🌟 When you find your passion don't turn your back on it - embrace it.
That's what, after nearly 50 years, I've finally realised!
We all have something we love, be it :
hair and beauty
the list is limitless...
For me, it's writing.
And yet I spent most of my life pondering over 'what I want to do with my life.'
To be honest, I already knew the answer back when I was 8 years old. It was staring me in the face. Yet I refused to open my eyes and ears.
Does that sound familiar to you?
Writing is a passion of mine. I HAVE to write, whether it's a story, an article, a letter or even a diary.
Writing is part of who I am. I'm a writer and proud of it! YES! I've said it, at long last...
For years, during school, college and work I believed that making a career from writing was something made from fairy tales.
To admit I wanted to be the next Stephen King, Anne Rice or Kate Mosse would have made me look a fool.
'Yeah, right!' I could imagine everyone saying. 'Like that's ever going to happen.'
So, I tried convincing myself I wanted to do something else. Something more realistic and achievable.
But, what did I spend all my spare time doing? I'm sure you can guess...
Yep, you got it,
I wrote stories - and lots of them.
Most of those stories written back then have long gone. I regret throwing them away now. Admittedly, they were pretty awful, but still...
Life never runs smoothly,
but there's no point in ignoring the signs and ploughing on ahead when it's not the path you're supposed to take.
Again, I've learned that the hard way.
I always envied those at school who knew what they wanted to be.
To be at the age where your whole life is ahead of you., surrounded by a network of teachers, lecturers, careers advisers, who can offer courses, apprenticeships not to mention valuable advice and support.
When my children were deciding what to do following school, I was amazed by what was available. So many courses which I'd have loved to have enrolled on myself.
But, when you're 14 - 21 years old and have no idea what you want to do, it is tough - very tough.
For me, I've realised that if you don't really look deep inside yourself then you'll never find the answer.
To be honest, administration and receptionist work was never really my passion. It was a job. One I enjoyed and yet also at times, disliked.
I've worked with some lovely people, many of whom are still really good friends. Working with a good bunch helps make or break a job.
But, real job satisfaction didn't strike home. Not until I had my first book published.
I tried and failed going down the 'finding representation from a Literary Agent' route.
Time after time I tried submitting manuscripts only to receive rejections.
This would send me on a low ebb for the rest of the day.
What was I doing wrong?
The rejections wouldn't say what was right or wrong so I had no idea what to change.
I understand that agents are so busy they just don't have the time to write out detailed replies to every writer who submits their manuscript. But, to a writer, it can be frustrating and deflating.
Finally, out of sheer frustration, I wrote to a couple of my favourite authors. Kate Mosse and Cynthia Harrod-Eagles. To my amazement, they both replied.
Cynthia advised I leave the manuscript and work on another, then go back and read it through again later.
Kate advised I contact the Literary Consultancy. Unfortunately, although tempted, this was something I just could not afford at the time.
It wasn't until I had the health scare that I thought;
just go for it!
So I did...
I contacted Aki Schilz of the Literary Consultancy - who is lovely by the way and really knows her stuff - and then an agent and editor were hired to work with me on the manuscripts.
It felt so right to be finally moving forward with my writing.
I am now a firm believer in going by your gut instinct.
If something feels wrong, then don't do it.
I've ignored this for too long only to have regretted it later.
It was through working with The Literary Consultancy, that I came across another avenue, instead of representation from a literary agent.
To all those authors out there who have an agent, I admire, respect and congratulate you. It's one heck of an achievement and I wish I could have done it but unfortunately, it just wasn't to be.
But all was not lost because Aki brought to light the possibility of self-publishing.
Now, I'm way out of my depth with sales and marketing. However, I love my work so much I was willing to give it a try.
If it's 'meant to be' then it shall be.
So, I went to the Troubadour Self Publishing Conference in Leicester with my best friend, Sian.
I owe that girl so much. She's been by my side through some of the toughest times and also the happiest. She's listened to me pour my heart out. She's encouraged and supported. And that day she proved - yet again, her weight in gold.
Sian came with me to the conference and - despite having no interest in self-publishing, she attended four of the workshops and wrote pages of notes which she then gave to me. The result was that I not only gained knowledge from the four workshops I attended, but I also learned much from the ones she attended too.
How good a friend is that? ❤
More than just an Edit.
Aki was also running a workshop at the conference. It was lovely to actually meet her following our emails and long conversations over the telephone.
What Aki stressed was the importance of editing. It is paramount to invest money in having the manuscript critiqued, proofread and copyedited professionally.
The last thing any writer wants is to produce a book full of typos, clashing dates, hum-dingers like a character's name changing from Luke to Lucky halfway through the book or their eyes changing from green to blue.
Yet, these mistakes are so easy to make and can ruin a writer's credibility in seconds.
Antonia Prescott was an editor who'd worked with me on my manuscript called, REDEMPTION.
This is a manuscript I have shelved for now, but I intend to dig it out and rewrite it again at some point. It's full of fantasy creatures, Gods and Demi-Gods, ancient civilizations and the magic and romance of ancient mythology.
I love that story and loved researching and writing it. So, I can't give up on it. However, it's such a huge topic and one which will take much, much time to rewrite. But never say never...
Following what I'll call - my shake up - I decided to start again... and start off small.
I'd written a few shorter stories a few years back - which I've mentioned in one of my earlier blogs called: The story behind Poppy on Safari -
First things first...
So, I realised it was best to begin at the beginning.
I dug out my older stories and realised just how much I loved them.
I tweaked and rewrote.
I added drawings and new characters and then watched as the story came to life.
I contacted Antonia. And so our working relationship began.
When we talked over the telephone, throwing ideas back and forth, it felt like I'd known her for years. And yet, that day, waiting for her phone call, I was a bundle of nerves. The idea of talking to a professional editor scared me to death!
Since then, we've worked on my second book: TAMMY AND WILLOW.
I shall reveal more about that as the publication date draws near.
It's a book that is very dear to me. I've explained all in the acknowledgements at the back of the book.
And now, I'm working on book three. Antonia is waiting for the manuscript. It is a sequel to POPPY ON SAFARI and follows Poppy, the crazy cream retriever, on another adventure.
Antonia has said that she's delighted to hear I'm working on another Poppy book and that she'd be very happy to see her again.
It's great for me too, bringing back the character of Poppy the crazy cream retriever - What a girl! 😍
So, do you see how smooth and right this feels?
I hope my books manage to sell enough copies, enough so that I can afford to continue, that is.
I hope many of you out there will enjoy the books and love the characters and their adventures as much as Antonia and I do.
This feels right. For the first time in years, it feels like I'm where I should be. After everything - and you'll know what I mean if you've read some of my earlier blogs - I feel that I can actually do something!
Yes, there's a lot I can't do, or rather, don't do all that well - but I can and I do write and I also can draw pictures of my beautiful dogs and other beauties this world has to over.
After every storm, look for the rainbow.
I saw that saying on a billboard outside a school and I thought - WOW. I love that!
And on that note, I bid you farewell for now and get back to reading through book three and starting the illustration for chapter nine.
Stay safe and well friends!