I cannot believe that book number two comes out in two months! [You can PreOrder it now through January 16, 2024] The process of writing this novel was different than Here For It.
First of all, I cranked it out. I did 80,000 words in a week. It felt like I was just the typist, the vessel, for these words as they hit the page, well, drafting software. Nora first appears in Here For It and I loved writing her spunky personality as she interacted with Liz and Kyle. Then in the Epilogue of Here For It Nora begins a three year journey which brings her to the start of her novel.
(And quick aside, in the first draft of Here For It, Nora ended up getting married to Jeff! I had that novel spanning five years and as soon as I sat down to rewrite it I was like, nope this isn’t Nora’s love story. I know my imaginary friends really really well.)
What we don’t learn about in Here For It is how effected Nora was by her upbringing. She grew up with a single mom who wasn’t equipped to be a parent. She had to mature into adult responsibilities early and learned that control, goals, and plans were the best way to keep everything together.
To manage expectations if you will.
Page 1 is not the start of her story. No novel is. We learn more about how she got to where she is as the story unfolds. And we learn why one disastrous morning landed her in the arms, err, lap, of Lakeville’s Jimmy Lewis.
Jimmy’s story doesn’t begin on Page 10. He also had to grow up too fast when his mom passed away from cancer when he was 16 and his dad slid into depression afterwards. He had to pick up the slack at home, for his sister Angie, and for their family hardware store. He’s used to managing projects and keeping an even keel. And he wasn’t ready for the electric shock of the spitfire redhead who he picked up on the side of the road.
This novel is steamy from the start. On Page 16 things kick off in the drivers seat of his truck. On Page 27 he dirty talks over coffee. On Page 49 they get caught on the sofa. And what was so fun to write was the physical attraction that turns into a burning connection to their core. Nora and Jimmy feel like they were made for each other.
And, I get it, I wrote them. I created them. But I can’t quite explain how these characters come to me already formed. They’re clay figurines who can still be molded but they’re 80% there already. Like it wasn’t a choice that Jimmy listens to country music, it’s just what he likes. Not a choice that Nora could have a career as a fashion influencer, it’s just how she dresses. Not a choice that the slippers Angie lends Nora are purple, they just are because Angie would absolutely have purple slippers.
Once I had a (rough) first draft I got it printed and shared it with a few friends. Lisa, Liza, and Kelsey read it, noted all the commas and typos, and then discussed the story with me. We developed a new opening scene. We tightened up some sections and expanded others. This is not something I had done with Here For It.
Learning by doing is my method for this self-publishing journey! But I learned quickly that having these other eyes on the book early was invaluable. So THANK YOU (again, and again) for reading and your honest feedback.
This is also the first time for a cover design. I threw one together for Here For It the day before I published. Not joking. For Upstate Expectations the first draft cover featured Angie smiling in front of a park. This will be the hardback cover. The paperback is being designed by an illustrator I found on Instagram. She’s going to create the characters and we’ll get them arranged on the cover.
There is a formula that is typically followed for Romance Novel covers. It’s changing and shifting slowly but you’ll typically see a man and a woman on the cover displaying some sort of emotion. There are bright colors. Bold, feminine fonts. I’m leaning towards a duller color scheme but the man and woman on the cover is happening.
I spent a lot of time on an AI Art App to get the illustrated prototypes of Nora and Jimmy. Some of the “outtakes” are pretty funny. AI Art is interesting…some have three hands, some have two shoes attached to the same foot. And when I kept getting images of them both sporting fire red hair I decided it was time to hire a designer! The Pinterest Board for the project helps paint the picture.
I’ve got playlists started and will share those soon. Nora’s needs a few more tracks and I’m trying to decide if I combine the playlist or give them each their own. Something new I learned during editing this book was to edit both POVs separately. So I spent a week listening to Jimmy’s favorite songs and edited his chapters. Then I spent a week listening to Nora’s and did the same. It helped solidify their voices in my head.
Now that the paperback and audiobook manuscript is done I’m stepping away and working on Don’t Call It Puppy Love, Angie’s story. I’ll come back to Upstate Expectations in a couple of weeks and pull out my favorite quotes, practice reading sections out loud for events, plan those events, and I’ll finish the bonus chapter for the hardcover edition.
Upstate Expectations by Erin Marie Bassett will be published to Amazon and major retailers on February 13, 2024.
PreOrder Bundles can be ordered HERE through January 16, 2024. You’ll receive an email confirmation and be added to the PreParty email group where I’ll be sharing exclusives and discounts and behind the scenes and probably complain about having to make dinner again a little bit.