Happy Birthday to Amy & Zach!

Today marks the one year anniversary of my becoming a published author. What an interesting year it’s been; I finished my second novel, Izzy’s Cold Feet, I learned A LOT about writing, editing, & promotion… I was overwhelmed by the lovely comments and nice reviews from readers… and I made a bunch of great author friends.

amy-and-zachThank you to everyone who’s bought Amy & Zach or Izzy’s Cold Feet, written a good review, hosted me on their blog, shared or retweeted my posts and supported me throughout. I am very humble and grateful.

Lots of questions lately about the third novel; I’m working on it but progress has been much slower than my first two novels. I keep changing my mind about some of the central plot plans, but I’m getting there and hope to finish it soon.

In the meantime, to celebrate Amy & Zach’s birthday, it’s on sale on Amazon for just 77p/99¢ for this weekend only! Please share and spread the word… You can buy from Amazon UK or Amazon US.

Thanks again – and have a spectacular weekend!

PS: Also had a few questions about an Amy & Zach sequel. I’ve been thinking about it, I admit… watch this space…

A message for my readers…

I spent a long time thinking about what my blog entry would be about today, and finally realised that there’s something I want to say before the year is out:

Thank you!

… to all the readers of Amy & Zach and/or Izzy’s Cold Feet. YOU are the reason I continue to be a writer. YOU have made me smile over and over this year; every time someone leaves a good review or sends me a message to say they enjoyed reading, it really does make my day.

Thanks for your support and encouragement; I am very humbled by it all.

Happy New Year to you – may 2014 bring you good health and much happiness!

PS: While you’re here, please consider signing up to my newsletter, or leaving a review on Amazon if you haven’t already 🙂

When Amy met Zach

Here’s a short exert from my novel Amy & Zach:

amy-and-zachAmy

As soon as I saw Zach, I knew he was my type. Dark scruffy hair, brown eyes that looked at me intently, a kind smile and, perhaps most importantly, easy to talk to. I felt like I’d known him my whole life within a few hours of meeting.

“So, tell me about yourself, Zach,” I said, as we walked out through the living room and to Harriet’s balcony.

We sat down on plastic chairs, looking out at the street below.

“What do you want to know?”

“Whatever you want to share. Who are you?” I felt myself blush, wondering if I was being too nosey or forward. He didn’t seem to mind.

“Well. I’m thirty one years old. Born and raised in Massachusetts to be a good Jewish boy.”

“You’re Jewish?” I asked, then regretted it instantly, as if it was an issue or a problem. I was really just interested.

“Well, my family are. I’m not that religious. But, you know…”

All I could think of was his penis. I’d never slept with anyone Jewish before. He saw me glance down towards his groin and I blushed.

“Okay, and what do you do for a living?” I asked next, trying to recover from my embarrassment.

“I work for myself, I’m a website developer. I design sites for a number of clients.”

“Wow. Do you enjoy it?”

“Yes. I do. Very much, actually.”

“Any siblings?”

“Yes, a brother, Aaron. He’s married. Two children.”

I smiled. His eyes were locked on to mine while he talked and I couldn’t take mine off of his. I felt a rush of excitement in my chest and blushed yet again.

“We had a blast growing up. He was always the jock, you know, the sports fan. I was the opposite. The nerdy one.”

I smiled again, and asked about his parents.

“They’re great, very supportive. They travel a lot. My dad was a lawyer, he’s just recently retired.”

“My mum’s a lawyer,” I told him. So is my dad, I realised, but I didn’t say it out loud.

“I like the way you say ‘mum’ instead of ‘mom’.”

“We spell it with a ‘u’.” I was about to go on to tell him that several words were spelt differently in Britain, before wondering how that could possibly be deemed interesting. Luckily, he spoke before I had a chance to get extraordinarily dull.

“Cool. So enough about me, tell me about you.”

“Erm, well…” I didn’t know where to start and didn’t want to bore him. “I’m twenty nine. I work as an Account Executive for a PR firm, with Harriet.”

“And you like it?”

“Sometimes, yes. I transferred here from our London office.”

He nodded enthusiastically, his eyes still staring right into mine and I felt like he was really interested.

I told him about my family. As I spoke, I became aware of some sort of invisible force between us. I wanted to touch him.

“Any hobbies?” he asked, sipping his beer. I’d nearly forgotten I had hold of mine and took another swig myself.

“I’m a complete nerd I’m afraid,” I admitted, allowing myself to breathe out and thanking him silently for breaking the awkward moment.

He grinned. “Don’t be afraid. You can’t possibly be more of a nerd than me.”

“Okay,” I laughed, relieved. “I read a lot, watch movies, spend an extraordinary amount of time on the internet, I watch documentaries, mostly about wildlife and that sort of thing. This is the first party I’ve been to in months, and to be honest, I’d rather stay at home with a good book, or a great movie, than go out to a night club, or whatever.”

Zach

I’d met my perfect woman. I imagined us sitting, side by side, each on our laptops, eating cereal, writing blogs and discussing books and turning down invitations for nights out because we’d rather stay at home, together, being nerdy, discussing the mating habits of African lions. Not that I was into the Discovery Channel myself, but if Amy was, I was willing to start watching it too.

Amy

“Well, I too spend an extraordinary amount of time online,” he said, smiling again, winning me over more and more each second. “What music do you like?”

It went on like this for a good few hours. We had so much in common it was almost scary. We didn’t even go back for more drinks.

“What a beautiful night.” I sighed, staring up at the shiny silver specs scattered high above.

“I love warm summer evenings, with clear night skies,” Zach said, moving a little closer. My eyes fell from the stars to his and I realised he was about to kiss me. My heart started beating even faster.

“Well!” Harriet made us jump, she was standing in the doorway, hands on hips. “You two really hit it off, huh?” She nudged me and winked.

I looked behind her and noticed there were only a few people left. I looked at my watch, and was shocked to find it was gone 2am. The latest I’d stayed up in a long time. I blushed and said something about getting a cab home.

Harriet wandered back into the room and I looked at Zach, and smiled nervously. I felt terrified he wouldn’t ask me out, or ask for my number, or something. He looked at me kind of sadly.

“I had the most amazing time,” he said, and I sighed with relief.

“Me too.”

“Would it be too soon if we, I mean, I don’t know if you’re busy tomorrow-”

Me, busy on a Saturday? Ha!

“But would you like to do something? Maybe get lunch or something?”

I grinned. Lunch. He didn’t even want to wait until dinner. He wanted to see me again in a few hours.

We agreed he would come by my apartment at 1pm, and we’d walk from there to a restaurant and have something to eat.

We said a very polite good bye. I hugged Harriet, who was in heavy conversation with the only guest left – Sid. The guy she liked from work, the guy I’d suggested throwing this party for. So, I thought as I took the elevator down to the street and found a cab, the party was a success, not only for me but for Harriet too. I felt slightly smug that I’d suggested it and foolish for not looking forward to it more.

Back at my apartment, I couldn’t sleep. I just lay in bed, thinking about Zach. I hadn’t been prepared for this. For this fuzzy feeling.

I woke up after only a few hours sleep, but felt very awake and kind of excited, and lay there, smiling to myself about my good fortune. I had a shower and then mooched around my apartment. Four hours to waste until I met Zach for lunch. I rearranged the books on my shelf, cleaned out the kitchen, changed my outfit three times, and finally deciding on a purple long sleeve cotton top and black jeans, slouched on my sofa and started painting my nails, hoping our conversation hadn’t already peaked and we’d have no more to say.

The buzzer rang and I jumped up to answer it.

“It’s me, Zach. Sorry I’m a little early.” I realised I’d missed his voice. Already. I had it bad.

I laughed. “Come on up.”

He was carrying a brown paper bag with bread, salad, cheese, and a bottle of wine, plus a handful of DVDs.

“I’m so tired. Can we stay in and eat lunch here?”

I smiled, realising that was exactly what I needed, rather than going out, and kissed him. He dropped the bag and DVDs to the floor and wrapped his arms around me. The passion and excitement of the moment was overwhelming. I didn’t care that I was ruining my still-wet nails, quite possibly leaving purple polish all over his shirt. He ran his hands threw my hair, and then down my back, and up inside my top. He started undoing my bra. I’ll spare you the intricate details. Suffice to say it was good. Very good.

