Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Meet Linda Lael Miller and her new book The Marriage Charm

Posted by Susan J Berger on 2:30:00 AM with 6 comments



You probably already know NY Times best selling author, Linda Lael Miller, but did you know she was the daughter of a town marshal? I didn't. This was the first book I read by Linda and I look forward to reading many more. Linda has a true love and understanding of the West and of animals. Both are featured in The Marriage Charm, the #2 entry in her Bliss County series which comes out today.
I got an advance copy of The Marriage Charm and sped through it. I love the cast of characters, both animal and human. (I adore Spence's dog, Harley and Melody's three identical cats who function as though one.) The background is Wyoming and her descriptions are right on.
Background:
The women of Bliss County have a pact—to find husbands. The right husbands.
One already has: Hadleigh Stevens, who married rancher Tripp Galloway a few months ago. Now Melody Nolan thinks it’s her turn. Melody has recently found success as a jewelry designer, and her work is the focus of her life. She’s not exactly unhappy, but she wants more. She’s always been attracted to Spence Hogan, the local chief of police, but she’s convinced that Spence, a notorious charmer, isn’t what you’d call husband material.
Spence is a good cop who isn’t scared of anything—except love. And he’s done everything he can do preserve his reputation as a womanizer—a reputation that keeps marriage-minded women, including Melody, at bay. And yet… there’s something about Melody he can’t forget. Something his heart can’t ignore.

I love firsts: Could you please tell us about hearing from your agent or publisher when you made your first sale?

On February 14, 1983, Pocket Books editor Kate Duffy called me with the best Valentine ever--an offer to buy my first novel, "Fletcher's Woman as part of their Tapestry line of historical romances.

This is Linda's Q&A about the book.

In THE MARRIAGE CHARM, Melody Nolan falls in love with Chief of Police, Spence Hogan. Spence has a reputation that he’ll never settle down. Is his reputation deserved? And just what is it about Melody that has grabbed the attention of womanizer Spence Hogan?
Spence has actually cultivated his reputation as a player, in order to avoid settling down, and it’s served him well—until now. He and Melody were in love, years before, but the time wasn’t right for marriage; Spence knew that, but Melody didn’t. Now, following their mutual friends’ romantic wedding, the old attraction is back.
Female friendships play an important role in THE MARRIAGE CHARM. Do you have female friends that support you the way Hadleigh and Bex support Melody?
 Oh, yes. I have a number of very close female friends, people I can confide in, and most of them go way back. I wouldn’t know what to do without these strong, smart, funny women. Through all the ups and downs, we’ve always been there for each other.
Melody is a talented jewelry designer and I love the description of her pieces in the book! Did you do research on jewelry design and jewelry making before writing the scenes where she’s working on some of her creations?
Some research, yes. I’m an artist myself, and I love beautiful jewelry, so this career made sense for Melody.
There’s some danger and mysteryin THE MARRIAGE CHARM. How did you decide to work suspense into this story? Was it always a natural part of the plot or did you want there to be some mystery involved?
 Sometimes an element of suspense fits the story and characters, and I decide to go with it.
Do you work with a specific ‘image’ in mind when creating your characters? Do you base them on people you’ve met or know, or are they more composites of real-life and your imagination?
I often base my characters’ appearance on a famous person, but then they evolve and become themselves, in my mind and, hopefully, the reader’s, too.
That makes me want to go back and puzzle out who they might be based on.
Whoever you did base them on, they've taken on a wonderful life of their own.
Thank you, Linda for doing this Q&A.
Linda can be reached via her Website. 
Follow her on Facebook 
or Twitter
I have a copy of The Marriage Charm to give away to some lucky reader.
Enter via Rafflecopter below. Happy reading.
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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Meet Debut Author Linda O'Connor.

Posted by Susan J Berger on 2:00:00 AM with 7 comments
Please welcome author Linda O'Connor, whose debut novel, Perfectly Honest came out last week. I've read the preview chapters on Amazon and it's definitely my kind of read. 
Linda, please tell us a little about yourself. 

