For the first part of see my post on Thursday, 6 September 2007: The Narrow Path to Publishers.

Well finished my foray into the world of Quite enjoyed it, had to read lots of extracts from other authors some not so good, some brilliant.

Overall The Dandelion Tree got the following rating:

Specific scores were:

The best position achieved in their chart was 22 out of 75.

The marks were compiled from 8 reviews.

One review listed in my previous post on YouWriteOn which didn't like the book turned out to have scored me one star on almost everything, which I queried with YouWriteOn and they deleted that review and score from the book.

Scores from people who state a preference for literary fiction :

In both cases the lowest score is the plot. Unfortunately the scores are done on the first three chapters, and the plot doesn't clearly emerge in my book until later.

Here are 2 comments that I found useful:

"I was completely taken with this. The writing is flawless, the imagery way up and beyond anything I could write. The prologue alone (especially the first paragraph) stands to be read and reread again and again as beguiling poetry. The idea of the dancing train carrying the overfed buttocks, the alarm clock made of sheets of paper... all wonderful. I am afraid my knowledge of the Old Testament is so rusty I missed out on most of the "significance", but I would not dare mark you down. A quite magical read which I am afraid many reviewers may dispute as it does not cut to any chase, and it doesn't do it fast enough. All 4s and 5s from me. One slight quibble. Lightening should be lightning. Or, again, perhaps I am missing something."

"This is beautiful prose written by a passionate writer who is seriously interested in The Bible; I gave up counting at Bible-reference #16. This alone is worhy of a bestseller, but the rest gets confusing. I can see that the writer is trying to create a sub-genre of his own, and he will almost certainly find a select audience for it; but I was waiting for a tighter thread to connect these colourful strands of story. I didn't mind the coincidences - Isaac and Jane work for Tamarisk, are on the same train and begin a conversation...yes, it could happen; but for my taste the story is not driven forward fast enough. Lots of beautiful words with seemingly no connection, and the story progress is hindered by seemingly unrelated events. I am obviously not a professional critic, and would ask you to take my words with a pinch of salt. Good luck with your project."

So there we go.

I would recommend this to other writers, it was fun and gave me some useful feedback on my work as to what type of audience will like it.


Waterstone's & The Iron Bridge

I walked into Waterstone's this afternoon, clutching a wad of business cards promoting the blog of my book, The Dandelion Tree. Want to be a fly on the wall? Come on then ...

I stood looking at the back of the neck of the customer before me.
Come on.
I felt my stomach flip like a dolphin spinning for fish. I'll blog this, I thought. That seemed to legitimise the blip in the flow of cash into the till I was about to cause.
Come on.
I had got my courage up already upstairs. They sent me downstairs.
I looked at the beautiful assistant standing behind the desk. Glancing around I could see nothing that suggested they placed anything remotely like my card anywhere in the shop. I was going to look a fool. Get out now before they start laughing.
"Hello, can I help you?"
Here we go.

"Yes, Upstairs sent me here, I asked if you could place my cards anywhere. They sent me down here to ask for Nigel."

"Nigel just popped out," said the assistant. "I can help you."
"O great, " I said, trying to hide the wobble in my voice. "I'm a local author and I have a blog that talks about the publishing world and writing and er," (the wobble rose up and shook my brain so that for a moment it forgot to send any messages to my mouth) "... it also showcases my book."
I looked at the celeb cookbooks. They looked large enough to hide behind.
"Sure," said the assistant, "We'll place them here." She set down my stack of cards next to the till. "We'll put them into customers bags for you. What kind of book is it, so we know which customers?"
"Literary fiction," I said looking at her as my adrenalin hammered out my wobbles into an iron bridge of confidence connecting me to the now wonderful as well as beautiful assistant.
"Well, thanks very much," I said and floated out of the shop.

Ever had a nice surprise when you thought you were about to be custard pied?

Top marks to Waterstone's, thank you very much.

Please take a card.


Submission to Mighty Erudite

"Here at Mighty Erudite we believe that readers should be offered works which challenge them, which reflect the unique vision of the lone writer, rather than the group-think processes of a giant publisher."

Came across a new small publisher at the weekend called Mighty Erudite. Started by Juli Klass and supported by a panel of advisors including Anne Brooks, it looks good. Writewords have an interview with Juli where she talks about why she started the company. On her site she describes herself as having:

"An absolute passion for bringing new writing to new reading markets."

Sent of a submission as they look like the sort of people who would love The Dandelion Tree.

Will let you know how it goes.


Grumpy Old Bookman

Was excited this week to get a mention on Grumpy Old Bookman.

The blog run by the author & Independent publisher, Michael Allen, was listed in the Guardian top 10 literary blogs in 2005.

Check out his site to dip into the world of books and publishing. He regularly posts so there is always plenty to browse through on his shelves.


The Land of Wind

trigal (wheat field)
Originally uploaded by Miguel Angel Avi

Photo Credit: Miguel Angel Avi

Under The Land of Wind the treasure lies,
Untroubled by the gathering of shrouded skies.
The lover stands and holds his hands,
Never again will he walk foreign lands.

