Life Cycle of a Writer: Debbie

It’s been a while since I last blogged. (Ooer, that sounds a bit like a confession.) Unlike most of my fellow Romaniacs, I’ve had little to shout about. In fact, NOTHING to shout about.

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A bad case of the January blues ran into February, then March and before I knew it Easter had been and gone and I was no further on with progressing, ‘Living in the Past,’ the novel I (finally) finished last summer. Why?

Well, once again I have any number of reasons, although a critical NWS review comes high up the list. After I’d digested the five page report which, in a nutshell suggested I might be better off to put what I’d learned so far down to experience and move on to the next novel, I lost all motivation to respond to the 5.30am alarm clock set on dark, damp mornings to get up and write. The pain of my arthritis and news that I need to have two lots of major surgery to replace my existing prosthetic jaw joints consumed me. Morphine patches meant I spent up to four hours asleep in the daytime. Deranged blood results, yet more building work, the garden, domestic chores, not enough hours in the day; these things individually may not seem much but all together they threatened to overwhelm me. 3

For months, I returned to deriding myself. ‘You’ll never be a writer … You’ll never get that book published … What if the reader is right and the agent who was waiting to see it (three years ago!) also thinks it’s a pile of poo? And what if, after reading it, they won’t entertain the idea of ever receiving anything from me again?’

‘Man up, mom!’ said my eldest son. ‘So the reader didn’t like it? It’s one person’s opinion. Not everyone will like it. But the question is; do you like it? You’ve been working on it long enough. Or if not, do as they say and stop talking about it!’

He was right. It has taken four years to write this novel so far and all I’ve ever really done is talk about it, except when the opening chapter got runner up in the inaugural Festival of Romance in 2011. However every time I’ve almost condemned it to the waste paper bin ‘something’ has stopped me. I still believe. I still believe it has legs.

So, I HAVE A PLAN and writing it down here will make me do it. I’ve made a start, re-read the whole thing and also re-read (several times) the NWS critique. Interestingly, because I’ve let the MS rest a while, I’ve returned to it with fresh eyes and concede the reader raised several points that are fair comment. I don’t feel anywhere near so gloomy about it. Using two different coloured highlighter pens I’ve gone through and highlighted, a) the areas I need to change and, b) all other points I’m still unsure about which I must ponder on. With any luck if I work through systematically, I’ll find the holes, make my heroine more appealing, nail the research, expand the characters, dig deeper for more conflict etc because one thing’s for sure; I’ll never be a writer or get a book published if I give in.

You know, this writing malarkey really is a battle of wills. Is it a pile of poo? It may be. It may not. The only way for me to find out is to try. I haven’t spent four years on this to give up now. Don’t get me wrong; if the agent agrees I may need to re-think the plan but until then I have to give it my best shot.

You heard it here first; by the time I next post, it will be done. Polished. Finished. No more twiddling. And by then I’ll have contacted the agent to see if they are still interested!

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Wish me luck. I’ll be in the summerhouse.

Until another day

Debbie xx

Invitation to the Don’t Wait For… Waiting for You Promo Day

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Tomorrow (Monday 18th), I’m hosting an event day over on Facebook. It promises to be a fun day of chat and competitions to support my debut novel, Waiting for You. Please click this link: https://www.facebook.com/events/1540695472924264/ and click ‘going’ to get all the updates on the day and the chance to win some prizes.

I hope to see you there,

Catherine x

LCOAW Round-Up

The last three months have been hectic here at Romaniac HQ, with multiple publication days, debut news and an award!

The 2015 RNA Media Stars award

The 2015 RNA Media Stars award

It’s a jam-packed round-up, and our last for the year, but we shall return in 2016 with our regular Life Cycle of a Writer posts.

Laura: My big news was the publication of my third Choc Lit novel, titled, What Doesn’t Kill You, which is spearheading a brand new imprint – Dark Choc Lit. I announced the news on my blog in October, here. I attended a Dorset Writers Network event as a panel member, and I had notifications through that I will be speaking at the Purbeck Literary Festival in February, and the Weymouth Leviathan Maritime Literary Festival in March 2016!

