Has it really been a year?

A year has passed since I gave notice to leave my safe, full-time, permanent position as a customer service executive, to concentrate on bringing up my young daughter and focus on building my writing career.

This morning, I’ve been looking back on what’s passed in this last year as I head towards the end of the rewrite of my NaNoWriMo novel, the first draft of which I completed in November 2012.

So, what have I achieved?

I wrote a novel.

I really did, from start to finish, just over 50,000 words. It doesn’t seem like much of an achievement now – as I’ve been spending the last year editing it – but it was back then. There’s not many (apart from those who have enough passion and dedication to finish one) who can say they’ve written a novel. Plenty of people are really impressed when I tell them I’ve written a book. Then I get embarrassed because I know that it’s nowhere near ready to be unleashed on the world.

I wrote and self-published a mini e-book. 

After I left the security of working in the corporate world, I threw myself into researching self-publishing – the revolution of the publishing industry – and spent the first month working on writing a little e-book about living on a budget, inspired by my decision to relinquish an income of my own. I surprised myself with the tips I came up with, and found myself wondering why we didn’t use our own advice more often. An article I’d read in Writing Magazine gave me the confidence I needed to go ahead and publish the book. It’s easy enough to self-publish, but what many probably don’t realise is the formatting involved – this took up a massive amount of my time as I played around with Word, Adobe and another e-publishing program. The book is now live on Amazon and I’ve sold quite a few copies, which I’m rather proud of. Not as many as I would have liked, admittedly, but I’ve since discovered that marketing isn’t my strong point. I’d much rather be writing and chatting with the wonderful group of writing friends I’ve met on social media.

I joined the group of The Rejected

After pouring my blood, sweat and tears into a proposal and partially written manuscript, I received a very encouraging rejection from a major publisher. Of course I was deflated, but I was also over the moon – a publisher had taken the time to read my submission and respond, even giving me some feedback. They told me it was quite clear that I’d spent a lot of time and effort on the submission however they didn’t feel the story was developed enough to be able to proceed with it. This gave me the excuse I needed to press on and make my work even better. I put that story away and decided to focus on my completed manuscript, to make it as good as it could possibly be.

I had an article published in Cat World

It might only be one article, and I didn’t get paid for it, but it was a huge achievement for me. I’ve had fillers published and am due to have another article printed in Evergreen –  sister publication to This England – this autumn.

I joined a Writers Circle

A lovely little critique group in Northampton. We all get together and read aloud our work and listen to each other, offer advice, then have a nice cuppa and a biscuit. If you haven’t joined a writers group, do it. It’s the best advice you could ever have. Writing is a lonely profession in the real world, and although I have made some wonderful friends online, sometimes we crave human contact and adult conversation. Especially us full-time mothers who spend the majority of their day with little people.

~

It’s clear a lot can happen in a year, and it’s been educational. So, what have I learned?

My first draft sucked

I wrote The Gateway (temporary title of my work in progress) in the first-person viewpoint. I sat on it for a few weeks. I read it. I cringed. So the whole thing is being re-drafted in third-person viewpoint.

The first draft is easy

It really is. You just have to get the words down on the paper. The hard part is the second draft. Bringing your writing to life. Getting rid of the cliches. Wondering if your work is ever going to be good enough. I have days where I bounce with enthusiasm over my writing. Then the self-doubt descends like a black cloud and I wonder how my work is ever going to get published.

Editors are very busy people

And sadly rarely reply to queries. I’ve lost count of the amount of emails I’ve sent with a proposed article, only to still be waiting weeks later for a response. It’s so disheartening. Imagine sending out several job applications and not having one reply? It’s hard, it really is. And definitely up there with rejection. Which leads me on to my next lesson.

I’m an eternal optimist

I’ve spent a year trying to break into the market, in both article writing and fiction writing. I’ve faced lots of rejection, I’m still writing my novel, yet I’m still going a year later. Rome wasn’t built in a day, you know.

The world of writers is a fabulously supportive place

I’ve discovered some great networks, made some wonderful friends and had enormous support from some really special people. Earlier this year I shared the news that I was expecting. Fate dealt a cruel hand, and our little baby girl couldn’t survive in this world. If it wasn’t for the wonderful support some of my writer friends have bestowed upon me, I’m honestly not sure when I would have picked up my laptop again, and I’m so grateful to them.

