February 2017: Against the odds…

I’m writing this at 35,000ft above the Tasman Sea, flying from New Zealand to Australia – lucky me!

The launch of Tell Me A Lie has been terrific, thanks so much for all your reviews on Goodreads and Amazon – it means so much I can’t tell you. Not only does it get me noticed by new readers, but it makes me very happy as well as give me some really good feedback.

THANK YOU!

I’ve had a blast in New Zealand over the past week or so.  Although I’m half a Kiwi, it’s not often I get to see my relatives this side of the world, and blow me down if my young cousin Charlotte (who’s just turned 17) is also a writer.

Talking to her reminded me of so many things when I first started writing, especially the endless self-doubt and stomach-churning anxiety over sharing my work. I couldn’t bear to have anyone I knew read my stuff (far too embarrassing), so I sent it straight out to agents and publishers. This was when ‘slush’ piles still existed, great stacks of manuscripts sent in cold from unknown writers to the publisher.

I’ve had a blast in New Zealand over the past week or so – and views like this have helped…
I’ve had a blast in New Zealand over the past week or so – and views like this have helped…

Getting noticed at that stage was nigh-on impossible and although some authors were published from the slush pile, the odds were something like 10,000 to 1. Not great. But that didn’t stop me. I kept plugging away until one day, when I received yet another standard photocopied rejection letter, I saw a handwritten scribble at the bottom from the editor’s secretary:

“Sorry you were rejected, because I really enjoyed it. Hope you keep writing and that I’ll see you on the shelves one day.”

I bounded around the house like a lunatic for the rest of the day. Someone liked my book!

This gave me enough courage to enter the CWA Debut Dagger competition, but when I received my 23rd rejection the very next day my confidence dropped through the floor and I screwed up the competition details and threw them in the bin. I had no chance. Zero. I couldn’t believe I’d entered, let alone paid the (then) £10 entry fee which I could barely afford.

When the letter dropped through my letterbox announcing I’d won the competition, you could have knocked me over with a feather. I’d had no idea I’d even been shortlisted!

My advice to all young and new writers (and what I also advised my writerly cousin in NZ) is to enter every competition you can – not only does it concentrate the mind but it’s but also a good discipline. Plus, since nothing you write is ever wasted, you get loads of practice writing out of your comfort zone.

Oooooh, we’ve just started our descent. It’s 27 degrees in Sydney apparently, and it’s not even 9am. Roasting!

I’m planning on hitting the beach with my Kindle and catching up on my reading. I’ve just finished Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews, a retired CIA agent, and if you’re a spy thriller fan, then grab this one – you won’t be disappointed. Taut, full of suspense, it gives an incredible insight into Russian tradecraft as well as giving us some great characters and a story that twists and turns through a brutal, treacherous world. Five stars (and for other recommendations, visit my Goodreads page).

I’ve been told to put my electronic device away and put my seat back into its upright position, so I shall say farewell for now, and wish you all many hours of happy reading wherever you are in the world.

Thanks again for your support with Tell Me A Lie – it means a LOT!

© CJ Carver 2016

If you’re a spy thriller fan, then grab this one – you won’t be disappointed…
If you’re a spy thriller fan, then grab this one – you won’t be disappointed…