Getting published: part three

I’m procrastinating by writing this post, let me just put that out there. Click here to read part one and part two.

I didn’t make the November 1st deadline. Once I figured out how to fix the big problems of my story, I worked day and night, every day, to meet the target. But hey, I do also have a life. For some reason I’d agreed to host a food party on October 31st. November 1st was also my cousin’s hen party (for whom I was maid of honour). A day later was the wedding. I also had to write a poem to perform during the service of said wedding. A day after that I was going to Norway. EVERYTHING AT ONCE.

I burnt out. I hadn’t had a chance to stop and reread any of my novel, aside from a fresh scene before moving onto the next. Consequently, I felt like I no longer even knew my novel anymore.


That led to feelings of “my novel is shit”, “why am I writing”, and eventually, “maybe I just can’t write.” I had to apologise to Suresh and explain, “I just can’t meet the deadline.” I was 26 pages from the end of the novel, too. But there’s a lot to fix in those final 26 pages.

Suresh was really nice to my husk of a writer soul. He told me not to worry, the deadline had to work for me and my novel, we’d work out a new deadline when I returned from Norway. Thank shit.

I hate it—absolutely hate it—when I don’t meet deadlines or my own expectations. But Suresh’s calm attitude and understanding helped set me at ease. I really needed a break from my novel.

When I came back from Norway, I reread the entire book, and explained to Suresh that, despite having cut a chunk from the beginning and making it more concise, it had lost something… Something important was missing, but I couldn’t figure out what.

Until two weeks ago. Conflict. I’d cut and changed so much of the beginning that I’d cut out the true source of conflict between characters. It wasn’t until last week, AFTER CURLING UP LIKE A BABY IN MY PARTNER’S LAP, and wanting to TEAR OUT MY BRAIN FOR IDEA EXTRACTION SERVICES, that I found an answer.


For my story, the secondary source of conflict needed to come from nature, not the immediate people in the main character’s life. Awesome. I could move on, until, wait.

When I first wrote the novel, I’d introduced a problem I didn’t know the answer two. Quite simply: two characters had fallen out, I just didn’t know why. But it felt—still feels, actually—important for these two to fall out. From this problem, I spawned an answer that turned the secondary conflict of my novel into a complicated mess I knew even less about.

Upon reaching this point in the novel again I realised: I need to cut it all out and start again. Why are these two characters upset with each other? I asked my friends for advice, and amazingly, they had the perfect solution.

In Japanese culture, it’s important to think of group success before yourself, to the point of sacrificing things that would make you happy for the happiness of people around you. It stems from Buddhist principles of “sacrifice yourself for the good of others.” It’s almost the complete opposite of Western ideology of doing what’s best for yourself and succeeding above your colleagues/competitors. It’s also really hard to boil down into a few sentences, so I’m not going to.



Back to the novel: one of the characters having this fall-out is Japanese, the other is American. Understanding the cultural difference mentioned above has finally given me the answer to my very first big problem within the novel. I just had to remember that the cultural beliefs in Japan are very different to the US/UK.

This whole rewrite has improved motive, conflict, world building, and cultural aspects. But bloody hell, there’s a lot of red text and strikethroughs. I’ve gotta finish this week. I MUST, for my own sanity. Wish me luck!

The Saga of Sir Bushytail the Brave — The Red Pen of Doom

This picture was the writing prompt from an earlier post, something I saw on the Book of Face with a caption which went something like this: You swerve to avoid a squirrel. Later, in your hour of greatest need, the same squirrel returns to repay its life debt. It stuck with me. There are squirrels […]

via The Saga of Sir Bushytail the Brave — The Red Pen of Doom

You have to read the rest. It’s short and satisfying.


Getting Published: part two

Belatedly following on from my last post, about how I met an agent willing to give me and my novel a chance, it’s time I updated on what happened next.

So, after our feedback meeting, Suresh gave me a couple of big plot points and changes to think about:

  • Maybe cut a character (I’m thinking: I already cut one, aaah!)
  • Act One could be shorter
  • Your antagonists are blatantly villains, develop their motives
  • The world state of affairs is interesting: give us more


I’ll start with the villains. In the first draft, I had feedback saying they were too nice and their reveal felt too insubstantial. The revised draft I sent to Suresh ended up going the complete other way. “They can’t get any worse,” he said, “without turning into Cruella De’Vil.” And it was hard, really hard, to think what my antagonists could want enough to let someone, potentially, stay mortally wounded without being total assholes for it.

