Sunday, 10 February 2019

So Excited to Reveal the Cover of my Debut!

It feels like I've been waiting so long for this moment... the cover reveal of my debut psychological thriller, What She Saw, which will be published by Bookouture on 1st May in e-book, paperback and audio.

I was first sent the cover (along with the new title) in November. The email from my editor arrived while I was on holiday in La Gomera, sunning myself by the pool. I loved the cover immediately and I had to restrain myself from showing the woman on the sun bed next to me! 

The official cover reveal day was actually over a week ago but it's taken me this long to update my blog as I'm in the thick of edits for book two. But what a day it was! 

At 4.45 pm precisely, Bookouture made the above announcement on Facebook and other social media, and then the fun began. Good wishes, wonderful comments about the cover, shares and re-tweets began and all of these lovely well-wishers needed to be thanked and replied to. Not that I'm complaining - I was truly thankful to know that my cover reveal was being well received.

That wasn't all the good news though, as at the same time as the cover reveal, the e-book of What She Saw was also put on pre-order. So exciting!

Not that I was Amazon rating watching (well only a little) but it was exciting to see my novel race up the charts even though it won't be published until May!

If any of you lovely readers would like to pre-order What She Saw for just 99p (it's a great opportunity as the price will rise on publication) you can follow the links below.

Apple Books: 

I'd love to know what you think of the cover and tagline. Just leave a comment in the box below.

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

How I Survived Second Novel Syndrome

I've just looked at the title of this post and I feel rather satisfied with the alliteration which was totally unintentional. It's nice when things just work for you... unlike second novels.

Yes, this post is all about the dreaded 'second novel syndrome'. Those of you who are writers and have written more than one book will know what I'm talking about and, even if you haven't experienced it yourself, you will probably have heard of someone who has. As experiences go, it really isn't that great.

So what is second novel syndrome?

Well, it's exactly what it says on the tin. It's the problem that arises when you've written a novel you're happy with and then have to do the same thing again... just as well or even better.

Let me set the scene. You've spent months or years writing your first novel, have had it read by beta readers, have maybe had a critique (such as the one you get if you're on the RNA NWS), you've fiddled and changed and fussed and made it as perfectly perfect as it can possibly be. What you've had is TIME. Time to let the idea brew, time to write, time to get it just as you want it. While you've been writing, you've had no one breathing down your neck, no deadlines (unless you've made your own - and these can be broken without penalty), no one 'waiting' for your next book with expectations. You've been able to write when you like and, if you've not felt like it, could leave your computer and do something else.

Basically, you've been your own master. 

Then something wonderful happens. You manage to find yourself an agent, or, as I did, approach some publishers yourself. You're offered a two-book, or maybe even a three-book, deal (is there such a thing as third book syndrome?) and even as you're popping open the champagne, you know that, already, things have changed. At last you're going to be a published author but you will no longer be travelling this path alone. Joining you will be your agent (if you have one), your editor and, eventually, your readers.

Your first novel has been accepted but now your editor is asking you what you have in mind for the second one. Could you write an outline? A synopsis? Inside your head you're screaming, but I haven't had time to think up something as good as novel one. I need years. 

Hard luck - you'll have to think of something fast!

So you delve into the farthest reaches of your imagination and, amazingly, manage to dredge up an idea you think might work. You get something down on paper and, to your surprise, your editor likes it. So far so good. The problem is, this time you don't have years to write the thing. Depending on your publisher, you might get only a few months AND it will have to be written at the same time you're working on the edits, publication and marketing of book one.

Not only this, but all the time you're writing your second novel, you are doing it under the weight of expectation. If this one's not as good as the first, there will be a lot of people you'll be letting down... your agent, your editor and, most importantly, your readers.

This is where the doubt kicks in and the niggling voice in your head becomes more insistent. Am I just a one-trick pony? Do I only have the one good book in me? Do I deserve to be writing this second novel? Would I be better off sweeping chimneys?

And the suffering hasn't finished yet. While you're writing your second novel, the characters from your first will still be with you as you edit and proofread their story. As you try to cast an entirely new set of characters for novel two, they'll be whispering in your ear, these people are boring. Who would want to spend time with them when they're not as engaging as us?

