Pulp Idol 2017: I’m Through To The Final!

This is my first post in many months, as life has been distracting me to no end, but I come bearing excellent news! I recently entered Pulp Idol – a local writing competition in Liverpool – and got through to the final! Can you believe it?

This was the third consecutive year that I’ve entered and I almost didn’t bother, but something compelled me to submit my novel hours before the deadline – I’m so glad now that I did!

In the competition, each of us had to read out three minutes from our opening chapter, followed by a series of questions from the panel of judges. I brought great passion and energy to my reading and enthusiastically answered the judges’ questions, sensing that my piece had been well-received, yet hardly daring to hope that I would get through to the final. As we waited for the results, I had such a strong gut feeling that I would be successful, but of course my inner critic simply dismissed this as wishful thinking.

When the judges called out my name, I cannot tell you how overjoyed I was! After all the rejection emails I’ve received from publishing houses, as well as my run-in with a vanity publisher, it was so special to hear such positive feedback about my writing. The judges said my opening chapter was well-structured, eloquently written and wasn’t drowning in too much description, with interesting characters that showed great potential – this was so affirming for me and it has restored confidence in my writing.

I’ve barely written anything these last four months, so this victory has given me a much needed confidence boost. Going forward to the final next month, there is a chance I could actually end up with a publishing contract, which is so unbelievably exciting! I dare to dream that it is possible and intend to carry forth my passionate energy to the final, letting my inner light shine as I present my work to the judges once more.

Wish me luck, my friends!

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Salvaging An Old Project

It has been two years since I wrote my second book. When it was first finished, I sent it off to literary agents, but it’s kind of been forgotten about since then. Other projects have taken priority and I’ve also been rather preoccupied with life, so my second book has been left sitting on a dusty shelf in cyber space.

This week, however, I felt the urge to revisit this story. Before I knew it, I was re-drafting the first chapter and realised that it is a story worth salvaging. The prose is a little clumsy, as I was still learning my craft when I wrote it, but I am a better writer now and know how I can fix it. With a thorough polish, I know it can sparkle!

Revisiting the book, I no longer feel such a personal attachment to the story and feel as though I can edit it more objectively. My second book draws upon a lot of personal experiences, so I think I was concerned that people might think it was autobiographical; certainly, there were quite a few parallels between my personal circumstances and those of the characters, but a lot has changed over the last few years. I can now look upon this book with completely fresh eyes.

So far, I have really enjoyed polishing the prose and seeing how better it looks afterwards! Now that I have stopped drawing comparisons between what was real and what was fictional, I can see that the story pays homage to the trials and tribulations that many young people face when graduating from university. I know that many young people will be able to relate to this and so I wish to share this story with the world. I do not know how long it will take to edit , but I have committed myself to this restoration and plan to see it through!

The Essence of Sunshine: A Lesbian Romance

This book exists because my girlfriend dared me to write a romance before I was twenty-five.

But when I accepted this challenge, I didn’t want to write any old rubbish! So I set about to create something with meaning and value. And this is the story that soon fell into my head!

The Essence of Sunshine

The Essence of Sunshine is about a girl with very low self-esteem. Breaking free from an abusive relationship, Georgia’s confidence hits rock bottom and she has no idea what to do with her life. But when she goes away on holiday, she meets a girl who helps to restore her spirit. Georgia is in complete awe of her new friend – the bright-eyed holiday rep, Robyn – but she is surprised when romance blossoms between them…

There doesn’t seem to be much material out there that normalises same-sex relationships, so I’m glad that I’m helping to buckle that trend. There’s an increasing amount of gay/lesbian material being released every year, but we’ve still got some way to go, especially in big institutions like Hollywood. More often than not, homosexual characters feature as funny sidekicks or are confined to ridiculous stereotypes – very rarely do you see a fully-rounded character who just happens to be gay. And let’s not even talk about the over-sexualisation of lesbians!