But Suresh  told me to come up with three possible scenarios as “writers tend to latch onto the first idea”. Well, I came up with three and liked all three, so he’s not wrong. We spoke over the phone a week later to discuss the ideas, and he reeled me back under control when I said “I mean hey all three could work together.” We picked the last idea I’d come up with.

I spent another two weeks agonising over the finer details: short of drugs and guns what is dodgy and dangerous and corrupts good people? Because I’m bored of drugs and gun crime antagonists. In the end, my partner of crime, Mitch K Allan, jokingly suggested ‘diamonds’. I could’ve kissed her.

I spent time refining and researching, developing my antagonists to fulfil the necessary elements my plot was missing. As I get tongue-tied pretty easily when talking about my own ideas, I wrote Suresh a mini-treatment. When we called, I cleared up his questions again, and he felt satisfied things were going in the right direction.

As for exploring more of the world beyond my characters, that was pretty easy. I already had all the information—and as much as I’m bad at science, I am fascinated by it. I had plenty to pull out the bag about my futuristic setting, my main problem is that I don’t like exposition. I like flow. I like focus. I like plot, plot, plot. And a bit of metaphor. So, I wrote down all the exposition I didn’t want in the novel. Having now seen it all written out clearly, I actually feel better about dropping more into the novel. It’s an old writing trick I should have started with, but what can I say? This was a NaNoWriMo novel, it could’ve been a bigger mess!

Next step: time to write.

I’ve been working on implementing changes for the past four weeks. Last week, I’d finally reached page 83 of 240 when I had a new idea during my day job. I had to go all the way back to chapter two. But this new idea means I’ve cut 30 pages from the beginning and I feel it’s been a big improvement. I’ve even cut the presence of one character. IT HURT.


It’s all going great, but my deadline is November 1st, so I’m starting to feel the pressure. But there’s nothing like a bit of fear to motivate a writer.

Epic Cheap: 50% Off Editing Special

For the first time in three years, my schedule is completely blank until mid September. I’m actively looking for new manuscripts to edit, and I’d like to aggressively slash my prices. My rates are never this cheap, so I strongly encourage you to act fast because my inbox gets flooded every time I do this. […]

via Epic Cheap 50% Off Editing Special — Storymedic

Getting Published: Part One


I’ve done it. I’ve started the journey to publishing my novel, or at least come closer to the dream than ever before. I’ve studied publishing as an industry, I’ve been an editor for four years for a digital publisher, but I’ve not managed to publish my own work—yet.

So, I figure we can experience the journey together, because despite the publishing experience that I have, this is all new territory for me.


1. How I triumphed the Hunger Games and won the agent 

Okay, so I wasn’t bulldozing through a queue of clients to get to my agent, but the process of getting your foot through any door of traditional publishing can feel like a battle. Just notice me! Give me a chance!

I met Suresh (said prize agent of the Hunger Games) through my place of work—a tea house. We are tea merchants who serve tea gong fu style and in other methods that have existed for thousands of years. As such, we get a variety of customers from all over the world, including from weird and wonderful jobs.

Just from asking about Suresh’s life and work I found out he was a publishing agent. I took a deep breath and, beet-red in the face (probably), managed to choke out the words “oh wow really that’s great because I like to write”. It took off from there.

He asked what I like to write, what I’m working on, and finally, did I have a completed novel. As he paid for his tea, I took the final deep breath to ask for his email address.

But I wasn’t ready to send my novel.


2. Get your ass in gear, quick

I did have a completed novel, but it wasn’t completed in terms of being ready to publish (it’s still not, but it was even less ready then). So I didn’t send Suresh my work for a week after getting his email—I started editing the heck out of it.

As a regular customer, Suresh came into the tea house again, and this time he enquired about me as a writer and my novel. He emphasised that he really would like to read my work. Shit, awesome, shit.

If you want to make contacts with people who can help your career, it’s important to respond to their inquiries in a timely manner so they don’t forget about you, or so they’ll take your creative potential seriously. Most developers or representatives of creative individuals want to see that you’ve built a community through your own initiative, usually by putting out some form of work. You need to have something to show, or they’ll forget about you.

I worked intensively every night, every morning, and in-between work for two weeks. I ploughed through my novel to get it in good condition. My partner is a blessing, he’s so creative and was an incredible help at giving feedback. I hacked off bits of the novel, I rewrote the entire ending, I deleted a whole character, and my partner read everything I wrote, as I wrote it. I must one of the luckiest writer’s out there.

