Tuesday, 25 October 2011

We interrupt this blog with an announcement...

Apologies for anyone expecting to read the 'coping strategies’ I promised in my
previous blog but I have an announcement to make, a rather significant announcement for a wannabe writer…

Last weekend at the inaugural Festival of Romance International Convention I was awarded runner up in the New Talent Award. As someone who doesn’t normally like to sing my own praises, I’m sure you’ll allow me, just for this once to bask in the glory, especially given the year I’ve had.

Only a few weeks ago I didn’t even know whether I’d attend, having booked the weekend on a whim during one of my fight back moments. For aspiring author's to attend, one of the conditions was entering the New Talent Award. Back in August when I (somehow) managed to complete my first novel, 'Mother's Love' for the RNA New Writer’s Scheme, I received some excellent and encouraging feedback, but with everything else that has gone on over recent weeks, I haven’t got round to starting the suggested revisions. And so I duly emailed the required first chapter and synopsis of ‘Mother’s Love’ to Kate Allan, delightful author and organiser of the Festival without another thought.

And what a Festival it was! Superbly organised and executed by everyone involved, it was a joy to mingle with, and learn from established authors, agents and publishers, and to get to know better some of my AA (Aspiring Author) counterparts. What a lovely bunch of Romantic Novelists.
The backdrop of Hunton Park couldn’t have been a better setting, and I almost expected Mr Darcy to come romping across the lawns in my direction. He didn’t, alas, but I got my kicks elsewhere; in particular the session on Erotica versus Erotic Romance, which I’d never dared to even think about but now, especially as I’m a singleton, I may consider ;)

Dressed in my best Audrey Hepburn style posh frock, by the time of the evening dinner, Ball and award ceremony, the residual nerves and lack of confidence were banished by the half bottle of red wine I drank before going out. Thank you to all who kept me company throughout the weekend, and for those I didn’t manage to meet, we’ll hopefully get together at the RNA Winter Party

The awards ceremony commenced – a glitzy, glamorous affair with top talents in the Romantic Genre and Historical being recognised. Then it was onto the Festival’s New Talent Award, with agent, Jane Judd presenting the awards. (I’ve long had my list of top agents and Jane features in my top three.) Looking round the table of talent, I wondered which of my fellow rookie writer’s names might be called. And the first name out…

‘Debbie White receives the commended award for her novel, "Tough Love."’

I don’t know whether it was the fact that the title of the novel wasn’t mine, or that I was so stunned to have a 'commended' that made me freeze in the chair.

‘Go on, that’s you.’ Celia Anderson gave me a little shove, encouraging me to get up and shake hands with my heroine agent.
3rd place – the lovely Sarah Callejo
2nd Place – Rosemary Dun’s name was read out but the title of her novel was mine, ‘Mother’s Love.’Poor Rosemary had had to go home early with dreadful earache.
1st place and winner of the coveted New Talent Award - went to Henriette Gyland Congratulations Henri!

There was evidently some kind of a mix up with the author’s names and titles but it didn’t matter to me. I’d been commended, and for the next hour or two my emotions leapt somewhere between giddy excitement and pure emotion at how I’ve never given up my dream, and at last, irrespective of the eventual outcome with my first novel, I’d had some ‘proper’ official recognition that I can write. I DO have potential. The reason I attended the weekend was to kickstart my badly neglected writing career after events of the last few months and health problems, and this couldn’t have been better incentive.

Late in the evening I saw Jane Judd and her husband look as if they might be making a move, and fuelled by yet more red wine and the knowledge that if I didn’t properly introduce myself I’d always regret it, a wave of courage suddenly gripped me and catapulted me into her path, blocking her exit.

I shook hands nervously, bumbling that there had been a bit of a mix up with the titles, but thanking her for giving me the commendation for 'Mother’s Love.’

‘Is that the one about the Grandmother?’ Jane asked.

‘Yes that’s mine.’

‘No, that was definitely second,’ she said. ‘And it was a close second. I voted for yours to win…’

Second, fourth, I genuinely don't care. I'm sure my fellow AA's will agree, to be able to reach the top four in any kind of contest when you crave publication is massive achievement and big boost of confidence. For me, hearing Jane's comments and to get the opportunity to submit to her is prize enough. Needless to say the rest of the evening passed in a bit of a blur, not only because of the red wine.

Indeed I’ve been pinching myself ever since. I emailed Jane yesterday, saying it was good to meet her, and thanking her for the opportunity to submit the full MS which I will do once I’ve made the RNA NWS suggested tweaks. (I was also trying to prove that I could be professional and not a complete drunken buffoon.)Twenty minutes later she emailed back, not only confirming that I hadn’t dreamt Saturday night, but also giving me her feedback and the constructive feedback from Donna Condon, Senior Editor at Piatkus publishing.

