Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Care Packages To Secure an Agent: Now a Thing

Writers' Digest are advertising a care package to help writers secure a literary agent. I am not making this up - it must be true because I saw it on Twitter.

I clicked the link, and the care package contains information and resources on hunting for an agent. Very practical, I'm sure, but I was disappointed when I saw that. I don't know what I was expecting, but sending someone a care package full of information feels like giving someone a hug made of homework.

So what would I put in a Pink Tea & Paper Care Package to Help You Secure an Agent?

  • Two large boxes of teabags - one black tea, caffeinated as all hell, and one herbal tea. Maybe even pink tea, just because.
  • A mug to make you smile through the difficult parts - perhaps this cheerful one, or if they still made them, the sadly departed Novelist Fuel mugs from Nanowrimo. Every year I suggest they be re-issued. They never are.
  • Valium.
  • Cake.
  • A form query letter with blanks for your characters' names, title and word count. I want one of these so badly and my birthday isn't for another eleven months. . . 
  • A sheet of stamps, for agents and houses that still prefer paper submissions.
  • A giant blanket with the word 'Hug' written on it.
  • An inspiring A3-sized wall chart, listing famous writers and the number of rejections they received, with space at the bottom for the recipient to track their own progress against that of the greats.
  • A framed print of the URLs of Pub Rants, Nathan Bransford, Miss Snark and Rachelle Gardner, designed for easy and stylish display in a study.
  • More cake.
  • A jar of hot chocolate mix (possibly the chilli-flavoured one from Whittards that I've been enjoying since last May).
  • False nails, to conceal one's own bitten-down ones.
  • A book of Sudoku puzzles, to distract writers waiting to see that alluring tease, 'Inbox (1)'.
  • A Starbucks gift card, to give the struggling recipient an excuse to leave the house. 
  • A notebook for recording the journey - although most writers already have many notebooks, another one never hurts, right?

I reckon that would keep most agent-hungry writers happy (or at least happier) for a few days. Have I missed anything? Add your picks in the comments!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

11 Facts, 11 Questions

Paul Anthony Shortt tagged me in this game, so I'll play :)

Here are the rules for receiving this award:
1. Each person may post 11 things about themselves. *
2. Answer the questions that the tagger set for you plus create 11 questions for the people you’ve tagged to answer.
3. Choose 11 people and link them in your post.
4. Go to their page and tell them.
5. No tag backs!
6. Post an image of the award on your blog. There are many versions available. 

11 Facts about me:

  1. I have small hands. Finding gloves to fit me is a nightmare :)
  2. I love flea markets. When I visit a new city I always like to see their flea markets.
  3. I have very bad eyesight - thank God for contact lenses!
  4. I share a birthday with Eva Braun, Ronald Reagan, Bob Marley and Axl Rose.
  5. I have a crippling, intense, severe phobia of hedgehogs. I can't even look at pictures of them.
  6. My first job was working in a cafe in the town I used to live in. A cup of tea was 70p, a coffee was 80p, and a Scone Special (a tea or coffee with a scone served with jam and cream) was £1 (€1.27). Best deal ever, right?
  7. I have sold school uniforms, answered directory enquiry calls, sold broadband, managed interpreters, served burgers in a 50s-theme diner, promoted discounts on toll roads, handed out bags of products to new mums outside a maternity hospital and worked in the kitchen of a four-star hotel (briefly).
  8. I stopped biting my nails when I was 26. It was not pleasant but I only get the occasional urge these days!
  9. My signature recipe is cheese and herb scones.
  10. I don't eat tomatoes or mayonnaise. My sandwich orders are kind of like Sally Albright's.
  11. I once made a chocolate cake with only one tablespon of flour in it. It was fabulous.
11 Questions from Paul:
  1. What movie do you secretly love? I don't think I secretly love any movies - I'm open about my taste!- but I love John Hughes's teen movies.
  2. If you could travel to any place in the world, where would it be? Vietnam.
  3. When you were a child, what was your dream job? Writer, although I went through phases of wanting to be an air hostess, an actress and a doctor.
  4. What was your favourite childhood toy? I can't remember.
  5. Do you have any hobbies that don't involve reading, writing, or that don't involve the internet? Yes! I knit, I bake, I make jewellery, I sew and I'm always trying to learn crochet and failing miserably. I love working with my hands.
  6. Do you have a lifelong dream? To be a published writer and to travel the world. I'm working on them both.
  7. When did you come to realise it? I can't remember, I think I always knew!
  8. What tv show could you watch over and over? Arrested Development.
  9. What one part of modern living could you not live without? The internet. I never get tired of having access to so much information and so many awesome people. I can message my cousin in Manhattan, my schoolfriend in Egypt and find out what time the bakery opens, all at the same time.
  10. What one part of modern living would you love to live without? Cars - although not entirely. I'd like it to be like the 20s, when they were a select thing owned by enthusiasts and people who needed them, used for long journeys and at weekends. I think they're killing modern cities and reshaping our landscape in ways I don't like. I'm with Douglas Adams's character, Ford Prefect - he came to earth convinced cars were the dominant species. I can drive, but I'd prefer to live in a world where I didn't have to do it very often.
  11. What book or movie are you most looking forward to in 2013? Sarah Rees Brennan's Untold. The first book in the Lynburn Legacy, Unspoken, was released in 2012 and was one of my favourite books of the year.
I've been inactive in the blogosphere for so long that I'm not going to tag people who may not see this - all I will say is, if you want to play, please go ahead, post 11 facts about yourself and answer my questions!

1. What's your starsign? Do you believe in horoscopes? Do you think you're 'typical' of your sign?
2. What is your favourite place on earth?
3. If you could have one wish, and it had to be something for you rather than for the whole of humankind, what would it be?
4. Are politics important to you?
5. Tell me in one line why I - or anyone else - should visit your hometown?
6. What's the nicest sweet thing you've ever eaten? Bonus points if you tell me where I can get it :)
7. If you had another lifetime, what job would you like to have?
8. How old would you think you were if you didn't know how old you are?
9. What book would you bring to a desert island, presuming you already had a Bible and the Complete Works of Shakespeare?
10. If the world was facing destruction and you could only save one artefact from our civilisation, what would it be?
11. Do you like your name?

Friday, February 1, 2013

Flash Fiction World Tour: I Need Your Help!

Last April, I spent the month writing alphabetical flash fiction about all sorts of interesting places, from Alaska to Zanzibar, via Chelsea Physic Garden, Woolwich Arsenal, Utah, Rio and Irishtown.

I had a lot of fun doing it, and in the process I learned lots of things I never knew about the world around me, and I hope I managed to share some of that in my posts.

This year, I want to continue my Flash Fiction World Tour, bringing the total number of teeny travel stories to 52.

But as ever, I need the help of my creative and talented readership.

Each piece of microfiction will be themed around a place. It could be a country, a city, a state, a suburb, a village, a forest, a national park, an attraction, a street, a county . . . you get the idea. Nowhere is too big or too small.

And I want you to make suggestions! Give me a place - as large or as small as you like. I'll read about it (this is probably going to be the most fun part for me, because I love learning about new places almost as much as I love going to them) and then I'll write a short piece of fiction set there.

I'm hoping to get some variety so feel free to suggest anywhere you think may be interesting - it doesn't have to be your home - and spread the word!