A Week in the Life of an Author

It’s been a busy old week. In my writing life I’ve been working on a new book (though sometimes it’s felt like wading through treacle — where’s my muse when I need it?) and also on the line edits for A Winter’s Tale – the second in my Shakespeare Sister series. I’ve also had a cover reveal for the US version of the first book in the Shakespeare Sisters, Summer’s Lease (and if you haven’t seen the covers yet – check them out!

In among that, I also decided it was high time I went back to the gym. Since I started writing full-time in March 2016, I’ve found my bottom had expanded as much as my word count has. And that’s a lot! So I put my tail between my (plump) legs and headed over to my local gym. So far I’ve managed 2 classes and 2 gym workouts. It’s not huge (unlike… yada yada yada), but it’s a start, right?

I even had to leave the house a few times this week for meetings and social occasions. Gasp, horror. Those of you who know me are probably aware of my hermit-like tendencies. So leaving the house (especially with full make up) can be a full-on production. So on Thursday I made the effort and hopped on a train to London to meet with my publishers, and then onward to the RNA Summer Party.

Meeting with my editor is always good fun. She was the acquiring editor for the Shakespeare Sisters series, and as such she knows the books inside out (and seems to really like them). We’ve worked closely on the revisions and line edits, and on Thursday I was introduced to the rest of the team responsible for launching Summer’s Lease on 13th July. It was lovely to meet them all and talk about publicity, marketing and other plans. There’s less than 2 months to go until release day now, and things are starting to feel real. I’m so excited about Sam and Cesca’s story — not to mention all the delicious Italian details in the book — and I’m really looking forward to seeing what other think of it. Fingers crossed!

After my meeting, and then a quick dash to the pub with an author friend, I arrived at the RNA summer party at the Royal Overseas League in London. A private club that’s just off Piccadilly, it’s always a pleasure to spend time in that amazing building. It was also such a pleasure to catch up with old author friends and new ones. I was so busy talking I forgot to take many pictures (damn it!), but here are the two I remembered to snap.

With Holly Martin, Emily Kerr and Annie Lyons

With Jan Ellis and Samantha Tonge

And after all that, I have a few more exciting events coming up next week. Goldsboro Books are holding their annual Romance in the Court evening on Thursday 25th May, plus I have a meet up with some other authors and bloggers on Saturday. All in all, it’s shaping up to be a busy few weeks. Keep your fingers crossed I survive it!

PS – If you haven’t checked out Summer’s Lease yet, it’s on pre-order here at Amazon UK, and on iBooks US. And if like me you’re a goodreads fan, you can add it to your TBR here!

Feel the Fear, and Do it Anyway

Franklin D Roosevelt once famously said ‘The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.’ – but maybe he’d never been faced with climbing to the top of the O2. Okay, so I’m being a bit glib, but the fact is that sometimes I feel like a walking talking ball of anxiety. Especially when it comes to my bete noir – heights.

I can’t remember when I first started being afraid of tall buildings and mountains. Probably when I learned what happened if you fell off them. And that’s what my fear really is — it’s not a fear of heights, it’s a fear of falling to the depths. A fear of mortal injury!

A wise fear, you might say.

It’s not that dissimilar to some of the fears I face as a writer. What if people hate my book? What if they find out I’m a fraud? (One of my big ones — see this post on Imposter Syndrome for more details). What if I fail?

And sometimes even more scary, what if I succeed?

At the end of the day, the only failures we have are those when we don’t try. When we hang up our hats and hide away and decide not to challenge ourselves. So I try to ignore those inner voices that tell me to stop writing, the same way I try to ignore the inner voice that tells me I’m sure to die if I scale the dizzy heights of a skyscraper.

So I write and I publish, and I try to face my fears. That’s also why I decided to climb the O2 – that giant white tent-like structure in London, home to many a concert and exhibition. It looks like this:

As you can see, the sloping nature of the roof makes it hard to climb, which means you have to wear special equipment, including a harness, strong shoes, and a carabiner that ties you to the roof. You know, just in case you fall. So by the time I was fully dressed and ready to go, I was shaking. I was that afraid.

