When will it ever be enough? A little poem for you

Followers of this blog will have noticed that I haven’t posted for a very long time. That’s not because I haven’t been blogging, but because I launched a new website a couple of years ago and I blog over there, albeit not nearly as often as I should. My website appears to be poorly, though, and while I’m waiting for it to be fixed at IT Hospital, I thought I’d take to my WordPress site because there’s something I want to say.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m part of a writing collective called The Write Romantics and we celebrated five years together in April. When we formed, a publishing deal was a very distant hope. For some of us, simply fiRaving About Rhys NEW COVERnishing our first book was the more immediate goal and we hadn’t thought much beyond that. Five years later with about 80 books released between us as a combination of indie releases and traditional publishing deals. We share our writing experiences – highs and lows – with each other and one of the things we’ve noticed recently is that we keep shifting the goalposts for ourselves. For example, that book we wanted to write became a book we wanted to have published by a small publisher which became a book that we wanted published by a big publisher. And cracking the top 100k in the Amazon charts became cracking the top 50k, then the top 10k, then … well, I think you get the picture. It can be so easy to keep chasing after the new goals that you forget how far you’ve come.

Yesterday morning, I was thinking about this as I loaded the washing machine (typical Saturday morning exciting task) and a poem started to form with these shifting goalposts in mind and I thought I’d share it…

Never Enough by Jessica Redland

Searching for Steven NEW COVERAll I want is one idea
How difficult could that be?
A plot that has some mileage
That would be enough for me

All I want is to write a book
What an achievement that would be
300 pages, a brand new world
That would be enough for me

All I want is for someone to read it
A friend or family
If they said it was good; that I could write
That would be enough for me

Getting Over Gary NEW COVERAll I want is an eBook publisher
How amazing would that be?
To believe in my story and share my work
That would be enough for me

All I want is to make some sales
Just one, or two, or three
A handful of readers to download to Kindle
That would be enough for me

All I want is some good reviews
How flattering would it be
For strangers to say they love my work?
That would be enough for me

Dreaming About Daran NEW COVERAll I want is to climb the charts
It would make me so happy
To see my ‘baby’ go up and up
That would be enough for me

All I want is a bestseller tag
In some obscure category
That orange flag would scream success
That would be enough for me

All I want is to break the top hundred
I know there’s no guarantee
But then I’d know I’ve got some talent
That would be enough for me

IMG_1212All I want is to be top ten
Can anyone hear my plea?
Side by side with my favourite authors
That would be enough for me

All I want is a number one
I’d barely contain my glee
That coveted slot and all those sales
That would be enough for me

All I want is a paperback
Something I can hold and see
To say “I wrote this”, oh my word
That would be enough for me

Searching for Steven (New Cover Design 3)All I want is to write full time
A lady that lunches? So me!
Full days in my office, creating away
That would be enough for me

All I want is an audio deal
Listening while sipping my tea
Those accents, those sounds, my world brought to life
That would be enough for me

All I want is my books on the shelves
Of a supermarket: big four. Or three
The sales, the success would remove all the stress
That would be enough for me

_MG_4712All I want is a top five publisher
The validation? My pants I would pee!
I’d finally know that I really can write
That would be enough for me

All I want is to make foreign sales
Australia? France? Germany?
Translations galore, the world at my door
That would be enough for me

All I want is the film to be made
The big screen for everyone to see
Amazing reviews, the compliments ooze
That would be enough for me

Charlee and the Chocolate Shop CoverAll I want is an Oscar win
I’d really be top of the tree
Best screenplay? Oh my, I think I would cry
That would be enough for me

All I want is some book two success
And the same for book number three
Doing even better than first out the grid
That would be enough for me

 

All I wanted was one idea
To write a book, just for me
But the goalposts kept changing, my life rearranging
And it’s never enough for me

