Thursday, 2 July 2020

New Release Spotlight & Author Guest Post: A Sunset in Sydney by Sandy Barker

It Just Takes One Yes’ by Sandy Barker
As a pre-teen, I started sneaking my mum’s Mills & Boon novels from her bedside table. By my teen years, she was handing over Jackie Collins and Shirley Conran, and I was devouring Sweet Dreams and Sweet Valley High books, feeding a four-books-a-week reading habit.
My love of books, and particularly romance novels, was ingrained by the time I reached adulthood, and I have read widely across the genre for years, occasionally delving into writing, but not producing anything long-form or concrete until I had an epiphany in early 2013.
I was visiting my sister in London, and on her bookshelf was Lindsey Kelk’s I Heart New York. I consumed it in half-a-day, then picked up the next and the next in the series. Three days later, I’d read all five (there are now eight), and as I finished I Heart London, I knew. I wanted to write romantic fiction―specifically, travel romances.
On paper, ‘travel romance novelist’ was a perfect fit for me. I was an avid traveller and had been blogging about it for years. I was also a hopeful romantic, a lifelong romance reader, an English major, and a Drama and English teacher, so I knew about style, structure, grammar, characterisation, dialogue, and genre.
All I had to do was get to work.
My first foray into writing travel romance caught the attention of an agent here in Australia, but when I sent him the full manuscript, he replied with ‘this isn’t your first novel, it’s your fifth’. Apparently, I had too many characters, timelines, and plotlines, and I heeded his advice to ‘go away and write a single, linear narrative’.
Inspired by my real-life ‘meet cute’―meeting my partner, Ben, on a pier in Santorini, just as we were about to embark on a sailing trip around the Greek Islands―I started writing, diverging from real life by introducing a second love interest to the story, the silver fox.
On completion, I went back to the agent and he signed me, shopping my story, which he called, ‘Eat, Sail, Love’, to all the Australian publishers. But as excited as he was to introduce them to a fresh new voice in Australian romantic fiction, no one wanted my particular take on contemporary romantic comedy. My agent had reached the end of his contact list and we parted ways amicably.
Dejected, I wondered if I would ever find my publishing home, or if my manuscript was destined to sit gathering dust. It was only after we returned from another sailing trip in Greece, that I seriously considered self-publishing. Re-energised, I edited my manuscript, paid for cover art and a copy edit, and self-published at the end of 2017. My book baby was out there in the world!
And the timing was perfect. In early 2018, Ben and I embarked on a one-year international sabbatical, which gave me ample time to write the follow ups to my first book. We started the year in Bali, then moved to the US, the UK and Portugal.
When we were in the UK, I came across UKRomChat on Twitter and joined a passionate community of romance authors. It was while engaging with that community that I started considering British publishing houses.
While I self-published book two in the series and wrote book three, I queried UK publishers. After each rejection, I honed my synopses and query letters and reminded myself that I only needed one ‘yes’.
But before I knew it, I was home in Melbourne and back to ‘real life’, hunting an apartment and a job. Could I be happy returning to my profession in adult education and being a part-time novelist who self-published one or two books a year?
Despondency kicked in when I realised that I would never achieve my goal―my dream―of becoming a fulltime novelist.
Not long after, I received an email from an imprint of HarperCollins in the UK. It was my one yes. With that offer on the table, I reached out to my agent of choice, Lina Langlee, and after reading my debut, she agreed to represent me.
That all happened in early 2019, and by the end of this year, I will have four books published by One More Chapter. Book five is well underway, and I already have ideas for books six and seven and … I still work fulltime, but my dream is within reach―all because of that one yes.
A Sunset in Sydney

How far would you go in the name of love?
Sarah Parsons has a choice ahead of her. After the trip of a lifetime she’s somehow returned home with TWO handsome men wanting to whisk her away into the sunset.
Pulled in two directions across the globe, it’s making life trickier than it sounds. Her gorgeous American, Josh, wants to meet Sarah in Hawaii for a holiday to remember. Meanwhile silver fox, James, plans to wine and dine her in London.
It’s a lot to handle for this Aussie girl, who had totally sworn off men!
Join Sarah after her adventure in One Summer in Santorini, for the heart-warming and uplifting third novel in The Holiday Romance series.

Sandy Barker is an Australian writer, traveller and hopeful romantic with a lengthy bucket list and a cheeky sense of humour. She’s also an avid reader, a film buff, a wine lover and a coffee snob.
Many of Sandy’s travel adventures have found homes in her writing, including her debut novel, a contemporary romance set in Greece, which was inspired by her true-life love story.