What’s on my wall? (Part 8) Monday Motivation

For part 8 of my ‘What’s on my wall?’ #MondayMotivation series, I’ve selected a really special canvas and probably one of the most important pictures/signs I have on my wall.

My husband, Mark, presented this to me on the day my debut novel was published in June 2015 as part of a 3-set of canvases, the others being the book cover for my debut and for a novella that was released a couple of weeks before.

The two book cover canvases are no longer on my wall because these were the covers from my original publishers who ceased trading. Both books then received a fresh cover when I re-released them as each an indie author. Then another revised one. They have since been re-released through Boldwood Books with different titles and a fourth new cover each!

The quote on this sign is so special:

“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why” (Mark Twain)

Isn’t that just fabulous?

This quote came up on the credits at the end of a film Mark was watching and it resonated with him as being so appropriate for me in relation to how I feel about writing. If I didn’t write, I wouldn’t be me. I’d be lost. It is very much a part of me and I feel strange when I’m not at my keyboard creating, as though part of me is missing.

The day I finished writing my first book was the day I found out why I’d been born. Writing gave me a purpose and a goal. But this year has brought something unexpected. My books have actually helped others. I’ve been quite overwhelmed by the number of messages I’ve had from readers saying that they have discovered my books and binge-reading them has provided valuable escapism, helping them through these challenging times. It’s really humbling to think that my imagination and words have touched others in this way.

I can’t thank my husband and daughter enough for how supportive they are with my writing and the moments when I’m so lost in my creative world that I’m unable to concentrate on anything in reality. I’ll always cherish this canvas from them, reminding me of the day I fulfilled my first goal of becoming a published author, and the day I became the person I was always meant to be.

Do you agree with this quote? Have you found out your purpose? I’d love to hear from you if you have or you’re on your way.

Big hugs

Jessica xx

What’s on my wall? (Part 7) Monday Motivation

Happy Birthday AliceIt’s another Monday, it’s the last day of August, and it’s a bank holiday. I have no idea where time is going at the moment but I can’t quite believe it’s September tomorrow. I’ve been a full-time author for nearly three months now. I thought I’d have more time on my hands. It feels like I have less!

I’ve spent the last couple of weeks deep in my editing cave, working on the second book in my Hedgehog Hollow series, and will have one more week to achieve my deadline. Then I’ll have a couple of days’ break before starting on the third book in the series.

My #MondayMotivation choice for the ‘What’s on my wall?’ feature this week is a picture I bought in the same Derby gift shop where I purchased the ‘Be Brave’ bear I wrote about in Part 2 of this series. You can find the post here.

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As soon as I saw it, this image spoke to me as an author because each time I start a new book or even a new chapter or a scene on a work-in-progress, I’m asking myself this question:

WHERE SHALL WE GO?

I don’t plan my stories. I’m what’s known as a ‘pantser’ meaning I fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants, making it up as I go along. I know my characters really well, I know what the premise of the story is and how it’s going to end … but I don’t know how the journey is going to unfold. And I find that really exciting.

This woman with her dog and her suitcase, standing in the woodland with many paths ahead of her made me think of the choices and decisions I make every time I put fingers to keyboard. Where will my story go? What adventures will my characters go on?

It hangs on the wall to the left of me and every so often, I turn around, look at it and smile. Where shall we go? My characters will give me the answer.

Wishing you all the best for the final day in August and a brilliant start to September.

Big hugs

Jessica xx

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What’s on my wall (Part 4)? Monday Motivation

Happy Birthday AliceIt’s back to a motivational phrase for Part 4 of my ‘What’s on my wall?’ #MondayMotivation blog post.

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I’d never heard this phrase until my writing friend and fellow Write Romantic, Helen Phifer, mentioned that it was one of her favourite sayings shortly after the Write Romantics formed. Back then, we were all aspiring authors hoping that we’d get our break one day and it seemed very apt so the group adopted it.

