Saturday, 26 May 2018

On the high street

So I've just delivered some copies of Drawn To The Deep End to the excellent Kett's Books in Wymondham, Norfolk so if you wanted to buy a physical copy from a physical (and lovely!) book shop, you now can.

More about Kett's Books: www.kettsbooks.co.uk

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Breaking radio silence... for exciting news

A very quick note to say I have been in discussions with a local bookshop regarding them stocking Drawn To The Deep End. And it looks like it's going to happen!

More details to follow as soon as I am actually on their shelves...

Friday, 4 May 2018

100 days starts here

I've been slack of late. Very slack. I haven't written very much at all, and have disguised the fact by recycling old words and by trying to launch another project that will require me to edit but not write.

But writers write, right?

So, inspired by an excellent writer of my acquaintance, I'm going to try the whole #100DaysOfWriting thing. You know, where you try and write something (anything!) for 100 days in a row, and post about your progress, or lack thereof, on that there Twitter (hence the hashtagging).

Today is about to be #Day1 for me, which will make August 11th #Day100. Let's see how this goes.

Monday, 26 February 2018

Another review I'm quite proud of. Sorry.

Again, I crave your indulgence.

JC is a long-time and respected blogger, author of the excellent New Vinyl Villain blog, where he writes predominantly about music. There are few finer music blogs out there, in my view, so imagine my delight on discovering that, not only has he just read Drawn To The Deep End, he's reviewed it too; here's an extract:

Peter is a brilliantly drawn character, someone who will run the full gamut of your emotions and catch you off-guard every now and again; you will have empathy and sympathy one moment but it won’t be too long before you want to grab him by the throat and shout ‘what the fuck??’ into his face to get him to see sense. The book is also populated by a cast of wonderful co-stars, especially from the world of work where the sheer one-dimensional aspect of so many of them struck a chord, given my own experiences in different offices over the past 30+ years with colleagues who have displayed many of the traits on show across the 230-odd pages – I might even admit, with a sense of shame, of seeing something of my younger cocky and arrogant self in parts of the minor characters. It is a book that also contains some of the most moving passages anyone will ever read on just how difficult, draining, frustrating and ultimately heart-breaking it is to be responsible for a demented and elderly parent.

I'm a bit humbled by reviews like this, if truth be told.

You can read the full review on JC's always-excellent blog, right here. And, of course, Drawn To The Deep End is here. Cheers.

Friday, 19 January 2018

A Drawn To The Deep End preview

It's not perfect, in that some of the format is a little out of whack (why oh why does this display the first paragraph of a chapter with a hanging indent, for example?), but Amazon offer an embeddable preview of the e-books they sell. So ... here's an embedded preview of Drawn To The Deep End. Enjoy. Then buy. Then review (like this... or these). Hey, it doesn't hurt to ask, right?

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

I won't do this every time, but...

...I just wanted to draw attention to a review that I'm particularly proud of. Indulge me, please.

Rol Hirst is a long-time and respected blogger, part-time writer, comic-book author and all-round good guy. He's just read and reviewed Drawn To The Deep End; here's an extract from his review:

Drawn To The Deep End is an intense character study of Peter, a man driven to the verge of depression by the death of his girlfriend, trying desperately to claw his way out, grasping at any straw (often straw women) that bends his way. It's a book that has a lot to say about being a lonely 30-something man in this day and age... and as someone who was just that ten or so years ago (and maybe only my age has changed, in some ways), I related to it very much. It's also very funny - shot through with dark observational humour that makes you wince and nod and wish you'd written it yourself. You may end up screaming at Peter. He does make some very unwise decisions. But you'll understand why, every step of the way. What is "happiness", anyway?

I'm quietly chuffed with that, especially the bit in bold.

You can read the full review on Rol's always-excellent blog, right here.

If you're interested in Rol's own novel (and you should be, it's terrific), you'll be wanting this link to I Wish, Wish, Wish You Were Dead, Dead, Dead. And, of course, Drawn To The Deep End is here.

Friday, 12 January 2018

This just in... first reviews!

Reviews (and, gratifyingly, lots of stars) are starting to appear on Amazon for Drawn To The Deep End - you can hover over each review quote in the image below for a bit more info, and click the quote to read the review in full.

