LEEDS AUTHOR EVENT 2016

Let me first start by saying that the run-up to this event was an exhausting ordeal in itself (for me and no doubt many others, including the organisers).

For more than a month prior to the signing I was running a blog tour. Every day I featured a different writer (most signing at Leeds, some not). The blog tour meant quickly collecting everyone’s words and putting them into blog posts vaguely resembling the same sort of format! That was time out of my own routine, as was formatting the blogs into what became a special paperback produced in honour of this signing.

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View the tour

Buy the paperback

 Was it tiring? Yes. Was it worth it? Hell yes.

With busy periods in your life comes the slump afterwards when you’re left wondering – what next? In quick succession, I recently finished a novel. Finished the blog tour. Edited someone’s memoirs for them. Then prepared for a book signing. It’s all been a total mind fuck.

In the run-up to a signing, your finger constantly hovers over the re-order button on all the sites you’ve bought books, bookmarks, posters and merchandise from. You’re in a perpetual state of thinking, Have I bought enough? Have I done enough? It is absolute madness. You get to the point where you become at one with everything and if you haven’t got it, tough shit.

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So, the run-up to these things is crazy. The day itself is crazy. The aftermath is like venturing to Hell’s Mouth and teetering on the edge for days on end. I’ve been sat here sort of laughing and cackling to myself, randomly recalling moments I’d almost forgotten about. Hubby sits next to me with a wry smile, just knowing I’m running it all through my head again and storing it in the long-term data banks.

Last year when I did my first signing in Peterborough, I could barely stomach my breakfast. This year I managed a few things for breakfast because I knew what to expect and I was glad I had some food in me because it was non-stop all day long. I barely had time to breathe, I don’t think anyone did. I must have dropped about half a stone in one day from nervous excitement, the air-con and generally having to concentrate and sound lucid! LOL.

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On Saturday there were few moments to stop and think and it’s why the aftermath is always so bittersweet. These events are so treasured and so overwhelming that afterwards, you wish you had done this, that or the other. All I can comfort myself with is the fact that there will be more signings. Here’s just a few of the things (however) which particularly made Leeds special for me (these might not come to me in the same order of the day’s timeline):

  • I was placed in a Ham and James-Marlow sandwich. Otherwise known as sitting between Lisa Fulham and the delectable duo Victoria L James and Francesca Marlow. I like to think of James-Marlow as being like a delightful salad relish with a dash of bourbon! It was great to be able to sneak a glance at what was going on at the tables around me. Victoria’s mum holding a glass of wine… a very LARGE glass I may add. Go on my love! Victoria was completely overwhelmed by the whole experience, as were many other debut signers. Nothing quite compares to your first time and realising that actually, yes, people really do love your work. For every troll out there wanting to pull you down, there are dozens of people clambering to get a piece of you – people who love reading and totally get what self-published authors are trying to do. Indie books have more of the soul, less of the polish that strips out what makes each author individual, and I love that. I think many people do. As for Lisa “Manchester” Fulham, I only have to look over at her and smile and we just know what the other is thinking!
  • Dented bottles! Yes, I became obsessed with a dented wine bottle after I partook of one glass of wine during the signing. I think it went straight to my head…! 😉
  • “They Say I’m Doing Well” was a huge hit, the charity anthology I led, alongside 28 other authors. It was wonderful to see so many people holding their copies and trying to get them signed by all the authors in attendance who’d participated. Like I say, in the run-up to this signing I’d been pedal to the metal with this project but the messages from people who really got what this blog tour/book were all about really made it all so worthwhile. I can’t tell you what a privilege it is to do what I do. In my day job, I help people get published. It’s a dream. I will always consider this a privilege. It’s special. It’s not even work for me. For people to congratulate me on standing up for mental illness seems bizarre. It’s something I feel necessary to do, not even that, but a natural urge. It’s not brave, but normal, to talk about things. That’s all. And yet the interest I am getting in this project is gathering pace on a daily basis. I am not kidding you!!!!
  • NooNoo’s shaking on the dancefloor. She really can drop to the floor as well!! Louise White is my favourite blogger. She rocks. Despite the broken zip, well… you had THE GLOVES so it didn’t matter. I hold you responsible for me writing Tainted Lovers because you mentioned there weren’t enough novels around about married couples…
  • Seeing Rachel and Jo, the Hourglass ladies, tear up as they were presented with a card and presents at the end of the day was like watching all their tension slide away in one fell swoop as they suddenly realised “we did good”. It was amazing. Pats on the back darlings. We’re one crazy group of authors. I never doubted Jo and Rach for a moment.
  • Having authors like Charming Man and Anna-Maria Anthanasiou, EJ Shortall, Lavinia Urban, Rebecca Sherwin, Cameron Lincoln (I know your real name, I know your name – sang to the Casino Royale theme tune) and so many others know your face. It’s truly a bizarre thing to be recognised.
  • The whole day felt nicely spread out and nobody had to wait for too long, everyone had a great spread of visitors to their table. I remember looking over at Scarlett Flame and Neil Winnington who were both loving it. I couldn’t take my eyes off Scarlett’s steampunk outfit (HA HA, Scarlett).
  • The BAD, BAD, BAD Dad dancing at the masquerade ball. IT WAS BAD. LOL.
  • Rachel falling over in her huge ball dress. It had to happen and it did. Shame nobody had their phone out at the time.
  • Victoria L James break dancing in a pretty red dress. I’m sure I was seeing things!

