Five things we wish we’d known five years ago (Part 2)

Our final post in celebration of our five-year anniversary is the second half of five things we wish we’d know five years ago. This time it’s our five southern-based WRs to share their experiences.

Over to them …

Jessica xx

 

LYNNE PARDOE:
DSCN17015 things I wish I’d known:

  1. How to set up websites, Twitter & Facebook accounts
  2. How much I’d enjoy using those accounts once I’d done them!
  3. How to go about self publishing – its quite a learning curve and I still haven’t even tackled paperback books!!
  4. How easy it is to get distracted by the internet, friends seeking coffee, outings to exciting places etc.
  5. How much I’d enjoy the whole thing – I’ve made some lovely new friends, learnt things like how to speak at literary events, learnt a lot about a new industry and thoroughly enjoyed the whole process!!!

You can find Lynne’s Author Page on Amazon here.

 

HELEN J ROLFE:
HelenJRolfeI’m afraid I can’t give 5 things I wish I’d known. Perhaps the only way I’d answer this is to say that I’ve realised it’s a continuous journey. There’s so much to learn along the way, publishing changes all the time, but the one constant is how much writers support one another. Which stops me from going insane at everything I still don’t know!

You can find Helen’s Author Page on Amazon here.

 

JACKIE LADBURY:

Things wot I have learned:

  1. Friends and family don’t really understand how important being published is
  2. conf 2014 12Being published is important, but friends and family are more so
  3. Life is for living and sometimes it’s easy to let ‘the writing thing’ get in the way of spending time with – yes, friends and family
  4. If writing starts to become a chore or deadlines make the whole thing unenjoyable, take time out to remove the pressure– self-publishing is great for that, you can work at your own pace and miss as many deadlines as you please ‪:-)
  5. Keep a sense of humour – even when your Amazon rankings are dreadful, you’ve had a two star Amazon review and even your husband can’t be arsed to read your books – none of it is really that important in the grand scheme of things.

You can find Jackie’s Author Page on Amazon here.

 

DEIRDRE PALMER:

new author picI’ve learned so much, about writing, publishing, promotion, etc, as I’ve gone along, and as I reach this point I believe I’m a better writer, and, hopefully, wiser. However, I can’t think of anything I wish I had known at the beginning. What I’ve learned is based on experience and couldn’t have been picked up any other way. The highs and the lows have taken different forms from what I’d imagined, and it’s much harder work than I’d anticipated, but I wouldn’t have done anything differently. 

You can find Deirdre’s Author Page on Amazon here.

She also writes as Zara Thorne, whose Author Page is here.

 

JO BARTLETT:
SEB 1Things I wish I’d known five years ago:
1. That in five years time, loads of my writing dreams would have come true
2. That disappointments and bumps along the road really can lead you to a different, but better, path
3. That no matter what ambitions I fulfil, I’ll still want more
4. That it’s impossible to write a novel that everyone will like
5. That writer’s bottom isn’t a myth… although perhaps I’m glad I didn’t know that!

You can find Jo’s Author Page on Amazon here.

 

Thank you so much for joining us for our series of posts following our five-year anniversary. We don’t blog as much as we used to which in some ways saddens me but then I remind myself that the reason we don’t blog so much is that we’ve all become published writers and simply don’t have the time to devote to the blog that we had when we first formed and were on the first rung of the ladder.

We will continue to post about new releases and share the occasional post or interview, but most of us have our own blogs/websites to populate too.

Some of us are retired and write whilst enjoying that, some have left work to be a full-time writer, some work part-time, and some balance this alongside a full-time role. And, for all of us, there are never enough hours in the day to achieve everything we want to.

Thank you for any part you have played in our journey and we wish you all the best, wherever your reading and/or writing takes you in the future.

There are ten of us.

Five years ago, we had one indie-published novel between us.

Now we have 69.

