PICTURE THIS...

Bratislava. 2009. You’re stuck in a Slovakian airport all by yourself for 24 hours. You can’t go outside. What do you do?

Write a sitcom pilot, of course.

Fuggers came alive in that airport and kept me entertained long after. The BBC, however, didn’t find it to be their cup of tea. Not edgy enough, apparently. Gosh, I miss classic sitcoms like Fawlty Towers, don’t you?

I guess everyone’s sense of humour is different. Thankfully, there are those who share my offbeat quirkiness, like my writing/producing partner for Truly, Madly, a comedy-cabaret that won the hearts of many on our South African tour — and was commissioned as a TV sitcom.

Honest. I have the letter from Pearson Television to prove it. (They’re Fremantle Media now, but still.)

Comedy Review
Excellence not Perfection

THE VALUE OF EXCELLENCE

Onto the next project. Actress, Bachelor, Clergyman, Cheat. A stage comedy that delighted Edinburgh Fringe Festival audiences. The Scotsman newspaper review said the play was ‘whip-crack quick’ and ‘entertaining’.

Fast-forward a few years… After honing my craft on plays and sitcoms (and one extremely cheesy musical), I moved onto novels and screenplays.

I love suspense. No matter what genre I tackle, I’ll always throw in a ton of nail-biting moments to keep the tension high. And I have OCD, which means I do about seven thousand drafts before I’ll let anyone take a look. (Yes, I know, it’s quite disconcerting.)

The upside is, I’ve finally learned the value of excellence as opposed to striving for the ever-unattainable beast known as perfection.

THE VALUE OF EXCELLENCE

Onto the next project. Actress, Bachelor, Clergyman, Cheat. A stage comedy that delighted Edinburgh Fringe Festival audiences. The Scotsman newspaper review said the play was ‘whip-crack quick’ and ‘entertaining’.

Fast-forward a few years… After honing my craft on plays and sitcoms (and one extremely cheesy musical), I moved onto novels and screenplays.

I love suspense. No matter what genre I tackle, I’ll always throw in a ton of nail-biting moments to keep the tension high. And I have OCD, which means I do about seven thousand drafts before I’ll let anyone take a look. (Yes, I know, it’s quite disconcerting.)

The upside is, I’ve finally learned the value of excellence as opposed to striving for the ever-unattainable beast known as perfection.

2012: THE YEAR OF REJECTION

OK, I might be hyperbolising there. I only received ten rejections. But they hit hard.

I had submitted my chick-lit (with a belly of steel) to my top ten literary agents. Half of them never replied. The other half mostly sent standard ‘Thanks but no thanks’ letters, with three of them adding a few kind words.

My favourite rejection was from Sophie Kinsella’s agent.

Rejection
TriUMPH

I'M AN EXCITING PROSPECT

Araminta Whitley’s rejection made my decade. (You can read an excerpt in the Reviews section, below.) I was blown away by her detailed comments about aspects she loved! However, she went on to say that ‘in the present climate’ she wasn’t completely confident she could sell chick-lit by an unknown writer. Not when hard-hitting thrillers and dramas were very much de rigeur.

That hit me hard. But I understood. I guess. Especially as she already had the author of the Shopaholic series as her client. She didn’t need me.

But then she went on to say that she imagined I would be an exciting prospect for other agents.

And that, I should have believed. I should have continued to submit my novel to other agents. After all, didn’t it take J.K. Rowling a dozen tries — a dozen rejections — before she found someone who believed in her?

I'M AN EXCITING PROSPECT

Araminta Whitley’s rejection made my decade. (You can read an excerpt in the Reviews section, below.) I was blown away by her detailed comments about aspects she loved! However, she went on to say that ‘in the present climate’ she wasn’t completely confident she could sell chick-lit by an unknown writer. Not when hard-hitting thrillers and dramas were very much de rigeur.

That hit me hard. But I understood. I guess. Especially as she already had the author of the Shopaholic series as her client. She didn’t need me.