With that invaluable advice, the hard work really starts for me, but bring it on. Everything happens for a reason. I always knew writing would be my salvation, and as I look back I see that booking the Festival of Romance weekend on a whim was not just a fightback moment, it might well be a defining moment. Life will get better from this point onwards, I just know it…

Until another day

Bye for now

PS - Click here - for full details of the nominees and winners of Festival of Romance Awards. In particular, splediferous well done's to:
Sue Moorcroft - winner of Best Romantic Read
Jean Fullerton - winner of Best Historical Romance Read
Henri Gyland - Winner of best New Talent
Carole Matthews - Outstanding contribution to Romantic Fiction

PPS - All photos are courtesy of the wonderful talented Liz Crump - thanks Liz, and great to meet you!

Monday, 10 October 2011

It's a battle of heart and mind...

"It’s hard to tell your mind to stop loving someone when your heart still does."

I’ve read some great quotes lately, and another which particularly resonated was, "The pain of having a broken heart is not so much as to kill you, yet not so little as to let you live.."


When the main holidays were over and the children went back to school, I was smacked in the face by reality, hence the lack of posts. I know you'll understand. Thank you for your lovely messages. They are a huge comfort, even if I don't always reply promptly ;)

Much of my limited free time I've wandered aimlessly, daydreaming, over analysing, and in between devoured the occasional self-help book as I tried to pick my way through the mess which had become my life.

But here I am, The Queen of fightback, sticking my head above the parapet to write this. As I type, outside there's a solitary swallow – probably the last of the summer, balancing on the telephone wire in the garden as it prepares to leave for a different climate. And as summer wrings its last few weak rays from the sun I’m struck by the parallels between the swallow and me. The summer has gone, and now it's time to move on to the next stage...

I’ve accepted my marriage is over, as surely as I concede that autumn means that most trees and plants die off to preserve their energy for the long winter months and to re-generate in the spring, anew. Start afresh. After the baby step progress I’ve been making, my epiphany feels like an empowering leap into the abyss that is the future. No more numbness; clinging and fighting, stumbling through the memories that are the past, searching for answers or to turn back time. It’s time to stop. Enough. I’ve had enough.

Six years ago, when it happened first time round I thought it was the end of my world but now, in between the emotional turmoil, I know it’s not. And occasionally I glimpse the fun-loving girl I used to be.

I realise I want to look forward, and grasp the future.

It doesn’t matter whether or not I still love him. I love myself more, and actually, if I’m being honest, I don’t love who he is now. The love in my heart is for the man I thought he was; the man he used to be. I’m tired of fighting for something that doesn’t exist any more; of analysing and second guessing what my ex is really thinking. With this realisation, I also see I’ve been clinging onto the past and to things that are out of my control. Any wonders it felt like I was trying to clutch for water flowing down a river. It's impossible to hold onto. The only control I have is over myself and my own actions, and its time to get a grip.

I still understand him, despite everything. Whether it’s just a temporary interruption – that normal service will be resumed soon – or whether he’s lost forever, I don’t know, and I can’t waste any more time waiting to see any more.I don’t want a man who lacks integrity, who isn’t as loyal and loves as unconditionally as me. I want inner peace and happiness back in my life. Its been missing too long. Every moment spent stuck on the past and him, trying to figure it all out is time wasted on re-building my life and future. No one else will do it for me. I need to champion my own cause, for me and the boys, so we can all strive to live, and move on.

We’re getting divorced. End of. I've filed the petition. I had to admit defeat. An unknown future is unnerving, but I'm not frightened of it any more, and I'd rather be alone forever than spend my time constantly looking over my shoulder, being second best, or waiting for it to happen again. It probably would. The best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour, and having been here twice now, the chances of him changing and doing the right thing are pretty slim.

I'm brave enough to face it and who know's, it may even be exciting. In a few days when I have more time, I’ll share the coping strategies that I’m learning along this rocky path. Hopefully they may help someone else who may be in the same position as me if they are stumbling the same route and find my blog.

Until then I’ll leave you with a few more of my favourite quotes about moving on and letting go:-

"If someone you love hurts you cry a river, build a bridge, and get over it."

"If you can’t save the relationship, at least save your pride."

“When one door closes another door opens; but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.
” — Alexander Graham Bell

“Some of us think holding on makes us strong; but sometimes it is letting go.”
~ Hermann Hesse

One final one:-

"No matter who broke your heart, or how long it takes to heal, you’ll never get through it without your friends."

Thank you all for being there.

Until another day

Bye for now


Image Kate Hudson Blogspot