Zach

Ditto. It was amazing. And she didn’t get nail polish on my shirt, for the record.

Amy

We spent the rest of the day in bed, watching films, eating food and, well, you know. I knew I was falling, I knew it was probably way too fast, and I knew it could very well lead to heartbreak and more depression. But I didn’t care. Whatever bad may come of this was in the future. Right now, only good thoughts were in my mind. After our seventh (yes, seventh!) stint in the bedroom, Zach closed his eyes and dosed off. I watched his head on the usually vacant pillow besides mine and sighed, a corny, girly, happy sigh.

And in case you were wondering, the circumcision thing is no big deal. If anything, I quite liked it.

Read another extract here >>

Find out more about Amy & Zach, read the blurb & find out where to buy it here >>

Amy & Zach sneak peek

Haven’t read Amy & Zach yet? Here’s a tiny glimpse at a part of Chapter 1:

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Amy

Time to face the music…

I saw (my brother) Ed’s face smiling at me, I suddenly felt a rush of emotion. His hair was longer, almost down to his shoulders in an unkempt mess. I saw he was alone and I felt a little relieved. He was walking towards me now, grinning, and wrapped his arms around me affectionately. He smelled of an expensive aftershave and felt thinner. I was pretty sure I felt fatter.

“Good to see you sis.” He released me quickly and then took control of my trolley.

“Did you come alone?” I asked, trying to figure out if I was disappointed or pleased.

“Yes. Mum is preparing dinner for us. Libby and Tim are there.”

Panic rose in my chest at the sound of my sister’s fiancé’s name. I could have done without seeing him today. We walked along chatting about the usual things, my flight, and the weather, how I was generally, how he was overall.

“Wait,” he said suddenly stopping as we reached his car, “Where’s Zach?”

“He couldn’t make it. He’s got flu.”

Zach

I tapped my credit card nervously on the counter as the clerk typed a few things into her computer.

“We have one seat available on the next flight to London,” she told me. “But you’ll need to board right away. I can tell them to hold the gate for you.”

“Thank you.” I handed her my credit card, ready to hug her for telling me this news. I’d imagined waiting hours in the airport. I glanced at my watch. Amy would be landing about now. I thought about calling her, but decided against it. She’d made it clear she didn’t want to talk to me, and if I told her I was coming, she’d only tell me not to.

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amy-and-zachRead more: You can purchase the paperback or Kindle version from Amazon UK or Amazon US, or download the e-book from CrookedCatBooks.comiTunes & other online book sellers.

“Really creative,funny,romantic and just co you lent put the book down!! Really loved how Zack and Amy shared both their stories was really great!! Loved it!!!”

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The above is copyright Sarah Louise Smith – all rights reserved.

Amy & Zach on location

Readers of Amy & Zach will know that they visit a fair few places throughout the novel. Here’s a photo blog of the places that inspired me:

Boston

I visited Boston about 5 years ago and wrote a lot of notes about the vibe and the feel of the place. I loved Faneuil Hall in particular and found the history there interesting, so I decided to include some of this in Amy & Zach. Some of my photos from my time there:

Massachusetts State House Boston

Grand Canyon

What an amazing place. My reaction on seeing it for the first time was much the same as Amy’s… it just takes your breath away. The size and scale of it has to be seen to be believed.

grandcanyon grandcanyon1

Las Vegas

I went to Las Vegas with my husband simply because it was the closest city to the Grand Canyon, but we both loved it, in particular the Bellagio Fountain.

vegas1 vegas

Milton Keynes

My hometown…and Amy’s hometown.  There are lots of preconceptions about the place, but it has everything I need (except for the one thing I want; mountains nearby!)

This is the Peace Pagoda (which I love!), which Amy & Zach walk past at Willen Lake:

peace pagoda

Preview of Izzy’s Cold Feet – Switzerland

Izzy, of Izzy’s Cold Feet (coming soon!) visits the Jungfrau region in Switzerland, and here’s a photo I took there. It’s the most beautiful place I’ve ever been:

Switzerland

Want to hear more about Izzy’s Cold Feet? Sign up to my newsletter. I’ll soon be sending out a little preview 🙂

An Amy & Zach sequel

No, this is not an announcement. More just sharing my thoughts out loud. So many people have asked me about a sequel to Amy & Zach, that I am thinking about writing one.

