Friday, 31 August 2012

Waxing Artistic

So while I tell myself that I'm a writer, I haven't written anything in a long while.  I have, however, been arty. I guess I fall out of love with writing and fall in love with art every now and then.  Once I'm bored of the art, I'll get back on with the writing.

So a few months ago, while browsing t'internet, I came across melted wax crayon pictures and jumped immediately on the bandwagon.  Following the advice on one site, I bought a couple of boxes of crayons and soaked the crayons in water to get the paper wrappers off.  Once that was done, I glued the crayons on to a canvas and  blasted them with a hairdryer.  I made a mess.  An ugly mess.  The wax melted into one glob of colour (if it could be called a colour).

I went back to the wise internet and found some other suggestions; keeping the paper wrappers on and using a heat gun.  I did those things and came up with this.

And once I'd worked out how to do that, I did this.

And then I thought I'd try something a little bit different, so I chopped up some wax crayons, stuck them randomly to a canvas and melted them with the heat gun, and it ended up looking like this.

I've got a few other unfinished wax crayon projects (unfinished projects? me? never!) dotted around the house, and I will finish them at some point in my life, and if you're lucky I'll show you.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Lily & Hudson

I'd never thought about writing children's literature.  It's one of those things that seems really easy and really difficult at the same time.  I like to believe that I haven't grown up and that I'm still a child deep down, but I'm a child of the 80s, not of the 00s and the 10s.  I know what I like, but I have no idea what today's children like, apart from taking knives to school and becoming pregnant, and I don't really know much about those things.

A few years ago, I was asked to write for a local, bi-monthly magazine, The Kessingland and Broadland Times.  The magazine contained local news, adverts, interviews, recipes, poetry, articles, and children's stories.  And I was asked to write the children's stories.  After many hours staring at a blank page, I eventually settled on something that children and adults can't help but love: talking animals.

Rather than inventing characters, I decided to write about some real talking animals; my dog Lily, and my friend's dog Hudson.  These stories took place in the Kessingland/Lowestoft area, and were suited to the time of year of the publication.  So they have a New Year's party, and they meet the Eatser Bunny (yes, intentional typo there), and they have a summer holiday, amongst many other adventures.  I wrote about 10 of these stories for the magazine, but never thought about doing anything more with them.

Until now.

I am currently playing the waiting game with a number of literary agents who all have the first 30 pages of my chic lit romcom novel.  I'm just waiting for their rejections.  Waiting.  And waiting.  And waiting.  And while I'm waiting I thought (well, my mum nagged) that I should tidy up my Lily & Hudson stories and send those off.

I'm not overly confident about doing that.  I know I'm a good writer but I don't think these stories are good enough to be published.  Perhaps I should take a leaf out of Bernard and Manny's book ...

(Sorry, I did try to upload the actual video to here, but being computer stupid, it didn't work, so you'll just have to take a trip to youtube)

So today I have been looking through my stories and they are quite good; not brilliant, but quite good.  So I will spend the next week or so rewriting and editing and adding and producing a manuscript that will be submission ready.  I've been brave.  I've sent something off to agents before.  I can do it again.  Right?

Monday, 27 August 2012

A Giltro Wart?

Although I would like to believe that my creativity is an individual gift, I have to admit that my mind has been greatly influenced by my father, Anthony Giltrow.  I did not inherit any of my mum's practical genes.  I don't know how to work the DVD player or fill up the antifreeze in my car or pack shopping bags properly, but I do know how to delve into the deepest, darkest depths of my imagination and create things that no-one in their right mind would want to enjoy!

Having painted what your nightmares look like on a good day for a handful of decades, my dad has only recently been brave enough to let the world see his work (however, I think the world needs to be brave in order to look at it!).  He had an exhibition in Halesworth a few years ago, and since then he has shown many pieces at Lowestoft Arts Centre (his page can be found here).

If anyone knows my dad personally, they will know that he still lives in the 1950s.  He talks in shillings and bobs and LP records and dance halls, so I was surprised when he told me he was going to set up a website. A website.  On a computer.  A thing that needs electricity in order to work.  It did take a while to get sorted, with a lot of "it's not working" and "it's not doing what it's supposed to", as though it was the website being stupid and not the man building the website.  A Giltrow Art is regularly updated with artwork and news.

One piece of news is that my dad, local artist, Anthony Giltrow has been, and will be, exhibiting and selling his work at The Sweet Retreat cafe in Kessingland, just outside of Lowestoft.

He shows an easily digestible selection of his work, so nothing nightmarish.  He doesn't want to put the public off their giant fry-up breakfasts!

If anyone is interested in buying or exhibiting any of his work, please contact him here.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Any Moore? No thanks

I have just finished reading dot.homme by Jane Moore.  As I wrote previously, I read this as a friend thought it was of a similar theme to the book I've just written.  And it is, kind of.  My novel is about a woman in her 30s who has trouble in finding decent men, so she signs up to an internet dating site.  Moore's novel is about a woman in her 30s who has trouble finding decent men, so her friends sign her up to an internet dating site.  And that's about as far as it goes on the similarity front.

