Dragon Wraiths Dreaming: 2013 365 Challenge #53

New cover design for Dragon Wraiths - almost ebook ready

New cover design for Dragon Wraiths – almost ebook ready

I had an unscheduled filling in my tooth this morning so have spent my nursery day curled up on the sofa feeling pathetic. My dentist is 38 weeks pregnant and will be off for six months so she offered to fill the hole she discovered at my routine check up right then. Unfortunately I had breakfast early today (woke at 5.30am when the baby alarm went off because son’s bedroom was so cold) and the numbing injection gave me the shakes. Bless them they were rushing round trying to find me a glucose tablet. Note to self: eat fewer sweeties! (I eat all the ones the kids get in party bags and don’t like. You know, the sticky ones that you don’t want them eating anyway because they’re so bad for their teeth!)

Actually I’ve put my need to huddle under a blanket to good use by working on formatting Dragon Wraiths for self-publishing. I have had long debates about whether to self-publish it or not and in the end I ran out of reasons not to. I still want an agent and a publisher’s deal but in the meantime I may as well see if anyone actually wants to read it! Besides, I had a lot of fun working on the front cover. It isn’t perfect but better than my previous two designs.

The need to do the marketing has put me off in the past but if I’m not worried about it being an overnight success there is no pressure. If it sells a few copies great. If people borrow it from the libraries (I’ve set it as free to libraries) and are moved to leave feedback, well that will be marvellous. If nothing else it is all great formatting practice. Who knows, I might end up making my money earning $40 a time editing books for Smashwords (although I can think of easier ways to make $40!)

Anyway, as a result of my early start, aching jaw and editing frenzy, today’s post is likely to be another short one rather than my normal meaty nursery-day fare. I want to write some witty banter between Beth, Chloe and Josh for Claire to witness but I can’t recall any Canadian and Irish idioms so I may not manage it. I find it really hard writing dialogue in any other ‘tone’ than my own middle-class-white-English.

[Apropos nothing it turns out there’s a new Rolls Royce called a Wraith. Better than the Microsoft Office 365 that keeps appearing in my suggested related articles list!]

Update: Dragon Wraiths is now live, hurrah! Anyone interested in reading it can download it free for the next week, using the following promotion code:


Promotional price: $0.00
Coupon Code: NM53X
Expires: February 28, 2013

You have to sign up to Smashwords to download it I think but you can read the 20% sample without logging in.


“Come on Claire, keep up.”

Claire glared at the V-shape of people in front of her as Beth, Chloe and Josh powered across the lake. Training hadn’t been so bad and Claire had been thrilled with how quickly she had mastered the art of propelling the craft strapped to her hips. Her bubble of happiness quickly deflated when they reached the open water and her so-called companions left her rocking gently in their wake.

Refusing to capsize through trying to catch up, Claire concentrated on getting her technique right and on ignoring the blisters forming across the pads of her palms.

“That’s it Claire, great, you’re getting the hang of it. For a first-timer you’re doing brilliantly.”

Claire turned to smile at the instructor and her paddle stuck in some weed. It wrenched sideways, nearly tipping her out of her kayak.

Eyes forward, Claire. Josh will pee his pants laughing if you take a dip in this freezing pond.

“This is grand!” Beth’s voice floated back across the water as she and Chloe prodded at each other with their paddles, each trying to put the other in the lake.

“Your friends seem a right craic, how long have you been travelling together?”

Claire looked back carefully, trying to locate the source of the new voice without tipping herself over.

“I’m not travelling with them. As far as I can tell they all met yesterday on the bus over from Keswick. I met Josh last week a bit further north.”

“Really? They seem like buddies from way back. That’s travelling for you, I guess.” The man deftly paddled forward until he was alongside Claire’s red kayak. He waved a salute and said, “name’s Charlie.”

“Claire.” She nodded in return and tried not to clash her paddle against his.

The void of conversation yawned between them, demanding to be filled. She didn’t feel like chatting but it was obvious that the man wanted to talk and, besides, Josh and the girls were too far ahead for anything but a bellowed exchange of words. She groped for something to say.

“Are you travelling with friends?”

“Nah I’m going solo. Just a month or three before I head back to Ireland to find a job. It aint easy right now, specially not in Dublin. Thought I’d have a bit o’ fun before I have to get me hands dirty.”

“What do you do?”

“I’m a chef. Or leastways that’s what I’m trained fer. What I’ll be doing back in Dublin is anyone’s guess.”

“Is there not much work in catering?” Claire listened to her words and wanted to Eskimo-roll into the lake. No wonder the others have buggered off. Could you be any more boring?

