I haven’t admitted this officially before because I’m still raw about it, but here goes: the big book I’ve been working on these last four years? I’ve put it aside.

Last October, after we’d gamely knocked three drafts back and forth without agreeing what we wanted, my publisher cancelled my contract. My agent – before she quit the business – told me that she didn’t think she could sell the book to anyone else. Now my new agent has gently but definitely confirmed to me that the book has fundamental problems and ‘needs a lot of work.’

I can take a hint. ;p

One problem with the book is that I’ve put so much time and love into it that now I’m too close to it to see or accept what I would have to do to take it further. So, until/unless I get the distance and objectivity I need, I’m doing the next best thing I can do: I’ve stopped working on it, and started writing other stuff.

I’ve got a brand new novella out under consideration, I’m working on another short project right now, and my next full-length book is already underway. Meanwhile, for the time being, I’m sad to say that all that anyone else will hear or see of my broken but beautiful, crazy-ambitious, utopian SF rock-and-roll epic is its title and this gorgeous cover by genius illustrator Barnaby Richards:

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To those brave, kind few who have read the book as it currently stands, my thanks.

To VELVET, au revoir.

Sam

Book Week 2015 is over. I feel like I’ve been hammered out flat, but I am happy. This feedback I received this morning might show you why:

In answer to the question “What was the best part of the performance?” our students told us how much they enjoyed the readings from the books, saying things like “When he was reading, as it was interesting and the books were intense and fun” and “When he read to us from his books as he read with lots of expression.” However, they also enjoyed the Q&A part: “The fascinating answers he gave to the questions” and “I found the detail of his answers and his imagination was really good”.  And one student said “I think the best part of the performance was everything!!”

When asked “How will this help with your school work in the future?” they focussed on the writing skills aspect: “He gave ideas of how to write a good and imaginative story”, “It will help me with my creative writing”, “During Sam reading to us I noticed some writing techniques which could help me in English”, “I know how to plan and make my stories more exciting.”

In response to the question “What did you learn today?” there were two main themes. The students focussed on the messages that they need to seize the day and that they need to read.

In the “Any other comments” section they said some lovely things: “Thank you for visiting and good luck in the future”, “Thank you for coming!” and the best one, “He is a lovely person, hope he does fantastically well, I can’t explain how I am feeling right now, loved it!!!”

I love school visits. Thanks and best wishes to everyone I met this week. :D

Sam

I am THRILLED to announce that I now have a new literary agent – Davinia Andrew-Lynch of all-new agency Andlyn. Davinia’s enthusiasm, savvy, ambition and imagination all impress me mightily (and the fact that we’re both big fans of the film The Dark Crystal is a definite plus factor too ;D). Here’s to a highly promising partnership.

HURRAH for the wondrous Katie WebSphinx who, between running her own brilliant business and raising three young Sphinxlings, somehow found the time this month to update my websites.

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Broken links have been zapped and spammers foiled. In addition, though we’ve sadly had to say goodbye to my sites’ defunct Guestbooks, anyone who wants to reach me can now do so directly via this email address: sam at samenthoven dot com. That’s if you wouldn’t prefer FacebookTwitterLastFMLibraryThing or Wattpad – links to my profiles on which can all be found at my squeaky clean and fully firing homepage.

Katie has been kindly and patiently helping and guiding me with her web-fu and wisdom for nearly ten years now.

Thank you, Katie. You are AWESOME. :D

This is from a fascinating and inspiring book called The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer. I feel it always, and this week especially.

When you’re an artist, nobody ever tells you or hits you with the magic wand of legitimacy. You have to hit your own head with your own handmade wand. And you feel stupid doing it.

There’s no “correct path” to becoming a real artist. You might think you’ll gain legitimacy by going to art school, getting published, getting signed to a record label. But it’s all bullshit, and it’s all in your head. You’re an artist when you say you are. And you’re a good artist when you make somebody else experience or feel something deep or unexpected.

Mine snapped a while back. It’s held together with tape and hope. But it’s still there.

An ecstatically cackling THANK YOU to staff and students at The Ravensbourne School in Bromley for the warm welcome they gave me yesterday.

In two sessions I spoke to the whole of Years 8 and 9 – about five hundred students in all, full of excellent questions about books, writing and life.

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Giving readings in Ravensbourne’s gorgeous school hall was a particular thrill. The opening scene of Crawlers – and the scream of the Queen’s first victim – produced an intensely satisfying echo. I hope it inspired some students to read on as Crawlers continues on Wattpad. It certainly made some of them flinch. :D

Putting out my short stories on Wattpad has been a lot of fun so far. I’ve decided to take things a step further…

CRAWLERS

From today on Wattpad I’m going to serialize the whole of my book Crawlers for anyone to read on their desktop, laptop, tablet, smartphone or other internet-access device of choice, for free.

I plan to put it out in episodes three times a week for the next ten weeks. Sign up to Wattpad to receive alerts whenever a new episode is posted or to leave comments and messages there for me if you like – but if you want to read there without signing up, that’s fine too.

As I was writing the book I imagined what it would be like to read it in serial form on one’s phone. The idea drove me to make Crawlers as fast, tense and relentlessly thrilling as I could. Putting the book to this test for real at last is very exciting for me. I hope readers get a kick out of it too. :D

Click through to the Crawlers page on Wattpad here.

This below is from Agota Kristof, author of my favourite thing I read in 2014, The Notebook. It’s from another and almost equally astonishing book of Kristof’s, called The Illiterate:

How do you become a writer? First of all, naturally, you must write. Then, you must continue to write. Even when it doesn’t interest anyone. Even when you feel that it will never interest anyone. Even when the manuscripts pile up in the drawers and you forget them, while writing new ones.

…Here is the answer to the question: you become a writer by writing with patience and obstinacy, without ever losing faith in what you write.

That’s the mission. Now to get back to it.

The conclusion of The Last Duel is now live and free on my Wattpad page. Here – at the slight risk of giving away how the story ends, if you don’t know yet! – is a collage I made of the rest of Phil Harvey‘s stunning sketches.

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Happy holidays to all readers, and power to your tentacles for the New Year.

My sinister masterplan continues. May yours do likewise. :D

Sam

Part Two of The Last Duel is now live and free on my Wattpad page. To go with it, here’s a collage I made of some of the gorgeous sketches that were created for the story by ace artist and illustrator Phil Harvey.

TheLastDuelWattpadWeek2PencilsByPhilHarvey

More next week with Part Three. :D

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