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. 

Saturday 3 November 2018

Scared to Let Go

In September, I wrote a blog post called Moving on a Bit. Although, I hadn't announced it yet (I had to wait until I was given the go-ahead) I had already signed my two-book deal with the brilliant Bookouture and had started writing the second novel in my contract.

My post was about how difficult it was to write short stories alongside longer-length projects and how, even though I'd managed to do this when writing my first two novels, I had decided to take a step back from magazine writing for a while to give myself the very best chance of success.

I think it was the only decision I could have made as, very quickly after this, I began work on editing novel one. First there were the structural edits, then the line edits, then the book was sent to an independent editor for copy edits, which I shall get back in December. At the same time as this, I've been working on novel two. 

Last week I had an email from my lovely editor at The People's friend. They were buying two of my stories. This should, of course, have been cause for celebration, but instead I felt nothing but anxiety. The reason for this was that, when I came to enter the sales into my records, I realised that they only had one more of my stories left to read. In the six years I've been writing for the magazine, this has never happened, as I always like to have at least ten with them. I then looked back and saw I hadn't written them a new story in two months (I used to write one a week).

It was a truly unsettling moment and I vowed that I would leave my novel and write a story there and then. I looked at my list of ideas and chose one before doing what I always do and just to start writing. This technique has never failed me yet as, along the way, the small kernel of the idea usually starts to grow quite quickly into something story-like and, if I get stuck, a dog walk usually sorts it out.

Not this time.

To my horror, by seven hundred words, my idea was still just that... an idea. The characters hadn't come to life, the plot hadn't taken shape and the end wouldn't reveal itself. Eventually, I had to stop.

I've tried to analyse what happened. It might be a) I've got out of the habit of writing short fiction b) I was writing it because I felt guilty not because I wanted to c) My head was still in my novel 

Whatever the reason, it's worried me. I've always been successful writing for the magazines and I don't want to forget how to do it. It's where my income comes from and I've always enjoyed it. I'm also afraid that, with the magazine market shrinking, the competition for story sales is greater than it's ever been and taking a step back can be a dangerous thing to do. 

Getting my publishing deal has been one of my greatest achievements but there's no way of knowing what will happen once the books come out. All I know is that I have to give it my very best shot. In the meantime, I'm going to leave the story and come back to it with fresh eyes. I've done it three hundred times before, so I shall just have to have faith in myself that I can do it again.

Anyone else out there in the same boat?

Monday 22 October 2018

Sighing and Other Irritations

I was reading back over the last couple of chapters of my work in progress last week (before I carry on with my writing, I always read and edit my words from the previous day) and something soon became clear to me.

A lot of my characters stand in doorways. 

In fact, it's amazing how many doorways there are in my novel... and how many times people stand in them. 

Sometimes they lean
Sometimes they loiter
Sometimes they eavesdrop
Sometimes they hover

... but mostly they just stand.

It reminded me of the time (a long time ago now) when my husband told me that a lot of the characters in my magazine stories 'furrowed their brows' and occasionally even 'knitted' them. Yes really! 

You'll be glad to know they never do that now.

It made me wonder about other writers. Do their characters also have a fear of crossing the threshold or are there other irritating things they do much too often? With this in mind, I took to Facebook and asked the question. Here is a list of the answers I got back - they may or may not surprise you.

  • sigh
  • blush
  • rise to their feet
  • take a deep breath
  • shrug
  • smile
  • giggle
  • roll eyes
  • lock gaze
  • nod
  • shake head
  • raise eyebrows
  • check watch
  • turn on their heel
  • frown
  • linger on thresholds
  • stir tea
  • pull up a chair
  • put kettle on

My favourite answer by far was the writer whose characters often winced and gripped each other's elbows (that sounds very painful!)

When the novel is finished, I shall definitely be on the look out for all these sneaky little actions - just in case they've crept in when I wasn't paying attention.

So pull up a chair, take a deep breath, stir your tea and smile while you think of some other actions we could add to the list. If you do, I'll be the one shrugging and rolling my eyes in the doorway!

