What are the release dates for the Second Chances series?

So Fast Forward (Second Chances #2), the sequel to No Reverse, was released on December 19th 2013. It is the second and FINAL chapter in Cassie and Josh’s story. I just want to make totally clear that there will be NO CLIFFHANGER at the end of Fast Forward. Then comes Lenor’s story. Listen to this: it is set in Paris! It’s titled You Turn and I can’t tell you what an amazing journey this book has been for me. It’s unusual for authors to pick the ‘other’ woman as the main character for a next book, but a lot of you liked Lenor in No Reverse. Wait to meet Zach… … and in 2015, you’ll get the long-awaited Sam’s story 😉 It’s a romantic suspense titled Leap of Faith. The book will be released in the second half of 2015 BUT you can read it for FREE every month if you subscribe to my newsletter.

When will the last book in the Oxford saga be released?

Another frequently asked question. At this point in time, there is no plan to write a third book in the Oxford saga. However I will share in the first half of 2015 some bonus material (for free) in order to deal with the current cliffhanger at the end of Oxford Shadows. But in the meantime, you can enjoy some of the yummy Sam since he will be both in the Second Chances series and the Oxford trilogy!

My vision?

As a writer, my main goal is to make readers dream a little bigger and cause their hearts to beat a little faster. So nothing too serious here, but nothing too bland neither. Expect blogs about books I’ve read (mostly YA fiction, Upper-YA, paranormal romance), love, break-ups, family, friends, growing-up, changing, travelling, college, dreaming, Oxford, England, Paris et cetera, et cetera… Oh, yeah, a few posts on The British Royal Family (aka BRF) as well!

Why do you write The Oxford Saga?

I dived into Harry Potter. I devoured Twilight. Now what? I’m not a teen anymore (humm! haven’t been for a while). But in some unexpected, time-defying ways, I grew up with those heroes. They nurtured my thoughts, my dreams. I cheered for them, cried with them…. and fell in love with them (you, broody vampire, yes you!). I’m now desperate for the next adventure, for the next step in my ‘growing-up.’ ‘Coming-of-age’ doesn’t only happen in high school. A lot of the excitement, joys and heartbreaks also fill those ‘in-between years,’ when you’re legally an adult but don’t always know how to be one. Or why you should even try to be. But hardly any book deals with this transition into the ‘big bad’ world, about these life-changing, earth-shattering ‘first-times.’ The first time we leave home, our family, our parents, the friends we grew up with, but didn’t always choose. The first home, the first job, the first real love. I want to write about those days, those years, and share the stories with you. Unfortunately, the publishing industry (agents and editors) seems to think the “New Adult” (or Upper-Young-Adult, or Mature YA) isn’t a viable market. Apparently, noone is interested in reading about 18-23 yo protagonists. I beg to differ… You may be experiencing these emotions right now… or you lived through them some time ago and want to understand how and why they define who you are now. Come, come away with me. First stop, Oxford University, England.

Something personal about me?

I live in London, have been for almost 11 years. But I didn’t grow up here, I grew up in the South of France… and I was born in West Africa. Yes, a Citizen of the World! I was also very lucky to study in amazing cities all around the world: Vienna, Paris, Cape Town, Oxford, Berlin. A lot of material for future books… My first job was in finance in the City of London. I spent a few years there, working crazy hours. Then, I decided to become an entrepreneur, got married (with an amazing English man, a constant inspiration for my romance books), and had a baby girl. EDIT: Another baby girl has arrived in the household and my husband seems to be very happy to be the only man in the family 😉

How long have I been writing?

Like almost every writer out there, I have wanted to write MY WHOLE LIFE. The idea for The Oxford Trilogy came to me when I studied at Oxford, in my early twenties. I kept on thinking about it, but doing nothing to make it take life until… the characters had become so loud in my head that I couldn’t ignore them anymore. So yes, I’ve wanted to write my whole life. I’m sure some of the people reading this have or had the same dream. So believe in yourself and JUST DO IT.

My favorite city?

New York City. I have a special weakness for Cape Town, but I will have to choose NYC. It is still the place where your dreams can come true, whoever you are, wherever you come from, whatever language you speak, rich, poor… Okay, maybe I am being a little ‘blue sky’ here. Alicia Key’s New York amazing song plays a lot in my home. I was super lucky and saw her in a private concert a few years back.

And let’s not forget my hometown, London. It’s my home, my anchor, my roots… So quite ambivalent about it: love, hate, tenderness, boredom… I guess lots of people feel the same about their home.

My favorite songs?

There are so many of them. I had a ball while writing The Oxford Saga because I indulged shamelessly in my favorite musics: Country and English Rock (or maybe I should say Pop, not sure). Why? The heroine-Madison Lebon-is from Louisiana and studies in Oxford… So to list a few on my mp3: The Script, The Kooks, The Hoosiers, Blur, Paolo Nutini, Muse, Keane, Thomson Square, Mumford & Sons, Dixie Chicks… Bands mostly, although I listened to Jake Owen’s Alone With You recently and liked the boy’s perspective on ‘one night stands’. And it’s because it’s about full-disclosure here: I am a total fan of One Republic

My favorite movies?

