October 17, 2012

Made It Moment: Roy Stolworthy

Filed under: Made It Moments — jenny @ 8:26 am

Coming Home

Oh, how I chuckled reading Roy Stolworthy’s Moment. You know the kind of chuckle I mean? It hurts in the pit of your stomach? You kind of wince and shut your eyes to avoid seeing the mirror held up? I was right there with Roy when I began life as a writer. In fact, we even sent out the exact same number of queries in our first two rounds. How strange that Roy expected to be the first writer ever to strike gold instantly–that was supposed to be me, and there could hardly be two of us. The writing life smacks you in the face with reality like a cold, clammy dishtowel. But read on to see how Roy finally struck something even richer than gold…a true sense of making it.

Roy Stolworthy

It was done; what had started out as 90,000 words was now 140,000. ‘Going Home to Ruby’, set during the First World War, was my baby, mine to love and cherish along with my characters. They were my family, and after all, it was me who breathed life into them. I happily paid out almost £1,000 to an editor, cocooned in the knowledge I’d get that back triple tenfold.

I purchased the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook; I was, after all, a writer, and shortly publishers and agents would be hammering non-stop on my door. Three chapters were duly printed into hard copy, along with a covering letter, and posted. Six weeks later, a letter arrived with a rejection note. They were crazy; what was their problem? So I printed out five more hard copies and sent off all six at once to different agents. Eventually I would simply deal with the highest bidder. Six weeks later, six rejection letters fell through my letter box. My world collapsed; I was distraught.

Depressed, I skulked around for a month. Then I decided to enter the first three chapters in a competition run by the Brit Awards 2010 for unpublished work. Over the following six months, the work was selected into the final 140 from 26,000 entries. I sat unwashed and starving by the computer waiting for the e-mail telling me I had won the £10,000 prize and a publishing contract. Again, the gods had deserted me and it never came.

Weeks later, I received an e-mail from my editor enquiring whether I’d had any luck. I told her I wasn’t much bothered, which was a big lie. She gave me the number of a publisher to call; they asked for three chapters. Two weeks later, I received an e-mail asking for the whole book. I drifted up to the stars.

Three weeks later, I was invited to their offices close to London to discuss a contract with a view to publication; my head swirled. A young assistant editor waxed lyrical over my book. She said there wasn’t a single word out of place. I made my own deal and was informed a contract would be sent to me within the next three weeks. I don’t remember driving home. Four months later, after repeated phone calls, it finally arrived. Twelve months later, they missed the first publication date and I couldn’t contact them. I wanted to die.

So I contacted the Writers’ Guild, which I had joined as a form of insurance, and they took up my case. One month later, the director of the publishing company came to my house and apologised. They still wanted my book, but couldn’t afford to pay the advance. I said fine, it isn’t a crime to be short of money, and anyhow, I was desperate to see my name in print. They missed the next deadline, and I told them I was pulling out and they could do with me as they wished. I heard no more.

I was down, shattered. Eventually, I entered the book on Amazon as an e-book. Then another publisher showed an interest, and twelve months ago contracts were signed. After another nerve-wracking twelve months, the book is to be released on 18th October 2012 under the new title ‘Coming Home’ – it was their suggestion and I wasn’t about to argue. A second book is in the offing, in which they are taking a keen interest.

It was here at long last, that special moment.

Roy Stolworthy lives in Northampton, England. At the age of seventeen he joined the RAF as ground-crew. On completion of his term of service he worked in the Middle East as a lecturer in Welding Science & Processes. On return to the UK he formed his own magazine distribution company. Later, he formed a short loan company, which proved to be very successful and led to his early retirement. Coming Home is his first book and he has since written a further two books entitled All In, and The Dancing Boy.


  1. What a roller coaster of a ride! All kudos to you, Roy, for sticking with it and having faith in both yourself and your book.

    That’s thing about life as a writer, isn’t it? We have to have that dogged determination to succeed. And it just goes to show just how subjective our industry can be…

    Wishing you all the best with ‘Coming Home’ and with your second novel.

