Here at The Pink Heart Society last year we launched our FinDaBoo project aka Finish The Damn Book and over the year we had lots of helpful advice from authors about the gentle art of writing Category Romance. You guys seemed to like it... so it's back again this year... With a special new friend...
On the first Saturday of every month we'll have our FinDaBoo post with a Blog from an author on writing and staying motivated. And this year we're adding an extra feature in the form of A Book With Biddy.
Biddy is an aspiring author just like so many of our FinDaBoo-ers and once a month for the whole year she's going to Blog a frank and honest account of how her writing is going - the good, the bad and the slumped head against keyboard days. So we hope you'll all make her feel very welcome and that you'll be here with us cheering her on from the sidelines as she attempts to FinDaBoo in 2008 - Over to Biddy:
Hi I’m Biddy and I’m a struggling writer. Well actually I am Brigid Coady, a non-techie IT consultant, country music radio presenter, voice-over artist, daughter, sister, friend AND struggling non-published writer. Because lets be honest, when you say you are a writer everyone asks if you have had anything published. You sheepishly say no and watch their interest in it go out the window. So as a result everything else I do seem to be the labels that comes before the whole writer thing. But that doesn’t mean that is where it is in my world. No, in my world it is one of the front runners, up there with country music radio presenter (and I suppose I should say daughter, sister and friend but you know it has just been Christmas and I am feeling rather gorged on that stuff…) And I can tell you the non-techie IT consultant straggles in at the end but it pays the bills so at the moment that is what I am 8.30 to 5.
I have always written. Well except for a time about ten years ago when it fell of the radar, and it wasn’t until I went to a counsellor to sort out my stress problem did I realise what I had been missing. But when did I decide I wanted to add writer as a label?
It was the beginning of 2003, I wanted to write romance and so instead of writing I searched the web and discovered eHarlequin, Harlequin’s online community of writers. And suddenly I had a whole host of new friends and ways to not write. So now almost five years later I have some great friends, have been to some great writing related parties (join the RNA or your nearest Romance Writer's group it is the way to go!) and am still not published.
But this is a new year, 2008 is all sparkly and clean with no marks on it (if we can just over look that incident in the early hours of New Years Day or call it a good idea or even research). So 2008 is sparkly and clean with no marks on it from a WRITING point of view. In fact it is wonderful because at 4.28(ish)pm GMT on Monday 31st December 2007 I placed (with a kiss and a prayer) a requested partial for my Harlequin Mills & Boon Modern Heat book in the post box.
So how did I get a requested partial? We have to roll back to this time last year when a requested partial wasn’t even a spark in my eye. One of my New Years resolutions was to finish a book. Yes I hadn’t even finished a book, lots of half started manuscripts littering my central London flat but nothing complete. But before the whole writing lark for the year I had all these wonderful writing related social activities to go to!!
The first was Abby Green’s book launch in Dublin in January. This event was a great way to start a writing year. Not just due to the raging hangover I had from Abby’s pre-book launch tour of Dublin’s finest hostelries that caused the actual launch to be seen through a haze of the hair of the dog that bit me. It was great due to my meeting with some old friends like Kate Walker and Abby Green and various M&B editors but also meeting new friends like Trish Wylie (oh and Maeve Binchy which was cool but she doesn’t keep in touch).
As the year went on and I was lucky enough to be invited to a celebration for Kate Walker’s 50th Book I had a bit of a shock. Looking around that room I realised that of my little gang of unpublished writers who I met back in 2003, I was the only one unpublished. In fact I was the only one without even an unfinished manuscript under my belt. That was when I started feel an impostor… what right did I have to call myself a writer? And as I realised another September was only three months away and I had two M&B authors staying with me to go to the annual AMBA champagne reception… without me, well something had to change.
At about the same time all this was going on I got an email from an editor at Harlequin Mills & Boon. Would I, as an avid fan of M&B, be interested in being part of Radio 4’s documentary for Mills & Boon’s centenary? Would I hell? I jumped at the chance. And then it dawned on me. Here I was friends with M&B authors (in fact unofficial B&B to M&B authors) known by M&B editors (they have my email address!) and I have never tried to write for them… You’ll realise as this year goes on that I can be a little slow. Hints, signs and the like pass me by unless they are like New Years Eve fireworks and someone has jabbed me in the stomach and pointed me in the right direction. But even I noticed this one.
So as my present IT contract was coming to an end I decided to take August off and write a book. No excuses. No procrastination. Well maybe a little bit. And I had a goal; to get the first chapter in to a competition being run by M&B with Lewisham Libraries. So Kate Walker’s 12-Point Guide to Writing Romance clutched in my hand and the latest guidelines for Modern Heat I set off on my journey. And you know something it was fun! I’m a project manager by training so I did my research, divided the month up into work packages (i.e. chapters) and set off. I promised myself that I could write complete rubbish and not care. When I got stuck I could skip ahead and not worry.