In two weeks, I wrote 10,000 words and sent it to Suresh.


3. First Date: Feedback

Let’s gloss over the waiting for his reply and call it ‘agony’ (although, amazingly, he read my novel in just over two weeks) and skip right to it. Suresh wanted to meet up to talk about my novel. Given that he hadn’t emailed me to say ‘no thank you’, I could only presume that arranging to meet me was a good sign. Why waste your time meeting with an author if you didn’t think that you’d like to take on their work?

I arrived early at the fancy cafe, ordered myself a tea, and waited.

After pleasantries, Suresh broached the topic of my novel by starting with: “There are two types of writers who tend to submit their work. The first have a great vision, but they can’t write. The second can write really well, but they haven’t fully developed their vision. You  fit into the second category, which is great, because it makes development much easier if the skill of writing is already there.”


The entire meeting consisted of Suresh helping me consider ways to develop my story. He started by asking me questions about my world and characters, to which I was super glad I could answer immediately. It’s good to show you’ve given your world thought. Once I’d cleared up his main questions, we got down to his feedback.

I wrote down almost all of his concerns that he felt needed development. It was a great experience. He’d clearly given my book a lot of thought and he remembered story points and characters with distinction. Despite my story having teething problems, his concerns were conveyed kindly and made total sense to me. I could see he wanted me to make my book shine, not just good. Obviously, from his perspective it has to be as sellable as possible when he approaches publishers, but his input was genuine. He even said that I should probably push-back against him and disagree with his comments somewhere, but I felt all of his feedback was supportive and not unfounded.


4. Next steps

So, my novel isn’t ready to publish yet. No contract has been signed. However, Suresh has given me a week to think over the major changes I should make. He’s going to give me a phone call, and we’re going to talk about those changes. Then, I have two months to implement those changes.

Suresh is going to act as my soundboard until I can give him my revised novel. If we work well together, and he thinks he can sell my revised novel, we go from there to the publishing gods.

I’m super excited, and super nervous. It’s crazy to think this window of opportunity could change everything for me. Once you’re foot is in the door, it doesn’t mean fame or fortune, but it does mean that the next book should be easier to get published.

And that’s all I want. To write books.

On that note, I won’t ramble on further. I’ll let you know how the phone call goes!

Art I Couldn’t Resist From Artist Alley

MCM London Comic Con is already behind us, but as per, it’s Artist Alley I always loved the most. This year I took my partner along as a photographer, and both of us spent most of our money on art we can’t hang up yet because we don’t have a house. But here are some of our favourite creatives:

Wei Li Wonka

I was not only excited to discover Wei Li’s art but touched to meet such an excitable young lady. My eye was especially drawn to her tea collection – people bathing in teaware/wearing tea cups. I love tea and work in a tea house; I now wear Wei Li’s badges to work! Her style is soft and delicate, sometimes pastely, sometimes stark and bold. It has an air of innocence and wonder, much like the artist herself, and I will certainly be procuring more of her art.


Find Wei Li on her blog, Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.

Zee Arts Stuff

Zee (friends with Wei Li and who often share a table together at conventions) has an afinity for Evee evolutions from Pokemon, and so does my boyfriend – it’s no surprise he wanted to buy all of her badges. Her art ranges from fandom to fandom with a vibrant wash of colours, rich shading, and sometimes simpler, more adorable styles. I want all of her sticker sets.

Nab yourself some lushious fan art and find her on Tumblr, Facebook and Twitter.


Originally a tumblr blog of short comics and moving pictures, TheFuzzBalls feature relateable little stories of adorable cats, rabbits, and tigers. We weren’t the only cat lovers who couldn’t resist their stand. The drawings are simple in design, vibrant to look at, and feature a sweet sense of humour. We bought necklaces, t-shirts, stickers and badges. We may well end up with the whole collection one day.

The team themselves are as lovely as their artwork; absolutely helpful beyond dealing with their own products, and a pleasure to talk to. Find them on Tumblr, Twitter, Etsy and Facebook.


Lissy Raine

I met Lissy for the first time last May and was pleasantly captured by her cheerfulness. I was looking for something in my bag when she called out, “Is that Attack on Titan? I love your bag!” I left Lissy’s table with two of her prints, which now hang either side of my Bloodshot Buck moodboard for inspiration. Her work is nerdy, and colourful, and ranging in tone. Cute, sinister, bold, or detailed, Lissy has something for everyone. I need to get me a print of her Dragon Age II Anders drawing and her sparkly-eyed cat pillow!

