PD Martin's Blog

November 1, 2013

NaNoWriMo – take 2

Filed under: Writing — Tags: , , , , — PD Martin @ 1:38 pm

This year I’m trying NaNoWriMo again. For those of you who don’t know, it stands for National Novel Writing Month and it’s basically a whole community of writers (both published and aspiring) getting together with the goal of writing 50,000 words in the month of November.

I tried it for the first time in 2011 and unfortunately only made it half-way. This year, I hope to get a bit closer to the 50,000 word target, however I am trying to fit it in around fairly limited chunks of writing time.

This year, I’m working on book 2 in a new YA series. I recently finished the first book and am doing the agent/publisher rounds but I thought in the meantime I’d spend November to get a chunk of book 2 written. It’s especially important for this series, because book 1 does end on a cliff hanger. Yes, there’s some resolution, but I know if I was reading it I’d want to pick up book 2 pretty much straight away because while the lead character just avert disaster in book 1, the novel ends with her ‘going into the lion’s den’ shall we say.

In the lead up, I’ve been doing a bit of planning. I tend to be more of a plot-as-you-go writer, but I thought in honour of NaNoWriMo (and because I had no idea where the plot would go!) I might actually do a basic structure before putting pen to paper. And I’m using a new-to-me theory…I’m trying the Blake Snyder beat sheet, which includes 15 ‘beats’ in a story. It’s made for screenplays, and some beats only last one page (e.g. the Opening Image) while other beats might last 25 pages (e.g. Fun and Games).

PulsarsScrivener

I’m also using Scrivener (which I use for all my writing now) and so I’ve written up scenes on index cards in Scrivener and I’ve customised the ‘Status’ section so it says which type of beat the scene (index card) is. This is what part of my structure looks like.

First time using this method and obviously first time using it with Scrivener so we’ll see how I go!

So, that’s my November. I did miss last month’s blog (naughty me) but I’ll check back in with a blog on 1 December to tell you all about my NaNoWriMo progress. Or you can see it in real-time at www.facebook.com/pdmartinauthor

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September 5, 2013

A celebratory month

Filed under: Getting published,Writing — Tags: , , , , — PD Martin @ 9:21 am

September is already a month of celebrations for me…and we’re only five days in! And maybe that’s why this blog is a little late, going up on 5 September instead of 1 September.

Anyway….

The first celebration was literally on the first of the month, when a large group of people gathered in the Yarra Valley to celebrate my dad’s 70th birthday. It was a fabulous day and Dad had people from all different aspects of his life there.  We had a lot of speakers – yet everyone was so unique with wonderful insights that the day didn’t feel ‘heavy’ with speakers. In fact, it was fascinating. We had 14 people all up!

And 1 September was also Father’s Day, so we started the day with breakfast for my husband and presents from the kids.

everybreath01September is also another big celebration for me. As some of you know, in 2010 I started teaching at Writers Victoria. This month marks a huge milestone in my role as a writing teacher, with one of my students entering the ranks of  ‘published author’.   Congratulations to Ellie Marney on the release of her debut young adult (YA) novel, Every Breath – the novel she was working on in my 2010 class!

I have to say, it’s extremely rewarding to see one of my students’ manuscripts come to life not only on the page, but then on the bookshelf. The official launch is next week, but it is in bookstores now. Congratulations to Ellie, and I hope she’s the first of many of my students to break into this crazy world!

About Every Breath (from the back of the book)

What if Sherlock Holmes was the boy next door?

Rachel Watts is an unwilling new arrival to Melbourne from the country. James Mycroft is her neighbour, an intriguingly troubled seventeen-year-old genius with a passion for forensics. Despite her misgivings, Rachel finds herself unable to resist when Mycroft wants her help investigating a murder.

And when Watts and Mycroft follow a trail to the cold-blooded killer, they find themselves in the lion’s den – literally. A night at the zoo will never have quite the same meaning again…

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July 1, 2013

The fluidity of time

Filed under: Personal — Tags: , — PD Martin @ 1:55 pm

CB007970I’ve been thinking a lot recently about time. Specifically, the passing of time. I remember when I was a little kid and all the grown-ups used to say things to me like “Wait until you’re older…time goes so fast then.” Of course, at that age I had no real concept of time. An hour’s drive seemed like an eternity.

