I often hear from people who want to write a book but don’t know how or where to begin. Or from people who have already written a book that’s ready for publication but don’t know how to get it published. I recently began a new blog series, Writing and Publishing Tips From Authors Around the World, to help writers.
The thirteenth contributor is U.K. author Jane Risdon and she’s here to talk about her journey to publication.
Journey to Publication by Jane Risdon
When I was a child I dreamed of being Doris Day or Ginger Rogers and took up ballet lessons but, being an Army child, I never stayed anywhere long enough to take it further.
Later when I was a teenager I dreamed of being a journalist, a War Correspondent, back when few women were journalists and most were Agony Aunts. I wrote stories at school and received awards for my efforts and shocked the family rigid when I picked, along with some other books, the collection of Peyton Place novels with the money I won.
Back then the TV series of Peyton Place was all the rage, I had no idea the books were raunchy–I’d been educated in a convent for goodness sakes.
A school friend’s father knew of my interest in journalism – he edited The Sunday Times or something, I can’t recall now – and offered to get me an interview as a cub reporter-cum-dog’s body which thrilled me to death. I came down to earth with a bump when my parents whisked me off to live in Germany for three years and for the first year I remained at home with my mother, looking after my five siblings. I silently seethed and searched for a way out. A way to get back to England and the musician boyfriend I’d been forced to leave behind.
In danger of losing the plot and running rampant in a very conservative German village where the most exciting thing that ever happened had been the Dam Buster raids in WW2 which flooded the village, and left water marks up the sides of the buildings; if you didn’t count Hitler’s pal Goering delivering speeches from the balcony of the Officers’ Mess where the British Army and the Ministry of Defence (for whom my father now worked), had set up residence, my father decided to get me a job at the Army Base where he worked. I won’t bore you with the details but suffice to say I couldn’t wait to get out of there. So I got a copy of The Lady magazine and looked for live-in jobs back in England but I couldn’t find anything I wanted to do. Whilst working at the MOD on Base, I saw an advert for jobs in the Civil Service and found I could transfer to a department in England and I could live in a Civil Service hostel.
I applied for a position in the Ministry of Information (press office) and instead of being offered that I got a letter inviting me to sit a board at the Foreign and Commonwealth in Whitehall, which I eventually did, and I escaped to England just when my boyfriend set off on a long tour with his band. Eventually we did manage to be in the same country and town at the same time, and we got married. Plans for a journalism career went out of the window yet again; we were never in one place long enough. I continued to write stories, for my own consumption, but never seriously thought I’d ever write for a living as a journalist or an author.
Eventually my husband retired from his band and I thought I could get on with writing but we ended up in business managing singers, song writers, record producers, and actors, and once again we were on the road constantly or in recording studios all around the world. I was too busy helping others achieve their goals and dreams to find time for mine. I contented myself writing press releases, biographies, and blurb for my artists with the odd article for music magazines now and again.
An old friend who is an Award-winning author and former fan club secretary for my husband’s band, who also used to write for rock and pop magazines back when, asked to read some of my work which I reluctantly gave her. She writes romance and I had written mainly crime stories, but she was incredibly encouraging and urged me to find a publisher. The thought had never entered my head. To me it was like walking naked in front of strangers. My husband was all for it, he had always been supportive and loved reading my writing, and he encouraged me to go for it. I’d had short stories published on-line and pod-cast, and had also published flash fiction and the feedback has always been good, so when I got the chance to write for a few charity anthologies, I went for it. These books were published traditionally, in print and also as eBooks. It was a learning curve for me in many ways but it also gave me confidence. I write my own blog and write a regular music blog for Creative Frontiers which has been well received, so I am doing what I want on so many levels.
Fast forward to the summer of 2014 and I decided to give finding a publisher a whirl. I sent a few stories out, more in hope than expectation, and I was turned down by three who were not interested in short stories or the novels (WIP) I was working on; come back next year they told me, even though I’d researched their requirements. In fact one came back to me recently and wanted to sign me; it’s too late now.
Last summer I felt despondent, not all the companies had come back to me and I was about to knock it on the head until 2015 when I heard back from Accent Press Ltd, who weren’t looking for short stories for individual authors, but wanted me to write stories for inclusion in their anthologies for Halloween and Christmas. I told them I’ve never really written ghost stories or Christmas stories, but I’d give it a go and signed a contract for short stories. The stories have been well received, with several 5* reviews thankfully.
Things have moved on quickly this spring and I’ve signed a traditional publishing contract for a novel I started some years back, sight unseen as I write, with the same publisher. I have dozens of short stories I want to revisit, and I am working hard on my Ms Birdsong Investigates series which is taking ages due to various set-backs with injuries and family things going on, but I am confident about these books and others I am working on. More confident than I have ever been. A little faith goes a long way, and I needed the time to be right for me – I know that now – to have confidence to go forward and to just give it a go. Nothing ventured as they say.
My Amazon Author Page with links to my publications:
My WordPress Author Blog with links to short stories, pod-casts and flash fiction as well as other blogs I write for: http://wp.me/2dg55
My Facebook Author Page: http://www.facebook.com/JaneRisdon2
Jane Risdon started writing seriously some four years ago. Until then she had been travelling the world, often living in America and Singapore as well as in Europe and England, working in the International Music Business with recording artists, song writers, record producers and publishers, taking up all her time and energies.
Prior to her music career she worked at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London and in various other Civil Service and Public Service positions, where she has garnered a wealth of experience which she often uses as the inspiration for her writing.
Jane married a musician whose band came to stay – whilst on tour of the UK – in the village where she lived; they’ve been together 46 years and they have one son who has three children of his own now.
An avid reader from a very early age she loved anything with adventure – Kidnapped, Treasure Island and even Biggles. Growing up she became a massive fan of Agatha Christie, Daphne Due Maurier, John Le Carre and anything with adventure, spies, and crime. These days she reads Michael Connolly, Tess Gerritsen, and Karin Slaughter, to name a few of her favourite authors.
Jane writes Crime/mystery stories and often draws on her love of espionage and her lifetime working in music when writing. She also strays now and again into what she calls ‘observational humour.’
At the moment Jane is working on a series of Crime/mystery novels called ‘Ms Birdsong Investigates,’ based on an ex MI5 Officer who moves to a rural village after being ‘voluntarily’ retired from the Service, who soon finds herself investigating murder.
She has published several short stories in various Charity Anthologies as well as having short stories and flash fiction published on-line, which have been Pod-cast. She has a very successful author blog which she writes: http://wp.me/2dg55 where links to her books and other projects can be found.
Jane signed a publishing contract with Accent Press Ltd in 2014 and has recently completed a novel which is to be published later this year.