However, the moment of the day has to be this:

My husband (who was in and out all day) was walking in through the hotel’s revolving doors when he overheard two women stood outside, deep in conversation. He overheard, “EL James is okay, but the thing about Sarah Michelle Lynch is you can actually relate to her characters.”

My husband’s gob was smacked big style. I don’t think I can convey how proud he is of me on a normal day, let alone that day. I actually thought he was kidding me when he told me this. He waited until after the signing to tell me. I thought he was lying. I thought it was just a joke. IT WASN’T. *sniggers* When it sank in, I had a little cry and he reminded me of all the stuff he constantly reminds me of that keeps me going. Somehow, I am reaching people. I think of myself as like the Reliant Robin of social media management but obviously I’m not doing too badly! LOL. (I still think my husband is lying!!!)

My thanks go to Rachel Hague, my “date” for the ball. Your stamina astounded me. You got round every single table. I will forever remember you as the first person to hit my table at my very first signing last year. We ❤ Lottie.

Thanks to Michaela – she bought so many books! Girl loves her some books.

EJ Shortall – it shocked and awed me when you said you read AA before you became an author yourself. Just wow.

My thanks also go to everyone aforementioned, as well as each and every author who participated in “They Say I’m Doing Well” – and for Jo and Rach supporting the idea.

Thanks to everyone who came to my table, new or old readers or general enquirers, you are all appreciated. I think I sold a fair few copies of the Sub Rosa trilogy to some mature ladies who have still got it in them. Wa-hey. That rocked my world. I sell quite a few ebooks every month but in one day on Saturday, I sold dozens of paperbacks which doesn’t often happen and left me made up.

As for what’s next? I am DYING to get back to writing, which I haven’t done much of so far this year. However, at this moment in time, I really do think it might be time to put my feet up a moment and reflect, digest and bask in the warm glow of such a great day.

I do however have a new notebook…

Much love,

Sarah x

p.s. if you got some pics with me on the day, tag me in them because I barely got a sausage 😥

Catching Up with the Joneses – for fans of Angel Avenue

Recently I re-read one of my own novels (oh the vanity!!!). It was quite nice actually, and because of the distance I’ve put between myself and this novel now, I was reading it as if from a new reader’s perspective (almost).

