I am joined today by the lovely author, Willow Woods. Willow has come along to chat about her writing journey.
Thank you, Patricia, for inviting me to do a guest blog!
It is a delight to have you over here, Willow. Without further ado, it’s over to you.
My Writing Journey
I fell in love with writing in junior school when I first took part in a creative writing class. I’d always loved reading and it was the only subject I was advanced at for my age. When I was in lower school I spent my time selecting books from the upper school library not realising I was doing anything wrong, however, the teachers were not happy when they found out. At first, writing was a fun hobby but when I started secondary school, I borrowed a copy of Tamora Pierce’s book In the Hands of the Goddess and that’s when I made the decision that I wanted to be a writer. The problem I had then was careers in creativity were never pushed – I always assumed I’d do a 9-5 job and that would be that.
In Year 10 I began working on two novels, Where I Belong and The Shadow Courtesan. I finished the first draft of Where I Belong shortly that year and The Shadow Courtesan (previously titled ‘Changes’) in Year 11. Over the years both books went through rewrites with the material changing drastically as I got older. After my nan died in 2015, I began work on the final draft for Where I Belong. Unfortunately, at this time, I was made redundant from a job I loved and went through a health scare.
Once I was in receipt of my completed manuscript, I attempted to go down the traditional route of publishing, i.e. searching for an agent. However, this was without much success as the message fed back to me was as my novel wasn’t part of a series it was less appealing to the market.
Finally, in 2018 I began researching into self-publishing and seriously considering taking the route as an indie writer. I was stuck in a job I absolutely hated and was going through another health scare. Although it was a horrible time, those two aspects gave me the motivation to do what I wanted to do. Why should I have to work in a 9-5 job because that’s what we consider the norm? We literally work most of our lives and get to enjoy so little. I wanted to enjoy my life and do something that made me happy – as long as the bills were paid, did my job matter?
So, I took the plunge! I quit my job (best. feeling ever), found a part-time job in a place similar to where I was made redundant and I’m now so lucky to have two jobs I totally love. In December 2018 I finally published my first novel, Where I Belong. I was so excited! Especially when I got sales notifications through! I was on such a high.
After ordering copies for events for 2019 I found out that the editor hadn’t edited properly. When discovering my book had errors, I cried. I’d spent years working on Where I Belong; it’s literally my baby! To then find someone I’d hired hadn’t done their job – I was left with printed copies stacked up in my sitting room… and had no idea what to do. I’d love to have been able to write them off, absorbing the loss; but couldn’t afford to do that, even if I hadn’t quit working full-time.
I immediately set about looking for an editor. Luckily I knew someone close to me who was qualified to do the job. We’d previously made a point not to work together to ensure our relationship didn’t grow awkward, but in this instance they agreed to help, and saved me! That just left me with the predicament of what to do with the copies I’d had printed.
I had no choice but to take them to events. I decided when selling my copies that honesty was the best way so whenever I spoke to people about the book I disclosed the inadequate editing. As a thank you to my readers for purchasing, I created vouchers. This means, whenever someone buys a physical copy of my novel, they also get a free eBook version which thankfully is error free. I’m excited that now the only books containing errors are the ones bought from me. Amazon copies are clean and hopefully when they start appearing in more bookshops (working on it!) these will be clean too.
The past year has been a huge learning curve. I’ve given talks at events (and was invited to speak at several, which was a weird and amazing feeling!) I learnt to really look into services and not just take someone’s word that they are who they say they are. I spent six months researching editors/proof-readers for The Shadow Courtesan and once it was edited sent several copies to readers to make sure they didn’t find any errors.
The best thing about this year though has been going to different events (comic cons!) and selling at them, meeting people who will actually be reading my book. One woman bought a copy and came back a few hours later to say how she’d started it and was loving it! I’m such a pessimistic person so that was just an unbelievable moment.
I’m glad I took the plunge and (as cheesy as it sounds!) followed my dream! Tamora Pierce is my favourite author to this day (and In the Hands of the Goddess my favourite book – it was with me at my wedding and my nan’s funeral). I wonder if I’d ever have wanted to become a writer if I’d never read her books (thankfully I won’t know!)
Thank you again Patricia! 😊
A pleasure, Willow. Thank you for sharing your writing journey with my readers. What a hard lesson you had to learn but I am pleased that you were able to find a solution for the badly edited books.
If anyone is considering taking the indie publishing route then do make sure you get a reputable editor, formatter, and cover designer, either by word of mouth or from a society such as ALLi (Alliance of Independent Authors)
Below I will provide links of where you can find Willow on social media and where you can purchase her books, but first, let’s find out a little more about her…
Willow currently lives in London with her husband, their cat Nora and hamster Pumpkin. An animal lover Willow fosters with a local animal charity. She is a strong believer in #adoptdontshop (and would probably adopt every animal that comes into the house if she could!)
She holds an MA in Historical Research and has recently completed her second MA, this one in Creative Writing. Born to an Irish mother and Scottish father, Willow’s Celtic heritage has a strong influence on her writing along with her love of history. Although living in London, Willow is originally from a small Hampshire town and very much misses the countryside (and stars!)
In her spare time Willow enjoys gaming (and has a slight addiction to Final Fantasy IX), going to comic cons, archery and dressmaking. Willow previously enjoyed Ninjutsu and is hoping to soon put her gi back on and get back into training!
Willow’s Books can be purchased from Amazon on the links below or direct from Willow.
You can find Willow on social media by clicking on the links below.