Friday, 9 November 2012

Back to work with a plan

My plan is to try and nail the first draft of book 2 - the one I haven't already written - by the end of the year AND do the big structural edits on book 1 when I get the guidance back from my editor. I have an editor, how great is that?

They still haven't announced anything, but I'm looking forward to being able to talk about all the amazing things that are going on with the new family of authors I have joined, even as a very junior partner. Not to mention, their incredible books, which I've been privileged to see in proof form, anyway.

Meanwhile, the illustrious winner of the Mslexia Novel competition, Rosie Garland, has been extremely generous in relaying her experiences into the world of publishing, from her amazing book deal to her progression through cover art, edits, and right through to the proof stage. I have been glued to her story, and am looking forward to her book, The Palace of Curiosities, coming out in March 2012 thanks to HarperCollins. I can't wait.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

I have been offered a book deal!

After what seemed like an inordinate amount of time but I'm sure was perfectly normal, my agent passed on the offer of a three book deal with one publisher, but also told me that at least one other company was interested. So now I am sitting waiting for acquisitions meetings and an outcome, that at least means I have a good deal with a great publisher! I am going to be published.

Those words are what we all long to be able to say, and it's taken me a few days to settle down after the first news. It's five year plan to go from amateur writer to actual novelist, one day to be published, paid off. I hope that others, who feel they have stories to tell and books to write, will be inspired to consider the path I took.

The most useful thing I did was start to write every day. I rarely take a day off, even on my 'celebratory weekend' I managed to squeak a few hundred words in each day. Friends have often said 'oh, if I had the time'...well, make the time. It takes me twenty to thirty minutes to write five hundred or so reasonable words. Forty minutes to write about a thousand. In three months, you have a novel at that pace. OK, a scrappy first draft, but the most valuable lesson I learned was how to get from a single story to the complex interweaving of characters and plots that I end up with in a novel. My first drafts are often very short, but when I come back to rewrite them, they grow. Five hundred word minimum a day was my target, and the momentum I gathered has led to writing six novels, a few poems and a children's book.

The courses I took also helped. I found it hard to let someone read my work, and even more daunting, criticise it. But it was nothing compared to the hard look agents and editors give our efforts, so I gradually toughened up. I don't like criticism, but I value it enormously, and I know it helps me improve.

Most of all, competitions tell you you are on the right track. When you know it's going to be judged by...well, actual work on your prose until it shines. That's excellent practice for the next step, trying to get something published. I wish you luck, of course, but I know there is no substitute for actually writing and writing until the stories flow - at least some of the time.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

News and no news

The publishing industry is a bit of mystery to me as a writer. My book went out to sixteen editors sixteen weeks ago... and now two of them are thinking about it. I am incredibly thankful that I have an agent who is familiar with the workings of publishing, who is doing all the work, because I wouldn't know where to start. Let's hear it for agents!

Meanwhile, I'm writing and writing... I've worked out in those sixteen weeks I have rewritten and finished A Baby's Bones (88k) and am 20k in on the rewrite of the beginning of BT2 - the sequel to Borrowed Time/ The Secrets of Life and Death. I've also worked on another book. It turns out that I'm quite productive when I'm stressed. I'm also enjoying the research - Elizabeth Jane Weston was one of our most highly regarded Elizabethan female poets, but because she lived in Prague and wrote in Latin, we hardly know her. She was also Kelley's step-daughter... and he gave her a fantastic education. I think she would know something about his shenanigans in Europe.

I've also joined a writing class, and it's really nice to be working on stuff unrelated to books, even if only an hour or two a week. It was helpful meeting other writers, too. I'm looking forward to ending the uncertainty about the publishers, though...

Friday, 14 September 2012

The Yeovil Literary Prize

I am very proud and excited to report that the results of the Yeovil competition are up. It is so exciting to see your name in print! That's hugely validating for someone like me, who hasn't yet had the big rubber stamp called Publication, that suggests you are on the right path.  Here's the results page, and congratulations to all the writers mentioned on it! Especially the winner, of course, Susan Luddem, whose book looks intriguing.

Meanwhile, the news from the the other book - The Secrets of Life and Death - is still waiting, but despite the long time involved, editors are still considering the book, and one has also requested a synopsis of the sequel. My agent sounds cautiously optimistic that we will get an offer, but I've got to adrenaline burn out at the moment, and am happy just to see what happens. Meanwhile, my MA dissertation goes in next week and then I will get on with my next project and editing A Baby's Bones. I've had some great feedback and am ready to put them into the next draft. 