Now, as the mother of two little ones (aged 6 and 2) I find myself completely blown away by how fast time is moving. It’s the little things…like I’ll catch up with someone I haven’t seen for a while and in my head it’s been a couple of months, but then I realise it’s actually been six months, or even longer. Or suddenly it’s 30 June (end of financial year here in Australia) and I think ‘How did that happen?’ (On the plus side, it also means we’ve past the shortest day of the year and I definitely prefer the longer days of sunlight.) These are some of the little things that make me wonder where the time has gone.

Then there are the big things. Like the fact that Grace is six (and a half) years old and I just can’t believe how quickly those six years have gone by. Can she really be in Grade 1 already?

I also find with time, you can imagine things if you have a reference point. In some ways, Liam going to school seems so far away (2017)…but I know how quickly the years with Grace went, from toddler to starting school, so I’m sure the next couple of years will go that quickly, too. So I CAN imagine Liam starting school. I know it will fly by and I’m prepared for it.

But when Liam starts school, Grace will be in Grade 5. And that seems impossible to me…no point of reference, I guess. I’m yet to experience a child moving from 6 to 10.

For that matter, when did I ‘jump’ from being in my thirties to my forties? Yes, I know I can pinpoint the exact day it happened, yet at times it’s hard to believe I’m now in my forties. Know what I mean?

Again, I think back to being told as a child that as you get older time goes faster. But boy, this is intense! Or maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m stuck in my imagination, in one of the worlds I create, so much that my sense of time passing is as warped (in the opposite direction) as a child’s.

I know that each tick of the clock is a second, each time the sun rises and sets is a day. Time is constant, fixed. Yet it doesn’t feel that way. To me, time often feels more like a moving target, something that bends and twists. It almost feels fluid. And just when I think I have a concept of it, I find out that it wasn’t three weeks ago that xyz happened…it was three months ago. Fluid.

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January 26, 2013

National pride on Australia Day…sort of

Filed under: Murderati blogs — Tags: , , — PD Martin @ 3:50 am

Australia Day is a big day here in Oz.  It commemorates the arrival of the first fleet in 1788 and I’m feeling mixed about it all. There are so many layers to this day. Good, bad, and plain ugly.

First off, at the most superficial level I think most Australians will agree it’s a great day for a BBQ (a national past time, particularly in summer; and Australia Day is one of those days when pretty much everyone either has or goes to an Australia Day BBQ).  It’s also a public holiday, and let’s face it, who doesn’t like a day off? In fact, this year because it falls on Saturday, the public holiday is on Monday (in lieu), so we get a long weekend — bonus! Mind you, as a full-time mum public holidays don’t actually mean a ‘day off’ for me, but they do mean a day of family time, which is something I cherish greatly.

There’s also the part of me that’s incredibly proud to be an Australian and so it’s nice to have a day to honour this feeling. I love this country and while Australians generally have a low-key kind of patriotism, it’s still there, bubbling away underneath. You probably got a sense of my pride in Australia during my blog on our gun laws (yes, I think we’ve got it right). Plus our healthcare system is pretty damn good, I think. Then of course there’s the country itself (the cities, the outback, the bushland, the beaches). I also love how multicultural we are these days. And let’s not forget the weather. Having lived in Ireland for a year and a half, I think I appreciate our sunshine even more now. Looking out to blue skies and maybe a few puffs of cloud at least 6-9 months out of the year is extremely important to me. It sets the mood for the day and instantly makes me feel upbeat. Sure, the really, really hot days aren’t my favourites but I’d rather be hot than cold any day.

