My Writing Journey – 2013 Onwards.

writing

I thought that I would share my writing experience with you all. So this page will be a journey of my writing process.


June 2015

An update on where I am with my writing. OK, so the women’s fiction novel I submitted to agents is being rejected. It’s heartbreaking when you get rejection emails, and I definitely do not have a thick skin. I can’t help it, whenever I get a rejection email, it makes me wonder if all of the hard work was for nothing, or whether I need to strengthen the opening chapters again. But sometimes when you feel that you’ve done all you can, and gave it your best, there isn’t much more you can do. I amended my opening chapter so many times.

Most of the agents have stated that it’s interesting writing, that they read my material with hope, however didn’t feel it was for them. Some of them have stated that they’re not confident they could sell it, and I can see why. The pitch letter I sent them, I regretted afterwards! The comparable title paragraph didn’t sound right at all, and I can see why they wouldn’t know what market to put it in. I couldn’t think of any authors with a similar writing style to mine, and I found it difficult finding books similar. They were either chick-lit involving cakes, or food of some sort, fluffy chick-lit with cartoon covers, or humorous chick-lit with a ditzy character. Mine didn’t fall into any of these categories. My MC is relatable, and the novel is one that can be taken seriously. It’s more glamorous than it is humorous in a SATC / Lauren Weisberger sort of way, which, let’s face it, I’m naming titles which sold ten + years ago, which doesn’t sound like I know the current market at all. So I can see why I’ve been receiving rejections with that pitch letter. I’m gutted as the letter went out to so many agents, and now there is nothing I can do about it 😦

I just wish that the market still sold realistic chick-lit such as the likes of: Olivia Goldsmith, Lauren Weisberger (PLZ write more books!) Jennifer Weiner’s earlier stuff (In Her Shoes), Candace Bushnell (PLZ write more SATC type books), Chrissie Manby’s earlier stuff (Ready Or Not / Getting Personal), Alexander Potter’s earlier stuff (Do You Come Here Often? etc) But the market has changed, and maybe I missed the period when these sort of books were popular :/ BUT I won’t give up. I LOVE this book too much!

Anyways, I also sent off my erotic romance novel, which has received some rejections too. Yes, it’s a bit out-there, but I thought agents wanted something different? Maybe that isn’t the case. It seems some are seeking BDSM / gay / lesbian type novels,  but this novel, which focuses on a taboo topic, they’re passing on. It’s not a seedy novel at all, but a complicated love-story whereby my main character falls in love with a wild, exciting fun man, only to find out he leads a completely different lifestyle to her.  The good news though is that one imprint company have requested to see further chapters, which is good, and another agent, (I must have overseen this) stated that although she was closed to submissions, she liked the sound of my story and would definitely take a look. She also represents a very popular author.

In respect of my third novel, (Yes, THIRD!) LOL (I like to mix my genre’s and see which I enjoy best), anyway, this is a crime / drama novel. I am 40,000 words in, although it’s a re-write really of the very first novel I wrote and had professionally edited. It has been completely changed. I sent it to a publisher, which gave my sister her business card after hearing about this novel. I also told her of the idea I had for a second crime / drama novel. She returned to me stating that she doesn’t publish fiction, only non-fiction, and that both projects sound fantastic, and certainly do deserve to be published. She told me it would be wise to seek an agent, and could offer some recommendations, which obviously I said yes to.

I guess now it’s just a waiting game. If I wasn’t finishing other novels, I’d probably be driving myself crazy! At least my mind is kept busy, which I advise any other writer to do. I won’t lie though, I check my email inbox every single day. I can’t help it!

