I'm going to be totally honest with you here...
I'm not one of those people who's always wanted to be an author.
I've always written- mostly short stories and poems- but I never entertained the idea that anyone other than my family might want to read them. Then, in early 2013, something changed. I decided to try my hand at writing a novel.
My friend Kitty French had self-published the first of her Knight trilogy books the year before and she encouraged me to try my hand at longer pieces of writing. With a cheerleader behind me, I set off typing, determined to get a novel down on paper...and soon stalled.
This was HARD.
I reverted back to the comfort zone of poems and shorts.
Then Autumn 2013, Richard and Judy put out a call for submissions to their 'Search for a Bestseller' competition. Having a deadline was the push I needed, and on the final date before the competition closed, I pressed the 'send' button to enter the first 10,000 words of a novel called The Loveless Life of Jackson Scott.
I didn't win the competition. I didn't even get shortlisted. And I still haven't finished writing that novel. But it gave me the impetus to keep writing, and during 2014 I tried incredibly hard to find publishers for my work. I submitted a series of short stories around a fictional boyband called The Voyeurs to numerous digital-first imprints. No one wanted them.
I sent off another series, The Meet Cute, and although numerous publishers gave positive feedback, no one came back and said they wanted to buy them. The rejections stung, but I carried on writing.
That summer I wrote an erotic festive novella called One Wild Winter which received an offer from a small indie publishing house. However, although it was thrilling to be given validation and it was very tempting to sign the rights away, something about it didn't feel right. After much agonising, I turned the offer down.
Small scale successes in competitions followed, including being shortlisted in both the poetry and short story categories at a local festival, but September 2014 brought my biggest victory to date - I was announced as one of the winners of The Reading Agency/Pan Macmillan's short story competition (you can read my entry here). The prize was a daylong writing workshop at their London headquarters with bestselling author Joanna Rees. That day changed my life. I wanted to be part of this world and I was bloody well going to do it, somehow!
I set about submitting my writing left, right and centre, and looked to get publicity off the back of The Reading Agency/Pan Macmillan success. The local press were wonderfully supportive and printed articles about my win in The Sheffield Star, Sheffield Telegraph, Activ8 magazine, as well as being featured in The Hereford Times, the weekly local newspaper from my old stomping ground. BBC Radio Sheffield invited me onto their 'My Life So Far' feature on Rony Robinson's show and I snatched every opportunity with both hands!
By the end of 2014 I felt things were moving forward - a short piece about my 'writing spot' was selected for the Off The Shelf festival's Shedloads of Work website to celebrate the Dylan Thomas centenary, and my short story The Gift was published in issue 3.4 of Splickety Magazine. Following this, more poems and shorts were selected for print in various anthologies.
Summer 2015 promises even bigger things and I can't wait to share it with you!
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