So, all of the above are incredibly positive things. Go, Australia. Yay, Australia. I love living here. Australia Day rocks. But then…

I think about the actual day it commemorates — the British declaring sovereignty over Australia (then New Holland), and everything that followed in terms of our indigenous population. In fact, most of our Indigenous population call Australia Day Invasion Day. And of course, that’s what it was. It’s all about perspective. Having lived in Ireland and studied some of its history extensively for Grounded Spirits, I often compare the two countries. Ireland is the most invaded country in the world. Its most recent invasion, of course, had massive consequences — consequences that were felt for centuries (and still are). After all, that’s how Ireland became Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. (Note: I realise I have simplified a very complex issue with this statement. And yes, it is/was also very tied up in religion. But what you’ve got to remember, is that traditionally the Catholics were Irish and the Protestants were English.)

Anyway, part of Grounded Spirits takes place in the 1820s, when the Irish weren’t even allowed to own land in their own country. Ireland has been fighting invaders, either in the political arena or physically, for pretty much its entire history. The Irish fought their invaders over the centuries. What would have happened if Australia’s indigenous population had guns? Would a battle between Australia’s indigenous population and invaders (British or otherwise) still be going on today? Would the country be split in half?   

The final layer…In terms of Australia Day commemorating the British declaring sovereignty, I’d actually rather Australia was a Republic. I believe that the average Australian actually does NOT feel an affiliation to the UK or the Queen. Problem is, for better or worse we don’t fully understand that burning desire to legally be a Republic. As a result, most Aussies (non-Indigenous) are pretty apathetic about the whole issue.

However, many of the supporters of an Australian Republic believe it would (and should) be linked to Reconciliation. These two issues could be tied together — an Australian Republic that starts afresh, recognising that Australia has been built on the foundations of indigenous Australians, British settlers/invaders and the massive number of migrants that now form our multicultural population. Symbolically, a Republic could be a new start with an acknowledgement of this country’s true history.

Australia Day…see what I mean about the layers? The good, the bad and the ugly?

So, what will I do on Australia Day? I will celebrate all the positives of this wonderful nation, but the history and the need for both Reconciliation and an Australian Republic will also be at the forefront of my mind. We do have friends coming down for a BBQ, but I’ll make sure we talk about the layers of Australia Day.

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December 6, 2012

When the movie’s better than the book

Filed under: Book reviews,Murderati blogs — Tags: , , , — PD Martin @ 3:40 am

CB007116There have been posts on Murderati before about books being turned into films, including David Corbett’s recent post on Cloud Atlas.

However, I’m not setting myself such lofty heights (!). I’m looking at book versus film YA style. You see, the novel I’m currently working on is YA (primarily, at least) and so I’ve been reading in that genre, including some of the breakout hits. Two I want to talk about today are I am Four and The Hunger Games.

So, first off I should say that with I am Four my first exposure was the movie (loved it for the pure escapist, sci-fi, action-packed style that it was). And yes, I know it’s not high-brow. There, I said it. Problem was, the movie was obviously a part one, and ended with a cliff-hanger. So, I  Googled it to see when the next instalment would be out, only to discover there was nothing in the works. After dismissing it for many months (longer actually), I finally decided I wanted to find out what happened. Especially given I wanted to read in the YA space. And while I could have read I am Four, I cheated a little and jumped to the second book, The Power of Six. And this is when I discovered something interesting…the movie is actually better than the book (IMHO) – at least the movie was executed better than book 2 (and book 3, The Rise of Nine, for that matter). Now, we always hear about movies not living up to the expectation of the book, but this was reversed for me. I felt the characters were actually more well-developed in the movie than they were in books 2 and 3, and I found some of the writing mechanics a little clunky. That’s obviously with my author hat on, of course.

At the time I was reading The Power of Six, I was also doing the final stint of my Writing Australia tour, teaching writing. Anyway, one of my slides looked at what makes a book ‘good’. My list includes things like: engaging characters, well-developed plot, writing style and being a page-turner (to name a few).  Funny thing is, the I am Four books are complete page-turners. I finished them quickly and didn’t want to put them down. I may moan about the character development and writing style, but I ploughed through them, eager to lap up the next instalment. They were page turners and so using my own definition they are ‘good’. Yet they failed to tick any of the other boxes.

