I’ve invited romantic novelist, Kelly Florentia, over to the blog today to tell us her writing journey. Kelly’s novel, The Magic Touch, was recently published by Accent Press. Welcome, Kelly, can you tell us how you became a published author.
My very first publication was a short story in a woman’s magazine. I’m a big fan of the short story, and as a teenager would often be found holed up in my bedroom reading the fiction slot in magazines. But I had several jobs before becoming a writer, including quite a long spell in catering. I loved the buzz and atmosphere of working in a central London eatery, but you do need nerves of steel to work in such a hectic environment. Diners literally had forty-five minutes to order their food and wolf it down before returning to their desks, and it was my job to make that happen and ensure it was a pleasurable and stress-free experience. The job was exciting but demanding, so when it was quiet I’d grab five or ten minutes and sit down with a cup of coffee and a magazine.
One day, after I’d finished reading a lovely story, I wondered if I should have a go at writing something myself. I had several poems under my belt by this time, so knew I had the writing bug. Lots of ideas rattled around in my head, many from the conversations I’d had with regular diners who loved to chat. It was a nice thought but I knew my heavy schedule wouldn’t allow me to put pen to paper, so I put it on the back burner. But then, as fate would have it, about a year later my parents announced that they were selling up and I found myself at a crossroads, career-wise. I’d worked in an office before, but I knew it wasn’t for me. I wanted to do something that I enjoyed. I’m quite keen on health and fitness and toyed with the idea of training as a personal instructor, but then the idea for writing pinged in my mind again and I decided to give it a go.
I signed up for a course with Writing Magazine. I loved it, my tutor was amazing and taught me everything I needed to know about short story writing. Once I finished the course, I started sending stories out to magazines. I honestly didn’t expect anything to come of it, but was glad I took the course all the same because I enjoyed it so much. Shortly after, to my utter astonishment, I got a call from Best Magazine, they loved my story and wanted to publish it! To say I was excited would be an understatement. I literally couldn’t speak. And so my short story writing career began. I had lots more stories published in magazines in the UK, Australia, and even Sweden. I got a buzz every time that email pinged through saying they’d like to publish my story. With this newfound confidence, I went ahead and released a collection of my short stories, To Tell a Tale or Two, which surpassed my expectations in sales and also received some superb reviews.
The feedback I got from my short stories was incredible, but one thing that readers kept telling me was that they wished they were longer – much longer. I’m quite a competitive person and like to push myself, so the next task was writing a novel. Given that the longest story I’d written was about 2500 words, I knew it was going to be a huge challenge. Just because I could write a short story didn’t mean that I could actually complete a novel.
I wrote my book in between working on a successful website in online marketing. I cried when I typed The End. I’d done it, but what next? I hadn’t a clue. A friend of mine suggested that I sign up for The Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers’ Scheme to get some feedback and advice on my work. It was a good move, the appraisal was invaluable and taught me so much about novel writing. I took the comments on board, applied them to my book and started sending it out to agents and publishers. Again, I expected nothing… which is exactly what I got! But then one morning as I was sitting at my computer, an email pinged through. It was from Accent Press. ‘Oh, here we go again,’ I thought, ‘another, thanks but no thanks.’ But instead of this, I got an offer for publication! My debut novel, The Magic Touch, which was published in 2014 and relaunched and updated recently, had found a home!
Fuelled with confidence, I completed two more books, No Way Back and its sequel, Her Secret, which have both been published by Urbane Publications. I’m now working on my fourth novel! So, to all aspiring writers out there, here’s my advice – never be put off by rejections, it’s all part of the process. Work hard, stay focused, read whatever you can get your hands on, and never ever give up on your dreams – they do come true.
Great advice, Kelly! Thanks so much for sharing this with us and congratulations on achieving your dream!
Kelly Florentia was born and bred in north London, where she continues to live with her husband Joe. HER SECRET (2018) is her third novel and the sequel to NO WAY BACK (2017).
Kelly has always enjoyed writing and was a bit of a poet when she was younger. Before penning her debut THE MAGIC TOUCH, relaunched and updated in 2019, she wrote short stories for women s magazines. TO TELL A TALE OR TWO… is a collection of her short tales. In January 2017, her keen interest in health and fitness led to the release of SMOOTH OPERATOR a collection of twenty of her favourite smoothie recipes.
As well as writing, Kelly enjoys reading, running, drinking coffee, scoffing cakes, watching TV dramas and spending way too much time on social media. She is currently working on her fourth novel.