A lot has happened since my last post. I repackaged and send out another round of submissions for Soul Seer (aka Delve), out of which I had another request for the full which was subsequently rejected. Unfortunately I didn’t receive any feedback. It was almost like getting a standard rejection letter for an initial submission.
I also started a new wip, a young adult supernatural novel, which I’ve called To Breathe Again. It had a slow start but I decided to spend a few days over the Jubilee weekend at a writer’s retreat in Sheepwash,
Devon, run by the lovely
Deborah Dooley and her husband. I spent three blissful days at their lovely
thatched cottage. For once I could write without interruption, either in my
room at the desk that overlooked the village square, or in front of the open
fire, whilst Debs fed me and fellow guests throughout. I came away from
Sheepwash having written c.15,000 words. My only regret was that I could not
stay longer, and do not know when I’ll have the chance to return.
And then this weekend, I attended the Winchester Writers Conference for the first time. I arrived Thursday night, and booked into the student accommodation provided, situated conveniently next to the prison and opposite the county hospital. That I looked out my window and found some strange barefooted bloke stealing a plant from the grounds of the student village with his girlfriend pleading with him to ‘just walk’ was both slightly disturbing and amusing at the same time. In fact I saw the same couple throughout the night as I walked into town for dinner and then back to my room: at the garden centre next door as the guy looked set to steal an umbrella, and his girlfriend sat on a wall outside with her head in her hands. And then again an hour later, barely yards from where they’d started.
The conference ran from Friday to Sunday, with various talks and workshops on offer but it was the 121s that drew me, the chance to talk about Soul Seer with agents and editors, as well as the chance to network with other writers, notably my fellow Writeworders Sharley, Debac, Funny Valentine and SusieL, all of who were lovely. FV even won an award for Children’s writing 12+. First prize I believe. Well done, FV! And it was nice to see at dinner that the novel of another fellow Writeworder, Essie Fox’s Sonambulist was one of the novels being given away to conference delegates. I’m really looking forward to reading it. I also got to meet Teri Terry, author of Slated. Teri, I've started reading and it's great!
Back to the 121s, on the Friday I met with an editor who gave me some feedback and tips on how to make my work more commercial, as well as an agent that seemed interested in my current wip, but not in Soul Seer. Though I saw this interest in my new wip as a positive thing, by the end of the day, I felt completely despondent about Soul Seer and sought the advice of an Agony Aunt. I remember asking her the question ‘When do you know it’s time to give up on a novel, shelve it and move on?”
Saturday changed everything. Again I had individual 121s with an editor, an agent and an author respectively. The agent I met with was lovely, and we had a really open conversation about Soul Seer. I agreed it needed another edit and suggested taking a main character out, who was essentially helping my protagonist to make sense of the new world that she was having to deal with. We agreed it would be better for my protagonist to discover things for herself rather than be hand held through it. Then came the big question – was she interested in it if I dealt with the issues we’d talked about? To my delight, she said she would be and not just in seeing the initial submission but the full manuscript.
I do realise that I’ve set myself a big task ahead. I’m taking on board much of the advice I’ve been given for Soul Seer – bringing the action forward, making some of the scenes more visual, removing a main character and giving the manuscript more of a commercial edge. And then there’s To Breathe Again, having agent interest in a half finished novel. I’m not quite sure where to start but I know that I’m going to be really busy in the weeks to come. So when I get home after work, I’m turning the telly off and getting on with the writing. And I may need to bargain with my family for some time to write at the weekend. I may be internet silent for a while too, but I’ll come back and let you know how I get on. Lorraine x