A tough road to walk – Elaine Roberts

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By Elaine Roberts

Although I have been writing stories on and off for many years, and done nothing with them, I decided to start following my dream of getting a book published about eight years ago. My first attempt, at that time, had to be edited about a thousand times; I think that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but you get my drift. My son, James, decided if I was taking it seriously, then I should do an online course, which he bought as a surprise. Unbeknown to me at the time, he was so impressed when I completed it, he made it his mission to find me a local creative writing class.♥

I started at The Write Place in September 2012 and, for me, it was terrifying to be around such wonderful writers. I remember listening to their work at ‘read back’, thinking how brilliant they were and not wanting to read after them. I still go to The Write Place every week and joining it has been the biggest influence, to date.

I’ve joined organisations such as the Romantic Novelists Association New Writers Scheme (RNA NWS), which I didn’t know existed until I went to class. Joining the RNA meant I could submit a novel every year for a critique, which was part of my membership. I attend the RNA conference every year, which is a hectic weekend of seminars and workshops, along with a chance to meet publishers and agents, which is how I came to be published with The Foyles Bookshop Girls. I mustn’t make the conference sound staid and boring, because it’s far from it. There are also copious amounts of food and wine!

If you don’t write romance, then the Society of Women Writers and Journalists, better known as the SWWJ, have started a similar scheme for new writers. This is something I’d encourage everyone to do. Writing a novel is a huge learning curve, or at least it was for me, and to have real guidance and feedback from people in the business is priceless.

The tutor at The Write Place encouraged me, and others, to apply for one to ones with agents at the Discovery Days, held at Foyles Bookshop in London’s Charing Cross Road. We all waited patiently in queues to see and speak to someone. There was camaraderie among strangers as we all waited in nervous anticipation, clutching our folders and pieces of paper while trying to remember what we had rehearsed. There were hundreds of hopefuls all patiently waiting for there turn and wishing each other good luck. I remember my stomach churning as I stood in line, wondering why I’d agreed to do it. It was a terrifying five minutes, including a thirty-second pitch to an agent, which I had practiced and practiced some more, before getting feedback on my writing. However, it was a valuable and encouraging experience. I came out of there quite exhilarated with encouraging words ringing in my ears.

When I started, I was writing contemporary women’s fiction, as I’ve often heard said “write what you know”, but three years ago I decided to change tack and began a Victorian novel. I loved writing it, so my saga writing began. The Foyles Bookshop Girls was born from the Victorian novel and is based on the same family, just a different generation. My love of books meant I wanted one of my characters to work in a bookshop and it was originally going to be the male love interest. Then I was trying to decide on the name of the bookshop and where it would be, but the more I planned it, the more it evolved into what you can read today.

To become a novelist is a tough road to walk. I would say don’t do it alone, but mix with other writers and like-minded people. Join a group, class or organisation where encouragement and learning is the order of the day. When I look back at all the things I faced, which I didn’t want to at the time, they’ve all been valuable experiences and I’m glad I didn’t miss them.

Now I’m more confident I write or research every day, well six days a week, with two very inquisitive cats, Molly and Maisie, keeping me company and wanting to sit on my paperwork or as close to me as they can. I still have to pinch myself that all my hard work has paid off.

Elaine Roberts completed her first novel in her twenties and received her first very nice rejection. Life then got in the way until circumstances made her re-evaluate her life, and she picked up her dream again in 2010. She joined a creative writing class, The Write Place, in 2012 and shortly afterwards had her first short story published. Elaine and her patient husband, Dave, have five children who have flown the nest. Home is in Dartford, Kent and is always busy with their children, grandchildren, grand dogs and cats visiting.



  1. Elaine Roberts

    June 11, 2018 at 4:13 pm

    Thank you for hosting me xx

  2. Elaine Everest

    June 11, 2018 at 11:44 pm

    Congratulations Elaine. Your hard work has all been worthwhile. x

    • Elaine Roberts

      June 12, 2018 at 12:28 am

      Thank you Elaine, I’ve had a lot of encouragement along the way so my hard work linked with all the support has kept me going. Elaine x

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