“I want to be a writer.”
This became my mantra for everyday life.
From a young age, I was a lover of books and scribbling down stories. Each night, my mum would tuck me up in bed and read me a Disney Classic and each night, I was still shocked when Bambi’s mother died. (Sorry, spoiler alert).
I think it stemmed from being an only child that I loved disappearing into books. Getting caught up in horror adventures in the ‘Goosebumps’ series or discovering new friendships in ‘The Babysitters Club’, these books offered escapism and company when I was alone.
I always had an interest in writing and was always creating stories. My desktop was littered with the beginning, the middle and the end of manuscripts, but rarely was a story completed. Stories that were written, were created from an interaction, people watching in cafés or simply lyrics from a song.
When I wasn’t writing, I was reading and then my boyfriend came up with an idea.
“You’re always reading, you should review books” he said.
Never judging books by their cover…
Initially I scoffed the idea and then I thought, why not? With my boyfriend’s help, Handwritten Girl was born. A website created for book lovers and aspiring authors. I approached some of my favourite authors and asked some of them would they be interested in being interviewed to chat about their writing journey. I was expecting to be rebuffed but was delighted when they all said yes, as they all wanted to tell their story. Literally.
Soon I began to gather content for the website, author interviews and writers’ tips. I began to approach publishers introducing myself, my blog and the genres of books that I enjoyed reading. Shortly after that, I began to receive ARC (Advance reading copies) from publishers all over the United Kingdom and Ireland. I was literally falling over books. Funny story – one night, when I got up to go to the toilet, I thought there was someone in my room, only to discover that it was my TBR (to be read) pile, it was that high!
Initially, I was nervous when I began posting reviews on the website as I was worried about feedback. But it was amazing when people thanked me for taking the time to review a book and another one would tell me that they bought a book based on my reviews. Slowly my Twitter account began to grow with a steady stream of authors, publishers and fellow book bloggers.
As time moved on the tables turned. Authors and publishers were now contacting me, pitching books and asking me to consider them for review. My calendar filled up with new releases and it was an exciting time to be part of the book promotion as well as sharing my love of books.
Perks of the job…
Some of the highlights of the blog have been attending book launches both in Ireland and the United Kingdom as well as attending Christmas parties. It’s exciting that some well-known authors, now know me from our interactions on Twitter and then in real life. This has happened with Irish authors, Marian Keyes and Cecila Ahern who knew me when I attended book events. I’ve also been fortunate to have received proofs of some of the most eagerly anticipated books before publication day as well as the honour of being quoted on the finished book.
With my contacts, I was asked to help with a Kickstarter project with a local web design company to help bring a children’s book to life. The book was called ‘Chalky and the New Sportscar’ and it was a picture book, I approached recent ‘I’m A Celebrity’ winner Giovanna Fletcher and she helped raise awareness of the book on her own social media platforms helping bring the book to publication.
From real life to Zoom…
The majority of publishing houses are based in London. I’ve attended book launches and Christmas parties but with living in Northern Ireland, I did feel that I was missing out at times. So, when Covid-19 hit and the world stopped, so did the parties and launches but they were moved online. This new transition gave me ample opportunity to be part of the experience and interact even more with the industry, which had a bit of silver lining to the pandemic.
My own story to tell…
I’ll be honest, my end goal is to finally write a book. I plan to piece together all those unfinished scripts and turn them into a finished manuscript, and I hope that with the platform that I’ve established it will help me on my publication journey with the support of the publishers and other bloggers. I would love nothing more, than to create a book that someone will get absorbed in and curl up with.
For years, I dreamt of being paid to write and now I’ve achieved it with becoming a Junior Copywriter at Ardmore. Part of my role is creating content for some amazing brands, and I’ve been involved in some exciting creative advertising campaigns. No day is the same in this job, one minute I’m writing a radio script and the next minute, I’m sitting in the recording of it. I love the opportunities and challenges that I face in this role and knowing that I have contributed towards the finished product is genuinely an exciting feeling.