★★★★★ from 'Sunny Sparrow' ★★★★ from Mark Kilner ★★★★★ from 'Suzyjerve' ★★★★★ from 'Ossie13' ★★★★★ from C. Taylor

Read Drawn To The Deep End? Care to leave a review?

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Sale now on...

Get a new device for Christmas? An e-reader or a new tablet/phone with e-book reading software on? Then you'll be wanting to fill it up, right? So lucky for you I'm running a bit of a sale, right now.

The e-book version of my novel, Drawn To The Deep End, is on a countdown deal - that means it starts off reduced as far as it's going to be and then gradually returns to full price. Here it is:

And if that's not good enough for you, some short stories (Turn Around Where Possible and Cold) and non-fiction essay (Tesc-No - living without supermarkets) are all free for a limited time. Look...

  

And, if Amazon isn't your thing, you can currently pick up a half-price e-book of my first collection of short fiction, Dark Steps, by buying it from Smashwords and using the promo code SEY50. That's five-zero, not five-o. Or, the paperback version is currently running with 15% off at Lulu.

Belated happy Christmas to you all.

Friday, 3 November 2017

These things I have learned

Don't get any big ideas

So, two months ago I self-published my debut novel, Drawn To The Deep End. That followed ten months of hawking it around agents and publishers, which in turn followed nearly a year of editing and five years of writing.

At the time of writing this, that novel has sold two dozen copies. Subtract the copies bought by family and close friends and you can probably halve that number. Subtract those bought by former colleagues and schoolmates who are curious, and you can probably reduce that number to zero.

So what have I learned from the whole, painful process?

  • If, like me, you take five years to write 80,000 words of novel, you've been prevaricating and, as Harold Bishop once said, prevarication is the enemy of achievement. I know it can be hard to find the time, but make time. There will always be other things to do, so prioritise. Writers write, right?
  • Don't edit alone. Yes, do the first and second pass edits yourself but then you need to bring other people in. Not only will they spot things you don't, they're also not biased about your precious words and will have no issue with ripping up that para you think is the best thing since sliced bread (but really isn't).
  • Target your submissions. There are only so many publishers that accept unagented works... so focus on agents. And revise. If your novel is a space-opera, don't waste the time of agents looking for historical fiction. And if the agency has more than one agent, take the time to read their profiles online, and then pick the one (i.e. don't carpet-bomb them all) whose interests align closest with what you've written.
  • Be realistic when you get feedback. It's easy to be flattered by phrases like "whilst your story stood out" or "whilst this shows promise", but they still begin with a "whilst" get-out clause; you're still being rejected, as in that other phrase "I'm afraid this isn't for me". Realise that agents receive untold submissions and there's a good chance that the response you get will incorporate some boilerplate text.
  • And now something specific to my attempted submissions: if you write a novel about a grief-ridden 30-something slacker who wants to die but can't kill himself, so instead sets off on a destructive path of increasingly erratic and reprehensible behaviour, surrounded by unlikeable characters, all doing unpleasant things, you might have to accept that this novel is not widely marketable and will not be for most people. And that most people includes agents and publishers.
  • When you self-publish a novel and it sells two dozen copies in its first seven weeks, don't get too excited. That's your family, friends, and social media acquaintances being polite and/or curious. You can't give up the day job just yet...

What did I miss?

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Another publication, of a very different sort

A nine-year old article of mine has made its way, lightly edited, into a new and frankly astounding, heavyweight coffee table book about the band The Wedding Present, entitled Sometimes These Words Just Don't Have To Be Said by Richard Houghton and David Gedge. I'm on pp333-334.

My contribution is a bit journalistic if I'm honest, being a gig review for a blog rather than something I wrote with more generic publication in mind. I might have edited it a bit differently too, but I can't quibble about that. All in all, I'm quite chuffed about this, being a huge fan of the band.

If you're a fan too, you can buy Sometimes These Words Just Don't Have To Be Said from the band's Scopitones website. It's not a cheap book, but then it is a monumental slab of hardback. I'd buy it, even it I wasn't in it.

