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Welcome to The Literary Pig's blog - a safe haven for all those afflicted with
the unbearable urge to write.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Shrӧdinger’s Agent

Sometimes over dinner it feels like I live with the characters of The Big Bang Theory as the conversation often turns to mathematics or physics (Handsome Hubby and the Tame Teenager are both engineers). One topic I do enjoy is discussing Shrӧdinger’s Cat - a theorectical experiment often used to explain  quantum mechanics (read here for a Wikipedia explanation). In a short play of mine called 'Pandora's Cat' a character gives a simpler explanation: "Schrödinger was a physicist. To explain quantum mechanics he came up with a paradoxical question where a cat is put in a box containing a vial of poison. The poison can be released at any time, but without opening the box you can’t be certain if the cat is alive or dead. At any given moment you have to consider both states of existence are plausible: the cat is both alive and dead."

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook you will know that I've recently completed a final draft of my novel. I've edited and reworked after feedback and comments from several beta readers (all great writers I've met at Chichester University on my MA in Creative Writing). I've also been lucky enough to get some constructive and helpful comments from a couple of agents (gold dust!). In the last week I've started the painful task of contacting literary agents to gauge if anyone is interested in taking on the novel. This got me thinking that once I'd emailed or posted the sample chapters then the concept of Shrӧdinger’s Agent kicks in. At any given moment the agent could be reading or not reading my novel. At any given moment the agent could be considering to offer representation or not and until you get 'that' email then both states of existence are plausible: they both love and hate the novel! Not much to cling to but it's cheered me up.

We don't have a cat, but my lovely friend Sarah Thompson has kindly given permission for me to use a photo of her gorgeous boy, Morpheus. He is of course posing in a box ...

Poor Morph is not too well at present and being treated by the Supervet, so sending lots of love and best wishes from me and LitPig xxx

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Is this cheating?

Today I hit the half-century mark for birthdays and so far it feels great. I've never been one to take much notice of age, nor act it. But I expect you want an update on that target I set? Hmm, in two months I've had one more story accepted for publication (not a great average), taking me to 46. I'm still blaming the novel for taking my attention away from short stories. One more week and I reckon it will be ready to submit in earnest. Then I'm looking forward to reading and writing more short stories (and I need to get on with my MA dissertation, but that's another story...).

Also I've been wondering about the goal I'd set ... I was aiming for 50 stories published by today. What I should have aimed for was 50 publishing credits. A number of stories have been published in several places ... so if I use that criteria then I've already exceeded 50 credits. That's not cheating is it?

(LitPig: "Yes, I really think it is!")

Thursday, 28 May 2015

How to jinx your writing

A month ago LitPig posted here how I was aiming to have 50 short stories published by 28 June (my 50th birthday). The total was 45 on 28 April. Go on guess how many have been accepted for publication since then ...


So yes I jinxed my writing big time!
I believe it's important to set yourself writing goals & targets. I also believe it's good to publicise them too. Put them out there in the universe. I'm not going to stop setting targets ... and you never know I may get a sudden splurge of acceptances in the next month. That's how the writing life seems to go sometimes.

Oh another way to jinx your writing is to upgrade your laptop's operating system. Having done this I'm now having problems with this blog, Twitter & Facebook. Ho hum ...

Hope you're all still on target for your writing goals. Do you have any writing superstitions? Why not come clean and share them with LitPig.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Fifty for Fifty

The Indoor Writer has just hit 45. 45 pieces of short fiction published, that is! Now she's aiming to have 50 pieces published before two months from today. Why? Because in exactly two months she'll reach her own half century milestone.

Okay, so over forty stories published doesn't come close to her writing chum's achievement of >100 stories sold (yes, it's that Wendy Clarke again), but you have to aim for something.

I like Wendy because she always invites me to her book launches and let's me root around to snuffle up the crumbs - writers are so messy ...

So, the countdown to 50 begins here. Only 5 stories need to get published ... will she do it?
Watch this blog!

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Second novel reflections with Jane Lythell

Please welcome author Jane Lythell back to the blog today. Jane's second novel After the Storm (Head of Zeus) came out earlier this year and she's here to share her reflections on how she approached the project  ...