Vanessa: My highlight of the last few months was our wonderful media award win at the RNA winter party!

Jan: I had the thrill of seeing my debut Choc Lit  novel As Weekends Go  published this month, which rounds off a wonderful year for me. 

Catherine: I’ve been allowed into the HarperCollins offices TWICE! Once for the fantastic Carina Christmas Party and the other time for a meeting with my fantastic editor, Victoria Oundjian. Those, along with winning the Media Star Award, are moments I will treasure. After all, the rest of the time I’m perfecting the art of the slummy mummy/author. I also got to announce the title for my debut is Waiting for You and is available for pre-order

Lucie: The last few months for me have been a crazy whirlwind of writing – but unfortunately not of the fiction kind. I have been doing endless coursework for my degree. However, at the recent Romaniac sparkle weekend, I was able to delve back into my story and make some great headway with planning. I have the whole of January off university so I am planning to finish my edit by the beginning of Feb. So watch this space for 2016. Here’s hoping some Romaniac sparkle Will rub off on me next year…

Celia: Like Lucie, my writing year has been dominated by work-based projects such as reports, policies and school plays, but my third book, Living the Dream, somehow managed to pop out in July and my next, Moondancing, is due on January 12th. Onwards and upwards!

Sue: In the last couple of months I’ve self-published The French Retreat which is the first novella in a series of French based stories. Since then I’ve been working on the second one and waiting for news on book 4 which is out on submission. 

Debbie: My ongoing health problems (and domestic chaos) continued to put pressure on my time and mood to write. However my highlight of the year had to be finishing my first novel after a very long four years! I’m letting it breathe after a mixed NWS Report so watch this space to see whether it ever gets submitted … 

We hope you’ve enjoyed our weekly LCOAW posts. It’s interesting to look back over the last year and see our highs and lows, and to know we’re moving forward all the time. Our past posts can be found by scrolling down the page and clicking on ‘Life Cycle Of A Writer’ in the Categories column.

There will be plenty more to come in 2016, but for now, we’re heading off to decorate Romaniac HQ with a million sparkles.

Stay tuned for our Christmas blog …

The Romaniacs xxx

 

 

Life Cycle of a Writer – Lucie

01470232f33482cb33ee7d57ab8b5ad58f27ea0fd5Wow, it seems like only yesterday that I was writing my last Life Cycle post, telling you all how my writing had slowed right down and how life had, as it always seems to, got in the way of things.

Whilst this is still very much true, I have made huge progress with my latest WiP. And I have the RNA conference to thank for that.

I attended the RNA conference this year, in London, and, as always, it was FANTASTIC! I loved every minute of it (well, maybe not the throat infection part and losing my voice, but the rest was huge fun!) Every year I attend the conferences, I always come home feeling hugely inspired and raring to go. The talks and workshops are amazingly informative and full of inspiration and self belief, the evenings are full of laughter and friendship and the atmosphere is something like I’ve never experienced anywhere else. However, this year, there was one difference for me. I actually got involved with the conference from a participants point of view – myself and my fellow Romaniacs presented all conference goers with the opportunity to speak about themselves and their writing, on camera, in our Romaniac Sparkle Corner. It was incredibly popular and not only did we fill all our slots, but we squeezed some additional people in as and when we could to help satisfy the interest. It was incredible! It was so lovely to give something back to the RNA and all our supporters – I hope everyone who took part (and those who watched/shared the videos) all enjoyed it.

Another thing I came away with from this years conference was self belief and motivation. And I suppose this was another difference to this years conference – I had some one-to-one industry appointment’s. For those who are not aware of what this is, this is a chance to meet an editor/agent on a one-to-one basis for a 10 minute ‘pitch’ with them. These are invaluable and they give us writers the chance to meet and ‘sell ourselves’ to some huge names in the business. I had always been too scared to apply for a slot in previous years but this year I just went for it – and I am so glad I did. I had two meetings and both were incredibly positive and encouraging. They made me believe in myself and my work and gave me huge hope for the future. I came away thinking, I CAN do this!

