Archive for the ‘Interview’ Category

Interview and giveaway with Cecilia Grant!

Thursday, December 18th, 2014

Interview and Giveaway!

Headshot of a smiling Ceilia Grant. She has curly hair


Cecilia Grant

Today, I am thrilled to have historical romance author Cecilia Grant visit my blog.

Woo-hoo!

I love her books more than is reasonable. I wish she wrote faster, but hey, no pressure, Cecilia!

As I put together this post, I’ve just finished reading her Christmas novella, A Christmas Gone Perfectly Wrong and I loved it so hard!! She’s one of my favorite historical authors and if you haven’t read her yet, you should. Really. She’s here to answer some questions, tell us about her book, discuss the Bigfoot problem, and offer a giveaway, so stay tuned! Details coming.

Cecilia Grant makes her home in the Pacific Northwest. She likes semicolons, chocolate-covered raisins, and historical sites with costumed reenactors. Her books have earned starred reviews from Booklist and Library Journal, Seal of Excellence and Reviewer’s Choice awards from RT Reviews Magazine, and Desert Isle Keeper designation from All About Romance.

Where to find Cecila

Website: http://ceciliagrant.com
Twitter: www.twitter.com/cecilia_grant
Facebook: www.facebook.com/ceciliagrantauthor

About A Christmas Gone Perfectly Wrong

Cover of A Christmas Gone Perfectly Wrong by Cecilia Grant - A smiling young woman in bed.

Cover of A Christmas Gone Perfectly Wrong by Cecilia Grant

IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN SIMPLE. . .

With one more errand to go–the purchase of a hunting falcon–Andrew Blackshear has Christmas completely under control. As his sister’s impending marriage signals the inevitable drifting-apart of the Blackshear family, it’s his last chance to give his siblings the sort of memorable, well-planned holiday their parents could never seem to provide.

He has no time to dawdle, no time for nonsense, and certainly no time to drive the falconer’s vexing, impulsive, lush-lipped, midnight-haired daughter to a house party before heading home. So why the devil did he agree to do just that?

IT COULDN’T BE MORE DELICIOUSLY MIXED-UP. . .

Lucy Sharp has been waiting all her too-quiet life for an adventure, and she means to make the most of this one. She’s going to enjoy the house party as no one has ever enjoyed a house party before, and in the meanwhile she’s going to enjoy every minute in the company of amusingly stern, formidably proper, outrageously handsome Mr. Blackshear. Let him disapprove of her all he likes–it’s not as though they’ll see each other again after today.

. . .or will they. . .When a carriage mishap and a snowstorm strand the pair miles short of their destination, threatening them with scandal and jeopardizing all their Christmas plans, they’ll have to work together to save the holiday from disaster. And along the way they just might learn that the best adventures are the ones you never would have thought to plan.

Did I mention I loved this story?

The Interview

Cecilia was gracious enough to answer a series of the kind of probing, insightful questions you can count on from Yours Truly. So, let’s get to it.

Q:   You have pets. They are un-literary, you say. How do you know they aren’t reading your WIP when you step out? Do you have pictures? We love pet pictures here.

Louise, a black cat with gold eyes lounging on a desk top

Louise The Cat

A: I’m reasonably confident the pets aren’t reading my WiP. My (daughter’s) cat is neither brawny nor motivated enough to try to get the laptop open, and my dog, whose cleverness only extends to getting a dog biscuit out of a Kong, would never be able to crack my passwords.

They’re good pets, though! Zorra (like Zorro, only female) is the dog and Louise  is the cat.

DogZorra_CG

Zorra the Dog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Q:  You are given a choice of the following all-expenses paid (including taxes) vacations, including everything taken care of at home while you are gone. What do you choose and why? Which one is least appealing and why? In case you hate the traveling part of travels, please assume that you are instantly transported to your destination.

  • Nepal
  • Manhattan
  • Glam-camping
  • Narnia
  • Tahiti


A:
You know, I’m not a fan of camping and I was all ready to say that I suspect there’s no such real thing as “glam-camping” and that it’s just a scheme to trick people who should know better into going camping…

…but then I remembered this episode of Oprah I saw where Oprah and her friend Gayle went camping in Yosemite. They opened up a bottle of wine and toasted marshmallows and invited the people from the next campsite to come hang out, and I thought if I could sit around toasting marshmallows and drinking wine with Oprah, it would be about the best day ever. So I pick glam-camping, as long as you can guarantee Oprah will be next door.

Worst vacation would be Narnia, hands down. Anyone who thinks it would be fun to go to Narnia must never have read the books. Half the time your life’s in danger and the other half it’s like being in Sunday school. What kind of vacation is that?

NOTE From Yours Truly, Carolyn: There is such a thing as glam-camping– Glamping as I was reminded when I looked for this link. I want to go glam-camping in this yurt. It’s in the Trinity Alps here in California. It has wi-fi. Writing Retreat is written all over it. You in, Cecilia? Who else?

Q: You live in the Pacific Northwest. How do you deal with the Bigfoot problem?

A: What is this Bigfoot “problem” of which you speak? Bigfoot is a feature, not a bug.

Q: If someone messed up the space-time continuum such that the Regency period never happened, what historical period might you write in instead, and why? Assume that all other historical eras remain unchanged.

A: This is a surprisingly tough question! I grew up reading the Little House books, and I love reading memoirs of life in that era/setting. But any story of US pioneers is also a story of Native people losing their land and way of life, and for me that would cast a pretty big shadow over any HEA I might write.

Maybe mid-19th-century Boston and environs, when Hawthorne and Emerson and the Alcotts and Margaret Fuller and Frederick Douglass were all around. That seems like a time of so much exciting fermentation and cross-pollination, with lots of ways for women to be active out in the world.

Q: Your lovely Christmas novella features falconry. Can you talk a bit about why you chose that? What research did you do?

A: My local zoo has a raptor exhibit, with a rotating cast of whoever they happen to be rehabilitating at the time: I’ve seen owls, bald eagles, peregrine falcons, gyrfalcons, and even a turkey vulture. If you’re there at the right time, a docent will come out and talk about the birds, and maybe even give a flying demonstration. (And no, they don’t always come back! A few years ago a gyrfalcon took off and two weeks later they found her scavenging at the city dump.)

It’s just a super-cool thing to see, so when I started writing Regency I knew I’d eventually want to write a character who had that hobby.

As far as research, there are lots of falconry clubs in the UK that maintain helpful websites, and lots of history sites that cover falconry too. I wish I’d been able to work in more details, like the stylish leather hoods they wear when they’re being trained. Maybe in some future book.

Q: Fun fact about your book?

A: I came up with the opening scene – he encounters her on a road and is poleaxed at first sight – long before I knew what hero and heroine it belonged to or what their story would be. It’s sort of a mashup of two movie scenes that stuck with me:

1. At the beginning of The French Lieutenant’s Woman, when Jeremy Irons first spies Meryl Streep out on the seawall at Lyme Regis. She’s got a hooded cloak on, she’s got her back to him, waves are splashing dramatically over the wall and then she turns and looks back at him. The camera zooms slowly in on his face and you can see he’s a goner from that moment.