If her new friend found her question obvious or dull he was either too polite or too shocked to let on.

“There’s not much work of any sort. Times is hard. Not a great time to be looking for paid employment.”

Claire shivered beneath her waterproofs. I hope that doesn’t apply to me. Her head was already full of images of starting a new job since her arrival at the activity centre with Josh and his mini-harem. Claire wasn’t sure how much more adrenalin-seeking, or rubbing shoulders with strangers, she could willingly do, no matter how much she wanted not to fail.

“What is it you do?” The man threw out the question between puffs as he paddled to keep up with Claire who had veering off to the left.

“I work in… marketing.” She hoped he hadn’t notice the tiny hesitation. Lord only knows what it is I do these days?

As often happened when Claire told someone in a vocational career what she did for a living, the man’s face went blank. His lips opened and shut slightly as he sought something interesting to say in response.

“That’s nice.”

Claire chuckled under her breath and held her paddle aloft as a wake from a passing boat rocked the kayak. I guess no one knows what people in marketing actually do, least of all people in marketing. Play with pretty pictures and read papers, I think that’s the general consensus. What about kayaking across a freezing lake in the north of England, or dangling from a tree suspended by a rope and harness? Abseiling down a waterfall? Sharing a room with five other women, some of whom have only a passing relationship with shower gel. Are they things I can puff-off on my CV?

The sound of splashing shook Claire from her reverie and she looked up just in time to get a face-full of water from Josh’s paddle as he swung round beside her.

“Thanks. As if I wasn’t cold enough.”

“Lighten up cranky, what’s eating you? You’ve been chillier than a penguin’s arse since we pitched up yesterday. If you really wanted to ditch me you should have headed to Liverpool like you said.”

“Would that be better? Am I cramping your style?”

“Ha, it’d take more than a jealous Sheila to cramp my style.”

“Jealous? I’m not jealous. If you choose to hook up with every woman under the age of fifty that passes your way that’s no concern of mine.”

Claire dipped her paddle in the water and pushed her craft forwards, concentrating on her technique so Josh had nothing else to sneer at. The sun shone overhead but didn’t penetrate the waterproof and life-jacket she was bundled in. Claire lowered her head and pictured the mug of hot chocolate waiting for her when they returned to the activity centre.

Josh paddled alongside her in silence for a few minutes before clucking his tongue and digging his paddle in deep. He was soon several lengths ahead and the sound of his laughter mingled with Chloe and Beth’s as the three of them splashed each other like naughty schoolchildren.


Writing a Synopsis

I spent last night searching the Internet for agents that accept email submissions (I don’t mind being rejected, but I’d rather not use a tree’s worth of paper doing it).

During my search, I came cross a great page of tips on the 3 Seas Literary Agency website, which included this advice for improving your manuscript’s chances:

Write a Great Synopsis

  • The synopsis for fiction works should include the beginning, the conflicts, the resolutions and the ending.
  • It must be written in the present tense.
  • A synopsis represents you and your work. Take your time, make it interesting, read it out loud, and wherever necessary, improve…improve…improve it, until you are happy with the final result.

(There are also great tips on writing a query letter, which I should also have followed!)

I’m sure there are other sites offering more detailed help. In fact, I’m sure I taught a lesson covering the same stuff. It’s not rocket science, but I particularly valued point three, the reminder to “improve… improve… improve.”

It’s amazing how quickly you can forget the basics, in a rush of blood to the head. I spent six months carefully crafting and re-crafting my novel. When I finally decided to be brave and send it to an agent, I spent about 90 minutes writing a cover letter and synopsis.

This wasn’t just the usual laziness, lack of time or child intervention. I found writing the synopsis harder than writing the novel. Also, foolishly, I didn’t see it as that important: after all, the agent has my first 3 chapters, surely if they’re hooked they’ll want to read more and if they’re not, what difference would a good synopsis make?

Silly really.

After all those weeks pouring heart and soul into my novel, surely I could afford to spend more than an hour or two trying to sell it? That’s when I realised the problem: I find it impossible to sell myself or anything I have created.

Before commencing my life as writermummy, I worked as an abstract artist – leaving my “proper job” to paint full-time. After six months, I had to return to the real world to earn a living, because I couldn’t sell my work to strangers. It turns out there is only so much art you can sell to friends (even lovely friends with a farmhouse in Luxembourg!)

Now I face the same barrier. I have to sell something I have created.

So my challenge, should I choose to accept it, is to find some objectivity and learn how to sell my own novel. If I can’t convince you, or an agent, or a publisher, to read it, then I may as well not have bothered writing it in the first place.

Any Synopsis-writing Tips gratefully received.