Tuesday, September 22, 2009


OK, I just finished reading a book.

When I return to my body, I might be able to write something coherent and vaguely intelligent about it.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

New Center to Investigate Evidence of Non-Paranormal Young-Adult Books

A new $100M Center for the Study of Non-Paranormal Books (CSNPB) is to be established in Orlando, Florida. The center aims to bring together years of research into the proposed existence of non-supernatural themed books in YA sections of the world's bookstores.

CSNPB Director, Dr. Steve Wilson, said it was high time for the establishment of the center. "We've known for a long time that there's more to the average bookshop than meets the eye. Over the years, too many people have reported sightings of non-paranormal books. It's time they were taken seriously. This center aims to bring these reports together and provide a resource for further study of this fascinating phenomenon."

Sceptics are understandably amused.

"How many years have people been prattling on about the supposed existence of these books?" declared Martha Ball, President of Science in Bookstores. "I'll tell you - since the time of Wuthering Heights. Where's the evidence, huh? You go into any bookstore, any time of the day or night, walk into the YA section and find me a non-paranormal book. Until that happens, I say phooey!"

Dr. Wilson remains unfazed by contrary views. "Look, only last week, a young man in Delaware saw a non-paranormal in his local bookshop. He even took a photo."

When contacted by the press, Patrick Plunkey, of Newark, was initially reluctant to talk about his encounter, claiming he was still too 'spooked'. Eventually, he was persuaded to tell his tale.

"I was, like, in the shop, looking for a present for my kid sister, and I was standing in front of the shelf. Then I saw it. About third row down on the left, between Twilight and Touch the Dark. A book about pirates. I couldn't believe it! It was just there, looking at me. I even snapped a photo with my phone. It's kinda blurry, like, 'cos my hand was shaking so bad."

Is this grainy image evidence of non-paranormal writing activity?

Experts from the newly formed CSNPB have studied the photo, using the latest digital image enhancement software, and are convinced of its authenticity.

Explained Dr. Wilson: "Look, you can clearly see the spine, if you hold the photo at this angle and kind of squint your eyes. It's definitely a book about pirates. No question."

After the supposed sighting, remote cameras and image sensing technology were stationed throughout the store in the hope of capturing a better image of the non-paranormal book. "It's kinda creepy, you know?" commented Bill Blunk, a member of the research team. "You're sitting there in the dead of night, deep in the YA section, and you get this prickling sensation in the back of your neck, like someone's watching you. Then you turn around and realise it's the life size cardboard cutout of Robert Pattinson."

Efforts to capture further images proved fruitless, and after a week the study was called off.

"It's a complete joke!" said Martha Ball, when asked about the photo. "Look, I accept that it might be a book about pirates. But even if it is, if you look at it really closely, the guy leaping over the gangplank with his cutlass up, about to hack into the enemy? He has fangs. Oh, and he's sooooooooooooo cute, too."

Friday, September 11, 2009

Letters and Emails

I received an email from Nathan Bransford this morning (he says, casually). Apparently, the General Manager of a big literary agency here in Australia has asked permission to read the hobbit query letter in her presentation at an upcoming writer's conference in New Zealand.

My response was one of the following, see if you can guess which:

A) No. I like to keep these things private, go away and never speak to me again.

B) Who cares? Let 'em read whatever they like.

C) Absolutely, positively yes, and would you mind telling them I'm about to start submitting queries for my manuscript to agents here in Australia?

I'm not normally someone who pushes themselves forward, but I'm fast learning to make the most of every wonderful opportunity. Even if it only gives my query letter an extra ten seconds reading time, it's worth it!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Knowing When to Give Up

When is it time to give up on a book and move on to something else? This is a question I think about a lot, particularly as my current project has been going on for more than eight years, and is still not ready for submission.

It's not an easy question to answer, and the water is further muddied by the mix of advice out there in internet land. A recurring theme is that you should never get caught up on "The Book" - the single work that drains years of your time and will probably never venture beyond your own bookshelf. On the other hand, there's also plenty of advice about how to self-edit, how to improve a book to increase its chances of publication, and how you should never, ever, ever give up.

According to popular legend, Jo Rowling spent several years trying to get Harry Potter published. I wonder what would have happened if, after a year or so, she'd decided it was time to move on, put Harry in a box beneath the bed, and gone off to write a story about a girl with a crush on a vampire, or something like that.

In the end, I have no answer to this dilemma, other than to say I think there is wisdom in both sides of the argument, and the truth probably lies somewhere in between (otherwise known as a 'cop-out'). For myself, I currently have one other book bubbling around in my head, and it's something I'm excited about and I'm desperate to get in to. But I've decided to do one last pass on Ghost of Ping-Ling, hopefully finish it in the next few weeks, then feed it to the machine. After that, I can get my teeth into something new in the six-months or so before I hear something.

What about you? I'd be really interested to hear other people's wisdom on this subject - don't be shy!