This a summary of the highs and lows of my writing this month.
Editing Ocean Heart
Maybe I’m too ambitious but I’ve not achieved the word count I wanted to. I had a few days feeling rundown and a few days where the heat gave me a killer headache.
And, editing isn’t something you can rush. I’ve worked on 4 chapters that needed a lot of work. They are important chapters in the novel so it was vital they made the right impact.
I’ve edited 25k words and my total is now 52k words edited. I’ve reached chapter 18 (or 21 in the original draft). I’m just over halfway through.
World Indie Warriors Brochure
This month I started work on the new look for the summer brochure. It’s the third edition and due to be released by end of June.
I’m please to report the brochure is mostly done. I’m just waiting for certain Indies to confirm their section is correct and waiting on a special feature. The deadline is end of May, so if they don’t reply I’ll just do the final touches and ensure it’s released at the end of June.
Lockdown, Furlough & Home Schooling
At the end of April I went on Furlough. It hasn’t freed up my time to write more but it has alleviated pressure where my kids are concerned.
The extra time does make me miss those I can’t visit more and wish I could take the kids somewhere fun or go our for a nice meal with my husband. But, being more available helps make homeschooling more enjoyable for my son and easier for me. Plus, I’m getting more time with my little girl.
The Government are trying to get kids back into school. One year group chosen to go back is my son’s. He’s just settled into homeschooling and I don’t want to unsettle him again when in a few weeks it’ll be the school holidays. So, for now, I’ve chosen to keep him home.
But, we are all safe and healthy and that is most important.
I have not had time to look anymore at the course or content. Once the brochure is done, I’m hoping I will have some free time to appreciate my access to this fabulous course.
For someone who felt like they didn’t achieve anything, I can see that I actually did make progress. I just wish I’d managed to fit in more editing as I want to reach the next step on my publishing journey.
It feels hard to think about celebrating during a lockdown. I can’t go anywhere and I’m only buying necessities.
It will be something simple like watching a film with my husband and maybe ordering a take away if we are still able to.
I find music distracting whilst writing/editing. The other day I was feeling tired after work and was procrastinating. I clicked on an IG live video by @aquabunart. She was playing her harp. It was really relaxing and helped me get focussed on what I needed to do.
I think I find music useful to get me in the right headspace but not during the task. I also enjoy music whilst plotting or coming up with ideas and have come up with story ideas whilst listening to the radio.
Who inspires you?
Hundreds of authors have inspired me but here are the most notable:
Orchard Tree Books: Yes, they publish children’s first readers. The magic key stories inspired my first stories and awoke my desire to be an author at the age of 5.
Rachel Vincent’s shifter series. I loved the world she built and I wanted to create something similar but my own.
More inspirational people are my granny and grandma. My granny was tenacious and never let anything stop her doing what she needed to. And, my grandma had a big heart and was the first person to believe in my writing.
He danced in the sunlight whilst I lurked in the shadows.
I love YA fiction, Paranormal Romance, Contemporary Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, High Fantasy, Low Sci-Fi, Dystopia, Contemporary Romance, Erotica, Chick Lit, and Children’s Fiction (especially picture books).
I mainly blog and write YA Fantasy. But I also dabble in poetry. And, I’ve drafted a picture book. One day I may also write horror, dystopia and erotica.
Your ideal writing space
I have a Pinterest board with images of my dream space. I’d share it but my boards are so messy they need a spring clean.
I don’t have a dedicated space but I’d like one.
The desk would be a bureau that I could fold away all my mess inside so when I return it is ready. It would have a pin board with inspirational quotes and book plans. A shelf to keep my favourite notebooks and resource books. A draw to hide away my stash of pens and pots for my frequently used. The desk will be large enough to spread out all my papers. Ideally, this space would be in a lodge with beautiful views of a meadow, forest or beach.
I would love to see your answers to the above. Let me know if you are taking part on IG or posting somewhere else.
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 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?