11163942_10153485965149073_2015482777000081150_nIt’s easy to feel so overwhelmed
When sales aren’t what I’d hoped
And reviews are mean and personal
And very unprovoked
When all the writers that I know
Seem to do so great
And the day job takes priority
So my writing has to wait

 

So it’s back to the start to recapture that feeling
When first I typed “the end”
When someone said, “I loved it!”
Even though they were a friend
Christmas at Carlys Cupcakes CoverWhen I sat at my keyboard and laughed and cried
As my characters found their voices
When the publishing world was unexplored
But filled with exciting choices

The task once seemed impossible:
To write a full-length story
A big fat tick against that goal
I should bask in the glory
That I achieved what many don’t
And repeated it six-fold
I am a writer BECAUSE I WRITE;
Not for how many I’ve sold
I hope you enjoyed it. Granted, I’m no incredible poet (my novels are much better, I promise!) but I thought I’d share this as a reminder for anyone who keeps shifting their own goalposts to remember all the great things you’ve achieved so far – simply writing that first draft being one of them – and enjoy every moment of it instead of constantly reaching for the next goal.

I’m actually in a really good place with my writing at the minute. I’m coming to the end of the first draft of a new full-length novel and I have another shorter one nearly finished. Ideas are forming for a Christmas one and I have other works in progress. I had some successful meetings with editors at the recent RNA conference who are all interested in my latest WIP. Even if it doesn’t lead to anything, it’s been a huge confidence boost.

So, what do you think? Does the poem resonate? Would love to hear your thoughts.

All the best

Jessica xx

If you’re interested in finding out more about my books (or making a sneaky purchase), you can find me on Amazon here.

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Getting to Know: The Write Romantics ~ an Anniversary Special!

Fabulous post from Sharon Booth in celebration of The Write Romantics’ 5th anniversary

Sharon Booth

On April 1st, it will be five years since The Write Romantics were formed by Jo Bartlett and Julie Heslington. At the time, only one member of the group – Helen Phifer – had a publishing deal. Now, all ten of us are published and our writing careers have taken unexpected twists and turns. Most importantly, though, we’re all still great friends. To celebrate five years as a group, here’s a special blog post featuring The Write Romantics.

Left to Right, back, Jo, Helen P, Sharon. Front, Jackie, Julie.

So who are The Write Romantics? In alphabetical order, Jo Bartlett, Sharon Booth, Julie Heslington (Jessica Redland), Jackie LadburyDeirdre Palmer (Zara Thorne), Lynne Pardoe, Helen Phifer, Helen J Rolfe, Rachael Thomas, Alex Weston (Alys West). 

Left to Right, Rachael, Deirdre, Helen R.

I sat down with the…

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Getting Over Gary has launched … and so has my brand new blog!

Hello!

Yesterday was a very exciting day for me. My second full-length novel, Getting Over Gary, was launched. And so was the blog on my website http://www.jessicaredland.com

Screenshot 2015-12-16 18.08.14I’ve written all about it on my website and you can click here to take you directly there.

I’m going to stop blogging on this wordpress site. I’ve loved being here, but it’s time to start using my gorgeous website instead.  Thank you for following my writing journey here I would be ever so grateful if you could follow me on the website blog and comment as you’ve done before, although please bear with me for a short while as there may be a few teething issues while I suss how to properly use it!

I will keep popping back here and posting the link. Thank you

Jessica xx

Trolls aren’t always nasty

What do you think of when you hear the word ‘troll’? Do you revert to your childhood and recall the Three Billy Goats Gruff (Goat’s???) and the troll who lurked under the bridge, waiting to munch on the poor creatures? Or do you think more modern-day and those despicable individuals who hide behind their computers bullying, tormenting, and generally making the lives of others difficult?

When I think of trolls, I don’t think of either of those things. Instead, I think of a very special piece of jewellery: my Trollbeads bracelet.