Explore and buy Lissy’s work on: Tumblr, Twitter, deviantART, redbubble, and her website.

Destiny Blue

I’ve been inspired by DestinyBlue for so many years now. I remember when she first attended Comic Con at a table, not a booth, and her artwork still inspires my writing to this day. Her work is ethereal, filled with the universe, layered with emotional auras and imagery. Her style is instantly recognisable; everyone can connect with her themes. I look at DestinyBlue’s art and I see a hundred stories. Destiny herself is absolute sweetness and always smiling when she greets you. Destiny has a special place in my heart, and in my house.

Love on DestinyBlue at Facebook, deviantART, Tumblr, Twitter and Storenvy.

Beastly Beverages

Delicious, creative, fandom inspired hot beverages! Beastly Beverages blends tea leaves and coffee with fruits, flowers, herbs and oils to create wonderful infusions. I’ve been buying Gabriel’s teas gradually over the years and I’ve never been disappointed. This year, Gabriel had vintage tea-cup-candles with Earl Grey tea leaves in the wax, potion-like glass bottles filled with Earl Grey leaves that you steep in gin, and flowering tea. We had to buy one of each as well as stock up on infusion packets. I’ve finally gotten around to subscribing to Beastly Beverages patreon, too. When I have more money, I want to upgrade from a $20 subscription to at least $40 – so worth it, but money! D:

Find yourself some tasty infusions on the websitePatreon and Twitter.

Photos by Aaron Gaffney.

Elements of Writing Horror: Something Must Die

I love writing horror. This is a great little post about drawing upon the aspect of character/animal death to ramp up fear in your story.

The Sarcastic Muse

(c) hotblack (c) hotblack

The goal of horror is to elicit an intense fear, and there nothing that humans fear more than death. Death is the last curtain call, the ending to the show. Everyone, whether they admit it or not, has some level of terror about the final end. Fear of death is universal. Horror stories feed off this trepidation. Every single tale of the macabre contains a death, which is essential to amp up the panic in a character.

The purpose of a story is show the growth of a central character. In order to grow, there needs to be a triggering event that transports the character in a positive or negative direction. Yes, characters can grow negatively and fall from where they originated. Typically in the genre of horror, the main character does descend. Eternal loss is a plot tactic for this catalyst. The build up to death is what generates the character’s (and essentially the reader’s) fear — the intrinsic element…

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An Accident of Stars – Cover Reveal

shattersnipe: malcontent & rainbows

So, remember that thing where I’ve written an epic portal fantasy? The cover is finally here, with artwork from the amazing Julie Dillon! BEHOLD THE PRETTY:

AnAccidentOfStars-Cover - large final

Here’s what it’s all about:

When Saffron Coulter stumbles through a hole in reality, she finds herself trapped in Kena, a magical realm on the brink of civil war.

There, her fate becomes intertwined with that of three very different women: Zech, the fast-thinking acolyte of a cunning, powerful exile; Viya, the spoiled, runaway consort of the empire-building ruler, Vex Leoden; and Gwen, an Earth-born worldwalker whose greatest regret is putting Leoden on the throne. But Leoden has allies, too, chief among them the Vex’Mara Kadeja, a dangerous ex-priestess who shares his dreams of conquest.

Pursued by Leoden and aided by the Shavaktiin, a secretive order of storytellers and mystics, the rebels flee to Veksh, a neighboring matriarchy ruled by the fearsome Council of Queens…

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Weather Report: The Basilisk in Your Pasta


The South West of England will continue to see frequent and unpredictable bursts of heavy showers and crisp sunshine every day of this week, so don’t forget your rain repellent umbrellas no matter how deceivingly warm it seems.

Those in North London should be wary of lightning strikes today, since thirteen year old Annabella Hackhop reacted badly to getting drenched in water by a speeding muggle car. The young witch is not being charged for casting the spell, as she claims it was an instinctive magical reaction that she had not intended to happen, and the Ministry’s Accidental Magic Reversal Squad should have the lightning cleared away by this afternoon.

Due to an awful incident involving an elderly wizard and his experimentation in homemade dungbombs, the glorious sunshine in East Riding might not be so welcome after all. The stink is potent for miles and truly foul, not helped by the beautiful weather Yorkshire is due all week. Ahmer Laham is being treated for magical burns after his fifth batch of dungbombs exploded in his garden brazier. The Muggle-Worthy Excuse Committee are telling local muggles that a gas line combusted and hit a sewer system.

