Our regular readers will know that The Write Romantics normally favour a Saturday Spotlight and, this week, we are delighted to welcome back our writing buddy, and flat-mate from the RNA conference, Alison May as a guest blogger. We’d like to say that we specially changed the Saturday Spotlight to a Sunday in honour of all Alison’s exciting news since her last visit, just to make it stand out that little bit more, but the sad (and far less exciting) reality was a major broad band meltdown issue! So, apologies, but we are sure you will agree that Alison’s guest blog was definitely worth the extra wait.
Alison May last visited the WriteRomantics, back when she was still Alison Maynard, before she abandoned the last syllable of her name in a writerly pennamey sort of a way. Since then she’s signed her first publishing deal with Choc Lit, and has managed not to kill a single goldfish.
Her first novel, Sweet Nothing, will be published by Choc Lit, under their Choc Lit Lite digital first imprint, in November 2013. Sweet Nothing is a romantic comedy based on William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, because if you’re going to pilfer someone else’s plot, you might as well go for someone really good.
You can find out more about Alison at www.alison-may.co.uk or follow her on Twitter @MsAlisonMay
Getting the Call
It’s the moment budding writers dream of – that first call, the first time you pick up the phone and the voice at the other end says, “We love your writing. We’re going to make you a star. Take this six figure advance, and quit your day job this very second.” At least, that’s what I always imagined the voice saying.
Obviously real-life doesn’t work quite like that. In my case, it wasn’t a call at all; it was an email, followed by several more emails over several weeks as myself and Lyn from romantic fiction publisher, Choc Lit, tried repeatedly to make her very busy work schedule and my less busy but quite erratic work schedule coincide, so that we could meet up.
We eventually got together in central London. It was a discussion where Lyn did 90% of the talking and I grinned and nodded like a buffoon who’d temporarily lost the power of coherent speech. Fortunately, Lyn is an understanding soul, used to dealing with nervy first-time authors, and she offered me a contract for my debut novel, Sweet Nothing, despite my apparent dippiness. That meeting was three days before the RNA Conference. I signed the contract the very next day, and announced the deal, still in a bit of a daze, at the opening ‘Celebrations’ session at the conference.extension actually about myself, now I have a publishing contract in place. When people ask me what I do, I now tell them that I’m a writer, rather than fudging a bit and saying that I do various different things. I still giggle nervously when I say it, but I am starting to see myself as a writer first.
In another sense though, nothing changes. There are no six-figure advance fairies in most of our lives. No magic movie deals riding over the horizon just in time to pay the gas bill. Normal life has to go on, but now it goes on with an additional external pressure. I’m not just writing because I want to. I’m writing because someone out there has given me a contract and is prepared to invest time and money and effort into me and my writing, which is brilliant, and terrifying, and brilliant, and terrifying, and mostly brilliant.
Since signing that initial contract with Choc Lit to publish Sweet Nothing under their Choc Lit Lite imprint, it’s been a bit of a whirlwind. Sweet Nothing is due out in November – my editor (squeee!) is doing her review of the draft at the moment. I’ve written a short story, Devils and Heroes, and, weirdly, a chocolate cake recipe, for the Choc Lit Love Match anthology (http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00AMQ1EG6). I’ve had a short story, Feel the Fear, accepted in the RNA’s upcoming anthology for early 2014, which I’m super-excited about. I’ve also written and submitted a novella to Choc Lit, which, with luck and a following wind, might also make it out into the world before the end of the year. It does feel like I’m on a very tiny little bit of a roll, which is amazing, and if I can get on a little roll, then anyone can. Just keep writing the best stuff you can, and keep sending that stuff out there into the world.
And now, I get to go right back to the start. Novel 2, page 1, the blank sheet of paper. It’s brilliant, and did I mention, a tiny bit terrifying?