Friday, 7 September 2012

Making a series

I've had some really useful feedback on A Baby's Bones, now finished in second draft. It made me wonder whether the books are about one central character, who needs to be used more consistently. In Baby's Bones, he's a small but important part of the book; in The Secrets of Life and Death, he is a POV character and a major player. 

Meanwhile, I'm waiting to hear back from my agent to see if anyone is interested in Secrets while I power on (for fun) with a book I wrote years ago and I have completely re-imagined with just the central characters. One of them is so charming and funny and so dangerous, he is delightful to write. The main character is damaged and lost, but clinging to her sense of self and what's left of her sanity. The two of them make an interesting story which is really about survival of self against terrible odds. I'm just writing a page, but as I don't have a title I'll call it Caitlin's book until I come up with something (anything!) better.

I've also written a rationale for my MA dissertation. I've been conflicted about how much use the MA was to me as a writer. Honestly, on the one hand it was helpful because I did finish a book to 'markable' standard and it did do well in a competition. It's made me a lot more aware of what I'm doing as a writer, and it made me read a lot of books which informed my writing. It forced me to pull my poetry up considerably. It also (brilliantly) introduced me to people working in the industry, and how it works, which has perhaps made me a bit more patient with the long wait to find out how my novel fared in the hands of the editors. 

What it also did was make me read a lot of theory which is only peripherally helpful, and some wasn't useful for my work at all.  There was no help in novel writing specifically.

I miss the challenges and opportunities of classes. I mostly miss the feedback, though I was lucky enough to meet two writers who have helped enormously by beta reading my novels. I wish there was something locally where I could get that level of feedback. 

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Eight Drafts

Some years ago, I thought all I had to do to write a book was...well, write it. There would be a few typos to correct, of course, and a few awkward sentences to improve on but basically, that was it. Apparently, thousands of other people had the same idea, and wrote their books.

Learning about creative writing suggested there would have to be a bit more rewriting than I had supposed. Clichés to root out, every sentence has to make sense and be clear to the reader, who sadly, wasn't psychic. Then there was grammar, spelling, formatting, pace, descriptions, dialogue, hooks, scenes and chapters to think about. 

So I took my first draft of Borrowed Time, and I substantially redrafted it. I changed the ending, changed the relationship between the characters, worried about point of view and tense and perspective and pace.

Realising I was relying on a  lot of back-story for the research, I wrote a historical strand and threaded it into the third draft. I realised at this point that that was what I was doing, writing a new draft. 

Pace was still a problem, and when an agent came into the process, she suggested changes that would help that. The fourth draft was rewritten to be more for an adult audience, more tense, more at stake for the protagonists, more secrets to be revealed.

Draft five, six, seven and eight were less work each time, but still substantially changed the book. Just before it was sent to editors, it was still having chapters moved about, and had had a thousand word or punctuation edits. One thousand. Many were adverbs being ruthlessly trimmed. Many were debates about hyphenated words, consistency of capitalising words or spelling of names. 

Many people self-publish, and I don't have a problem with it. But please, please, give your book the same care and effort you would for a mainstream publisher. If I pay for a self-published book, I expect no less. Indeed, I may be paying a similar amount. I recently bought an e-book by another blogger. I couldn't read it. The first time you hit something that jars, you lose the thread. By the third one - on page one - I knew I couldn't read it for pleasure. Edit until you can't see the problems, then hand it to someone who will.

Novels aren't written, they are redrafted, rewritten, polished and edited. And so they should be - our characters and stories deserve nothing less.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

New book coming on well

A Baby's Bones is already looking much more slick than Secrets. I've learned so much from writing that book, it seems to have streamlined the process. I entered a first sample (about 11k words) and a full synopsis to the Yeovil literary prize, and was informed some months later that I came second! Even more exciting was the feedback I received:
'An excellently, richly imagined and deftly plotted story that keeps revealing new layers as it progresses. The weaving of present and past is expertly done, and the authorial voice is confident and sophisticated. All the different elements are woven together perfectly here: story, character development, setting and atmosphere.' Wow. *blush* And £250 on its way.

