New Voices 2011 was the best thing I ever did.
Until then, I’d been writing on and off for years. The writing bug always gnawed away at me, but I had no idea how to make fantasy a reality. I put my dreams to the side in search of a career. It wasn’t until after NV ’10 finished that I discovered the competition, but it sparked a ray of hope.
What if Mills & Boon held the competition again?
I’d always read romance, and loved the complexity and emotional intensity of the genre. Could I pull it off? I figured I had about six months to find out. I joined Harlequin’s online community, made writing buddies and I penned my first 50k story. It was crap of course, and my dear CP told me that. She also pointed out where I went wrong. Around the same time, Harlequin started a Book In Three Months challenge and I popped in every day, soaked up all the advice I could and interacted with other writers.
I frantically began writing another story, one I aimed at my favourite line (RIVA) and hoped I’d hit the mark. After polishing the first chapter as best I could, I entered it into NV ’11. It didn’t place, but the advice I got was priceless. I decided to submit my revised chapters to M&B in October, but knew the wait would be painful.
To distract myself, I did NanoWriMo in November. Instead of writing a story aimed for a particular line, I wrote something I wanted to. I managed to get my 50k down by the end of December and had my first draft of The Monster of Fame. I LOVED this story. It was different from what I was used to reading, but it was something I did for me. There was no pressure to fit, only a desire to write. I wasn’t going to do anything with it, but to keep me occupied while I waited to hear back from M&B, I edited and revised. I then sent it to my CP for her opinion. I knew it wasn’t right for Harlequin, but I couldn’t bear to scrap it either.
She convinced me to enter it into SYTYCW—which I did. By the time I’d had another whack at revising it, people had heard back from the competition and I wasn’t one of them. I didn’t want to give up though. I researched different publishers and sent it to a few who I thought may give it the time of day. You can imagine how shocked I was a few weeks later when I had an R & R on the full and two offers of a contract in my inbox!
I chose Beachwalk Press and I couldn’t be happier. Pamela Tyner is fabulous and even though they are barely a year old, I feel secure, safe and part of the family. The Monster of Fame will be released October 15th and I can’t wait!
Around the same time as the offers came in, I heard back from Mills & Boon on my NV entry (I’d almost forgotten about it by this point!). They thought I had a very commercial voice, yet my story didn’t quite fit. The editor requested I send a revised partial to her, and that required a complete re-write.
Off I went and re-wrote the whole thing, only to receive an ‘it’s not quite there yet’ email a month later. We emailed back and forth, deciding to go with a new idea I had and was itching to write. She asked me to send her a one page synopsis, mapping out the conflicts, motivation and character development—not an easy thing to do, believe me. The first one wasn’t right for RIVA. She loved the second though and asked for a partial. I still wasn’t quite there, but she called me and went through the points I had to change. I’ve just sent in another revised partial with the suggested changes and now I’m biting my nails waiting for a response.
During all the waiting I revised my NV entry again and it will be released with Beachwalk Press early in the New year. My October release, The Monster of Fame, is part of a series so hopefully I’ll be writing for them for a while yet, but I’m still not giving up on my M&B dream. If it weren’t for New Voices, I’d have never taken up writing again and for that I’m glad.
The best advice I can give to anyone trying to be published? Never, ever give up. If you want something bad enough, grab it with both hands and keep trying. You will get better and eventually succeed. When you do, it will make all the R’s, all the heartache, worth it.
My site: www.aimeeduffy.co.uk The Monster of Fame Blurb:
Can the voice of an angel heal a tortured soul?
Annabelle MacIntosh enters a reality singing contest to save her family from their mounting debt. Miles Oliver, celebrity judge and the owner of the biggest record company in the UK, doesn’t think she has what it takes. She sings like an angel, but when she performs all he can focus on is the terror in her eyes. It’s a look he knows only too well. After the pressure of fame destroyed his wife, Miles swore he’d never let the same thing happen to anyone else. Driven by the guilt he’s carried for years, Miles tries everything in his power to make sure Annabelle doesn’t succeed, because he doesn’t believe she’ll survive it.
Annabelle needs that prize money, and she’s determined to win it. As she fights to make it through each round of the contest, an attraction begins to develop between the two adversaries. The longer Annabelle remains in the competition, the deeper her attraction grows to the man who’s trying to prevent her from reaching her goal. Can she convince Miles she’s strong enough to fight the fame monster and win?
Genre(s): Steamy Contemporary Romance
Coming October 15th from Beachwalk Press