Testing, testing…

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Been busy writing

Hello? Is this thing on…?

It’s been a while hasn’t it? Quite a long while in fact. I have been hiding away and have neglected you all, for which I offer my most sincere apologies.

I’ve been busy. Yes, OK, I know how often I use that phrase and I know you’re all frantically busy too and still find time to blog. I really have no excuse. Oh hang on… yes I do…

I have been beavering away at the novel, cracking on with the final (I do so hope) round of edits and using the gruelling opportunity of Camp NaNo to really push toward the finish line. So there, that’s kind of a good excuse no? I dropped the blog about the writing to focus on the writing. Am I forgiven?

Anyway… thought I’d just pop by to assure you all that I haven’t succumbed to a surfeit of lampreys and I’m still extraordinarily fond of each and every one of you. I shall endeavour, in my best boy scout manner, to become a better blogger again.

And – big fanfare please (ta-da-da-da-da-da-DAAAAAAA!!) – in response to some absolutely delightful comments on my previous post (a snippet of the infamous first novel, Dark Energies) I might even pop up a few more excerpts to whet your collective whistles!

Now there’s a promise for a sunny Friday morning eh?

Must dash, the peacocks are nibbling at the peonies again, but watch this space my friends…

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Hello, Mojo?

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Not coming out!I think I’ve lost the mojo.

Now, I’m not 100% sure what a mojo looks like, but I’m pretty certain there hasn’t been one around here for a while.

This is my first blog post in 3 weeks. I wish I could say it’s because I’ve been beavering away at finishing the novel. But it isn’t. In fact, the last time I touched the novel was a fortnight ago. And that was the first time in a month.

I still yearn to complete the novel and to crack on with number 2. I still love writing. I’m still hopelessly addicted to the idea of writing for a living.

So what’s gone wrong?

I have pondered and mulled and cogitated and, on occasions, even ruminated. And I think I have come up with an answer, or something very much like one.

It feels a lot like work. And I’m slightly scared.

When I sit down to edit the draft (for the umpteenth time), I feel like I’m trudging over old ground when I want to be gliding gleefully across virgin territory, meeting new characters and plunging them into breathtaking adventures. Not hanging around with the old crowd who I know so well that I can predict their every action.

I’m also scared that re-visiting the novel will cause me a) to become convinced that it’s a simmering cauldron of turgid ineptitude and b) that to transform it into a banquet for the senses will require another 5 years of undaunted effort toil.

Therefore, I find it far easier and vastly less terrifying to fire up the X-Station and sneak around like a ninja, shooting unsuspecting monsters upside the head.

After which, I feel a profound sense of disappointment at not having spent the hour finishing my masterpiece and propelling myself toward the life I most desire.

Writer’s Fear. It is that of which I am in the grip I believe. And it’s hidden my mojo somewhere.

Has anyone seen it?

When Words Take A Holiday

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Rules of writing you can break

“Write,” they all say, “just write.”

To be a writer, one has to write. And one is expected to be able to pull the very act of writing out of a hat at the drop of… erm… another… hat…

Anyway.

“Just write,” they all say. “Plough on through. Whether you feel like writing or not. In the face of writer’s block. When you have so many ideas you can’t choose the next one. In good times, bad times, sunshine and showers, just write!”

That’s another rule of writing I’m breaking, OK?

Sometimes all you can do is not write. Some days you even sit down with the best will in the world and all good intentions of cranking out a couple of thousand words at the very least. You have the time and the ideas.

Then the words don’t come.

Sometimes the words go on a little mini-break to the coast, dragging a suitcase full of fish-paste sandwiches and Cornettos behind them. Then you’re left sitting in front of the keyboard wordless and it’s not very long before motivation, desire and The Muse all sidle away to catch up with the words and get some ozone in their lungs. And, if I know my Muse, a couple of sneaky G&Ts.

You find yourself scraping together clunky phrases, ambiguous sentences, painfully poor prose, excessive alliteration and generally forced writing which is no fun to write or read.

So I think that sometimes it’s OK not to write. You’re still a writer.

Am I right?

