Can’t blog… writing.

cartoon_gravy_train_grinding_haltYou’ll have noticed I’ve been rather less than my usual chatty self lately.  There’s a good reason for this – I’ve been working hard on rewrites to my first novel, ‘Gravy Train’, as well as a number of other projects.

‘Gravy Train’ started life as a novella, rather like ‘Raise the Blade’, but when several of my writer friends pinned me to a wall and threatened me with dark deeds if I didn’t make it longer, I decided to have a go at just that.  And after many months of scribbling, I’ve got it from 35,000 words to almost double the length.

Now comes the scary bit – submitting it to publishers.  My first choice regretfully rejected it (no hard feelings – it just didn’t fit).  But this morning I’ve taken the bovine by the facial protuberances and sent it out again.  After first re-formatting the entire manuscript to take out lots of pesky extra spaces after all the full stops.  And finding a few typos and howlers as I went.

On top of that, I’m about to submit two more short stories, one to an anthology and one to a magazine.  Cue yet more fiddling and polishing, and a couple more deep intakes of breath.

After that, I’m hoping things will quieten down a little, and I’ll have time to catch up on all the blogging I haven’t been doing for a while. As long as my own gravy train doesn’t come shuddering to a halt…

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Crime and Publishment 2017

I’m up with the larks this morning (or more accurately, next door’s yowling cats), after a brilliant weekend at this year’s Crime and Publishment writing course.

I’ve been three times before and have always loved it, but I think this one was the best yet.  All the old faces were there, plus lots of new people to meet and make friends with, and a set of truly inspirational speakers in Lin Anderson, Tom Harper, Michael J Malone, Paul Finch and agent Simon Trewin.  All five were fascinating on their own subjects (including forensics, adding tension and suspense, the art of positive thinking, and how to write a horror/crime novel).  Paul in particular was so passionate that he’s convinced me to try my hand at a horror novel – and I don’t even like horror!  And Simon gave us some valuable insights into the way literary agents work, and how to get on their good side.

As ever the sheer friendliness and opportunity to chat to fellow, like-minded authors was equally invaluable and I’ve come away fired with enthusiasm to finish ‘Gravy Train’ so I can start submitting it.

Many thanks to Graham Smith as ever for organising such an informative and above all enjoyable weekend.  If you can put up with me I’ll be back next year for sure!

Homework!

This weekend sees me trek north to Gretna Green for the annual Crime & Publishment weekend.  It’s two and a half days of writing course with sessions run by various tutors from the crime fiction world, plus a chance to chat and socialise with other crime writers, plus a chance to pitch work to a publisher and/or agent on the last day.  I’ve been for the last two years and it’s been brilliant – as much for the networking and friendships made as for the information gleaned.

This year, we have homework.  A brief questionnaire from one of the tutors, and a quick run-through of the novella I’m hoping to pitch.  I was expecting the latter to be really hard work.  I wrote ‘Gravy Train’ in a matter of weeks early last year, then tossed the file onto a shelf and have hardly had time to look at it since.  Usually when that happens I have to more-or-less rewrite the book because it’s such a mess, with loose ends, contradictions, and bits that just trail off.  This time, though, it hardly seems to need anything.  A few typos here and there, a few minor additions to clarify, explain or describe things better, and hey presto!  I’m actually happy enough with it that I could submit it to a publisher tomorrow.

If only all my books could be as accommodating as that!

 

Next off the conveyor belt

I’m feeling tired but happy this afternoon, because I’ve just written the last sentence in the first draft of my latest novella, ‘Gravy Train’.

The book tells the story of a bag of money, which is chased around Birmingham, often unintentionally, by various criminals and low-lifes, all intent on their own nefarious ends.  Will any of them end up with the cash?  Will the undercover police officer save the day?

The story was partly inspired by various local news items about bags of money being found in Birmingham’s canals, as well as stories in the press about sports betting scams and the shenanigans of undercover police.  I had an absolute blast with it and have rarely written the best part of 30,000 words so quickly, which I’m hoping will be a good sign.

Of course, the glow of finishing it will soon wear off and the hard work of editing will start.  But it’s a very nice feeling while it lasts.