BOTH BOOKS WILL RETURN TO THEIR USUAL PRICE OF $3.99 ON FRIDAY JULY 21ST!
BOTH BOOKS WILL RETURN TO THEIR USUAL PRICE OF $3.99 ON FRIDAY JULY 21ST!
This is part 1 in a 2 part blog. The first part is looking back at 2016. The second will be discussing my plans for 2017.
Happy New Year!
Better late than never, right? I hope you had a great holiday season. I took a bit of time off to spend with my family, and to catch up on my over-stuffed to-be-read list. And boy are there some great books out there right now.
January has always been a time of self-reflection for me. A chance to take stock of the year before, and then to turn my eyes onto my goals for the next 12 months. This year has been no different. So I thought I’d share my highlights from the past year, and my plans for 2017. Hopefully by writing them down, I’ll have to hold myself to them!
2016 IN REVIEW
Last year was all kinds of win for me. In February Corvus released Fix You in paperback, and I finally got to see one of my books on a shelf in a shop. On Facebook my friends were sharing pictures of them finding it in grocery stores and bookshops, and every image made my day. It’s the kind of things writers dream about.
Then in April I released the third book in my Love in London series. Canada Square was my first new release since I became a full-time writer (although it was written before I went full time). It was a milestone in all kinds of ways, rounding off the series, and letting me share the lives of Beth, Lara and Amy a final time. (Not that it was the final time – read on for more!). As with the other Love in London books, the release went well, although it didn’t light up the sky. Let’s hope this series is a slow burner!
April also saw my first visit as a writer to Germany, at the Love Letter Comvention in Berlin. It was amazing to spend time with so many avid romance readers, and the welcome I received was so warm. I was only there for three days, which really isn’t enough time to soak up everything the beautiful city has to offer, but I will be back!
In April I also finished the first draft of a new book in a new series. A Summer’s Lease (The Shakespeare Sisters book 1) was my first fully-written book as a full time author, and marked a turning point for me. When I sent it off to my agent, I was nervous as hell. Luckily, she fell in love with Sam and Cesca as much as I did.
June and July saw the publication of Fix You (or Kiss You!) by Ullstein in Germany. These wonderful months also saw me sell the rights to the four Shakespeare Sisters stories to Piatkus (Little Brown). A very exciting piece of news for me.
I took August off to spend time with my teenagers. It was a calculated risk — August is traditionally a quiet time in the publishing industry, plus I’d finished writing a (mystery) book at the end of July, so I felt I could spare the time. As my children get older I’m realising that they’ll soon be leaving the nest and flying away, so I’ve decided to enjoy the time I have left with them.
September saw me writing the second book in the Shakespeare Sisters series. By Virtue Fall tells the story of Juliet, the second of the Shakespeare sisters. I managed to finish writing this one by November 2016.
In November, I attended a wonderful writing retreat, hosted by the fabulous Urban Writers’ Retreats. It’s my second time to this location, an isolated farmhouse in the hills of Devon, and I have to say I LOVED it. I went with a firm plan, because by that time I was juggling multiple projects.
In the mornings, I allowed my creative muse to take flight, and wrote a short story, based on the characters in the Love in London series (so Canada Square wasn’t my last encounter with them, after all!) In the afternoons I was carrying out developmental edits, as agree with my editor at Piatkus. This was the first of two rounds of dev edits. Evenings (after dinner and a few drinks) were dedicated to proof-reading the US version of Fix You, which I was due to release in December. Somehow having 3 very separate projects allowed me to be very disciplined with my time, and I went home having achieved everything I wanted to.
November also saw the release of the Love in London series in Germany. I was beyond excited to see these stories translated, and to get so many lovely reviews and comments from my German readers, and can’t wait to share more stories with you all.
December saw the release of Fix You in the US and Canada. Traditionally this is a bad month to release books, and combined with the fact that Fix You had already been released in the UK and in numerous foreign translations, I wasn’t expecting the world from this release. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the reception and how well it’s sold. It’s always fun to introduce Richard and Hanna’s story to new readers, and it was a great month to do that. I also completed the second round of developmental edits to A Summer’s Lease, and agreed a release date of July 7th 2017. I’m so excited to be publishing a new series this year.
