Luck And Ladyballs… my book deal moment!

And a passion for writing of course, are essential when you dream of being a published novelist, and I should know… I’ve practically spent my whole life pursuing the dream.

There I was sitting at the kitchen table, scoffing a Flake and reading about TOWIE people on the Daily Mail website, like you do when you’re bored and can’t be arsed to actually do something productive. Some people call it ‘displacement activity’, I call it wasting time, and I’m the self appointed queen of wasting time.

Have I ever told you about the time I wasted well over twenty minutes sniffing the potted hyacinth’s on my desk? It was a tricky writing day, didn’t know what was going to happen next, was having one of those “it’s all crap anyway, so what does it matter” moments, but anyway, twenty whole minutes… I bet Jackie doesn’t do that. No, she probably has someone to sniff her hyacinths for her, I can’t imagine Lucky Santangelo hanging around waiting for her author to write the next bit.

Anyway, back to the kitchen table, my laptop pinged to signify the arrival of a new email, and there it was, the words I’ve fantasised about right back from those days as a little girl, listening to the Archers, then writing a kids version and recording it on my granddad’s old reel-to-reel tape recorder, complete with imaginative sound effects. Did you know that rubbing a crisp packet between your palms creates a wonderful footsteps-on-a–gravel-drive like sound? Truefact.

And this is what the email said –

Just to let you know that we have been given the all clear, so I’ll be coming to you with an offer before the end of the week! Everyone really likes the proposal and are very excited…

SCREAM. Cue air guitar, gin, a rodeo of topless cowboys, Anya Hindmarch begging me to accept her entire Spring/Summer collection of handbags as a gift and quite possibly turning Tom Ford, oh yes, remember I’d been imagining this moment for donkeys. But no, none of these things happened; instead I went in to QT’s bedroom, scooped up her dirty clothes and put them in the washing machine. I then went in to the kitchen and made a cup of tea. It was pouring the milk in that did it, the very moment the contents of that email sunk in, the moment I realised. And that was the moment I cried.

And not graceful Lady tears like Meryl during an Oscar acceptance speech, no, these were big, gulping, snivelling sobs for those years of writing in secret before I got the courage to show anyone and then worrying if it would ever come to something. Would I ever get to hold my book in my hands? The years of yearning to write all day aswell as all night, but instead, having to commute in to London to sit at a desk and muster up a modicum of enthusiasm for stuff like “key performance indicators”, or being told to discipline someone for sending their husband an email cartoon of Snow White snogging a dwarf… honestly, the fuss those directors made about that, especially the finance director with his penchant for perusing the online Hooters calendar, I shit you not.

After several years of trying to get published as a novelist, completing two novels, starting several more, signing with two agents, parting with two agents and generally doing all those things that aspiring novelists do for years and years and years … it happened. I got me a three book deal with HarperCollins. A series, with the first novel to be published early next year, which is handy as I‘ve already written it, just need to get on and write the second one now, deadline 1st December! Eek, and there you have it folks… the worry starts all over again.

What if it’s a pile of pony? What if I don’t meet the deadline? What if the world stops spinning? What if my arms get savaged by wolves and I end up having to tap the keyboard with a stick sellotaped to my head because I’ve spent the advance and can’t afford to give it back?

Anyway, I’m exhausting myself now with all this worry, so I’ll go, but thank you, I feel I should say that as so many people have helped me to get this far.

One last thing…  I do love a picture, and I would have shown you one of the actual contract, but there are probably special laws about that kind of thing, so here’s one of Poundland instead. Particularly apt as my dear friend Caroline once said to me, ‘so what are you going to do instead then, get a job in Poundland?’ That was after yet another one of my “that’s it, I’m giving up writing” rants. Not that there’s anything wrong with working in Poundland, I’m just glad I didn’t give up writing, because if I had then I wouldn’t have been lucky enough to have realised my dream.