In recent years, this phrase has become the subject of many humorous memes along the lines of ‘She believed she could but she was tired so she ate a giant bar of chocolate instead’ which have perhaps turned this phrase into a bit of a joke.

But I still love it.

Authors have to have a phenomenal amount of self-belief to write the book in the first place and then to put it out there in the publishing world. We face rejection from agents and/or publishers, criticism from bloggers and readers, poor sales and chart positions and can often question what the point is. Some will accept it isn’t going to happen. Others will hang onto the belief that they will get there – eventually – and keep going.

I believed I could write a book.

I believed I could create a series of books in a world with interconnected characters that readers would love.

I believed I could secure a publishing deal.

I believed that, one day, I could become successful enough to write full-time.

My journey to this point has been a rough ride, riddled with doubts but I kept going until I got there. I believed I could, so I did.

Now the sign sits above my window and I look at it and smile every day.

Have a great week.

Big hugs

Jessica xx

What’s on my wall (Part 3)? Motivation Monday

Happy Birthday Alice

Hello and welcome to another fresh week and also a fresh month. For #MotivationMonday, I bring you a picture today rather than a saying. This large canvas is on my wall right above my computer screen and I absolutely love it.

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I bought it from Next Home several years ago because it’s a coastal image and because I loved the calming colours. It’s such a happy picture and looking at it instantly transports me into the seaside setting of my Whitsborough Bay books.

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Scarborough’s beach huts on North Bay

It doesn’t look like Whitsborough Bay, though.

There is a pier leading to Whitsborough Bay’s lighthouse but it’s nothing like this traditional-style one; it’s large rocks with a path across the top.

And the beach huts in Whitsborough Bay are an exact match for Scarborough’s bright orange, blue, yellow, red and lime green ones rather than pastels like in this canvas.

But the feel is still there and I find it inspiring. Wishing you an inspiring start to the week and the month.

Big hugs

Jessica xx

What’s on my wall (Part 1)? Monday Motivation

Happy Birthday Alice

Hello and welcome to Monday. A new day, a new week and perhaps a new start for some of you.

Rather than a fresh start, I’m actually hoping for the end today. By which I don’t mean anything macabre! I’m simply hoping to be at the point where I am able to type those two amazing words ‘the end’ at the end (obviously) of my WIP. Knowing me, another plot point will present itself and make the book even longer and need tomorrow too but, if the characters behave themselves, I should achieve my aim today. Then the harder work starts when I need to go through it and fill in the plot holes, remove the repetition, sort out the inconsistencies and make sure there’s a good pace.

On social media, it’s #MondayMotivation and it struck me that the place I spent most of my day – my office – is packed full of motivation. I painted it the most gorgeous shades of bluey-purple last year … and then promptly covered the walls with pictures that inspire me and quotes that motivate.

So I’m starting a new feature called: What’s on my wall? Bet you can’t guess what it involves! 😉

IMG_6926So here’s my first post in what should be a series (if I remember to keep writing the posts!) I bought this sign several years ago before I had a publishing deal. I had a dream of being an author and the sign seemed perfect. I had no idea whether it would happen but I’d frequently gaze at the words and hope that maybe one day, it could be me.

Today sees the start of my seventh week as a full-time author with ten books published, hopefully about to type ‘the end’ on book eleven. Eek!

Dream BIG because dreams really do come true. What’s yours?

Big hugs

Jessica xx

The one where I reflect on my lovely trip to London

I’ve been on a little road-trip (or train-trip to be precise) this weekend, down to London. As Joey from Friends would say: London baby!

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IMG_5952Sporting my brand new hair colour – time to go a bit lighter again in an effort to reduce the impact of that pesky white badger streak that insists on appearing after a few weeks – I caught the train down on Friday morning and returned on Sunday afternoon, feeling somewhat shattered, having had a very busy and very lovely weekend.

The purpose of the trip was to attend an RNA (Romantic Novelists’ Association) meeting on Saturday afternoon. I don’t normally go to the London-based events because it’s so expensive to get down to London from oop north, even when booked well in advance, but I had an added incentive this time. Sara-Jade Virtue, Special Sales Director and Brand Director at Simon & Schuster was the guest speaker and I was really keen to meet her.

