It's been a long time since I updated my blog but only because I've been working pretty constantly. Having a two book deal with Titan books meant writing the first draft as quickly as possible. the way I work is to write write write like mad, flaws, mistakes and cock ups as I go. Then I leave it until i forget about it. then I take it out and read it.
When I finally looked at the first draft of A Shroud of Leaves, I realised it was a) better than I thought and b) very, very far from finished. The whole historical strand is raw and light, and doesn't really explore the main themes at all. So I've been knocking the historical strand into shape and finding bits that need to go into the contemporary strand. I've also realised how satisfying it was to write the previous sequel, partly because no-one else had to look at it! It's definitely more fun writing for yourself but it seems less urgent, you're not letting anyone down.
Meanwhile, I've had a couple of small publishers have a look at The Asylum Sisters, after I spent the first half of the summer encouraging new writers to put books out to have people have a look at them. I've been promoting the Mslexia Indie Presses Guide:
This little gem has a lot of great information in it about lots of small publishers. Don't let the name put you off, this is not a 'indie' publisher in the sens of self publishing. As I've said before, I'm still not convinced about self publishing, but I'd be very happy to be published by some of these houses. It was scary sending off the submissions - most accept chapters etc. by email - but enlightening. I've had the most generous feedback, giving me that invaluable resource - a first reaction to a read of the book. It's made me wonder if i can strengthen the book by concentrating on one of the characters, leaving her to observe the twins behaviour. Which would create more mystery, more suspense. Incredibly helpful feedback and all it cost me was a bit of nail-biting and a bit of confidence. I know self publishing seems like an easy option but I've read some fantastic books by local writers that would have been better exposed to a structural edit from an editor. It seems people are afraid to exhaust all the publishing avenues before resorting to self publishing, with all its disappointments.
So I urge my friends and writing colleagues: I wouldn't give up until every agent, every editor and every competition is tried.