Blog 32: Giving up and moving on

Well, I’ve had more than enough of Publisher No 1’s agonisingly slow responses to gay fantasy The Taming of the Hawk, so I’ve, as promised previously, given up on them entirely, and have just now sent the whole caboodle out to Publisher No 2. I hope their response is more positive, or at the very least speedier! It certainly couldn’t be any slower as surely that’s not humanly possible.

Meanwhile my authorial popularity flags apace, as they say; since I gave up on the other set of publishers and self-published quirky crime novel The Gangster’s Wife this week under my Anne Brooke Books line, only 1 kind person has actually bought it (thank you, whoever you are …). Sigh. Therein lies the answer as to why nobody wants to take on my books, though, as nobody actually wants to read them, oh well …

Nonetheless, proving that, whatever else folks might say about me, I still do faintly believe in the triumph of hope over experience, I am struggling on with comic romance The Old Bags’ Sex Club. Up to about 11,000 words now and writing about the end of Karen’s first affair. All very painful. Hell, she doesn’t have my troubles though – at least she’s a success at what she loves doing, lucky her.

Writerly Confidence Rating: 3


Blog 31: The Gangster’s Wife: Husbands – can they ever be trusted?…

Quirky crime novel, The Gangster’s Wife, is now available in your country’s Amazon.

When 53-year-old Elise Walker returns home after a day at the office to find her husband Gerald dead of a heart attack, she doesn’t expect a visit from the police with revelations about Gerald’s secret life.

Soon, however, her own life takes a distinctive turn for the surreal, with missing loot, online crime and curious neighbours the least of her problems. Not to mention trying to deal with never-ending funeral arrangements and stay on top of her job.

Thank goodness then for the support of her ever-reliable boss, Hugh. But will even he turn against her when she decides to contact Gerald’s former gang members to find out more? And what is the real significance of the note Gerald left her? Most important of all, if Elise ever finds the money, will she be able to keep it?

I hope you enjoy the read!

Blog 24: FREE Book – Hallsfoot’s Battle (Gathandria *2)

For this weekend ONLY, Hallsfoot’s Battle is FREE at Amazon. You can find it at Amazon US and Amazon UK.

This book is the second in the Gathandrian Fantasy series and is the sequel to The Gifting

The battle for survival has merely begun and the Mind Executioner’s defeat is only temporary. Annyeke Hallsfoot, Acting Elder of Gathandria, must join forces with Simon the Scribe in a tenuous alliance to fight for their survival. However, Simon is distracted by his own personal demons, giving Annyeke no choice but to plot a desperate strategy to defeat the enemy. 

When the Mind Executioner kidnaps Simon and raises an army from the dead, all hope appears to be lost. Both Annyeke and Simon, with the help of the mysterious mind-cane and the magical snow-raven, are determined to stay alive and, if possible, to win.

Happy reading.

HB WEB small

Blog 23: Agents – are they the Work of the Devil?…

Agents. They’re a rum lot, I can tell you. I appreciate everyone under the writing sun tells you to get an agent (well, everyone except one lovely crime writer at a writers’ conference I used to attend, who said they weren’t much point and she’d got rid of hers – good move, madam!) as they’re the best thing for any level of writer. Frankly, my dears, I’ve always had huge amounts of trouble with them and I am happy now to be very much agent-free. As far as I’m concerned, literary agents are the Work of the Devil – or as near to it as makes no difference.

The very first agent I ever met in the days when I was a young and innocent writer (many centuries ago now) was a hot-shot star from a hot-shot agency. Apparently. I’d been unlucky enough to get a slot with her at the writers’ conference mentioned above and had even gone so far as to (as requested) send her a pre-conference package of the novel I was currently working on. This happened to be gay social comedy, The Hit List. At a very early draft indeed.

Anyway, I rocked up to my fiercely timetabled slot with Mrs Hot-Shot who then proceeded to tear me apart for my appallingly bad writing skills for ten minutes, culminating in the triumphant words: this novel is unpublishable, unmarketable and unreadable. But, please, do carry on writing. It’s always good to have a nice hobby.

I was devastated. I don’t remember much about the rest of the conference, except trying hard not to weep and to look normal to anyone who asked how my appointment had gone. I do remember another agent totally blanking me in the ladies toilets though, even though, an hour before my appointment with Mrs Hot-Shot, she’d been quite pleasant. Obviously the word had gone round about what an appalling writer I was, and therefore I was not even worth a passing smile.

