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Laura Bambrey Books

Monday, 1 June 2020

Dream Come True - My #DigitalOriginals Journey


Hello gang!

Long time no blog... but I’m here with lots of news. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.
Actually, where to begin? I guess... at the beginning?

As you might know, I’ve been a book blogger for about a decade now - writing about and reviewing books from a range of genres - but mainly commercial women's fiction. It has been the such a rewarding journey, and I’ve met some incredible people along the way - other readers, authors and industry folk.

All this time, I’ve dreamt of writing my own books.

At the beginning of 2019, I finally decided to take that dream seriously. I sat down to spend time with Tori, a character who’d been pottering around my head for quite a while. Tori slowly started to open up and share her story with me. As her mad cast of supporting characters appeared one after the other, Tori’s story quickly became The Beginner’s Guide To Loneliness.

I was only half way through writing it when I spotted Books and The City’s #DigitalOriginals #OneDay open submission day. I’d promised myself that I would do everything in my power to take my writing seriously, so on the 15th of July 2019, I crossed my fingers and hit “send” on my submission.

Two days later, I couldn’t stop squealing when an email landed from Sara-Jade Virtue at Books and the City requesting the rest of the manuscript. I was still only half way through so, taking a deep breath, I sent a highly excitable email back begging for an extra 6 weeks to complete the draft. Much more squealing followed when she very kindly agreed!

Now, let’s fast forward a couple of months, during which much fevered writing, editing and waiting to hear back from them happened (I'll fill you in on all the nitty-gritty details at a later date!). At last, I got an email that sent my excitement sky-rocketing - an invitation to the Simon and Schuster offices to discuss the book.

For me, that meeting was life-changing. Chatting with Sara-Jade and my editor about The Beginner’s Guide to Loneliness, I couldn’t get over the fact that these two amazing people were talking about my characters as if they’d known them forever. When I got back to my hotel that night, I was floating. I couldn’t settle to anything much - the meeting just kept re-playing in my head. The lovely bar staff took pity on me and plied me with pink wine and cheese until I calmed down a bit!

Back at home in Devon, I embarked on a round of structural edits in the hands of the Books and the City team. I delivered the new draft early in January - and then the nail-biting waiting-game started again (it really wasn’t very long, but boy - time is all relative, isn’t it?!)

And then came the news - Books and the City would like to publish The Beginner’s Guide to Loneliness. I had my first ever book contract!

But wait - there’s another twist in this tale!


The book was originally slated for release in January 2021. Of course I was super-excited, and couldn’t wait to tell everyone about it - but we agreed to wait and announce it when the cover was ready. Then, of course, lockdown kicked in, and the world around us changed. But nothing keeps the publishing wizards at Simon and Schuster down. Just over three weeks ago, I got the first peek at my beautiful cover.

And here comes the twist. The day the final cover art was confirmed, I got another exciting email asking me how I’d feel about the publication date being brought forward... to July! Well, I'm guessing you can imagine the happy dance I did!

So, there's my #OneDay #DigitalOriginals submission story - from taking my dream seriously, to seeing it coming true less than a year later. I can’t thank the Books and the City team enough for believing in Tori - she couldn’t have found a better home.

The Beginner's Guide to Loneliness


You might feel lonely – spoiler alert: you’re not alone! – but sometimes all you need is a helping hand . . .

The perfect feel-good read from an exciting new voice in women’s fiction, for fans of Heidi Swain, Cathy Bramley and Jenny Colgan

Tori Williamson is alone. After a tragic event left her isolated from her loved ones, she’s been struggling to find her way back to, well – herself. That’s why she set up her blog, The Beginner’s Guide to Loneliness, as a way of – anonymously – connecting with the outside world and reaching others who just need a little help sometimes.

When she’s offered a free spot on a wellbeing retreat in exchange for a review on her blog, Tori is anxious about opening herself up to new surroundings. But after her three closest friends – who she talks to online but has never actually met – convince her it’ll do her some good, she reluctantly agrees and heads off for three weeks in the wild (well, a farm in Wales).

From the moment she arrives, Tori is sceptical and quickly finds herself drawn to fellow sceptic Than, the retreat’s dark and mysterious latecomer. But as the beauty of The Farm slowly comes to light she realizes that opening herself up might not be the worst thing. And sharing a yurt with fellow retreater Bay definitely isn’t.

Will the retreat be able to fix Tori? Or will she finally learn that being lonely doesn’t mean she’s broken . . .

Welcome to The Beginner’s Guide to Loneliness! Where you can learn to move mountains by picking up the smallest of stones…

Available for Pre-Order Now - Out 28th July


Over To You


Want to know the best bit about this story? This amazing opportunity is open again this year - and on more that one date! You don't need an agent. You don't need to know someone who knows someone who knows someone. All you need is an amazing story and the courage to hit that "send" button on the right date!

Here are the details for this year's #OneDay #DigitalOriginals open submission days. Do come back and let me know if you enter - good luck!


2 comments:

  1. Hello Laura, congratulations on having your novel published. I plan to sub to the Historical Fiction day in June but am not sure whether S&S want the first three chapters and synopsis attached as two separate docs or within the body of the email. Would you know? Thanks. Louise

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    1. Hi Louise,
      Thanks very much! Sara-Jade at S&S said to drop her a line for the details on her email address - Sara-Jade.Virtue@simonandschuster.co.uk
      Hope this helps - and good luck!
      Laura x

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