Tuesday, 22 March 2016

10 Years Writing

Did you know this year marks that I've been writing for ten years? Yes, that's come round fast... I thought I better blog about it! 

Writing is not something I've known I wanted to do all my life either. I sort of stumbled into it. Maybe it was always there, I just didn't realise it. 

I couldn't really tell you exactly when I started writing Fan-fiction in 2006, or when my first piece went *out there* but 2006 was the start of my writing journey... 

After writing a few pieces, and getting bigger story ideas, in the October of 2006, Becky Black convinced me to do NaNoWriMo with her. And I completed it! I wrote a fan-fiction story which was over 50,000 words.

I was pregnant with Kieran at the time and I would snatch an hour here and there in the day when Ben took his naps. Although I've never 'won' another since, this gave me good grounding for how to get a novel out there. To keep writing, no matter what, and not to look back. Do not edit as you go, just bash that thing out! Write now, edit later. And to this day, that's how I work. Some times I plan... sometimes I work a bit seats of pants style.

If you're new to writing, I very much recommend NaNoWriMo!

So by 2009 I was tinkering with the idea of writing professionally, something to work around my young family, and joined the Writers' Bureau Comprehensive Writing Course. This really helped with all sorts of areas of writing, down to presentation and writing to editors. I got bits and pieces, letters mainly published in magazines, and a big piece in the local paper, but nothing that paid.

Sue Moorcroft - RNA Conf. 2011

In 2010, I entered the first chapter of The Wedding Favour (which is now Plus One is a Lucky Number) into the Mills and Boon New Voice competition and made many online writer friends through this.

Then, through the powers of social media, talking to Sue Moorcroft, I attended the RNA's (Romantic Novelists Association) Conference in Caerleon, Wales in 2011, as a non-member. (I was thrilled to be sat beside Sue at the Gala dinner on the Saturday night - I tried not to have a fangirl moment - I absolutely love her books!). I made even more writer friends - published and non-published (like me). Here I was made aware of the New Writer's Scheme, which I joined in January 2012.

In a ten minutes slot with an editor at the RNA conference, I received feedback about The Wedding Favour on how to improve it, and after more editing of this novel, I started sending it out to publishers in 2012.

HarperImpulse party Oct 2013
For the RNA NWS, I wrote Perfect Isn't An Option (now One Fine Day) and sent that off to the New Writers' Scheme. (All while tackling separating from my husband - I look back now and wonder how I achieved it.)

Being an RNA Member in the NWS, I was able to join the Bath and Wiltshire chapter meetingin Lacock. I already knew two of the members because I'd met Rachel Brimble and Alison Knight at the conference. I tried not to have another fan girl moment when Liz Fielding, my favourite Mills and Boon author turned up as part of our chapter. Although I wasn't published, I was starting to feel more like a writer.
Then, in 2013, I put The Wedding Favour through the NWS as, although I'd received some good feedback about it, it had been unsuccessful with the publishers I'd sent it out to. However, while awaiting this feedback, through my RNA Chapter I learnt that HarperCollins were launching a new imprint, HarperImpulse, and decided to send off my manuscript.

It was a good job I was sitting down. In June 2013 I was offered a TWO book contract.

Plus One is a Lucky Number (was The Wedding Favour) was published in eBook 29th August 2013. (It was release in paperback 8th May 2014).

As it had gone through the NWS, this book also allowed me to be a contender for the RNA's Joan Hessayon award - so I attended the RNA Summer Party in 2014. I love talking to fellow writers. Although I didn't win, it was great fun, and I got to spend the evening with my delightful editor, Charlotte Ledger, who'd treated Sue Fortin and myself to cocktails at the Ritz.

Joan Hessayon Award - May 2014
January 2015 saw the release of my second novel, One Fine Day in eBook, and in paperback 12th March.

And there you are, my writing journey over the past ten years! And it's still going. I now have an agent, and I've sent my third novel off to my publisher.  So watch this space!

To all the new budding writers, keep writing. If it can happen to me, then it can happen to you, too. Sometimes it will happen quickly, sometimes it takes a little longer, but just keep writing, keep learning, improving your skill, keep reading too... and it will come.