Q&A with Maisey Yates, author of THE LAST DI SIONE CLAIMS HIS PRIZE

What is your favorite part about writing about a royal scandal?

I think what like most about stories about the rich and powerful is how public interest shapes their behavior. And then how behind all of that, they have the same feelings and fears that we do. If a bit more lavish of an existence while having them. 

What was the first book that made you cry?

Probably Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. I remember staying up all night reading that book and having to go to work at 6 that morning, with no sleep and red rimmed eyes. 

How long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

I tend to dive right in. Sometimes there are things I need to know before I start, but I’m big on googling as needed so the info never takes over the romance. 

How do you select the names of your characters?

Sometimes I read name lists. Sometimes if I have sibling groups I look at certain types of names (Irish names for a recent group of brothers) and other times the names just appear and they’re RIGHT. 

If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?

My back up plan is to win The Voice. I’m practical in all ways. 

Do you believe in writer’s block?

No. I believe in days when I don’t want to work. And sometimes those days win. But sometimes I write through them even if it feels dry. What I feel isn’t necessarily the truth. 

Do you believe opposites attract?

I do. I think that little bit of mystery you can’t ever quite figure out in the other person keeps things exciting. And also you can kind of bolster each other’s weaknesses. 

What is your favorite thing about Valentine’s Day?

Going out to a fancy dinner! I love nice restaurants, particularly farm to table type places or restaurants with an emphasis on local foods. 

 

Q&A with Stella Bagwell, author of HER SWEETEST FORTUNE

How did you come up with the friendship/relationship love triangle as a plot?

Actually, the plot was suggested by the editors as a part of a special continuing series. As the author, it was my job to breathe life and personality into the characters and their story.

What is your favorite part about writing for Her Sweetest Fortune?

My favorite part of writing Her Sweetest Fortune was putting two friends together and watching their confusion and surprise as the attraction builds between them.

Any tips for readers hoping that a special someone was more than just a friend?

If that special someone goes out of his way to do something thoughtful for you, then he probably has more than friendship on his mind!

What was the first book that made you cry?

While I was still in high school my brother gave me a set of Ernest Hemingway books. When the hero of A FAREWELL TO ARMS lost the love of his life, I definitely cried. To this day I still can’t watch the movie or I’ll start sobbing.

How long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

That all depends on the setting of the book and the plot. If it’s a place or plot I’m familiar with then a week or two of research is plenty. When writing continuity the research always takes longer because you have to make sure characters, setting details and plot lines match those of the authors stories going before and after your own.

How do you select the names of your characters?

For me, choosing names for my characters is one of the most time consuming part of writing a book. I want the name to define my character’s personality and at the same time I have to be careful not to choose a name I’ve used in a prior book. If something doesn’t immediately pop into my head, I’ll reach for the telephone directory and search until I find a name that feels right.

If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?

I would probably be doing the job I held before I became a writer, which was a hairdresser. By the way, a treasure trove of stories goes through a beauty salon!

Do you believe in writer’s block?

I think a writer’s mind can go on a lazy streak or be distracted by outside influences. But I personally don’t believe in writer’s block.

What is your favorite thing about writing contemporary romance?

My favorite thing about writing contemporary romance is definitely the happy endings and the hope that the future will be filled with love.

Are you excited for Valentine’s Day?

I always look forward to Valentine’s Day. After being married for nearly forty-six years it still melts my heart to get flowers and romance from my husband!

Q&A with Carolyne Aarsen, author of COURTING THE COWBOY

How did you come up with the relationship between artist Ella and rancher Cord?

The first picture that came to me was a woman with three kids standing on the deck of her house, looking at her like they are supposed to help her out and she is reluctant to. Then a truck comes on the yard and here comes the father. This was how the book starts and this was the first idea that came to me. So then I had to figure out why the woman didn’t really want to help the kids. Why the father was so upset at her reaction. And because I knew I needed them to be forced together, I had to delve into that. I knew my heroine was an artist trying to find solitude so I came up with the idea that the kids, once they found out she was an artist, finagle her into helping them with an art project. The hero is trying to protect his children and knows that she is uncomfortable around them but also that they really want this to happen. 

What is your favorite part about writing Courting the Cowboy?

The interacation with the kids and Ella. I have two precocious granddaughters and a chubby loveable grandson and they became my models for Suzie and Ollie. Paul was a composite of my other grandson and a nephew’s son. It was fun bringing them to life.

