Tag Archives: grow


Ampersand Prize

Back in September, I entered Grow in the Ampersand Prize, a call for manuscripts by unpublished writers from Hardie Grant Egmont. This is a great opportunity, because winning means publication, which is pretty much every writer’s dream.

They announced the shortlist on Tuesday, and I’m on it!

I’m not normally one for gifs, but I think this deserves one or two. 🙂

At first I was totally cool–who am I kidding? I did a dance around my office. And then the nerves hit and got the shakes. Luckily I had some emergency chocolate to take the edge off.

Check out the full shortlist announcement.

(Too busy to click the link? Here’s the blurb for Grow: When a teenager breaks into his childhood home searching for a connection to his absent dad, he doesn’t expect the new owner to become a father figure – or to fall in love with the man’s niece.)

I’m honoured to be shortlisted, and the other entries sound amazing. I want to read them all.

And it’s a great feeling to have someone say, “Hey, you’ve written a good book.”

It’s going to be a long wait until January, when the winner is announced.


Back on the rollercoaster


photo credit: Express Monorail
via photopin cc

We went to the Gold Coast last month, and I actually rode a rollercoaster.

That rollercoaster was fun. This one…not so sure.

I’m fairly cranking through Savage Dreams (up to 59K – huzzah!) but I took a bit of a pause to go back and look over Grow.

I got some feedback on the first couple of chapters a while ago, which I sat on. I finally decided to tackle  the comments and apply what I’d learn to the rest of the MS. It’s definitely better for it. I think the middle is still a bit stodgy, but the end is good. I can say this because I had a serious case of one-more-chapter-itis reading it. With my own story! I’m taking that as a good sign.

I’m still not sure it’s quite “done”, but it’s something. So I’ve started to dip my toe in the query water. I haven’t decided how to tackle the whole agent thing yet, but I know some NZers have US agents, so it’s possible. I read the entire query shark blog and a whole bunch of “how to write a query letter” blog entries by authors I love (and others I’ve never heard of, but who’ve been there done that). But, damn, is it ever hard to write a decent query for a book that is less actiony and more introspectivey. The stakes! The stakes!

Brigid Kemmerer explained how she wrote a query letter.

Joy McCullough-Carranza gave a great example of a query letter for a quiet novel.

The query letter for Savage Dreams, on the other hand, was easy peasy I do … well you get the idea. I figured that one out while I was planting Christmas trees. Missing parents! Moral quandaries! Freedom vs. incarceration! Hot twins!

So, I think I might have to take the leap soon. Convince myself it is possible for a girl like me to get published. Maybe not probable, but I’ll never know if I don’t try. And psych myself up for the soul-crushing rejections to come.


Timey-Wimey Stuff

I have just done a hatchet job on Grow for the second time, and I’m hoping it’s better for it.

The first time was about 6 months ago when I realised a major fact was wrong. I panicked because I thought that was it–the story didn’t work any more, I’d wasted all that time writing it, and I may as well chuck it in the bin. I didn’t. I worked hard to shuffle events and rewrite parts and I saved it.

This time was due to a comment from one of my fabulous critique partners. She gave me an epiphany (it’s okay, it didn’t hurt) and I changed one of the key points at the beginning. This, of course, had a ripple effect through the rest of the story and I was left with a bit of a plot mess to clean up.

As it stood, Grow took place over four months, September to December, which means I have a few things to work around. School holidays come at the end of September, and exams start in the middle of November. A lot of things, due to their very nature, have to happen on the weekends. Others have to take place during school. The holidays really got in my way. So I decided to try to condense the whole story down and start after the holidays but I didn’t know if I could fit everything in. So I laid it all out.

I printed out a calendar and attached little sticky notes of all the key scenes. The later scenes (let’s call these collectively “part 2”) had to stay where they were, because we work our way towards Christmas. So I started shuffling the early scenes (“part 1”) forward. They had to jump 4 weeks to get past the holidays. Then I had to make sure everything still worked. This is where the sticky notes came in really handy. I could actually move them and see how things fitted. The story felt more intense because everything happened in a shorter amount of time.

I also had to cut. Some bits could be cannibalised into other scenes but some perfectly good scenes just didn’t fit any more and I had to hiff them.

There’s still work to be done. I need to take care of continuity errors (something that happened “last week” might now happen “yesterday”) and ensure the tone is still right for each scene since some things happen earlier than they did. But I think it works.