Thursday, July 29, 2010

Bad as

Cars, climbs and crimes. Note, none of the cars pictured were or have been involved in any crimes - as far as I know!



The last couple of weeks have been very interesting for me: by turns, as bad as being stuck in a porta loo at a rock concert in a heat wave, and as good as getting the goodliest visit from the good fairy to tell me I am as good as goody goodness gets.

I went to  hear the top bods of Penguin and Random House NZ talking about the dire state of the publishing industry.

Books are not getting published which would have several years ago. Commercial is winning over literary. Memoir cookbooks are top sellers - really - did you know that?

The e-book is trying to take over the world and, guess what, the publishers want it to!

They didn't speak about the kind of novel I'm working on so I ambled over to Mr Penguin, at the end of the session, and asked him for myself. I asked him what the market's like for my novel - pretty good - and showed him my pitch - two sentences - he liked them enough to give me the name of an agent. Cool, except that I sent my sample chapters off and said agent didn't like them!

I scuffed my heels for an hour - ah, woe is me - and then got to it. I cut 10,000 words - yes, you read that right, four zeros - and I ripped out the structure and thought outside the box. My novel was a triptych - it's not anymore! My sample reader (not husband) emailed back "brilliant" (and he is one mean critic), and I'm polishing sentences again and gearing up for the next phase. I wish I could work on it all day every day.

However, I have family stuffage! Yesterday's stuff involved giving someone a lift to and from the dentist. Said passenger was heavily sedated. I only realised how heavily when a car reversed at speed towards us and said passenger hardly flinched! I, on the other hand, whacked my horn on and nipped out of the line of impact only to see a woman chasing the reversing car, shouting " Stop them! They've stolen my....". I shouted out of my door "Get them!" and zipped around to the next exit - where I thought they would appear - only they had zoomed off.

Ironically, the police station is just across the road from where all this happened. I went in and said there was a robbery underway and had no sooner said this when a chap came into the station - having heard a prolonged beeping of car horn (that was me) and thinking he should take the number and mark of the car speeding from the car park!

Several minutes later the police had caught them! How cool is that? My work here is done, I said, and went home rather pleased with myself.

To summarise: I blew my chance with the agent by getting carried away with myself and not giving myself enough distance from my novel to be absolutely cut throat critical about it - won't be doing that again - but I did do a good deed and was rewarded, if not with an agent/book deal, at least with the knowledge that I am one formidable lady and kick ass baddie catcher!

32 comments:

Thomas Taylor said...

Ha ha, Brilliant! Do you have a special costume? If so, I need a photo.

On the only partially brilliant front, I'm sorry about the agent, but it sounds like you have taken an important step forward with your novel. It's amazing to what extent less can be more! Even 10,000 words less:)

Rachel Fenton said...

Ha - I might have to make one! I need a theme tune, too...ah, the possibilities are endless...

I could make you an anti-orange glare reflecting visor?

You could be my t'other side of globe side kick!

On the novel front..

I ate a large literary helping of humble pie after the agent rejection. It was better for my writing, so it wasn't all bad but it wasn't quite what I had been fantasising about in the three days it took to get the email!

Rachel Fox said...

Well, if you've made drastic changes why not try sending to the same agent again? They tend to like persistence I think (though they wouldn't admit that)and especially if you make it look like you changed it partly with them in mind...

Looking forward to reading it!
x

Rachel Fenton said...

I think I polished all the brass off my neck with pitching my novel to Mr Penguin, Rachel!

There's an agent in Scotland I'd dearly love to have represent me. I'm going to send it there - when it's ready. Can't believe I've made such a balls up!

Rachel Fenton said...

Thanks, both of yous.

Lori said...

Oh, you crime fighter, you! I would feel safe living in your neighborhood.

And for your book, you know, I think you should not doubt yourself too much and overthink it. I mean, you know, just make the changes that you think are right and necessary. It is your art.

Titus said...

This post deserves nothing but a capitalised WOW. On the chutzpah and the cutting (I am so looking forward to this book) and on the superior crime-fighting abilities. I would opt for HonkGirl, with a green costume (no cape).
But most of all, and most superficially of all, thank you for coining Family Stuffage. It is the story of my life.

Kass said...

Fetchy Fenton - able to leap tall buildings and severe words with a single slash!

That's pretty exciting hero stuff.

If you took 10,000 of my words away, I might be mute. What an unselfish sacrifice. I hope your precious expressions didn't mind.

Have you told us what your novel is about? If you have, I've forgotten.

Donna Hosie said...

Wow, that is some perverse karma going on there.

I'm sorry about the rejection, Rachel.

Rachel Fenton said...

Ha, Lori - you would be very welcome in my neighbourhood!

I had put much too much stuff in, too early on - it felt cluttered rather than clean. The criticism came back spot on. So I now have very crisp - if short - beginning and middle and I'm working through the last leg every spare minute of every day. After a screen edit I print off and work through each page with a microscope and a dagger. I've had to cut my heart out of it to get to this point!

Thank you for your tireless support and encouragement.

Rachel Fenton said...

OOh, Titus, yes - and i have an ample nose, and I do suit green - ooh, ooh, I could be in my own comic strip!! I'm going to do it! Hehehe!

I am that demented bleeper!

See, I've got a catch phrase already!!

Family Stuffage - aint that the half of it! You may fill your lexical purse with my coinage me dear if it helps you with your family stuffage!

Rachel Fenton said...

