People often ask me how I became a writer, so I'm sharing this blog post about my writing journey, which I originally wrote for the Accent Press blog back in May, when my first chicklit, 'I do? -or do I?' was published.
I never set out to be a writer but I’ve always loved reading and writing. When, aged eleven, I had my first poem published in the children’s corner of a local newspaper I had no idea that twenty years later I would be writing for a living. It didn’t happen overnight, I got married, had four children, scribbled stories whenever I could and eventually started sending them out. After several rejections I had an article accepted by Jackie magazine and soon I was writing photo stories, articles and short stories for Jackie, Blue Jeans, Patches and Loving.
Then I started working for Marvel comics, doing comic strips, text stories, activities and puzzles. I was asked to work for other comic companies too, and before long I was writing for four or five different titles a month. Most of them were for licensed characters such as Rainbow, Thomas the Tank Engine, Barbie, Sindy, Rosie&Jim. It was hard work and I often worked late into the night but it provided me with a regular income. I was now writing for a living.
Writing activities for the magazines, and making things with my own children, gave me ideas for activity books and I wrote several for Scholastic. I was also approached by publishers to write books about various licensed characters, including Teddy Ruxpin and Henry’s Cat. So at that stage most of my work was commissioned. When you are writing for a living you’re constantly writing or planning the next book, and then the next, because writing is the way you earn your bread and butter so I was delighted when I was offered more and more commissioned work. I’ve written joke books, plays, activity books, story books – anything that paid the bills! To date I’ve had over 120 children’s books published
I kept writing and eventually got some picture books and story books published too. Children’s books, especially for young children, are very short so it wasn’t difficult to write several a year and bring in a steady income. I love writing for children and as I had young children myself, this fitted in perfectly with my life at the time. But I dreamed of writing a long book, one I could lose myself in, like the chicklits or romances I read whenever I could find the time. However, as I was the family breadwinner it wasn’t financially viable to take a chance on spending months writing a book like this and hoping I’d find a publisher, so I told myself that one day I would do it.
Then my chance came. My children grew up, I got divorced, had less financial commitments and more time so I decided to follow my dream. I didn’t even know if I would succeed – the longest book I’d ever written was 20,000 words! I wrote furiously, in between tutoring writing and commissioned work, and eventually completed and found publishers for two romance novel and two YA’s.
Spurred on by this success, and a happy second marriage, I decided to join the RNA and write a chicklit novel. I already had an idea forming in my mind, about a woman whose wedding plans were being hijacked by her future ‘monster in law’ and then she bumped into her first love again and wondered if she was doing the right thing. So ‘I do?...or do I?’ was born - and at 75,000 words it’s the longest book I’ve ever written.
To my delight it was snatched up by Accent Press, who contracted me to write two more and have also republished my earlier romance novels, The Millionaire Plan and Never Say Forever, with gorgeous new covers. So finally, I’m writing my dream and I love it! And to think it all started with that little poem when I was eleven!