Saturday, 28 October 2017

The Hippo Hands Over . . . . to Toya Richardson

Today it's my pleasure to introduce you all to Toya Richardson, an author I recently discovered and 'met' during an online author event. I was also lucky enough to win a signed copy of one of her books, Flame, which my little assistants Hamlet and Howie are posing with below, so watch out for a review coming soon as well!

So back to today, before I share Toya's guest post let's find out a little bit about the lovely lady herself.

Photo courtesy of Toya Richardson

Writing has been my passion since a very early age. Sadly, it wasn’t until the death of my mum, who was also my best friend, in 2009 that I started to take it seriously. My mum’s wish was to see me published, which didn’t occur until 2014. And now, each book written by me is dedicated to her.

My main genre is romance, with books published in contemporary and paranormal romance. I also have the first of a trilogy published in YA Fantasy, there is an element of romance in this series, although the focus is predominantly the heroine’s quest.

When not writing, or reading my main hobbies are; cinema, theatre, gardening, keeping fit, Formula One racing, darts and spending time with friends.

I live in Suffolk with my husband, grown up son and Masai the cat.

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                                       My Publishing Journey

I’ve always had a vivid imagination which was encouraged by my mum. From a very early age, she read stories to me from books and her own made up ones. Her wish was to see me published one day.

Over fifteen years ago, I had a Eureka moment in the bath. Flame, my contemporary romance thriller was born. My mum loved the book and was positive it would be successful. After its completion, I had a professional critique done, which led to another until I ended up paying out almost £800! I submitted to various publishers. After many rejections, I gave up and put it in the back of a cupboard.

My mum passed away in 2009, leaving a huge gap in my life. I spiralled with depression and got to a very low point in my life. I started to write again as a form of therapy and soon had a series of eight paranormal romances written. After several more rejections, I signed for a US publisher and the series, Eternal Love of the Seekers, is now on eBook only.

After this, I decided to retrieve Flame from the back of the cupboard. I was actually quite embarrassed by how badly written it was and felt upset by how much money I had spent on it with no positive outcome. I proceeded to re-write it until I was happy with the finished book. I was fortunate enough to be signed by a UK publisher and Flame is now in paperback and eBook. When I first held a copy in my hand I’ll admit I did a happy dance! There’s something extremely precious about holding a real book in your hands. It’s your baby and to see it given life is a very special moment.

Years earlier, when I had an agent, he suggested I self-publish a YA fantasy I’d written, Defender of Stargor, Book One of The Fireblood Saga. I spent over £700 with very little sales. So, I asked them to take it down and in 2016, it was published by my UK publisher.

Gone are the days when publishers had vast amounts of money to support their authors with marketing etc. Now, authors must be proactive on social media and attending various events. I never wanted to go on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and now I’m active on all three. I also have a website, which requires updating although I don’t have time at the moment!

I have pushed myself to do things that I never thought I would. It started slowly with posting one-liners from my work and links to Amazon. I took part in a takeover event on Facebook and was absolutely terrified! I do them all the time now and enjoy interacting with readers and fellow authors. I’ve also completed live reads on there and again I really didn’t want to do it, but am quite comfortable with them now. It’s helped a little with sales, but more importantly I’ve made many friends.

The Indie author community is very welcoming and supportive and it heartens me at how much they want to help if you’re struggling. I am always happy to help others too, and love to see others succeed.

Recently, I’ve attended two author signings, yet another way to “get yourself out there” and finally meet people you’ve interacted with online. I also gave a talk to a local WI group whose book club reviewed Flame back in June. They had lots of questions and appeared generally interested in my work. More recently, I gave a talk where I work on my writing journey. Over twenty people attended and again, I was terrified! They sat and listened while I spoke for forty minutes before reading an excerpt from Flame. There was a thunderous round of applause and many questions afterwards. It was certainly a confidence booster!

If someone had told me I’d be taking part in all these various events a couple of years ago, I’d have laughed. I am basically shy and have really had to push my limits with all of this. But, it’s made me confident and more comfortable with it all.

So, what now? Well, I cannot say too much in case it doesn’t happen but I am working on an MS called Destination: Love, a contemporary romance. There is interest in this story, but I’ve been asked to do a little more with it. This is part of a series of romances based at beachside locations – all of which I’ve visited. I also have around ten other finished works, which require editing – not to mention three wip and books full of notes for other stories!!

I, like most other indie authors, run at a loss. That doesn’t matter though, because writing is a passion. I remember wise words from a published author I met years ago at a workshop. He said, and I quote, “write because you love to write. If you write for the money, then you might as well stop now.” This is so very true.

Writing quite literally saved my life. I thank my lucky stars that I always have stories running around inside my head, and writer’s block isn’t something I suffer from. As a memorial to my mum and her amazing love and support, I dedicate each book I am lucky enough to have published to her.

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Thanks so much for sharing your journey with us Toya! I always find it interesting to hear all the different stories that authors have about how their book babies come to fruition. Knowing how difficult it can be for authors to get their books noticed is one of the reasons why I love blogging so much, it's lovely discovering and getting to know you all as well as sharing the book love!

If you'd like to find out more about Toya and her books you can use the links below:

I'd like to thank Toya for writing such a great guest post and for stopping by today. I'd also like to her every success with her books.

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