It’s less than two months until By Virtue Fall releases – completing the Shakespeare Sister quartet. I’m so excited and yet sad at the same time — I love these sisters and hope you do too.
The Book: BY VIRTUE FALL
Genre: Contemporary (Small Town) Romance
Series: Shakespeare Sisters
Release Date: Oct 11
Love blooms when you least expect it . . .
Juliet Shakespeare is done with love. With a growing floristry business and an adorable daughter to raise, life after separating from her husband is complicated enough – the last thing she needs is a man.
But when handsome single father, Ryan Sutherland, arrives in town, everything changes. As much as she tries to distract herself, Juliet can’t help but be drawn to the easy-going Romeo next door and the way he makes her feel.
Photographer Ryan is only back in his hometown for a few months so there’s no point falling for someone he’ll just have to say goodbye to. But he didn’t account for Juliet – the intriguing and beautiful woman next door. And in her, he might just have found everything he ever wanted . . .
*This book is a standalone read as part of the Shakespeare Sisters series.*
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 Redheadby 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.
This is part 2 of a 2 part blog. The first part looked back at 2016 and can be found here.
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.
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!
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 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!
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!
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 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!
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!
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
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!
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.
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!
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.
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 AprilI 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 Julysaw 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.
Septembersaw 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!