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 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.

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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!

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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

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Photo credits: Canva & authors own.

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

Fix You – The Ideas Behind The Book

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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!)

What inspired you to write Fix You?

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!

Are there any parts of the novel that have special personal significance to you? Have you ever been in a long-distance relationship?

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

You have lots of details about world events and things happening at the time the book is set. Was it important to you that these were accurate?

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.

Music features heavily in Fix You. Are you a music lover? How did you choose which songs and bands to include in the novel?

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.

Do you have a favourite character in the novel? Are there any similarities between you and Hanna?

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!

What was the biggest challenge of writing the novel?

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!

Which romance authors do you most admire?

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!

fix-you-teaser-6Pre-Order Fix You at these stores:

Kindle US  |  Kindle CA |  Nook  |  iBooks

Coming Soon: Google Play  |  Kobo  |  Kindle CA

Also available to buy here: Kindle UK  |  Kindle AU

The First Kiss #LoveChatWrite Blog Hop

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

This week we’re talking first kisses. Do we remember them? Who were they with? What were they like?

So I guess we’re not talking about platonic kisses, right? We’re all romance writers and readers here, and while we know such things exist (hell, we probably kiss our children / parents / friends platonically on a daily basis) these aren’t the things that rock our boats. Hell no. What we’re talking about are lip-smacking, goosebumps-inducing, shiver-making kisses that curl our toes and take our breath away. And that’s just when we read about them!

Ah, yeah. I don’t think my first kiss was like that though. Let’s call him J. He was young, sweet, and to be honest I don’t think he was that in to me. His kiss was perfunctory at best, a peck that barely gave me enough time to close my eyes.

On the plus side, I was seven years old at the time!

Fast forward to my second first kiss. This time we were teenagers. He had hormones, I had a curvy body, it was bound to work, right? Er wrong. Again it was quick. It didn’t make me swoon. It just made me wonder why he tasted of cinnamon.

It’s no wonder we read romance novels to fulfill our kissing fantasies. I just took it one step further and decided to write them too. Here’s a little teaser of the first kiss between Richard and Hanna in my book Fix You, which releases in the US and Canada on Dec 13th:

 

Everything felt different, and everything felt the same. He was her old friend; someone she had laughed with, and played with. But the Richard standing in front of her was all man. And that suit, oh God that suit; when she first set eyes on him as he walked into the restaurant earlier that day, it was like her whole body had been lit on fire. She was stuck somewhere between familiarity and discomposure, feeling strangely anxious and yet knowing that no matter what happened, she wouldn’t regret this.

“Are you sure?” His hand pulled her toward him, closing the gap, until her chest was just touching his abdomen, the rest of her body barely skimming his. She couldn’t see his face, her eyes reaching only up to the dip in the base of his neck, slightly exposed by the unbuttoned crisp collar of his white shirt.

“Absolutely.”

She wanted to bury herself in his skin, inhale his scent. She softly pressed her lips to the exposed part of his chest. She kissed him harder, sucking gently at his skin, letting her tongue drag its way along the soft dip under his collar.

“Hanna.” His voice cracked, and he placed his thumb under her chin, pulling her face up as he bent down, until they met in the middle. She placed her hands on his shoulders, her fingers splaying across the white of his shirt, using him as leverage to bridge the final gap between his lips and hers.

When there was only a millimeter between them, she felt him sigh against her. He crushed his mouth to hers, any gentleness forgotten in the need to touch, to taste, to consume. His hand pressed hard against the back of her head, pulling her closer until their teeth were almost scraping together, her mouth opening as soon as she felt the tip of his tongue running along her lip.

She brushed her hand against his cheek, touching the soft emerging stubble peppering his skin. Her mind was feverish as she pushed her body against his, wanting to feel his reaction, hoping that he was as aroused as she was.

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Kindle US  |  Kindle CA |  Nook  |  iBooks

Coming Soon: Google Play  |  Kobo

Also available to buy here: Kindle UK  |  Kindle AU

 

 

 

 

So yeah, that’s the kind of first kiss I’d like to have, if the glorious Mr Elks and I ever decide to part ways. But in the meantime I’ll just keep reading about them. Because books don’t mind if you’ve just been eating garlic bread!

Now let’s hop over to Leslie Hachtel’s blog to find out about her first kisses! While you’re there, check out her fabulous book, Texas Summer!  I love that cover!!

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Until next time,

Carrie Pink

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Photo credits: Canva & authors own.

Fix You – A Few Questions Answered!

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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.

 

fix-you-teaser-2Pre-Order Fix You at these stores:

Kindle US  | Kindle CA |  Nook  |  iBooks

 

Also available to buy here: Kindle UK  |  Kindle AU