Friday, 28 September 2012

The Soul Crusher

By the end of November 2011 I was now visiting the gym three mornings a week to walk on the running machine as I tried to get myself into a new routine. The one I had been following while I was writing had stopped as abruptly as the writing.

I found the walking was helping in my recovering from the terrible spinal injury I had suffered earlier in the year and now I was going to find out that it would also help me mentally too.

I had spent three weeks earlier in the month sending out my manuscript to agents, fifteen in total, and had convinced myself they would be fighting over the rights to sign me: then the first reply came through the letter box!

I looked at the large white A4 envelope on the doormat like a child on his birthday that had just received a bundle of cards. I knew the hand-writing on the envelope; it was me who had written the address. I knew it was a reply from an agent, one which had stated that replies would only be provided along with a self-addressed envelope.

I was so excited. Here it is. The first agent wanting my signature, I opened it and my eyes went to the first line.

Dear Mr so and so,

Thank you for approaching us to be your agent but on this occasion we believe this story would not fit our present portfolio.

My heart sunk and my soul felt as if it had been crushed by a falling building.

The letter carried on but I didn’t want to read any further. My soul was crushed.

The next day I was pacing myself through my 45 minute walk on the running machine and the thought struck me like a slap around the face. If I was an agent and I wanted to snap up some hot-shot new writer who had written to me, I would phone then a.s.a.p before another agent snapped them up. I wouldn’t wait for the time delay in writing back as you could lose them to a competitor.

Over the next few weeks as the white A4 envelopes, and in a couple of cases emails, came through my door with my hand written address my heart would sink, for I knew it would be a rejection.

I was glad I had started to go back to the gym so I could walk-out my disappointment and to have time to think what my next approach would be and what path I would have to take to get myself published.   

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Keep Focused

November 2011 began to drag on and I, for the first time, began to start to suffer from boredom.

Since I had resigned from my job and finished in early May 2011 I had enjoyed every moment (except for the crippling pain in my lower back) and had settled into a regular routine. Writing from Monday to Friday with weekends off, just like normal day to day work, I also had time for some voluntary work, plus I had my weekly meeting with Dangerous John down the pub for my manuscript reviews.

Now I was hanging around to hear if I was to progress in the new writers competition and from the selected agents I had approached. My routine I had built my life around had stopped as quickly as had my writing. I was just-hanging-around and my waistline began to show from its after-effects.

I was now only seeing the Chiropractor once a week as I couldn’t afford to pay for anymore visits. My back was slowly getting better and I was still popping too many pills. I knew regular exercise is good for back problems so I decided to start going back up the gym as it was cheaper than the Chiropractor.

I found that walking helped to ease the pain in my back so when I hobbled into the gym I went straight for the running machine. In my case it was a slow walk for 45 minutes. Every step I took felt as if I was standing on some sharp glass, but after I finished I felt as if I was making progress. I think about it know, and it was my mental fitness which I was working out that day and the following days too.

The main difference between a writer that makes it and a writer that doesn’t is that a published writer will have kept focused. They keep to a regular routine and if situations change then their routine changes too.

You must keep focused on your goal of getting published and never waver. With every step in the process you must be thinking about the next step you will take, especially from the constant rejections you will face on your journey, and how you are going to handle it, but more importantly; what are you going to do about it?

If you keep focused and are prepared to change with the situation then you are more likely to succeed than someone who isn’t.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Joker's Monday

Another weekend has passed and Monday arrives just as the night follows the day. It has been raining all day and the Monday blues are sweeping over the meadows like sand in the desert.

As always I try to look on the positive side and think a few jokes can help lift the mood, so please enjoy


Looking after the lawn has become a big highlight of your life.

One of the pillows on your bed is a hot water bottle.

You begin every sentence with, “Nowadays….”

Your back goes out more than you do.

Many of your work colleagues were born the same year that you got your last promotion.

The clothes you’ve put away until they come back into style….come back into style.

You wear black socks with sandals.

I don’t know if I’m using these sentences let? But I must admit I am prone to saying, “Nowadays” maybe I am hurtling along in life and just don’t realise it. Maybe it’s time I had a mid-life crises! Then again I did leave a secure job in the middle of the worst recession since the great depression to write a book! Who knows I might already be there.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Views required

November 2011.

