Thursday, December 20, 2007

New title and updated website

Hi folks - well, I haven't been having much luck with getting 'baked beans' published in the UK, so... USA here I come, and with a new name for the book:

Out goes 'I hate baked beans' and lets say a big welcome to 'Space Ace and the Mystery of the Black Craw.'

I have also updated my website accordingly - so go and have a look at, if you haven't already.

And, no, I haven't finished the 2nd book yet, it's harder than you think because I have had a bit of a layoff as I have been concentrating on other projects and to be quite frank with you, I have forgotten where I have got to. It's funny, because when I go back I just find the characters in mid action where I had left them - a bit mean really to have them hanging around waiting for me to come back and tell them how it all finishes.

I can just imagine them like on a film set as they are waiting around in their foldaway chairs with STAR written on the back, tapping their feet saying: "come on Ian, get on with it.... "

Monday, November 26, 2007

Nearly finished book 2

OK, so nearly finished means work still in progress on first draft - I am at a bit of writers block at the moment just getting the ending right. I know where I want to be, I just have to write it and the trouble is there are so many ends that need tying up and so many subplots and twists I don't want to over complicate the issue. Still, it's good fun trying.

I have been Christmas shopping and got myself a CD of bagpipe music. I love the sound of the pipes and it reminds me so much of my holiday in the summer touring Scotland - so lets hope it gives me some inspiration to crack on and get finished.
I have now drawn up a list of agents in the US to send ' I hate baked beans' to, so watch out America, here I come !

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Time to send it off

Well, it's all wrapped in bubble wrap and ready to send off - that is my entry into The Times/Chicken House Children's Story competition, so wish me luck. I have sweated tears over this story over the last few weeks, editing it over and over again to get it right - with lots of help from my long suffering editor - Anne Buhrmann. (Thanks Anne)

Also, lots of help from the website community. So, a bit of a rest and then on with the next project - well, two actually. First of all to complete the next Eddie and John novel, and also to get going on my teen / adult novel called 'Spellcaster's Apprentice,'

I've also been toying with the idea of sending the work off to the USA, well, no British Agent / Publisher will take a punt on me, so what have I got to loose? And then there is also the self publish route - it's looking more and more likely. After all my names not Blunket is it? Oh yes, he bombed, someone took a punt on him, paid him loads and got stuck with a warehouse full of pulp - serves you right, I would have let you have mu book for a fraction of the advance and it would have made you at least twice the return on your investment - your loss Mr Publisher !!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Getting there

I'm still busily working on getting the manuscript ready to go off to Anne Buhrmann, my Editor, to look it over once last time before I send it off the the Chicken House / Times competition - but the deadline is looming. It has to be in by 17th November and the clock is ticking.

Better news with the Youwriteon website - I have taken off a really bad review, I have re written some major parts and the book is now back in the top 10. It was at 7 yesterday, but has now dropped down to 8 - I just need a couple of good reviews and hopefully I can climb back into the top 5 by the end of the month, enter the Best Seller pages and get a crit from one of the professionals - I'll let you know how I get on.

In the mean time, I am still actively researching the Self Publishing route and all other main stream opportunities, so all is not lost.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Competiton Time

Well now, I have just found out that there is a competition for new children's writers run by the publisher 'Chicken House' and The Times newspaper - so I am busily trying to get the re write done and dusted in time to meet the November deadline.

I have also received some great suggestions from the members of the youwriteon community as to what I might be doing wrong and how I might improve - things that when they get pointed out I think - 'yeah, they're right. I always had a niggling feeling that bit was all wrong.'
So thanks folks - lets just hope it all works and something comes of it.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Finding Time

Finding time to write is one of the hardest things at the moment - work, as always, takes up a lot of time, plus sorting quarter of an acre of garden, sorting out number one son with his new house in Birmingham as he starts his second year at University, and so it goes on. Oh, and I am now making all my own bread at home. "Well thebrought stuff just hasn't got the flavour, and all the additives they put in it to keep it fresh - I could go on, but after doing all the research I would say bake your own, it doesn't take as long as you think its going to.

So, new regime needed, early nights followed by early mornings to try and get some writing done then, while I am reasonably fresh as trying to write at night after working all day and them making tea etc - well, it's not my best work.

I went to a Story Telling group at a pub in Wolverhampton last week, the Newhampton it was called, the group meet on the 1st Monday of every month and it was really interesting. The first half was just people getting up and telling a story, with a time limit of about 10 mins and then after the break there was a chap called Mike Hardy from welsh Wales and he was a brilliant story teller - the story's weren't that interesting, it was just the way he told them that made them special. I am going to have a go, if I can pluck up the courage, I have been practising at home, and ... well, I will tell you more about after I have been again next month.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Have you been on yet?