Angel Avenue was a novel I wrote in a rush of affection and nostalgia for young love and the city I went to university in and still live nearby. In the novel, Angel Avenue, I never state the setting is Hull. I guess I wanted you, the reader, to envisage the world of this novel as any place – anywhere. I never state the main, bustling avenue Jules and Warrick live on and around is Angel Avenue, because there is no such thing as Angel Avenue. There’s Newland Avenue in Hull – and many of the other sites I’ve described in the novel are real, too. You can go visit them! How glamorous, eh? The title Angel Avenue was suggested to me by my husband Andrew. The original title was Losing Laurie and the book originally was centred around the idea of this woman, Jules, transferring the loss of her mother to a man who did the dirty on her. Like a mourner who goes to their loved one’s grave on a specific day of the week, maybe every day, Jules returns to the spot she met Laurie. I think it is difficult to understand Jules’ psychology but the moral of this book, Angel Avenue, is hidden very carefully within the pages. I focused on etching the characters and the build-up of real love (not teenage or lust-fuelled love) but actual, long-lasting love.

angel avenue collageWarrick is a man given a second chance at life and since he washed himself clean of all his vices, he’s not taken them up again. There’s a splice between innocence and experience in this book – and it’s experience which redeems Warrick – because he saves Jules. A teacher, she in turn gets a new reputation for herself at school for being a cool, ballerina/dancer chick, and when the kids find out Jules and Warrick are together – they trust him too. And thus, a paedophile ring and a traumatic case of bullying are uncovered in this novel. Therefore, ANGEL AVENUE this is, because wouldn’t we love such difficult problems to be solved so easily in real life, eh? Jules’ life was fucked up by her parent’s addictions and she triumphs professionally, yet falls down personally.

I read recently that it takes a hard heart to write a tender novel and this is so true of me and this novel, Angel Avenue. This novel was a terrific salve for me after finishing the gruelling and brain-taxing novels A Fine Profession and A Fine Pursuit. Perhaps I recently re-read Angel Avenue because I needed some salve again!

Anyway, after doing my re-read, a scene came to me which I wrote a few weeks ago now. In the actual novel, which I will never add to or subtract from because it’s exactly how Jules and Warrick told their tale to me at the time, we have an epilogue from Warrick’s POV. But not one from Jules.

What follows now is an epilogue from Jules’ POV. You’re now catching up with the Joneses a few years after they met, as they navigate married and family life. If you haven’t read the novel, you might not want to read this extra/extended epilogue. However, I don’t think this will spoil your enjoyment of Angel Avenue too much if you do decide to go back and read the main novel. After all, it’s the way they fall in love that counts.

When we first had the twins, I was frightened to death of dropping one of them. I was terrified of all sorts and I relied on Warrick for everything. I only know how to be a parent because of him, because I never really had a parent of my own, not one I remember well enough anyway. Everything before my eighth birthday, I’ve blocked out, because that was when Mum was alive and I don’t allow myself to remember how happy I was before she was stolen from me.

To read the full epilogue, click the link below…

Put the kettle on, kick your feet up, and revisit my favourite fictional couple. Well, no I can’t say that, because they stand alongside Cai and Chloe, Lottie and Noah, Seraph and Ryken (and a few others I can’t tell you about yet…)

Just…. enjoy! 😉

DOWLOAD: Jules’ epilogue

Purchase Angel Avenue in paperback or eBook:

angelavenue.do

Value Your Words – Why I Didn’t Accept a Book Deal

Last week a publishing contract landed on my doormat and it took me maybe minutes after reading it to know it wasn’t for me. I’m not going to mention who the contract was with, the money involved, the clauses, etc. I’m just going to say it was a London publisher and they made me an offer after my agent approached them.

If you’ve been self-publishing as long as I have, almost three years now, you might have watched other self-published authors (some of whom are friends) land deals. I’ve watched loads of other Indie authors land deals with all sorts of publishers and some find themselves no better off; alternatively I’ve watched some find themselves worse off, and there are also the few, rare cases of the authors for whom it has really worked out because they have gained a massive, loyal readership from signing with a publisher. After all, gaining a readership is what we all care about most.

In the years I’ve been doing this, I’ve been warned about a few things:

  • Some publishers will offer you a deal without setting out the parameters of their own efforts.
  • Some publishers are not interested in collaboration.
  • Some publishers fail to pay royalties.
  • Some will give you a worse book cover than what you started out with.
  • Some will edit the life and soul from your book.
  • Some publishers offer a marketing package but often, authors have found it is up to them to do most of the marketing, if not all.
  • Some publishers will take most of your royalties.
  • Some don’t even offer an advance but expect a lot of commitment from the author.
  • Good publishers are hard to find.

