Q&A with Cathy McDavid – A Baby for the Deputy

How did you come up with the relationship between Aaron Travers and Melody Hartman? 

There seems to be a trend these days for young couples to “hang out together” rather than date --- at least, that’s what I hear and what my daughter tells me. I gave Aaron and Mel difficult romantic pasts, which made the idea of a no-strings-attached relationship appealing to them, then complicated things with an unexpected pregnancy because, well, life is complicated.

What is your favorite part about writing Western Romance books?

I truly am a lover of all things western. I owned horses most of my life, grew up watching Bonanza and Big Valley reruns, and lived the western lifestyle for many, many years. For me, there is no sexier, more appealing romance book hero than a rugged, good looking cowboy.

Do you have any traditions you enjoy during early Spring?

You mean besides the mandatory spring cleaning and yard work? Absolutely! I always attend the Glendale Chocolate Affair in February and Tucson Festival of Books in March where local romance writers host two to three days of mega booksignings. I love connecting with readers, both new and those that drop by every year for my latest release. Plus, I’m surrounded by books and authors.

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

Like a lot of authors, I started writing at a young age. For me, it was in high school (I actually won a contest for a children’s book I wrote and illustrated). I didn’t seriously, however, until twenty years later. And it wasn’t until I finished that first book that I realized I’d found my passion. Two years ago, I quite the corporate world altogether to write full-time. It’s been a dream come true.

How long does it take you to write a book?

Two weeks of intense planning and three months to write the book from start to finish. Of course, I always wind up trashing some of those carefully constructed plans in favor of better ideas that strike me along the way.

Where do you get your idea to write about an unplanned pregnancy?

My publisher loves unplanned pregnancy books, as do readers! Plus, I really do enjoy writing them ☺  All kidding aside, I try to give my couples big, game-changing obstacles to overcome and, let’s face it, an unplanned pregnancy is pretty game-changing. I find writing believable reasons for how a couple finds themselves in this particular predicament and believable scenarios for how they cope with it to be challenging. Then, there’s the love story. My guy is going to do the right thing in the end, but he’s going to do it out of love, not just a responsibility.

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

I’m in the process of writing my forty-second book. I had to look this up. My more recent favorites are Come Home, Cowboy and Rescuing the Cowboy. My all-time favorite is The Gate to Eden, a western historical. It still remains the book of my hear.

What book are you reading right now?

The Sapphire Pendant --- a young adult novel by Audrey White Beyer from 1961. Part of my ongoing goal to read classics, especially young adult classics.

What are your current projects?

I’m currently writing the third book in my newest Mustang Valley series, The Bull Rider’s Valentine. I’m also working on a proposal for a new three-book series in addition to writing a novella for release this summer. Yes, these books will all feature cowboy heroes. What can I say?

What advice do you have for writers?

My best advice is to carefully consider the advice you receive. Gather as much information as you can from a wide variety of sources. Then, be extremely selective when choosing what to follow. Opinions are free and they vary greatly. Trust your instincts. Follow only the advice that makes the most sense to you.


Q&A with Sara Orwig – Reunited with the Rancher

Describe the relationship between Tom and Emily Knox. Were there challenges in writing it?

Reunited with the Rancher is about an estranged couple whose young child has died.  My vision for that book was that losing a child has to be one of the most agonizing, disruptive events in a marriage.  It was a challenge to write about such a loss and so much pain.  The love between Emily and Tom has to be deep and lasting, strong enough that they can’t give up even in such a traumatic situation. 

What is your favorite part about writing Contemporary Romance books? 
My favorite part of writing contemporary romance is just that—it’s contemporary.   There is an immediate feeling about contemporary—it’s today and what is happening now.  It is current places and fun background things like limos and rodeos and terrific makeovers.

Do you have any traditions you enjoy during early Spring?

Early spring means my husband and I can get the garden ready for flowers and some easy-to-grow veggies.  We love and raise roses.  My favorite rose bush is a Chrysler Imperial.  Early spring means I can walk outside.  One spring tradition is at Easter the family gets together for the grandkids to dye eggs and bake a bunny cake.   

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? 
When I was growing up, I never thought of being a published writer.  As far back as I remember I loved books.  It didn’t occur to me to try to become a published writer until after I was married.  I wrote and sold a short story and then started writing books.

How long does it take you to write a book?

