Today we welcome Janice Preston, sharing her success and a few words of wisdom.
The most important decision I ever made was to join the RNA’s New Writers’ Scheme in 2012. My submission that first year was easy – it was already written. I had submitted my second ever effort at a Regency to Mills and Boon in August 2011. I was thrilled to get a speedy response; not so thrilled that it was a ‘no’… BUT… they liked my ‘voice’. I just hadn’t made the best use of my story (too much external conflict, not enough internal). Where to go from there? Rather than rewrite that rejected novel, I began what will be my debut novel, Mary and the Marquis. And promptly got stuck a quarter of the way in (saggy middle anyone?). I needed help. Enter the RNA. I decided to submit my rejected novel to the NWS and to use the feedback to help me to complete Mary and the Marquis.
The report was sooo helpful. I didn’t allow the negative comments (and there were plenty!) to weigh me down. But progress on M&theM was still more stop than go. At the Conference that summer, I pitched it to Linda Fildew of M&B. She was encouraging; gave me some tips; asked me to send her the completed transcript. It was the perfect incentive to rush on and complete it. Wasn’t it?
It was HARD! I am slow. ‘Real life’ got in the way. My confidence in my writing soared and dipped like a swallow in flight. I almost didn’t finish in time to submit to the NWS 2013 but, re-energised by the 2013 Conference, I finally submitted in early August.
The assessment was fantastic! In the Reader’s opinion the manuscript was almost ready to submit to M&B.
I got ‘The Call’ from Linda on November 7th, 2013, offering me a two book contract. I was going to be published!
If you are on the NWS – catapulting between hope and despair, as most of us do – here are some things I have learned:
· Be aware of your ability to accept criticism. It’s easy to react emotionally and become defensive. Criticism of your work is not an attack on you personally!
· Don’t concentrate solely on the negative points, celebrate the positive comments too. You deserve it. It’s tough to write a book. You are already a success.
· Differentiate between the comments on your technique and those that seem to relate more to your Reader’s personal opinion. Still consider those ‘subjective’ points, but focus on the rest.
· The assessment is one person’s opinion. Not everyone will ‘get’ your writing.
· Keep going. You are learning and improving all the time. You will never stop learning and improving, ask any multi-published author.
Thank you for joining us, Janice. I’m sure your experience will be an inspiration to many members of the New Writers’ Scheme.
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