Monday, January 1

One Door Closes / Another Opens

Which is basically my weird way of saying goodbye to 2006 and hello to 2007.

Happy New Year!

Hope you had a good evening. We had some friends over and ate yummy curry and played poker. I eventually caved and crawled up to bed at 1.30am, which was v. impressive as I didn't have an afternoon nap yesterday and had feared I would fall asleep before 1o.30pm.

Yesterday I read a lovely post at Little Black Dress author Phillipa Ashley's blog, in which she reviewed her year, month by month. It was really funny and interesting to read, so I thought I might try and do the same thing. (Hope you don't mind, Pip!) So join me as we take a trip back through time...

January 2006
The year starts with new goals, which involve writing the last two chapters of Haunted Hearts and getting it submitted to Silhouette's Intimate Moments (now Romantic Suspense) line by Valentines Day. I manage to type 'The End' on 18th January. I go down to a four-day week at my day-job as a secretary so I can focus more on writing, and join the Romantic Novelists' Association as a New Writer. (Little do I know that before the year is out I will have seen HH go to print--not with Silhouette--and be upgraded to a full member of the RNA.) I also register as part-time self-employed and start working as a freelance proofreader.

February 2006
I immerse myself in editing Haunted Hearts and make a new plan, which involves sending the book in for its RNA New Writers' Scheme critique before submitting it to Silhouette. I also meet Nell for the first time, because a hotel that The Bloke and I go and stay at to celebrate our fourth anniversary ends up being not far away from her. Later in the month, HH's edits go on hold as I decide to rework The Little Shop of Dreams, an old story of mine, into a novella and enter it in a writing contest being run by Moonlit Romance.

March 2006
While getting on with writing Little Shop, I also write a new short story for a contest being run by The Sun in aid of World Book Day. The Bloke and I get a month's free pass to our local gym, and I start feeling very virtuous by doing regular exercise. (This peters out by the end of the month...) Nell's first book, The Cinderella Substitute, is released by Moonlit Romance. By the end of the month, Little Shop is completed and sent and my nervousness begins...

April 2006
Editing of Haunted Hearts is resumed, and I decide that when it's had its RNA critique, I'll send it to Silhouette's Special Edition line rather than Intimate Moments. Just before the end of the month, the results of Moonlit's writing contest are announced and I am named as one of the three winners! I suddenly realize that a story I have written will now be in print for definite, as the prize is for Little Shop to be included in an anthology to be published in the autumn. The news is even more exciting for me because Nell also wins a place with her novella, September Song. Now that I need to start publicizing myself, I decide on my pen-name: Jessica Raymond.

May 2006
's edits get shelved again as I turn to doing publisher edits on Little Shop for the Fall in Love anthology. Midway through the month The Bloke and I head to London for the RNA's Summer Party, where Nell is a nominee for the New Writers Award; in the end the prize is won by Mills & Boon author Fiona Harper, whom I had previously got to know online. I meet numerous other authors I have only known before as online friends, and the whole evening leaves me feeling more sure about my romance-writing ambitions than ever. The next day, The Bloke and I go to Paris and have a wonderful mini-break.

June 2006
's edits are *finally* completed and I promptly pop it in the post for its RNA critique. In my quest to read more of the classic fiction that I've somehow neglected to read over the years, I dive into Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca and well and truly fall in love with it. I start planning another book with the tentative title of The Guardians (which has since fallen by the wayside). The cover for the Fall in Love anthology arrives, which excites me no end as it has *my name* on it! I launch my website shortly before the arrival at the end of the month of the RNA critique of HH, which is tremendously helpful and encouraging. Another high note is the engagement of my sister!

July 2006
I set about making a list of changes that need to be made to HH following the RNA critique. It turns out to be pretty exhaustive and takes me quite a while to work out how to implement the new directions for the plot and my characters. I enter the first chapter of HH into the annual Romance Junkies contest, but it is a pre-critique version and I am not too confident. (It does not, in the end, receive a placing.) Meanwhile, The Bloke and I whizz off on another mini-break, this time to Cornwall, which we both love. At the end of the month I have decided not to submit HH to Silhouette any more, but to Moonlit Romance instead.

