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From Cork To Cornwall With Love - Guest Blog by Kate Baker




Kate's debut novel, 'Maid Of Steel' was published on this day last year and to celebrate its birthday, it's going on a blog tour this month. Having heard Kate talk about the book a few times now (including most recently at the Brightlingsea Literary Festival) I'm delighted to be hosting her as part of that tour. There is also an opportunity to win a lovely gift set at the end!




It’s 1911 and, against her mother’s wishes, quiet New Yorker Emma dreams of winning the right to vote. She is sent away by her parents in the hope distance will curb her desire to be involved with the growing suffrage movement and told to spend time learning about where her grandparents came from.

Across the Atlantic – Queenstown, southern Ireland – hotelier Thomas dreams of being loved, even noticed, by his actress wife, Alice. On their wedding day, Alice’s father had assured him that adoration comes with time. It’s been eight years. But Alice has plans of her own and they certainly don’t include the fight for equality or her dull husband.

Emma’s arrival in Ireland leads her to discover family secrets and become involved in the Irish Women’s Suffrage Society in Cork. However, Emma’s path to suffrage was never meant to lead to a forbidden love affair…



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While the family got cold in the Cornish sea during a holiday in the summer of 2019, I got hot in the sun and began to plot an outline from notes I’d made in Cobh in February of that year.

The depth of character required to turn an ‘okay’ book into something more memorable was a skill I had yet to practice. I knew it when I saw it, in others’ fiction, ‘it’ being relatable and wonderfully-drawn characters. I knew I needed to know Emma’s backstory even if not everything would make it onto the page. I wanted more than simply to lead her by the hand through a list of plot events.


By autumn, I’d nailed the plot and a brief outline of each chapter and was ready to begin the first draft. I’d scratched the surface of NaNoWriMo a couple of years before, but not got further than 18,000 words.


But on this particular November, I was more prepared. (And, more importantly, so were my family!) The words flowed and I enjoyed the experience the rewards of accountability that the NaNoWriMo site offers in the form of badges as you reach each word count milestone. 'Why smash out rubbish words?' my husband asked one day. I explained that thing of not being able to edit an empty page.


I researched workhouses and wished I’d been to find one during my trip, but wrote an important scene set in the remains of a workhouse. I downloaded Sarah-Beth Watkins’ Ireland Suffragettes to find out more about the political goings on at the time, and tried not to fall down rabbit holes of research.


On 21 November, I attended an RNA event in London and listened to a brilliant Q&A session with Sophie Kinsella. Inspiration from other authors can and should be helpful to a new author, as long as we don’t allow that negative ‘comparisonitis’ to embed itself. We each have our own path to carve, and proud of it we must be.


Once NaNoWriMo was finished and I’d laminated their ‘Winners’ certificate (still bluetac’d to the wall as a reminder that I did once draft a novel in a month) I had to face the fact there would be edits. Not one, not two, but three big edits/rewrites took place over eighteen months before I eventually felt it was ready to submit to agents. More than half of those I sent submissions to asked for the full manuscript, so my confidence grew, but we all know requests for the full do not equate to offers of representation, so in preparation I asked my son if he could make me a special Stephen King-esque rejection spike (if you’ve read ‘On Writing', this will make sense).


Not surprisingly the rejections began to arrive and on to the spike they went. Some had feedback, which was helpful. Although it soon became evident that what one agent disliked, another adored. It is so subjective, even at this stage, and knowing how to change something and ‘put it right’ became less and less clear.


It was after I joined the Bestseller Academy in the autumn of 2021 - having binged their podcast during the two years of Covid - that I began to think about a different route to publication.


I’d heard of The Book Guild but knew little about this independent publishers based in Leicestershire so attended their One Day annual conference in April 2022. They publish books on a partnership-project basis with authors and share the cost of publication. You have to submit a finished manuscript to the team, who make offers to only 10-15% of those submissions, so that bit feels a lot more like a traditional publishing process than a vanity publisher who will publish anything and take your money and your Rights. The Book Guild take the book Rights for 12 months only.


I have just renewed my contract with them for another 12 months because I wish to continue my e-book marketing strategy in the months to come. Stephanie Carr is the e-book magician in my back pocket who does all the background technology to make those promotions happen! A purely self-published author has to do all that themselves and I run my own non-related business on our farm, plus do all the farm accounts all whilst trying to find the time to write the next novel and short stories along the way for fun!


Author Bio – Maid of Steel is Kate’s first full length novel to be published. She also writes short stories and is presently drafting a second novel.

She writes at a desk covered in to-do lists and lights candles in the hope the lists disappear in the shadows.

She lives in East Anglia in the UK with her husband where they attempt to look after farmland for generations to come.

A small, very small, dog can be frequently found on Kate's lap. Otis is her first miniature dachshund.



Giveaway time!





Giveaway to Win a signed copy of Maid of Steel, candle and lipsil (Open to UK Only)

*Terms and Conditions –UK  entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.





 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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