As the Write Romantics met through the RNA’s New Writers Scheme we’re always delighted to hear about other writers graduating from the scheme and getting their first novel published. Today we’re really pleased to welcome Bella Osborne, who like all of us, set off in the NWS. Her debut novel, ‘It Started at Sunset Cottage’ will be published by Harper Impluse on 12th February. I’ll hand over to Bella to tell us more about her writing and how she’s feeling in the run up to ‘publication day’.
Many thanks for inviting me onto the Write Romantics Blog!
What made you decide that 2013 was the year things were going to change?
A life coach was getting great results with some of my team and I asked her for some tips so that I could continue what she had started. She ran a session with me, and although at the time there was nothing I wanted to change about my life, she hit on the fact that I used to write but had done little since becoming a mum. Basically she then harassed me, I mean coached me, into making time for my writing and taking other positive actions like signing up for a local writing class, investigating writing associations (I joined the RNA NWS) and taking a sabbatical from work to finish my first novel.
How did you meet your agent?
I was considering approaching agents when I was shortlisted for the Festival of Romantic Fiction’s New Talent Award so I thought that was a good opportunity to add that to submissions and send them off. A few asked for my full manuscript and Kate Nash rang me as soon as she’d read it and we went from there.
Did you have to wait long for the ‘call’ from Harper Impulse and how did you feel when it came?
I had met Charlotte Ledger, Harper Impulse Editor, at the RNA Conference and she had been really positive about what she had read. I still didn’t expect it to go any further so it was a bolt from the blue when I got a phone call a few months later offering me a two-book contract. I think the honest answer to how did I feel was stunned and then ridiculously overexcited.
How have you found the publishing process so far?
Charlotte has been great at guiding me through the process and has involved me every step of the way. I feel like I’ve learned loads over the past few months and can honestly say I’ve enjoyed it. My original title did change but the new one was one that we conjured up together.
What are you most looking forward to/nervous about regarding its release?
It still feels quite weird that the book I wrote is going to be published, it’s a very good weird but still weird all the same. I just hope that whoever spends their hard earned cash on it enjoys it.
Did you get professional help with you website (we think it looks very professional) and would you advise others to do the same, if so?
Thank you, that is a lovely compliment as I did it myself. It was originally completely free until I bought the URL but otherwise it’s the same as the free version I set up. I would recommend Weebly.com as it’s very easy to use and the results are pretty good!
Do you find writing for children more or less challenging than writing for adults?
I had no intention of writing for children, all the previous work I had started at home had been for adults. However, when I joined a local writing class and was set various different exercises and encouraged to explore genres some characters for a children’s story appeared. They then kept cropping up from time to time until my tutor, children’s author Gill Vickery, encouraged (that’s another word for harassed) me into writing the full story. I really enjoyed doing it and her support in tailoring my language to a different audience has been truly valuable.
What role do you anticipate having in the marketing of the book?
A few people have asked me about marketing and I went into a wild panic as basically I thought I had no plans at all. But as it turns out I have a good number of followers on Twitter who I’m hoping will spread the word and I’m now part of a wonderful network of writers who are also offering their support. And of course I have my family and friends who are waxing lyrical to anyone who will listen. It’s probably not the best marketing plan I could have come up with but I’d much rather people read it because it’s recommended to them or because they like the sound of it rather than because they’ve been bombarded.
Have you already written the second in your two book deal and how involved is your publisher/agent in directing the focus of that?
Yes, I completed the second one in September 2014 and it is with my Editor. I gave her an overview of the story and she was happy to let me run with it. That said I don’t think she’s read it yet so we’ll see what comes out of the editing process!
How would you like to see you career develop and are you likely to go back to any of those unfinished novels you mention on your website?
I’ll keep writing whatever happens, it’s just something I’m compelled to do and that I completely love. It would be great if people buy them and enjoy them. I have learned a huge amount in the last two years about the craft of writing and when I look back at my earlier work I cringe a little. That said I have taken the seed of an idea from one of those stories to make the basis of my third book, which is an office-based romance.
Thanks again for having me on your blog, it’s been fun!
You can pre-order ‘It Started at Sunset Cottage’ here
Check out Bella’s website here and follow her on Twitter at @osborne_bella