Tuesday 9 October 2018

Impostor Syndrome - Yes, I have it!

A person who pretends to be someone else in order to deceive others

I belong to a choir and, last week, a new member asked me what I do for a living.

I hesitated before answering, knowing I had two options. The easy one was to say, 'I'm a teacher.' The hard one would be, 'I'm an author'.

If I answered the first way, I guessed the conversation would move on quickly. If I answered the second, all manner of things could happen.

What to do?

I had no choice really. I hadn't taught in a classroom for seven years... but I had been writing for six.

Biting the bullet, I answered, 'I'm an author.' This was  followed by a brief explanation of what that meant - I wrote fiction for magazines and that I had written two novels that would be coming out next year.

Then came the wait. I was in the grips of  'Impostor Syndrome'. How could I dare call myself an author. What cheek! What pretense! How conceited! 

These are the types of replies I imagined she might give:

  • Will I have read anything you've written?
  • You write for magazines? I didn't know they did fiction.
  • What a lovely hobby.
  • I've got a little book in my head too. I'll write it some day.
  • Will your book be in the local book shop?
  • Is it another Fifty Shades?
  • You must be rich then.
  • You're going to published by who? Not Penguin? I've only heard of Penguin

Ridiculous I know, but it's a feeling I'm sure most authors have had at some time or other.

But, to my surprise, it didn't happen that way at all. What she actually said was, 'That's wonderful and so exciting for you. I'm going to buy the magazine next week to read your story and you must let me know when your book comes out. I couldn't write a novel to save my life!'

I could have kissed her.

Why had I even considered denying what I did?  It was all in my head - just my own self-doubt talking. I've had hundreds of stories published in magazines and I have a publishing contract for two novels. I should be proud, not embarrassed by what I've achieved.

And I am proud. 

So I'm pushing that little voice that says 'impostor' away (hopefully for good) and, next time, I will answer with no hesitation. 

I am an author. Oh, yes I am!

Have any of you suffered from Impostor Syndrome? If so, how do you rid yourself of it?

P.S When I first wrote this post, I spelt the word  'impostor' as 'imposter'. It belongs to the group of words such as 'actor' and 'impersonator'. I've learnt something today!

Monday 1 October 2018

I Joined The People's Friend Team for an Hour!

An exciting thing happened last week. I was asked by The lovely people at The People's Friend magazine if I'd like to co-host their first ever live 'Author Q&A' as part of their Writing Hour on Twitter. 

Even though I've written over two hundred stories for this magazine, I was surprised to have been asked and very flattered. Of course I said a very quick yes. 

So what is this Writing Hour? Well, it's on a Tuesday and a Thursday morning at 11am and it's a place where readers and writers can chat about a variety of things to do with writing. Using the hashtag #PFWritingHour, the Friend team pose a series of questions which will elicit conversation amongst the hashtag readers. 

This time though, the questions would come from the readers and they would all be directed at me! (gulp).

Now, I'm not new to answering questions (I've been interviewed on people's blogs many times) but I've never done it live! It made me feel a little bit panicky. What if I was asked a difficult question and didn't know the answer? What if I sat there for an hour with no questions? What if I let myself and the lovely magazine I write for down? I certainly hoped I wouldn't.

Tuesday morning came and the first thing I did was advertise the event. I certainly didn't want to be 'Billy No Mates'. At eleven O'clock, armed with a large cup of coffee, I logged into the People's Friend Twitter account and introduced myself to the readers. I needn't have worried about no one asking me anything as immediately the questions came pouring in. I was very proud when the People's Friend profile picture came up every time I commented - I felt just like one of the team!  

The questions were from both new and established writers and all of them were great. Here are a few of them to give you a flavour:

What's the best way to deal with rejection?
Have you ever written a story that has upset someone?
How long does it take you to write a short story?
Do you have a favourite PF character of all time?

I could barely keep up with the questions and I'm ashamed to say I had to type the answers so quickly, there were one or two little typos - oops!

