Tag Archives: publishing

Sophie’s Encore, First Draft… Done-Done-Done!

In this post: how I improved my writing process; and what’s next for Nicky Wells, author

I finished!

It’s done! Oh yes, the first draft of Sophie’s Encore is finished. It came in at just over 105,000 words and I am pleased with it. It made me laugh, and cry, and bite my nails.



It was quite a different writing experience…

Unlike Sophie’s Turn and Sophie’s Run, which were both written in a mad, continuous and single-minded frenzy, Sophie’s Encore was written in small, deliberate instalments. If you added all the time together, you’d find that it probably took me about twelve weeks to write this third book. However, the twelve weeks were spread out over almost five months because there were several other authorly activities that required my attention.

First and foremost, the beginning of writing Sophie’s Encore overlapped with the book launch for Sophie’s Turn, book 1. I spent a significant amount of time promoting my first baby and keeping up with the book tour.

Next, writing Sophie’s Encore also clashed with the editing process for Sophie’s Run. I had a three-week break from writing in November while I took care of publisher edits for book 2; and then another two-week break in December for proofing and final formatting of ditto. Add to that the Christmas festivities, and you won’t be surprised that I didn’t touch the manuscript for Sophie’s Encore at all in December.

And lastly, of course, there was the launch of Sophie’s Run which coincided with the very end of the writing process of Sophie’s Encore. Talk about multi-tasking!

And yet, Sophie’s Encore got done, and ahead of my own personal schedule too. How so?

Two reasons, I think. One is that the frequent breaks and smaller writing instalments actually made for better writing, or at the very least for a better writing experience. I came back refreshed and eager to the manuscript every day; and after the longer breaks, I took the time to re-read the entire work before continuing it, pressure-testing it ‘real-time’. This meant that I had a much greater confidence in what I had already produced, and also afforded me the opportunity of doing a little bit of pre-editing here or there.

Which leads me to the second reason. Having had the benefit of two extensive editing processes through Sapphire Star Publishing also improved the writing process for Sophie’s Encore. Let me remind you that the first draft of my second book, Sophie’s Run, came in at nearly 150,000 words ~ requiring a good 45,000 words to be chopped by me personally before publisher edits and eventual publication. I learned my lesson, but I didn’t notice until I started writing book 3.

Everything I chopped out of book 2 (and book 1 before that) involved amusing episodes or back story that I enjoyed writing but that, in hindsight, didn’t advance the plot. What’s more, I probably knew that even while I was writing them because I got a kind of…impatient buzz from them. A kind of, move-on-and-hurry-up buzz, only I didn’t know what it meant at the time.

With Sophie’s Encore, I did. The first time I found myself writing something that gave me that kind of…nice-but-not-relevant feeling, I stopped. I re-read. I listened to my heart. I thought of the editing process. And I chopped the section out right away.

It’s incredibly hard to gauge this but I think I figured it out. When I re-read the manuscript after my breaks, I whizzed through it with barely an itch for the red pen. My famous ‘Queen of Hearts’ internal editor remained silent.

Of course I’m not deluded enough to believe I have produced the perfect manuscript. In fact, I am quite certain that it’ll require some significant polishing to bring you the very best I have to offer. But I do think it’s the best first draft I have yet produced. Surely that counts! 🙂

What happens now?

Well, right now, I am spring cleaning! I kid you not. I have given myself a couple of weeks off writing, or thinking about writing, while I let my mind come to a rest and give myself distance from the manuscript. To me, that’s a critical part of the process.


LOL, you know me ~ I don’t do anything by halves!

And when I’m done with spring cleaning, I’ll get planning book 4. Of course. You didn’t think you’d heard the last of me after Sophie’s Encore, did you? Book 4 will be an entirely new story with new characters and I’ll tell you more about that…nearer the time.

In April, I will take Sophie’s Encore through a first round of author edits, incorporating the feedback of my beta-readers who are busy reading as I write this blog post. I love you, ladies, and I trust you with my baby! Over the summer, Sophie’s Encore will undergo publisher edits and then….before you know it… It will be launch day. 5 September!

See that small pile on the left? That's Sophie's Encore. By the time Sapphire and I are done with the editing, the pile will probably be as big as the one next to it which...yes, you guessed it, is the complete round of edits and proofs for Sophie's Run. Who says us writers aren't busy??

See that small pile on the left? That’s Sophie’s Encore today. By the time Sapphire and I are done with the editing, the pile will probably be as big as the one next to it which…yes, you guessed it, is the complete round of edits and proofs for Sophie’s Run. Who says us writers aren’t busy?

When can I tell you more about Sophie’s Encore?

Patience, my friends, patience. I will keep you posted, I promise. Sophie’s RUN is only just out ~ let me share the joy of book 2 with the world before I move onto shouting about book 3. I promise you’ll be the first to know. There’ll be a cover reveal at some point, and I’ll post a synopsis and who knows… I’ll probably share an excerpt ahead of time too. Watch this space!

🙂 Rock on!

#RadioAddict strikes again: Live on Air with Nicola Gilroy at BBC Radio Lincolnshire

This radio thing is becoming a habit and an addiction. I can’t help it!


Yesterday, the fabulous Nicola Gilroy invited me onto the afternoon show at BBC Radio Lincolnshire. Take no notice of my deer-caught-in-the-headline look, I have a most amazing time. Nicola asked me about Sophie’s Turn (and Sophie’s Run), my inspiration for writing, the writing (and planning) process as well as my journey to publication. Oh, and we talked about rock music. Obviously. She even played Whitesnake for me, right there, on the show. Needless to say, I played the air guitar. Luckily for Nicola, I didn’t sing along. (Though I was tempted!)

