FINALLY, finally, I can tell you that I have signed a 2-book deal with HQ Digital (Harper Collins). Squee! Eek! and other words of excitement.
I have known about this, of course, for a little while (sorry) but I was sworn to secrecy, on pain of death (!) because the publishers’ marketing team have a strict schedule for announcing these things and if I’d blabbed, I may well have put a spanner in the works. Whoops! Wouldn’t have been the best start.
So, now I don’t have to pretend any longer, which is a relief.
I have been out for most of the day, as my two classes at Chipping Norton Theatre started again. Yes, it was ‘back to school’ for me as well as the millions of school children who returned to the classroom this morning. And very strange it felt too, after 18 months away (including a year of teaching on Zoom).
In fact, what with that and the impending announcement from HQ, I hardly slept last night. It was like the night before Christmas!
When I got home and switched on the laptop and saw all the lovely messages of congratulation on Twitter and Facebook, I must admit, I welled up a bit (overtired, moi?). And they’re still coming in now….!
I am right in the middle of editing the novel, which had the working title ‘Maggie’s War’ but which is to be called ‘A Wartime Secret’ when it comes out in January 2022, firstly as an e-book and then, a few weeks later, as a paperback.
It’s a WW2 saga. But more than that, I cannot tell you – yet – (erm, mainly because it’s still being tweaked, here and there).
So, what are the 3 important things I did, that led directly to this happy day?
1. I did NaNoWriMo. A few times. And learned from it. I learned how to ‘churn’ the words out (to be sculpted and manicured later, of course). I also learned what not to do – ie: that I need to plan, at least a little bit. And when I did NaNoWriMo in November 2019, I wrote a big chunk of this now-to-be-published novel.
2. I joined the RNA. The Romantic Novelists’ Association. My novel has got romantic aspects to it but I wouldn’t describe it as a ‘romance’, per se. As long as your work has relationships or, obviously, an element of romance in it –then you qualify to apply for a place on the NWS (New Writers’ Scheme) and as part of that NWS membership, you can get a full manuscript critique. And not only that, there’s a deadline. I
need like deadlines.
But it’s not only the critique that’s good about the NWS. Everyone involved in the RNA is serious about their writing and about getting published. And it rubs off and makes you take your writing more seriously too.
3. I got into Twitter! Actually, this happened a long time ago and I am a big fan of the Twitters. So, when those lovely people at the Kate Nash Literary Agency announced their competition (on Twitter) for writers with unfinished novels last year… I saw it and because I’d done 1 and 2, I had a partially-finished novel and a synopsis, that I didn’t think was too bad. So I sent it in .. and got an agent. And my agent encouraged/worked with me to get the novel finished and then sent it out and… well, I’ll shut up now. You know the rest!
Massive congratulations- sounds like something I’d like to read. Super useful to hear about your ‘journey’ as well. Of course I bet a bit of talent hasn’t gone amiss either 😀
Thanks Jackie, that’s kind. Like a lot of things, there’s been a lot of hard work (still is!!) and a smidgen of luck, too.
Congratulations. Well deserved. It must have been hard keeping that news quiet.
It was! Especially when people who knew the book was out on submission, kept asking me how I was getting on…
Many congratulations. I’m so pleased for you.
thank you, Wendy!
Absolutely fabulous news – well done Helen! So very, very, pleased for you. You deserve it. I knew that story was a winner. Big hugs. Kate Hogan.
Thank you Kate, that’s very kind!
Congratulations Helen, am still an avid reader of your blog. I knew the first time I met you ,you would be a famous writer one day,
Derek, thank you! I remember you from those Solihull classes, all those years ago and thank you for still following my blog. I am not sure that I’m going to be famous, sadly but perhaps I am a little bit famous on this blog and for those who read it, so thank you! Am holding my head a little higher this morning because of that comment. I hope all is well with you. Are you still writing yourself?!
Fabulous news Helen-well deserved. You have worked so hard to get here and I wish you every success. Now don’t forget to tell us when you will be signing copies in a local bookstore. Love Barbara
Thank you, Barbara, that’s so kind. You know (as do many others!) that I’ve been at this writing game for a long, long time and so many people – including you – have been so supportive. It’s nice to finally have something to show for it all! x
Many congratulations, Helen!
Thank you Cath x
Really well done, Helen, and well deserved. Enjoy every minute.
Fabulous news, Helen, and well deserved, I’m sure. I totally agree with all three points – they have helped me, too, even the learning to plan a bit for NaNoWriMo! Next we need to know when that book is out!
Thanks Sue! It’s out in January as an e-book but if you’d rather have a paperback, you only have to wait 4 – 6 weeks after that. I just have to finish the bloomin’ thing now… (and no, I’m not joking!)
So happy that you have a book deal and it’s with the same publisher as me! If the days of publishers’ parties ever return we will finally meet up. Many many congratulations! I will preorder it as soon as it’s up on Amazon!
Thanks Kath! Yes, I’ve heard about these legendary publishers’ parties! And it would be lovely to go to one and meet you! We’ve been following each other’s progress for a long time too!
Brilliant news about your book, Helen! So well deserved. Huge congratulations! I can’t wait to read it!
Many thanks, Kim!
Congratulations on the book deal, Helen! You’ve worked so hard to achieve it. I hope everything works out just as you’d like. 👍🏼👏🏻
Thank you Wendy!
I’m delighted to add my congratulations to the many above! BRILLIANT news! So pleased for you. Will be ordering my copy in paperback.
Thank you Eirin! You know how exciting – and nerve-wracking – and everything it all is, as you’re a little way ahead of me in the journey!
Congratulations – that’s fantastic news!
Thank you Kathleen!
Well done Helen! Amazing news. I’m glad that all your hard work has paid off.
Thank you Sharon! You very kindly offered to read the first novel that I had a stab at and I never got that to the stage that it was ready to be seen by anyone, but I did appreciate that offer very much. I think I learned from that one, so it wasn’t wasted!
I’ve been following your blog since I started writing and I feel so chuffed and delighted to hear this news, Helen. It’s been a treat to follow your journey and this is so well deserved. Hope you are celebrating big time. Keep us posted on launch dates too! 🙂 xx
Thank you so much, Tracy. We’ve been following each other’s blogs and writing progress for several years now haven’t we – the ups and the downs! (plenty of both!) I feel like we’ve met although of course we’ve only ever met on Zoom (this year!). I will definitely keep you posted on everything! (no more secrets…!)
Well done Helen…I always knew you would do it! Wishing you every success with sales etc., I’m sure the book with fly — in every format! Hoorah! xxx
Thank you, Ninette! And I know you’ve got a WW2 novel ‘floating around’ (I mean that nicely!) so perhaps we’ll be WW2 novel-buddies in the not-too-distant future!
Wow! That’s amazing. Congratulations and well done. I look forward to reading it in January.
Unfortunately I don’t live near enough to take part In any of your classes but I always enjoy your blog and thanks for the advice in this one.
Thank you, it’s good to know that you enjoy the blog!
Woohoo! Many congratulations, Helen… looking forward to hearing how it all goes! Keep us posted, won’t you?
Thank you, Penny. I will keep you posted, don’t worry! (you’ll probably be fed up being ‘posted’ after a while…!)
Congratulations Helen – sounds like a perfect deal!
Glad your hard work paid off.