A Panicking Author
At ten, my class were told to write a speech to read to the others. Bored I wrote through the early speakers and then over a break before my turn. I read my bit; pleased the class didn’t fidget, so sat down. A standing ovation ensued; followed by a unanimous vote that mine was best. The prize of a box of chocolates might have motivated me to polish the piece but I’d no expectation of winning.
Life gave me two talents, art and words. I chose art. A year at Art College taught me otherwise. Starving as an artist did not appeal nor did teaching. I found work; writing every kind of non-fiction, adverts, letters, leaflets, reports, minutes and technical manuals. After marriage I didn’t write much, children and a computer software business intruded.
Moving to a small farm in the Isle of Man I had two more children. For a town girl, country life was isolating if beautiful. Enjoying some feminist Sci-fi, I disagreed women would make better rulers than men. I thought stronger women in power would probably be even worse than men. I was dared to write it that way by a friend so I started the Zeninan Saga. Writing in a vacuum, with few readers, convinced no one would dare publish it. It was not mainstream sci fi or fantasy and the sexual content covered many taboo subjects. But I sold non-fiction articles to local publications and national farming magazines.
Marriage and money went pear-shaped, we split and I finished bringing up 5 children alone. I wrote part-time for a tiny weekly local newspaper and Church paper, with a sub-editing title and a tiny salary. I rewrote other contributors, writing news, obituaries, interviewing local people in the news, sought out stories, and even took the photos. Eventually the owner closed the papers and I did other jobs.
As my children grew up, time dragged so I returned to writing. My fantasy saga grew and grew. Finally I yearned to be read so chose to write a simpler genre; Regency Romance.
Writing The Fencing Master’s Daughter was an absolute breeze. I set the first scene, where my heroine rescues the hero from certain death, reversing the usual expectations of Regency Romances. The story of Madelaine and Edward’s unlikely romance just rattled off. I made friends with my cover artist Sarah Waldock on Almacks, she read my chapters as I finished them, advised me on Regency matters and occasionally corrected my grammar and punctuation. Without her I think I’d have given up, because my family were not interested at the time.
She corrected my bloopers. Meanwhile I made writing friends on FB and found a few writing sites. I started “The Marquis’s Mistake” (due to be published in December 2013) and entered it for Harlequin’s SYTYCW competition. I got some votes but no feedback. I hadn’t realised how much promotion I’d need to do or how many FB and twitter fans, others had supporting them.
Sour grapes or not, I believe the short list depended more on promotion than writing skills. And despite launching this year’s competition, Harlequin have not yet released the winner’s book yet. So even if I’d won I would not be published sooner. I did not like the short listed historical and thought many other entries were better. Harlequin probably agreed as if I read their post correctly, she has not been offered a contract. As I got to know more writers I wondered how The Zeninan Saga would go down with them. They slated it and ripped the tiny pieces I posted to shreds. Apparently I suffered from every beginner’s writing fault, it pulled me up sharp and for the first time I read the basic tenets of good fiction writing.
Excessive back story, passive writing, fluctuating omniscient multiple POVs. I was guilty of the lot. In writing the Zeninan saga I jumped straight into the murky pit of writing problems only experienced writers are advised to risk. Not knowing better I wrote the story my characters screamed at me, oblivious to the concepts I trampled all over. Finally getting it read by betas caused many rewrites, cruel cuts while bemusedly trying to understand why they didn’t like it. The hardest thing was that I loved every single meandering word of my baby, so it hurt.
Worse, the characters insisted I not leave them in limbo. I could not discard the project and carry on writing without adding further episodes. They wanted their stories told and who am I to argue with a race of dominant Amazons with alpha males as sex slaves?
In January this year Front Porch Romance offered me a contract for The Fencing Master’s Daughter. I panicked and kept postponing signing and publication. Finally I have tried to find a back-bone and the Fencing Master’s Daughter was being released on 23rd September. They say success breeds success but I wrote a short fantasy erotica story called Lucy and was advised by an FB friend to send it to Nevermore Press.
Two days later they replied they’d take Lucy and anything else I wrote. Diffidently I sent them the first books of the fantasy series and they were accepted. I expect there’ll be rewriting around some of the most controversial topics but I am hopeful we’ll get around it with a degree of conciliation on both sides.
But as the day of publication approached I panicked, will anyone buy it? Will the critics hammer it, or worse HAMMER it? And success or failure, do I really understand what either will entail. But On the 23rd September I officially became a published novelist.
Edward, Earl of Chalcombe, walking home, is attacked by footpads. He attempts to defend himself but is bludgeoned to the ground. Death seems inevitable when a fat ugly man carrying a stick and a beautiful slender young lady appeared. The young lady stumbles and picks up his dropped foil, dispatching one footpad and injuring another. The fat man belabours a third with his stick. The footpads flee, leaving their deceased comrade behind. The rescuers bundle Edward home. The young lady, Madelaine summons the Bow Street runners. Refusing reward she provides no address. But Edward fascinated by both Madelaine’s beauty and swordsmanship intends to pursue the acquaintance. Edward seeks his rescuers and the culprits who wish to terminate his life. Offering the elusive Madelaine marriage but she repeatedly declines. Her father accepts an invitation to visit his estate with her over Christmas as he takes a liking to Edward. As Edward pursues Madelaine, the attempts on his life continue. The sinister French spy, Major Furet, discovered as the arch nemesis in both Edward and Madelaine’s stories. The mystery intertwines as their romance progresses and Madelaine eventually reveals the secret making her refuse to marry him.
Giselle and her book can be found at the following links: