It seems like only yesterday that I published my first novel. I remember holding my book in the palm of my hand and admiring the cover as though I was looking down into the beautiful face of my first child. The feeling of euphoria was like nothing I’d ever experienced before. To think, this book was my very own creation, and from that moment on my only desire was to tell the whole world about its arrival.
Today is just as important to a fellow author who is due to release her first book (which is a contemporary romance) on the 15th August. The writer’s name is Joy Wood, and her book will satisfy anyone with an insatiable appetite for love, jealousy and ultimate revenge. Interested? So am I, so let’s learn more about Joy’s new novel, ‘For the Love of Emily’.
Rebecca Price Jones is a beautiful young woman with a deadly secret. Emily, her precious twin sister is hidden away where nobody can find her. To pay for Emily’s keep, Rebecca creates beautiful dresses by day and works as ‘Kate’, a high-class prostitute for female clients at night.
Darlene Milner, a rich gay middle-aged socialite becomes besotted and plans to keep Rebecca all to herself, until Ezzio Marin, a wealthy businessman with a ruthless attitude in the boardroom and the bedroom, decides that he wants the same. When the two cross paths, Rebecca’s past unravels and her secret comes out with dire consequences. From the lavish lifestyle of the rich and powerful, to the drama of a British courtroom, ‘For the love of Emily’ is a story of murder, blackmail and passion.
Questions I’ve always wanted to ask a new author …
Q. What inspired you to want to write a novel?
A. I’d always loved reading, and often thought about writing a book, but life got in the way somehow! As a busy wife, mother, stepmother, and working nurse, there didn’t seem much time for writing, so I formed stories in my head, and daydreamed about the direction they would take. I often used to think about a particular story that I’d made up, and even now, I still have plenty of ideas whirling around in my brain, yet to be put down on paper.
Q. So has the process from start to finish taken you two full years?
A. No. Initially it was ‘as and when’ with my writing, more a hobby when I had some time to spare. I live near the seaside, and particularly on the bad weather days, I’d sit at the laptop and add to my story. Sometimes I didn’t touch it for weeks, and other times, the words simply flowed and so I wrote more often. At this stage, it was just a story for myself really. I started writing more consistently about a year ago.
Q. Once you had completed your story, what motivated you to go further with it?
A. In the local paper, I noticed an advertisement for an ‘Author Day’ in my town centre, hosted by three local authors Lynette Creswell, A. E. Murphy and Shaun Allen. They were asking ‘aspiring writers’ to join them to discuss their work, and were offering free advice on writing, editing, formatting, publishing, ebooks, self-publishing, etc.
Q. What happened after the Author Day?
A. Having listened to their success stories, I decided then that I wanted others to read my story, but I knew at that stage, it wasn’t anywhere near ready for the general public. I started to join groups on Facebook, and came across author, Pam Howes. She had responded to a writer asking for recommendations for a good Editor. Pam gave great praise to John Hudspith, so I looked on his webpage, and saw he was offering ‘free edits’ of the first 3 chapters of a novel. I tentatively sent John my first three chapters, with a synopsis of my story, half expecting that he would send it back and say it wasn’t good enough, and ‘not to give up the day job’ sort of thing, but thankfully he didn’t.
Q. What was the Editor’s response?
A. Well, clearly he agreed it wasn’t ready for anyone to read at that stage. But, he liked the synopsis and agreed to work with me. He set me tasks to help improve my writing, and the one that stands out the most in my mind is the POV (point of view) work that he set me.
My story was a bit erratic, jumping from one character to another, so I had to work on that initially so that the story flowed and was a better experience for the reader. Then of course, the next stage was the development of the characters, and the actual story.
As an editor, John wanted my storytelling to shine through, his approach was more of a ‘think about this . . . is there a better way to tell it?’. Then his fabulous directive followed, ‘cut the fluff’. This is his recommendation to take out all the additional writing that doesn’t add any value to the story, and believe you me, I had a lot of fluff to cut!
Q. Once the editing process was complete, what then?
A. I had to look at what sort of cover I wanted, and again I searched online and found the wonderful Jane Dixon-Smith. At her request, I sent my book synopsis, 12 covers of books that I liked, and then she sent me some images for consideration.
I sent 10 back that I liked, and she created 3 covers for me. I loved them all, and couldn’t decide which to have, so I emailed the covers to my friends (well almost everyone in my email address book really!), and the responses were fantastic. The cover I chose For ‘The Love of Emily’ was the most popular one by far.
Q. For the Love of Emily is a self- published book, did you try the traditional publishing route first?
A. No and there are two reasons why. Firstly, there are so many writers who are very successful from self-publishing, and control the process themselves in terms of royalties, advertising and marketing. At the London Book Fair in April of this year, I listened to a self-published author who had sold in excess of a million copies of her books, so that’s definitely something to aspire to!
The second reason is that this is the first book that I have written, and while I’m so proud of my achievement, I am realistic at the effort required to secure an agent. My priority is whether the reader enjoys my story, This is my debut novel and I understand the pitfalls but having said that, who knows what the future will bring, I certainly wouldn’t rule out trying to secure a publishing deal, but for now I’m keen to continue as I am, down the self-publishing route which is a great way to gain a readership.
Q. Any advice to ‘newbie’ writers?
A. If you have a story to tell, then tell it. Utilise the internet, and the experienced writers posting on there, they are only too happy to help. Also keep reading different genres to generate new ideas. Fortunately, there are opportunities for all nowadays in writing and publishing, whether it be self-publishing or traditional. There are an abundance of writers out there doing very well for themselves by utilising both routes. It’s extremely hard work, and completing the novel is just the beginning really, as it doesn’t stop there. What I found was an overwhelming amount of support and encouragement from fellow writers, so if you have the will to write, and the tenacity to succeed, then hopefully you will do. Don’t hold back, go for it!
Joy Wood’s Biography …
I’ve always loved the many facets of the English Language. At school, my favourite lesson was English Literature. I used to read a specific story, imagine I’d written it and then formulate a different ending. Delighted with my own efforts, I’m not so sure the renowned authors’ would have appreciated my slant on their work.
Poetry was a particular favourite of mine, and I’d use any excuse to dabble. I trained as a nurse, and whenever I left a period of employment such as working on a ward or in an operating theatre, I would leave behind a witty poem about my colleagues, turning them into humorous characters, which were always well received.
I progressed to consumer competitions, and enjoyed a significant amount of success writing slogans. Nothing would please me more than to receive a long white envelope through the post, announcing a prize I’d won for an innovative slogan. I was very lucky with most of the prizes, although a runner up reward of a year’s supply of dog food wasn’t the best prize, especially when I didn’t have a dog!
I once wrote a simple romantic story for a competition run by a clothing catalogue. I did the usual, boy meets girl, conflict between the two of them which was eventually resolved, and they both lived happily ever after. However, I featured the male and female characters wearing brand names of outfits from the catalogue range, and used appealing descriptive phrases about the garments. To my amazement, I was rewarded by winning first prize of an all-inclusive holiday.
Even though I knew that the reference to the catalogue clothing range most probably sealed the win, it gave me the encouragement to try my hand at actually writing a romance novel. Two years ago, I moved with my husband to Cleethorpes in Lincolnshire. Watching the tide turn daily, gave me the idea for the story, ‘For the Love of Emily‘. I would develop the characters in my head, and create the chapters on my laptop when I returned home. Although this story is now finished, I still have plenty of ideas still whirling around in my brain, yet to be sealed in ink.
‘For the Love of Emily’ is available via Amazon.co.uk from the 15th August 2015