2. God forgive me for this problematic source material, but Captain John Smith’s first sight of Pocahontas in the Disney cartoon. Disney Pocahontas is about six feet tall, broad-shouldered, standing with her feet apart, fearless, in her minidress with her long dark hair wafting on a convenient breeze. And you know that this guy, whose experience of women up until now has probably been of dainty corseted types with hair pinned up and floor-length skirts, is in that moment having the doors blown off everything he thought he knew about what a woman could be.

So, yeah. I dialed it all down a bit, and the story headed off in its own direction, but those two threads are definitely in that scene.

Q: Best and worst thing about writing books?

A: I think the best thing is finding out that something you wrote connected with someone. It’s this sort of sidelong style of communication that just really appeals to me.

The worst is when it’s not working. Not being a plotter, some days I feel like a rat in a maze, coming up against a dead end and not knowing at what point I made a wrong turn, where I should have gone instead, or whether there even is a way out of this one. When it’s not working I wake up in the middle of the night feeling sick.

Q: Favorite dessert? You can name up to three because sometimes dessert is contextual. So, the context might be important along with your answer.

A:
3. Trader Joe’s cookie-butter candy bars.

2. Really good creme brulee in a creme-brulee-appropriate context, like Paris.

1. A friend of mine makes chocolate lasagna. She actually makes chocolate pasta, and layers ricotta cheese and chocolate chips and other stuff I don’t even know in between the chocolate noodles. It’s to die for. At one point in my life I moved 1400 miles just to be closer to it.

Q: What’s next for you?

A: I’m superstitious about discussing specifics before a project is locked in. But I will say I’m working on several related books, they’re all Regency-set historical (no desire to venture into contemporary or erotica at present), and as of now they don’t feature dukes. So, more of the same, I guess

Thanks again for having me, and for compelling me to spend time contemplating my favorite desserts.

Giveaway!

Cecilia is giving away a Kindle version of her novella and a backlist book of the winner’s choice in print or eBook format of choice. To enter, read and follow the rules below:

The Rules and How to enter

No purchase necessary. Must be 18 to enter. Void where prohibited. Family and/or employees of Carolyn Jewel or Cecilia Grant may not enter. Winner randomly selected from among the qualified entrants. The winner will be notified by email. An alternate winner will be selected if the winner does not respond within five (5) business days. Contest closes at 11:59:59 PM PST on Saturday December 20, 2014. International OK.

To Enter: Leave a comment to this post before the contest closes. It would be awesome if you completed the following question, but any comment will do:

Glamping sounds like it would be . . . .

Go!

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Interview with Mina Khan — Also Giveaway!

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

Interview with Author Mina Khan

Author Mina Khan

Author Mina Khan

Today, the lovely Mina Khan is visiting my blog to give away a book and be awesome. Which you will find out from the probing, serious, deeply intelligent questions I ask her.

About Mina Khan

Mina Khan is a Texas-based writer and food enthusiast. She writes about djinns (genies), dragons, hunks and whatever else sparks her fancy. She also writes a weekly food column for her local newspaper. Originally from Bangladesh, she is now a proud West Texan.
For more information check out her:

Amazon Author Page https://www.amazon.com/author/minakhan

Website/Blog: Stories by Mina Khan

Facebook Author Page

Twitter: @SpiceBites

Goodreads

To sign up for Mina’s quarterly newsletter with release updates and inside information on the stories, please check out: http://eepurl.com/wb-8n

 

The Questions

1. So. Your story in Alphas Unleashed. Tell us about it!

Alphas Unleashed: A collection of hot science fiction and paranormal romance stories from Michele Callahan, Carolyn Jewel, S.E. Smith and moi. You get 5 heroes, 5 romances, and 4 story worlds.

Mina: My story in Alphas Unleashed is Sealed with a Kiss. It’s about a fire djinn (genie) and the desperate woman who captures him. While deception brings them together, dangerous enemies make them unlikely allies. Can one wrong lead to two rights and true love?

I had a lot of fun writing this pair and figuring out the magic and mayhem that are essential to the story.

2. Do you have any pets? Tell us about your pets. Do you have pictures?

Mina: Erm, I have a full house: three cats and three dogs. All of them are wonderful rescues.

Patches & Mason

[Ooh. So cute!!!]

3. How do you feel about winter? What is your favorite kind of weather?

Mina: Lol! I’m such a cold wimp! Maybe that’s why I associated one of the villains in Sealed With A Kiss with winter…

4. Your books have been nominated for lots of awards. Which books, which awards? Tell us about them!

Mina: I have been very fortunate that my stories (cooked up by my crazy imagination) have been well received. I think all writers/artists/creatives hope their work will connect with another.

WILDFIRE E-book 1400px

Wildfire: A Paranormal Mystery with Cowboys and Dragons. Lynn, a Japanese American dragon shifter, hunts down a rogue dragon setting fires in the wilds of West Texas.

 

Wildfire is a finalist in the 2014 Daphne du Maurier Award of Excellence and the 2014 PRISM Contest.

It also finaled in the paranormal category of the Write Touch Readers’ Choice Awards, but Crista McHugh (an author I love to read) won… so thrilled to be in the running!

What Readers Say About Wildfire

“I love books that shift and twist genres, and Mina Khan excels at this…I have to say that this novel is paranormal in a way that no other paranormal I’ve read, it’s romance with some serious sexual tension, and in case that’s not enough, the backbone of the story isn’t the romance or the mystery arsonist, but family, tradition, and acceptance of who you are and where you came from.” ~ Amazon Customer Heather C. about Wildfire

cover 1
A Tale of Two Djinns won the 2013 RomCon Readers’ Crown for best paranormal.

The Djinn’s Dilemma won the novella category of the 2012 Romance Through The Ages contest.

5. You must make this choice: Take an all expenses paid trip to:
(assume VERY high expenses and someone to do all the housework while you’re gone)

Pick one

  • the wilderness (lake or no lake, your choice)
  • the beach
  • your backyard
  • a city somewhere

Where do you go, why, and what do you do while you are there?

Mina: I love exploring cities so have to pick the last one. Probably London or Paris – lots of history, culture, interesting neighborhoods, architecture, and, of course, good food! I’d make sure to visit graveyards, flea markets, and book stores. I’d spend a lot of time walking around at an unhurried pace, following my curiosity.

6. Look to your right. What do you see?

Mina: My backyard with mesquite trees, the Concho River and puppies!

7. You are granted three selfish wishes.

If they aren’t selfish the world will end but not before everyone knows it’s your fault. What do you wish for and why?

Mina: Oh wow, this is a challenging question! But since it’s wishes and I write about genies, I think I can work up a few answers.

A. Money. I would wish for an unending supply of money because money can make things happen. From letting me jet set around the world, to building schools, hospitals and job training centers (here’s the selfish part: they’d all have big signs with my name). Of course, how I spend the money is up to me and not a wish-granting qualifier as stated.

B. The best library ever (open 24 hours) – with books, electronic databases, comfy chairs, café with an international menu, natural light, lots of space so patrons weren’t intruding on each other, good soft jazz, beautiful inspiring architecture, lots of plugs so I could write wherever I wanted. Anyone who knows me, knows how much I love libraries and would realize this is truly a selfish wish.

C. My dream house: It would be a penthouse overlooking Central Park, but also open to a beach in the back, and have lush tropical gardens (hey, it’s a wish, so why limit myself?).