Dreams really do come true 🙂

Jessica xx

5. Finale

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Five things we wish we’d known five years ago (Part 1)

As part of our fifth anniversary celebrations, The Write Romantics considered five things we wish we’d known at the start or perhaps what we’d learned along the way.

I was going to do this alphabetically but I decided to go for a change. This is what our Northern-based WRs said and, because there are only four of us, I’ve added Wales into the mix. Enjoy!

Jessica xx

 

HELEN PHIFER:
Helen Phifer new
1. Publication Day is normally a bit of an anti climax. All the hard work doesn’t automatically make your book baby a best seller. It all takes time and can be quite a slow burn to move up the charts
2. You don’t always need an agent. There are publishers who you can submit to direct
3. The sleepless nights. If you’re not waking up to obsessively check your ranking, you’re lying awake trying to figure out plot holes
4. The fear that your book isn’t good enough the night before publication day
5. That halfway through your current work in progress you will get the best idea for a novel you’ve ever had. It will drive you insane because you’ll want to stop writing the story you’re half way through to write the next

You can find Helen’s Author Page on Amazon here.

 

JESSICA REDLAND:

What do I wish I’d known right at the start?

  1. That securing a publishing deal would not lead to success. When I started submitting, that deal, that validation was my absolute goal. If I got that, I’d have it made! The moment I got a three-book offer was incredible but, sadly, it didn’t deliver. The fall from that disappointment was quite a hard one although, looking back, it was very naïve of me to expect quite so much
  2. That the reactions of friends and family would be so surprising. There have been those who were always going be an amazing support like my mum, but some support has come from surprising quarters and I appreciate it so much. However, I’ve also had absolute disinterest from those who I thought would genuinely be interested. I have to admit, that’s really hurt
  3. _DSF1336-2Ideas can come unexpectedly, from a snippet of overheard conversation, from a lyric in a song, from an advert or a news article. Some will remain as seeds that will never grow but others will blossom into something quite amazing and unexpected. And that one of those sudden ideas (and also the quickest story I’ve ever written) would turn into my best-selling book (Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes). Five years ago, I hadn’t thought beyond my debut trilogy and worried that I wouldn’t have any other ideas. Thankfully, I was very wrong and another three releases post-trilogy plus six works-in-progress prove that!
  4. That the biggest obstacle to making the most of this amazing and frustrating journey would be me. I’ve always been a confident person but my confidence and self-belief has taken such a hammering over the past few years and it’s mainly my fault because I can’t stop comparing myself to all the other amazing writers I’m surrounded by and wondering why I haven’t cracked it yet. Must stop comparing myself… Must stop comparing myself … Must stop …
  5. That I’d get caught in a vicious circle. I need to pay the mortgage and bills so I need a day job. My day job pays well and I enjoy it but it’s demanding and leaves me little time to write. I need time to write but I can only do that if I cut back on the day job. I need to be making money from writing in order to cut back on the day job. To make money from writing, I need time to promote my books, raise my almost non-existent profile and write more books. If I had more time, this would mean I’ve cut back on my day job but that would mean I’ve got no money and I won’t be able to pay the mortgage… Hmm. Hamster in wheel spring to mind?

But, having said all of those things, I wouldn’t change being a writer for the world. The joy and satisfaction I get from creating my fictional world and from reading reviews from the few who find my work is worth the anguish. I couldn’t not write. It’s who I am.

You can find Jessica’s Author Page on Amazon here.

 

ALYS WEST:
Alys West
5 things I wish I’d known 5 years ago:
1. That indie publishing would turn out to be the right option for me. It’s hard work but I love the independence, the control and ability to do things in my own time
2. You need your writing pals as only they understand the ups and downs of trying to make it as a writer
3. That there’s actual theory behind social media marketing which makes it all make sense
4. It takes a lot of time for a book to get noticed on Amazon
5. That feeling like a writer comes from lots of little things not one big ‘yes’ from an agent or publisher

You can find Alys’s Author Page on Amazon here.