The judge was Sophie Hannah, whose work I admire and enjoy. It did kick start the last push to complete the book, and I'm now doing one big rewrite to catch the loose ends, odd story wrinkles and make sure I put descriptions in. It should be ready mid-September for a structural edit, anyway.

My poetry managed the shortlist in the Mslexia poetry prize, which was encouraging, as I don't have much time for poetry at the moment. Nor, sadly, do I have much time for the kids' book, Marley and the Crow, but I'm enjoying the novel writing too much to be diverted.

Sadly, I haven't heard about The Secrets of Life and Death and its weeks at various editors. It's still there, and a lot of people are taking their summer breaks, so it's taking its own time. Frustrating, but the stress just makes me write more, so it's not unproductive time. More news when I have it! 

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

The joys of research

The sequel to The Secrets of Life and Death will finish up the Kelley story. I've followed him into Venice, off to Bohemia and into trouble with Dee's wife. Research, like the Tudor manor reading I did for Vincent, the 1580s narrator in A Baby's Bones, just draws me in with potential stories. The commonsensical part of me says if I haven't been able to find a publisher for book 1, is it worth writing book 2? But the other part of me has to know what happens next. This is the most satisfying part of writing for me - telling myself the story.

If someone had asked me five years ago what I'd end up writing, I probably would have said crime. Four years ago, historical fiction, three years ago, women's fiction. I've tried them, but somehow, I'm back where I started, in love with the fantastical element of magic, or ghosts, or possession. And it does make the research so fascinating. For Elizabeth Bathory, for example, I joined a fan website which refers to her as 'Our Lady', which is strange but kind of endearing. They did glorify her, which is a bit harder to take, given that she certainly was responsible for the deaths of a number of children. Sometimes the truth is really weirder than fiction, and that's where good research takes you.

I've also found myself sketching a brief history, just to show a reader where the known facts, as much as they can be verified, end and the storytelling and imagination take over.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Rebecca Alexander. Writer.

I was hugely honoured to be invited to a networking event run by New Writing North. Having been to Newcastle for an all day session of practicing my pitch, I was at least informed a) that I cannot pitch a book for toffee and b) The Secrets of Life and Death is hard to pitch anyway. I spent some time the day before in Waterstones in Durham, and realised the book would be hard to place on the shelf. Alongside the Gothic books, maybe, like Kelly Armstrong. Or, just with the 'A's in the fiction walls.

The networking event allowed us Full Nine Yarners to finally meet in person, and in a room full of editors, agents and other publishing notables. A lovely evening, and especially lovely to meet the other writers. Many were from New Writing North, though I didn't have much time to chat to any of them because they were busy - networking and pitching.

That's not to say it hasn't been pitched, though, but by someone with a lot more experience, my agent. She sent it off to sixteen editors, and after a time, two more asked to see it. Now, most of this people have passed on the book, which was expected, but a few would like more time to consider it. The deadline has been set for the 16th of August, so I'll know one way or the other by then.

I should also have finished the second draft of A Baby's Bones, at least the contemporary strand by then. I was thrilled to receive a letter saying it had been shortlisted from over 1000 entries and is through to the next round in the Yeovil literary competition. It's a helpful affirmation that the book is working, although I have made it darker in the transition between first and second draft. I'm hoping to have a coherent, finished draft including the historical strand, by the end of August, ready to finish my MA dissertation and hopefully, put a children's novel I wrote last year in to the Mslexia children's novel competition. I don't think writing children's fiction is my forte, I don't read enough any more to be current with what is a fast moving market. But I really love the characters!

But for me, at the moment, having wandered around in a room full of writers and publishy people, a huge satisfaction was wearing a little badge with "Rebecca Alexander. Writer."

Friday, 22 June 2012

Enjoying writing again

The process of writing five novels in five years has been a great lesson. I've discovered my way of writing, inefficient though it seems even to me. A Baby's Bones is coming along nicely. It hit 40k with lots of loose ends, a rather banal main character and very uncertain tone. Is is a scary thriller, or a bit of a historical romance? So, three days of analysing it, summarising the scenes and creating a new structure has brought the story forward, added a subplot, strengthened the scary elements and evened the pace up a bit. I have now a list of scenes divided into chapters of a contemporary strand that mirrors or hints at events in 1580. I'm looking forward to filling in the words. 

