This was the HOT ONE at Sheffield! The venue, not us…although…
Dear Aunty Romaniac,
I’m writing a book set on a river cruise down the Rhone, and it’s turning out to be darker than anything I’ve ever done before, with a difficult relationship between a mother and daughter at its centre. I desperately want to call it ‘Hidden Depths’ but when I googled those words, there was another fairly recent novel with the same name; part of the Vera Stanhope detective series of TV fame.
Do I ditch my lovely title and go for the second choice, ‘Waterfall’, (which has also been used before, it seems) or start from scratch? Does the duplication matter? Or can anybody think of a better one?
Inspiration can sometimes be really hard to come by. If I could work out a way to bottle it – I’d be a millionaire! Lots of people in lots of professions need inspiration. All of us will use inspiration in some way, shape or form. Whether it is deciding what to cook for dinner, doing arts and crafts with the little ones, writing a story, painting a picture, taking a photograph or simply rearranging furniture in the living room because you’re bored of it. Tell me it’s not just me who does that? In my day job I am a nursery assistant. I need to use inspiration on a daily basis to entertain the children and help develop their skills. One day I might be making mud pies and the next, building a castle from cardboard boxes for the Princess who is to be rescued by Prince Charming. So I have had to learn to take inspiration from the littlest things. So why is it so hard to find? I don’t know the answer to that. Stress? The monotony of getting up, going to work, coming home, doing dinner, going to bed… every, single, day? Tiredness? Boredom? Who knows. But when inspiration does strike, it is AMAZING! You have to grab it with both hands and refuse to let it fizzle away. No, don’t let it go, just… one… more… minute! Inspiration was what began my writing journey. And the person who unlocked that passion and inspired me first, was J K Rowling. Reading Harry Potter changed the way I looked at books. I had enjoyed books previously, and I had favourite authors, but reading Harry Potter actually made ME want to write. Not just read, write! And it isn’t just her books that made me go WOW – she is an incredibly amazing woman. A few years back I watched a documentary on television about J K Rowling and her early life; how she came to writing, what her childhood was like and where the ideas came from. I cried. I watched the documentary and I cried. Because I felt so overpowered by inspiration. The things that woman had to overcome in her life, yet still, she made time to do her one passion. I looked at my life. I am very lucky and I have a supportive husband who gives me countless opportunities to write, attend writing talks/conferences/parties and also pay for training. So what is stopping me? Nothing, is the answer – so I did it.
Other inspirations in my life are the people around me. Life itself is fascinating. Instead of sitting on the train waiting for your stop, why not take in your surroundings and be inspired. Inspiration is everywhere – we just need to learn to tune into it. I also find photographs, music and paintings extremely inspiring. One might look at a painting and think it is a beautiful piece of art, I will look at it and think, there’s the setting for my next book, or, that’s where so and so would live. And I cant even begin to explain the feeling I get when a piece of music/song inspires me. It is magical. It’s easier said than done, what with our busy lifestyles, but sometimes, if we take a step back from life and actually take it in, you will find inspiration comes to you.
The time has come again for the next update from me. Unfortunately, this update won’t be as exciting as my others as I have taken a real slow down with my writing because of various reasons.
Any writer will tell you that sometimes, life just gets in the way and prevents you from spending the time that you wish you could on writing and everything book-related. That’s just life. It happens. And for me, this is how it has been recently. I have been doing more hours at my day job and my health took a little bit of a nosedive, too. However, I am hoping to be on the improve now, so fingers crossed.
Whilst I don’t have exciting book deal style news, I do have some other news. In September, I shall be going to university. It has been something that I have wanted to do for years, but, as I’ve said, life has a habit of getting in the way. However, this year I took the reins and DID IT! I applied and was accepted. I will be studying for my Early Childhood Degree and I cannot wait. Some of you may remember from my last update that I mentioned I was drafting a children’s series. Well, it is still very much in the early draft stage, however, I feel doing my degree can only deepen my understanding and help me to carve a better series. I love my day job as a nursery assistant and I am constantly striving to develop more, professionally as well as personally. I find children absolutely fascinating and I am really excited to be looking deeper into how they learn, grow and live. Whilst I love writing on the whole, my passion for writing for children is certainly getting stronger.
So, how will I find time to write come September when I am working, attending University, doing coursework, taking exams, looking after the house/child/husband/dogs? (Yes, I have three!)… my answer, I really don’t know. But, people do it. I am not the first and I most certainly will not be the last person to fit in the Impossible.
But I will do it. Because writing is what I love to do. Yes, it may take me a little longer to reach my ambition, but as long as I reach it, isn’t that what matters?
I know my post hasn’t been full of writing-related news, but this is exactly what this blog series is about. We are showing you a snippet into the lives of people who love to write and how they take their journey. Sometimes, we will have months where things seem to be snowballing and we are being shortlisted for things, and being offered contracts and meeting our heroes, and sometimes, we will have months of gruelling hospital visits, day jobs that take over and one family birthday party after another.
But that’s ok, because we are people too. We can have quieter months, so long as we go back to our passion as and when we can, that’s where a true writer is born.
