Life Cycle of a Writer: Seven things I found out in That Big London

This usually Midlands-based Romaniac was out and about recently – seven days in the big city with RNA meetings and the summer party thrown in. Pretty exciting for a person who normally lives mainly in the thick of charity shops and card emporiums, you might say. But not only was it fun – the week away was a timely means of stepping out of my comfort zone and getting ready for the next writing chapter. A kick start was needed, in a very big way. Here are seven things I noticed, visiting the hub:

  • The RNA Summer Party is still a brilliant place to catch up with old friends and make new ones, and the committee meetings and AGM  are NOT ONE BIT SCARY AT ALL. The welcome is warm, the Joan Hessayon Award is always a lovely tribute from a caring husband to a lady who believed strongly  in the NWS and the short listed books are of a very high quality. Choosing a winner must be hellish. Dr Hessayon buys fizz too, every year. Congratulations to Kate Field – a worthy winner – The Magic of Ramblings is fab.

STAIRS                      INDIA

  • Sometimes, if you’re patient, surprising things happen. Tower Bridge opened for us (I’m assuming that was the reason) and I saw Stephen Fry in the very flesh (Yes, the real live Stephen Fry) just being his normal lovely self in Waterstones. I’d like to say I rushed up and wowed him with my witty banter but actually it wasn’t quite like that. Anyway, nobody fell over or burped or anything.

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  • I CAN wear big shoes. It’s just…not for long.

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  • Visiting places you’ve mostly seen on a Monopoly board is never going to get boring.

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  • Maps are amazing – tube plans, guide books about Hidden London, street signs. I love them all. You have to have them the right way up though. Just saying.

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  • A foxy new note book and pen is often all you need to spark off a brand new book. Or two in this case. #worryingbrainoverload

DFLY

 

  • Going home is sad, but coming back is even more fun. In fact,  I’ll be in the big city very soon. So all good. Just hope Stephen gets the memo.

STP

So, what does London mean to you?

 

 

Life Cycle of a Writer: Lucie’s Publication Day

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These last few weeks have been crazy!

In the run up to my publication day on Friday, things have been manic – juggling university coursework and study, writing guest posts for my blog tour, promoting the book on various social media platforms, working at my local special needs school… it was relentless.

balancing_life_lag8-229x300However, all the stress and sleepless nights were forgotten the moment the clock ticked past midnight, signalling the start of Friday May 5th…PUBLICATION DAY!

It was a scary feeling – it still is! I knew people were going to be reading my story, but nothing prepares you for that moment when you receive messages from both people you know, and people you don’t, telling you they have started reading your book. Will they like it? Will they hate it? Will they give me a bad review? Will they just not bother reviewing it at all? Will they think I am wasting my time… all these thoughts and more have been circling my mind for weeks and there is no sign of them letting up. But, I guess, this is just part of being a writer. I need to learn to accept the compliments (which is harder than it sounds when you are so self critical of your work) and grow a thick skin for those criticisms, because, lets face it, there will be plenty of those too.

So what did I do for publication day? Well, I indulged the whole day on social media. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter… all of them. Talking to my friends and feeling the pride wash over me as I listened to their wonderful words of praise and support. I was so surprised at the sheer amount of support I received on Friday. I knew the writing community was like no other, but I just didn’t expect such a huge network of praise and encouragement on that day. It was amazing – thank you to everyone who was part of my special day. 20170509_091421

In the evening I hosted a live Q&A over on Harper Impulse’s Facebook page – please do pop over and take a look if you’re interested (There are two video’s as my phone decided to crash after 10 minutes! The wonders of technology!)

And of course, there was champagne!

The following day I held a small party at my house for my close friends and family and we celebrated in style with champagne, curry, chilli, jacket potatoes, Sambuca, music and disco lights! It was amazing! My friends and family were so generous with their gifts for me and my husband gave a little speech as he toasted me and it meant so much because, anyone who knows my husband knows he is not one for public speaking or showing his affection. I think the champagne helped him out 🙂 20170509_091406

And now It is the following week and I have just yesterday started my blog tour. So please do take a look at my guest posts over the next week or so and I hope you enjoy reading them.