The book (The Secrets of Life and Death) is out to editors, and my job is to stay serenely calm and rise above the waiting. Well, it's a nice thought, but to be honest, I've just distracted myself with the book (good), the kids that are returning from college and university like swallows, and planning my first holiday away with my husband in several years. One week in the Lake District followed by a 'How to Pitch your Book' workshop in Nottingham. Hopefully by then, I'll have heard something.

Meanwhile, if Secrets actually finds a publisher I can get on with the book I'm dying to write, part two of Kelley and Dee's adventures, and what happened next to Jack and Sadie! I've had loads of ideas, and have been sketching out scenes and ideas. I always write two books at a time, so it won't be difficult to write Bones alongside it.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Writing and rewriting

The Secrets of Life and Death has had another round of tidies and spruces, and is back to my agent. It's been a steep learning curve. To some extent, my first drafts are just an indulgent ramble for me, to see if I fall in love with the characters or the plot. Second drafts are more considered, more with a reader in mind, expanding the plot if needed. Third drafts are for making sense, tying up loose ends, finding the pace. 

Then the real work begins. Although further drafts only take weeks or even days, they are essential. Pruning figures highly, and listening to my agent has been essential. She read the book as an informed reader, rather than a friend or fellow writer. She's looking for aspects of the book that can be tightened up, focused, paced better. That's what I was hoping to get from the MA, but in the end a few concise emails have changed my writing more than the master's degree. Fellow students on the course were wonderfully generous beta readers and made a lot of 'writing' suggestions. 

A last run through the hard way - read out loud - highlighted a number of bits of weak, clichéd or just repetitive writing. One week of polishing later, and off it goes for the pitching to editors. It's a relief, mostly because I'm itching to get back to Baby's Bones, which is evolving into second draft already. I'm incorporating some of the suggestions I used to good effect on Secrets, and it's working.     

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Off to be tested

I received the last round of edits from my agent, mercifully words and phrases that needed cutting, and a few misguided commas. As two of my MA student friends had also picked up a variety of odd phrasing, extra punctuation and repeated words, I spent a few hours polishing and tidying, and sent it back. Although the agent is on holiday for a week, then she is going to run an eye over it and send it out to see if anyone likes it. My job is to sit quietly, get on with my writing, and wait. The one thing I haven't really mastered. So, I'm spending the time working through a collection of poems for the Mslexia poetry pamphlet competition

I have a problem a lot of poets face...if you write about experiences you have had, even remotely, people assume every word is true. So, even though you applied a lot of poetic license, rolled two experiences into one, added a similar experience a friend told you about and imagined how you would feel now, it is seen as absolute, complete autobiography. So, when I write a poem it's about my processed and blended memories and feelings. It's dramatised for effect, with insights added from life, and from reading. Now I am writing a series of poems about me and my sisters, both of whom are dead. I started by ordering my older sister's birth and death certificates, heartbreaking. Now, I wasn't even there, and my parents were incredibly young and the events must have been heartbreaking. But there it was, in black and white, a terrible drama of a baby born too soon, ironically the year doctors discovered surfactant, and started the research which led to premature babies of Joanne's age being saved routinely just a few years later. Imagining her life is based partly on what I know from having spent 3 weeks in a neonatal intensive care unit with my eldest child. 

My other sister died from taking an overdose. This is far trickier for me, as all my family were equally bereaved, equally devastated, and will have their own unique perspective. We never actually 'remember' anything, we reconstruct it from actual sensory information recorded at the time, what we know about the event, and then it's coloured by all the times we've reconstructed it before. Memories get distorted, rewritten, explained. Add to that poetic license, the other deaths I have attended, a good dash of imagination, and I have written about Sarah's death in a way that might appeal to an audience. It's going to be very different from the memories of my remaining loved ones. I'm worried that they might be hurt, or upset, or perhaps angry that I have used my sister's tragedy for my own ends. 

Myra Schneider said, at a workshop I attended, to put those thoughts aside, that the work, the art, has to be created, and the personal relationships are separate. She had a very unhappy relationship with her parents, which can't have been improved by her writing about it, but she shrugged. As long as the aim wasn't to hurt, but to find some truth in the poem...

