I met the author on IG and loved her posts. She’s very open and honest about being a writer & a mother. Her posts made me laugh out loud, more than once.
When she announced she was looking for ARC readers for her novel Dear Diary I was on board. It knew it was going to be brilliant and Kevia didn’t disappoint!
The book is set in today’s world. The MC lives in America with her husband and kids.
The main character is an overwhelmed mother of four kids. She’s a strong Christian (or at least tries to be) and she home schools. The diary is her ramblings as she off loads all the drama placed on her shoulders.
This story is an easy read. Many mother’s would be able to relate to the drama that unfolds in the diary entries. It felt like I was reading a real diary. The way it’s told made me laugh out loud.
I gave it 5 stars although I wished some diary entries had been shorter as my little ones interrupts me a lot. But, it’s easy to get into and I’d definitely recommend it.
This should be a staple gift at every baby shower to really prepare new mums of what to expect in an entertaining way.
I can’t believe it has been 10 years since I first wrote my novel. I’ve written countless other novels but this one I felt had potential. This one, I decided to take seriously.
2009 and 2010
It was Christmas 2009 and I was off work for the holidays when the idea for a novel, about a redhead teen with no idea she is a mermaid discovers she has powers, hit me. I wanted it to be like a modern Little Mermaid.
Once I sat at my PC and started to write I was unable to stop. Without an outline, it was like I was possessed, I struggled to sleep, to eat… I felt anxious if I wasn’t writing Drift.
My fiancé got worried. He saw the sudden change in me and urged me to take a break, to visit family.
But, I couldn’t not write. So I lied to appease him. Pretended to go out, then sneaked back once he had gone to see his own family. It was like having a secret wiring affair. But after an intense week, the first 60k words were written.
I share my novel with anyone willing to read it. My novel was on WeBook where I developed a supportive group of fans. They were a huge confidence boost and we had our own little group to chat about my stories!
It is laughable now but I edited my novel in 2010 and started querying. Surprisingly, I did get some requests. It is surprisingly because now I look back at that early version and see how it wasn’t finished. At the time, I thought it was ready.
My fan had some valuable feedback for me, “You can’t end the story like that!” At first, I saw that as excitement for the next book in the series and began writing Wipeout, but slowly it dawned on me that they were right.
Promise and Deliver
I learnt an important lesson. Readers will develop certain expectations of your story and you must deliver on those.
Version 1 ended with Jace winking at Fern and there being the ‘suggestion’ they were about to get together. But, fans had read for 60k words. They wanted to see Fern achieve her happily ever after and a ‘wink’ was not the grande finale they had invested their time for.
2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
Early 2011, I was distracted by wedding preparations as my June wedding date got nearer. Then, I desperately wanted a baby. We were also trying to move house and the recession meant the value of my home was dropping every month, loosing the equity needed to move.
But 2013, we sold our house, bought a lovely family home and I had my son. With everything falling into place I would like to say I returned to my novel… but my baby boy was the biggest distraction of all.
Stupidly I thought being off work with a baby would free me up to write more but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Noah was not a chilled out baby. I spent his first year keeping up with his hunger, entertaining him and sleeping whenever I could.
Have realistic expectations
Sadly WeBook was no longer the thriving community it once was. All my fans had moved on, possibly grown up, and I had lost them through inactivity. I had to find a new source of feedback. I joined Movella, Figment and Wattpad.
Wattpad became my new favourite. I began editing Drift and Wipeout and shared other novels and created some poetry collections.
For Drift, I changed the ending so Lily (formerly Fern) is asked out by Jace (formerly Sam). I removed the parts by Denny (Jace’s mum) – she gave an outsider perspective of Lily’s unusual upbringing.
Th sequel Wipeout was also told from Lily’s viewpoint and had a few part’s told by Kiara – she was able to show what was going on with Murray. The sequel wasn’t coming to me as easy as Drift had and I was falling in love with Kiara…
2017 and 2018
2017 started with my employer going into administration. I had worked for the company for over 10 years. It scared me, not knowing where my next pay cheque would come from. With bills to pay, I had to find work fast and job hunting became my new priority.
Once I found a job, I felt a little disappointed in myself. I felt I had wasted an opportunity to spend time with my son as I now worked more hours. I realised how I wasn’t prioritising my dream. My profession is a job, not my passion.
Make it a priority
Whilst job hunting, I thought HR and PR work looked appealing but didn’t have the knowledge employers wanted. So in September 2017, I told my employer I was interested in doing the CIPD HR qualification and to my surprise they were willing to support me. I learnt, if you don’t ask the answer will never be yes.
In November 2017, I found out I was pregnant. I was over the moon and in a much better place.