So I made a plan. I rang my agent and we discussed this plan. And now I am working to make this plan happen! This includes quite a re-write of my latest novel, however, it will *hopefully* make the novel more appealing to publishers. Both my one-to-one appointments gave me some very good advice on where my novel needed to be and so I am taking their advice and reshaping it.

At first I was a little frustrated and thought,  not another edit, however, as writers, we have to be prepared to do as many edits as it takes to get it right.

You only get one chance to make a first impression when submitting to publishers – I need to make sure it is a damn good one!

So it’s back to the desk for me and an overhaul on the book, but it will be worth it. Hopefully my next Life Cycle round up will be a little more exciting.

Watch this space…

Lucie x

Life Cycle of a Writer – There’s no such word as ‘Can’t.’

It’s taken four long and tumultuous years and four re-writes but I’ve done it! Yesterday I printed and packaged up my first novel and sent it off to the Romantic Novelist Association New Writer’s Scheme. COMPLETE. A whole 86200 words! And I can’t tell you how good I feel today.

IMG_1014It’s been a tough slog. Along the four years my Nan, who brought me up, passed away, I’ve had major surgery, my husband of twenty-three years left my sons and I. Then there was the subsequent divorce, house move and upheaval, yet more surgery and treatments while at the same time having builders in for months to renovate our new home throughout.

Looking back I can see how my writing slipped well down the list of priorities. There were times when I despaired at my lack of inspiration and motivation to progress my WIP, ‘Living in the Past,’ or ‘Mothers Love’ as it started out when I came second in the Festival of Romantic Fiction’s new Talent Award in 2011. My head was too full of everything. I’d lost my mojo and all confidence. I couldn’t do it. Who would want to read my books? The number of times I’d mutter to myself, ‘Stop kidding yourself! It’s just a dream.’

But a dream is just a wish without a plan isn’t it? Somehow I mustered some inner strength and with the cajoling of my closest friends, I was persuaded not to give in. Knowing I had to do something or I’d forever kick myself for failing, I booked to go on an Arvon Course with Kate Long and Simon Thirsk. There for a week, I motored on with the WIP and when I read out one of the chapters to the group my writing was described as, ‘Catherine Cookson meets Stan Barstow.’ It was a huge turning point. That course made me believe.

However once I returned home from course, inspired as I was, domestic chaos kicked in again. I drifted for another year or so. I say drifted. What I actually mean is I spent about nine months of it stepping over bags of concrete, RSJ’s, lengths of wood, stacked in piles and tins of this and that, listening to builders and their incessant banter, drilling, hammering, sawing, being without electricity or water for days on end. It was hardly conducive to quiet writing time!

I wrote when I could (which wasn’t very often) and sent in a partial of the novel last year to the NWS. It was a very favourable report which once again, restored my belief. Realising if I kept on as I was doing, I’d keep on getting the same results, I went on Tamsyn Murray’s, ‘Live, Breathe, LOVE WRITING!’ earlier this year. I talked about it in my last Life Cycle post. It gave me that final push and with the help of two of the other delegates, Helen Walters and Bernadette O’Dwyer, we challenged ourselves to finish.

It was a first to actually be able to type the words, ‘THE END’ at the end of July. Then final edits and one last read-through with the help of a good friend and it was done.

I don’t mind admitting there were several dark occasions when domestic chaos, my health and the demands of life overwhelmed me and I almost bailed from writing and the RNA altogether and gave up forever my dream to be published. Had it not been for my Romaniac girls and the wonderful supportive RNA, writer friends and closest friends who kept my spirits up and kept me believing I may not be able to say, ‘I DID IT!’

I DID IT. Now the hard work begins to find an agent or publisher who is interested but for now, I’ll settle for having finished it. My Nan’s words ring in my head, ‘You see; didn’t I always tell you, there’s no such word as ,’CAN’T.’

Until another day,

Debbie xx

Part Two: In The Romaniac Sparkle Spotlight Is …

In our second programme of the day, we share our sparkling interviews with Creative Writing Matters, Cathie Hartigan, our very own agented, lovely Lucie Wheeler, and, bringing up the rear, and on the other side of the camera, Romaniac, Laura E James.

Details of websites can be found on the videos.

Part Three and Four tomorrow.