Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Allison Morse. The Sweetheart Deal and a giveaway

Posted by Susan J Berger on 3:30:00 AM with 35 comments

Meet Alison Morse whose debut novel, The Sweetheart Deal came out June 5th.
Allison and I used to be in the same children's writing critique group. I truly loved her work and her input into my work. I saw the beginnings of this story in that group back in 2009 and it's evolved into a wonderful rich story that kept me up way past my bedtime. A story I plan to read again. We are now both members of  the Los Angeles Chapter of the Romance Writers of America, LARA-RWA.Not only is Allison guesting on the blog, she's giving away a twenty dollar Amazon gift card. Details at the end of the post.

Allison, please tell us a little bit about yourself.

I grew up in a family of actors in Los Angeles; before the age of five I started acting classes, which I adored. I continued in the family business until my early twenties when I decided to consider other interests and professions, like counseling and the law. While continuing to work full time as a lawyer, I pursued a professional writing career. In addition to my just released romance, The Sweetheart Deal, I’m near completion of a mystery novel set in 1970s Hollywood entitled Depth of Focus. I live with my husband in a house in the hills that’s filled with books.
Other than your own, who are your favorite (heroes/heroines/writers)in your genre?
My two favorite romance writers are Susan Elizabeth Phillips (contemporary) and Julia Quinn (historical). I love Julia Quinn’s entire Bridgerton series. My favorite of the series is Romancing Mister Bridgerton. In this story the heroine, Penelope, is a true wallflower but smart as a whip and she also has a secret identity as a writer. How can you not love that! Susan Elizabeth Phillips has such great and unlikely heroines and the stories are filled with romance and humor. Two of my favorites are Ain’t She Sweet and Natural Born Charmer. They are both a lot of fun. I'm with you all the way on those two!

What is the most exciting moment, so far, in your writing career?

It’s hard to beat getting my first book published. But the most absolute thrilling moments are when the writing itself is jamming. Then, character and story flow on to the page. To me, being in that state is the most energizing and transporting experience. It’s this writer’s high that keeps me going back to my pad of paper or computer screen no matter the heartache of the rejections or the frustration when I’m stuck for an idea. 

What is your favorite pastime, other than writing?
Besides reading, I enjoy watching old classic movies. In fact, in The Sweetheart Deal I tried to channel the snappy repartee and energy you find in the old Hepburn & Tracy movies, or Rosalind Russell and Cary Grant in His Girl Friday. These are fun films!  You managed it!

How do you motivate yourself when inspiration takes a vacation?
I tend to make myself sit at the computer for a set amount of time, no matter what. I tell myself I have to sit there, even if I write nothing. Then, I realize, I might as well write something even if it is bad. To be frank, many times what comes out isn’t great, or doesn’t entirely solve the problem that got me stuck in the first place. But, by in large, just the act of doing something starts my mind churning and that will eventually help me figure a way around an impasse.

Got a recipe you want to share?
To go with my stories setting, I thought a classic 50s-type cocktail, a Manhattan, would be fun to share.
Directions: Place ice in a cocktail shaker. Add 3 parts rye whiskey, 1 part vermouth, and 2 dashes of bitters. Then stir contents. Next, rub orange peel around the rim of the cocktail glass. Strain the drink into the glass. Add a maraschino cherry. 
Thank you!
  Any advice for new writers just starting out?
Revise, revise, revise. Then, if you are anything like me, when you think the work is perfect––it’s not. So do another round of revise, revise, revise.

What genre or genres do you write?
I’m a genre slut. The Sweetheart Deal is a summer beach novel. I just completed a Gothic mystery and I’m also working on Middle Grade kid’s novel. To me, it’s always about trying to write a good and emotionally satisfying story, and not necessarily fitting into a particular genre.
I am a fellow slut.

Here's the blurb for The Sweetheart Deal. 
Some people think Ellen Hamilton, the business savvy daughter of the largest employer in town, is too big for her britches. After all, it’s the 1950s and women have no place running factories. But when the Hamilton company is threatened with takeover by John Adair, the man who broke her heart and was run out of town years ago, the game is on. Has Ellen met her match? Or, will this time be different and will Ellen win everything—including the handsome and mysterious John?