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It all started at my launch party for Searching for Steven last June. Some of the guests very generously (and most unexpectedly) brought me cards and gifts. Friends of mine, Carrie and Andrew, gave me a leather Trollbeads strap with a lovely little silver charm consisting of a pile of three books. Very appropriate for a writer. I loved it. The only problem was, my little book charm was a little bit lonely on its own. But Christmas was just around the corner.

When I was looking at the Trollbeads to decide which I might like as a Christmas gift, it struck me that I had the opportunity to build a really special bracelet that related purely to my writing journey.

Andrew’s family own a jewellery shop, but it’s closing down. His parents are retiring and Andrew, Carrie and their children are emigrating to Canada so there are some amazing bargains to be had in Sizer Jewellers. I admit that I might have added a little more than my Christmas beads as I only have until the end of this month to bag a discount, with my most recent addition being the silver bracelet and lock that hubby bought me for Valentine’s Day as I was concerned the weight of all the charms might be a problem for the leather strap.

I have beads that summarise my writing: a teddy bear (I started writing Steven when I owned a teddy bear shop and I’d write in the shop on quiet days, plus I have an ‘Easter Egg’ of a teddy bear appearing in every book as a nod to this), the little pile of books, a glass bead with hearts round it (the purple/pink one above) to symbolise me writing romance, and a shell with a heart on it (next to the purple/pink bead) to represent that my setting is by the sea on the stunning North Yorkshire Coast.

_MG_3735-EditI have a bead (or two) to represent each book. In Steven, Sarah runs a florist shop. The orangey-red glass bead on the left has flowers around it and it’s also the colours of the writing on the cover of the novel. Although you probably can’t quite see it in the photo, there’s a silver charm to the left of it made up of flowers.

My second full-length novel (out on 3rd March) is Getting Over Gary. The colour focus for the cover is green so I have a green glass bead. The main character, Elise, has a lime green Beatle (which is why I went for green on the cover) and I have a lovely Beatle charm too.

_MG_3748-EditI didn’t want to forget about my novella, Raving About Rhys. I confess I couldn’t think of an item that symbolised Rhys like flowers symbolised Steven and a Beatle symbolised Gary but I could still go with the colour scheme. Rhys has purples on the front so I went for a purple glass bead.

My final full-length novel of the trilogy isn’t finished yet and it isn’t out until late summer, but Sizer’s won’t be open then so I’ve sort of pre-empted it. The green glass bead that represents Gary also has links with book 3 (working title: Discovering David). David is Clare’s story and Clare is Irish. The green bead appears to have little shamrocks on it. Perfect. But I would still like something else to represent David. I have something in mind, but the stock at Sizer’s is understandably running low so I’m going to need to look elsewhere for that.

_MG_3746-EditIn a really naughty pre-emptive strike, I have also made a purchase that represents my fourth full-length novel: Bear With Me. It’s a polar bear cuddling a baby polar bear and is perfect for the story I have in mind.

I absolutely love my bracelet and have to thank Carrie, Andrew and family for such a thoughtful generous gift that’s kick-started a lovely memento of my writing career. If you’d like to bag yourself a bargain, you can find Sizer’s website at http://www.sizerjewellers.co.uk but don’t leave it long. Closing date is 29th February.

To any writers out there, do you have a collection that you add to each time you write/launch a book? I’d love to hear about it.

Jessica xx

Putting the Whitby in Whitsborough Bay

Yesterday was a great day for me for two reasons. One was that it was Pancake Day and I just love pancakes. The sight and smell of them takes me back to childhood when my older brother and I used to wolf down pancakes quicker than mum could cook them in an effort to be the one to eat the most. I have butter and sugar on them. Yes, I know there probably couldn’t be much more of an unhealthy topping than that, but if you’re going to pig out, you might as well do it in style! Oink!

IMG_0814The other reason yesterday was a great day was a far more important one. After work, I travelled half an hour up the stunning North Yorkshire Coast to Whitby Library where I attended the final of four talks that I booked through North Yorkshire Libraries last year after the launch of my debut novel, Searching for Steven.

