Hello, Helen welcome to my blog to day to talk about your writing journey. It feels like it’s been a whirlwind journey, I remember reading the first in your Spotlight series Strictly on Ice earlier this year, and it seemed to be followed really quickly by Celebrity SOS and now Strictly Christmas Spirit.
I know the journey for any author is never as quick and seamless as it looks to the reader,
I can’t quite believe that my fourth novel – Strictly Christmas Spirit – has just been published.
Okay, give me the blurb.
From disco balls to Christmas baubles …
Ex-dancer Emily Williams turned her back on the sparkle of popular dancing show Strictly Dancing with Celebs to help those in need. Now the only dancing she does is teaching lonely pensioners to waltz, and the closest she gets to disco balls is making baubles with the homeless people in her Christmas crafts class.
She’s certainly not star-struck when Hollywood heart-throb Blake Harris is sent to her at short notice for community service, and she has no desire to babysit the arrogant actor with his bad boy antics and selfish ways. Christmas might be a time for miracles, but Blake seems to be a lost cause.
But Emily’s reasons for abandoning her dancing passion means she understands the Hollywood wild child more than she’d like to admit. Could their time together, coupled with a dash of Christmas spirit, lead to a miracle change of heart for them both?
I’ve read the book Helen and I loved it – a perfect Christmas read, I know readers will love it, but how did your writing journey begin?
In 2018 I was in a bad place emotionally. My husband and I were struggling with the cruel realities of infertility, and I wasn’t coping well. In fact, I was downright depressed.
As we braced ourselves for the upcoming trial of fertility treatment, I decided to try writing a novel. It was a long-held ambition of mine, one I never imagined I would achieve. But I started tentatively writing a story I had long held in my head, jotting it down in the early hours of the morning before work. Amazingly, I found that the words began to flow, and as the chapters took shape, my spirits lifted.
A combination of counselling and writing changed everything. I had bad days, days when pregnancy announcements would trigger a wave of grief and envy, and I took those emotions and channelled them into my work. I lost myself in writing rather than my depression.
By July 2018, my novel was complete, and so was my first round of IVF. I fulfilled two dreams that summer, finishing my book and becoming pregnant!
Star in the Shadows was published in October 2019, when my son Donovan was six months old, but my writing journey didn’t stop there. I was afraid that I only had one book in me, but I was wrong. While I was pregnant with Donovan, I wrote a second novel – Strictly on Ice.
While I went through IVF again, in early 2020, I approached agents and publishers with Strictly on Ice. I received a few polite responses, a few impersonal rejections, and from most, deafening silence. Still, I kept trying and kept hoping.
Our second round of IVF was successful and I was pregnant again! It felt like winning the lottery a second time. Just as my husband and I were celebrating our good news and relishing the prospect of another child, COVID slammed into the world and the UK lockdown began in March 2020. Once again, writing became a vital emotional crutch. It got me through the long days of lockdown with a toddler, ill and aching from IVF medication and first-trimester discomforts, and desperately missing my family and friends. I completed a third and a fourth novel and sent out one last query in early summer 2020, to ChocLit, this time with a series of three books to offer.
On my 35th birthday I received an email from ChocLit asking me to Zoom meet with them. It was the best birthday present ever! A few weeks before I had my second son, I signed a three-book contract with them.
That brings me to 2021.
Strictly on Ice was published in March, Celebrity SOS in July, and Strictly Christmas Spirit in October. I have two more novels planned for publication in 2022, all part of the Spotlight Series.
I love writing, and I never imagined I would get this far with it. I’m still learning, and every time I start writing a novel I hope it will be better than the last.
If you decide to read any of the Spotlight Series, I do hope you enjoy them!
Thank you so much Helen for sharing your journey with us today. I know that readers will enjoy all of your novels. I can’t wait for the next ones!