Welcome

strumble head pembrokeshire
Strumble Head Pembrokeshire
Welcome

This website covers life on the beautiful Pembrokeshire coast, details on affordable creative writing mentoring and also offers online booking at our boutique Bed and Breakfast here in West Wales, where you can relax and be truly welcome.

Peaceful Pembrokeshire Bed and Breakfast

Just off the main A40 between Fishguard and Haverfordwest, with easy access to the national park and beaches of North Pembrokeshire, our country house B&B is situated in a peaceful valley and is the perfect location from which to explore this beautiful corner of Wales. More information and online booking

Creative Writing Tutor and Mentor in West Wales

Whether you want to strengthen your writing for professional or personal reasons my one to one tutoring and mentoring will help you. From memoirs to travel writing, constructing a book proposal to agent query letters you can take advantage of my experience as a working writer. More information and to book a tutoring session online

Pembrokeshire Places

From Strumble Head in the summer sunshine to Pwll Gwaelod on a winter evening, this is my Pembrokeshire and here are articles about the places, walks, views and times we love best as well as stories of our life here on the Western edge of the British mainland. We have animals aplenty, restaurants and farmers markets to visit and old tales to whisper to each other.Read more

Karen

chain-bridge-llangollen

Having Heart – A trip around Wales

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Blue Rose – A Heartfelt Welcome Home
I was talking with my agent the other day (bear with me, I’m not being snotty for the sake of it) and we talked about all the different authors she has edited and represented over the years, a bookish diversity of genre and theme that runs the gamut of the Dewey Decimal system, and when I asked what drew her to each author, she said simply, “They all have heart.”

They may not have written a bestseller yet, they may have penned a hundred, they may just be word filled pages of potential like me, but they all have heart and one day that heart will produce something wonderful.

Since she said that I have spent time thinking about heart; my agent is someone who edited David Gemmel (remembers the last twenty pages of Legend and shivers), someone who represents literary fiction, romance, thrillers and memoirs and who thinks I too have heart. I realise that there can be no bigger compliment and no more important thing in life. We have to bring heart to what we do. I have heart. I have always had heart, in everything I ever did I had heart and this is the way it should be.

Tretower Kitchen
Tretower Kitchen
I have travelled all round Wales this week; a road trip that took us east to Brecon and Monmouth before turning North and following the marches up to Shrewsbury where we veered back west and trailed the river into the iron heart of Wales at Llangollen and then on into Snowdonia through the slate slab mountains and the realm of the Grey King to the wide estuaries of the north coast where the lost lands lie under the cloaking sands. And wherever we went the things that called to us, made us remember, made us care, were the places with heart.

We found heart in the staff who looked after the medieval house of Tretower for CADW, a mismatched pair of custodians with ready smiles, boundless enthusiasm and pride and love in the property. Their heart shone through.

There was a mighty heart behind Pontcysyllte’s cast iron aqueduct at Llangollen where Thomas Telford threw a narrow ribbon of stone and steel and water across a gorge. It took 43 years to do it; you need a helluva heart to even think that is something you can do.

Pontcysyllte-aqueduct
Telford’s cast iron aqueduct Pontcysyllte
We found heart in the volunteers on the steam railway at Porthmadog who tickled and tweaked and nursed their elderly charges with a gentle hand and a deep admiration up the narrow gauge rails into the mountains.

There was heart in the lady who welcomed us to her idyllic little B&B overlooking its own cove on the Glynlyn estuary at the start of the Llyn Peninsula. There was heart in her welcome, her aga cooked breakfasts, her urging us to sit and look and watch the light change on the hills and the sea, to relax and drink it in.

Heart can’t be faked; it’s that deep down in the bone generosity of spirit that makes you do what you do because you genuinely care. You don’t do what you do for fame or glory or money, you don’t have to be perfect in what you do to have it, you just have to care and let it show.

Wales has heart, we found it this week, and it was good to see again.

