Life Cycle of a Writer – Sue Fortin

This is my first Life Cycle of a Writer post this year, my last post was at the beginning of December, click here for a recap. So, since then a few exciting things have happened.

I had a fantastic few days in Shropshire where I met up with the other Romanaic girls and we had our Sparkle Weekend. It was a 70’s theme and we had great fun dancing in the kitchen and belting out some old school tunes.

edits1In my last update, I was waiting for news on the submissions I had made for my fourth full length novel. Since then I have had one official rejection, one assumed rejection as I never heard anything back, two offers of publication and one offer of representation by an agent, Kate Nash of Kate Nash Literary Agency. I was delighted to accept Kate’s offer which I blogged about here and was grateful of the advice as to which publishing offer to accept. HarperImpulse,who published my previous three novels, will be publishing my new novel – we are still deciding on a name for it though.

Last week I actually finished the first round of edits for Book 4 and I am now waiting for the next round to come in. Hopefully, we can get down to sorting out a name and book cover soon.

I’ve also been drumming up interest for the library talk myself, Laura and Catherine from the Romaniacs are giving in Chichester on 25 Febrary. Ticket sales are going well. If anyone is in the area and fancies coming along for a chat, we’d be delighted to see you there.

The Life Cycle of a Writer

After giving my house some love this week, aka doing the housework, I’m going to get back to the novella series I’m working on. The French Retreat was released last Autumn and I’m currently in the middle of writing book 2 in the Falling For France series; The French Affair. I had to put it to one side while I dealt with my edits for Book 4. I’m looking forward to going back to France with the novella and, fingers crossed, that we (me, husband and youngest) can get out to France for real and visit our cottage. We haven’t been for a while and are getting withdrawal symptoms. It will also be a good chance to do some research.

christmas hayley 089




Bio Bejazzled

Isn’t this just the best example, like EVER, of how to approach an agent?

Dear Agent       [I haven’t got time to find out your name but if you could just pass it on that would be great]

I have written a fabulous novel called ‘It’s All About Me’ which is about 90,000 words long (I haven’t bothered to check but that’s about the usual length, right?) anyway, I thought I would give you first refusal as you are first in the book and I’m going through it alphabetically.

My book is my own life story which is absolutely fascinating; my mum says so. My main reason for writing the book is because I want to make lots of money and as such I am sure you want to as well, which would be a really good reason not to miss out on the chance of signing me.  I would be looking for a three book deal with a large advance.  I’m not really into giving interviews and I don’t use social networks but to be honest, I can’t see that to be a problem, after all, my book is so great everyone will just want to read it. I don’t need the extra publicity personally, but I can see how it would benefit you and your agency.

I have a very impressive writing history. I had a poem published in the school newspaper when I was 12 and I wrote lots of stories, none were taken on by the magazines but my mum said they were really good and she couldn’t understand what the problem was.

I’ve enclosed the whole manuscript as I am sure you will want to read it all. If you could get back to me within the next three weeks that would be great – after that I cannot guarantee I would be able to accept your offer. I am approaching as many agents as possible and if necessary you can enter a bidding war for the publishing rights.

As my mum says, my book is fabulous so please don’t waste any time, I am a really busy person.

Yours sincerely

Jay Kay Roley


What do you mean, no?

Having recently been on a writing workshop run by the lovely Julie Cohen, we touched on the subject of approaching agents and what we should put in a letter.  I think it’s fair to say that the above example, is not the way to do it.

Everyone needs to be able to bejazzle their bio/letter but there are no doubt more subtle ways.
Has anyone got any tips for approaching an agent they could share?

Thanks, Sue x

Dear Writers. Can you help?

Dear fellow writers and friends

I have a conundrum. A crippling problem that seems impossible to overcome, try as I might, these last months.

It appears I’m suffering a huge dose of writers block. No, not just some temporary glitch in creativity. It’s a ruddy great chasm that’s growing bigger every time I look.

Other than the occasional blog or two, the most writing I’ve done lately is to complete the application to send to Jan Jones for the RNA Summer Party! Yes, this is serious and that’s why I’m here, appealing – no, pleading – for help and advice.

It seems these days I’m more barren than rain in winter or a tree in February, yet despite my over-analysing tendencies, the reason isn’t clear. You’d think I should be flying through the re-write of my WIP, knowing an agent (Jane Judd) is waiting to see my full MS following last year’s Festival of Romance New Talent Awards. Maybe that’s the trouble. Maybe I’ve become so intimidated by the thought that an agent of this calibre might want to see my novel, it’s putting me under pressure to create some sort of giant masterpiece and has interrupted my flow of creative juices.

Perhaps it’s the other stuff that’s going on in my life at the moment that have contributed to my lack of self-belief or confidence. With divorce imminent and on-going health problems, it’s hardly surprising my pen doesn’t flow freely. My writer friends humour me, telling me writing will be my salvation and a distraction. I might even find it cathartic, but bottom line is; it’s not happening, it hasn’t been for months and if anything, it’s getting worse.

You may think these are excuses for the weak, un-disciplined and un-motivated but I promise you, I used to be the most motivated, disciplined person ever. So where has it gone?

This is my third full re-write of this WIP and I won’t give up but I don’t have chance to let it rest in a drawer for a few weeks. I can’t give up, knowing I have an agent who wants to read the finished MS. Every day I switch on the laptop, re-read the latest section I was working on and tweak and twiddle. Then I twiddle and tweak a bit more… then delete. Somehow I’ve developed this huge monster who has crippled my fluidity and no matter how many times I try to give myself a good talking to and get a grip, nothing works. In fact in six months, I’m still on chapter three of the re-write and can often spend a whole day on a particular sentence or paragraph, or research, trying to get it right.

I know it’s pathetic, especially considering there are still another thirty chapters to go. Writing is as much about the mind as it is the pen. But how do I conquer whatever’s causing the drought in my writing, and splatter the crows that sit on my shoulders some days, pecking away at my confidence and self-belief, and get it back on track.

Do you have any answers? If you’ve been here, did you feel the same; as if you had forgotten everything you’d learnt about the craft of writing?

A lot about WIP’s is self-belief and I can see my story in the ideal shape and form in my minds eye yet I can’t get it down on the screen or onto paper.

I know what they mean now about a ‘labour of love.’ Should I continue labouring, keep up this persistent modifying in the hope that I’ll seize the very sentence or scene that will inspire me and drag me by the eyeballs to speed across the page, furiously typing away, and progress to the next chapters and beyond. Or should I stop taking myself so seriously, forget about judgements, lighten up, write drivel if necessary, which can then be honed and fine tuned at a later stage. Well, ‘Writer’s Write.’ If only it were that simple.

Come on fellow writers, RNA members, aspiring authors or anyone interested in the creative word. Can you give any advice/snippets to help answer this rookie writer with the question ; is there such a thing as ‘writer’s block?’ And does anyone have any pearls of wisdom on how to push through the pain of re-writes on a WIP?

Yours in hope