To Finish or Not To Finish: a Novel in Limbo

I spend a lot of my time sat in the dark as I feed my baby, staring at a picture of a girl in a yellow dress. And now one thing for sure: her story isn’t over yet.

When I started my Master’s a year ago, I did it with the intention of using the time to work on the sequel to Searching For Katherine (r.2014), which has sat unfinished in my proverbial desk draw for the past three years.

However, three months into my course – I found out I was pregnant. Overwhelmed by work, university and now pregnancy – the novel remained unfinished.

Well now I am on maternity leave, my degree has come to an end, and I have a month-old baby boy – my time is both free and less so at the same time.

Hanging on my living room wall is the original sketch – done by an old friend of mine – of the cover for Searching For Katherine.

It is of Katherine in a torn yellow dress, walking through the forest. I always loved the drawing because it was of a pivotal moment in Katherine’s story; of limbo. She finds herself leaving one hell, with no promise of salvation or safety once she gets wherever she’s going – but she still takes the journey. And thus, I too am in limbo when it comes to this book.

But now it’s time to come out of the forest and choose a path. Do I scrap the book altogether, and take time as a sign that some books just shouldn’t be finished? Do I pick up where I left off? Or do I start the manuscript again; and embellish it with the things I have learned in life since last writing it?

I always felt a duty to Katherine to finish her story, I still intend on doing so, but perhaps not in the way I originally planned.

I think I’ll dust off the old hard drive tomorrow and see where we left off, and if there is a story yet to be salvaged.

Graduation | 1 Year Later

12015242_10153531992797488_4467283861848174181_oA year ago to the date, the Creative and Professional Writing BA (Hons) Class of 2015, graduated.

We were nervous and stressed and our robes were trying to strangle us. We had rogue family members randomly popping up to take pictures, and we spent our time either losing our friends in the crowd or readjusting our gowns.

We had spent three years stuck in cupboard seminar rooms, only 11 people in our year at any one time, freezing cold and drinking copious amounts of coffee.

Lectures were nearly always followed by alcohol, in the true spirit of sticking to the writing cliches, a tipsy wobble home to do our assignments. Quick nap or dinner and you were ready for  a night out.

It is safe to say that university was one of the most turbulent, stressful, broke, enlightening and friendship-filled eras of my life. I do not regret a single second – including the time I got so drunk that I had to go to class wearing sunglasses in the middle of December… yep… pathetic is the word you are looking for, my friend!

It is the time after university, after you’ve graduated that nobody prepares you for, not really. You are of course advised to get a job in your studied profession, but that doesn’t work for most students. We end up behind bars or retail or office jobs, slugging the 9-5 with everybody else.

You tend to lose your confidence, your passion, you lose motivation for your talents. As a writer and graduate of Creative and Professional Writing, it was never going to be easy to get a job, let-a-lone a career in creative writing. So instead, I did some writing projects and got a full time retail job, thinking it wouldn’t be a distraction. Oh boy, how wrong was I!

I have barely written anything for my current novel – compared to what I planned to write anyway –  and my poetry has all but resorted to a quick Instagram post every week. I am struggling to write, read and do anything creative.

But that is my fault. I spent three years training for this year, training myself for my future career goals, and I am wasting that. It has taken me a year to realise that I am not the writer I was whilst at university, but it doesn’t mean that I can’t be.

It’s time to get back into not only my writing, but also my studies. I’m going to go back to my studies and get my Masters degree (hopefully) in Creative Writing and go from Melissa Holden, BA to Melissa Holden, BA MA. Time to pull my socks up and get back out there!

After Us |99p Kindle Sale!

KINDLE BOOK SALE | Melissa Holden, Mark Looker, Edd Hodsdon and Lorna Holland

To celebrate the appearance of colder, shorter winter nights and crunchy autumn leaves, we’ve decided to put AFTER US on sale!


When the world ends, what comes AFTER US?

Featuring stories from Edd Hodsdon, Melissa Holden, Lorna Holland, and Mark Looker, AFTER US explores the effects of an apocalypse on the survivors.

AFTER the apocalypse the laws and rules of the old world bind US no more, and mankind’s true, savage nature takes over.

AFTER the apocalypse, none of US will ever be the same again…


Stories Include: Behind Bars, Cure In Age, Keep Your Friends Close, Lonely In A Crowd, Strangers On The Road, Silent Screams, Sally Lin

To find the sale price in your country, use the sale links below. (Some countries may need to redirect via the US page).

After Us | Sales Links

Amazon UK:

Amazon US:

Amazon CA: 

Amazon DE: 

Remember to leave a comment below or a review on the main Amazon page to let us know what you thought of the book!

Shelley&Holden: A Writers Tale

Shelley and Holden

Shelley&Holden are a writing duo that have been close friends and co-writers since they met at university.