Looking back, 2016 was a year of changes for me. I think it’s the first year I’ve really treated writing as my job, which I guess isn’t a surprise, since until last year I was combining it with my day job. It was also a year of consolidation for me — finishing one series, and beginning another, while trying to build my brand recognition. Having written everything down, I feel as if I achieved so much more than I set out to, but still have much more to do in order to reach my long-term goals. I wrote around 320,000 words, published 3 books (a bit of a cheat – one was a box set!), and sold a 4 book series to a publisher. Let’s see if I can beat that in 2017!
So that’s my 2016 in a nutshell. Join me next week to find out my goals and plans for 2017!
Photo Credit: Depositphotos
How can something so wrong feel so right?
From the moment Hanna Vincent meets Richard Larsen at a glamorous London party, they are drawn to each other despite their differences. He’s the handsome son of a wealthy New York family, she’s the poor black sheep with a contagious love of life. On paper, they are complete opposites.
As she becomes the nanny to his younger sister, the attraction between them grows, though the differences between them are too much to overcome. Until the day they meet in New York and everything changes. After a passionate night together, they try to make things work, but neither of them can imagine the ways their love will be challenged.
Then one day, Hanna walks into Richard’s office and reveals an explosive secret. One that rocks the foundations of his world. Richard must decide if he can ever forgive her, and they both need to choose whether to take a risk on happiness, or if their broken love is beyond repair.
Only 5 days until FIX YOU releases in the US and Canada! Today I’m sharing some insights into what inspired the book, and whether there is ANY resemblance between me and Hanna (apart from the fact we’re both in love with Richard!)
Every new year the family and I travel to the Cotswolds to spend a couple of days with friends in a beautiful cottage. In 2012 we were drinking champagne on New Year’s Eve and reminiscing about the millennium. That conversation led on to how things have changed (the rise of the internet, 9/11, social media etc) and it planted a little seed in my mind. From that seed grew Richard and Hanna’s story, a relationship that spanned a decade that has seen enormous change, and the rest is history—their history!
I met my (now) husband at university (Nottingham—the one that Hanna attends) and in the *cough* few years that we’ve been together, we’ve had our fair share of travels and working in different parts of the country. In our twenties we spent two years apart which had its ups (I could watch Pride and Prejudice on TV without him moaning) and downs (frozen meals for one). This was back in the day before Facebook, texting and cheap phone calls. We even wrote each other letters. By the way, whatever happened to love letters? Sigh.
I think the other thing that I really enjoyed writing about was New York. I’ve had a love affair with that city since the first time I visited when I was 21. Since then I’ve been back about ten times, and still can’t get enough of it. Although at the start of the story Hanna really doesn’t enjoy travelling to see her father in Manhattan, I really enjoyed writing about the sights and sounds of the city
I did a lot of research when writing the book. Some of it was really hard to read, such as survivors’ recollections of the aftermath of 9/11, but other parts were more light-hearted and fun. I drove my family mad with all the snippets of information I found (“Hey, remember when mobile phones used to look like bricks!”), but to me they were golden. One of my favourites was when I discovered that The Strokes were playing in the Mercury Lounge at the same time Hanna was visiting Richard in New York. I hadn’t planned it, but as soon as I read that, I knew it was meant to be.
I have a big love of music, mostly thanks to my husband, who considers himself a bit of a muso. Pretty much every song in Fix You is on my iPod, and I played them incessantly when I was writing the book. My tastes aren’t quite as eclectic as Richard’s (I don’t run the gamut from the Prodigy to Puccini), but between my husband and me, we have around 800 albums.
I think my favourite bit about music in the book is where Hanna tries to explain to her mum about a band she’s been listening to. Although I don’t mention the band’s name, the fact they lose a grand and eventually find it behind the TV should be enough pointers to work out who I based it on. If you can’t guess, tweet me. I might give you some clues.
It’s a bit obvious, but I fell in love with Richard while I was writing the book. Between 1999 and 2012 we watch him grow up to be a strong, good man who does his best to keep everybody happy. He’s alpha without needing to dominate, and strong without needing to boast about it. My kind of guy!
As for Hanna, apart from the fact we’re brunettes and went to university in Nottingham, I don’t think there are many similarities between her and me. She’s a lot more impulsive than I am, and can be prone to making questionable decisions, but she’s also kind and loveable. While she’s not based on me, she’s definitely somebody I’d like to have as a friend. I think she’d liven up any party!
