Tuesday, 31 December 2013


Writing aside for a moment, in so many ways, 2013 has been quite a year.  But this time last year, if someone had told me I'd have self-published three books and sold tens of thousands of them; would have an offer from a digital publisher, that I'd write something completely different and find an agent... I probably would have said, right, would be fantastic, BUT...

But it's happened!  And right now, because it's still new and makes me grin a bit madly when I think about it, I keep reminding myself, because I'm so enjoying this bit.  I'm still chasing the dream of a traditional publishing deal with this latest book, but I wouldn't have got this far without the thousands of people who've bought my books so far.  Or other writers who've given me advice, agents who've given me feedback.  All of you who've written reviews, bloggers who've featured my books and even me, too!  You are all completely brilliant.

So a massive THANK YOU to all of you, from the bottom of my heart...
and may your New Year be filled with love.
2014... Bring it on...
 Happy New Year  #happynewyear #newyearwishes

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

I have an agent!

Monday was the very best day.  One of those really amazing days I'll always remember.  It began the way it always does - up early, tromp through mud and feed animals, turf teenage son out of bed.
It also happened to be one of the Mondays I volunteer at a hospice - just for a couple of hours.  Just as well, too, because I was nervous and it took my mind off what I was doing later on.

Then, that afternoon, I caught a train and walked along a London street in the cold December sun, to the first of my meetings with two of the agents who had said they'd like to represent me.
I'd already decided that if I got a taxi, I'd be sure to get to the right place at the right time.  You'd think that, wouldn't you, with a taxi?  I did, only the taxi driver took me to the wrong place, so I was flustered and really, really late, which wasn't the best start.
But I soon forgot about it, because it was surreal and brilliant and exciting all at the same time, and nerve-racking too - until I met them, because they couldn't have been more welcoming.

By the end of the afternoon, my head was full to bursting.  I came out of the second meeting and just walked, for ages, in the dark, a bit numb, not having a clue where I was headed.  (I ended up in Waterstones)  Then I walked some more.
(Later that evening, I got a train to Gatwick to meet my daughter Georgie who was flying back from Greece after nearly three months - like I said, it was a great day.)

But back to agents, because all the times I've imagined this situation, I never once imagined I'd have a choice.  So, I guessed, if I met with them, depending on how well we got on or what they said about my book, presumably all would become obvious.  Only it didn't - well, not straight away.

I kept telling myself, that if only one of the agents had offered, I'd have been just as thrilled, so from this enviable position I found myself in, all I had to do was figure out how I was going to decide.  Both had told me to take my time and think about it - very sound advice, because in all the excitement, and it was, hugely exciting, it's so tempting to make the decision in a hurry.

My first consideration had to be their vision for my book.  I knew it needed polishing and that a professional would see straight away where it could be improved, but that said, I wanted to agree with them.  I'm not precious about my books, but it felt important to be true to my own vision for it too.
But in this instance, that on its own didn't help me.  Both agents had really valid, constructive comments to make which I mostly agreed with.  Added to that, I could imagine myself working with both of them, too.

After that, I spent a fair amount of time reading about other writers' experiences.  What both authors and agents had to say about multiple offers.  I looked up the authors that each of the agents I met represented - types of books and what happened when they were submitted to publishers. 

Then when I put it all together, I knew what my decision was.  I emailed the agents I'd decided not to go with, which I found really hard, then withdrew one submission who hadn't got back to me.  Then I picked up the phone.

And so, as of today, I'm completely thrilled to announce that I am now represented by the fabulous Juliet Mushens of the Agency Group!

Making one of the biggest decisions ever...

Okay, so after that, things got even more amazing.

We now have agent B in the picture, because after the call from the first agent, when I emailed her that evening, to tell her that I'd had two offers of representation, she said please send it over, like now - even though she's on holiday.  She'd read ASAP and get back to me.

She did the ASAP bit.  She actually emailed me back later that same evening, saying she'd just finished reading it and she'd love to represent me, too.  I had another offer from another agent making it four!!! You agents - in the nicest possible way - you're ever so slightly like buses!!! Do you know how long I've been trying to find one? 

Truly though, I'm euphoric, excited, and somewhat humbled by the response I've received, so whatever happens now, the hugest thank you from the bottom of my heart to everyone who's shown interest.  The sweat, blood and tears have got me the next step along the way.  All I have to do now is make a choice...

That day I got a call from an agent...

Okay.  That thing about dreams.  They're a thing I have - I posted about them a while back too, because I've had this one for quite a while.

It goes like this.  You sweat blood over that precious manuscript, get it as polished as you can, peruse your list of the best possible agents, write cover letters and press SEND, crossing fingers, in fact crossing absolutely everything...
Then, you wait.  And it can be quite a wait.

This book's a psychological thriller - my first in this genre and I had no idea how it would be received.  Going on past experience, I know you get rejections.  On this occasion, I submitted to a small number of agents, not getting my hopes up too high because I've been here before.
Sure enough, Agent X got right back to me with a no thanks. 
Here we bloody go again, I couldn't help thinking.  Deep breath.  Told myself, No...  It's just one rejection.  And you only need just one agent...
Next, Agent Y pinged back please can I read the rest and I sent it straight away, suddenly hopeful again.
Then Agent Z pinged back yes, too.  Sent it to her too, starting to get quietly excited.

But then I stopped myself, because this happened to Wildflowers.  Six requests for the full MS and no takers.

Anyway, a sleepless night followed.  This book has done this to me, especially latterly as I got closer to finishing it.  For the last few weeks, every other night has been a two or three o'clock-er which is a great time to write but not so great the next day.
But, I'd sent the book off.  There's another I'm writing but I couldn't concentrate.  So I faffed and procrastinated and went to see if any other insomniac nutters were about on Twitter, which they weren't, and so I started perusing all the writery kind of websites I like reading.  And this name kind of leapt out of the screen at me.  And I thought, why haven't I sent this to him?

So I did.  At about six in the morning.  Got an email at half past 10.  Please could I send the rest. so I did.  Carried on day writing other book, then after lunch, sleep deficit well and truly kicking in, moved to the sofa with cat, switched on mindless TV (no offence, Peter Andre and Sixty Minute Makeovers) and was just dozing off when the phone rang.

It was him. The last person I expected.  We'll have to call him Agent A, at this stage, and he said such lovely things about my book, I was completely tongue-tied.  He really, really liked it - so much he even missed his lunch to finish it...
So we arranged to meet. 

I phoned my husband to tell him.  Voicemail.  Went to meet my son off his college bus.  He wasn't on it.  Kept it to myself for two whole hours - surreal.  Then phoned Georgie in Greece - she's thrilled for me.
Our meeting's the same day Georgie comes home after three  months in Greece.  It's going to be one of those one-off kind of days and I can't wait.

So, I went from submission to meeting in less than a day.  And truly, I've worked hard as I can, and I've dreamed of this kind of response, but if it's happened to me, it can happen to you, too xx.

But this is only the first part of the story...