Summer is over and autumn is here, and at IP HQ, we are celebrating the start of our favourite season with a pumpkin spice latte and a hat-trick of bestsellers! Carmel’s A Thousand Roads Home hit the Irish Times paperback fiction chart, Catherine’s Rewind hit the Irish Times original fiction chart, and Hazel’s Last Christmas in Paris hit the USA Today bestsellers chart – all in the same week! Surely there’s no better time to remind you that the three of us will be sharing our advice on plotting, writing, editing, and publishing your book at our final Inspiration Project event for the year. We have a few places still available on Saturday 14th September at the LexIcon, Dun Laoghaire. Come and join us, and pick our bestselling brains! Booking details at https://theinspirationproject.ie/ In the meantime, over to … us!
This past month was officially The Fun Bit. After spending a year or more (mostly) chained to the desk, putting shoes on under your PJs and calling yourself ‘dressed’, hoping there’s no parcel deliveries today because you can’t even face the postman with Day Three Hair, publication day arrives like a bullet train and suddenly life is unrecognisable.
My wish for this time around was that I would celebrate and have fun, so the first thing I did was scratch ‘have a launch’ from my To Do list. They’re just too stressful – you spend most of the day hearing your phone ping with notifications from people who swore they were coming but now can’t, and you have to make a speech. Um, no. Instead, I went out for dinner with some of my bestest writing buddies and I honestly think it’s the best decision I ever made. It was a wonderful night – shout out to the staff in the Sidecar Bar and Wilde in the Westbury who truly went above and beyond, and even presented me with a little ice-cream and chocolate copy of Rewind! – and it felt like a real celebration. The last three standing were (of course!), Hazel, Carmel and me, and our last stop was the window of Dubray Books on Grafton Street where we stopped to take photos of us pointing at Rewind at approximately 3:00am.
After 48 hours to get over my hangover – I needed every one of those, good GOD – the promotion started with a visit to The Ryan Tubridy Show. I’d never been on it before and I was so nervous, just because I knew a LOT of people would be listening and that, if it went well, it would really help the book. Aside from the fact that for the first five minutes I sounded like I’d just had five espressos delivered intravenously into my blood stream, it went great – and Ryan loved the book, which was amazing. I also spoke to Pat Kenny on Newstalk and Gerry on LMFM, ran around the various Eason’s stores signing stock and had a VERY creepy radio ad playing on RTE Radio 1. Down in Cork, there were more bookshop visits, two radio interviews (including one I did sitting in my Dad’s car while it was parked outside Debenhams in Mahon Point – the glamour!) and a signing in Waterstones Patrick Street, the same shop I used to go into every Saturday and pick up another How To Write A Book Book.
And then, come Tuesday afternoon, better news than I could have hoped for: Rewind is no. 2 in the Original Fiction charts, the fourth bestselling book in the country overall. I’m shocked and grateful and giddy and delighted. In the last week, Hazel has been a USA Today bestseller and Carmel was No. 5 on the mass market charts, and now this – the IP 3 are killing it!
After the madness of July’s US book tour, August was a month to decompress, enjoy the final weeks of the summer holidays, and prepare for autumn – my favourite season! Apart from filling in a gazillion forms as part of my application for Irish citizenship (wish me luck!), we are also in the process of moving house, so life is really throwing me plenty of opportunities to be a proper adult, and seriously interrupting my writing time.
I often say that writing is the most unpredictable job I’ve ever had, and this was proven again this month with the amazing news that LAST CHRISTMAS IN PARIS, the first book I co-wrote with Heather Webb, and which was published almost two years ago, hit the USA Today bestseller list, storming in at #99 of the top 150 books sold that week! Seriously, you just never know when a book is going to have its moment. We are now biting our nails to see if we stick around for a second week. I might break out the selection box if we do!
After MEET ME IN MONACO was voted as August book of the month by members of The Book Club Girls Facebook group, Heather and I were invited to be Writers in Residence for a week, which was great fun. We were also invited to do an Instagram takeover of the entire HarperCollins US account for a day. The responsibility was terrifying, and I’m not sure we ever want to do it again!
As I desperately try to clear the desk and get back to writing the first draft of the next Gaynor/Webb collaboration, and tackle structural edits on my next solo historical novel, this week also sees UK and Ireland publication of MEET ME IN MONACO, so I’ll be putting my 1950s sunglasses and headscarf back on, and channeling my inner Grace Kelly for a little while longer. This is why I can never answer the question, “How’s the book going?” The only possible answer is, “Which one?”
In a final piece of lovely back-to-school news, I was thrilled to hear that THE GIRL WHO CAME HOME and THE LIGHTHOUSE KEEPER’S DAUGHER are being read by TY students in two secondary schools in Kildare.
2013 me, sobbing at the kitchen table, would never have believed a word of this blog post. For those of you reading this while sobbing at your kitchen table, I hope it gives you some encouragement to keep going.
You send your book out into the wild, hoping that readers will fall in love with it. And maybe, if you’re lucky, you hit the charts, which by the way shouldn’t matter as much as it does. I suppose for us writers, it’s a validation of sorts. Proof that we are doing something right. Wonderfully, A Thousand Roads Home has been a No.1 bestseller on AmazonUK for over fourteen weeks. And following its mass paperback release, it is now an Irish Times Bestseller too! Add this to Hazel and Catherine’s chart success, IP HQ is a little giddy right now. I do love it when a plan comes into action …
There’s some nice stuff happening for 1000Roads later this month in the US too, but you will have to wait until the next diary for that news. Hint: it involved me signing thousands of bookplates! And 1000Roads was also chosen as the book of the month for the UK book subscription box, My Book Moment. Hurray!
We are almost at the stage where we can share Book8 news: title, blurb, etc. But suffice to say, things are looking rosy for Greta! As you know, I finished copy edits at the beginning of the summer, but this book won’t hit bookshelves until March 2020. Remember that writers! The road to publication is a slow one. Much patience is needed.
I can’t get sidetracked by chart excitement or Greta plans for world domination, because I have a new book to write! And after a summer at home with the kids, I’m way behind on my target word count for What If, (Book 9). Only one thing for it, a week in Tyrone Guthrie! There’s magic in that place, I’ve always managed to do huge word counts there. I’ve set a target of 20,000 words. Yikes!
Last but not least, we have our last Inspiration Project event of the year on Sept 14th. In my ‘Writing Character’ session, I’m going to drill down hard on what makes a good character jump from the page, into the hearts of readers. I have lots to share that I think will help writers with their WIP’s. If you haven’t booked yet, quick, go! It’s going to be amazing, promise.