Mischief Raffle to Fight Cancer: Win a Manuscript Evaluation from a New York Editor!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008, 11:32 PM

Moonrat, everyone's favourite anonymous New York editor, all-round good gal, and I'd like to think my friend, is hosting a raffle on her blog to help raise funds for a friend of hers who has been diagnosed with Stage IV Lymphoma. I quote from her blog:

"Dear Beloved Blogging Fellows,

Recently, a friend of mine was diagnosed with Stage IV lymphoma. She is only 28 and is fighting back hard, but her valor is frustrated by the fact that she has no insurance. Medicaid will be kicking in for her in about a month, but in the meantime there are some hurdles that nothing will help her get over but money.

Of course, there are lots of benefits and pots for me to throw money in. Alas... I work in publishing and have no money. I was bemoaning this to my darling Ello, and she thought of this fantastic idea: I should raffle off my editorial services. So that's what we're going to try here.


Prizes available:

-One winner: A full manuscript evaluation (up to 120,000 words)*
-One winner: A partial manuscript evaluation (up to 50 page)*
-One winner: A query letter and revised query letter critique*
-Five winners: A choice from select titles in Moonrat's library, which will be mailed with a love letter from Moonrat, who enjoys writing love letters
I've started this new, temporary blog to host a raffle for my friend. You can buy tickets, check the donation log, and see how much progress has been made on each of the raffled lots here.

*please note: these are critiques with an eye toward editorial suggestions, and will in no way be considered submissions to me or my company

General Guidelines (and my very best attempts to make the whole process honest and transparent)

-The raffle will run between now, Tuesday, September 30th, and 8 pm on Tuesday, October 7th, when lots will be drawn.

-Winners will be announced (or their anonymous IDs, if they prefer) on Editorial Ass no later than 11:59 pm on Tuesday, October 7th.

-Prizes have no expiration date--you can ask for your prize redemption anytime between now and, well, I guess 2020.

-Turnaround time for prize redemption is 2 weeks (i.e. if you send me your manuscript on the 1st of November, I'll need until the 15th to get you my comments).

-All prizes are transferable. If you do not have a query letter that needs critiquing but you have a friend who does, you can gift your winning prize on your friend.

-On top of the instant confirmation email from PayPal, you will receive a confirmation email from me by midnight on the calendar day on which you purchased your raffle ticket. My email to you will include your lot number(s).

-On my end, lot numbers will be written on highly scientific bits of paper, which will be dropped into one of four of the rally monkey's highly scientific baseball hats. Lots will be drawn from each hat at 8 pm on Tuesday, October 7.

-You will have the option to purchase raffle tickets under your real name or an anonymous ID. You may specify a code name or number upon receiving my confirmation email.

-I've opened a PayPal account, which will allow you and me both to maintain our identities. PayPal is free for you and only charges me $.30 and 3% off each transaction.

-All raffle ticket purchasers will be fully and publicly disclosed for accountability purposes. At midnight each day the raffle is active, the names (or anonymous IDs, if you choose not to have your name listed) of all the people who purchased raffle tickets for a particular lot will be listed in separate recorded posts. When you buy a raffle ticket, please check the name roster the next day to make sure your name is up. If it's not, email me ASAP at moonratty@gmail.com and we'll straighten it out.

-Again, for accountability, I have opened up a separate bank account that will receive nothing but PayPal payments for this one raffle. A record of the balance will be available for anyone who requests it. The entire account will be emptied at the end of the raffle, and our proud balance will be prominently displayed on Ed Ass.

I hope I haven't forgotten anything. If I have left any stones unturned, please drop me a note or comment and I will amend this record ASAP.

I will leave this post floating at the top of my blog for the next week. New posts will appear below it. All regularly scheduled publication will carry on as it always does!

Please, please tell your friends."