So I'm risking it. Putting twenty poems together with the help of workshops produced by Mslexia, to create a narrative that explores me and my two sisters, and where I fit in. It also touches on what it is to be a daughter-in-law and a mother. It's been a fascinating journey, and I hope my family will understand. It may help that my mother is a poet too...   

Thursday, 3 May 2012

New draft, new title, new pace

I decided to do an MA a couple of years ago, and it was a positive experience. I don't think I needed to do it learn storytelling, nor the basic craft of writing, but it definitely how to approach my own work as a reader. It also gave me a lot of confidence in research, allowing the new information to colour my book, until the final book is now definitely colourful. What it didn't teach me how to pace a novel, which was my main reason for doing the MA. 

That I have learned over the last few weeks. After a first read, the agent gave me simple but sweeping feedback on the newly titled, The Secrets of Life and Death. The historical strand needed developing, and investing in. So I sat down and wrote new chapters, effectively finishing the story, rewriting the whole thread to build tension. She also suggested I allow the emotional chapters more room, more emphasis, what she described as 'more violins'. The truth is, I tend to underplay emotional scenes. I'm worried about them being too emotional, but also, I tend to deflect my own big emotions with wisecracks, and so does my main character.

The second round of suggestions from the agent were to look at the baggy, unfocused middle chapters in the contemporary strand, and trim them down. I managed to find four thousand words I didn't need, quite easily, and rewrote one of the contemporary character's plot line throughout. This meant chasing him through every chapter subsequent to his arrival.

I also put 'LY' into 'find' on MS Word, and tracked down four hundred adverbs I really didn't need, or could write more powerfully. A few words like 'rely' and 'belly' were highlighted, but out of 99,000 words, a shocking 800 were adverbs. Adverbs are often unhelpful because they are shortcuts, abstractions, which tell rather than show. 'She walked cautiously' could perhaps be better written as 'she crept forward'. There are so many more emotional, active verbs, so adverbs are a cop out. I left a lot in speech, where we use them all the time, but was horrified how many times I had written 'really'. What a useless word! Really!

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Second albums

It's quite difficult to write a book, edit it, rewrite it, polish it and put it out there for possible cruel rejection. Having got an agent (just pausing to pinch myself) I'm now aware I have to come up with a credible 'second album'. Although I just wrote a book I liked, rather than tried to think in terms of markets and editors, I wonder if I shouldn't be so relaxed this time.

Agents and editors want career writers, not one book wonders. I had already started A Baby's Bones, and was enjoying the story of Sage and her uncovering of the past, but I'm aware it probably wouldn't make a good second book for The Secrets of Life and Death. I've left Jack and Sadie bloodied and bruised, and they need to work out where they are going (and so do I). Writing a credible follow up (I hate sequels and trilogies) is sensible but I'm not sure how to go about it. 

So I've looked around at second books that follow a strong first. Some of them are, frankly, a bit weak, especially those that are written as the middle of a trilogy. I loved Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy but The Subtle Knife feels like the weakest to me. The novelty of the world building in the first book, Northern Lights, is over and the story is building to a big finish in The Amber Spyglass

I feel a pressure to go even bigger than book 1, as if there has to be an escalation. I suppose unless I do sell a book, and the editors there suggest a direction, I'm in limbo, and I can carry on writing for myself. It's a rather nice feeling. In the meantime, Jack and Sadie seem to be working on a  conundrum that might yet throw up the right antagonists. Otherwise the book is going to have to be called: Jack and Sadie go Gardening.      

Monday, 2 April 2012

Things have moved on

Borrowed Time is being renamed! As I worked on the edits, the agent came up with The Secrets of Life and Death. So I rearranged the whole historical strand and am much happier with the book. It's off for line editing, and then on to be prinked and tidied and ready for an editor to look at. 

Meanwhile, I have started looking at the next book in the series, easy as I have a major plot from my first draft of Borrowed Time (as it was) that I discarded because the one I eventually used was better for characters that didn't know or trust each other. Now they have formed a prickly unit, they are ready for a different kind of challenge. 

Like the first book, there is a second story strand - this one the history of the place itself, weaving its past into the present. It's distracting me from waiting - which I have never been good at.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Editing for the agent

The meeting with the agent went extremely well - she is knowledgeable about all the bits I'm not, like publishers, marketing, what makes a book sell. So I have an agent. Now she's given me a lot of changes to make, some very minor and some rather larger. I've decided to take her advice to the max, giving me a new way to completely restructure the book. I now feel, with her help, that I really understand my book (which seems strange, since I came up with it!), through the eyes of someone who has read and enjoyed it. 

