Macmillan New Writing

Macmillan New Writing is a part of Pan Macmillan Publishers, a mainstream publisher. If you read the page I’ve linked to, you’ll discover that they now accept unsolicitored manuscripts. The contract will be different to what an agent would be able to negotiate for you, but I feel this is a way for an unpublished author to seriously get their work recognised.

If you are interested in submitting a manuscript to them, I strongly advise that you read the website carefully and find out more about the program beforehand.

They only accept adult fiction, so at present none of my manuscripts fit the guidelines…but that won’t always be the case.

My Writing Decision

After much thought I’ve made my decision as to which manuscript will get my attention first.

If you look at the list, you might think it would be fitting to finish the Cat’s Series as two books are already completed, leaving only the third book to be written. This would seem like the natural course to take, but I’ve decided against it as the second and third book cannot be published without the first book being successful (the first book is written as a stand alone, whereas the other two books are definite sequels and must be read in order). Due to this I feel it would be better time management to put my efforts into submitting Cat’s Eyes (book 1) to publishers instead, which is what I will do. I will keep you updated on my progress.

The Kingdom of Marlinor trilogy is a favourite of mine. In the past I’ve rushed the planning and have been sorry afterwards. This time, I intend to do it properly. All three books! Completely! As I mentioned in a previous post, I have already started researching important issues for the trilogy and this will continue until I am satisfied with the information I have. I will then use the Snowflake method to produce a proper plan.

Planning isn’t actually writing though and I feel I should be getting words on paper (or on the computer screen) while I feel in the mood because who knows when the mood will disappear?!? With this in mind, I’ve decided to plan one story and write another.

The manuscript that has been given the number one slot is Mirror Image. With only approximately 10,000 words to write, I feel this isn’t a huge hurdle to face at this early stage and, besides, I want to see the first draft finished, so this is the story I’ll revisit. Upon its completion, I will decide what to do next.

However, I’ve said only one manuscript is the “winner”, but in actual fact three manuscripts are winners. Cat’s Eyes will gain my serious attention for submitting. That has to be a good move. Kingdom of Marlinor will finally be planned the way it should have been years ago. That’s definitely a positive step. And the first draft of Mirror Image will finally be finished. It will feel great to cross it off my “unfinished projects” list.

My Writing Future

Yesterday, I listed fourteen novel length manuscripts that I have at various stages. Fourteen! When added together, that is some word count! Not to mention all the edits and rewrites.

I guess I can safely say the ideas are there. Some of the manuscripts were started many, many years ago and have not progressed in any way since they were put aside. Some of the manuscripts probably never will be improved upon and I’m fully aware which ones they are. But this isn’t about what I did wrong in the past. This is my honest look at what I have and where I want to go in the future.

I printed out the list and studied it. Then I asked myself a couple of questions: Which of these manuscripts (if any) “do something” for me? Which ones do I want to continue with?

My answer:

Kingdom of Marlinor Trilogy

The first book – Whispering Caves – has been written, rewritten and rewritten again. In fact, I think I’m up to version 8. The original manuscript was written in the late 1990’s. I love the characters and the setting. I love the story. However, as I grew as a writer, I could see the problem areas and I believe my attempts to fix them actually ruined the basics of the story. This is called over editing. I didn’t know when to stop.

The second and third books are (very) vaguely planned, but after the last rewrite of Whispering Caves I had an idea that could tie the three stories together. If I use this idea, it would mean I would have to replan and then rewrite from the beginning. I’m not talking about a severe edit, I mean open a blank screen and write the whole thing from the start. I am willing, and I want, to do that. Actually, I have already set the planning of this trilogy into motion.

People of Miu Series

As these manuscripts were originally written in the last three to four years, this series is my most recent work and that is reflected in the quality of writing. Hence, less revisions required. The first two books are ready for submission and I know how book 3 must end, but I’m having trouble planning the rest of the story. That “trouble” might have been me not being able to focus. I think I can overcome that problem now and I want to finish this series. I enjoyed writing it and have had a lot of input from other writers to get the manuscripts to submission stage.

Isle of Cottie

This manuscript is romance with a fantasy setting and has two parts to it. A bit like before and after scenarios. The “before” section is 100% complete. I will probably have to give it another read through just to be sure it’s just right, but I know I wouldn’t have to spend a lot of time on it. The “after” section is a different matter. It’s been written in the first draft, but will change dramatically in the edit as I made major changes when I edited Part 1. My parents read this story (as well as Whispering Caves) and my father couldn’t praise this story enough. He said it’s full of drama, twists and turns and was quite “suggestive”. I was a little embarrassed by that, but if he read the edited Part 1 I think he’d get a shock!