What a surreal few days it has been.

I can’t believe I finally did it … I published a book.

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Life Cycle of a Writer: Lucie

Oh my goodness, what a crazy few weeks I have had.
For those who may have missed it, last week I revealed the cover for my debut novel, The First Time Mums’ Club, which is out in eBook on May 5th and paperback on July 13th. I absolutely LOVE it! I think it captures the essence of the story really well; fun, friendly, and full of the antics of these pregnant ladies. However, as in real life, these ladies come up against a multitude of problems which make them really question what it is they really want.

Here’s the blurb:

Meet Pippa…

After years of trying and a failed IVF attempt, Pippa is thrilled to see two little lines appear on a pregnancy test. Finally a precious baby to call her own. TFTMC CoverThis is all Pippa has ever wanted…if only husband Jason could show just a little excitement.

Imogen…

A baby is the icing on the cake for Imogen and Alice – proof that their love for each other can overcome any obstacle. But when Imogen starts receiving malicious texts, it’s clear that not everyone is thrilled about the girls’ good news.

And Ellie…

A drunken one-night stand and Ellie’s life is ruined! Pregnant, jobless and the relationship with her best friend, Chris, over- forever. Because Chris just happens to be the father of Ellie’s baby…and potentially the love of her life!

For these first time mums the road to motherhood is bumpier than most!

What do you think?  Sound like a good read? I hope you think so.

I really enjoyed writing this story. It took me back to when my LO was born and the mixed feelings of elation, excitement and sheer terror as this little human looked up at me and I knew that her whole life was down to me and how I helped her to build it. She’s now 10 and I seem to be doing ok – well she hasn’t divorced me yet so I must be doing ok!

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photo source: 3Dmemoirs.com

The run up to this cover release was hectic and I have been juggling more than I have ever juggled before. I have many balls up in the air at the moment and I’m trying my best not to drop any.

I am nearing the end of my second year at Anglia Ruskin University where I am studying a BA (hons) Early Childhood Professional Studies degree. It is hard work, but I am getting there. Even though I can see the end in sight (just 6 weeks left of the semester) these weeks are very VERY busy. I have coursework due in (a portfolio and two essays) and also over this summer I have to start researching and thinking about what I am going to do for my dissertation as I begin my final year in September. I have some ideas already and I know I want to try to incorporate my love of words with my love for childhood – so maybe something literature based. I’m not sure yet. So there will be no rest over the summer with that – alongside writing book two which is out towards the end of this year (around September, I think).

I have also signed up for some voluntary work and some paid work at my university to help broaden my experience and learn new skills.

One other thing that I have signed up to do that I would like to tell you about is that I am now a student blogger for my university. I love being a course rep and blogging for the university as a student was something that I felt would enrich my role there even more. So I will bearu logo blogging once a month about various things ranging from my course, to trips I go on, events I attend and how I manage to fit in studying around family life and a career as a writer. If you want to read my first post, it’s available here.

So that’s me. Frantically juggling many different passions I have but loving them all as I do!

Have a happy Tuesday!

Love Lucie xx

***

You can preorder Lucie’s debut, The First Time Mums’ Club, here.

Lucie is also on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

And she blogs for Anglia Ruskin University, here.

Happy New ‘Me.’

It’s half way through January. Christmas and New Year have been and gone. In our house, all that remains are a couple of yellow, deconstructed sprouts in the bottom tray of the fridge, six (gifted) packs of ‘After Eight Mints’ and various boxes and cartons of chocolates with only the dodgy coffee cream and coconut varieties left that none of us like.

So, how many of you are still hanging in there with your New Year’s resolutions? You’ll be impressed to know I haven’t broken any yet (although mainly because I didn’t make any!) I figured after the year I’d had, health and writing wise in 2016, 2017 could only be better. 2016 could be defined by two words. NO WRITING. Or, perhaps I should say; ‘pain and sleep.’

fullsizerender-1Both RNA parties and various writing events and meet ups fell victim. For the first time since joining the RNA’s New Writer’s Scheme, I missed the Conference, usually one of the highlights of my year. My 50th Birthday celebrations were lovely but muted and I was unable to host the sacrosanct Romaniac Sparkle Weekend. The bilateral jaw joint replacements I’d had in 2010 were not working and numerous tests and an exploratory manipulation of my jaws early in the year showed my mouth opening was less than half a centimetre. One side was encased by new bone growth.

