Tuesday, 30 November 2010

How to Get a Lit Agent? - So says Lit Agent!

In this month’s edition of Writers’ News I noticed a very interesting article on “Getting an Agent”, in which Kirsty McLachlan voices the virtues of author web profiling, i.e. blog, facebook, Twitter. All three if you feel so inclined, though she did recommend Twitter for following agents and the like as a means of getting to know more about them and their personal preferences: all things literary. She also recommended blogs for posting samples of your work: WIPs etc., and promote your characters, after all, it is they that are the important factor.


Kirsty furthered with, quote:

“Blogs are great ways to keep writing – but remember not to over-use them. Think about why you are writing a blog and whether it links into the book you are actually writing: if your book is funny, is your blog? Don’t tell your readers about your lunch or whine – whining in blogs is the biggest turn-off! Be positive and be entertaining. Think about other sites and link to them – be successful through association”. (she means gain visual presence of interested followers – this adds to your appeal as a potential published author)

But, what struck as extra note worthy was this comment, quote:

“Look for hungry agents – those with small lists and who have just moved agencies or have recently been promoted to become a junior agent”.

And, last but not least another, quote: “Remember to be passionate about your book – this might sound very obvious but too many unpublished writers feel they have to apologise in some way. An unpublished writer is just a writer that hasn’t been published yet. So talk about your book – bore people if needs be, you just never know who will hear your conversation. Get on your soap-box – start talking, shouting – about your book. Someone somewhere might hear your conversation and will help you get your manuscript to the desk of an agent”.

So there you have it: from the horse’ mouth so to speak!

The Do:

1) Promote, promote, and keep right on promoting you and your writing!

2) Have a blog specific to your book/s. See mine here.

3) My suggestion: have a fun-time blog running parallel.

The Don’t:

1) Don’t whinge and don’t cringe in the corner like a cowering dog on a pile of rejection slips!

2) Keep your profile professional in appearance and avoid clutter on writer blog: make every post count in displaying your artistic ability as a writer.

What say you - are you thinking professional image or just waffling for the sake of, and if you are indulging in the latter is it now time to set up a blog for promotional purposes?

Or is this the way to get what you want?

"You're gonna be my lit agent - right?

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Pile 'em high ...then let 'em die: Aspiring authors take note!

There's been much talk on blogs about subbing, about writing the perfect "Query" letter, about avoidance of specific "utility" words, about re-crafting sentence structure to eliminate pesky words etc., but no one, no editor or lit agent thinks the same, reads and absorbs content the same, nor will any of the former like the same material set before them (as in passionate for same), so what should an aspiring writer do? Read the following for starters!

This was Simon Trewin (UK lit agent) featured way back in The Independent, June 2004:

Quote: "Clearly, the compulsion to write should come from a genuine desire to say something, rather from a baser desire to get rich fast. Writing for the market is the quickest way to produce a hollow novel which won’t get off the starting blocks".

So what's changed in the world of publishing if anything since that article first saw light of day?

With hindsight the arcticle makes for intriguing reading. Note my *ing endings* - and two-fingers to the *ing* hate brigade!

To read the article go here. But, before you do, have you ever felt like flinging a book on the fire? I have twice, and all because the word rueful appeared more than once per chapter in two romance novels, in fact the despised word popped up no less than fifty times in twenty pages. By page twenty-one I was beside myself with book rage!  Grrrrrrrrr.  Needless to say I didn't burn said books (gave them away) but this image is kind of satisfying because I can imagine all are blighted with the dreaded *rueful grin* and every other connotation of rueful utilised by obsessed romantic novelist: whom I would love to send a Thesaurus for Christmas!

Quick add-on: I've had loads of e-mails from published authors and aspiring writers in support of this post, each and every one unwilling to pass comment in a public arena, but all having read category romance novels that annoyed, irritated, cheesed off, infuriated, even p*ssed off two, another stating she actually binned one in disgust, and five having sold unwanted CR novels on Ebay to regain partial compensation for badly written, poorly edited and downright lousy plots! Though I must say I thought the funniest was the case of the shredded book: fed to a garden shredder for compost! 

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Romantic Novelist/Editor/Poetess/Blogger Scoops 3-book Transworld Deal!

Sort of a NEWS post and hopefully huge INSPIRATION to all romance novelists: inclusive blog deserving of a visit!

Dreams really do come true, and did big-time for Jane Holland

Editor at Salt Publishing/Editor for Embrace / Romance Author &  Lady Poetess, Jane has achieved her dream: she's hit the Transworld jackpot!  Wow!!!
A three-book deal for historical novels, and the first, I know for sure, is a Tudor period piece.

As Jane said: she hopes a bit of fairy dust will fall on all those who follow her blog, so why not go and grab some before it's all gone, then watch her progress from contract to publishing date.  ;)


Now to the blog I think is worth a vist!

I truly recommend everyone take a moment out of your day to pay Owl's blog a visit.

I guarantee you will not be disappointed if you have an ounce of romantic essence streaming through your veins and love all things natural world!   

Friday, 19 November 2010

Liz Fichera's First Gift Blog-Hop - What did I get?

