I also wrote a book this summer!

In my last blog, I was all set to tell you what I have been up to all summer (writing-wise, I mean). Instead, it turned into a confession about my tendency to procrastinate and a (very) late snippet about the RNA summer conference.

So, back to the book I was writing, which is the second of two linked books published under the tagline Men About Town, Traders in Temptation… (shameless plug – the first, Return of Scandal’s Son, is out in October. Read the first chapter here).

There were times I despaired of finishing in time for the July 1st deadline. It’s strange, because it was a book I wanted to write. I knew the set up, and where the characters had come from, so in theory it should have flowed. It did not. I wonder if the mistake I made was in trying to plan it too much. I like the idea of planning – it seems the sensible, grown-up, professional thing to do – but when the incident I had planned to come towards the end of the book insisted on taking place in the middle, I decided to abandon the plan and follow my instincts as I have in the past and, finally, the story began to emerge. I managed to hit my deadline and sent it off to my editor with much trepidation. I was so close to the story by then I couldn’t view it with any objectivity and I didn’t have the time to allow it to ‘stew’ before the final read through.

Fortunately, my editor loved it. Inevitably, there were revisions.

Now, just to continue with the ‘this book did not behave as I expected it to’ theme – I looked at the revisions and thought ‘they’re not so bad’. Normally, I read the revisions and have a little cry and a little swear before knuckling down and discovering they’re better than I feared. These turned out to be trickier than I anticipated. The simple request to change the timings between two scenes quite early on in the book proved a real challenge, with changes of points of view and all that entails. There was also a new scene to write in the middle of the book and an epilogue to add, as well as the usual minor queries. I was asked if I could get the revisions back to my editor before she went on holiday, giving me a little under two weeks to get them done.

I started them in a state of calm confidence. By the time I finished them I was a gibbering wreck and my husband was treading very carefully indeed! But, luckily, my editor loved them and so, dear reader, my fourth book is now done and dusted. It is called Saved by Scandal’s Heir, will be out in the first half of 2016, and it will feature some old friends, so watch out for it!

Working with an Editor

Book number 3 has left the building! By that, I mean I have submitted the ms of my 3rd Regency, The Baroness and the Black Sheep, to my editor and, no doubt, it will shortly wing its way back to my inbox with a list of ‘tweaks’, as editors seem fond of calling their suggestions.

I’m still in the early stages of my writing career, and I’ve been pondering the whole ‘working with an editor’ process. I have been through the process twice now, each time with a different editor.

I don’t think it was my fault my first editor left, but who knows 😉 ?

My 1st book, Mary and the Marquis, had been through the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writer’s Scheme, and I had revised it with the help of the feedback from an experienced Mills and Boon author, so perhaps the edits weren’t as extensive as they might have been. After one pass at it, the book was accepted. With my second book, From Wallflower to Countess, the edits were more onerous and it took, I think, two passes. It might have been more. Perhaps, like childbirth, the process appears less painful from a safe distance.

It can be disheartening: you slave over your book; produce the very best work you can; you submit it with trepidation, hoping your editor will like it (who am I kidding—you’re hoping she’ll love it!). From Wallflower to Countess came back with several suggestions for improving the book. I read them through and, after the initial resistance and some denial, which I think is normal—it’s my baby, after all!—I began to see that the suggestions would improve the book.

All bar one.

Now, I said at the beginning of this blog that I haven’t much experience with working with an editor. I was still in the mindset that whatever the editor wants, the editor gets. But the change she wanted me to make to one secondary character would have altered the whole story. It would not be the same book. I would have to rewrite the whole thing! Cue despair, and sleepless nights whilst I tried to work out how I could incorporate that change without starting almost from scratch. After a few days of mindless panic, I suddenly thought ‘No! This is my story, and Harriet (the secondary character in question) is who she is’. I responded to my editor, and said I would carry out the edits, but I didn’t agree with the change she asked for in Harriet’s character, and could we discuss?

