My PitchWars Rollercoaster

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So, January 23rd is quickly approaching like a ravenous jaguar that’s just realised its prey got stuck in a bear-trap (this happens more often than you’d think. Seriously, watch Discovery once in a while), and I’ve finally finished the line-edits from all my betas, finishing with my mentor’s. It was a hard and informing journey, but now we’ve come to the biggest monster of them all: addition revision!

But Dave!” I hear you cry. “The agents will be reading your opening in just two days! Aren’t you worried that they’ll be reading one version and unknowingly making requests (hopefully) for an entirely different one?

Not at all, dear friends, and allow me to tell you why:

1) I’m smarter than I look, believe it or not: I’ve already edited the opening that the agents will be reading so it won’t be different.

2) There’s not exactly a mountain of changes to make, and seeing as how I’m practically snowed under, I’ve got all the time between now and the 23rd to slip in the additions. And seeing as how they’re not entirely game-changers, it won’t wreck the narrative one bit.

3) Don’t call me Dave. Only friends call me Dave.

4) … What’s that? I said you were my friends when I started this list?

5) Okay, then. Call me Dave.

Where was I…?

Oh, yes! The additions.

Well, they range from bit-parts to major character motives, scene changes or alternative versions, and the addition of new ‘casefiles’ pulled from the Enigma Files website itself.

That’s right; not only has this last month given me a huge, unique insight into both the agent-hunting life (my mentor chose mine from hundreds of other entrants submitted to her within a week), and the author-agent dynamic, but it’s also shown me how someone who shares the same passion for the future of your book – agent or beta – can only be a Good Thing, and will often lead to the improvement of the book.

In this case, the improvement came from my mentor Jennifer. Not only has she jumped at the sight of my ‘X-Files for kids‘ tagline, but she’s done everything in her power to eke out every last possible drop of X-Filesness… Which led to the casefiles.

These are the sort of ingenious suggestion that make you slap your face in disbelief; I mean, I’d always considered adding casefiles, but was worried that the inclusion of non-fictional segments would never work. Then along comes Awesome Malone, the Master Mentor, with the same desire to see more files explaining the paranormal and that, as they say, was that.

Now, whenever Karl Breslin – protagonist and administrator of the Enigma Files website – mentions paranormal phenomena, the reader can expect to see more information on the subject in a casefile at the end of the chapter.

It’s working out great so far, and I can’t wait for Wednesday.

Until then!


Do you have any special methods of revision? What about special features in your books? Lemme know in the comments!

PitchWars Update – It’s Good News!

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Update on the PitchWars contest:


“THE ENIGMA FILES: PHANTOM THIEF” got picked by a mentor!


This means the lovely Jennifer
Malone, my new writing mentor, will read over the book throughout December. Then she’ll send me the most masterful, in-depth critiqueI’m sure I’ll have ever seen.

But the fun doesn’t end there! I’ll then revise the book in answer to all her feedback, and re-present it for the final stage of the contest: so 15+ agents can read it, and request more.

I’m so excited.


Lost in the Woods – eBook Review!

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A first for this blog, an eBook review! The author, one ‘Fun London’, contacted me on Twitter. He complimented me on this site, and said if I was interested in reviewing his book ‘Lost in the Woods’ that he could email me a review copy. I said Okie-dokie, and here we are!

… Don’t you all feel more edumacated? You’re welcome.

On to the review!

The story starts, and revolves, around 12 year old Jack Barton. He’s your average adventurous type, and loves climbing trees. After a fallout with his mother, Jack climbs a tall tree. A really tall tree. We’re talking the ‘endless corridor’ of trees, here, so it’s pretty tall.

But eternally tall or not, all trees abide by nature sooner or later, and it’s not long before Jack falls foul of weak branches and, erm… Falls.

(I’m so utterly brilliant at synonyms, me…)

Fortunately for Jack, a thick branch breaks his descent (hah, see? I didn’t say ‘fall’ – dammit!). With cautious steps, he sets foot on solid ground. Only, it’s not any ground he’s familiar with… And the tree he came down from wasn’t the one he climbed up…and is that squirrel talking to him?

