Sarah Ann Hall

Reporting on writing in progress or, more probably, not.

Posts Tagged ‘agents

#FridayFictioneers – 28/7/17 – Hanging on the Telephone

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Every Wednesday Rochelle Wisoff-Fields publishes a photo prompt to inspire writers to write 100-words of flash fiction or poetry.

At any point during the following week, the Friday Fictioneers post their 100-word tales. Read the other stories by clicking below.

 

After being late last week, I’m early this. Two things immediately popped into my head when I saw this week’s prompt: (1) why is there a telephone in a toilet? (it’s the tiles and window), and (2) a song from which I’ve borrowed my title.

Thanks to Rochelle for hosting and J Hardy Carroll for this week’ photo.

This will be my last FF entry for a while as August is earmarked for decorating. I’m going to be up to my elbows in paint and sawdust with nowhere to sit and work.

 

© J Hardy Carroll

 

Hanging on the Telephone

(Genre: reportage/ humour; 100-words)

 

(Between events Eva paces flat, reads, hoards writing materials.)

Day 1. Eva skips to the post office; sends novel submission; skips home, grinning.

Days 29, 56, 72. Repeats of Day 1. Skipping and grinning reduce.

Days 133, 175, 212. Eva emails agents first three chapters.

Day 248. Eva receives ‘near miss’ response. Small smile.

Day 329. Eva receives request for full manuscript. Grins and dances.

Day 396. Eva, busy reading contract from agent, rushes to answer phone, trips.

Day 414. Police find Eva with landline phone cord twisted around neck.

Day 596-onwards. Eva’s posthumously published novel a best seller.

 

 

 

Slow progress – #amwriting

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Any writing progress is satisfying at the moment as work chops and changes and makes planning difficult. Writing on two fronts, as the mood takes me, I am focussing on the short stories I am writing to the prompts of a friend’s pictures and my has-been-going-on-forever novel.

The short story I wrote during a train journey in March, about a dancer turned boxer, has finally been re-read and lots of holes found. There is a story, but I have yet to work out how much background needs to be included and how much can be left to the reader’s imagination. There is a lot more work to be done, but the story has been looked at again so it is fresh and hopefully the hole-filling will be completed soon.

Chapters 1-3 of the novel have been re-read, scribbled over, the changes typed in, and the chapters read once again, slowly and aloud. I know I’ve said this before, but I think they are ready to go. Moving Chapter 4 to the position of Chapter 3 has made the start of the story less repetitive, given voice to a new character, and maybe even introduced a small hook. On my list of jobs to do, I have to compile a writing CV for one agent – it will be short – and then, after another read through, I think chapters 1-3 will be ready to send into the world again. So that’s next week’s job, assuming the work that currently pays my wages doesn’t want me to provide cover on the days I plan to write.

 

Priorities for the next fortnight: write a writing CV; submit novel to agents; continue reading novel from chapter 4 to make sure changes follow through and there are no typos!

Ongoing projects successfully met: chapters 1-3 of novel had been read, edited, and are ready to go; a short story has been edited and work to be done identified. (I need to count the small things!)

Ongoing projects partially met: I am crocheting a scarf and have completed five repetitions of an 8-row pattern – only 32-repetitions to go before the thing is finished.

Fails: I have done no Italian or piano practise.

Written by Sarah Ann

June 14, 2017 at 1:45 pm

Oh those poor agents – #amwriting, #amediting

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I am not sure what I was on in March when I thought that my has-been-going-on-forever book was publishable as it was. Perhaps I made too much use of my friend’s Nespresso machine and excess caffeine caused delusions. On the advice of my new writing friend Lou, who said the book was almost there but not quite, I have been re-reading and re-editing. Chapters 1-3 haven’t been covered in so much scribble since a major re-write two years ago. And when I found a typo in Chapter 2, I wanted to jump up and down and pull my hair out. A train pulls away, not ‘as the trained pulled away.’ How did I miss it? As I paced my friend’s kitchen, coffee in hand reading aloud, how did I not stumble over this mistake? I don’t know, but I did, and it makes me unhappy to know I sent out a manuscript that wasn’t just not perfect but also contained errors.

I have worked on Chapter 3 today, which was previously chapter 4, and found yet another mistake – a we instead of a with, as in ‘take a walk we me.’ Again, how is it only now I am seeing it? I want to boil my head for my stupidity/ poor eyesight. Instead I will plod on. It has taken me three weeks to get this far (p. 21), slotting in reading and editing between appointments, typing in changes while hubby watches TV. I just hope I can keep the same mood and frame of mind until I reach the end of p. 212, as the changes need to be uniform and the feel of the book consistent.

As for the eight agents I submitted to in April, one replied the book was a near miss for her, three others said, no thanks in the current market, and after the passage of time, I imagine I will not be hearing from the remaining four. I will be working on my re-submission next week.

 

Written by Sarah Ann

June 7, 2017 at 1:30 pm

Priorities updated

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As days and weeks have progressed, my priorities listed in February have changed. Since setting them out, I have met Priority 1 by continuing to blog relatively regularly. Priority 8, contributing to Friday Fictioneers, has moved up; Priority 3, self-publishing my narrow boat diaries, has shot down the list. I read the opening paragraph only to decide there is far too much work to be done.

When I first started to plan this post, I was moving short stories and writing to a prompt and a deadline into last place, as if detracts from other self imposed tasks. However, the week after I thought that, I was pootling online when I found a free to enter competition and, within four days, wrote 1700 words of a story with a loose theme of getting a loan. I’m sure it wasn’t ready or good enough, but I worked to a deadline, showing me I sometimes can. I have also set deadlines, albeit loose ones, for some of my ongoing priorities.

Herewith, updated priorities list:

 

Task & original priority position – re-ordered April 2017   Ease of completion   Progress 6 weeks later (end of Feb)   Progress another month later (first week April)
             
1. Keep up with blog   Variable on time allowing/ having anything to say. Hopefully on the easy side.   Not great. I’ve not posted as often as I would have liked.   I’m doing better, but I might be running out of things to say already.
             
2. Read 85k word novel and decide whether to pitch or ditch.    

 

Easy and relatively quick if I decide to ditch.

Time commitment if I’m going to pitch and it needs editing.

Time commitment if start sending to agents.

  I have allocated the week of 13-17th March to do the read through. I’m away from home and will have the head space.    

 

Done – it’s a pitch.

Sent to an agency’s open pitch process.

I need to go back to a list of agents to approach I drew up 12 or more months ago and submit to others.

Deadline to have made other submissions: end of April 17, and ongoing.

             
8. Friday Fictioneer stories    

 

Easy to do if have nothing else on. Requires time and concentration. Can be addictive so need to limit or will get caught up and carried away to the detriment of other things.

   

No progress.

I wrote a story to one prompt, which I was pleased to have achieved, but didn’t manage to post it.

   

I have managed to write and post a 100-word story two weeks running.

It’s a bit early to say I’ve succeeded with this priority, but it has been met earlier than expected.

             
4. Write short stories to go with friend Jan’s paintings/ prints/ illustrations.

 

  Relatively easy if I come up with any ideas. Enjoyable. Able to do between other things as shorter time commitment.   I have drafted one short story and am looking at the other pictures chosen. I need to re-visit the project with Jan to see if she wants to paint to my words.   These stories are progressing slowly. There is a lot of research and re-drafting to be done.

Need to determine number of stories to write and liaise with Jan on how to take forward.

Deadline to complete stories: end of summer.

             
4 NANOWRIMO story from 2014. Work up 51k words into a novel.   Medium. Big time commitment. Hopefully enjoyable to do.   No progress    

No progress.

I want to work on this story as I want to get back to the characters.

Deadline to have started second draft: end of summer.

             
7. Short stories for competitions   Quite hard. Time commitment to look for competitions and then write themed stories to deadlines.   One short story submitted. No other competitions identified to enter.    

I have written another short story to a prompt and submitted it.

This is something ongoing that I will fit in as time and interest allows.

             
3. Edit diaries of living and travelling on a narrow boat and self-publish.    

Hard. A lot of editing and additional writing to be done. Self-publishing is new. Large time commitment and learning new skill.

  No progress   There is too much work required to get this to a state suitable for publication. The narration needs to be completely re-written.
             
 

4. Continue with novel-length abuse story started 2014.

 

  Medium. Need time and space to pick this up again. Has a beginning but needs a middle and an end.   No progress   No progress.

This is a project too far for 2017.