8. Tell us a little bit about you as a writer. [EG, plotter, pantser, or something in between? That sort of stuff]

Mina: I’m definitely a pantser. However, the term I prefer (because it’s really how my stories develop) is “organic writer.” I usually start with an image or a sentence that just pops into my mind and refuses to let go.

9. Hobbies?

Mina: Cooking, gardening, doodling, Renaissance dancing, walking, and watching movies (Bollywood & Hollywood).

9.5 OH!! I LOVE Bollywood movies. Who are some of your favorite Bollywood actors and actresses?

Actors: Hrithik Roshan, Akshay Kumar, Shah Rukh Khan, and Sanjay Dutt. I have actually named two of my heroes after two of my favorites — Akshay/Shay, the crown prince of the earth djinns in A Tale of Two Djinns, and Rukh O’Shay, my djinn assassin from The Djinn’s Dilemma. :D

Actresses: Kajol, Ashwairya Rai/Bacchan, and Rekha

Note: Mina and I had a great twitter conversation about Bollywood movies we’ve enjoyed. We both really like Om Shanti Om, and she was quite jealous that I scored a signed poster of SRK. (Shah Rukh Khan). Regular readers of my blog may already know about my love of Arjun Rampal.

10. What’s next for you?

Mina: More stories! Lol! I’m working on a sequel to Wildfire, a trilogy set in my djinn world, and a secret project. And, of course, several different food stories for my day job!

Other Books By Mina

A Tale of Two Djinns: is a sexy Romeo & Juliet story with genies, feminists and a happy ending. Warning: Assassins and worms tend to pop up at inopportune times!
Also, 50 percent of the proceeds from this story are donated to UNICEF.

“Because of its thematic complexity, its strong and magnetic characters, and its vivid setting, A Tale of Two Djinns is easily a keeper. I’m a fan of the author and the series now, and I truly can’t wait for the next foray into this world!” ~Book Lovers Inc.

The Djinn’s Dilemma: A djinn assassin falls for his human target. He has to figure out how to keep her alive and win her heart.

“The Djinn’s Dilemma is a romantic story about being accepted for who you are. It’s a unique novella that paranormal romance readers will want to check out! It’s a GraveTells Recommended Read!” ~ GraveTells

Dead: A Ghost Story: A multicultural ghost story in which Nasreen – the Indian American protagonist – grapples with her life and death in West Texas.

You can check out all my stories on: http://goo.gl/uJWccx

Giveaway!

Mina Will give away a digital copy of any of her books to one lucky commenter. The rules are below!

The Rules

No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. Must be 18 to enter. To enter leave a comment with at least one of your three selfish wishes by 11:59:59 PM Pacific, Saturday, July 5th, 2014. If the winner does not reply to the notification email within 10 days, an alternate winner will be chosen. The winner will be chosen at random from among the qualified comments.

How to Enter

What would at least 1 of your 3 selfish wishes be? Refer to interview question 7, for the details. All three is fine, but bonus points for that will have no effect on your chances of winning.

Go!

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Interview and Giveaway with Author Sam Wilde

Thursday, March 7th, 2013

Today, author Sam Wilde visits my blog and I grill her mercilessly until she agrees to tell us about her book and answer a few questions.

Why Sam Wilde is Awesome

Photo of sam Wilde

Photo of Sam Wilde

Samantha Wilde is the author of I’ll Take What She Has and This Little Mommy Stayed Home (both from Bantam Books). The at-home mother of three young children, she moonlights as a minister and a yoga teacher. She’s the graduate of Smith College and Yale Divinity School and lives in Western Massachusetts.

Find her on the web:
samanthawilde.com
Facebook
Twitter: @whatshehas
Wilde Mama Blog

 

 

About I’ll Take What She Has

Cover of I'll Take What She Has

Cover of I’ll Take What She Has

Best friends since kindergarten, Nora, a reserved English teacher, and Annie, an out-spoken stay-at-home mother, wrestle with the green-eyed monster when the new history department hire at the suburban Boston prep school where they teach, Cynthia Cypress, arrives on campus. A missing grandmother, depressed sex therapist, and a financial crises add to the comedy in a novel about imperfect friendships, mixed up families, messy motherhood, and the quest for the greenest grass.

Carolyn: Every time I see that cover I smile. That baby looks so happy!

Praise for I’ll Take What She Has

Publisher’s Weekly: “With wit, compassion, and a keen ear for dialogue Wilde explores issues of insecurity, envy, young motherhood, and friendship in this fast-paced work.”

RT Top Pick! “Wilde speaks the language of women and communicates what lies in their hearts…a gem of a read.”

Read the first chapter at the Random House website.

Where to Buy I’ll Take What She Has

Sam Answers A Few Questions

What made you want to write this story?

I came up with the title and synopsis on the phone with my mother, novelist Nancy Thayer, during a brainstorming session just as I was getting my book contract. The initial idea, to write about envy and newlyweds, came from her, the title and plot from me. As soon as I sat to write the book, the three main characters, Nora, Annie and Cynthia appeared. And though they are all, in a sense, newlyweds, I really ended up writing about motherhood and friendship. Being led by your characters into a story is one of the pure joys of writing.

Every parent is busy, especially when their children are young. Can you talk about how you balance family and your writing day?

I wrote my first novel during my first son’s nap times. He slept one hour in the morning and one hour in the afternoon. Through two more children I have, essentially, stuck with that same schedule. Now I work while my older son is at school, my toddler is napping, and my preschooler has quiet time (usually listening to books on tape). That gives me less than an hour most days—which is hardly enough time to look at emails. I work after bed-times as well, though not every night. Some years I have had a babysitter for roughly three hours a week, some years I haven’t. I love being a mother and for right now, as an at-home mother, I stay close to that identity and vocational calling. Working into the corners, edges, and crumbs of time in my day has made me a more efficient writer, a more patient person, and much less attached to my writing career. Writing an awesome scene and hearing someone call out, “Can you wipe my bum?” really puts everything into perspective.

Writing a funny book is hard. Do you think some writers are just naturally funny or is it something that can be learned? Any tips for those of us who are humor impaired in their writing?

I wholeheartedly agree. It’s hard to be funny! And, of course, when you’re funny, no one takes you seriously! I have the hardest time writing humor when I feel down myself. But I love to achieve funny. In the margins of the manuscript of I’ll Take What She Has, I often wrote, “Funny enough?” The best way I know how to get more funny juice (besides drinking it) is reading funny writers, watching funny films, and listening to funny comedians. Good humor always comes off as effortless, kind of like watching a ballerina float across the stage. Well, I studied ballet seriously for years and my toes bled! The word grueling comes to mind. When you know the hard work and effort required, it doesn’t feel so unnatural to have to work a little at it. But can anyone be funny? No. But a writer doesn’t need to be funny. A writer only needs to find her own authentic voice. Mine somehow came out funny.

One day, you’re walking along thinking about your next yoga glass. Suddenly, a time portal opens up right in front of you. Assume the following things are true:

 

  1. you can go anywhere in time you want;
  2. You will return to your family unscathed and not even late for anything;
  3. You can bring something back with you without causing a rupture in the space-time continuum that will destroy us all.
  4. You can’t go back in time to prevent some massive evil because that answer, while probably true, is not not where I’m going with this.

