Wednesday 27 March 2024

Beads of Submission - Signing with an Agent!


A few weeks ago I posted a blog about my endeavour to receive one hundred rejection in 2024, and in order to a have a constant visual display of my progress I was putting beads in a jar. A blue bead for every submission, and a pink bead for every full manuscript request, long-listing or short-listing etc. By the point of posting, I’d already added my first pink bead.

There is great news the pink bead has changed into a special bead made of actual mammoth bone. Why? I am delighted to say I’ve signed on Lauren Gardner and her assistant Callen Martin of Bell Lomax Moreton, with my mammoth book!


However, looking at my jar, it looks wrong, as it only has a bead for every submission I’ve made with this manuscript in 2024, which is misleading as I’ve been subbing this book in previous years. So I went back to my spread sheet to tally up the real submission statics and therefore added them to the jar.


Ashley Grimes Mammoth Whisperer in all its forms, has been subbed 42 times and received 6 full manuscript requests and I offer.


In addition, it was subbed to 15 competitions, and not so much as a long-listing or honorary mention.

But this is still only part of the story, as I started writing when my youngest was coming up to his first birthday – he is now driving and sitting his a-levels! So, to get to this point I’ve written 8 (completed) novels, I novella, I chapter book and countless picture books, all of which have been subbed and therefore I have a massed a huge pile of rejections. I haven’t tallied all these up, as counting isn’t my strong suit (dyscalculia), but I am delighted to have reached this milestone.

I am very much looking forward to working with Lauren and Callen.

Monday 18 March 2024

Writing - So Much More than the Pursuit of Publication

Writing - So Much More than the Pursuit of Publication

Sometimes as a pre-published author I get tunnel vision, believing success is only one thing – getting published. But it is so much more. It just takes a wide angled lens to appreciate just how much more.

When you are on submission and the rejections are rolling in or worse, there is a void of rejections as is the modern way, and everyone seems to be getting contracts but you, it can seem as if success is binary, in print or failed. This is the time to take a step back and admire the view. Due to this exact reason and also not helped by a spell of bad health, this is what I have recently done.

I have done this before and posted about all the ways that writing has enhanced my life and my family's in multiple ways - read more here. But this time I wanted to do it specifically for my current project/submission ‘Ashley Grimes Mammoth Whisperer.’ To see how writing the book has embellished by life, and it is a really lovely view with lots of accomplishments to feel good about.

Firstly, I have rekindled my original love of illustration, as a direct result, as I started sketching the characters and settings. I am now working on developing a portfolio.

Space mammoth - illustration by me - crayons, ink, ipad. 


I had an article of non-fiction about Mammoths and climate change published in the amazing children’s periodical The Changeling Magazine, along with one of my illustrations. Read more here.

I’ve also been invited to do library and museum events to talk children and adults alike abut mammoths and their theoretical use to help combat climate change.

I’m now sometime referred to as Mammoth Lady or Mammoth Aunty (not actually by my a nephews or nieces!) which I love. Also, often people think of me when they stumble across a mammoth and send me photos/messages, which I adore. Who doesn’t like seeing a mammoth in the wild? Or send me mammoth things they've made - I love a surprise mammoth post!

A selection of handmade mammoth surprise post!

I have had the privilege of messaging, meeting, and making friends with some lovely equally - possibly even more - mammoth obsessed people than me. Like Beth Shaprio, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology who wrote the book, ‘How to Clone a Mammoth,’ who very kindly checked the science in my manuscript. 

Also, thanks to my longest friend Vicky Stowell – thank you, Sally and Nev Hollingworth, who are the amazing paleontologist's who found the Mammoth of Graveyard near Swindon.

Me (middle) With Sally and Nev Hollingworth - (photo by Nev (thanks Nev))

Lastly it was Sally and Nev who invited me to do something that I always wanted to do, go on a planetology dig. When I was a teenager, I desperately wanted to be a paleozoologist or anthropologist, but I was not permitted to take science and I was told by school I would never me allowed to do any scientific endeavour but to stick to art due to my dyslexia and dyscalculia. Of course at that tender age you believe it. So going to the dig was amazing. Full of lovely generous people. Although I personally didn’t find any bits of dead mammoth, I did help plaster a mammoth tusk ready for transport. Which was a real honour! 

Me helping with the plastering - thanks to Sally H for photo.

So, when the rejections are rolling in, and my lack of perceived achievement gets me down, I have to think - if I gave up writing what else would I miss? The answer is - a lot. A lot of awesome stuff!

Me at the dig! Thanks Sally H for the photo!

Tuesday 12 March 2024

Submission Impossible? 100 Rejections in a Year!

I’ve made the decision that this year 2024, I’m really going to knuckle down and submit like I have never submitted before. In the past I’ve always approached my submission process with a tad less dedication than the writing itself. After spending hours (far too many to calculate) researching, plotting, world building, writing, revising and editing, (and repeating several times over), the submission always start with an enthusiastic flourish and then after a first dozen and half of rejections, I lose confidence, and everything just peters out.

This year though, I believe my manuscript is in really good shape, and the feedback from peers and professional has been encouraging, so my aim is to be more tenacious in 2024. With that in mind I have set myself the target of receiving 100 rejections before we next sing Auld Lang Syne.


To achieve this, I’ve built in dedicated time in my weekly schedule and have implemented some measures to visually show progress. In addition to my spreadsheet, I’ve got a glass vase and some crystal beads. With every submission I will add a blue (stripped agate) bead to the vase, and with every full manuscript request, long-listing, short-listing or honorary mention, I will add a pink (tigers eye) bead to the vase. This will mean that I will see the vase gradually filling up throughout the year.

I am hoping that having this visual tactile log of my progress will also serve as a stimulus to keep me motivated and continue the endeavour of reaching my target.

If by a miracle I get signed along the way I will think of a something extra special to add to the vase.


**Edit** since initially writing this I’ve added my first pink bead! Fingers crossed!