Move on to the next blockbuster film and trilogy…The Hunger Games. Again, I saw the movie first (really just to see what all the fuss was about) ages ago and then recently as part of my research decided to read the book. And this time I did read the first book. In this case, I have no strong opinion either way whether the book is better than the movie or vice versa. In fact, I think they’re probably pretty equal. But, once again I’m totally INTO the series. I finished the first book and downloaded the second straight away. I’m pathetically taken in by the romance element (I know, I’m hopeless!) and the sense of impending rebellion — I’m dying to see what happens next. I’m now 50% through book 2, Catching Fire. Sshh, don’t tell me what happens.

Another book-to-movie comparison that always comes to mind for me is Lord of the Rings. I actually think Peter Jackson did the most amazing job of adapting those novels. In fact, in some ways the movie version was an improvement (hope I don’t get hate mail over that one!). But seriously, who needed Tom Bombadil??

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December 5, 2012

Traditions

Filed under: Murderati blogs — Tags: , , — PD Martin @ 9:00 am

My Murderati Wildcard Tuesday post…

In today’s Wildcard Tuesday I wanted to look at traditions. I’ve never been the sort of person who was/is ‘traditional’ or who was really into traditions much at all. Having said that, since I’ve become a mother I find myself feeling much more nostalgic (and warm and fuzzy) about traditions.

Two things that have come up recently…

First off, the photo with Father Christmas. It’s that time of year again, when there’s a Santa in every department store. Last week, my daughter raced home to tell me: “Guess what, mum. I saw Santa at Shopppingtown today.” Shoppingtown is one of our closest shopping centres (mall if the language needs translating!). It was also our local when I was growing up and I remember having many photos with Santa there.

It’s also where we got a photo with Father Christmas for our first Christmas as parents, when Grace had just turned one. So it seems fitting that we go again this year, our first Christmas with Liam.

Traffic SchoolThe other nostalgic thing of recent…the Kew Traffic School. This Thursday is my daughter’s sixth birthday, and yesterday afternoon we had her birthday party (actually she’s having three celebrations (!) but this was the party with her friends). Anyway, back in January I booked out the Kew Traffic School on Grace’s request. Yes, she was planning her sixth birthday party soon after her fifth! And yes, you do need to book the Traffic School early for private functions.

Anyway, the Kew Traffic School has many memories for me, and for other Melbournians. You see, it’s been around for ages. It’s basically a mini street system complete with traffic lights, a railway crossing, a roundabout, a few stop signs, a school crossing, giveway signs, etc. I remember going there when I was about eight with school as part of bike and road safety education. I had a ball! You take your bike and helmet and off you go. They also open during school holidays, and you can rent the Traffic School for private parties.

Grace’s party there was a definite success – from all perspectives. From the kids’ perspective it’s a great party. You zoom around on your bike or scooter for two hours and get to eat party food. The parents were pretty happy too, and I had many of them grinning as they were leaving and saying: “They’ll sleep tonight.”

And from our perspective, it was a pretty easy birthday. There’s no real need to decorate the venue (we just did balloons at the entrance) and you bring all your own food in so you get to choose what you want to bring and don’t pay ridiculous prices for it. There’s also a BBQ there, so we had sausages going for the second hour, which were a great hit. Yes, the threat of rain was a problem (no contingency plan) and Melbourne is unpredictable even in December. However, yesterday was perfect weather. Warm and sunny, but not too warm.

CakeAdmittedly, I had it easy – Shane did the lolly bags, the cake (a chocolate ripple cake in the shape of a bicycle) and the sausage sizzle. Some of you may remember the fairy princess cake I did for Grace last year?? This year, Shane was keen.

Anyway, the party was a success and we’ve decided to hopefully hold a party at the Traffic School for Liam when he’s six or seven, too. Although with a May birthday I think it might be too risky!

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November 23, 2012

Blast from the past

Filed under: Body Count,Writing — Tags: , , , — PD Martin @ 2:31 am

BodyCount04-smallThese last few weeks I’ve been experiencing a real blast from the past. You see, a couple of months ago I contacted both my US and Aussie publishers hopeful that the rights to my Sophie Anderson series (Aussie FBI profiler) had reverted back to me.

