Hazel Walshaw is a writer, copy editor and mum to three boys. She started writing back in 2018 after sitting on an idea for a kid’s book for a couple of years inspired by a very snowy winter. Here Hazel cracks open the door for us to take a look inside her writing life…
I’ve always been creative and tried my hand at many things over the decades to satisfy that creative part of me.
Music – I was a classically trained clarinettist and performed in an orchestra and various ensembles; Art – I used to paint with oils and even sold a few paintings; Dancing – I was a professional belly dancer for a time and spent weekends dancing in Turkish restaurants and performed in a touring show; Making faux bouquets – I made and sold bespoke floral creations on Etsy for a few years; Decoupaging – my husband once said if it stood still long enough it would be glued and papered!
And now writing is my creative outlet and I feel like I’ve found my home. Although maybe I’ll take up glassblowing one day…
Seven books (and counting…)
I’ve written and self-published seven books. Two are children’s books: Erika and The Skeleton Staff, where a school is taken over by an actual staff of skeletons during a snow day, and The Saffron Princess, a modern take on an Arabian adventure set in London and Cairo. My boys would like me to write more kid’s books. I was a wedding planner for just over a decade and I wrote my first published book based on my experience – Planning a Wedding the Wedding Planner Way. All three are available from various online bookstores and published under Hazel Walshaw.
Steamy Historical Romance
I also have a penchant for writing Historical Romance. Discovered when a scene in a YA book I was writing, set in the past, got a bit too steamy for the genre, so thought I’d write one and see what happened. Four books in the unconventional ladies series are now available on Kindle and Kindle Unlimited with a fifth on the way later this year! These are published under my Pen name: Angelina Ascot. This was mainly to remain anonymous (oops failing there!) but also so children wouldn’t see another book by Hazel Walshaw and think it was suitable reading like the Erika book!
Don’t judge your first draft!
Aside from writing, I’m also a freelance copy editor, mainly through the Fiverr platform. I’ve been doing this for almost two years and enjoy using the logical part of my brain to help improve the stories and books of other authors. I do advise everyone to make sure their book is edited before sending it to potential agents or to self-publish. Nothing worse than seeing errors in your own printed or eBooks that could easily have been picked up by a copy edit or proofread. It’s so hard to see our own mistakes.
“Write down everything that happens in the story, and then in your second draft make it look like you knew what you were doing all along.” Neil Gaiman
My advice to writers, aside from the editing, is to not judge your first draft too harshly. My favourite quote is from Neil Gaiman: “Write down everything that happens in the story, and then in your second draft make it look like you knew what you were doing all along.”
So the revision of your first draft is where the hard work comes in. This is where I am in my current writing project. I’ve written 73,000 words of a young adult book. It follows teenage environmentalist Maggie, who is searching for her dad who went missing in the forest when she was 7 and love interest Ben, the son of the local housing developer who is set to clear the forest to build new houses. Along the way, she discovers a portal in the forest to the elemental realm and discovers that this is where her dad is, and the forest must be saved otherwise he can’t get back. But behind the scenes, there are mythological creatures causing problems in both the earth and elemental realms.
It’s written from the point of view of both Maggie and Ben as their stories weave together.
I am now rewriting it from the beginning (using much of what is already there) but making it read ‘like I knew what I was doing all along’. It’s hard work, but in the end, it will be so much better for the rewrite.
Rebecca has been an amazing coach during this process. We started working together in January when I had about 45,000 words written of a potentially great story. We worked through what it was about, where it was going, and what research was required to add in the fantasy elements of the urban fantasy.
We’ve narrowed down the blurb and pitch, and that helped me with the final characterisation. Where the two protagonists start and where they will ultimately finish. At least in this book. Where they go in book two is a whole different kettle of fish! But making book 1 a stand-alone book, knowing there was more to their story, was actually one of the hardest parts. But very satisfying once I finally figured it out with Rebecca’s help and guidance.