AWW Feature: Tess Woods, Love at First Flight and the road to publication

Tess Woods Author photo

I’m delighted to introduce Tess Woods to you today to celebrate the publication of her debut novel, Love at First Flight.

Tess Woods is a health professional who lives in Perth, Australia with one husband, two children, one dog and one cat who rules over all of them. When she isn’t working or being a personal assistant to her kids, Tess enjoys reading and all kinds of grannyish pleasures like knitting, baking, drinking tea, watching Downton Abbey and tending to the veggie patch.

Love at First Flight is her first novel, published by HarperCollins Australia

LoveAtFirstFlighteCover‘Looking back on it now, I can see it was instant. The second we locked eyes. Boom. Just like that. The me I had spent a lifetime perfecting began its disintegration from that moment. And despite the carnage it brought to all our lives, I still don’t regret it.
What would you risk to be with the love of your life? And what if your soul mate is the one who will destroy you?
Mel is living the dream. She’s a successful GP, married to a charming anaesthetist and raising a beautiful family in their plush home in Perth. But when she boards a flight to Melbourne, she meets Matt and her picture perfect Stepford life unravels as she falls in love for the first time ever.
What begins as a flirty conversation between strangers quickly develops into a hot and obsessive affair with disastrous consequences neither Mel nor Matt could have ever seen coming. Mel’s dream life turns into her worst nightmare.

Love at First Flight will take everything you believe about what true love is and spin it on its head.”

My review of Love at First Flight can be seen HERE, in the meantime please read on to learn more about Tess Woods and her road to publication…

My road to publication was long with speed humps and detours!

I wrote the first draft in three days. I had a flash of inspiration, grabbed pen and paper, locked myself away and pumped out a novel. As I wrote, I imagined publishers tripping over themselves to get their hands on it. I pictured bidding wars and movie rights. Then I read over it. It was drivel.

It took me a month of writing every evening to get to draft two. It was still drivel. I called in back-up. I sent the manuscript to an assessment agency. The editor reported back after six weeks saying it was drivel. I already knew that! What I wanted was some help to point me in the right direction.

So I tried a different manuscript assessor. This time I struck gold. Meredith Whitford from Between Us was clever, insightful and she cut to the chase.
“It’s got X-factor,” she said. “But it needs lots of polish. You’ll get it published. It’s one of the best manuscripts I’ve seen.”
Along with her comments, Meredith had a forty point list of things to work on. I spent six months writing draft three and re-submitted it. “Getting there but not quite,” was her response so I spent the next six months working on draft four. Then I had Meredith’s tick of approval.

But what if she liked it and nobody else did? I decided to get a third opinion and sent the manuscript to Nikki Davies. She came up with four pages of suggestions. Three months later I had draft five and three months after that I had draft six. I felt ready to take on the literary world. Again I imagined bidding wars and movie deals.

Over the next two years I was rejected by all twenty-two literary agents in Australia who represented commercial fiction writers. Every last one of them. Some of them wrote ‘return to sender’ on the envelope without opening it, some read it and hated it, several of them read it and said they loved it but it would be impossible to find a publisher because I had no resume to speak of.

After opening the front door to find my manuscript sitting on the porch from the last remaining agent, I slid it under the spare bed, dusted myself off and forgot I had written a book. The submission process to agents had been exhausting and soul destroying. I couldn’t face beginning again with publishers. I figured I had no chance with publishers anyway if none of the agents wanted it. I was done.

“I’ll self publish it one day,” I thought. “One day but not now. I need to forget about it now and get on with my life.”

Then along came an email. It was from literary agent Jacinta Di Mase. Jacinta had considered Love at First Flight nearly two years earlier before deciding she didn’t want it. In her rejection letter, she’d said how hard it was to reject it because it was one of the best unsolicited works she’d seen. I was particularly devastated when Jacinta had initially turned it down, because I was convinced she would take it. It was just a strong gut feeling I had that she would be my agent. Always trust your gut!

Jacinta’s email now went something like this, “Hey, I still have that book of yours in my mind even though it’s been a couple of years since I read it. So, did you sell it yet? And if not, are you prepared to make the changes I want done? If you are, I’ll go in and bat for you with publishers.”

Excuse me, what? YES I would be prepared to make changes! I was prepared to sell her my next child if it meant she would go in to bat for me!

So I wrote draft seven. A year later, I resubmitted it to Jacinta. I hit send on the email and the next day headed off to Europe for the trip of a life-time with hubby and kids in tow and tried to put it out of my mind. If Jacinta wanted it, great, if not, I would self-publish it one day and sign the inside cover for my mum.

Four weeks later, we were in Cornwall on our “book tour of the UK”. We were visiting places based on books we loved. Cornwall was my choice because of my love of The Shellseekers by Rosamunde Pilcher which was set there. We had arrived the night before from London (where we did all things Harry Potter). I checked emails from home and wow! Jacinta loved the new version and she had already started the rounds of publishers. That this happened the day I was living out a long held dream to go shell-seeking just like a favourite character from a book was pure magic.

Fast forward eight months of nail-biting, finger crossing, acquisitions meetings after acquisitions meetings where it was rejected at the last minute, editors loving it and emailing us about just how much they loved it but then failing to convince the rest of their teams to love it. It was torture. And then along came an editor who was passionate enough to stand by the story until it had full approval from everyone in her publishing team. And that was Anna Valdinger at HarperCollins. Oh how I love her! Once I signed with HarperCollins, there were two more huge edits to do. But nine re-writes and almost six years from the day I first put pen to paper, I got there.

I had never written any fiction before this book. In fact I’d never planned on writing a book at all. But when this story came to me, I had to write it and keep writing it until others believed in it too. I’m so lucky that they did.

Love at First Light is available to purchase from

HarperCollins I Amazon I Amazon Au I Google Play I Kobo I iTunes

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14 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kylie Kaden
    Apr 16, 2015 @ 09:24:13

    Wow Tess, what an amazing, heartbreaking, frustrating journey! Just goes to show that trusting your instincts pays off! They say being published is as much about perseverance as it is about talent and after reading your journey to publication you must have both in spades! Congratulations, looking forward to LAFF!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  2. tesswoodsauthor
    Apr 16, 2015 @ 12:17:03

    Thank you Kylie, that’s so nice of you to say, you made my day🙂. Xx

    Like

    Reply

  3. Maureen Helen
    Apr 16, 2015 @ 16:44:37

    What a persistent author! What an achievement! Congratulations, Tess. I’m looking forward to reading your book.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  4. Trackback: Review: Love at First Flight by Tess Woods | book'd out
  5. Annette
    Apr 19, 2015 @ 06:40:40

    Wow. That’s what a dream, a lot of hard work and dedication can do! What a journey – well worth reading about. Thanks for posting this honey!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  6. Marianne Massarany
    May 04, 2015 @ 11:48:30

    Wow, that road to publication could be another book to write Tess. No one realises how hard it is for an unknown author to get some form of recognition. God bless Jacinta de Mase for not giving up but especially you for rewriting and rewriting so many times!!! Well done can’t wait for a paperback to add to my collection of fav authors. Keep writing.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  7. Renee
    May 04, 2015 @ 14:53:01

    Wow! I didn’t realise how long and difficult your journey to publication was. I’m so glad you kept going, I loved it!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  8. Lily Malone
    May 04, 2015 @ 16:44:04

    That’s a story that gives lovely heart to all authors seeking agent representation. I’m sure that it’s harder to find an agent than it is to find a publisher (speaking personally). Well done on all the rewrites too, Tess.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

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