The Pink Heart Society is glad to welcome back Historicals author Annie Burrows to share with us a glimpse into her year of firsts.
Hi! This is the second time I have blogged on this site since I got my first novel accepted for publication. That was “His Cinderella Bride” which appeared on the shelves in the UK in September 2007. I expect you’ve read it often on this site, but it came as a surprise to me – getting a book published is only the first step. There is so much more to learn, especially about marketing and promoting your work.
Looking back over the time since I signed that first contract, it dawned on me that it has been a year of “firsts”. First novel, first editor, first writer’s conference, first literary festival (at an Oxford college, no less) as well as first attempt at blogging.
First Novelist’s lunch.
I have always been rather an insular person – quite content to crouch in my writing cave inventing my characters and weaving stories for them, but once I felt entitled to call myself a writer (that is, on getting that first contract) I also felt entitled to join a writer’s group. I joined the Romantic Novelist’s Association, and began to attend the local chapter meetings. At the very first lunch, I met up with (amongst others) Roger Sanderson, who asked me if I had registered my book for PLR. I did not even know what PLR was. For writers living in England, it is a scheme whereby a small amount is paid to an author each time their book is borrowed from a public library.
Encouraged by the warmth of the people I met at the chapter meeting, I signed up for my first novelists conference, held at Leicester University.
It was the most overwhelming experience to stand in a room full of women who were on the same wavelength as me. Usually, if you tell people you are a writer, they want to know who you base your characters on, or where you get your stories. They often have no concept of what it is like to have a Technicolor imagination. But these women all totally “got” me. It was fabulous, exhausting, inspiring, and I am saving up already for next year’s conference at Penrith.
First cyber loop
The RNA has its own cyber loop, which I joined up quickly. But then, I discovered all sorts of other ones, too. The Mills and Boon authors, the Mills and Boon sub-set of just the historical writers (who describe themselves as Hussies), UK novelists, and, of course, the Pink Heart Society. Pretty soon I discovered that I could easily while away my entire writing day browsing through all these sites, and had to restrict myself to only dipping into them once I had reached my daily writing target.
First AMBA lunch
I felt a bit of an impostor when I went to the Association of Mills and Boon Author’s lunch last September, because my first book had only just hit the shelves. There I was, in a room full of ladies whose books I had read and enjoyed for years. But they were absolutely lovely, welcoming me to their midst with a jar of honey (courtesy of Michelle Styles), which she gave out to all first timers. For the first course, I was seated between Louise Allen and Carol Townend, (pictured) with whom I got on like a house on fire. But for dessert, those of us who were there for the first time had to swap seats, and I found myself sandwiched between Catherine George and Karin Stoecker. Totally overawed, my flow of conversation dried up completely.
First trip to the chiropractor
OK – this is another topic often covered on this site – the importance of a good chair. I learned the hard way that if you sit on a garden chair, with a lap top on your knee, your head permanently at a weird angle to consult notes which are spread out all over the bed, you will end up having to visit a chiropractor. The first thing he told me was that I should not type for more than 15 minutes at a time. 15 minutes!! I can’t break my concentration every 15 minutes! However, I was not about to argue with a man who had my head tucked in the crook of his arm. Then, after he did that thing you see in comedy sketches, but never believe really happens, (where the man in the white coat takes your head and wrenches it sharply to one side, to the sound effect of bones crunching) I decided to get myself a kitchen timer. There was no way I was going to go through that again.
Later on this month, I will be experiencing another batch of firsts. My first appearance as an Author at a library (fortunately in the company of Penny Jordan and Susan Stephens. I am relying on them knowing what they are doing.)
My first ever radio interview, to publicize the event which Blackburn library are running to promote romantic fiction. Oh, yes, and I’m running my first ever competition on my website, http://www.annie-burrows.co.uk/ in conjunction with Annie West and Margaret McDonagh, to promote our anthology “Mills and Boon presents…” It starts on 1st March, if you want to take part.
**But in the meantime, I have one copy of my current novel “My Lady Innocent” up for grabs. I will put the names of everyone who leaves a comment about this post into a hat or something. **
For more about Annie Burrows or her latest release My Lady Innocent, be sure to check out her website (and don't forget to enter the contest!)