 

SHARON BOOTH

Five things I wish I’d known?

  1. That having a book published changes everything and changes nothing. The day your first book is released nothing seems quite real, and it’s a truly magical experience, but within hours life has moved on and things are going on just as they always do, and you’re back to thinking about the next book, and it all starts over again
  2. 12992165_10154178518846424_1442606549_nThat the fear never goes away – fear that you won’t be able to write anything ever again, fear that no one will like your next book, fear that you’ll run out of ideas or won’t be able to put the ideas you do scrape together down on paper in any form that others would want to read
  3. That there are lots of wonderful people out there in the writing community who are only too happy to chat, offer advice, impart their wisdom and generally make life much easier, if you only have the courage to approach them
  4. That a review is just one person’s opinion and you can’t take it to heart – whether it’s good or bad. The good reviews are lovely and, after all, we all need a boost to our flagging egos, but the bad ones are soul-destroying and set you up for all kinds of doubts and depression. Best take them all with a pinch of salt – unless they’re all saying the same thing, in which case maybe you should take heed!
  5. That it’s perfectly normal to go through love-hate phases with your book. Often you start off loving it, and are really excited by the idea. Before long, though, you hate it and think it’s the worst thing you’ve ever written. Then, as you get towards the finishing line, your enthusiasm rises and you love it again. Then you finish the first draft and all your doubts come pouring back and you decide it’s only worth shredding. Then you send it off to your beta readers/editor and sit biting your nails. Hopefully they’ll love it so you can love it again, too – until you have to start work on edits and proofing and get sick to death of reading the dratted thing, at which point you could cheerfully delete the whole shebang and take up knitting. A few years later, you may well feel the urge to read it on your Kindle or pick up the paperback and, hopefully, you’ll be overawed by your talent, overjoyed by how much you love it, and thoroughly impressed that you managed to write something so incredible. Or something like that …

You can find Sharon’s Author Page on Amazon here.

 

RACHAEL THOMAS:

conf 2014 11Five things I wish I’d known five years ago

  1. That it would actually happen, that the dream would come true and I would be published by Mills and Boon
    2. That writing the second book was going to be so hard!
    3. That not everybody is going to like what I write
    4. That you have to juggle different stories in your head as you write one, edit another, prepare for publication of another, promote the latest release, and also allow next story to brew in your mind
    5. That some days you will hate what you’ve written

You can find Rachael’s Author Page on Amazon here.

 

As a group, we have a motto:

4. She believed she couldHelen P introduced this to us as it’s her favourite saying and it is really apt for the Write Romantics. As you can see from these five insights so far, writing can be a tough old journey, with pot holes, dead ends, wrong-turns and disappointing destinations where that self-belief fades and even fizzles out completely but it can also be an amazing journey along smooth surfaces, surprising discoveries, and stunning views. We’ve been on that journey together and will continue to do so, supporting each other through the many highs and lows of being a writer.

 

Please come back tomorrow to hear from Lynne, Jackie, Jo, Deirdre and Helen R.

 

Distance won’t divide us!

Geography was a bit of an issue when the original duo of Write Romantics formed, as Jo lives in Kent and I live in North Yorkshire so all our communication was in the virtual world. When we became ten, geography presented an even greater challenge as we weren’t all based in the UK. We had a huge geographical spread from Cumbria to Kent, the North Yorkshire Coast to Brighton on the south coast, and Wales to Australia.

Personally, I quite fancied the idea of a WR pilgrimage to Australia to meet with Helen R, but I’m not sure we could have quite pulled it off! Helen did, however, move back to the UK so it was just the length and breadth of the country to navigate if we wanted to meet up. And, amazingly, we’ve managed to spend quite a lot of time together over the years…

Jessica xx

 

2013

We formed and bonded online, Helen P had her very first novel, The Ghost House, released as an eBook, and Rachael entered a competition called ‘So You Think You Can Write’ that changed her life (although she didn’t know it yet). And we began to meet face to face…

When the Write Romantics formed as a collective of ten, the only members who had met were Alys and Jessica. They didn’t know each other very well, though, as they’d only briefly chatted after lunch at an RNA event in York.

