Book Trailer

Okay, this one’s gonna end in tears

In the summer of 2013, I had a problem. Kurt and I had just given up on getting pregnant and I had two surgeries in a row sealing the deal. No babies for us. Not biologically ours, anyway.

We started looking into adoption. We knew it was expensive. We were solid financially, but finding another $30k was gonna be tough.

I was still doing photography and had published a few books — Baby Dust was out, and did all right, but nothing that would pull in that kind of money. I wrote two romances but they flopped totally and went in the red.

I was fortunate at that time to make a couple really important friends. One was Mimi Strong, who I’d met on Kboards. Another was HM Ward, who had a similar background as me, photographer turned writer, and also lived in Texas.

Mimi had some big success with a billionaire series she had written and took me under her wing. We looked at my current fan base, all baby-loss moms, and where to go to expand. She told me new adult romances, set at college age, were the big thing.

Well, I had tried new adult already, twice, and those were flops. But she insisted I had done it wrong. So she coached me. Mimi made me sit down and come up with a college romance that hadn’t already been done but would have a very strong hook. Something only I could write.

Well, of course I knew what it had to be.

The character of Corabelle came first. Her baby had died. To make the story happen in college, she had to be a teen mother. Then Gavin, her boyfriend. He had to have something in his past that made him take off when the going got tough, even though he had loved Corabelle.

And I had to find a way to get them back together that wasn’t too hokey. And I had to keep them apart enough to make a book.

Into the fall we worked on the book, Mimi reading my work and telling me what I was doing wrong. When it came time for covers, Mimi was insistent I have the right look. We pored over images, trying to find something that wasn’t overused but still affordable since I had such a low budget (although the moment mine came out, the same image popped up everywhere.)

Here are the couples who didn’t make the cut (and I know what you’re thinking — no way any of those were Corabelle and Gavin!)

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We did everything we could think of for the book release. Blog tours. Goodreads giveaways. NetGalley. A book trailer. Mimi was pushing it out to her fans.

And it was doing much better than my other books. Way better. But after a week, it just started to dive. If it was over now, that was it. It would earn out its costs, which were a lot more than my other books had been, but that was about it. Kurt and I talked about me going ahead and going back to work, even though I’d have to quit when we got the children. But at least to earn the fees.

Then I took a wild chance. I knew HM Ward just a little bit. We’d messaged some. She was huge at the time. Just huge. Her Arrangement series was topping every chart. And I boldly asked if she would share my book with her fans.

She didn’t respond for two days. I thought, okay, I’ve overstepped. No way would she do a favor like that for someone she barely knew. I was a little embarrassed to have asked.

I remember going to a football game that night. My daughter was a freshman and marching at halftime. My parents were in town too, to see her. While we waited for them to come out, I pulled out my phone to see how much farther my book had fallen in rankings.

And almost fell out of my seat.

I had sold 1000 copies that day.

I frantically checked my messages, and sure enough, HM had sent a message. “Posted it. Think I sold a couple hundred. :)”

This visibility set off a chain reaction. The book didn’t fall. I hit #4 on iBooks. Top 50 BN. I came breathlessly close to the top 100 on Amazon.

Over 700 readers signed up for my mail list to find out about my next book. Everyone was asking — what’s it going to be?

And a big chorus was insisting — Corabelle and Gavin’s story isn’t over.

I sat down immediately to write Forever Loved. This book did just as well as Forever Innocent. Sell through was something crazy like 90%.

We had done it.

Now, two years later, we’ve come to the last book. The business changed a lot, and college romances fell out of favor. But I wrote a few more. A set of the first three books hit the USA Today bestseller list last January, a huge accomplishment. I couldn’t be more pleased with how it all went.

Forever-series-hardcovers

I’d love to show you a picture of the two little boys who live with us now, but it’s not time yet. Just know that they are here, and that all you fans were instrumental in getting them here. And that putting this series to bed is like tucking in your child for the last time before they leave home. It’s hard.

But what a journey it’s been.

I will be writing a little more slowly now but plan to have a book out in May and a new series starting in the fall. You can stay in touch with me on the email list.

Enjoy the trailer. I have loved being on this road with all of you.

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Hundreds of paper butterflies for Forever Innocent!

Project Butterfly image

 

So many projects have sprung up based on my new book, that it’s hard to keep track of them all. Right now, I’m working on a joint effort of the book trailer and Project Butterfly, a social media movement to place butterflies on the pages of families who have lost babies to show you haven’t forgotten their little ones.

Hundreds of families have given their babies’ names to put on the butterflies that will be featured in the book trailer. We’ll be shooting this weekend, sweb-butterfly-pileo it’s your last chance to get a name in!

I had a half-dozen friends help me hand-cut the paper butterflies. Then I sprayed them, added the names, and we have begun the process of stringing them to prepare for the scene where Corabelle, the main character, walks through them as she did in the novel.

We’ll be shooting in three locations for the trailer. I’m super excited web-henry-cutto see how it all turns out!

The book won’t be out until Oct. 1, but here is a hint of the scene we will be portraying in the video. Corabelle has told Gavin, who left her four years ago during their baby’s funeral, that she can’t see him again. This is one of the ways he tries to get her back.

_________________________

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The blinds to my living room window were closed, so I carefully pushed a couple of the slats aside.

Unbelievable. I stepped back a minute to blink, then looked again.

In the trees outside my door, hundreds of colored paper butterflies hung from the branches. Their wings glittered in the sunlight, winking, the wires so thin as to almost be invisible, as though an entire flock of them had chosen this moment to breeze by my window.

I ran to the front door and wrenched it open so I could see it better. That’s when I noticed the neighbors walking through the butterflies and touching their sparkling bodies.

“Isn’t it beautiful?” An older woman I’d seen a few times cupped a bright blue one in her palm.

A younger girl in a red beret saw me and smiled. “They lead to your door.” She pointed behind her. “See, there’s just a few up there, and then they get thicker as we get closer to you.”

She held one close to her face. “These are all hand cut.” She glanced over at me. “Whoever did this for you spent a lot of time on it.”

I moved up the path again. White butterflies with iridescent sparkle gave way to pale blues, then pinks and gentle yellows, moving to minty greens and lavenders that shifted to plum and fuchsia and deep red and sapphire. I caught a movement at the corner of the building and we all turned to it. Gavin stepped out, as beautiful as I’d ever seen him, fresh and combed and wearing a crisp button-down shirt loose over khaki shorts.

My breath caught and the women murmured their appreciation as he came toward me, holding out his hands with another butterfly, a lovely, opulent eggshell blue. “One more,” he said and handed it to me by the slender wire. “For Finn.”

He held my hand as we both lifted it to the branch closest to the door and tied it around the slender limb. The other women moved away as I brought my palms to my hot cheeks. “I don’t know what to say.”

“Say you’ll spend the day with me.” He backed away, giving me space.

The setting was like a fairy tale, Gavin, looking so much like he had in high school, the trees and morning sun striking the glittering butterflies. A breeze wafted through, shifting the strings and making the bits of color dance among the falling leaves. I nodded; what else could I do? Each of these moments were new wonders, memories I could hold on to. Even if it all fell apart later, we would have this.

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