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Student Success!

June 30th, 2014

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We give out a lot of advice on this blog – it is what we’re here for after all – but now and then we like to share a student success story with you. This week, we’ve been talking to Lizbeth Crawford who recently enjoyed her first big publishing success.

“I enrolled in the Novel and Short Story course at The Writers Bureau two years ago, after I complained to my husband about a romance novel I was reading and he dared me to write my own, upload it to my Kindle and read that instead – cheeky man! However, the gauntlet was thrown and I put fingers to keyboard. But how to start? A plot—what’s that? Scene and summary, characterisation, dialogue… My mind, it was a-boggling. That’s when I searched on the internet and found The Writers Bureau.

I completed the eight assignments under the tutelage of Esther Newton, whose positive comments about my writing encouraged me to write my first ‘proper’ novel. We’ve kept in touch, with me letting Esther know how I’m doing and what is happening in my new writing career.

My début novel, Hate To Love You, by Elise Alden (my pen name for contemporary and historical romance), received three offers of publication. It’s classed as a ‘New Adult’ romance (though I had no clue what that was when I wrote it!) I went with Harlequin, Carina Press because their editor made the extra effort of phoning me from NY on a Sunday and Skyping to discuss their offer!

When I told my editor that I had written another book, very different to the one they were publishing but still a romance, she wanted to see it. My second novel, Pitch Imperfect is a classic adult contemporary romance, set in Scotland. Two weeks later they made an offer and I accepted. This book is the first in a series of five, inter-related novels, and the scheduled release date is October 20th, 2014.

I was overwhelmed, first at being published and then at being an author for such a fantastic house – Really? Me? A forty-four-year-old housewife and mother who’s never written anything before and isn’t a native English speaker?

I loved everything about the editorial/production process at Harlequin, Carina Press. Being a newbie at this some things are a bit scary, but I am relishing the challenge. My third novel (and first in a trilogy), Black Hole Bounty, by Sienna Bronwyn (my pen name for space opera and speculative romance), also received 3 offers of publication. The trilogy is a space opera/sci-fi romance. Armed with a bit more know-how, I negotiated for a three book deal with the publisher I liked the most, Secret Cravings Publishing. The other two publishers wanted me to alter my heroine’s physical appearance and/or change certain plot points, and I wasn’t happy about that. The trilogy will be released in e-book first, followed by print three months after each e-release. The scheduled release date is 19th August for the first e-book and December for print.

I am also writing other novels and novellas, but find myself swamped with the admin and minutiae of being a new writer and doing things like getting my website(s) up and my social media platforms running smoothly. I’m also writing blog posts and dealing with the other contractual obligations that come along with publishing a novel, but I am so enjoying this ride!

Recently, I left my day job and am now (gulp!) a full time romance novelist, and all because of a flippant comment from my husband! Now he doesn’t have to hear me complain about not having anything to read. It’s all about my wonky characters and how flawed they are. Or how much can I twist their lives and make them suffer before I give them a Happy Ever After!

So, thank you Writer’s Bureau, to whom I am extremely grateful. Esther and the course will appear in the acknowledgements of my book Pitch Imperfect. The Novel and Short Story course gave me the tools and confidence I needed to write my first novel.  I’d like to say it was a great help with punctuation but alas, I fear nothing will ever make me 100% on that score, and I live in hopes the semi-colon fairy never retires! When I started writing that cold day in January 2012, I found lots of inspiration from other everyday people like me, who’d done the course and achieved their dream – so now it’s time to share my story too!”

We’re so happy to have been able to help Lizbeth achieve her dream, and it just goes to show that with a bit of help and hard work it can happen to any of you!

After putting together this post, I received another email from Lizbeth with an update after the publication of her début novel Hate to Love You. It’s such brilliant news that I had to make room for it!

“The fantastic news is that within three or four days of its release my début novel, Hate to Love You, entered Amazon USA, Canada and Australia’s top 100 chart of all romance books sold and is still there, almost three weeks later. In the UK it’s been slower, and is now #202 overall and around #25 in Kindle Romance, #36 in Books Romance. These things are fluid, but long may it last! My debut’s overall ranking has been fantastic also, within the top 100 to 500 of all books sold on Amazon, including in the UK. This is a fantastic achievement for me, as I expected my ranking to be in the hundreds of thousands or millions, and I am over the moon.

All in all a roller-coaster of a ride for a new author. But amazingly, Hate to Love You is resonating with people and that is the best feeling in the world.”

Hate To Love You, by Elise Alden is available to buy online here.

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