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Happy Anniversary to me!

Jessica's debut novel, Searching for Steven, was launched a year ago today. She looks back over what's happened during that year


A year ago today, my debut full-length novel, Searching for Steven was released. Nine months later, the follow-up in the series, Getting Over Gary came out. In August this year, the final book in the trilogy – Dreaming About Daran – will be released. Crikey! That’s three full-length novels in the space of fourteen months! Actually, it’s three full-length novels and a novella in the space of fifteen!

It’s been a funny old fifteen months. Here’s a few writing highs and lows during that time: 

HIGHS:

  • The launch of every single book!
  • Seeing my books materialise on my Kindle
  • Having Searching for Steven go to number 399 in the Kindle chart. It was brief and it was due to being on a BookBub promotion, but it was still amazing!
  • Having incredible feedback from friends and family who loved Steven and couldn’t wait for Gary to be launched
  • Getting feedback that readers also loved Gary. In many cases, they loved him even more than Steven
  • Reviews rolling in at 5-star from people I don’t know
  • Having my writing compared to the work of the amazing Jill Mansell!
  • Hosting a launch party for Steven attended by loads of family and friends
  • Meeting new writing friends like Helen Reynolds and Dorinda Cass
  • Speaking at four library events and at Scarborough Writers’ Circle

LOWS:

  • A problem at the printers meaning I had no copies of Steven for my launch party
  • A problem with the proof-reading on Gary meaning that it was originally launched with at least 25 typos in it. Twenty-five! I was mortified. These have thankfully all been sorted out now, but I’d ordered and paid for a stock of the original books and don’t know what to do with them
  • Struggling to find time to write alongside a demanding day job

Thankfully, as you can see, there are more highs than lows. Phew!

Two days before Steven was launched last year, I lost my job. It put a massive dampner on the launch for me because it was so unexpected. Fortunately, I was able to secure another role to start as soon as my notice period was over, so the financial panic was over. I lost that replacement job in April so I’ve actually reached my one-year anniversary in the same situation I was in on launch day. Didn’t see that one coming!

Every cloud has a silver lining, though. For a few years now, I’ve had a very part-time job as an internal verifier (IV) on the CIPD qualification (the professional qualification for people in HR careers) for a distance learning company. I won’t bore you with the details of how it came about, but I’ve been very fortunate in securing the role of tutor with the same company. It’s a very different way of working because I need to tutor at weekends in Birmingham and London which takes me away from the family, but it means I am around during school holidays. I also mark assignments and provide email guidance to students as and when submissions come through. On its own, it might not bring in enough money to match the salary I had, but I’ve also been given some additional work, designing some new materials and re-writing some existing ones. This extra work does bring in enough to match my salary, but for a lesser investment in time.

I’ve massively struggled to fit in time to write since the launch of Steven. The new job I secured was demanding and very hard to switch off from. Now, I have the luxury of time. Yes, I’m away roughly two out of every five weekends, but I have time during the week to write.

In theory.

The reality is that we have a new puppy so my days seem to be pretty much spent Ella-sitting! When she settles down, I’ll hopefully spend more time writing than being in and out of the garden for toilet stops (the puppy; not me!), fighting her off my laptop, and having her curled up asleep on my knee.

I wonder what I’ll be doing this time next year.

Jessica xx

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