How is it different to write about children than adults?

Kids say what they think and aren’t scared to ask the hard questions. They aren’t scared to satisfy their curiosity so that makes for some interesting and fun conversations. Plus they don’t overthink so what you see is what you get. Adults spend more time debating and questioning  and filtering what they say so it’s a different dynamic.

How did you pick a cabin in Alberta as the backdrop for the book?

I loved the idea of seclusion and the mountains and a ranch. It created a sense of coziness that appealed to me. I wanted my heroine to be apart from her usual support system so that she was a bit vulnerable when the kids came barging into her life.

What was the first book that made you cry?

he Outsiders. I remember sitting under one of those dome, homestyle hairdryers, my hair in curlers as the hot air blew over my head, reading the book and my tears drying on my hot cheeks as I read how Johnny died. Such delicious sadness.

How long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

I often say I’m always researching stories and books. I gather information and hoard it, store it away for when I can use it. So it’s difficult to say. I love ranching life and the lifestyle and my husband has his horses and cows so, like I said, I’m always trying to find ways to write what I know into my story. As for the other stuff, like the art references in this book, I have a niece who’s an artist and I’ve listened to her talk about shows and galleries so I drew from that as well. Then, whatever I don’t know I fill in as needed either by phoning or going on Google.

How do you select the names of your characters?

I actually have a master list of names of hero’s and heroine’s that I’ve used in the past and for future books so I don’t make the mistake I did previously of having two hero’s named Logan. I usually pick names that sound strong, masculine for my men and a bit softer for my women. And that’s about it. For secondary characters I rely on a little tool in Scrivener that gives ideas for names. I’ve used it often.

If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?

Take pictures and edit them. Make covers for books and learn how to properly use the gradient tool in Affinity. Sometimes I think I would like to work in a store with other real people instead of the fake people I spend so much time with. (though they become very real to me). But the truth is I really can’t imagine not being a writer. I’m always coming up with stories.

Do you believe in writer’s block?

Not really. I think it’s often resistance to do the hard work that keeps me from writing. For instance I’m supposed to be reworking a book right now that I’m struggling with so it’s much easier to fill this out than to work on it. But I will go back to it and keep plugging. I know, for me, when I shut the internet off, the distractions cease and I have no choice but to work. I can’t really say that I’ve had actual writer’s block. Resistance to do the hard work, yes, but not writer’s block.

Are you excited for Valentine’s Day? 

I know I’m supposed to say yes, but Valentines Day is often just another day here. If I’m in town I’ll buy some Lindor Chocolate for my husband and I and we’ll have them with tea as we have our devotions after supper. My dear husband is not a romantic so it’s often a non-event. I don’t doubt my husband’s love for me and I’ve learned, long ago, that birthdays, Christmas, Valentine’s Day should never be a test of that love.

Guest Post: Sue Duff, author of The Weir Chronicles

What Is The Weir Chronicles about? Short answer: A race of magical beings have a direct connection to the energies of Earth and have lived among humans for thousands of years. But lo-and-behold in present day they are dying out, condemning the planet to natural disasters with increasing intensity and frequency. In steps Ian Black, the last born to dwindling their race. He’s prophesized to inherit their combined powers, thus saving Earth, except he doesn’t inherit the necessary powers and the desperate Weir turn to modern science to perpetuate themselves—with less than optimal results. After all, it’s not wise to tinker with Mother Nature . . .

When I wrote the original draft to the series, Fade To Black, I had a difficult time placing it into a solid category. It was a modern-day fantasy, set on present day Earth with magical beings. But I also added scientific elements, a lot of them, in a way that screams science fiction. I carried this through, not just in the initial novel, but throughout the series. I’ve kept the magic of the Weir, and the miniscule amount that Ian’s able to develop, albeit less than what is needed, but I’ve also kept the science fiction elements, incorporating nannites, other dimensions, evil pharmaceutical experiments (because who doesn’t love to hate those guys), all the while combining paranormal, urban fantasy, mystery, suspense, and even unrequited love and romance.

