On Sunday, Karen Aldous wrote us a great guest post on the RNA New Writers' Scheme and it proved to be a big hit with my readers. If you missed it here is the link. Today, as promised, Karen is back to tell us how the scheme helped her to fulfil her dream of becoming a published author.
Over to you again, Karen...
So, getting back to my path to publication, although I had been intending to complete a novel for the bulk of my adult life, like many women, children take over your life and your own dreams get put on the back burner. I had, however, kept writing on and off but binned much of it. Then, just three years ago, my mother was diagnosed with that dreadful disease none of us like to mention and, my perspective changed. It made me realise that none of us know what’s around the corner. I had to try to fulfil my dream…the novel in my head finally began to get put down on my computer.
I had read about the RNA NWS in the Writing Magazine/Writer’s News - a magazine I’d been subscribing to since 1983. So it had been in my mind for a few years to join. I checked the latest criteria details on their website, and saw that the application process was, for the first time, online. So at New Year, January 2012, I went on to their site RNA.org/NWS and got all the information I needed, and at two minutes past midnight on the second of January I hit the button to get on the scheme. They only take two hundred and fifty new writers in total on the scheme and that includes the existing members going through the scheme who haven’t yet published but wish to renew. So places are like gold-dust.
Hurrah, I received an email to say, I’d been accepted and threw my determination in to gear. That day, again, in my Writing Magazine, I read an article about a local Creative Writing class run by Elaine Everest (Gracie’s War) called The Write Place. I phoned Elaine and was in the class an hour later. Elaine and Francesca, (who helped with running the class) were also on the NWS so we all had common goals and went to every RNA event we could and attended classes to help with the nuts and bolts of writing and setting writing goals for our novels. Still do in fact. I bought books to help my writing by Sue Moorcroft, Kate Walker and Stephen King to further my goal.
My first year, I didn’t complete the novel but sent in all I could. The feedback was encouraging and very helpful. I edited. I then refined the first three chapters and began entering competitions sending them and a synopsis. From this, I got a one-to-one opportunity with an editor who liked my work and asked to see the remainder once it was complete. Of course I worked hard to complete it. It wasn’t easy with all that was happening with Mum’s treatment etc., but, I believed if I gave it everything I could, I would create my own luck. Again I renewed my subscription to the NWS the following year, 2013, and got it completed. I then sent it back getting an honest and valuable critique from the NWS and sent it to the editor who had asked for it. And, OMG!!! In November, CarinaUK (Harlequin/HarperCollinsUK) sent me a two-book contract! I was stunned.
So, the scheme is wonderful but it’s up to each of us to make it happen. It’s that old adage, preparation is key. I have been welcomed and supported by RNA and the novel class ever since I set my mind to it. It was always my dream to write novels for a living and I will work hard to learn more and write more to keep my dream alive. Three of us in The Write Place Novel class have now become published with our novels. Seventeen of those on the RNA NWS graduated in 2013. So, my message here is, get all the help and support you can because you will, trust me, want to give it back.
I want to give a huge thank you to Karen for her two guest blog posts. I have learnt a lot from them myself and it has spurred me on to think about getting my novel started and maybe having a shot at the scheme next year. Anyone thinking of doing the same might be interested in the New Talent Award run by The Festival of Writing and supported by the RNA. The winner gets a place on the 2015 scheme.