Multi-published author Nicola Slade is talking about her writing journey this week. Welcome to The Writer’s Surgery, Nicola. Can you tell us how you became a published author?
I don’t know when I realised that books didn’t just appear, but came out of people’s heads, but it must have been early on because I don’t remember a time when I didn’t want to write. My first published effort was a sale to People’s Friend – three stories about a mermaid for their children’s page. I was twenty-three and they paid me £2 per story; I thought it was going to be easy. Fast forward five years and I was a young mum so I wrote a children’s book for which I was paid £200. That fizzled out when the publisher stopped doing children’s books and dumped me so I burned off all that creative energy by having another baby.
Writing took a back seat for a few years until, as a Brown Owl by then, I wrote stories for the Brownie Magazine until I won a short story competition in the now defunct magazine, Family Circle. By now in my forties I decided it was time to do something about the urge to write that always lurked in the background and I finally entered the women’s magazine short story world, writing mostly for My Weekly magazine.
It was fun but I still hankered after a book of my own to hold in my hands. In fact I’d actually written seven full-length novels, acquired an agent who dumped me (still unpublished) a few years later – and then, bingo! An article in the RNA magazine featured Transita Ltd, a company looking for books starring older women; they liked my romantic comedy, Scuba Dancing, and published it in 2005.
Fabulous as this was I’d always wanted to write cosy mysteries which, combined with a passion for history, led me to write the three Charlotte Richmond Mysteries (Murder Most Welcome, Death is the Cure and The Dead Queen’s Garden), about a young Australian widow who arrives in England in 1858 – hiding secrets and with a tendency to stumble over the occasional corpse. Robert Hale published these, as they did the first two books featuring my contemporary sleuth, Harriet Quigley (Murder Fortissimo and A Crowded Coffin), a retired headmistress (nicknamed Boudicca by her students), who is based in Winchester. Robert Hale ceased trading and fortunately Endeavour Press took Harriet’s third adventure, The Art of Murder.
By 2017 I was looking for a home for The House at Ladywell, which is probably best described as multi-timeline! There’s an ancient house, a hint of magic, a dash of the paranormal and a contemporary romance, interspersed with echoes from the history of the house. I was delighted when it was accepted by Crooked Cat Books who published it two years ago and even more excited when readers loved it and it won the Chatelaine Grand Prize for Romantic Fiction at the CIBA awards in the USA in April this year.
And then it was time for something completely different! The Convalescent Corpse (published November 2018 by Crooked Cat Books) is the first in The Fyttleton Mysteries, cosy mysteries set in 1918 which explore the way women had to keep the home fires burning despite grief, loss, rationing and – in the first book – finding a body in the ha-ha!
My tenth book: Christmas at Ladywell (a digital novella) is published 4th November 2019 mybook.to/ChristmasatLadywell
What a fantastic publication story, Nicola, and congratulations on winning the Chatelaine Grand Prize for Romantic Fiction. You must be delighted.
Author Bio: Nicola Slade is an award-winning, bestselling author of historical and contemporary mysteries and romantic fiction, all set in and around Winchester and Romsey in Hampshire – which is where she lives. The House at Ladywell, a contemporary romantic novel with historical echoes, won the Chatelaine Grand Prize for Romantic Fiction at the CIBA awards in April 2019 in Bellingham, USA. A follow-up novella, Christmas at Ladywell, will be published 4th November 2019.
Nicola is the author of the mid-Victorian Charlotte Richmond mysteries and the contemporary Harriet Quigley mysteries. The Convalescent Corpse, published November 2018, is the first in a new series, The Fyttleton Mysteries, set in 1918.
Here are some of Nicola’s books
Keep tuning in for more ‘Path to Publication’ stories.
Romance author Rachael Stewart is spilling the beans about her writing journey today. Welcome Rachael, how did you become a published author?
I have always been a lover of romance and more specifically Mills & Boon (M&B), I grew up reading the books in my teens and my dream to write for them has never waned (my teens were a looooong time ago now!).
About 10 years ago, I submitted an Historical to M&B and received a lengthy rejection letter. I dismissed it as confirmation that I couldn’t write for toffee and parked the idea, believing it was a pipedream. It wasn’t until later that I realised the encouraging words in that letter meant something and that I should have ploughed on.
Fast forward to the fifty shades phenomenon and I decided why not give self-publishing a go, what have I got to lose! I released a novella in early 2015 which reached the Amazon.co.uk top ten list in its category and this encouraged me to give it another whirl on the traditional publishing route.
In 2017, I had two books on submission, one with M&B Modern, and one with a Canadian publisher, Deep Desires Press (DDP). M&B asked if I would consider resubmitting my book to their super-steamy, brand-new line, DARE (launching in January 2018) and around that time they launched the Dare Submission Blitz whereby you submit one chapter and a synopsis, and they feedback to you within a month. I was straight in there! I already had the book written and was keeping everything crossed. However, it turned out that the plot wasn’t an ideal fit, they loved my voice though – yay! So they asked if I would come up with three plot ideas and they would choose my strongest. Two months later, I was signed on three chapters of my new book and that became Mr One-Night Stand which released by M&B in Feb/March 2019.