Answer the following:  What time period do you choose and why and what object do you bring back and why?

photograph of Sam Wilde's Great Grandmother

Great Grandmother

That’s an awesome question! I don’t think anyone has ever asked me that. It also makes me want to brush up on my history. It’s been so long since I thought clearly; the deficits of mama-brain could potentially lead me to say something like: “I would go to the time of the Egyptians and return with a printing press.” Can I come back with a person? I would probably head out to the turn of the last century, the year 1900, because that’s the time period I studied while an English major at Smith. The changes, excitement and innovation of that time, the cusp of modernity fascinate me. Also, the clothes. Oh, such beautiful clothes. I really do live in the wrong time for fashion. I am the only person I know who doesn’t own a pair of jeans. I would return with (can I have more than one?) hats! Hats and more hats! All those gorgeous, fanciful, elegant, expressive hats. I can’t wait for hats to come back into fashion somewhere other than in my children’s playroom where they always boss me around saying, “Mama, that’s my dress up box.”

What do you hope readers will like best about reading your book?

I hope they will laugh! I hope they will laugh out loud. That’s always my favorite compliment: I never laugh out loud at books and I did when I read yours. In the end, for me, that big laughter is about recognition, a truth being seen, so in laugher, I think so much happens: levity, joy, relief, touch of freedom and healing and a sense that you are not alone.

Any surprises while you were working on the book? Characters who did unexpected things? Did anything make you laugh out loud/cackle evilly while you were writing? If so, what was it?

I rewrote that book so many times over so many years for so many editors that when it finally came time to write a brief description of the book for my publicist, I really didn’t know what the things was about! What surprised me was the adaptability of my characters. The two main ones, Annie and Nora, survived so many editorial changes and remained, at heart, nearly the same. I feel close to them and proud of them. I cheer for them now that the book is out in the world, almost as if I had nothing to do with their story. But then writers are allowed to be weird like that, aren’t they, thinking about their characters as if they were real?

What’s next for you?

In my house, we really take it one day at a time! My husband has such a hard time with planning ahead that he often leaves arranging airline tickets for major business travel to the last minute! This can make some things in life hard, on the other hand, it’s a blessing to find anything encouraging you to stay more in the present moment. I have a third novel that I love nearly done. How happy I would be to have it out there! In the meantime, someone has to clean my house (much neglected with all the publicity I’ve been doing), potty train my toddler, enroll my daughter in gymnastics, teach my son the proper way to print a letter “d” and eat the cake in my refrigerator. I volunteer!

Giveaway!

I’m giving a $20.00 iTunes gift card to one winner. Read the rules!

Rules: Must be 18 to enter. Void where prohibited. No purchase necessary. You must be able to receive the gift card via email. My relatives are not eligible to enter.

Contest closes at 11:59:59 PM PST Saturday March 09, 2013.

To enter, complete the following sentence: This morning, I tossed ……………

Go!

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Interview with Author Megan Caldwell with Contest AND Shoe-Off Poll

Friday, January 11th, 2013

Yay!!! My good friend Megan is visiting here today to answer questions, talk about her new book, and submit to a Shoe-Off. (Dun dun dun!!!) There’s a poll AND a contest.

Hello Megan!

About Megan Caldwell

Photo of Megan Caldwell. Pale skin, very dark hair. Black eyeglass frames and a black shirt.Megan Caldwell grew up in a remote town in New Hampshire where she devoured every book of fiction in her well-read parents’ library. An English literature major at Barnard College with double minors in political science and religion, Megan wrote and edited reviews for a music industry magazine for fifteen years. Eventually, she became editor-in-chief and went on to develop conference programs for the industry. Now she is the community manager for Heroes and Heartbreakers, a romance novel website, where she blogs daily as Megan Frampton about the fiction she reads. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and son.

www.meganframpton.com
Twitter: @meganf
Facebook: megancaldwellbkny

About Vanity Fare

Cover of Vanity Fare by megan Caldwell. Plate of Cookies sitting on a stacka of books.Molly Hagan is overwhelmed.

Her husband left her for a younger, blonder woman; her six-year-old son is questioning her authority, and now so is she. In order to pay her Brooklyn rent and keep her son supplied with Pokémon and Legos, not to mention food and clothing, she has to get a job—fast.

So when an old friend offers Molly a freelance position copywriting for a new bakery, finding romance is just about the last thing on her mind. But the sexy British pastry chef who’s heading up the bakery has other thoughts. And then so does Molly, when she meets the chef’s intimidating business partner—who also happens to have a secret that might prevent Molly from getting her own happily ever after.

What they’re Saying

First – this book was hilarious! I was texting my daughter parts and she would “LOL” back. Then I had to just call her and read her a whole page because it was too long to text. There were parts where I was laughing so hard I had tears running down my face. This book was very quirky, quippy, snarky, and sarcastic and I loved it for it! A book after my own heart! Wall-to-wall-books

Molly’s journey towards financial and emotional independence is a wonderfully witty, charming, and yummy tale that is sure to appeal to readers and foodies alike. Caldwell’s debut is a winner across the board and a perfect addition for everyone’s romance shelf. Tori Benson, via Goodreads

Grade: A-
Reading this book is like sitting down with a friend and talking about her life. Molly is complete and well-drawn, with intelligence, flaws, fantasies, a snarky voice, and a great sense of humor. She’s the kind of woman you know—or maybe wish you knew. You sort of want to punch her ex-husband, and you definitely want to hug her kid…even if you don’t generally like kids in books. Laura C: The Good, The Bad, and The Unread

Read an Excerpt

Read an Excerpt at Heroes & Heartbreakers

Where to Get Vanity Fare

HarperCollins

Interview

Q: When you were working on this book, did you ever get hungry? Also, I have heard that you are making some of the items from the bakery in the book. Spill.

A: I am usually hungry, so yes, I did get hungry in the course of writing the book. I love food, I love all kinds of food except for lima beans. I did try to make one of the recipes along with my much more organized friend and author Liz Maverick; our results are here: Do Readers Actually Make Recipes in Novels, Romance at Random

I don’t think I’m going to attempt any more, not at this time. I kind of suck as a cook; I can follow recipes,  and I like eating, of course, but I am not good beyond that.

Q:. Your family has a pet. Can you tell us about the kitty? Does she help you write? Do you have a picture? My cat Abu was stuck in a tree for three days. Do you worry your cat will be stuck in a tree?

A: We got Kiki over the summer as a kitten (a rescue), and MAN do I love this kitty. She’s all black with green eyes, and she’s quite wee, just under five pounds. I was brought up to believe I had OMGDEATHLYHOSPITAL allergies, so this is the first pet I have ever had and been allowed to keep (my mom fed my pet gerbils to a boa constrictor. Thanks, Mom!). Kiki is a strictly indoors cat, so she won’t get stuck in any trees, although she has a tendency to want to sneak under our bed, because she’s not allowed in our bedroom, so of course it makes it the most appealing room EVER. I can’t imagine having a cat stuck in a tree for three whole days! Yikes!

Q:. OK, I didn’t know this was a thing, but apparently it is. Three people, which one do you marry, which one do you kill, and which one do you have mad intimate relations with. I am going to make this really hard for you:

1. Richard Armitage
2. Gerard Butler
3. Clive Owen

A: This is a snap, because Gerard Butler is totally not my steez. I would fuck Richard Armitage until the cows come home (stay out late, cows, okay?), I would marry Clive Owen, and I would kill Gerard Butler because, dude, your film choices and your hair have both been sliding downhill for awhile now.

