So many things and people have in the past, and continue to, inspire my writing, it’s difficult to know where to begin.
Going way back to my childhood, I suppose my first influence was Enid Blyton. I loved her books, especially anything where a mystery was involved, ‘The Secret Seven‘, ‘The Famous Five’ and my favourite series, ‘The Mystery of ….‘ books. Later on, I became a fan of Agatha Christie and more darker authors, such as, Minette Walters or thriller writers like, Chris Kuzneski and James Patterson with his ‘Women’s Murder Club’. As you can see, mystery and thrillers have been a long held passion of mine.
At the other end of the scale, I do enjoy a good romance and it was through reading Jilly Cooper‘s ‘Riders‘ that I learned how, over a period of time, you could turn a villain into a hero – think Rupert Campbell-Black. Through reading Sue Moorcroft‘s novel ‘Starting Over‘ I discovered the Romantic Novelists’ Association and I was delighted to be able to join under their New Writers’ Scheme. Without the support of the RNA and the wonderful people I have met through it, I’m not sure I would have made it this far in my writing adventure.
Special thanks must also go to Julie Cohen, Sarah Duncan, Sue Moorcroft (again :-) ) and Margaret James as I have attended or been enrolled on courses delivered by each of them at some point over the past four or five years. Words of encouragement, advice and general support is much appreciated – they’ve fulfilled their end of the deal by inspiring me to continue with my writing, now it’s up to me to fulfil mine.
It’s not only people who inspire me but the whole world around me, locally, nationally and internationally. Absorbing everything around me, consciously or sub-consciously, it all go into the Ideas and Inspiration Pot.
I couldn’t close without saying that daily, not only do my family and fellow Romaniac girls encourage me to keep writing but readers do too. Hearing how much someone has enjoyed one of my books both humbles me and inspires my writing.
Today I’m vlogging about receiving revision notes from my editor, Charlotte Ledger at HarperImpulse. If you have three and a half minutes to spare, please do take a look.
It’s my turn to give an update for our Life Cycle Of A Writer series this week …
I was due to send a new edit of my work-in-progress off to my agent at the end of January – this has been delayed by a few weeks as I moved house and it’s taken me a while to find my way through the boxes to my desk! Also delayed by the fact I keep thinking I’ve finished, then waking up in the night with new ideas so I go back to re-edit. But I think I’m nearly there and the latest edit will be going off to Juliet at the end of the week and I’ll be back in the waiting room refreshing my emails every five seconds and biting my nails waiting for feedback.
I think all writers spend time in that waiting room, whether unpublished or published, agented or not. We wait for responses to agent or publisher submissions, we wait for feedback, we wait for editorial notes, we wait for the day our books are finally published, we wait for reviews, we wait for sales figures. We wear out our computer keyboards refreshing that email in-box and we jump every time the post hits the mat.
I often fill the waiting time by entering writing competitions – this is also good for my poor agent who, otherwise, would end up getting a squillion needy emails a day from me looking for updates/news/reassurance. Entering writing competitions also adds to that email checking excitement – the next email that comes through might not be spam, it could be news of a shortlisting or even a win!
Last year, I entered a lot of competitions (I’m not very good at waiting) but also had a lot of shortlist success which is another kind of reassurance – I found myself on shortlists of competitions I’ve come nowhere in in previous years: The Harry Bowling Prize, the Yeovil Literary Prize, the Mslexia Novel Competition, the Brighton Prize, the Caledonia Novel Award. For me, it’s a sign I’m heading in the right direction with my writing – a sign I need at the moment as I’ve changed direction and this book is a psychological thriller. Previously, I was writing women’s fiction, but with dark themes and ideas and I could see I was heading for a cliff edge where I needed to decide whether to step back and go lighter or make the commitment and jump. Talking through my ideas with lovely agent Juliet, I could see where this book wanted to go – it wanted me to jump, to fully embrace the dark side. The clue was in the title – my original working title was Hunting the Light, which is maybe what I was doing, nervously standing at the edge of that cliff, but it didn’t work for the book so I’ve re-named it The Murder House, taken a deep breath and jumped off the cliff.
