I know I’m biased, but…

But seriously, I could not be more thrilled and excited with the a-maaaaazing cover art that Tor has produced for me. The creative genius minds of Irene Gallo, my editor Diana Gill and the spectacularly talented artist, Greg Ruth (you should check out his work – especially if you’re a fan of Twin Peaks: Greg Ruth’s amazing art) have come up with this beautiful, beautiful thing:


My reaction to receiving the early drafts has ranged from this:


Through this:


And eventually, on seeing the final:

giphy (1)

I mean, it’s just criminally beautiful, isn’t it??

Here’s the link to the cover reveal at Tor.com: Tor.com release

And to my awesome agent Julie Crisp’s blog on the topic: An agent’s take on a pretty pretty cover 🙂

But in all seriousness, guys, tell me what you think! And if you like it, feel free to let Tor know, so you can see more covers in this sort of style. 🙂

One step* for a Sam; one giant leap for…well, OK, Sam also.


I realise that despite promises to the contrary, I haven’t actually written much about the querying journey on this blog. Mostly that was because it’s slow and boring and I can’t even make decent Simpsons jokes about it. Partly because if there was no happy ending coming (and who knew, at that stage), it would make for pretty bloody depressing reading: Here, let me tell you about how I tried something and it didn’t work. Maybe it could not-work for you too! Let’s go drink lukewarm tea and watch sad youtube videos of animals in cages.

So let me summarise the past 6 months or so: I sent out queries, time passed, I checked my emails too many times (sorry, actual employer), I made spreadsheets (sorry Jane), I alternately felt incredibly encouraged and discouraged about my book’s prospects. If that was the end of it, it wouldn’t make much of a story.

So luckily that’s not the end.

Instead, let us drink champagne and watch happy youtube videos of dogs and birds making friends and cute children being reunited with their deployed parents, because I have an aaaaaaaggggggent!

I am so, so thrilled to say that I am now represented by the absolutely wonderful Julie Crisp, who only last month was the commissioning editor at Tor UK (working with amazing genre authors like Peter F Hamilton, China Mieville, Ann Cleeves, Jay Kristoff) but – to my great good fortune – has had a career shift to now work more directly with authors as an agent and script doctor. I feel so lucky to be working with Julie that I can’t even make a decent joke here. Not even a rambly footnote. You can check out her stupidly great list of testimonials at www.juliecrisp.co.uk. Go on, go check them out. She’s totally brilliant.

We will be working together to get Proof into the best shape possible over the next few months. I’m looking forward to being the beneficiary of her insightful red pen and in the meantime will be hard at work on the next project. Stay tuned!

* Yes, I do realise the word ‘small’ is missing from the quote. It didn’t feel right for the context. 🙂

The Plunge

I began my novel, PROOF, ten years ago, give or take. Long having been a ‘pantser’ with an annoying tendency to leave my future self clues and puzzles to solve in the course of writing a novel,* I signed up to Lazette Gifford’s very first ‘2 Year Novel’ course on Forward Motion and set about properly planning a novel for the very first time.

It started out well. I planned the entire thing (except for some uncertainty about how the ending would pan out – nice, or cruel? Future Sam, your call), scene by scene, crafted solid character and story arcs, careful worldbuilding – everything I’d ever wanted before but been too lazy/impatient to organise in advance. I started writing. Boy, it was nice having that outline there, guiding me, letting me know what conflict needed to be in every scene, what character development I needed where, what details needed to come out about the world. This time, I thought, I am really going to get somewhere.

But a lot of things happened in those ten years. A career change in my other life, a bout of second-guessing that led to a 6 year hiatus (not just from the project but from creating at all), a mortgage, a marriage, two children. Eventually, I kicked myself in the arse (loose quads) and got the first draft done. Sat on it, did a second, got feedback, rinse and repeat, cut some words, cut some more words, and here I am.

About to take the plunge.
There comes a certain point at which, if you’re serious about wanting to be a writer, as a career, you have to stop dithering, stop tinkering, stop convincing yourself it needs more work or you need to spend more time researching. You have to take that plunge and submit your work.

I’m probably not the only person who has sat on the edge of the water for a bit too long, evaluating the surface, visualising all the things that might go wrong or right (will it be too shallow and I’ll break my legs? Will I belly flop?*** Will a dolphin go by at exactly the wrong moment and knock me unconscious in front of the onlookers in the most amusing and humiliating way possible? OK they were mostly things going wrong. Maybe I’ll do a surprisingly graceful dive and people will applaud. Ha). I know I’m there because I’m past the point of any objectivity about my work. Anything I once liked about it now seems lame and self indulgent. It’s overwritten. It’s underwritten. It’s simplistic. It’s overly complicated. Why is it so crap? Why am I so crap? Paradoxically, I know now that I can no longer see anything of value in it that I must be done – not because it feels like a masterpiece but because any judgment I make about it now is worth shit. So might as well start letting someone else make the judgments.

Anyway, I thought it might be valuable to someone, somewhere, to document the process of getting from finishing a book to…well, whatever. You can follow me through the sea of rejections, the self pity, the second guessing, and maybe, eventually, publication. Hell, you have to be an optimist to be a writer, right? Maybe you’ll witness a swan dive. Or a humiliating drowning. Either way, join me for the swim!

* Aha, Past Sam**would think, chuckling, I’ll just lay this excruciatingly clever hint here about what that candle really means, ho ho, won’t Future Sam love unpacking that later!

** AKA Arsehole Sam

*** Why do belly flops hurt so bad? It sounds so innocuous. Even fun. But for the instant of that slap it’s like I flay you, motherfucker!