Another week brushing up on my writing skills


Debbie and Jeremy Sheldon Fresh back from my Cornerstones Writing course last week, I managed to get myself up early on Saturday to attend the one-day 'Getting Published' seminar in London, run by Writers Workshop and the writer Harry Bingham. It was a fascinating insight (again!) into what agents and publishers are looking out for. And we had a session with a book doctor.

Mine was Jeremy Sheldon, author and lecturer, and he was very helpful with pointers about building the turning points in my plot to more of a climax, and other fab tips.

He used a few rom-com examples – many were my favourite films, so I was very impressed with his knowledge! As he put it, he’s the only ‘non-gay guy’ who’s seen more chick-flicks than the average woman!

He liked the ‘cute-meet’ in my chapter one – that’s basically where the hero meets the heroine. Mine’s a case of mistaken identity and one night of passion on a super-yacht in Monaco (ok I live in a dream world!!).

Plus I was chuffed when he told me he liked my ‘voice’ – that’s your writing style – as it’s ideal for the genre I’m writing for. So I was happy-bunny-flinty when I sat down for the afternoon sessions, which were enlightening, to say the least.

For instance, one session illustrated that whilst one publisher (Hodder) is definitely NOT looking for children’s historical fiction, the publisher sitting right next to her (Piatkus) told us that one area she would like to receive good submissions for right now is adult historical! Excluding Tudor, since Philippa Gregory has pretty much got that era covered!. Plus, she wanted to see supernatural, but absolutely no sci-fi.

It's about quality, not quantity…

Agents, authors and publishers alike all rammed home the message about how much rubbish they get each year, and how few new novelists are taken on. (Like…. a couple a year out of thousands!)

So the more we read up about how best to achieve the impossible, the better informed we are, and the more likely we are to achieve our goal of being published. With a bit of luck we may become the next Dan Brown or Sophie Kinsella or Jilly Cooper! Ahem! Yes few manage it, but hearing about the success stories is inspiring none the less.

Here are a few words of wisdom from Harry Bingham…


And what does the future hold for the world of publishing?

Much is being made of e-books. Even in these credit crunch times, they say that certainly in romance and erotica (for obvious ‘reading it on the train’ reasons), book sales are increasing, mainly due to e-books. Being able to read digital versions of your favourite classics, or the latest blockbuster is not everyone’s cup of tea, but for some it’s absolutely the way to go. There were lots of mentions of the Kindle, so I went off to research it.

The relatively new e-book reader is called the Kindle. I just found out all about it by watching a brilliant QVC-style review by a guy called “M.Carr Softdog”, about how it works.

It can connect directly to the internet and download books to read immediately on your Kindle! Hence the rise in popularity – no waiting time, perfect for our ever-demanding 'I want it now’' society! It will change forever the way publishing works. But how? And when?

At the seminar the jury was out about exactly how. Will there even BE publishers and agents in the ten years’ time? Or will everyone be selling their own work? Ironically whilst writing this blog, I then came across an interesting article about one such aspect of e-books. This new method of accessing our favourite novelists might indeed change the face of publishing forever. And maybe sooner than we think.

On a site called, there’s a whole feature on self-publishing – on the Kindle! You upload your own story, no cost; people pay to download; you get paid. Talk about cutting out the middle man!

I’m not sure the experts at Saturday’s seminar will be pleased to read about this method already being available, but it sure as heck opens up a whole new world for those who already have a captive audience wanting to read their work and don’t mind not seeing their books on bookshelves. Or in the remainder baskets!

I must say though, there’s something quite magical about books. The actual books. Long may they reign!! What do you prefer? Have you tried e-books? What do you think?

Hope all this info has been of interest. I don’t know, history geek one week, writing geek the next! Normal service will be resumed soon – including a puppy update!

Best wishes!


P.S. Keep your eyes peeled for a competition coming next week.


  1. cathy g October 12, 2010 at 5:11 pm -  Reply

    Hello Debbie,
    Thank you for these insights from your worlds (both historical and literary, as well as puppydom!)
    Contemplating the Kindle is really scary, never mind ‘bubblecow’ direct to the reader on the dreaded e-book! It’ll be a case of ‘Kin-dread-ful’ with a community/kindred who only know how to read machines rather than books, calling reading itself ‘kin-dread’ , without a sense of irony….
    …whoa ..I’d better stop ranting, I just love the process of reading from paper. I remember thinking about which authors to buy, and the PLEASURE of book buying with birthday money as a child, which was threefold- the book token or money gift, the choice and deliberation in the bookshops, and then the actual READING!
    You might guess that I won’t be joining the e-readers, it’s pretty certain that as far as this particular technology goes, I’m a Luddite!
    Thanks for the interesting updates, and the first chapter of your book is very enjoyable- so persevere, please 🙂

  2. sonia October 12, 2010 at 8:13 pm -  Reply

    Hello Debbie,
    I love your blog, it is always so interesting. I had seen the kindle review you mentioned and have to say it made me want one , my daughter will be interested in all the publishing details you have been so kind as to share as she is also a budding novelist, thank you Debbie for sharing ,you are great.
    Sorry to hear Gracie has to wait for her operation how awful for her and you.

  3. Louise October 13, 2010 at 7:18 am -  Reply

    I must say, Debs, I still favour the ability of being able to sit in a chair and ‘physically’ hold the book I am reading. Having said that, I haven’t experienced the ebook yet so, who knows, I could be converted.
    Can you imagine students reading their course books via ebook? Part of the fun of studying literature, I feel, is buying the textbook and reading it, marking the pages, writing notes beside the text, etc.
    I suppose ebooks have their place, reading on journies, taking with on breaks away, saving a bit of baggage. But how many books are you going to be reading on holiday? Surely you would want to have other experiences, perhaps just reading during the travel time. Then there is the cost. Books, even new releases, are becomiing so affordable now that downloads are, in comparison, are more expensive.
    Horses for courses!
    Speak soon and keep well.

  4. debbie flint October 13, 2010 at 11:35 pm -  Reply

    Cath – fabulous passion! Just the sort of response I love! Point taken hon – I actually share your love of bound books totally, and always have. At one stage my mum said to me when i was a kid and bored ‘go and read a book’ and I remember saying ‘I’ve read them all!’ And that was no mean feat at that time, we had plenty! But I’ll watch with interest what others think too.
    Out of interest, which authors do you read?
    thanks for writing!

  5. debbie flint October 13, 2010 at 11:36 pm -  Reply

    Sonia – no surprises that the youngsters like gadgets more than us older ones eh! What would be her first book choices to download? What would be yours? Yes it was a great review on amazon wasn’t it! It made me want one too! 🙂

  6. debbie flint October 13, 2010 at 11:39 pm -  Reply

    Louise – some great points, well made! I do hope others will also contribute to this mini-survey! It’s fascinating for me. I was not very interested in ebooks till a friend of mine showed me hers and it got me thinking – since then I have tried it and I will continue. I do tend to buy both though! What type of books do you read then?

  7. Margaret Jenkins October 18, 2010 at 9:15 pm -  Reply

    I have recently purchased an e-reader, and the Kindle is just one of them – it’s tied into Amazon, and for many that’s ideal, but others want a bit more freedom. If you are interested in finding out a lot more about e-reading, publication etc, then you might like to have a look at
    I still love books, and have hundreds of them, but I have no space to get any more. Plus I travel a lot on a bus, so I can cart a load of books around and can chop and change according to my mood.
    Good luck with the writing and the publication Deb

  8. Joy Padley October 18, 2010 at 9:45 pm -  Reply

    Hi Debbie
    Three good books I’ve read this year: Red Lotus (Pai Kit Fai) Ellis Island (Kate Kerrigan) and The Heart of the Night (Judith Lennox). Well written and good story.
    Read some of Harry Binghams books – also very good.
    E Books? No as I like the feel of books and you appreciate more the work that has gone into the story by the author.
    I hope to read one of yours soon.
    Best wishes

  9. debbie flint October 19, 2010 at 11:17 pm -  Reply

    magz – great top about website – sounds like you’re one of the ‘early adopters’!
    thank you!

  10. debbie flint October 19, 2010 at 11:20 pm -  Reply

    joy – will add yours to the list thank you!
    Glad you’ve read some Harry books too – and that you liked them. Haven’t read his novels yet, but have two of his non-fiction ones!
    Happy reading!
    : – )

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