I was thrilled last week to find The Murder House in the final four of the inaugural Caledonia Novel Award so I think taking that jump was the right move. And I’m also hoping that with The Murder House in its new edited form, this year will be the year the waiting ends.
As part of the National Library Day celebrations, Southampton City Libraries have started a story on twitter, and they want you to join in and help finish it. As their writer in residence, I provided the first line, now they want people to join in to see where the story goes. It is open to everyone, and Southampton Library chooses the winner out of the lines provided via twitter. Taking part is easy, just use the hashtag #libstory so we can see your sentence, and use @SotonLibraries if you want to be doubly sure they spot you! Here is the story so far. The next winning line will be selected on Saturday 21st Feb at 10pm. I’ll update the winning lines here and the next deadline. There is no limit to the number of times you enter. Good luck if you are taking part!
@katylittlelady The fumes clinging to the back of his throat told him he was home. He let the motorbike’s engine run as he took his helmet off.
@Briggy44 What sort of welcome could he expect, given the chaos he’d left behind, when he’d roared off that day?
@suefortin1 He cut the engine. Mind made up. He turned to the house. As if expecting him, the door opened and there stood …
@Laura_E_James a young girl, six, maybe seven years old, her hair the shade of summer corn, her dark eyes…
@Briggy44 so like those of the woman standing behind her, challenging him to step over the threshold …
@Laura_E_James “You couldn’t help yourself, could you?”
@lucie_wheeler His shoulders drooped as he exhaled, the guilt burning deep.’I had no choice,’ he pleaded, ‘you have to believe me’
@Briggy44 ‘What, like the last time and the time before that, you mean?’ said the woman. ‘Where on earth have you been …?’
What happens next? You decide!
If you are not on twitter, but want to take part, please add your sentence below and I can add it to twitter for the judges to see. It needs to be 130 characters or less so it can fit into a tweet.
Best of luck,
Can you believe it? Today, The Romaniac blog is a whopping three years old. Three years! We have had the most amazing journey over those years, both with each other and with all you lovely lot, too.
When we launched our blog, back in February 2012, we never imagined we would receive such a warm, welcoming response from everyone. It has been truly amazing.
Over those three years we have each grown as individuals. Some of us have won awards, some of us have bagged an agent, some of us have started new careers and taken writing into a new direction. There are some of us who have taken the plunge and crossed genres and even those who have decided to write in a few different ones. A few have had publishing contracts and we’ve even given talks!
We’ve each had our ups and our downs, but you have all been there, standing firmly by our sides and supporting us throughout it all. For this, we are truly thankful.
One of the things we have achieved as a group, was the publication of our first Anthology, Romaniac Shorts. A collection of 22 short stories and flash fiction, penned by all 8 of our lovely Romaniac girls. There is a real mix of genres throughout our Anthology, a little something in there for everyone’s liking. All our proceeds are split between Dyslexia Action and the Romantic Novelists’ Association and we are delighted to be sending each a cheque this month for the first year’s royalties.
Which brings me onto the exciting giveaway we have. In celebration of our three years on the blog, we are giving away a fantastic book bundle. The bundle consists of a SIGNED copy of Romaniac Shorts (signed by all 8 Romaniacs), Follow Me Follow You (Signed by Laura James) Closing In (signed by Sue Fortin.), together with tea, coffee, hot chocolate, biscuits and a mug; ideal reading companions.
All we are asking of you, to be in with a chance of winning this book and gift bundle, is to do one/or all of the following:
LIKE our Facebook page and comment ‘I’m in’ (link HERE)
COMMENT on this blog post with the words ‘I’m in!’
RETWEET the giveaway tweet on Twitter.
*The competition will close at midnight on February 20th and a winner will be picked at random shortly after. Due to postage costs, we are afraid that we can only offer this to UK participants this time. Apologies to those unable to enter, we thank you for your understanding and support. *
All that is left to say is a huge THANK YOU to each and every one of you for your continued support and encouragement over the last three years. Here’s to many, many more.