Q. Answer this in 3 seconds: Cupcakes or Tarts? Why (you can take longer than 3 seconds to answer to why part)

A: Tarts! I agree with my son when he announced cakes are just bread with frosting, and since cupcakes are smaller than that, I would have to go for a tart. Tarts have buttery, flaky dough, and cupcakes are cute to look at, and all, but not for eating. So tarts. Plus the word—TART. Love it.

Q: You have actual style. Do you have any advice for those of us who don’t? How can we fake it?

A: Wear only a few colors (make sure they go together, so no tangerine and asparagus). I wear a TON of black (yes, I live in NYC, it’s a requirement). Everything matches, and you always look put together.

Q: This book has a journey. Please tell us about that.

A: A journey as in it went somewhere? It went all over the place—I wrote it just for ME, even though I didn’t think of myself as a contemporary author, much less someone who would write something that could be called ‘women’s fiction.’ Because, ugh, women’s fiction sounds so pigeonhole-y and dismissive. But anyway. I started writing it, and it was a blast, and I felt like I had to finish it, and I went and queried agents, and nobody wanted to represent it, not even the agent who said she read it and laughed out loud, because she couldn’t think where to sell it. But then I was at a conference with an author friend who was getting into agenting, and I got drunk with her and we talked about books, and I sent her a copy of my first—and heretofore only—published book, A Singular Lady, prior to her taking a long plane ride to South Africa. I asked if she wanted to see a proposal of Mothering Heights (which was what Vanity Fare was first called), and she said yes, and she asked for the whole thing, and she said she wanted to represent it. We agreed to work together, she sent it out a lot of places, where it got rejected, and then it got TWO offers, both from excellent publishers. I went with William Morrow.

Q: What the hell is it with boots in NY? Seriously. Here in my part of California the people who wear boots are cowboys, someone stopping at the coffee place on their way home from riding their horse, and people from NY.

A: Boots are so practical! You can wear them through bad weather, and puddles, and snow, and with and without tights, and under jeans, and with dresses, and they’re kick-ass. And—guess what I’m wearing RIGHT NOW?

Q. What’s next for you?

A:
I’m writing a Regency-set historical called What Not to Bare, which is a far cry from Vanity Fare, except that once again there’s a hot British guy in it. I can only write my characters if I have a real person in mind for them, and for this book, the hero looks a LOT like British male model David Gandy.

The Shoe off Poll

photo of a black, low heeled boot. Megan is wearing it.

Megan’s Boot

And….

Carolyn's light purple canvas slip on shoe.

Carolyn’s Shoe

Who has the better footwear? Megan Caldwell or Carolyn Jewel? Don’t worry, I will NOT release the Hounds Of Hell no matter who you vote for.

And the winner of the shoe-off is....

View Results

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Contest

All right, people, a $20 Amazon gift certificate goes to one random commenter who asks Megan a question. Bonus Karma points for telling us what shoes you’re wearing.

Rules: Must be 18 or over to enter. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. International is OK IF AND ONLY IF it’s not void or illegal where you live and Amazon will let me send you the gift certificate. Contest closes midnight PST January 15, 2013.

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Interview with Debut Author Hanna Martine – Plus Giveaway!

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

Welcome Hanna Martine!

Photo of Author Hanna Martine wearing a black sweaterThank you for coming to my blog to tell us about your book and answer some questions! I LOVE that cover. LOVE IT. And it sounds really interesting. I’m looking forward to reading it.

Hannah will be doing a giveaway, of three (3!) books, so don’t forget to check out the contest and rules and then enter for your chance to win. Also, Hanna, I forgot to mention that I have a niece with one of your names. Did you know you spell your name wrong? She wants to have purple hair. I notice your hair is not purple. Huh. Fashion hints are free here, by the way.

About Hanna

Hanna Martine’s only goal growing up was to become a writer, specifically a fantasy writer. That dream stuck until she realized that most speculative fiction novels faded to black during the best parts or skipped over love stories altogether. When she discovered paranormal romance and urban fantasy, she found the genre of her heart. After the arrival of her daughter, she couldn’t think of a better lesson to teach the little one than: Have a dream. Go after it. Be fulfilled. So she set aside all thoughts of returning to the business world and focused on writing and learning about the industry. She finished two novels before coming up with the idea for the world of The Elementals. She joined the Romance Writers of America (RWA), placed in numerous contests, and found an agent and editor who believed in her unique stories. She loves writing about secret worlds, magic, and the intense emotional and physical relationships that exist within them.

About the book

Magic is Corporate America’s best-kept secret

Gwen possesses the unique ability to pick up any language in an instant—a power that will globally expand the profitable family business. As dutiful future leader of her race of water elementals, she’ll do anything to protect her people’s secrets and bloodlines—including enter an arranged marriage. Inside, however, she yearns for forbidden human men.

Reed is a mercenary addicted to the money and adrenaline rush of his work. After he inadvertently saves Gwen’s life, he ignites her taboo desire for men without magic—and with bodies of gods. Just as things heat up, Reed discovers that Gwen is exactly who he’s been hired to kidnap. He resolves to put work before lust, yet her luscious beauty and fiery spirit unravel him…

But there is a terrible truth behind Gwen’s family business—and now, caught between the kinsmen she no longer trusts and an enemy bent on vengeance, the only ally she has is her abductor…

Buy the Book


Read an Exceprt

The Interview!


1. So. “Elementals” What that heck are those? Is there anyone named Watson in the book? Does anyone say “It’s elemental, my dear Watson?” (If you want to use that phrase in your next book, feel free! You’re welcome.)

Ruin my hook for book 2, why don’t you!

The series circles around different races who control the “classic” elements– earth, air, fire, water–and who live outside human awareness in modern-day America. Liquid Lies focuses on the Ofarians, the water elementals.

2. What kind of sick, twisted mind thinks up people selling magic to corporate America? Or did you not make that up? To your knowledge, is that actually happening? Because I think this would explain some irregularities in my power bill. Is this an idea that came to you all at once in the shower or did it develop slowly over time? Or did you just take really good notes from your whistleblower friend?

It totally could happen, couldn’t it? The sick, twisted mind who thought this up survived ten years working with corporate types. When I was writing this book, I knew I wanted to use elemental magic, but I needed a new twist. With phrases like “mission statements,” “break-even,” and “synergy” stamped in my mind, I went with the corporate angle. The story also came about during all that Bernie Madoff craziness, which got me thinking about greed and power, and how it shapes a person (or group of people) over time.

3. I love “the call” stories. Will you tell us about selling your debut novel?

It happened so incredibly fast, I barely remember the details. In my head, three furious, nausea-inducing days have melded into a blur. I signed with my agent (whom I met through an auction when I bid on and won a lunch with her), and she somehow managed to get me a two-book deal barely two days later, right in the middle of BEA 2011. I may have hyperventilated when she called to tell me the news, I don’t recall. And I’m sure my timeline is off as I describe it here; I was a basket case for days. I do remember a really fine bottle of champagne being opened, however.