Humm, that’s a difficult one again. The all-time classics Gone With The Wind and Casablanca, for sure. I’m going to have to say Twilight (but only the first one, directed by the fantastic Catherine Hardwicke: I love that chick btw). Sorry not very original. Two of my all-time favorites were Peter Weir’s Dead Poets’ Society and Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise. I’m probably giving way too many clues of my age here. But if you haven’t seen that movie, please rent it, download it, whatever… And in case there’s a soundtrack available for Before Sunrise, buy it! I like most Almodovar’s movies. The Life of Others made a big impression on me a few years ago. And on a lighter note, the latest rom-com always (most of the time) cuts it for me: do you remember Sweet Home Alabama with Reese Witherspoon? Loved that movie. It has all the right ingredients: a punchy pace, likable heroes, well-placed plot twists… and good old Dixie. I’d like to say that I like a recent movie with Jennifer Aniston, but I can’t… Nothing compared to her The Good Girl and The Object of My Affection.
True Blood (if anyone has an obsession with Alexander Skarsgard, please shout!). I like to think Oxford Whispers’ Madison LeBon is a bit of an ‘Ivy-League Sookie Stackhouse’. Btw, if you haven’t listened to Snoop Dogg’s Oh Sookie, watch this.

Awesome and hilarious, if not a bit… well, it’s Snoop Dogg after all. Law & Order, especially the very old ones, where everyone had a funny haircut (and yes, ‘Big’ does make the whole police procedural much tastier). Criminal Minds. Downtown Abbey (the first season would teach any aspiring writer what a cliffhanger is). I used to be a fan of The Vampire Diaries, but the Helena’s character is putting me off (and the actress as well, but please shout if you disagree). And as you can see with the title of one of the pages here, Friends.

My favorite books?

Shakespeare. You can’t really do better, can you? Agatha Christie and Daphnee du Maurier. I fell in love with fiction when I was twelve and read the first book in the North and South trilogy. That’s how I also fell in love with The South. And of course, the Harry Potters and Twilights… along with the Charlaine Harris’ Southern Vampires, Simone Elkeles’ Perfect Chemistry, Tammara Webber’s Easy, Samantha Young’s On Dublin Street, Abbi Glines’s While It Lasts, and SC Stephens’s Thoughtless. And if you have not yet picked a book by K.A. Tucker, well hurry up! I’m a massive fan of her flawless writing and the characters you take with you after the last page. Something to aspire to as a writer…

Why did I choose self-publishing? And what did I learn so far?

I have learned three lessons in my writing journey so far… First, READ. In your genre, outside your genre. Figure out for yourself what you think is good or bad fiction. Second, LISTEN. If you can afford to go to a writers’ conference, then do it… But there are also many other opportunities to learn online (see the suggestions below). The best step I took in my writing career was to join The Romance Writers of America. I am part of the YA, Paranormal, and Kiss Of Death chapters. They offer countless workshops (craft, writers life, publishing) and writing bootcamps. I met some amazing ladies who shared with me their gift, experience and wiseness. I also made friends who have provided me with unwavering support. RWA is a home for me. I do mean it. Another helpful organization is the UK’s Romantic Novelists’ Association. Third, TALK. Writing is also a business, so seize opportunities to network with your peers and readers. Be professional. And try and enjoy the process.

Why I chose the self-publishing/Independent route…

The very beginning ~ I started writing my first novel, Oxford Whispers, in May 2010, as a paranormal romance. The setting and the characters had been nagging me for almost ten years, since I arrived in Oxford to study there for a year. My first draft was done by January 2011. It pretty much sucked… That’s when I took one of the best decisions in my life: joining RWA (the Romance Writers of America). I entered their Young Adult and Paranormal chapters, took many of the on-line workshops they offered (for an average of $10-15 and direct access to veteran writers, it was totally worth it). I entered a mentorship program they offered and made some close friends. Most of them were more advanced than I but they accepted to have a look at my manuscript, so did a wonderful lady who became my mentor. In exchange, I helped them as a beta reader. Nine drafts and months later, my manuscript was in much better shape and I decided it was good enough to have it critiqued by a professional editor. I was very lucky to hear about Chris Eboch. She accepted to look at Oxford Whispers and the feedback she gave me was invaluable. It was some of the best “bucks” I spent, ever!

The traditional Submission Process

I polished my query letter and synopsis and started submitting to agents I had carefully selected because they represented Young Adult or Paranormal Romance. I had been following their blogs and was careful to follow their submission guidelines. I had some good return and requests for “partials” and “fulls.” But the message I received was disheartening. The book was good but I should either make my characters younger (in boarding school) or older (academics). “College-Lit” was a “tough sale.” There was nowhere to shelve those books in your local Barnes & Noble, college people didn’t read etc… Long story short, I was writing in a genre that had no commercial appeal whatsoever.

The Turning Point

Some of my best writing friends (Juliette Sobanet and Sophie Moss) had started being successful self-publishing. They shared with me tips, the good, the bad, the ugly, what worked, what didn’t. In March 2012, I came upon an amazing website, The Creative Penn (www.thecreativepenn.com), which is one of the best resources out there for Indie writers. Joanna Penn (who is a successful blogger and a Thriller writer) joined forces with the Romantic Suspense (and NYT bestselling author) author C.J. Lyons to offer a workshop “The Secrets of Indie Publishing,” as part of their ProWriter program. I was done with the workshop in one day, and my decision was made. Indie publishing it will be.

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