But anyway, I think that I have succeeded in creating a love story that focuses on the personalities and relationship of the two main characters, rather than the fact that they both happen to be girls.

One or two people have already said to me: “But you’re not a lesbian. How can you accurately write about this?”

My answer: “I’m not a serial killer either – but you didn’t question my accuracy when one of those cropped up in my last story!”

The Essence of Sunshine is quite a short book, but it’s still taken a while to edit and polish. I have taken my time with it to make sure that it is as perfect as it can be before releasing it into the world. I’m still a little scared about sharing it with people, but it’s time to let my child go. Books are meant to be read, after all!

So if The Essence of Sunshine interests you, then you can download the eBook from Amazon: http://amzn.to/1MQoeY9

I believe you can actually preview the opening of the book for free, so why not try before you buy? The print version will be following in due course, so stay tuned if you would prefer a good old physical copy!

Or if it’s not your cup of tea, then why not tell a friend about it? I would greatly appreciate it if you could help out an independent author =)

Finding a way to pay the bills (without destroying your soul)

Writing is my biggest passion, but I have more to give than just my writing.

Several months ago, I had a particularly rubbish day at work and decided to reassess things. Getting published was proving to be difficult and I didn’t want to be stuck in dead-end jobs for the rest of my life, so I decided that I needed a Plan B – something to fall back on in case my writing career never took off.

After doing a personality test online, it was brought to my attention that counselling would be a suitable profession for me. Funnily enough, it was something that had crossed my mind in the past, but I’d never really looked into it. So I’ve started training and it’s going to take a few years to become fully qualified, but hopefully I will have a day job that I enjoy at the end of it.

Only a handful of very lucky people get to make substantial money from their passions. I am now resigned to the likelihood that my work may never get picked up by a literary agent or publishing house, but that doesn’t mean I’ll stop writing. I write because I enjoy doing so, but I also have bills to pay, so I’m pursuing a career that utilises some of my other talents (and doesn’t destroy my soul).

Whatever you want to do in life, then go for it. As long as you’re not hurting anyone, then people should support you in your endeavours (and to hell with them if they don’t). Sometimes though, it won’t always be possible to turn your dream into a reality, so you may have to find ways of compromising (i.e. working in a restaurant during the day and acting on stage at night). Do whatever it takes to carry on doing what you love.

Good luck, my friends!

Available Now: Pearl’s Hereafter

At long last, I have published my first book!

Pearl's Hereafter - Nick Peterson

It’s been quite a while since I took the deep plunge and wrote Pearl’s Hereafter. Since then, I have written two more books and I’m now planning my fourth! Something tells me that I’ll always be writing something and it has always been my intention to share my creations with others.

Before now, I have tried to get my work published in the traditional manner and submitted my manuscripts to countless literary agents, but all of these gatekeepers responded in the same way: “Your work isn’t what we’re currently looking for”. In other words, they could not guarantee the commercial viability of my work in the marketplace.

Just as I was finally considering self-publishing, Olympia Publishers came along and requested to see the full manuscript for my book. I was absolutely overjoyed because I thought that someone finally had faith in my work and was taking a chance on me. But alas, it transpired that this company was a vanity publisher and they requested £3200 towards “production costs”. I smelled a rat immediately, but they certainly didn’t do themselves any favours by getting my name wrong – TWICE!

Nevertheless, I should thank these sharks. Even though Olympia Publishing tried to extort me by preying on my hopes and dreams, they gave me the determination to follow through with self-publishing. In the wake of the letdown, I sprang to action and here we are a month later, with my first book available for your reading pleasure!

Pearl’s Hereafter is a curious tale about a regretful woman who gets to re-live her life. If you wish to get transported back with her to 1950s Northern England, then you’re very welcome to do so:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00TKBNO6W

It feels great to finally share this with people. After all, books are meant to be read, aren’t they? There may very well be people out there who desire to read this yarn, so why should they be denied this right just because the agents said no?