The doubt becomes stronger. You lose your powers of objectivity. Around thirty thousand words, you think that every sentence you write sounds trite and the nearer to the end you get, the more you feel like an impostor.

That's where I was last week as I wrote THE END to novel two whilst in the thick of edits for novel one. As I pressed 'send' and waited for my editor to read it, I have to admit to being scared (even though she is lovely). What if she hated it? 

Thankfully, I didn't have to wait too long. Withing a few days, my editor came back to me. She didn't hate it... or tear up my contract! In fact, although we'll need to do some work on it, she said it was a very strong second novel with a twist that was even better than the first. I could have cried with relief.

The moral of this story: I experienced second novel syndrome and I survived. And, if I can, so can you!

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

2019 Bring it On!

Happy New Year to you all, and I wish every one of you good health and happiness for 2019.

Last week, best writing buddy Tracy Fells and I met up in our favourite cafe, armed with our target notebooks, for teacakes and a spot of yearly goal setting. We've been doing this for six years now - six years! I can hardly believe it. 

In my last post, I looked at whether I had achieved my 2018 goals. You can read it here.

But this post isn't about looking back, it's about looking forward and, if I'm honest, the 2019 goals have been harder to set than previous years. Why? Because where my writing goes this year will depend on how well the two books that will be published in May and August do. If I'm lucky, I might be offered another contract with my lovely publisher, Bookouture. If not... well, I'll just have to cross that bridge if and when I come to it.

There are a lot of things that I will be doing this year now I'm under contract: completing the publication process for book one then starting and completing the editing and publication process for book two. After that, there will be the publicity and the marketing to think about... not to mention the celebrating! But, these are not exactly goals. They're things that have to be done as the wheels of the publishing machine turn. 

It would be cheating to put 'to have two books published' as my goal for 2019!

Instead, I need to think about where I want to go after that and what new things I'd like to have achieved by the end of the year.

So here they are. My goals for 2019:

  • To enjoy every minute of being a published novelist .

  • To secure another publishing deal (this one is out of my hands).

  • To think about and start novel 3 (which is actually novel 4 as my first novel is still awaiting a publisher).

If I can achieve all these things in 2019, I shall be a very happy writer indeed.

What about you? Do you have yearly writing goals? If so, do feel free to share yours in the comments and I wish you the very best of luck with them.

Monday, 31 December 2018

Did I Achieve my 2018 Writing Goals?

It's time to say goodbye to the old writing year and welcome in the new.

Last week, I took a detailed look at my writing year which you can read here, but today I'm looking at the specific goals which I set with writing chum, Tracy Fells, in the first week of January 2018. As always, we wanted to make the goals achieveable (although we knew that luck would play its part along with hard work).

When writing this post, I looked back at my 2016 and 2017 roundups and saw that, in both years, I hoped it would be 'The Year of the Novel'. It wasn't to be and neither was it this year. BUT big things (novel related) did happen. I got a publishing contract with Bookouture and next year WILL be the year of the novel (or novels - as my second will be published in 2019 too).

So, going back to my specific targets, how did I do?

Goal: Submit something to my RNA New Writing Scheme reader. 

Achieved? Yes. I submitted my first novel for a second opinion. This novel went on to make the top five in the Simon and Shuster/ Darley Anderson Literary Agency 'Write Here Right Now' competition. 

I am delighted (based on goal number two) to have now graduated from the New Writing Scheme.

Goal: Continue submitting to agents/publishers with a view to having my first two novels published.

Achieved? A big fat YES (and also no). I made the decision, earlier in the year, to stop submitting to agents and submit directly to publishers. Within days, I had an offer of a two-book deal with publisher Bookouture but this would be for my second novel and a new one.

Goal: Continue to write two stories a month for the magazines.

Achieved? No. Because of my commitment to the novels (writing novel two while embarking on the editing process for book one), I realised that it was impossible to focus properly on both the novels and the short stories. Sadly, it was the stories that had to take a back seat.

Goal (Non-writing related): To play carols on my new violin by this Christmas.