Reversion of rights used to be the kiss of death for authors. Generally, no publisher would buy the book again to re-launch it (except perhaps if you went on to write a best seller and your new publisher was keen to acquire your back list). Then, ebooks happened. Now, reversion of rights is actually an exciting prospect for an author. Especially given one of the keys to ebook success is volume — having more than a handful of titles available to build your name and, of course, sales.

So, I was very happy to find the rights had reverted for ALL my Sophie titles with Pan Macmillan Australia. My contract for the US required much longer time frames to be served, but I was hopeful maybe book 1, Body Count, would be up for reversion. Unfortunately, not. Even though it’s out of print in the US, because I gave my North American publisher worldwide rights (excluding a few countries) it just has to have been printed some where recently (or due for a reprint). In the case of Body Count, apparently a reprint is scheduled of the French edition. While it’s great the reprint is happening, it’s frustrating that I’ll only be able to make my Sophie novels available to people in Australia and New Zealand.

This is particularly concerning given we represent such small markets on the global side of things (given our populations), plus so far Aussies have been very slow to adopt Kindles and other ereaders. (I’m not sure about New Zealand’s adoption rate of ereaders.) After some debate, I decided it’s still worthwhile to get them up there. Maybe I can be one of the Aussie authors getting in at the ground level, before Kindles take off!

So, for the past two weeks I’ve been taking another look at Body Count. It’s the first time I’ve read the book since the page proofs, back in 2005. There are a few minor things I’ve always wanted to fix, and other things I’m finding along the way. For example, I really steer away from dialogue tags now (he said, she said) and aim to use descriptions to attribute dialogue instead. To give a very basic example,

“I don’t know, Sophie,” Flynn says.

Might become something like this:

Flynn’s blue eyes fix on me. “I don’t know, Sophie.”

I’m also now mindful of the ebook medium and will be doing one pass entirely with the aim of breaking up a few chapters. I think some shorter paragraphs and shorter chapters work well for the ebook format and help give a book that page-turner feel. Plus, I’m concerned the book starts too slow so I’m hoping to cut out around 5,000 words from the first 1/3 of the book. That’s going to be a tough job, though, and I’ll devote one editorial pass just to that task. Deleting scenes is never easy for an author.

Of course, I’ve also been getting the cover designed. Like it?

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August 4, 2012

Just do it

Filed under: Murderati blogs,Writing — Tags: , , , , — PD Martin @ 2:00 am

I’ve always been the kind of writer who LOVES applying expressions like this to my writing…

  • Just do it!
  • Bum on chair!
  • Focus!
  • Never surrender!

I eat those phrases up for breakfast! (Sorry, I know that’s way too many exclamation marks, not to mention clichés, but they need to be there.)

I’ve also been lucky enough that I’ve never really suffered from ‘writer’s block’. In fact, the hard-ass part of me says writer’s block is self-indulgent. Now, I’ve probably got loads of readers (well, the authors) up in arms at this point. I know there will be lots of people who disagree about writer’s block.

The thing is, I’m not saying there aren’t days (or even weeks) when writing seems harder than normal—sometimes WAY harder. But, I’m a practical kind of girl, so I either write through it (eventually it starts flowing again) and edit later, or sometimes I move projects all together. That way, I’m at least writing. Besides, at this point I know I can finish a novel, so it’s not like I’m going to wind up with loads of unfinished manuscripts. It’s just a temporary focus shift.

I did this earlier this year. My plan for 2012 was to finish my mainstream drama novel and then while I was querying agents, I’d work on my Pippa Dee novels as part of my ebook strategy. But after I sent my mainstream novel to Beta readers, there was one problem I simply couldn’t decide how to solve. There was one character who everyone disliked. But what to do with her?

So I guess that was kind of writer’s block, but it didn’t feel like it because I decided to move on to my Pippa Dee novels while I waited out the decision. I could let it tick over in my subconscious. No way was I going to let it interfere with my productivity. Told you I was practical.

So I focused on The Wanderer and Grounded Spirits and once they were finished and up on Amazon, I moved back to Crossroads and Deadends. Two weeks ago I finally finished the editing process and started querying agents. Remember my blog on the writer’s rollercoaster?

