Now that I’ve spilled the news on my next project (currently undergoing edits), Holidays, Inc., I wanted to share more of the story behind the novel I’ve referred to for several years as #projectshowbiz.
In the romance writing community, authors often talk about the “book of their heart” or the passion project. Many authors, myself included, try to stick to tried and true tropes and guidelines to appeal to readers. Major publishers have very specific requests for the types of stories they want to produce (because they have a ready built audience hungry for those books). Sometimes, a book of the heart can be adapted into the particular parameters. Other times, it’s nearly impossible.
The Wild Rose Press has been such a blessing because they don’t try to force my creativity into a box. As a publisher, they are supportive and encouraging. I have freedom to tell the stories of my heart. My editor, Leanne Morgena, is amazing. Under her tutelage through the editing process, I’ve learned exactly what wasn’t working in my writing, and how to improve my craft to tell better stories every time.
Holidays, Inc. is a story I’ve been circling for years. The initial first draft was written during NaNoWriMo 2017 while A Perfect Picture of Us was on submission with The Wild Rose Press. It wasn’t quite ready. When I signed a contract for A Perfect Picture of Us, I took a break from editing to write something entirely different, Love Overboard. In so many ways, Love Overboard offered me an escape, and I’m very proud of the book.
While editing Love Overboard, I returned to Holidays, Inc. and drafted a sequel. I love the characters and am so excited to share them with you next year.
I grew up watching old movie musicals and have always loved the movies with the premise “let’s put on a show and save the town.” My Grandma, my self-declared number 1 fan, encouraged me to perform in the living room whenever I saw her. She always thought I’d been born in the wrong decade. She told me I should have been an MGM chorus girl (at least, for the tap dancing).
One of my favorites is Irving Berlin’s Holiday Inn. But, it’s a very problematic and racially insensitive movie. I wanted to write an updated retelling, thus Holidays, Inc. was born. Before I started writing, I spent about six months outlining the story in 2017. When I put pen to paper, the story almost told itself. I initially included three points of view. Ultimately, this didn’t work for me or the story. Taking out the third perspective was what involved the most work (and I might one day share some of these deleted scenes).
In December 2018, while the project was undergoing a first round of edits, I had the opportunity to see the stage musical at a nearby theater. The show was delightful (if you get a chance, watch it). By Fall 2019, I determined my story was ready to be submitted to my editor and was thrilled to sign a contract in early 2020.
I can’t wait for you to discover my fictional Wisconsin small-town and meet the quirky characters who live there. From Shirley, the owner of the diner and unofficial queen of town, to Dani, the former child star who buys an old movie theater and renovates it into a dinner theater, I hope you are inspired by the determination of one small town to resurrect itself. And–of course–love is found at the moment least expected–or desired.
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P.S. The town is so nice, you’ll want to visit twice. And…you’ll be able to! Holidays, Inc. is only the first in a (so-far) two book series called Finding New Hope. The sequel, Hope for the Holidays, follows the hero’s twin sister, Jill as she navigates the tricky combo of love and politics. More info to follow…