Will keep you all updated. x

Oh and can I just say, me writing all hours of the morning is turning me into a complete PIG! I can’t stop eating junk food, in particular – chocolate and biscuits. Better get on the exercise bike before I get writer’s bum, as well as writer’s block! :’)

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March 2015

I’m so pleased that I was able to take part in an ‘agent query letter feedback’ blog post in February. I had previously and unfortunately already sent my old letter off to several agents, and instantly regretted it, but it was too late. Since editing my letter, I was ecstatic that I could receive advice on it from the one and only Madeleine Milburn! She must have received hundreds on queries from writers, and reading her advice on all of those too taught me a lot. Here are her comments to my query on my women’s fiction novel:

Dear Sophia,

Your cover letter provides all of the information an agent needs ahead of assessing your opening chapters.It’s great that you’ve defined the genre early on, and that you’ve added an intriguing line ahead of the blurb.

Your blurb is perfect! You’ve managed to encapsulate your story in a pargaraph, and set up the hook of the story immediately. You also clearly know your market well, and have let the agent know how your book will differ from these popular books. 

What a fantastic example to end on!

All the best,Madaleine. 

agent

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March 2015

So, I’ve been sending my (women’s fiction / chick-lit) MS off to agents, and some I haven’t received a response, not even an automated rejection response, which was disheartening. Although, I have received feedback from others. Having today watched a YouTube video I’m pleased to see an agent (Carole Blake)  in a writers group state to a hopeful author that feels she’s done everything right in terms of sending the MS off, following the rules and receiving feedback, however not being taken on. Carole replied that if this happens ‘we should take great hope from receiving feedback, as agents don’t have time to give feedback, so the story is more than likely good, but not something they represent. So we may be close to getting something good.’

This had made me feel a lot more positive about my writing. These are some of the response I have received from agents so far, to which I have protected their anonymity :

Dear Sophia, Thank you for giving the ” Literary, TV and Film Agency a chance to consider your work. I read your submission with interest and thought that your writing had a lot of potential commercially. I thought your submission had great pace and was very readable. Sadly, I did not feel quite gripped enough by the opening chapters of your work. I’m replying as soon as possible to give you the best chance of finding the right agent.

Dear Ms. Valentine, Thank you for giving us this opportunity with your work. While we found much to admire in your novel, I’m afraid we did not feel the strength of connection needed to offer representation. We hope you’ll quickly find the right agent elsewhere, and wish you every success.

Dear Sophia, Thank you for sending us your work, which we have read with interest. Although we did enjoy looking at your material, in the end we felt it wasn’t quite right for us. Please do not be discouraged by our response and we hope you find an agent with the right amount of enthusiasm for your work. We’d also like to thank you for thinking of us.

So therefore, I am working on my opening chapters, to strengthen them, and adding more to my covering letter. I will let you know how the rest of my submissions go. I really wish that I hadn’t had an urge to keep meddling with the covering letter, and chapters. I have changed the opening chapters four times now! BIG TIP: Put your MS aside for at least a month, if you’re anything like me, you’ll wish you changed parts BEFORE submitting to several agents!

 x

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December 2014

Edits are finally finished on one of my manuscripts! I also changed and deleted so many parts, I must have read over it a hundred times!! The fourth draft later, I am finally happy with it. I honestly don’t think that there is any more I can do to polish this MS any further. One thing I would advice new authors is not to be in a rush to send out your MS. Leave it for a month, or so, then return to it. I have been working on this MS for a very long time now. I wrote the first draft, sent it off to several critiques, took their feedback on board, edited it, and edited it some more.

When you edit your MS, look out for the obvious: spelling, grammar, repetition, formatting, over-use of words, etc. Ensure that it’s the best it can possibly be! Read my post on ‘Writing That Crucial First Page,’ and ‘Writing Tips’ from Stephen King.

When an author finishes a MS, they sometimes feel like they’re letting go of characters that have been in their head for so long, and it’s the end of journey. However, this isn’t the case for authors that write trilogies, which is what I’m doing. Sometimes, I like trilogies, but sometimes I don’t, and being an avid reader, I can tell when three books could have been covered in one book, or when an author is trying to make more sales, and it puts me off reading it, especially continuations. I hate when a novel is left unfinished, like it’s mandatory that you have to read the next book to see what happens.

My women’s fiction / chick-lit story is a standalone, which can be read as part of a series, however it doesn’t matter if the reader only wants to read the first book, as the ending is satisfactory. If they do want to read the next books, then they will see that due to the content, and completely different information that this couldn’t have been stated in only one book. You will understand what I mean if you do read it.