I am sure there are lots of authors who see that contract land on their doormat and go gaga, immediately sign it and send it back. I can entirely understand why a lot of authors would be so excited at this prospect, so excited in fact, that they don’t think about not signing because signing seems the answer. It’s every writer’s dream to see themselves on a bookshelf; for most it symbolises respect and official authorship (I don’t believe this at all – we’re authors as soon as we have readers).

HOWEVER!

Landing a deal with a publisher does not guarantee your book will end up on a bookshelf anywhere. The biggest high-street stores are picky as to what they put on their shelves and unless you’re EL James, Dan Brown or Sylvia Day, your book may appear in Asda for a week before it is replaced by the next bestsellers.

So, what does that mean? With all these uncertainties, I mean. So many words in exchange for such small fortune. It means, those of us who are already self-published, have a choice. TRY TO SEE PAST THE SHINY CONTRACT. We always have a choice, no matter what deal comes through the door. Those words are ours and we can decide what to do with them. You have a choice to give your words away and risk losing them altogether, perhaps with only a small chance of getting the rewards you deserve, or you can seek that right publisher for you. The right publisher might not offer you a load of royalties either, but they might offer a package that will nurture you. Some publishers are not interested in this. I don’t know why, but they’re not.

When I started out in self-publishing, I was honest with myself. I am also honest with most people I meet and sometimes, people bristle at this quality but if you walked in my shoes a minute, you’d see why I hate dishonesty, time wasting and hollow promises. So I saw self-publishing as a chance to grow my writing ability, to develop my social networks, to learn the ropes of publishing in general. I was surprised when some people who read my first book (written while I was breastfeeding!) wrote to me to say they had been kept up reading all night, so eager to reach the end! I genuinely love what I do, and anyone else who does, is a bonus. I never will take myself seriously. I know I am a talented writer but I don’t take myself seriously. What I do take seriously is freedom. Don’t get me wrong, it is all a terrific juggling act as I also squeeze in the editing projects that land in my inbox in between my own projects. When a job comes in, I have to down my writing tools and neglect my true love while I provide for other people. This is a fact of life I accept but another string to my bow i.e. editing has definitely broadened my skills. When I finish an editing project, I go back to my writing – and this for me, is freedom. To have that choice, is everything.

This is what I am getting at: if you sign that contract, some choices are taken away. That is what a contract is. In exchange for signing away your words, you might not even see any rewards for losing your right to choose. Self-publishing allows me a freedom of expression that few publishers will because they have to peel a book through all sorts of official processes.

The lesson I take away from getting that contract through the door is that the words in black and white always have more of an impact than words spoken aloud or read on a screen. The words offered to me didn’t match the words I’ve written. I believe so much in my words (Unbind, if anyone is wondering) that I won’t take any deal I am not happy with because Unbind is too important to me. Unfortunately my agent underestimated how much.

One day, some black and white words are going to change my life – and I will be ready for it. I will know when it is right to share myself. Until then, I’m not giving my words away – I’m sharing them and sharing the journey. Anything to hinder the sharing thereof, and I’m not onboard.

I was taught to never take your first offer, just wait for something better. My mum says I seem to have dropped lucky a lot in life because of my propensity to be uncompromising. Well, someone has to be. I’ll let you know if it pays off. Maybe one day soon, eh…

p.s. There is no such thing as vanity publishing anymore, it’s now just about doing it for yourself, and many are thriving without a “publisher”.

In conclusion, here are two articles I found very interesting:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michaellevin/are-there-5-reasons-to-st_b_5569189.html?utm_hp_ref=books&ir=Books&utm_content=buffercbec0&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/paul-murphy/indie-writers-are-doing-it-for-themselves_b_6919906.html?fb_action_ids=10152621244792038&fb_action_types=og.comments

Words for Readers, Editors and Writers

Every year I write some sort of roundup of my experiences of the past year; my thoughts, feelings and new things learned. So here it is, 2014, in a nutshell… or three.