Fingers thrust into the deep,
Black nails where beauty sleeps.
Soil caked hard with the baking sun,
Tears slip away, leaving him numb.

He hears the ticking of the body clock,
It stills his mind against aftershock.
He turns for a moment and is swept away,
the battle leading him to the appointed day.

Mike French
Sept 07


Got contacted by Lucy Orbach this week about her site:

It looks really good and allows you to search free for the best on-line price for new & used books. They also have a book of the week and a blog, which they launched in Jan, attached to the site.

Check it out with a search for your next book, it looks good.

(And for all my US friends check out the US site :

Blog interviews me on The Dandelion Tree

Vote for Tales From The TreeVote for Tales From The Tree

Mike Thomas from Blog approached me last week to do an interview. After agreeing a ten figure fee I agreed.

See the interview at Blog

(Joking about the ten figure sum, please do not send requests for money!)

The Narrow Path to Publishers

Thought it was about time I updated you on how my efforts to get my book into print are going.

The latest publisher I have approached is small publisher Flame Books.

I e-mailed an early draft to their submissions a couple of years ago and was surprised to get a phone call from them saying they liked it and could I send the full script to them. (I had to lie on the floor for ten minutes afterwards to recover.) Unfortuantely the company went through some changes shortly after and my book fell through the gaps.

They now seem to have restructured with the departure of Matthew Ward who founded the company in 2003. I e-mailed them at the start of the summer saying I had edited the book with the help of Cornerstones and Sean Wood replied asking to see the book. Posted the slab a few weeks ago (printing the book double spaced and single sided doesn't half produce a bulk of paper). Waiting to hear from them.
Tum t tum.
That's another minute gone. Wait is that the phone?

The other thing I am trying at the moment is the site:

"Each month, the Top 5 new writers receive a free critique from editors for leading literary agents and publishers, including Curtis Brown, Orion & Bloomsbury. "

The idea is that you upload the first few chapters of your book. Then every time you review another persons work you earn a credit. Each credit sends your work out to another person on the site to be reviewed. After 5 reviews the book enters the top 10 list if it scores high enough.

I have had 4 reviews so far, 3 of which were good and 1 who didn't like it at all!

I enjoyed the sample chapters. I liked the way you used Biblical names for your characters and gave little snippets of information about their backgrounds. The main characters were well drawn, but I found it a little confusing with the flash backs and had to re-read to make sense of who each of the characters were and how they related to one another. Your dialogue moves the narrative forward and works well to reveal the personalities of your characters. Settings were particularly well done and contributed to the atmosphere of the story. All in all a good read. Best wishes

I imagine this will be one of your first reviews so I'll try and be nice, although that doesn't mean I'm about to say how fantastic this work is, because in my humble opinion it isn't.
But that doesn't mean it isn't without merit in some areas. I like your descriptives but there are too many metaphors, especially in the first few paragraphs and the word bubble/s must have been used 30 times. Some of the time the narrative was clear, others it was muddled. I didn't find the dialogue convincing either. Would two strangers on a train really launch straight into an intense conversation like that? There were some good lines within this work like diamonds in the rough. The talent of being a writer, I believe, is being about to recognise the good from the bad.

You write beautifully and have original and fresh prose, including the dandelion tree, which is an arresting image. I can see that this novel has great depth and is clearly carefully constructed, and the story, which is not clear from the brief seems to have elements of fantasy woven through it (which I think the intro should allude to.) However (there’s always one of them) I think you have overwritten this – too many similes, too many images – in other words a touch of purple prose (getting carried away with the words and writing and creating originality.) The effect on this is that it slows the pace down too much, and I found myself wanting to skip a lot of the paragraphs particularly about shaving, which happens twice, I am sure for a reason, but the second time I felt my interest wane. This abundance of description also serves to hold me at a distance, and I craved more dialogue and action particularly between Isaac and Jane.

My suggestion would be to cut a lot of this description, you can thread it back in later and get the hooks in, as I reader I was struggling to see where this was going (though I am sure it does get more engrossing). The start really needs to grab attention and hold it.

I found The Dandelion Tree a clever and challenging piece of writing. It definitely fits well within the genre of literary fiction. Some of the writing is very poetic, in the use of description and condensation of thoughts.
Your style is characterised by a strong use of metaphor, some of which are both excellent and thought provoking. Such as 'life squeezed through a spell checker' which was evocative and linked in theme to what was happeneing.Although, occasionally they don't fit well with the rest of the paragraph and read a little clunkily.
I particularly liked the couple sections, Abe and Keturah and Isaac and Jane. This was clear and demanded no re-reading. I was finding it necessary to re-read some of the other sections as it was elusive on my first read. It may be worth looking at this and re-reading as if it were your first read. I tihnk this piece has lots of potential with some tightening up of structure so it flows more for the reader.

Waiting for my fifth review to see how the book scores.

And (this is the good bit for people who have read the whole post): The prologue, Chapter 1, 2 and THREE are on the site! So you can read chapter 3 ahead of the Diggers right here!

Keep it quite from my other blog, Tales From the Tree which is trying to get Diggs to release chapter 3.