In The Spotlight Author Patsy Collins
This week I’d like to welcome Patsy who regularly comments on my Blog. I first ‘met’ Patsy, in a virtual sense through CafeLit that many of you know I am the editor for and I’ve selected a few of her stories for that, including The Best of as well. I have since followed her successes as a novelist — so I am delighted to welcome to her to the spotlight …
So tell us about yourself, Patsy …
I’m a wife, gardener, cook, photographer and writer. (The ones starting with w are the most important.)
For the last few years I’ve been a tour guide on HMS Victory. I’ve just been made redundant though so this summer I’ll mostly be writing and travelling with my husband in our campervan. (He’s a freelance photographer)
Have you always wanted to be a published writer? Tell us something about your path to having your first novel published. Have you had other things published first?
It wasn’t a particular ambition until I started creative writing classes in 2002 (which I did almost by accident!) The brilliant teacher ‘strongly encouraged’ us to submit our work. After a generous amount of rejection letters I had two short stories accepted in the same week. One was published in The Lady the other in The Weekly News. For a couple of days I bounced around the house as though my parents had been Zebedee and a kangaroo. It still makes me smile to remember how I felt. It was a while before I had another acceptance but I was hooked by then.
I’d had around 150 short stories published by the time I entered my novel Escape to the Country in a competition. It won and was therefore published.
Do you have an agent? If not did you try to get one? Any advice about that?
Initially I did try to get an agent – with no luck at all. Having never had an agent I can’t advise whether or not it would be better to have one.
Do you belong to a writing group? Crit group? Have you had someone professionally critique your novel before submitting or publishing? How was that/? Would you do it again?
I belong to a small ‘real life’ writing group. Mostly we chat and encourage each other. I also belong to a couple of online writing groups and several members of these help with critiquing and I do the same for them.
I’ve not had professional critiquing but have paid for my self published novels to be proofread. I will definitely do that if I self publish again. Very few people would be happy to read a book full of typos, grammatical errors and spelling mistakes and even fewer writers are able to spot all their own errors.
Did you have your book accepted by a traditional publisher or choose self-publishing? If self-publishing, tell us about that choice, why you made it.
I’ve self published A Year and a Day. I did it that way because I’d done OK with a previous self published novel, Paint Me a Picture. I took the decision to self publish that one because the book didn’t fit into any genre so was hard to pitch to agents and publishers.
What was the editing process like and how long did it take? Did you work with an editor? If you chose self-publishing can you tell us who you used and what the process involved. Would you do it again?
Editing A Year and a Day was done in several stages after excellent feedback from my critique buddies. It probably took two years from the start of the first draft until it was ready for proofreading (I also wrote shorts during that time)
For the proofreading I emailed off the document (to Helen Baggott) and she returned it after about a week with all the errors highlighted and appropriate notes and suggestions made. As a result I did some very minor rewriting and lots of typo correcting.
My husband designed the cover. He’s good at that kind of thing.
Uploading an ebook to Amazon is pretty easy as long as you follow the instructions. I might do it again but I’m not ruling out the possibility of trying the traditional route next time.
How much marketing have you had to do and how have book sales been?
I’ve done pretty much all the marketing, even with the first novel that was published for me. I think it’s now common for new authors, even traditionally published ones, to be largely responsible for this.
My publisher organised a book signing for the first one (which was quite successful). For each book I’ve given local radio interviews, visited blogs, attempted to get mentions in local (and national) publications with limited success, and promoted via social media.
Sales haven’t been huge. I didn’t expect them to be as I’m still almost unknown. I’ve had good reviews though and encouraging feedback. My hope is that those who like my books will tell others. That seems to be happening. ‘Word of mouth’ can be very effective but it does take time. It’s still less than a year since my first novel was published, so I’m hopeful of further sales.
Tell us about the latest novel …
A Year and a Day is a romance. It starts when two friends have their fortune told. Stella is very sceptical and refuses to follow the path laid out for her, at least at first. Daphne is totally convinced by the gypsy’s prophecy and follows it faithfully.
Their respective behaviours see them loving, or carefully not loving, the tall, dark handsome Italian restaurant owner, Luigi. Neither tactic goes to plan. The gypsy’s mentions of job changes, a journey across water, one girl saving the other’s life and the promise of a happy family have equally mixed results.
Luckily John, Daphne’s irritating brother, is there to help them out of their worst scrapes and Thirteen, the black cat, is no trouble at all.
There’s food, flowers, cocktails, shoes, policemen, sexy Italian accents, danger, love and laughter before they find out if the gypsy was telling them the truth.
It’s available from Amazon as an ebook. AMAZON
(note from Debz — do check out Patsy’s other books here: LINKS)
What next? Tell us about work in progress and aspirations. Where do you see yourself in ten years time?
I’m currently working on another romance about a photographer with a campervan. It’s not going to be autobiographical in any way, but I will be researching it thoroughly!
My aim is to continue writing short stories and novels. I’d love to run writing workshops too. Once I’ve left the day job I’ll have time to do that. If you’d like me to visit your writing group (and there’s room to park a campervan outside) let me know!
Any advice for writers who are trying to get their work published?
Keep trying. It’s not easy but it is possible. All published writers were once unpublished writers.
Tell us something random about you for the pure hell of it
I once flogged an American Admiral (called Chuck if I remember correctly) with a cat o’ nine tails. I haven’t yet worked that into any of my stories …
Finally: can we post an extract of your novel?
Yes, here’s an extract from quite near the beginning.
Stella was glad to put down the panther when they got back to Daphne’s flat.
“I’m sure my arms must be a good couple of inches longer.”
“He can’t be heavier than the curry and wine. I suppose it is a he?” Daphne said as she set plates on the table.
“He is. I bet he is heavier and he’s bigger and I have been carrying him for loads longer and I’m weak with hunger.”
“I’m working as fast as I can,” Daphne said, removing lids from the foil containers. “What are you going to call him?”
“Thirteen! You can’t; it’s unlucky.”
“No it’s not, it’s just a number. Actually in this case it’s a date; the thirteenth of July and as I won him today, that makes it lucky. Plus as he’s named after a date that means I’ll always have a date to snuggle up with.”
“OK, you’ve convinced me.” Daphne’s expression suggested she was simply convinced there was no point arguing rather than that she agreed but at least she returned her attention to a far more important issue: curry.
While Daphne unpacked the food and garnished it with chopped coriander. Stella selected a CD from Daphne’s collection. They ate the tasty meal and discussed every detail of the fortunes they’d been given. Almost every detail; Stella didn’t want to spoil Daphne’s enjoyment by mentioning the bit about family sadness. As Rosie-Lee said, it was all in the past.
Once they’d eaten, Stella insisted they do everything properly by listening to The Searchers singing Love Potion Number Nine before lighting a candle, dimming the lights, laying the envelope face down on the table and pouring more wine.
Daphne proposed a toast. “To the future.”
“The future,” Stella agreed. She sipped her wine. “It’s looking Rosé-er already.”
Copyright Patsy Collins, an extract from A Year and a Day Reproduced with kind permission of the author
Feel free to add anything else you want to say!!!
As well as my novels you can also buy many of my short stories. These are available from Alfie Dog (39p each). To give you a taster I’m also offering a collection of stories for free from smashwords.
I keep a blog. It’s mostly about writing and includes lots of links to free to enter writing competitions, but other random stuff does sneak in sometimes. Patsy’s Blog
Thanks so much Patsy for sharing your journey and we wish you many future successes!
Next week we welcome to the spotlight author Mandy James to tell us all about her new novel