Anyways, I am extremely passionate about my novel. I really am proud of it, and I love it. I can’t wait to share it with you all, (whether it be traditional or self.) I have made about 20 book teasers, and my website is looking good.

For those that have completed a MS, well done! I am writing 8 hours ALL day, every day, yes, even on weekends, and sometimes extra hours into the night! My eyes hurt so much that I’m having to use eye-drops, I’m exhausted, and re-reading over the same content a ridiculous amount of times is draining. But, it’s the trials and tribulations of being a writer.

Remember: Don’t rush to get your MS out there. Send it to critiques, people NOT related to you, as you need unbiased opinions. You may think your novel is the bees-knees, however they really do pick up on things that you may have overlooked. I highly recommend this. Again, leave your novel for a month, or longer, and read other books in the meantime. Not only does this help with improving your writing, but you can compare, and improve your own book to be just as good.

Now, I’m onto the second book in the trilogy, and editing another MS that I have already completed (different genre.)

(My actual MS below.)

edits

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July 2014

It has been almost a year and a half since I started, and I have written three 300 page novels. The first novel I wrote 150 pages in the third person, decided I didn’t like it, wrote another 150 pages in the first person, then reverted back to third person but changed it all. After months and months of hard work, late nights, sore eyes and aching fingers, it was complete! And it was professionally edited by an Author / Editor. Ta da! However….. it is now in my draw, and I have an urge to re-write it (differently again.) I’m too much of a perfectionist, and I don’t think you should ever rush a manuscript. This MS is very special to me, and I want it to be the best it can be. I will return to this, and get it done! Question though, is an author ever 100% happy with their polished manuscript, or do they always have a niggling feeling that they should have changed something? (I don’t know.)

The second novel was a completely different genre. This time I tried my hand at erotic romance and I absolutely love this novel. Although 300 pages plus are complete, I still need to edit it. I love my characters in this. I think the girls will adore the badboy in this book. He’s hot!

The third novel is contemporary / women’s fiction. I love this story, and my main character is the sort of friend that every girl should have AND needs! This is going through the editing process at the moment.

On the publishing process, I have spent days and hours researching publishing routes: traditional and self. BOTH have advantages and disadvantages. I would like to give both routes a try. I absolutely love to write. It’s all that I have ever wanted to do, so I cannot give up.

And yes, that is my Jackie Collins autograph pinned to my wall. The message reads: ‘Keep on writing, best of luck.’ It definitely gives me inspiration!

TIP: The BEST thing I find when writing is to read loads! Treat reading as research / studying. It will help to improve your writing. I read about 2-3 books a week, not just for this purpose, but because I absolutely love to read 🙂

Come back for more UPDATES! Please also comment and share your own writing experience. 

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desk

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April 2014

I am writing, reading, editing and blogging every single day. As well as concentrating on my own material, I do also like to help new/other authors, so regularly help them promote their books by posting ‘author interviews,’ and I have a NEW page: ‘Writing tips & advice from authors.’ I have had some great responses, and authors wishing to participate in this. The answers are really helpful.

In respect of my novel, I had sent the first three chapters to three beta readers, who seemed to enjoy it. The whole manuscript is now with two other beta readers/bloggers, and I am awaiting their feedback. I really hope that they enjoy it. Whilst I am eagerly waiting for their responses, I am editing my other novel (the erotic romance novel.) I had forgotten that I had already written the covering letter and synopsis. Any writer will agree with me on this one: the covering letter and synopsis is so hard! Some even believe that it is more difficult than writing the story itself! This is the first thing that people are drawn to, so it has to be perfect. I originally written the novel in OpenOffice, and now having to change the layout/format etc in Word. Over 300 pages, this should take a while.

I also believe that working on more than one project at a time helps, (well, it works for me) as if you ever experience writers block, or get annoyed at having to read the same paragraphs over and over, switching it up is good. I have also started a fourth novel. I do like to mix it up a bit 😀 I love, love, love this book! It is definitely the sort of book that I would pick up in a store. I have already started to market it, so hopefully when it’s finished, I will have some people that will want to read it. I will reveal more about this in the future.

