This week I'd like to welcome Joss Wood to my blog. This is her story since New Voices 2011. Her book 'She's so Over Him' is due to be released in September. I'm sure it will be a winner!
My first book for Mills and Boon Riva, ‘She’s so Over Him’ set in Cape Town, South Africa will be released in the UK in September, 2012. My second, ‘Wild About the Man’ will be released in January 2013 and is set on a luxurious game reserve in South Africa.
I think the New Voices Competition is a wonderful idea and I did enter the NV 2011 competition and came....drum roll please....absolutely nowhere! At the time, I was working on a manuscript with an editor at Riva but I thought I’d just torture myself and get some feedback from my peers. I did get feedback…mostly good, some iffy, one downright rude! As I said, I didn’t come anywhere and I wondered if I was any good at all. (Ah, writers, you’re got to love them! So needy, so insecure!) I didn’t imagine that two months later I’d get a two book contract and then another three book contract six months later.
So, a little about how I got there…
I’ve always been a writer. I remember writing a book at the age of eight and I’m pretty sure it was a romance. Writing has always been an escape, a compulsion, something I dallied with all my life. I sent my first manuscript off to Mills and Boon twenty odd years ago─ it was awful but I was teenager and, obviously, brilliant. I still, somewhere, have the standard rejection letter. (I think I should frame it now, for a laugh!) As I grew up I realized how much of a craft writing is, how much work it takes and that the chance of success, much less fame and fortune, is minimal.
Fast forward too many years─ a career, a husband and two children─ later and I am on holiday in Malawi, sitting next to the most stunning lake in the world. I am having a conversation with some very dear friends about life and passion and I realise that writing is what I am supposed to do and that it feeds my soul. So I decided to take it seriously and to spend some time learning the craft. And I did. I took on-line courses, read articles, wrote and wrote and then, for a change, wrote some more.
I managed to get an agent (one of the happiest days of my life) and eighteen months and three books later, she emigrated to Australia and closed down her agency. (Most miserable day of my life. Every serious writer knows that it’s near on impossible getting published without an agent.) I considered giving up and raising llamas or something equally odd but I decided to keep on trying.
So, when a local South African magazine ran a short story competition in conjunction with Mills & Boon, I entered and was placed in the top ten. The stories were adjudicated by the editors at HMB and I was asked to develop the story into a book. I worked on it with the editor for about six months and then she sent it off to the powers that be. Time slows down when you’re waiting for editors to make up their minds and I thought they’d forgotten about me.
On the very same day my sister had the most brutal car accident, I heard that the Riva team liked the MS but could I do some revisions (and they wanted the revisions in a week! Gasp! Dismay!). In between hospital visits and dreadfully worried about my sister, I wrote the revisions on the fly and, somehow, the MS was accepted and that the wanted another book as well. Six months later I have another three book contract. As I write that, I find myself smiling…
It’s been the most amazing learning curve…and I have learnt so much about the industry, about myself and about the craft of writing. I could write a book─ well, maybe not a book but definitely a rambling article around all I’ve learnt.
But instead I have to get back creating complicated relationships between headstrong, smart and sexy people and telling their story. It’s what I love and do best.
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Joss Wood wrote her first book at the age of eight and has never really stopped. Her passion for putting black letters on a white screen is only matched by her love of books and travelling (especially to the wild places of Southern Africa) and, possibly, by her hatred of ironing and making school lunches.
Fueled by coffee, when she’s not writing or being a hands-on Mom, Joss, with her background in business and marketing, works for a non-profit organization to promote the local economic development and collective business interests of the area where she resides. Happily, and chaotically, surrounded by family, friends and books, she lives in Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa with her husband, young children and their many pets.
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