Life Cycle of a Writer – Lucie Wheeler

Hello!

The time has come for me to give you lovely people a round up of what I have been up to since I last posted.

Whilst I haven’t got exciting news like a book deal or a competition win, I feel over the last few weeks my writing has taken a huge change in direction – for the better!

For a while now, I have been playing about with my writing to find where I belong. It takes a little time, as a writer, to find your place, your ‘voice’ as some call it, and realise where you fit in. Whilst I thought I already had, I think the way in which I have moved forward so quickly since January has proved that finally, I know who I am. Whilst romance always plays a huge part in my stories, I have come to realise that the stories I want to tell are more relationship based books, family dramas, domestic stories. My stories always have an issue based plot whether it be a young woman dealing with grief and depression, or someone in a violent relationship desperate to escape. Or even a couple entering into IVF not realising the devastating effects this could have on their already rocky relationship. These are everyday issues that everyday people fight. I write about ordinary people finding their modern day fairytale ending.

So, realising that my writing had taken an alternative route, meant a total overhaul of my image. I had been promoting myself as a romance author, and whilst that is still true, I didn’t feel it gave my followers a true definition of who I was and what I write. So, after discussions with my agent and a few of my writing friends, I decided to re-launch myself:

luciewheeler2

I feel this describes me much better. With this reinvention, came a shiny new website and an author page on Facebook. Please do pop over and have a look at both – and feel free to ‘like’ and subscribe if you want to!

Now I had a lovely website, a stronger presence on Facebook and Twitter and a plan. It was then time to sort out my submissions.

In my last post I told you about ‘Love Hurts’. This book has now been retitled as ‘Fractured Love’. I have completed another edit of FL after some tweaking by my agent (Sarah) and it has now been sent off to be proofed by her. Head over Heart, which was my first completed novel, is now undertaking a huge re-write to reflect my new ‘real life, real love’ route. When I first wrote HoH, I was still very much concentrating highly on romance being the main factor and it was lighter than it needed to be. When I finished FL, my agent and I agreed that HoH needed a complete overhaul to match the pace and quality of my latest novel. My writing has developed ALOT since I wrote my first book and this rewrite needs to reflect that. I am excited about the new direction I have taken and I cannot wait to work this into Sophie’s story.

I have also written a brief outline of the next book that I am to work on. This is currently untitled but it will focus on IVF and the effects – both good and bad – that it can have on some relationships.

Whilst my books are not directly linked, I do have a theme running through them all which ties them together. Because of this, I will be submitting them as a series this time round. And hopefully that submission will be soon. Just a few last minute tweaks and reads before Sarah hits SEND. Fingers crossed for me…

Another exciting turn that my writing has taken recently, is the development of a CHILDRENS SERIES! Writing for children is something that has also been an ambition of mine. I work in a nursery with 0-5 year olds in my day job and I love working with the little ones. So I think it was a natural development that my writing was bound to take. I will reveal more of this as it unfolds but at the moment it is very much in the early developmental stage. Because I plan to aim this series at both the fiction market as well as the educational market, I am doing lots of planning and research first.

Another hurdle I have come across with this is the decision of whether to have a separate pseudonym for my children’s books. Whilst I don’t write erotic fiction or anything like that, I do approach hard hitting issues and swear etc in my adult novels. So would it be best to create a whole new persona to promote my children’s books with? What do you all think?

I have also been more active in the competition stakes recently, entering my most recent novel into both the Lucy Cavendish Annual Fiction Prize and The Bath Novel Award.  Entering competitions is something that I haven’t really done much, but it was something I vowed to do more of this year. So that was where I started. I am also going to try to write more flash fiction/short stories to send into magazines and competitions, too.  It is all part of my being more proactive!

All that is left to say is that I shall be attending the Romantic Novelists’ Association Summer Party this year so I do hope to see a lot of you there!

Happy writing!

Lucie x

PS. My ironing pile has also resumed residence on my spare bed… I wouldn’t be able to call myself a writer if I didn’t have a horrendously large ironing pile and/or an overdue list of housework chores.  Come on, you know I’m not the only one…

Sophie Duffy and the Exeter Novel prize

Sophie Duffy
Sophie Duffy

My journey to becoming a published novelist was a long one. In fact I have yet to meet a novelist who became an overnight success. I have yet to meet a published novelist without at least two novels secreted away like old love letters. Those first two novels are the practice ground where we learn about the craft of writing, a craft we writers continue to learn for the rest of our lives.

Sophie Duffy 3

But there may well be some novels out there that deserve to see the light of day. Do you have one of those? Or do you have the beginnings of one? If the answer is yes, I do, then dust it down, rework the opening with the helpfulness of hindsight and fresh eyes and enter it into the Exeter Novel Prize.

Sophie Duffy 2
Sophie, Cathie and Margaret

What is the Exeter Novel Prize? It’s a new prize for novelists, set up and launched this week by the trio that make up CreativeWritingMatters: Cathie Hartigan, Margaret James and myself.

Sophie Duffy GenerationWhy did we decide to do this? Because we believe in the importance of writing competitions. Cathie has won short story competitions,  Margaret has administered and judged writing competitions and my novel The Generation Game won both the Yeovil Literary Prize and the Luke Bitmead Bursary. There are many short story and poetry competitions but only a few novel prizes. And the Exeter Novel Prize is, to our knowledge, the only novel competition open to both unpublished and published writers. As long as you are unagented and not currently under contract, you can enter the ENP with your first 10,000 words and a synopsis by October 31st.

Go to http://www.creativewritingmatters.co.uk for details.