My writing schedule isn’t routine.  I had children and now grandchildren.  I’ve taught in high school.  I’ve also taught at the University of Central Oklahoma.  Later I worked for a state agency where I retired three years ago, so I don’t have regular hours or a regular schedule. When I travel, I carry an iPad.  I have a laptop and a PC.  I write in airports, in the mountains, wherever I have some time.  There isn’t a regular, consistent amount of time. 

Where do you get your inspiration to write about a heartbreaking past and a hidden family secret?

Stories come out of living, going through the happy times, as well as the painful moments.  I’ve known sorrow and I’ve known joy, so that all goes into my feelings about what happens to characters in my stories and how they deal with life.

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

I had my 100th. book out in July 2016, Expecting the Rancher’s Baby, Harlequin Desire.  This year in January, The Rancher’s Nanny Bargain, Harlequin Desire, was out and now this March, Reunited with the Rancher, Harlequin Desire, will be book #102.

My favorite Desire book is a Texas Cattleman’s Club book, The Playboy Meets His Match.  My favorite of all 102 books is a Harlequin Regency Romance, The Fairfax Brew.

What book are you reading right now?  

I’m currently reading several.  Sometimes I read more than one at a time.  I’m reading an old book that I love and read over and over again: The Joyous Season by Patrick Dennis.  I love that book because I can laugh all the way through it.  I’m also reading Maureen Child’s The Baby Inheritance, Karen Booth’s Pregnant by the Rival CEO and Maisey Yates’s Take Me, Cowboy.     

What are your current projects? 

My May book, The Rancher’s Cinderella Bride, Harlequin Desire, is the third book in a series called Callahan’s Clan, about Texas best friends whose relationship changes to their surprise.  The fourth and last Callahan’s Clan book, The Texan’s Baby Proposal, Harlequin Desire, will be out this summer and then I’ll have a new series called Texas Promises.
What advice do you have for writers?  

My most important advice for new writers would be to network with other writers.  Go to writer’s conferences and enter writing contests. Advice for writers in general is to stand up often if you sit to write.  Walk, swim, go to the gym, whatever works.  Exercise is essential for me.  

Q&A with Cynthia Eden, Abduction

How did you come up with the relationship between Sheriff Hayden Black and Jillian West?  

I wanted to create characters who’d met under extreme circumstances—Jillian and Hayden immediately sprang to mind for me. In many ways, the two characters are opposites—and it’s those opposite traits that draw them together.

What is your favorite part about writing Romantic Suspense books?  

I love writing romantic suspense novels because I enjoy including twists and turns for my readers. I’m all about action in my stories—and romantic suspense novels help me to keep an action-focused plot.

Do you have any traditions you enjoy during early Spring?  

Heading to the beach is a must for me each spring. I’m lucky to live along the coast, so as soon as the temperatures start to climb, my toes are usually in the sand.

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

Too long ago to remember! I’ve always wanted to be a writer, and even when I was a small kid, I was creating stories. I loved to change up the ending to fairy tales.  

How long does it take you to write a book?  

It typically takes me about six weeks to write a book—but I have been writing full-time for over ten years now. So I have a rhythm when I write, and I’m able to use that rhythm to stay on pace with my deadlines.

Where do you get your inspiration to write about a foiled kidnapping to tip off the plot?  

I actually saw a news story about the FBI’s CARD team (Child Abduction Rapid Deployment), and once I learned about that group, I was completely inspired. I knew that my heroine had to be a part of that team, and as I developed her character, I realized the reason she was so passionate about helping victims…well, it was because she’d been an abduction victim herself.

How many books have you written?

Do you have a favorite?  At last count, I’ve written over 90 books.  I don’t have a favorite though—when I write a book, *that* book I am writing is my favorite. I am absolutely in love with it while I write.  And then I finish that novel and start a new one. The new book then becomes my favorite…it’s a cycle that never ends.

What book are you reading right now?

I’m reading JUSTICE ASCENDING by Rebecca Zanetti.

What are your current projects?  

I’m very excited about my “Killer Instinct” series with HQN. The first book in that series, AFTER THE DARK, will be launching next month—this is a very dark and sexy romantic suspense series.

What advice do you have for writers?  

Write the stories that appeal most to you. Keep writing and keep reading and never, ever give up on your dreams.

