Progressing a novel: From initial idea to publishing

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What a process this has been for me, progressing from my initial idea for a romance novel to the point where I feel my debut novel is ready to be published.

Quite some time after I started writing “Not Too Old for Love” I joined a Yahoo writers group called ‘RomCritters.” For any of you out there just starting with your writing, I urge you to join a writing group like this. Obviously, the group you join will depend on the genre you are going to write for, but some research will soon find you such a group.

There are many other groups you can use, such as ‘Exquisite Quills’ or ‘Marketing for Romance Writers’. You can find groups on Yahoo or Facebook for sure, and I suspect there are many other sources. But wherever you look, find one and apply to join it. The help and support you will get from such a group is priceless.  This can include critiquing each chapter you write.  But it can also include somebody acting as a beta reader for you, whereby they read the entire novel and comment and advise on it.

I had not really done any writing to speak of before I got started on my novel. Neither had I been to any classes or had any training and it was 53 years since I left school.  I also made life difficult for myself by picking a genre in which I had never read a single book.  People say you should write about what you know. I’m sure that is generally true—you only have to look at Crime or Espionage novels for example and read about the background of the author(s) to see that they often do exactly that.

Well, I wanted to write something that showed mature people in a positive light.  Something that showed baby boomers and the like in a positive light. A novel that showed that many of them are capable of enjoying friendships, relationships, romances, and even marrying for the second time (or perhaps more).

Somehow writing about quality control, weapons engineering in the Royal Air Force, mechanical engineering, or purchasing just didn’t fit the bill—even though they were the things I knew most about.  Perhaps any authors among you can tell me if you write about what you know, or something entirely different.

So romance it was to be—but a sweet romance, rather than something erotic.  Somehow I felt that many people would struggle to believe anything like that about mature people.  And I didn’t want to write anything too complicated, so I ended up writing an easy reading romance that I hope will enable people to see seniors/pensioners, baby boomers or whatever you want to call them in a different light.

The novel is a contemporary romance set just a few years ago.  The location is in England and the setting is a luxury retirement village in an old manor house.  The residents of The Grange may be elderly but they are in the main out to enjoy themselves as you can hopefully see from the following extract:-

Grace was sitting with her friends, gossiping about the new arrival. From the moment she’d heard he was coming she had felt a mixture of excitement and nervousness. She wasn’t looking for a relationship. But, there was no denying she’d felt a real connection with him when they’d met. Yet the way he’d tried so soon to get an invitation to her room had made her wonder if he was no better than her ex-husband. And what she had seen and heard after she’d rejoined her friends had done nothing to reassure her. She’d felt a twinge of envy at the light-hearted banter between Alfred, the twins, and Aggie. Then his kiss with Rose had made her feel a stab of jealousy which shocked her. It looked as if she had been right to temper her excitement at his arrival with some wariness. It seemed he intended to have a good time and to hell with the consequences. Her reaction confused her. She’d only just met him and wasn’t even looking for friendship, let alone a relationship. Yet she was resentful of the twins and Aggie and wanted to scratch Rose’s eyes out. At the age of sixty-eight could she still feel jealous like some love-struck teenager? If so, then an emotional roller coaster ride lay ahead. The thought terrified her.

“All this fuss about one man,” Grace snapped. “Let’s talk about something else.

 I would love to hear what you are writing, or have written, about—so feel free to contact me.

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