Without giving too much away, the story starts off with Jess waiting outside somewhere to meet one of the internet men.  She sees him and approaches him but he denies being who she knows he is.  After a few moments he basically tells her that she looks nothing like her photo and she's uglier in real life than her photos.  It's here that I feel really sorry for her, and I'm sure you would to.  The thought that someone could be so cruel on a first meeting.  I appreciate his honesty, but only as an observer.  I doubt I'd be as appreciative if that actually happened to me.  Then … then … further on in the book, Jess arranges to meet an internet man somewhere.  She stands outside the rendez-vous point and sees a man who looks like the man she’s supposed to be meeting, but she doesn't like his appearance.  He sees her and approaches her but she denies being who he knows she is.  She pretends to be her sister and leaves the man standing and waiting for someone who is never going to turn up.

So now I don’t care about Jess.  I didn’t particularly like her that much at the beginning of the book, but now I think that she deserves all she gets from now on.  So yadda yadda yadda, she meets people, goes on dates, does some other stuff, and [SPOILER ALERT] she eventually meets a nice guy.

I don’t mind a happy ending, but it’s the vomit inducing, almost holier than thou, moral, advice-like page of garbage that sits smack bang in the middle of the happy ending that I do mind.  Jess turns to face us, the reader, and says “… there’s no shame in searching for Mr Right online, it’s simply the modern way of doing things.  We live in a fast-moving, soundbite society, and it’s a way for busy people to cut through the crap and specify from the outset what they want from a relationship.  So, if you’re in a happy one, count yourself lucky and never stop working at it.  If not, get online and start searching!”

Possibly this is Moore’s voice taking over for a moment, but I wish she’d keep quiet!

I doubt I'll read any of her other books, but I don't feel like I've wasted time reading this one.  It just makes me realise how much better my book is.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

I might as well eat some worms

So after feeling good after being fairly productive this morning, I received another rejection letter in the post. It's a generic, pre-typed thing, with a blank space for them to hand-write my name.  Because it's a generic, pre-typed thing, it makes their sentiments (no matter how nice they are) seem false.  Again, I won't name names, but here it is.

Dear Rebeccah,

Thank you for your recent submission, which we read with interest, and although we did enjoy looking at your material, in the end we did not feel that it was something that would be suitable for our list.

Unfortunately, because of the high volume of submissions that we receive, and the relatively small size of our office staff, we are unable to provide consultation.  Also, we are not able to make individual comments on manuscripts, nor can we enter into correspondence regarding our decisions.

Please do not be discouraged by our response.  We hope that you will be able to find the right mix of agent and publisher to take your project forward.  Thank you for thinking of [us] in the first instance.

Yours sincerely

It's a nice enough letter, but it's still disappointing, especially when I am reading a book right now that is of a similar subject matter to my novel, and that got published.

After spending hours and days and weeks editing and rereading and rewriting and having my manuscript checked over by other people for typos and plot anomalies, I'm upset to see a published book with this error.

On page 244 of dot.homme by Jane Moore, Simon is talking to Jess.  They had been out on a date previously, but he had done a runner on her, leaving her to pay for the meal.  Reluctantly she agrees to meet up with him again to let him explain.  He says "...I was wondering if you would consider letting me take you out for lunch..."

A couple of pages pass, with her umming and aahing about the whole situation, and then on page 247 Jess says, "I could do lunch next Tuesday," to which Simon responds with, "Can't do lunches at all ... Remember Gordon Ghekko and 'lunch is for wimps'? ... It'll have to be dinner, I'm afraid."

Now I know you'll probably think I'm being pedantic, but surely she had read her book, as well as her mum and dad and friends and then the agent and then the editor and the publisher and then her again.  Right?  I'm not particularly good at picking up on continuity error.  I can watch films and television programmes and people could change their whole wardrobe in every camera angle, and I wouldn't notice, but I managed to notice this.  Why did no-one else notice it?

I am also not impressed with the unnatural language in places.  Don't get me wrong; it's not a terrible book.  I am enjoying it, but I think I am reading it with a different eye now that I've written my own book.  Perhaps if I was just a reader I wouldn't be so picky, but this is my issue.  [SPOILER ALERT]

Jess' sister, Livvy, has breast cancer and she's at home in bed.  She's talking about dying and her will and the fact that her children might be left motherless, and she asks Jess if she will be a legal guardian of the children. This causes Livvy to start crying, and Jess says, "There, there, don't upset yourself."  Who says 'there, there' when someone is crying?  Especially when it's to do with the results of cancer.

I know part of me is jealous because she's published and I'm not.  But still.  They could have paid me to check over her novel and make it better than it already is.  I'm reasonably cheap, so if anyone wants me to read their book, I'll do it!

Paint paint paint paint painting

Anyone who knows me, knows that I procrastinate.  I'm good at a few things, but I am amazing at procrastinating.  This means that I have ideas, start projects, procrastinate, and well, the ideas and the projects fall by the wayside.  Most of the time I don't even bother to go back and finish them at a later date, but recently I have changed my outlook.  I had some ideas, started some projects, and finished them!  I even finished some that I started years ago.

