Small Steps

I’ve been off work this week. I’ve been ill. No, that isn’t an excuse, honestly. I was “proper poorly” and, although I’m still not one hundred per cent I’m going back to work on Monday like the brave little soldier I am.

This unexpected time off work has given me time to think about my WIP and make some real progress on it at last. For ages, it seems, I have been treading water, wondering what to do with it next. Wondering what was missing. This week, I have written a few new scenes and sent quite a few old ones (ones, I might add that have been with me since November 2011) to the trash bin. I have carefully selected scenes that, with a bit of rewriting, will fit with my new version of the story, and I’ve also, reluctantly, had to accept that some scenes are no longer of any use and some characters, fond as I am of them, are surplus to requirements.

I also had two breakthrough moments this week. I had gone to bed quite happy with the scenes I’d written. Then, at some point in the middle of the night, my eyes flew open and I just knew that the last scene I had written was all wrong. It was a distraction. It jerked me out of the story. It was quite a revelation.

The second breakthrough – and this is massive for me – was that I actually read the first couple of chapters out to my daughter. Now, this may not sound like much to you,but for me it was a really big deal. I have only ever showed any of my writing to one person before – my writing tutor. The idea of anyone I actually know reading it has been pretty scary. I don’t even know what made me ask her if she’d like to hear it, but she agreed and she dutifully said she loved it.

Now, I’m not such an idiot that I am relying on the opinion of my daughter. She is lovely and very supportive but she’s hardly unbiased. Nor is she much of a reader. So I’m not saying that I now have every confidence in my writing because of her opinion. What I am saying is that, I actually allowed someone else to read it, and whether she genuinely likes it or is just being a loyal daughter is irrelevant to me. I am slowly and hesitantly pushing the boundaries. It’s small steps, but the journey of a thousand miles begins with just one and all that…

I never thought I’d have the courage to write a blog, let alone publish it, let alone publicize it, but there you go. And I sent my work to my tutor, a published author no less. I have joined the RNA NWS. I am doing things I never thought I’d have the nerve to do because I’m quite shy actually and always end up backing out of anything that might require putting myself “out there”. Things are slowly changing. Maybe it’s because I’m now almost half a century old (dear God!) and am hurtling towards that time when I can wear purple hats and be rude to everyone? (I am soooo looking forward to that!)

My next hurdle is visiting an old friend who I haven’t actually seen face to face for over twenty years. She was my best friend from the age of fourteen and we went through so much together but lost touch in our late twenties. After finding each other again on Facebook we have been tentatively discussing getting together again for a coffee and a catch-up. After twenty odd years it will be one hell of a big coffee…I just hope the sight of me aged nearly fifty doesn’t put her off her caffeine fix. We shall see…

Have a great week everyone x images

13 thoughts on “Small Steps

  1. Hi Sharon, as someone who has also been suffering with this nasty bug, I do sympathise. First day out since last Saturday and just about managed to go round Waitrose drooped over the trolley while my ‘jelly legs’ held up. Obviously I haven’t been writing either but have spent a lot of time thinking my way through my WIP and now have the plot pretty much sorted out. Just not too happy with the hero as I know what motivates him etc but I haven;t got a clear picture of him in my mind as yet. I’ve been in the RNA/NWS for almost six years now and have rejoined because, although, I have sold almost 1000 downloads, 100 paperbacks and had my novel borrowed over 600 times on Kindle Prime (since November 1st) I haven;t been through an ‘editorial’ process so I’m classed as self published. Its so annoying and I don’t know how much longer I’ll be staying in the RNA with this present attitude of theirs. From what I’ve seen of your blog you write clearly and concisely and can communicate your ideas to others so keep going, finish the WIP, send it off to the NWS and get on with number two. Hope you soon feel well, Lizzie xx

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  2. Actually, Lizzie, that’s a really valid point regarding the RNA. I was a product of the NWS and lucky enough to be published and win the New Writer’s Award. I think the scheme is great for an aspiring writer. But for me, this was back in 2000. I’ve been traditionally published, but now, after a break spent raising a young family, decided to take the indie route. So far I am loving the freedom. I am far less stressed. I can write for myself and not for my agent or editor. The experience of going through the editorial process four times has helped, of course. I learned a lot from that. But the face of the publishing world is changing so much that the RNA may soon find it will have to adapt to keep up. It is so tough to be traditionally published these days, and sometimes has nothing to do with the merit of a writer but what they choose to write and how ‘marketable’ a publisher finds it. It is hardly surprising that so many writers are taking control of their own future. I can only imagine how frustrating it must be to sell thousands of books, receive glowing Amazon reviews – and GET PAID for your writing – but still be classified as a ‘New Writer’. It is pot luck too whether you even make the scheme, isn’t it, as it’s so over-subscribed? Seems very unfair. Time for a rethink, methinks.

