Publishing update

So.

The Painting is up on Amazon, Smashwords and Lulu, and is selling at a steady rate. All ebooks so far, no paperbacks, although I think the paperback royalties take longer to appear on the statement.

Stormwatcher 1 is up in both ppb and ebook versions, and Stormwatcher 2 as an ebook (just finishing the adjustments to the proof – more on that later)

Sense and Celebrity is up in ebook and ppb.

I’m back to working on A Season of Singing. I’m on the last few thousand words, wriggle room I leave myself in the final edits as I tend to underwrite and have to go back and do a lot of filling in between events, foreshadowing, making sure motivations are realistic, that kind of thing.

I never really thought about how much I write about disability until now. I assumed it was because I’m a doctor, but now I no longer think that’s the reason. I suppose it’s that firstly, I prefer to write about people who are disenfranchised in some way – gay men in Nazi Germany, for instance. In Pride and Precipitation (spoilers!) Stephen Rowan ends up the most seriously injured among a small group of people; not a role he has ever envisaged himself in, nor one he’s particularly well equipped to cope with.

Season of Singing follows a deeply religious man who’s the victim of a vicious, mistakenly homophobic attack, from which it has taken him a year and a half to return to independent living. He believes everything that happens has a purpose, but cannot square this with what he’s experienced.

And lastly, The First Time They Met, the most challenging (for me) book I’ve yet written. One character has a lifelong disability, the other has acquired permanent spinal injuries as a result of his own recklessness. One has had it all, and thrown it away, while the other has struggled to be normal, struggled to achieve and yet is still the outsider in her own life.

I’ve suddenly realised that I would find it hard to write without tackling these kinds of issues. I can’t imagine writing a book where all the characters are healthy, privileged people. I’ve often felt guilty about not including more POC, but maybe that’s just not my bag. And if any group of people needs a fictional voice that speaks of them as being fully human, then we certainly do.

Off on a writing course…

…I hope.

I’ve been accepted onto the Seed course at Olvar Wood next month. I’m a bit frantic – the gap between being notified (yesterday) and the course (13th September) is very short, and I have a horrible feeling that I might not be able to get locum cover in time. It was probably foolish to send my portfolio in, but I’ve been writing in a vacuum for over two years now, and I need some sort of face-to-face interaction with other writers or I’m going to go nuts. So, I’m watching the tickets for flights to Melbourne slowly vanishing (I’m already in for a 5am drive to Launceston, because there are no seats left from my local airport) and wondering if I will have to get the boat instead. Oh, the delights of living on a small island!

This was only the third time I’ve submitted a portfolio; the first time was for the Arvon advanced fiction course which had me turning cartwheels when I got in. It was a terrifying and exhilarating week; the standard was unbelievably high.

The second portfolio was for my Master’s in creative writing; ’nuff said.

And thinking about that has reminded me about my woefully thin submissions record. In my defence, I’m crap at writing short stories, which is a bit of a handicap, but this is a complete list of all competition entries and slush submissions:

  • The Pity of War  – a competition – First prize
  • Greek Experience – Another competition judged by Louis de Bernieres; the first prize was a week’s writing course in Greece. I came second. There was no second prize.
  • MsLexia – theme: Angels – published story
  • MsLexia – theme: Fire – apologetic letter about six months later telling me they’d intended to publish my story but lost it and gone to press without it. They’d just found it in a pile of manuscripts and wanted to let me know.
  • XXX – Novel – rejected by every agent/publisher in the UK, but some nice letters summarised as ‘when you write something more commercial, send it in’.
  • Winchester Writer’s Conference – children’s short story – unplaced
  • Writer’s News – short story – runner up
  • Writers’ News writing course (suppose I’d better admit to this) – abandoned due to a difference of my opinion with my tutor over whether all short stories should have a twist ending. I said not. He diagreed with me, and reminded me that he was the teacher. His obsession with aspects of punctuation which were a matter of opinion rather than correct grammar drove me crackers as well.

Oh, hell – it’s not a lot to show for over 15 years of writing, is it? It’s almost as bad as coming across those competitions and awards for ‘young’ writers, for which I am sadly no longer eligible. I’m sitting in that watershed zone – it’s a few years yet before I’ll be eligible for any ‘mature’ writer awards (I assume these reflect your age, not the maturity of your writing. If the latter, I’ll never be eligible).

So…resolution is to finish the current novel and send it across by the end of September to the good Mr Jarrold for editing. Then, if he thinks it can be turned into something remotely publishable, get it into shape and off to the agents by the end of the year.

There.

Resolved.

…better get writing…