Previously, they helped each other on independent projects, but have now decided to join together to become a best-friend-book-writing team.

Since working together on Jacob Shelley’s PUT TITLE HERE, they have been working closely on other projects such as their first joint short story collection EVERYDAY WE LIE (release date tbc).

Want to know more? Go to

Let’s meet the Shelley&Holden team…

Jacob Shelley

jacob shelley

Jacob Shelley is an undergraduate at Canterbury Christ Church University (Primary Education BA Hons).

 ‘Put Title Here’ is Jacob’s first book to be published, with several more ideas planned for the near future.

Jacob has been writing since he was fifteen years old, and now has finally decided to share his work with a wider audience of readers.

When Jacob is not studying for university or writing poetry and prose, he likes to pursue his other creative hobbies, namely making artwork and baking cakes and cookies.

Shelley and Holden one half

Melissa Holden

Melissa Holden author picture

Melissa Holden, BA is a graduate of Creative and Professional Writing BA Hons.

Melissa has been a professional writer since 2012, but has been writing creatively since a young age. As well as writing, Melissa supports self-publishing movement #IndieBooksBeSeen and helps unpublished authors learn about self-publishing and promotion.

She has self-published seven books to date and is working on several projects at the moment.

She likes tea, vintage things and cushions.


1 Year On: Becoming An Author

I can’t believe that it’s been a year since I published The Snow Killer. It both feels like a lifetime, and about five minutes. So much has changed over the last 12 months that I’m not sure where to start.

Melissa Holden Searching For Katherine Selfie


In January 2014, I lost a very important person to cancer. Since then I have been living life to the full and taking every chance I can. (I miss you, Norman.)

2014-01-08 08.41.22

I’ve started and ended romantic [and friendly] relationships this year, as well as meeting some incredible new people both in and out of my writing career. I’m spending more time with the people that matter to me – because life is too short to hold a grudge.

I changed my hair – a lot and I lost and gained weight, I’ll never be perfect but I don’t care.


I’ve been working my part time job for over a year, whilst balancing everything else.

I became an auntie (again!)

I moved house at university and me and one of my closest friends had to say goodbye when she moved up north to go to university.

Melissa Holden and Lara Rye


In twelve months I have written (and contributed to) eight books – most of which are available on Amazon Kindle. [After Us out November 30th]

join cover new

I started a YouTube channel.

I became an editor for CCCU Her Campus – and it’s still going strong.


I now write for Dartford Matters and Dartford Living.

I regularly blog on seven pages (four of which are WordPress!)

I hit 1000 Twitter followers, 300 blog followers, and 200 Facebook likes.

I got involved in #IndieBooksBeSeen and helped it launch.

I got my latest book, Searching For Katherine, into the CCCU Bookshop.

Searching For Katherine in the CCCU bookshop


Since November 2013, I have passed my 2nd year of university and am well into my 3rd year – and now it is less than a year until graduation! Classes are going well so far and I am hoping to pass with a high 2:1.

Plans for the future…

I have recently started helping young writers become self-published authors and I plan to keep doing so. I love helping unknown writers and I will eventually set up a company to help them.

I am also looking into doing a Masters degree, becoming a lecturer and eventually getting a PhD. *fingers crossed*

I have lots more books planned, so keep an eye out for those!

As of June 2014 I will be: Melissa Holden (BA) – a graduate of Creative and Professional Writing (BA Hons) from Canterbury Christ Church University.

So, I met Dot Gumbi today…

So, today we had self-published author, Dot Gumbi come into our class as a guest speaker. And I must say, the guy knows what he is talking about.

As someone who has recently joined the self-publishing game, I am eager to learn from those who have been playing longer than myself. Dot Gumbi made it obvious to me (if it wasn’t already) that self-publishing is hard work, and it takes dedication and maybe a few connections to become skilled at the monopoly that is self-publishing.

Dot Gumbi’s book, The Pirates Of Maryland Point looks amazing in both Kindle format and paperback. I was rather jealous that he used and not like I did. I’m thinking of reprinting my book, The Snow Killer, so from what Dot said – is the way to go for us poor little student writers.

The Pirates of Maryland Point (as taken from the Amazon page) is:

The greatest prize at the London 2012 Olympics isn’t gold. . . it’s the Holy Grail. There’s a rumour there’s treasure buried beneath the 2012 Olympic site. And that a secret army is going to find it. Only nobody believes it. But when a mysterious group of pirates move to the East End, people become suspicious. And when Cockneys start disappearing, the Pearly King demands answers. But that’s the least of Oscar’s worries – all he wants to do is kill some cockroaches. The problem is, he’s using a chemical weapon to do it. And he has to get rid of it before the police find out. “If you like Robert Rankin, Jasper Fforde or Douglas Adams – this is for you.” “Cockneys fighting pirates! What more could you want from life? “

If you would like to check out his blog, go to:

Buy his book on Amazon: