Saturday, 27 April 2013

Trials and Tribulations Part 1

It’s competition time!  Read on to win a copy of The Writers and Artists Yearbook 2013 and find out the link between a writing event, doing my 3rd Dan grading and reading a book about North Korea.

Well they say things go in threes and in the past three weeks, there have been three interesting things that have happened to me.  I've said three too many times, three times in fact, three!  Agh!

The thing is, they've all taken a part in making me look at things differently as I walk down the street, which is quite an achievement where I live.  The first is a writing event I went to, second was my 3rd Dan black belt grading I took for taekwondo and the last was a book I read: Nothing to Envy: Real Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick.
I went down to London to attend an event called ‘How to Hook an Agent’ at Bloomsbury Press who are the nice people who produce The Writers and Artists Yearbook.  Of course, I didn't actually harbour any hopes that I would hook an agent, I didn't daydream at all about becoming the next J K Rowling, the wealth, the fame, the handsome doctor husband … Oh snap out of it L K.  The offices were very posh, I was called a ‘delegate’ and nobody swore or threw pens at me like in my day job – I would even go as far to say that I was treated like an adult.  Anyway, I met some nice people and the agents weren't as scary as I thought they would be.  In fact, they were human, in a well-dressed, perfect skin sort of way.

I think the table liked my pitch for The Ghost Hunters' Club, mostly because they all thought I said the word ‘cock’ instead of ‘cocktail’ – as if I’d make an inappropriate joke in a room full of polite and serious people?  One thing I did pick up on though was that they weren't that keen on people who had self-published, or it turned out, school teachers.  Well that’s me buggered then.  I had my fifteen minutes with my agent, she listened politely but I don’t think I was her cup of tea; she did give me some useful advice though.  Write another novel and use that one to pitch to agents.  Good job I’m halfway through one – it’s called A Twist of Mild Virginia – the last time I looked at it was three years ago, but it’s a start.  Doddle.

The reason I haven’t immediately launched myself into finishing my novel is because I then had to jump into the tribulation that was taking my 3rd Dan Black Belt.  Now taking a black belt grading is a bit like giving birth, you look back on it with misty eyes but they day itself is a chuffing ordeal.  Only in taekwondo, there’s no chance of getting an epidural and I really thought I’d blown it this time …

While I was at ‘How to Hook an Agent’ I was given a complimentary copy of The Writers and Artists Yearbook 2013.  I've already got a copy so I’m going to give this one away.  All you have to do is like my Facebook page: and say why you’d like one.  The funniest comment wins it!  Winner will be announced (with links) on next week’s blog.

Next week – what happened at my grading and why not having a taekwondo belt is like having no underpants …


  1. Stupid agents. The brighter ones, like Andrew Lownie, think self-publishing a good idea for many authors.

    I'm really looking forward to your post about the grading - full details, please.

  2. Can I have it? I need some tindling for my bank holiday BBQ :)

    1. If you want it, enter the competition - what you do with it afterwards is between you and your garden appliances!

    2. Appliances? Nah, real men use fires. Spitroast hog and beer. That's a may bank hol :)

  3. I'll post the details of the grading next week - hopefully have a picture of the new belt as well :-)

  4. anyone who doesn't like GHC has no sense of humour. And lots of great writers were once teachers. Love the thought of people thinking you said 'cock' instead of 'cocktail' that must've been a great moment. Can't wait to read your post about the grading. We remember the ones from when we did karate. They were stressful and filled with kids from the Valleys. Though they can't have been as bad as going for your 3rd Dan. We are so impressed!

  5. So trad publishers and agents don't like this new fangled idea of self publishing. I wonder why. We need a new doorstop, so I've entered your competition.

    Julia x