Down but not out

Ok, so we didn’t make it to the finals of the Brit Writers ūüė¶ Yes, we’re gutted but also relieved – black tie events aren’t really our thing. We have no idea what the etiquette is at posh dos. Plus it means we don’t have to worry about speeding up to London, going to the awards ceremony then getting back home in time to make sure the cats are in, or worrying about the ducks having to go to bed at 4pm in a boiling shed. We’ve sent one of the short stories we’d submitted to a magazine and another short story to a different magazine. We don’t sit around brooding for long. Rejections make us more determined to succeed, rather than dragging us down. One of the novels we sent off, Raising the Dead, is now ready to find a publisher. Except we’ve hit a snag. We found a publisher that seems brilliant – just the type of publisher we’d love to work with. One problem – their maximum word count is 130,000. RTD is 186,000. Yeah. Ouch. It’s just been redrafted and we really can’t see how we can cut 56K words. So we either find a different publisher or weep while we hack the book to pieces. Soul Asylum is also ready to go somewhere but has already been sent to a few publishers, so can’t go back to them. So while we adopt thoughtful expressions, we’re redrafting another novel, Majesty of Darkness. It’s set in the land of the dead. This one won’t be easy to find a publisher for. They’ll think it’s a weird, nonsensical piece of crap or they’ll think it’s quirkily brilliant. We’re hoping for the latter.

Woman In Black

We’ve just been to see The Woman in Black in the New Theatre in Cardiff. It was AMAZING! The two actors, Robert Demeger and Peter Bramhill were incredible. How two men can keep an entire audience spellbound for that length of time is truly remarkable. The sound effects were just fantastic. One woman behind us kept screaming, much to our amusement. The creepy noise of the chair rocking by itself and the music box playing at the end really brought the sense of foreboding to life. The sound of the phantom pony and trap was the highlight. We loved how the story was done via an actor trying to teach the writer to perform his memoirs in a way that would captivate his audience. The ‘invisible’ dog Spider was just hilarious. It’s brilliant the way they were able to turn a few stage props – a wicker basket, 2 chairs, a coat rack¬†and a stool into furniture for so many scenes in a completely believable way. We’ve read so many horror books, seen so many horror/ghost films and not one has scared us. We usually laugh. But this actually gave us goose pimples. It completely entranced us,¬†the dream sequence chilled us.¬†Then the twist at the end…freakin’ fantastic.

We’d love to turn one of our novels into a play. Soul Asylum perhaps, because that takes place in just two settings – the asylum and the graveyard in the grounds. Have to get it published first. We’re going to send that one and Raising the Dead to publishers soon – we’ve made a list so we’ll check out their websites and take the plunge. We’ve written a lot of novels but we never send them off because we’re always editing them. With short stories and poems there are deadlines so there comes a point where we have to submit them, but there are no deadlines with novels so we just keep working on them. We aim to have one published before we’re thirty and as one novel can take up to 18 mths to reach publication after it’s been taken on (providing it all sails through) we’re running out of time. Maybe one day¬†someone will¬†blog ‘just went to see Soul Asylum in the New Theatre in Cardiff. It was AMAZING!’

Ghost hunting. Live

We’ve finished redrafting Raising the Dead. Sadly that and Soul Asylum didn’t make it to the finals of the Brit Writers Awards. We should find out tonight if our short stories & poems have. We don’t hold out much hope – our novels were our best pieces of work that we sent. We’re now in the process of writing a blurb for RTD. We know most publishers prefer to write blurbs in-house, but some ask you to write one. When we first started writing novels, or novellas, they probably were, when we were 12, we’d write our own blurbs. We even used to design front covers & bind the books so we’d end up with A4 novels. Our drawings were worse than our writing, but we loved it. We bought a laminator and a book binder to make them look more professional. We’ve kept every single one of them. Not all the stuff we’ve written got made into books. When we started constantly redrafting them, we stopped turning them into books but we’ve got boxes of our writing in the loft space. God help us if there’s a fire and we get burnt to crispies going back for them and all our animals. Animals first of course.

We’re also rewriting the synopsis for RTD. Why are synopsis so hard to write? We don’t have a problem summing up the book – our problem lies in making that summing up stretch to 1-2 pages and making it coherent. We want it to be exciting and not seem like a dry account of the book. This is what publishers read when deciding on whether or not to publish you so it has to be brilliant. And it isn’t. The blurb’s now done. When redrafting the book, we copied passages or sentences we liked into a separate document then narrowed them down to form the blurb. It’s just the way we’ve always done it.

