So, remember I went to Belfast last Friday to meet the editors at a publishing house? Well, yesterday I got the call, and it was a “Yes”! The aim will be for a collection of my stories to be published in October, so the next few months are going to be very exciting 🙂 .
Today I applied to joined The Society Of Authors. The brilliant thing about this organisation is that it supports authors in a variety of ways (including offering help with reviewing contracts).
I feel at the start of something very auspicious. A whole new road lies ahead, and I’m itching to get my adventure boots on and to start walking.
Well, here we are already 17 days into January! Whilst my 365 Days Of Adventure project is now complete, that doesn’t mean that the adventures have stopped : far from it 🙂 . My year-long project has started an avalanche of new projects, and some of the adventures I started back in 2014 are growing into veritable “expeditions”!
New Projects And New-Old Projects Thanks to my webinar and TV show adventures, I’ve now developed the technological confidence (yes – actual confidence!) to launch my very first on-line programme. It’s a natural next step for me and for any of you who want to get the hang of doing new stuff (and doing the stuff that you really want to do) without holding yourself back. You can get the full low-down on the Learning To Leap programme here.
Thanks to my SurveyMonkey adventure (Oh, how I wish I’d undertaken this adventure a long time ago!), I’m also launching a live retreat version of my Learning To Leap programme . The retreat is called The Leap and you can jump into all the detail here.
My survey results showed that the programme that most people were interested in was my Telling Stories For A Change training. So, I listened and ,after a few years of rest and recuperation, that course is back on the menu!
The Big Expedition If you’ve been following my adventures for a while, you may know that I wrote a short faerie story last summer. I sent that story off to a handful of literary agents and one publisher. The publisher was interested and asked for another story, which I submitted in December. They like that too, and yesterday I embarked on the next stage of my writing adventure : a visit to the publishing house!
I really enjoyed meeting the two editors and it was FABULOUS to be able to tell them how I came to write the stories (yes- I even owned up to my fairy-hunting adventure). The meeting was more about getting to know me and about ascertaining whether I had it in me to go the full book-signing, speaking, reading, interviewing hog… and whether I could enthuse about my own work . We also talked about the genre of my book .. which is a little sticky …. because its natural genre (cross-over) is notoriously hard to sell to bookshops because they don’t know where to put the books.
I get to hear whether the publisher wants to go ahead with publishing a collection of short stories early next week 🙂 . Here’s the “live” report >>
If you’re new to my blog, and you want to catch up with my 365 Days Of Adventure project, just click on the Blog Categories button in the right hand column (or under this post if you are reading this on your phone). When you click on the button it will give you a topic menu, so you can pick and choose as the fancy takes you 🙂 .
Well, hmmmm. My writing retreat has not been as easy or as smooth as I’d hoped – but I have started (or should I say, I have now found the right place to start – after several thousand words!)
I’ve edited my daily video blog from the last 5 days into one short film. I’ll let the film show you the ups and downs of my retreat (including a visit to the A&E department of my local hospital). I apologise for the quality of part of the film which I had to record on Google Hangouts : it didn’t work that well!
Whilst I am returning to my writing bunker tomorrow, I’m also starting a new 25-day series of adventures. The Big Renga project launches tomorrow, so I’ll be back to my daily adventure-reporting habit 🙂 .
So, that’s me! I’m checking out for a week 🙂 . The decks are (more or less) clear, and after this evening’s coaching clients, I’m ready to retreat from the real world and take up full time residence in my imagination.
I had forgotten how busy I am at the moment : 2 webinars coming up in the next 10 days, the launch of my collaborative poetry project on the 1st of December, and work (yes, actual work!) on top of all that! I’ve done what I can to create the necessary “silence” for writing (I don’t like distraction : I do like sustained, and uninterrupted, quiet focus).
I’m clearing my office space, I’m shopping for as much food as I can after I’ve posted this blog post (so I don’t even need to leave the house) … and then, I am going in!