My editor phoned me. I explained my predicament, and my strong belief Harriet shouldn’t change, and my editor said… ‘Oh, all right then.’

All that angst! I am still of the belief that most changes asked for by your editor are valuable in that they will improve your book. I now know, however, that the editor’s word is not law and that I can argue my corner if I disagree with an editor’s suggestion. That’s a weight off my mind as I await my editor’s response to The Baroness and the Black Sheep.

No doubt some amongst you have decided I’m a wimp for not stating my case sooner – it’ll be my name on the cover after all – but I am what I am. I’m not comfortable with confrontation, which is why I agonised over the changes first.

I’ll let you know how I get on and, in the meantime, I’d love to hear your experiences (good and bad) of editors.

I think I’ve been lucky. So far!

Gagged by the elephant in my room!

I approach this particular post with mixed feelings. There is shame that I haven’t blogged since last August, and that shame is mixed with a sense of failure, plus a whole heap of embarrassment when I see that my last post was entitled ‘Very Inspiring Blog Award’!
You what???
But it’s true that, even then, I was struggling to blog simply because I couldn’t mention the thing that dominated my life. The elephant in the room.
Let me explain.
This last year – 2014 – should have been fantastic. I became a published author! Shouldn’t I have been shouting it out from the rooftops? Doing happy jigs? My cup should have been brimming with joy. And, at first, it was… despite the fear of now having to write book 2; of proving that Mary and the Marquis was no fluke; and the absolute terror of having my work out there, for real people to read and comment on.
But my problems weren’t about the writing.
Real life… sometimes, it just gets in the way.
Just before my book was due in the shops, my husband was made redundant. For the second time in two years. And even that wasn’t the main issue. Yes, it was horrible. It was worrying. No matter what you are doing, it’s there, chewing away in the corners of your mind. At least this time, though, I continued to write, working on book 2 and, more recently, on book 3. Last time, I barely wrote a word for 6 months.
But I discovered something about myself in the latter part of this year. And it is this. I could continue to tell stories, and lose myself in them, but what I could not force myself to do was to blog, and to pretend that everything was hunky dory when it wasn’t.
I found it impossible to ignore that elephant in the room, but my OH (quite understandably) didn’t want everyone knowing his business. He didn’t even tell his family for a few months. So I couldn’t mention it. Even in passing. And it was like being gagged. The feelings were there, bursting to come out, but somehow the damming of those emotions stopped me from writing authentically about anything else going on in my life. And the longer it’s gone on between posts, the harder it’s been to start up again! (or that might just be my normal procrastination at work!)

So, here we are, almost at the end of 2014. I am determined to look forward, in the expectation (not just hope!) of a brighter new year. And so I have decided to acknowledge this particular elephant because I can’t allow it to hold me back any longer. My OH has a new challenge in store* and I’m afraid that, if I don’t post this, that bloody elephant will continue to haunt me.
Book 2 – From Wallflower to Countess – has been written, edited, accepted by my publisher, edited some more, and proofread. It will be out in April 2015, and Mills and Boon have offered me another two book contract. I haven’t blogged my way through those processes, as I had intended, because I simply couldn’t.
And now you know why.

*If you’re interested, and are still reading, my OH still doesn’t have a job. He’s reached the last 2 or 3 a few times, but lost out at the end. Ageism? We suspect it has something to do with it (he’s 57) although, of course, no one would ever admit that! He was a sales manager. He was good at his job. He was made redundant this second time because he had increased business by so much his firm would have to invest in more laboratory space in order to handle it. They chose to make him redundant instead, and employ an administrator to handle the business my OH had brought in.
Redundancy is something we never imagined could happen to us and now it’s happened twice. We have both come to the conclusion we wouldn’t ever feel secure again ‘working for the man’, even if he did get another job. So he is now working for himself, having invested in a franchise. It’s a huge leap of faith, but at least his future is now in his own hands, not at the whim of some numpty know-naught!