Thursday, 25 October 2012


It's been a damp, misty and chilly old half-term...and we've all been a bit subdued.
The nine year old has been dreading his twice-yearly dental appointment with a quite unprecedented terror (although his teeth are always fine). The six year old hasn't been getting on very well with his best friend - and doesn't have a clue how to deal with it (mainly tears so far).  And I've been feeling a bit glum about the predictable lack of agent-enthusiasm for the book I spent a year on. God, I hate feeling all the hope gradually seeping out of me as through I have a slow puncture.

To cheer ourselves up we have...
...shopped for new Nintendo games and art supplies, then had a lovely lunch at Pizza Express. Tony Adams and his family were at the next table - which delighted my husband, although me...not so much. I was more interested in my Vanilla Fudge Sundae.
...been to see Hotel Transylvania with bagfuls of smarties, mini-eggs and jelly worms. Husband and self looking forward to Skyfall next week - with rather more grown-up treats (dry martinis are probably in order!)
...And this morning we caught the Halloween Special - a little train that took us on a treasure hunt through the Forest of Dean...

The woods were pretty and autumnal...

...and a little bit spooky. There go the boys looking for clues!

And there were lots of pumpkins...

The stations and the cafe were decorated with strings of sparkly ghosts, spiders and (more) pumpkins!
And here's the loot - both boys found gold coins, halloween badges and balloons.

I've been avoiding my blog a bit lately because I started it to document the progress I was making with my writing and to be honest, there simply...hasn't been any. 
It was to be expected, I know - I've read the statistics a million times. That doesn't make it any less depressing though.
I got fairly swift rejections (all form letters and no feedback) from half a dozen of the agents I submitted to. From the remaining six - a deafening silence. I suppose they've all been net-working madly in Frankfurt instead of trawling through their slush piles *sigh*
The first one always stings a bit because it means your book is resistible. Until that one arrives, you can cling to the impossible dream that your ms will take agentland by storm and spark a frenzied bidding war. (Admittedly that was always a very distant dream!)
Then there's one that comes out of the blue and somehow makes all your hopes crumble - as if you've received a sudden, unexpected kick in the shins. For me this was the rejection I got from PFD yesterday. I sent it late on Tuesday evening on a sudden whim...and was rejected at 9.30 the following morning. It felt as if Janelle Andrews had batted it back to me like a pesky mosquito! 
Ow, ow, ow!
That was the one that really forced me to come to terms with the likelihood that my book isn't going to get picked up this time.
So I'm going to have to focus on all the reasons I want to be a writer (I doubt I could give up now even if I tried) and remind myself of all the key words from the many writer's blogs I've visited over the last few years - such as PERSEVERENCE...DETERMINATION...PATIENCE...HARD WORK...(I feel exhausted just muttering them!)

I think there's a good chance I'm not pitching the damn thing right - or sending it to the right people.
I wrote about teenagers because that seemed like the most fun at the time. Teenagers take stupid, reckless risks, they get hopelessly - and hilariously - drunk when they're least capable of handling alcohol, and their romances always seem melodramatically intense. So teenage characters were irresistible!
But I wrote it for me - rather than a teenage audience. My friends who've read and liked it aren't teenagers either. And the teenagers who most inspired me, were those from  books like 'The Secret History' or 'The Beach' - not books aimed specifically at the teenage market.
Then I read that if my main characters (especially the narrator) were teenagers, then my book was Teen Fiction. It seemed to be A RULE!
So I've been sending a book full of sex and drugs and swearing to children's agents, who may well have been recoiling in shock. But if I send it to agents of adult fiction, I can't help thinking they'll see at a glance that it's full of teenagers and turn it down flat. Teenage characters seem to inhabit a no man's land in writing.

The only answer is to try not to think about it too much (some hope!) and get on with writing the next one. I'd forgotten how daunting it is to begin all over again - with a blank screen, an empty notebook and characters I don't know the first thing about.
The only thing I know for sure is not to make them teenagers this time!!!


  1. Sympathies, Helen. I know the feeling well. My first 'novel' was an attempt at women's fiction. Naturally when I'd spent a year or so writing it I thought it was brilliant and send it out to agents. The response, sadly, was much like yours. I still have it and maybe I will go back to it one day, reading parts of it now I see why it was rejected but I can also see I needed to go through the process. I can honestly say I have learnt so much over the last couple of years much of it through sweat and tears but the blogging community have helped enormously. Anyway I now write for children and Young Adult it is much more me and I am getting there, slowly. Keep writing you can do it. Just as a thought could you rework your novel using slightly older characters? There is a new genre emerging known as New Adult which seems to focus on characters in their later teens and twenties. Good luck.

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    1. Oh, you are lovely!
      And very knowledgeable - I've been investigating a couple of New Adult websites and I think my story would fit in pretty well. Trouble is, all the agents seem to be being a bit cautious about handling NA at the moment.
      Good to know I'm not alone, though xx

    2. You are definitely not alone, Helen. I think NA is quite new on the scene. There are a few bloggers I connect with who have self published in this genre. It is certainly worth investigating possible agents -maybe you could even be ahead of the game! Best of luck and keep us posted!