It’s one hell-of-a-ride and fun to write, but not a simple thing to explain, and I equate it to pulling teeth to fit my series into that standard box called genre. I get it. Agents need to know how to market it to Publishers. Publishers need to know how to tell book sellers where to shelf it. But in this speed-changing world of books, melding genres, and publishing, there’s always that catch-all genre and where I most often find my books on shelves. YA. It was never intended to be a YA book series, but to my surprise, I have twelve year old girls and fourteen year old boys who are some of my biggest fans. Of course, I also hear from the octogenarians who rave about my series being a bright light on what they feel has been a cookie-cutter, all-too familiar trope called fantasy or science fiction.

I’ll let you be the judge for yourself. Connect and let me know what your preferred genre self you see The Weir Chronicles fitting into. Or better yet, make up your own and post it on my website at www.sueduff.com. I can’t wait to see what you come up with!

About the Author

Sue Duff has dreamed of dragons and spaceships before she could even read, so it’s only natural that she now combines both fantasy and science fiction as her favorite genre. Having written since high school, Duff never took it seriously until a skiing accident laid her up for an entire summer and she turned on the word processor to combat the boredom. A couple years later, her first urban fantasy novel, Fade to Black, was one of five finalists in the RMFW Colorado Gold Writing Contest and in 2015, Duff’s writing earned her the PEN Award.

She is the second oldest of six girls with an avid reader mom and her dad, the family’s single drop of testosterone in a sea of estrogen.

By day, Duff is a dedicated speech-language therapist at an inner city school district, a career she pursued much in part to her aunt who got her hooked on stories of the profession when Duff was younger. She is passionate about the work she does and regularly works to help those students that need it the most.

Sue is a member of the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and The Pikes Peak Writers. She calls Colorado home and when not saving the world one page at a time, she can be found walking her great dane, getting her hands dirty in her garden, or creating something delicious in her kitchen.

Check out her blog, A Cook’s Guide to Writing and other musings on her website. 

Connect with Sue: Website | Facebook | Twitter Goodreads | Instagram

Q&A with Rachel Brimble

As a romance author, where do you find your inspiration?

Inspiration is everywhere! I write mainstream romance, romantic suspense and Victorian romance and as romance is all about emotion, these three subgenres provide excellent story opportunities. I try to alternate the sub-genres so it keeps both my readers and I excited about the next project. I often use news stories, TV shows and experiences in my own life to develop a story. The hard part is stretching that premise to 80,000 or more words.

Out of all your published novels, which is your favorite and why?

Ooh, difficult question! My favorite is usually the latest one that’s finished, lol! If I had to pick my favorite Victorian romance, I would say What A Woman Desires because I could relate to the heroine, Monica, so much. She was driven, determined and honest and I loved writing her. For my contemporary novels, I love all of my Templeton Cove books! The Cove has become an extremely special place to me and even though I’m currently writing book eight in the series, I still haven’t finished with these fabulous characters.

What do you like to read? What are you currently reading?

I read voraciously and my favorite genres are romance, historical fiction, crime and biographies of past kings and queens of England. I am currently reading The Taming of the Queen by Philippa Gregory and A Virgin River Christmas by Robyn Carr. 

What is the most difficult thing about writing romance novels?

I think it’s the same as any other novel – writing the best story you can! I have been writing novels for over ten years and each book brings a new challenge. Having said that, the best piece of advice I was ever given was to ‘give yourself permission to write a crappy first draft’. That was so liberating! My process is to come up with a premise, create my hero and heroine (and villain, if I have one) and then a 3-4 page synopsis. Once that’s done, I write the entire novel from start to finish without looking back. The hard work comes in drafts two and three!

What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

See above – the crappy first draft is a must for aspiring authors. Many would-be writers start a novel and never continue past chapters three or four. They run out of inspiration or the project feels overwhelming. I advise all writers to keep going, no matter what. Eventually, you’ll have the first draft of a finished novel which you can then alter, cut, tweak and expand upon. After that? Submit! No published writer (expect self-published, of course) came to be one without submitting their work to agents and/or editors.

What do you think makes a good romance story?

Emotion, emotion, emotion! Romances, for me, are all about the characters’ internal journeys. Whether I’m writing contemporary or historical, the characters and the emotions they experience is paramount to the unfolding of the story and the journey to happy ever after.

Your latest release, Saved By the Firefighters is a new installment in your Harlequin Templeton Cove Series. Tell us about it.

