Welcome to my world: The one where I hear voices … but that’s normal. Apparently!

Thankfully the voices in my head don’t tell me to steal or kill or anything sinister like that. Typically they tell me nice things like how they want to fall in love and with whom. Yes, you’ve guessed it, I’m a romance writer.

I’ve been writing in one shape or form for as long as I can remember. English was my favourite subject at school, I was drawn towards essay-based subjects at college and university, then my subsequent career in HR was most satisfying when it involved writing. That could mean designing an interview script, job advert, training materials or a staff handbook because, to me, it was all writing. Strangely enough, though, I’d never imagined making a career out of it. Until 2002. I was working as a Graduate Recruitment & Development Manager for Thames Water and the manager who’d recruited me would often comment that my business reports would benefit from being a little more, well, business-ey instead of reading like a story. “You should write a book,” he’d say. Nice idea. Lovely idea. But what the hell would I write about? The genre was easy; romantic comedy. But the storyline? Eek! Where would I even begin?

It’s a well-used phrase “write what you know” so I pondered on my relationships to date. I was single with some good and several disastrous relationships behind me but nothing interesting or juicy enough to form a plot-line for a book. And then something happened. Something quite unexpected and, for me, life-changing. I was at a bit of a crossroads in my personal life. I’d split up with my partner of two years although we still shared a house that we were trying to sell (hmm, that was fun!), I wasn’t happy at work, and I had a dream of moving back home to the north to set up a teddy bear shop but I’d been turned down for redundancy and, of course, I couldn’t do anything unless the house sold. It felt like everything was out of my control. I couldn’t plan. I couldn’t hope. A friend who is very into new-age thinking gave me a gift voucher for a clairvoyant telephone helpline. I can remember smiling politely and telling her I’d ring it at some point soon … then dumping it in a drawer. But one evening alone in the house in late 2002, something made me take that gift voucher out of the drawer and dial that number. What that clairvoyant said sparked an idea for a novel and, once it took hold, it was like the boulder in front of the cave of creativity had been rolled back and the glittering gems of ideas were all there for my taking.

You’re going to hate me now because I can’t share exactly what the clairvoyant said. Not yet. Why not? Quite simply, it’s because there’s no copyright on ideas and I’m an aspiring writer at the moment; not a published one. I think I’ve got quite a unique premise for my story and, whilst I will share the full back-story if (when) I get my big break, I need to keep it safe for the moment. Hope you understand.

So I’m not a published writer but I said this idea came to me in 2002. It’s 2014 now. What the heck have I been doing with the last 12 years! Truth be told, I did nothing about it other than bat the idea around my head until summer 2003 but, by that time, I had left my job, sold the house, said a permanent goodbye to the ex, moved back to the north and opened a teddy bear shop (dreams can come true!) I bought an old PC for the shop and, on quiet days, I started to write my book. Straight into the PC. No planning. No preparation. No idea on what I was doing! I met my husband Mark and shared my writing aspirations with him. He suggested I sign up to The Writer’s Bureau. So I did. And I realised I knew nothing about writing. Show don’t tell? What’s that?! I got some great feedback from my first few assignments explaining I clearly had a talent but it just needed honing with the “rules” of writing. So that’s what I spent the next decade doing.

Novel 1 was a painful process in many ways because I changed from 1st to 3rd person and back again, dabbled in present tense before reverting to past, ditched a major character, unexpectedly developed two major characters (and with them, the prospect of a trilogy of books), and basically had no clear idea of how to get from point A to point B. But I got there in 2012 and took a huge leap in my writing journey by joining the Romantic Novelist Association’s New Writer’s Scheme (NWS). It was with great trepidation that I submitted my manuscript (MS) as this was the first time anyone was going to read my work. The feedback was really encouraging but the biggie was that it was a biggie … far too many words! I managed to cut about 20k words but developing a couple of unclear plot points ended up back where I started. In 2013, I re-submitted the same novel to NWS and got even better feedback and some very clear direction as to what I could cut. I hadn’t been ready to make the cut before but I felt ready last year.

Summer 2013 saw another major step when I pitched to two editors at the RNA Conference and both asked to see my full MS. How incredibly exciting!