Now We Are One

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Happy Birthday Jumping From Cliffs

It’s just over a week since a landmark passed me by unnoticed.

Jumping From Cliffs turned one year old this month! I published my first ever post on the 23rd of May last year.

It’s quite extraordinary where the time goes isn’t it??

It set me to thinking about what, if anything, I’ve achieved in my writerly ambitions in that time. And you know what? Actually quite a flippin’ lot thank you very much!

*grin*

  • I have finished the first draft of Dark Energies
  • I have made my first pitch to a real-life baby-eating literary agent
  • I have courageously shared a sample of my writing with the unsuspecting public at large (yep, that’s you lovely people)
  • I have won awards (thank you all again!) – some of which I have taken up, others of which I simply had to put on a back-burner due to lack of time and a dearth of captivating facts to impart about myself

And the list continues…

Well poke me with a fish-fork if that isn’t really quite a lot for 365 days. Who would have thought it when that first tentative post staggered and stumbled its newly-born way into the spotlight glare of the internet?

However, two things in particular stand out as the finest and proudest moments of my journey so far…

1) I have learned a truly STAGGERING amount about the art and craft of writing which drives all of us through every waking – and many a somnolent – moment. It has been said far more eloquently by far greater writers than I, but immersing yourself in creativity and surrounding yourself with talented people really does teach you far more than you ever thought possible.

Which leads me, in customarily long-winded manner, to the other Most Important Thing:

2) I have met the most incredibly supportive, encouraging, talented, enthusiastic, creative and utterly unspeakably wonderful (and, of course, terribly beautiful) bunch of fellow blogging writers that any man could wish to have yomping along by his side.

Yep, that’s you lot again.

Your blogs, along with your comments on mine, have taught me, encouraged me, motivated and inspired me beyond measure.

So grab yourself a piece of cake and a fancy party hat (mine’s the pith-helmet) and join me in celebrating! And, unless I get eaten by a Tyrannosaurus, I’m thoroughly looking forward to continuing this amazing adventure over the next 365 days.

A Piece of String

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Cat measuring string

Image courtesy of Stefan Tell

I have stalled.

A couple of weeks ago I fired off the first 50 pages of my first novel to the first agent I have met. A week of firsts.

With the sense of a job well done and 4 years well spent in writing the novel, I then settled back and waited for my ship to come steaming into the harbour amid a riot of confetti and bunting.

And I waited…

And I waited…

I waited some more…

Then I did a bit of pacing about…

Then I went back to waiting…

I really am rather concerned about this agent. Clearly he has been taken gravely ill. Or has lost his job. Or is embroiled in a protracted and painful relationship meltdown. Or is stuck in a shed. Or has been eaten by badgers. Or his eyes have fallen out.

Surely he can’t just not like the book and isn’t telling me? Impossible! Inconceivable!

Maybe my email got caught by his spam filter and any day now he will spot it sitting there.

I shall go back to waiting.

The question is… how long does one wait before chasing up an agent? Is two weeks inappropriately needy of me? Or does it imply that I set too little stock by the quality of my work? Should I have called last week? Should I email tomorrow?

Meantime, while all of this is going on, I have, as I stated at the very outset, stalled. I have written not one word in those past two weeks, nor have I pursued the myriad marketing opportunities for my book and my personal author brand (OK, I hate the phrase “personal brand” because I reject entirely the notion of people as brands, but it fits here so I’ll cheapen myself and use it). I have, in short, assumed that just one phone call away was everything I have ever dreamed of.

The most nonsensical part of this whole farago is that I know for absolute fact that there is an immense chance of getting rejected by every agent on the planet, yet still I thought: “Ha. Jolly good. Made it first time. Now to relax with a piping hot crumpet and become a world-renowned author overnight.”

I haven’t even submitted the self-same 50 pages to any other agencies yet. I did get as far as underlining a few in the Artists’ & Writers’ Yearbook with an orange pen, as if by some alchemical happenstance this would cosmically alert them to my presence and have them clamouring at my door in a frothing maelstrom of acquisitional lust.