The original manuscript was written in the early 1990’s. In fact, this is the first manuscript I ever wrote. The major edit of Part 1 took place about five years ago. Now I think it’s time to finish Part 2.

Mirror Image

The first draft of this story was written in November 2007 during NaNoWriMo. This means the draft is really bad. I remember changing direction in the middle of sentences, so the edit of this project is going to be a big deal. Anyway, for personal reasons, I didn’t quite finish the manuscript, but there are only about 10,000 words to go.

This is a dark story (paranormal/horror). It sends out a clear message which I feel is important to tell, especially in this day and age when depression is ripe. For this reason, I want to finish this manuscript.

Suicide: A Mother’s Story

This will be another two part manuscript. One of those parts will be hard to write, but much easier than the other part. I realise now that I attempted this project too soon when I originally started planning it in 2006, but it’s another manuscript that needs to be written – for me, for parents, for teenagers.

Mid-Summer’s Day

It’s been fully planned for a couple of years. However, no writing has started. I will write this one day, but not yet. Why start another project when I have so many others that need my attention?

Out of the other four manuscripts on the list, I think only two will get my attention in the future. Then again, maybe none of them will progress. I may decide to ditch these for other ideas instead.

Now that I’m clear on which manuscripts still hold my interest, I have to decide which of them will be placed in the top spot. As I’ve said before, I’m a one manuscript at a time kind of girl, so only one will be chosen. Which one do you think it will be?

My Writing Past

Previously, I’ve mainly written fantasy. I have manuscripts suitable for all ages. However, I specifically concentrated on children’s books – 8 to 12 years of age – over recent years. The only time I ventured into other genres were for short stories, although one of my first novel length manuscripts is romance (but even that has a fantasy setting).

In order to gauge where I’m heading, I have to know what I have to work with. Here’s a list of all my manuscripts, excluding short stories as I don’t intend to write them in the future.

List of Novel Length Manuscripts

Kingdom of Marlinor Trilogy
(fantasy for adults – needs planning as a trilogy and rewriting)

Book 1 – Whispering Caves
Book 2 – Windy Plains
Book 3 – Butterweed Fever

People of Miu Series
(fantasy for children aged 8 to 12 years – first two books written and edited; book 3 needs planning)

Book 1 – Cat’s Eyes
Book 2 – Cat’s Paws
Book 3 – Cat’s Whiskers

Stand Alone Manuscripts

Blood Red, White Fire (fantasy for young adults) – 22 chapters written of first draft

Isle of Cotti (romance for adults) – complete, 10 chapters rewritten in edit stage, second half needs replanning

Westmore Castle (fantasy for adults) – only four chapters written, needs complete planning and rewriting

The World of Jaishree (fantasy for young adults) – written as a short story that should have been a novel, needs replanning and rewriting

Mid-Summer’s Day (science fiction for adults) – fully planned, but not written

Sam & Arden (fantasy for young adults) – 4 chapters written, needs proper planning

Mirror Image (paranormal/horror for adults) – about 10,000 words of first draft left to write

Non-Fiction Manuscripts

Suicide: A Mother’s Story

Now that I know what manuscripts are in the system, I can decide what I intend to do from this point on. That, however, will be discussed in another post. Right now, I have some thinking to do.

Designing A Cover For Your Book- A guide for self publishers

by Anthony P. Palmieri

In these days of computers, the internet, digital cameras, and on-line publishing companies, individuals can more easily express their creativity through writing and publishing their own written works. Whether it is a novel, a short story, or a how to guide, having a creative cover is important to help capture the attention of your audience. There is that old saying, “You can’t tell a book by its cover” is so true, but your job as an author is to make sure that the cover best reflects your written works. With the growth of E-books and on-line books, having a well designed cover is even more important. The web surfer can quickly have tens if not hundreds of books at their fingertips, but why should they select your book over another? Without spending many dollars in marketing, one of the best tools at your disposal is a cover that will get their attention and hopefully pique their interest to make a purchase. If you are writing on a topic that already has many similar topics, such as “Vegetable Gardening”, you have to compete even more for the consumers dollars.

You could purchase the different graphics tools of go off to a company to design your cover for you. Most of the covers that you are familiar with in a book store cost hundreds of dollars to design, and in some cases thousands. Now whether you are writing 10 pages or 5000 pages, this article will give you some basic ideas that will help you design your next book cover into one that is different, unique and personal. Remember that a well done book cover will boost your sales.

