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Showing posts from February, 2016


COMPETITIVE, MOI? Only if forced to it. 
Before I became a writer, I had a lovely idea of what it would entail. Writing in coffee shops came to mind – and I have been known to. Chatting with writers about writing and books was up there – and I do that quite a lot, as it happens. Banging my head off a keyboard, whilst not entirely fun, wasn’t unexpected.
What I didn’t expect was to discover how the business is competitive.
To be clear this is nothing to do with the writers I know. My writer friends are supportive – as I hope I am to them. I wish for nothing but the best for all of them. I want them all to be best-sellers – and therein lies the problem.
A few days ago I found myself in an exchange with a writer which started well (and ended well, this was a friendly exchange and there was a lot of good stuff amongst it) but which took on an edge of competition. It wasn’t the type of competitiveness that looked to bulldoze everyone else, it was more insidious than that.
It was the …

Review - Luna and The Gracekeepers

Review - Luna, Ian MacDonald and The Gracekeepers, Kirsty Logan

As ever, my reading is eclectic - as are my reviews, some on Amazon and
Goodreads, some, the more detailed and personal, here - and I don't think I could have decided to put two more diverse books in one review.

To Luna, first. A vast family epic, set on a newly-colonised moon. A huge array of characters and loyalties, so vast that at first the sheer number of names and allegiances threatened to stop me reading. This, though, is a personal reaction - I struggle with long character casts. In fact, if I can get past it, anyone can.

As the story settles down, it is the Corta family we come to focus on. Proud, unscrupulous and multi dimensional, their position in the lunar hierarchy is threatened by the other ruling families, in particular the chilling, and stark, Mackenzies (who repay three times.) A full range of character attributes is shown, with fun and interesting tech and lots to challenge our perceptions of sf wor…


I've been getting a lot of messages on forums, twitter and facebook from authors who want to know how to build a platform to sell their book from.

It's all very gratifying to be asked - it means I must have some sort of platform myself. But I really don't have an easy answer, and I wish I did.

Here, though, are some of my thoughts, for what they're worth.

It takes time to build any kind of platform. So often, the people asking me have their book out, or just about to be released.

Take this blog for instance. If you're reading it, you're one of hundreds who now read my entries. I have no idea how you've come across it but, judging from my referrers lists, you're either from facebook or twitter, or you know me from a forum.

I've been writing this blog for 6 years and had two previous to it. I didn't start it to build a platform, or to blog on a specific day of the week, or to do anything other than have somewhere to pop down my rants and muses. Fo…


This week, I found myself gatecrashing a conversation on Twitter between two big genre writers (as you do.) One of the themes that came up was that it's not enough to write a good book if you want a career at writing. Simultaneously, on a forum I've recently joined, the question was raised about how to manage multiple projects. The blog-wheels started to turn.

I know there are one-hit wonders out there. I can name some famous single-novels that made it: Emily Bronte, Harper Lee (yes, yes, I know there's a prequel out now, but for decades Mocking Bird was a single book), Margaret Mitchell all spring to mind (it's worth looking into their background - all of them wrote throughout their lives, in various guises).

They are the rarity. For most of us, if we  want to make a career out of writing, we're going to have to learn to write more than one thing, more than one format and, possibly, for more than one related market (I write sf, fantasy and the odd bit of horror; t…



I did some research for my blog today. Excitement abounds. (Normally I just wake up with a rant on and shove it on the page.) I typed the question 'What are the odds...?' and added some writing parameters.

Since I wouldn't want to take this research palaver too far I opened the first of links. Let's see:

Odds of being published - fewer than 1%
Odds of getting a literary agent - anywhere between 1 (2/2000 mss) and 10% (3% is pretty well known. Essentially 97% of submissions either don't follow the guidance, aren't in the agent's field, or are just too riddled with errors to be salvageable)
Odds of your agent getting you a good publishing deal (all right, all right, it still stings :D) - 1-10%.

I could go on, through pages and pages and pages of these responses, and they'd all tell me the same thing. Chances of selling a million, of making money, of giving up the day job.... I'm facing imp…

Roadkill Cake

And why it's okay to take time out.

I don't take much time off. To get 5 books out in 18 months, have another couple getting towards submission, run a consultancy and look after a family doesn't leave much time over. The fact is, like so mamy writers (because, frankly, there is an Unbelievable pay-time connundrum in this game) I fit writing in around things.

 I squeeze writing blogs into sitting in the car at the school gates. While my child canters around on a pony I clear critiques for my writing group. Considering I've two lots of publishers' edits underway at the moment, a book launch (and Mancunicon!) 7 weeks away, and a reading event to run in 4 weeks, I'm even busier than usual.

Yesterday, though, a helpful thing happened. Half a page into my review of the previous day's edits my computer decided to shut down (note - this will not be helpful if it then refuses to start up again...). At which point I decided the writing gods were telling me to take a …


Continuing my What’s it really like to… posts, I’m coming onto editing. (I’m mostly coming onto it today to avoid having to go and tackle a new edit right now…)
So far, I’ve had five editors (for novel length work, I’ve had a couple of others for short work). They were, in no particular order, a developmental editor, who is now my publisher’s editor, a different developmental editor for Inish Carraig (the fab J S Maryatt) , an agent, a new publisher’s editor and a copy editor. So, I’m no longer a stranger to being edited and this is what I’ve found, warts and all.
I hear this from new writers, from time to time: that they don’t need to worry about knowing the tools of the grammar trade (and believe me, I say this as someone who most assuredly doesn’t know all the tools out there. Not even close…) There seems to be a common misconception that an editor comes along and fixes everything for you.
Nope. Sorry. De nada. You have no hope.
What an e…