Of course, this is an excellent cause, and all of us must commend Moonrat on her efforts. BUT - all you hopeful writers out there, be selfish for a moment. This is a terrific prize. I know Moonrat's secret identity, and she is a pro editor at a very respected publisher. This is a rare opportunity to have your work evaluated by a publishing professional. People pay hundreds to have manuscripts edited by freelancers, but for just $20 you could have a chance to get editorial notes on your book from a real, honest-to-god, respected NY editor. Really, it'd be daft not to have a crack at this.

Visit the special blog.

If you run a writing related website or blog, why not link to the raffle?


Facebook, or the Unending Evil of the Internet

So, I caved and signed up on Facebook. On first impressions, it's a lot easier to deal with than MySpace, but I'm not sure how it compares in terms of marketing. For networking, I still don't reckon there's much to touch good ol' Blogger. Anyway, I've added the few of you I could find as friends. If there's anyone I've missed, do send me a request and I'll rectify the situation straight away.

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BLOOD'S A ROVER by James Ellroy: Looks like it'll be worth the wait

Friday, September 26, 2008, 8:19 PM

A blurb has appeared over at the Sobel Weber Associates website about the long-awaited conclusion to James Ellroy's American Underworld trilogy, BLOOD'S A ROVER. I, and I know many others, can't wait to get my hands on this book. It's looking like it'll appear in Autumn 2009, so only another year to go.

Details on the novel's protagonists are sketchy (two rogue cops and a kid private eye are mentioned), but there are a few tidbits about plot and settings. We've got the FBI infiltrating black power militants, the Mob having a crack at the Dominican Republic, and "voodoo vibe in Haiti", which apparently "be bad gre-gre". Howard Hughes and J. Edgar Hoover will also reprise their roles as pervasive tumours in American society.

Nat Sobel was telling me a little about the book the other day (one of many perks of having such an excellent agent). Now, in my experience, Nat is never prone to excessive enthusiasm or hyperbole, but he is very excited about BLOOD'S A ROVER. He reckons it's Ellroy's best work to date. The word "masterpiece" was used, in fact. Make of that what you will. Personally, I can't wait.

PS: If you check the Sobel Weber home page, you'll see my ugly mug a couple down from the great man himself. I can't tell you how surreal that feels. Check out the other two featured books, too. THE FALCON'S TALE looks intriguing, and the massive movie deal is hardly surprising given the premise. And SNOW ANGELS looks like another breakthrough for Scandinavian crime fiction, which has seen such success with the likes of Jo Nesbo and Henning Mankell.

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Watch Out, America: The Big O by Declan Burke

Monday, September 22, 2008, 1:00 AM

Today, the 22nd of September, marks the US publication of THE BIG O by Declan Burke by Harcourt. As The Beatles did in 1964, and Led Zeppelin just a few years later, THE BIG O is sure to sweep across America, fuelled by its own tidal surge. Or something.

Some of you will know Declan as the Grand Viz over at the excellent Crime Always Pays blog. I've had the dubious pleasure of going on the beers with the man himself, and can attest to his upright character. Declan was kind enough to sign a copy of the book for me a couple of weeks ago, and it is now atop my teetering To-Be-Read pile. While I cannot provide a review, having not read it just yet (I'm currently immersed in John Connolly's THE UNQUIET, and Bruen and Starr's THE MAX and Adrian McKinty's THE DEAD YARD are ahead in the queue) but some notable dignitaries have. And if their word isn't good enough for you, then I don't know whose is. Namely:

"Declan Burke’s THE BIG O is one of the sharpest, wittiest and most unusual Irish crime novels of recent years … in a similar tradition to, say, Carl Hiaasen, in that there’s a satirical edge to his work that gives it a real bite." – John Connolly, author of THE UNQUIET

"Declan Burke’s crime writing is fast, furious and funny, but this is more than just genre fiction: Burke is a high satirist in the tradition of Waugh and Kingsley Amis . . . but he never forgets that his first duty is to give us a damn good read." —Adrian McKinty, author of THE BLOOMSDAY DEAD

"THE BIG O has everything you want in a crime novel: machinegun dialogue, unforgettable characters, and a wicked plot. Think George V. Higgins in Ireland on speed." – Jason Starr, author of THE FOLLOWER

"This is an extremely funny crime novel that takes Irish crime fiction in a whole new direction. Under the cracking comedy of the book lurks some very subtle and highly skilful plotting and prose." - Brian McGilloway, author of BORDERLANDS

Need I say more? I wish Declan every success with his American debut, and I'm sure it's just the beginning.