The route to the top is on a bouncy walkway, along with a hand rail that you have to cling to, otherwise the steepness is too much. All the way your carabiner is locked on to a wire, keeping you safe, but it’s hard work. And a bit like being an author, I found the best way to keep my anxiety under control was to keep my focus ahead of me, not look to the side, and keep breathing. That last tip is good for anything in life — breathing is important. Anyway, after around half an hour our group made it to the top, Want proof? Here’s a picture of me smiling, yes smiling. Because I did it. And the view from the top was amazing.

The route down was actually steeper than the route up (something to do with no platform going down), but I found that walking backward while clinging to the handrail helped. And when I finally made it to the bottom, I got a welcome rush of adrenaline, along with a sense of accomplishment. Because I did it – I felt the fear (oh boy did I feel the fear) and I did it anyway.

Would I do it again? I’m not sure, but I’m definitely glad I did it the first time. With every new thing I try, my fear of failing (or falling) becomes less. And I’m determined never to let my life be limited by fear again. Whether that be in my writing or anything else.

Why Finding Your Writing Process Is A Bit Like Learning to Drive!

There are so many choices to make when we sit down and write a romance novel. Should we plot it out or wing it? Do we write in first person or third? Is it going to be a novel or a novella, and what kind of word count should I be aiming for? And then there’s the craft, finding ways to make the connection between the hero and heroine deeper (in romance), and how to tear them apart again just for the reader’s enjoyment. Deciding on a sub-plot (if you have one) and how to weave that into the main romance.

Credit: Depositphotos

Of course these are only a few of the questions I ask myself (not always consciously, but they need to be addressed at some point), there are so many more. A bit like when I first started to drive, I’ve had a huge learning curve — first of all realising that, just as I wouldn’t get in a car and expect to be able to drive like Jensen Button, nor should I sit down and write a book and expect it to be brilliant in the first pass. (And yes, we all know some authors who can do this — whose first book was amazing and took off — but there are more of us whose first books proved to be huge learning curves).

So if I take the driving analogy further; at first, every move you make when you’re learning to drive is conscious. You sit in the driver’s seat and have to think ‘first I put my foot on the clutch, then I turn the key, then once the engine is started, I need to find the biting point’. And all this is before you’ve even driven anywhere. More importantly, you have an instructor, somebody to guide you until you’re competent enough to do this thing on your own. Sadly, I didn’t have somebody to sit by my side as I typed, pointing out all my mistakes and suggesting alternatives, but I did find people who could help me do this. Beta readers, editors, and reviewers all can help you learn what works and what doesn’t, and I find them invaluable, even if I’m more confident in my skills nowadays.

Credit: Depositphotos

But more than anything, I needed a method to approach my writing, even before it went before the eyes of the editors and the readers. I needed to find my writing process. I’ve managed to do this through a combination of reading craft books, watching webinars, and, most importantly, learning through my own mistakes. In the romance world we’re really lucky that other writers are so willing to share their experiences, and often for free, or not a huge cost. Most weeks I find myself reading craft books or watching a video — as an ex-HR professional, I take my continuous professional development seriously!

The important thing to remember is no two writers’ processes are the same. What works for me won’t work for somebody else. I hate pantsing (i.e. writing without a plan) — although I do less planning than I used to nowadays. So when you get advice, whether it be from books, webinars or fellow authors, remember to take what works for you but ignore the rest.

BLOG QUOTE

As for me, my process has been gleaned from a combination of Blake Snyder’s ‘Save the Cat’ beat sheet, Gwen Hayes’ fabulous book, Romancing the Beat, Nina Harrington’s brilliant videos (plus her many writing books) and a whole lot of trial and error. More importantly, it’s changing every day, as my needs and experience changes. I don’t need as much ‘instruction’ as I did when I was a learner driver, but I’ve also learned that a ‘refresher’ course doesn’t go amiss. I don’t want to be caught speeding after all!

