2015 - the Year of an Aspiring Author in Review Part 2

(Quick aside - if much of the following sounds boasty, I'm sorry. I'm trying to tell it flat but nuance is hard to read in plain text. Bear with it - by the end I think it'll be balanced.)

So I left the previous blog entry back at the end of July. I'd finished book one of my intended sf alternate Earth epic and halted work on book 2 with a mere ten thousand words written. It was painful. I needed a palate cleanser writing wise. The only thing that came to me that seemed appropriate was to go weird.

I've always liked weird fiction so I fancied trying my hand at it. To this end the idea for a what if came to mind - the classic two lives diverging from a single moment, one boring and one exciting. And then told the tale from the POV of the boring one of the two. And here was born Ben Williamson, an accountant from a small Midlands town.

The story idea itself featured a 1959 Gibson Les Paul Firebird - truly one of the most magnificent machines in existence. I'm not telling any more of it now in case it gets published one day and you get the chance to read it. It's called A Parallel Life, BTW, and is 34K in length. I've not submitted it anywhere as I think the pacing in the final third is wrong and have yet to figure out how to get it right.

As soon as that was finished the idea for another Ben Williamson story came to me. Full formed; I woke up early one morning with the complete plot in my head. All I had to do was write it down. To give you an idea of how that went I sent the first submission of this second novella (the Intersection, 30.5K) off on September 3rd. Two novella, 64K words, done in a month.

All in all, I've found 14 markets that would consider novellas (when you filter for genre) and out of those submissions received two rejections and two requests for the whole manuscript for which I'm till awaiting a response. Seriously need to go back and hunt some more down to give it more of a chance. I think the Intersection is a damn good story, but I would say that wouldn't I?

Early September I needed a new project. Fortunately we watched a fantasy movie just after I'd finished the second novella. Now I thought the film mostly terrible. So much so I started in on a discussion with my wife on how it could have been done better. By the end of the conversation I had an idea for a rewrite of the story.

I carried on contemplating the new plot until I realised a few times later that I'd thrown away every single part of the film's setting, characterisation and plot and the only bit I really liked was the lead character I'd created to replace the film's. So I took her and created my own YA fantasy around her which I called the Patternmaker's Daughter. I'm not going to say the name of the film given my earlier comments about how bad I found it but I will forever be grateful to it.

Mid September and the plot for four books was outlined in my notebooks, the plot for the first in detail. It was time to start writing. Of all the books I've written so far this was the most fun. I dearly like my lead character Elspeth. She's such fun to write and I seriously want to write her more.

After a month and a week the first draft of her story was done. 88,000 words. A short time (ie revising) later and I started sending out submissions (fist on Oct 31st). So far Patternmaker's has had 14 rejections. Despite having maintained the thick skin with ease for the rejections for the earlier books, rejections for Elspeth are harder to take. Still, I'm getting better. It must be all the practice.

But I have been reassured regarding the story. On December 8 one American publisher requested the whole manuscript. So that's three with a positive response, albeit none yet with an acceptance. Still I'm optimistic.


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