May. 5th, 2016 10:44 am
davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)
It occurred to me last night I should check my junk mail folder. Actually it occurred to me on Tuesday as well, but I fell asleep before I got the executive function to manage it.

But last night I did, and there may well have been a scream as I found myself looking at not one, not two, but three agent responses from #DVpit.

The oldest was a nope, fortunately. But the other two, both from last Thursday, were a partial from Tricia Skinner at Fuse Literary and a full from Rena Rossner at the Deborah Harris Agency. (Because I've been taking things very slowly these are also the first real follow-on requests I've had).

Very rapid, and very apologetic responses followed. Glad I had the long weekend to blame for part of the delay.

But Aaaiiieee!!! I need to go back in there later and confirm that everything else was junk.

davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)

So yesterday was taken up with ‪#‎DVpit‬. I squeezed 13 pitches into the 12 hours of the event, last one squeaking in seconds ahead of the 'And we're done', and got 4 likes from agents, which for the purposes of #DVpit meant 'I'm interested, send me your initial query'. It finished at 1AM UK time, so I hit the sack almost straight afterwards, I wanted to finish the chapter I was writing, and slept for pretty much 12 hours. And woke up to find a 5th like from that 13th pitch :)

That final pitch was thrown together on the spot when I noticed quite a few people were using comparison-based pitches, I've got quite a strong comparison in "Rivers of London meets Hill Street Blues" so I switched it in for the weakest of my planned pitches and got a like both times I used it. I'm glad I decided to make the pitches live, rather than scheduling them in advance.

All my Pitchwars peers who were participating seemed to get a decent response, including two in the high teens with likes, though Beth Phelan, the agent who organised #DVpit, reports there were three pitches with over 50 likes, which is just astounding.

I've just finished researching everyone's requirements and sending out my submissions, minor panic because one agent chose today to change her twitter account, but I'd noted her agency and traced her through their web page. Requirements ranged from just a query letter, to the first 5, 10, or 50 pages. Fortunately both pages 5 and 50 finish on fantastic cliffhangers for provoking further interest and I squeezed in the first line from page 11 so that page 10 did too (it's in the body of the email so it doesn't show).

So now it's fingers crossed!

davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)
So I completely failed at prepping in case of needing to talk with agents.

And then couldn't face looking at how the Agent Round was progressing (it ran 3rd through 5th, so is just about done as I write). OTOH several 'Are you okay, we knew it was a tough sell' tweets from lovely mentors made it pretty clear I wasn't getting the love (their other two mentees have had a couple of requests - and all four of them were talking up my submission on twitter, which was really nice).

I surfaced today to say hi to the other mentees, cheer on the ones getting the agent love (23 requests and 2 offers of representation!?! - damn, we knew that one was a real prospect, but still) and commiserate with the others stuck on the zero requests thread  - turns out I'm by no means the only one in a bit of a funk.

While I was doing that I decided to post about how neurodiversity and needing to deal with new people in pseudo-authority roles weren't a good mix, and said I'd be back later to answer anyone else finding that agent-stress and not-needing-to-talk-to-agents-because-no-requests-stress actually feed on each other rather than cancelling each other out.

Except when I did check in again there was lovely mentor KT saying "OMG you got a request!"

It's just a request, she may not get any further through than the synopsis, but damn, that makes me feel a lot less stressed about zero requests. OTOH that not prepping for talking to agents may be about to come home to roost....
davidgillon: Text: I really don't think you should put your hand inside the manticore, you don't know where it's been. (Don't put your hand inside the manticore)
 Best spelling mistake ever!

Unfortunately it's mine, and the second last line of Graveyard Shift (bar the epilogues). Fortunately I have an irritatingly good line-editor.

I got the line-edits late Saturday, the house has been echoing to cries of "How did I miss that?" ever since.

The answer for the handful of spelling mistakes is probably I really do need bifocals. The answer for the logical problems isn't so simple, but it's an interesting exercise in how ingenious a fix can you dream up on short notice.

davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)
 Got my feedback on rewritten chapters 1 and 2, and a deep line-edit taking out about a thousand words, mostly one or two at a time.

The good news is the rewrite was on target, the bad news, if you can call it bad news, is not being the author lets Katie be a ruthless editor, and she wants me to throw out my babies.

Oh, most of the times (75%-ish) I agree with her, and the rest of the time it's usually flagging that she isn't reading things the way I intended, which means it needs rewriting to be clearer. There were one or two points I disagreed with, mostly around some weird holes in her English (she's Australian, with an English mother, but living in America, so actually quite a handy halfway house to pick out pure English-isms), I sort of expected 'played merry hob' not to work, and easy enough to change it to 'merry hell', but she didn't know 'sea change', which I thought was in pretty universal use (and wiki confirms it is in US use). I'm sticking with that one.