Speaking of RTD, we’ve been scouting places for its sequel, When the Dead Awaken. A mate told us about this abandoned village in Aberthaw that is apparently haunted. He went there with some mates & was petrified. We decided to check it out so went there on Monday. It’s brilliant! It’s called Boys Village and was built in the 1930s as a summer camp for the miners’ sons. It used to be bath houses. There were 4 dorms, a dining hall, locker room, gym, swimming pool & church. It’s been derelict for years. While we don’t condone tresspassing, there were no signs warning people against tresspassing & the place was filled with graffiti. One of the buildings, the Manyard Jenner building had burned down and the swimming pool no longer had a roof. The locker room was filled with rubble and was also missing its roof. The church was the safest of the buildings but sadly had its wood pannelling pinched. All of the buildings had been looted and ransacked and filled with tagging. It was really sad to see, but it’s a great place. Luckily the taggers have left the war memorial alone. We’re going to use this place in When the Dead Awaken. We filmed it and took lots of photos so we don’t have to rely on memory alone. Though by the time that novel gets published, the village will probably be gone. It’s up for sale and no doubt will be turned into yet another god awful cookie cutter estate.

And no, we didn’t see any ghosts ūüôā

Manic Monday

Yes, we know it’s Thursday but we’ve been so busy we haven’t had a chance to blog. We went to Manic Monday, a spoken word poetry event run by the fabulous Mab Jones in The Promised Land in Cardiff. The headliner was Alan Wolfson – he was hilarious & has the best purple shoes we’ve ever seen. Our mate Nick was one of¬†the acts too & he was brilliant. As was Neil, who performed at the open mic. We didn’t read ‘cos it was our first time of going, but we plan to read at the one in July. Not sure what we’re reading yet, maybe a new poem we wrote about someone hurling a bottle out a car window at us, accompanied by an unintelligble shout. Or maybe one we’re in the middle of writing today with the help of our Facebook friends. It’s a compilation poem.

Sent another short story off this week for an anthology wanting stories told from the point of view of a female character in the myths, fairy tales & bible stories who get bad press. Not sure our version of Snow White does anything to improve the queen’s reputation but she certainly tarnishes Snow White’s.

Cutting Crew

We’re still redrafting our ghost hunting novel. Yesterday we read a chapter, tweaked it then thought ‘actually this chapter’s a bit pointless’ so we scrapped it. We want to split the last chapter into 2 so we’ll just shunt the other chapters up in its place. The way we see novel writing is this – writing the first draft is like assembling a skeleton. It’s the bony frame on which your other redrafts will hang. Then comes the first read through – this is throwing in the organs to give your skeleton life. Then comes the first redraft – adding the muscles, ligaments, tendons, fibres – all the messy bits that give your book shape. Plus you can see if you’ve remembered to put the organs in the right places. You don’t want the liver where the heart’s supposed to be. The next redraft is putting the skin on the novel – the finishing touches. You step back and think ‘it’s done. There’s my David.’ Then a few weeks/months/years later, you unveil your David and frown. When you last saw him he was a sculpted god. A marbled hunk of literary perfection.¬†But then love is blind. Your David needs to join a gym. So here come the chopper to chop off his head. Ok, he can keep his head. But the excess skin has to go. This is the tweaking stage. All the hard work’s done. This is the stage we’re at with Raising the Dead. It needs toning – hence cutting that chapter. It doesn’t affect the skeleton at all, just makes David look a little tighter. So when we’re done, we’ll see if anyone wants to buy our David. If not, we’ll tuck him in a corner of our vast museum, wait a few months then bring him back out and frown at him in the bright light of day. See if he needs toning elsewhere. Or maybe add a tattoo.

The other thing we’ve done is swapped some work with a Facebook friend of ours. She’s a writer too. We’ve never critiqued anyone’s work before so thought it’d be fun. We sent her a story that’s been sent out 8 times in the last 2 1/4 years and got nowhere and she sent us 3 of hers. Hers are shorter than ours. It was great fun and interesting to see the differing styles. Sometimes to good for a different pair of eyes to spot the things that you can’t see – the love is blind cliche again. Hopefully when we’ve implemented the changes she suggested and send it out, we’ll have better luck. As always, we are keeping our talons crossed. They’re crossed so much at the moment we’re getting arthritis.

Slam Dunk

Went to a Jam Bones slam poetry event last night in the Cardiff Arts Institute. It was run by the brilliant¬†Mab Jones. The professional poets, Anthony Fairweather and Byron Vincent were absolutely wicked! Funny, engaging and we understood their poems! Rhyming poetry isn’t dead! We didn’t perform, as it was our first slam but there is another performance poetry event in the Promise Land in Cardiff on Monday which we’re going to. We might perform, we haven’t decided yet. We thoroughly enjoyed the slam and will definitely go to the next one in October. Our style of poetry fits in much better with performance/spoken poetry than traditional poems being read out by traditional poets. Maybe we’ve finally found our niche.

This morning we’ve sent off two pieces of work – an adult fairy story featuring the characters from our Daughters of Annwn novel and Missed Call, the 7000 word version. Talons crossed.