Liz is hosting this blog-hop.

Fitting with her guidelines I hereby present a vivid memory!

It is a hot sunny Summer’s day, sky of blue with occasional scud of white cloud, and a couple are taking a stroll along an English country lane bedecked with wild flowers. Bees are buzzing, birds twittering and the sweet essence of fresh mown hay drifts on a clement breeze. They’ve known one another for several weeks, not intimately but well enough in the company of others.

On this particular day they are alone, abandoned by others, the two of them chattering and laughing a little. The man plucks a wild briar rose from a hedge in passing. He then lovingly places it in the woman’s hair, words of affection expressed. They laugh and chatter some more, both knowing there’s a connection between them but as yet nothing beyond that of friendship: or is there? Whatever, they continue on their way, and when the stroll is at end they go their separate ways, though do meet from time to time over a period of a month. Come the end of the month it is known the man is to leave the area and sense of sadness prevails, but before the man leaves he presents the woman with a parting gift.

A year later they meet again, and nothing is insurmountable if something is wanted badly enough. Walking, boating, dining, riding and other leisure activities can easily lure two people into a close relationship, and that’s what happens. They eventually get married and gifts for her become more lavish as time passes.

Now after years of happy marriage the love and friendship is as strong as ever, the first gift forever a treasured memory, because it was the greatest gift of all: as good as a first kiss, involving touch, intimate eye-contact and that special something that comes with first throes of love.

A wild briar rose.

To see other entries go here.

Oh, and while you're here check out my upcoming Twisted Fairytale blogfest: top right corner.

Loads more listed in sidebar, too!

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Blogfest Retold - my contribution, such as it is!

This blogfest is kindly hosted by Sarah

This blogfest is supposed to represent a story "Retold" from differing perspective, but  I guess I'm stretching the paremeters here in presenting male POV by way of letter. The letter is taken from a historical novel, (my own novel) in which the hero conveys his present situation to the lady he adores. Unfortunately, for reasons beyond his control discontent and unnease between them prevails. Nevertheless, she did go to his aid in time of need, and he ignorant to that fact for over a year: his having been sick with swamp fever and for most of her stay he delirious and unaware of her presence. The letter does tell a story in itself re Charles I and the English Civil War.

My Dearest Anna,

I trust this letter finds you well.

We march for home, and I can honest say I am sorely sick of this war. My heart and that of other commanders cannot hold with the opinions of Colonel Thomas Pride, the jumped up brewer’s drayman. Nor are we in trust of Lord Grey of Groby. The two doth hold Parliament in numbers of 150 members at instigation of Cromwell’s son-in-law, Henry Ireton. Of the rest, the majority, some imprisoned and others under house arrest, are banned from Westminster Palace.

The King is in custody and the call from the ‘Rump, these men of wilful intent is for his head. The Presbyterians stilled by Colonel Pride, twas John Lilburne the leader of the Levellers did up and rail in good and Godly voice. He denounced the plot as trumped up by the ‘Grandees’ and the ‘silken independents’. My Lord Fairfax has called for the illegal rabble to withdraw, yet Rioters now storm through London and provincial townships, and I fear Cromwell persuaded these men have their way.

Charles was ridden in to the city in hope of a ridiculed monarch, but cheers and calls for his reinstatement rang loud, whilst others called for his head. My Lord Fairfax refuses to participate or condone a trial of treason as lain down against the King, and I for one have no stomach for public execution of a man better punished with banishment from the country. I am done with fighting, done with the army. As we march so we disband, I pay my men as best I can from my monies received as Colonel in The New Model Army, for they have not seen wages paid from Parliament long these three months and all.

I am wearied Anna, and of hope you are more favoured toward me now that time has passed since your visit paid me at Glastonbury. News of your tender loving care was only lately revealed by Thomas, and I much ribbed by him. I am now sore ashamed for indecency in your presence. Though I am informed you played a part in exposure of my manliness and in doing so saved this stubborn and wilful soul from the jaws of death. I remain ever in your debt, meadow nymph.

Always you dwell in my thoughts and heart, Anna, and I long for nothing more than your happiness and good fortune on my return. Perchance I live in hope too much, and you are still unable to see your way in showing affection toward me. If that is so my heart will be broken upon my return.

Yours ever,


To see more "Retold" offerings go here.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Sex Sex - The Greatest Love Story Ever!

Gone with the Wind: is it the greatest fictional love story ever written?

Clark Gable & Vivienne Leigh: the movie image.

Published in 1936, it became an immediate bestseller, and Margaret Mitchell received critical and popular attention. In 1937 it won the Pulitzer Prize, and then quickly adapted to a movie in 1939, which won ten Academy Awards. It was categorized as “A Historical Romance”.

And, we all know it was set in northern Georgia during the drama of the American Civil War and the Reconstruction years. The prime characters were Scarlett O'Hara, Rhett Butler (above image), Ashley and Melanie Wilkes. The novel itself addressed romantic love, unrequited love, jealousy, obsession plus survival and destitution post wealthy lifestyle. It covered the social structuring of gender and class during that period of history: timeline American Civil War 1861 – 1865 = 4yrs and reconstruction years, though the latter left vague in the movie.