Passing my course, doing well in my job and having a baby were all super important. But, I no longer wanted to treat writing as a hobby. I knew how busy my life would be once Aria was here so I became determined to edit and query before her arrival. My goal was to be signed by an agent by August 2018 (Aria’s due date).
I learnt knew ways to query. I developed my pitch and took part in Twitter events, I found out about Agent 1-2-1s and worked on improving my synopsis. Despite getting requests, I never got offered representation.
In 2018, I edited Drift by removing the parts told by Gwyn (Lily’s mum) – she did some foretelling using her crystal ball. I also decided to scrap Wipeout. I took parts from the sequel and put it into Drift, Glide or cut it out completely.
My goal was to finish editing Drift and Glide. I began by restructure my novel using Save The Cat Writes a Novel. It started off a a way to check my plot and pacing but it soon became apparent that I needed to pull the whole novel a part. It was very intimidating but by the end I had a better novel and a brand new ending. Now there was the highs and lows, romance and I had delivered on the promise of an epic battle. This novel was so different from my original idea of a modern Little Mermaid and I needed a new title, Jewel of the Sea. I also renamed Glide as Diamond in the Sky.
I tried new ways of querying my novel. I pitched on Twitter and in person and got requests but sadly never heard more. Although, I still love the idea of traditional publishing, I have spent the year learning about indie publishing.
I discovered the writing community on Instagram and joined groups like Hustling Writers, Fellow Creative Minds and World Indie Warriors. I also connected with talented authors like Pagan Malcolm and Bethany Atazadeh who share their journey and advice.
Connecting with indie authors gave me insight into their world and processes. No longer did their world scare me, but intrigued me. With their support and encouragement I decided not to spend another decade waiting for someone else to give me permission to publish.
Say yes to yourself!
The problem with querying is you are waiting for someone else to say you can publish. They can say no for countless reasons and rarely have time to explain why. The truth is you don’t need their validation because you can give it to yourself.
You no longer have to traditionally publish. If you are willing to work hard, you can choose your own team and publish yourself. With so many crooks masquerading in the traditional publishing world, it is a mine field to navigate now (I’m sure I had requests from at least three dodgy publishers, I didn’t submit to in 2019 alone).
After ten years writing and querying Jewel of the Sea (formerly Drift), I have decided to Self Publish.
This year is the start of a new era. This year, I am going to publish. It won’t be easy and I have lots still to learn but I’m ready.
Jewel of the Sea is due back this month from a developmental editor. This is my the first step in my big publishing plan.
Celebrate your milestones
To celebrate this new venture, I feel Jewel of the Sea, aka Drift, needs a new name.
I have set myself some strict deadline to keep myself on track but I I won’t rush to publish. I have waited so long for this, I want to be certain my novel is a quality product when I put it out there. I want my readers to love it.
I will blog about my publishing journey, so if you are interested in the process, stay tuned. I would love to hear your thoughts on the new title Ocean Heart.
I had the worst nights sleep. Aria was up every hour – maybe she’s having a growth spurt. We had to wash & sterilise her bottles in the middle of the night as we ran out. We heard Evie have two seizures. And, I had a killer headache, borderline migraine.
In the morning, Rob was going to take Noah to school so I could have a little lay in but it’s hard to sleep with all the noise of people rushing around so I got up. Sadly Evie had a seizure while Noah ate his breakfast. It was the first time he has seen it.l, although we told him she is poorly, it really upset him. Afterwards he claimed he was poorly with a tummy ache and begged to stay home and watch Evie. I let the school know what happened as I couldn’t be sure if he was ill or expressing his sadness, either way he wasn’t going to be any good for class.
I had wanted Noah out the way as we needed to pack for our holiday and help my mum with how to care for Evie and give her medicine. We managed to get it down in time and Noah appeared much better now he had cheered up – phew (he’s usually ill in November).
We arrived at Forest Holidays. Unpacked, ordered pizza, got the kids to bed – Noah was a little tricky to get to sleep as he found the new sounds disturbing. Once they went to sleep my hubby and I enjoyed the hot tub.
Sat, 9 Nov
We woke up after a brilliant nights sleep and our first breast at our lodge.
We headed to the Forest Retreat and got details of the “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt!” trail. Noah read the map and lead us through the forest. He answered the questions, wrote down the answers and read us the field facts. I was very proud of him. We then returned to the Forest Retreat to claim our prize – a copy of the book that inspired the trail. We then stayed for lunch.
Aria was tired and fed, making her a happy content baby that agreed to go down for her nap. Once asleep, we let Noah check out the hot tub. He loved it. He was ready to get out just as the timer went off for 20minutes which is the max allowed for safety.
Afterwards, I tried to get on my laptop to write but it decided to do an update! Why does this always happen when you have limited time? Once done, I managed almost 500 words before Aria woke.
