Tuesday, January 31, 2012

I just had a talk with my agent, who had gone back to the publisher after they made their offer to me. He was asking to retain translation rights and other things "to sweeten" the deal, as he said. But the publisher is having none of it. They feel that they are already going out on a limb offering a decent advance for a book they want to make some changes to - they want me to make changes that would highlight the romance aspect of the book, not that they want to turn it into a "romance" with a cheesy book cover sporting Fabio in a kilt - they could, and it would kill me. I think the book will only gain from heightening that, and I still get to make the points I want to make in the book - historical points, religious points. And, face it, I am a first time novelist (not really, but I am for their purposes) and if they want world rights, they've got them. What do I have to bargain with? It's pretty normal, this situation I'm in. Audrey Niffenegger who wrote "The Time Traveler's wife," got next to nothing for that book, but a whole lot more mulla and say in her next. Anyway, money's not the point. That's what Steve Jobbs said, and it certainly didn't hamper him. Nobody goes into the writing life as a means to making a bundle.
Anyway, to cut to the chase, I gave the go-ahead to my agent and  got an immediate response from the editor. The actual physical contract won't come into my hands for another month. Molasses. Sweet, though.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Hi. This is my first blog ever, but I have just about sold my novel, and I was thinking there must be people out there who would love to know what happens from here until the book sits on the shelf in your local bookstore. I have an agent and I have a publisher - I'm just waiting to sign the contract and then we are good to go.
First off, I should say that I am a Scottish writer, though I have lived in Colorado for a good long while. My agent is English, though he is with an agency in New York, and my publisher is American. I'm not going to name either one until I get permission to do so. My novel is about a woman from Glasgow coming out of a nasty divorce who takes a holiday cottage at the foot of a very ancient site on the rural west coast of Scotland. She has epilepsy, a feature which seemed to put a lot of publishers off, but it's an important feature, so I stuck with it. In the wake of seizures she has very vivid dreams, and when she moves out into the Scottish wilds, these dreams come to seem more like reality. When she meets the king's brother and takes a liking to him, she begins to prefer that world to her own. She keeps having seizures and keeps going back. You could call the book time travel back to 8th Century Scotland, though I have avoided using that term because time travel involves all kinds of logistical problems that I chose not to deal with.  So, this could all be a vivid dream or plain craziness, either way it's an interesting exercise, and in the process the reader learns a lot about 8th century Scotland, like the presence of the Goddess rather than Almighty God and the fact that royalty got passed down through the mother's line not the father's. It was a little matriarchal, the sense of which we have lost through a few thousand years of patriarchal religions.
Some people have likened the book to Diana Gabaldon's "Outlander" book, but I think it is more a combination of "The Mists of Avalon" and "The Time Traveller's Wife." That's my sale's pitch.
Altogether, I have written eight novels. My agent couldn't sell the first book of mine he took on, which is actually the better book, in my opinion, not that this current one isn't good. It's just a little more commercial, which is okay, too. Charles Dickens knew the meaning of the term, and who's going to argue with him? I am egotistical enough to think that I write literary fiction, not commercial, but maybe a good book can be both. I also write the screenplays to my novels, because I wouldn't want anyone else getting their grubby little Hollywood hands on my stories.
That's probably enough about my background. I am sitting here waiting for an e-mail from my agent to say how he has sweetened the deal with the publisher and the contract is ready to sign. So far, I have done a lot of waiting in this writing game. It has been two years since I signed with my agent (a good agent at a very reputable NY agency, so it's not his fault. It's just a sign of the times.) It has been over twenty years since I embarked on my first novel, but then I needed a lot of time, I guess, to hone the art. That's something you're never done with. John Steinbeck managed it. Maybe I will in time.
While I have been waiting on this particular sale, I have been writing the eighth novel, which is about a mustang taken from the wild on a BLM cull, not my usual kind of topic, but a friend of mine had the idea, then she died suddenly and I took the idea and ran with it. So, if anyone knows Madeline Pickens (wife of T. Boone), let her know I have the novel of her dreams out here in Colorado (she's taken on the mustang cause, I hear.)
So, I'll let you know what happens next on the road to publication. In the meantime, I'll go back to waiting.
Yours, the lean and hungry author.