Whilst I don’t get nervous about speaking in front of an audience thanks to years of being a Trainer, there’s always a sense of trepidation as to how many people might actually turn up. And what if nobody does? I was delighted to have an audience of eleven last night, plus library staff.

There’d been a couple of writers in the audience for my very first talk at Scarborough Library last June, but there were several members of the local writing group who attended last night and it was a real treat to have a mix of readers and writers. One of the writers was incredibly supportive. On arrival, she immediately told me that she’d bought a ticket as she loves to hear writers speak, then she’d spotted my book on display so immediately borrowed it, read it, and loved it. Awww. How very kind of her.

IMG_1557I have a standard presentation that I deliver, giving a little bit of background about me (day job, family etc.), why I write under a pseudonym, what got me into writing, where the idea for Steven came from, how I developed the story, the road to publication, and launch day. However, I tweak it every time and am always open to questions. The group had lots of questions ranging from whether I was local, whether I used any software to write on (e.g. Scrivener) and, “What’s the difference between romantic comedy and chick-lit?”

My generous audience then bought six copies of Steven and four copies of Raving About Rhys. This isn’t available to buy as a paperback, but I had a number of copies printed as an exclusive for events such as this.

Whitby was a library I was particularly pleased to speak at because Whitby’s a very special place. I was brought up in a market town about forty minutes inland and north of Whitby and often visited there in my childhood. I have wonderful memories of being there with my late grandparents, of trips into the town as a Guide and Ranger (there’s a Girlguiding House in the nearby village of Egton), and more recently visits with my own family.

P1050480My very first published writing was inspired by Whitby: a short story appearing in the English Heritage anthology Whitby Abbey Pure Inspiration featuring short stories set at or inspired by Whitby Abbey and sold in aid of the Abbey itself.

And, finally, Whitby part of the inspiration for my Whitsborough Bay series of books. Whitsborough Bay is a fictional North Yorkshire seaside town, but it’s pretty much my hometown of Scarborough with a bit of Whitby and Robin Hood’s Bay mixed in there (see where I got the name?)

The lovely writer who’d read Steven said she actually pictured Sarah’s shop, Flowers & Gifts, as being a particular florists in Whitby, with other settings in and around the town. I loved the idea that there was enough detail for her to picture the setting but not so much that she couldn’t create her own sense of place.

IMG_1213.JPGA huge thanks need to go to Chrys, Heather, Sharon and all the other staff at North Yorkshire Libraries who’ve organised such professional, welcoming events for me. I felt particularly honoured last night that there was a banner outside announcing the event. Made me feel quite famous and important! Hee hee! Thanks also to Sainsbury’s who provided a couple of raffle prizes and some chocolates which was very kind of them, and The Whitby Gazette who sent a photographer round and who are going to cover the event in the paper. Exciting!

I don’t have any more talks booked in just yet at the libraries, but I’m sure I’ll do more as the year progresses. My next talk is at the Scarborough Writer’s Circle next month which I’m really looking forward to.

Jessica xx

It’s Time for a Change of Scenery … Nearly

We’ve got our house on the market. I hate moving house. Packing up a house full of belongings takes an eternity and the home becomes less of a place of comfort and more like a warehouse with all the boxes and crates stacked everywhere. Yet it’s exciting too because packing up signals new beginnings. A fresh start. Something different. If it happens. Because even worse than the boxes everywhere is the stage we’re in now: the waiting. When will it sell? Will it sell at all? For an impatient person like me, this kills!

If I hate moving so much, why are we doing it? We like our house but we don’t love it. It’s on a lovely little estate, it’s a good size, and we’ve decorated it how we want, but it’s just not us. You see, we love old properties and ours was built this century. We love thick walls, beamed ceilings, picture rails, sash windows and everything that gives an old property that incredible character and, for me as a writer, gives inspiration.

Which begs the question, why on earth did we buy a new property when it’s not us?