We had a chilled out afternoon watching Incredibles 2. We had dinner, put the kids to bed and then I spent time with my husband. I was then tired and read Crown of Conspiracy by Kara S Weaver before bed.
Sun, 10 Nov
Both kids slept like angels. I gave them breakfast but Aria was in a naughty mood and made so much mess. While I cleaned the dinning room & kitchen, she headed off to the bathroom to throw toilet paper everywhere and empty the bin. She brought me a dirty nappy she had opened to alert me to the next disaster.
We went for a walk before lunch where Aria threw away her hat – no idea where it is. We had lunch, she slept, Noah and I took advantage of the hot tub.
Now, I’m trying to write but do you think my laptop will turn on? It’s been charging all night and now… playing dead. I’m going to have to write on my mobile. Grrr!
Later, we watched a film, had dinner, put the kids to bed and enjoyed our last night here together.
Mon, 11 Nov
I didn’t want to leave the forest but it was time to travel home. Mum gave us an update on the cats and Evie had a bloody paws. It looked like she’d broken her back claws during a seizure. I rang the vet and as she wasn’t in pain and the blood was dry, we agreed to keep her home as bringing her in could cause more distress. The meds seem to be working.
We unpacked, I did laundry and prepared for work. I knew Ofsted were in so I wanted to double check my plan for the day except… where was my diary. I was in a blind panic, cursing myself for unpacking my handbag to use it for a day at the spa. It took me a full hour to figure out where it was. It was then dinner time, putting the kids to bed and then… going live.
Yes, tonight I finally did it. I logged onto World Indie Warriors Facebook group and did a live write-in. We chatted about our projects and writing and did three writing sprints. Once finished I was excited about my novel again and super proud of myself for braving the camera.
Tue, 12 Nov
Today was my long day at work. It felt even longer with Ofsted in as many people were tense, making sure their lessons were perfect. I think everyone did well and I’m silently confident.
Tonight I added over 1k to my word count. I would have liked to have done better but my neck is in pain (I think I slept on it funny).
Wed, 13 Nov
Today was my short day at work. It doesn’t mean I get more free time. As soon as I’m home I’m busy with the kids. Tonight, Rob & I we’re busy wrapping presents for Noah’s birthday. By the time always done I had no time to write.
Thurs, 14 Nov
Today, is Noah’s birthday but I had an early start at work so he only had time for one card and present before breakfast Club.
I expected to be visited by Ofsted today as they have not yet seen me or any of my learners but they didn’t. Although, lots of my colleagues were visited. Today was my last day of work for the week so I will find out how we scored next week. However during my lunch break I wrote a few words and emailed them to myself.
I finished work late so when I got home it was dinner time. Noah waited for me before unwrapping his presents and having cake before bed.
I’m conscious that I am falling behind so I made sure I write tonight. Adding almost 2k to my total.
Week one total
Finishing the second week my grand total is: 14,783
To be on track I need to have reached 23,333 so I am behind.
I’m 9k behind so it is doubtful I will catch up in time to make 50k but the important thing is the progress I have made and will continue to make. I’m not giving up and even if I need a few more months, I will finish this novel.
July has been a challenging month for my writing goals. For Camp NaNo I decided to make a start on book 2, Diamond in the Sky but it has been full of distractions! I’m hoping August will be more productive for my writing.
Distraction 1: Course Work
I needed to finish my coursework for the Working Together Community Course. I must admit I had been putting off the assignments to work on my writing and as the deadline to submit approached I had to prioritise it and get it done. I have really enjoyed volunteering and everyone at the school has been lovely. On my last day, I got a card from the teachers and signed by all the children and chocolates.
Distraction 2: Blog
I didn’t make any progress on my Camp NaNo project until day 7 and I quickly realised that I needed to do some more planning. Not only that but my blog was also in need of some attention. I need to write up about all the fun I had at Felixstowe Book Festival. I then spent the next few evenings prepping some posts.
After a little plotting and scheduling, I was ready to write and decided to sign up to Mandi Lynn’s #10kWritingChallenge. I knew there was no chance I could write 10k in one day with my other commitments but I knew if I aimed high, I would achieve something great. I wrote 2,792 new words for Diamond in the Sky. I was back on track for my Camp NaNo goal.
Turns out Mandi Lynn didn’t make 10k either. She vlogged about her struggles and celebrated the words she did achieve. She encourages people to sign up to next months 10k challenge and win a pin.
Distraction 3: Important dates
The end of July and start of August have some important dates for me.
Husband distractions: It is my husband’s birthday month. I needed to sort out his gift and I wanted to take him out somewhere child free. I arranged for his sister to babysit. I also got Aria to print her feet in his card and Noah to write a personal message.
