Words Fail Me

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Finding the right words sometimes isn’t easy for anyone and that includes writers!

So to my amazing literary agent, Selwa Anthony, I simply want to say thank you. Thank you for taking me on in May this year. Thank you for believing in me and my writing. Thank you for your advice. Thank you for guiding me and for your positivity, kindness and mentoring.

Thank you for supporting me through the submission process of my latest novel “The Silver Bracelet.”

Then on Friday (30 June) I awoke to find an email from Selwa, telling me that the prestigious Australian publishers Allen & Unwin loved “The Silver Bracelet” and were offering me a publishing deal.

To Ms Annette Barlow and her colleagues at Allen & Unwin – Thank you for giving me this opportunity; for championing my novel and for seeing potential in not only my writing but also potential in me.

Keep reading; keep writing and don’t let anyone tell you that you won’t achieve your dreams.

Like for many writers, it has been a rocky, tiring road at times but when you find your “Selwa” and “Annette” – believe me, your journey to publication will be so much worth the wait.

Ladies – I won’t let you down.

Thank you.

Julie X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Push the Button

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I pressed “Send” last night and then almost burst into tears.

Why?

Because I’ve been working on Book 4  for several months.

As many writers will tell you, it’s an emotional moment. All the hours; deleted words; revised chapters; moments of procrastination (there were a good few of those!) and general toil culminates with the tapping of that button and firing your work off to publishers/agents.

Now I sit and wonder anxiously, hoping my agent has as much fun reading my novel as I did writing it.

Apparently, it’s perfectly normal to send off your book and then think, “Maybe it’s not as good as my last one? What if they don’t like it? What if I’ve not been able to maintain the standard of writing they expect?”

I read an interview recently with one of my favourite authors who said after writing a shed load of successful novels, she STILL worried about the quality of her work and whether her readers would like it.

Perhaps that’s a sign of someone who is/will be a good author.

In any case, my fourth romantic comedy  is now in the hands of my agent……

Now, how do I stop myself refreshing my In box every ten minutes…..?!

Happy Writing & Reading!

Julie X

 

 

 

 

The Call!

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It happened to me on Friday morning.

Really. It did.

A well respected London literary agent e-mailed me to say he’d read  my Full MS, “loved it” and would I be available for a chat at 3pm?

I almost wrote back “Is the Pope Catholic?” but thought better of it.

I spent the best part of the day pushing my lunch around my plate; tidying the house repeatedly and pacing about until 3pm arrived and he rang. Thank goodness we weren’t on Skype. I looked like a rabbit caught in headlights and my palms were distinctly sweaty.

We chatted for 45 minutes or so about what my writing goals were; what he hoped to achieve with my novel and my writing in general.

A lot of it is still a blur but I remember gasping for breath when he said again that he “loved” my romcom; I had a “wonderful writing style” and that he’d found it “very, very funny.”

Then I caught the words, “would like to offer you representation” and I’m sure a series of zoo-like noises came tumbling out of my mouth. I hope I didn’t damage his ear.

Like many, many writers, my journey has had more ups and downs than a roller coaster at Disney. My first two romcoms failed to secure representation. I got some very positive comments but nobody would bite.

Then I read about the London based digital publishers, Not So Noble Books. I submitted my first romcom to them, which they accepted and then they published my second. That was a thrill for me and boosted my writing confidence.

By this time, I’d written my third novel (which is the one I have been offered representation for) and submitted this to various agents. After a number of months and a pile of encouraging  rejections, I was delighted to receive two offers of representation – one from an agent in the US and one from an agent in the UK.

I opted for the UK agent. Unfortunately, for one reason or another, things didn’t go according to plan and after a very frustrating ten months, I politely terminated the contract.

So there I was. Agentless – again. Back to square one.

The thought of starting over filled me with dread, but I girded my loins and began the whole submission process over again. Any other writers who have had to do this will understand the upset and frustration.

Out go your synopsis and first three chapters, accompanied by the obligatory query letter. It really was a case of “Groundhog Day.”

Over the space of 2-3 months, I received a total of seven full requests from agents and one from a publisher. I was encouraged but the ghost of my previous experiences kept hissing over my shoulder, “Don’t get too carried away. Look what happened the last time!”

Trying to distract myself while my Fulls were out, I threw myself into entering writing competitions; busied myself with greetings card verses that I write for a few companies and managed to finish off the first draft of Book 4.

I still lurked around my PC on regular intervals though, refreshing my In Box. Ok regular intervals translates as every ten minutes.  Each day, my Husband would stagger in from work to be met with me pulling my “sucking a lemon” face and the words, “Still nothing!”

Then I received that e-mail on Friday morning.

There are no assurances in this life. Publishing and writing are extremely competitive, as we all know. There is a huge amount of talent out there.

But what I have had since 3pm on Friday 16 September, is more of a belief in myself again. The thought that someone has faith in me and my writing and is prepared to fight my corner means the world.

Only a matter of weeks ago, I was almost in tears speaking to my Husband, with the words, “Right! That’s it! I’m giving up!” echoing around the house.

His reply was, “You can’t. You don’t know what’s round the corner. There could be an agent or publisher sitting engrossed in your novel right now.”

Fingers crossed, I will secure a publishing deal. But for now, the very fact someone is willing to put themselves out there on my behalf, makes it all worthwhile.

Keep reading; keep writing and never EVER give up!

Julie X

 

 

 

 

 

Great Shakes!

