Sunday, February 22, 2015

Sliding Doors

Just over four months after sending Shamblers off to the publisher I finally found out the book has been rejected. Apparently the powers that be in the wider arm of the company didn't think it was a goer. It's a bit of a blow, especially after hanging out for so long to find out and not really being able to get into anything else in the meantime. What scared me the most in their reply was the fact they didn't want to take any kind of risk because Tales of the Blue hadn't done very well for the company. Now that's a terrifying thought. If your previous published books are not considered a "commercial success"does that condemn you never to getting back into print again? Surely not!

So here I am, in many ways right back where I was 6 years ago when I was tidying up the final draft of Ghost of Ping-Ling for submission. Yes, it's scary. But it's also fairly exciting. Both my publisher and my editor liked Shamblers (bless their hearts). My beta-readers liked Shamblers (big wave to Teresa, Pete, Shilpa and Brendan). And I like Shamblers (and I'm not a bit biased). There's a lot of love here floating around for the book, so I feel I can allow myself just that little smidge of optimism as I reach out to submit the manuscript to as many publishers/agents as I can possibly find.

First off the rank was Allen and Unwin with their Friday pitch. I have to say, I don't feel particularly confident about that one, namely because I haven't had much luck with them in the past. I have this terrible fear they attach an enormous amount of importance to your 300 word synopsis and, quite frankly, my synopsis writing stinks. Let's hope this time I managed to come up with a better specimen.

In the meantime I'm trying to hammer out a query letter. I'd forgotten how much I hate writing those. Maybe then I'll start working through the list of agents I've been following for a while, if it gets to that.

And in the meantime, it's back to work. Time to dust off a couple of projects I've been working on for a while and see if I can make them into anything half-way decent.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Musings.

Tonight is our very last night in our home of 16 years. When we moved in here we had to plug a cord into the phone-line in order to get internet, our TV was 30 cm wide and could only receive an analog signal (which was frequently blurry), my mobile phone was the size of a brick, and Friday night entertainment meant driving to the video store to hire a VHS cassette of the latest release.

My hope is that when it comes time to move out of our new home, it'll be by teleporter.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

To George, or not to George

So a few weeks back I got an email from a 10 year old girl in New Zealand, saying how much she loved my books. Words can't express how much it boosts an author's morale to get a letter like that. To date I think I've probably read it about 93 times, and I'm not done yet.

The only slightly negative thing about the letter was that it wasn't sent to me, at least not initially. It would seem the young writer googled my by name and came up with an author in the UK. Mercifully, the other Peter Cooper was able to track me down and forward it on, otherwise I would never have seen it. If that particular Peter Cooper is reading this -- cheers old chap. If I ever get any of your fan mail, I promise to pass it on.

This, of course, brings me back to a dilemma that I've blogged about before. My name is simply way too common.

If you google my books by title, you'll get me straight away. If you're reading this blog, you'll hopefully know that you can flip over to the profile page and get my email address from there. But if you try and find me by sticking my name into a search engine you'll get the phone book. Not only that, I haven't a hope of registering a sensible domain name. The .com is taken, as is the .com.au. I think I might be able to get the .com.nz, but it's unlikely anyone's ever going to try and find me that way anyway, so I think not.

So, what I'm coming to, is this. Should I be successful in getting another book published in future, I'm thinking fairly seriously that it will be under the name Peter George Cooper.

Not that that's my middle name. I don't actually have one. But I think George would be nice, given that it's my paternal grandfather's name, and a likely choice I guess, if my parents had ever considered giving me one (his other name was Herbert. I'm glad they didn't go for that one).

I could always follow a bit of a trend in fantasy novels at the moment and published under P.G. Cooper. It has a nice kind of "literary" ring to it, which might trick people into thinking my work is deeper and cleverer than it is. But no, I think the full version is better, should I use it at all.

And one of the big advantages is that the domain name is free. Which means, if I go ahead with it, I'll be able to get a proper authorial-type website happening, which is what people tell me I should have, being an authorial-type.

So there you go. That's where I'm leaning at the moment. Watch this space.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Movements.

So we sold our house a few weeks back, which means we're now able to buy the one we had a contract on. We'll be moving in January just after the holiday madness. The house we're moving to was built in 1870 and used to be the local school-house. It has no mains water, no mains gas, no air-conditioning and no electrical heating. We're relying on rainwater tanks and log fires. That's it.