Saved By The Firefighter is book 6 in the series, but all the books can be read as stand-alone novels. This book was inspired by the loss of my beloved black Labrador. He passed away in February 2015 and I was devastated. As I view my books as an opportunity to exploring emotions and our reactions to them, I knew I needed to write something to help me through my pain and grief. Thus, I wrote a novel about loss. This is the most poignant and emotionally-charged book so far in the series and most definitely one of my favorites.

Do you have anything you can share for us to look forward to this year?

Book 7 in the Templeton Cove series, Ethan’s Daughter, is due out in August and this one is romantic suspense. I loved writing this book and combining suspense with family and new love. The heroine, Leah Dixon, has appeared in three previous books so I thought it was time I gave her a starring role!

I also have the first part of what I hope will be an Edwardian romance series sitting on my agent’s desk. This one will be shopped out market wide very soon and I am super-excited for an editor to love this book as much as I do.

About Rachel Brimble

Rachel lives with her husband and two teenage daughters in a small town near Bath in the UK. After having several novels published by small US presses, she secured agent representation in 2011. Since 2013, she has had six books published by Harlequin Superromance (Templeton Cove Stories) and recently signed a contract for two more. She also has four Victorian romances with eKensington/Lyrical Press.

Rachel is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and Romance Writers of America, and was selected to mentor the Superromance finalist of So You Think You Can Write 2014 contest. When she isn’t writing, you’ll find Rachel with her head in a book or walking the beautiful English countryside with her family. Her dream place to live is Bourton-on-the-Water in South West England.

She likes nothing more than connecting and chatting with her readers and fellow romance writers. Rachel would love to hear from you!

Connect: Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Facebook Street Team - Rachel's Readers

Q&A with St John Karp

What authors have influenced your writing the most and why?

People say I have a bit of Vonnegut in me, which is very flattering but only true in a figurative sense — I haven’t stolen his false teeth or anything. Of course I was addicted to Vonnegut growing up, but then I also love John Kennedy Toole, who wrote A Confederacy of Dunces. It’s one of the funniest novels of all time, and helpless indignation still cracks me up to this day. I’d also have to mention James Kennedy, whose novel The Order of Odd-Fish showed me that you can still write dazzling, hilarious, clever novels for teenagers. Somehow I’d got the idea that had gone out with hydrogen dirigibles and asbestos underpants.

Why did you choose to start writing YA novels? What about your voice really caters to that audience?   

I got into YA novels when I realized you can get away with pretty much anything except being boring. If you write for adults you instantly get shelved as one genre or another, but YA is kind of its own genre. No one bats an eyelid when you write about radium-obsessed teenagers in antique flying machines, or Old West vamps with guns that shoot round corners, or accidentally assaulting people with candy cake-toppers. The only thing you’re not allowed to do is be boring, which suits me fine. When a book spends ten pages telling me how the protagonist cooks dinner and how everyone’s hair smells, I’m halfway ready to drop-kick the thing into the street.

SKUNKS DANCE has very unique and endearing characters. Do those characters come to you first or do they just flow out of your writing?  

I like to let them flow. Some people have fantastic brains and can see everything in advance, but I prefer to put a bunch of nascent characters in a room together and see how they interact. I’ll happily change the whole book to suit the characters. The entire Old West half of SKUNKS DANCE was never meant to happen — I just liked the characters so much I wanted to find out what happened to them next.

Writing effective humor is often difficult. What do you find to be the most effective way you create humor in your writing?

You’ll never make everyone laugh, and if you do then it won’t be interesting writing. There are never any hard rules for writing jokes, but I love wit and I think it’s important to take the reader by surprise. If the reader can guess the punch-line before it’s delivered, the joke is probably going to fall flat. Look at something like Rick and Morty — it refers heavily to popular science fiction, but even in plots we’ve seen before, we never know what the hell’s going to happen next. Or what Rick’s going to say. Or even the correct use of the dinglebop end of a plumbus.

1960s Westerns really inspired SKUNKS DANCE. What movies in particular most influenced your writing?

Well, 1960s British-made Westerns — the bad ones. I know nothing about the real Old West and I’m not especially interested in it. I don’t even like most Westerns. But comedy Westerns? Those things are brilliant, especially if it’s full of British actors who sound like they’ve never even heard an American accent. I can watch Carry On Cowboy (1965) or the Doctor Who serial The Gunfighters (1966) all day long. And have you seen the Hulu series Quick Draw (2013)? Amazing stuff. Let’s leave accuracy to the historians. Tell me a good joke and I’m anyone’s.