If you’ve been brewing any lunar dependant potions this month, don’t forget that tonight is the first day of the full moon.

And a quick traffic notification: no one else is permitted to apparate into Diagon Alley today due to a pile up of witches and wizards arriving at the same time for the touring performance of the French rock band ‘The Basilisk in Your Pasta’. The crush of folk is heavy and too many of the travellers were uncomfortable with apparition, resulting in a lot of vomit.

[A/N: Literally, honestly, tonight is a full moon in the UK.]

Meddling in Muggle Theatre

I applied to be a writer for Hogwarts is Here a couple of years ago, and my application was successful! But sadly, the acceptance email went to my junk folder, and I discovered it two weeks after they’d sent it, which was apparently deplorable. I never even got a ‘sorry, you replied too slow’. I liked the content I wrote for them, however, so my Quibble-Whatever-Newspaper-Name-HiH-Were-Going-To-Use articles shall have a home on my neglected blog. Hello, 2016.

Meddling in Muggle Theatre

Beauty and the Beast

Wizarding theatre has been in decline, according to directors such as Plepbin Eggum, famous for his adaptation of Three Wizards and the Rolling Trolls, for the past fifty years. He stated that the same dusty fables had graced our stages for so long that even fairies would be tired of sweeping up the moral residue for their spells. Whatever that means. He went on about fairy dust for quite some time.

Due to the strict regulations on public displays of magical performance, new plays have struggled to survive outside of big cities; and new writers have sunk beneath the more popular adaptations of classical tales, or Big Name Directors with galleons to spend on marketing. Eggum explains that the reason for this sink or sparkle is that no one is producing anything fresh enough—it’s all a hack of the classics, only some productions have more money.

“Just last week,” he lamented, “I attended a ‘new’ production by some old sop who had basically swapped Urg the Unclean for a melodramatic goblin—a watery replica of Urg’s life as a rebel leader, but without any depth and an endless chain of poor wand duelling choreography.”

This stagnancy looks like it’s about to evanesco, however, as a witch who is superb at charms rewrites muggle plays with magic. Since it’s still a case of using pre-existing material, it might not be the freshness Eggum had in mind, but her work has certainly got magical London excited.

Last night in Undar West End, Celeste Summerbee wowed wizards and witches of all ages with her production of a muggle play called Beauty and the Beast. “It was simple, really,” she told us, “the story was already there—developed and adapted—ready for me to pick the best version. They [muggles] even have their own version on stage—the impressive tricks muggles have devised to make certain actions look like real magic… All I had to do was make the magic really real—make it bigger.”

Summerbee’s grandmother was a muggle, and as a result, she has apparently devoured muggle fairytales all of her life. As Summerbee grew older being on stage felt like her calling in life, but later found that she preferred working in the wings. Being naturally gifted in charms work, then, it’s no wonder that Summerbee eventually thought to combine her talents into one show stopping idea.

Many are concerned that the leading Prince/Beast Beauty-web1in Summerbee’s adaptation is played by Thomas Flaxwagon—a registered werewolf by the Ministry of Magic. Some, especially parents, have refused to attend the show on these grounds. When questioned about this controversial casting choice, Summerbee said, “Thomas is simply wonderful, have you seen the play? [We replied that we had] You agree he’s perfect for the part. It’s time we stopped treating lycanthropes like a disease. I like the statement of casting Thomas as the Beast. No one else could be more perfect, in more ways than one.”

The stories aren’t new, these muggle fairytales are as old as Always Kiss A Fwog, but the imagination of muggles proves to be a powerful source of inspiration. Even muggleborn witches and wizards who attended last night’s showing described it as ‘the best version of Beauty and the Beast that they had ever seen,’ and ‘heart stopping’ to see characters they know and love lifted into the air, transformed, and lit up with real magic.

Summerbee intends to adapt Three Princes, Three Dragons tumblr_nstsp1DkMi1uag9smo4_250and the Old Woman with the Iron Nose next, a Magyar-Hungarian folktale, and possibly with real dragons. She wouldn’t elaborate on how these majestic beasts are the main characters of the plot. “It’s an old story,” she said, grinning, “but you don’t know it. Wait and be surprised.”

We’ll eagerly await, indeed. Tickets for Beauty and the Beast are on sale until the next solstice.