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If you’re a writer or simply a lover of comedy writing, you will love “Upstart Crow” on BBC 2 on a Monday evening.

Written by the very talented Ben Elton, it basically tells the story in a sit-com style, of William Shakespeare; his family; friends and how he came to create such wonderful plays.

Sharp one-liners; witty observations and excellent comedic performances by everyone involved, makes this a real highlight.

The imaginative way in which Ben Elton has managed to weave modern day aspects into Shakespeare’s writing, his character and general take on the world, brings a smile to my face with every episode.

It’s like watching a masterclass of comedy writing in action and the cast are so believable, you almost feel as if you have travelled back in time for a sneak peak at the Bard’s life.

David Mitchell is wonderful as Shakespeare, not only physically but also in the way he portrays Will as a deeply imaginative, clever and sometimes creatively frustrated writer (aren’t we all at times?!)

And it is at this point, that I have a confession to make. Although I know I shouldn’t, I have a bit of a “character crush” on Kit Marlowe, the brash, confident and lecherous friend of Will’s.

Not only is he big-headed and often making attempts to steal Will’s work,  he’s arrogant, sexist – but annoyingly rather attractive! (It might also be to do with the Jon Bon Jovi hair and wicked grin!)

He’s portrayed by the excellent actor Tim Downie, who has managed to turn this individual into someone who lights up the screen when he is on and made this character very likeable.

Watch “Upstart Crow” tomorrow night, BBC at 10pm!

Julie X

 

Hooray for Heroes!

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Heroes….we all need them!

Listening or watching world events can often be a despairing experience, so I just wanted to say a little thank you to those people who I really admire, for their talent and ability to make me laugh, cry and who influence me….

  • Author Jenny Colgan – She creates characters that stay with you for a long, long time and that is such a special gift. I have read all of her novels and almost hyperventilate when I find out another one is on the way. What a writer!
  • Morecambe & Wise – These two late, great comedians never fail to make me laugh. Their sense of timing, comedy chemistry and originality will never date.
  • Stevie Nicks – I remember hearing her music for the first time, when I was about 14 and she just blew me away. Her smoky voice and ghostly lyrics are just heavenly to listen to. Ever since first hearing her album, “Bella Donna”, I have been a huge fan of hers.
  • Fleetwood Mac –Definitely my favourite band of all time and what with Stevie’s influence, they are , IMHO, musical perfection!
  • William Shakespeare – Ahead of his time and with such an understanding of human emotions, I was first introduced to Shakespeare at secondary school. We studied “Macbeth”; “Hamlet” and, my personal favourite, “Twelfth Night,” which I consider to be one of the first great romcoms!
  • Alex Lowe – I have just discovered his comic talents recently, with his character “Barry from Watford” and also his unique ability to transform his voice into everyone from Tom Cruise to Prince Philip. I often suffer from “writing envy” at his clever one-liners.
  • Marilyn Monroe – Gorgeous, talented and very underrated as an actress. She still commands world-wide attention to this day and is still truly a star.
  • Author Wendy Holden – Another writer who sends me into hysterics with her sharp observations and clever one-liners.
  • Alan Rickman – A wonderful actor with so much charisma and a voice like warm chocolate. His “Colonel Brandon” in “Sense & Sensibility” made my heart rattle in my chest. Taken all too soon.

You may have noticed that I haven’t included any politicians in my list. To be perfectly honest, like many people, I’m very cynical about politicians at the moment in general. So if there are any politicians out there who happen to be reading my blog (!) I apologise for jumping on my soapbox but…. it might be an idea to get your priorities right and help those who are in most need – it would be a start!

Hope your particular Heroes give you as much fun and pleasure to watch/read/listen to as mine do.

Happy Writing!

Julie X

 

 

If You Love Writing It, People Will Love Reading It!”

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“If you love writing it, people will love reading it!”

I’ve heard this piece of writing advice so often and really believe it.

It’s something that seems to come through in certain novels, when you first start reading – the energy, description and general enthusiasm of the writer is contageous and before you know it, you are living and breathing the story as as though you were there.

The characters dramatically come to life and whenever you finish a chapter or put the book down temporarily, it’s hard to separate yourself from what you’ve just read.

This truly is a very special writing gift that some authors have.

Losing yourself in a novel is a wonderful experience as we all know – and when that story has been carefully crafted and cherished by the writer, it makes the reading experience even more special.

I hope that whatever you are currently reading, is taking you on a journey every bit as wonderful as the writing journey its author travelled on!

Happy Writing!

Julie X

 

Dear Diary….

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I’ve decided to buy a 5 Year Diary.

After reading this suggestion in this month’s Writing Magazine, I considered the idea and knew that having a Diary like this, to plan out my writing plans, deadlines and commitments, is the way to go.

Scribbled post-its and hastily written notes are not the best system to use, when you are trying to keep a record of writing competition deadlines and cut-off dates for submission briefs!

I like to think I’m (usually) quite an organised person, but when it comes to having ideas rattling round in my head and creative decisions to make, plans can just go out the window!

I’m a bit of a “List Maniac” and find that keeping a To Do List is a big help for the day-to-day stuff – but when it comes to planning a bit more long-term, I think, for me at least, investing in a 5 Year Diary for future writing schedules, might help with the tsunami of post-its which often occupy my desk.

So I’m off now to do a bit o Diary shopping on the internet….I just hope that when I have this crisp, new Diary in my possession, I’m organised enough to use it!

Happy Writing & Reading!

Julie X