1044259_10151820111269073_501754017_nAlys and Jessica arranged a couple of get-togethers for a drink and dessert in a pub halfway between their homes in York and Scarborough (sticky toffee pudding – nom nom!) but the first opportunity for a larger group of WRs meeting was the RNA’s annual conference in Sheffield, held in July 2013. Jo, Alys, Helen P, Rachael and Jessica all attended. It was exceptionally hot and the air con wasn’t working which was slightly traumatic, but it was so lovely to be able to meet up with some of the group in person after months of chatting online.

Also in the summer, Alys connected with Hull-based Sharon via social media and they arranged to meet up to discuss all things writing. Jessica was invited to join them and the three of them met in Bridlington on the North Yorkshire Coast. Sharon was in the NWS for the first time but having major doubts about her writing, thinking she might not even submit. No way were Alys and Jessica going to let that happen! Thankfully Sharon changed her mind and the rest is history.

 

2014

The year started with great news. Rachael had been delighted with top 10 success at in the ‘So You Think You Can Write’ competition, and resolved to keep trying. She didn’t need to, though. In January, she got “the call” from Mills and Boon and fulfilled a lifelong ambition to become one of their authors, with her first book released in September. This seemed to open the floodgates later that year when Jo and Jessica both signed a publishing deal with So Vain Books, Deirdre and Helen R joined Crooked Cat and Alys secured an agent. New member, Sharon, joined us and we launched a charity anthology called Winter Tales (see yesterday’s post for great news on this).

RNA PartyOur second year together brought another opportunity for Rachael, Deirdre and Helen P to meet up at the RNA summer party where Helen’s debut, The Ghost House, was up for the Joan Hessayon Award.

A couple of months later was the RNA annual conference at Harper Collins agricultural college in Telford. It was another incredibly hot few days, which didn’t make the farming aromas any more pleasant but the company was certainly very pleasant! Alys, Deirdre, Helen P, Helen R, Jackie, Rachael and Jessica all attended the conference which, to this day, remains the biggest gathering of WRs in one place at one time.

conf 2014 10Lynne wasn’t able to join us for the conference but she drove to a pub near the venue to meet some of the group for lunch and an afternoon of chat and laughter before the conference started.

Sharon was invited to join the group in the September when original member Lorraine dipped out, and, over the next few years, Alys, Sharon and Jessica met up when they could; slightly easier given that they’re all Yorkshire-based.

 

2015

A big year for debut novels from the WRs with traditionally-published releases for Helen R, Jo, Jessica, and Deirdre. Sharon, Lynne, Alys and Helen R all released debut indie novels.

Joan Hessayon contenders smaller

Lynne’s debut pocket novel was shortlisted for the Joan Hessayon Award, meeting up with some of the others at the awards ceremony. Jackie, Helen R and Rachael met up at the RNA conference in London.

 

20145788162_b63a60f089_zIn August, Helen P and Rachael had an amazing opportunity to travel to New York for the Romance Writers of America 35th annual conference and the Harlequin party. The rest of us didn’t think we could have got away with gate-crashing the event but would very much have liked to try!

The Yorkshire contingent continued to meet when diaries allowed.

 

2016 – 2017

Books came out thick and fast across 2016 and 2017 including the debut release for Jackie. Jessica parted company with her publisher in late 2016 and re-launched her books as an indie writer. New publishing deals were secured by Jo with Accent Press, Helen P with Bookoutre, and Helen R with Orion.