Now, before publication, I would never have considered it. I felt it was finished and complete. But since I’ve been asked several times, I’ve started thinking about them again and I’m imagining what happens next.

I’m also thinking about Libby and Tim. What’s their story? Is it very different from Amy’s version of events? Maybe the sequel should be about them.

If you’ve read Amy & Zach and would like to see a sequel, then firstly: Thank you, I’m honoured! And secondly, who are your favourite characters that you’d like to hear more about? What questions are lingering in your mind about what happens next? I’d love to hear what you think. Drop me an emailtweet me, or send me a Facebook message.

Interested in what Izzy’s Cold Feet is all about? Sign up to my newsletter. I’ll give you a sneak peak.

Today my dream comes true

For years, I’ve wanted to become a published author. Sometimes, when I told people this, they’d look at me as if I was crazy, like I’d just said I wanted to be a popstar. One person even said to me “but that’s just a dream, you have to be realistic.”

Well, today my dream has come true. That sounds corny but to quote one of my favourite movies “I like corny, I’m looking for corny in my life” (from The Holiday – if you haven’t seen it then do so right now, it’s wonderful).

Is it too early to open the champagne?

You can purchase the e-book from CrookedCatBooks.com & other online book sellers or order the paperback from Amazon.

The Next Big Thing: Authors tagging Authors

I’ve been invited by Raeann Blake to join in on The Next Big Thing: Authors Tagging Authors, by tagging me in her own post. Thanks to Raeann, for inviting me to join in. Please check out her own post here.

The premise is to answer ten questions about my current work in progress and then tag more authors who can move the chain along another link next week.

So, let’s begin!

What is the Working Title of your Book?

Amy & Zach.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

It’s very much a culmination of a lot of different ideas that I’ve scribbled down over a period of time, which have come together to form one, complete story.

What genre does your book fall under?

Modern women’s fiction/chick lit, but that doesn’t mean men won’t necessarily enjoy it! It’s girl-meets-boy and it all gets complicated, hopefully with a little intelligence.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I am not sure… some gorgeous actors! Zach – American, Amy – British. Otherwise, anyone who fit the parts.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

Impossible to sum up my whole novel in one sentence. So I’m cheating and including a whole blurb, which you can read here.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

It will be published by Crooked Cat Publishing, who have been fantastic to work with.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Once I was determined enough, about six months. A year or so of just procrastinating and writing notes preceded that, though.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Although I’m sure reading books in the same genre has influenced me over the years, I am not able to compare my book to others… That’s for the readers and reviewers to consider.

What inspired you to write this book?

I seem to have ideas for novels, or at least chapters, in my head every day, and a random thought will spark a daydream which develops and eventually leads to an initial story idea. Amy & Zach was no exception and is born out of a variety of inspired moments.

What else about your book might pique the readers’ interest?

Amy & Zach is more than just a love story; it’s about family relationships, betrayal and trust.

And that’s all, folks!

Now it’s time for me to tag some fellow Crooked Cat authors. Be sure to check each of them out next week for their Next Big Thing:

Amy Elliot-Smith »

Zanna MacKenzie »

Jane Bwyne »

Why Chick Lit Rules

I don’t usually enjoy movies and books with sad endings. Life can be hard. I know that; I live it every day… so when I look for entertainment in the form of a story, I want to escape. I want to forget the real world and, most importantly, I want to be left with that feel-good factor.

If the main character(s) or their loved ones die, or fail to find happiness, for me, it ruins the experience. When the credits roll, or the last page is turned, I don’t want to be left feeling tearful, disappointed and wondering what the point of it all was. I want to feel happy and inspired.

I enjoy thrillers, too, so long as the hero saves the day, good overcomes evil, and things end as they should.

However, with chick lit/flicks, I just get a very pleasant feeling, like a warm glow inside, when the main characters finally get together, kiss for the first time, or utter the words ‘I love you’.

In other news, it’s 75 days until Amy & Zach is released 🙂

Currently reading: Chasing Daisy by Paige Toon.