I’m not superwoman

I can’t do everything. Just like I couldn’t do everything when I was working full-time. Being a mother is a full-time occupation. It’s not easy to fit your own work in around looking after an inquisitive, demanding, hugely energetic toddler. Especially when you’ve spent most of the day (literally) running around after them as well as trying to keep the house clean, and cook a nutritious meal every night (on a budget at that). It’s a wonder I have any energy left. Actually, forget that. I don’t have any energy. I’m exhausted. 😛

~

So, what now? I still firmly believe this was the best decision I ever made. Writing is my dream and it might not be providing me with an income at the moment, but I love it and it makes me happy. A few months ago I was torn between choosing to self-publish, or try to get [The Gateway] traditionally published. I’ve read many articles and viewpoints on the debate and for now, I’m going to try the traditional route. I’m not saying I’d never self-publish, but I want to be sure my writing is good enough for a publisher to want to buy it. Several people have told me they love the first three chapters of this story and the concept, and that’s really encouraging. That’s what’s given me the confidence to proceed with this project and put the article writing on hold, so thanks to all those who have supported me so far, cheered from the sidelines and waved their pom-poms.

I have set myself a deadline to finish the second draft/rewrite of The Gateway by the end of this month (six days left!), after which I’ll be taking down the first three chapters, which are currently on the blog. I then have until the end of September to polish it, after which I’ll be submitting, with everything crossed, and my breath held in anticipation.

Wish me luck! 🙂

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Book Review: What’s a Girl to Do? By Aimee Duffy

What's a Girl to Do? (Indecent Proposals # 1)What’s a Girl to Do? by Aimée Duffy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Shey Lopez is a girl with attitude, working as an editorial assistant at one of New York’s top magazine publications. When she meets hotshot business man Calvin Jones, the chemistry between them is explosive from the start. But the combustible relationship which develops between them is far from smooth, as while they can’t resist their sizzling attraction to each other, both Shey and Calvin have their own secrets and trust issues to prevent them ever having a future together. Shey doesn’t do one-night stands, and Calvin won’t offer a relationship. Is it possible for them to work through their arrangement and satisfy their attraction to each other before moving on?
This first erotic novella from Aimee Duffy is scorchingly hot, but true to form, the author ties in a steamy read with plenty of emotional conflict from lovable characters.
A perfect read to escape from reality for a couple of hours, with two perfectly flawed characters. Oh, and did I mention the sexy hero?

This review was written in exchange for an advance review copy of the novel from the publishers. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.

View all my reviews

 

Excerpt

The first novella in a thrilling, pulse-racing new erotic romance series, Indecent Proposals. Three best friends, Shey, Eloisa and Georgia take on the most powerful and eligible men of the New York dating scene. ‘I’m not coming over.’ Shey replied confidently. ‘Then maybe you could return the favor now.’ Wait, he didn’t mean… ‘Slide your hand beneath your panties and tell me how ready you are for me.’ Oh my god, he did. Single Manhattanite Shey Lopez doesn’t do one night stands, or have relationships she can’t control. Especially if giving in to playboy Calvin Jones means losing her heart in the process. However, Mr Won’t-Take-No-For-An-Answer always gets what he wants and there’s only so many times a girl can resist such a enticing proposal… View all my reviews

The Summer Sun Award – With a Twist

I have the hilarious Shehanne Moore to thank for this additional nomination of The Summer Sun Award – so as I’ve already gracefully accepted I decided to post on behalf of the heroine of my work in progress – Emmeline Sweetman of The Gateway (temporary title).

Thank you Shehanne for so kindly nominating me for this award again and labelling me as inspirational, it’s an honour 😉

As summer is almost over (sad, yes, but it’s true – once September arrives we’ll be inundated with chilly mornings and leaves littering the roads – unless of course we’re blessed with an ‘Indian summer’, here’s hoping), I won’t be tagging anyone else for this, but thought I’d join in and just add a little twist – what perfect opportunity to introduce you to Emmeline.

To recap, the rules state the nominee must link back to the person who nominated them (see Shehanne’s blog link above) and answer a selection of summer related questions… and then nominate a further eight chosen ones (but as previously mentioned, I’m going to break this rule).

