Monday, 18 August 2014

Taking a leap of faith

Deciding to grab my courage in both hands and putting pen to paper, so to speak, was huge for me.  There weren't many people I felt comfortable telling about my forage into this unknown territory.  As I went about creating my online presence I hid behind an avatar, picking one I felt conveyed both my "good girl" and my "bad girl".  But as time has gone by, I've decided that  I am who I am, and people will either like me or not.  Either way, that's ultimately their decision.  Whenever I get shaky or uncertain about whether I'm pushing other people's boundaries too far, my husband will fold me in one of his fabulous hugs and tell me to be proud of who I am and what I am doing, he is.  If others are uncomfortable about the territory that I wonder into during my writing, that's their problem.

Sometimes I think I don't tell my husband often enough that he is an amazing human being.  His unflagging, unwavering support and encouragement has kept me going on this, sometimes  crazy, sometimes frustrating, sometimes downright difficult, but always worthwhile journey I've been on for this past year.  So, taking my courage in both hands yet again, and channeling my husbands positive energy I decided to take a huge leap of faith.  In a visit with my bestie, I told her I was planning on doing a photo shoot and I was "coming out".  Bless her, she calmly looked at me and said "count me in".  At this point I should probably tell you that, for many of the same reasons as mine, she was equally uncomfortable telling people about her writing.  But was willing to do this with me anyway.  And now you know why she's my bestie!

So, that's what we did.  We pulled on our big girl panties, got all "prettified" as my son would say and did the photo shoot.  Oh my word ... we had an absolute ball.  What fun!  And, even if I should say so myself, the photos are really good.  The photographer took all our concerns into account (all the "please hide all the unsightlies", "make us look fab" and the like) and served us up some really stunning shots.  Thank you Elton Willenburgh for making us look a million bucks!

While I have come a long way since I embarked on this journey almost a year ago, I am not 100% ready to reveal all to the world so I think I'll start with this one.

Hi, my name is Angelé Wells and I write romance for the strictly over 18's.  And now you know my secret. It's nice to meet you.  ;)

Much love,

Saturday, 9 August 2014

The Road to Writing

I have loved to read for as long as I can remember.  One of my fondest memories of my childhood is sitting with my dad as he read me stories to keep me entertained while my mom made dinner or did some other household chore.  And then there was the bedtime story ... another firm favourite.

When I was old enough, I started reading by myself.  I would spend hours reading.  I absolutely adored The Famous Five, Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, The Secret Seven, and many others.  My cousin and I would spend school holidays reading up a storm.  We'd go down to the local library and max out our library cards (6 books each if I remember correctly).  Then we'd go home and read; and when we finished our own, we'd swop and read the other one's 6.  Good memories :)

It was only when I hit my teens and discovered "Mills & Swoon" that the bug bit.  I was in awe of the authors who had created these stories using nothing more than imagination ... well that's what I thought at the time.  It would be many more years before I realised how much more there was to writing a book.  So, one miserable winter's day during the school holidays my cousin and I sat down to pen our first best seller.  Sadly, we never did finish.  School, boys and life, in general, got in the way and our masterpiece was shelved.  Packing to move recently I found our 3/4 finished manuscript and had a read through.  To say I cried with laughter will give you a fairly accurate idea of just how really bad it was but, hey, we thought it was fabulous at the time.

Like I said, life got in the way of writing that fabulous book that was going to launch us to stardom.  Not long after finishing school I met the man of my dreams and got married young.  Barely married, we discovered we were expecting.  Nothing like a baby to railroad any plans for one's immediate future - don't get me wrong, I adore my son.  He is the light of my life.  But let's be honest, having a little one in the house is time and energy consuming.

Fast-forward 25 years.

My bestie had been harbouring a secret desire to write and it came out in conversation one day that she'd confessed this dream to her husband.  Being the wonderfully supportive man that he is, he encouraged her to go for it.  To start out slowly with a blog and build up from there.  By the time she got up the nerve to tell me what she'd done, she had started said blog and was nearly finished the first draft of her novel.  So, during this conversation I, of course, confessed that I'd co-authored a manuscript at 16 but that was as far as it had gotten.  "Girlfriend, go for it if that's your dream!", she exclaimed.  Now, I must just point out that my friend is that friend - the one that will tell you how it is - not how you want to hear it.  And I have to tell you, it's one of the many things that I love about her; but I digress.

I went home and mulled it over for a while - I'm like that.  I have to process and research before jumping.  And I decided she was right!  If I didn't do it for myself, no one else was going to do it for me.  Besides, I had nothing to lose.  So I sat myself down in front of the pc and surfed the net for days.  Did I mention that I have to process and research before I do anything ... lol!  After a couple of weeks of research, I felt I was ready to take the first step.  I started my first blog to try out my writing wings.  All the while a story perking in the back of mine.  Eventually, a year ago, I finally scraped my courage together and wrote my first short story, publishing it to Smashwords when it was done.  Just to see if I could actually write something someone else would want to read.

I jumped up and down like a loon that first day after hitting the publish button, seeing the download numbers.  Oh my hat ... people were reading my story!!!  In that moment the bug bit even deeper.  I have, since, published a subsequent two short stories and started this blog.  I'm currently working on an anthology with said bestie, as well as a stand alone book of my own.  It's very exciting, but I must confess, very nerve-wracking.  There are days when I sit in front of the pc and ... nothing.  It is those days that I wonder if I've lost my ever-loving mind.  Especially when I realise just how much I still have to learn about this new craft.  Ultimately, when I see what I've written and I get feedback from readers telling they enjoyed what they read, I know that I'm on the right track. 

It has not been an easy journey down this writing road for me, but it has definitely been worth it.  There aren't sufficient words to describe that feeling you get (and yes, I do see the irony in that phrase ... lol!) when someone not only downloads what you've written but take the time to tell you how much they loved what you wrote.  It is a warm and fuzzy feeling unlike any other, knowing that you've brought something positive to someone's life.  To date, I've been truly blessed to have only had positive feedback from my readers.  I do realise, though, that won't always be the case but I'll deal with that when the time comes.  In the meantime, I will continue to be grateful for the wonderful readers I have collected along the way.

I still have so much to learn - I am but a mere fledgling in the writing world.  I am, however, blessed with someone to share this journey with, an amazing husband who encourages me every step of the way, and the most fabulous group of fellow authors that I can turn to when I need help or advice.  I am a proud member of Romance Writers' Organisation of South Africa and am truly grateful for the time these super busy ladies take out of their day to answer the questions of a newbie, offer advice or point me in the right direction.

Ladies, I thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for everything as I journey down this road to writing.  I look forward to many happy years of writing ahead of me.

Some helpful resources that have been invaluable to me:
These are just a few of the sites I visited to get me going but in the end, it's all up to you.  These just give you an idea of what others have found works for them.  Ultimately, you need to find your own style.  Best of luck!

Much love,