Monday, May 23, 2011

Concept to Contract

Good day. My name is Leigh Verrill-Rhys and I am a new author with Avalon Books. My first published novel is Wait a Lonely Lifetime, a contemporary romance set in Firenze (Florence) and San Francisco. Although this book has had a rocket speed journey from conception to contract, the journey for me as an author has been a lifetime.

What can you say about an event that amounts to the biggest moment in a writer’s career? Selling your debut novel. Every description falls short – despite your finely honed skill at the craft you have made your life’s work.

I have put words on paper from the day I learned how to hold a pen and make letters. I remember the evening I sat at the drop-leaf table in my parent’s living room, scribbling my story of giants and fairies, when I decided to make writing my profession.

Between then and now, there have been a few hundred diversions and denials. All manner of writing has sustained me – from grant proposals to articles to autobiographical anthology editing. Besides short stories, I steered clear of fiction. I told myself, ‘If I truly wanted to write fiction, I would be writing novels.’ But I was writing novels, in my head and in notebooks, a secret indulgence!

The day came when I had to make the final declaration. Though I have always written, I hadn’t given myself permission to be a writer. For years, I struggled with where my writing always took me. One day, I confessed. ‘I write romance.’ I lost a few friends or rather they deserted me but I had finally staked my claim on my future. The journey so far has led me to many new friends and opened a vast world of potential.

Three years later, almost to the day, I sent my contemporary romance to Avalon Books. Though not my first completed novel, I’m proud that Wait a Lonely Lifetime is my debut as a novelist.

Last month, I participated in a group blog as a guest at Four Foxes One Hound. The subject was ‘ideas’ and I wrote about some of the events and images that contributed to this romantic novel. The title sums up not only the relationship in the book but also the length of time to experience enough to be ready for that moment of clear, sparkling inspiration.

My moment came one morning in early autumn as I sat at a table in Venice. Across the room, I saw a man in uniform. From that moment, Wait a Lonely Lifetime took shape and flourished through to the end. In this book, I had to explore a world and a way of life that were alien to me. At the same time, I felt I was ‘coming home’.

Have you had a similar journey? Where has your writing taken you?


Sandy Cody said...

What a beautiful post, Leigh. You capture so well the journey most writers take from thinking "maybe I could write a novel" to that moment of actually "coming home" to writing. You reminded me of why I love it so much. Thank you.

Leigh Verrill-Rhys said...

Thank you, Sandy and also for helping me with the technology!

jeff7salter said...

Congratulations, Leigh, on your new 'home' in the blog-o-sphere. One day I'd love to join you here.
I like your quote, "writing novels, in my head and in notebooks" because that captures what've I've been doing now for the past 4.5 yrs since my early retirement.
But, like you, I've been writing all my life! Mostly poetry, but also articles, reviews, and even co-author of two published non-fic. books and other things.
BTW, thanks for the plug for the blog where I reside, FourFoxesOneHound. I loved having you as my Guest Fox for April! And it was perfect timing with your brand new announcement about your sale.

Leigh Verrill-Rhys said...

Jeff! You're so welcome. I was delighted to be asked to write for your group blog. I'm delighted to write anything. Like you, I've done a lot of writing over my lifetime, including 3 collections of Welsh women's autobiographies. Plug here for Honno:!

Beate Boeker said...

A very touching post, Leigh. The friends you've lost weren't true friends! We're so glad to have you with us.

Carolyn Brown said...

Leigh: An awesome, inspiring post to all authors from newbies to multi-published.

Leigh Verrill-Rhys said...

Thank you, Beate. We know are true friends by these moments. As one of my characters (in another book) says: "I've gained more than I ever lost." Thanks for stopping by.

Leigh Verrill-Rhys said...

Carolyn, thank you. Your comment hadn't appeared when I responded to Beate or I would have responded to you immediately. Your comment was very kind and I'm honored that you think so.