Here’s a link to the iPlayer of this show. It will be functional until end of day, Monday, 28 January. You can find ‘my’ segment from 10 minutes in up to 29 minutes!


Rock on, and thanks for listening. 🙂

PS. While I was sitting in the waiting area at BBC Radio Lincoln, I couldn’t help but reflect on the increasing number of times I’ve been getting to enjoy myself on the radio of late, and how that delicious cocktail of pre-interview nerves always gives me a buzz that lasts through the rest of the day. I might just blog about this in more detail in the coming week or so. What do you reckon?

CentreStage with Harriet Grace: How to Make Your Novel Fly

Welcome again to CentreStageCentreStage showcases fantastic authors from around the world, often introducing fellow featured authors at loveahappyending.com as well as my fellow authors in the Sapphire Star Publishing family.  On CentreStage, these authors might write for you about their lives, or their writing journey, or anything else that matters to them.  Every feature will be different in format and flavour, so watch out for a variety of stories and tales.

Today, it is my great pleasure to welcome loveahappyending.com featured author Harriet Grace! Harriet brings us a very unique post with hand-crafted, powerful images, and I absolutely adore the drawings!  So over to you, Harriet

How Make Your Novel Fly?

I’ve often wondered how successful novels started.  How did the author choose what to write about?  Was it the characters, the plot, or just the brilliant writing that made it successful?  Set out on the long journey of the novel and people will ask you ‘what are you writing about?’  Do you have a plan?  A synopsis?   But I don’t know these things until I’ve written book!

Over the years I have written 2 novels which found an agent but not a publisher;  completed an MA in Creative Writing and written another novel; found another agent, and nearly a publisher.  I was always at the writing end of the process, trying to create characters, a story, honing the craft of writing novels and wondering whether I was ever going to get to the end.  But I never let myself think about the end, let alone beyond it.  The idea that I might one day have to sell a book of mine, and therefore need to know at least one unique selling point about the book, if not several, was somewhere I wouldn’t go.  It felt like tempting fate.  Such hubris would invoke the wrath of the Gods and I would never see a book of mine in print.

My novel ‘Cells’ started off with an image I had of a woman of about forty sitting at her desk and looking across a busy open-plan office and seeing a young man she has never seen before and making a connection with him.  He looks a bit like Jesus and she feels weirdly attracted to him…  Fairly quickly, the woman at the desk becomes Martha,  Features Editor of a national newspaper, married to Grant.  They both have successful careers and live in a beautiful house in Putney on the river.  The young man becomes Jon, a bit of a loser.

And then – eureka! – I realised that Martha and Grant haven’t been able to have children.  They have tried IVF several times and it has failed, and they are trying to move on.  Suddenly, I had a MODERN DILEMMA (MD for short), although I didn’t realize it at the time, or how important that would be!

At my launch I said:

We live in an age of amazing medical advances where everything seems possible.  But what happens when the technology fails?  What does it do to people who have tried and tried to have a baby through IVF and failed?  How do they move on?  How does it affect their lives, their relationships?

Looking back, it felt like luck that I’d hit on this MD because it has made the novel so much easier to sell.  I had a hook, attractive enough to win me a reading at the Kingston-upon-Thames Readers Festival. The Head of the MA Publishing degree at Kingston University attended that reading and invited me to talk to her students about self-publishing, and then included me as a case study in her on book on self-publishing ‘The Naked Author’.  The MD helped me get reviews, was useful in press releases, on Twitter and Facebook, and as introductions to readings.  It appears that many women, like Martha, have gone through this experience.

So, here is me pretending to be Martha walking across the footbridge near her home at Putney.  We used this image for the cover of the first edition.

Here are the patterns in the river, which Martha gazes at and which to Martha look like cells.  Cells which refuse to fuse together to make a baby.

How do other writers choose what to write about in their novels?  Are they influenced by fashionable genres or subjects, or world events?  Do they write a plan?  A synopsis?  A strapline for the key idea the book is about?  Or do they just create characters they are interested in, get into their world, their story, and hope that the story picks up the Zeitgeist of the moment and makes the novel fly?

I would love to hear your comments…


Well–what can I say? Thank you for this amazing post. The ‘MD’ of your novel is something that I have seen a few of my friends go through–and it is tough. I love the swirling river imagery, that’s very powerful. I am eager to hear how readers find their inspiration for writing!

Let’s find out more about Cells, first of all!

CELLS – One woman, two men, a last chance for happiness

Peak time on the Features floor of a national newspaper and the computers crash.  Martha Morgan, Features Editor, has a migraine and is losing control of her job.  Head pounding she sits down, looks up and there is Jon, one of the messengers; and for a few seconds he seems like a saviour.

Martha is married to Grant, a successful analyst.  They have a beautiful home but no baby, in spite of IVF.  Jon, brought up by dysfunctional parents, can’t stick at a job or find a girlfriend.  When Martha decides to take him under her wing and invites him into their home, the lives of all three of them break open, bringing the past and present into an explosive future.

Format: Paperback and Kindle ISBN: 9781906236618 Language: English Publisher: SilverWood Books (2nd edition July 2011)

Cells is available on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle; through bookshops; and directly from the publisher, SilverWood Books.

And now let’s find out more about Harriet Grace, Author:

Harriet Grace grew up in a small village called Inkpen (Inkpen features in the novel).   She has grown-up children and stepchildren and now lives in London.  She has an MA (Distinction) in Creative Writing and has had poems published.  Cells is her first novel.

Visit Harriet on her website , follow her on Twitter or find her on Facebook or at loveahappyending.com.

Now, dear reader, remember to let us know how you go about finding inspiration for your novels… Just how do you make your novels fly? We’d love to hear from you!