My Path to Publication – Gemma Rogers

This week Gemma Rogers is telling us how she achieved her dream of having her debut novel published by Boldwood Books on 10 September. Congratulations, Gemma! Can you tell us about your writing journey?


I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. Before my parents bought a computer that we could share, I was stuck using a heavy-duty typewriter. It weighed a tonne and I’d sit for hours on my bedroom floor, stealing my elder brother’s ideas about a wall clock called Horace who came to life at night. I’d create booklets, laced together with string and adorned with colour illustrations to bring his character to life. My fingers would be sore from hammering the giant keys, but I couldn’t get enough. Lost in a world of creativity.

My love of writing was most certainly born out of an addiction to books. As a teenager I loved horror: Richard Laymon, Christopher Pike and all the Point Horror books, the more gruesome the better. Occasionally I would dip into Sweet Valley High or Judy Blume when I wanted something light hearted or filled with teen angst. However, I was eager to write some of my own stories, my mind filled with ideas for twisted plots, forbidden love and bloody deaths.

Over the years that followed I wrote short stories and had great ideas for novels that I would start but never finish. Life got in the way, I got married, had children and writing became a hobby rather than a focus. Then in 2016 I knuckled down and wrote a book. I was immensely proud of the achievement. Writing ‘The End’ on a manuscript of over 90,000 words felt like I’d climbed Mount Everest. I’d completed something I never thought I’d be able to do.

So, I had the finished novel; followed instructions on the internet and put it away for a couple of weeks, basking in the afterglow of how I was going to get published. A fantasy I managed to stretch out for over a year as the rejections piled up.

I went back to the drawing board, looked at the manuscript again, scoured the internet and sought advice. Then realised what I’d written probably wasn’t as good as I first thought and everything, I’d learned throughout English lessons in school didn’t necessarily apply.

I found myself spending hours deleting unnecessary words and tightening sentences. One rejection I’d been given, written on a post-it note in bullet points, was ‘show don’t tell’. After much googling, reading writer forums and chatting to others online the penny finally dropped.

By that time, it was 2018 and a new idea had taken hold. One that had an element of truth in it. They always say, ‘write about what you know’ and so my debut novel was born.

I’ll be eternally grateful to the fabulous Boldwood Books team who took a chance on me and STALKER which is due to be published on 10th September.

Well done for never giving up, and persevering to achieve your dream, Gemma. Your story is an inspiration to other writers. Thank you for talking to us today. 

Here is Gemma’s book



‘My body reacted before I was even sure, the memory of him on my skin still fresh. I knew where he lived, where he hunted, and it wouldn’t be long before I knew his name.’

Eve Harding’s world implodes one Sunday morning when she is violently assaulted and raped walking to a South London train station.

As her attacker evades the Police and is left to roam the streets to stalk his next victim, Eve is forced to seek out her assailant before he strikes again.

With vengeance in mind, Eve is determined to find him in time and deliver justice on her own terms.In a game of cat and mouse, who is stalking who?

A gritty crime thriller, asking how far would you go to seek justice. Perfect for fans of Caroline Kepnes’ You, Kimberley Chambers, Emma Tallon and Jessie Keane.

Buy Link:

Link to buy book:

Author Bio

Gemma Rogers lives in West Sussex with her husband, two daughters and beloved bulldog, Buster.

Her love of writing began in her early teenage years, inspired by hours spent buried in Point Horror, Richard Laymon and Christopher Pike with the occasional Judy Blume thrown in for good measure.

Stories were written on an enormous heavy-duty typewriter, before being allowed to use her parent’s computer, where many hours were then spent.

Gemma’s debut novel, Stalker, was born out of a real-life experience almost twenty years ago and is set where she grew up in Surrey. The book tells the story of Eve, the victim of a violent sexual assault who attempts to track down her attacker to deliver justice on her own terms.

Other passions include movies – horrors and thrillers especially, bulldog walks, swimming and anything involving cake.

Contact links




Check in next week to read another ‘path to publication’ story.

And if you want to read about my writing journey, I’m talking about it over on Tom William’s blog here.



My Path to Publication – Anne Pettigrew

My guest this week is feature writer and retired doctor, Anne Pettigrew, who after years of having articles published in medical newspapers, had her first book published at 69 years old.  Can you tell us how you achieved your writing dream, Anne?