Yes, that's a little scary, if the truth be known. In some ways it's like stepping back a hundred years. Our current house has ducted reverse cycle airconditioning and gas appliances and the whole shebang. What it doesn't have is a view from the backyard like this.



That's what I see when I step out of my new office. Which means when I get bored with editing or stuck on an idea for a new story, I can just waltz on out and breathe the air. Which makes any potential hassle more than worthwhile.

And anyway, I like the thought of having a bit of separation from the utilities we've depended on for so long. There's something freeing about knowing your water supply comes directly from the sky, rather than through some sort of mysterious treatment works and several kilometers of underground piping. And if it means we have to learn to manage it better, that's a good thing. Not to mention the cost savings, made even better by the fact there's a 3.8KW solar system on the shed roof.

It should be an exciting time! Now we just have to move. It's amazing how much stuff you pick up when you've been in once place for 15 years.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Groaning Shelves

I have a lot of unread books on my shelf. Over and over I tell myself I won't buy another book until I've read what I already have. Then it hits me. I walk into the bookshop and I get hit by the smell of the paper and the colour of the cover and the voice of the demon on my left shoulder saying "ooh! this look good!" and before I know it I've done it again. Another one to add to the pile.

So, groaning shelf of unread books, what's to be done?

Recently I had a brainwave. What I've been doing is this. Starting at the top left of the shelf I read my way across to the right. Every unread book I get to *has* to be read, or at least attempted, before I can move on. This way I force myself to get stuck into books that I might otherwise have let gather dust for a while, because they're too big or I'm-not-really-into-that-author-anymore or I'm-not-in-the-mood-for-that-one or some such thing. When I get to it, it comes out and I give it a go. It's a deal with myself.

And it's already had some wonderful and unexpected results! I read the first Tales of the Otori book (which came into the "too big" category, but also put me off because I suspected it might be a bit too "literary" for my tastes). It turned out to be so good I bought the other five in the series and devoured them in a few months. Now I'm reading Raymond E Feist's Magician, which has been in no category other than I-just-haven't-gotten-around-to-reading-it. Too early to say how this will turn out, but at least I'll find out one way or another.

And yes, the books are still coming in, and I doubt very much I'll reach the bottom right of the bookshelf any time soon. But I'm certainly going to get my teeth into what's there, and I'm confident of discovering some more dusty gems in the pile.

Monday, November 17, 2014

New Ground

I had the opportunity to give my first ever author talk a little while ago at Prince Alfred College. The audience was a group of about forty Year Twos plus teachers. I've been wanting to do school visits for a while now but holding down a full time "normal" job makes it a tad difficult. Fortunately this particular school is only fifteen minutes' walk from my work so I managed to squeeze the talk into the beginning of the day then power-walk to the office in time for morning tea.

Yep, I was pretty nervous preparing. I've always been in awe of people who can speak to kids that age and hold their attention, so having to step up to the plate and do it myself was something of a challenge. I tried to make it as visual as I could by projecting lots of pictures on a big screen to illustrate my points. I also brought in lots of props, namely a big box full of all my drafts for Ping-Ling plus some notebook and such. 

And I have to say it went great! The kids had been working on their own stories in class and discussing things like the editing process and how to plot, so what I had to say fitted in pretty well with what they'd already been looking at. They asked fabulous questions too, although a couple did ask me when I was going to organise to get their books published. Slightly awkward.

All in all it was great, and it reaffirmed how much I'd love to do that kind of thing more often. If only the day job didn't keep getting in the way.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

A Post For Which I Could Not Think Up a Title.

Still waiting to hear whether Shamblers is up for publication or not. These things take time, apparently. In the meantime I can happily say I've done no writing at all. That's mainly because we've just signed a contract for a new house, and now we're frantically busy getting the old one into a fit state to sell. Selling your home of 15 year is very unsettling, not to mention time consuming.

I've also been reading. Currently I'm well into Clariel by Garth Nix, and loving it to bits. And yesterday a parcel came courtesy of Amazon (which, I hasten to say, I never buy books from unless they're out of print and difficult to get, as this one is) containing this little beauty.


I read this series when I was about 13 years old, courtesy of the school book club. Absolutely loved it. It'll be interesting to see how my adult self finds it. What I did notice was how thin it is. Thin! When I was 13 it seems like a tome.