Guest Spot: Charlotte Howard – The Black Door

Thanks for hosting. Something I get asked a lot is about getting published, so thought I would use this time to talk about how I ended up with a contract and the importance of networking.

 I started writing poetry and short stories when I was young. When I was 10 I wrote a poem, 4 years later my grandma sent it into a competition and the prize was to be published. That was the first time I got featured in an anthology and got the bug. From then on I knew that I wanted to be a published author.

I knew that writing was a difficult business though, and almost gave up on my dream – going into veterinary nursing instead. Then when I was pregnant, I started writing again. I found a website that would let me publish my poems and short stories and pay me! It only earned me a few cents here and there, but I did it anyway. It was great to get some recognition.

This site was a freelancing site. I started writing pet health care articles, and it didn’t take long before I was put in charge of the veterinary health part of the site. A few years later, and I was managing the whole of the animal section. I was the team leader of six other writers, editing, formatting, and training other writers. One of my articles even got bought by a private writer to be featured in his anthology.

Freelancing became a career. Soon I was writing for private contracts – other websites and magazines worldwide. But more than that, I was being put in contact with other writers, publishers, and agents. I was encouraged to start writing creatively again, and I did.

My first novella wasn’t great, but I self-published it anyway. (Don’t get excited, it’s been taken out of print now.) Then I wrote Seven Dirty Words.

I sent it out to publishers and agents and got rejected. I heard on the grapevine (Facebook) that another writer and bookshop owner had started up a small Indie publishing house, so I sent it to her as well. It wasn’t the most professional of submissions, but for some reason she liked it and accepted. Four Letter Words, the sequel, came not long after.

Thanks to a publishing contract, I now had to start promoting them and myself. So I started networking. I found Facebook pages, blogs, Twitter accounts and put myself out there. I’m not great at selling so it was tricky, but I made a few contacts.

The Romance Festival in Bedford was a turning point though. I met Lucy Felthouse, a prolific and well-known erotic romance author who also edits for publishers, and runs her own writer’s marketing company. Through her I discovered a whole host of other small publishing houses, including Tirgearr Publishing.

When The Black Door was finished, I knew I had to send it out to everyone that I could, and I did send it to a couple of big agents, but I concentrated on the smaller traditional publishers that I now knew about.

What I’m trying to say is that if you want to be a writer, you have to do more than write a book. You have to network, network, network. So use every contact you have to get where you need to go.

The Black DoorExcerpt:

All the bloody same.

My mind traced back to the day I had given up on one-sided monogamous relationships.
The children were at school or work, and the sun was beating down. It was a glorious day, and I had decided to go home for lunch, rather than spend it in a stuffy office.

I pulled up outside the house and a fleeting thought passed through my mind when I saw Connor’s car sitting in the driveway. My husband of eighteen years had had the same idea.
I crept into the house, hoping to surprise him. But, it turned out that his idea had involved a slutty bottle-blonde.
I wanted to blame the events that followed on a red mist descending over me. The truth is that in the time it took for my mind to register that some tart was riding my husband in what I later found out was known as reverse cowgirl, my mind had calculated the necessary response.

The skank lost a good handful of bleached hair, roots and all. I allowed her to gather her clothes and watched as she tugged her pants on whilst running out of the house. If nothing else, the neighbours got a good show.

Connor yelled at me. But his words were drowned out by the blood pumping in my ears. I marched back up the stairs and into his little study. Opening the window, I saw Miss Slut stood in the middle of the road, screeching obscenities at me. I looked at the Ferrari in our driveway and smiled.

I think his Xbox enjoyed its first and final flying lesson as it sailed out of the window. The fact that it landed in the bonnet of his prized mid-life crisis proved that Karma does exist.
Connor. Holly.

I made a mental note of the two names at the top of my imaginary hit list.

I blinked and I was back in the boardroom.

Imogen Pearce is a single mum of four children and fast approaching 40, she works at Ryedale Incorporated where she has to battle a younger and smarter generation to get to where she wants to go. If that means taking on the account of Cherry and Sean Rubin’s adult shop, then she will. But what happens when Imogen discovers the private club that they run at the back? And what happens when she realizes she knows quite a few members?

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Author bio and links

British author Charlotte Howard, was born in Oman and spent much of the first part of her life flitting between Oman, Scotland, and England. Now settled in Somerset, Charlotte lives with her husband, two children, and growing menagerie of pets.

Her career as a writer began at an early age, with a poem being featured in an anthology for the East Midlands. Since then Charlotte has written many short stories and poems, and finally wrote her first full-length piece of fiction in 2010.

During what little spare time she has, Charlotte enjoys reading and writing (of course), spending time with her family, and watching action movies whilst eating curry and drinking tea.

Charlotte is an active member of Yeovil Creative Writers.


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