But - wah! - she wants me to lose 'don't poke the evil demigod' which is one of my favourite lines. And, damnit, I can see it makes sense for the pacing of the paragraph as a whole. So it's going, but only as far as the start of chapter 2, where there's a 'next time, don't poke the evil demigod' shaped hole.

I'm about two thirds of the way through integrating these, so should be finished today, and back to applying the process to the rest of the novel, but I'm worried about pacing, she wants the draft rewrite by end of the month, which is less than a fortnight, and, while we've only been at this a week, I'm going to need to kick up the pace if I want to meet that deadline.

So back to the grindstone!

ETA: dammit, I just decided I have to lose the werewolf saying "I screwed the pooch" as well :(

davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)
I had my first chat session with KT Hanna, one of my two Pitchwar mentors today.

Apparently I have a voice.

Apparently it says things, interesting things, but says them repetitively.

Apparently I also have a problem with the passive voice and a tendency to overtag speech.

Interestingly the problems differ between which character's POV the chapter is written from (rotating first person POV), apparently one character does more telling than the other.

KT talked a lot of sense, and the problems were ones I was aware of, I just haven't been as successful in dealing with them as I thought I had, but she seems really enthused by the story and convinced we can turn it into something stronger.

The repetition problem is one you can probably see in my writing here. I'll say something, then wonder if I've made it entirely clear, so add another clause, and then I'll take another look, and add another clause still, and end up with an incredibly complex sentence saying the thing four times over.

I have wondered if it's neurodiverse in nature, a problem with being unsure about understanding the way other people will parse and understand the sentence and trying to belt and braces a solution. I mentioned that to KT and she noted a friend of hers, both an author and possessed of an AS diagnosis, does have similar issues.

So basically the plan is I use the next three weeks to do a complete redraft taking into account what KT says, killing passive voice and repetition, retagging speech and adding in physical description where needed, then KT will go in and do a line edit. But first I rework chapters 1 and 2 as a prototype by Monday (I suspect it'll be by Friday).

I also had feedback from Julie Sondra Decker, one of the mentors who turned me down, which I wasn't expecting. Mostly overlapping with what KT said, but with some really good structural advice on my query. I even agreed with her reasons for turning me down (she doesn't read detective stuff).

Slightly nervously contemplating the new draft....
davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)
Yes, minus.

I just finished all the work I had planned for the current draft of Graveyard Shift, my novel in progress, which ended up taking 5600 words out of the manuscript (though the actual changed wordcount is probably more like 15kwords, a couple of major chapters had very substantial rewrites). The structural changes, mainly deletion of a major character, worked pretty well, unfortunately it's still overlong (128kwords, target length 120kwords), so I need to look at a different approach. I've got some ideas, but it's a tough ask. On the plus side I'm writing regularly again after this year's health stuff got in the way for much longer than anticipated.

The other thing I'm thinking of doing is submitting it to Pitchwars, which may interest the other writerly types around here. Pitchwars is a sort of contest for people with unpublished manuscripts, where you pitch a query letter and first chapter to 5 out of (this time) 100 mentors (assorted published and due to be published writers and editors) and if your submission catches their interest they'll mentor you through a new draft, with the possibility of picking up an agent at the end of the process if any of the ones who come to watch decide they like your newly polished pitch (hence Pitchwars).

You can only pitch to five mentors, though, and there are restrictions, each mentor specifies an age range (MG, YA, NA - new adult, or Adult) and will only consider manuscripts aimed at that age range, while individually they can specify as many additional personal wants or restrictions as they wish (romances only, no romances, no magic, no kids in peril, etc) so that they end up with pitches they're comfortable handling, so you have to research your market (every mentor has a link to an appropriate web page). Unfortunately for me, Adult tends to be the category with fewest mentors, I've been through 25 so far, and only 1 will even consider Graveyard Shift.

And the other problem I have is timing. Submissions have to be made in a 24 hour window on the 17th, which isn't an issue, but over the next couple of weeks the mentors may then request synopsis, additional chapters or the full manuscript, and generally email you to see if they think you and they will work together. Which wouldn't be an issue most of the time, but just happens to cover the week and a half I'm in Greece sailing/visiting Athens. Getting online shouldn't be too much on an issue in Athens, but in little fishing villages might be more of an issue! Hopefully people will be flexible enough to work with me to get around that if they're interested.

If anyone is interested enough to want to look it up for themselves: Twitter hashtag #Pitchwars and explanatory web page here, with list of mentors here.

Minor content warning if you follow up and start going through mentor pages, there seems to be an internal competition amongst the mentors for who can include the flashiest, gaudiest embedded gifs. If you're at all photosensitive you probably want to disable loading images!  I'm not and I still find some of the pages almost unreadable.


davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)
David Gillon

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