Some of the WRs met up at the RNA conferences or at the summer/winter parties in London. For the rest, it was sporadic meet-ups wherever possible. Sharon and Alys separately met up with Lynne whilst on holiday in Glastonbury, not too far from where Lynne’s based in The Cotswolds, Jo met with Deirdre on a day out in Brighton, and Jo and Alys have met up when Alys has been visiting family down south.

Sharon, me and Alex in Beverley - Christmas 2016Alys, Sharon and Jessica – the Yorkshire contingent – managed to coordinate a meet-up as a three near Christmas 2016 but have since only managed to meet up as pairs since then as diary coordination has proved a massive challenge.

In late 2016, Jessica met up with Jo, Deirdre and Helen R whilst working in London one weekend, although a late train deprived her of 90 minutes of valuable writing chat. How rude!

Jessica was particularly grateful to have Sharon support her at a Writer’s Talk at a café in Scarborough called The Seastrand in April 2017. It was part of a big Writers’ Event they were hosting … but nobody showed up!

Sharon, Jo and Me - Leeds 2017Sharon and Jessica were delighted when Jo visited Leeds for a weekend with friends as it gave them a perfect excuse to meet up, have some food, and talk writing. Perfect way to spend a day!
For some time, we mooted the idea of getting together and, at the start of 2017, decided to pin everyone down to a date. We chose a reasonably central location of Derby and a weekend in November 2017. Eight of the group committed to the date; not quite a full compliment but it was certainly very close and would have been the biggest meet-up to date.

Derby 2017Unfortunately, some of the eight couldn’t make it when the date got closer so it was a smaller event than hoped, but any opportunity to meet up and talk about writing is welcome, no matter how many are there. Jo, Sharon, Jackie, Helen P and Jessica met up on the Friday but Jo and Helen could only stay the one night so it was a cosy trio the following day and evening. As an added bonus, Jo managed to meet up with Lynne en route.

 

2018

We’re a third of the way through the year and there’ve been a few releases already, with loads more planned. Sharon had exciting news, leaving her day job to become a full-time writer. This week will actually see the start of this exciting new chapter in her life. Helen P will be releasing her first indie novel and there are several other exciting possibilities on the horizon.

29261333_10156373676374073_679575850520693346_nJo and Jessica met in London in February when Jessica had a weekend working in London, and Jessica and Lynne met a couple of weeks ago when Lynne holidayed in North Yorkshire.

Sharon and Jessica have plans to meet up twice this month, firstly to celebrate Sharon becoming a full-time writer and then to attend a talk by the incredibly talented Ruth Jones as part of Scarborough’s Books by the Beach Literary Festival. In May, they’re both attending a lunch in York organised by Anne Williams of Book Connectors, and are excited that Alys will be attending too.

IMG_4226The RNA conference will be in Leeds this year so, being the closest it’s ever been to their homes, Sharon and Jessica have already signed up, as has Rachael. Jackie and Helen P will hopefully attend too. Sharon and Rachael haven’t met yet so this will be a great opportunity for them to do so, leaving Deirdre and Sharon, plus Helen R and Sharon as the only WRs who haven’t met yet; something we must rectify soon.

Sharon and Jessica will also be going to the York Tea in September and I’m sure that there will be lots of opportunities for WRs to meet up at RNA parties and whilst on holiday in the UK.

 

So, as you can see, we haven’t let the geography stop us from meeting up. I’d love to think that, one day, we could all be in the same location at the same time but I’m not sure we’ll manage to coordinate ten busy diaries.

As a group, we are all very different. Age-wise, we have a 30-year age-gap from oldest to youngest. We represent massively differing careers: farmer, police, social worker, HR professional, tutor, medical receptionist, and cabin crew to name a selection. And, although we all write romance, we represent many different genres from fantasy to thriller to cosy to gritty true-life. Definitely very different!

Yet, somehow, it works.

Please join us for the next two days where we’ll be exploring five things we wish we’d known five years ago.