    Suzie x

    Comment by Suzie Tullett — October 17, 2012 @ 8:57 am

  2. Well, congrats–most of all on your fortitude, and hanging in there!

    Comment by SavvyBlue — October 17, 2012 @ 9:14 am

  3. Oh I know that feeling. I am so glad you have decided to publish it anyways. Reading your work is a fine thing and a teaching thing. Keep it up Roy!

    Comment by Lisa Williamson — October 17, 2012 @ 9:28 am

  4. Goodness me, what an epic struggle. My heart was in my mouth but at least there is a happy ending. Good luck with your first published novel and I really hope the second one proves less traumatic. I am yet to put a toe in the water proper….I may just go the E publishing route and save myself some from more grey hairs. All the best. Jane

    Comment by Jane Risdon — October 17, 2012 @ 9:46 am

  5. I have read two of your books Roy, and The Dancing Boy more than once. The story above doesn’t surprise me now that I know more about an industry that is designed to test the strength of writers like you who have a kind of heart and talent so very rare. I know very well how sensitive writers are, but with roots like steel, they survive the heartbreaking rejections that only steel can endure. As an avid reader I saw something special in your writing in the way you tenderly transport your readers from their lives to the lives of your characters. You make it feel so real. Thank you for not giving up. You have arrived and achieved a Stolworthy-esque precision that Hemingway would have applauded.

    Comment by Joanne Mazzotta — October 17, 2012 @ 11:03 am

  6. So glad you made it to your moment! What a great journey, thanks for sharing it :)

    Comment by Madison Woods — October 17, 2012 @ 11:13 am

  7. I love the ups and downs of each writer’s made it moment. We all have such unique stories to write, and yet, it’s funny how similar our peeks and valleys are on the road to getting published.

    Comment by Johanna — October 17, 2012 @ 12:15 pm

  8. Delighted to meet you. Your books will go into my TBR file. I always question a writer who says the first nibble didn’t give them a thrill. How could anyone that dead write a story about live characters?
    Nash Black

    Comment by Nash Black — October 17, 2012 @ 1:31 pm

  9. Wow, Roy. We should throw you a huge party tomorrow on TSW! Your baby will be born. I wish you the utmost success.

    Comment by Doctor Barbara — October 17, 2012 @ 1:39 pm

  10. Wow Roy what a ride you had. Thank you for sharing your moment with us. Can’t wait to see you baby born on Amazon. I agree with Doctor Barbara we should throw a party tomorrow on TSW. Good luck!!

    Comment by Kellie — October 17, 2012 @ 2:05 pm

  11. I’ve read two of Roy’s books, and he has become one of my favorite authors! Can’t wait to read the next one. Glad you hung in there Roy.

    Comment by mountainmama — October 17, 2012 @ 5:17 pm

  12. Wow, what a story of your trip to publication! I’ll look forward to reading this.

    Comment by Brenda — October 17, 2012 @ 6:22 pm

  13. Ooh, Roy, you have some stick-to-it-iveness! I will definitely look for ‘Coming Home’.

    Comment by Connie J Jasperson — October 17, 2012 @ 10:14 pm

  14. Ups and downs. Sometimes I don’t know why we writers put ourselves through it, but it’s a compulsion. I’m glad your dream has come true. Also, that cover is terrific!

    Morgan Mandel

    Comment by Morgan Mandel — October 18, 2012 @ 7:46 am

  15. Hi Roy,
    Great article, I am glad you didn’t let a few setbacks stop you. The Dancing Boy is one of the best books I have read.
    I can relate to what you say about your experiences with publishers, agents etc. It has happened to me. I guess all writers have got stories to tell about their rocky road to publication.

    Best of luck.


    Comment by Margaret Tanner — October 18, 2012 @ 7:55 am

  16. Wow, that was a ride! Congratulations and happy book birthday – you must be over the moon today!!

    Best of luck with it and thanks for sharing your story with us!! :)


    Comment by Leah Rhyne — October 18, 2012 @ 3:25 pm

  17. Hi, thank you for your kind words, you don’t know just how much I appreciate them. It is a relief to know I’m not the only demented author,or am I?lol. I wish you all the best of luck with your books, go get-em and sell a million.

    Comment by Roy E Stolworthy — October 20, 2012 @ 6:31 am

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