August 2006
The month begins with an exciting arrival: my contract for the Fall in Love anthology. I am thrilled by being referred to as "The Author" throughout the document. I start making revisions to HH based on the changes I've thought of as a result of my RNA critique, with the aim of finishing them by the time September starts. While in the middle of my revisions I get an idea for my next book, which comes in the form of a vision of the first scene as if it were a movie. I get ridiculously excited by this idea, which is soon named The Truck of Luck, and think about writing it for the mainstream market.

September 2006
I over-run my self-imposed deadline for finishing HH's revisions, and am still doing them halfway into the month. Fall in Love: An Anthology, featuring my contest-winning novella The Little Shop of Dreams, is released on 18th September and less than a week later, I complete the revisions of Haunted Hearts and it is contracted immediately by Moonlit Romance. Another project enters my schedule: a beach-themed novella, also for Moonlit, which is slated for release in May 2007. (This has been started and is now named One Shore Thing.) I finish the month astonished by how much has happened in my writing career.

October 2006
The cover for Haunted Hearts arrives promptly as it has been slated for release in *this very month*, Oct 2006. It's gorgeous and I admire it intermittently while getting straight on with publisher edits ready for release day. The Bloke and I go away for a weekend to Phillipa Ashley's book launch in Staffordshire, and then to a lovely hotel in Reading to celebrate my birthday. Four days later we find out that I am pregnant! I start trying to formulate a plot for One Shore Thing, as well as another novella idea I've had, but an influx of hormones lead my brain astray and I basically get nothing done.

November 2006
I manage to get a plot and characters in place for One Shore Thing and not much else happens in relation to writing this month, thanks to more hormones. I spend most of November sleeping and staring at a blank laptop screen.

December 2006
The month starts with major email malfunctions, but I am kept quite nicely calm by our first ultrasound, which I then use to announce my incubation of Flump to the blogosphere. This seems to have a strange releasing effect on my writerly brain and I manage to start writing the first chapter of One Shore Thing. The year comes to a close with the inaugural and stunning reviews of Fall in Love: An Anthology and Haunted Hearts.

Total books read during 2006: 41

And so now here we are at the start of another year. What do I have planned? Well, there's the small matter of BIRTH (which I'm trying to avoid thinking about) sometime around mid-June, but I have other plans in place for 2007. Another thing that happened at the close of 2006 was the end of my employment. The freelance proofreading I did last year really started to take off and I was dying for more time to write, so after careful discussions and calculations with The Bloke, we decided that I would leave my day-job and become fully self-employed. So unlike most people, I will not be returning to the office tomorrow. My home is now my office!

As for writing, I plan on getting One Shore Thing finished as soon as I can, after which I am going to start working on the plans for Truck of Luck, my hopeful mainstream idea. There may be another writing project in the works, too--something that occurred to me yesterday--but this may not happen.

So how was 2006 for you? And how do you see this year shaping up?


Sean Carter said...

Well the past year seems to be quite an eventful for you...but we all have to start afresh...the new year has begun and it's a new begining for all of us...lets hope that the new year is filled with hapiness and excitement for you...and on this note i's also like you to visit my blog sometime and share some of th e love visit soon and enjoy all that's there!!!

Anonymous said...

Jess, what a year! Fantastic and this year will be even better for you!



Phillipa said...

Jess - I hadn't realised what a year you have had. Many congrats on the baby, on your new business and on publication. Anyne thinking of writing should go for it right now because it opens up a wonderful whole new world, whether you get published or not.

Jill said...

Ah, you're preggers, congrats! Also, I love the title Truck Of Luck.

Jessica Raymond said...

Sean -- Thanks for your comment, and yes, it was pretty eventful!

Thanks, Liz, if everything goes according to my plan then 2007 should definitely top 2006 :)

Pip -- I didn't realize just how much I'd managed to do until I wrote it all down into that post. I really felt like I'd hardly written anything all year but it was because I was always working on edits or something! I totally agree that anyone wanting to write should just go for it.

Jill -- Thanks! Unfortunately the book will never actually be called Truck of Luck... LOL... That title's related to the first scene I've been visualizing.

Jess x