Wednesday, 13 August 2014

My writing journey

For ages I've been meaning to write my own story, and get down on paper (or pixels) how I woke up one day as a published author... So from green biro to published copies, here's how it happened!

When I was ten years old, I decided I’d write a book. My first novel ran to seven pages of a lined A4 notepaper, and I only remember two things about it. One, the main character was an ill-disguised version of my best friend. And two, for some reason, I chose to write the whole thing in green biro – fortunately, for my editors, not a habit I’ve kept.

Fast-forward fifteen years, and I was still writing in fits and starts, though I didn’t seem to have the confidence to take my writing seriously.

I can pinpoint, though, two key events that finally kick-started my writing career, and for which I’ll be forever grateful. The first was the coming together (*ahem*) of two of my great loves: Mills & Boon and rugby (players…). When M&B announced that they would be releasing a rugby-themed miniseries, working together with the RFU, I was inspired. I put pen to paper, and started work on a novel featuring an ill-disguised Jonny Wilkinson (do you see a theme emerging?). I got about seven thousand words down before my hard drive died, taking all my hard work with it. Not enough words to have developed any real conflict, characterisation or plot, but there were one or two sentences in there – I seem to remember a honey-coloured shoulder – that made me think that I might actually be okay at this writing lark, given enough practice.

And that’s when I discovered NaNoWriMo.

Now, I’ve gushed before on the joys of NaNo, so I won’t do it again here, but suffice it to say that without these month-long writing exercises I might never have gone on to take my writing seriously, or to ever get to The End.

It took three years, and three completed NaNo manuscripts, before I turned around on 1 December, and thought to myself, I might actually have something here. Another year of hard graft later, the book was Hiding from Hollywood, and a year after that, it hit virtual bookshelves, edited and published by the lovely folks at Crimson Romance.

And while I was waiting for Hollywood to find the right home, I was working on something else, inspired by too many hours in front of food-themed reality TV (a habit I’ve not shaken. I’m counting down the minutes to tonight’s Bake Off … currently 54!). I had the manuscript finished and edited when I saw that Mills & Boon were running a pitch competition to find new authors, and thought that I’d run my foodie story idea past them – maybe they’d like it. And they did! I came runner up in that competition and the editors asked to see the partial manuscript, and then the full! Several rounds of revisions later, they offered a contract not only for that book, now titled Frozen Heart, Melting Kiss, but for the next one too!

And that’s where you find me now. I’ve just put the finishing touches to my second book for M&B, am working on promoting Frozen Heart, Melting Kiss, and am looking forward to receiving my first sales figures for Hiding from Hollywood. And, of course, trying to sort through the various ideas simmering in my brain to decide which story I’m going to tackle next!

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