Lights, Camera . . . Love?

There’s something rather wonderful about a Hollywood romance, in both real life and as a story. Watching LaLaLand earlier this year brought that back to me. Although let’s not talk about that ending. Seriously, let’s not. I’m still in recovery.

So when I decided to write a new series based on four sisters, it seemed natural to have a hero who was a up-and-coming movie star — a huge contrast to the heroine who was a poor, wannabe playwright. And that’s how Sam Carlton appeared to me — almost fully formed before I even put pen to paper. A man who got his first big break at the age of 19, and has been part of the Hollywood machine ever since.

Of course, this isn’t the first time a romance book has ever been written about a movie star and a civilian (I wanted to say Muggle, but J.K. Rowling I’m not.) In fact, some of my all time favorite stories feature the clash of lifestyles between an ordinary girl and a famous star. There’s the hilarious The Unidentified Redhead by Alice Clayton, that features the gorgeous Jack Hamilton wooing a very normal, and notably clumsy, Grace Sheridan. Then there’s the hot Hollywood Dirt by Alessandre Torre – soon to become a movie itself, courtesy of PassionFlix. Love Unscripted by Tina Reber — my very favourite modern Hollywood romance — features a hero (movie star Ryan Christiansen) who literally crashes into Taryn Michael’s small town bar, leading to a chemistry that sizzles off the page.

It’s not just in books that Hollywood Romances can be found, but also (in a rather meta kind of way) in the movies too. I’ve already mentioned LaLaLand, (oh Ryan, why did you break my heart so?) but of course this is only the latest in a long line of movies about movie stars. One of my favourites — and a classic by any measure — is Singin’ in the Rain, featuring a rather gorgeous Gene Kelly singing and dancing his way as he falls in love with Debbie Reynolds. Then there’s Notting Hill, where movie star Julia Roberts has orange juice spilled over her white top by a bumbling yet adorable bookshop owner, Hugh Grant.

What do all these stories have in common? I think in the beginning there’s a mismatch between the hero and heroine, or in this case the movie star and the muggle *ahem* civilian. It seems as though the movie star is out of their reach, and that a relationship can never work. And yet as the story unfolds, the star becomes more down to earth, and often is searching for somebody who will treat them as normal. Fall in love with them for their personality, not for their handprint outside the Chinese theater. In that respect it’s not so different to a traditional fairytale like Cinderella, where a rich royal falls in love with a poor maid. It’s a modern, up to date (and occasionally gender-swapped) version of all those stories we read growing up.

I think that’s what makes a movie-star romance so magical. It has all the glamour of a fairytale, but with the added edge of a Hollywood setting. For those of us who grew up with our eyes glued to the silver screen, it offers a fantasy that can whisk us away from modern life, and for me, romances don’t get much better than that.

Summer’s Lease is the first book in Carrie’s new Shakespeare Sisters series, and will be released on July 13th. For more details click here.

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5 Reasons Why I’m Excited For Summer!

 

I’m British, which means I’m obsessed by the weather. It’s a national pastime that I’m more than willing to take part in — be  it complaining about the rain, or speculating about the possibility of snow. But when the sun comes out, I tend to go into overdrive. Sunny weather is my happy place. It means long days out on our deck, with an ice-cold cocktail in one hand and a summery book in the other. Summer is about vacations and the sea, the beach and a barbecue. More than anything, warm weather is about spending time with family and friends — and it doesn’t get much better than that!

So since the sun decided to take a peek out from behind the clouds this weekend (and as I write, my weather app is telling me that by the time this blog is posted the rain will be back — sorry!) I decided it was high time to write a summery blog. So read on to find out my FIVE favorite things about summer!

1. THE FOOD

I’m one of those crazy people who love salads. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not about being healthy or calorie counting. After all, my favorite kind of salad comes doused with dressing and  with a side of french fries. It has to start out with a base of green salad leaves, then a healthy sprinkling of onion and cucumber. On top of that I love me some croutons and maybe some cajun spiced chicken, as well as a creamy dressing — be it caesar, thousand island or just yummy french oil. It has to be hearty, tasty, and full of the taste of summer.  Delicious!

2. THE DRINKS

There are so many different drinks that really come into their own in the summer. If you like your refreshment with alcohol, then Pimms is definitely the queen of summer drinks. This quintessential British punch-style drink is based on gin and red vermouth, with a large douse of lemonade, all poured into a jug filled with mint, strawberries, cucumber and apples. And it tastes absolutely delicious.

But Pimms isn’t the only good drink to have on a hot summer’s day. There’s also Prosecco, margaritas, and of course  an ice-cold beer. All these things make me feel very happy indeed.

3. THE BOOKS

For me, summer isn’t complete without a lovely summery story in my hand. Preferably set on a beach, with a pretty girl and a gorgeous guy who try to deny the attraction between them. This year there are a whole load of summer books being released — from Holly Martin’s Summer at Buttercup Beach to Heidi Swain’s Coming Home to Cuckoo Cottage and Sarah Morgan’s Holiday in the Hamptons. Oh, and did I mention I have a summer book coming out too? If you enjoy love stories set in Italy, with good food and a splash of wine (do you sense a theme here), along with a movie-star hero and a smart mouthed English writer, then check out Summer’s Lease. 

4. THE MOVIES

Summer movies are all about sun, sand and lots of love. The first one that springs to mind is the iconic Dirty Dancing. An uptown girl and a downtown boy meet at a Summer Vacation spot, and love grows on the dance floor. I won’t mention the remake (because really, no), but the original is well worth a re-watch. But if Baby and Johnny don’t do it for you, then check out Grease, Roman Holiday, One Day or Mama Mia, all of which feature scenes in the hot summer sun!

5. THE VACATIONS

Where better to enjoy summer food, drink, books and movies than on vacation? I love going on holiday with my family — it’s a chance to kick back, relax and spend quality time with those I love. Whether it be in Spain, Turkey or Italy (our most recent three vacations) the real draw of a holiday is being able to take ourselves away from real life and all the worries it brings, and start to relax, if only for a couple of weeks.

So those are the reasons I love summer. How about you? Are you a sun lover or more of a spring person? Let me know in the comments, or send me a tweet!

Love,

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!

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!

My Writing Year – Looking Ahead in 2017

This is part 2 of a 2 part blog. The first part looked back at 2016 and can be found here.

2017 goals - word abstract on a napkin with a cup of coffee

 

LOOKING AHEAD TO 2017

Last week I discussed my 2016 writing year, and the exciting things that happened. As I explained, 2016 was a year of transition for me, as I moved into full-time writing, and really began to concentrate on building up a backlist of work, as well as increasing my social media presence.

I see 2017 as a chance to consolidate. I’ll not only be releasing 2 books this year (and believe me, I can’t WAIT to share more about these books with you), but I also plan to write 3 additional books. I’ve worked out that 3 books is my ‘sweet spot’ – my books tend to run to around 90,000 to 100,000 words, and along with re-writes and editing, that pretty much fills up my working year.

As you’ve probably realised from my previous posts about writing, I’m a planner. I not only like to plan my stories (even if the characters never seem to stick to the plan) but I like to plan my work, too. Maybe it’s a hangover from my time working in Human Resources — if I didn’t have a ‘to-do’ list on my desk at all times, I was lost. So even though I’m now my own boss, and I work in my home office, some good habits remain. I have a weekly diary where I plan the word count for the days, as well as any publicity, marketing or meetings I have. I also have a year planner — one aimed at entrepreneurs where I plan out all the books I want to write, when I’m planning to release them, and what marketing and publicity I’ll be using to promote them. By writing them out at the start of the year, I’ll be able to measure myself against my targets and see if I reach them or not. Essentially, at the end of 2017 I’ll be giving myself a thorough going over, and deciding if I’ve been a good girl!

So, for those of you that are interested, here are my plans in all their glory.

JANUARY

So we’re two thirds of the way through January already, but that doesn’t mean I’ve been sitting on my coat tails. I had two major projects this month. The first was to complete the line edits of the first in my new Shakespeare Sisters series. The second was to begin writing the third book in the series, with a target of 40,000 words. So far I’m on track – the edits are complete, and the words are beginning to appear on the page. I’m 25,000 in, and hope to make it to the 40,000 goal by the time the month is out!

FEBRUARY

In February I’ll continue to write the third book in the Shakespeare Sisters series. At some point that month I’ll also need to check the copy edits for A Summer’s Lease (due for release in July). On a personal note, I plan to take a week off at half term to spend some time with the family — we’ll be visiting Dublin for a week. I haven’t been to Dublin since 1996, so I’m really excited to go back and see the beautiful city!

