Sunday, 22 April 2012

Who's driving whom?

It's no secret that Blackbrooke is part one of a trilogy. A trilogy I planned, albeit loosely, and wasted no time getting to work on the second book as soon as I'd finished the first. The word count got to about 40,000 and I stopped.

You see, when I wrote my chick-lit novel Driving Exile, I loved that I could let the characters take the reader by the hand and guide them in whatever direction they chose. The back story surrounding Driving Exile was very simple as it really was all about the characters, whom I still love dearly. They without a doubt drove the story from beginning to end.

I approached Blackbrooke Part Two in this way, after all, the readers knew the characters already from the first book. They want to be on the journey with them as they grow and develop, don't they? Well, of course they do. Only, I'm not writing a story about a girl who goes on the road with a rock band now, instead I'm concocting (what I hope is) a clever horror for young adults that has more layers than a gypsy wedding cake.

Getting the back story right and ensuring there are no glaring holes in the plot is essential for me to pull it off. So now, I have a different situation whereby the plot is what drives the story, not the characters. Instead, I have to get the plot water-tight and then think about how my characters will react to what's going on around them.

It's challenging as I'm a writer who loves to discuss relationship dynamics and explore interaction between characters but I just don't think I can afford to mould the plot to suit character development. So, I now have to resist the urge to get back in front of my computer and keep typing and instead take a step back and write the Blackbrooke back-story as well as explanations into why things are the way they are in this fictional town.

I'm then going to pass this back-story onto my lovely friends (aka story editors) and have them play devil's advocate and pick holes in it to challenge me and make me address any issues before I develop the story.

It's frustrating because it feels like such a slow process but it'll be worth it in the long run. I was commenting that I believe the second book of a trilogy is perhaps the most important. Yes, the first one needs to sell it but the second is a real investment for the reader and they want to be bowled off their feet in order to make Book Three an absolute must-read. It can't just be a sandwich book, put in there for the sake of it so I need to get it right.

Exclamation point.

On a separate note, the Agent Hunger Games is still very much in effect. Of the 18 initial submissions I sent to agents, there are 14 remaining (three rejections, one message failure). Keep your fingers crossed that I get some positive feedback from some very soon. It's getting tiresome thinking of inventive ways to kill the one's who've rejected me. I'm thinking the next one could be death by flying ninja star....

May the odds be...ah, you get the picture.

Keep smiling,

Em x

Monday, 16 April 2012


The number 18 plays a large part in my young adult novel, Blackbrooke. It's an ominous number that's to be dreaded. When the book is on the shelves, you'll find out why (winking smiley!).

Now, I face my own dreaded number 18.

Without realising it, I sent Blackbrooke out to 18 agents over the weekend. When I counted them up I couldn't help but wish it would have been 17. Then I could have given my blog post a name I thought was really clever (but actually just naff) like 'Edge of Seventeen' one of my favourite songs and sitting firmly on my Blackbrooke playlist.

Now, this is why you need to be careful what you wish for...

Yep, less than two days after sending it off, I've had the first rejection. A bloody generic one as well. Ah, it's OF COURSE to be expected. I know that. However, I'm on a bit of a downer about coming to the end of the fabulous Hunger Games trilogy which left me feeling rather empty. Rejection doesn't feel particularly wonderful on top of this.

Which is why I've devised a little game. Treat the agents like contestants on the Hunger Games. Oh, I know that's sadistic and I promise I won't imagine firing a bow and arrow or hurling spears into the bellies of the ones who dare to reject me (RIP Rue), but you have to make your own fun.

Oh, and I was Tweeted by a fellow writer, the fabulous Nicci Cloke, and tagged in her blog! Made me feel rather special. She wanted me to take part in Lucky 7 and I'm going to do it. I like the fact there's a lucky number to be had in the world after my woeful 18. I'll make the same apologies as Nicci if you writers have been tagged before but let's give it a whirl. Here are the rules and you can also read Nicci's blog post on it here:

- Go to page 7 or 77 of your current manuscript
- Go to line 7 
- Copy out the next 7 lines or sentences and share them on your blog 
- Tag 7 other authors to do the same 

Right then, here's seven lines from line seven, on page seven of Blackbrooke....

Despite being five months older than me, Cassius was small. Too small for his age at barely four feet and weighing probably the equivalent of a bag of sugar. I examined him as he reached up a bony arm and pushed his yellow tinted glasses further up his nose. He had to wear the glasses to protect his eyes from the sun and usually wasn’t seen out of them throughout the summer.
Whereas I wore t-shirts and denim cut-offs, Cassius was clothed head to toe as his translucent skin was too sensitive to be exposed, even when slathered in sun-block. 

And here are the writers who I'd love to take part in Lucky 7...

Rose McClelland - a sneak peak of the next novel perhaps... ;-) 
Jo Skehan - would love to know what you're working on
@paperclipgirl - Anyone who shares my love for Point Horror books...
Talli Roland - Wishful thinking that you'd take part in this but one can dream! 
Ben Hatch - Another one who I'm interested to get a sneak peak of the next book from
Becca Fitzpatrick - Getting a bit carried away now....
Suzanne Collins - Now I'm just being stupid...

There, I feel more lucky already. Hmmm, starting to wonder whether I've treated this as a chain letter...Am I getting superstitious? Is the number 18 going to haunt me and turn into a mad obsession? 

No, that's impossible.

After all, there's only 17 left in the arena now...

I will be less nuts in my next blog, I promise.