… Yes, yes it is. Wait, wait! I know what you’re thinking; talking animals have had their day, and shouldn’t be heard unless they’re satirising the communist movement in a barn. That’s right, Dave has read ‘ANIMAL FARM’ – but that’s not important!

What is important is that Fun London does talking animals well. Each creature Jack meets on his journey home had a different, unique voice. And not all of them actually spoke to get their voice across. And not all of them are friendly… But instead of having random enemies, Fun London (in case you’re wondering, that is his pen name – I’m not referring to him by his Twitter name to confuse you all) makes sure that any and all foes have a personal and, more importantly, believable reason why they’re going after Jack.

But it’s a forest-wide disaster that brings everyone together, friend and foe alike, in a bid to save their home. And maybe – just…just maybe – Jack learns something about himself along the way…

‘LOST IN THE WOODS’ is a brilliant, old-school fantasy story that will entertain and delight children of all ages. If I had one complaint, it’s a tiny one; Allen (the squirrel) says “And so forth and so on” a few too many times for my liking. But, like I said, tiny – a slight characterisation hitch isn’t enough to get in the way of this wonderful tale.

Rating: 4/5

For those wondering (that’s probably just a few of you), I will be reviewing the rest of Barry Hutchison’s ‘INVISIBLE FIENDS’ books very, very soon.

Until then!


Judgment is Coming…

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Saw this poster upon stepping outside New Cross Gate train station…

At first, I thought it was some sort of ‘End of the World’ notice. I thought it was nice they wanted to remind us ahead of time, but the Mayan’s predicted date was still a way’s off. Then, upon closer inspection (ie. spotting a release date and the Lionsgate logo), I quickly realised that this was a teaser poster for the upcoming ‘DREDD’, and that it was pretty spiffy, for more than one reason…

Firstly, it LOOKS GOOD, and draws your attention and curiosity. Judgement? Whut now? There is a city in the midst of fiery devastation, and surely that means this judgement is either a) the cause of said destruction, and not good, or b) the answer to this ruined city’s problems, in which case huzzah! It can’t come around quick enough!

Secondly, could have just shown a picture of Dredd himself, but then – other than to take in the costume – you wouldn’t give it a second glance. They purposefully left him out, along with any other glaringly obvious iconography from the movie or comics. Doing so is a very clever marketing strategy, if you think about it… Instead of thinking ‘If we don’t make it obvious this is advertising DREDD, how is anyone going to know?’ They instead went with ‘Hey, if we just have the ominous statement “JUDGMENT IS COMING”, it will confuse a lot if people, but in a good way – instead of shrugging it off, they’ll hopefully look into it online, and find out more about the movie!’

And they’re not the only ones to take this approach. Only recently I saw an advertisement on the tube for ‘Rekall memory services’. This was easier for me to place, as I’m a huge fan of the original TOTAL RECALL, but it struck me nonetheless as an ingenious marketing campaign – involve your audience, bring them into the world of your story, and they feel more affinity towards it.

And I’m sure it’s not just movies utilising this strategy – the card game ‘Magic: The Gathering’ did a similar postal campaign for their recent horror-influenced ‘Innistrad’ set, mailing postcards done in the olde English style of posters, declaring everything from witch hunts to monsters stealing children. They were odd and disturbing, and set the mood perfectly when the new range of cards came out.

I’m sure books can use similar approaches, if they haven’t already. I’m already in the planning stages of a HUGE publicity angle for the series I’m writing, but I can’t be alone…

What do YOU think? Are there any unique publicity/advertising campaigns for books I’d should know about? Maybe you have plans for the future, or would like to share a past success? Leave a comment!

Until next time,


Day 29 – Make Em’ Laugh…

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I’m currently in the process of perfecting the first 5000 words of my novel in time for an agency’s funny-story competition, and when I’d gotten it to the best I possibly could at the moment, I went on to write more of the overall novel. That’s when I noticed something for probably the first time…

Writing comedy is HARD. Seriously hard. And comedy for children? Probably the hardest of all.

It’s not as simple as “That’s funny, I’ll put that in!” You’ve got to consider your audience, the joke’s suitably, it’s necessity to the story, it’s phrasing/delivery… There’s no point having a funny idea if you can’t get it across clearly for your readers. Especially children – adults will read a long, convoluted humourous passage, decipher the intended joke, and move on. Children will just find the book boring, and put it down. Then you, as the author, have lost.