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View from chain bridge at Llangollen
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Newly Agented Author – Think of it as like a racing stable

I don’t want this blog to turn into a look at my writing journey thing because honestly I’ve been writing Being Koy for more years than I care to remember and it has always had loads of variety; recipes mixed in with a little advice on living and working abroad, scuba diving and travelling, and a lot of pretty pictures of Turkey and Pembrokeshire. I’m happy to leave it like that, it works, and it suits my grasshopper mind. But there will inevitably be a few posts about writing and this is one of them.

I have made myself a few rules though; I’m only going to blog something about writing if I genuinely think I have something interesting to say. If it’s a topic that has been done to death or you can easily find the same thing elsewhere I won’t bore on about it. The internet is crowded enough!

I have writer friends who spend a lot of time and energy and often money in trying to acquire a literary agent and when they finally get one, glassy eyed and exhausted from the strain of it all, they struggle to adapt to the change in their situation.

Either they think the worst is over, success is mere moments away and a deal is now within their repetitive strain injured grasp. Or, if they don’t think that, their families and friends will. Newly agented authors often struggle to point out that their excessive celebrations on getting signed up are not a carved in stone announcement (look how badly those work out!) of imminent riches/book deal/film rights sold to Working Title Productions and Blake Lively playing the lead – not sure who she is but daughter is assuming it’s a done deal. Rather they are just a gasp of relief that they are on their way.

If it helps try to think of it like this, being signed up by a literary agency is like being part of a racing stable.

Imagine a yard of loose boxes with a host of bright eyed, prick eared, glossy heads peering out over their stable doors. There are the stars of the yard, the big winners and the long time runners who have shown their form. There are game young fillies groomed from birth tossing their heads eagerly and there are the solid racers with a lot of mileage under the girth. Hell there may even be a grand dam with 70 winners to her credit.

Down at the far end, is me, the newest horse in the yard, just in off the field, mane full of burrs, rough coated, slightly porky and not yet race fit, but I’ve got good conformation under all the mud. I’ve got the springy hocks, the strong back and the bold eye of a jumper; I could go far, with the right training and if I work hard on the gallops.

Why do I make this analogy? Mainly because getting an agent is the start, you go from being alone (in your field) to being part of a team who are there to work you hard and enter you in the right races at the right time to bring you on.

The vast majority of new authors want an agent, and getting one is hard and getting one is joyous, but it is just the start of a process that, like horse racing, may never pay off no matter how perfect your potential. That’s the chance race horse owners and literary agents take, it’s an educated gamble that they stake their income on.

The new horse on any yard is often unsettled, endlessly pacing its box, squealing over the door for attention, glaring balefully at stable mates as they go off for adventures and come home wreathed in laurels and smelling slightly of champagne. Which leads me to my second point, you have to learn why the yard operates the way it does and why your trainer (agent) isn’t stuffing you full of carrots, filling in the entry form for the grand national and telling you how brilliant you are a hundred times a day (although to be fair my lovely agent at DHH Literary Agency does tell me things like that because she is so nice!).

Whilst you are out on the gallops getting fit and in the yard being fussed over and polished there are also all your stable mates to be considered. Your agent, like a horse trainer, doesn’t just look after you, they look after a whole yard and the successes in the yard allow them the time to work on you and your career.

If you’re getting upset at this analogy don’t because good authors in good agencies let the agent do their job, they trust the agent, the agent tells them when they are ready to go on submission because again, like with racing, if you enter an unready horse in an inappropriate race you will not only lose but you may ruin the career of a possible champion.

(I’m flogging this analogy like a desperate jockey at the elbow in Aintree!)

This is how it is in the business of books, all the graft is hidden away in the day in, day out hard work of getting a new writer to the point of maybe, possibly being a traditionally published author. The consoling thought – the agent pushing you hard now, they have done this before, they have had winners, and they can make you a winner too.

Now I had better head out to the gallops, my fitness isn’t that great, I get winded after a few furlongs but there is a huge beach hedge at the bottom of the garden that I am going to try and jump.