Monday, 8 June 2020

What a Difference 5 Years Makes!

Remember this?

I didn’t realise it had been so long, but Facebook recently reminded me that this was published 5 years ago! Which is timely – because today the paperback is out of A FORGET-ME-NOT SUMMER!

Small-town florist Natasha is determined to leave the past far behind her. But when she learns her ex-husband never told his family about their divorce — and that he needs her to accompany him on a trip to the French countryside — could love bloom again between them?

It’s a re-release with my new publisher, Hodder. The same book, but not the same.

Let me explain.

You might recall that I signed a 3-book deal with Hodder last year (read about it here) including this book. However, it was 55,000 words long and the norm in women’s fiction is 80-90,000, so they asked me to make it longer.

At first I found it a daunting prospect. I wanted the story to carry the reader along and keep the ‘will they/won’t they’ romantic tension, so I definitely didn’t want to pad it out with unnecessary scenes or description. Also, my editor and I agreed that we didn’t want the story to change too dramatically because it had previously sold well with good reviews.

But as I read the book again, I realised there was so much in my head which hadn’t made it to the page the first time round. Backstory about Natasha and Luc, and memories of their brief relationship in the past. Scenes with Luc’s family which revealed more about him, his qualities and flaws. I added all this, and it was great to give the secondary characters more room on the page too. One of the young children rather stole the show with his desire to teach Natasha how to speak French, and Luc’s father showed himself to be a mischievous devil!

Several Provencal dishes were mentioned in the story too, so I included my own family recipes, some of which were passed down to me from my French Grandmère.

I also added more twists in the plot: complications and obstacles for the characters to overcome.

But the essence of the story is the same.

Natasha and Luc have a shared history and so much pain to work through. However, they’re older now and Natasha’s success as a florist has given her a confidence she never had before. Luc is surprised by this, but he respects her all the more for it. And spending time together in France brings flashes of tension – but also of understanding. Of connection and chemistry that never really went away. Neither of them wants to risk their heart again, but what if they can’t help it?

Extending the book turned out to be a really satisfying experience. It was like revisiting old friends in that dreamy chateau in Provence surrounded by vineyards and fields of sunflowers in the shimmering heat of summer.

If you read it the first time round, I’d love to know what you think of this new longer version. And if you haven’t read my books before, this is the perfect place to start. My books can all be read standalone, but they’re linked by the heroines who are friends and chronologically Natasha’s story in A FORGET-ME-NOT SUMMER happens first.

In a year when most of us are unlikely to travel overseas, I hope my readers will enjoy being transported to the heat and sunshine of summer in Provence.

Happy reading!


Sophie’s latest book, A FORGET-ME-NOT SUMMER, is available from your local bookshop, Amazon & Tesco stores.


Friday, 5 July 2019

Publishing Process Part 3 – Proofs & Cover Artwork

This is the third in my series of posts about the publishing process (you can read the first and second here) with a traditional publisher. As I take you through my journey, I hope to demystify the process and give you an idea of the work which goes into getting a book ready to hit the shelves.


Checking the proofs is the final stage in getting the text of a book ready for the printer's. The manuscript was sent to me and a proofreader simultaneously, and by now it was all laid out like a book rather than the word document we’d previously been working from.

Hodder sent me a physical copy as well as digital, which was really handy because I find it’s much easier to spot mistakes on a printed page. I picked up some little errors: missing speech marks or commas, the occasional word which had accidentally been left in after the copy-edit stage. Previously, these are the kinds of things that would have irritated me as a reader, but now I’ve seen how extensively a book is amended and tweaked, I understand how easily they can slip through. Hopefully, having been through the rigorous process of being checked and double-checked by different professionals, the text will be perfect.

The proofs were about checking the fine detail of the text, but meanwhile another team of people were working on a more creative element: the book’s cover...

Cover Art

This is the initial black and white sketch which my editor sent me, along with colour samples showing the wintery blue colours and warm glowing lights the team were proposing for a colour scheme. This layout was the work of the designer, Natalie Chen, and I was delighted to approve it.