 I live in Ontario, Canada. We have a house on the water and I usually sit and write where I can look at the lake. When the weather is warm, I’ll write outside.
I balance writing with my work as a physician at an Urgent Care Clinic and being a mom to three sons (luckily grown and capable of throwing together a decent meal, in a pinch).
I wrote my first book 3 years ago and can’t believe how much I’ve learned. It’s also hard to believe I didn’t own a laptop 6 years ago. – Now for writing, online courses, editing, connecting with readers, I couldn't live without one. And I’m at the point where I can type as fast as I think!   I am so jealous! I wish I could do that.
I love firsts, so tell me about the moment when you found you’d made your first sale.
 Debby Gilbert from Soul Mate Publishing sent me an email. I was checking my email late at night before I shut off my computer and there it was! I’m pretty sure I threw my hands up in the air and jumped about 3 feet. Did a happy dance. Raced to tell my husband. Twirled, a little merengue, cha cha’d, did a bit of the moon walk. Texted Lesley Rooke, one of my best friends, salsa-stepped to my computer, and sent emails to my family (it was too late to call). It was like Christmas morning as a kid, but more intense! The next day I sat down to write and I was at a place of conflict between my characters – the heroine was frustrated and sad. It was so hard to stay in her head because I was bursting with happiness!
 How about the first time you kissed your true love?
 I married my true love.
 Our first kiss was on our second date. We had gone out for dinner and then went to enjoy the waterfront before he drove me home. When I got back to my apartment, my roommate asked me what kind of car he drove. I hadn’t really paid attention, it was a little red car. Years later, my husband laughed when he found out I wasn’t impressed by his ‘chick-magnet’ Mazda RX7 sports car.
Other than your own, who are your favorite (heroes/heroines/writers) in your genre? 
My favorite romance author is Nora Roberts. I think I’ve read all 200+ of her books. I love her MacGregor family series, especially Alan and Shelby’s story. (Her book The Witness is my all-time favourite.) Me too. MacGregors' first, and then The Donovan's.
 I also really enjoyed Sophia Kinsella’s Twenties Girl and Marne Davis Kellogg’s Priceless. I love comedies and can never get enough of the happy-ever-after endings! I haven't read Priceless. Thanks for the new author.
 What is the most exciting moment, so far, in your writing career? 
Seeing the cover of my book the first time. Or getting the ARC (Advanced Release Copy – the final version). Both were very cool! I get such a rush when someone tells me they love my story.
What is your favorite pastime, other than writing?
 Zumba. I love dancing. Not that I’ve ever taken any formal lessons, but it hasn’t mattered! I really love being outdoors too, so if it’s a day without a Zumba class, I’ll go cycling or cross-country skiing.
 What’s your snack of choice while writing? 
Well, I type when I write, so it’s hard to snack. Don’t want to get a sticky keyboard!
Any advice for new writers just starting out? 
I think joining the Romance Writers of America is key. Their website is an excellent resource for romance writers. I put my early stories up on www.wattpad.com. It’s a website where authors can post their work for free and readers can read it for free. (And there are some pretty big names like Margaret Atwood, Dan Brown, Sandra Brown, Talli Roland, Marian Keyes, me haha). It’s a wonderfully supportive community. I find it very encouraging when people read my work (you see the number of ‘reads’ climbing), vote for it (equivalent to liking it) and comment. Wattpad also provides statistics to the author and it was really helpful as a writer to see which chapters people read and enjoyed most.
I will try that with my WIP.
What genre or genres do you write?
Contemporary romantic comedies. One story I wrote has a bit of a mystery to it, but it’s still a comedy.
 Tell us about Perfectly Honest .
You never know where your words will take you… When Mikaela Finn agreed to be Sam’s ‘fiancée’ for a weekend, she probably should have told him that she’s a doctor. Sam O’Brien, aka ‘Dr. Eye Candy’, is trying to shed his playboy reputation and convince a small town hospital that he’s ready to settle down. But when his ‘fiancée’ helps deliver a baby in the middle of the meet and greet, it’s a bit of a shock. If he’d known the whole truth, he might have done things a little differently because somehow his ‘fiancée’ ends up stealing his job and his heart. Not exactly the change he wanted. Lies and deceit – it’s a match made in heaven!
Love the blurb. I really want to read this.
Here’s a video book trailer of it;
What’s your current WIP?
 Currently I’m working on book 3 in the Perfectly… series. Perfectly Honest is Book 1. Perfectly Reasonable is Book 2 - I just signed a contract with SMP for it (Woohoo!). And I’ve written about two-thirds of Perfectly Planned, Book 3.
And finally, where can we find you? 
I love to hear from readers. My website: www.lindaoconnor.net
My Facebook Author page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Linda-OConnor/229838333874258
Twitter: https://twitter.com/lindaoconnor98
Wattpad: http://www.wattpad.com/user/lindaoconnor98
Book Buy Link for Perfectly Honest.
Thank you for visiting Linda. Linda is offering two e-books to the lucky winners.