Thankfully, as the author, you have as long as it takes to make every joke zing (unless you’re an already-published author working to a deadline, in which case I’d think it’s safe to say you’ve already proven you know how to write jokes). Your first draft can be as long and muddled as it can possibly be, because your revision process will then whittle away all that fluff and prattle time and time again, until you’re left with as close to perfect as it’s going to get. And it’s the same with writing the jokes. So what if it took you four lines to say “grandma blew-up the birthday cake”? What matters is that, by the time you’ve revised it half a dozen times or more, you’ve got something snappy, surprising, and sure to make the kids giggle.

So take it from me – just because writing gets hard from time to time doesn’t mean you’re going anything wrong. It just means you’re learning more about the writing craft itself…

Until tomorrow!


Day 22 – Lost in Cyberspace…

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This blog entry didn’t even get saved to Drafts, so I’m going to have to rewrite it as best I can, from memory.

I’m entering a funny-novel competition… Did I mention that already? My memory’s so bad, I canny remember if I wrote about it in a past blog, or just in the original version of this one.

Either way, the deadline is the 30th of July, so I’ve got plenty of time to finish up the final draft, check it through my betas, and send it off, laffs an all!

I won’t say much other than its roughly a 16k children’s novel about wannabe superheroes, and its a blast to write!

On a side note, I received a rejection letter from a publisher of online flash fiction for an old short story I submitted. The letter format didn’t work for them, but they all found it very funny, which left me with two thoughts:

1) It was, by far, the nicest rejection I’ve ever received, and I’ll definitely submit other works to them in future.

2) The fact that 5 different editors/publishers found my writing great and funny (despite not being what they were looking for) fills me with enormous confidence, not only for the future of my funny-novel contest entry, but for my fledgling writing career in general.

Wish me luck.

Until tomorrow/later today, when I catch up on the other lost day!


Day 18 – A Realisation

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I’m writing this late because I’ve been up all night trying to complete a goal I set for myself last night: that I would complete my novel that I started for NaNoWriMo a few years back.

Needless to say, I was excited to finally get to finish a novel, especially one that’s been incomplete for over 2 years. The climax I had been stuck on even came to me in a moment of inspiration – everything was there!

Or so I thought. Because when I  actually sat down to finish typing this YA adventure, I got about four lines of awkward prose down before I realised something: the manuscript had been incomplete for a reason. Not because it was bad, it was damned good at times. And it wasn’t because of writers block – don’t believe in it, and pretty sure I explained how I bypass it in a recent blog.

No, I couldn’t write anything because I realised that, as much as I want to add to the action-packed, gore-filled side of YA, that particular market just wasn’t where my heart was anymore. It might return there at some point, then my manuscript might finally see completion, and maybe publication. But not now, not today.

Today, as it has been for a long time now, my heart has been firmly in the children’s fiction market – children’s humour, to be precise.

So I went back to a comedic novel based in a superhero school. I won’t say any more right now, except that I am REALLY excited, the jokes aren’t sucking as much as I feared (or at least I hope they’re not. Still need to get some betas), and the first draft should be finished by the end of the week!

I’ll keep you posted – until tomorrow!


Day 15 – Halfway Mark!

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I can’t believe it’s been fifteen days already since I committed to this 30-day blog-a-thon. It’s gone by in a blur…

Anyway, today I thought I’d talk a bit about the children’s novel I’m working on. I won’t give anything away for obvious reasons, but needless to say I’m having a blast writing it.

Sure, there’s tough times. There always is, no matter what you decide to do with your life. (Anyone who tells you they’ve got it easy is either putting a brave face on, or just lying.) There are times when words don’t come as easily as I would like, where a sentence just feels clunky and there’s nothing I can do about it. Obviously, that’s not true, and once the pesky line is vanquished I move on, heartened by my victory as I steel myself for the next hardship. And the next… And the next…

But I’ll keep writing, through the hard times and those moments of effortless inspiration. Because, either way, I love what I do, and I want to get my work published, get it out there into a world that hasn’t read anything like it before.

…or at least for a very long time.

That’s my dream, my goal. And I’ll be damned if I ever give up on it.

Until tomorrow!