Written by Sarah Ann

April 6, 2017 at 7:08 pm

It’s a Pitch

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After two days of pacing a friend’s kitchen reading my manuscript aloud, I have decided that it is good enough for me to send off to seek agent representation. My friend is away and I’ve been house sitting. The neighbours hearing me repetitively tread bare floorboards, and a constant chatter in an otherwise empty house, must think I’m mad.

It is two years since I completed the last draft. The time gap allowed me to read without knowing what every next line would be. I even read sentences and sections I don’t remember writing, which was gratifying. Thirty pages in, I was pleasantly surprised and decided the book was good enough to go.

Reading out loud enabled me to find the missing words and letters, the sentences cut off during the previous edit, and missing punctuation. However, even with this slower, more careful pace, there were still typos and the odd missing word when I ran a final spell and grammar check after I made my current edits, all of which were minor and mostly word or flow related. I wonder if I will be ever rid of the need to tweak, but feel the book is ready for a professional edit. I lack confidence in the starts to my chapters; the ends are better and have a neatness or hook that pulls the reader on. I still have difficulty describing the plot succinctly, but there is a story with characters who are different from one another, and dialogue that flows and sounds real. I now have to write a synopsis in order to be able to get someone other than friends, family and fellow writers to read it. There is a synopsis based on the previous draft but at the moment I plan to start afresh and then compare with what went before to see how my approach and what each version says might differ. Tomorrow I will start the process of summarising 84000-words on one side of A4.

 

Priorities for the next fortnight: write synopsis of novel and submit; work on short stories.

Ongoing projects successfully met: I have blogged only a week and a day after my last post; I have crocheted 3 Easter eggs, although my other half says they look nothing like real ones. I can only say I followed the pattern.

Ongoing projects partially addressed: short stories have been considered and the odd word written; I have started to read my old boating diary project.

Fails (as before): blog reading is too low; Italian practise is non-existent; the piano is dustier.

 

Written by Sarah Ann

March 16, 2017 at 11:06 pm

Book review: “How Not to Write Fiction,” by David Armstrong

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Warning, this book is dangerous.

I don’t usually write book reviews, and I’m not sure this counts as one, but I do think more writers should read David Armstrong’s (2003) How Not to Write Fiction. I might be out of touch (it won’t be the first or last time) and perhaps the book is well known and much read. It should be. I found my copy in a charity shop over the summer when I was taking an unintentional rest from writing. The opening pages state, “If you’re thinking of becoming a writer, read it. If you’re still writing at the end of it, you’d better accept it: you’re probably a writer too!” (p. 3). I can’t say whether it was Armstrong’s witty prose, or the summer break that helped, but I am writing again after six-months of doing nothing.

Armstrong’s book doesn’t quite address its title. Instead it takes an A-Z approach, including advances, agents, editors, research, PLR, and explains these in terms of his own experiences. Armstrong wrote this book after publishing five novels. He describes the up and down, the emotional ride of broken promises, the crushing moment when the agent and publisher that had published his first four books decided to not take his fifth. The book doesn’t take a crowing, ‘here, look at me, do it my way,’ approach. Instead, it is measured, describing the real life experiences of a mid-list writer – Armstrong’s self-description.

It is a warm, informative, funny read. I want to encourage others to read it, and I’m going to look out for Armstrong’s fiction now I have been exposed to enticing snippets. But most of all, the book has made me feel I shouldn’t give up. I hadn’t written for so long and hadn’t missed it. I was beginning to wonder whether or not I was committed or needy enough. And that’s why I feel this book is dangerous, because at the end of reading it, I wasn’t ready to pack in writing for good. On the contrary, I picked up my pen.

 

David Armstrong. (2003) How Not to Write Fiction. Allison and Busby. ISBN 0 7490 0680 3

Written by Sarah Ann

October 5, 2015 at 2:42 pm

Interpretation services required

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I have heard back from the agent to whom I sent the synopsis and first three chapters of my book. His response:

“I’m so sorry but I just did not fall in love with this. Good luck elsewhere.”

My eternally optimistic self takes this as a positive – the writing wasn’t criticised, he just found the opening to the story underwhelming. However, having no previous experience, I am at a loss as to how to interpret this hand-written note appended to the bottom of my covering letter.

Calling all those with experience of agents, and the doomsayers and pessimists – bring me back down to earth. Tell me what he really means.

Written by Sarah Ann

April 12, 2014 at 2:09 pm

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