 

 

Why Beginnings are so Hard

It won’t come as a surprise to many of you that I’m a big procrastinator. If something CAN be put off, it WILL be put off. Whether that’s going to the gym (I’ve managed to put that off for 3 years – yay me!), cleaning the house (I’ve done that one more recently, you’ll be pleased to hear) or starting a new book, all of them have been delayed because I’ve found so many better things to do.

But really, they’re not better at all. They’re just ways of stopping me from doing what I either don’t want to do – hello gym and cleaning – or that I’m SCARED of doing – hello new book! Even after writing 12 books, including the ones that will never see the light of day, I still find it hard to write those first 10,000 words. Experience has told me that after those 10,000 words I start to fly – because by then I know my characters, I have an inkling of where they’re going to take me, and more importantly, I get hooked on writing. But knowing this, and doing something about it are two different things.

Before I can even start writing, a book – or rather the characters – have to percolate in my mind. From the youngest age I was a day dreamer, and I find myself day dreaming about my characters, getting to know them, working out what their flaws are, what their dreams are, and how they’re ever going to reconcile the two. This is the fun part of the planning, where I can let my imagination run wild, and take my characters up alleyways even they didn’t know existed. This process can take days, weeks, or sometimes even years. I have one book that’s been brewing in my brain for the past year and a half and it still hasn’t made its way out. I’m sure some of my writer friends can beat that hands down!

BLOG QUOTE

So the imagination is working fine, it’s just getting myself to sit down and write those first 10,000 words that’s the problem. So how do I do it?

I force myself, that’s how. Sadly there’s no magic solution, and no lovely fairy to wave her wand and make the words suddenly appear on the screen. I have to type them, word by word, until I have a sentence, and then a paragraph, and then – wonderfully – a scene. If I make myself do that for three days, then I’m up and running.

If that sounds like hard work, I guess it is, but it’s worth it every time. Like a runner who has to push themselves through the pain to get a runner’s high, or even a mother who has to go through labour in order to get a beautiful baby, I know that putting the hard work in will make me happy in the long run.

Let’s hope I remember this next time I’m writing a book. But I probably won’t, I’ll be too busy procrastinating!

 

Monday News

Good morning! (or afternoon, depending on where you are right now!) It’s a beautiful day here in the South East of England — the sun is out, the sky is blue and the children are off school for their Easter Holidays. Which doesn’t mean much here in the Elks house, because they’re still in bed (teenagers). Still, it’s nice to have them home for a change!

Even more exciting, I actually managed to sit outside with a coffee and a book yesterday. Reading in the garden is my favourite thing to do — it really doesn’t get any better than that. We have lots of tree surrounding us, so listening to birdsong while holding my kindle is my happy place. I hope you managed to get some reading done too!

And speaking of books, I’ve got book news times two. Firstly, in case you missed it, I had the UK Cover Reveal for Summer’s Lease last week — the first book in my new Shakespeare Sisters series. Scroll on down for a look at the cover and the blurb — I LOVE IT!

The US/ Canada cover reveal and links will be coming very soon!

Pre-order links are up here: myBook.to/SummersLeaseUK

And you can add to your goodreads here: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34728527-summer-s-lease

Wanna know what it’s about? Read on…

Meet the Shakespeare family: four sisters, four stories . . . four ways to find true love

Cesca Shakespeare has hit rock bottom. Six years after the play she wrote bombed at the box office, she’s unable to hold down a job, keep an apartment, and worst of all her family have no idea how far she’s fallen. So when her fairy Godfather offers her the use of his friend’s Italian villa for the summer, she grudgingly agrees to try writing a new play. That’s before she finds out the house belongs to her arch-nemesis, Sam Carlton.

When Hollywood heart-throb Sam Carlton sees his name splashed across a gossip rag, all he wants to do is hide. That’s how he finds himself traveling to Italy, deciding to spend the summer in his family’s empty villa on Lake Como. Except when he arrives it isn’t as empty as he’d hoped.