I had entered my manuscript into the Times Newspaper competition for new authors and I had started to send out feelers to agents. I was convinced the phone would be red hot with desperate agents fighting amongst themselves to sign me. From there it would be a simple step to get a publishing deal. Again the publishers would be in a frenzy of activity as they out-bid themselves for my signature for at least a three book deal. I was convinced this would be the case, but while I waited for all of this to happen, I decided to print off a couple of copies of the full manuscript to give to people who had shown an interest in reading my book. I wanted their comment on what they thought about my writing.

It took all day to print of the two copies on my home printer, single sided on A4 paper. It also took two reams of paper and when I turned up at the home of the first person, and stood in their door way holding this mass of paper, with a smile on my face, the response I got soon wiped it away.

“Fu@k me, Have I got to read all of that?” came the reply as I said “here is my manuscript.”

It was not the response I expected and my heart sunk once again.

This was only the second time somebody even had a sniff of my story, and on both occasions their reaction was enough for me to know that I could expect a rough-ride with the professionals once they got their teeth into me.  

This was also the moment I knew I had to harden up, and learn to take the positive out of rejection and learn from it, if not my manuscript will never get further than collecting dust in a box in the attic.

This is a piece of advice for new authors. You will be rejected time and time again. When you think you have made it over the first hurdle you will be rejected again.  If you can’t take rejection then don’t even bother to get your book published because from the start to the very end is a never ending merry-go-round of rejections.

It’s a bloodthirsty business and the weak will slaughtered, just like in the jungle.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

The first tentative steps

My manuscript had now been safely sent off to the competition for new authors and I had three month’s to kill so I decided, while I was just-hanging-around, to take the first tentative steps into the publishing world.

I typed in “author’s agents” into Google search and up came the Association of Authors Agents.

I printed off two pages of agents names. I began by picking one agent starting with the A’s then one starting with B’s then through to C’s and so on until I had at least fifteen randomly picked names.

Starting with the first name I typed it into Google search, and up came its page link which I clicked on. I read what type of author they represented. Most agents like to specialise into a particular sector of the market so it only seemed logical to contact people who would be open to my type of story and to drop the names that didn’t.

After a couple of hour’s research I had five Agents with their contact addresses and the rules you needed to follow before they would even look at you. They all seemed to have similar specifications. No email submissions would be accepted, a one page synopsis only, the first three chapters only printed in 12 point on A4 paper, and a one page history of your education, university and any previous writing history or success.

I had been through the University of Life, but as the rejections came in I wondered to myself, maybe, just maybe if I had had the honour of an Oxford or Cambridge Universality education I would have made it over their first hurdle.

I was reminded of a story about someone who carried out some research into job applications.  They had basically applied to various companies using the same letter, but with half of them was attached a picture of a white person, and the other half a picture of a black person. The white person was either called into an interview or given a reply while the other never got called in or just heard nothing.

In the end over the next three weeks I repeated this procedure again, and again, then sent out all the required paper work to a dozern or so agents.
I waited to see what happened.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Joker's Monday

Here we are again, another Monday morning. What a depressing weekend of negative news from the media. I try to watch, or read, less and less of the news as I find it can change my mood in such a negative way.

You wake up felling ok and then watch the early morning bulletins with its death and destruction. Reading the paper or looking over the internet news feeds throughout the day is no different; all you get is negative reports on humanities destructive activities against their fellow person or the planet. You can, without realizing it, end up feeling; what’s the point in life?

Sometimes ignorance is best, if not then a joke and a laugh can help overcome all this negative energy. So I hope the below will go just a little way towards bringing some positive energy into your life today.


Women’s Dictionary.

Argument = a discussion that occurs when you’re right but he just hasn’t realized it let.

Barbecue = you bought the groceries, washed the lettuce, chopped the tomatoes, diced the onions, marinated the meat, cleaned everything up. But he made the dinner’.

Childbirth = you get to go through 36 hours of painful contractions; he gets to hold your hand.

Exercise = to walk up and down a shopping arcade, occasionally resting to make a purchase.

Hairdresser = someone who is able to create a style you will never be able to duplicate again.

Valentine’s Day = a day when you have dreams of a candlelight dinner, diamonds, and romance, but consider yourself lucky to get a card.

Waterproof Mascara = comes off if you cry, swim or it rains, but not if you want to remove it.


