Happy New Year and Linking Chapters

I hope you all enjoyed a great start to the New Year. Mine was a bit different, with two funerals just days apart. I had the honor of speaking at the funeral of a very good friend who was once my math teacher in senior high school. He and his family remained close to ours ever since and his life was remarkable, yet humble. The second was the passing of my older sister after a long illness. There is little to link these two events, except that both deceased had been teachers and both much loved.

As I turn back to my new novel I have been struggling to link Chapter Two with Chapter Three. The third chapter is a completely different setting (underwater in a submarine) with new characters. How could I link these to help the book flow for my readers?

The answer was having both Chapter Two and Three refer to the same place—in this case, Gibraltar. The connection was obvious, yet had eluded me for quite some time. Gibraltar is pivotal to my story and it felt better to bring it forward in the novel to have it centre in the reader’s mind.

And a very Merry Christmas to you all

As 2023 comes to a close, I just wanted to thank all my readers for joining me on this literary journey – one where I seek the golden key to finding the ‘right’ literary agent . May your Christmas be filled with peace and hope for a better future. Meanwhile, this season may allow you time to pause and relax and enjoy family time too. My Christmas wish? OK, here it is:

 

Christopher Robin

In a poetic moment I revisited AA Milne’s Buckingham Palace and wove it into my introduction to my new thriller-heist. Why? Well, that may not become obvious until the final chapter(s). Meanwhile, the protagonist suspects that the king does indeed know all about him! [BTW: my sister is called Robin and I was named Christopher]. And, like Alice, there is ‘time for tea’ in Chapter One for the protagonist, among the rising tension of being followed. Perhaps the obvious connection is that the protagonist is called Sir Christopher.

They're changing guard at Buckingham Palace
Christopher Robin went down with Alice
"Do you think the King knows all about me?"
"Sure to, dear, but it's time for tea" Says Alice


What’s the Point in Trying?

“There’s a statistic that circulates the publishing world that only one in six thousand writers will sign with a literary agent. And only a very small percentage of those will ever get published. So what’s the point in trying?”

Such a relevant question. Why climb Everest? Why row across an ocean? Why be a school principal? Why renovate another house? Why? Why? Why?

I’m going to struggle with a sensible answer, but here goes. I keep trying because I want to reach the greatest audience and I keep trying because I want my heist-thriller to be as polished as possible, which will not happen if I self-publish. Oh, there are many other illogical reasons too :-). Have I felt like giving up? Yes, and even more in recent days. Having a request for my full manuscript created hope to land a literary agent, but this was followed four weeks later by a “No.” After this glimmer of hope it was back to a full re-edit, and chapter reorganisation, before sending out a few more submissions. The recent rise of Artificial Intelligence, and a huge global interest in deep-sea submersibles (with the Titan implosion) should help propel my novel. I’m just waiting for a literary agent to agree.

But, the greatest reason is ‘persistence‘ – never giving up on a higher goal and I hope I am able to reach it soon.

Ruminate

When writing, the plot and characters are uppermost in my mind. It’s a subconscious thing and I find myself thinking about events in my novel while drifting off to sleep, only to have them punctuated by fresh thoughts. These make me force myself awake and make the necessary changes while they are fresh – “I’ll forget them in the morning,” I tell myself. There a catch though. In the morning, have to check that the new thought fits the storyline and doesn’t detract from it or overwhelm it; it has to enhance it to be effective. Ah the joys of ruminating – just going over and over my novel, like cows chewing grass:

 

The Pitch

The Pitch is a snazzy one liner that sums up a novel’s theme. My pitch changed while editing and my professional editor (ex Penguin Publishing) helped shape it into:

Can Artificial Intelligence topple the global economy or restore financial equality? Depends whose side you’re on…

Perhaps our global issue is not Big Brother organisations, but the machines they are building? Food for literary thought.

The Perfect Edit

It’s poetic how some things work out. After months of editing and revising my manuscript, look how many words it ended up…

Yes, some will say it’s too long for a heist-thriller and others will disagree and say they need detail and back story to really get into a novel. For me, it was just where it ended up and, for that reason, it feels right. My first thriller was finished at around 85,000 words but my new one – with the extra words – does seem to have more depth and purpose. I hope readers agree. Hint: do you want to learn about the role of AI in the greatest bank robbery of all time?

Is Your Book Cooked Enough?

We had ribs tonight—delicious ribs with meat falling off the bone and juices charred rich like treacle. It made me wonder if my book has been cooked long enough to have the same rich flavour? A book that has been slow-cooked, then fried to perfection. Is mine like that? Of course, the answer was “no” a year ago, but now is a simmering “yes.”

Full of flavour? I hope so.

A plot that sticks like a rich sauce? Perhaps.

An ending that leaves a reader full and satisfied? I can’t give that away, can I?

You see, it’s only the reader who can tell me if my book is cooked enough.

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