MARCH

March is the most exciting month of the year in the UK publishing world — the London Book Fair takes place from the 14th to 16th. Though it’s more of a meeting place for Agents and publishers, I’ll be heading up there at some point to soak in the atmosphere and meet some old friends. I also plan to finish the first draft of book 3, as well as complete any proofreading of A Summer’s Lease. By March I’m also hoping I’ll be able to share the cover reveal for A Summer’s Lease. Fingers crossed it all goes to plan!

APRIL

Oh to be in England now that April’s here. And luckily for me, that’s exactly where I’ll be. April will see me doing the re-writes for The Winter’s Tale the second in the Shakespeare Sisters series, due for release in November 2017. I’ll plan on taking a few days off around Easter, but apart from that it’s all systems go!

MAY

In May I’ll be finishing up The Winter’s Tale, and submitting it to my publishers ready for November. Once that’s finished, I’ll be going back in to edit the book I wrote in January and February, plus I’ll be working on the marketing plans for A Summer’s Lease.

JUNE

June will almost certainly be my busiest month. I’ll be starting a new book this month, a super secret project that I’m really excited about. I’ll also be attending my first signing of the year — The Dedicated Ink Book Signing event in Newcastle, England. I expect at this point to receive the developmental edits for The Winter’s Tale, which will see me trying to spin a few different plates. Hopefully nothing will get smashed!

JULY

I said that June will be busy, and I expect July to be a close run thing. July 7th will see the release of A Summer’s Lease, and I’ll be spending a lot of time in person and online promoting it. I’ll also be continuing to write the super secret project, as well as hopefully spending some time with my family, and taking advantage of what little summer we might get here in the UK!

AUGUST

As a mum and a wife, I try to cut back on the work in August. We usually take a two week vacation during this month, plus the children will be on a break from school, and I always look forward to spending time with them. If I haven’t already finished the super secret project in July, I’ll finish it in August, plus I’ll continue the publicity for A Summer’s Lease. At the very end of August is my second event of the year. ChapterCon takes place on 25th and 26th August, and I’ll be sitting on a panel here, as well as signing and attending

SEPTEMBER

In a strange way, September always feels a little like January to me. A beginning of a year (of the school year at least) and a chance to throw myself back into work. Any residual edits from The Winter’s Tale will need to be done this month, plus planning for the November release. I also intend to start my final book of the year in September. The second book in my super secret project, of which more details soon!

OCTOBER

It feel strange to be planning so far in advance, but if you’re still with me, we’re almost there. October will see me writing book 2 in the new secret project, plus any final changes for The Winter’s Tale. After that, my thoughts will start to turn to my 2018 publishing plans, which include the final 2 books in the Shakespeare Sisters series.

NOVEMBER

Ah, just writing that word makes me think of bonfires and falling leaves. It seems a world away from this chilly January morning. By this point I’m hoping to have finished or be finishing my third book of the year, which will leave the rest of the month for any developmental edits for the third in my Shakespeare Sisters series. November also sees the release of book 2 in the series, and I’ll be planning lots of fun and games to celebrate!

DECEMBER

And so we come full circle. December will see the end of another year, and hopefully it will be a successful one. As with most Decembers, I won’t plan to be doing too much writing this month, not least because I’m Christmas Crazy and I’ll be wanting to spend my time cooking, decorating and celebrating! In December I’ll also be looking back to review 2017, as well as making plans for 2018. It seems strange typing that now, but from experience I know that time will fly, and no doubt I’ll be back here talking about whether I achieved all my goals!

Wow! I’m exhausted just typing that. If you’ve stayed with me, well done – you deserve a cup of tea or something stronger. It looks like my 2017 is going to be just as crazy as 2016, but I can’t wait. I feel very blessed indeed to have the chance to write for a living, and am grateful for all the support I’ve had from my lovely readers, publishers, agents and author friends.

 

Until next time,

Carrie Pink

 

 

Photo Credit: Depositphotos

My Writing Year – 2016 In Review

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.

2016 review text on a napkin with a cup of coffee

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!

Carrie Pink

 

 

Photo Credit: Depositphotos