The Pink Heart Society is very pleased to welcome Victoria Parker with her call story and giveaway today!
Whilst May has been a dreary wash-out of grey skies, wilting late blooms and swollen gutters, I’ve been burrowed in my study with my latest manuscript scattered over the desk, taking delicious sneaky peeks at my bookshelf, where author copies of my debut novel stand tall and proud. All the while musing that life, at this moment, is as warm and blissful as the Caribbean sun and dreams really do come true. You only have to believe.
It still amazes me to think that this September marks the three-year anniversary of the time I first put, ‘bum to seat and fingers to keys’.
Three years since I decided I’d wasted enough time banging on about my latest book concept only to convince myself I wasn’t good enough to past muster.
Ah insecurities, how you torment us all. There I’d been thinking: Why would I want to rip my heart out, write a romance novel full of the angst and heartache I hold in my soul and then send it to a publisher for them to roll their eyes or worse, laugh out loud? God, heavens no! That would be like parading down the high street half naked! Considering I have two young children, not only does my once-svelte figure leave much to be desired but both my conversation and self-confidence have taken a distinct nose-dive, so I can guarantee that strip show will be no pretty sight. I’m bound to trip and hurt myself badly in the process and honestly? I don’t like hurting. I’d much rather just protect myself. It’s all utterly impossible.
Three years. And here I am, holding a life-long dream in my hand.
How? I hear you say. Well, as the great Julie Andrews once sang, let’s start at the very beginning…
I’ve always been a writer in some form or another. I suspect after a somewhat turbulent childhood penning internal angst-ridden ramblings had been a much-needed escape. But it wasn’t until I met my ultimate hero lying between the cool crisp sheets of Mills & Boon that I experienced what true escapism felt like. Losing myself in heartfelt tales written by amazingly talented writers was a balm, a slip from reality.
I shall never forget my first foray, courtesy of the sensational Penny Jordan. Now lovingly dog-eared, that novel was a heart-rendering tale of betrayal and despair with a happy-ever-after that will stay with me always. Oh the wondrous journey to find contentment and true love…
How fabulous it would be to write such stories, I mused. To create idyllic worlds and rouse such emotion, to entertain and delight readers, to engross and sweep them away for a few precious hours as Penny had done for me. Impossible, I thought. No doubt dreadfully intimated from aspiring to be in the same league as one of the best. ‘I can’t possibly write like that,’ I said.
So off I went to leap into one uninspiring job after another, never quite finding my true niche, until one day, there I was, bathing beneath the Grecian sun and my husband said to me, ‘It’s about time you wrote that book you’re always raving about.’ To which, I asked, ‘Which one?’
And didn’t that just say it all.
Conceding that the idea had been chasing me like a rabid dog, a persistent snarl in my ears, and my youngest was about to venture off to nursery I decided to look into it. Nothing ventured, nothing gained and all that.
Vacation over, I found an article about New Voices, an exciting competition for wannabe authors and more interestingly, details of writer’s workshops around the country.
Which was how I found myself, three years ago, strolling through a quaint town in Northumberland to meet historical novelist, Michelle Styles, to chat about romance writing and discover more about life in the M&B fast lane.
That was the day my life changed. Completely. Utterly. The day I made a life-long friend. The day Michelle advised me to enter New Voices and that she’d be happy to read some of my work… Cue panic. Stomach churning trepidation. Back to that horrid feeling of being stripped bare. Was I seriously considering showcasing my very first chapter of a romance novel on a website for the entire world to see? Yep, it seemed I was. Because thanks to Michelle I found the faith to make the greatest leap of all. Slowly but surely she taught me to believe in myself, that anything was possible, that I had a strong voice readers should hear. No, I can’t write like the Penny or any of the other greats out there, I can only write like me. I just had to hope that was good enough.
Amazingly, I made it onto the top 40 list of New Voices and the editors requested more. And there began months of writing, submitting, waiting. Falling, tumbling on rejections, collecting bumps and scrapes but always picking myself back up and using feedback to become better, to improve my craft. Because now I had the bug and the determination was a fire inside of me and with every rejection came encouragement from editors. So I pushed myself harder, took one writing class after another and eventually wrote the book of my heart. A story about courage, about chasing dreams and, most important of all, believing nothing is impossible.
I still think it beautifully apt that Princess In The Iron Mask led me to the call. To a sun-drenched day last September when an email from Megan Haslam popped into my inbox, the sight skewing my pulse – ‘Can I call you?’ she asked. ‘Of course’ I replied, my fingers trembling over the keys. Then when the phone shrilled through the room, sending my heart to my throat, I chanted silent prays in my mind as I reached for the call. Please let it be my turn. Then came the words I’d longed to hear for what felt like a thousand years. Because in that moment I realised the truth. I’d been waiting all my life to find my true calling, to know I was worthy enough, to be told I’d done good. ‘We absolutely love your story, Victoria,’ she’d said to me. ‘We want to buy your book and we hope there’ll be many more to come.’
I wish I could say I’d been perfectly coherent in thanking her and I didn’t burst into a crying-jag and squeal and jump up and down with my children until my throat was sore and my voice was hoarse, but of course I did all that and it was wonderful! Apparently the best cure for a damaged voice-box (après The Call) is most certainly Champagne!
For all you aspiring writers out there, I hope you keep trying, pushing, reaching for the stars. The day you hold one in your hand is the best day ever.
To celebrate my June 1st release of Princess In The Iron Mask I’d like to offer two copies. Just leave a comment at the bottom of their post. What dream are you considering pursuing? Or just say hi. Winners to be drawn on Wednesday 29 May.
You can get a sneak peek of Princess in The Iron Mask here.
You can follow Victoria Parker on twitter at @victoryparker Her next book A Reputation to Uphold comes out in September