more serious about the safety the preppers could provide in a global disaster. But when AVHF strikes, their preparation may not be enough to save them.

 

Prep For Doom” is a clever anthology by different authors, each contributing a stand-alone story connected by the pandemic apocalypse, so building into one large story from multiple points of view. The level of collaboration on this project must have been impressive, as is the resulting work.

The characters of each story reflect different reactions to the growing crisis, some more intense and visceral than others. Each protagonist takes the stage in a unique way, and plays out their fate in the disaster – some as victims, some as opportunists, even killers, and some as saviours. Some are committed preppers or have known one for good or bad. But most are ordinary people trying to survive.

Much of the time I was asking how I would react in such a situation. Panic? Help?

Each of the writers tells a facet of the story in their characters’ words. So inevitably, some stories are stronger than others, painting more vivid images. Most wrenched at my emotional responses.

Many characters reappear in other stories, whether in supporting roles or even as people in the ‘crowd’. Some get swept up as casualties, others survive and give hope. Memorably one antagonist is seen in one story from a victim’s viewpoint, yet later another writer vividly shows that antagonist’s desperation and driven fall from survivor to killer.

I wanted to give “Prep for Doom” five stars, but a few things let it down in my opinion.

Setting: although the virus spreads worldwide, we only get to see its impact on US communities, predominantly around the epicentre of New York. The opening chapter is the exception as it’s set somewhere in Africa, but I wanted a few more non-US viewpoints.

Resources: food runs out fast as does water, which makes total sense so some people are surviving on granola bars. The desperate looters feel realistic, but I kept wondering why cell phones worked for so long? Why do some people have the power to keep watching the world die on TV? For a few days perhaps, but this felt longer. Since the hospitals are swamped very quickly, I struggled to believe that some services survived for long. Maybe the emergency facilities are far better than I thought, or Americans are better prepared.

Chronology: inevitably many of the stories start at roughly the same point – the virus release – so the editors will have struggled to place them in order. Unfortunately, at times I was lost and wished there were clearer indicators of time and date in some instances. But most were clear from the words.

Stereotyping: in most cases, the race/sex/religion of the characters didn’t adversely reflect on their actions in an unrealistic way. But one crucial episode grated as the minority concerned gets a trite apology and the story gives them a raw deal. Not wishing to spoil the plot, I will say no more.

Missing elements: there were a few things left unexplained, although maybe there is more to come. For instance, I wanted to know about the initials PFD, which appear throughout and not just for Prep For Doom. Is the link a coincidence, or a reasoned choice?

However, these criticisms are minor and don’t detract from an excellent anthology that I recommend. It has the right blend of realistic actions and reactions, weaving a sense of despair as the reader is carried towards hope.

As to my own post-apocalyptic saga, I feel there are lessons to learn and I will attempt to embrace them.

And for my next read, I am tackling a very different novel in this genre – far bleaker and darker… like grey ash: The Road by Cormac McCarthy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Was the first novel too easy?

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As this is the first Wednesday in August, I’m talking about ‘my debut’ for this monthly Insecure Writer’s Support Group contribution.

As some of you may have noticed, my debut novel “Spiral of Hooves” is no longer available, since I parted amicably with my publishers. I have all the rights back, but I need to find another publisher. That should be easy as the novel has already been accepted by one publisher and got 5* and 4* reviews.

Life is never that easy. The first publisher that I offered “Spiral of Hooves” rejected it, but I don’t know why. Is it too long? Is it badly written? Has it passed its read-by date? Or did it appeal to the original publisher but not my next choice?

When I was preparing the document for submission, I did wonder about some scenes. Should I have cut them out, and re-edited the whole novel? That might be my next step – unless I work on the sequel next, then leave “Spiral of Hooves” as back-story.

However, I also have “Storms Compass” out with my second group of beta readers so that could be my next step. But they have had it for six weeks and only one has responded. It won’t be easy re-writing the post-apocalyptic novel with just one lot of comments.

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Of course, I have the first book in my “Snowdon Shadows” series, for which I have been wading through character sketches and interviews. Should that be next?

The option that I favour, at the moment, is to retire from writing, recognise that there are far better writers out there, and just focus on reading some great books. The pile is tumbling out of my Kindle so I need to catch up.

Just don’t mention the failing attempt to emigrate. Just don’t go there.

But tell me what you think about my options. Maybe I might even listen, for once. How do you deal with mental confusion?

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The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. We post our thoughts on our own blogs. We talk about our doubts and the fears we have conquered. We discuss our struggles and triumphs. We offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling.

Please visit others in the group and connect with other writers – aim for a dozen new people each time. 