I’ll be keeping a video diary, but I won’t be posting daily on my blog. I expect to be back on the 30th November / 1st December. You can keep up with my videos on my YouTube channel
My feet are already in the water : it’s beautifully warm 🙂 .
For today’s adventure, I visit Murlough Bay to soak up the atmosphere and to find places to weave into The Merrow Of Murlough Bay.
I spent time looking at various maps and researching some local legends before setting out to visit the coast. I knew what I wanted to see. I knew what I needed to be able to recreate in my mind’s eye to help me write.
Today I got to see Lough Doo, the residence of a devil horse who shapeshifts into The Grey Man, lulls people into a false sense of security, and then pulls them into the dark waters of his home!
I also visited the shoreline to find the spot where the merrow crawls ashore and to find places where he might be able to hide.
I managed to locate the entrance to some disused mines. And (after quite a bit of huffing and puffing) I eventually found the ancient church of Drumnakill (the place that has the magic clay)!
You can see all these places on today’s video blog.
For today’s adventure, I started doing some off-line research for my new story. The storyline is complete. The next step is for me to anchor the story to a place and time.
For this story, I didn’t really need to look for a place. A place has been calling me for a while. The place is called Murlough Bay and is on the Antrim coast, Northern Ireland.
The last time I was at Murlough Bay was in July 2012 at the time of the Venus Transit. To see the transit, I had to be at the cliffs above the bay just before dawn. Unfortunately, I arrived 24 hours early for the transit (:P – I’m very keen) but I did get to witness a fabulous, eerie sunrise.
As the sun rose, it illuminated the Mull of Kintyre, Rathlin and the Scottish islands of Islay and Jura. It was beautiful. And it was very spooky. The kind of spooky that magics your feet into the ground. The kind of spooky that turns your breath to glass.
I got out a map of the area and soaked in all the place names. I then ploughed (yes, it was quite a demanding read!) through the relevant sections of a book called The Moyle Shore. This book offered me some fascinating information that will be really useful for building the story’s set.
The book described how local fisherman would have caught glashan (coalfish) and lythe (pollock). It talked about coalmines and lime kilns; about an ancient church surrounded by healing clay; about pilgrimage routes; and about rocks in the sea with special names.
Yup. There is magic in this place. And if I can weave the magic of this place into my story… well, that story might just be potent enough to unmagic a body’s feet from the ground or turn glass breath into stardust.
Oh – and the story has a name now : The Merrow Of Murlough Bay. The story likes it 🙂 .
Well …. I’ve heard back from the publisher : they read the complete manuscript for The Faerie Thorn – and they “thoroughly enjoyed it”. After the “it’s all really great” bit, I sensed a “but” coming. But there wasn’t a “but”. There was an “and” instead!
They asked if I could send some more stories in the same vein because they thought a collection of my stories would work really well! 4 or 5 stories of a similar size to The Faerie Thorn would do the trick, and we agreed that I would submit the second story by mid-December.
I have the sense that this second story is a bit of a test, a test to make sure that I’m not a one-story wonder. I am happy to write the next story : it’s burning to be written. And I’m happy to write the next story because I think it’s bringing me closer to the possibility of getting my stories published.
So today’s adventure has been all about clearing the decks and getting set up for writing. I’ve put some projects on hold. I’ve done some more research about merrowmen. I’ve done some more research about the area in which the story is set. I’ve got the story complete in my head (with a full and intricate set of unexpected twists and turns). And I’ve taken the first big step towards breathing the soul of the story to life.
Once I breathe the soul of a story to life, I just have to climb inside the story and write or tell what I see, hear and feel. To breathe the soul of a story to life, I have to find the soul of the story and then feel it. The soul of the story sits right underneath the storyline. Feeling the soul of the story breathes it to life. (Sounds a bit weird , I know! But that’s how I do it 🙂 . I talk more about this process in today’s video).
The story is now alive. It’s walking. It’s at large. It’s lurking around corners. It’s hiding in cupboards. And today it was in the shower.
It’s too late. There’s no going back. If I don’t tell this story, it’ll haunt me until the other side of Forever.