By Vanessa Wester
When I was a little girl I devoured Ladybird tales. My favourite was probably Rapunsel. The thought of being saved from the wicked witch by a Prince who climbed up a tower using her hair – how cool was that? Then I discovered the world of Enid Blyton, with fairies, goblins, and talking animals. My Dad loves books and he had nothing better to do than to take me along to the library or local bookstore. I rarely bought new books (they were too expensive!) but I loved to hold them in my hands. And I knew I could save up or perhaps get one for a Birthday or Christmas. Books were special things, I treasured any I owned.
When I became school librarian at eleven I embraced the job and used the opportunity to hunt for new gems. Nancy Drew was my next obsession. After that I read all sorts until Agatha Christie came on the scene. I used to watch the TV series, but I also read all her books and even bought her autobiography. My dream was to be the next Agatha.
It was when I started G.C.S.E.’s (aged 14) that I started to think I was no good at writing. I worked hard, I loved to explore my creativity, but I just never seemed to get the high grades. I did very well in the end but my confidence was knocked. I focused on the sciences and forgot my dream of becoming a writer.
Roll on nearly twenty years…
After seven years as a stay at home mum I had become a voracious reader. I had rediscovered my passion for books after spending many years vegetating in front of the TV watching brainless and uninspiring stuff. Of course, I did develop a few TV series obsessions which I loved and have gone on the inspire some of my writing. Heartbreak High, Roswell, Buffy and Heroes are some of the many series I became obsessed with over the years. I had gone through different phases over what I read. I have to admit I found Leon Uris compelling.
And then one day, whilst baby number three slept, I was flicking channels and I came across the ending of Twilight on Sky. I loved the soundtrack, and it looked interesting. A couple of weeks later I saw New Moon on the shelves of the bookstore so I bought it and though nothing of it. Of course, my nose would not leave the book until I finished it. I was overjoyed to see that I could also read Eclipse and order Breaking Dawn. I had fallen in love with a new author. I subsequently bought Twilight, which happens to be my favourite of the series. It was only after I fell in love with The Twilight Saga, that I realised how many others had too. I felt like I belonged to a club. The mums reading Twilight in their cars and I shared knowing looks, and we quickly became friends.
When I bought the Twilight DVD, and watched the interview of Stephanie Meyer, I had my light bulb moment. I was also an educated stay at home mum with a brain that was desperate to think and I had time on my hands whilst little one slept or my husband was away. I wanted to try to write a novel. The question was, could I?
I answered that a couple of months later, when I completed my first romantic novel, then only 67,000 words. I shared it with a few friends and they liked it, and encouraged me to continue. I have to admit I owe a lot to those friends. The writing was raw and not very good actually. But, what they liked and what I seemed to have a ‘gift’ for was the ability to think up a story quickly. I get lost way too easily…
I polished it a bit and thought I’d see how I could publish it. I bought the Artists’ & Writers Handbook, searched for agents and publishers and sent off some letters. This makes me laugh now. Obviously, I got rejection letters. There must have been a lot of eye rolling going on when they read my efforts. I can imagine them chucking it into the rejection pile – “another wanna be.”
I shared my story on Booksie and made friends, but it was when I joined the ‘The Word Cloud’ that I had the idea for Hybrid and I really started to grow as a writer. I posted some extracts, got excellent feedback – positive with fantastic advice. And I started to graft. In that year I edited Hybrid a lot, and started work on Complications, the first two books in The Evolution Trilogy (which was then going to be a series). I started other stories too for fun; most of them are waiting to be completed.
Then I tried some agents again in December 2011, both replies in January 2012 were rejections but they were positive about the writing. They actually bothered to put my name on the top of the letter and commented on the novel – progress! It was then that I thought…why waste postage on trying to find an agent that may be able to get a publisher? I followed David Gaughran’s blog posts with interest and decided to explore the self published route.
In March 2012, I published Hybrid on Smashwords. I only sold to family and friends but it was very helpful – it helped me find the errors and edit further. It then took a few months to publish on Amazon and then I realised I had to market. So, I joined Twitter, started a blog, became more active on Facebook, and signed up to a Writers Course in York.
After that, the sky is the limit. All of my blog’s chart the journey’s I have taken. From the first seeds of writing, to meeting new authors, to discussing books I have read, to going on to publish books of short stories to raise money for charity. I have never had so much fun. It is easier to direct you to my blog’s then to rehash my subsequent stories.
Vanessa Wester’s Blog
A Reader’s Perspective
The Evolution Trilogy
Short Stories Group
Diary of the Festival of Writing, York, 2012
Have a look and follow me on Twitter @vanessa_wester, I am always eager to chat when I’m around. All I can say is follow your dream and be prepared to work hard. I have done it all. I have designed my own covers, formatted my own work, edited & proofread my work (with the help of some amazing beta readers & cherished friends), cut and reworked scenes, and marketed. At the moment, I am living the dream. I have received amazing reviews, for which I am very grateful. But, I am a realist. To be a known writer you need to write, you need to get your work out there, and connect with the readers. The readers decide if you are going to be the next bestseller – no-one else.
Personally, I want to get back to writing and spend less time on marketing and editing. Someday, I’ll find the right balance. It has only been less than three years since my journey began, I can’t expect miracles…then again, Christmas is coming up – I can make a Christmas wish!
Hope you all have a fantastic Christmas and use my story as an example…anything is possible if you put your mind to it.
Thank you for reading & thank you Olga for hosting me,
Author of HYBRID & COMPLICATIONS (The Evolution Trilogy), FIRST DATE (A Short Story), and Short stories included within OUT OF DARKNESS & A FESTIVE FEAST.
HYBRID (THE EVOLUTION TRILOGY)
COMPLICATIONS (THE EVOLUTION TRILOGY)
FIRST DATE (A NOVELETTE)
A FESTIVE FEAST (SEASONAL SHORT STOIRIES)
OUT OF DARKNESS (SEASONAL SHORT STORIES)
As usual, I have some ANNOUNCEMENTS. Next week I have two guest authors. On Tuesday my friend Susana Araujo will be sharing one of her poems with us (both in Portuguese and English, technology allowing). On Friday….I’ll tell you on Tuesday, don’t be impatient!
The other announcement is that, again technology permitting, I’ll be publishing three e-novellas (all linked by the same character, Mary, a psychiatrist/writer) this weekend. I’ll confirm and give you more information about them, but in the meantime, a reminder of my novel ‘The Man Who Never Was’.
Thanks for reading!