I think it is nice for kids to make their teacher a card or gift so I had to come up with an idea and organise the craft.
We got to go to Noah’s first sports day. I also decided to arrange a night out with the playground mums and get the ball rolling on some summer play dates.
Aria’s distractions: Aria’s first birthday is at the start of August. I have been busy arranging her cake smash and splash and worked with the photographer to create a very personal experience (more coming soon).
I’ve also been planning her parties. Yes! That was ‘party’ as a plural. She is a very lucky girl.
Distraction 4: Pitching
SFFpip was this month. It was my first time taking part in this Twitter pitch event and I got a like by a publisher! Naturally, I have then had to research them to decided if the feeling is mutual.
If writing up about Felixstowe Book Festival was my distraction at the start of the month, then YALC was my distraction at the end. The closer the date got, the more excited I became. I went to bed early the night before and barely slept a wink. I can’t believe it, I pitched to two agents – one of them I have stalked on Twitter for years – and they both asked me to send them Jewel of the Sea – Aghhh!
Now, my distraction is trying to write the perfect query letter. As I have mentioned in previous posts, I’m pretty sure my letter stinks and is why I get rejected. I feel like an excited puppy chasing my own tail and equally terrified that when I bite, I am going to get hurt. I need to conquer my fear and be brave.
I was in two minds whether or not to do Camp NaNo as I knew I had a lot on already this month.
With a grand total of 9,886 words, I think it is pretty impressive what I achieved despite all the distractions. If I hadn’t given it a go, I may not have written anything this month.
I also feel the challenge has kept me in touch with my novel so when things calm down in a few weeks, I can dive straight back in.
How did your July writing goals go? Did you do Camp Nano?
I am releasing the chapters so quickly now as I am just excited to get them out there. The readers on Wattpad are posting the more encouraging comments. One even compared one of my chapters to Percy Jackson!
This chapter is very upbeat and happy. It felt good to write something that wasn’t full of drama but it still has lots of feels.
Here is a confession, I have never been on a real first date. You know the sort where you a guy takes you out to get to know you better. I was too young for my earliest boyfriends and then I fell for Rob who was my best friend and have never looked back. Mariah and Jace’s romance is inspired in parts by memories I have of crushing on my best friend.
Some people believe you have to write what you know but I believe that you should work with what you know to create something new. I’ve never had lightening powers but I know what lightening is and I can imagine how it might effect my body if it was part of me.
Does your novel contain things you have never experienced?
As I get closer to releasing the ending on Wattpad, I get more nervous. I have put a lot of time and effort into my novel (I’m talking years) and I really want people to enjoy it.
Originally the ending was the new midpoint. My early version left ended on a cliff hanger as I wished to my readers wanting the next novel. But, then I realised that is really unfair on my readers.
So, I cut a lot and added a lot to make a new ending. But, I still wasn’t pleased with the new ending. It fell flat from how I saw it in my head.
I will confess, I do struggle with endings. I don’t like saying goodbye to my characters. But, I rewrote the ending and it is so much better. I pray my readers feel the same.
The new version is a whole story – no cliff hanger ending. I have hidden elements within the novel to enable me to write a sequel for those that wanting more. My plan is that by delivering a good debut that keeps its promises, my readers will want more and they will become fans.
How many times have you changed the ending of your novel? Have you read a good novel that was spoiled by a poor ending?
Today, I released another chapter. Mariah is starting to get suspicious of her mum. Head over to Wattpad if you have an account to have a look.
I am cross with myself that I haven’t celebrated finishing editing my novel. It is because, although it is finished I know I need to get it into a suitable format and then I will be looking for beta readers. Then, I will have to edit again and it feels like it is never ending. In addition, I would like to give the new content another once over…
The task of querying is on the horizon and that is putting me off doing anything. Instead of formatting I am researching agents. Anything to delay querying. This time would be better spent working on my query letter which I am certain is what holds me back.
On a more positive note, here was my Instagram post about celebrating triumphs no matter how small. Writing this post did help perk me up. I really should listen to my own advice.
So, all the chapters are finished now although I’d like to go over the new content once more as I find when the writing is fresh it is hard for me to spot my own mistakes. Then, I will be putting the manuscript together and preparing to query.
Today, I attended a live workshop with Kathy Ver Eecke called Secrets of Getting a Book Deal. I sat there with my notepad taking notes on the 20 things that writers do wrong when querying. This webinar was a sales pitch for her paid services but she spent an hour demonstrating her wealth of knowledge and answering questions. She made some brilliant points and if I wasn’t on zero money right now, I would have been very tempted by her offers. Would you pay for help with getting a Literary Agent?