I cannot believe it is here – after keeping it under wraps for so long, Once Upon a Christmas Wedding is live and ready for you!
…and I cannot tell you anything about it!
At least, at the moment. I’ve been working on a really exciting project for a little while, and today the last few pieces fell into place.
It’s all going to be revealed for Christmas (hint, hint!) and until then, you will just have to wait until I am permitted to announce everything.
I love history so much! It’s one of the subjects that I studied at university, and in the UK that’s quite a big deal: typically, you only study one subject at university but I loved history and literature so much, I studied both!
When I first started writing historical romance, I was studying my Medieval Studies Masters at university, and so it seemed perfect timing to write a medieval romance series (which became Conquered Hearts).
After the successful publication of that series, my publishers asked me to write a Regency romance, and so I actually kind of fell into it! I loved the time period so much that I ended up writing six months in that series.
Then one of my author friends – the wonderful Melissa Storm – invited me to write a book in her romance world, and I wrote five books of the foundation of a small town in Texas.
And then I returned to Regency which I loved so much.
It’s hard to pick a favourite time period: I know the medieval era the best, in Regency I have the most fun, and 1840s Texas has challenged me the most!
What is your favourite?
What makes a perfect kiss?
This is one of the questions that, as a romance author, I spend a huge amount of time thinking about. It’s important to me that my readers experience wonderful romance, soaring emotions – but also romance that feels real, like it could actually have happened.
That’s a bit of a challenge with historical romance, especially when gentlemen and ladies had so little opportunity to spend any time together before actually being wed.
I work hard to make each and every kiss in my books absolutely perfect.
So what is a perfect kiss? I asked some of my friends and here are their responses:
- The perfect kiss is unexpected! You don’t know it’s coming and then it is SO sweet when it does!
- The perfect kiss is one you’ve been waiting for, one that you’re desperate for and one you think you’re never going to get.
- The perfect kiss is with the perfect person.
- The perfect kiss is not too soggy!
- The perfect kiss is your last first kiss.
I agree with absolutely all of this, and one thing extra: the perfect kiss is one that promises so much and only delivers 80% – it always leaves you wanting more!
Do you believe in soulmates?
I never did. I thought it was absolute madness to think that there could only be one person out there who was a perfect match for you. I thought it sad that if you didn’t find that person, you would end up spending your whole life alone, unwanted and unloved.
I hoped that if there was someone out there for me, that there would be enough in common for us to fall in love naturally.
And you know what I discovered?
I was completely right, and completely wrong.
When I fell in love – and yes, I’ve only fallen in love once – that man wasn’t my perfect match. But he’s become my perfect match over time.
That’s the difference for me. I would definitely argue in this moment that my husband is my soulmate: but we’ve worked hard to become each other’s soulmates. We work hard at understanding what the other one needs, and becoming that.
We’ve wanted to be each other’s soulmates, and so we’ve become each other’s soulmates.
I’ve been fortunate to not have to kiss too many frogs to find my prince, but some of my poor characters have to put up with a huge amount of nonsense before they find their happily ever after.
It’s difficult to read a historical romance these days without getting utterly overwhelmed by titles.
Dukes, Earls, Viscounts, Counts: every single man seems to need a title to be attractive, and that can make things complicated.
Take William Lennox, Duke of Mercia, for example (spoilers: he’s a character in a new book that will be published next year!).
To his brother, he’s Will.
To his sister, he’s Bill.
To his friends who knew him before he ascended the title, he’s Lennox.
To his friends who knew him after he ascended the title, he’s Mercia.
This can mean that in one simple scene, depending on who is in the room, he can be addressed as Will, Bill, Lennox, and Mercia…and everyone in the room will understand what is going on.
The question is, do my readers?!?
It’s a constant challenge to make sure that my books are historically accurate but at the same time, understandable to those who are reading them. I don’t want to compromise too often, but there’s no point in writing a book if no one can enjoy it!
So yes: I’ve tried to simplify things. When my characters have titles (and yes, they have them rather often!), I focus on keeping the storytelling simple. They have enough complications with the wild heroines I send them…
Sometimes one of the best things you can do as an author is to stop writing.
Hear me out – I’ve not lost the plot (literally!). It’s more that I’ve been taking stock of many aspects of my life, and to do that you have to stop.
Being an author is a huge part of my life, but it is not the only part of my life. I am a wife, a sister, a friend, even a godmother! It’s really important to me that being an author doesn’t consume the whole of my life because I want to continue giving to those around me who I love.
I won’t go into details here, it’s not my place, but my extended family experienced a bereavement recently. It’s been a sorrowful and yet celebratory time.
And it’s got me thinking. When it comes to the end of my life, what do I want to show for it? Do I want a long list of books, each of them with more reviews, more adoring praise?
I want those who I loved to know that I loved them. I want them to look back on happy memories, time with me, laughter.
That doesn’t mean I’m going to stop writing, nothing like it! But it does mean that I’m not going to beat myself up for not cracking out a few thousands words of my WIP (work in progress) because I chose instead to be with those I loved.
So today, as I think about those family members and friends I have already loved and lost, I encourage you to take stock. What do you want people to remember you for? What are you doing now that they actually will remember you for?
I don’t want to jinx it (in case it never happens again!) but I have just had my most productive writing day EVER.
And I mean, ever.
Today, I wrote over 18,500 words. I know, it doesn’t look real, does it? It’s such a huge number, even for me – and I’m quite accustomed to writing around 10,000 words on a good writing day.
But what made this day different? If you ask me, I think it comes down to three things:
- I needed to get those words out. I was a little behind on where I wanted to be this month, and as I had a relaxing day with friends and family yesterday, I knew that today was going to be a day I really had to commit to getting the words down.
- I was plotting, not writing. I use what I call ‘deep plotting’ as part of my writing process. That means writing out what is going to happen, action by action, thought by thought, in a chapter. It’s not pretty prose, but it makes it a whole lot easier later.
- The muse was so with me! Whether it was the cooler weather, the fact that my wonderful husband gave me some alone time, or just that the muse was gracing me with her presence, but it all came together.
What’s next, I hear you ask? Well, I work a full time job so tomorrow it’s back to that – but I’ll be sure to try and get a few hours here and there to keep the story going. This one is due to be published April 2020 so I’ve got a bit of time, but I want to make sure it’s the absolute best!
I’ve written over 25,000 words this weekend (!) because I was desperate to finish book 3 of a new series which will be coming out next year. The words were just flowing from my fingertips and although I will of course lose some of them in the editing process, I’m glad to get so many of them down.
And yet the bit I found the most difficult?
The ending. Like, the actual ending.
Not the happily ever after bit – definitely got a gorgeous wedding scene in there. What I found difficult was deciding what the very last word on the page should be.
You see, when I finish writing a book, I want to leave my readers with a strong emotion. Usually it’s a sense of happiness, a feeling of rightness with the world. Sometimes I want to make them smile, and occassionally (!) I attempt to make people laugh out loud.
The strange thing is that I’ll never find out if I will succeed. My readers span the globe, but (so far) no one has finished one of my own books in front of me. I read the reviews and I am thrilled when someone enjoys my book – but that lasting emotion right at the end of the book. Do I hit the mark?
And that is why I spent two pages trying to finish this book. I knew I needed the right emotional beat, the perfect wording to end a very emotional journey for both my hero and heroine. But it took over twenty minutes to find the right ones, and they may change again in the editing process.
I’ve just got to do the best I can, and continue to improve my craft. After all, the perfect ending to a romance will always be:
And they lived happily ever after.