Top five rejection lines given by women.

(1) I’m not attracted to you in that way. (You are the ugliest man in the world.)

(2) I think of you as a brother. (You remind me of that inbred banjo-playing geek in Deliverance.)

(3) I’m concentrating on my career. (Even something as boring and unfulfilling as my job is better than dating you.)

(4) I’ve got a boyfriend. (I prefer my male cat and a tub of chocolate ice-cream.)

(5) I don’t date man where I work. (I wouldn’t go out with you if you were the last man in the solar system, much less the office.)
I hope these brought a smile to your face. If you have anymore then please post them on the comment section or email me at and I will let the world see what you find funny.

Friday, 14 September 2012

The addiction

So here I was in November 2011 with a finished manuscript which I had entered into my first competition hoping for a fast track to success.

I was still seeing my chiropractor, but because my money was starting to run out I was now only seeing him once a week, instead of three times a week which I had when I had first ruptured my spleen.

I had travelled through the gates of hell; back and forth for many months suffering agonising pain as I paid for my sins in life.

Slowly, and very slowly indeed, I began to fight back as I tried to regain control over my body.

I was dropping four pain killing tablets down my throat every three hours. I had been for months, and like a spider in the night that creeps up and spins it webs, I was entangled in a never ending desire to pop the pills.

I have read in the press about super stars who died after overdosing on prescription drugs and you think to yourself, ‘how could they be so silly.’

Well I wasn’t on prescription drugs which are a lot more powerful than the basic pain killers you can buy over the counter. But and this is a very big but, I found that I couldn’t go more than three hours without the need to pop more of these, over the counter pills.

I kept saying to myself, ‘Just take four every six hours.’ But just like the night follows the day my body followed the same routine in its hunger for pain relief.

If I missed the schedule my back would ache in pain; then one day I had enough.

I bought a bottle of strong cider and thought, ‘f@uk the pain killers.’

I drunk myself silly on a 3 litre bottle of Frosty Jacks cider (7.5%) and for a short period of time I was in a heavenly bliss.

I awoke the next day with a hangover, but and again this is a big but, I had broken the three hour cycle of pill popping which my body now demanded, and I was never to go back.

Slowly, very slowly I reduced the pain killers, and I found that the more I reduced the intake of these, the more my pain abated.

As in a previous chapter I talked about a book called, The Secret, who basic ethos is that everything is connected by our thoughts in the brain. This experience only confirmed this ethos. Pain was in my thoughts constantly so I popped the pills to stop it, but as I reduced the pills, the pain also reduced.

Why was this?

Because the less I thought of pain killers, the less I had pain.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

The first draft

While scanning the internet during October 2011 I came across an article about a competition that is run by the Times newspaper for new and unpublished authors. The closing date was mid-November and I worked flat out to hit the deadline.

Competitions are always the new beginner’s big hope of jumping onto the fast track to success. No matter what the situation, it could be sport, music, art or even buying a lottery ticket which you hope will give you that big leap forward in life.

The worst aspect I found was the hanging around and this is the lead to the title of my blog. The first draft of my story was sent in by the closing date, but the first round entry winners would not be published until the end of January 2012.

Two and a half months of just hanging around to find out if you had, or hadn’t made it. One day you would feel full of hope, and then the next day down in the dumps.

Would this be the big break and so early in my writing life?

I could only wait while trying to keep myself busy, but it did help me reach my first goal and this was to complete my manuscript. Deadlines can be stressful but sometimes they are needed. They can feel like a kick up the back side and nobody likes them do they? Not unless you are into domination sex of course!

How did I do?

The story will unfold with my blog.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Joker's Monday

Here we are again, another Monday. As this can be one of the most depressing days of the week I have added a few jokes below to lighten the mood before I continue with my story. Just before then I would like to say well done to all the athletes, both able-body and disabled, who have given the world so much to look forward too. It will now be back to non-stop death and destruction on the news every day as usual.


Ducks in heaven

Three women die together in an accident and go to heaven.
When they get there, St. Peter says, 'we only have one rule here in heaven: Don't step on the ducks!'

So they enter heaven, and sure enough, there are ducks all over the place.

It is almost impossible not to step on a duck, and although they try their best to avoid them,
The first woman accidentally steps on one.