Who is your favorite character in SKUNKS DANCE? Who was the most fun to write?

My favorite character (and the most fun to write) is Spivey Spillane, our protagonist in the Old West. He wrote himself — I’d never intended to involve him in a complex plot, so for a long time I just let him fall into more and more elaborate and humiliating traps. He’s like us — not stupid or incompetent, but somehow surrounded by people who are either crazier or smarter than him so he can never win. Plus, he’s a cross-dressing cowboy, and if you saw him in that pink tutu I think you’d understand.

Both RADIUM BABY and SKUNKS DANCE involve an adventurous search. What is it that you love about the classic adventure search with a twist? 

You have to be able to bring together characters who don’t like each other — that’s where you get your drama. There are lots of ways of doing that, but I like a search because it lets you take your characters to the moon and back, as long as you bring it round to the MacGuffin in the end. It also gives the novel a clear goal, even if you never get there or if the goal was illusory all along. Having done two of them now I’ll probably do something different for the next novel. A torrid love story between an ostrich and a potato. Or something.

San Francisco writer ST JOHN KARP is an ornamental hermit who likes to live near exciting things so he cannot go to them. He has an undying love for the unusual, the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band and toast. His debut novel, RADIUM BABY, released in 2013. SKUNKS DANCE, Karp’s second novel, releases Jan. 24, 2017.

Connect: Website | Twitter | Instagram | Linkedin | Goodreads

Guest Post: Correspondence between Annie and Wyatt Earp

Gusto and The Kid.jpg

Manitou Springs, Colorado
January 21, 1876

Assistant City Marshal Wyatt Earp,
Dodge City, Kansas

Respected friend,

Since last I wrote many interesting things have happened, which Uncle John asked me to relate as he has been burdened with repairs to the cabin and barn, then chopping wood most every day so we have enough to see us through these gray winter months. The weather held through Thanksgiving, which aided his efforts, and I did most of the hunting and laid in a goodly supply of smoked meats and pelts.

Now don't be fretting none over that fancy salutation of 'Respected friend'. Miss Lacey, the Manitou schoolmarm, rode out our first week to offer a hearty handshake and welcome, and found me sharpening my wooden pencil. She insisted I greet you proper-like in this letter. I reckon her busybody ways was worth it though, what with that fine apple pie she left behind.

I purt-near skedaddled when she said I should join her class in town for some book learning, but Uncle John just laughed. Miss Lacey looked all put-upon, so he explained how he'd taught me my ABCs before my third birthday and that you'd encouraged my learning by sending books my way pretty regular-like. He pointed at the pencil and said I had just sat down to write a letter to you 'cause I could spell a sight better than he could. Well, she flushed bright red then, whether at the mention of your name or his spelling I don't know, but that didn't stop her from telling me how to start and end this letter and telling Uncle John that there was more to her school than just ABCs, thank you very much!

It did come to me later that it was a good thing she didn't catch me practicing with my Colt .45s. My left hand is as strong as my right now, and I believe I would make you proud. Uncle John said he hasn't seen anyone draw that fast, ever, and he just shakes his head and rubs at his chin when he watches my target practice. Not to be a braggart, but these days, I never miss.

But I need to back up some. We arrived safely in Manitou mid-October, and after three days rode to the homestead Uncle John was to purchase from General William Jackson Palmer and Doctor William Abraham Bell, the town founders. They intend for Manitou Springs to be a scenic health resort, so folks can enjoy the healing waters the Utes drank for years. That mineral water is clear and cold, and Uncle John wonders whether the well on our new homestead taps into those very same springs. We reckon the Utes were mighty upset about losing their land, and the General thought Uncle John's reticence was 'cause he was scared the tribe might come back to fight for their land, but you and I both know it was the injustice that soured him.

We talked some, and looked over the quarter section before he signed the deed. The homestead is southwest of Manitou, and the ride settled our spirits some. While the cabin would have fallen down if you sneezed on it twice, the land laid claim to our hearts. Rolling foothills, tucked up to some mighty tall peaks. Despite his concerns, Uncle John is pleased to have finally settled down, and you know hard work don't scare us none.

I do confess to missing my Cheyenne friends, especially Wontoa. And Colorado is as different to South Dakota as a tomato is to a potato. I reckon next summer I'll ride up to visit him, if he don't show up here first. Uncle John has been as much a father to him as he is to me, and the reservation don't agree with Wontoa's wild ways.

