Can’t wait? Me neither.

Are you a little impatient? Or restless? That’s me sometimes. I’m either very impulsive in my reasoning or alternatively hesitant, holding back just in case I’ve missed something important.  Waiting for proofs to arrive and reviewers to review is clearly testing my patience, but I know this is all part of the wonderful world of publishing. I just need to keep focused on writing the next book – that’s my job.

As a writer, I naturally want my book to be read. I’m also a reader. I do most of my reading in bed in the evening and go to sleep with words folding themselves into my dreams.

If you’re waiting to read my book then I can offer you a sneak preview by way of the first chapter. So if you want to read it, then please sign up for my newsletter. Now and again I’ll be sharing short stories, books I’ve read and recommend, and snippets of news about my works in progress.

Interested? It’s very easy – just click on the link below.  (Do remember to check your spam folder in case the verification email ends up in there).

Sign up here for Rachel’s Readers and the first chapter of The Women of Heachley Hall

The evolution of a book…

… or how it didn’t turn out quite how I expected it to.

When writing the first draft of The Women of Heachley Hall (codenamed: a year and a day), I had a good idea where I wanted to end up. The writing unfolded naturally to that conclusion and my congratulatory pat on the back. But, oh, the beginning of the book! It never offered the same sense of satisfaction. The feedback I had from beta readers, agents and editors sent me spiralling in circles of frustrating re-writes. Without spoiling the plot, this is how it went:

1. Opening chapters started in the house (great). However to explain the presence of the house, I needed the back story.  Consequently, the poor reader was sent zig-zagging back and forth in time. Where was the grab?

2. Try something completely different – a prologue. Introduce the historical aspect of the story by flinging the reader back in time. It certainly had a hook to it. But… the voice was written from a character who never appeared again the story. Uhm. Scrap that idea.

3. Re-write the opening to follow the chronology of events and introduce the key characters. For a while, I thought that was the draft to work on. Except, I’d created heaps of dialogue and no house. The feedback became more consistent – start in the house.

4. Oh dear. I’m back to square one, but I knew that first version didn’t work. I read, and read, I consulted the wisdom of other authors, attended writing workshops and finally, it slapped me in the face. Take option 1 and 3 and throw half of it out the window and re-write it to be the best of both worlds. I reminded myself I’m in control, I didn’t have to tie myself to one set of chronological events when the most important element of the book is the house, the protagonist’s reaction to the news she’s inherited it and what she does next.

After four years, and not the year and a day I envisaged, the opening settled down and stopped shouting at me to do something.

Have I learnt any lessons? Certainly: planning the intricate details of a book is one thing, writing it is another.

Now my labour of love is live on Amazon and available from pre-order.

Only women can discover Heachley’s secret.

The life of a freelance illustrator will never rake in the millions so when twenty-eight year old Miriam discovers she’s the sole surviving heir to her great-aunt’s fortune, she can’t believe her luck. She dreams of selling her poky city flat and buying a studio.

But great fortune comes with an unbreakable contract. To earn her inheritance, Miriam must live a year and a day in the decaying Heachley Hall.

The fond memories of visiting the once grand Victorian mansion are all she has left of her parents and the million pound inheritance is enough of a temptation to encourage her to live there alone.

After all, a year’s not that long. So with the help of a local handyman, she begins to transform the house.

But the mystery remains. Why would loving Aunt Felicity do this to her?

Alone in the hall with her old life miles away, Miriam is desperate to discover the truth behind Felicity’s terms. Miriam believes the answer is hiding in her aunt’s last possession: a lost box. But delving into Felicity and Heachley’s long past is going to turn Miriam’s view of the world upside down.

Does she dare keep searching, and if she does, what if she finds something she wasn’t seeking?

Has something tragic happened at Heachley Hall?

Miriam has one year to uncover an unimaginable past.

Available for Pre-Order on Amazon

Want to know when? Then sign up for my newsletter – Rachel’s Readers!

Advance reader copy for reviewers is available upon request.

Sh – don’t tell anyone!

The biggest challenge I face in publishing The Women of Heachley Hall is keeping quiet. When you want to sell your book, have it read by countless millions (or realistically a few thousand!), then they want to know what they’re getting, don’t they?

When I sought feedback on the draft manuscripts, my friendly readers fell into two camps: those whom I gave some indication of the story, others, including my editor, to whom I gave next to nothing away. The outcome was quite clear. The less said the better!

So, shush, don’t tell anyone Heachley’s secret. Let everyone else find out for themselves.