I have found a wonderful website funded by The Arts Council called where you review other peoples work to gain credits, then upload your work and assign credits to it to get people to read it and review it.

You hope that they give you some constructive criticism, but some people just write a few lines without giving any real guidance. After reading what people say about mine, I now try really hard to tell other what I liked, what I didn't like and how in my humble opinion would try to do things differently.
It;'s hard, because what do I know? I am not a published writer, and then it's the same for others, what do they know, they are not writers either - they are just like me. So when you learn the rules to the game it becomes easier - you look for the themes and don't take each individual crit to heart, after all, we don't all like the same things - I mean I get asked to review everything from chick lit to historical romance - all stuff I would never choose to read, but I tell them what I think and give it my best shot.

Anyway, each review gets marked and the best 5 each month get a professional review and the best scoring for the whole year gets a publishing contract -so you never know, there is always more than one way of skinning the proverbial cat.

If you haven't had a look then click on the link, even if you are only a reader, you don't have to upload anything, just read the first chapters of all these new workds and tell them what you think 0 it's very addictive !!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Marketing my book

Ok, so I'm not published yet (yet!) but when the time arrives I will need to market the book(s) and therefore I need as much of an edge/inside information as possible. So when I saw a one day event (called Shelf Secrets) organised by Mark Thornton of Mostly Books in Abingdon - well, it was a no brainer, I had to go.

Best decision I have made this year and if you are writer and need a bit of insider know how then my advice is - what are you waiting for? Sign up! I found it enlightening.

It was not just because of the comfortable, familiar surroundings of the bookshop (I love being surrounded by books) but the easy way in which Mark ran the day and the interaction with the amazing people that I met who were also on the course, so thank you Angela, Alison, Siobhan and Patrick. All were already published, or in the midst of a publishing deal and it was great to listen and learn from them as much as it was to be guided through the process by Mark.

I have a lot of admiration for what Mark, and his wife Nicki, have done in just one year of trading - the way they have diversified and the hard work they must put in to constantly market their own business. I wish them all the luck.

I have a constant thirst for knowledge - knowledge is King as far as I am concerned - and this day out has helped to fill some gawping holes in my knowledge of the industry.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Different day, new project

Ok, so 'I hate baked beans' is doing the rounds of the agents and publishers - and fingers crossed. But now I am really excited about a new project.

A few years ago I started developing a fantasy world - something to immerse myself in and write about, for a bit of fun really. In my youth I was, and probably still am to be fair, a nut about fantasy role playing games such as Gary Gygax's Dungeon's and Dragons. We used to stay up for hours, totally immersed in our own little world - ofter playing through the night and going home with the milkman.

Anyway, seeing how each of us was so engrossed and so protective of our own characters I started to build up a story from six different view points. I then went back and wrote the first chapter of six books all detailing the early years of 6 different characters: a magic user, a thief, a ranger, a cleric, a monk and a fighter.

Then off I went then and wrote the rest of the first book (160,000 words) about Kevan, the magic user. This was in 1999 and I had every intention of editing it down, but time went on and I moved on to other projects, trying to hone my skill, and it never saw the light of day - until now.

You see having worked with, and learnt a lot from my editor, Anne Buhrmann, I feel the time is right to carry this project forward and see where it takes me.

I think if I pitch it right, this could have legs!!!

Sunday, August 5, 2007

42 rejection letters - and counting!

Well, I am up to 42 rejection letters from various agents and publishers for my book ' I hate baked beans' - but I am sure that is not a record, or anywhere near a record.
Call me a cynic, but I think unless I have big bobs and have slept with a footballer, or been on big brother or something else to get my name in the press, then I am unlikely to make it off the slush pile.

Why? Well, I am not a 'sure thing', am I? I am a risk - a risk that the publisher, who is in it for the money - they are not charities after all - has to be cast iron, leather bound sure that what I have written will sell.

So, what's the plan? The plan is to play the game - after all, life is all a game, you just have to learn the rules - then play the game. The game here is that the mainstream publishers want me to take the initial risk - to self publish and then do the leg work to get a readership - to do the marketing etc etc.

Then, when I can prove sales and a readership, perhaps they might take me on.

But, by then will I want them to take me on? After all, I can either have 100% of the cover price (minus publishing costs etc) or I get about 10% of the cover price, and have to pay an agent 15% of that. Well, in business it is a bit of a no brainer - but it does mean I have t spend good writing time do the publicity, marketing and retailing thing - humm, some thought needed.

First of all- find a good publisher - small steps, you know?

Monday, May 14, 2007

Who said it would be easy?