Please accept my sincere thanks for the fine book you sent for Christmas. Mister Verne and his Around the World in Eighty Days has me thinking hard about all I have seen of these United States and what all I have yet to see and do. In two or three years, after I know my way around these mountains, I believe I'll take up guiding. I know that'll rile some folks, me being a girl and all, and while the notion made Uncle John shake his head, I think he also hid a smile.

The arrival of your package was the first we had heard of you heading to Dodge City with James. We hope you are content there in your new position as Assistant City Marshal. 

I will close now with Uncle John having asked me to send you and James his regards as well as his advice, to stay out of the gambling halls. He prays that you and your brothers will someday have the means to settle on land as fine as ours. Please also give Morgan my regards.

With great affection,
Annabelle Fortune

-----------------------

Misfortune Annie's correspondence with family-friend Wyatt Earp
by Janet Fogg, co/author of Misfortune Annie and the Locomotive Reaper
https://misfortuneannie.com/

Q&A with Maureen Child, The Tycoon’s Secret Child

How did you come up with the background relationship between Wes and Isabelle? 

Well, this book is a little different in that it’s a continuity and part of an ongoing series. So when we’re a part of the series, we’re actually given the basic outline of the plot of the book and who our characters are. Now, once we get that information, each writer then makes the story her own. We can make changes to storyline and we’re expected to give our characters interesting backstories too as we develop their personalities. So, working with that, I knew that Wes would find out he had a child he knew nothing about. It was my job to discover why Isabelle kept that secret and then find a way to get them past the anger and hurt feelings.

What is your favorite part about writing Contemporary Romance?

I actually started my writing career writing Western Historicals and I loved them. I’ve always been a fan of the old west and a real history lover. But that said, the first time I wrote a contemporary, I was thrilled with how easy it was to move my characters around in the story! No waiting for a stage coach, or saddling a horse. Just hop in the car and go. ☺

Do you have any traditions you enjoy during the New Year?

Oh, sure, one of my favorites is starting the yearly diet and inevitably failing at it within a couple of weeks! Still, it’s tradition, now.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

Like a lot of writers I know, I’ve always loved playing with words. I still have stacks of notebooks filled with truly terrible poetry I wrote as a teenager. And in school, I was the kid always in trouble for staring out the window daydreaming. Thankfully, I found a career that demands daydreaming.

How long does it take you to write a book?

That really depends on the length of the book. For a mainstream novel, it might take four or five months, for a Desire, less time—though not less work! ☺ And for a historical maybe six months. A novella could be done in a few weeks, depending on the idea and how richly filled out it is in my mind.

Where do you get your inspiration to write about a long-lost child?

Family is really important to me and I think any parent can relate to the fear of missing time with your child. For someone to suddenly discover they have a child, what does that do to you? How do you reorganize your life? How do you know what to do? For me, that leads to a lot of interesting character development.

How many books have you written? Do you have a favorite?

I’ve written 152 books so far and oh, asking me for a favorite is just too hard. I love them all for very different reasons.  But I do have a soft spot for some of my funnier books. I love a book with humor.

What book are you reading right now?

Nora Roberts’ latest book ISLAND OF GLASS. It’s the third book in her latest trilogy and I’m loving it. Nora never disappoints.

What are your current projects?

Right now, I’m coming up with the plot for my next Desire and also working on an idea for an enovella I’d like to put up on my website.

What advice do you have for writers?

Don’t quit. That’s the most important advice for anyone wanting to be a writer. There is simply no substitute for persistence. Read everything you can get your hands on and write what you love most to read.

 

Q&A with Linda Ford, Montana Cowboy Family

How did you come up with the relationship between Logan and Sadie? 

I suppose it began when I had a dream about someone finding a stash of money. The story stuck in my head long after I wakened so I explored the idea. It was contemporary so I began to think how I could make it historical. I did a little research and discovered gold had been found in Northwest Montana. A little town of Libby, Montana had been one of the places and it became the setting for my fictional town of Bella Creek. But I didn’t want to write about miners so had to come up with an idea for ranchers and cowboys. Thus was born the Marshall family, all tall, blond and blue-eyed. But how to get the cowboys some heroines? So I created a reason for newcomers in town. A fire worked really well. I wanted it to be a 6-book series so gave the three Marshall brothers a sister, gave one of the brothers a best friend and the sister a best friend. 