IMG_5954You see, each year, on 15th July, S&S run an un-agented submissions day: #OneDay. Last year, I decided to submit but, because the MS had to be finished, I couldn’t submit my work-in-progress, Wish I Could Tell You Goodbye. They were happy to accept previously-released works providing the author owned the rights, so I submitted the first chapter and synopsis of Bear With Me. I was thrilled, two weeks later, to be asked to submit the full MS. Woohoo! Bear With Me ended up being a pass but I had some amazing feedback about my writing and was encouraged to submit any other manuscripts outside of #OneDay so I submitted Wish… in December with fingers crossed and a little prayer.

I knew that the trip would be expensive, particularly when adding in hotel costs and meals, but I decided to go to the meeting to hear what Sara-Jade had to say and hopefully speak with her in person. I figured that, whilst meeting someone in person isn’t going to make them like my manuscript any more, it’s always great to have that personal contact. Even if Wish… is also a pass, I’d have more of a relationship than I would via email only.

dragon-253539_640The thing is, I’m not very good at networking. And by not very good, I mean terrible. I don’t have a problem talking to strangers. In my day job in HR, I’m a recruiter and trainer so I’m used to engaging strangers in conversation all the time but the big difference is that I’m the one they’re there to see so they need to talk back to me! When I’m not the “person in charge”, I have a huge problem in being the one to approach a stranger to to start a conversation. All sorts of worries and doubts fill me: Why would they even want to speak to me? What if I start talking and they walk off? What if they start yawning or looking at their watch? What if I turn into a jibbering mess, especially when I want to impress them? What if they turn into a dragon and start breathing fire on me? Okay, that last one might have been an exaggeration but the others are very real. Lots of people I know are terrified of public speaking and that’s how I feel about networking. Scary stuff. Even though I’d made the journey, I had a feeling I’d bottle it.

fear-2019930_640Sara-Jade gave us a fascinating insight into the world of publishing. I had no idea how many people and how many steps there in the process from reading a manuscript to getting (and keeping) a book out there. I was hanging on every single word and also to her responses to the many questions the group asked. I was quite proud of myself because I asked a question and got a detailed answer so, if I did bottle introducing myself, at least I’d drawn myself to Sara-Jade’s attention in some small way.

The good news is that I was brave and introduced myself afterwards. She didn’t ignore me, walk off or yawn and I didn’t make a mess of it. She was absolutely lovely, knew who I was, and said she’d be in touch in a few weeks’ time. She even followed this up with an email afterwards which absolutely made my day. A moment’s courage and all that …

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Before the meeting, I had a chance to meet two of my Write Romantic writing friends, Jo Bartlett and Jackie Ladbury. We met at Victoria and had the most amazing lunch in the Market Hall there. It’s like a food hall but with independent stalls rather than chain ones (or at least, if they were chains, I certainly wasn’t familiar with them) and it had a really relaxed atmosphere.

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Jo was unable to join us for the RNA meeting so Jackie and I caught the tube back to Tower Hill for the RNA meeting and met another Write Romantic, Helen Rolfe, for a drink first. The three of us then went out for a meal and drinks afterwards. We went to All Bar One and had the most amazing sharing platter and nachos although we were all starving and dived in so I didn’t get a picture of those!

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I have to say that it was a wonderful day from start to finish. One of the most valuable things I can ever do as a writer is to meet with other writers and talk about all things writing. It’s motivating, inspiring and incredibly helpful.

I’d decided to stay over on the Friday as well, giving me a chance to catch up with a university friend who lives in London so I had a chance to reminisce about our uni days and catch up on the latest news with him too. And I got to have a brief explore around a part of London I’ve never visited. I now want to visit The Tower of London for a proper explore and I’d like to walk across Tower Bridge too.