Well it kind of went to plan… some days it was just easier to watch television or read a book and who am I kidding about being a good project manager? That work package thing was the first to go! But by 5th September I was finished and the first chapter was somewhere in Richmond being read. So what do you do when that happens? Yes you drink champagne!! At every opportunity! Celebrate every milestone I say!
About a week later it was the results of the competition and sitting in the meeting room with all the other nervous entrants waiting for the editors to deliver the news I realised I wanted to win. Quite desperately I wanted to win. You can tell I’m just a tad competitive can’t you?
Well it wasn’t a storybook ending; I didn’t win… BUT I was short-listed. And crucially I had some feedback from the editorial team and they said these magic words… we love your voice AND send in a partial. And yes more champagne was consumed after that I can tell you.
Good yes? It got better. Much much better.
That AMBA reception I mentioned… well I had to pick up my guests. Can’t have some of your best-loved authors wandering the streets of London so I sacrificed myself. While loitering outside I was spotted by Karin Stoecker, Harlequin Mills & Boon Editorial Director who announced she had read my first chapter. I started to shake. She then demanded I send in my partial ASAP and that they loved my voice. Blimey. Isn’t this what happens to other people? As I wafted out on a cloud of wonder I would like to say I celebrated with champagne yet again but I can’t.
Just when you would think I would be top of the world, champagne flowing, I wasn’t. You see your body isn’t always a team player and mine decided to throw in the towel for a while around the end of September. Which meant that much as I wanted to revise my first three chapters and send them off I was in no state to do it. And as I was shaking off the illness I started to get depressed. There was no new contract in the offing and I was worried about money. Anytime I had I should be spending looking for work not writing. And was I really good enough? Was I wasting my time?
Luckily for me I had the world’s best break in November. I had a press pass for the CMA (Country Music Association) Awards in Nashville!! It was heaven and I got to ask Kenny Chesney a question, which he answered! And as he had to look at me as he answered he now knows I exist so I expect the wedding to happen at some point in the next six months! After that it was a weekend shopping with the girls in New York. If that doesn’t reset your stress levels I don’t what will.
Then the week I got back I got a new contract and went to the RNA Winter Party! See this writing lark is just social event after social event! So there I was at the party chatting happily to Fiona Harper when this small Canadian dynamo accosted me. It was Karin Stoecker again demanding to know why I hadn’t sent my partial in. She’d noticed? As I got my excuses lined up she told me that I had a great voice and I shouldn’t waste it and she wanted to be at one of these social events and be buying me champagne because she’d bought my book!
Everyone should have that shot in the arm. Although when Fiona Harper then told me it was now up to me I started to groan. This means I have to do something. Me. Why I can’t just fall asleep and wake up to find the writing fairies have visited I don’t know!
So that is why on Monday 31st December 2007 at 4.28(ish) pm I was sending off a requested partial. It also meant I was actually allowed to go to my sister’s New Year’s Eve Party and guess how I celebrated?? Yes pink champagne!
What will happen in 2008? Who knows but the hopefully you’ll join me here every month and help me celebrate all my achievements, give me cyber chocolate for any set backs and listen to my rants and recriminations. Trish has likened it to a reality TV crew in my writing world; I hope that won’t make you change channels.
So are you planning to FinDaBoo in 2008? If you are then let us know!!! And don't forget to pop by here on the first Saturday of every month for FinDaBoo tips and an update from A Book With Biddy to see how she's doing as well as our Writer's Wednesday posts when we'll have a host of subjects throughout the year!
If you want to check in on Biddy between posts then you can pop over to her Blog.
GOOD LUCK EVERYONE!!! We're RIGHT HERE BEHIND YOU!!!
To round off last year we had a few books for you to win in our last hamper* until our birthday next September. And hopefully starting off a better year for our winner Nat D we have:
Nicola Marsh - The wonderful Romance book Princess Australia
Natasha Oakley - 'Accepting The Boss's Proposal' and 'Mothers-To-Be' (a UK Mothers' Day anthology with novellas from Julia James, Natasha and Amy Andrews).
Trish Wylie - A copy each of her new 2008 releases, the Modern Heat book His Mistress: His Terms and the Harlequin Romance Her One And Only Valentine
Donna Alward - A large print copy of Hired By The Cowboy her hard to find first release from 2007
Kate Walker - A copy of her wonderful Harlequin Presents book The Greek Tycoon's Unwilling Wife
Heidi Rice - Her fabulous second Modern Heat The Mile High Club (which Trish tells us is great read!)
Kate Hardy - the lovely Kate is donating her Medical book The Doctor's Very Special Christmas
Liz Fielding - the book nominated for a Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award for 2007 The Secret Life Of Lady Gabriella (CONGRATULATIONS LIZ!)
Margaret McDonagh - a copy of the gorgeous Christmas Weddings anthology (which contains her Medical Romance story "Their Christmas Vows" along with a Modern story by Carole Mortimer and a Romance by Shirley Jump)
So Nat just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your addy and we'll pop all these goodies in the post for you!!!