All I could eat was soup, shepherds pie, lasagne and soft foods from a small spoon. Eating in public became a no no. As my jaws deteriorated, I became hyper conscious of the pitiful ventriloquist’s dummy act my poor mouth attempted when forced to talk. Those who know me well will understand why I chose to hermit. Morphine patches and top ups of extra morphine and analgesia helped, (or maybe caused) the excessive drowsiness. Whatever; morphine and sleep became my best friends in 2016.

We take for granted the simplest actions of eating, sneezing, yawning and brushing teeth. When these basics became almost unbearable, my Maxillo Facial surgeon asked if he could consult with my original surgeon who had since retired and see whether there was anything they could do. Several weeks later I was advised that my original surgeon had agreed to come out of retirement and together they would try a major and risky operation. There were no guarantees. If the pain improved, that was a bonus, but the main proviso of going ahead was simply to help give me back a quality of life.

13th October was D Day, and, by coincidence, six years to the day since I’d had the bilateral total jaw replacements.

 

It’s been a long and painful recovery. As a result of the surgery I’ve developed hyperacusis and vertigo which has hindered progress but in terms of the work the wonderful surgeons did to free up my jaw prosthetics, it’s still early days, but it seems to have been a huge success. 2016 wasn’t a complete wipe out after all and the highlight of my year was being able to stuff a whole mince pie in my mouth at once! Beat that!

Not being a lover of New Year, I’d planned to go to Northumberland for Twixmas but cancelled at a low point post surgery to give a good friend chance to re hire their cottage out. However, as I improved and both my lads made plans, I got the itch to take off on an adventure, have some space, maybe do some writing. I had no intention of sitting home alone on New Years Eve to enjoy a solitary evening with the BBC and Robbie Williams, toasting Bruno, my Labrador! So guess where I ended up? Charlestown, in St Austell. Yes, I know it’s even further than Northumberland and I must be mad but I paced myself by stopping over in Glastonbury, my spiritual home, to split the journey.

For six days I relaxed, breathed in huge lungfuls of sea air to heal and blow away the past months. In between I secreted myself in the quiet corners of restaurants and pubs, and wrote. Yes, I wrote! I can’t tell you how good it felt to scribble again, to watch the words and scenes flow effortlessly across the various notebooks I’d received for Christmas. By the end of my break I’d added about eight chapters, plotted the main twists and turns and written the ending of Country Strife, my second novel.

So, to 2017 …

When I got the email from Immi inviting me to re-join the NWS this year I replied instantly to take up my place. I missed seeing my RNA friends and the Romaniac girls last year; the support, comparing progress, the banter, the fun. All the Romaniac girls are now published, agented and have book deals. Except me. In 2016 I felt less and less able to contribute to our daily messages and to add anything other than congratulations to peers on social media. There is never any sense of competitiveness within the RNA or with the Romaniacs but seeing so many RNA friends enjoy publication days, book deals and to see their new relationships with publishers and agents etc, I realised I was being left behind.

Health is the most important thing in life, next to family and friendships and I have to accept, for me it will always be a challenge. I’ve realised I may never fulfil my full potential. But I have to keep trying. Having made the inroads with Country Strife, I’m going to type up what I scribbled in Cornwall and fill in the gaps. With the jaw surgery behind me and less pain and renewed energy, writing shouldn’t feel such an uphill struggle so I’ll push ahead while the going is good. And as if by magic, this years RNA Conference returns to Harper Adams, just up the road in Telford, so there’s no excuse for not attending.

I welcome 2017 warmly. I wish those of you who choose to get up super early to go jogging or head straight to spin class after work, and my sons who have replaced the selection boxes with boxes of protein shakes and dumb bells all the best. However, as long as I can limit my wine intake and reduce portion sizes, instead of resolutions for 2017, I’ll make three promises to myself:-

1/ I WILL finish Country Strife to send off to NWS – aiming for Easter. You heard it here first.

