WOOHOO! HAPPY NEW YEAR, READERS! I can't believe it's 2019 and I'm already here with my first blog of the year. And it's a cracker.
I'd like to welcome my client Laurie Bell who has such an important message for all the writers out there losing faith and wondering why they should keep persevering. Because it totally pays off in the end!
NEVER GIVE UP!
It’s a funny thing about your first. You remember it fondly, or maybe you wish you could forget it. You want to fix it, change it, make it work. You can't let it go.
I wish I could quit you, first book.
No, actually I don't. I want it around for ever. 😊
I wrote White Fire back in high school. It was that story I was busting to tell, because it was a story I was desperate to read. Up until then, I’d written many, many short pieces. I had notebooks full of scribblings. I even teamed up with school friends to write books together, but White Fire (once known as "the title that shall not be named") was MY story. My novel. My first real piece. And I was proud of it. So proud. A story about Toni... the female police/bounty hunter version of Han Solo. A cool science fiction story with a strong, independent, wiseass character... the female James Bond that I wanted to read about as a kid. The Princess Leia, who was the focus of the story not the female sidekick. (Back before she was a General and totally kick-ass in her own right. No, let’s be honest. Leia was ALWAYS kickass.) My Toni WAS the hero of my story (though back then she also had a different name.) She had a robot companion and a snarky AI. She was a spaceship pilot. She was in control – sort of. She beat up the bad guys and saved the universe, all while being thwarted/annoyed/reluctantly assisted by the "not-love-interest" Dan and still found a way to wind up her grumpy boss, Antonio.
I wanted everyone to read it and in my youthful exuberance, did manage to cajole, bribe and force many a friend and family member into reading it. And I love them all to bits because they told me they enjoyed it! Ha ha. Then real life happened, and I put it away. I remembered it fondly as MY FIRST BOOK. A youthful experiment, but I had a real job now and dreams of being a writer faded with my memories of Toni kicking ass.
In the intervening years I continued to write here and there. I wrote another book only reaching the half way mark before STUFF got in the way. I kept up with my short pieces, I wrote a blog, I wrote fan fiction. I joined a weekly prompt writing group called Friday Fictioneers (some of the best people and writers I have "virtually" met.) I kept a pinkie finger in the writing world, but I didn't take any of it seriously.
Eight years ago, through a conversation with a friend, I decided to actually try my hand at this writing thing seriously. Work was work but it wasn't my passion. Writing was when I felt alive. Creating worlds and people and awesome action sequences... that was what I loved. I finished the SECOND book and wrote a THIRD (now published as The Butterfly Stone – read it now!). But in the back of my mind, I always came back to THE ONE. My first book. The book I loved.
I got it out, reread it and BOY did my memory turn it into something it was not. It was okay, it was good... it wasn't great. It was a fun, silly read but I wasn't happy with it anymore.
I could (and had) done better since. My heart wanted to fix it.
I rewrote that baby. I thought it was great. I sent it off for assessment and...
Okay, so maybe it still needed work.
I rewrote again, (based on the learning I had undertaken with my newer books). I had multiple POV, I had action scenes, I had drama, I had a solid plot... but... meh.
I got myself a mentor, and I rewrote that sucker again. And again.
I entered a competition, I joined a writing group and twitter. I rewrote again. I entered a 6-month online workshop where I met THE BEST PEOPLE, and rewrote my baby again. Now, my baby had two parts, a cool intro, lots of emotion and an awesome ending.
I started to query it with agents and publishers, I found myself some amazing beta readers, and trusted CPs and still, I couldn't let my baby go.
I did put her away for a while and concentrated on my new works. And things started to happen. The Butterfly Stone became a reality. (Out now, really... go get a copy!)
But my baby was still there, waiting for me, calling me, tempting me. ("We can be so good together!")
So out she came again.
I sent her off for a new assessment, this time with the lovely Kate Foster. And when her assessment came back I was able to read it with fresh eyes. Kate pointed out the things I'd been unable to admit to myself because I loved my characters so much... I was TOO close to them. I thought they all needed a voice. Kate suggested options. Oh, how I love a person who provides options. And examples! Options and examples. Go back to a solo POV. Concentrate on Toni's story. Understand show don't tell. Focus on the story I wanted to tell.
Holy heck, did I have a lot to learn! - And still do. Let’s face it, the journey is not over, I still have a lot to learn and I am loving every little bit of the journey.
It was that old light bulb moment. I rewrote again... this time with purpose. I found a project manager to sort me out (thank you, Joel Naoum) and an editor I adore (the glorious Libby Turner.) And here we are. White Fire. Out Jan 14, 2019. At last I feel like I can let my baby go. It's been a 22-year journey. And perhaps I am a little crazy. Too stubborn to just let old dogs lie... persistent in the face of death... perhaps I should have just hidden it away as a failed first attempt and never thought of it again.... BUT…
I think, if you are truly proud of something, and are willing to put in the work, and the time, and learn about the craft, and yourself and spend a bit of money – oh dear god so much money... (and rework, and rework, and oh my god, Laurie, just let it go! No no, I can't, I love you little book. I'm in it for the long haul... Damnit.) You don’t know what you don’t know. I needed fresh eyes. I needed honesty. I needed to take a good long hard look at myself and realise, at the end of the day, after all the assessments, and CP reads and friends and family, only I could do this.
White Fire is at last a reality. She's a fun old thing full of action and adventure and my silly sense of humour. She's my dream. She's a little bit crazy. A wild ride. She's a fighter. And so is Toni.
And she'll be back. (Well... I'm writing a sequel. It seems Toni still has stories to tell.)
White Fire is out January 14, 2019. You can get it at most online outlets, either in print or ebook, or from me direct. If you read it and enjoy it, I'd love a review. Talk about it, share it. I love to talk so hit me up for a blog interview or author interview or a school visit. If you want to write a book. Write a damned book. And then find someone to love it as much as you do.
Want to guest blog or be interviewed? Got a cover reveal or book coming out?
Get in touch today!