I’m so thrilled to announce that I’m now a Choc Lit Author..!!
I seriously still can’t believe it myself. Not only did my novel, Keeper of the House win the Choc Lit Search for a Star competition for debut novelists, but in my hand, I now hold my very first publishing contract.
This whole week has been like a roller coaster ride. I knew that at some point the roller coaster would stop and I’d be safe, but I didn’t know how many emotions I’d go through before it did. The worst part was being unable to tell everyone until today…!
(ok, ok, so you knew that today would involve cake somewhere… didn’t you?)
Over the past couple of years, since joining the Romantic Novelists Associations New Writers Scheme, For those that don’t know the RNA, we are like one huge family. When you become a member, you suddenly find that you’ve got hundreds of sisters and a few brothers that you never had before. Without exception, they are constantly supportive, they give out virtual hugs when you need them and like all siblings, they kick you up the backside when you need that too.
I’ve watched on as many of my colleagues and friends have been given contracts with various publishers. I’ve been delighted for each and every one of them, but I must admit a little part of me began to wonder if I would ever get that call, if I’d ever see my manuscript in print, or if I’d ever be able to truly call myself an author.
It’s been quite a journey….
In 2013. The first chapter of my novel, Broken Jigsaw was short listed for the Festival of Romance New Talent Award. I was in the final 18. I was so excited and went to the award ceremony in Bedford, with my wonderful husband Haydn. We had an amazing night, But…. I didn’t win.!
In 2014, I went to the Romantic Novelist Association conference. It was here that I met Lyn Vernham, the director at Choc Lit. She invited me to send in my manuscript for Broken Jigsaw (the first novel that I wrote). But it didn’t make it, it wasn’t quite good enough.
In 2015. I wrote the first chapter of Revenge (my 3rd novel) to enter into the Elizabeth Goudge competition. Again, it was shortlisted. It came in the final 8. But… didn’t win.
I began to despair. It seemed that everything I wrote, was short listed. But, for some reason, never quite made it. But I had to carry on…. writing is what I do and it’s something I love.
I still had hope. At the beginning of the year, I’d entered Choc Lit’s search for a star.
And to my surprise, last weekend I received an email from Lyn Vernham (Choc Lit’s Director) which was followed by a lovely Skype call. I was in the final two with my novel Keeper of the House, which has the back drop of the beautiful Wrea Head Hall. My husband and I go here as often as we can, it’s such a special place and it gave me the inspiration for this book.
Following the Skype call, I received a contract. It was very quickly checked over by Andrew Isaac, a personal friend, who happens to be a very good solicitor, I then signed it and sent it back.
But… that was when the hard part started. I had to keep quiet about it for the whole week… when what I really wanted to do was ‘happy dance’ all around Doncaster… tell all my family… friends and colleagues.
Some may think I’ve now completed my journey. I did what I set out to do…. but, as every author will tell you. This is when the hard work starts and I can’t wait to take this journey.
Special thanks so far go to:
Stuart Thompson, my big brother who is always there for me. Jane Lovering, who through the madness keeps me sane. She’s a great friend and an amazing author and also did a full critique for me, pointing out all the good and the bad parts and told me what parts I should and shouldn’t keep. Jayne Stacey, whose encouragement along the way has kept me going. My best friend, Kathy Kilner who has given me almost 30 years of support. Cynthia Foster, Jenny Woodhall and Viv Norton, who again have given me the best help and feedback. And to my amazing NWS reader. Imogen Howson, our NWS mum and everyone at the RNA,
And finally to my wonderful husband Haydn. He’s my rock. We’ve been together for 24 years and today he’s most probably regretting the words he once uttered to me…. “Darling, if you ever become a published author, I’ll buy you the biggest diamond ring that the jeweler has.”
Guess where we are going today…..??