4. If you were in charge of casting the movie of your book, who do you call in for a screen test?

If Jason Statham could magically grow five inches and put on forty pounds of muscle and lose the accent, he could be Reed. Though she’s a little young, Blake Lively might work for Gwen. She did gritty and angry really well in The Town.

Another tidbit about Gwen: when I first saw the cover of Liquid Lies, I started crying because the model is exactly how I pictured her. I was choking and sobbing because she (and the whole cover, really) was so perfect. My husband jumped off the couch and rushed to me in worry, asking me who’d died. True story.

5. Got any cute pet pictures?

Why, of course. Mackenzie the Bernese Mountain Dog wishes you a Happy Thanksgiving!

Dude. Awesome Hat.

6. Drop some hints about book two.

One, it’s allllll about sex, by nature of the hero and his tragic past. Two, it has my most favorite (and by that I mean the most twisted) character I’ve ever written (who also gave me the most trouble). And three, you will never look at city buses in the same way again.

7. Do you listen to music when you write? What kind? Now look to your left and tell us what you see
.

I’m one of those people who can’t write to music, but I love writing in a super noisy bar or coffee house. One voice is distracting; lots all at once are the best white noise ever. If I do have to drown out the world, I listen to wordless electronica: Explosions in the Sky, Boards of Canada, that kind of thing.

Looking to my left … over the giant, furry dog hangs a board made of wine corks I pieced together myself. I used to remember for what occasion I drank all those bottles, but hell if I know now. Tacked on it are magazine photos of things I will never buy, a timeline for book 2, my first business card, and drawings from my kid that say “For Mom” in that wonderful, shaky writing.

8. What’s next for you?

Book 2, A Taste of Ice, is currently snuggling with my editor and awaiting release on December 31, 2012. Also fighting for the sheets is a novella in the Elementals world, to be included in a Berkley Sensation anthology, Unbound, with Angela Knight, Jennifer Ashley and Jean Johnson. I’m working on a hot bonus scene between Gwen and Reed to be released to my newsletter subscribers, and another extra (hopefully) to be released around the time of A Taste of Ice. Between those, more book proposals!

Contest

Hanna: To one winner I’m giving away three great books, all releasing July 3: my own LIQUID LIES, Roni Loren’s MELT INTO YOU (format of your choice), and Britt Bury’s THE DARKEST DAY (ebook only). Good luck and happy reading! I hope you discover a new author to love.

Rules

Void where prohibited. Must be 18 or older to enter. US residents only. No purchase necessary. Winner will be chosen via Random.org on or about Saturday July 7, 2012. You must comment by Midnight Pacific Friday July 6, 2012.

To Enter

To enter leave a comment in which you caption the photograph of Mackenzie the Bernese Mountain Dog. As you can see, I have myself added a caption. Go.

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Carolyn is Odd Today

Thursday, January 6th, 2011

Hey, I’m over at Odd Shots being interviewed by Meljean Brook. Some things I talk about: demons. pies and body parts. But also giving away books. Go check it out!

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Interview, Signed Books and a Poll

Monday, September 20th, 2010

Over at author Tina Folsom’s blog, I’m talking about writing and giving away signed copies of My Wicked Enemy and My Forbidden Desire to a commenter. So head on over and comment!

And, It’s time for a poll, I decided. Here it is:

Food You Have Eaten (Including Chocolate Covered)

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Interview with Author Caitlin Crews Plus Contest

Sunday, March 7th, 2010

Today I’m hosting author Caitlin Crews. W00t!! I have been dipping my toes into the world of category romance, so I’ll really excited to have her here today. There’s a contest folks! One lucky commenter will win a copy of the book. Read on to find out how to enter.

Pure Princess, Bartered Bride

Pure Princess, Bartered Bride is the first Harlequin Presents by Caitlin Crews–which debuted on the USA Today Bestseller List!

About the book

Bartered, betrothed and bedded!
As quiet and dangerous as a jungle cat, achieving the impossible is one of Luc Garnier’s defining characteristics.
Cover of Pure Princess, Bartered Bride

Princess Gabrielle is invaluable – a pearl beyond price. Yet Luc has defied the odds, and a contract for marriage is drawn up. This will be a union on paper first, and of flesh later. . .
Except Gabrielle is just the same in private as in public – well-bred, well-behaved, and a credit to her country. Luc is determined to find the wanton within and leave his pure princess in total disarray!

Praise for Pure Princess, Bartered Bride

“Debut novelist Caitlin Crews has penned a winner with her first novel for Harlequin Presents: Pure Princess, Bartered Bride! Sexy, intensely emotional and wholly absorbing, this beguiling marriage of convenience story features a deliciously Alpha hero and an smart and independent heroine readers cannot help but admire.” –CataRomance

“I will definitely buy any book that she writes.”–Adventures of a Gotham Gal

5 of 5 Stars: “This book has the right ingredients for a very good, entertaining Harlequin Presents.” –Danielle’s Book Thoughts

“Caitlin Crews has written a brilliant royal romance, a roller coaster romance with extremely intense emotions oozing from both Luc and Gabrielle.”–Marilyn’s Romance Reviews

About Caitlin:

Photo of author Caitlin CrewsUSA Today bestselling author Caitlin Crews discovered her first romance novel at the age of twelve, in a bargain bin at the local five and dime. It involved swashbuckling pirates, grand adventures, a heroine with rustling skirts and a mind of her own, and a seriously mouthwatering and masterful hero. The book (the title of which remains lost in the mists of time) made a serious impression. Caitlin was immediately smitten with romances and romance heroes, to the detriment of her middle school social life. And so began her life-long affair with romance novels, many of which she insists on keeping near her at all times, thus creating a fire hazard of love wherever she lives.

She currently lives in California with her animator/comic book artist husband and their menagerie of ridiculous animals.

Caitlin Crews is the alter-ego of critically acclaimed author Megan Crane. You can find Caitlin at her website: http://www.caitlincrews.com

On Facebook, on Twitter and at her journal

You can buy the book at Amazon and read an excerpt

The Interview

1. Tell me a little bit about the book Bartered, Betrothed and Bedded!

As quiet and dangerous as a jungle cat, achieving the impossible is one of Luc Garnier’s defining characteristics.

Princess Gabrielle is invaluable — a pearl beyond price. Yet Luc has defied the odds, and a contract for marriage is drawn up. This will be a union on paper first, and of flesh later. . .

Except Gabrielle is just the same in private as in public — well-bred, well-behaved, and a credit to her country. Luc is determined to find the wanton within and leave his pure princess in total disarray!


2. If your protagonist were to wake up one day with a super power, what would that super power be? Alternatively (or both!) if your protagonist were to wake up one day with an intense craving for something, what would the craving be?

I think my heroine’s craving is for freedom. She thinks her marriage to Luc means the end of that dream, but really, it’s the first step towards a different, stronger kind of freedom.


3. Would your villain (or antagonist) prefer to be Emperor Ming The Merciless or Darth Vader? Why?

The villain is a paparazzo. I honestly can’t imagine anything nastier or more vile than that.


4. What do you consider the heart of your story? That is, what is the issue or emotion that propels things forward? Spill your guts on this one.

The heart of the book is the question of whether or not love–which feels so irrational and impossible–can be trusted, especially when it leads us to unexpected places. And it’s also about how terribly afraid we all are of being wrong about that.

