Birth of a Novel

My first novel has just been launched into the big, bad world and I’m sitting here fretting. Perhaps it will sink without trace or people might hate it … Bedsit Three by Sally Jenkins

So, to stop me brooding, I’m going to tell you about how it came to be.

Let’s go back two years to October 2013. I went on a weekend writing course organised by Lois Maddox of Relax and Write. The title of the course was ‘How to Write the Mystery Novel’ and it was led by Eileen Robertson. At the same time I spotted a free-to-enter novel writing competition organised by WordPlay Publishing, there was no theme or genre specified but the hero had to be named ‘Ian’ (incidentally, that competition is on-going annually until 2017 if you want to have a go). I combined these two things together for NaNoWriMo 2013 and drafted the first 50,000 words of Bedsit Three.

I spent December 2013 writing a synopsis and polishing the first three chapters. I submitted to the competition just before the 31st December deadline. Then I gave up being a novelist and went back to short stories.

In May 2014 I received a phone call out of the blue. It was Michael Barton of WordPlay Publishing to tell me I had won the competition! The prize was formatting for Createspace and Kindle plus 250 Euros marketing budget and a financial contribution towards a cover design.

After my elation subsided, I realised that I had to knuckle down, finish the manuscript and get it ready for publication. When I thought it was done, Anne Harvey acted as a beta reader and I also had a critique from Patricia Fawcett. Lots of changes followed, including getting rid of a superfluous character, an unlikely coincidence and a lottery win. The ending of the novel also changed.

Then I decided that if Bedsit Three had won one competition, perhaps it could win another. So I entered a few more and was shortlisted in the Silverwood-Kobo-Berforts Open Day Competition and the Writing Magazine/McCrit Competition. This gave me confidence and I had the manuscript professionally edited by Mark Henderson. Then off it went for formatting and I looked for cover designers. I chose John Amy. He gave me five initial designs which I showed to a handful of people and their verdict was unanimous.

The back cover blurb was put to the vote in this blog post and I am most grateful to all of you who took the time to comment.

My first novel looks and feels very professional. Here’s the Amazon blurb that goes with it:

“A word of warning to anyone who picks this book up: be prepared for a sleepless night, because you won’t want to put it down until you get to the end,” Michael Barton, WordPlay Publishing.
A stupid mistake ended Ian’s marriage. Now he’s trying to put it right.
Sandra was a teenage mum. Now she’s fighting to make a good life for her daughter.
Maxine made an important decision behind her boyfriend’s back. His reaction devastates all their lives…
Every mother tries to do her best for her child. But sometimes that ‘best’ creates a monster.

Bedsit Three is a tale of murder, mystery and love. It won the inaugural Wordplay Publishing/Ian Govan Award and was shortlisted for both the Silverwood-Kobo-Berforts Open Day Competition and the Writing Magazine/McCrit Competition.
Michael Barton, Founder and Managing Director of WordPlay Publishing said of Bedsit Three, “This novel is well-constructed and well-written. But it’s also far more than that. It’s a book that elicits emotional reaction, drawing the reader into the story and placing him or her in the middle of the action page after page.”

‘Bedsit Three’ is available in paperback and Kindle format on Amazon and also as an e-book for Kobo.


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  1. #1 by Steve Wand on October 29, 2015 - 3:15 pm

    Excellent news! I can understand your elation, and it just goes to show how several strands, laid down over time, come together and create something wonderful. I’ve been dipping a toe into creative writing for several years while holding down a job. Now? Now I’m focusing on writing and hope to have similar success to your own. Well done – I’m suitably inspired.

    • #2 by Sally Jenkins on October 29, 2015 - 3:23 pm

      Thanks for the kind words, Steve. Best wishes with your writing – I know how difficult it is to squeeze writing in between work and home life!

  2. #3 by Susan A Eames on October 29, 2015 - 3:43 pm

    Congratulations and good luck with your book!

  3. #5 by Anne Harvey on October 29, 2015 - 3:51 pm

    Many congratulations, Sally! I wish you all the best with it. Interesting how you came to write it.

    • #6 by Sally Jenkins on October 29, 2015 - 4:32 pm

      Thanks, Anne – for the comment and the beta reading!

  4. #7 by mskehill77 on October 29, 2015 - 10:34 pm

    Well done Sally, hope you have great success. I wonder if your book is available in Ireland. It sounds brilliant, I would love to read it.

    • #8 by Sally Jenkins on October 30, 2015 - 5:37 pm

      Thanks, Mary. Yes, it’s available worldwide on Amazon and also on Kobo.

  5. #9 by Graham Cowley on October 29, 2015 - 11:28 pm

    Exciting times ahead Sally I wish you well from Sutton Coldfield

    • #10 by Sally Jenkins on October 30, 2015 - 5:35 pm

      Thanks, Graham. Do you live in Sutton Coldfield too?

  6. #11 by blogaboutwriting on October 31, 2015 - 1:57 pm

    Congratulations, Sally. I know a lot of hard work has gone into this – but you’ve done it! Well done. (and yes, Graham lives in Sutton Coldfield. He and his daughter used to come to my writing class in Smith’s Wood, a few years ago!)

    • #12 by Sally Jenkins on October 31, 2015 - 7:55 pm

      Thanks, Helen. Perhaps eventually I’ll get back to some short stories – after I’ve tried my hand at a bit of book-marketing!

  7. #13 by Wendy Clarke on November 1, 2015 - 8:24 am

    Wishing you every success with ‘Bedsit Three’, Sally.

    • #14 by Sally Jenkins on November 1, 2015 - 7:05 pm

      Thanks, Wendy. I was pleased to read about your positive NWS report – looking forward to seeing you published!

  8. #15 by charliebritten on November 2, 2015 - 6:44 pm

    Congratulations on publication and all those competition successes. I like Word Play. I’ve got a sub out to them at the moment. Yesterday, I also started writing my novel for Nano for the first time. It’s an amazing experience. I feel I’ve suddenly got the licence to write and write.

    • #16 by Sally Jenkins on November 2, 2015 - 8:20 pm

      Thanks, Charlie. Glad NaNo is going well – keep at it!

  9. #17 by Linda Daunter on November 5, 2015 - 7:27 pm

    Congratulations! I do like the cover, very atmospheric.

  10. #19 by Mick Arnold on November 7, 2015 - 3:22 pm

    All good luck to you Sally. Let me know if I can do anything to publicise. x

    • #20 by Sally Jenkins on November 7, 2015 - 6:03 pm

      Thanks, Mick. Any tweet, FBs, honest reviews etc. are always gratefully received!

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