Achieved? Yes! I bought a book of carols and (what joy!) found I could play nearly all of them. Sadly, I lacked the confidence to play them in front of anyone other than my husband and daughter though.

... and that's it for another year. Next week Tracy and I are meeting to set our 2019 goals and you'll be the first to see them when I post them here later in the week.

All that's left, is to wish you all a very Happy New Year!

Tuesday, 18 December 2018

My Writing Year 2018

Today, as tradition requires, I shall be looking back at all the lovely things (writing and otherwise) that I've done during 2018. Huge thanks, as always, to everyone who has travelled this journey with me.

January - I started the year with the usual teacakes and goal setting with writing chum, Tracy Fells, and I shall be posting how I got on with them after Christmas. I rejoined the RNA New Writers' Scheme. I started submitting my novel to agents. My first guest of the year was Amanda Brittany.

February - This month's guest was Rosemary Goodacre.

March -  Went to the Write By the Beach Conference in Brighton.

April - Had a wonderful few days in Mallorca. Natalie Kleinman was this month's guest. 

May - Submitted my manuscript to Bookouture. Elaine Everest was my guest. I had a week in the fabulous Lake District. Had an email from Bookouture editor requesting a phone call!

June - Angela Petch was my guest. Attended Cream of Crime talk (Mark Billingham, Erin Kelly, Sarah Hilary and William Shaw) at Steyning Festival. Attended the Audiobook Secrets event at Horsham Library (interview with Katerina Diamond and Antonia Beamish) as part of the Love Audio week, where I tried my hand at narrating! My first novel, The Book of Memories' made the top five of the Write Here Write Now novel competition run by Darley Anderson Literary Agency/Simon and Schuster. Biggest news of the year: I was offered a two-book contact with Bookouture. Started writing book two in contract.

July - My guests this month were Deirdre Palmer and Vivien Hampshire. Had some author photos taken. Went on a lovely canal boat holiday. Started structural edits on book one.

August - Bookouture announced my book acquisition. Samantha Tonge was this month's lovely guest. Started line edits on book one.

September - Was told that my first novel will be made into an audiobook. Had a wonderful holiday on the Greek island of Meganissi.

October - I co-hosted the first ever live author Q&A on Twitter for The People's Friend. Attended an evening with Elly Griffiths at the Gluck Studio.

November -  Had a week in La Gomera. Travelled to London for dinner with my Bookouture editor, Jennifer Hunt. Attended the RNA Winter Party.

December - Started my copy edits for book one. My final guest of the year was Kate Helm (Harrison).

All in all, it's been a very momentous year. The highlight being my two-book deal with Bookouture. 2019 will be even more exciting as it will see the publication of my two psychological thrillers. It's been a long time coming so bring it on!

I hope you've all had an equally productive year and thank you for your support.

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Plan, Pitch and Sell Your Book - it worked for me!


I'd like to tell you a fairy tale.

Once upon a time, there was a writer who saw a pot of gold (a publishing deal) at the end of a rainbow. It was a journey she felt compelled to make, as her goal was in touching distance, but however fast she walked, the goal moved ever further away. 

Along the way, this brave author was tossed golden nuggets of hope - an unsolicited request for her novel from a publisher, agents asking to read the full manuscript and an 'almost happily ever after' following an offer of representation.

Sadly, there were also obstacles placed in her path and the fairy tale came to an end. You can read my post about it here.

Another book and another year later, this author embarked on the journey again. This time she wore her thickest armor but, having come so far before, it was hard to start at the beginning again. Feeling despondent, and scared that her novel pitch might not be good enough, she came to a crossroads and stopped, wishing that a fairy godmother would appear to reassure her that she was travelling the right path.

To her surprise, her wish was granted. Her friend, author Kate Harrison, came to her rescue. "I think I have something that might help you," she said, waving her magic wand.

It was her on-line writing course called Pitch, Plan and Sell Your Book 

The writer used the information on the course to check her bio was compelling, her description arresting and her covering letter the best it could be. She carried on with her journey and, oh joy, she could see the palace of Bookouture ahead of her, shining brightly. "We would like to offer you a contract," they said, after reading the author's pitch. "Would you like to join us in our magic kingdom?"

Too right she would! 

That author, of course, is me and with the help of Kate, I had my 'happily ever after' moment after all and I couldn't be more excited. You can read the blog post announcing my two-book acquisition here.

If you too would like help making your dreams come true, Kate is offering an exclusive 60% discount for Wendy's Writing Now blog readers.

Gift vouchers also available!

If you're still not sure, let me tell you a bit more about the Plan, Pitch and Sell Your Book course.

The course is suitable for both new and experienced writers:

  • Someone who's written a book but is receiving constant rejections from agents and publishers. 
  • An indie writer whose books aren't being read or who are receiving unfair reviews.
  • A new writer with an exciting idea who is unsure where to go with it.

The information is covered in 7 steps in a series of videos, presentations, cheat sheets and exercises.

Kate is professional, engaging and knows what she's talking about. She helped me find my way to the perfect publisher... why not let her help you too? 

Kate has sold over a million novels and non-fiction books across indie and trade publishing, with her 19 titles translated into 20+ languages. Before becoming an author, she worked as a TV news correspondent and led a team developing and pitching new programmes and formats for the BBC.   

She's written across the genres from health and diet books, to YA suspense, series novellas, women’s fiction, and now thrillers under the name Kate Helm. Kate is also co-founder of Write by the Beach, the annual conference for new writers in Brighton, where she lives. Her online course, Pitch & sell your book helps authors sell books and develop original ideas using emotional insight, trends and reader need.

If you'd like to find out more about Kate, why not visit her  Website

You can buy her latest novel The Secrets You Hide from Amazon here 

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Meeting my Editor, the RNA Party and the Tube!

It's hard to believe that the RNA Winter Party has come around again. It doesn't seem twelve months since I was at the last one. I've always enjoyed the event but, this year, there was something else to look forward to. I was being taken out to dinner beforehand by my Bookouture editor, Jennifer hunt.

Now, since Jennifer approached me with a publishing deal in May, we have been in contact by telephone and email but it's not the same as meeting someone in the flesh. At last, I was going to meet the person who had loved my novel enough to offer me a contract... and I was super excited.

Me and Jennifer
Jennifer had booked a table at Tozi in Pimlico so all I needed do do was get there in time and find the place. It didn't start well when my train was cancelled and I had to travel to Victoria via Brighton. Not good when you suffer from travel anxiety at the best of times. The train was then held up outside Clapham Junction due to a signalling failure and I could see the minutes ticking away. What sort of impression would it give if I was late? it wasn't even as if I could let Jennifer know as I didn't have her mobile number!

Finally the train arrived at Victoria and I ran all the way (with the help of trusty Google Maps) to the restaurant - which wasn't a bad thing as it meant I didn't have time to get nervous. After all, meeting your editor for the first time is like going on a blind date. What if you don't get on? What if you have nothing to talk about?

As soon as I was shown to my table, I knew I had nothing to worry about. Jennifer was just like she was on the phone, warm and welcoming, and the meal was very informal. We shared a selection of tapas dishes, helped along by a glass of Prosecco, and talked about all sorts of things. It wasn't long before we were looking at our watches and realising we'd better get our skates on if we were to make the RNA party.

This year, as last year, the party was held at 1 Birdcage Walk, in a beautiful room lined with books. It was Jennifer's first RNA party and I warned her it would be very hot and very loud - but also very friendly.

It was lovely to catch up with old friends and new (many of whom I only knew through social media). People such as Jenni Keer, who's been tavelling a similar writing journey to me these last couple of years. If I'm honest, the whole evening went by in a blur and it took me a good twenty minutes to get to the bar for my first drink as I kept getting stopped along the way.
Me and Liz

To top the evening off, I did a very brave thing. With the help of my lovely friend, Liz Eeles, I went back to Victoria on the underground! Most of you will know that I never EVER go on the tube (the last time I tried, I felt panicky and had to go back out again) but this time it wasn't too busy and the District Line isn't too deep, so I survived. Quite an achievement!

All in all, it was a very successful evening and if you've been thinking about going to one of the RNA events, but haven't felt brave enough, please consider going. I'm pretty sure you'll enjoy it.