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…

Help! I don’t have the time

time

Tick Followed Tock, Followed Tick …

Probably best known for the Guinness ‘White Horses’ advert but the narrator’s voice, deep and foreboding has been whispering in my ear as I struggle to find the time to get any serious writing done. I close my eyes and the crest of the waves is the blank screen in front of me and I hear the voice over of ‘tick followed tock followed tick…’

However, unlike the surfers in the advert, I can’t afford to wait. I need to get on with some writing.

Having taken on a new job just before Christmas my free time to spend writing has reduced dramatically and I have tried to squeeze writing in whenever I can. I’ve started going to bed earlier, which goes against my natural night owl tendencies, but I have done this so I can get up earlier.  I’m now getting up at 5.30, making a quick cup of tea and then switching on the laptop to grab an hour’s writing while everyone else in the house are still asleep and before I have to go to work.

My next bit of free time is my lunch hour where I don’t attempt to write, but use it to catch up on some reading, tweeting and Facebooking.

Then the next time I can get to the laptop is later in the evening once tea and other mum duties are out of the way.

This significantly reduced writing time is certainly making me more focussed when I do write but on the downside, it’s harder to connect with my WIP.

I’m in the middle of writing a novella which has the working title ‘The Beginning of The End’ and I’ve about done the first rough draft.  I now need to go through it, tightening it up before sending it off for proofreading and editing.  At the present time, I’m only releasing it in digital format and I have a cover already prepared by Avalon Graphics. Hopefully I’m still on track to publish mid-March, as long as I continue to make optimum use of my time and keep the voices at bay and have a happy ending just like the Guinness advert, although I may have a glass of wine instead … tick followed tock followed tick …

What are your coping strategies with time?

Have you got any tips for making best use of  writing opportunities?

Sue x

NWS Deadline – The Final Push

Say the word ‘August’ to anyone on the New Writers’ Scheme and you tend to get one of three reactions, for which I’ve translated into plain English.

(a)  The small smile, hanging somewhere between pride and satisfaction, together with an acknowledging nod of the head.

Translation : ‘Oh yes! I’ve already sent mine off. Go Me!’

(b)  The grimace and rolling of eyes.

Translation : ‘Thank God, I’m nearly there, just got to tweak and then send it.’

(c)  The death look, all colour drains from face and a small eek escapes their tremulous mouth.

Translation : ‘ *#$* why did you go and bring that up? I am having murderous thoughts about you now. I’m never going to get it finished.’

If you’re reading this sitting back, smiling at the monitor, then well done, give yourself a pat on the back. Although I do fall in this category, I have to admit, mine was a rewrite of last year’s submission which I had been working on since September. After a particularly long wait and a second read, I got both reports back last month.

If you are grimacing and rolling your eyes as you read this (if eye rolling and reading are possible at the same time – how many of you just tried it?) then keep tapping away at the keyboard, the end is in sight, you’re nearly there.

Equally if you now want to punch the monitor and are cursing me for mentioning that blasted deadline whilst wondering why the hell you signed up for this in the first place, then I am sorry. However, as self-appointed cheerleader, I’m with you to the bitter sweet end. Come on, you can do it!

Sue x

90,000 words – Done!

The above is to be said in the style of Gordon Ramsay. You know, like it was easy. Like the blood, sweat and tears your creation took didn’t drive you to the ends of your capabilities and back.

So, 90,000 words – Done! Do I sound cool? Do I sound like it’s not really been too much bother?

I reckon working with GR would be similar:

Inspiration – You have an idea for a new recipe. You’re sure people will like it, you just know they will.

Initiation – You still have that great recipe idea, but you need to do something with it so you investigate what you need to do to get it in GR’s restaurant.

Preparation – Turns out you need to have some kudos to get in with GR, so you spend some time learning the craft of cooking.

Motivation – Learning the craft takes longer than you thought. Three years until they take you off washing up duty. Is it really worth it for one recipe that might not even end up on the menu?