When I was four, I decided I’d be a doctor, though all through school I scribbled stories. I applied for both English and Medicine at Glasgow University, but deciding healing the sick was probably more useful to humanity than anything I might possibly write, I graduated in medicine in 1974. I became a GP to take advantage of maternity leave and part-time working, unavailable in hospital medicine then. But I loved being a GP.

My first publishing ‘break’ came in 1989 when a stroppy letter about Maggie Thatcher’s ’misguided NHS plans’ I’d sent to Glasgow Herald Newspaper was found ‘topical and amusing’ and published as an article. They engaged me to write regular columns. Without looking for any work, columns in medical newspapers followed. I fancied writing a novel, but with work, kids and elderly parents, it was retirement before I could try. And it was soooo much harder than writing 500-word articles ’sounding off’ about something. Drifting aimlessly, I took University Creative Writing classes to discover a whole new world of plotting, characterisation and dialogue. My aim was a ‘literary’ feminist novel about discrimination and sixties women doctors, which might convey ‘the moral complexity of the day’ as George Eliot felt a novel should do. Ha!

To my surprise, characters took a life of their own. Before I knew it, my wry protagonists were having affairs, jumping off bridges, cheating, lying, disposing of incriminating bodies and generally shocking me! The story even continued to evolve in my subconscious: I’d wake up in the morning with an urgent chapter needing typed up. Though other days involved staring at a blank screen offering no inspiration. I read Stephen King’s On Writing and Newman and Mittelmark’s How not to Write a Novel. Concluding my novel had all the faults agents and publishers hate, I tossed it aside.

One of my University tutors, Cathy McSporran, herself a published author, took my novel and helped me knock it into shape. My first three chapters (largely backstory) bit the dust. My husband was smug: he’d already suggested this. Several much-loved characters were discarded or amalgamated, plot lines accentuated, others eliminated. I joined encouraging Greenock Writers Club., won a few prizes, gained confidence. Friends read and loved the novel, offered suggestions, found bloomers: one character featured as alive and well had died two chapters before. (I’d meant it to be his brother).

After digesting Writers & Artists Yearbook 2017, I submitted for a year. Stony silence. Or ‘Not what we are looking for at this time. ‘Our list is full for years.’ So jaundiced had I become, that the final publication offer languished unopened in my inbox for days. Ringwood Publishing took it up. Not The Life Imagined was runner-up in SAW Constable Award 2018, has been submitted for a Saltire Literary Award 2019 and has resulted in me being chosen as a Spotlight (‘up and coming’!) Author at Bloody Scotland Book Festival in Stirling on 22nd September. I’m 69. If you are writing, never give up.

What a fascinating and amusing publication story, Anne. I can certainly identify with some of this – especially the bloomers! I had one of my characters painting a ceiling twice until my eager-eyed husband spotted it! Well done for not giving up. Your book sounds fun. 


Book link-

Available as e-book and paperback

A darkly humorous, thought-provoking story of Scottish medical students in the sixties, a time of changing social and sexual mores


Glasgow born Anne Pettigrew was a GP for 31 years and light-hearted columnist in The Herald and medical press.  A graduate of Glasgow (Medicine 1974) and Oxford (Anthropology 2004) she wrote Not the Life Imagined to record the experiences of sixties Scottish medical students (eg discrimination, #MeToo, mental health issues). Book royalties benefit Plan International in their drive to reduce the 130 million girls worldwide denied education. Anne blogs on her website and Literary Globe.

Contact links



Facebook @annepettigrewauthor


Twitter @pettigrew_anne



Check in next week to read another ‘path to publication’ story.

And if you want to read about my writing journey, I’m talking about it over on Tom William’s blog here.





My Path to Publication – Jo Johnson

I love to hear about the different routes authors have taken to get published. This week clinical psychologist Jo Johnson is telling us how she came to write her debut novel, Surviving Me, which she crowdfunding through Unbound Publishers. Over to you, Jo!



‘Were you educated in this country?’ This was one of the first questions a tutor asked me at university. My punctuation and grammar were terrible.

Later, in my work as a clinical psychologist, I was pretty good at relating to people but my reports continued to be a source of amusement. My written work was my weakness.