Along comes St. Peter with the ugliest man she ever saw.
St. Peter chains them together and says, 'your punishment for stepping on a duck is to spend eternity chained to this ugly man!'

The next day, the second woman steps accidentally on a duck and along comes St. Peter, who doesn't miss a thing. With him is another extremely ugly man. He chains them together with the same admonishment as for the first woman.

The third woman has observed all this and not wanting to be chained for all eternity to an ugly man, she is very, very careful where she steps.

She manages to go months without stepping on any ducks.

Then one day St.Peter comes up to her with the most handsome man she has ever laid eyes on. He is very tall, long eyelashes, muscular.

St. Peter chains them together without saying a word.
The happy woman says, 'I wonder what I did to deserve being chained to you for all of eternity?'

The guy says, 'I don't know about you, but I stepped on a Duck.



Men Are Just Happier People--
Your last name stays put.
The garage is all yours.
Wedding plans take care of themselves.
Chocolate is just another snack.
You can never be pregnant.
Car mechanics tell you the truth.
The world is your urinal.
You never have to drive to another petrol station restroom because this one is just too smelly.
You don't have to stop and think of which way to turn a nut on a bolt.
Same work, more pay.
Wrinkles add character.
People never stare at your chest when you're talking to them.
New shoes don't cut, blister, or mangle your feet.
Phone conversations are over in 30 seconds flat.
You know stuff about tanks and engines.
A five-day vacation requires only one suitcase...
You can open all your own jars.
You get extra credit for the slightest act of thoughtfulness.  
Three pairs of shoes are more than enough.
You never have strap problems in public.
You are unable to see wrinkles in your clothes.
Everything on your face stays its original colour.
The same hairstyle lasts for years, maybe decades.
You only have to shave your face and neck.
You can play with toys all your life.
One wallet and one pair of shoes, one colour for all seasons.
You can wear shorts no matter how your legs look.
You can 'do' your nails with a pocket knife..
You have freedom of choice concerning growing a moustache.
You can do Christmas shopping for 25 relatives on December 24 in 25 minutes.

No wonder men are happier.


Two sides to every story

Two women are having a coffee and catching up: So, how was your evening last night?

A disaster! After getting home, my dear beloved hubby wolfed down in 4 minutes the dinner that took me all afternoon to prepare, “granted" me 3 minutes of passionate love before rolling over and falling asleep 2 minutes later. What a nightmare and you?

Oh, mine was incredible. My hubby was waiting for me to get back home from work. He took me out for a very romantic dinner. We then walked back home, under an amazing starry sky, along the canal, for a good two hours.

Once at home, he lit up all the candles and we had foreplay which lasted for an hour. We then made love for another hour and then we chatted until late. It was wonderful...

*Two men (husbands of the 2 women) - meet at the pub...*

So, how was your evening last night?

Incredible! When I came home, the food was just ready. I ate, we shagged and I fell asleep. Wonderful night, I just love my wife. What about you?

A nightmare! I came home earlier to fix the kitchen shelf. When I switched on the power drill, the fuse went out. The whole house went into darkness.

I couldn't find the bloody fuse box, so when my better half arrived I took her out for dinner. It was the only thing to do to avoid getting an ear-full...! The Dinner was so expensive that I
couldn't afford a taxi, so we had to walk home.

It took ages and once there, the house was still in the dark, obviously, so I had to
light all these f@*king candles to avoid knocking everything over.

I was so wound up and pissed off that it took me an hour to get a hard on, and another one to finish. In the end, I was still wound up and it took me ages to fall asleep, while she kept yapping on and on about everything and nothing.......disaster.

If you have any jokes or light-hearted comments you would like to share with the world then feel free to email them to me at

Friday, 7 September 2012

If only

I was privileged this week to be one of the 180,000 people per day who are visiting the Olympic park in London to watch the Paralympics.

The atmosphere in the main arena was electric and the athletes were truly inspiring.

The most amazing event for me were the blind runners. These athletes have no vision and rely on a guide running by their side, either holding their hand or for them to lean against.

It occurred to me that with the right guides in life anything can be achieved.

If only.

If only our politicians and world leaders of whatever system or faith could only be by our side guiding every person to reach their personal best, and not just there for their personal goals.

Wow, what a world we could all live in.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

The first heart break

By the end of August 2011 I was desperate to get someone’s opinion on the early stages of my manuscript. I had met a member of the clergy during an informal interview for some voluntary work I wanted to do and thought he would give me an honest opinion.