I’ve heard it said that we all have one novel in us but writing your second novel can be difficult, so I thought I would share my experience of this. When my debut novel THE LIE OF YOU was bought by Head of Zeus they offered me a two book deal. They requested a synopsis for the second book and I produced a brief treatment for an idea that had been lurking in my mind for ages. They accepted the idea and gave me a year to produce the first draft of the second novel. 
My idea was that two couples meet one night in Belize City, an English couple, Rob and Anna, and an American couple, Owen and Kim, who have an old sailing boat they have been living on for three years. Owen suggests they charter his boat and he will take them to the island of Roatan. Anna does not want to go at all but Rob is really keen and he persuades her to board. Unknown to them Kim is desperate to go home to Florida. It is Owen who is determined to continue their life on the boat. Straightaway we have conflict of wishes between the four characters and a boat can be a very claustrophobic place when tensions start to build.
Was it difficult to write this book? My honest answer is not really. I’ve been to these places and I always felt they would make a great setting for a novel. What helped me was that I kept a journal and took photos while I was there. (I’m an inveterate keeper of journals!) These were a great source which enabled me to build the atmosphere of the island. The Roatan in my novel is sun-soaked and stunning on the surface but with something dark underneath.
I was thrilled to have the two book deal but as it turned out this meant that I delivered the first draft of AFTER THE STORM at exactly the same time as THE LIE OF YOU was being published. This was a strange experience. I was promoting my debut as well editing the second book so that my mind kept moving between the characters in each book. The two books are very different and I think you are always more involved with the book and the characters you are currently writing. So I had to pull myself away from Rob, Anna, Owen and Kim in order to talk about Heja and Kathy at literary festivals and book clubs. I’m not complaining. It was exciting and demanding and I know how lucky I am to be in this position.
You learn about writing from doing the writing. I think I learned a lot about how to tell a story from my first book. In AFTER THE STORM I moved to third person narration because with four characters you can’t do first person. Well in theory you could but it would be a major challenge.
And what now? Head of Zeus has commissioned a third novel from me and I’m writing this now. It is set in the febrile world of live television with all its monster egos! It is told from the point of view of the central female character who is a TV executive, divorced, and with a stroppy teenage daughter. I’m enjoying pulling up memories from my life as a TV producer. It’s scheduled for publication in June 2016.

LINKS to After The Storm:

About Jane Lythell:
I live in Brighton, UK, and I'm a sea-lover, star-gazer, film and football fan.
My novels THE LIE OF YOU and AFTER THE STORM are published by Head of Zeus.
My background is journalistic writing and television production. I was a Producer at TV-am and Commissioning Editor of Features at Westcountry Television. I left to become Deputy Director of the British Film Institute and later Chief Executive of BAFTA before joining the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for seven years. I now write full time. I love to hear from readers and you can find me here:
Twitter: @janelythell 
Facebook: Jane Lythell Author
My blog

Thank you, Jane, for sharing your reflections. Definitely agree that you 'learn about writing from doing the writing'. I loved how you set After the Storm in the beautiful Caribbean, yet portrayed it's very real sinister undertones. Now really looking forward to the next novel, which from your premise above sounds another page-turning read. 

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

A FISH-y story

I've sneaked on here while LitPig is snoozing in the spring sunshine. The theme of this brief post is NEVER give up. I try never to give up on a short story if I truly love it and keep trying with competitions even when there's no hint of success. One such writing competition is the annual Fish International Short Story Prize. I've been submitting entries to that one since 2010. The winners and listed came out last week for 2014/2015 - read them here. I wasn't hopeful of getting anywher ... but there I am on the shortlist (the last name!). And when I saw it I almost cried. Didn't win (or come close) but I didn't care. For me this was one very personal measure of success. We all judge our progress in different ways and that's what makes us unique. For me this was a particularly special moment in my writing career to date.

Another big deal for me was that the Fish shortlisted story is the second story taken from my novel. The first story was shortlisted for the 2014 Commonwealth Writers Short Story prize. So I'm taking that as a positive sign ...

What have been the special moments for you? Please share ...

Sunday, 8 March 2015

The Last Rose by Wendy Clarke

With only one week to go have you sorted your present for Mother's Day? If your mum is a reader then why not give her Wendy Clarke's latest short story collection, The Last Rose.

In his hand is the rose, as beautiful as I have ever seen - its creamy apricot petals curling inwards from his palm. He holds it out as one might a precious gift.
“The Last Rose is for you,” he says.
The Last Rose, is a collection of short stories of family and friendship. All thirteen stories have previously been published in either The People's Friend, Woman’s Weekly or Take a Break Fiction Feast Magazines. If you like stories with emotional depth and a satisfying ending, then these stories will not fail to leave you unmoved. 
The stories in this collection explore the intricate family relationships of thirteen ordinary people. In them, we discover the sorrow, love and joy that is shared... but not always spoken.

What LitPig has to say about the collection:
All of these stories are uplifting and will make you smile. Some will resonate and you may blink back a few tears. Wendy captures the true feelings between mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and brilliantly evokes the love between grandparents and their grandchildren. I loved how she also effectively writes about fostering and the challenge of loving a child with Asperger's. These stories are also about friendship and finding new friends in new places. One of my favourites was the title story 'The Last Rose', a gentle and effective tale on the true meaning of friendship.

Wendy Clarke is a full time writer of women's fiction. Her work regularly appears in national women's magazines such as The People's Friend, Take a Break Fiction Feast and Woman's Weekly. She has also written serials and a number of non-fiction magazine articles.
Wendy has published two collections of short stories, Room in Your Heart and The Last Rose.
Wendy lives with her husband, cat and step-dog in Sussex and when not writing is usually dancing, singing or watching any programme that involves food! 

You can find The Last Rose here: Paperback, Kindle. Why not treat your mum and yourself to a copy. 
If you fancy a collection chock full of romance then check out Wendy's first collection Room in Your Heart available here: Paperback, Kindle.