Saturday, 12 August 2017

Scissone or Grand Jete? Research your subject!

The audience gave an ooooooooh of appreciation as the ballerina in the frilly net skirt and tippy toe shoes- Hold the phone! Hey... what?

If you intend to write about a particular subject in your novel, know what you are talking about or study it. If the book/chapter/paragraph involves, for example, ballet, research dance terminology and get it right. Google the info you need, and if you are not absolutely sure, talk to an expert.

Ballet slippers, ballet flats, toe shoes, pointe shoes? Did she leap, jete, grand jete, scissone? Maybe it does not matter for the purpose of the story, but sure as eggs anyone who has an interest in the subject will pick up on your errors. And then they will tell everyone else. And they will write a scathing review. 

Sometimes even your best attempts can go awry. Best idea is, if you are not entirely confident, don't write about it.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Ready... Set...

Can't wait any longer. I am going to take my manuscript and offer it to as many agents and publishers as possible. It's a great read and I refuse to leave it lying on the shelf whilst I wait for people to get back to me one at a time. 

What I find difficult to believe is that a lot of publishers don't even bother to reply when you follow their guidelines perfectly and send in your manuscript. You take the time to be perfectly polite, respectful and considerate...and they won't even give you the time of day. Rude. On the other hand there are a bunch of professionals who at least take the time to contact you with their decision. Even if their response is negative, they have my respect.

Regardless, I will not sit around here waiting. Praying for a little help as I get started. Firstly I will invest in a guide to publishers, then it begins...

Rewriting that chapter

What did I type in that last chapter? That was the question I asked myself when my laptop bit the dust last week. I managed to recover all of my latest novel barring the last chapter I wrote. That in itself it fine – it’s not too difficult to retype 4000ish words.

Then came the fun part – what did I actually write in that chapter, and can I successfully write it again?

Well, turns out I can.

Started typing the first few words of the missing chapter, and lo and behold, it all just poured out onto the screen. And if anything, I did a better job second time through.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Desperately Devious Deeds - No sneaky business when submitting your manuscript.

You are about to send your manuscript to your chosen literary agent or publishing company. You carefully read the requirements for submission and, to your dismay, you notice you are only allowed to send in your first three words.

Ok, perhaps that's a very slight exaggeration. But most likely they only want your first chapter, or your first 3000 words, or a selected chapter from your manuscript. When you work out your first 3000 words, you find it ends two pages before a dramatic, engaging, exciting, disturbing, hilarious event that the agent or publisher simply MUST read!

Your eyes skip down to where the requirements state, "2.5 inch margins, 12 font, double spaced". 

"Ah ha!" you think triumphantly. "I will make my margins 2.4" and my font 11.75 and reduce the line spacing by the tiniest, teeniest, fraction of an inch. Then I can fit more in."


They will know. And it just makes you look sneaky, as though you take them for fools.

They are not.

Sadly, your manuscript, equally as good as Tolkien's of course, might be cast aside onto the, "can't follow the rules" junk pile.

If you are planning this kind of desperately devious deed, instead go back and rewrite your first chapter. Make sure that your first chapter reaches into your readers’ chest and grips their heart.

What you are trying to do is win your agent or publisher over by the quality and appeal of your first chapter. If you can’t win them with your first chapter, it needs re-writing.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

So here goes… I am about to send in my manuscript for the first book in my middle grade series. The book is called The Shadow Village and the series is The Ruby Key.

Why did I choose Allen and Unwin?

After seeking advice from someone “in the industry”, Allen and Unwin were recommended to me as an excellent and professional publishing company.

In 2016, Allen and Unwin was voted “Publisher of the Year” for the thirteenth time!

They publish a huge array of award-winning children’s books and have a new submissions system called The Friday Pitch, which allows writers to send in their manuscripts following specific guidelines.
Check out their rather impressive website:

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Waiting for an Agent to respond? How long is too long? When do you move on?