Guest Post: Amber Leigh Williams, Wooing the Wedding Planner

There’s a scene in the first segment of Wooing the Wedding Planner where the heroine, Roxie, and the hero, Byron, get into a lively…we’ll say “debate.” This “debate” takes place in the kitchen. The subject is knives and how to use the various selection of blades from the butcher block. Trivial, you say? Who fights over something as silly as how to use a knife? However, some might find this passage interesting or, er, familiar. By some, I mean one person, specifically. My spouse. He and I have squabbled over the same subject for years. We’ve had this “debate” over and over for well on a decade. Perhaps because of his repeated instruction on how to use a paring knife versus a boning knife and the multitude of band-aids I’ve gone through as a result of accidental nicks and slices I’ve given myself because I refuse to admit that he is…perhaps…somewhat (arg!) right, that I chose to immortalize this argument in print as well as some other notable kitchen disasters of which I am now fond.

Like Roxie, the wedding planner, I never learned to cook. For years, I planted myself firmly at the writing desk at dinnertime and let the aforementioned spouse cook for both of us. Then something happened, or someone. He was a beautiful, alien creature. Seven pounds; twelve ounces of squalling newborn perfection. When I met my son, something happened to me. There were endorphins. There was panic. There was delight. I learned that you could laugh/cry/snort/sob all at the same time – and often. And there was something else; something the mountains of parenting and birthing books hadn’t warned me of. The sudden overwhelming desire to COOK for this creature. And, weirdly enough, his father. I grew up at my mother’s table where there were delicious home-brewed meals aplenty. The idea of letting my boy grow up eating freezer meals sent me scrambling for the library in haste. I devoured cookbooks. I read Julia Child’s My Life in France again and again, making notes in the margins. I joined Pinterest. And, through years of stops and starts, successes and failures, I became something of a decent cuisinier. 

Often as writers, we draw on personal experience to flesh out our characters and bring weight to their experience. While writing the first draft for Wooing the Wedding Planner, I saw Roxie starting a new life after her divorce. I saw her desperately trying to reinvigorate her thirst for independence and learn a new normal. I also saw that she was oh-abouts thirty. “Throw away the take-out menus and buy yourself an apron,” I told her. “You’re in for a foodie adventure!” (Yes, I have conversations with imaginary people. Why do you ask?) 

The scene where Byron walks in on Roxie in the first of many cooking disasters as well as the one where she stays up through the night trying to cull the perfect apple pie from her oven is dedicated to the harried bathrobe-clad woman my sleepy and baffled husband has been known to find standing over the stove at 3 a.m. “What are you doing?” he asks me, shaking his head. “I’m cooking,” I respond as I stir the hambone soup I’ll still be standing over at noon the next day. I still don’t know where it comes from. It’s more than the domestic chore or duty of a bygone era of housewives. I adore cooking for my family. I love providing enjoyment over a meal as well as sustenance. In its own way, it’s an expression of love, appreciation, even gratitude for their presence in my life. 

Yet, through the years, something else happened. Something funny. For some, cooking comes naturally. For others, it’s like learning a foreign language. For Roxie and me, it was the latter. Why do we persist? Because we grow through it. We improve upon ourselves. Because, believe it or not, we enjoy it for ourselves – the challenge of it. For us, cooking is love, as is food. And the fact that the brave men in our lives spend a few extra minutes exercising everyday so that they may test our various carbo-loaded and dessert-laden wares is the essence of requital. A toast to them both and to us! 

For the latest news on Roxie, Byron, and my latest Harlequin Superromance as well as all the latest foodie adventures from yours truly, find me at www.amberleighwilliams.com

Q&A with Donna Michaels

How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

Right from the birth of The Men of At-Ease Ranch series concept, I knew from discussing with my editor that the heroine in the second book, Her Secret Ranger, was going to be the sister to one of the other heroes. The mistaken identity trope went into play, because the hero would never “knowingly” mess with another Ranger’s sister. It made for a little bit of fun trying to keep the two men from meeting.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

I enjoyed writing all of it. I really did. The characters practically wrote the book themselves. It was every author’s dream type book. They were funny and sweet, hot and hardheaded, and then I got to revisit the characters from the first book, including Lula Belle. Yep, this was one of my all-time favorite books to write. I wish they were all this fun and easy.

Name three things on your desk right now.