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To comment on this post and leave Linda some love, please go back to the top of the post to the line that says Posted at 2:00 AM by Susan J Berger (Why can't I get it to use Susan B. James) and hit the little thingy that says comments. Linda and I both love feedback.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Meet the mistress of Magic Realism, Sarah Addison Allen.

Posted by Susan J Berger on 2:00:00 AM with 9 comments
  Please welcome Sarah Addison Allen whose new bookFirst Frost  releases January 20th. Not only do I have an interview with Sarah, I have an autographed copy of First Frost to give away. I feel like I won the lottery.
 


I fell in love with Sarah’s first book, Garden Spells  in 2008 and couldn't wait for the next dose of her self -described Southern Fried Magic Realism.
The Sugar Queen  did not disappoint. I have given away so many copies of it to friends that it’s ridiculous.

I took this bio from Sarah’s website:
New York Times Bestselling novelist Sarah Addison Allen brings the full flavor of her southern upbringing to bear on her fiction -- a captivating blend of magical realism, heartwarming romance, and small-town sensibility. Born and raised in Asheville, North Carolina, in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Sarah grew up with a love of books and an appreciation of good food (she credits her journalist father for the former and her mother, a fabulous cook, for the latter). In college, she majored in literature - because, as she puts it, "I thought it was amazing that I could get a diploma just for reading fiction. It was like being able to major in eating chocolate."
After graduation, her big break occurred in 2007 with the publication of her first mainstream novel, Garden Spells, a modern-day fairy tale about an enchanted apple tree and the family of North Carolina women who tend it. Booklist called Sarah's accomplished debut "spellbindingly charming." The novel became a Barnes & Noble Recommends selection, and a New York Times Bestseller.
After publishing four bestselling books in five years, Sarah took a hiatus when she was diagnosed with late-stage breast cancer at age 39. She returned to writing with her 2014 bestselling Lost Lake. She is now in remission. 
In 2015, she revisits the popular setting of her first book. First Frost, continues the story of the Waverley sisters from Garden Spells.

I love firsts, so tell me about the moment when you found you’d made your first sale.
It was the day before Thanksgiving and an editor from Canada called and left a message saying she was interested in a short romance novel I’d written.  I played the message for my family at Thanksgiving.  I was going to keep it for posterity, but it was mistakenly erased.  The book, called Tried and True, was published under the pen name Katie Gallagher.  I thought I had it made.  But then the line folded suddenly.  It took a long time to get another book published.  But that book turned out to be Garden Spells, so it was worth the wait.  We don’t always see the rhyme or reason behind the journey we have to take until we’re far enough down the road to see that the twists and turns were just leading us to where we needed to be.
I love that. Also I am such a fan, that I looked up Tried and True and bought it for my Kindle.

Other than your own, who are your favorite (heroes/heroines/writers) in your genre?

Alice Hoffman and Joanne Harris are wonderful, the queens of contemporary magical realism.  I first discovered this genre in college, and those first books remain some of my favorites.  I think the newness, the way this literary device opened a whole new world for me when I discovered it, made these titles unforgettable, like first loves: The Passion by Jeanette Winterson, I Am One of You Forever by Fred Chapppell, Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquirel, A History of the World in Ten and a Half Chapters by Julian Barnes.

Your book tour for The Peach Keeper had to be cancelled when you were diagnosed with late stage breast cancer. What helped you the most getting through this set back?
My family and friends, but also, unexpectedly, my readers.  I was overwhelmed by the support they offered me after I let them know I wouldn’t be on tour because I had cancer.  Cancer was such a shock, was such unexplored territory for me, that I had no idea what to expect.  I think, in the back of my mind, I was just going to try to hold on to what was normal for me, and bear the rest silently until it was over and I could go on with my life.  But everything changed because of cancer, including the way I accept — and now offer — support when going through the most trying times in life.

What is the most exciting moment, so far, in your writing career?
 I like to joke that I knew I finally made it when my dad stopped asking me when I was going to get a real job.  But I think the most exciting moment was getting the call that Garden Spells made the New York Times bestseller list.  I was in a tiny hotel room in Charlotte, N.C., on a short tour for the book, and I didn’t see it coming.  Best surprise ever.

What is your favorite pastime, other than writing?
 Sleeping.  Really!  Hobbies are the things we like to do but don’t always have time for.  That’s sleeping for me.  I like to think I’m getting really good at it, when I find the time!