Apart from writing, I like to paint.  I'm not going to pretend that I'm a master and that I create pieces worthy to hold the door open for Tracey Emin!  But I enjoy what I paint and the pictures turn out reasonably well, so that's a bonus.

This is the first collection that I've ever finished within a couple of days of starting.  It is entitled Shatter.

The second collection took a little longer for me to finish.  I started off with bucket loads of enthusiasm but that waned.  I did, however, get them finished within about a week and a half.  It is entitled Lava.

And finally, this collection took a few years to finish.  Not because it was complicated, but because I procrastinated.  It is entitled Icons (eye-con, icon, i-Con)

What should I start, procrastinate, and avoid finishing now?!

Friday, 24 August 2012

Nobody loves me

About a month or so ago I bit the bullet and I finally sent my manuscript (well, the first 30 pages, synopsis and covering letter) off to literary agents, after having sat on the novel for ages, umming and aahing about what to do with it.  The general consensus, according to agents' websites, is that it will take them up to eight weeks to read and decide, and they will then contact you with a yea or a nay.

My first nay came as a letter, dated 10th August 2012, from one of the agents.  I don't know if I should name names, so just to be on the safe side I won't.  The letter arrived a few days after I'd sent them my 30 pages, so I am going to assume that they didn't even bother reading it.  Reading the letter between the lines, it also suggests that they didn't bother to read what I'd sent them.

Dear Sir or Madam:

Please forgive this form letter.  We receive an enormous amount of unsolicited material and are unable to respond to each personally.

We have considered your material carefully and, unfortunately, could not see a market for it.  We do, however, wish you the best in finding someone more receptive elsewhere.

Yours sincerely



The next rejection I received was via e-mail on 21st August 2012.  It was slightly more personal, but still not particularly helpful.  Again, I won't name names.

Dear Rebeccah

Thank you for letting us consider this but I'm afraid that we are going to pass.

We wish you all the best of luck in finding representation elsewhere.

With all best wishes


And I received another rejection via e-mail this morning.

Dear Rebeccah

Thank you for allowing us the opportunity to consider your work. We are afraid that, despite its qualities, we do not feel sufficiently enthusiastic to offer to represent you.

We apologise for the impersonal nature of this email and regret that we cannot enter into correspondence about your work.

We wish you all the best in finding representation elsewhere.


I know that all authors have to go through the process, but it is quite upsetting to receive such minimal responses when you work so hard to send off the most perfect letter and the most perfect first 30 pages and the most perfect synopsis. *sigh* 

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Books what I am reading

I am currently reading two books at the moment; dot.homme by Jane Moore and Afterwards by Rosamund Lipton.  I am not intending on writing a book review blog; merely I just want to keep a record of tomes perused and perhaps record my response to them and reasons for reading them.

I chose dot.homme based on the recommendation of a friend.  After she had read my novel manuscript she suggested I read Moore's novel as it was similar to what I'd written (or indeed my book was similar to hers).  Even though I've written a chic lit romcom thing, it's not my normal type of read.  I don't really have a normal type of read, but chic lit romcoms don't play a prominent role in my library.  I'm not a book snob, but I do tend to judge books by their covers, and chic lit romcoms don't have the covers that my eye seems to be attracted to.  Anyway, that's all by the by.  I can't honestly say that I'm enjoying dot.homme but I'm going to finish it.  I don't often finish books, and I know I shouldn't really admit to that, but it's the truth.  And it would be quite interesting to see how it ends, and if I need to do anything to my book in order to make it publishable.

I didn't choose to read Afterwards and I can't say I would suggest it to anyone else.  It is the book of the month at Lowestoft Library reading group.  A lot of the books we read haven't been particularly good, and this one is definitely not particularly good.  I don't really know what's going on; I've only read about 60 pages, but from what I can gather a mother and daughter have been burnt nearly to death when the daughter's school was set on fire and are both in hospital.  The narrator is the mother who is having an out of body experience and explaining what she can see as she floats around the hospital.  Reading group books are normally the books that I don't finish, but I have been doing my best in recent months to at least get half way through them just so that I have something to discuss at group meetings.  I don't want to finish this one, but I guess I've got to give it a try.

In other news, I've not done any of my own writing today but I did think about doing some painting.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Starting again

So here I am, writing another blog.  I started off a couple of years ago with the intention of writing a daily blog in order to keep up with my writing, but it fell by the wayside (as do most things I start).  But with the recent completion of my first novel, I thought it would be a good idea to start another blog based on what I'm writing and what I'm reading and what I'm doing with relation to writing and reading, and maybe I'll make contacts within the writing world, or maybe someone will stumble across my blog and think it's the best thing they've ever read and want to publish every word that I've ever written.  Well, you never know.

Although writing will be the main subject of this blog, I will no doubt include bits and pieces about my artiness, and generally any other projects I happen to stick my finger in.

The style of the old blogspot has changed in the past couple of years, so forgive me if the layout is too dull for your liking.  Once I get my head around this new fangled technology I'll be able to jazz it up.  I might even add a photo or two, if you're lucky.

So this is my brief introduction and I will add more; perhaps not daily, but as often as I can.  Enjoy.