I read a post where an author waited 8 months to hear back from a literary agent. Whilst that made me feel a little sad, we have no choice but to be patient, suck it up and deal with the fact that most literary agent receive so many submissions it is going to take a long time for our chosen agent to get down through the pile to our submitted manuscript. I had a look back to see how long ago I submitted my manuscript to Corvisiero Literary Agency. My initial contact happened only about 10 weeks ago, which is not too long. Corvisiero Literary Agency offer international representation and cover a huge range of genres. They have the capability of matching an author with the publisher best suited to your work. Can’t wait to hear back from them. My enthusiasm has only grown as the weeks have crawled by, causing me to crumble and made second contact by email - which I am sure is a no-no! Too late, I hit the send button.

So how long is too long? Well… how badly do you want to get published? If you want it badly enough, you will be prepared to wait. To endure the long haul. Regardless of how long it takes. 

So for me, the answer to the question, ‘How long is too long?’ is… 

I’m not dead yet!!

Get Dan O'Sullivan's Trilogy on Amazon

Book 1 - The Fallen
Book 2 - The Guardians
Book 3 - Child of a Guardian and of the Free

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Waiting to hear from a Literary Agent or Publisher? Here is a handy "To Do" list to keep you busy while you wait.

What do you do when you are waiting for an agent to respond to your manuscript submission enquiry and even a few weeks seems to take forever? When you so badly want to hear from your first chosen agent, but the silence is deafening? When the overwhelming desire to email in and ask if they received your enquiry is barely held in check by general politeness?

Here is what I am doing whilst waiting to hear from Justin Wells of Corvisiero Literary Agency.

  1. I have set a new record on how many times a day a person can look for an email from an agent.
  2. I have had my laptop die, making me restore entirely from my backup. Grrrrrr. On the upside, my five year old laptop seems to be working better than the one year old laptop every worked.
  3. Started three blogs, one on fantasy adventure, one on getting published and one on self-publishing. Never half do things.
  4. Updated my Website www.osullidan.comNow it’s almost too cool to view.
  5. Updated my Amazon Author page. Mainly because I seem to be two people on Amazon and the other Dan O’Sullivan is, I am certain, a lot brighter than me judging by what he is publishing. 😉
  6. Posting on Twitter and several Facebook pages. 
  7. I am now on Youtube, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, so you may now address me as “You Instant Twit Face”.
  8. Sending out info to those on my email mailing list. They love me. Truly. I’ll just keep on telling myself that. 💜💛💚💙
  9. Dusted off exercise bike and ab-roller. Stared at them miserably for a long time. Decided the only way to stay on an exercise bike is watch old re-runs of Star Trek. It works!
  10. Watching an entire series of Dr Who. Sitting up late each night with extremely freaked-out daughter after watching Dr Who. 😨
  11. Continuing with book 4 of my original self-published series. This is my favourite thing to do by a long shot.
Here are some other suggestions:

  • Start a new blog on something stupid like “50 ways to annoy your sleeping cat when you are bored.” Include safety tips and suggestions for protective clothing.
    • Dust off your exercise bike and ab-roller. The exercise bike is possibly that contraption in your back room that has two handle bars, one generally used to hang ironed clothing and one to hang un-ironed clothing. Do not use the bike, just put it in the lounge room to impress your friends.
    • Watch an entire series of Dr Who. Or Star Trek. Or Frasier, or All Creatures Great and Small.
    • Start writing a new book in a genre you don’t particularly go for. For me, that would be romance.
    • Try for a world record in chocolate consumption
    I highly recommend the chocolate solution.

    Get Dan O'Sullivan's Trilogy on Amazon

    Book 1 - The Fallen
    Book 2 - The Guardians
    Book 3 - Child of a Guardian and of the Free

    Sunday, 4 June 2017

    Ignoring the draft. Retaining the concept.

    First, I typed a one sentence idea for each chapter. It was exhilarating! I was delighted with the story line, the adventure, the very concept of a fantasy where the line between good and evil choices becomes increasingly blurred, a series called Daoine Maithe (that’s Gaelic for The Good People) where it becomes questionable who the good people really are, regardless of titles.

    I went back to the start, and for each one-line “chapter”, I expanded the text until it encompassed every idea I wanted to include in that particular chapter.

    Once I had this draft, I began writing The Guardians, Daoine Maithe Book 1.