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

Our Twitter hashtag is #IWSG

And be sure to check out our Facebook group – https://www.facebook.com/groups/IWSG13/

We also have a t-shirt now! You can purchase it here – http://www.neatoshop.com/product/IWSG

The awesome co-hosts for the this August 5 posting of the IWSG are Nancy Gideon, Bob R Milne, Doreen McGettigan, Chrys Fey, Bish Denham, and Pat Garcia! 

Plodding Towards Publication

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Today is the monthly Insecure Writers Support Group post and I am flip-flopping between positivity and insecurity.

I should feel positive having completed the 100k in 100 days challenge that began on January 1st, and then plunged straight into the Blogging from A to Z Challenge, completing that as well. I may be exhausted but I’m still writing, although not as frenetically.

However, my A to Z Challenge failed as my posts were too long – details on my last blog post here. And I still shuffle my way forward over getting something published. It should be ‘best step forward’ as I am productive, but there is too much unfinished and unresolved.

And how do I get the work published? I see better writers than me self-publishing, but I lack the means to do that – starting with the health to cope. I’ve been looking around at small presses but I fear that my writing is not suitable, and my promotion skills are lacking.

Snowdon by Juanita Clarke on Duskweald

Snowdon by Juanita Clarke on Duskweald

Or does “Storms Compass” fit into the new interest around novellas? I need to add an overarching plot that will weave the stories together, but the length might remain within the shorter length – and the tales have been professionally edited.

And if novellas are the future, what do I do with my plans for the Snowdon Shadows series? They will be full-length novels as they stand. Or do I trim them to the skeleton? Where do I go?

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Purpose of the IWSG day: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post our thoughts on our own blog. Talk about our doubts and the fears we have conquered. Discuss our struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with our fellow writers – aiming for a dozen new people each time

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

Our Twitter hashtag is #IWSG
The awesome co-hosts for the May 6 posting of the IWSG are Eva Solar, Melanie Schulz, Lisa-Buie Collard, and Stephen Tremp!

Wisholute or Chaos?

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This is my first post of 2015 and my first Insecure Writer’s Support Group post of the year. Before I tackle the resolution chestnut, I have to introduce myself. Guess I need to update my About Me page… at some point.

Until the MonSter called multiple sclerosis swiped me down, I was a freelance equestrian journalist, and photographer. I was diagnosed with MS in January 2000 and by 2005 I retired, unable to meet any deadlines. My second wife, Juanita is now my understanding and put-upon carer, and we live in Harlech, North Wales, with a brilliant view of Snowdon.

When the MS is behaving, and my pain is calm, I write fiction. My first novel, ‘Spiral of Hooves’ was published in December 2013, and I have various projects on the go.

First Snow on Snowdon ~ Juanita Clarke

First Snow on Snowdon ~ Juanita Clarke

So why ‘wisholute’?

My writer friend Ailsa Abraham coined this clever word as an alternative to ‘resolution’. Don’t we all manage to fulfil just a fraction of our resolutions? In many cases, they are closer to ‘wishes’ driven by intent of some sort. Great for Insecure writers like me. So I don’t make them – well not often.

My simple ‘wisholute’ was “Find a Brit publisher and finish one tale…” by which I meant, my US publisher is great for my equestrian series, but being in the UK I would like to find a similar Brit publisher. And my insecurity kicks in when it comes to my next publishing step.

Do I chance that my ‘Gossamer Flames’ saga is worthy of beta readers? Are there any out there that will want to read it?

Should I focus instead on revising ‘Fates Maelstrom’ and re-locating it in North Wales?

Do I suppress the urge to write yet another first draft to put in the bottom oven to simmer?

Well, I’m taking part in the 100k in 100 days Challenge and have a loose strategy of edit-create-revise: on the days when I need to Blog/vent/rant etc I do; on the days when I get inspired to review one of the books I managed to read in 2014, I do; when I get the urge to bring new characters alive in ‘Seeking A Knife’, I do; and I intend to make those short stories ready for the brave beta readers out there, wherever.

And for my reading I am multi-tasking too – I have three books on the go, and just acquired one set locally, to get my head ready for that revision I mentioned.

Trouble is, that insecurity might be feeding the multi-tasking. Should that be chaos? Not if we are creating words and worlds for valued readers. As IWSG says, “Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!”

Dewy Cobweb ~ by Norman Hyett

Dewy Cobweb ~ by Norman Hyett

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The awesome co-hosts for the January 7 posting of the IWSG will be Elizabeth Seckman, Lisa Buie-Collard, Chrys Fey, and Michelle Wallace!

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Please visit others in the group and connect with the awesome writers out there. Our Twitter hashtag is #IWSG