Friday, December 16, 2011

The New Writers’ Scheme 'Inside Out' Part 4 – 2011 NWS Graduates

2011 has been a bumper year for the New Writers' Scheme with a total of eleven members finding publishers for their novels so far. A very warm welcome to four of these, Liz Fenwick, Linda Mitchelmore, Liz Harris and Henriette Gyland who share their NWS journey with us.


Liz Fenwick was a member of the NWS for six years. Her novel, THE CORNISH HOUSE will be published by Orion in May 2012.


Liz, tell us about your novel's journey through the NWS? Did it receive a second read? Had it been submitted before?

THE CORNISH HOUSE was my second novel that went through the NWS and it went through twice. The first year’s really positive comments helped me to revise the book and bring the best out of it. The second year provided more positive criticism, which I took on board before sending it out to the market. The book never received a second read.


What difference did the NWS make to your writing and to you as a person?


The NWS does many things...the first it gives you a solid deadline to work with and this is an important thing to learn to live and work around. It also teaches you that you do have to show your work to others. This leads to the important skill of learning how to take constructive criticism. The feedback you receive from the NWS is intended to improve your work. That doesn't mean it doesn't sting but once your work is out in the wide world people will both like and loathe it. The NWS prepares you for this in a way. It also provided me with a reader who wasn't biased. Unbiased readers are hard to find when you begin.
Do you think you would be where you are now if you'd never become a member of the NWS?


I certainly wouldn't be here yet. I had and still have the persistence needed to become published, but the NWS gave me a push up. By encouraging new writers the RNA gives them a chance to get feedback and the chance to network and learn about the industry. In a sense it gives new writers the chance to become ‘professional’ in a safe environment.


What advice would you give a writer thinking about becoming a member of the NWS for the first time in 2012?

Enjoy, work hard, make friends, listen, learn and grow with the feedback that you will receive.

Follow Liz on Twitter http://twitter.com/#!/liz_fenwick
To find out more about Liz's work see her website http://lizfenwick.com/






Devon based author, Linda Mitchelmore's historical novel, TO TURN FULL CIRCLE, will be published by Choc Lit in June 2012.


Linda, can you tell us about your novel's journey through the NWS? Did it receive a second read? Had it been submitted before?

To Turn Full Circle, is my first historical novel, although I have written six contemporary novels. You can imagine my joy when it went to a second read. Both readers said they thought it would be perfect for Robert Hale so that was where I sent it myself - no agent being required for Hale. I got a huge dent to the ego when it came back within a week! I then told the NWS how surprised I was at this and it was suggested I try it at Choc-Lit - again, no agent is needed. But Choc-Lit do require a male point-of-view so I worked hard at writing one in and submitted it three months later. I was soon asked to submit the rest - much to my joy! - but had a nail-biting six month wait before I was finally accepted. My book is scheduled for publication in May 2012.

How long were you in the NWS?

Too long! is the short answer. I wrote six contemporaries, and all but one went to second reads. I kept getting so close but not quite there yet. But although those second reads were sent to top agents and I received very kind and constructive rejections from them all, I wasn't taken on. In 2004, I was awarded The Katie Fforde Bursary and I'm only too pleased I can now look Katie in the eye, her faith in me justified at last!

What difference did the NWS make to your writing and to you as a person?

I don't know that the NWS has made any difference to my writing as such - I've always been told I have a strong 'writing voice' and I can only write how I write and what I like to write about. I am a seat-of-the-pantser! But always emotion led.

As a person, being a member of the NWS has been life-enhancing. Meeting full members - whether big names or not - I was always made very welcome by everyone - not made to feel less of a writer in any way at all because I was on the NWS scheme and not between covers yet.

I think that my first ever submission went to a second read was what probably urged me onwards, made me believe in myself that I can write and would be published one day.

Do you think you would be where you are now if you'd never become a member of the NWS?

Possibly not as I am at this very moment with a novel contract and being uber-excited at seeing suggestions for book covers! But I was a widely-published writer of short stories for the womag market before joining the NWS so I would still be writing.

What advice would you give a writer thinking about becoming a member of the NWS for the first time in 2012?

Get the champagne in the second you send off your submission! There's always that chance that talent and luck will go hand in hand for you and that your first submission will find a top agent and a top publisher and will fly. But, if it doesn't happen like that for you, then don't give up - never, ever give up. Each novel you write will be better than the one before as you hone your craft. If you go to the RNA conferences you will meet a wonderful bunch of women (and a few men!) who think like you, act like, you, share your dreams. A writing buddy can be good, too - healthy competition as you try to best one anothers daily word output! And remember .....champagne is better for the keeping!