What else does being a writer entail? I wish that it was just about writing a book, then you’re done. Unfortunately this is not the case. You have to treat writing like a proper job, put in the hours, market your material, promote it and get a fan-base. I learnt how to use HTML coding, links, graphics and more when I had a Piczo website aged 20! So, creating my own blog and website hasn’t been too hard for me. It is good if you can learn to do things yourself, rather than paying a professional for everything. However, it is really time-consuming! I can plan to write 5,000 words in a day, however once I have finished social networking, blogging and responding to emails, it’s 6PM! So, I am hoping to structure my days better.

I also want to learn how to create book covers. It seems a little tricky, as it needs to be the perfect size to be of good quality for website uploading, and for when it is printed. I like learning new things, so we will see about that one. Hopefully, I can post a blog about making covers from those that have experience in it. Any tips or help would be appreciated.

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Feb 2014

My first novel (that was professionally edited) is taking up a lot of my time at the moment. I am re-writing it all, as I am changing the narrative voice (from third person to first person) and some of the plot. It will take a while, but I really enjoyed writing this story. There’s a lot to change though.

I have also re-vamped my website! I created pictures, changed the layout, watched tutorials and learnt how to do certain things, and I’m really pleased with it. It’s the 6th layout change since I created it! I use Wix and will purchase the domain name in the future.

In respect of my other MS, one MS is with 5 beta readers. I have already received some positive feedback. I think that it’s important to seek different opinions on your novels. No matter how many times I edited my novel, which was a lot, you still miss things! Beta readers also pick up on things, advise you of the plot, characters and their thoughts. I am hoping to send another MS to more beta readers once I have done a bit more editing myself.

Here are my three manuscripts. I feel pleased to have even completed them, 300 pages of dedication and commitment right there! 😀

3MS

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April 2013

I started writing way before I started this blog in April 2013. Completing a manuscript is not an easy process. I fully agree with the below quote, and I’ll tell you why. Unless you’re a writer, you may think there’s nothing to it than just sitting down and writing from the imagination. I wish it was that simple! Writing for me is a job that never ends, you don’t get to shut the door at 5pm and leave the work stresses behind. You’re mind is constantly clouded with book ideas, worry over completing the novel, worry over the novel not sounding right, guilty feelings if you haven’t written enough for the day, writers block, worry about getting followers and marketing it right! And this is all before the story is live.

I can honestly say that writing is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and I’ve sat lots of law exams, and had some not very nice jobs etc. Put it this way, I cannot focus without coffee, and sometimes I get insomnia and feel I should be writing, or my just brain won’t shut off. Would I change it though? No chance. There’s no better feeling than typing THE END, and then finalising the edits!

bleedend

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1998 – ish. 

I first started writing stories when I was about 12 years old. I won many awards in primary school for my creative writing. Those days I was writing stories set in the Victorian / Elizabethan era. I was obsessed with the those times. My headmaster dubbed me ‘a budding Catherine Cookson.’ I’ll never forget that! I absolutely love her books. I don’t write that genre anymore, however it still interests me, and one day I may return to it.

When I was about 16, I began writing horror stories. I have a fair few manuscripts sitting under my bed in England to this day. I may dig them out some time, and post some passages. Most of them were written in American-English. I can’t help it. I just love Americans! Or perhaps I just watched too many American movies 😛

As you can see, I have loved writing stories from a very young age. It’s my lifelong passion. Nothing makes me happier than starting a new, fresh novel. I’m always full of ideas, and my brain never shuts off! Sometimes, I can’t even sleep! If only I could type as fast as I thought.

Anyway, I once read the below quote, and in a way it sort of made me continue following my dreams, and you should too! Whether you succeed or not, you’re enjoying yourself doing it, and it makes you happy. However never give up. By working towards your dreams, you’re one step ahead than those who aren’t.

passion

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