I didn’t have a clear picture of Sadie and Logan when I began. I sent some preliminary ideas to my editors. She made comments and I developed the idea further. Gradually the characters evolved into two strong people. Logan comes from a big, loving, supportive family which was exactly what Sadie longed for but couldn’t believe she deserved. Logan has made some mistakes in the past that hurt his family and vows not to do anything that will again harm that relationship—all the more reason for Sadie to know she can never belong. 

What is your favorite part about writing love-inspired historical books?

I have to pick just one? I would have to say it is always thrilling to watch my characters develop and take on a real identity and then see them face and conquer, through their faith and their emotional growth, the challenges I send their way. Yes, I know I talk like they are real but in some ways they are. I’ve been known to pray for my characters then laugh at myself, remembering they aren’t real and neither are their problems. 

Do you have any traditions you enjoy during the New Year?

My traditions have changed over the years. When we were a young married couple in a small community, there were several couples at the same age and stage of life. Every year we gathered at one of our homes, played games, ate food and welcomed in the New Year. 

We no longer do that. Now we’re content to watch the celebrations in Times Square and join in the count down. Because they are 2 hours ahead of us, we can happily go to bed at an early hour feeling we’ve welcomed in the New Year. 

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I didn’t always want to be a writer. In fact I was well into my life journey before the idea took root. One summer evening a friend asked me to join her in attending a new writers group. I went, listened to a lecture on organizing material for a non-fiction project and I was hooked. My friend wanted me to write a book called, Surprisingly Normal (she was surprised to discover I was almost normal despite having more than usual number of children.) I never wrote that book and never will because of privacy concerns for my children. But back to that first meeting. What really appealed to me about the whole process was how I could control it. At the time, with 6 troubled teens in my house, anything that offered me control was like a dream come true. 

How long does it take you to write a book?

The rough draft takes about 2 months. But figuring out the story takes however long it takes. Some stories come easy. Some do not. I’ve learned not to rush the pre-writing process. And then there is revisions. But once I have the rough draft done, I have something solid to work with. 

Where do you get your inspiration to write about a teacher eager to raise abandoned children?

Does it sound too simple to say it came from my imagination? I saw a woman who feels she will never marry so she helps children. Because of her past experiences, she vows to stand up to injustices. So when she sees children she suspects need help, she must take action.

How many books have you written? Do you have a favorite?

Montana Cowboy Family is book 54. That is published books. I have a lot of unpublished stories as well and it’s probably best if they remain so. A favorite? If I had to pick I would say it was one of my very earliest- Crane’s Bride. It’s written solely in the hero’s point of view and features a feisty heroine and two rescued children. (Do we sense a theme about helping children?)

What book are you reading right now?

I’m reading Land Of Enchantment. Memoirs of Marian Russell along the Santa Fe Trail (which gives you a hint as to what I hope my next series will be)

What are your current projects?

I’ve just turned in the fourth book in the Big Sky Country series. There are six in the series so the 5th and 6th are in various stages of development. As I hinted above, I am working on what I hope will be a six-book series along the Santa Fe Trail. The research is fascinating and the characters I envision are wonderfully strong and independent, ready to face all sorts of challenges in order to achieve their goals. 

What advice do you have for writers?

Learn everything you can. Go to conferences, take courses, join writers groups. Don’t let anyone tell you there is one right way to do anything. Discover your own process through trial and error. All of the above requires that you write, write and write some more.

Q&A with Teri Wilson, His Ballerina Bride

How did you come up with the relationship between Artem and Ophelia? 

My stories are mostly character-driven, so I usually start the process with two people I want to write about. With His Ballerina Bride, I began with Ophelia. I love ballet, and I’m fascinated with how dedicated dancers are to their craft. I thought it would be interesting to see what would happen to a ballet dancer who could no longer perform. How would this change her outlook on life and her relationships with others? What would she do next? When Ophelia is diagnosed with a life-altering medical condition, she decides that her entire life is over. Not just dance, but everything. She doesn’t believe she’ll ever experience a romantic relationship again—either emotionally or physically. The perfect man to change her mind is Artem Drake. He’s a charmer. A billionaire playboy, impossible to ignore. He’s determined to show Ophelia she’s still beautiful, still worthy of love. But she ends up teaching him far more than he bargained for. 

What is your favorite part about writing Contemporary Romance?