Now let’s compare fictional romance with a real-life Historical Romance.

The great love affair between Horatio Lord Nelson, Admiral of the Fleet and Emma Lady Hamilton:

Emma Hamilton had not been unfaithful to Sir William Hamilton since becoming his mistress in 1787 and his wife in 1791 - William considerably older than Emma. Nelson too, had been loyal to his wife as defined of good husband, but had indulged with courtesans. Neither marriage had given Emma or Horatio the fulfilment of love and romance they’d craved, and both had fallen out of love with respective partners.

When Nelson and Emma met for the first time, besotted expressed the intensity of feelings between them, but it was a hopeless situation: they were both married and he due to sail to war. The second time they met, in Italy, the love they felt for one another could not be denied, and during the flight from Naples and the struggle against the French they fell profoundly in love, and by May 1800, Emma was pregnant with Nelson’s child. He arranged rent of a house and set up home with Emma, but his wife refused to give him a divorce. When Nelson was killed at the Battle of Trafalgar news reached Emma and she was devastated, but worse was to come. She lost every thing because although Nelson had made provision for Emma and his offspring whilst he at sea he had not named her as a beneficiary in his will. His wife laid claim to all his estate despite no children of her own. Emma ended up destitute and it is said she died a pauper-cum-prostitute.

Nelson and Emma’s love affair lasted 6 yrs. It was an intense, emotional romance that swept them away on a tide of genuine love that knew no bounds yet ended in terrible tragedy: for both.


Napolean and Josephine: Another great love affair, or was it?

The story of Napoleon Bonaparte and Josephine de Beauharnais is supposedly the most passionate and stormy love affair in history.

When Josephine's husband was executed at the guillotine during the Terror in Paris in 1794. She refused to mourn his death and soon became mistress to several prominent politicians of the time. In 1795 Josephine had a brief affair with Napoleon. He was 6 years younger than her, and she didn’t even like him, but it was a politically motivated affair conducted by third parties. Napolean, though, proved utter smitten much to her annoyance and pursued her with intent to make her his wife. She did eventually marry him in March of the following year after an intense an all-consuming love affair for his part, while she had lovers besides. In 1810, after years of failing to produce an heir for him they both agreed to divorce.

A happy and sad affair is this love story: poor old Boney (Napolean) besotted, and Josephine swayed by power of favour and greed.


War And Peace: again a fictional story, but is it a mere Historical Romance? No, for it does not have a single hero and heroine, it has several of each. Yet the Hollywood movie “War And Peace” supposedly based on the novel by Tolstoy, depicts one heroine, one hero, and sort of anti hero.

Movie image.

With Napoleon's forces controlling much of Europe. Russia is one of the few remaining countries unconquered by Napoleon. So it is a Russian epic story of war and the Rostov family, the Bezukhov family, and that of Prince Andrei Bolkonsky’s family.

The principal characters consist of soldiers: Nicholas Rostov, Prince Andrei Bolkonsky, Pierre Bezukhov, a self-styled intellectual [knows what's right but still does wrong] and is not interested in fighting. Pierre's life is irrevocably changed when his father dies, leaving him a vast inheritance. Although attracted to Natasha Rostov, (Nicholas' sister) Pierre gives in to baser desires and marries the shallow, materialistic Princess Helene. When Pierre discovers his wife's true nature the marriage is ended.

Meantime Prince Andrei is captured and later released by the French, and returns home only to watch his wife die in childbirth. During a visit to the country months later, Pierre and Prince Andrei meet again: cue old friendships/hate/jealousy/desires etc. Prince Andrei sees Natasha and falls in love, and the course of true love gets tough, plus this is one hell of an epic and it would take blog after blog post to write a full synopsis. So go buy the book and read the damn thing this time, don’t rely on the Hollywood version, which is just one snippet of love snatched from what is a multiple story of lovers, their lives and their families. Suffice to say there is death, heartache, misery, loves (plural) and both happy and sad ending.

Which of the above is the greatest love story ever told beside that of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet? Bear in mind all were written more than fifty-years ago.


Now, here’s the crunch. According to a poll organised by Woman’s Weekly Magazine in conjunction with the Romantic Novelists’ Association, the novel Star Gazing by Linda Gillard has nudged A Woman of Substance by Barbara Taylor Bradford aside.

It’s official the most romantic novel written in the last fifty years is Star Gazing see

Great work Linda, a Brit on Top for a change.

Quote Writers’ News: Linda began writing in disgust at being unable to find romantic novels that reflected the lives of woman over forty.

Yeah, sock it to ‘em Linda. Not that I even knew “A Woman of Substance” had top billing, did you?

For me, the greatest literary romances: Gone With the Wind/War & Peace and Lorna Doone by R.D. Blackmore. I forgot the latter, and should add, all Austen novels, the Bronte Sisters, Daphne du Maurier etc., because I loved Carver Doone (wicked anti-hero), I adored Mr D'arcy etc., and got all dreamy about the Captain Jean Benoit Aubin - Frenchman's Creek.
How about you?