P1020460It was actually a means to an end. We lived in a large three-storey five-bed property in the centre of town, but we wanted to move out of town for various reasons. This was six years ago. The housing market was difficult and we were struggling to sell. We managed to do a house-swap. The owner of the home we live in now wanted to buy a property abroad. He’d been struggling to sell too. Buying our house and renting it out meant he could release equity to buy the property abroad, and we got our wish to move out of town, even if it wasn’t a move to our preferred village or type or property.

Six years down the line and we’ve decided that it’s time for a change of scenery. We’re ready to move to the character property of our dreams. We’ve found somewhere we really like and have to just hope that it’s still available when we get an offer on ours. It’s a three-bed terrace cottage with thick walls and beams, shutters on the windows, and gorgeous features. Even better, it has some enormous workshops that have so much potential to become an incredible creative space for a writer and a photographer (hubby’s passion).

The workshops require work, but the rest of the property is in great condition with just a bit of decorating to do here and there. Today, we thought we’d better check out another property just in case the one we’ve already seen sells before ours. It was a very different type of house. Still old, with thick walls and beams, it was an empty property that hadn’t been updated for many years: a project.

Blue PlacqueI’d like to think that I can see beyond old fashioned decor, swirly carpets, and overgrown gardens to visualise what a property could become. Surely for a writer who imagines new places and people all the time, this should be second nature. And yet I couldn’t quite muster that imagination today. The house has an incredible amount of potential and I’m sure that, with time and quite a lot of money, someone will turn it into a beautiful home. That someone won’t be me. I don’t have the time. I don’t have the money. And I don’t have the will. Because the main difference between the two properties was that the first felt like a home for a writer and the second didn’t. I could picture myself in the third bedroom of the cottage or in the workshop, tapping away at a keyboard and creating a fresh novel. I couldn’t imagine myself doing that in the house we saw today. Something was missing. So when (if) we sell our house, the house for today won’t be our new home. It won’t be the place where I pen my next novel. But I’m glad we looked around it because no experience is a lost experience. The rooms, the garden, and hubby falling through the floorboards in the attic room could all be used at some point, somewhere. Hee hee. Can’t believe hubby fell through a floorboard. I really shouldn’t laugh. We’ve decided that perhaps that was a sign that the property didn’t want us either!

Keeping everything crossed that we’ll get an offer on ours quickly and the cottage is still available. Looking for a new home for the blue plaque my dad made me for Searching for Steven‘s launch day!

Short Story Sunday

Thrilled to be featured on the ‘Living Life With Joy’ blog today for my short story, ‘So Not Steven’ 🙂

Living Life With Joy

Hey there everyone, I know what you’re thinking, but yes, I’m still alive! The first week of the year has kept me busy and I haven’t managed to blog anything until now. Which means, yet again, I have procrastinated writing some reviews I’ve been sitting on. Today I’m going to share my review on a couple of short stories I read recently. Be on the lookout soon for reviews on some amazing full length stories I read and loved.

Jessica’s Christmas Kiss by Alison May

Jessica's Christmas KissPublished: December 12, 2015

Book Blurb: 

Real Christmas miracles only ever happen in the movies – don’t they?
When Jessica was fifteen, she shared the perfect kiss with a mystery boy at a Christmas party. It might have only lasted a moment, and the boy might have disappeared shortly afterwards but, to Jessica, it was just a little bit magic.
Fourteen years later, and Jessica is…

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A “Jolly Good” Christmas Gift

On the Write Romantics blog today, I posted about one of my fabulous Christmas gifts 🙂

thewriteromantics

P1060741

Look what I got for Christmas! A box set of the twenty-one original Famous Five stories by Enid Blyton. I’d like to say that this was an inspired gift from the hubby but, to be honest, I bought it myself, gave it to him, and told him it was a Christmas gift from him to me!

Oh my goodness, what a wonderful regression to childhood. I can’t wait to delve into the jolly good world of friendship, adventure, and ginger beer!