Here’s the award, which I must also display on the blog:

summer sun award

Right, this is for you, Emmeline, you might be a moody little madam at times but thanks for being the inspiration behind the story I’ve found myself writing you into (along with that sexy train guard of yours, Mr Jennings).

So, we’d really like it if you could answer us the following questions:

Favourite song with summer in the title or the lyrics:

‘Er, thanks for the nomination? Crikey. *Presses lips together and frowns* I think it would have to be ‘Cruel Summer by Ace of Base’. It sums up how I feel right now. *Sings badly* ‘It’s a cruel, cruel summer, leaving me here on my own…’ Ahem.

Favourite book about the summer: 

‘Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” It sums up my love life fabulously well – disastrous and a real calamity.’

Favourite hot summer film: 

‘Oooh – Cocktail – I would love to live on an island and be wooed by someone as gorgeous as Tom Cruise… unfortunately he’d probably not look twice at me. I’d love to be the heroine in that film – Jordan. My favourite scene is the waterfall one.’

Favourite summer memory:

‘Favourite summer memory? Are you kidding me? I can’t remember the last time I got to enjoy a summer… Unless you count the years before I was an adult with too many responsibilities. I do remember camping holidays as a child, we used to stay on the south coast and go crabbing and fish for mackerel in the sea. I guess that’s why I love the seaside so much now, it’s calming and invokes happier memories.’

What books will be in your suitcase this summer?

‘Anything engrossing enough to keep that persistent Mr Santini from bothering me on the train. He keeps appearing out of nowhere and engaging me in conversation. He is really beginning to grate on my nerves.’

What hottie would you most like to be sharing the hot days and long nights with this summer?

‘That’s easy. Jack Jennings, without a doubt… That smile, those electric-blue eyes, that strong, finely etched jaw…. But wait, I’m not that kind of girl! What the hell are you inferring?’

Of course, Emmeline, you just keep telling yourself that. 🙂 

Read the introduction to The Gateway here, and check out my Pinterest board here to see my visuals of the main characters in this story.

Book review: The Family Trap by Joanne Phillips

The Family TrapThe Family Trap by Joanne Phillips

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Having enjoyed Joanne’s debut novel, ‘Can’t Live Without’, I was keen to read this sequel and have to say I wasn’t disappointed. The story is cleverly written in the first person with a good mix of emotional conflict and lots of humour thrown in; you’ll find yourself laughing out loud in places.

Stella Hill is back after having her happy ending in Can’t Live Without (requisite for Chick-Lit, really). The story opens with her daughter Lipsy about to give birth to her own baby, and Stella’s plans to marry her sexy partner and life-love, Paul Smart. What follows is a humorous account of ‘what could go wrong, will go wrong’, all thanks to typical human emotions and reactions to certain situations. No matter what your background, you can be sure you’ll identify with some of Stella’s capers as you journey with her throughout the book.

Thoroughly recommend this as a top class Chick-Lit entertaining read.

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Time for a quickie

I apologise in advance for the innuendos in this post. It’s my fourth wedding anniversary to my husband today and I blame him for the tone. Earlier today, he informed me that next year, I’d get wood. Of course I’d like to know why I have to wait twelve months for it. 

Why am I blogging and writing on my wedding anniversary? I’m not totally heartless. My dear husband is in fact working a night shift, so it’s just me and my laptop, the cat, and the noisy evaporating fish tank.

So I thought I’d log on before I begin work and share a little inside information about how my relationship with my husband blossomed. It wasn’t all Gerberas and Chrysanthemums (the lovely flowers presented to me this morning). From the day we first met in our local pub, he stalked (for want of a better word) me. I was the new barmaid and he – a frequent punter – made it his mission to catch me. It was a classic case of boy meets girl, girl plays hard to get (girl isn’t interested) and boy plays harder to catch the girl. There were many cases of eyes meeting across the crowded room, lots of stolen kisses, and several cries of ‘you’re not my type and I really don’t want to get involved with anyone’. One night he told me I was going to be his wife, and I laughed in his face. I told him he was crazy. But, the chemistry was undeniably there and here I am now, six years later and thankful that he persevered. 

Anyway, diversion aside, I’m about to crack on with the rewrite of The Gateway – which, by the way, is over seventy percent complete. I’m making great progress. 

So there you have it. Just wanted to share a little progress update. I told you it’d be quick. I hope you weren’t disappointed.