Friends to Lovers Regency Romance

When I started to write Charlotte’s story, I was certain she would be the peeress and the man she would find happily ever after with had to be someone for whom a title held little appeal. It was also known to me from the very beginning, that in order for her to trust, she would have to know the man for a long time – hence, the best friends to lovers trope. I have a few scenes from Charlotte and Matthew’s childhood adventures which didn’t make the book, but they really helped to give me a sense of how deep their friendship runs.

When I found this quote on-line and was taken to Seventeen magazine’s website for romantic Valentine’s Day sayings, I knew it described Charlotte and Matthew completely. What I love about the protagonists of Capturing a Countess’ Heart is that they can truly be themselves without any reservations or angst. Their primary goal isn’t love, it’s besting or beating each other, or simply being together. When the spark hits them, it gets confusing, but the knowledge that at the bottom of every flurry of emotion is true friendship gives them the edge and confidence they need to move forward. So much fun to write.

Whether Charlotte and Matthew are racing through their lands, helping Matthew navigate PTSD at a party, or dealing with a revenge-thirsty duke, they are happiest and most themselves when they are together. They are also stronger together.

How do you feel about the friends to lovers trope?

Five Years of Writing

The seed for Capturing a Countess’ Heart was planted late one night when I finished a swoon worthy Amanda Quick novel. I researched the author for a few minutes and realized how very normal her start was. My immediate next thought was, “I can totally do this”. Within minutes, I had my protagonist, Charlotte, and I knew I wanted her to be the one with the title. And, I wanted her to struggle with the idea of giving herself up to love.

The next morning, once I did the morning routine with my two small children (at the time) and did the daycare and school drop-offs, I drove to work in silence. Except, my mind was filled with colourful thoughts and images of how I would bring my Countess to life.

Within that short twenty minute drive, I made up the basic plot for the novel, developed the title and the title of the entire series, The Chronicles of the Heart, because the other three books would also have Heart in the title.

All of this happened within a day. Five years ago.

The next four years were spent writing whenever and wherever. Mainly, that meant during my daughter’s nap times (she was little then and still napped) and once the kiddos were in bed. I completed three drafts this way.

Then, I put the novel away for a month while I sent it to dear friends to give me any feedback they could to help improve it – advising them my feelings would not be hurt. Because, as any writer knows, I need time away from my project in order to come back to it with an objective mind. I was very clear that I didn’t have a budget for an editor, so I had to approach each draft ruthlessly once my friends gave their honest reviews.

Each time I saw an area for improvement I loved it so intensely because it meant I would be able to elevate my work. And, each time I hit a roadblock, the universe would inadvertently answer my question by bringing me the information I required. It truly was inspirational.

By draft five, my children were older, and I started to bring my laptop to soccer practices, gymnastics or dance classes, to piano lessons…anytime there was a block of time available to me, I took it. So, I never waited for inspiration to come, I became disciplined to write what needed to be written, to edit what needed to be edited in the time I had, not when I felt I could do it.

At this point, I had the confidence to start sending out my manuscript to agents, publishers and a few contests. And, it would go through a few rounds of “send us more”, but ultimately was not accepted by agents or publishers. And, while it didn’t win any contests, it would come in the top half of all submissions and be returned with tonnes of coaching from the expert panel of judges. Each rejection from publishers and agents also came loaded with questions and ways to improve the novel. I took every single comment as free editing and gleefully set out to write the best novel I could with all of this free advice from people in the industry.

Drafts six, seven and eight were edited in this fashion. Then came, the now what? I knew I wanted to publish, but I was so overwhelmed because I didn’t know where to start.

Then, as seemed to be the case with this entire journey, divine intervention came to help me and the universe brought me this post by the author who reintroduced me to my love of historical romance, Claire Delacroix, who also writes under Deborah Cooke. Find her blog at Deborah Cooke & Her Books. I couldn’t believe that the author whom reawakened my love of historical romance eight years ago had now written a step-by-step outline on what to do to publish your own work exactly at the moment I needed said list.

Talk about universal guidance!

The past year has been focused on following that list. I have learned so much about formatting and book covers to the myriad of tiny details required for every single step and every single platform. I’m still navigating publishing on Apple Books – you’d think it would be the most user friendly one!

And, now, here I am. A book published and currently writing book 2. The second book in the series is already easier to write because of everything I learned during the writing of book 1. It has been an absolutely incredible journey and one I am so happy to have said yes to.

My hope for you, if you are someone who is toying with entering any kind of creative/artistic endeavour, is that you take the plunge and answer the call of your creative soul. The universe will provide the answers as you go, as it did for me, and you will have fun every step of the way.

Finding Ease When Things Get Difficult

Yet, again, I find myself taking a lesson from my yoga mat and applying it to the real world.

In yoga, we refer to Sthira/Sukha. How strength and softness can exist simultaneously. You can feel both the hardness of a pose and you can melt into it’s difficulty with breath. With softness. With ease. And, voila. You’re not struggling any more. Difficult pose…muscles not happy…and you’re just fine.

Well, I’ve taken this concept and brought it to my writing life. As a soon-to-be indie author, there is so much I’m learning. And, so much, I know I don’t know, as I’ve mentioned on this blog in the past.

One of the things which I was doing a very good job avoiding was marketing. And, while I know nothing about marketing, I know enough to understand I need a platform through which I can communicate with lovers of historical romance. Enter Facebook and Instagram.

The trouble is…I really struggled with how to go about it. I normally use these two platforms as ways of keeping abreast with the lives of my family and friends. Not for building an audience or a business.

I’m not a business executive. I have no idea how to do this or where to go! I’m just a woman with a book who thinks other people will enjoy reading.

So, I whittled my immense fear of marketing down to this simple and basic concept: I just want to meet people who love to read, write and discuss historical romance, whom might hopefully enjoy reading my book too!

It is a good place to start. The other marketing stuff will come when it is time for it to come. So far, I’m happy to say, I’ve met some lovely people on-line whom I hope will one day enjoy my book. In the meantime, I’m enjoying communicating with them and trading stories about our reading and writing journeys.

Suddenly, it doesn’t feel so hard. After all, it’s just about people. People reading and writing great historical romances. And, now I am one of those people.

Find me on Instagram @carynemme

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Hope to connect with you there too!

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