I love writing romance because, well, I’m a sucker for love stories. It is important to write about not only what you know, but also what you love! I think that a lot of readers can relate to being in love and the many emotions that go along with it. We all love the fluttering heartbeats and feeling connected to someone. And of course, who doesn’t melt at a good happy ending? Another of my favorite things (I know, more than one…I’m totally cheating) about writing contemporary romance is the fantasy aspect. I love stories full of glitz and glamour. Stories that are bigger than life. It’s tremendous fun to take readers on a journey to places they may never get to go. 
 
Do you have any traditions you enjoy during the New Year? 

New Year’s Day is actually my favorite holiday. I’m such a nerd when it comes to goal setting. I go crazy making lists in my brand new calendar. I still use the old-school paper kind because once, my phone calendar accidentally merged with the one on my son’s phone, and it was a hot mess. He was a personal trainer at the time, and my phone kept telling me I was supposed to be lifting weights with someone. But my favorite New Year tradition includes eating a bowl of black-eyed peas for good luck in the coming year, only with a Tex-mex twist! It is called Texas Caviar, and it’s everything you’ve been missing in you life! Here’s a recipe if you want to spice up your New Year’s party! http://allrecipes.com/recipe/96563/classic-texas-caviar/ 

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I’m an only child, and books played a huge part of my childhood. I read all the time, so much that I remember getting in trouble once for having my nose buried in a Trixie Beldon mystery book instead of looking out the bus window during a trip in Hawaii when I was 13. So becoming a writer was something that was always somewhere in the back of my head. I wrote my very first book about ten years ago, at the urging of my son. He was in middle school at the time and probably thought I needed something to focus on other than his homework. 

How long does it take you to write a book?

It really just depends on the book.  I set goals every day for how many words I need to write, but if I’m really in the flow, I won’t stop myself from writing more. I typically spend about three months on a book. His Ballerina Bride went faster, though. I had such a great time writing this book! I didn’t want to stop. It’s one of my very favorites. (Shhh, don’t tell my other books.)

Where do you get your inspiration to write about a former ballerina?

One of the reasons why I love dance so much is that when I was a little girl one of my cousins and his wife were principal dancers with the Houston Ballet. My family used to go to all of their ballets. Every Christmas Eve, after the final Nutcracker performance, they would bring all their dancer friends to our big family Christmas dinner and I thought they were all the most beautiful and romantic people I'd ever seen. I love ballet. I have season tickets to the local ballet company in my hometown, and I was also lucky enough to see Misty Copeland perform Cinderella last month. I’m still not over the gorgeousness of it! 

How many books have you written? Do you have a favorite? 

Right now, I’m working on my 20th book. I think it is important for any writer to always be learning and improving so usually my favorite book is whichever I have just finished. That being said, I do have a couple sentimental favorites. I love His Ballerina Bride, because it was a story I’d wanted to write for a long time. It has so many things I love—ballet, a Tiffany-esque jewelry store, New York City in a snowy winter—but it also touches on emotions so many of us have experienced and understand. My sentimental favorite, though, is my book Unleashing Mr. Darcy, which was adapted for film and aired in 2016 on the Hallmark Channel. Having a book made into a movie is something that every writer dreams about, and the experience was above and beyond my expectations. You can learn more about the movie here: http://www.hallmarkchannel.com/unleashing-mr-darcy

What book are you reading right now?

Right now, I’m making my way through Maisey Yates’ Heirs Before Vows series for Harlequin Presents. I love anything and everything to do with royalty, and I also have a huge writer crush on Maisey Yates. I first heard of her a few years ago when I was assigned to judge one of her books for the Romance Writers of America RITA contest. I knew from the very first chapter that her writing was something special. 

What are your current projects?

I just met with my fabulous Special Edition editor in New York about a week ago, and I’m thrilled to say I’m starting a brand new series for them. For now, the series is called Wilde Hearts, but that might change. Set in glamorous Manhattan, this series follows the Wilde siblings while they try to help the family dance school survive as they live and love in the city that never sleeps. So, more ballerina heroines! 

What advice do you have for writers?

My advice for a fellow writer would be to read, read, read! I think all really prolific writers started as voracious readers. And no matter how many books we write, we stay that way. Writers are lovers of stories and words. Go to craft workshops and attend conferences. Learn from others. But simply reading will teach you more than you will ever learn in a classroom.