Thursday 19 June 2014

Guest Post with Jules Wake, Author of Talk to Me

Today I am delighted to welcome Jules Wake to the blog to tell us about her journey into getting published.

Hi Laura
And thanks so much for having me on your blog at such an exciting time for me.

I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to finally see my debut novel Talk To Me in print.

It’s taken me quite some time to get to this point but I heard a wonderful quote today that summed up my journey, ‘Inspiration is for amateurs.’
When I first started writing I was definitely an amateur.  I’d always wanted to write a novel but somehow never had the time until I was put on gardening leave for six months in 2006.  I made the most of the opportunity and started writing. 
You have never seen such overwritten, rambling, pointless tosh in your life - although I didn’t realise it at the time.  I gaily showed it to someone else and thankfully they were brutally honest.  If you want to succeed, you need to get used to receiving and acting up on constructive criticism. 

Luckily for me I spotted an ad for a six week evening course called Writing for Profit or Pleasure.  I remember the very first night and my heart sinking when the teacher introduced himself, with the words, ‘I write health and safety articles.’  I thought ‘we’ve got a right one here’.  Thankfully, Nick Cook, President of the Verulam Writers Circle, is one of the best teachers you could ever wish to meet and imparted his knowledge with great generosity and enthusiasm. 
In those few weeks I discovered just how much I needed to learn.  That was then I really started to develop my craft.  Writing is like using muscles, the more you practise the easier and the better it becomes. 
At the end of the course, Nick suggested we join a writers group.  As the nearest ones were a good 40 minute drive away, a group of us decided to get together.  We formed the Tring Writers Circle and very kindly Nick kept coming along to impart his wisdom.  We started meeting in 2007 and the group still meets.
At one of those early meetings, Melanie Hilton came along to talk to us about the Romantic Novelist Association’s New Writers Scheme.  Each year the scheme opens to 250 unpublished authors and for a very nominal fee will critique your manuscript providing the story has an element of romance.  As a result of meeting Melanie, I signed up and became a member.
Talk To Me was the first manuscript I submitted to the scheme and although it received a very favourable critique, I couldn’t get an agent. 
So I wrote a second novel and submitted that, and the following year, a third, and so on until after six years I’d submitted five different novels.  (One I did resubmit a second year after addressing the constructive criticism).  At the same time I was submitting to agents, pitching to agents and publishers at conferences and entering competitions.  Getting positive comments from agents and being placed in a few national competitions gave me the confidence to keep going, even although by this stage I had five manuscripts and enough rejection letters to wallpaper my study several times over.
At the same time I had a day job and two small children, which is where the ‘inspiration is for amateurs’ comes in.  If you’re serious about writing you have to keep writing, you can’t wait for inspiration to strike.  When I’m writing my first draft, I aim to write 1,000 words every day whether I’m at work or not.
In July 2012 on a whim I decided to submit the first three chapters of Talk To Me to Choc Lit.  They ask for the male point of view in the novel, so I hastily wrote a chapter in the hero’s point and view and sent it off.  In August out of the blue, I got an email saying they’d like the whole manuscript, which was a bit of problem because I then had to rewrite the whole novel to include the male point of view.  However in hindsight, that’s probably what sold the book.  By this time I’d written five novels, learned a huge amount about structure, plotting and characterisation, which I was able to apply as I re-wrote.  I submitted a very different novel to the one that went to the New Writers Scheme five years previously and in January 2013 I was offered a contract for Talk To Me.
Eighteen months later I am now a published author with a further five novels under my belt.    
I know a lot of writers that write one novel and keep perfecting and perfecting it, my advice is to put it away and write the next one.  With each novel you write, you learn and develop.  So although it’s taken me eight years to see my book in print, I’ve got plenty to show for it and I’m sure that apprenticeship helped me seal the final deal.

After all, you wouldn’t expect to enter the Olympics after one training run, would you? 

Talk to Me is available from Amazon UK

A big thank you to Jules for stopping by. Loved reading about her journey into publishing :)

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