I will also be making my other books available too, along with the print version of Pearl’s Hereafter, which I’m sure that my Grandparents will appreciate! Personally, I prefer to have a physical copy in my hands, but I know that many people are reading ebooks these days – both methods have their perks, I suppose!

So anyway, I should probably go and celebrate or something! There’s some sort of love festival happening in town, so that sounds like just the thing to immerse myself in. Happy love day, you lovely people!

My dealings with a vanity publisher

Just before Christmas, I received the email that every writer dreams of receiving…

A publishing house was interested in one of my books!! After reading the sample chapters that I sent them, they wanted to see the full manuscript and said that they would get back to me within 4-5 weeks.

As I’m sure you can imagine, it’s been a very long wait since then. And no matter how hard I’ve tried, its been at the back of my mind, like I’ve been waiting for some sort of judgement day to arrive. Every time I’ve opened up my emails, my heart has fluttered with a mixture of both optimism and fear, simultaneously anticipating either outcome of the verdict.

Yesterday, I finally received a response. Ironically, it was one of the few times that I checked my emails and I wasn’t expecting a reply… they do say that a watched pot never boils, don’t they? But anyway, their response was something of a mixed bag.

On the one hand, they said that they loved my book and wanted to give me a chance. But on the other, they told me that I would need to make a contribution towards the initial publication costs. I still don’t know how much they’re going to ask for, as they said that this would be included in the proposed contract, but you can bet that it’ll be thousands of pounds.

I’ve since done a little research into this publisher and it seems that they are quite well-known for their attempts to extort money from aspiring authors. Thanks to the internet, I was able to find a newspaper article about them and read some comments about other authors who have had similar experiences with them. All of a sudden, their praise about my book meant nothing, as they probably say the same thing to many hopeful writers.

The practice is known as vanity publishing. For a fee, the publisher will publish your work, but it will never get big. What’s so horrible about this company is that it tries to hide the fact that it’s a vanity publisher and preys upon the hopes and dreams of writers, some of who probably cough up the money. Just in case you didn’t know, most publishers and agents DON’T ask for upfront fees because they take a commission from the book sales later on.

For the last few weeks, I have put a lot of energy into visualising what it would be like to get published. I have never wanted fame or fortune, but I did revel in the idea of my books being shared and read, imagining what it might be like to do book signings or see my books in the shops. But unfortunately, it looks like I’ll have to go it alone.

Out of curiosity, I asked the publisher for some specific feedback about my book, which they said was “confidential” and could not be discussed until we were in production. This just confirmed my worst fears about them – had they even read my book?

So now I’ve decided to revert back to my original plan: self-publishing. I have three books under my belt now and I would very much like to share them with people. Fortunately, we live in a time where it is technologically possible for writers to take matters into their own hands and that is what I intend to do. I am grateful for my recent letdown because it has made me more determined than ever to share my work. So watch this space, folks!

Rising from the ashes

Wow – it’s certainly been a while since I last posted! Perhaps I should provide a few updates?

First off, I have been very busy this autumn with setting up a business called Mystery Cow, which provides people with everything they need to host their own murder mystery parties. You are, of course, very welcome to check this out at http://www.mysterycow.com and I would appreciate any feedback that you are willing to give!

To be perfectly honest, setting up the business nearly destroyed me. Even though I had fun with creating the resources and all of the different characters, I did face a fair few struggles and stresses with getting it launched. The major mistake I made was not giving myself a well-earned break, which of course resulted in me completely burning out.

In the wake of this crash, I have returned to my true love: storywriting. I was a bit nervous about starting my third book, as it has been several months since I last wrote a novel, but I took to it like a duck to water. Writing, it seems, is like riding a bike. Life seems much simpler now that I am writing again. Several months away from the craft has made me realise how much I cherish it and want it to have a firm place in my life. And so I have resolved that no matter what is going on in my life in the future, I never want to be parted from writing for that long ever again.