Three things on my desk, besides my laptop and mouse, are:
1. Halo, my cat. She’s half on my lap, half on my laptop desk. Bless her. She’s been diagnosed with inoperable cancer, so if she wants to lay on my work, I let her, I just have to try to type around her, like I am doing now. ☺

2. Coffee mug with the phrase: Writer’s Block: When your imaginary friends stop talking to you.

3. My phone so I can keep up with the messages from authors about parties I’ve agreed to do, and of course, texts from my kids.

What are some books that you enjoyed recently?

Trouble with Mistletoe by Jill Shalvis. I’m so freaking excited it’s going to be made into a movie!! I love all her books. Can’t get enough of Jill!

What do you like to do when you aren't writing?

When I’m not writing, if I have some me-time, I’ll either read or watch TV. I have a lot of shows I usually have to catch up on once I meet my deadline. Halo likes this too, because she gets to have my lap unobstructed by the computer.

Can you tell us about your upcoming book?

I just finished writing book 3, tentatively titled: The Right Ranger. In it, I got to have fun causing a little chaos to Cord Brannigan who is Beth’s brother and Brick’s best friend. He’s been kind of quiet, unsmiling, and a little controlling in the first two books, so it was fun to dig into why and give him a heroine who is a bit independent.

Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover—Or a Hero By His Beard

We’ve all heard this saying before. It means to not judge people by first appearance—or by first impression.

In my new contemporary romance, CAN’T STOP LOVING YOU, the first meeting between the hero and heroine doesn’t go so well. In fact, my hero and my heroine both misjudge each other, in sometimes hilarious ways.

The first thing my heroine Maggie McShae notices is a big bushy Bandholz beard (you know, the, the “let it all grow out” sort of beard that is quite popular now) that she does not care for at all. In fact, she pokes fun at the hero by calling him “Wolverine” and “Unabomber.” Worse, she believes he’s an over privileged and entitled rich boy. He’s the son of a billionaire, and he’s hiding out in the small town of Mirror Lake from the media fallout after he left his high society bride weeping at the altar. And while he’s been hiding out, that beard has been a-growing.

My heroine has just gone AWOL from her bereavement group that’s meeting in the church basement. She’s desperate to start her life again after her husband’s death from cancer, but she’s terrified and unsure of how to begin—she only knows that she’s got to try something.

My hero, Drew, just happens to overhear my heroine’s conversation as she makes a call to a guy she’s had a few dates with. In fact, he ends up coaching her through the conversation.

You can read the excerpt from Chapter 1 below. I hope it gives you a few laughs. (You’re also welcome to read the entire chapter on my website at mirandaliasson.com.)

For two people who don’t like each other and who do not want to be attracted to each other, both my hero and heroine have got some major surprises in store as they discover that first impressions are sometimes just simply…wrong.

Comment below by telling me what you think about those big bushy Bandholz beards that are popular now—are you a fan or not?

Note:  This book is the second in the Spikonos brothers series. But they can be read as standalones as well. And the e-edition of first book, CAN’T STOP LOVING YOU, is on sale all month on Amazon for just $1.99.



Widowed psychologist Maggie McShae is ready to find someone who won’t make her heart beat fast, her knees grow weak, or her body go hot and cold at the same time. No one she can really love, because love brings too much pain.

Drew Poulos, son of a billionaire, is hiding out in Mirror Lake, working at his brothers’ brandy company. He inspires those very feelings Maggie’s determined to avoid. The hunky businessman, who left his high society bride at the altar, is the last person she’d ever seriously date. But he might just be perfect for a fling…


Drew’s too heartbroken to ever trust any woman again, but the sexy psychologist is the perfect person to deflect his family’s attention as his brother marries the woman Drew once thought was his.

As sparks fly, two injured hearts might just find that true love can be even better the second time around.


“I want to sleep with you,” Maggie McShae said into her cell phone. “I’m ready to take the plunge.” Her words echoed in the high-ceilinged vestibule of Mirror Lake Congregational Church, where her bereavement group was meeting at this very moment in the basement.

The bereavement group, that is, from which she’d gone AWOL, possibly forever. It was not the group she led as part of her practice as a psychologist either, but the one she’d attended since her husband’s death over three years ago.

“Did I just hear you right?” Greg Pollard, a fireman on the Mirror Lake squad, asked from the other end of the phone.

“Yes, you heard me right. I’m ready. It’s time.” There, she’d done it. Finally taken a step forward. Greg was a nice guy, and they’d had three fun dates. He was good-looking and polite, and she wanted him to know she was ready to move to the next level. Being a psychologist, even she could congratulate herself on the progress.