Friday, 15 September 2017

Drawn To The Deep End

So, a novel that I've been working at, on and off, for seven years is finally available for public consumption. Yes, seven years. More than five writing it, in fits and starts. A year of editing and reviews. Nearly a year trying to find an agent and/or publisher. You might infer from my failure to do the latter that the novel isn't very good, and you're entitled to your opinion. I think it's alright. Not very marketable, perhaps, and a bit downbeat for some, but alright, nonetheless. You'll have to buy it and make your own mind up. Here are the links you'll need for that:

Paperback

Ebook

If you like the book, it'd be lovely if you could leave a nice review on Amazon or Goodreads, or wherever you write your reviews. Feel free to blog or tweet about it, if you like.

If you don't like it, well, silence is golden, eh? Or better yet, come on over to this blog or Twitter and let me know off the record, on the QT, and very hush-hush ;)

Saturday, 9 September 2017

The end is nigh

I gave myself a deadline for finding an agent and/or publisher for Drawn To The Deep End that has seen me submit to 36 different organisations of one sort or the other since last Christmas.

That deadline expired today. Here's the state of play for those 36 submissions; in this context "Live" just means "haven't responded and don't publish a timescale for responding". So notionally live but, in reality, elapsed. Dead, if you prefer.

So the work on producing a self-published version starts tomorrow...

Thursday, 13 July 2017

If you're not ready for rejection, you're not ready to submit...

...has become a personal motto this year. I am so ready for rejection, I can even share it with you.

I get lots of nice feedback, usually along the lines of "it stood out but...". There's always a but. What follows that seems most often to be a variation on either "this isn't quite right for our list" or "this isn't something we feel we could get behind" and that is, of course, all fine. Other feedback seems to suggest that my work is not commercial enough, and that the story in question doesn't make the reader care passionately enough. Not so fine.

A common thing to say to struggling writers in submission purgatory is "well, Carrie was rejected 30 times before things took off for Stephen King" and that's true. The accepted response to such well-meaning platitudes is to nod and force a smile. The real response should be to point out that most struggling writers are not Stephen King (and whatever you think of him, he undeniably knows how to craft a page-turner), and that the publishing landscape has changed immeasurably since the early '70s. But on we go, regardless: nod and smile.

Since the 19th of December last year, I have so far made 36 submissions of which 58% have been rejected and 31% have elapsed, that is to say the "if your haven't heard from within n weeks you're not going to" category. A precious 11% - four submissions - can still be considered "live" but only because those agents don't have a "haven't heard" category...

But onwards - I gave myself a timescale for Drawn To The Deep End, and have a self-publication fallback plan if that timescale elapses without success. And for the novella in progress, working title Nudge (a title which will change, by the way), I have novella competitions that I want to enter.

Better get writing then.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Song Books - a recommendation

I have nothing new to post about my own writing, but I am very happy to recommend having a listen to this: my good friend and supremely talented writer, Deborah Arnander, talking about short stories on the radio. With bonus Velvet Underground and Nico content! Here you go:

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

A definite trend is emerging...

...and it's downwards.

I know I gave myself until September to find an agent and/or publisher, but self-publishing Drawn To The Deep End is starting to look inevitable.

And in other news, my submission to the Escalator programme was also knocked back.

Onwards though, right?

Monday, 19 December 2016

Just to mark the date...

...I am submitting Drawn To The Deep End to publishers of interest. Or, if this was Twitter, #AmSubmitting.

I'm trying to do things properly, by which I mean traditionally. I'm also being realistic in acknowledging how hard it is to find not only a publisher but, more importantly, the right publisher. At the same time, I want to see Peter Potter's Deep End world make it into print, so I'm giving myself a deadline of nine months to find that publisher. If nothing promising is happening within that time, I'll bite the bullet and self-publish DTTDE (subtext for any publishers reading this - why not get in first?)

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Does an author have a social responsibility?

Long term readers of this blog may know that I have a novel-length manuscript permanently "on the go". It's provisionally entitled Drawn To The Deep End, and tells the tale of a 30-something wage slave who cannot forgive himself for the part he played in his fiancée's suicide three years earlier. His life spirals downwards under a succession of blows, until he ultimately attempts (but is unable) to take his own life.