I really loved this book. So did Kirkus Reviews.
Allow me to quoteMorse successfully weaves a lively romance together with a tale of complex corporate skullduggery that often feels like a gripping thriller. Its characters and setting are particularly well-developed. Ellen, for example, is a strong, independent heroine who’s determined to live her life on her own terms, even if it means defying her family’s expectations of her. Although John comes to Pitney with a hidden agenda, his feelings for Ellen are genuine, as is his desire to make amends. Their rekindled relationship crackles with romantic tension. The well-described settings render a convincing portrait of life in 1950s California. Meanwhile, a subplot involving Tim’s plan to wrest control of Hamilton from his father keeps the novel moving forward at a brisk pace.
A satisfying romance bolstered by strong characters, detailed settings, and surprising plot twists
Excerpt (516 words)

Ellen slammed the book on her desk and stood. “I knew you were up to something!”
He stalked toward her. “Then why don’t you run and tell Daddy? Let him take care of the big bad wolf.”
Ellen crossed her arms. “I would, except for my brother.”
“Really?” John moved around the desk and hovered over her. “Is that the only reason?”
Meeting the challenge, she stepped forward, lifting her chin, which reached no higher than his chest. “Absolutely.”
He shifted his gaze.
Good! He retreated first.
He picked up her copy of A Room with a View left open on her desk and whispered in her ear. “Why?”
Not so good.
His hand skimmed down her shoulder blade. She jumped at his touch, but that landed her even closer to him.
Why. Her question for him. Why?
No. Even though she spent those first few months after he left crying herself to sleep with that question. She wouldn’t ask it.
John hovered inches from hers. “That’s what the boy says in the novel, right? The great universal why.” His breath slid down along her neck like warm olive oil. “And, of course, the personal why, right Ellie, the very personal, why?” He pulled her to him and kissed her.
Initially, his mouth was surprisingly tentative. Almost awkward, like the first peck he’d given her after years of them being just friends. And, like then, the kiss had not stayed restrained, but grew hot and delicious in its intensity.
Her mind knew to stop this. But her body roared to life and pressed closer for more.
With a rip, reason prevailed, and she broke away, praying her effort to appear composed was working.
“Well, that was novel,” she said, smoothing down her dress. She gave a short cough of a laugh. “Bad joke, I know. So then, let’s move to business. What do you and Tim,  and that Cindy person need from me? Is it my money, my votes, or me out of the way?”
John squelched a laugh like he actually felt embarrassed. “No dice, huh?” He shrugged. “You can’t blame a guy for trying, can you?”
She looked him straight in the eye. “Yes, I can.”
Hey, what about you? Batting your eyes. You didn’t really think I wouldn’t see through that. Come on, I know you, Ellie.”
And you? Quoting E.M. Forster, now that was brilliant.” Ellen’s intent was to be angry, but she couldn’t stop a smile playing upon her lips. “I mean, that you even knew the details from the book. Very impressive.”
“Hey, I was in this library as much as you if remember, with more need of escape.
“And I wonder what would you’ve done if I was reading Jane Austen? No kissing in her books.”
“Even easier.” He leaned in close. “All the lack of kissing makes for great tension.”
Her body flooded with heat, but she caught herself and gazed intently at the fan on the window sill.
“That’s that, huh?” he asked. “I guess I should go.”
Yes, go. Stay. She didn’t know what to say.

Yup! Going to read it again.
What’s your current WIP? 
The story I'm currently working on is very different than The Sweetheart Deal. My new novel is called Depth of Focus: A Hollywood Gothic. It’s a mystery set in 1970s Hollywood. I like to describe it as a bit like Jane Eyre meets Sunset Boulevard with a solid whodunit at its core. Here is its blurb:

Thirty years after the brutal death of her grandmother, the legendary film goddess Gloria Reardon, film student and avid feminist, Kate Bloom, inherits a dangerous legacy. The missing footage from Gloria’s last film could prove, once and for all, who murdered her. But the bit players of Gloria’s time have become Hollywood’s power elite and have their own reasons for burying the unfinished masterpiece. With industry giants rising up on both sides, Kate is abruptly swept into the glittering, turbulent world of 1970s Hollywood and to beat them she must fully own who and what she is, or risk repeating her grandmother’s horrifying death. 
Okay. Can I be a Beta reader? I love this plot!

And finally, where can we find you?
US Amazon buy link for The Sweetheart Deal: http://amzn.to/1EfHzHO
UK Amazon link
Thank you so much for being here! Allison is giving away a twenty dollar Amazon gift card. You know the drill, friends. Read on!
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