Follow Linda on Twitter at http://twitter.com/lindamitchelmor

and on the Novel Points of View blog at http://novelpointsofview.blogspot.com/





Liz Harris's graduation from the NWS happened with two novels being accepted within a week. One novel by ChocLit and the other by D.C. Thomson for a People's Friend pocket novel.


Liz, tell us about your novel's journey through the NWS? Did it receive a second read? Had it been submitted before?

THE ROAD BACK was submitted once only to the NWS, and it got through the second read. When Melanie told me that it had gone for a second read, and later that it had got through, I was absolutely over the moon. It was a wonderful moment.

How long were you in the NWS?

I’ve been a member of the RNA since 2005 (I think), and a member of the NWS since I joined. So that’s 6/7 years. I believe that I joined just before the 2005 Royal Holloway Conference, and then went to the Conference.

What difference did the NWS make to your writing and to you as a person?

A huge difference to both - they are connected. If you want to write, and I did, anything that helps you to improve your skill in writing – and that improvement is something that you can see for yourself – develops your confidence and has a positive effect on the way that you see yourself in relation to the thing that you want to achieve.

The NWS critiques are a master class in writing. I don’t believe that anyone can approach his/her own work with a truly objective eye, and there can’t be a better objective eye than that of someone already published in that genre, someone who is focused on telling the truth with a view to helping the writer to improve, rather than someone who aims to say only what they think the writer will want to hear.

We all have writing mannerisms, just as we have verbal and physical mannerisms, and the NWS critiquer, not blinded by affection and the desire to avoid giving any sort of pain, is the person to point out those writing mannerisms so that they can be eliminated.

No matter how carefully and sensitively the critiquer presents criticism, there will always be pain, but, to quote a familiar cliché, No pain, no gain.

The best critiques begin with praise for what the writer has achieved, and then go on to offer constructive criticism of the areas that need addressing. I have been fortunate to have had some of the best critiques.


Do you think you would be where you are now if you'd never become a member of the NWS?

It’s a very difficult market, and I’m not sure that I would be published. I’d like to couple the RNA with the NWS in this. By learning about the publishing industry, which I’ve done through my membership of the RNA - and very enjoyably, too – I was better equipped in my quest for publication. The NWS helped me to hone the skills that enabled me to take advantage of what I’d learnt through the RNA.

What advice would you give a writer thinking about becoming a member of the NWS for the first time in 2012?

Go for it! It’s quite amazing value, and there is nothing – absolutely nothing – more exciting than feeling your book improve beneath your fingertips. You cannot reach this point by yourself, but you can with the aid of the NWS.

Follow Liz on Twitter https://twitter.com/#!/lizharrisauthor

and Facebook www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=674179771&ref=ts




Henriette Gyland's persistence has paid off in 2011. Her novel has been accepted by Choc Lit and she won first place in the Festival of Romance's New Talent Award.


Henri, tell us about your novel's journey through the NWS? Did it receive a second read? Had it been submitted before?

Yes, it's been through the NWS several times before, once where it made up parts of another novel, where eventually I scrapped the other half because it was a different story (and pretty bad too!), and once as a partial. The title has changed a couple of times – and probably will again – and I've even changed the main character's name, plus added a male view point.
I think this particular novel illustrates my development as a writer, from that early idea, badly executed, to something publishable, and although I've never had a second read, I've always found that a constructive first read is enough to go back to it and improve it. There's nothing stopping you from sending it in again later on.

How long were you in the NWS?

As much as I hate to admit it, I've been on the scheme for about 12 years, although in my defence some of that time was spent looking after young children, which isn't exactly conducive to writing. Not in my house anyway!

What difference did the NWS make to your writing and to you as a person?

The NWS readers helped me see where I was going wrong with my writing, but also praised me for the things I did right. I took on board their advice, sometimes grudgingly, and realised later that they were so spot on. On a personal level, because the RNA allows membership to unpublished writers, through the NWS, I felt I was part of something. That was and is really important to me. Writing can be a lonely existence – chatting to fellow writers makes you feel normal.

Do you think you would be where you are now if you'd never become a member of the NWS?


Categorically no. Not sure where I would be, but probably in some dark corner muttering to myself and feeling resentful and left out...