We launched the prize on Thursday. It was a soggy evening so we were pleased to fill the room with writers who asked great questions. The atmosphere was positive and encouraging and we are looking forward to finding a shining star. The winner will be chosen from a shortlist by agent Broo Doherty. And who knows what will follow. You’ll never know unless you enter. Nothing ventured…

Sophie Duffy ENP Audience

Sophie  Duffy lives in Teignmouth with her family and other animals. She has two novels published by Legend Press. The Generation Game and This Holey Life.

Thank you, Sophie, for taking the time to write this post. This is a great competition and I wish you, Cathie, Margaret and all the entrants the very best of luck.
Laura x

Getting to Know You

Being nosy, sorry, make that inquisitive, is all part of being a writer – we like to know things, lots of things. Some are burning questions, others are just little bits of knowledge that we need to satisfy our curiosity.  As a group we have all got to know each other pretty well, but there’s always room for improvement and, as Celia has been shortlisted for the Novelicious Undiscovered competition, we thought we should find out a bit more about our girl by asking her a question each.  Before we did, however, we all wrote a sentence about Celia.

One sentence about Celia

Sue : Celia is wonderfully witty and caring, she is also a lot taller than me, especially when she’s in heels and I’m in flats – I look up to her in more ways than one.

Jan:  Celia is a truly lovely lady with a big smile and a fabulous sense of humour that quite often has me laughing out loud.

Laura : I admire and respect Celia J. Anderson and am honoured we are friends. Celia’s capacity for love and humour is something to which I aspire.

Liz : Celia’s smile beams as brightly as her superb personality – she is one of life’s treasures and I’m very lucky to have her as a friend!

Vanessa: Celia is gorgeously warm and fabulously funny and has a great ability to put people at their ease – within minutes of meeting her, it was as though I’d known her my whole life.

Catherine: Celia is a great friend and a wonderful talent: witty, pithy and sure to go far with her writing.

Debbie:  ‘I still can’t believe Celia is that old, and I’m so glad to have found her at the Festival of Romance Weekend.

What we want to know about Celia

Sue : If you could be anyone for one day, who would it be and why?

Celia: That’s a good one, Sue. Hmmm. I’d really like to be a man for a day for all sorts of reasons – mainly to see what makes them tick and what makes everything work, if you know what I mean! Maybe some sort of bigwig politician with responsibilities for Education so I could ban OFSTED for ever and give schools a massive yearly budget for books, or a really fast Olympic runner so I can see what it’s like to run properly without bits wobbling…or should that be wobbling bits?

Jan:  Who or what makes you belly-laugh?

Celia: This is going to be a long list – on an everyday basis, my daughters and husband are very funny, and online (and in the flesh) you Romaniacs make me laugh loads. On TV I love Victoria Wood, French & Saunders, Peter Kay, Bill Bailey, the entire cast of Father Ted and Green Wing and Eric Morecambe (because he reminds me of my dad.) My favourite sitcom moment of all time is the episode of Father Ted when Mrs Doyle teeters for ages and then topples off the windowsill. And Monty Python. And Blackadder. And The Young Ones. I’ll stop now.

Laura : What gives you your resolve and amazing ability to carry on through thick and thin?

Celia: My family and friends are the main reason for this. When times have been pretty grim, they’ve rallied round with cake, wine, hugs and lots of love and laughs. Also I was lucky  to have had a Mum and Dad who were constantly loving and supportive, and now there are the wonderful Romaniacs too! My pet hate is people who say ‘Why me?’  Stuff happens, it’s how you deal with it that counts. Oh, and chocolate is vital, that goes without saying.

Vanessa : If you could have written any book in the world, what would it be?

Celia: That’s really hard, Vanessa. I’m always finding new ones to wish I’d written but if only one had to be chosen, I think it might be the last of Philip Pullman’s Dark Materials trilogy, The Amber Spyglass. It combines everything I love to read about in one book – fantasy with real people, other similar worlds that are really believable, love, tension…and the title is perfect. I love the word ‘amber’. And it answers all the questions I wanted to ask and still makes me want a fourth one in the series.

Liz :  What is the best bit of advice you have had about writing?

Celia: Not to be offended by rejection letters. I practice that one regularly! All the best bits of advice seem to have been about not giving in – until I went to the Festival of Romance and met the Romaniacs I only had a couple of writing friends, and comparing notes is so valuable when you think things are going nowhere. I wouldn’t have known about the Novelicious competition if one of you hadn’t mentioned it, and having a support network makes you much braver about putting your work out there in the big scary world.

Catherine: If you could have dinner with anyone (dead or alive) who would you share a candlelit supper with?

Celia: Can it be a whole dinner party, Catherine? If so, I would invite Victoria Wood, Princess Diana, Michael Palin, George Harrison, Bill Bailey, and My-Grandma-Millie-Who-Died-Before-I-Was-Born. I have been told that we share the same sense of humour and would like to see if they make her larf. (Not George – he would be singing and strumming his guitar gently in the background.) Also, I’d like to know what Diana was really like and more importantly, why she wore those pop socks in the press photo of when she came out of the hospital clutching Baby William. I’ve always wondered.

Debbie: What do you consider to be your strengths of character, and your weaknesses?

Celia: I asked my youngest daughter to help me with this and she came straight out with a weakness – impatience! I don’t know what she means at all. I only said I wanted the answer immediately. She also mentioned the word stroppy, although she did say that she has met worse. On the good side,I think I’m quite upbeat and positive, which can probably get a bit sickening after a while. And I like to larf.

In case, you’re wondering what’s happened to our ninth Romaniac, Lucie – unfortunately, she hasn’t got internet access at the moment but I’m sure she would say some equally lovely things about ‘our Celia’ .

Thank you Celia for your great answers and good luck with the Novelicious Undiscovered competition!

Voting for the Novelicious Undiscovered 2012 contest is now open

Click here to register your vote