A David-Shaped Disaster

I have just endured a very traumatic couple of days. Why? Because David went missing. I searched absolutely everywhere for him; places he could have been (e.g. the bedroom, my office) and even places he definitely couldn’t be (yes, I actually looked in the airing cupboard; I was desperate by this point). I racked my brains for the last time I’d seen him but this is not easy when you have a memory like Swiss cheese. I’d definitely had him with me on my last work trip to Grantham roughly four weeks ago so, when I checked in there on Tuesday night, I hoped and prayed he’d be in lost property but no such luck. The safe perhaps? No; not there either. Argh!!! By this point I was in serious panic mode.

P1050745I’m sure you’ll have realised that this isn’t a person we’re talking about. David is my third book (Discovering David to give him his full title although, as per my last post on the Write Romantics blog, that may change). I tend to refer to my books by the male names in their titles: Steven, Gary and David. Anyway, David is plotted but only half-written. I wrote about a third of him during NaNoWriMo last November (I finished Gary then moved onto David as I wasn’t at a point where it was appropriate to start a brand-new novel) and I’ve just signed up to NaNo again for next month with a view to finishing David. The thing that had gone missing was my notebook with David’s plot in it, hence the panic.

I hadn’t planned Steven but did plan Gary and David. I know in my mind the rough idea of what’s going to happen but I have a set of three gorgeous hard-backed paperblank notebooks for the trilogy. There are scribbles and ideas in Steven but Gary and David have 2 pages per chapter where I plan out roughly what will happen in that chapter. I then use a date-free planner to keep track of timeframes so I don’t talk about Christmas only to discover it’s actually February. There are a couple of reasons why I haven’t really worked on David since NaNo last year: (1) I wanted to submit Gary to the NWS so did another edit on that and then I’ve been working on a final version of Steven as a result of a final round of submissions and a publishing deal; and (2) I decided to change the plot and was far too lazy to go back to the plan and swap it round because that would mean quite a lot of work. However, I need to do that work as it’s no point starting NaNo on 1st November without a plot in place.

P1050746Which brings me back to David going missing. I am going on holiday later today. I’m off to Tenerife for a week (can’t wait because, other than a weekend ferry trip to Amsterdam and another to Bruges, I haven’t been abroad since my honeymoon nine years ago). We get back on 31st October which means I’m straight into NaNo. Which means I need to have my plot ready. I wanted to take David with me so I could sort out the plot on the plane/on evenings which our daughter is in bed but I thought I’d make a head-start on it with my trip to Grantham this week. Only David had gone missing.

I looked everywhere. I dug out all the bags/backpacks I’ve used recently in case I’d left him in there. I even had the hubby go into the attic in case it was in the overnight bag we’d taken to Blackpool recently. I looked in the DVD drawers, my Brownie bag, my photo album crate … all places it shouldn’t be but you never knew. I felt so stressed driving down to Grantham knowing I’d lost it. I absolutely hate re-doing work and, although I was going to re-plot part of the story, there were another two threads which wouldn’t be changing (Steven is Sarah’s story, Gary is her best friend Elise’s story whilst still following what happens to Sarah, and David is Sarah’s other friend Clare’s story whilst still following the other two. Clare’s story is changing but Sarah’s and Elise’s aren’t. Therefore, I needed the plots for those threads). The other thing I started worrying about was what if someone had picked it up and took it for their own story? Unlikely but, hey, I’m a writer so my imagination went to the moon and back with this one!

P1050747I got home late last night and decided I’d better do some more packing for my holidays. I rummaged in my in-trays for the tickets and booking confirmation and what did I find? David. But the ridiculous thing is that I went through the in-tray on at least five occasions when looking for him before my Grantham trip. Why does this happen? Why do things disappear and re-appear again? Are there mean Pixies residing in my office? The same ones who steal odd socks out the washing machine and who stole my Sindy ice-skating costume when I was eight? Evil little monsters.

So all is calm now. I have David safely in my hand luggage and I’m gathering my plot-changing ideas in my mind. I have my Kindle loaded with my holiday reading too. I really think this is where my Kindle is going to come into its own; about 100 titles to choose from whereas I could only justify the size and weight of a couple of paperbacks on previous holidays and hope I liked them.

I won’t be able to respond to any comments until I’m back from my hols but please don’t let that stop you leaving one; particularly if you know where those pesky Pixies take things! Have a good week or so xxx

Advertisements

Entitled to Change a Title

I was in the hot-seat on this week’s Write Romantic Wednesday posting so I thought I’d share the posting here 🙂 xx

thewriteromantics

“We were thinking about the titles of your trilogy. The second book is absolutely fine, but are you sure about the third title…?”

Eek! The email from my editor stopped me in my tracks. (Well, it would have done if I hadn’t already been sat down at my desk but you get the picture.) I knew that many writers had their titles changed by their publishers but, as there’d been no indication of changing any of mine, I thought I was “safe”. Until the email.

The Moon on a Stick‘Searching for Steven’ – the title for book 1 – materialised at the same time as the idea and I’ve lived with it for eleven years. It absolutely works and, thankfully, my publishers agree. I’d have struggled so much if somebody had asked me to change it.

‘Getting Over Gary’ – the title for book 2 – came to me a couple of years later…

View original post 1,330 more words

Something special to mark the occasion & new beginnings

P1050691Last week, I brought you the exciting news about two book deals in my post “A Tale of Two Contracts” Acts I and II. It’s been lovely receiving so many positive comments from excited friends, family, and fellow-Write Romantics. Some of them have even generously bought me gifts so I wanted to share a couple and thank the senders.