Wishing you a great week

Jessica xx

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The one where I took my tree down a bit early

img_5809It’s Twelfth Night – 6th January – which is traditionally the deadline for taking your Christmas tree and decorations down, although there is a bit of debate as to whether it should be 5th January instead. It’s considered bad luck to keep them up after this deadline and I had expected to be spending this weekend removing all evidence of Christmas from our house. But I didn’t have to because I’d already done it. For the first time ever I took my decorations down early, starting on Wednesday evening, doing a bit more on Thursday evening, then disassembling the trees on Friday.

img_5690As I say, I’ve never taken them down early and I wondered why I’d done so this year, especially when Twelfth Night was nicely falling on a weekend. I’ve concluded it’s a distraction strategy because if I spent several evenings last week taking the decorations down, I wouldn’t have to do any writing. And if I spent Saturday cleaning up and putting things back to normal, I wouldn’t have to do any writing. And if I spent Sunday catching up on my MA coursework, I wouldn’t have to do any writing.

Yes, I’ve had a major wobble. My 2018 has got on top of me and my motivation seems to have disappeared, just like my Amazon rankings for Searching for Steven. But that’s okay. It will come back and, although I may not be writing, I’m thinking or ‘brewing’ as I call it. It’s still a vital part of constructing my plot and developing my characters and it’ll mean that, when I do finally put fingers to keyboard again, it will flow quicker.

Hope your first week of 2019 has gone well and, if you haven’t taken the decs down, you do realise that means they need to stay up all year, don’t you?! Fairy lights and a bit of bling all year round is no bad thing. Hmm. Might have to get them back down from the attic…

Jessica xx

Two words. Eight letters. Huge meaning

Thank you. Two little words. Eight letters. But they can make such an incredible difference.

As a child, I was always taught to say please and thank you. I’ve always appreciated the politeness and good manners of using these words, but as I’ve moved through my career, I’ve found that the phrase “thank you” carries another meaning. It’s not just politeness. Instead, it’s a phrase that can make an employee feel valued, motivated, and a crucial part of the team. And the absence of it can have the opposite effect.

1459660_10153764816734073_906436907602077622_nSadly, I’ve worked for far too many managers and in far too many companies where the simple thank you is a phrase rarely uttered and employees – myself included – have been left feeling undervalued, demotivated, and totally worthless. After unexpectedly being made redundant from the day job in June, I was fortunate enough to walk into another role as a recruitment consultant for a local company called Castle. Although I struggled at first because the work was quite different to anything I’ve done before, I’ve now fully settled in and have to say that it’s the most refreshing place I’ve ever worked. Why? Because support, appreciation, and recognition are part of the culture at Castle. So far, I’ve been out for two delicious meals at our quarterly team meetings, I’ve been on a hilarious team-building afternoon followed by another meal to celebrate the team smashing their targets for the first half of the year (and I wasn’t even an employee during that time!), I’ve met my first set of targets and will be rewarded with lunch out and a day’s holiday, and I was voted as employee of the month for September. The result? A very happy, motivated employee who wants to work even harder to thank the company for how they treat me!

Converting this to writing, I’ve picked up another few reviews in the past week bringing my total number of reviews for my debut novel, Searching for Steven up to 54, 45 of which are 5-star and the rest 4-star. I can’t quite believe I have such great reviews. At the end of one of the recent ones, Anon writes: “Many thanks Jessica Redland, I look forward to reading more of your books in the future.” An earlier review from Mrs Rosalyn Leach states: “Some books arrive at just the right time in your life. Searching for Steven did for me. I really enjoyed the journey and the final twist to the story. Thank you Jessica.” Thank you. Those two special words. How amazing that these lovely readers are actually thanking me for writing my novel when it’s me who owes them my thanks for buying Steven, taking the time to review it, and absolutely making my day. The actual words “thank you” appear in other reviews but, even where they don’t, the very act of writing a review is effectively thanking me and it has the exact same affect that my employer has had on me: a happy, motivated author who wants to write more books, with fabulous characters and exciting plots to thank the readers for supporting me.

Two words. Eight letters. But oh so valuable.