5. If you were in charge of casting the movie adaptation of your book, who gets the call?

Oh… I don’t think there’s anyone hot enough to play Luc. He’s too elemental. However, I once described a Presents novel as what happens when an ordinary girl starts dating King Leonidas from the movie 300. I certainly found Gerard Butler in that role inspirational while I was writing this book. As for Princess Gabrielle, maybe a latter day Grace Kelly. She is pretty much perfect.

6. Is there a scene you cut from the book that you kind of wish you could put back in?

I edit as I go, so there are very rarely whole cut scenes. Just iterations of the same scene.


7. Do you have a sample chapter posted?

I believe you can read through the book on eHarlequin

8. Tell us why your editor is the best editor ever in the universe.

Because she is magical AND a superhero! Seriously. Her edits make everything I write so, so much better. And she once received a manuscript I’d submitted in the morning and returned it, with edits, in under 24 hours. How is that even possible? And her edits were fantastic and right on, as always.

The Contest

To win a copy of this awesome story, leave a comment in which you talk about what you would do if you found yourself dating King Leonidas.

If you don’t leave me a way to contact you, then commit to checking back here on the ides of March (that would be March 15) or so, to see if you’re the winner. Void where prohibited etc.

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Interview with Judi Fennel — Plus a Contest!

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

Today I’m author Judi Fennel visits my blog to talk about her new release. It’s got mermaids. Is that awesome or what? Please note, Judi has a great contest going so check it out at the end of this post!

About The Author

Judi Fennell has had her nose in a book and her head in some celestial realm all her life, including those early years when her mom would exhort her to "get outside!" instead of watching Bewitched or I Dream of Jeannie on television. So she did–right into Dad’s hammock with her Nancy Drew books.

These days she’s more likely to have her nose in her laptop and her head (and the rest of her body) at her favorite bookstore, but she’s still reading, whether it be her latest manuscript or friends’ books.

A three-time finalist in online contests, Judi has enjoyed the reader feedback she’s received and would love to hear what you think about her Mer series. Check out her website at www.JudiFennell.com for excerpts, reviews and fun pictures from reader and writer conferences, and the chance to "dive in" to her stories.

About the Book

She’s on a mission to save the planet. . .

Mermaid Angel Tritone has been researching humans from afar, hoping to find a way to convince them to stop polluting. When she jumps into a boat to escape a shark attack, it’s her chance to pursue her mission, but she has to keep her identity a total secret. . .

When he finds out what she really is, they’re both in mortal danger. . .

For Logan Hardington, finding a beautiful woman on his boat is surely not a problem– until he discovers she’s a mermaid, and suddenly his life is on the line. . .

What people are saying

Fennell’s got detailed worldbuilding, creative secondary characters and an impressive use of mythology in this great read. While this title is part of a series, it works well as a stand-alone. Angel and Logan are both incredibly textured characters.
RT BookReview Magazine 4 Stars

Judi Fennell has extraordinary imagination and has certainly used it in creating this exciting and colorful story. Her characters are wonderful.
Fresh Fiction

The best blend of both worlds. I… love each and every character in Catch of A Lifetime (and) found (it) well worth diving into.
Long And Short Reviews 4.5 Books

4 Stars!
Affair de Coeur Magazine

Catch of a Lifetime is a heart warming tale. Ms. Fennell Ms. Fennell has created a delightful world that, I have enjoyed escaping to. It is both dangerous and fun.
Anna’s Book Blog

The Interview

1. If your protagonist were to wake up one day with a super power, what would that super power be?
Angel actually wouldn’t care whether she had one or not. She can change her tail to legs and back again, so she’s pretty happy. Maybe if she could extend that change from two days to six months, that might do it. But she’s a scientist; she prefers facts and evidence to magic.

2. If your protagonist were to wake up one day with an intense craving for something, what would the craving be?
Ice cream. Peppermint. Frozen iceberg chips just don’t have the same flavor.

3. Would your villain (or antagonist) prefer to be Emperor Ming The Merciless or Darth Vader? Why?
Darth – Ming ruled a planet. Darth has a bigger focus; he wants every universe out there. Ceto has a bone to pick with The Gods and she wouldn’t mind having more power than them. As for the sharks, they’d just be happy to have a say in what happens on The Council. Actually, that’s not true. I could see A.C. using that as a stepping stone to the throne. Maybe even Poseidon’s trident.

4. What do you consider the heart of your story? That is, what is the issue or emotion that propels things forward? Spill your guts on this one.
Angel wanting to be someone. I hadn’t seen that coming when I wrote her story. All of a sudden, she’s thinking about how much she wants to be so much more than "Just Angel." I hadn’t realized. I love when things like that happen when I’m writing a story. All along, she’s known why she’s pushing so hard for the job she’s after, but I hadn’t realized why until that moment. It makes writing magical.


5. If you were in charge of casting the movie adaptation of your book, who gets the call?

I always love this question because while I can pick actors/actresses for my characters, I have a hard time seeing them as the characters because the characters are such vivid personalities in their own right. But, by all means, let Hollywood come calling! For Angel, I see Jessica Alba, and for Logan, Hugh Jackman. I have yet to see a Michael anywhere, though. And I’d pull Susan Sarandon in for Ceto, and either Pacino or DeNiro for A.C. Hell, this is a "what if" so let’s get both. There are enough thug hammerheads to go around Hollywood mafiosos. Ray Liotta, too.

6. Is there a scene you cut from the book that you kind of wish you could put back in?
The first five chapters. :) Yep, I wrote five chapters before the opening of the book. They showed Angel escaping Hammerhead Harry, and what happens when she shows up on the boat and Michael sees her. But I think the book is stronger written the way it was published. Those five chapters, however, make good "freebies" on my website and will go up over the next few weeks.

7. Do you have a sample chapter posted?
I have an excerpt on my website.

8. Tell us why your editor is the best editor ever in the universe.
Because she loves my stories enough to buy them! And my next series, too. And hopefully more after that. Seriously, though, Deb Werksman is amazing. She knows just how to get to the heart of the story and build it outward from there. She can see things that need clarification and convey them wonderfully. Not that I like having to do those kinds of revisions, but all of my books are stronger because of the role she plays.

Contest

To celebrate the release of each of her books, Judi Fennell and the Atlantis Inn and the Hibiscus House bed and breakfasts are raffling off three romantic beach getaway weekends. All information is on Judi’s website, www.JudiFennell.com.

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Interview with Melissa Senate

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

Today, author Melissa Senate stops by to tell us about her new book and answer a few questions. Check it out!

About Melissa Senate

Photo of Author Melissa SenateMelissa Senate lives on the coast of Maine with her son and their menagerie of pets. She’s the author of eight novels (seven women’s fiction and one young adult) with two on the way. Visit her website melissasenate.com for more information and she’d love if you became her friend Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/MelissaSenate) and followed her on Twitter (http://twitter.com/melissasenate).

About the Book

The Secret of Joy by Melissa Senate
(Pub Date: 11/17, Simon & Schuster’s Downtown Press imprint, $15.00 trade paperback)

Cover of The Secret of Joy by Melissa Senate
Introducing THE SECRET OF JOY (Simon & Schuster trade paperback, $15.00) by Melissa Senate, the "warm, winning" new novel from the bestselling author of See Jane Date and Love You To Death.

