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Saturday, 21 April 2012

Are you always thinking 'How can I use this?'


We went to Le Touquet in France last weekend. I couldn't help thinking-'How can I use this?' for most of the time we were there.

Le Touquet was filled with locals and English tourists milling about; some with pushchairs, some with dogs, some with cigarettes hanging from their fingertips. The shop windows were filled with clothes, shoes, chocolates and pastries to drool over.

Something about being abroad heightens the senses. I noticed the richness of the milk when ordering a café au lait, the bitterness of the complimentary chocolate placed on the saucer and the blandness of unsalted butter on crispy baguette thrown into baskets and put on tables in restaurants. The croissants at breakfast were so fresh they deposited flakes everywhere when I spread jam on them.

On the beach there were children flying kites and building sandcastles behind windbreaks. The sand blew into my face as we followed the path through the dunes and climbed a slope to the summit as sand filled our shoes. We sat on the beach, shielded from the wind by the dunes as the children searched for shells to fill their buckets.

Going through the Eurotunnel was like taking a trip into the future. There's a sci-fi feel as you drive up the ramp onto the two-storey train. The doors beep as they close between the carriages. Instructions come through the tannoy in English and French about putting the car in first gear, keeping the windows half open for ventilation and not walking between the cars. As we waited to reach the other side I couldn't help thinking that we were under the English Channel, a thought I cast out of my mind as soon as it crept in.

So the question is how can I use this?

There are scenes in my Book 2 which take place in France. I've been to France many times and lived in Grenoble in 1993 when studying French, but it's good to see the country with fresh eyes.  My hero and heroine in Book 2 will be taking a trip to France which will probably lead them to Italy. I might book them a ticket for the Eurotunnel with an overnight stop at Le Touquet.

Are you always thinking 'How can I use this?' or do you have any other comments?

Monday, 9 April 2012

Is seeking agent representation like auditioning for The Voice?

(The video originally included with this post is no longer on Youtube)


I empathise with the contestants on TV programme, The Voice U.K.

The singers auditioning are like unpublished writers looking for an agent.

The judges may be looking for a female, male or specific kind of voice to make up their team. On Saturday, Will.i.am said he didn't turn his chair around for a contestant because he already had someone on his team with a similar voice. An agent may be looking for a specific kind of book when reading a submission. (Could they please be looking for a 1990s love story set in Tuscany with journal excerpts from The Second World War?!)

If a singer is chosen they may need to work on tuning or breathing just like a writer may need to rewrite or edit a novel.

The singers who aren't chosen on The Voice are usually gracious when none of the chairs turn around, their eyes reflecting their disappointment as they force a smile. Some of them may be one step closer to success because they went on the show. A rejected writer could be one step closer to finding an agent who will fall in love with their manuscript.

As soon as I receive a rejection, I change the colour of the agency in my spreadsheet from black to red, input the date of receipt and move onto the next one. That way there's a chance an e-mail may drop into my inbox or my mobile may ring displaying a 'Private number' and someone might say 'we'd like to see the rest of your manuscript'. 'The Help' written by Kathryn Stockett was apparently rejected by 60 agents. I've had 3 rejections but I shall persevere!

Can you identify with contestants on The Voice or other singing contests? Or do you have any other comments?