As I progressed in my career, I discovered a gift for public speaking. I found telling stories was a great way to entice people to listen. In 2009 I was invited to speak at a national event for people living with multiple sclerosis (MS) and designed a unique workshop called ‘Shrinking the monster’. It encouraged my listeners to see their MS as something outside themselves, an external creature they could resist. It went down so well that the organisers asked me to turn the session into a workbook.

‘But I can’t write,’ I insisted.

‘If you can speak to people, you can write for them,’ the conference organiser batted back. To my utter amazement, ‘Shrinking the monster: the workbook’ won a Plain English Award. This spurred me on to write further workbooks about managing emotional distress and neurology-themed books for young people.

I didn’t plan to written a novel. I left the NHS in 2008 and went freelance. But I found being self-employed was lonely. So, each day, I interspersed client appointments with visits to the café across the road from my office.

One day, I noticed an unremarkable middle- aged man and wondered what his story might be. On my iPad I started a story about a bloke called Tom. I wrote:

‘At this point in time, I can accurately be described as unemployed, impotent, and a liar.’

This became the first sentence of my debut novel, Surviving Me, due out on November 14. It tackles hard issues such as depression, male suicide and degenerative diseases in what I hope is an honest, life-affirming and often humorous way. It focuses particularly on the challenges of being male in today’s world and explores how our silence on these big issues can help push men to the brink.

To get to this point, I have fielded my manuscript to countless friends and colleagues, out of paranoia and lack of confidence. I was always genuinely surprised – and encouraged – by people’s feedback. So I carried on… and found I couldn’t stop.

Writing helps me clear my mind of other people’s troubles. And humour is a great way to defuse some of the day’s tensions. My line of work can make you laugh and cry almost simultaneously – and I hope my characters do the same for my readers.

Congratulations on getting your book crowdfunded, Jo. The story sounds really interesting and very topical. I am sure a lot of people will find it helpful.


SURVIVING ME will be published on November 14.
You can check out the early reviews on Goodreads

And here is the amazon link to Shrinking the smirch, a workbook for adults on managing emotional distress secondary to health and psychological conditions like cancer, MS, stress, anxiety, panic and depression.Amazon


Author Bio

Jo Johnson is a clinical psychologist specialising in neurological disorders and mind health. She is the author of nine health-related publications and writes for several neurology charities. She worked within the NHS for 16 years, and now trains individuals and groups on how to prevent stress and burnout. Surviving Me is her first novel, and explores themes that, as a practising clinician, she can write about with conviction and authenticity.


Check in next week to read another ‘path to publication’ story.

And if you want to read about my writing journey, I’m talking about it over on Tom William’s blog here.







My Path to Publication – Elizabeth Jade

I’m delighted to welcome Elizabeth Jade to my blog today. Elizabeth Jade got an agent at only fourteen years old when she wrote her first book. Her second book is in the process of publication. I’m in awe of you, Elizabeth. Can you tell us how you came to be published, especially at such a young age?

Elizabeth Jade sml.jpg

I always knew I had a unique take on life, but I only found out three years ago, at the age of 18, that I had Aspergers Syndrome. By this time I was also struggling with mental health issues. Aside from working with animals over the years, another outlet for my anxiety and depression has been in writing stories.

When I was fourteen, my family helped me partner up with an agent who had just gone freelance and he brought my manuscript up to standard before sending it out to publishers.  One response was particularly encouraging to receive as the publisher said that they loved the story and would have taken it if they hadn’t just published another dog story. Sadly, the agent gave up freelance work after a year and we were back on our own.

Publishing was pushed to one side for a few years, not least because major publishers only seemed interested in known authors and self-publishing looked a scary business. There seemed so much to organise for self-publishing – beta readers, proof reader, editor and cover designer, to name just a few. To do it properly would require a lot of work, time and money.  We finally found a small publisher who took the time to talk to us and explain the process when we needed it, and who was happy for us to source the illustrations ourselves.

We posted in a number Facebook groups, asking if any illustrators would be interested in expanding their portfolios and offering a reduced fee in exchange. We had some wonderful sketches back, but the one provided by Anthony Wallis had something special about it and he agreed to provide ten pencil illustrations at half his usual rate. Everything came together and Akea – The Power of Destiny was published in June 2017 with i2ipublishing.