2014 has been spent mainly editing books, both mine and others’. I also read a lot for leisure but reading underpins everything and is as much a part of my job as everything else. Reading is a superpower. Writers who don’t read 10 times more than they write are really missing out. It is essential.

It’s interesting therefore that this year, I have read some badly edited books and still enjoyed them. Sometimes you just pick up a story and find something in it that rings true. Mistakes are an inevitability of life, not every book can be absolutely perfect. Sure you may begrudge paying a decent amount of money on something littered with mistakes, but there are a lot of books out there which are 99 cents or less and sometimes, you give them a shot based on recommendation from a reviewer. Often some of those books turn out to be gems.

A lot of people from all walks of life come to me with their words and say, “I’m an accountant, not a writer, please sort this out for me…” or whatever. I always tell people that words are words and if they are your voice, what could be wrong with them? After all everyone has a voice and a story to tell, so what if you don’t sound clever or literary? Every story is worthy. My granddad died an illiterate man but even now, my mum remembers stories he used to tell – so what does that say? If you don’t tell your stories, you might never tell them. Do it. Now. Don’t hesitate.

For every variant of writer, you’ll discover ten different readers who prefer your genre but sometimes cross genres for variety. It’s the variant in genre that usually attracts attention because it represents something new. There is room for everyone in the book world because variety is embraced and is becoming more embraced all the time!

Some readers love to have every detail of a scene described to them, from the colour of a sofa to the smell of the room. Other readers want everything left to their imagination except the dialogue and action. This is subjective and OPINION. It is all opinion. Everyone has an opinion. Everyone also has a mood. Sometimes you read a book and it doesn’t gel, perhaps just because you’re not in the right mood. Everyone else might be raving about it and you feel so bad because you can’t see it! Perhaps coming back to it at a later date will help.

There are even readers who cannot stand the writers they love in real life, but they just love the stories they write. Bizarre? It proves to me it’s not always about likeability or popularity. I always thought the whole point of being a writer anyway was that you didn’t want to be an actor or a model or any kind of public figure but you wanted to put out great stories, so you spent your time behind a keyboard rather than in front of a camera! That is what pseudonyms were invented for. Right? Hmm.

It is important to remember it is only FICTION.

More important is this: EASY READING IS DAMN HARD WRITING. Most readers read to escape. I am one of those. I love a book to wrap me up in its clutches and swaddle me until the final word. I want to have everything taken care of and not be forced to move while I immerse myself in someone else’s work. Which is strange, again, because the books I write aren’t always those kinds of books. Speaking to someone the other day who I know does a particularly stressful job, they said to me, “I don’t want to think when I read a story or see a movie… I want stupidity and nonsense to pervade my brain!” It made me smile, it was just another reminder… not everyone wants the same things from a book/film.

It’s strange also that even though I’m a writer, it’s not my most natural inclination. I was always better with numbers at school, like, much better. My daughter’s first report home from nursery school showed me she also has this early ability with numbers and her grasp of computers at three years old is crazy. So perhaps these skills of mine explain to some extent why I often write puzzles, why I see stories as equations, why the meat doesn’t go on the bones until I have the equation laid out! Seriously, don’t ever step inside my head, it’s really scary! Not everyone is going to get what I do, what I’m about, and that is one of the hardest things to accept as a writer and is yet your simplest and most powerful tool.

They say life is for learning and this year, I haven’t stopped learning—from my mistakes, from other people’s and more importantly, from the things we’ve all done right. The things we do right are the things that don’t teach us anything new but do teach us how to move forward. Moving forward is something we all need to do and separating from the babies we create in our books is hard, but must be done.

