The Journey To Becoming A Writer

Here’s today’s guest blogger, Alice Renaud, to share her story of how she became a writer…

My journey to become a published writer was a long one. Thirty-three years long, to be precise. It started when I wrote my first story aged fourteen. It was a sprawling, way-too-ambitious fantasy saga, set in a world that the sea covers entirely once every thousand years.

It took me a good few years and several attempts at getting published before realizing that I wasn’t a female reincarnation of J.R.R. Tolkien. By that time I’d moved from France, where I was born and grew up, to London, UK, and had started writing in English. I was still trying to break into the children’s market, because I wanted to write fantasy, and I thought that was the only way I could do it. In France, fantasy books were seen very much as children’s stories at the time. That might have changed now with Games of Thrones and the like.

Unfortunately the children’s book market was saturated, Harry Potter mania was at its peak and everyone wanted to be the next J.K. Rowling. I happened to see an ad for creative writing courses – how to write short stories for magazines (and for adults). I took the class, with Sue Moorcroft, who is a wonderful author and a good teacher, and discovered that I enjoyed creating romantic stories. I think I’ve always been a romantic at heart. I had just met the love of my life in London, and we got married in 2005. In 2008 my very first story was published in a UK family magazine, The People’s Friend. I’ll never forget the thrill of receiving my first acceptance letter, and seeing my words in print for the first time. Over the years that followed, I wrote quite a few short stories, and some of them got published.

Then I decided to try my hand at longer fiction. Contemporary romance, here I come!

Or not… Two billionaires, a sheikh and half a prince later (I never finished that story,) I had to admit that perhaps my heart wasn’t in it. Which is a bit of a problem when you’re writing romance! My heart still hankered after love, yes, but also magic and monsters. So I thought, what the heck, I’ll write paranormal romance.

One demon and a rogue angel later… Still no acceptance letter from a publisher… But some useful feedback. My creativity wasn’t in question, my writing skills were the problem. So I joined Romance Writers of America and signed up for my first workshop with a marvellous tutor called Laurie Sanders. Laurie explained to us how important emotion is, and how to bring the four dimensions of the character’s inner life into the story: action (including dialogue,) thoughts, emotion, and even spirituality when appropriate. It was a lightbulb moment for me. My characters were all action and thoughts, but little emotion. Which, again, is not ideal when you’re writing romance!

Many workshops and courses later… I finally had a story I was pleased with. The story of the forbidden, but fated, love between a shape-shifting merman and a human woman, set in Wales. It was published in January this year by Black Velvet Seductions, under the title “A Merman’s Choice.” The second book in the series, “Music for a Merman,” is due out later this year, and I’ve also written a short story, “The Sweetest Magic of All,” for the BVS anthology “Mystic Desire”, which will be out in October.

It’s not easy to sum up a thirty-three year journey in just a few hundred words… But here are my top ten tips for aspiring authors:

  • Find critique partners (I had two, who helped me through my first and second book)
  • Take writing classes (with a good tutor!)
  • Write what you want to write – not what you think might sell
  • Write the best story you can – then worry about getting published. If it’s good, someone will want to publish it
  • Do a detailed analysis and background on your characters before you start to write
  • Develop the four dimensions of the character’s inner life – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual
  • Be patient
  • Don’t give up – not if it’s what you truly want to do
  • Make friends with other authors – they’re a wonderfully supportive bunch
  • Enjoy it! Because if you don’t enjoy writing a story, it’s unlikely others will enjoy reading it. Have fun!


Wales 2018 selfie 2

About Alice

Alice was born and brought up in Brittany, Western France, her father was French and her mother is British (from Wales). She moved to London, UK, in 1997, where she now lives with her husband and son. By day she is a compliance officer for a pharmaceutical company, by night she writes fantasy and paranormal romance. She loves reading and writing stories, and sharing them with anyone who’s interested!

A Merman's Choice Front (1)

You can buy my book here:





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10 Comments Leave a comment

  1. That is quite an inspiring story of not giving up and continually trying to improve oneself.
    You finally got your big break and that is what is important.

    Do you have any tips for writers of non fiction like me.

  2. Well said Alice. I so agree with your ten writing tips. And yes, Laurie Sanders is wonderful. Looking forward to reading more of your work.

  3. Hi Dr Tanya! My first piece of advice would be to build a presence on social media to promote your book – I had not realized how important it was until my first book was published. Sometimes writers of non fiction neglect that – but to sell we all have to be on social media, no matter what we write. Making contacts with other authors in the same field is also very important. I would recommend finding and joining groups or professional associations for writers in that area, they are an invaluable source of support. Also think about reaching out to groups and associations that are not of readers or writers, but of people interested in the area you write in. An author friend who writes non fiction historical books reached out to a group of amateur history buffs, and got a few readers that way. Good luck with the writing!

  4. Alice,
    I agree working with Laurie Sanders helps turn the light on. Some great advice.
    And your story has plenty of emotion.

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