Hi there, welcome to my little corner of the World Wide Web.
I LOVE reading about writing journeys. They are normally filled with perseverance, bravery, an endless love of words, a lot of daydreaming, blood, sweat and tears.
Reading an author’s writing journey is my go-to for when I am lacking motivation. If you are thinking of writing a book or are in need of some motivation read on.
Here is my journey.
- 2013. I turned 40 and decided I wanted to achieve a life long ambition. Since a small child I’d wanted to be an author. However life had got in the way. By the time I was 40 I was reading more books than I was having hot dinners and I wanted to write my own. A few things gave me cause for concern: I didn’t come from a journalism background, I didn’t have a degree or masters in Creative Writing (I had a degree in something unrelated), I didn’t know any writers or authors and I did not have a clue what I wanted to write about. Feeling overwhelmed, I put my ambition to the back of my mind and tried to forget about it.
- 2014. For Christmas 2013 my husband bought me a 12 week creative writing course at my local university. He was not going to watch me give up on a dream. It was part time and one evening a week. With a belly full of butterflies, a brand new pencil case and a notebook I went along. The course was great and it proved to me I could write something. The thought of writing a book felt like a huge mountain so I decided to master the art of writing regularly. At one of the sessions the tutor had recommended setting up a blog. A week later I would creep upstairs on a wet Sunday afternoon and set up THIS blog.
3. August 2015. I had been blogging for a year and had actually come to enjoy writing what I called my list posts. I tried to make them funny. They were mainly lists based on being a stressed out mother and a newbie writer. To my surprise I was nominated for the ‘Funniest Blog’ Award at the Annual Bloggers Bash Awards 2015. It was voted for by the online community. To my absolute SHOCK and AMAZEMENT – I won. Dark pic of me below holding up my winners t-shirt.
4. 2016. Once I’d mastered the art of list posts I decided to write something. My blog series – The Diary of Roxy Collins was born. Each week I would write a fictional extract from her diary. Roxy was like Bridget Jones but older with three failed relationships behind her, three children to raise by herself, a lot of heartbreak and the most adorable landlord ever – Brian. Once I’d stuck Roxy on my blog I decided to upload her onto Wattpad. At that time I knew nothing about Wattpad. I hoped it would reach a few readers. This was how the first few weeks went on Wattpad. I had 10 followers and 4 of them had liked my story. I was so proud of myself.
Six months later and Roxy’s diary had been included as part of a featured Romance Author campaign. She gained me 70k followers on Wattpad, 270k reads and gave me so much validation. I even went and turned her into a podcast. This was recorded in my daughter’s shoe cupboard with a microphone and a gin & tonic on a Friday evening.
5. 2017-2019. I decided to start writing my first book. It was based on an idea which had been bubbling away at the back of my mind for some time. My husband had run the London Marathon to celebrate 10 years being cancer free. As he did his training he started carrying round with him a little red notebook to record his training schedule, leaving us all instructions on the fridge and creating wall planners to get us all organised. This sparked the idea for my novel – Instructions For Falling in Love Again.
6. June 2019. After a LOT of agent rejections (40+) I decided to self publish Instructions. Self publishing was also a lot harder than I thought. My goodness I learnt a lot about launching a book, self promotion, social media, proofreading, reviews and being an author. It was a steep learning curve for me and my lovely non writer friends who gave up a birthday weekend to proofread my book. My two non writer reader friends showed real promise at proofreading 🤣 Big shout out to Sue whose birthday it was. The book launched and I was so proud of myself.
Writing a novel proved harder than I thought. During those 2 years I shoved it in the drawer a LOT and wrote other stories. I also kept begging my non-writer friends who read romance books to read it and give me feedback. I have very honest non-writer friends 🤣 and their feedback was interesting – but it was what I needed. They didn’t hold back and I remember one friend titling her feedback email to me (third revision of book) with – WHAT HAVE YOU DONE??? Sigh! But looking back I think the feedback and gaps in writing it plus the constant revisions really helped it to become a book.
7. 2019 – 2022. These were my book blogging and bookstagram years. I experienced a LOT of rejections on two books (40+ on each book) during this time. They were rejections but I got a good number of full requests for the full novels so I felt like I was improving. That’s the weird thing about rejections for books – there are different levels of rejections.
Book blogging became a distraction. It also was really valuable as it forced me to read a lot of books and review them. This really helped my writing. I started to see what makes a good read, what makes a romance novel successful and how authors structure their books. In hindsight this period in my writing life was very important and despite all the rejections – this was when I started to grow in terms of writing ability.
I also carved out a space for me and my writing in my house. Books become things which would make me smile even when I was being deluged with rejection emails. They kept me going in the bleakest of rejection hours. It would have been so easy to give up during these years, but I carried on. Each time I felt like quitting I would look up at them and say to myself, ‘that author never gave up!’
8. 2021 – 2022. I got to work with two literary agents on two different books. One offered me representation and I was over the moon. It was a dream come true. Sadly my book did not sell on submission but the experience was so valuable. My agent and I parted ways amicably and I was very grateful for her commercial knowledge, wisdom and approach to critiquing a draft novel.
9. 2023. I submitted a manuscript to Bloodhound Books and prayed to my bookshelves. Bloodhound Books had published a few of my favourite romcom authors so I knew they were a great publisher.
10. 2023. The best news ever arrived! My new novel is due out in September 2023 and you are going to LOVE it!
The moral of this story / journey is – never give up!
If you are a romance author and interested posting your own writing journey on my blog let me know. Get in contact with me by leaving a message on my blog, via DM on Twitter or Instagram.