Photo of my local Poundland store

Luck and love

Alexandra x

20 Responses to “Luck And Ladyballs… my book deal moment!”

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  1. Jan Brigden says:

    Alex, many many congratulations! I’m thrilled for you and so enjoyed reading this blog post. And boy, can I relate to it (not the book deal part, I hasten to add!)but certainly the procrastination & the fear factor. Sniffing hyacinths. Love it! You have such a great sense of humour. And Lucky Santangelo! That’s taken me back 🙂 I wish you shedloads of success with your novel x

    • Alexandra says:

      Aw, thanks so much Jan. You know, back in the day, I had an actual girl crush on Lucky x

  2. Trish says:

    That’s amazing!! Big congratulations!! I can’t imagine the feeling of having your dreams finally come true! Now comes the fun part, we will soon get to read what you’ve worked so hard on! Yay!! Wishing you a truly sparkling career. xxx

    • Alexandra says:

      Thank you so much Trish, and scary to think of people actually reading my books. So hope you enjoy them x

  3. Rebecca Emin says:

    Oh Alex, this is such wonderful news. Congratulations and enjoy this feeling.

  4. Claire King says:

    Congratulations again, Alex. It will (in my experience) keep sinking in a little more every day. Especially on those days where you see other writers who are working hard and still not getting the breakthrough. Enjoy the ride, and all the excitement of the next year… Editors, covers, launches… Yippee!

  5. Debs Carr says:

    Congratulations, once again!

    I can only imagine how surreal it must have been for you to read that email. I can’t wait to read your first, second and third books. x

  6. Jill Mansell says:

    Wow, Alex, have just read your fantastic news, how completely brilliant! Many many congratulations! And as for that supposedly ‘difficult’ second book, don’t worry about it – I was so thrilled and amazed by my first book being bought that the second one came pouring out and was the easiest one I’ve ever written.
    Anyway, such a lovely bit of news during these tricky times in publishing, and so encouraging for others still waiting for their break.
    Love
    Jill xx

  7. Julie Cohen says:

    I’m so excited!

    And see, all that wasting time paid off in the end.

    Julie xx

  8. bondgirl says:

    I want to share this post with every aspiring novelist I know, and I know a lot! I am so glad you didn’t give up. Great news, what an amazing period of your life this has turned out to be.

    • Alexandra says:

      It so has Bondgirl, since we adopted QT my life has changed so much. Think she must have brought some special magic dust with her 🙂
      And please do show the post, I really hope it helps others to keep going xx

  9. Alexandra says:

    Thank you so so much for all the lovely comments.
    Claire – I don’t think it will ever really sink in.
    Debs – yikes, people are actually going to read my books?! *Scared face*
    Julie – It sure did, and it’s all your fault for making that weekend course so good all those years ago 🙂
    Jill (the actual proper Jill Mansell)- Thank you. *Faints* 🙂

  10. Hazel Osmond says:

    Huge congratulations…. such lovely news. Hope your second book doesn’t cause you the worry you think it will… just look at it this way, if someone said you didn’t need to write it, forget it, you’d hunt them down and attack them with a hot spoon wouldn’t you?

  11. Lesley Cookman says:

    I’ve already congratulated you, I know, Alex, but it’s such fantastic news. And let me assure you, as you go on each book and each development is just as unbelievable. It’s just the sitting over the keyboard bit that’s a bit of a bind. Must meet up again soon. xxx

  12. Alexandra says:

    Hazel, hell yes. Shall remember the “hot spoon” for ever more now when I’m having a relapse.
    Lesley, thank you. And yes, will there be another lunch soon? Would love to see Beryl again too x

  13. Kate Hardy says:

    Fantastic news, Alex – well done!!

  14. How fantastic! I’m thrilled for you Alex. Many congratulations and we have faith in your first, second…. and thirty-seventh book!

  15. Kath says:

    Huge congratulations to you, Alex, and well done for keeping at it, from one who is still plugging away. You’re proof that childhood dreams that stretch into adult dreams of being a published writer can come true. Thanks, and all the best of luck to you. Enjoy the ride, lovely! xx

  16. Alexandra says:

    Aw, thank you, thank you, thank you, all of you. Your kind wishes and enthusiasm means the world to me x

  17. Matt Keogh says:

    Congrats Alex! Well done!