What advice would you give a writer thinking about becoming a member of the NWS for the first time in 2012?

Write the best novel you can, and take the NWS reader's comments in the spirit they're intended, as a help. Don't get hung up about not getting a second read. Enjoy being a New Writer and having the luxury to work on your novel for as long as you like. Come to the parties!

Follow Henri on Twitter at https://twitter.com/henrigyland

and Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/people/Henriette-Wulff-Gyland/761371494

Thank you to Liz, Linda, Liz and Henri for sharing your journeys through the NWS. Your successes will inspire other members of the NWS to keep on writing. We wish you all every success with your novels.

To find out more about the New Writers' Scheme visit the RNA website at http://www.rna-uk.org/

Information about 2012 membership will appear on the RNA website in mid December.


The final part of The New Writers’ Scheme 'Inside Out' - NWS Alumni will be posted on 20th December.

16 comments:

Jan Brigden said...

Yet another brilliant post. I've really enjoyed this series of shared experiences from all viewpoints. So informative & encouraging. Thank you, and congratulations to all four ladies. Fantastic achievements.

Debs Carr said...

Thanks for yet another informative and encouraging set of interviews.

I can't wait to read the next post now.

liz fenwick said...

Thanks Jan and Debs...kate has done a great job in highlighting all the parts that make up the NWS.
lx

Julie Day said...

Reading all of these is so inspiring to those of us who haven't made it yet. Well done to everyone who has made it through cos of the RNA. I hope to be one of you v soon (maybe next year - that's my goal for then).

Laura E. James said...

It has been a corker of a year for New Writers.
This is my second year in the NWS and I have thrown myself into everything it offers and it is brilliant. Every single person is supportive and genuinely pleased when a fellow writer achieves publication. Well done to everyone who did so this year.
This series has been a must-read and I thank you for posting it.
Laura.

Rebecca said...

Thank you, lovely ladies, for sharing your experiences. Always encouraging to read success stories. Now where did I put my pen ...?! And thanks to Liz Fenwick for putting this together. Every post about the NWS has been inspirational.

liz fenwick said...

Julie and Laura - perseverance is a huge part of this business...fingers crossed.

Bex- get writing!

lx

scarlet wilson said...

Good luck Ladies - hope to see you all at the Summer Party!

Sheryl said...

I’ve been a member of the RNA for some time, having previously been published. Securing publication since, particularly in today’s tough climate, has been struggle, but I have finally got there! Yay! It’s been a long road, juggling life work and family – as we all do, but I did it. And then I find I have to get myself out there. Eek! Being quite a shy person (though you would never realise it, as Sheryl natters on!), the thought petrified me. Tentatively, I started to re-connect with people at the RNA – and found myself delighted to be in the company of a truly wonderfully supportive group of people.

I started out on the RNA New Writers’ Scheme many years ago, and found their feedback invaluable. As Liz said, it did sometimes sting, but the good was highlighted and the not-so-good given positive criticism I could work with. The NWS advice is like gold-dust. I would recommend the scheme to anyone. Thank you. And huge congrats and best of luck to you lovely ladies.

Christina said...

A great post - loved reading about your NWS experiences. Congratulations to all of you, I'm so looking forward to reading your novels!

Catherine Miller said...

What brilliant stories that Liz F, Liz H, Henri and Linda have shared. It's a huge inspiration.

This has been my first year in the NWS and I would recommend it to anyone who is serious about moving towards publication, and what great proof of how successful the scheme is.

Anonymous said...

Many thanks to Kate Jackson for her tremendous hard work in putting these blogs posts together. They are inspirational. I couldn't be more thrilled for Henri, Liz, Liz and Linda and the success they have achieved through hard work and dedication. They are path blazers and have given me the inspiration to carry on until I get published - ONE DAY. I raise my glass to you all. Lizzie xxx

Alison Morton said...

Four different stories of success, four distinctive voices, all under the NWS umbrella.

Says it all, really.

Natalie James said...

Thank you so much to the people behind this series of blogs and those that contributed. It's been a fantastic read, and I'm so geared up for joining in January.
Congratuations to all those who have achieved publication.

Natalie James said...

Thank you so much to the people behind this series of blogs and those that contributed. It's been a fantastic read, and I'm so geared up for joining in January.
Congratuations to all those who have achieved publication.

Phillipa said...

Congrats to everyone who has gone through the NWS and achieved their dreams!