Designing A Cover For Your Book – A guide for self publishers

You have already expressed your creative side by writing a book, now lets express your artistic side. By using a collection of clip art, or a low cost digital camera coupled with some imagination can open the door for you to create unique cover that portrays your writings. Even with that saying, “You can’t tell a book by its cover”, the cover definitely gets attention. Think of the book cover as a marketing tool that promotes not only your book, but you as the author.

Software packages like Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator have many capabilities that allow you to customize your pictures and illustrations. The question often asked is; “What should I do?” The intent of this article is to give you a few ideas to spark your creativity and see what fits your personality. Our focus at www.PalmieriConcepts.com has been on pet and automotive art, so we will use an automotive car show judging guide as an example, although these ideas can be applied to many other topics.

With E-Books and on-line publications, having an elaborate cover is a one time upfront cost since there is no printing involved, so it is worth it to do it right since the book revenue in part will be dependent upon the cover.

Publishers for hard copied books have the ability to use different papers, and cover media such as foil, and other eye catching materials. On-line publishing has to leverage the graphics appeal to grab the readers eye and entice them to read further. A brief list of tips to consider when designing your book cover is as follows:

Always try to use high resolution images (clear and crisp) for any initial artwork. You can always lower the resolution later on. 2. As an author, if you expect to have multiple books you may wish to have a common theme where there may be a similar layout or border between books. Define your own brand identity. 3. Design your a layout with layers giving a three dimensional effect. For example the palm tree in the background of the “Pet Photography Book Example”. 4. Some customers will also print out their book, so you want a design that is printable, and will still look good. Make sure that what ever resolution you use is sufficient for printing. Typically 150 DPI will work unless there is intricate details that may require higher resolution. 5. For best versatility and color representation use RGB color specifications versus CMYK. 6. Hard copied books use different cover effects to catch the readers eyes, such as fabrics, and embossing. You want to obtain a similar visual effect, so use different background textures to give a feel like cloth, diamond plate, fabric with out them being too pronounced. Select something that relates to the content. One example we used was a diamond plate border for an automotive engine book. The rugged diamond plate linked nicely to the bold metal engines. 7. Remember your target audience. If it is children, select clip art that they can relate to. For hobbyist, try to incorporate some aspect of the hobby on the cover. 8. Do not clutter the cover too much with images or text. It can make it difficult to read on line.

Use visual effects that reflect the contents and the value it brings to the reader. A consumer is more likely to purchase a book f they perceive the value more than the cost. Your cover needs to reflect the value, but it is equally important that the contents justify the cover. Do not mislead the reader. The judging book example has a trophy in the background implying if you follow the advice in the book, you could have a trophy on your shelf. Or the pet photography example where it tells he reader it will help them create a picture like the one on the cover. These are things that have a tangible feel to them that reflects value. Many of the books we sold were purchased as a gift. The giver wants to make the receiver happy, and wants confirmation that it’s a great gift and often looks for a smile. When someone sees your cover you want them to smile.

This value in a cover that gets attention is dependent upon how well the design is done, and what message it gets across.

Marketing studies have show that having a catchy box or cover for a product sells more products, so take the ideas presented here and sell some books.

Final Remarks On Designing Your Book Cover

Even though we are only presetting a few examples and ideas, you should realize that like the words you have written on the pages, the book cover is an extension of the writers personality. As long as basic principles are adhered to, there is no right or wrong way, as long as the message gets across. Accurate representation of the books contents along with a cover that is memorable are two of the keys to make your book stand out.

Competition for consumers will continue to increase as more titles compete with yours. Look at what other authors have done and open your imagination and embark on the first step to create yours. By utilizing the tips here you are one step closer.

So to get started, take what you have learned here, finish your book and get a cover designed.

About the Author:
Anthony Palmieri founded Palmieri Concepts after 20 years of creating custom artwork for his own pleasure and enjoyment along with 30 years as a car enthusiast. This business initially grew out of a love for motor vehicles and was started to share with others what began as a hobby. For additional information on how to designing book covers or having a custom cover designed for you, visit Palmieri Concepts at www.PalmieriConcepts.com. There are many examples that have helped authors like you have a great cover.

Anthology Update

Before I go any further, I must mention the anthology I founded in early 2007. Unlike the other anthologies I’ve organised, this one did not die a natural death. In fact, I’m presently waiting for the first proof copy of the published book to arrive on my doorstep.

I learned from the other anthologies that short story collections are not favoured by publishing companies, unless stories by successful authors are included. I had no such luck in that department, so while editors were kind and encouraging, they quickly rejected every submission I made. It was for this reason that this latest project saw me going down a different path. I decided to try self publishing. Before you raise your eyebrows and tut, please hear me out.