Kass - have I mentioned I once cleared a six foot fence (when i was a girl) after a foal chewed my cardi? (My gran had knitted the cardi - special - and I thought the foal would eat me up altogether) I legged it - the foal followed - my mum heard my screams and came out to look and saw me hurdle the fence!

I have super powers, it seems, only in daft situations!

I haven't told you much about the novel but it has a Scottish connection and there's....ah, I'm not giving it away!

It's been bloody hard to write, though!

Rachel Fenton said...

Hey, Donna - I brought the rejection on myself.

I was soooo excited though. Sad, really.

My karma is all over the place. I must save more people, stop more crime - it's clearly the way to go....


Thanks.

catdownunder said...

Oh miaous of sympurrthy over the rejection!

Rachel Fenton said...

Thanks for the sympathy, Cat, but I need a wet fish round the chops for this!

Mohamed Mughal said...

What a day! I would have passed out after experiencing only ONE of the said events.

About your sentence fragment, "Memoir cookbooks are top sellers...." Is that actually true?

....if so...how do I weave a memoir cookbook into my bizarre and twisted cubist plots?.... :)

Hope your weekend gives you time to recover from it all!

Golden West said...

Hi Rachel,

I think your attitude is spot on - I see it not so much as a rejection as redirection... I am a firm believer that when one door closes, another opens, and you've got the courage to walk through that door. So, onward!

Rachel Fenton said...

Mohamed - rest assured that the cookbooks remark, as far as I know, was out of a summary of the NZ book market! However - I managed to include a cookbook in a novel and I'm not having luck placing that so far!

Thank you, it's my birthday weekend, so I'm having a wonderfully relaxing time! I'm writing every hour of the day - and part of the night - but it's relaxation of sorts for me!

Rachel Fenton said...

GW - absolutely - "onwards.. .rode the six hundred..." erm, me!

Thank you.

Roland D. Yeomans said...

Publishing is certainly at ebb tide for the novice writer, nose pressed up against the agent's window. But they have to try and sell to publishers who just aren't buying.

Bravo to you for your action against those thieves.

Getting stuck in a port-a-potty at a concert will be funny -- some years from now in retrospect.

My dream is to someday travel and tour New Zealand. The other dream is to become published. Sigh.

You have a fascinating blog, Roland

Rachel Fenton said...

Thank you, Roland.

One of my dreams was to move to NZ - still working on the second!

I popped over to yours to find t'old Ernest handing out pearls.
Hope you're not stuck in a porta loo trying to prove it's funny....

Teresa Stenson said...

What an eventful couple of days you had!

I think that is so exciting that you sent your chapters off. Even with the 'No thanks' that you got back. And that must have stung. Poor thing (sounds a bit patronising, not meant to) But see how you just got back on it - cutting away, changing, developing, improving... that's amazing.

Rachel Fenton said...

Thanks, Teresa. It felt way less than amazing, but I have to keep going, else I'll go poof and there'll be a smattering of weebly stemmed daisies where I was standing but little else.

joehebden said...

I'm still a fan of the non e-book !

Rachel Fenton said...

Me too, Joe, but mostly because I hate the idea of some people without electricity/money to fritter, not being able to get their hands on certain texts. To me the e-book speaks of a whole 'nother sort of elitism, encouraged by the very people who should most see its pitfalls. It all boils down to money. The e-book per se is not a bad thing. However, I am encouraged that the sort of books I most love to read/write will continue to be published as paper books. And the good thing about e-books is that books which would otherwise have been rejected for publication - based on predicted sales figures, etc, in current market conditions, will now be published.

For me, the love of holding the book - the smell of the pages and the feel of the edge of the page under my thinb as I read cannot ever be bettered. Books are a love affair for me, not a gadget, but then, I'm not a gadget loving person.
Thanks, Joe.

WOMEN RULE WRITER said...

Excellent baddie catching, Rachel!

It's hard to be objective about one's own work so don't sweat it. I had a gazillion rejections before a publisher finally 'got' my novel. Be patient. All good things come...

Dave King said...

So why not a novel about memoir cook books?

Rachel Fenton said...

Thanks, Nu - I am a repeat offender on the inability to present my own writing accurately!

Dave - believe it or not, I have done one!! Querying with it now!


Got two novels going out there in the big wide W. One light hearted with brains but a speedy read, and the other a very cerebral read requiring some considerable investment from the reader.

If only someone would "get" my writing!

Okay, I'll be patient....


Thanks to both of you.

Annotated Margins said...

Yeah, now that I'm back to writing I've been researching the publishing industry and looking for an agent. This new, electronic world has changed things, just as it's changed the music industry. Oh, sometimes I think I'm a dinosaur. But you, if the writing doesn't pan out, you can always be a superhero! What color is your cape?

Rachel Fenton said...

So far, Mike, I've got a pair of navy blue long johns and some green knickers! Think I'd rather be a writer though :)

Thanks.

Oh, there was a piece about steampunk in the guardian online...

http://browse.guardian.co.uk/search?search=steampunk&sitesearch-radio=guardian


all the links to their associated articles are here.

Dominic Rivron said...

As for publication, I suspect it's the same as for all things. The more years go by, the more clearly I see that it's not just how good one does something (although there is obviously a level of professional competency one absolutely has to achieve) but the work one puts into promoting, packaging and marketing what one does.

Rachel Fenton said...

So, what you're saying is (?) I (one) can be crap but so long as I (one) market my crap effectively I'll (one will) get my (one's) novel published ?

Right, thanks for that :)