Tag Archives: random house

pond life

I am half-way through writing a new novel and it’s going well, I am on a roll. For several reasons I want to finish it in the next few months so it’s busy-busy, what with making a new pond and rebuilding the old police bike I rode back in Medieval times. The police bike rebuild is going well but I haven’t yet tackled the engine. The pond has no fish, just water, plants and a resident frog. Where do these things come from? (the frogs, I mean – I know where the plants and motorbikes come from). As soon as you put a hole in the ground and put water in it you get a frog. The one in our new pond comes to the surface and looks at you as if you have no right to be there. Oh yes, the book… I have been writing novels for over fifteen years. At first I wasn’t serious, it was like practising. Slowly I realised that I wasn’t that bad – especially when I got shortlisted for the Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger Award in 2002. I made the mistake of thinking that because someone else (apart from the MD of Random House) seemed to recognise that I had talent it would only be a matter of time before I got published. I am still waiting. I have been told that getting published, even if you are good, needs a lot of luck. Maybe I should get a rabbit’s foot. I seem to have tried everything else.

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Abseils in the sunset…

You might have got the impression that I have written a few books and not had any published. You are right (except for three short stories a few years ago). It is probably what happens when either (a) your writing is pants, or (b) when you don’t have to make a living from it, you get a few rejections so you can’t be bothered to submit any more, or (c) both of these things. With me it is (b). This isn’t arrogance, it just happens to be true. I am a good writer.
I’m not good at rock climbing, I wish I was. I’m rubbish at it, I always have been, it scares the hell out of me. I’m no good at maths. Nor ironing shirts. I’m not very good with a paint spray either, the paint runs everywhere. Getting the picture? As you get older you get to know yourself better and better. I’m good at fixing things, I can strip and rebuild an engine. I can build computers. I can shoot (well, I could years ago. I have shot at Bisley. No, not at Wisley, that’s the Royal Horticultural Society’s Garden in Surrey. They would not be pleased).  And I can write. 
One of my books is called Playpits Park (yes, you already know that, you have read that). It is the one I submitted to Random House and got that amazing response from the MD. After taking the trouble to say all those nice things and do all that editing (see Thurs 15th Oct) he said he didn’t know where to place it. At the time I sympathised. It didn’t fit a genre – or should I say, it didn’t fit one of the publishing genres, which of course are artificial divisions between fiction types.
These days I no longer sympathise, not when publishers seem to be able to find the money to pay millions for ghost-written trash-ridden memoirs of 20-something ‘celebrities’ (Hey – I’m not bitter, these are not my words but those of an agent).
So….. should I sacrifice Playpits? By that I mean should I give it away? I don’t mean self-publishing, I mean convert it to Adobe so it can be digitally read, sell it on ebay for £1 or build a website on which it can be downloaded free? This is my daughter-in-law’s suggestion and I like it. 
A good novel takes about a year to write. Then you put it away and revisit it later, spending another 3 months rewriting and an additional month editing. You spend a small fortune in coffee shops. And for this (if you are lucky – you probably have more chance of winning the Lottery than getting published) you get offered a few hundred pounds for it.
Yes, I think I will give away Playpits. Trouble is, it will take time to get the website set up. So hang about. Rome wasn’t… etc.

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Playpits Park?

Is writing to yourself better than talking to yourself? Debatable. No, it is probably worse. When you talk to yourself at least you can do other stuff, whereas writing to yourself takes time … like right now. One day someone else will read this. And then I won’t be writing to myself.
So why a blog? And why Playpitspark?
A blog because it might be a good way to get published (yes, okay, so that’s rubbish. I don’t expect a white knight – or a white dame – to rescue me from unpublished oblivion. It just doesn’t happen).
To be honest with you I am blogging because my daughter in law says I should get on the net. She reads about three novels a week and she loves my stuff. She knows I write because I love it and can’t stop myself writing, not because I’m a starving author in a garret who needs to sell books to live. ‘If you can’t or don’t want to get published,’ she said, ‘then just put it online so people can read it.’
So here I am.  
Ahh… so why Playpitspark? Playpits Park is one of my earliest novels, possibly my best. About 10 years ago I sent it to Random House. I got a reply from Simon King, the MD of Hutchinson, Century, Heinemann and Arrow. He had personally edited my first few chapters. He had read the whole thing. His letter to me was over a page long. He said ‘I like your writing. You will get published. It might take some time, but you will get there.‘ He also said he wasn’t sure what to do with my book because it appeared to be a children’s novel but there were real deaths. (Real deaths, yes… how times have changed!). It wasn’t supposed to be a children’s novel. I took his comments on board. I have rewritten it – ten years on!   
I read that Simon King has now retired. Good luck in your retirement, Simon. If it wasn’t for that early encouragement I might well have given up. 

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