This post coincides with the release of my psychological suspense mystery The Secret Life of Carolyn Russell. Friends at Pens Around the World who acted as beta readers have a mention in the acknowledgements. It occurs to me that many people have had a hand in helping to bring this novel to publication. Here are some of the ways in which others have supported me:
Discussion with a group of trusted writing friends helped the initial idea to germinate. I was keen to experiment with using a dual timeline and proposed the mechanism of a podcast to dig deep into a cold case from the 1970s. They encouraged me to experiment.
Sharing excerpts from a first draft with all its flaws can be excruciating. Fortunately, I’m a member of several writing groups (including our Pens Around the World shared text sessions) where constructive feedback helped me find improved ways to tell the story.
Following many drafts and considerable editing, I reached a point where I needed feedback on the novel as a whole. My beta readers gave considerable help with structure and voice.
I used a gift of Christmas money to pay for a review from author Joanna Barnard (£300). She encouraged me to incorporate more jeopardy into the novel.
At the stage of submitting the novel (but having received many rejections) I entered an auction where the services of bookish people were offered. I won a lot with Amy Durant, co-founder and editor at Sapere Books. She provided feedback on how to reorganise the synopsis, she edited the first three chapters and gave pointers on the covering letter.
As part of an Unbound pledge (where I committed money to secure funding for the release of a collection of short fiction), I secured support from author Louise Jenson. She read and gave feedback on the opening pages and also read and commented on the redrafted version.
Working with Bloodhound Books
Abbie Rutherford was appointed by the publisher to help bring the novel up to the next level through copyediting. The novel was also proofread twice.
First reader of the finished novel
I don’t allow my husband to see my work until it’s almost finished. He read the formatted version and found one typo, one error and one occasion when the viewpoint slipped.
Reviewers and Book Bloggers
Early readers are a huge support particularly when levels of confidence in myself and the work are erratic. They’ve posted reviews on Goodreads.
As you can see, I’ve drawn upon the support of many to reach publication day, including members of this group. I’ll take this opportunity to say a big thank you to one and all. Now, there’s only one thing left to do. Here’s the blurb and a purchase link:
A true-crime podcaster investigates a decades-old suspected abduction, in this powerful psychological suspense novel.
1979 Sixteen-year-old Carolyn Russell grows increasingly infatuated with her school mathematics teacher who is also giving her private lessons. Then she disappears.
2014 Struggling journalist Stephanie Brett creates a true-crime podcast focused on the disappearance of Carolyn Russell. By digging deep into this mysterious cold case, her confidence and flagging career are boosted. But after she confronts the suspects—and talks to a potential witness—the leads dry up. However, Stephanie refuses to let the story rest . . .
Can a small-time journalist with a shoestring podcast really hope to reconstruct the ultimate fate of Carolyn Russell after all these years, or are some secrets best left buried?
‘Takes hold of the head and the heart and simply does not let go’ Jacquelyn Mitchard, No.1 New York Times bestselling author of The Good Son
‘Captures the zeitgeist for each period with telling accuracy’ Suzanne Goldring, bestselling author of My Name is Eva
‘A rare and thrilling book that manages to be thoughtful and intelligent’ Joanna Barnard, author of Hush Little Baby
Purchase link: loom.ly/N2ow-gU