P1050673The first gift arrived in the post from my lovely writing friend and fellow-founder of The Write Romantics, Jay Bartlett. Meet Smithy, my gorgeously soft brown teddy (names as such because he’s exclusively made for WH Smith which feels like a very appropriate supplier for a writer who aspires to have their book on the shelves of WH Smith one day). He’s wearing a white t-shirt bearing the message “You got ‘the call’ Julie” (Julie being my real name rather than my pen name). Jay has been an invaluable source of support. She’s read Steven on two, possibly three occasions and provided feedback and support. She’s also been the voice of reason and encouragement through the inevitable moments of self-doubt every writer has. Thank you Jay xxx

P1050694I have a wonderful colleague at work called Joanna who makes me laugh so much. When I got my first publishing offer which was for eBook only, she was a bit gutted because she wanted to read the book so badly but didn’t have an eReader and wondered how she could acquire one without letting on to her dad who’s very anti-eReaders. When I got – and accepted – the second deal and she knew there was a paperback coming, she said “I’ll pay full price. I won’t even wait till it’s 3 for 2 in Asda!” Hee hee. Bless her. Anyway, Joanna bought me this fabulous pen with the engraving “Julie – Published Writer” especially for my first signings! How lovely is that? Thank you to you, Joanna, for always believing in me 🙂 xx

P1050692Fellow Write Romantic Alys met me for tea in York last week and she presented me with a gorjuss coaster. No, that’s not a typo – gorjuss is the make of these absolutely gorgeous characters. I love them. This one says “we can all shine” which feels such a positive message for someone whose dreams have come true. I have a couple already. I have one by my bedside of a girl standing on a pile of books and I have another on my desk that says “I found my family in a book”. I actually use two coasters on my desk; one for my water and one for my tea and now I can replace the Pooh-bear one with my new gorguss one. Alys, like the rest of the WRs, has been really encouraging and supportive throughout and also read Steven for me which was really lovely of her when it’s not her preferred genre of books. Thanks Alys. By the way, Alys also gave me a heart-shaped purple-foil-wrapped chocolate lolly. But I troughed it before I thought to take a photo. Oops!

P1050687I bought myself a little gift, too. I have a friend who makes beautiful hand-crafted signs and I’d previously asked her to make me one for my office with both my names on it. I asked her to produce a matching one with a wonderful quote introduced to me by Write Romantic Helen Phifer which I find incredibly apt.

P1050667

My final gift was my fabulous purchase at the weekend courtesy of my husband. I collect teddy bears. I love soft, plush bears and have many but I collect proper jointed teddy bears made by companies like Steiff, Hermann Teddy Original, Dean’s and Merrythought but I also love artist bears which are hand-crafted by people who simply love teddy bears. I told Mark that I’d love to have a collector bear to commemorate by book deal so he took me round the three bear shops in York at the weekend to look. It wasn’t looking good at first. I wanted the bear to have some connection to my writing although I didn’t know quite how I’d manage that. I hoped it would just “speak” to me. In the first two shops, I came across the same limited edition bear (15000 pieces I think it was) called “Jessica”. Perfect name but I wasn’t sure I loved her. She wore some pink pearls and I think it was them that were putting me off. She’d have been better without them. I resolved that I’d go to the third shop and if none of the bears grabbed me, I’d come back and have a good, long look at Jessica again to see if she was right. It wasn’t looking good in the third shop either. I saw a gorgeous artist bear that didn’t really have any relevance but I loved him. He was very expensive, though; four times what I’d planned to pay so there was just no way. Then, as we were leaving, I decided to study a glass cabinet with smaller bears in it and that’s when I spotted Kasimir. He’s an Astridbear; an artist from Germany and I have two fabulous Astridbears already. The word “love” on his dungarees just spoke to me. As a romance writer, I’d found my meaningful bear and he’s settled into life in the bear cabinet very well.

P1050693Thank you everyone for your cards (mum & dad, Joanna and Norma), gifts, and well wishes. I actually signed my contract on Monday so it is 100% official that I’m a So Vain Books author. I’ve come to terms with referring to myself as a “writer” for a long time (as opposed to an “aspiring writer”) but I think it will take me a long time to get used to referring to myself as an “author”!

I’ve managed to negotiate a flexible working contract at work. I’ve been toying with putting in a request since the law changed in the summer allowing anyone to request the right to flexible work (although the company doesn’t have to accept). I liked the idea of working my normal hours across four longer days and having a day off to write but I never got round to submitting it. The book deal was the push I needed and I was eternally grateful to have my request accepted immediately. It’s a trial until the end of the year to make sure it meets the needs of the business but I can’t see it being a problem. I had my first Monday off this week and it was amazing to sit at my desk and feel like an author, working for a solid day on writing-related activities.

Something else lovely happened this week at work which made me feel like a real author too. I got a phone call from our HR Manager on a completely non-work-related issue. She said that she was delighted to hear the news of my writing deal and said that she was part of a reading group and that they all take turns in choosing books. She said that, when my book was published, she’d like to choose mine to read and would I mind going along and talking to the group? Wow! How flattered was I? Naturally I said yes. It feels like things are really starting to happen.

I’d better sign off or this could go on forever! Thanks to everyone who has been part of my journey so far and to all of those who’ll join us along the way.

Jessica xx