    From that moment on, I entirely ignored my draft. The story rushed from my head and raced across the pages. From the very first paragraphs, I deviated so far from my draft there was no point glancing back. The story itself flew forward at such a pace and in such unexpected directions that my fingers were flat out keeping up. And the finished result, though a world away from my original draft, was even more than the spectacular adventure I hoped it would be.

    What did I retain from my original plan? The concept. As the series progressed through Books 1, 2 and 3, the characters only increased in fascination and desirability.

    Get Dan O'Sullivan's Trilogy on Amazon

    Book 1 - The Fallen
    Book 2 - The Guardians
    Book 3 - Child of a Guardian and of the Free

    Saturday, 27 May 2017

    Where it all started. Writing Inspiration.

    Until I read Raymond E Feist’s “Magician”, I was just a dance studio owner, ballet teacher, bookkeeper, IT girl, mum, bible class teacher and the owner of that flaming dog that barks all the time, God help us! Won’t someone do something about that? Sorry… off track. I read Magician and I was so inspired I began writing middle grade and young adult fantasy. I owe Raymond E Feist big time, because I am now doing what I should have been doing, right from the start. I found my true passion.

    Monday, 22 May 2017

    Alliteration Abuse

    “Dear Danielle, Your captivating characters captured our concentration. We currently crave copious cool creations and consider your content clearly catchy. Kindly convey your complete copy.” Deliciously dreaming. In my mayhem of madness, as I wait wiltingly, wondering whether Wells will want to accept my most magnificent manuscript, I have descended to the desperate doldrums of despair… and am exhibiting an altogether awful and annoying ailment… alliteration abuse.

    Friday, 19 May 2017

    The Cow Pat on the Putting Green

    Right when I was on the magical high of self-publication with a swag of great reviews... Wham! That first bad review. Like a cow patty on the putting green. Splat! Ha Ha! Deal with that! 

    My mind went into overdrive. How dare they! “It’s too violent!” Well duh. The Brady Bunch it aint. “Too much shallow romance.” Yeah! Mmmmmmm.😀 “Didn’t like all the battles.” Yeah? Well…. Oh. Ok. Let me read all that again. At this point my brain shoved my ego into the backseat. What did I do wrong to get this bad review? Why did most of my readers love it? What should I do differently when I write my next novel?  How can I improve? 

    No matter what you do, someone will hate your book. I could say, get over it, but what I will say is, learn from it. It’s a better strategy. It will also stop you dwelling unnecessarily on a bad review. So see them as cow patties on the putting green, and imagine how incredible the green will look in another year after all that manure.

    Get Dan O'Sullivan's Trilogy on Amazon

    Book 1 - The Fallen
    Book 2 - The Guardians
    Book 3 - Child of a Guardian and of the Free

    Sunday, 14 May 2017

    Your full manuscript? You're dreamin' darlin'!

    How I wish writers were asked to send in their whole manuscript. It would be so nice if an agent or publisher actually read (or attempted to read) a writer's entire piece before judging. Fair enough it they get up to page 50 and think it's really poor, and don't bother to continue reading. When I read a book, I give it at least 100 pages before making such a decision. Just on principle. To give it a fair chance. It takes no time at all to read 100 pages. And even then, I will often make a second attempt before throwing a book away. When I am asked to send in just the first few pages I feel slightly disappointed. Don't get me wrong, the first pages of my books are great! Time and time again I hear “couldn’t stop reading, couldn’t put it down” which makes my heart sing. But to get truly immersed in a fantasy saga... To read enough to fall in love with the characters, to become part of their world, to care desperately about what happens to them, to vindictively abhor the villain, to feel bereft when the book ends. To be seized by the need to read and re-read the parts that are hilarious, grievous, heart-rending, poignant, disturbing, victorious. That takes more than the first 1000 words of your manuscript. I know that publishers and agents are incredibly well educated to glean so very much from the start of a manuscript, and to be able to judge whether the work is desirable, but oh how I wish a writer was judged only on their full manuscript, their true work, not on their introduction letter (which is more often written by someone else) or by their blurb (also written by someone else) or by the synopsis of their book (once again written by someone else). One day, I will find a site where the agent/publisher says, “Please send in your entire manuscript and we will start reading it. If we like it, we will continue reading it. If we finish it and still like it a lot, we will contact you.” Sigh. Dreaming again? Yep.