I asked him if he would and he excepted the challenge. He would be perfect because like most people who teach a faith he was an avid reader, also as someone who didn’t know me he didn’t have to worry about pandering to my feelings.

I printed off the first eleven chapters and passed them over to him over a cup of coffee. It was the holiday season so we arranged to meet again in late October.

That day arrived and again we had arranged to meet over a coffee. I was full of joyful expectation. I was convinced my story was fantastic  and couldn’t wait for his eager request for more chapters. He would be hungry to devour more just as the devil is hungry for all our souls.

We sat down, he looked at me with his brown eyes, and said, ‘I’m sorry but I’ve not read all the chapters let.’

In that instant my heart broke.

All my delusions had been smashed by that one sentence.

He kindly followed up with, ‘you know how it is with holidays and work etc. But what I have read has some interesting moments.’

It hadn’t helped that I had failed to print off one of the most important of the early chapters without which made it hard to understand the story, but still I couldn’t hide the fact that my manuscript at this stage was not the great piece of creative writing I thought it was.

I learnt a lesson that day that all new writers must know. Change, change and change again.

Be prepared to listen to people, no matter how bad the news is, and make as many changes to your story as is needed. As an unpublished writer you won’t have the professional back up of a publishing house and to get your foot in the door your manuscript will need to be at the standard they expect.
This was the first of many heart-breaking moments that were to follow and which all new writers will go thorough. 

Monday, 3 September 2012

Joker's Monday

Here we are again, another Monday morning. If you had a good weekend then today can seem like a drag, so to cheer things up a bit, here's just a small piece of humor to brighten up the day.
Scouts camping letter home.
Dear Mum,

Our Scoutmaster told us to write to our parents in case you saw the flood on TV and got worried. We are okay. Only one of our tents and 2 sleeping bags got washed away.. Luckily, none of us got drowned because we were all up on the mountain looking for Adam when it happened.

Oh yes, please call Adam's mother and tell her he is okay. He can't write because of the cast. I got to ride in one of the search and rescue Jeeps. It was great. We never would have found Adam in the dark if it hadn't been for the lightning.

Scoutmaster Ted got mad at Adam for going on a hike alone without telling anyone. Adam said he did tell him, but it was during the fire so he probably didn't hear him. Did you know that if you put gas on a fire, the gas will blow up?

The wet wood didn't burn, but one of the tents did and also some of our clothes.
Matthew is going to look weird until his hair grows back.

We will be home on Saturday if Scoutmaster Ted gets the bus fixed. It wasn't his fault about the crash. The brakes worked okay when we left. Scoutmaster Ted said that with a bus that old, you have to expect something to break down; that's probably why he can't get insurance.

We think it's a super bus. He doesn't care if we get it dirty, and if it's hot, sometimes he lets us ride on the bumpers. It gets pretty hot with 45 people in a bus made for 24. He let us take turns riding in the trailer until the policeman stopped and talked to us.

Scoutmaster Ted is a neat guy. Don't worry, he is a good driver. In fact, he is teaching Horace how to drive on the mountain roads where there aren't any cops. All we ever see up there are huge logging trucks.

This morning all of the guys were diving off the rocks and swimming out to the rapids. Scoutmaster Ted wouldn't let me because I can't swim, and Adam was afraid he would sink because of his cast (it's concrete because we didn't have any plaster), so he let us take the canoe out. It was great. You can still see some of the trees under the water from the flood.

Scoutmaster Ted isn't crabby like some scoutmasters. He didn't even get mad about the life jackets.. He has to spend a lot of time working on the bus so we are trying not to cause him any trouble.

Guess what? We have all passed our first aid merit badges. When Andrew dived into the lake and cut his arm, we all got to see how a tourniquet works.

Steve and I threw up, but Scoutmaster Ted said it was probably just food poisoning from the left-over chicken. He said they got sick that way with food they ate in prison.. I'm so glad he got out and became our scoutmaster. He said he sure figured out how to get things done better while he was doing his time. By the way, what is a pedal-file?

I have to go now. We are going to town to post our letters and buy some more beer and ammo.. Don't worry about anything. We are fine and tonight it's my turn to sleep in the Scoutmaster's tent.