A lot of people think writers are mostly crazy people. They are. Most of us are. My social networks are clogged with angry, angry people who are angry, angry, angry about being unheard and unloved. As an editor, I’ve stepped on some shoes (gently) but in the end, my colleagues looked at the end product and knew I was right to tell them how it was. The process always begins and ends with the author. We’re the ones with our names to that work and that is a difficult thing to comprehend. Writers have to be self-editors (without hacking the heart away), conjurors, adventurers, believers, faithful followers, dreamers… the list is inexhaustible. The buck stops with you. So if you don’t agree with an editor, shout up, say why. Compromise if you have to. Tell them no if you feel passionate enough. Argue for what you believe in. Sod them. There are always people around to support, but at the end of the day that book is yours and represents you. Another great tool to have is to be able to take a step back, view your work as a “work” and not a love affair you’ve dreamt up. It is being able to look at it and recognise that other people don’t have a plug into your mind and they need to be able to see all you can see and more. Above all else, listen to your gut. Writing isn’t a science, it’s pretty much a game of contradictions and explosions of mind, but the gut knows. Oh, it knows…!

One thing this year taught me is that writers who write for themselves will never learn but those who write for others’ enjoyment and delight, well, the possibilities are there for the taking and with the right attitude, the future might just hold endless stories…

Happy new year! Always another chance, always…

Memory as a Theme – Another Blog Relating to Unbind

“I can remember everything.

That’s my curse, young man.

It’s the greatest curse that’s

ever been inflicted on the

human race: memory.”

Jedediah Leland, Citizen Kane

Does great art have to mirror real life—to be great? If it is an art, but still does this, well… that in itself is great. Right?

Writing Unbind … one of the first things I got into my head was to treat the book as a work of art, which means delving into all the little, tiny nuances of life we forget. However, it is those details that without drawing attention to themselves—make the fabric of our work and our worlds. It’s something that has taken me a long time to master but including the tiny pieces of a world in your work really makes that book work for you… and more importantly, for others too. I read primarily for escapism as do most but that element of realism really does give a book “that edge”.

Dialogue is similarly another thing that is hard to master…

A book begins life as a virtual experience. As an author you first concentrate on the story and plot and work from there. You begin by mapping out the thing as a whole. To make it come alive in the second stage of creation (which is more about the themes and personality of that book) you take the process beyond your own sight of what is happening… to feeling the events through the eyes, ears and scents of your characters. It’s hard to pin down what that MAGIC ingredient is exactly… that thing an author does to draw you under a book’s spell… but when it works, it works. The third and last stage of crafting must bring your characters to life and make them so real… a reader grows to see and feel that character or characters with or without direction from the author.

This all sounds complicated but a good book really does emerge only from a lot of work done behind the scenes, which you the reader or audience never see. Even in the case of some of the bestselling authors out there, you can see which areas they’ve laboured and struggled over. There were maybe sections not easy to write but were nevertheless fundamental to the whole. It’s something we often neglect to consider—a book is not one chapter or one line. It is thousands of words created to evoke a multitude of feelings.

MEMORY, then. Whenever I meet up with old friends, they’ll often say to me, “How do you remember that?” I’ll often remind them of something they had clean forgotten. It may prove no surprise that at school, I struggled with certain subjects that didn’t spark any creativity because I view everything in pictures. It’s probably why people always finish my books and say, “It could be a film,” or, “I see that as a graphic novel one day.” The latter refers to the sci-fi. I thought when I first started out life as a writer—nobody wants to read what Character A had for breakfast that morning. Nobody wants to know that Character B has a bowel problem, either! Ha! These things are true. What the reader does want to know however, is the traits fundamental to your MCs that are essential to the storyline. That is what makes a book a piece of art—it’s only a square of someone’s existence but somehow gives the reader the details needed to imagine and feel the rest. It’s really in the hands of the reader to make books live. It’s really that authors have given you the tools, but you’re the ones sat there doing all the hard work—imagining all those images yourselves through a splendid arrangement of black and white letters on a page or tablet.

My protagonist in Unbind has a vivid memory, too. However, she sees things in archived boxes, a kind of internal filing system. It is this and her whole way of living that ultimately makes her the antithesis to another powerful presence in Unbind.