With regards to this blog, I have been very aware of time slipping by, as I have a weekly reminder on my phone that prompts me to write a blog post, but I just haven’t found it within me to do so. I have been so utterly spent that I haven’t found the motivation to do that much at all, nor have I been forcing myself to. For the good of my health, I’ve needed to take a complete blackout from everything, especially business-related, but I am slowly regaining my vigour. My return to blogging is certainly a very good sign that I am on the mend!

My advice to anyone who is reading this post is to do what you love. Follow your passion with all your heart and do not let anyone stop you from doing this. I have been on quite the detour for the last several months, getting quite caught up in something that has caused deep stress and anxiety, but I have now returned to what truly makes my heart sing. And as long as that is in my life, then I imagine that I shall have great joy.

Fantasy: A welcome escape

Once again, inspiration has struck me, this time in the form of fantasy.

I have always loved writing fantasy. During my teenage years, while facing the trials and tribulations of high school, I used to find solace in the mythical lands that I had created. However, I never managed to finish the story, despite working on it almost every night after school.

For whatever reason, my first two proper books were very much anchored in reality, but now I yearn to create something more fantastical. I have been receiving inspiration for characters and plot-lines for well over a year now, but recently it’s all clicked into place. In other words, the pieces of the jigsaw have finally come together!

Creating a new world is truly liberating, but it’s also a massive undertaking! To my delight, I’ve managed to work in some elements from my original fantasy tale, so that the spirit of my childhood brilliance lives on! And also, it’s going to be a trilogy, so that means that extra care needs to be taken with weaving the narrative together.

Quite simply, I’m thoroughly enjoying the challenge. It’s a great opportunity to go crazy with my imagination, creating different kingdoms and religions and creatures and characters. Okay, I’m inspired again… imagination land, here I come! 🙂

Speak to you soon, guys!

Yearning to write, but being bound to other things

Sometimes, life can get in the way of your passions.

The last time I did any story-writing was back in February when I finished my second book, which saddens me slightly. But I have resolved that there’s nothing stopping me from writing little tidbits or small stories to keep the passion alive. In fact, I think that a little bit of daily writing would help to get the cogs turning and sharpen my focus when getting on with other tasks.

At the moment, I’m setting up a business, which is highly time-consuming! But thankfully, it’s a creative business that still allows me to come up with characters and plot-lines, so it’s not all bad! And the whole reason that I’m doing it is to create an income to give myself more time to write stories!

Sometimes though, I just yearn to pick up the pen and return to my true love. But I realise that I must be patient and persist with the task at hand… only then can I achieve true freedom to write stories whenever I desire.

Should I self-publish?

Before yesterday, I would’ve said no.

But since then, things have been put into perspective for me. Someone made me realise that the odds of getting published the traditional way are very slim, and that I could be waiting around for a very long time before an agent accepts me! And also, only 0.01% of books are given a marketing budget, which is much lower than I expected! So rather than waiting around for what might never happen, I’ve decided to take action.

I don’t want fame or fortune. I just want to share my books with the world and make a living from doing so! So I’m going to make my books available and see what happens. Hopefully, people will like what I have to offer 🙂

The decision to self-publish has opened up a lot of doors. I must decide which platforms to use, how to market myself, how to format the book etc. I already know the answers to some of these questions, as I’ve quietly been wondering about self-publishing for a while. I’ve always tried to find out information about it, just in case I ever decided to go ahead with it. And now is that time.

The reason that I tried to get published the traditional way was because I wanted to set myself apart from the sea of self-published authors out there. In this day and age, anyone can publish a book, and I didn’t want to get lost in the crowd. But I know now that there are ways and means that I can distinguish myself 🙂

At the end of the day, I want people to read my books. They’re just gathering dust at the moment, so I’d like to share them! And if they do well, then a publisher might even offer to take me on anyway!

Watch this space, guys!