Presentation – They let you work on the starters. After years of hard work you’re getting somewhere, don’t screw it up with overdoing your sprig of parsley.

The Pass – Head Chef, GR, is in and he doesn’t like what you’ve produced. He tells you to dump it and start again.

Botheration – I’ll give you F’ing, Mr F’íng, F’íng GR. What do you mean you don’t like it? Do you know how long I spent on that!

See, on the telly they make it look easy to produce a wonderful, divine, effortless dish. Same as it may seem easy to come up with an idea to write a book, but it’s SO much more than that.

It’s great that I can say I’m done with my rewrites, but that still sees me only part way through the process. I still have to work on the presentation, get it ready to send to the NWS, and then into the wider world.

Writing a novel is a hard process to endure. It takes guts, sweat, and determination. You need motivation in bucketloads and they don’t even sell them on eBay.

So, if you wondering what the Romaniacs look like when they are busy working at their keyboards, well – sweaty chefs.

Catherine x

Introducing… Debbie White

Sperm are determined.

And swallows. Look how they fly thousands of miles from South Africa to make a nest and raise a brood in the eaves of our barn just because it’s where they nested last year. It’s their natural instincts to do so. They travel to whatever lengths, face whatever challenges and jump whatever hoops to achieve their goals.

As humans, we’re just as determined in the way we live our lives. Sometimes we’re driven by instinct, although more often by our upbringing, or our own goals and plans for life. My Nan brought me up and taught me the mantra, ‘There’s no such word as Can’t’  from an early age. It’s her legacy that made determination my middle name, so you can imagine how it affected me when I had to retire from my job as a Bank Manager due to ill health when I was only thirty-three.

After spending weeks in hospital over the next couple of years my health stabilised, and I eventually grew bored of watching daytime TV and the continual stream of mum and toddler coffee mornings. I needed something for me; something to strive for, to make me feel alive again. So I started a small business, hand crafting and painting personalised keepsake gifts but a few years later, my health got the better of that too. I hated the thought of giving up again but I couldn’t keep battling the flare-ups in my hands and wrists.

It didn’t take long for the familiar cloak of boredom to weigh heavy on my shoulders again and for my restless brain to crave stimulation. Not being one to sit around moping, I considered doing an Open University course. I’d always fancied myself as a bit of a writer and wished I’d stayed on at school and studied English and been a teacher. But then one day, I came across a notebook in a drawer and I read the pages of a storyline I’d written while on maternity leave with my second son. It was funny, but I’d forgotten all about that notebook.

A little like Gwyneth Paltrow in ‘Sliding Doors,’ do you ever wonder if you’d done one tiny thing different, whether the end result might have changed completely? Well, as I sat and read through the story I’d jotted down it came to life in my mind’s eye and I felt compelled to write it, even though I had no idea how to write or structure a novel. Armed with a copy of Jane Wenham-Jones ‘Wannabe a writer’ I booked myself on an Arvon Course. Now three years down the line, I’ve served a fulfilling apprenticeship learning the craft of writing and am currently on the third re-write of the novel.

Charles Darwin famously said, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”

Living with an auto-immune disease and being in chronic pain has meant I’ve had to adapt and re-invent myself several times over the years. It’s meant compromising but it doesn’t mean abandoning my dreams. I still have dreams. They are what keep me going some days.

Sometimes I feel like a salmon – another determined little breed – with the constant feeling of swimming against the tide, travelling upstream. However, one thing I do know is I’ll never ever give up.

I have to write. When I don’t, I feel restless and unfulfilled. Writing is the milk in my tea; the fondant on my cup cake, the ice-cream on my jelly. And with the support of my amazing friends and family, the RNA and my wonderful writer friends on the NWS, I know I’ll get there in the end…

Hopefully, you will follow my writer friends and me on our journey.

Until another day

Bye for now

xx