Main reasons for my absence: (get ready for a long one)
First, yes. I finished my manuscript, ‘Secrets Are Not For Telling’. (Though it’s really not finished til it’s on the bookshelf.)
Whilst doing that, I came across a competition run by a London publisher offering successful candidates a publishing deal. ‘Secrets Are Not For Telling’ wasn't quite ready, by the deadline for submission. For one, it hadn’t been through a professional edit, so there was likely to be some issues with it. Thought I'd had the feedback from my beta readers and a couple of proof reads by a friend. Success in this competition would, depend on the calibre of other manuscripts entered, so I was still hopeful.
I sent it in.
The editor helped me shape the covering letter and synopsis and after reading the first 5000 words of the manuscript, advised me to strengthen my main protagonist, Yvette’s, voice.
More confirmation that I wasn’t likely to be successful with the novel competition. But hey-ho. I’d already submitted. And, you’ve got to be in it, to win it. Isn’t that what they say?
I started to tackle the feedback.
Months later – time does fly, the publishing company contacted me. They thanked me for submitting. Said, the submission process was tough and unfortunately my novel wasn't selected. However, they said,
‘Nothing Stays In The Dark Forever’ showed great ambition, flair and potential. And is something they'd consider publishing in the future!
That was a wonderful runner-up prize for me.
There were two self-editing courses I’d been considering signing up to. Jericho Writers club’s Self-editing your novel course (taught by Debi Alpher and Emma Darwin) was one of them. A newsletter popped up in my in-box. They were running a competition where under-represented voices could win a Jericho Bursary for under-represented voices. I had to enter. But I wanted to make the most of the course.
'Nothing Stays In The Dark Forever’ already had a potential publishing path panned out for it. Plus, I didn’t think it needed much more work doing on it.
If you take a look at my ‘Novels in Progress’ page, you’ll see I’ve been working on another novel: ‘Whispers From The Soursop Tree’. I’ve written numerous versions of this novel since its first draft in 2012! And it’s been waiting for years not just to see the light of day, but for me to shape it into a draft I was pleased with.
I wanted to give it a fighting chance to come to life. To work through what ever it was that kept stopping me from getting to a point where I could say:
"Yes, I'm happy with this."
So, I took a bold step. Submitted an extract from ‘Whispers From The Soursop Tree’, with all the other necessaries I needed to enter the competition. What did I have to lose?
My underlying fear, though was it would test my conviction. Force me to finish the novel or accept it was a no-goer. Either way, it would be growth and movement forward.
Weeks later, Hey presto! “What?” Staring at computer screen, in slight disbelief, reading:
…'I’m delighted to let you know …
you have won a place on Debi Alper’s Self-Edit course...
I’ve completed the course, busted a gut and six months later - with the help of Debi Alpher's editing skills and support, I have completed a draft of ‘Whispers From The Soursop Tree’.
... and wait for it - here’s the bonus: The bursary win didn’t only give me a free place on the Editing your novel course, but also a meeting with agents in the autumn. Yes, coming up soon!
I’m ready to present to agents.