However, nobody will know what Unbind truly encompasses, not until the last word…

More to come…

Unbind is currently available for pre-order http://mybook.to/Unbind

How your first novel shapes you…

I may be repeating myself here but it needs saying. It does need saying. Again. A lot of first novels get consigned to the bin. One bestselling author I talked to wrote five novels before he got “published”. All the others may never see the light of day. I hear Hilary Mantel wrote dozens before getting “published”. “Published”: here I am referring to getting that elusive traditional publishing deal. Many hold out for this because to be an Indie means being very brave, or simply believing you have some words people may enjoy. Many writers can probably say… we wrote something and binned it at one time or another. We went on and wrote other things that we thought were better.

My first novel was so far from perfect. In fact it was the hardest novel I ever wrote and will always be because I started writing with an idea but no notion of how to set out the threads that weaved from that initial strain. Some of you might remember me saying that I wrote it while I was on maternity leave. I look back now and with hindsight, I actually don’t know how I accomplished what I did.

One thing I refuse to do is take myself seriously. There are so many, many writers now and it is amazing if you can get a small, loyal following. If you have that, pat yourselves on the back. It is an admirable thing to get something written down let alone published, whether by traditional or any other route. I think of things in terms of my own, personal victories sometimes, because often that is enough for the time being. Now I look back, I realise there were so many times I could have given up and given in. So many points along the road where I was tired, dejected, feeling unappreciated. Wondering what the point was. Whether anybody even cared. My husband always cared but yeah, that is his job. So then… when other people started caring too… that gave me something else. A bit more of an edge. I had to tell myself “you wrote a bloody novel when you had never even written anything creative before!” It was true. Yes, I was a journalist. Yes, I had an English degree. Yes, I have a way with words… that much was clear when I returned to work after maternity to find about six people doing a job I used to do singularly. But a novel is such a different ballgame… I had written a few fictional pieces in my youth and a bit of poetry but I hadn’t even really attempted a short story before I wrote Beneath the Veil.

There has to be so much self-belief. So much self-motivation. It is such a lonely game, such a weary, lonesome road to travel. I am a humble person (I actually am!), but when it comes to self-publishing apparently showing off is essential because nobody will listen if you don’t believe in the first place! I had to change from that humble, carefree “so what, who cares” type person to what I am now, which is a forthright, “here is my book and I flipping believe in it and will fight for it” type hybrid writer/promoter! I am still learning, bloody hell don’t get me wrong, I am still learning there!

Truth was my first novel (to me, back then, when I first started writing) was just a little challenge to myself to see what I could do for myself for a change. I never anticipated what I would turn out. Not in a million years would I have been able to foresee what I could achieve without first giving it a try. I never expected what happened – to actually happen. Never.

I didn’t give up on my first novel because it was such a rush, such a monumental period of creativity I couldn’t pass up. I was taken by an idea for a future world and it took me along for the ride. I just knew I had to get it down, it was then or never. It was all ready in my mind, waiting, to be written down. Sometimes you sit having to force the words. With my first novel, I couldn’t contain them. I itched to write, to scribble, to get it all down. It is great to be able to say, “I wrote erotica that people see as more than just erotica”. But it will be even better when my science-fiction gets me more notice because in actual fact, that is more me. You see, my first words were my truest and I will always gravitate back to them.

I have spent the first part of this year revising this first novel because I felt it was time. I felt there was more. There is still more… more future novels. The reason why I went back is because the prequels have to match the sequels now. There is so much I want to tell you all, and I will, in good time.

We wouldn’t have had A Fine Profession if I hadn’t gotten over that first hurdle of the first novel. Nor would Warrick Jones be breaking hearts either, if I hadn’t carried on, kept the faith, kept writing, knuckled down. Each time I finish a novel I prepare myself for the slump and the possibility that I might not have any more in the tank. I might not have the urge to keep going. I am a realist and sometimes, it just ain’t happening. The pen does not want to move. Yet, always, when I am least looking – I find something else to do. To explore. My first novel taught me that… you start with a singular notion and you let it run riot from there. You don’t stop until you have exhausted every possibility in your mind. I learnt to stop looking to myself for the inspiration and look at the world. The “shaping a novel into a smooth ride” thing, that comes later. Worry about it then…!

More to come…