Akea is born into a family of sled dogs and a life that follows a predictable path, but from the day she first sees the lone wolf, Kazakh, Akea knows her future lies beyond the safety of her home.  Kazakh is well aware of Akea’s destiny and the pack laws he will break to help her reach it. Regardless of the challenges ahead, he must make sure this young husky will be ready, even if it means his life.

This chapter book for 7 – 11 year-olds teaches children the importance of loyalty, friendship and belonging. Younger children will enjoy having it read to them (minus the sad bits) and adults will find it a light, but captivating read.

My second book, ‘Akea – His Mother’s Son’, has been professionally edited and Anthony is working on the illustrations for me again – he really is amazing. This story sees one of Akea’s children captured by humans and taken to a wildlife park. The dual narrative allows the reader to see both sides of the experience of loss and change, and how our character is strengthened by it. I am looking forward to publishing this in the near future.

What a heartwarming and inspiring publication story, Elizabeth. Your book sounds fascinating, as does the sequel. Wishing you lots of luck with this.

Here is Elizabeth’s book

Akea proof (3).jpg


This husky, wolf story is a new addition to the great animal fiction tradition of Jack London and Erin Hunter, where the story is told through the eyes of the animals. Elizabeth Jade has created a captivating coming of age story which also teaches children about friendship and loyalty, and that being different doesn’t mean you can’t belong. It is a captivating chapter book for eight to twelve year-olds. Akea is born into a family of sled dogs and a life that follows a predictable path, but from the day she first sees the lone wolf, Kazakh, Akea knows her future lies beyond the safety of her home. Kazakh is well aware of Akea’s destiny and the pack laws he will break to help her reach it. Regardless of the challenges ahead, he must make sure this young husky will be ready, even if it means his life.

You can purchase the book here:


Author Bio

Elizabeth Jade was born in 1998 in Northallerton, North Yorkshire, England, but moved with her family to Wellington in Somerset when she was very young. She has one older brother. Elizabeth’s early schooling did not go smoothly and she was homeschooled from the age of seven. Her parents soon learned she had a unique slant on life and quickly abandoned attempts to follow the national curriculum in favour of child-led learning.

She stumbled into writing at fourteen when she began to suffer from anxiety and depression, and quickly found her story ideas pouring out faster than she could get them onto paper.  It wasn’t until the age of eighteen that she realised her struggles in school had been due to Aspergers Syndrome (an autistic spectrum disorder).

As an enthusiastic animal lover, Elizabeth volunteered first at the Conquest Riding Centre for the Disabled and then at St Giles Animal Rescue before moving on to the Cats Protection Homing and Information Centre on the outskirts of Wellington.  Her gifted way with the cats quickly earned her the title of ‘Cat Whisperer’ from the staff. Since she had always possessed such a way with animals, it was only natural for Elizabeth’s story ideas to revolve around that theme.

After a brief attempt at self-publishing and a further attempt with an agent, Elizabeth found a publisher and her  novel, ‘Akea – The Power of Destiny‘ is now available through Amazon and major book shops. It was written when Elizabeth was only fourteen and is to be the first in a long line of stories involving this captivating character.

“It has to be said that my writing methods are as quirky as I am.  I don’t write stories; I just put a bunch of words onto paper, and the characters do the rest. In fact, it’s not uncommon for me to have completed a writing session without having the slightest idea what I have written. Even my story ideas come from the strangest places. I like to search the internet for pictures of how I imagine my characters would look, and keep them in front of me whenever I am writing about them.  While I was looking for pictures for an entirely different story, I came across one of a young husky and instantly knew I had to write about her.  It was as if she had told me her whole life story and was just waiting for me to put it down on paper.”

Contact details


Check in next week to read another ‘path to publication’ story.

And if you want to read about my writing journey, I’m talking about it over on Tom William’s blog here.






My Path to Publication – Alice McVeigh

The path to publication can be a long and varied one. This week, Alice MCVeigh, shares her inspiring writing journey with us. Welcome to the blog, Alice. Can you tell us how you got published?



