Welcome to my Second Acts Series!
Today, we have Lizzie Lamb chatting about the dream that simmered for over three decades before coming to fruition.
I’ve always wanted to be a writer. However, like most aspiring writers I had bills to pay and commitments to meet. I’m not the sort of person who could starve in a garret in order to write, or the kind of woman who would expect her husband/partner to support her financially while she followed a dream. A dream which might never be realised. So the dream went on hold. If I couldn’t be a writer, I decided, I would pour my enthusiasm for writing into helping children fall in love with words and books instead, and stimulate their imagination through story telling.
In 1972 I qualified as a primary school teacher and spent time and energy teaching children how to become better writers. In this process I discovered that I had a talent for writing, producing plays and providing ex-curricular Dance and Drama Workshops for the older children. Throughout my thirty four year teaching career I never gave up on the dream that one day I would hold my own book in my hands.
Fast forward to 1988. With my career established, I managed to find some time away from marking, preparation and assessment and wrote my first romance. It was entitled The Summer of the Lotus and thanks to contacts I made I acquired an agent. I then wrote romance #2 A Reversal of Fortune, in which Mills and Boone showed an interest but suggested that I needed to hone and develop my craft. I was more than happy to do this and carried on writing in the wee, small hours after my prep for the next day was completed.
In 1990 I reached a crossroads in my life to pursue my writing dream or to get to the top of my chosen profession, teaching. I applied for and was appointed Deputy Head Teacher in a large (400+) primary school in Leicestershire. Yes, you’ve guessed it, the writing was put on hold as the post was too good to pass up on. Over the next sixteen years my time was taken up as a manager, coordinator and facilitator. However, I still found time to write, produce, choreograph and direct two plays a year with the older children in school, so the writing bug was kept alive.
What triggered the need for change?
The clock was ticking and changes were taking place in publication – Amazon, self-publishing, kindle and so on and I wanted to ride the crest of the wave before it petered out. In 2006 I took the plunge and retired from teaching (at age 55) in order to concentrate on my writing. My desire and enthusiasm had never diminished but the face of romantic fiction was changing – thanks to the Bridget Jones’s phenomenon, and I wanted to be part of those changes.
I had always enjoyed reading and writing about feisty heroines with a can-do attitude; women who want to succeed in life. The heroines in my novels fall in love, of course they do, but they don’t sit around like depressed Cinderellas waiting for a prince to rescue them. They are ‘heroes’ in their own right and more than a match for the male protagonist. Typically, he will be a more rounded Beta hero, rather than a domineering Alpha male. These are the men I relate to and the feedback I’ve received from my readership, show they do, too. My heroes are looking for Miss Right, but might not realise that she’s right in front of him until they experiences a coup de foudre and fall in love.
I got back in touch with my former agent but she had retired, and so I started down the road of submitting to agents looking for debut authors. However, I was advised by other writers that, for me, self-publishing might be the answer.
I had my novel professionally critiqued, proof read and formatted. I launched Tall, Dark and Kilted on Amazon in November 2012, closely followed by Boot Camp Bride a year later. During that time I formed an indie authors’ collaborative with three other romance authors, The New Romantics 4, learned to blog, tweet, and have made lots of friends and fans through the pages of Facebook and Pinterest.
Where are you now?
I’m 70% through writing rom com number three, set in Scotland, with a hunky American hero called Brodie. I hope to publish in 2015, after posting a cover reveal, post and pre-order links on my website soon after Christmas. I have ideas for many more novels and, fingers crossed, will have the stamina and good health to write them. I haven’t gone down the route of actively looking for an agent and a publisher as I am quite happy being an indie author ATM. But who knows? If the right contract came along, one which offered me better terms than I can get on my own, I might be interested. But it’d have to be pretty good as I have done all the hard work and am loathe to hand it all over to a publisher who might not work hard to promote me.
Do you have advice for anyone planning to pursue a second act?
If you have a dream – and who doesn’t? – go for it. You might have to wait until the mortgage is paid, the children have been through university and left home, but never lose sight of what is it you really want to do. Who you really are. Start planning for it in advance and get your ducks in a row, like I did. I had to wait for thirty four years to realise my dream, but I got there in the end. I hope you realise your dream much sooner.
Any affirmations or quotations you wish to share?
Life is not a rehearsal.
If luck doesn’t come your way, go out and make your own luck.
But above all – Follow Your Heart . . . That’s what I did.
Fliss Bagshawe longs for a passport out of Pimlico where she works as a holistic therapist. After attending a party in Notting Hill she loses her job and with it the dream of being her own boss. She’s offered the chance to take over a failing therapy centre, but there’s a catch. The centre lies five hundred miles north in Wester Ross, Scotland. Fliss’s romantic view of the highlands populated by Men in Kilts is shattered when she has an upclose and personal encounter with the Laird of Kinloch Mara, Ruairi Urquhart. He’s determined to pull the plug on the business, bring his eccentric family to heel and eject undesirables from his estate – starting with Fliss. Facing the dole queue once more Fliss resolves to make sexy, infuriating Ruairi revise his unflattering opinion of her, turn the therapy centre around and sort out his dysfunctional family. Can Fliss tame the Monarch of the Glen and find the happiness she deserves?
It’s almost two years to the day since I finished formatting Tall, Dark and Kilted and the proof copy of the paperback arrived from Create Space. To celebrate this momentous occasion, I’m reducing the price of Tall Dark and Kilted from £1.99 to £0.99 ($2.99 to $0.99 in the U.S.) for the next two weeks. So, if you fancy spending these chilly autumn evenings in the company of a hot laird, download it now.
Take an up-for-anything reporter. Add a world-weary photo-journalist. Put them together . . . light the blue touch paper and stand well back! Posing as a bride-to-be, Charlee Montague goes undercover at a boot camp for brides in order to photograph supermodel Anastasia Markova. At Charlee’s side and posing as her fiancé, is Rafael Ffinch award winning photographer and survivor of a kidnap attempt in Colombia. He’s in no mood to cut inexperienced Charlee any slack and has made it plain that once the investigation is over, their partnership – and fake engagement – will be terminated, too. Soon Charlee has more questions than answers. What’s the real reason behind Ffinch’s interest in the boot camp? How is it connected to his kidnap in Colombia? In setting out to uncover the truth, Charlee puts herself in danger … As the investigation draws to a close, she wonders if she’ll be able to hand back the engagement ring and walk away from Rafa without a backward glance.
Where to find Lizzie…
And New Romantics 4
Lizzie, thank you for inspiring us with your journey and reminding us never to give up on our dreams. Best of luck with all your literary endeavors.