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Friday, 15 February 2013

And Somewhere An Owl Hooted

It's true what they say about never throwing any of your old writing away. You just never know...

My three when they were little.
Years and years ago, when my three children were all young, and my writing was in its very early stages, ie, writing loads and getting loads rejected, they liked to help out now and then.

The kids all knew and liked the fact that mum was trying to be a writer, and often encouraged me – especially my son Wayne who would add a line of narrative whenever he found my computer open and I was off probably doing the dishes or making dinner.

Later as I would be reading through my story, I'd find his helpful line that was going to turn my story into a best seller ....And somewhere an owl hooted.

Wayne!!” I'd yell.

It got to be a bit of a standing joke over the years, and he has never got out of the habit of adding his 'catch phrase' whenever he gets the chance. Now donkey's years on with the kids all grown up and flown the nest, and with kids of their own (well two of them) I still find ...And somewhere an owl hooted in whatever I'm working on if he happens to call by and spots my computer open. The most recent time only a few months ago. It just makes me laugh although I wouldn't be surprised if one day I'll be reading through something I've had published and I'll see his handiwork there in print, somehow having escaped my eagle eye.

Thinking back to the very first time he'd added his few words, it was to a story I was working on called Death Lay Waiting which was an adult novel about murder and a kidnapping. After I'd finished it, I sent it off to various publishers. I remember one rejection coming back saying it was too violent and gory and another came back saying it wasn't hard hitting enough. Eventually it got put away in a drawer and I got on with other stuff. Happily that other stuff turned into six books for Scholastic, the first being Cry Danger.

Then about two years ago as I was sorting out my old filing cabinet I came across this slightly yellowing manuscript, with the title Death Lay Waiting. Attached was a review by a writing tutor who I couldn't even remember sending it to. His comments were very encouraging, which made me wonder why I hadn't persevered with it years ago.

I think when you first start out, a rejection letter is a rejection letter. I didn't realise then that I should have taken those editor's comments on board and re-wrote/adjusted or whatever.

However, curious, I re-read my story and realised that it wasn't too bad at all, so I set about re-writing it and bringing it up to date, and off it went again winging its way to another publisher, only to have it rejected again; and then another publisher – who, to my absolute delight, have accepted it!

It's an American publisher who I hadn't heard of, but they seem very keen and there's a contract for hardback and paperback and as an e-book, with an advance – not huge, but still an advance, and decent royalties.

I'm over the moon about it, and just so pleased that a story first written, dare I say it, over twenty years ago, is finally going to see the light of day.

And now that I'm making a start on the proofs, I wonder if I can slip in there somewhere that classic line...And somewhere an owl hooted.

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