Jessica xxx

A long time ago, (well, five and a bit years ago), two aspiring writers met online…

Today – 1st April – is a very special date for The Write Romantics. It’s not because we’re fans of the April Fool’s tradition of playing practical jokes, but because it’s our anniversary and 2018 sees us celebrating a whopping FIVE YEARS together! Happy Anniversary to us!

1. Happy Anniversary

We’ve been reflecting on where we started and how far we’ve come in that half decade and the results have been quite astonishing. We think that we’re proof to anyone wishing to pursue a dream of becoming a writer that patience and persistence pays off and that dreams can come true. More on that shortly.

This is the first in a series of posts across four days to celebrate our first five years together, starting with how it was then and how it is now ….

In the beginning…
There were two unpublished writers – Jo and Jessica – who’d met virtually through the RNA, had exchanged several emails, and decided to form The Write Romantics as a blogging duo.

1069991_10151820110344073_1918962117_nIt seemed like a great idea at the time and they set up a wordpress account, full of enthusiasm and started blogging. It didn’t take them long to realise that there was no way two unpublished writers were going to be able to think of enough interesting content to blog regularly so they decided to see if any other new writers would be interested in becoming Write Romantics. They thought that maybe two or three would join the group. Eight writers replied!

The line-up of ten has only changed once with Sharon Booth joining us in September 2014 when Lorraine wanted her writing to take a back seat for a while. Jessica and Alys had known Sharon for the past year and she’d been a huge supporter of the group before joining so she was a very logical choice for a replacement, already feeling like an honorary WR.

2. Who we are

 

When the ten-strong line-up started, all members were in the RNA’s New Writers’ Scheme and dreaming of publication. Deirdre had dipped her toe in the water with an indie release but many of us hadn’t yet finished writing our first book so that publication dream was certainly there … just quite a distant one.

Our trailblazer, Helen Phifer, had secured a publishing deal with Carina and was about to dip out of the NWS, although her debut novel hadn’t yet been released so we really were all at the very start of our journey.

Rachael Thomas was next to secure a life-long dream of being published by Mills and Boon, following success in a competition they’d run, and then it slowly but surely started happening for all of us. Late 2014 and into 2015 was a time of big change as that was when many of the WRs secured a publishing deal or released their first indie book.

Anthology coverFive years down the line, every single Write Romantic has had at least two novels published plus a short story included in our charity anthology, Winter Tales.

We published Winter Tales in 2014 with stories from the Write Romantics featuring alongside stories from other successful writers we’d met through the RNA. The aim was to give all proceeds from sales of the paperback or eBook to two charities close to our hearts: Teenage Cancer Trust and Cystic Fibrosis Trust.

winter tales newbieWe rebranded the anthology with a fresh new look for winter 2017/2018 and are delighted that it continues to sell.

So far, we’ve been able to send £220 to each charity but we’re about to add to this…

I am thrilled to exclusively announce that we’ve raised another £350 so cheques for £175 per charity are being written as I write this. Woo hoo!

Thank you so much to all those who contributed their stories, and to all those who’ve bought the anthology, raising £395 per charity … so far! You can buy Winter Tales here.

 

From that starting point of one indie book and one publishing deal in the bag, a heck of a lot has changed for the WRs over the past five years. Here’s some figures for you:

3. Reach for Stars

Wow! From one novel to 69 of them in five years! Woo hoo again!

Over the next few days, I’ll be posting some thoughts from The Write Romantics about what they’ve learned over the past five years, and also sharing some photos as our group of geographically-dispersed strangers became friends.

I’ll finish this post with an enormous thank you to anyone who has downloaded an eBook, listened to an audio book, borrowed a book from Amazon’s lending library, or purchased any of the books/novellas/short stories/pocket novels the group have produced. We wouldn’t have been able to do this without you.

I’m off to raise a glass of something bubbly to celebrate. To be fair, it will probably be a Diet Pepsi as it’s a little early to partake, but the thought will be there!

Happy anniversary, Write Romantics!

Jessica xx