As with many authors, it was probably time. I work, have a family, and am almost certainly the world’s greatest procrastinator. When the internet is on, I have the attention span of Dory in Finding Nemo. I find I have to switch off the router, make myself a vat full of coffee and hide in my bedroom with my laptop if I want to get anything done.
The other difficult thing was editing my original manuscript. It started out at a whopping 140,000 words (almost two books’ worth), and deciding what to keep and what to take out was very tricky. I hope I got it right!
This is a hard question, mostly because I can read anything up to 3 books a week, so I tend to have a lot of favourite authors. In fact, I’ve just browsed through my kindle and it currently has 698 books on there, which is scary, not to mention expensive!
There are a few writers who are my ‘must reads’ anytime they bring out a book. They include Marian Keyes, Mhairi MacFarlane and Samantha Young. All of them manage to combine an emotional, compelling story with a lightness of writing and humour that is a joy to read. I love stories that have flawed characters who go on a journey toward self-discovery, and these three give me that in spades!
Coming Soon: Google Play | Kobo | Kindle CA
With the US & Canada Release of Fix You only 12 days away, I thought it would be fun to share a Q&A about Richard and Hanna with you! Read on to find out more about the book, characters, and what’s coming up for me in 2017!
Tell us about “Fix You”.
Fix You tells the story of Richard and Hanna. They first meet on 31st December 1999 when he’s an American student visiting his father in London, and she’s a Brit who is being paid to work at his parent’s New Year’s Eve party. Over the next 12 years their connection grows, leading to an explosive revelation in his Manhattan office when she reveals a big secret. The story is set against a backdrop of real-life events that took place over these years, with lots of pop culture references, taking readers on a journey of twists and turns!
What inspired you to write the story spanning such a wide timespan?
I wanted to write a modern story, but to somehow incorporate the type of book I loved growing up, which tended to follow characters over a number of years. Fix You was my attempt to mesh the two! The beauty of a longer timespan is that you can really explore how relationships change as people grow up and mature, and I think we get to see this with Richard and Hanna.
How did you decide the different times and paths for the characters?
Before writing I did a lot of research, because even though this is recent history it’s amazing how much I’d forgotten. Once I’d researched each year, and knew the events, technology and music that were key, I drew out a very long timeline. The next bit was easy; by this point Richard and Hanna were very much fleshed-out characters in my mind and combining their traits with the events that took place meant they more or less decided the storyline for themselves.
Did you find it hard writing as both Hanna and Richard throughout the book?
No, I loved writing both their points of view. They are very different characters—Hanna is impulsive and emotional, whereas Richard tends to be more reasoned and traditional—yet there’s aspects of both of them that I really enjoy. To paraphrase Jerry Maguire, they ‘complete each other’. It just takes them a while to realise this!
Did you go into writing the book wanting to explore a particular theme?
When I first started writing Fix You there were a few things I wanted to explore, but the first thing I wanted to do was write a prologue that really grabbed the reader. From the beginning, we learn what Hanna’s secret is, but we don’t know why or when it happened, or what the fall-out will be. It’s this mystery (I hope) that keeps the reader going through the story, in spite of the ups and downs that Hanna and Richard experience.
What were you doing on New Year’s Eve 1999?
I was lying in bed with a new-born baby, so I managed to miss out on most of the celebrations! I did manage to wake up for midnight, so I saw the millennium in, but I definitely wasn’t out partying like Richard and Hanna were!
What are you working on now?
I’m currently working on a new series called ‘The Shakespeare Sisters’. It follows four British girls who are looking for love. The first book in the series, Summer’s Lease, will be released in July 2017.
How did you get into writing?
I’ve been writing since I was a child, but never really managed to finish a project until I reached my thirties. I think the reason for this is that I discovered an online community of writers and readers who provided me with a lot of support. Once I started writing regularly I found I couldn’t stop.
What’s the best feedback you’ve had?
“I couldn’t put this down.” I’m not sure there’s much that tops that!
What advice do you have for anyone wanting to write a book?
Write it! It sounds easy (and it isn’t) but unless you get the words down on the page you’re never going to get there. It took me a good ten years to complete a project, then less than a year to write my second, so when you’ve done it once (and accepted that you CAN do it) everything gets a lot easier. I’d also advise any new writer to find a community of writers where you can work together, critique each other’s writing, and also provide each other support on the bad days. I wouldn’t be here without my online friends, and I’m very thankful for them.