But then she went on to say that she imagined I would be an exciting prospect for other agents.

And that, I should have believed. I should have continued to submit my novel to other agents. After all, didn’t it take J.K. Rowling a dozen tries — a dozen rejections — before she found someone who believed in her?

BIG MISTAKE

I’m pretty sure I shouldn’t have stopped at ten submissions. But I was an idealist. And a perfectionist. (Yes, yes, we live and learn.) Obviously my novel wasn’t good enough to attract a top London agent. Who was I to think I could be the next Sophie K? Or Lindsey Kelk. Or Jill Mansell…

So I researched the heck out of self-publishing. A route I definitely did not want to go down, but I felt it was the only way to get my writing out there and into the hands of readers who would hopefully love my way with words.

Gosh, what a mistake that was!

OK, I’m exaggerating. It was actually liberating and encouraging and surprising and exhausting all at once.

Pros: I garnered much praise and five-star reviews.

Cons: Let’s just say I hadn’t a clue what I was doing. Especially when it came to marketing.

Spending 90% of my time on social media instead of writing is not how I want to live.

With that in mind, I removed The Hopeaholic series from Amazon, happy to have spread some sunshine around. (And I wasn’t too unhappy about the unexpectedly fabulous reviews from readers and critics either.)

AMAZON REVIEWS

A Hopeaholic’s Hallelujah:

‘The ultimate chick-lit heroine… a MUST-READ’; ‘reading this book is like feasting on a box of chocolates’ — Bookaholic Confessions 5*****

‘Well-written… awesome — I loved it. The next Sophie Kinsella’ — Chloe

‘Witty & well-paced… intriguing & original. A vivid and engaging voice.’ — Araminta

‘Smiled & giggled the whole way. A feel-good novel.’ — Helena

‘Couldn’t put it down!’ — Tracy

‘Laugh-out-loud hilarious!’ — Sophie

 

Hopeaholic in Distress:

‘a worthy sequel’  ;  ‘could not put the book down’

‘hilarious’  ;  ‘can’t wait for the third book’

— 5***** Reader Reviews 

Jessica Page Morrell book

GAME CHANGER

I’m currently polishing the final draft of two novels: a thriller and a romantic comedy (up-lit). The moment they’re sparkling, I’ll be starting that submission process all over again. Can’t wait.

Once that’s done, I’ll be polishing the final drafts of two screenplays as well as working on the second draft of another novel: a family drama.

If anyone’s at the same stage as me — scratch that. No matter what stage you are at, GET THIS BOOK: Thanks, But This Isn’t For Us (Jessica Page Morrell). I can’t recommend it enough. This book is a game changer.

I’m a voracious reader: genre fiction; a gentle meander into literary fiction now and again; biographies and other non-fiction… I think it’s important to read widely if you want to be a writer. So I’ll be tucking into the pile of books on my nightstand in my free time.

I’ll be updating this page with my submissions progress as and when. If that’s something you’re interested in, why not subscribe to my weekly email.

Thanks for reading. xx

GAME CHANGER

I’m currently polishing the final draft of two novels: a thriller and a romantic comedy (up-lit). The moment they’re sparkling, I’ll be starting that submission process all over again. Can’t wait.

Once that’s done, I’ll be polishing the final drafts of two screenplays as well as working on the second draft of another novel: a family drama.

If anyone’s at the same stage as me — scratch that. No matter what stage you are at, GET THIS BOOK: Thanks, But This Isn’t For Us (Jessica Page Morrell). I can’t recommend it enough. This book is a game changer.

I’m a voracious reader: genre fiction; a gentle meander into literary fiction now and again; biographies and other non-fiction… I think it’s important to read widely if you want to be a writer. So I’ll be tucking into the pile of books on my nightstand in my free time.

I’ll be updating this page with my submissions progress as and when. If that’s something you’re interested in, why not subscribe to my weekly email.

Thanks for reading. xx