Anyway, obviously the querying process has taken up a chunk of time over the past two weeks, but I still feel extremely unproductive. And I’ve been bringing out the big guns, internally telling myself to:

  • Just do it!
  • Bum on chair!
  • Focus!
  • Never surrender!

But, to no avail. Well, not much at least.

However, it’s not writer’s block. In fact, when I do spend time on my current work in progress (the follow-on to The Wanderer) it flows very easily and I’m excited by it. But for some reason I’ve really been letting the distractions rule these past two weeks. Facebook, emails, scheduling Amazon freebies, and who knows what else? Where have the days gone?

And there have also been some days, when I haven’t felt like writing or trying to write at all. I mean, the rest of this year I’ve been eating lunch at my desk to maximise my work time. Seriously! With Grace starting school in February this year and my shift to ebooks, this has been my year for working hard.

So what’s going on? Where’s my bad-ass writer gone?

I think part of the problem is when I finished Crossroads and Deadends I was conflicted about what to work on next. My 2012 ‘project plan’ says next in line is The Guardian Arises, book 2 in my Wanderer and Guardian trilogy under Pippa Dee. Problem is, sales of The Wanderer and Grounded Spirits have been such a small percentage of the sales of my PD Martin stuff, that I’ve realised that middle grade/YA fantasy novels aren’t the most popular ebooks. So, from a financial point of view, I probably should work on the follow-up to Hell’s Fury, but that book will take me about six months to write, whereas I reckon I can write The Guardian Arises in six weeks, especially because I’m already 20,000 words in and it’s officially middle grade so will probably be around 50,000 words.

Something’s gotta give.  I think maybe the answer for me is to go away for a couple of days without internet. That’d sort me out!

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July 10, 2012

Rediscovering an old love

Filed under: Murderati blogs — Tags: , — PD Martin @ 4:31 am

photoFor my Wildcard Tuesday at Murderati, I wanted to look at rediscovering old loves—not lovers (!), that’s an entirely different sort of blog :)

I’ve been thinking about this a lot in the past week, as I prepared to go skiing for the first time in over 12 years. Maybe longer, actually. I thought it had been 10-12 years but if I do the maths it’s probably more like 14 years. That’s a long time. Particularly given I used to LOVE skiing.

So, what stopped me from pursuing my love? I’m afraid it’s plain and simple – money. In fact, if I had money, I’d definitely ski every season, probably several times a season. I’m not sure what skiing is like in other parts of the world, but here in Australia it’s an extremely expensive pursuit. A day lift pass at Mt Buller is $108, then there’s ski rental, clothing, accommodation, etc. etc. Not really in the budget of most authors.

This trip was actually spurred on by my daughter and my dad. Grace has wanted to ski for a couple of years (since she was 3), and Dad was going up (also for the first time in 10+ years) with his new wife and step daughter. They made me an offer I couldn’t refuse; they’d pay for all of Grace’s expenses, including ski school. And so, we planned our two-night, three-day trip.

It was Grace’s second time ever seeing snow and her first time skiing. I hoped she would love it, but we took it easy, booking her in for the afternoon session on the first day. I warned her that falling was part of skiing and not to worry about it! But she’s not very fond of falling, so I was worried it would completely put her off.

It felt a little weird leaving her in the ski school. While Grace does go to school now, she’s never been to day care or a holiday program – the benefits of working from home. However, once she was settled I hit the slopes. I had two hours of skiing time to myself.  After only two green (easy) runs, I felt ready and confident enough to hit the blue (intermediate) slopes. I should say, I was never an advanced skier, mostly because I would only get up for a couple of days a season. That money thing again. So I was always a blue run girl, rather than a black (advanced) skier.

Anyway, it was definitely a case of rediscovering an old love.  We were blessed with the weather … blue skies and sunshine. I only had two hours that first day, but I made the most of it up on the top of the mountain before heading back to pick up Grace. Then Grace went on her first ever chairlift with me, and I took her down a long (easy) run. I was glad that the skiing process had come back to me enough that I felt confident taking her down with me. And she LOVED it. It also gave her the incentive to learn to ski, because she wants to go down the mountain fast like Mummy.