While this was ongoing DDP also came back and signed Unshackled (it’s an extended version of my 2015 self-published novella) and it was released in May 2018, climbing to the top of the Amazon UK charts in its very first week!
Even better, DDP loved the book that M&B said wouldn’t work for them and they took that too! The Good Sister came out in August 2018 and its sequel, The Bad Sister, released in April 2019.
Since then I have also released another M&B DARE, Mr Temptation, and have a further one, my first Christmas book, Naughty or Nice, coming out in December 2019.
Suffice it to say, it has been a busy, amazing and totally unbelievable few years and I wouldn’t change it for anything. My journey also proves the rule that what doesn’t work for one publisher could be perfect for another, so don’t give up after that one rejection! I wish I hadn’t given up a decade ago, heaven knows how many books I’d have out in the wild now if I hadn’t!
That’s an amazing journey, Rachael, and great advice! Never give up, folks! Always believe that you can achieve your dream.
Rachael Stewart adores conjuring up stories from heartwarmingly romantic to wildly erotic. She’s been writing since she could put pen to paper as the stacks of scrawled on pages in her loft will attest to. A Welsh lass at heart, she now lives in Yorkshire with her very own hero and three awesome kids, and if she’s not tapping out a story, she’s wrapped up in them or enjoying the great outdoors.
Social Media Links –
Here are some of Rachael’s books
Naughty or Nice (Out Christmas 2019)
Universal Pre-Order link for Amazon – https://mybook.to/naughtyornice
Mr One-Night Stand
Universal link for Amazon – http://mybook.to/mronenightstand
Universal link for Amazon – http://mybook.to/mrtemptation
Rachael is hosting a ‘give away’ on her Facebook page www.facebook.com/rachaelstewartauthor) the prize includes a festive gift and a signed paperback of Naughty or Nice. This copy is exclusive to the author and cannot be purchased in the shops. Closing date for entries: 1st November 2019.
Do keep checking in for more ‘Path to Publication’ stories.
My guest today is author Susan Willis. Can you tell us how you achieved your dream of becoming a published author, Susan?
I was a late starter when it comes to writing although I’ve read books all my life. However, it wasn’t until I was thirty-seven, and following a home-study writing course, that I found my love of writing.
I started writing short stories and submitted a foodie-love story called, Lamb in a Pot, to an American magazine who loved the story and published it. I remember dancing around my desk waving a cheque for $200!
A digital publisher, Endeavour Press, took a chance on my first novel, called, Yes Chef, No Chef, and asked me to write more novella’s, which I did, followed by another two novels.
This year I have concentrated upon writing a collection of ten short reads. They are tales of love & family relationships. These stories are the type you will find in women’s magazines and range from 1,000 to 3,500 words each. I have uploaded the collection onto amazon in eBook format https://amzn.to/2ZzMFB8 but would love to find a publisher for a paperback too. Any suggestions will be gratefully received?
I think this 24,000-word set of stories would be great near magazine / newspaper stands in train station newsagents, i.e. Smiths, for women looking for a short read on their journeys. Most magazines do not contain stories now, or if so, one at the most and I think this would be a lucrative market to launch into?
Here is a taster of my tales about love & family:
From Angela arranging to meet her hubby at The Eiffel Tower, to Paul trying to win his ex-wife back with a Romantic Picnic, I’m sure you’ll enjoy these short reads. Find Annette in A Charity Shop discovering a locket and June struggling to understand Her New Daughter-in-law. Carol has a spooky cat, called, Cordelia and a witch’s hat but will it stop Him Getting Married Today? Two Christmas stories find Ellen making A Christmas Album for her sister, and Marian rescuing The Christmas Angel.
There’s a love or family story for everyone here…
To satisfy my love of reading crime novels, in June I went gaily off to Harrogate Crime Festival and while I was there my mind buzzed with ideas for Cozy Mystery Short Reads.
Arriving home, I wrote my first story and included poor mental health into a kidnap scenario. This story is a longer length of 11,000 words and is now on amazon as eBook format, called, An Author is Missing. https://amzn.to/2kts2IF
I’m now working on my other ideas which include, the perils of social media, and an imposter on skype.
I’m nearly finished the second story called, Megan is on Instagram, and hope to collect three or four together for a Cozy-Crime selection later in the year.
Susan is a published author of four novels, and five novellas and lives in the North East of England surrounded by a big family and friends. She is now semi-retired and only works through the winter months to enjoy all summer at home to write.
Here are some of Susan’s books
Drop by next week to read another Path to Publication story.