An illustrator, Giordano Poloni, was then commissioned to produce the scene on the front and back of jacket. It focuses on the fictional English Cotswold village of Willowbrook, where my story begins, with the main characters depicted as silhouettes at the front. Again, I was thrilled with the design. My only request, when this came through, was would it be possible to incorporate sewing elements, since the main character, Evie, owns a patchwork and quilting shop? Sewing plays an important part in the story, and Evie’s quilts and handmade creations are woven into the plot, so I was keen for this to be included in the artwork somehow. The designer came back with this:

Isn’t it beautiful? My book is described as ‘cosy women’s fiction’, and I think this cover encapsulates that perfectly. And the buttons and sewing needle were a stroke of genius!

Here’s the back cover:

What do you think? Can you see how already a whole group of people have worked closely on preparing my book for publication? Their expert contributions have all helped to refine it and package it in the most compelling way possible, and I feel privileged to be part of the Hodder team. I can't wait to hear what readers think of it when it's released in September.


The Christmas Holiday will be published 19th September 2019 and is available for preorder here

Related posts:

Thursday, 23 May 2019

Publishing Process: Part 2: Copy-Edits by Sophie Claire

This is the second in my series of posts about the publishing process (you can read the first one here) with a traditional publisher. As I take you through my journey, I hope to demystify the process and give you an idea of the work which goes into getting a book ready to hit the shelves.

A few weeks after I’d completed the edits for my book, The Christmas Holiday, I received the copy-edits. These were totally new to me, and to be honest I wasn’t prepared for them. I'd heard writers talking about them, but what were they exactly? How did they differ from proofreading? I think I had expected a few scribbles here and there, pointing out repetition and the like, but not many; after all, the manuscript had been read in detail by four people now and, because I’ve done some proofreading in the past, I like to think my work is fairly polished. Oh how wrong I was!

Copy-edits involve so much more than just spotting repetition. ‘The copy-editor’s brief is to ensure the text is ready for publication in terms of grammar, syntax, readability and consistency,’ I was told. My copy-editor deserves a gold medal for how thoroughly she went through the manuscript. She had taken clumsy sentence structures and made them flow more smoothly, and removed unnecessary words (‘both’ and ‘suddenly’, for example).

She spotted that I overuse the word ‘shot’ (it’s not a crime novel, honest) and thinned these out, she also deleted a lot of raised eyebrows, and how had I never noticed that all my characters begin their sentences with ‘So’? These were pruned of course.

The eagle-eyed copy-editor also noticed inconsistencies. For example, my heroine Evie sometimes had two dimples when she smiled and elsewhere just one. I decided to make it consistent, and stick with two. In
one scene Evie lets the hero’s Dalmatian out into the garden, then in the next line the dog’s eating his breakfast in the kitchen: in the margin was a note saying ‘you didn’t let the dog back in!’ Evie then helped herself to tea, when the hero only had hot chocolate and coffee in the cupboard. All these tiny niggles were spotted and addressed so the book can flow smoothly and (hopefully) there’s nothing left in there to jolt the reader out of the story.

Of course, not everything was as straightforward as the examples above, and some amendments were a question of style or personal preference. Occasionally, I felt the suggested changes weren’t right for my book or my voice, and in these cases I wrote ‘stet’ in the margin so it would remain unchanged.

Because I was scared of falling behind on the novel I'm currently writing, I chose to do these edits in the evenings and weekends. It wasn’t as taxing as writing; in fact, I secretly enjoyed it. And by the end of the process I felt my novel had been checked so thoroughly that there couldn’t possibly be anything left for the proofreader to correct (ha!). Next month I’ll tell you about those proofs, and also how the artwork was developed for the cover.


The Christmas Holiday will be published 19th September 2019 and is available for pre-order here

Related posts:
The Publishing Process Part 1: Edits by Sophie Claire
Good Things Come by Sophie Claire