After years of writing non-fiction and dealing with deadlines, I didn’t expect the same rush to apply in fiction. My first foray into fiction went so fast, I still have whiplash. The final stage of the process happened in less than a week. I submitted the full manuscript to Escape Publishing on Wednesday evening. On Sunday evening, I received a reply.
Thank you for submitting To Charm a Bluestocking to Escape Publishing. I loved the unique setting and time period, and the strong female friendship. I’m delighted to let you know that I’d like to take the book through to acquisitions.
But – I thought – but you haven’t had time to read it yet. Naturally, I said yes, and remained cautious about the outcome. After all, Kate’s email had gone on to say;
This is a positive next step towards publication, but it is not a guarantee of acceptance.
On Monday morning, at 10.31am, Escape Publishing said yes. I blinked at the speed, and wondered how they’d even had time for a morning coffee, let alone a meeting about my book. It happened so quickly that I gave myself a week to think about. There may have been a lot of leaping about, excited noises and big breaths during that week. Of course I said it.
The story of this story starts approximately eighteen months ago. It’s dramatic to say that it started because I got sacked. The truth is more pedestrian. I’m a self-employed consultant and two of my clients merged. They made the decision they didn’t want any consultants at the time. (Side note – I have since started working for them again). At the same time, I finished writing a massive non-fiction book as a ghost writer. After much cogitation about my career and in a burst of lunacy thanks to a romance novel, I decided to have a crack at writing fiction.
“I complained one day that I’d read all the books in the house, and there was nothing new at the bookshop, and Matthew challenged me to try writing one of my own.” A Wallflower Christmas (Wallflowers, Book 5)
The idea for this story came from own family history. My great-grandmother graduated from medical school in Holland in 1910. I came across a research paper about those early female doctors, and started thinking. There were about 20 graduates in Holland between 1876 and 1910; of which my great-grandmother was one. I thought about what difficulties she would have, and how those difficulties are still present in some form today. And so, I wanted to write a novel that explored those challenges. Josephine was created. She shares her name with my great-grandmother, but perhaps not many other details. Josephine doesn’t belong to the society she was born into, and she has to find her place in the world. Throw in a bad guy, and a romance, and the story unfolded. It took me three months to write the story.
I naively (and eagerly) sent my first draft to an agent. Happily for me (since it saved me shopping a first draft to everyone), they took the time to reply, saying the story had potential, but I needed to learn about show not tell. That simple phrase basically told me that writing fiction was completely different to writing non-fiction and I’d better learn everything I could. I joined Romance Writers Australia. I did as many courses as I could. I read all the books. And I edited. After nine months, the story was the same, but the style completely different. I pitched it at the August 2016 conference, and got a yes. I came home and applied everything I’d learnt at the conference to those first five chapters and submitted them. After a while, I had a request for a full manuscript. It took me another two weeks to finish editing. And then came the insane onslaught of virtually instant acceptance. Phew.
I hope you enjoy To Charm a Bluestocking.