Buy the Book from Amazon

The Secret of Joy is a Simon & Schuster Book Club Pick! For more information, check out the
Reading Group Guide:

Praise:

The Secret of Joy by Melissa Senate opened my heart, made me laugh, cry, and smile all at the same time. A don’t-miss read! — New York Times bestselling author Carly Phillips

The Secret of Joy is a warm hug of a book. Insightful, wise, and romantic, it’s as inviting as the small-town life it depicts. – Claire LaZebnik

A wonderfully heartfelt story about hope, possibilities and the yearning for real connections. Senate’s latest will take you on a much needed vacation, while sneaking vital life lessons in when you’re not looking. –Caprice Crane

The Interview

1. Tell us about your latest release and the inspiration behind it.

A: 28-year-old New Yorker Rebecca Strand is shocked when her dying father confesses a devastating secret: he had affair when Rebecca was a toddler- and a baby he turned his back on at birth. Now, his wish is that the daughter he abandoned, Joy Joyhawk, read the unsent letters he wrote to her every year on her birthday. Determined to fulfill her father’s wish, Rebecca drives to a small town in Maine– against the advice of her lawyer boyfriend who’s sure Joy will be a "disappointing, trashy opportunist" and demand half her father’s fortune. But when hopeful Rebecca knocks on her half-sister’s door, Joy– a separated mother who conducts weekend singles tours out of her orange mini-bus– wants nothing to do with Rebecca or the letters her father wrote to her. Determined to forge some kind of relationship with Joy, Rebecca sticks around, finding unexpected support from Joy’s best clients– the Divorced Ladies Club of Wiscasset– and a sexy carpenter named Theo . . . .

The inspiration: Several years ago, I received an email out of the blue that said: I think you might be my half-sister. I was. Am. It took me a long time to decide to take that little (huge) nugget and write a novel to help me figure out the answer to some burning questions, such as: if you haven’t seen or heard from your biological father, or any member of his family, since you were little (or, in Joy’s case, never at all), is his child from another relationship really your sibling? Or just a stranger? Does the word father or sister or brother mean anything without back up? I had a ton of questions and set out to uncover how I felt through a fictional character, but it’s interesting to me that I flipped everything on its head in the writing of the story. Nothing but the basic questions that are proposed in the novel are autobiographical. Just the questions! And I surprised myself quite a few times during the writing of this story with how I felt about certain things. Amazing how writing fiction can teach you so much about yourself.

2. Who do you picture in your mind when you write?:

A: Sometimes I picture a lone woman reading my book on a bus or on her sofa or in a coffee shop, and I imagine what she’s responding to, relating to, thinking about as she reads. Would this scene make her smile? Would she relate? But most of the time, I picture my characters’ faces with their personalities etched into their features. I rarely base my characters physically on celebs (except for my first book—Jane from See Jane Date looked just like Ann Marie from "That Girl" (a young Marlo Thomas). She did not look like Charisma Carpenter, who perfectly played her in the TV movie, but now when I think of Jane, I think of Charisma only. Which makes me think of hot David Boreanaz, which is a good thing.

3. What was the inspiration for your hero? An actor, a picture you saw, some random guy in the coffee shop?:

A: I have long been drawn to guys with dark eyes and dark hair, starting with my very first serious crush in 7th grade. But Theo, Rebecca’s love interest, has sandy-blond hair and pale brown eyes because that’s just the way he came out of the keyboard– he sort of created himself. I never base the guys on anyone. They’re always inspired by the guy I wish I were dating. (Yes, I’m single!) Right now, as a single mother, I’d love a guy who, like hot, wise Theo, works with his hands and made things, like porch swings and tree houses for my son. A guy who’s smart and honest and romantic and always seems to say the right thing at the right time. Oh and hot, too.

4. Writing a letter can be daunting. How do you even begin the process of writing a novel? Does it start with a title? A character? A plot? All or none of the above?

A: An idea flits into my heart, mind and soul (if I may be so dramatic!) and I just know. The idea, just a wispy thing, grips me and I think about it until the two major characters– my protagonist and the person or thing who "forces" her change—become clear. Then I write out a one page treatment, a bare bones synopsis, then think about that, then revise the storyline into a "pitch" I can share with my agent. If she green-lights it, I’ll then let myself dream it into a full blown synopsis, which is what I usually sell a novel on. The synopsis, in its major plot points, rarely changes, but how the characters get from page one to page 325 is another story.

5. What’s one piece of writing advice you’ve found valuable on your journey to publication?

A: Trust yourself. Your gut knows. You know.

6. Tell us why your editor is the best editor ever in the universe.

A: I’m crazy about my editor, Jennifer Heddle at Simon & Schuster/Pocket Books. I love working with her. She’s just so razor-sharp smart and aware and interested in the world and pop culture (which I’ve learned via being her friend on Facebook!). Her suggestions, starting with our first conversation before she even bought my book, were so intelligent and thoughtful. And she’s New York honest in a very kind way with her editorial letters and edits. I absolutely trust what she says. As I’ve gotten to know her, I’m even more touched that she bought my book. She’s a tough customer, I think. And that’s a good thing.

7. Any tried and true tricks for beating procrastination?

A Tried but not true: taking laptop to a library or coffee lounge without wi-fi. I can’t handle more than an hour or two without checking email or reading through Twitter or Facebook. Tried and true: a deadline, whether self-given or publisher-given.

8. Which ‘craft’ book has inspired or helped you the most throughout your writing career?

A: The most inspiring, to me, is Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. But I also love Stephen King’s On Writing; Carolyn See’s How To Make A Literary Life, and Elizabeth Berg’s Escaping Into The Open.

9. If your book were to be made into a movie, who could you see playing the lead role?:

A: For the main character, Rebecca, I see Rachel McAdams. She has such sweetness and hope in her eyes, and such a lovely face. For half-sister Joy, Kristin Bell, with all that "Veronica Mars" intensity. For delicious Theo, Rebecca’s love interest, the very attractive Aaron Eckhart. Love his face.

10. If you could only own and read 5 books for the rest of your life, (excluding your own) what five books would you choose?:

A: The Portable Dorothy Parker; the collected works of William Shakespeare; To Kill A Mockingbird; Anne of Green Gables; The Color Purple; and I can’t leave off this gem: Why I Like My Mommy by Max (my son’s latest work in first grade!)

11. Writers are usually big readers too. How do you make time for reading and what are you reading at the moment?

A: The moment my seven-year-old son closes those eyes for the night, I stretch out on my little sofa with a good book, hot chocolate (it’s getting cooold here in Maine) and my two black cats at my feet. I’m reading Elizabeth Berg’s Home Safe right now. I love how she manages to write so honestly and elegantly at the same time. She’s able to call someone a shit in the loveliest way. Next up: the seven or so books that came from Amazon, staring with Kristina Riggle’s Real Life & Liars. I love women’s fiction—all these interesting storylines and gorgeous covers.

12. What’s next for you?

A: Next up is my second novel for teens, The Mosts, which will be published by Random House in June 2010. Then, my next women’s fiction novel from Simon & Schuster, The Love Goddess’s Cooking School, about five people in an Italian cooking class, will be published November 2010. I’m staring down a 1/1 deadline (the worst deadline to have!) And I’m being poked at by a new idea . . . .

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