Dodge and weave, duck and dive - isn't that what life is all about? Dodging the bullets and grasping the nettle. The trouble is all the nettles in the bed sting you - so which one do you choose to pick? I am sure some Zen monk somewhere has the answer, but who has the time to contemplate their naval these days?

So, that also leads me on nicely to the fact that I have not had time to follow my dream, because I have been too busy earning a crust - a poor excuse I know. It's the perennial problem of a writer - if I don't write, then I don't have to send the work out to an agent or a publisher and then I won't get hurt by all the rejection letters.

I know that there is probably a hard nose business decision being made out there - will it sell? is the market saturated? Who is this person - are they famous, have they been on Big Brother, are they a footballer? If the answer to any of the above is 'NO' then forget it - it won't sell, it won't make money, we are not interested.

I know all these things; I know about business, it's my job - but it doesn't make the pill any easier to swallow. I mean if it was me, if it was my business then I would be exactly the same, I am sure. After all, you don't go into business to loose money, do you? So you follow the sheep, you don't take a risk and you churn out even more garbage that you think the punters will want to buy.

And yet.. and yet, who is it that influences what they want to buy by filling the book shelves with it in the first place? Who sets the trends? Who cuts the Big Brother video tapes to make a good guy look like a stupid prat and get him voted off the show?

I wonder.... I wonder if I joined them, as a rebel, publish my own work and be dammed, would I become like them in the end? If fame and fortune followed, would I put on my woolly coat - baaa!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Post and problems

The postman keeps coming, and keeps bringing back brown envelopes - I had one today from United Authors Ltd and not only did they send it back with a pre printed rejection slip - which, OK, they are busy people and don't have time to type a reply, but the galling thing is, they hadn't even taken out my letter of introduction.

Some spotty oik in the back room just took the whole lot out my envelope and stuck it back in the return envelope without even a glance - how on earth they expect to identify talent when they do that, I do not know. I mean, what a way to run a business!

Still, got a great rejection letter back from Kate Shaw at Gillon Aitkin Associates - Kate, if you ever get to read this, thank you very much for taking the time to write a proper letter, with some words of encouragement and, even better, a scribbled p.s that made a huge amount of sense - and caused a giggle in our household. Why can't all agents be like Kate Shaw?

Friday, February 9, 2007

Why don't they tell you in the small print?

Hi there,

another day, another rejection in the post - this is starting to become a habit!

The last bit of paper says: "It is the policy of this agency not to consider unsolicited material." I ask you, how are they going to find new writers if people don't write in, huh? Are they going to run up to some fella in the street and say: "oi mate, are you a writer? Come round to my office and sign this bit of paper; we'll take 15% of whatever you earn - now don't call us, we'll call you."

Still, I've got a week off this week so I am determined to finish I hate spaghetti sauce and start the editing process - after all, I've got some many other ideas bursting out of my head, it would be rude not to get on with writing them down.

See ya. Ian

Monday, January 22, 2007

Another rejection

Hi there,

Interesting day today with 'I hate short trousers', in the latest chapter I have got Eddy and John charging around a Roman Fort on elephants trying to retrieve their spaceship from well armed aliens during a battle between the Ninth Legion and naked Iceni warriors in blue paint - get out of that one if I can!

Ho hum, got another rejection in the post. This one was from Marjacq scripts - just a photocopied piece of paper in the envelope.

Now, I'm not one to whinge, but the devil on my shoulder asks, "did they actually take the time to read it, or did some snotty nose office junior just open it, slip in a rejection slip and shove it in the return bag?"

Of course, the little angel on my shoulder would reply "of course they have read it, every single golden word; what are you thinking of Ian? They have a dedicated team who pick through every manuscript they get and pour over every word in case they miss the most amazing piece of writing that ever came their way. Wouldn't they just kick themselves if this piece of work went on to become a best seller, a film adaptation and printed in 20 languages."

I say - just think of all that money they have just lost the company.... shame. More for me when the book is finally in print.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Progress - Wednesday 17th January 2007

So far I have had 9 out of 9 rejections by Agents - only another 22 to try (that were listed in Writers & Artists Year Book that specialise in Children's authors anyway)

So, what I say is that it is their loss. I know; I have every faith that this book, or should I now say - these books - are going all the way to the top of the children's best seller list. Children out there just want to read them, I know they do, they just haven't had the opportunity yet. But when they do - when you do - you will see what I mean.

I am now about 3 parts of the way through the first draft of I hate shirt trousers and am enjoying and hating each part of the process. I hate not being able to get a straight run at the writing due to other commitments, such as work. I love it when the writing comes together and just spills onto the page.