Mastodon The Writing Desk: February 2012

24 February 2012

Book Review: How to Get a Literary Agent by Michael Larsen

There has never been a better time to be a writer. That’s the view of Literary Agent Michael Larsen, so when I won the chance to choose a book on Robin Colucci Hoffman’s The Get Published Coach his book was my first choice, as I can’t be alone in thinking I need a good Agent but wondered how I find one.

I can sum up the main point of the book by saying it will really help if you can look at life from the agent’s point of view. After reading Michael’s book I feel better able to do that and recommend it to anyone who is serious about being published.  He makes a good point that ‘you don’t really need an agent any more than you need a dentist, as you can probably fill your own teeth.’

One surprise was there is no mention at all of ebooks, twitter, Google+ etc. Written on 1996, my copy was a 2006 reprint and I found it really refreshing to return to a world of ‘proper’ printed books.

I also enjoyed Michael’s literary wit and cleverly chosen quotes.  He has some great one line rejection notes, my favourites include  ‘I thought you’d like to see what some fool is sending out under your name’ ‘We cannot use the paper you sent us. You wrote on it’ and ‘to save time we are sending you two rejection slips, one for this story and one for the next one you send us.’  

Some of the statistics he quotes about rejection are not so funny for aspiring writers.  His own agency selects about 1% of their submissions.  We all know about J.K. Rowling being rejected ten times but did you know that British author John Creasy had seven hundred and seventy four rejections before having over five hundred  books published?

Finally, all writers would do well to consider Michael Larsen’s advice on how to get published:  ‘Write well and often, remember one page a day is a book a year and make your agent, your editor and your readers eager to see your next book.’

Preview How to Get a Literary Agent on Amazon

Flash Fiction Friday: Shaman

The last true shaman looked deep into my soul and read my mind.  He didn’t speak yet I clearly heard one word in my head. Immortality? His answer to my question with another question. We were connected. He nodded, knowing exactly why I had come. His arthritic finger pointed to the shards of bones and a few teeth. He spoke. His deep voice rich with wisdom.
  ‘Our physical remains mean nothing but we live on through our ideas’
I understood. Ideas live on through writing. We may live forever by writing ideas future generations will want to read. Literally immortal. 

1 February 2012

Book Launch Guest Post: An Unfamiliar Murder by Jane Isaac

I've always been fascinated by what happens when extraordinary events touch the lives of ordinary people. For the most part, our lives are relatively untouched by law enforcement. What happens if we are forced into such a situation? How would we react? An Unfamiliar Murder is a psychological thriller born out of this fascination.

Written through the eyes of Anna, fighting to prove her innocence, and DCI Helen Lavery, trying to prove herself in the senior echelons of a competitive profession, whilst juggling the demands of parenting teenage sons, I have tried to make my characters real, so that we feel their journey. Let me share my blurb with you:

What secrets lurk beneath a normal, healthy skin?

Arriving home from a routine day at work, Anna Cottrell has no idea that her life is about to change forever. But discovering the stabbed body of a stranger in her flat, then becoming prime suspect in a murder enquiry is only the beginning. Her persistent claims of innocence start to crumble when new evidence links her irrevocably with the victim...
Leading her first murder enquiry, DCI Helen Lavery unravels a trail of deception, family secrets and betrayal. When people close to the Cottrell family start to disappear, Lavery is forced into a race against time. Can she catch the killer before he executes his ultimate victim?
What readers are saying:

"The characters are brilliantly crafted.... I can't wait for the sequel!" 
" fast paced as it is full of twists and turns... "
"...compulsive reading. Brilliantly written, gripping plot."
About Jane

Jane Isaac studied creative writing, and later specialist fiction with the London School of Journalism. Her non-fiction articles have appeared in newspapers, magazines and online. 

Two of her short stories, Duplicity and Perilous Truths will appear in Crime Anthologies released in 2012. An Unfamiliar Murder is her first novel.

Apart from her personal blog, Caffeine’s Not a crime Jane blogs about her writing experience, at Diary of a Newbie Novelist and is co-author on the Pyjama Club

Jane lives in rural Northants, UK with her husband, daughter and dog, Bollo. When she is not writing she loves to travel, is an avid reader, Mum, dog lover and enjoys spending time with her family. She believes life should be an adventure! 

Buy Jane's book An Unfamiliar Murder here:

Contact Jane at her website at where she is always happy to hear from readers and writers. 

Sign up to newsletter updates on An Unfamiliar Murder and its sequel which should be out by the end of 2013. 

You can follow Jane on Twitter: @JaneIsaacAuthor  

and on Face Book: Jane Isaac Author.