    Get Dan O'Sullivan's Trilogy on Amazon

    Book 1 - The Fallen
    Book 2 - The Guardians
    Book 3 - Child of a Guardian and of the Free

    Friday, 12 May 2017

    A Dog's Purpose

    If you find your screen is a bit damp as you read this, that's because I just watched A Dog's Purpose. I have watched it before but I still shed a few tears. I rarely get too upset when I kill someone off in a novel I am writing. Except that one time I got rid of a really nice character called David. It was a great chapter. David died heroically in a bush fire, managing to draw the enemy away from the good guys. In that instance I was so upset about David dying that after writing the chapter I deleted it. Then when I got over the grief I pasted the chapter back in from my backup.

    Thursday, 11 May 2017

    One submission at a time or many? Should I wait?

    My glasses were found! Yay! And not in the poopie-bin, just on the ground in doggie park, thank God! Peppah is the little dog in the photo. The other one is Bella, my sister's dog.

    No word on my manuscript as yet from Justin Wells at Corvisiero Literary Agency. I know I will have to wait many weeks; I can only imagine how busy such a high profile company must be, but I am impatient. In my impatience, I am caught between wanting to hear from Corvisiero, and sending my manuscript to a gazillion other agents and publishers.

    Should I wait for an answer from Justin Wells at Corvisiero Literary Agency, or should I start sending submissions to other agents? And publishers too? Just here in Australia? Maybe overseas too? I think I will wait to hear from Justin, then if I am unsuccessful, I will go crazy submitting the manuscript to as many agents and publishers as possible. 

    In the meantime, I will continue with book four in the original series I self-published. I'm about half way through book 4 so that will keep me typing for a while yet.

    Tuesday, 9 May 2017

    What next? Will I get eaten by a Bunyip?

    I totally refuse to sink beneath the vindictive day maliciously stalking me. Computer issues, i-phone refusing to record dictation, kids late for school, dog went nuts in local doggie park and barked and growled furiously at some innocent man (the poor bloke wasn’t entirely impressed). Then just when I decided it might be safer to go home, I lost my glasses! 

    Sincerely hope I didn’t accidentally deposit them in the poop-bin with Peppah’s poopie scoops. That would be… unfortunate.

    These are only tiny blips in what could be a fantastic day, and I choose to make it fantastic. I will write a chapter or two, play soccer with the dog, and eat croissants with strawberry jam. If the council phone and tell me my glasses are in the poop-bin, I am not sure if I will laugh or cry.

    Do I look stupid? Frantic? Probably.

    Every day I race through my emails, hoping to have a reply from Justin Wells at Corvisiero Literary Agency. OK, I'm aware that I look a little stupid, leaping out of bed and racing eagerly over to my desk to see if there is an email message waiting for me. 
    So, I look a little frantic… que sera, sera! Apparently, that’s not new and exciting news. (Thanks a lot, kids.)

    Sunday, 7 May 2017

    This is it! The start of my publishing journey. My books are complete! I have now begun the long journey to search for a traditional publisher for my trilogy of middle grade novels(or even Book 1). Or maybe a good agent. Here at the beginning of the tough road, I am staring determinedly at lists of agents and publishers, seeing who is searching for fantasy adventure genre, and who accepts submissions of middle grade novels.

    I am thrilled with my latest work, and I know that a good agent or publishing company can only help me improve further. I have sent my manuscript to one agent only at this stage. Corvisiero Literary Agency. They have a vibrant new Literary Agent called Justin Wells whose interesting profile caught my eye. He accepts middle grade and is interested in fantasy!

    I know a traditional publisher would probably arrange covers and all, but to see what the books would look like, I had copies printed (just as proofing copies). It was awesome to see the books in print, but I am determined that I will not be self publishing this time.

    I will admit, the way forward is daunting, but I will not be deterred and I will not accept failure. I will get my books published. However long it takes, however many changes are needed, I will work at this until I succeed. And think how much I will learn along the way.