Hey ho. After that, I didn’t write anything for another three months as my confidence was shot to pieces in every way. Still, when I told my lovely husband what Mrs H-S had said to me (when he could make out the words between the hysterical sobbing, the latter of which lasted astonishingly for a whole weekend), he did say that surely ever Booker Prize winning novel since time began was unpublishable, unmarketable and unreadable, and so a glittering career obviously beckoned. What a hero, eh. Even if no glittering career ever transpired, it was still a wonderful thing to say, and it helped me get back to writing, in the end.

Interestingly, later on, The Hit List was published by a small press, is still on their list (ho ho) and does okayish. So it can’t have been all bad then. Agents, eh – what the heck do they know?

Not much is the answer. And they certainly know nothing about human courtesy or interaction. I went to a few more events at the same writers’ conference for a while, until common sense and sanity kicked in. No agent ever came good for me – though two more at a later conference did say they absolutely loved the first three chapters of lesbian thriller Thorn in the Flesh, talked about it with me for a long time, and both ended by saying please please please please could I send them the rest of it as soon as possible. Naturally, full of shocked joy and hope, I did.

More fool me. One of these two agents never ever replied, in spite of a couple of very polite prompts, and the other simply sent the whole thing back with no comment after four months. Perhaps they’d spoken to Mrs H-S Agent in the interim, eh? Still, by then, I’d learnt to roll more with the constant punches, and so only sobbed for a day and started writing again after one month. Ah the joys of progress.

Really, you wouldn’t wish this kind of life on your worst enemy.

So, no more conference appointments. There was no point. I did try my luck later on with another couple of agents directly, however. I sent gay literary thriller A Dangerous Man to a well-known agent at another major agency. She loved it, and kept telephoning up for chats about it and talking about where she could try to sell it. She refused to offer me a contract, however, and said that she would only do so if she managed to interest a publisher in it. 

This, to me, seemed to go against all the writing advice I’d ever heard of. Indeed, later on, two authors did say it was unethical and not anything they’d come across before. Still, desperate for some measure of success (ha!), I held faith with her for a couple of months or so, but gradually the phone calls vanished away. I sent a couple of enquiring emails, but there was no response, and I never heard from her again. Still, it would have been nice to know if I’d ever actually been a client of hers at all, or just a passing entertainment for said agent when she had nothing better to do.

Nonetheless, A Dangerous Man was later published by the same press who took The Hit List, and these days people either love it or absolutely hate it, but every so often a copy or two does sell, which is nice.

My last experience with agents was when I actually (goodness me indeed!) managed to get one for gay crime thriller Maloney’s Law. I honestly couldn’t believe it and was in a state of total euphoria for a while, but I needn’t have been. Even though, this time, I had a real-life contract, my agent never bothered to meet me – even when Maloney’s Law was shortlisted for an award for books set in London, and we were both supposed to attend the ceremony. He cancelled at the last minute as something more important came up. Story of my life, eh – but I should have been warned …

Of course, the new agent never managed to sell it anywhere, and I had to find a publisher for it myself in the end. So that was as much good as styling your hair in a wind-tunnel. Later again, he expressed himself gripped by The Gifting, the first book in the Gathandrian Trilogy, and “hugely excited” about taking it to all the major fantasy publishers, particularly bearing in mind the fact that fantasy fiction was his speciality.

Dream on. Over the course of the next year, as he was touting it round, none of the publishers he was supposed to have such close links with ever responded to him at all. Not even an acknowledgement or a rejection. Just a terrible, terrible silence, for a whole year.

Finally I came to my senses and it dawned on me just how much agents were a total waste of time and energy, so I ditched him. Honestly, people, agents promise the world but in the end give you absolutely zilch. So since that time I’ve either gone with a range of small genre publishers or simply published my fiction myself. I don’t sell very many books at all of course, but by an equal measure, I thankfully miss out on the rollercoaster ride of potential astonished joy and inevitable agonised defeat that agents put you through. And that’s worth a great deal indeed.

So, my advice is: agents – don’t trust them. They are never, ever, your friends and they come very close indeed to being the Work of the Devil. Avoid at all costs!


Blog 22: Smug Writers Week and Twitter’s Most Unpopular Author

Goodness me, but this week has been a major event for Smug Writer Syndrome, I have to say. I swear to you that every time I turn on my pesky computer, there’s some pesky writer or other boasting about their amazing success and making me snarl and spit viciously at the screen. If it’s not telling us all about your major publishing and film deal (or worse, getting your friends to do your Smug Writer Boasting film deal puffing for you, which is really at least a million times worse than if you had the guts to do it yourself … ah, so good to have servants now one is going to be famous, don’t you know …), then it’s telling everyone about how many thousands of followers one has on Twitter due to one’s sensational writing and general literary genius, and how far one has come since one was a mere scribbler shivering in an attic with only one Twitter follower (your mum) and a dog.