Since then, I’ve submitted my MS to both of those editors, some agents, and some other publishers. I’ve had some rejections, I’ve had a “near miss” (which I may talk about on another post) but it feels close. I’ve had a note from one publisher to say my work is very much under consideration and I know that I must be well into a process with another two because I have writing friends who’ve submitted later than me and have already heard that it’s a no. Assuming MSs are looked at in the order they arrive (it’s possible they aren’t), then that would mean I’m progressing … for now!

Other than the critique and the invaluable advice from the RNA online community, one of the biggest benefits I’ve had through the RNA is meeting other writers. I’ve been extremely fortunate to join forces with eight wonderful writers who cover a range of genres from Mills & Boon to supernatural to crime/thriller. We run a blog together http://www.thewriteromantics.wordpress.com and provide support and guidance to each other on all things writing (and often non-writing). I love being part of that blog but wanted to continue to increase my social media presence by running my own. I’ll talk about books, writing and life in general and, hopefully, one day share some amazing news that I can call myself an author!

Thank you for joining me today. Are you a reader or writer? What would you like me to blog about? Would be great to hear from you.

Julie

Mum, Wife, Writer, Brown Owl, Arctophile, Chocoholic

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14 thoughts on “Welcome to my world: The one where I hear voices … but that’s normal. Apparently!

  1. Great post, Julie, and although I already knew quite a bit about how the ideas for your novel came about, I still learnt things from this post that I didn’t know before. Wishing you all the luck in the world both with your new blog and your writing career 🙂 x

    • Thanks for stopping by and being my first ever visitor, Jo! You are such an amazing support and I couldn’t imagine my writing journey without you in it. You know what you need to do now, don’t you….? Will March be our month. Hoping so xxx

  2. Fab post Julie, very interesting to read where your idea came from and I love that it was a telephone call from a clairvoyant. That’s just brilliant 🙂 Good

    Helen xx

  3. Helen, Jackie & Lynne, thanks so much for stopping by on my first day and supporting my new blog. Can’t wait to be able to share the full details with you all in the hopefully not too distant future xxx

  4. Hello, Julie! Great blog post. I had no idea about the teddy bear shop…explains a lot! What a fabulous way to get inspiration for a novel. I am intrigued by the conversation you had with that clairvoyant. I can’t wait to read your book and find out what it was all about. Feel like I know you that little bit better now 🙂 I really hope you get some positive news soon. You’ve been nothing but supportive and helpful to this would-be writer who has major confidence issues. Without you and Alex I wouldn’t even have sent my manuscript to the NWS. Heck, I doubt I’d even have had the courage to finish it! So I hope that 2014 will be your year! Here’s to your success and to the success of all the lovely WriteRomantics xx

    • Hi Sharon, thanks to you too for stopping by on my 1st day! Hadn’t realised I hadn’t told you about the teddy bear shop when we met. Mind you, I think we had so much to talk about writing-wise that we’d still be in the pub now if we moved onto other stuff! You deserve the support as you’re a fabulous writer so anything I can do to build your confidence, I will 🙂 Can’t wait to meet up again really soon xxx

  5. This blog looks so professional Julie and well done you…lovely to hear more details about your writing. Good luck on your journey and looking forward to meeting you and the other write romantics at the RNA conference in July 🙂
    Helen xx

    • Thanks for stopping by Helen, and for your lovely comments about the look of my blog. It actually took me over an hour to decide what I wanted because everything I loved seemed to cost! Can’t wait to meet you in July too xxx

    • Thanks so much for visiting Rachael and for the compliment. I just need to get thinking about what else I’m going to post now! xx

  6. Great post, Julie. I hadn’t heard about the telephone to the clairvoyant before. I’m pretty sure that you don’t need another telephone call from a clairvoyant to tell you you’ll be a published writer very soon! Looking forward to reading more on here soon! Alex xxx

    • Hi Alex, thanks for stopping by. Can’t believe I hadn’t told any of you where the inspiration for the story came from. Must give you the full detail next time I see you! Thanks so much for your kind words about becoming a published writer soon. Gosh, I hope so!!!! xx

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