I devoured these books when I was younger. It started when someone bought me ‘Five Go to Kirren Island’ as a birthday present. I confess that I didn’t really get into it at first. I borrowed a different one from the library some months later and was gripped much more quickly by that one, going on to read all of them.

P1060742My favourite was ‘Five Got Into Trouble’. I can’t remember much about…

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The almost-there novella

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Happy New Year! I hope you had a fabulous Christmas and New Year. Mine was pretty quiet, but that’s how I wanted it. It’s been a long six months or so, adjusting to a new demanding day job and finishing my second full-length novel. I was also working on a novella for Christmas release, but that plan didn’t quite come off.

CoversBefore Searching for Steven was launched in June, I released a novella called Raving About RhysSet in the same fictional seaside town of Whitsborough Bay, it’s set before Steven although the books can be read in either order

Rhys tells the story of Callie Derbyshire – a minor character from Steven -and how she meets the man she marries at the beginning of Steven (Rhys). It works well as a stand alone story and, although it finishes at a perfect point, I started to think about a follow-up with another novella. This would continue to explore the relationship between Callie and Rhys, but it would also focus on Ruby, a fascinating resident at the care home where Callie works. She was a character I loved developing and she’s someone who readers have clearly warmed to as she’s mentioned a lot during reviews.

The plan was to launch the novella by the middle of November but, as I’d barely put fingers to keyboard by then, that wasn’t going to happen! I put myself under quite a lot of pressure in mid-late November to try and work on it ready for an early November release, but I got an unexpected opportunity to take on some additional work through a very part-time job I have and, financially, it was too good an opportunity to turn down. A week or so of intensive preparation for this on evenings meant that I couldn’t work on the novella and, ultimately, I made the decision that I needed to put my plan on the back burner as I simply wasn’t going to have the time to write it. I didn’t want to rush to write it and end up putting out something that was sub-standard. Better to wait and get it right.

10687284_963487000357267_114805807970703995_oThe plan is still to release another novella following on from Raving About Rhys … just not yet. I need to decide whether I release it at some point between my second and third full-length novels (Getting Over Gary is out on 3rd March but available for pre-order now and the as-yet-untitled book 3 is out in late summer) or whether I make it a Christmas 2016 novella. I need to make this decision sooner rather than later because, of course, a Christmas release means the novella needs to be set at Christmas which will mean different timescales and different events to a none-Christmas release. Hmm.

At the moment, though, my priority is book 3. I’d written a lot of it, but I’d originally written it from three points of view. Then I’d started re-writing it from two POVs. Getting Over Gary was originally written from two POVs and, after a good chat with my publisher and a couple of trusted beta readers, I changed it to one POV just like Steven. Book 3 needs to follow suit so I need to do some significant work on it. It shouldn’t take too long, though, as the bones of the story are there; I just need to add some meat to some of them and remove others.

Screenshot 2015-12-16 18.08.14One of the main reasons I want to release the novella is as an experiment in indie publishing. I have a publishing deal for the trilogy with So Vain Books and I released Rhys through the same publisher as it made sense to do so. At some point this year, I’ll need to make a decision as to what I do next. Do I:

  • Stick with my existing publisher (if they still want me, that is!)
  • Look for a different publisher
  • Look for an agent
  • Go indie?

_MG_6908There are pros and cons with each option and I’m sure I’ll explore these in a future blog post. Releasing a novella myself will give me the chance to experience an indie release, it will show versatility on my writing CV, and it will give the hubby an opportunity to experience the process too. He’s a self-employed typesetter and he laid out the pages for Winter Tales: Stories to Warm Your Heart, the anthology of feel-good stories released by The Write Romantics last winter (and still available this year if you click on the title). He’d like to add indie publishing support to his services and this would give him a great opportunity to demonstrate success at this.

But, for now, it’s back to book 3…

Jessica xx