Now I've workshopped a lot of this story to death, if you'll pardon the pun, and many of my critique group have had an issue with the ending. I've always defended the story by saying that the protagonist has come to view death as redemption, and that was usually that. I put it down to my group-mates not wanting my (anti-) hero to die.

But this week, after an especially full-on but focused session (just three of us - thanks you, KC and DA) another issue was raised. Did I need to think about the message I was putting out there, into the wider world? Okay, it's unlikely that the book, whenever the manuscript becomes a book, will ever be read by that many people. But even if it's only read by one person, was I comfortable with putting out the message that death, and especially suicide, can be redemption? What if one person who's feeling suicidal reads my book, takes that message away, and acts on it? How would I feel?

So, the bigger question: do authors have a social, ethical responsibility for the message, as well as the content, of what they release to the reading world? I'm starting to think they do. And if they do, when does that outrank the story? Could I, with a clear conscience, release my story with it's current ending if I took the Eastenders approach, and put something at the end of the book along the lines of "if you've been affected by the issues in Peter's story, please call this number of visit that website." Is that enough? Or is that a cop-out?

What do you think?

By the way, if you are feeling affected by Peter's story, why not give the Samaritans a call on 116 123 (UK & ROI) or visit them at www.samaritans.org. Thanks.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Higson. Charlie Higson.

Shaken, not stirred. Charlie Higson signs.
I went to see Charlie Higson last week, not in any comedy setting but as an author, talking about the process by which he came to be entrusted by the Fleming estate with the Young Bond novels. The event formed part of the Noirwich Crime Writing festival (the name of which sits somewhere on the punning scale but I can't decide if it's at the 'genius' end or the 'cringe-worthy'). The event coincided with Charlie's donation of archive materials to the host university.

Charlie came across as a thoroughly good bloke, affable, insightful and funny. For people of a certain age in the audience, like me, he even squeezed in a Fast Show catchphrase (though not from one of this characters)... which was nice.

He's a criminally under-rated author in my view, the success of his YA fiction (he writes the zombie-pocalypse series The Enemy too) overshadowing the excellence of his adult fiction. If you don't believe me, take a peak at King of the Ants and Happy Now.

Anyway, I jotted a (very) few notes of the things Charlie had to say; here are those observations.

  • Talking about Bond, Higson described the spy's dream lifestyle, not in terms of the guns/girls/fast cars cliché but by saying (paraphrase alert) he's not married, he doesn't have children, he lives largely in hotels, he eats largely in restaurants and he goes off doing exciting things. Charlie alluded to the appeal of Bond's lifestyle in part relating to not being tied down with a wife and children again later in the evening.
  • Charlie name-checked author Jim Thompson as a favourite, and influence, mentioning The Killer Inside Me and Pop.1280 in particular, suggesting the latter could be his favourite book.
  • When asked about studying how fiction is written in general, and crime fiction in particular, and how the donation of his archive to the university might support that, Charlie joked, "These days you can study anything, can't you?"
  • When discussing the merit of YA fiction, Charlie recounted how Martin Amis, when asked if he (Amis) would ever write YA, had replied, "Only if I had brain damage."
  • Charlie also mentioned Anthony Horowitz, whose Alex Rider books are often understandably considered alongside the Young Bond series. Charlie explained how Horowitz had once confided that he'd named his protagonist Rider after Honeychile Rider in Dr No, and that he considered Alex Rider to be Bond's illegitimate grandson.

Another, more general observation is how much time Charlie made for everyone in the book signing queue. Nobody was rushed, everyone seemed to have as much time as they needed talking with him. Respect also to the guy ahead of me in the queue who had some Higsons 12" vinyl (this, I think) for signing - Charlie duly obliged. Also of interest were the samples of Charlie's work in the foyer that would be going into the archive, including early drafts of the first Young Bond book, Silverfin, complete with extensive editorial notes. Proof, if proof were needed, of the value of a good editor and trusted, objective feedback, something I've blogged a bit about before.

All in all, this was a terrific evening. There was lots more of interest that I didn't note down, but the whole shebang was filmed, so maybe it'll appear online sometime. I'll keep my eyes open and, if it does, I'll post a link here. In the meantime, go and read some of Charlie's fiction, both adult and YA - you won't be disappointed.