Over the course of the hot Italian summer, Cesca and Sam have to come to terms with their pasts. What begins as a tentative friendship quickly grows into an intense attraction – and then a scorching fling. But they can’t hide from reality forever . . . as their different worlds collide, Sam and Cesca face a choice: is this just a summer romance, or could their love weather even the coldest winds?

I also have a 99c sale for Broken Chords going on this week. If you haven’t picked it up already, it’s for sale on all venues. Alex and Lara’s story is one of my favourites — telling their story AFTER their happy-ever-after.

☆.•°*°•.☆99c Sale – This Week Only! ☆.•°*°•.☆

A dirty-talking, sexy rockstar meets a smart-mouthed London girl, and sparks fly. But when she falls pregnant with his baby, their lives begin to unravel. What happens when real life clashes with happily-ever-after…

Amazon ➜ http://mybook.to/BrokenChords

Nook ➜ http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/2940046258561

iBooks ➜ https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/broken-chords/id1094732599?ls=1&mt=11

Kobo ➜ https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/broken-chords-3

Google ➜ https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Carrie_Elks_Broken_Chords?id=ZWTDCwAAQBAJ&hl=en_GB

That’s all my news for now. I’m planning on spending the next couple of weeks getting to work on a  brand new series (yay) and hopefully spending a lot of time reading in the garden. I hope you have an amazing, book filled week!

A Few of My Favorite Things #LoveChatWrite Blog Hop

Welcome to this week’s Romance Writer’s Weekly Blog Hop. If you’ve arrived from A.S. Fenichel’s blog, hi, and thanks for joining me!

This week we’re talking about things we can’t live without. We need to list five things. ONLY FIVE. Oh my, let’s see if I can whittle it down!  

1. MY FAMILY

They may drive me crazy. They may see me as Mom’s Taxi Service. They may think I’m a walking, talking ATM who also happens to whip up a great dinner, but I love them to bits. Plus they gave me an awesome Mother’s Day gift on Sunday (it was Mother’s Day here in the UK) so all is forgiven.

2. MY FRIENDS

Both online and in real life, my friends are my rocks. Whenever I need them, they’re there, and I hope I do the same for them, too. I’ve been lucky enough to build up a supportive tribe, and I know I couldn’t live without them. I’m glad I don’t have to!

3. MY KINDLE

Duh! Well of course. Without my Kindle, I feel as though I’ve lost a limb. The thing goes everywhere with me. The bath, the garden, on holiday. The list is endless. If I’m picking a child up from a club I take it just in case I have to wait for five minutes – because goodness knows I wouldn’t want to waste it! Luckily for me it’s also fully loaded — with around 200 books that I’ve downloaded but haven’t read yet.

4. CHOCOLATE

I’m a chocoholic. There, I’ve said it. I prefer milk over white or dark, but apart from that I’m not very fussy. I like it in boxes, in a bar (the chocolate, not the alcoholic kind), in a cup when hot and in ANY kind of cake. Without chocolate I don’t think I’d be very happy. Please don’t take it away from me!

5. WINE

If you follow my Instagram account, you probably could have guessed this one! For me, a glass of wine (preferably white, but I can live with red) signals the end of a long day and the beginning of a restful evening. When the children were small I’d put them to bed at 7 and then sigh as I poured myself out a glass. Now they’re older I have to time my glass around my taxi service (see above!) Sometimes I may not get to pour it until 9 or 10, but it’s still just as welcome. Cheers!

So yeah, those are a few of my favorite things. If I could combine them all (A chocolate and wine party with my family and friends where we just talk about books) I think I might internally combust!

 

Now let’s hop over to Dani Jace’s blog to find out what she can’t live without! While you’re there, check out her HOT AS BLAZES excerpt. I love that cover!!

Until next time,

Carrie Pink

12647298_1270932859588621_623385704955642081_n

Photo credits: Canva & authors own.

And the winner is…

We have a winner!

A little later than planned, but the winner of the Friday Fun giveaway (a Carrie Elks USB Pen) is JBDsie. Congratulations my friend! Please email me at carrie.elks@mail.com with an address to send the pen to.

Thanks to all for commenting and taking part. Keep your eyes peeled here for more giveaways.