Still waiting…

So, rather like a little field-mouse poking his head out of a stuffy burrow as the first tendrils of spring waft their freshening way to his nostrils, I shall endeavour to shake off the langorous turpitude in which I have been cloaked of late and re-double my efforts.

I shall write. I shall research. I shall pitch and query and synopsificate. I shall do all of this and much much more!!

As soon as I’ve checked to see if my agent has replied…

Famous Authors

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Gratuitous use of Mark Twain

Gratuitous use of Mark Twain

Woosh!

That’s the sound of my world at the moment.

Woosh!

There it goes again.

I’m being notable by my absence and hoping you don’t feel too neglected. I am writing and editing and polishing like a demon at the moment, leaving me zero time for much else. There is a reason for all this activity, which I shall divulge in due course…

But for now, I just wanted to pop by, give you all a wave and share this absolute cracker of a site which I should have discovered way before now. It does exactly what it says on the tin!

It’s about famous authors, nothing more, nothing less and it’s a great spot for a bit of a Friday afternoon perusal. Enjoy!

Woosh!

The Ton-Up Club

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ImageIt’s been a very exciting week here at Jumping From Cliffs.

My little blog officially gained its 100th follower!

What can I say?? Apart from “Woooooooo-hoooooooo!! How terribly splendid!”

100 eh? Goodness. Actually 104 now, as I’ve been a little lax in posting about it – put that down to a birthday, a house falling into the sea, woolly mammoths and a spot of pirating.

Scarce did I imagine when I made my first-ever post on the 23rd of May last year that even one single solitary soul would ever take the time to read it. Now there are over 100 in under a year.

To say that I am highly honoured and flattered would be an understatement of some magnitude.

I’d like to say a gigantic Thank You to each and every one of you. I’d come round to each of your houses in person with a cup of tea and a piece of cake if I could.

Whether you’re a Lurker & Liker who pops in, has a read, nods appreciatively then scampers wordlessly off again, or a Committed Commenter who takes the time to engage with the posts and leaves me encouragement, inspiration and motivation, I love you all.

This journey would have got nowhere near this far without all of your support and I would never have met some of the truly outstanding talents and all-round bloomin’ lovely people that I have.

You lot are ace, you know that?

Give yourselves all a hug from me and, on the count of 3 chant in unison: “We’re splendid!!”

Ready? 1, 2, 3…

Not the thumbscrews!

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Writer meeting agent

Hello gang, remember me?

It’s been almost two months since my last post, due to an unfortunate boatload of Crazy that beached at my door. Not only has it kept me from this fine endeavour, it has also entirely scuppered my New Year’s resolution of writing every day.

Ah well, c’est la vie I suppose. Anyway, back now and I have some exciting news.

Thanks to the wonderful crew at Authoright I have secured a 15-minute slot to pitch my first novel to a literary agent at the London Book Fair!!

I am extremely excited.

And not a little terrified.

A real-life fire-breathing literary agent, with the terrible fangs and horns and everything.

What on Earth am I going to say?? 15 minutes? I can barely talk about the book for 15 seconds without tripping over my own syntax. And that’s when I’m not quaking in fear at the potentially life-changing opportunity sitting before me mopping my fetid sweat off their desk with a fine damask handkerchief.

Being the well-versed bunch that you are, I’m sure you must have some tips to impart on… well… anything about what to say in a pitch! Anyone??

Wait… How Many??

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You mean to say you read the whole thing?

You mean to say you read the whole thing?

I stumbled upon this rather wonderful list today and was slightly shocked by how few I have actually read.

The 100 Greatest Novels Of All Time

My tally is 22.

Well, 21-and-a-half if I’m truthful. I’m ashamed to say I gave up on Moby Dick during one of the more turgid religious tracts. Or was it the 12-page description of the interior of a Massachussets chum-bucket? I forget.

What’s your score dear readers?

The Next Big Thing

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Way back at the start of December (where does the time go??), I was very kindly tagged in the Next Big Thing blog hop by Kristina over at The Bitter Sweet.

I’ve mentioned before that, whilst I’m always hugely honoured to be nominated for blog awards, blog hops and so on, I tend to pick and choose between the ones I take up, simply because many of them are about the blogger as a person rather than their work. I don’t want to use this blog as a forum to chunter on about what style of cravat I favour or the number of times I’ve been mistaken for Margaret Thatcher. It’s about writing, publishing and all that jazz.

That’s why I love TNBT – it’s a series of questions about a writer’s latest work, plus the opportunity to showcase other writers they admire. So here we go…

What is the working title of your book? Originally it was “Dark Energies”, but I feel that mis-represents the story and sounds too sci-fi. So I changed it to “Jumping From Cliffs” and I’m not comfortable with that either. So it’s back to “Dark Energies” as a working title for now.

What genre does your book fall under? It doesn’t really fall neatly into any single genre and, like many ‘new’ writers, I’m wary of getting pigeon-holed and missing out on a part of my potential audience, so I describe it in one of two ways:

A contemporary urban mystery

or

A quantum love story

One day I’ll combine those into a genre which takes less than 45 minutes to elaborate on.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book? I wrote a really good one and then sort of lost it somewhere in the Internet. Hang on, I’ll have a rummage… Ah, there it was, down behind the virtual sofa (of course!)

Dan Carver is a man in his mid-thirties, in a relationship that is going nowhere and is looking for something to fill the gap in his existence. When he finds it, in the form of an unexpected contact from a mysterious stranger on a social network, it will prove to tear apart everything he thought he knew about reality…

Technically two sentences thanks to that full stop bang in the middle, but you get the gist.

Where did you get the idea for your book? From real life. Sitting at home one wet, grey, miserable March Monday, I logged into Facebook and hey presto, there was a ‘poke’ from a complete stranger. This was back in the days when you could still friend-surf before FB sorted out its privacy settings. There was just the poke and a profile picture of the most beautiful and intrigue-filled pair of eyes I had ever seen. I decided to reply…

Who or what inspired you to write this book? My muse, also known as the beautiful stranger who Facebooked me on that extraordinary evening almost 5 years ago.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? It took almost four years to reach a full first draft with no gaps. As so many other aspiring authors find, it can be impossible to get enough time to write, what with daily life happening all around you and the need to pay bills while you scribble your thoughts down.

What other books would you compare this story with in your genre? Wow, that’s a good one. I’d love to compare it to the work of Iain Banks (not his Iain M. Banks sci-fi novels, the ‘normal’ ones…) But that would imply I have an over-inflated sense of my own talent and give everyone just cause to point at me and laugh. Still, the mix of real-world characters and situations with an undertone of mystery and darkness is what I’m aspiring to, which is why I draw the comparison.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? Oh, I’m so rubbish at knowing who’s who in the film world these days. I’d go with a young Richard E. Grant for Dan, the male lead in the book. Bizarrely, I’d have to choose Nigella Lawson for Kate, the mysterious stranger who leads Dan into a world he never imagined existed. Yes, I know Nigella’s not an actor, but she has the right kind of look and character. And as I said, I am really terribly ignorant of current film stars – I think I get so wrapped up in the story that I just see them as the characters rather than actors. Failing the two above, could I maybe choose Bogart and Bacall??

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? In an ideal world it would be represented by an agency. However, given the current climate and the agony of going the traditional route, probably self-published. My day-job that pays the bills is digital marketing, so I figure if I can market someone else’s products I should be able to market my own book, right?

What else about your book might pique your reader’s interest? It contains a cat who can be in two places at the same time…

And now it’s time to play tag… I’m sure some of these wonderful people will have been tagged already but they inspire, entertain and motivate me on a daily basis, hence their inclusion. And if I haven’t included you, please accept my sincere apologies, I’m only allowed 5!

Andrew Toynbee: Andrew Toynbee’s Very Own Blog
Nicole Bross: Unravelling My Mind
Kisa Whipkey: Nightwolf’s Corner
Kurt R.A. Giambastiani: Seattle Author
Pat Wood: patwoodblogging

I hope you get as much pleasure from their work as I do – the connections I’ve made so far in my journey through the depths of the blogosphere have been of inestimable value to my writing. I look forward to encountering more of you in due course…