2/ I WILL go to the RNA conference in July.

3/ I WILL live well and enjoy every day of my 50th year as best I can.

I wish you all a happy, healthy and productive 2017 too. Let me know any promises you’ve made to yourself…

Until next time

Debbie xxfullsizerender

 

Life Cycle of a Writer – Lucie’s big announcement

Oh my goodness, the last 24 hours have been crazy! I have woken up this morning with sore feet, tired eyes and a fuzzy head. Why? Well, for those who did not see my announcement on social media yesterday, here it is…

I have signed a TWO BOOK DEAL with publishing giants Harper Collins under their digital first imprint, Harper Impulse. 

I still can’t believe it. I cannot even begin to describe the feeling when I say those words because I have waited so long to. And I attended the Harper Imprint Christmas party last night which provided the perfect setting to celebrate my announcement, and was made that little bit more special as I had two other Romaniacs, Sue and Catherine, either side of me making sure I celebrated in true Romaniac fashion.

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Pre-drinks with Sue and Catherine

I don’t have your average author story. I didn’t grow up wanting to write books or reading every single childrens book after hours with a torch under my pillow. I haven’t read all of the classics that I thought all people who wanted to be authors had. I haven’t got a degree in English or writing – I didn’t even take English for my a-levels. Yet something inside me changed that first time I attempted to write my first story.

I remember it like it was yesterday. I’d just had my daughter – who is known on social media as LO – and I was incredibly lucky to be able to stay at home with her whilst my husband worked very hard to look after us. But instead of doing what sane people do and ‘nap when baby naps’, I started writing down little stories and characters. By the time she was a few months old, I had some chapters down. It wasn’t in the genre I write in now but I really believed in the story. I remember sitting in the garden with one of my best friends and telling her that I had written it and how much I enjoyed it. I still have that story, although I don’t think it will ever see the light of day. But it is special because it was my first.

However, I wasn’t dreaming of being published, I just enjoyed the writing.

Fast forward four years and I was still dabbling in writing little stories here and there for fun. Then one evening I went along to an event where I saw a clairvoyant. It was the one and only time in my life where I indulged in anything of that kind but as a bit of fun, I decided to give it a try. That lady said one thing to me that stuck in my mind ever since and really changed my life.

‘That thing you are doing right now, you should keep doing it and take it seriously – you’ll be good at it.’

It was a throwaway comment which could be interpreted in whichever way the recipient wanted, I understand that. But to me, at that point in my life, my first thought was, she’s talking about my writing. So the very next day I signed up to do a novel writing course with the London School of Journalism. And this was when I stopped writing just for fun, and started writing with a view to getting published.

Fast forward another six years, and here I am! It has taken me ten years to get to the stage where I can say I’m going to be a published author. And it feels incredible.

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              At the Harper Christmas party: L – R                   Sue Fortin, Charlotte Ledger (one of my editors), me, Jules Wake                  

So, back in June I had a very exciting meeting with a lovely editor, Charlotte, from Harper. It was amazing to talk to someone who loves my writing and genuinely enjoys reading my work. She offered me a book deal there and then and I spent the rest of the day in a haze, super excited to get home and tell my husband and daughter the amazing news. Only problem was, I hadn’t actually written the book yet! Whilst Charlotte and her team had read my previous work, the book deal was for a book that, at that time, was just a concept I had written down. Now I had to write the book and make it good!

The whole time writing it, I was terrified they would read the finished version and take my deal away. Was I going to live up to their expectation? Did I have the time to write the book as it was the summer holidays and I had a child to entertain? Did I have what it takes to turn that concept into a fully fledged novel?

I am so relieved to say that I wrote the book, I still have my book deal and they loved it! Cue lots of jumping around and whooping!

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My agent, Kate Nash, and I at the RNA Conference this year.

My agent, Kate Nash, has been absolutely amazing every step along the way. They say you should have an agent who loves your work as much as you do and I think Kate is perfect for me and my writing. Her enthusiasm and determination for my work is incredible and she is always on the end of the phone when I need her, rooting for me and fighting my corner and I couldn’t be more grateful to her.

So, what’s in store for the next few months?

Edits, edits…and writing the next book! Alongside university, being a mum, volunteer work, being a housewife, preparing for book events, planning a launch party….

Sleep is overrated anyway!

Thank you SO much to everyone for their amazing support and encouragement throughout my writing journey.

A new door has opened for me and this is just the beginning…

Lucie xx

You can pre-order Lucie’s debut, THE FIRST TIME MUMS CLUB, on Amazon here:

E-book – May 2017

Paperback – July 2017

You can also follow Lucie’s journey via social media:

facebook‘Like’ her Facebook page

twitter‘Follow’ her on Twitter

insta‘Follow’ her on  Instagram

Life cycle of a writer – Lucie’s hectic juggling act

 

Well, what a crazy few months it has been for me. I haven’t done an update for the Life Cycle series for ages and there is a reason for that. I had been waiting to do mine until I was able to share some incredibly exciting news with everyone, however, that time hasn’t come yet and I cannot put it off any longer so I am doing my update now.

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Just be aware that a VERY big announcement is coming up VERY soon… I do love a little tease! (sorry!)

So, what have I been doing with my time recently?

 

As some of you know, I am juggling studying for a degree alongside my wrting journey. Over the summer I completed my first year and passed (hoorah!) and have since begun my second year of study. I am studying Early Childhood Professional Studies at Anglia Ruskin University and totally loving it. Being at university is a lot harder and a million times more stressful than I ever thought it would be. Don’t get me wrong, I was aware that I had signed up to a degree course so I knew it would be challenging, but as a mature student (yes, I know, at the ripe age of…30?!) I not only had to study for my degree, but I felt I had to learn how to learn again – how to retain information after being out of education for 11 years and not using that aspect of my brain. It was hard. But in my second year I feel I am slowly getting there. I am loving using my creativity for my projects – although academic writing is SO hard compared to creative writing and I don’t think I will ever get to the stage where that style of writing comes as natural to me as writing a fictional story. I have a great year group too which makes the journey that much more enjoyable.

20161121_173140I also ran for Course Representative for my year group and was elected by my peers which was a huge achievement and a very emotional moment, knowing I had the full support of my classmates – so a huge thank you to them. Throw in some committee meetings etc and I have managed to make my university experience much busier (but ten times more rewarding).

Alongside university, I am also writing my books and attending writing related events and experiences. I have recently enjoyed author events meeting some fab writers and catching up with my writing buddies at things such as the RNA Conference back in July.

 

 

 

I have been spending some time rooting for my fantastically talented friends on their writing achievements and helping to spread the word about their amazing books – although I have had to start trying to allocate time for social media for such tasks as I am very easily distracted and can pop onto  social media for a quick browse and lose two hours of my life in an instant! I know I am not alone in this…

I have also been writing some little notes and drafts of some children’s book ideas that I have been thinking about. Studying within this sector has made me realise that I would also love to write within this genre and I hope that one day I will get the chance to write for children as well as adults. I’ll add it to my ever growing ‘to-do’ list, because I don’t have enough to do…

Lastly, I feel I should acknowledge the fact that I did sign up to NaNoWriMo this year with the view to getting the first draft of my next book idea down.

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The finished room make over

How I thought I could fit in 50,000 words of novel writing in a month which saw my daughter turn 10 (with two sleepover parties and a bedroom make over to do) and at a time of the year where I had TWO presentation exams to prepare for and present at university. I love a challenge, but I think this was one step too far and I had to admit defeat and say that it was not going to be achievable. In life, it is good to set yourself challenging goals, but sometimes, the best thing to do is to know when to say enough is enough and take it back a step. Saying this, I finish university for Christmas in just a couple of weeks and I have the whole of January off so I have a clear 6 weeks of full time writing to settle down with – with a little writing retreat thrown in too – so I just had to juggle a few tasks to that time instead of running myself into the ground. Sometimes life just needs to have a jiggle round – everyone loves a jiggle from time to time!

 

So there you have it. Whilst it may seem like, at times, I am quiet on the writing front, it is most definitely not the case. And once I can reveal more, all will become clear.

Until then…

Lucie

xx