Archive for July, 2011

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Agent 6 by Tom Rob Smith

July 27, 2011

This is the third book by Tom Rob Smith, about Leo Demidov, a former MGB agent in Soviet Russia. It starts with a flashback to 1950s Russia, where Leo Demidov is taking part in a visit by Jesse Austin, an American. The action then shifts to America fifteen years later, where Leo’s wife is leading a group of Russian school children to the United States where a dreadful tragedy takes place. The action then switches to Afghanistan where Leo Demidov is now based.
The novel is a tense thriller, and Smith is very good at ratcheting up the tension so you have to find out what happens next. The political intrigues of the Cold War are focused through the characters that are affected by them, which works well to humanise these events. I also like the way that the characters lives collided through the different time periods. A gripping read!

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First Story Published!

July 25, 2011

I have sold my first story! It was a wonderful feeling to see it in print and quite startling in some ways. The story has had a long journey – I wrote it well over a year ago for a Mslexia prompt for their monthly competition, however I didn’t finish it in time to send it in. On re-reading it I also decided that it wasn’t quite the right style for Mslexia so it languished on my hard drive for several months.

I then started sending out a few stories to magazines, with no success, but it did make me realise that I need to sort out the stories I had written and come up with some sort of system for organising them. As part of this I found all sorts of random bits of writing, some finished some not, including this story. I looked through Dutrope, trying to find a home for it – or at least somewhere I could send it that it wouldn’t be laughed at. There didn’t seem to be anywhere suitable so back to the electronic filing cabinet it went.

Then I came across a blog – womagwriter which talked about a range of magazines that I hadn’t thought about before. After I had read a few I remembered this story and  realised that I might have somewhere to send it.

I read through it again – trimming it down slightly, fixing the wording in a couple of places, correcting mistakes I hadn’t noticed before, which showed the value of leaving a piece of work for a while, as I never noticed them before. I then downloaded and very carefully read the guidelines for People’s Friend. With a covering letter, SAE, and a very carefully printed out story I sent it off to the magazine, and started to wait, (expecting a rejection). Instead, four months after I sent it off, I got back an email sending they would like to buy it! So of course I sent back a delighted ‘Yes’. What I didn’t realise was the time it takes between the magazine buying a story and it getting published. Initially, every week I was there with the latest copy of People’s Friend, looking for my story. In the end I decided that I must have missed it and gave up. I felt slightly deflated and a slightly stupid – I had missed my first experience of being published. I hadn’t told anyone and was quite glad I hadn’t mentioned it. I almost thought that I had dreamed the whole experience.

Out of the blue I received an email saying that it was going to be published in this weeks (23 July 11) People’s Friend. I quickly went out and picked up a copy, flicking through in the shop until I found my story, standing and grinning for several minutes, inconveniencing several other shoppers as I was stuck in the middle of the aisle, for which I apologise!

It was a wonderful warm feeling to see my words in print, beautifully illustrated which I hadn’t expected, although I should have done having seen other stories in the magazine, but for some reason I didn’t expect to see a picture with my story! They had changed the name of the story – I had called it ‘Spider’s legs’ which I have to admit is not the best title. It was renamed as ‘A Kind of Peace’ which works a lot better and gives a better idea of what the story is about. It is an area which I am going to have to work on.

So what have I learnt from this?

  • Publishing takes time – even after the story has been bought.
  • I need to work on story titles!
  • Even if at first you think that there is no where for a story to go to, something will turn up – don’t discard anything!
  • And nothing beats that warm feeling of seeing your words in print