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The Next Book - In Full!

Sunday, September 21, 2008, 5:41 PM

That's right, here's the next book in all its glory!

For about the fifth time in a year, I have started a new novel. This will be a sort-of-sequel to THE GHOSTS OF BELFAST, with several returning characters, but a different protagonist.

Just a few thousand words in, I'm finding the experience of writing a book under contract, knowing it will published ,very different from writing one on spec, with only a faint hope that it will ever see the light of day. Whether it's easier or more difficult remains to be seen. It will certainly be a more thoroughly planned and researched novel, rather than the seat-of-my-pants approach that was used for the first book. Wish me luck.

PS: I am fully aware that my handwriting may be the worst in the world.

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Congratulations to Ello!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008, 10:33 PM

My good blogging friend Ello has bagged herself a first-class agent in the shape of Bill Contardi at Brandt & Hochman. It couldn't happen to a nicer person.

Ello (I wonder will she reveal her true identity to the world now?) has an exciting time ahead. Sometimes it will be scary, sometimes vexing, sometimes stressful - but it will always be joyous.

And these things tend to come in groups - I wonder is something big on the horizon for any more of my blogging friends?

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Gregory Mcdonald

Saturday, September 13, 2008, 3:11 PM

The author Gregory Mcdonald died this week. Mcdonald wrote one of my favourite ever books, FLETCH, a lesson in economy, characterisation and tight plotting. While the first Fletch movie was enjoyable enough, I never felt it or Chevy Chase did the source material justice.

Fletch is one of the few books which I can distinctly remember buying and reading for the first time. I was in my mid teens, and I bought it from a charity shop in Ballycastle, along the Antrim coast from the seaside village of Cushendun, where I was staying with my best mate and his family. They have a beautiful cottage at the mouth of the river, overlooking the sea. On a clear day you can see the Mull of Kintyre across the water. I started reading the book in the kitchen, and I can remember pausing occasionally to show my friend the funniest passages. Twenty years on, we still sometimes repeat the phrase "Fuck Frank" for no apparent reason.

My copy of Fletch cost 40p (the price sticker is still on the cover), and that was excellent value for money considering I have read it at least once every couple of years in the two decades I have owned it. It stands alongside William Goldman's Marathon Man, Thomas Harris's Red Dragon and Silence of the Lambs, Arthur C. Clarke's 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Mario Puzo's The Godfather as being among a handful of books I have read over and over, and will probably continue to read time and time again for as long as I have the ability to do so.

It's disheartening to read in some of the online obituaries that, despite his massive success, Mcdonald still had to fight to get published, and that his experience of having his books turned into movies was often negative. But he knew how to tell a good story in 200 pages, and that's an achievement in itself.

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Dun Laoghaire Crime Writers Weekend

Sunday, September 07, 2008, 7:20 PM

I have returned bruised and battered from my first ever writers conference. The Crime Writers Weekend, an offshoot from the main Books 2008 literary festival in Dublin, was hosted in the seaside town of Dun Laoghaire, just a few miles from the city. There were four events in all, including panel discussions, and an interview with Irish crime fiction colossus, John Connolly. I took something worthwhile away from all the events, and I wouldn't hesitate to go again if the weekend became an annual affair.

I had a wonderful time, and I am once again impressed by how welcoming and supportive writers are towards one another. Declan Burke very kindly introduced me various people, and I was met with generosity and friendship all around. The highlights, in no particular order, were:

  • John Connolly blushing the deepest red due to reading a sex scene while his mum was in the audience.

  • Finding the aforementioned John Connolly to be an exceedingly nice chap.

  • Lunch with Brian McGilloway, Peter Rozovsky, and the beautiful and charming Arlene Hunt.

  • Going on the blatter with Declan, Peter and Shay Bagnall (pictured below).

