I am so pleased with my cover. This time, I worked with Rachel Lawston who has done a fabulous job in conveying the messages I wanted the cover to get across. It obviously conveys that it’s a romance, as you’ve said, and the vine illustration clearly shows that it’s set on a vineyard. The last piece in the puzzle was to give a suggestion of the location, which comes from the church and from the stork, the traditional symbol of Alsace, which is hidden among the vines.
Sorry to interrupt, Julie - I have to stop you for a moment while I go and look for the stork. Found it!
Overall though, it’s the combination of the colours and the beautiful illustrations that really make it such a success. The feedback I’ve had has been amazing!
There's more to publication day than meets the eye, isn't there? I know 2016 was a difficult year for you, but you ended it by making decisions about your publishing life. Do you mind sharing the process you went through?
Well, this book went through the RNA’s New Writers’ Scheme again and when I got it back in 2015, the feedback was very positive so I made a few changes and after a lot of thought, I decided to try submitting it to agents and publishers. I had some good feedback and I came very close to having it picked up by an agent but not quite close enough. So I decided to act on the feedback I’d received with the help of an editor. She acted like a mentor to me really and we worked together to do a structural edit on my book. I then met an agent and a publisher at the RNA Conference who had both read the newly edited first three chapters. One of them hated it and one of them loved it! Literally. What can I say?
It was at this point that I started to wonder whether I was doing the right thing if their reactions were so diverse. Anyway, once the whole book was ready, I sent it out to two more publishers. One of them rejected it and the other didn’t ever get back to me. That’s when I realised that I had spent the best part of a year chasing this and all to no avail. When I considered all the things I’d been told along the way, things like ‘it needs to be much more commercial for us to take it’, as well as the disappointing stories I was hearing from some friends about their experience with their publishers, I knew I had to really think about what I wanted from my writing career. That’s when I decided to self-publish again. Having done it before, I knew what would be involved and I knew I could do it. It’s not easy and I’m not saying that I wouldn’t like to get the same sort of sales my friends with publishing contracts are getting but I think indie publishing just suits me and my writing better.
Was there a single moment when it all fell into place?
That moment at the Conference was telling for me but the publisher liked it so much, I thought it was worth another round of submissions to see what would happen. To be honest though, when it was rejected again, in a way I felt relieved because I was already thinking about self-publishing and the freedom it would give me to do my own thing and to be in control. I knew then that if I was relieved, not disappointed, I ought to go with my instinct and continue with self-publishing.
And are you feeling settled now? Happy with the way ahead?
Yes, I feel very happy with my decision and I’m looking forward to what the future may bring with the publication of this second book. And now that I’ve decided to continue pursuing the indie route, it has given me confidence and motivation to get on with things.
I'm so pleased to know you feel like that. What lies ahead? The immediate future, I'm sure, includes lots of blogs, publicity and general celebration surrounding your new book.
The immediate future is really busy, as you say, which is fantastic, if a bit scary! I am desperately trying to get going with my first draft of my third book to send it off to the New Writers’ Scheme this year. Then I am determined to edit my sequel novella to my first book, From Here to Nashville.
To finish off, please tell us something about the story inside that attractive cover.
Here’s the blurb:
Is there really such a thing as a second chance at love?
Fran Schell has only just become engaged when she finds her fiance in bed with another woman. She knows this is the push she needs to break free from him and leave London. She applies for her dream job on a vineyard in Alsace in France, not far from her family home, determined to concentrate on her work.
Didier Le Roy can hardly believe it when he sees that the only person to apply for the job on his vineyard is the same woman he once loved but let go because of his stupid pride. Now estranged from his wife, he longs for a second chance
with Fran if only she will forgive him for not following her to London.
hWorking so closely together, Fran soon starts to fall in love with Didier all over again. Didier knows that it is now time for him to move on with his divorce if he and Fran are ever to have a future together. Can Fran and Didier make their second chance at love work despite all the obstacles in their way?
A romantic read set against the enticing backdrop of the vineyard harvest in France.
Julie, it has been a pleasure having you here again for a good chat. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences. You are always so honest about everything on your blog and in interviews and I'm sure that has helped other writers.
Best of luck with The Vineyard in Alsace. Now then, after all that talking, we deserve something to eat... or perhaps a little glass of something...
Thanks very much for having me on your lovely blog again, Susanna. Your continued support means so much and I hope we’ll be able to meet up again in real life very soon over food and wine!