Do you have a book inside you waiting to be written? It is never too late to try as this week’s guest writer discovered ‘how to become an author in midlife’.
My next guest in my Midlife Matters series is author Toni Pike. Toni and I went to high school together although our friendship didn’t really begin until we met at a school reunion 40 years later!
Since our renewed friendship we have learned more about each other and shared our thoughts on midlife and retirement. Toni has fulfilled her desire to become an author in midlife and has just published her second book in “The Jotham Fletcher Mystery” series with a third one in the pipeline.
I call Toni the female ‘Dan Brown’ and can’t wait to read her second book. The first one, ‘The Magus Covenant’ held my attention from beginning to end. I’m a fan of Italy so loved that this was the setting for most of the book.
In her article, Toni gives us three tips on how you can fulfil your dream and become an author.
My life turned around five years ago. After years of being overweight and unfit, I adopted a regime of healthy eating, lost weight and now try hard not to regain it. I started walking to improve my fitness, and long walks have become an essential part of my daily routine. Since then, I have tried to live my life to the full. When I took early retirement and moved from a house to an apartment, I finally had the time and energy to pursue my long-held dream of becoming an author.
I had always loved writing but had a long history of unfinished projects. A couple of years ago, I decided to take on the challenge of writing a novel and attempted to read as much as possible about crafting fiction. The thriller genre appealed to me, with its relentless suspense and action designed to keep the reader turning the pages. I wanted to write a religious thriller, with a mystery passed down through the centuries and characters that were in thrall to their beliefs.
The thriller genre often includes a range of exotic settings. That was a bonus because I love travelling the world. Cruising, in particular, allowed me to see places that I never thought I would have the chance to visit. When my characters rush from one country to another, I am able to make use of that travel experience.
My first novel, The Magus Covenant, was released last December. The hero is Jotham Fletcher, an Anglican priest who visits Rome to give a lecture and stumbles on a long-held secret. The second book in The Jotham Fletcher Mystery Thriller Series has just been released: The Rock of Magus. This time, Jotham heads to the Vatican when he suspects that trouble is brewing.
I climbed a very steep learning curve while writing my first novel and an even steeper one after publication. I took small steps into the unknown in my efforts to market it and develop an online presence. That is an essential part of life these days, and I still have much to learn. The unexpected bonus has been the chance to meet so many new people and make friends all over the world.
3 tips to get started
Writing and publishing a novel is a long, hard road but I have loved every moment. If that is a challenge you would like to try, here are my three favourite tips.
#1 Learn all you can about fiction writing
Fiction writing is a craft that needs to be mastered. Novels conform to expected conventions of storytelling and presentation, with many different aspects that need to be considered. There is a vast amount of information and advice available online that helped to improve my understanding of the different genres, the theory of story structure, the creation of characters and the finer points of dialogue.
#2 Write a detailed story outline
I write a detailed story outline that includes every scene from beginning to end. Armed with my outline, I know where I’m heading and have a sense of control as I write the first draft. It also prevents writer’s block and helps me to monitor my progress until I reach the end. I also prepare another document with details about each character, including their appearance, personality, career, motivations and challenges.
#3 Work steadily until you finish
Work steadily whenever you have the time. Every chapter that you write will bring you closer to the finishing line and there is no need to rush. When you complete the first draft, it is time for the editing process.
Read and review it yourself, make sure there are no typographical or spelling errors and then forward your work to several editors. It is amazing what they will find, and how easy it is to overlook mistakes in our own writing.
I was blessed to have two excellent editors who kindly volunteered their services. Be open to all suggestions and advice, and consider what amendments are needed. A few small changes can make an enormous difference.
I feel so lucky to have had the chance to achieve my dream in midlife. It has been thrilling to have people read and enjoy my stories.
My next goal is to write the third book in the series. That is a job I love, so it is more like fun than hard work.
The Rock of Magus is the second book in The Jotham Fletcher Mystery Thriller Series. It is subtitled: A Religious Conspiracy Thriller – Code Red in the Vatican
Here is the description:
At last the Magus Covenant can be fulfilled.
Jotham Fletcher returns in another action-packed thriller that takes him to the heart of the Vatican. Cardinal Alpheus has ambitions far more sinister and explosive than anyone could imagine and the death of Pope Linus is only the beginning.
Jotham is now a billionaire, dedicated to finding the Simonian Sect that wants to destroy the Christian Church and he employs Madena, a former army officer, to help him. They rescue a televangelist in Seattle but find the photograph of a cardinal who is soon elected as the new Pope, with Alpheus as his chief advisor.
The deadly Brotherhood re-emerges with homicidal Father Dominic at the helm and the body count begins to rise as he flees to the Vatican to seek protection.
Jotham becomes the prime suspect in the murder of an archbishop in Spain and the unwitting hero after a devastating event in Rome. He has a secret that he dare not reveal and is on the run from the police once again. But nothing prepares him for the final confrontation at the Pope’s summer retreat in Castel Gandolfo.
It is available at these online stores:
The Magus Covenant was the first book in the series.
Here is the brief description:
A robed man falls to his death in Rome and Jotham Fletcher becomes the prime suspect. His lover Antonella, an expert on ancient documents, has a shocking secret. Rumours fly about a papyrus scroll. A ruthless Catholic Brotherhood will stop at nothing in their hunt for the Simonian Sect. And a reclusive billionaire has the chance of a lifetime to get his revenge.
It is available at these online stores:
After graduating from the University of Sydney, Toni progressed from being a veterinary surgeon to a high school teacher and then a public servant in Canberra, the capital city of Australia.
Her husband Jon was in the Air Force and, while raising two beautiful children, they had several years living in England and America.
Toni’s main passions are family, writing and travel – in that order.
I would love to hear from you. Here’s where you can find me:
My page on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14736589.Toni_Pike
My website www.tonipike.com