What would Corey think? She could see him sitting in heaven, in his favorite easy chair, laughing his ass off at her awkwardness. Or maybe he’d be scowling instead. He’d been gone three and a half years, but going on a date still felt like she was cheating on him. She squeezed her eyes shut to block out those thoughts. She was doing so well. Keep going, Maggie, she thought, trying to cheer herself on inside her head.

“Um, Maggie, I’m at work. Can you give me a sec?”

“Oh, sure. No problem, Greg.”

The sound of male laughter echoed around her in the high-ceilinged space, bouncing off the big glass windows that faced Main Street of Mirror Lake, Connecticut. As Maggie slowly turned around, she saw someone sitting on one of the three wide white marble steps that ran the length of the vestibule.

Oh, firetruck. It was her best friend Bella’s obnoxious brother-in-law, and he’d just heard everything. Well, she wasn’t going to let him sit there and gloat. “Oh hi, Ted Kaczynski,” she said, waving. “What made you join civilization today?”

The man smoothed out his rather bushy beard and smiled. Even under all that hair (which he’d seemed to grow to hide behind in the past year and a half since coming to Mirror Lake), that smile was beaming out some major wattage. She’d never personally seen him without the Wolverine look, but she’d seen photos in the tabloids, and honestly, she was grateful for the massive sprouting of hair that hid his make-women-swoon sexy looks. Not that they’d ever make her swoon, mind you. She was immune to scoundrels.

Above the beard, his eyes crinkled, showing a few lines that in a man like him spelled interest and experience. He smiled, displaying brilliantly white teeth, reminding her he wasn’t a country hick hiding out in Mirror Lake but rather a polished gazillionaire businessman. But the hiding part was right.

Actually, they’d met when he’d run in off the street straight into the group therapy session she was leading, looking for sanctuary from the press after his botched wedding. She was afraid he was deranged and called the cops. She smiled a little thinking of that day when a gorgeous AWOL guy in a tux burst through her office door. She’d gotten to know him a little since he was the brother of two of her best friends’ husbands, but she didn’t have a very high opinion of him. In the looks department, he was blessed, but the rest of him left a lot to be desired.

“Don’t mind me,” he said. “Just keep on with your…um…booty call.”

She covered the receiver of her cell and dropped her voice. Because they were in a church, after all. “It’s not a booty call. We’ve had three perfectly wonderful dates, and he wanted to…he wanted to… Why am I telling you this? It’s none of your business.”

He held up a hand. “Right. Sure you don’t need a few pointers?”

From him? The guy who created a national scandal when he dumped his gorgeous socialite bride at the altar—at the altar, for God’s sake—a year and a half ago in front of a sizable crowd at St. Patrick’s Cathedral? Which had been covered by all the major outlets, starting a media firestorm that he’d been lying low from ever since. “Like I’m going to ask you for pointers in matters of the heart. That’s a laugh, because you clearly don’t have one.”

He placed his hands dramatically over his chest. “You slay me, Maggie. You just slay me.” He waited for her eye roll before he said, “This doesn’t really sound like a matter of the heart. More like a matter of…”

“Oh, hi, Greg,” she said, because he was back on the line. “Yes. I was just wondering if you’d like to try…another date.”

Put him on speaker, Drew mouthed.

No way, she mouthed back as she turned away a little. She didn’t like Andreas Poulos. He’d had the reputation of being a love-’em-and-leave-’em kind of guy even before his high-profile engagement, dating beautiful women from around the world. Then, of course, he’d left poor Anika in tears. He was clearly full of himself, rich and entitled, and he would rather act like a recluse than face his problems. All dishonorable traits in her book. Even the New York Post ran the headline: THE HUNK’S A PUNK, after the wedding debacle.

But there was one thing he had that just might come in helpful. Tons of experience with women. Why not use it to her benefit? He’d already heard what was going on. Plus, she hadn’t had sex in over three years. These were desperate times, and clearly, she could use a little help here. Despite her better judgment, she pushed the speaker button.

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About the Author

Miranda Liasson loves to write stories about everyday people who find love despite themselves, because there’s nothing like a great love story. And if there are a few laughs along the way, even better! A former Golden Heart winner, she’s written contemporary romance for Montlake, Entangled, and soon for Grand Central. She lives in the Midwest with her husband, three kids, and Posey, a rescue cat with attitude.

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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. 

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