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Friday, December 7, 2018

What Makes My Heart Beat Faster by Karen Gregory - Guest Post & Giveaway

About Karen Gregory

Karen is a graduate of Somerville College, Oxford, and a project manager by day who’s become adept at writing around the edges (strong coffee and a healthy disregard for housework help). A confirmed bookhead since early childhood, Karen wrote her first story about Bantra the mouse at the age of twelve, then put away the word processor until her first child was born when she was overtaken by the urge to write.

Karen lives in Wiltshire with her family and is represented by Claire Wilson at Rogers, Coleridge & White.


Books by Karen Gregory

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What makes my heart beat faster 
Guest post by Karen Gregory

I could choose something joyful, like catching the autumn light falling on my children at the playground and knowing how completely I love them. Or something fearful; any one of a number of scenes from Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House would do the trick (the car jump scare! That reveal at the end of episode five!) Today though, as I have a deadline looming, I’m going to talk about the peculiar mixture of excitement, hope and dread which comes with getting feedback on your writing.

That first feedback, from someone you trust and respect, is always the scariest part for me. Over the years, the person at the end of the manuscript has changed, but the following steps seem to remain pretty constant.

1. What have I done? This feeling hits roughly five seconds after you hit send on a manuscript. This happens to me every time, no matter how hard I’ve worked, how many times I’ve revised, how much I’m convinced I’ve done all I can and it’s ready for feedback. Each time I send something it feels like a leap of faith.

2. The Nervous Wait, aka the time when you know you should be writing something else, yet can’t bring yourself to, because you’re convinced everything you write is terrible except maybe it’s kind of OK, but actually no you’re circling right back to ‘What have I done?’

3. The Verdict. That’s the point my heart pounds the most, wondering whether things have landed how I want them to. It doesn’t ever seem to get any easier. Then the feedback arrives and there’s the initial rush of taking it all in and picking out all the nice parts while totally glossing over the rest. There’s the joy of knowing you’ve connected and while it’s always nice to hear the things that are working, inevitably there also things that don’t quite hit the mark just yet. The best feedback always makes me think very hard.

4. Blind panic. It’s not that I don’t agree with the feedback; if my editor raises a question, I know it’s because something needs looking at and I think I’m pretty good at not taking it personally. It’s simply because at this point, I literally have no idea how I’ll manage to fix the problem. This is not fun and can last anywhere from minutes to weeks. It’s the hardest part for me to handle and so far, the only thing that seems to work is to wait while all my anxiety and doubt gathers itself up ready for stage five.

5. Meltdown. I have spent more than one evening sobbing to a friend over edits!

Meltdown is invariably followed by the first spark of an idea on how to fix something. I have no idea why it works that way for me. If I could skip it and just get to work without all the angst and naval-gazing I really would. I’m sure my friends would thank me for it! One way or another though, it seems I have to process emotionally before the ideas will come. Perhaps it’s just one small bit of one scene to start with, but after that, it feels like dominos falling. And my heart beats faster all over again because this is the best part of the process; the click as ideas slot into place. The knowledge that the feedback is going to make your book a million times better. Then I can start fixing things. I actually love it, even if can take a while to get there!


Three very lucky readers of With Love for Books will receive a signed Skylarks postcard from Karen Gregory.

The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. All of our giveaways are international.


  1. So many authors start writing during their childhood, it amazes me. I loved this "who’s become adept at writing around the edges (strong coffee and a healthy disregard for housework help)", especially the latter part. :-)

  2. Great guest post. It must be very nerve-wracking getting feedback on your writing.

  3. I love the beautiful book covers! Very artistic and eye catching.

  4. I really enjoyed reading the entire post, thank you!

  5. wow, this looks great, can't wait to dig in!

  6. Another interesting guest post. What an anxious time it must be for you, awaiting judgement from various levels after having finally having finished writing your book. I doubt that I could survive the suspense.

  7. Skylarks has been on my TBR, but I just added Countless! I've heard really wonderful things about this author and her writing, so I hope to get to her books sometime in the future. I saw the message about you guys being away for the time being, so hopefully everything is well. Sending positive thoughts and feelings your way!

    Check out my 2018 End of the Year Giveaway! Lindsi @ Do You Dog-ear? 💬

  8. Thanks for the great prize and competition. Good luck everyone!

  9. Amazing post !! Nice book cassandra clare the infernal devices series. I will Bookmark this website. and recommend for everyone to read Top Novel books