You write some of the best food I’ve ever read. What’s your snack of choice while writing?
Thank you!  I’ve always been a little obsessed with food.  And I’m a classic emotional eater.  I used to eat my way through the stress of writing books (I gained nearly 20 pounds writing The Sugar Queen), but I’ve learned to keep snacks away from my computer while writing, or I’ll eat bags of candy and chips without thinking.  And my diet changed after cancer.  I learned some better habits, like, if it’s not in the house, I won’t eat it.  So I don’t keep the bad stuff around.  That’s not to say I don’t still eat it!  Just not at home. 

Got a recipe you want to share? Oh Please!!! Perhaps a Waverly Sisters recipe?
 Here’s the fabulous recipe for the Fig and Pepper Bread Claire Waverley makes in First Frost
Fig and Pepper BreadA simple, rustic bread with a magical combination of sharp, cracked pepper and sweet, moist fig.  Pair with your favorite creamy cheeses or marmalades.
2 cups wholegrain spelt flour
2 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 1/2 cup coarsely chopped figs
2 tsp coarse black pepper
2 tsp sea salt
2 Tbs olive oil
1 dry yeast packet
1 1/2 cups of warm water

Whisk flour, salt, pepper and yeast until blended, by hand or with whisk attachment of mixer.
Add olive oil and warm water.  Knead for 10 minutes, or use dough hook attachment of mixer for 5 minutes, until dough is smooth and springy.
Oil a large bowl, place dough inside, and cover bowl with a damp hand towel.  Let sit in a warm place for approximately 1 hour, or until dough has doubled in size.
Softly knead in the chopped figs and evenly distribute throughout the dough (lightly flouring your hands can make handling the dough easier), shape into an oval, then place on a baking sheet.
Snip three shallow lines into top of the dough with scissors, then lightly dust the dough with flour.
Let rise, uncovered, until dough swells a little more —  10-15 mins, or longer if the kitchen isn’t warm.
Place tray in 350 degree oven for 40-45 mins until crust is slightly brown and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the underside. Cool on a wire rack.
I can't wait to try this. It sounds wonderful.

Any advice for new writers just starting out?
Trying to get published, trying to make a living from writing, from something you love to do and know you were meant to do, can be frustrating and disheartening.  But don’t give up because of the dark days. Succeed in spite of them. The dark days will make the bright days seem even brighter.  So bright you can hardly stand it.

Tell us about First Frost

First Frost is a return to the world of Garden Spells, but is a standalone novel.  It takes place ten years after Garden Spells, and explores what happens after the happily-ever-after.  I loved this return to Bascom,North Carolina.  It felt like coming home.  I hope readers will enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
I, for one, know I will.

What’s your current WIP?
 I only have a chapter and a synopsis right now, but it takes place in Charleston, involves two older sisters who haven’t talked in years, a young woman on her own for the first time in her life…and an invisible bird.  Who knows where the story will take me?  I can’t wait to find out.
You had me at invisible bird. If you ever use Beta readers, I volunteer.

And finally, where can we find you? 
My website is www.sarahaddisonallen.com.  And I’m active on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest,too, if you want to come join me on social media!
Here are the the buy links for First Frost:
Thank you so much for doing this interview, Sarah. Sarah graciously gave me an autographed copy of First Frost to give away. The only way I've been able to keep my hands off it is by re-reading Garden Spells. I pre-ordered my own copy of First Frost months ago. 
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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Meet Larynn Ford

Posted by Susan J Berger on 1:30:00 AM with 6 comments
L

Please welcome Larynn Ford who is intrigued by the paranormal. She’s a day dreamer and a romantic. She loves to let her mind wander always searching for a happily ever after ending to her dreams.
At home in East Central Alabama, she worked as a cook and cashier before becoming a wife and mother. Earned a degree in Elementary Education, taught school, and worked in customer service. All the while her day dreams stacked up in the archives of her mind waiting for, well…
She put some of those ideas on paper and began writing in 2009. Larynn’s first effort involves the reuniting of two lost loves through a series of dreams involving the magical land of the Fae. It’s not all fun and games though since danger lurks in the shadows and must be dealt with.
In 2010, she joined Romance Writers of America and chose the Southern Magic Chapter in Birmingham, Alabama as her local support group.
She’s going to keep on dreaming and searching for those happy endings.
I love firsts, so tell me about the moment when you found you’d made your first sale.
I got up the morning of my scheduled release and even with the excitement of anticipation, tried to get dressed for work before checking Amazon. As I was about to step out of the bathroom, there was a tap on the door. My husband had found my book on Amazon and gifted it to me. My first sale!! He proudly held my iPad up so I could see, in vivid color . . . MY book. Wow! I was a published author and my biggest fan was there celebrating with me.