When I was young, life was easy: I scribbled a novel (about the secret life of an orchestra), mailed it off – no email! – got an offer from the fifth agent I tried (President of the agent’s  association, no less) and – within two months – had a two-book contract with Orion/Hachette. My friends all thought I was made for life – but I wasn’t so sure. My father is a biographer and I knew that I’d have to sell well. My first (contemporary) novel did.  It reached 35 in the bestsellers, and the film rights were sold to Channel 4  – though never made, the money was handy! . . . However, the sequel didn’t do quite so well. . . then my IVF daughter showed up. . . and then my super-starry agent dumped me.

I decided to break into ghostwriting, having made some good connections in the industry. This worked, and I forgot all about fiction, for over 15 years. But when my daughter left for Oxford, I suddenly found ideas for novels nagging at me.

To my amazement, one of these was a sci-fi book about a rebel assassin on 23rd-century Earth. I lay down and waited for the idea to go away. It didn’t: and, within three months, I found that I’d written 113,000 words.  However, what was I to do with 113,000 words, however funny, erotic or brilliant, in a genre where I’d never even published a short story, had no track-record or contacts at all?! I queried, and got some lovely refusals – one of the top sci-fi agents, in Manhattan, sat on the whole manuscript for almost five months – but the publishing world had got a lot tougher during all those years I’d been ghosting. Also: one only gets one shot at being a debut novelist, and I’d had mine.) Although, in the late 90s, even debut novelists even got reviewed. The Sunday Times: ‘Characters rise and fall to McVeigh’s superbly controlled conductor’s baton. The orchestra becomes a universe in microcosm; all human life is here . . . McVeigh succeeds in harmonising a supremely comic tone with much darker notes.’)

Anyway, I was wondering about self-publishing when a writer friend told me about UK publishers Unbound. They’re small but risk-taking, and recently published a novel long-listed for the Booker Prize. They can afford to take risks, because they ask every author to crowd-fund the first part of the book’s publication costs. (Which is what I’m doing at the moment. Only one week in, and 59% already, whoop whoop!)  So, against all odds, sometime in 2020, I’ll have a new sci-fi novel in the bookshops, despite being no debut novelist and now in my fifties.

 So my advice? If you feel a book hammering at you to be let out: do it. Go for it, and be willing to take that risk!!!! Yes, it’s hard – everybody knows it’s hard – but you have to be in it to win it!

Great advice, Alice!

Here is Alice’s book
  65144225_519607501910767_4234473295816163328_n (1) final cover
Buy link

About Alice

Alice McVeigh was first published in over fifteen years ago: two contemporary novels with Orion/Hachette. After taking time out for a young family and professional cello, she has just launched her new sci-fi novel, Last Star Standing, with UK publisher Unbound (writing as Spaulding Taylor).



Check in next week to read  another ‘path to publication’ journey.

And if you want to read about my writing journey, I’m talking about it over on Tom William’s blog here.


My Path to Publication – Vikki Patis

This week psychological thriller author Vikki Patis, who is published by Bookouture, is sharing her writing journey with us.  Welcome to the blog, Vikki. Can you tell us how you became a published author?



My path is littered with chance meetings and slightly strange but amazing opportunities. Like many writers, I have always wanted to write. As a child, I used to fill exercise books with stories, giving them to friends to read on the school bus. Reading was always my escape, and I spent hours with my head in a book. When I went to university, I was asked to join the university paper, writing about various topics, and I was invited along to a book launch for a local author. My editor asked me to interview him, and so the Ask the Author project began on my blog, The Bandwagon. I had the opportunity to interview a variety of authors, including the wonderful George RR Martin, author of A Song of Ice and Fire, the books behind Game of Thrones. George gets a special mention, not because he is so well-known, but because he gave me two pieces of advice that would change my life.

The first piece of advice was to ‘steel yourself for rejection’. Most writers go through long periods of rejection, he said, so ‘see at least if you can get some personalised rejection letters’. The second piece of advice was to write short stories. I’d complained that I couldn’t finish anything, that I have these amazing ideas (to me, anyway!), but I would lose focus 7000 words in and it would end up in the proverbial drawer. George told me to start small, to write short stories of varying lengths, in different genres, from different points of view. To really challenge myself. And so, a couple of years later, Weltanschauung was born. I self-published this collection of short stories in 2016, and while it hasn’t broken any records, it has received largely positive reviews, and it gave me the confidence to try writing a novel.