All that is left for me to say is a huge thank you to everyone who has continued to support and encourage me over these difficult couple of months and I really hope to see lots of you at the RNA conference next month! I shall be attending from the Friday-Sunday – I can’t wait!
Much love to you all. Happy writing!
I’ve been making an effort to be brave lately, entering more competitions and generally putting my writing work out there more. Only it’s possible I’ve been too brave as last week I found out I’m a finalist in the London Book Fair Author HQ Write Stuff event. It involves a ‘Dragon’s Den’ style pitch to a panel of agents.
The last time I spoke in public was in March when I received the Katie Fforde bursary and the trophy toppled (you can see it starting to tumble in this picture) mid speeches. So I’m asking for any tips to help me with my pitch? What would you include in your two minutes if you were asked to pitch your latest novel?
Never has there been a more glorious moment than writing these two short, little words:
It is not the first time I’ve reached THE END of a manuscript, but this one has been something of a HERCULEAN effort. I had the idea for Baby Number Two in 2012 and after mulling it over for a while, I wrote the first chapter to enter into the New Talent Award at the Festival of Romance. Much to my surprise, the first chapter was shortlisted and I was invited to attend the New Talent Reception prior to the Awards dinner. Looking back on my iPhone pictures these two photos are next to each other:
I took this test on the day I was heading up to the New Talent Award Reception, so no champagne for me then. It also put a stop to any writing for some while, because that faint little line turned out to be twins and throughout pregnancy I was a) not able to write because my brain was mush and b) I didn’t want to jinx anything, which was silly and irrational, but that pretty much sums up emotions during pregnancy.
It was only once the twins arrived safely that I managed to consider writing again. This story that I’d created over a year ago needed to be written. But how, with twins? I talked about that on my last vlog and turning to the traditional pen and paper route worked for me. Gradually, at every given opportunity, I have scribbled away and have managed to get those 3,000 words to roughly 80,000 words.
It’s taken me nearly 3 years and I managed to produce two children quicker, but at long last I can say I’ve reached THE END.
Now truth be told, I should take this opportunity to recline on the sofa for a very long time. I’m pretty sure I need to, but as parenthood doesn’t allow that, and certainly not in the day time then I’m continuing to fill every spare minute and am already 100 pages into editing. Because crossing the finish line is a great feeling, but I’m still chasing the dream that everyone gets the chance to read this story.
This week it is my turn to give an update of where I am with my writing.
I come under the ‘agented’ category. My lovely agent, Sarah Taylor, has been fantastic and has always been on hand, day or night, to listen to me ramble on about an idea I have had, or a competition I want to enter, or even when I just can’t get the words down. It has made a real difference, to me personally, having an agent. I am not saying that everyone must have an agent, I am just saying that for me personally, it has been a good thing.
When I was writing just me, myself and I, I found it easy to be distracted by things. That funny post on Facebook, the fact that my phone beeped because someone has mentioned me on Twitter, the washing, the dog snoring… the ironing (but that was only when things were really bad – the ironing very rarely wins my attention.) But that isn’t just it. I found myself doubting my ability a lot, too. Regularly I would re-read things from the previous day and think, ‘I’m rubbish’, or, ‘This is absolute drivel’, and so on.
Whilst I do have the fantastic added benefit of The Romaniac girls to hand, having an agent means she can pull me into line when these doubts creep in. As they do. A lot.
My agent isn’t just there to send my books out and try to find homes for them, she’s also there to listen, to guide, to read, to laugh, to empathise, to be firm and be constructive. She will give me deadlines to work to so that I stay on track and stay focused. She will read that piece of absolute drivel and pull the goodness from it. She will tell me when I’ve really gone off on a tangent and that I really, really don’t need those extra words. She wants me to do well and she knows how to get me there.
As a newbie, I cannot do all of the above by myself. I am sure there are some of you reading this who are shouting at the computer saying, ‘yes, you can!’ and I am sure that if I had to, I could. But I feel like I am learning so much more about myself doing it this way.
So, an update on where I am.
My first full length novel, Head over Heart, went out on submission last year. Whilst I got back quite a few very positive responses, I am yet to be offered a contract. Rejections are hard, and they don’t get any easier. People I have spoken to who have been writing for years – some of who have previously had publishing contracts – also say that rejections do not get easier the older you get/the more you get. Unfortunately it is one of those things that we writers have to get used to and learn to take the positives. Yes, they may be saying no, but what about that paragraph where they also said that they loved the story but it just wasn’t different enough from the other books already in their line? Yes, that was one of my rejections. A no, but a positive no. They liked it. And it is hard to get publishers to like your book. So I take pride in that rejection.
As you can see, I go off on a tangent quite easily when I am writing. Hence why I like having Sarah reining me in.
After finishing my second novel, working title Love Hurts, it has been sent to Sarah. And as I type, she is due to call me this afternoon to discuss her thoughts. When we feel this is ready, it will be going out on submission, too.
There are a couple of publishers who still have Head over Heart on their desk to read, however, as I am sure many of you know, you cannot just sit and wait. They may be rejections, too. So Love Hurts will go out on submission whilst we wait.
After finishing this latest book, I had a week off where I tidied the house, actually had a conversation with my husband where I didn’t have one eye on the screen/notebook, and yes, I actually did that ironing pile.