In My Wildest Dreams, my debut novel was published in 2013 and is book one in The Dream Trilogy. 

Other than your own, who are your favorite (heroes/heroines/writers) in your genre?
Kerrelyn Sparks is one of my favorite authors. Her paranormal series, Love at Stake, is about a community of vampires and werecreatures living and working alongside each other in the human world.
I enjoyed the series so much that I searched out additional info on the author. Her website included advice for aspiring authors and nudged me to think about my idea of writing just a bit more seriously. Her advice? Find your voice and write.
So I did. Flying by the seat of my pants with no idea where I was going, I started to write. That was 2009. In 2013, after stumbling around trying to find the right path to take, In My Wildest Dreams was published by Soul Mate Publishing.


One of the greatest moments in my short writing career was attending the 2013 RWA conference in Atlanta GA where I got to meet Kerrelyn in person!! At the book signing, I strolled up to her table and said, “You are the reason I’m here today.” Her reaction? “Oh my! Let me give you a hug!
I was one happy budding author that day.

What is your favorite pastime, other than writing?
I can’t really say that I have any favorite activities other than writing. The other necessary tasks associated with writing like promoting my books and social media certainly take their share of time. Normal every day activities include family, work, and chores. That pretty much fills a day:)
I love listening to my music. I’m a country fan for the most part and no matter what the task of the moment happens to be, my playlist is usually playing through Apple TV.


What’s your snack of choice while writing?
We all have our sweet/salty cravings so it depends on my mood I suppose. Chips and dip are sometimes supper rather than a snack:)

Laryn Ford's Chicken Chili
Got a recipe you want to share?
Chicken Chili
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 can black beans
1 can whole kernel corn
1 tsp onion powder
1 can Rotel tomatoes
1 packet Ranch dressing mix
1 package cream cheese
\

Drain and rinse the black beans. Place your chicken at the bottom of the crock pot, then pour out the whole can of corn (undrained), Rotel tomatoes, and black beans on top of chicken.

Top with seasonings and ranch dressing mix. Stir together.
Place cream cheese on top. Cover with lid and cook on low for 6-8 hours.
Now there's a little romance for ya! Grab a bowl and a good book and enjoy!!
Sounds wonderful. I want to try it.

Any advice for new writers just starting out?
Just write. Write often. And read. Read not only through a readers eyes, focusing on the story and the joy it brings you but with eyes focused as a writer, asking yourself why the author chose a particular word or phrase. Then repeat the process. Write, read, write.


Tell us about your latest release. 
My latest is the second book of my Dream Trilogy, Dreams Do Come True.
Lynzi and Layne’s adventures continue as they return to the human world to help his human parents find out who or what is destroying their cattle.
Lynzi, a human just recently introduced to the magical world of the Fae, now discovers other mystical creatures have existed alongside her for her entire life. Sadly, some of them now want her dead.


What’s your current WIP?
Working title: A Second Chance At Forever.
A contemporary novella about a second chance at happiness and the struggles getting there. The choices we make in life set us on a path. Sometimes those paths lead to happiness and sometimes we need a do-over.
 

Lara waited years for her husband to become the man she thought she married. Forever patient with his, indiscretions, she suddenly found herself face to face with the unforgivable.
Now, building a life for herself and two young daughters, she never expected an old love to walk back into her life and ignite a flame she soon discovered was never completely extinguished.

love your title  Time and Forever was called Second Chances until the month before it was published.
And finally, where can we find you?

Links:

Website/Blog: http://larynnford.com/

Twitter: @LarynnFord

Face Book: https://www.facebook.com/larynnfordauthor

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Larynn-Ford/e/B00CELS1V8/

I invite you all to visit the sites above. Like me, follow me, friend me, or leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you!

Other Book Buy Links:

All I Want For Christmas Is A Soul Mate
featuring my short story: Christmas Blessings

Rescued

Rescued is currently a stand along book but certain characters have refused to leave my head and stories of their own are percolating in my mind.

Thank you for dropping by, Larynn. Laryn is giving away copies of each of her main books: 
In My Wildest DreamsDreams Do Come True 
and Rescued


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