New Year status report

It’s been almost exactly a year since I first sent The Chimney Rabbit to an agent for the first time. In that time, a lot has happened, but unfortunately not much in the way of progress towards getting published. In this article I’m going to provide a quick summary of my projects and their statuses.

The Chimney Rabbit

The Chimney Rabbit was my first completed novel. After an early career in short stories, some of which were even accepted for publication in the speculative fiction magazines of the early 1990s, I’d spent decades in abortive attempts at writing novels. Perhaps it just took the right novel – I wanted to complete The Chimney Rabbit because I wanted to see how it ended. I wrote it because I wanted to read it.

Unfortunately, it now looks like the book has run its course in terms of my attempts to get it published. I sent out my last batch of submissions to agents back in June. At the end of 2013, there were a handful of agents who still hadn’t responded after over six months, so as a matter of housekeeping I sent them quick (but polite!) emails saying that I had assumed that they’d reviewed my work and decided not to proceed, so I was withdrawing it from their consideration. Not all agents respond to all submissions, for a variety of reasons, but it offends my sense of tidiness to have submissions eternally open, and I’d never know whether to inform them in the event that I got interest from elsewhere, hence my emails – a pure formality.

So, farewell, The Chimney Rabbit. I still love it as a book, but I will no longer attempt to get it published. Perhaps sometime in the future I might rewrite it, bearing in mind all that I’ve learned since I completed it – I’ve got an idea for a restructure that might just work. But that’s a long way off.

The Chimney Rabbit and the Underground Mice

The Chimney Rabbit and the Underground Mice was my second completed novel, a direct sequel to The Chimney Rabbit. No-one but my partner has ever read it, and probably no-one else ever will. That’s the problem with writing a sequel to an unpublished book.

I’m glad I wrote it, and I learned a lot doing so, but in terms of getting published it was a waste of time. Its future is entirely dependent on The Chimney Rabbit, and that’s not going anywhere at the moment.

Tales of the Ancient Rabbits

Tales of the Ancient Rabbits was suggested to me by my partner after she’d read The Chimney Rabbit. “There’s a story behind how the rabbits came to the Great City,” she said, and she was right.

Tales of the Ancient Rabbits has been entered in the Chicken House competition, and is concurrently making the rounds of a small number of agencies. With The Chimney Rabbit, I sent out submissions in waves, and I made several changes to the text over the course of six months, including a major rewrite of the first three chapters. With Tales, I’m not doing that. I made sure that it was as polished as I could make it before I sent it off, bearing in mind all the lessons I learned while writing the first two books and going through countless submissions for The Chimney Rabbit, so I’m being much more selective about who I sent it to.

If none of the current batch of submissions comes to anything, I’ll send out one more small batch. If nothing comes of those, I’ll put Tales away in a digital drawer, and start concentrating on my next book. Which brings me to:

The Dragon on the Tower

The Dragon on the Tower is the working title of my current project. So called because in the first chapter there is a dragon on a tower (hence why it’s a working title and may gain a better title if I can think of one), it’s a story of Dark Age Scotland in the time of the Picts. I’m trying to make it historically accurate, based on the archaeological study of a Pictish monastery in the Dornoch Firth area. The tower is a broch – an Iron Age fortification that by the time of the Picts would already have been an abandoned ruin. Ideal for a dragon to nest in, don’t you think? What do you mean, you don’t think dragons are historically accurate?

This is my first book to feature a human rather than a talking anthropomorphic rabbit as the protagonist, so it’s unknown territory for me. Three books starring rabbits might have left me in a bit of a rut (and almost certainly out of fashion) so I think it was the right decision to make a bit of a change.

The first draft is currently around the mid-point, so there’s still a lot of work to do. I’ll try to complete the first draft in the next month or so, then give it a rest for a while, before getting onto the second and third drafts. I might be ready to start submitting it to agents by summer.

Future projects

I’ve got a few notes for my next book (possibly also featuring dragons), and a vague idea for a book after that, which is more science fiction than fantasy. So even if 2014 isn’t a breakthrough year for my writing, I’ve got plenty to keep me busy.

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