Miranda Dickinson is already a star – writer of four bestselling novels, this year she’s launching a mentoring scheme, an online writing course and a short story competition (the New Rose Prize) … oh, and she’s also writing book 5. There was much excitement in Romaniac HQ when Miranda launched the Future Stars initiative – an amazing opportunity for aspiring authors to be mentored by Miranda for a whole year!
You can find out more about all of these on Miranda’s blog and website:
I know I wasn’t the only person eager to find out more about the chosen Future Stars, and how their year with Miranda was going, so I was delighted when Miranda agreed to bring her stars for a visit to the Romaniac blog (although it got VERY crowded and they completely cleared us out of cakes), so without further ado, I’ll hand you over to Miranda Dickinson and her Future Stars…
Thank you Romaniacs for hosting my magnificent seven! I’m delighted to introduce you to my Future Stars:
together with Kate Rhead and Ritzi Cortez
Q1: How did you feel when you discovered you were one of the Future stars?
Neal: The news came at the end of what had been a pretty lousy week, and I’d been so busy with my proper job I hadn’t had a chance to do any writing in ages. It was such a boost. I was with my two boys at an indoor play centre when the announcement was made. They had to restrain me from overdoing it on the bouncy castle…
Emily: I remember exactly where I was (not surprising given it was about three months ago). My boyfriend Harry and I had just woken up and I knew that this was the Saturday we would find out who had made it on to the Future Stars list. I’d prepared myself the night before that there was a high possibility it wasn’t going to be me so as not to be disappointed. On that Saturday morning, I picked up my phone saying to Harry, “I know I haven’t got it, but that’s ok because at least I’ve had the chance to be part of it,” etc. There was nothing at that point mentioned in Twitter so I checked my email, where there was an email waiting from Miranda sent in the wee hours of the morning saying I had won a place! I remember screaming, rugby tackling Harry to the ground and crying (all very dramatic, I know!). 2012 was definitely not “my year”, so to have something finally go my way so early on in 2013 was such a wonderful feeling and a huge weight off my shoulders. My tummy was in excited knots for the whole day as I bounced around Covent Garden and Soho drinking my body weight in celebratory champagne cocktails (any excuse)!
Dominique: I’m not even sure there’s a word to best describe my feelings. Especially since I didn’t even consider my winning a place to be a possibility when I entered. I think I may still be in some state of shock, it takes me a long time to process major life events. Maybe I could follow Peter Andre’s example and makeup a ridiculous word by cutting and pasting two together. “Overatic” (overwhelmed and ecstatic?) No, that’s terrible. I now feel the need to apologise for my appalling use of the English language!
Millie: Surprised, because I figured that there would be lots of entrants and the chance of me being accepted was really slim. I also felt proud though because I knew that I had to be doing something right to get this amazing opportunity.
Emma: It took a week for it to really sink in. It gave me a massive confidence boost that maybe one day my writing will be good enough to be on the shelves of a bookshop. In fact I imagine the feeling was probably the same as being offered a publishing deal!
Q2: What made you decide to enter the competition?
Neal: Everything Future Stars offers seemed to be what I needed when I saw it – help with writing and advice on managing all the social media stuff that’s so important to writers these days. And Miranda seems so enthusiastic and positive, it sounded fun! Add to that she’s had, what, 78 best sellers in the past three years? The woman knows her stuff.
Emily: I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember so anything on the internet which has the words “writing” and “competition” always catches my eye! Though admittedly, I’ve never entered one before and I think this has something to do with never quite following through with one story before – so many ideas come in to my head and I find myself moving on to another one before completing the other! What made me enter Future Stars with this particular story was that it was the first story I had stuck to without getting – for want of a better word – bored with it. I went through the whole storyline in my head and knew exactly what I wanted to happen. That’s never happened before so I thought it must be a pretty special one and I ought to do something with it!
Dominique: It was one of those ‘what have you got to lose?’ moments.
I heard about the contest a few days after it was first announced and downloaded the application form straight away. I then stared at said application form for a few days wondering how to answer the questions, until I finally decided to just be true to myself with my answers. I didn’t have anything to lose after all. I didn’t even tell anyone that I was entering, but that also had something to do with the fact that nobody knew how passionate I am about writing. Although I’ve been scribbling short stories since high school, before this contest I had never confessed to another soul how much writing means to me. Acknowledging this out loud was the very first thing Future Stars did for me.
Millie: I had nothing to lose, so I thought “Why not?” Also, my mum played a big part in convincing me to send in the application. I knew it would be amazing if I got accepted despite the slim chance but I decided to take my own advice and go for it: because if you don’t even try you will never get anywhere.
Emma: Being mentored by Miranda. My writing still needs a lot of work, so to have the chance to pick the brain of a published author I have read and admired is completely invaluable to me. Especially when you hit that dreaded wall in the middle of writing a novel and need that little shove to keep at it so that you get your first draft down.
Q3: What do you hope this year working with Miranda will bring?
Neal: In my Future Stars application I made all sorts of bold claims about using the year to finish my second novel, and either getting an agent for my first or going down the road of self-publishing. The scary thing now is that I’ve got to do it. And with seven of us in Future Stars, I think it’s going to be pretty cool being part of a gang, albeit a gang that chats about overcoming plot obstacles rather than one that shares shivs and gets into turf wars. At first, at least…
Emily: I hope I actually finish my story! My main objective for this year and the Future Stars experience is to have a finished manuscript in my hand by the end of it. Even if nothing comes of it by way of being published, I will have finished a story right to the end for the first time and that will be really special for me. Also, I would like to build my confidence and persevere even when I’m not sure about something rather than just chucking it in at the first writer’s block hurdle – something that happens all too often!
Dominique: I know that I need to have more self-belief in my work and I’ve already started working on that. In my application form I said I needed help with structure, as it’s one of my weak areas. I’m an OCD planner so I have overall plot notes, character notes, individual chapter notes. I even have a map and fictional royal line drawn up for the main story I’m working on. I need to learn to maintain a solid structure throughout the plot. I also have a tendency to waffle (which I’m doing right now, I know) and include stuff that doesn’t need to be in the chapter. Miranda has also given me loads of helpful information about the industry too, which is brilliant because the whole professional writing world is really daunting and it helps to know I have a successful ‘insider’ to help with my queries.
Overall, I believe working with the ever positive Miranda will give me the drive I need to actually finish a manuscript and know that I put everything I had into it.
Millie: I hope to discover more about me and my writing, in terms of my strengths and bits I can improve on. I’m only young so I’m hoping that I can learn a lot from Miranda’s experience of publishing and writing.
Emma: I’m a serial starter. Or at least that’s what my husband keeps calling me, because I start something, get distracted easily (especially when a shiny new idea strolls into my head and I’m struggling on the current project my mind is on) and then take months to go back to finish it. So I’m hoping that working with Miranda will help me to focus (and that she’ll harass me) when I’m tempted to be distracted.
Come back tomorrow to find out what the Future Stars are writing at the moment and what their writing dreams are… See you there!