GraceSkiingThe next day she was keen for an all-day lesson (9-3.30). I dropped in on her a few times and got some great video of her learning to snow plough. In the afternoon it was up the chairlift with her again for a hot chocolate with my dad, then up a little higher on the mountain. This was when this pic was taken.

So, I’ve rediscovered an old love. I’m not sure when I’ll be up again (comes back to the lottery/best seller solution) but I hope it won’t take me another 14 years.

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July 6, 2012

Back on the rollercoaster

Filed under: Getting published,Murderati blogs,Writing — Tags: , , , — PD Martin @ 4:20 am

RollerCoasterAnd so, the rollercoaster begins…again. This week I finally finished my mainstream drama/fiction project. Hooray! It’s been a long time in the making, mostly because I had to come off it several times last year to take paid freelance jobs (ghost writing, corporate stuff, etc.) and this year I’ve been focusing on my ebook strategy. However, I launched myself into the re-write in mid-May and now it’s done. It’s a wonderful feeling to be finished the novel and to be happy with it (for the most part).

The bad news is, I’m on the rollercoaster again. Sigh. I really don’t know if I’m mentally prepared for the lows as well as the highs. Sigh. You see, while I’m committed to the ebook path for some of my books (some genres), I feel that I’d like to give traditional publishing a go with my mainstream drama. Which means finding an agent. <Insert a million sighs>

Yup, THAT rollercoaster. Picking a shortlist of agents based on their recent sales and the authors they represent, then querying one to three at a time. And that’s a whole other thing—so many agents don’t like or insist on not being part of multiple submissions. But if you do one agent at a time, it could take you a year or more to get through your top 10! Of course, any author hopes that their first or maybe second pick will leap at the opportunity to represent them. But it’s getting harder and harder, even for authors with a publishing record (like me) to get an agent to take the plunge. I’m in a time warp, back in 1998-2004, when I was an aspiring author, looking for an agent or publisher. Looking for my first break. And in some ways, it feels like I’m back at square one.  Sigh.

This week I start querying, and I’m both excited and petrified. I know I need to tighten the query letter and synopsis, so that’s my next focus. Although the timing truly sucks. This week and next week is school holidays in Victoria, Australia so I’m a full-time mum for the next two weeks. Not that I can complain—I’m also going skiing. In fact, when this post goes live I’ll be at Mt Buller, skiing for the first time in 10 years. And it will be my daughter’s first time ever. Exciting!!! Can’t wait. Although it does also mean I might not be able to respond to comments until the weekend (or perhaps I’ll be very brief from my Smartphone). Anyway…

Being an author truly is a rollercoaster—or more accurately several rollercoasters, sometimes happening simultaneously.

First, there’s the creative process itself, the creative rollercoaster. One minute you think that sentence, paragraph, chapter or book is brilliant; the next, you think it’s crap. And those highs and lows just seem to be part of the creative process. I’m still really on this rollercoaster for Cross Roads and Dead Ends (working title). I said above that I’m happy with it (for the most part), but like many authors I question whether you can ever be truly 100% happy with a book. I could edit and tweak for eternity, I think.

Then there’s the agent rollercoaster. The rollercoaster I’m currently on. Once you get an agent, there’s the publisher rollercoaster. Will your agent’s first round of publishers be interested? Will they all be so interested that it goes to auction (best-case scenario) or will they all pass (obviously worst-case scenario)?

Then there’s the rollercoaster once your book is published, the marketplace rollercoaster. Will the reviewers like it? Will the readers like it? And even if both reviewers and readers rave about it, will it actually make a dent in terms of sales? The making-a-living-as-an-author rollercoaster. See? Lots of rollercoasters!

Ultimately, my aim as an author is to take my readers on a rollercoaster, but with very different highs and lows. In the case of Cross Roads and Dead Ends, I want my readers to experience the characters’ pain, their loss, and feel that sense of resonance. I want to take my readers to soaring heights, but also sometimes the depth of despair. But that means I have to go on all the other rollercoasters first.  So here I go. Ready for the adrenaline high and the possible motion sickness.

Deep breath…

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