Editing is painful, and with each idea I feel some resistance but, after reflection, I have been able to either see her point of view and make the changes, or recognise the problem and come up with a new solution.

Psychologically, I'm aware of the atmosphere we are immersed in as writers - it seems impossible to actually write a book and get it published. So this process of getting closer seems unreal. That makes it difficult to take it seriously, but working for the agent, sticking to deadlines, producing work to order - that is familiar territory. That I can manage, I've even tidied up the book-room and my desk (I doubt if anyone would notice much difference but I know). 

Friday, 2 March 2012

It's official - I'm a runner up in Mslexia's first novel competition

I'm very excited here, to see my name in print with the magic words 'runner up'. The article also names, finally, the winner, whose poetry is amazing and I'm looking forward to reading her book. My own journey is moving on, I have a meeting with an agent organised and hope to report back next week. It seems to me that the publishing world is fairly terrifying and complex, and an agent would help enormously. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Meanwhile, writing A Baby's Bones (I finally came up with a working title) I have enjoyed doing historical research. I have a copy of the Earl of Leicester's household accounts (amazingly, not a best-seller), which I got second hand. What an amazing read, as they note down 'for your Lordship', every expense of running a 300 man household in five actual houses, as well as his quarters at court. Everything from 'a dozen fowles' to a coffin 'for the chylde of Rychard Pepper, steward in your service'. Fascinating stuff.

It did make me consider an issue of income. I don't make any money from my writing (yet) and it costs money. Books, printer paper and toner, even travel for research all add up. Not to mention, not actually bringing in a wage. I've started keeping receipts for books and stationery, but don't earn any money so I can't do anything with them. I was wondering if there was a book out there for authors about running a business as a writer? I would be grateful for any suggestions.  

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Agents and publishers

Having enjoyed the buzz of being in the last three of a big competition, I'm now able to get on with stage 2. The editor of Mslexia called to congratulate me on the book and to pass on the news that an agent would like to have a look at the book. So I duly rewrote and rewrote the synopsis, agonised over a query letter, checked every comma and full stop in the first five chapters and sent it off. Naturally, I gave it a quick kiss for good luck (but who doesn't?).

Having done so, I put together another synopsis (they all want something different) for a publisher who has expressed some interest in the book, and sent that off by email (less kissing). 

My book is now officially out in the world. My daughter has just left home and it feels rather similar. I probably won't take it so personally if she is rejected.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012


The Mslexia judges have judged and I haven't won. But Borrowed Time did make it to the last three, and an agent is interested, so the perfect result for me (though five grand would have been nice!). No pressure on me, but people have noticed my book and have commented on my writing. 
"The judging panel were extremely impressed with the quality of your writing..."
 Sarah Waters, Clare Alexander and Jenni Murray know about my book and it was in the top 3. Result!

Sunday, 5 February 2012

New blog

I've been blogging for three years now, and it's been very helpful to have feedback on the journey towards publication. I will continue to bemoan, wrestle with combining writing and family and work on my writing there. I did feel that now I'm getting the odd bit shortlisted and published, I need a presence on the internet that takes my writing seriously. I'm starting to take my writing seriously.

So this is me. Writer of novels and poetry.

My first novel is actually my third. The previous two are gibbering in bulging folders in my computer. They are desperately flawed, structurally and writing-wise, because I was just finding my voice as a writer. So novel no. 3 is called Borrowed Time, and is a supernatural thriller. It isn't polished to a publishable standard yet, but it has been shortlisted for the inaugural Mslexia novel writing competition. It has good characters, a good story, but it still has pacing issues. I'm planning to get it out there this spring.

My 4th novel is much better structured. It's the story of a puzzle - how did two bodies, one a baby, end up down a well hundreds of years ago? It's up to Sage Westfield, county archaeologist and emotional bombsite, to find out. The unfolding story leans over the village, as the truth of a terrible crime affects the people who live there. Sage's best evidence is the writings of Vincent Garland, the Elizabethan steward of the Banstock estate, who watched the pennies and shillings, and all the people of the village.

My novels are presently unpublished and I am about to look for an agent. Any tips gratefully received!