My debut, The Diary, was published by Bookouture in 2018, quickly followed by The Girl Across the Street earlier this year, which made it into the top 100 on Amazon. I’m now halfway through my third psychological thriller, and I can’t describe how incredible the process has been. I’ve learned so much, met some wonderful people, and have had the privilege of working with some fantastic people within the publishing industry. I still have to pinch myself when a Bookstagrammer posts a photo of my book, or I read a review that truly gets what I was trying to say through my novels. As an avid reader, I still can’t quite believe that I can call myself an author.

What a fabulous writing journey, Vikki, and such great advice. Thank you for sharing this with us.

Here are Vikki’s books

The-Girl-Across-the-Street-Kindle                                                the-diary-kindle

Buy Links:

The Diary:  Amazon 
The Girl Across the Street: Amazon

Author bio:

Vikki Patis is the bestselling author of psychological thrillers The Diary and The Girl Across the Street, published by Bookouture. When she isn’t writing or working as a Regulatory & Compliance Manager, she can usually be found drinking tea, baking cakes, or taking walks in the Hertfordshire countryside. She lives with her partner and two cats.


Check in next week to read  another ‘path to publication’ journey.

And if you want to read about my writing journey, I’m talking about it over on Tom William’s blog here.


My Path to Publication – Carol Warham

This week we have romantic suspense author, Carol Warham, popping in to tell us how she became a published author. Over to you, Carol!

my photo

As with so many authors, I have written since I was a child. I started by creating small comics for friends to read.
During my school years, I dreamed of being a journalist and did achieve my ambition, but I soon discovered this was not the sort of writing I wanted to do.

Writing was inevitably put on hold while family, children, work and business took precedence.  However a few years ago I was lucky enough to be able to retire early and I started to write again. I had a few short stories published and the occasional article about a holiday but like many writers I really wanted to write a novel.

I managed to make this very difficult for myself! While on holiday in Florida, we visited the Disney modelled town of Celebration. I was inspired to write about a similar town, but wanted to call it Resolution and decided the story would take place around New Year. I was thrilled with my idea and started to write as soon as I got home.

Three drafts and three years later it was clear the story was not working. I couldn’t understand what was going wrong and I knew I needed help. Fortunately I had writer friends who were honest and said I’d put Yorkshire people in America. One friend came straight out and told me I needed to bring the plot closer to home.

I really struggled against this. I was convinced this was not the answer. How could I bring it home to Yorkshire? Yorkshire towns just were not given names like Resolution. Eventually I conceded defeat. I changed the name of the town and called the hotel which featured prominently to Resolution Hotel.

This was the best thing I could have done. I submitted the (eventually) finished novel to four publishers. Three of the four were interested and I decided to sign with Tirgearr Publishing in Dublin.

The local papers were interested and wrote features on me and the novel, as it was now based in the Holme Valley ( the town was Holmfirth but given another name). The libraries were very supportive, inviting me to give talks and onto their radio programmes for the visually impaired.

I learnt a lot about the craft of writing from this, and I am so grateful to those friends and readers who were honest with me and willing to give advice and support. They were proved to be right, without them this book would probably never have been published.

Congratulations on getting your book published, Carol. And for persevering, being adaptable and listening to constructive feedback.  All very important traits for an author. 🙂

Here’s Carol’s book, which was granted a ‘Chill with a Book Reader’s Award’.



Author bio

Writing has been her love since childhood. She started by making small comics for her dolls, progressed to training as a journalist for a short while. Once the family had grown up Carol settled down to writing and published short stories, poems and holiday articles.

In recent years she has become a judge in the short story section for the HysteriaUK competition and also for the RNA’s romance novel of the year. She is also very involved in volunteering for the Huddersfield Literature Festival each year, and is a member of the Promoting Yorkshire Authors group.

Carol lives in Yorkshire, surrounded by some beautiful countryside, which is ideal for her other passion of walking, often with a dog called Sam. This lovely area is the location for her first novel, Resolutions.


Resolutions by Carol Warham

Check in next week to read  another ‘path to publication’ journey.

And if you want to read about my writing journey, I’m talking about it over on Tom William’s blog here.