The whole experience was really enjoyable and, if you are on Twitter and would like to read my answers to these questions and many more, you can still catch them by typing #PFWritingHour into the search bar and scrolling down to last week's chat.

Much to my surprise, I've been asked if I'll take part in a Q&A again another week... I'd be delighted. In the meantime, here is a picture of my latest story in this week's People's Friend. It's called, 'Let Love Grow'.

Wednesday 19 September 2018

Greece is the Word. Have you Heard?

Sorry I haven't posted for a while but I've been on holiday and, on my return, had to get stuck into a pile of line edits that my editor sent me just before I went away (I deliberately didn't look at them until I came home in case I went into panic mode). Now the edits are done, I can concentrate on carrying on with novel two. It's taking a while to get into the swing of it but it's slowly taking shape and, today, I reached the halfway mark which I'm happy about.

As always, our Greek holiday was fantastic. This year we tried a new island, Meganissi (sometimes spelt Meganisi) and it was exactly as we'd imagined it - small but perfectly formed. In fact, with its little harbour, hilltop villages, green slopes and pebble beaches (not to mention the flotillas that moored up each evening) it reminded us of our two previous Greek holidays in Ithaca and Paxos. Above, is a picture of the little house we stayed in. We had our own pool with a gorgeous view which we sadly shared with several wasps (Ian got stung between his toes on the last day) and some rather scary looking hornets (which luckily weren't interested in us at all).

So what does this writer do when she's on holiday? Write?


I read lots, ate delicious food, drank Mythos beer and swam - not necessarily in that order! One day, we hired a little boat. Mooring up in deserted bays and swimming in the crystal clear water was heavenly - until we ran aground and damaged our propeller. As if that wasn't bad enough, we then found, once we'd left the shelter of the harbour and were setting off home, that the wind had picked up and there were waves. I absolutely do not 'do' waves.

The only way I could cope with the journey back was by taking the wheel. It was better than being a passenger and awaiting my fate in the choppy water. "We'll be alright, won't we?" I was heard to say more than once to my husband. Needless to say (as you're reading this) we got back unscathed.

The harbour town of Vathi was the perfect place to have lunch and watch the sailing boats come and go. Each day, we'd choose something different to accompany our Greek salad. These are the delicious courgettes in tempura batter we had for one of our lunches. This year, we also discovered Portokalopita for the first time. It's a type of Greek orange drizzle cake and was absolutely delicious.

To counteract all this lovely food we were eating, we made sure we went to a beach for a swim at some point every day. The beaches in Meganissi are all pebble (ranging from shingle to large white stones) but that is how we like it as it makes the sea even clearer and turns it the most beautiful shade of blue/green. Usually, we'd stroll down at around six in the evening, when the weather was cooler, and have the beach to ourselves but, on a couple of days, we treated ourselves to a whole day at one of the two 'organised' beaches. This meant a sunbed and shade and a beach taverna.

The photo above was Fanari beach with its great taverna playing reggae music (sounds strange but it works). As you can see from the photograph at the top of this post, it looks very Caribbean! The other organised beach we went to was at Spilia. A storm was brewing, which made for a great photo, and we huddled under the sunshades as lightning forked the sky and the heavens opened. It lasted about half an hour and was quite exciting!

So now I'm home again and have been chuffed to find that I've had five stories published over the last two weeks in three different magazines. It doesn't always happen like this I can tell you. I've made a little montage of them because it makes me happy... but maybe not as happy as going to Greece!

Friday 31 August 2018

Welcome Back Samantha Tonge!

The last month or so has been a whirlwind of returning guests, and don't I just love it - especially when they are ones I've known all my writing life. Today I'm delighted to welcome back my very special guest, Samantha Tonge, for her fourth appearance on Wendy's Writing Now. Samantha has been on quite a journey recently and has openly talked about her struggle when wine O'clock become something bigger. Since then, she's made huge changes in her life and one of these is a new direction in her writing.

I'll let Sam tell you about it.

Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about a writer’s voice and exactly what it is. The first book I wrote -  not my debut Doubting Abbey, published in 2013, but my very first attempt at writing back in 2005 – was not comedic. My second and all the ones to follow were. In real life I’m the sort of person to crack one-liners and laugh with people I know (and don’t, to my children’s embarrassment) and I think I decided that romantic comedy was more me because of this. Plus at the time I got feedback from an editorial agency saying that they felt I was very near the point of finding my writing voice and I took that to mean I was doing the right thing, writing as I spoke.

It certainly felt natural and I went on, eventually, to have nine romantic comedies published, the last this May, One Summer in Rome.

I say the last because in recent years I’ve faced some mental health challenges and there came a point, in 2017, when I had to tell my agent I couldn’t write comedy anymore. It just wasn’t in me to crack one-liners. Less of that was happening in real life and I suppose it’s obvious that would affect my work as a writer. In 2016 I’d found myself with a wine o’clock problem that had got out of control and it was whilst recovering from that I changed direction and wrote my first women’s fiction novel Forgive Me Not. It has just been published by the wonderful Canelo.

On the back of that I thought that very first book I wrote must have been the real authorly me and I’d just gone back to that.

But then the reviews started to come in for Forgive Me Not. Here are some examples...

You will still find the same warmth and love just like in her other stories.”

“This book has a harder edge to it but the characters and plot were equally as compelling.”

“Samantha’s writing style has the knack of drawing me in making it her books extremely difficult to put it down.”

Heartwarming & heartbreaking in equal measure – love @SamTongeWriter's new direction.”

Whilst reviewers acknowledge that Forgive Me Not heralds a very new direction for my writing, they can clearly see common ground. And the same words keep coming up as in reviews for my romcoms – warm, emotional, heartfelt… so all of this leads me to question exactly what voice is.

And I’ve concluded that, for me, it’s not the tone – i.e. whether the book is comedic or serious – no, it’s about warmth. All of my novels have featured characters and communities pulling together, for example, and Forgive Me Not is no different – the economy of the little village of Healdbury is under threat from a new out-of-town hypermarket and so locals pull together to save their businesses. There’s also a warm-hearted thread about charity and acceptance connected to the grittier subject of homelessness.

I suspect whatever genre I wrote that voice of mine would be there. If I wrote about zombies alongside the gruesome deaths I’d probably have one who was vegetarian, like the shark in Nemo, who was trying to save the humans.

So I think readers help you identify exactly what your voice is – what it is, about your writing, that inspires them to buy your next book. It may not be the tone or the style or feel. Or it might be. But, whatever it is, it’s unique to you.

You can buy Forgive Me Not HERE

You can find out more about Samantha by following the links below:

Samantha Tonge lives in Manchester UK. She studied German and French at university and has travelled widely.

When not writing she passes her days cycling, baking and drinking coffee. Samantha has sold many dozens of short stories to women’s magazines. 

Her bestselling 2013 debut novel, Doubting Abbey, was shortlisted for the Festival of Romantic Fiction best Ebook award. In 2015 her summer novel, Game of Scones, hit #5 in the UK Kindle chart and won the Love Stories Awards Best Romantic Ebook category. Her new novel, Forgive Me Not, heralds a new direction with publisher Canelo, and is a story about acceptance, forgiveness and trying to put things right.

Thursday 23 August 2018

I did it! I'm going to be a published author!

I apologise if this post sounds over-excited, and may contain a surfeit of capitals and exclamations, but it's a blog post I've been longing to write for a very long time... and, at last I can. 

Drum roll.... I have a publisher!

Most of you will have already heard by now that, on Tuesday, the publisher, Bookouture, made this announcement:

SO DELIGHTED to share that we have signed a deal for two psychological thrillers from Flash500 Novel Competition winner WENDY CLARKE.

If that doesn't deserve a squeal or two, nothing does! I am absolutely thrilled.

You can read the full announcement from Bookouture HERE

My journey with Bookouture began at the end of May when, despite winning the Flash500 novel competition, having a glowing report from my NWS reader, Jennifer Young, six full  manuscript requests from agents and unsolicited approaches from two major publishers, months and months had gone by and things were still not happening. I was growing weary of all the waiting - wondering if six months was too early to politely enquire after my novel only to do so and have it rejected by return of email or, worse still, to have no reply at all. I was constantly scared of doing the wrong thing: not wanting to upset anyone and spoil my chances but not wanting my submission to have fallen down the back of the metaphorical filing cabinet. 

Anyone who's been down this route will know what I'm talking about.

Little by little, my confidence was ebbing away, leaving me wondering whether maybe my novel was rubbish despite the evidence to the contrary.

Then I had a light bulb moment. Why was I not listening to what many of my writer friends had been telling me for a while? Rather than waiting for an agent to find a deal for me, why wasn't I looking for one myself?  

Bookouture was top of my list having been recommended to me by my lovely friend Liz Eeles who writes for them. Also, Bookouture publishes Kerry Fisher and Louise Jensen whose books I love. In fact, I'd heard only amazing things about this publisher and when I submitted my manuscript I was expecting another nail-biting wait as I knew competition would be high.

Imagine my delight and amazement when, the very next day, I received an email from my fabulous editor, Jennifer Hunt, to say that she'd just started reading my novel. She wanted to let me know that she was already enthralled by it and swept away by my characters' stories. She'd be in touch very soon.

Very soon was indeed VERY soon! Just four days later, I received another email from Jennifer telling me she thought I'd written such a page-turner she'd read it twice. Could we speak on the phone? I was shocked  and very nervous but, when that call happened, I knew straight away that I'd found the perfect home for my novel. In Jennifer, I'd found that person (aside from my NWS reader) who felt as passionately about my work as I did. Not only that - someone who was as excited at the prospect of working with me as I was with them.

It didn't take me long to say a big YES to their offer of a two-book deal. In Jennifer's words - it looked like we were a 'great match'

So this is the news I've had to hold close to my chest for three months while the wheels have been set in motion. During that time, I've been working with my editor on the structural edits of book one (which are now done) and have started book two.

On Tuesday, the announcement was finally made and everything went crazy! Here is a screenshot from Twitter to give you an idea.

I spent most of the afternoon glued to my computer screen, chatting to people on Facebook, re-tweeting messages of support and thanking people for their incredibly heartfelt congratulations. It was, in a word (or two), overwhelming and very emotional.

So, thank you all for travelling this journey with me and for your support and encouragement (especially you, Tracy Fells).

Now the hard work begins!

Monday 13 August 2018

Moving On (a bit)

Six years ago, I started writing for the women's magazine market (womags). I've been very lucky and have had a lot of success over that time, with around three hundred stories published. In fact, apart from marriage and having children, the day I made my first short story sale was one of my best ever. This's why I felt very sad this week when I had to tell my favourite magazine, The People's Friend, that I will no longer be able to write as many stories for them.

The reason for this is I really need to concentrate on the novel I'm writing. Most of you will know that I've already written two novels (one of them won the Flash 500 Novel Opening and Synopsis competition and the other recently made the top five of the Simon and Schuster/Darley Anderson novel competition) and I feel that novel writing is the natural next stage of my writing career.

And herein lies the problem. When I wrote my first novels, I continued to write short stories alongside them but I constantly felt guilty. When I was writing my novel, I felt I should be writing a short story and, when I was writing a short story, I felt I should be writing my novel. 

The other problem was whenever I had a break and spent time with a cast of new  characters, a new story plot and, quite likely, a totally different genre to my novels (last week I had stories published in the genres of contemporary romance, rom-com and a swashbuckling period romance)
I found it hard to switch back into my novel characters' heads and write in the style of my genre (suspense).

That's why, now I've started writing novel three, and after much soul searching, I've decided I really need to concentrate on getting this one as good as it can be without distraction. My editor at The Friend is super-lovely and, when I wrote to him last week, he understood why I'd made this decision. He's always championed me and my writing and I owe him a lot. I did reassure him that it was not goodbye it was just au revoir for a little while and I would write him another story just as soon as I can.

Have you ever had to make a hard decision?