My views on self publishing are quite simple. Do not do it with novel length manuscripts! Short stories, however, are a different matter altogether. Speculative Realms was born from that thought and…let’s make one thing quite clear…this is self publishing for me, but not for any of the other contributors. Approximately 130 manuscripts were rejected. No one, but me, makes decisions. Yes, I’ve asked other people’s opinions/advice along the way and I had a reading panel that helped me find the right stories, but I’m the one who made the final decisions in most areas of the project. The other contributors didn’t have a say in anything, so it wouldn’t be fair to say they self published. In fact, it would be totally wrong to suggest it.

Everyone associated with this project has put in a lot of time and effort to produce top quality stories. It’s been a good 15 months from the beginning to now and it’s not over yet. This has been an experience to remember, I will say that. It has been very stressful yet it has been so exciting too. Shortly, I will be moving into the marketing phase of the project. I have no idea what to expect, but I don’t expect it to be easy.

The Speculative Realms collection will be available for purchase in September 2008. I hope you will support fellow writers and buy a copy when the time comes.

Who Am I?

It’s highly likely that no one visits this website any more. I’m not surprised and I’m not discouraged either. Blogs are only successful if the owner posts and I haven’t done much of that over recent months.

Some months ago, I clearly announced to the world that I had decided to stop writing…forever. Some caring (online) friends supported my actions, but advised me that forever is a long time and should I ever feel the need to write again then I should allow it to happen. I appreciated the words and acknowledged that I wouldn’t want it to be any other way.

At the time, I needed to walk away. I needed to free myself of guilt and/or blame. And, more importantly, I needed to allow myself the time to heal in body and mind. Now, looking back, I believe I was close to a nervous breakdown…caused by grief over one son and fear for the other. The grief will always be nearby, it is a normal emotion in life and I know I will learn to live with it (I can already feel the improvement within myself). The fear, on the other hand, was not normal and it was eating me alive. It is the fear that I had to deal with and I think I finally have.

Today, I make another announcement to the world. I feel like writing again!

This time, I’m going to be nice to myself. I will write what I want, when I want. There will be no pressure or guilt. I will use this blog as a personal diary – keeping tabs on my writing progress, but I will not veer into my personal life anymore. I will not give excuses or reasons when I don’t write. I will not feel obliged to post unless I truly have something to say. In fact, I will even go as far as to say that I intend to “clean up” this website. I have downloaded a free computer diary which I am currently copying old (more personal) posts into before I delete them. And, yes, I think I’ll change the template again. The colouring is drab and I really would prefer something happy and cheery.

Who am I? I’m a woman, a mother, a lover, a daughter, a sister, an aunt…and I’m a writer. This website is about the writer in me. It has been, and will probably continue to be, a hard road I’ve chosen, but I feel ready to follow it once again.

A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn tells the story of a man sentenced to ten years in a Russian work camp for being a spy, even though the accusation is false. However, Ivan is wise enough not to make waves or he might find another ten years put on top of his existing sentence. He also knows that extra years might be slapped on him anyway, because the Soviet would never trust him again and they wouldn’t want him returning to those “bad habits”. When, or if, he was released, he knew he could be sent to an even worse place, so he actually talks himself into not wanting to leave the camp. Going home was something he felt would probably never happen, so it would be better to stay where he was – in a situation he had learned to cope with and live in – than be sent to that worst place.

The story is not filled with suspense and twists and turns. This story holds a reader for another reason – it is character driven. The reader feels for this man (and his companions) and wants to get through the day with them.

The one thing that was very clear to me was how it shows humans adapt to their surroundings and learn how to survive even the most inhuman situations. When a person can find good fortune in receiving a few grams of stale bread and a ladle of something that resembles dish washing water each day, it should make the people of today appreciate what they have.

The book is just one long chapter, with not even a single scene break. At first, I found this irritating, but I got used to it. The writing is a little confusing. One moment the viewpoint was third person and then suddenly it turned to first person. The main character had two names and for a long time I wondered where Ivan Denisovich fit into the story as I didn’t realise I was reading about him because of this other name being used. (I’m not sure if I missed the connection at the beginning of the story or not. I did skim through those early pages again, but found nothing that made it clear. Maybe the confusion came about in the translation.)

Even with the confusion, I found this story interesting, which shows content is important. It made me wonder how well I would cope in a similar situation! I suspect not terribly well.

Anyway, this is a book I would not have picked up without recommendation, which proves – once again – a book cannot be judged by its cover.

Recommended.