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  3. So, are you saying that you two ladies, who have written such fabulous books, are still stuck on the New Writer’s Scheme?? That’s crazy! So what about people like Talli who has written so many great and popular novels but has self-published them all? Is she still not eligible to be a full member of the RNA? I don’t understand that. From everything I’ve read it seems to me harder and harder to get a “traditional” publishing deal, so if you take matters into your own hands the RNA is saying it simply doesn’t count, no matter how many copies of your book you sell. Given the state of the market these days I think that will have to change, surely? Of the last three novels I have read only one has gone through a traditional publisher and the other two were by you two lovely ladies. I gave all three five stars. I didn’t differentiate between them because two were self-published. I just thought all three were well written with fabulous characters and a brilliant plot. That surely should be what matters in the end?? Thanks for commenting – you’re both such supportive people and I’m really grateful for it. Thanks for your kind comments about the blog, too, Lizzie! Means a lot!

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  4. Sharon,
    I enjoyed your blog and indeed can relate to your ‘shyness’ of letting others read your work. I have several books I’ve been working on for some time now (really have to get down to it and get them finished!) and at times I have been tempted to ask a family member or my daughter to read one or all of them to see what the reaction is, but back out of the idea pretty quickly.
    I think it’s the fact that it’s so personal when you know the reader so well. A couple of friends have read a chapter here and there, and they were encouraging, mostly. I often smile though when I think of one of them who was quite harsh in her comments, but I’ve come to realise it’s probably due to frustration on her part because she has tried many times to be published but never successful…..which is not nice and very disappointing I’m sure.
    The fear of rejection also holds me back. My tardiness in finishing my books has a lot to do with this fear I am sure.
    i wish you all the best of luck and between you and me, I think your style of writing is excellent and better than a lot of others I’ve read who have had the good fortune to be published one way or another already.
    Happy writing. Jo. xx

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    • Oh gosh! Thank you, Jo! That’s absolutely made my …well, life actually 🙂 Thanks so much for the lovely comment and for sharing your own experiences with me. x

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  5. Firstly, thank you, Sharon, for the lovely review and for not differentiating between trad and indie. Regarding the RNA – because I was lucky enough to be published by Hodder, I did become a Full Member. I only suspended my membership last year because I wasn’t able to get down to London for any meetings, and the financial aspect, too, as the fee went up but I wasn’t able to benefit fully from it. I do hope to rejoin at some point in the future. I think Talli may qualify, too, as I believe she was published by a ‘traditional firm’ before deciding to take the self-pub route. I do think the requirements are due a serious overhaul, though. For example, Lizzie should not have to become a New Writer just to join the RNA. I know someone who had no real interest in a career as a romantic novelist who became a full member simply because of some tenuous foreign publishing contract. What I’m trying to say is that the system needs rebooting, because some very excellent romance writers out there are being excluded from an association that could really benefit from their membership. It is not a case any more of saying the RNA is promoting the best of romantic literature, and it is only the best that ever gets traditionally published. Some people are deliberately overlooking traditional deals in favour of the freedom of going it alone; maybe because their writing doesn’t fit neatly into a niche, or maybe because they are treating it not just as an artistic dream, but as an actual business venture.

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    • The other three NWS members who have formed The New Romantics 4 with me to promote our novels are in the same boat. Which as Valerie stated above, is a case of joining the NWS as our only way of belonging to the RNA. I believe the committee is looking into it, but change will be a long time coming I feel. There are other self pubb’d romance writers ‘out there’ who would love to be part of the RNA, too. I know some would argue that we are at least entitled to a critique of our novels, but the quality of those critques has been under questions amongst members of the NWS, even if those complaints don’t always reach the ears of those in power. So thank you for your support, Valerie. Its much appreciated. In the meantime, I’m getting on with number two and aiming for some romantic suspense in this one. I need to have it finished, polished and ready to be sent up to Kindle/ Create Space for September 1st.

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    • I have to admit, Val, that I can see the attraction of self publishing. The freedom it must bring is very tempting. Having said that, it also requires a great deal of commitment because you would still need to pay for a professional editor/ proofreader/ cover before publishing and, of course, there’s the marketing and self-promotion you would have to undertake. Although, that’s something that seems to be necessary and expected by traditional publishers now. I am intrigued by Talli as she has had such a successful career self-publishing, but I suspect so many fall by the wayside. Still, even having a publishing deal is no guarantee of sales, is it?

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  6. That’s an interesting debate ladies. Thank you. Lizzie, just out of interest, if you’re self publishing, who decides the deadline of September 1st? Is it self-imposed or something you agreed with the other members of The New Romantics 4 or is there a specific reason? Just curious…x

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    • Hi Sharon, the NR4 have decided on that deadline. It means that we can run our four book launches in November (like we did this year) and have our paperbacks available for people to buy for Christmas presents. Then we can do another free promo a few days before Christmas and catch those folk who have new Kindles from Santa. Worked well this year. We have enrolled in Kindle Direct Publishing which means that our novels are free for anyone on Kindle Prime to borrow for up to one month,. We get paid a percentage of whatever’s in the KDP ‘pot’ which can be as much as £1.00 per borrow. If we put our novels on sale on Kindle for a pound we would only get 35% of £1 so we think KDP is a pretty good thing. Naturally, having more books ‘out there’ will be better for us as authors as we already have ‘fans’ waiting for our next books. It does mean that while our novels are on KDP we can’t offer them on Kobo etc, but we don;t want to do that anyway !!

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