Oh, just get over yourselves, Smug Writers … The rest of us have failed or unsuccessful novels to write, and have no energy for your pointless preening. Besides, as Twitter’s Most Unpopular Author, I have followers to lose (by the dozens each day, so soon I will be in minus figures, ha!) so have no time for your witterings. Move over and let us No-Book-Deal writers through – we’re the only ones with a sense of reality any more …

Moreover, I have Pseudo-Smug Writer Boasting of my own to do. Children’s novel, The Origami Nun – purely by dint of being in an Amazon chart so obscure that no other book was competing with it – briefly made No 1 (no 1!) in the Amazon UK Non-Religious Children’s Holiday Story charts (see what I mean about the obscurity?…), my goodness me, and no 45 in the same chart at Amazon US. Which basically means 3 people have preordered it and as one of them is me then I’m not popping any champagne corks any day soon (but bless you to both my surprisingly keen readers). Still, I managed to do a screenshot – go, me! – so here it is:

Screen Shot 2014-08-30 at 21.40.16

You can probably just about see it if you squint and try not to Magic-Eye it, but by heck I’m proud.

Meanwhile, fantasy novel The Gifting has been free at Amazon this weekend and I’ve managed to shift 27 copies. Always so thrilled to get into double figures, as you know. And free Christian novella The Prayer Seeker has shifted 592 copies during August, so that’s not bad for the dullest (in writing/publishing terms) month of the year.

And, thankfully, tomorrow is September so some publisher somewhere might stir themselves enough to reject my current submission of crime novel The Gangster’s Wife and my resubmission of gay fantasy The Taming of the Hawk. You never know your luck, hey ho.

Writerly Confidence Rating: 6


Blog 21: FREE book and a pre-order offer

Fantasy novel, The Gifting, is FREE at Amazon for this weekend ONLY. You can find it at Amazon US and Amazon UK.

Simon Hartstongue is a mind-reader, and branded a coward and a murderer. When his overlord and lover Ralph Tregannon turns against him, he is forced to embark on a treacherous journey to the distant and magical land of Gathandria in order to save his country and his own soul. During a series of terrifying trials, Simon must encounter the trickery of the deadly Mind Executioner and the secret dealings of those he ought to trust. 

The Gifting is an Awesome Indies novel, and is showcased at the Awesome Indies website. 


“The Gifting is a unique fantasy where mental and physical worlds merge in a flight of unrestrained imagination. Unlike much fantasy I’ve read lately, this book soars with hope. It’s a story of redemption gained through a mystical journey through earth, air, fire and water that tests the deepest recesses of a man’s soul.” (Awesome Indies Reviews) 

“The Gifting is merely the introduction to the Gathandrian Trilogy; it’s a big world, filled with intrigues and magic, loss and redemption. It’s a fantastical place where almost anything is possible, where a coward can become a hero, where the promise for more excitement and enchantment are guaranteed, and I look forward to seeing where Anne Brooke will take us next, as well as discovering what Simon’s future holds.” (Top2Bottom Reviews)

Not only that, but you will now find anti-bullying childhood book, The Origami Nun, available for pre-order at Amazon US and Amazon UK for only 77p! Help your child to start their new school term with a fresh and magical perspective!

Happy reading

Anne Brooke Books
Lori Olding Books
The Gathandrian Fantasy Trilogy

Blog 17: More rejection gloom interspersed with a dash of comic romance

Sigh. Another rejection for crime novella, The Gangster’s Wife, today, groan. Always so disheartening, but at least the buggers weren’t smug, which is quite a novelty in today’s publishing world, I have to say. Just a simple no with no frills attached, which is the best that can be expected, hey ho.

So only another 4 rejections to go and then it’s Self-Publishing City once more for me. Oh well.

Still, at least the free downloads of The Prayer Seeker at Amazon are still going strong, so free books whenever and wherever possible is obviously the way forward for the Vanishing Writer. It’s now been downloaded 511 times in August, hurrah! – I was hoping to get over 500 downloads before the end of the month, so it really feels good to have made that milestone.

Plus there’s a lovely 5-star review from the very kind Vicki Tyley (a cracking author, don’t you know …) at Amazon for comic romance Rosie by Name – thank you, Vicki.

Writerly confidence rating: 2