The Pupils Inspiring the Teacher? Count the Years… by Nancy Jardine

Nancy JardineEvery author’s story is a different one but this is my progress to publishing and my present writing situation. Once upon a time, I used to be a primary teacher with a class of about thirty pupils aged eleven to twelve. That made for extremely tiring, but never boring days. I taught all subjects, though mostly loved teaching History, English, and perhaps surprisingly also the Maths lessons. The history topics varied but I found huge satisfaction in giving my pupils a taste of the era when Ancient Roman legions advanced northwards over the Celtic lands of Britannia.

In 2005, the kids in my class wrote fantastic short stories as an end product of our Roman/ Celtic studies. I may have initially set up their writing lessons, but it was their startlingly excellent results which inspired me to write my first-ever novel. That original draft of a time-travel historical novel, written in 2006, for an audience of 10-12 year olds, has undergone many changes over the last eight years. It’s been abandoned, plucked out of the cupboard, revised, rejected and the process repeated many times. I’m determined that it will be published…soon. If you will, please imagine a *winking, smiley face* inserted here.

Yet writing a book wasn’t entirely new because I had used previous school summer vacations to write non- fiction books for local history projects- though I considered them as voluntary unpaid school work and not proper writing. The first had a print run (on my home printer) of 50 copies, delivered free to local schools. My obligation was then over and no further marketing was needed. The second book was a history of the village school where I taught the senior pupils, which dates back to the early 1500s. It’s also been my home village for the last 26 years. Prior to the move from a Victorian building to a brand new school, there was a special ‘Open Day’ during which former pupils were invited back for a stroll down memory lane. 350 copies of my history of the school were printed by the local education authority and all were sold to attendees. No further marketing was necessary since it was a ‘one-off’ print deal. My task was finished. The school got all profits and I got the pleasure of doing the research and compiling the information. The research skills learned then were invaluable when I came to do research for my historical novels, and were also useful for research during the writing of my contemporary mysteries.

What I didn’t encounter at that time was any of the internet, post- publication marketing I need now for novel writing!

In 2008, I cut back teaching to 3 days a week and got serious about writing novels when not in class. I focused my time on full-length stories for the adult market rather than for children, and purposely tried out manuscripts in different genres – historical adventures and contemporary mysteries – all with varying degrees of romance included since romance novels seemed to have a good market.

August 2011, was a momentous month. My debut novel, a contemporary romantic mystery was published and I also became a full time author when I finally stopped teaching. In 2012, I had three novels published, two of which were with Crooked Cat Publishing, who also published my fifth and my sixth novel in 2013 and 2014 respectively.

I haven’t written any political thrillers like James, my host of today, has. My closest novel would be Topaz Eyes, published by Crooked Cat Publishing, which is a mystery thriller. I’ve found over the last few years that even when I’ve been writing a contemporary mystery some historical aspect or other sneaks in- I just can’t help it! The very complex and deep mystery in Topaz Eyes centres on a family tree I created which goes back to third and fourth generation levels – the family originating in Amsterdam with the next generation becoming scattered around Europe and the US during the 1930s. The contemporary third generation cousins, who are mysteriously brought together to uncover a cache of jewels hidden amongst family members, are not all happy to get to know each other. The gloves are off when the treasure hunt begins – greed and deception is rife to the point where murder isn’t discounted. Where does family trust come in? You’d need to read to find that out. Writing this novel also gave me the opportunity to include some of the wonderful locations that I’ve visited including Heidelberg, Vienna, Amsterdam, Minnesota and Edinburgh.  I’m delighted that Topaz Eyes is an Award Finalist in The People’s Book Prize 2014 Fiction category.

It may sound as though all I’ve done since 2011 is write novels- but that’s not quite true. Like many authors, my family circumstances have changed. My first grandchild was born in late 2011 and no matter how much I try, I just can’t say no to childminding. From early 2012, my week became divided into slots – half of the week was part-time childminding with gardening and writing sharing what remained of the seven days. My writing output slowed down considerably.

Since January of 2014, my house has also been home to my granddaughter, her new baby brother and their parents since the building of their new house is fraught with continual delays.  Right now, I’m sitting at my desk in the dining room to write this post, snatching some precious time to type in between the mayhem of the needs of small bodies. I try to squeeze in the inevitable marketing tasks during the day: doing tweets and checking emails, Facebooking etc – often with babies at my feet or on my knees, since concentrating on new writing isn’t my forte at such times. I take my hat off totally to authors who produce copious new work with toddlers around them, or those who work during the day at a seriously demanding job and only write in the evenings.

My writing slot is generally from 9pm till around 1am when the house is usually silent. I love the bustle of our family life and wouldn’t want to have missed these early months of my grandchildren’s development, but I also cherish that late night quiet. My writing output will increase again, but that’s not likely till next year and the new house on my back garden is completed.

Yes. You read that correctly. My offspring will be living in their own house a mere few steps away. I won’t have to travel to visit or vice versa.

What’s nice to look forward to, is that they will be able to take over all the domestic tasks I currently do when my daughter is occupied with some other drama, because I’ll be writing like a mad thing to get Book 4 of my Celtic Fervour Series completed. There’s also my languishing three book family saga which begins in Victorian Scotland, the first book manuscript already started. However, by then I’ll maybe also be working on books two and three of my time-travel novel for children because by then that very first time-travel novel for kids WILL have been published!

Of course, before my daughter returns to her job after her maternity leave, she’ll maybe have sussed out how to help me with my book marketing tasks. I’m trying to set realistic goals just now. One can hope.  *smiley face again*

About The Author   

Nancy Jardine’s books at the Crooked Cat Bookstore: author page:

Buy Topaz Eyes: Amazon UK  Amazon US





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