  • My drinking companions tolerating my enthusiasm for this new-fangled writers' life which I seem to remember expressing with increasing gusto as the evening wore on, and more helpings of loud-mouth soup were consumed.

The only downsides were the same car alarm going off in the multi-storey park outside my hotel window at 6:00am two mornings in a row, and the rather delicate condition I found myself in today.

All in all, the weekend was a success in every way, and I congratulate the organisers. I want to thank all the people who made me feel welcome, and in particular Declan and co for letting me talk crap until the late hours.

l-r: Peter Rozovsky, Shay Bagnall, Declan Burke

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On Being A Proper Writer

Friday, September 05, 2008, 11:36 AM

I don't really feel like a proper writer, and I'm not sure why, and I'm not sure if I'll ever feel like one. But what constitutes a proper writer? Is it someone who actually makes a living from it, or someone who at least gets paid? Is it more of a mindset? Even with an agent and publishing deal, and with contract in hand, the life-changing events of the last six months are only just beginning to take on any kind of reality for me.

This weekend, I'm off to my first ever writers' conference. When I found out it was on (thanks to Declan Burke) I jumped at the chance to go, just for the experience of going to something like this in the guise of a proper writer. In reality, I'll be treating it more as a weekend break by the sea, with a nice hotel and possibly a couple of pints and a fry-up here and there.

Will I come away from it feeling any more like a proper writer? Probably not.


Careful What You Write...

Monday, September 01, 2008, 8:55 PM

In one of those moments of vanity Googling (come on, we all do it), I was quite amazed to discover I had been quoted in an article in the Sunday Life, one of Northern Ireland's biggest Sunday newspapers, and part of the same stable as the Belfast Telegraph. Hmm, thinks I, I don't remember talking to anyone from the Sunday Life...

The article in question concerned a recent storm-in-a-teacup involving bestselling local author Colin Bateman. Briefly, a series of children's books by Colin features a young girl with Albinism. Given that Colin has a bit of honesty about him, he doesn't particularly sugar coat the character's experience, and she suffers some abuse because of her appearance. Fair enough, you'd rightly think, a kid with Albinism isn't going to go through life without getting some stick off other kids.

Apparently, some schoolkids didn't agree. Under the supervision of their teacher, they composed a letter of complaint to the author. Somewhere along the way, BBC Northern Ireland picked up on this and ran a story about it on their nightly news bulletin. So far, so trivial.

Anyway, Colin Bateman was rightly peeved and posted a strongly worded, but humorous, rebuttal on his blog. In a spot of media recycling, the Sunday Life ran a story about the whole sorry affair, quoting Colin verbatim.

And down near the bottom is this snippet:

'Fellow Northern Irish author Stuart Neville, who has released his debut novel The Ghosts of Belfast, sprang to Bateman's defence. "The BBC must miss having bombs and kneecappings to report," he said.'


And then I remembered - I'd left a comment on Colin's blog, which I immediately forgot about. And here I am, a couple of months later, discovering my own throw-away quip has been immortalised by the Sunday Life.

Now, there are a couple of inaccuracies and a possible false impression in this. First, "sprang to Bateman's defence" is a bit strong. I don't think I even got out of my chair when I typed it. Second, my debut novel won't see daylight until late next summer at the earliest (but, hey, thanks for plug, Sunday Life!). Also, this kind of gives the impression that there is some connection between Colin Bateman and me. Aside from a very nice congratulatory email he sent me a while back, Colin Bateman doesn't know me at all, and vice versa. I just happened to chip in on a rather daft topic on his blog one day.

Now, don't get me wrong; part of me is actually quite pleased to get a mention in one of our more popular newspapers, and I don't mind being shown to be on Colin's side in the matter (I am), and I don't even mind that the story is mostly a cut-and-paste job that's hardly a shining example of exhaustively researched journalism. But it does bother me a great deal that a simple glib comment I made with little thought behind it found its way into a national newspaper with my name on it. There's a lesson in that, folks...

Read the offending article here.

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