Getting to know Claire Naden #author #romance #suspense #WomensFiction #historical #fiction #books

It’s author interview day again! One of the benefits of this series is that I’ve gotten to know some really interesting authors. I hope everyone is enjoying getting to know a different author each week. Would you enjoy it if I keep it up into 2020? Please let me know in the comments. Thanks!

This week’s guest author is a kind person I’ve met a few times although I haven’t had much opportunity to speak with her. Please help me welcome Claire Naden, author of romantic suspense and women’s fiction. Let’s peek at her official bio and then we’ll dive right into the interview.

Claire Naden resides in Southern California.  Born and raised in the Pasadena area, she enjoyed a career as a paralegal before turning her attention to writing full-time. Currently, her writing focuses on romantic suspense and historical fiction with an emphasis on World War II, but her interests also include historical events in Asia and the Middle East. Her first published novel, Cache Under the Stacks, A Cate Wagner Mystery, was published in June 2018.  Her second novel, a woman’s fiction, Starting Over, is about to be published this fall. In addition to writing, Ms. Naden is an avid reader, enjoys going to independent and foreign language films. Claire and her husband David, reside in Pasadena and enjoy caring for two spoiled dogs, Mandy and Minnie.  She has a bachelor’s degree in English, and master’s degrees in history and library and information science. You can find out more about her at https://clairenaden.wordpress.com/, and follow her on Amazon, Facebook, or Twitter.

Betty: How many books have you written and published?

Claire: So far one but my second with the galley proofs arrived this past week so I would expect it to be in the print stage very soon.

Betty: What genre(s) do you write in and why?

Claire: My first book, a romantic suspense happened quite by accident as a result of a mystery writing class I took. We were to write of an experience that we had which was terrifying, scary, etc.  I chose to write about a phone call that I received in the middle of the night when I was single and living alone in an unsecure apartment building. However, the primary similarity is the phone call and my marital status. From there the book is fiction.

Betty: What themes or motifs did you use in your recent release and why were they important to your story?

Claire: The protagonist in my current work is looking to start her life over after several failed relationships. At midlife she knows she is taking a huge step but desires to make this change in her life – selling her present home and moving to Kauai to run bed and breakfast. You could say it has been a dream of mine to do just that.

A headstrong, ambitious forty-something woman inherited more than a thriving bookstore in her aunt’s will. Bungalow Books came with a cache of valuable artifacts, threats, and maybe love. Cate Wagner, a divorced empty-nester sees a chance to make a new start when she inherits a thriving bookstore from her late great aunt until a phone call in the middle of the night wakes Cate Wagner from an Ambien induced slumber and changes her life. The call is the first in a series of threats and incidents against her and Bungalow Books. Detective Ian West arrives to investigate and falls in love with the independent and often frustrating Cate. An encounter with a former love of Cate’s complicates their new relationship but leads her to clues about the threats. Is it what lies hidden under the stacks of Bungalow Books or is it simply a distraction that will deter Cate from finding the cache of valuable artifacts with historical implications?

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Betty: Do you have a specific place that you write? Revise?

Claire: I like to write and revise in my office which I converted from a second room. It opened onto the living room and I had a wall added and door with a lock and it has afforded me privacy. Since we live in a condominium, it is often difficult to write at home because when my husband who has a part-time job is home it is a bit distracting. But I must admit to enjoying a day at a local coffee or tea shop where I can write by myself. I have been wanting to start up a writing group but here it is a tough go, but I will not give up.

Betty: Do you have any writing rituals while you write? Did you have a special drink, or music, or time of day that you gravitated toward?

Claire: I drink coffee and tea in the afternoons. I listen to symphonic soundtracks while I write. I try to write in the late morning into the afternoon. When I was still working, my writing time was very limited, but now that I’m not working I can write whenever I can “get my butt in the chair.” Now I do other things during those hours such as research and character development.

Betty: What helped you move from unpublished to published? A mentor or organization or something else?

Claire: After writing my first book, I didn’t want it to just sit in a drawer. I wanted to get it out there. I tried pitching and querying without much success. I have a good friend who is published, and she encouraged me and introduced me to her publisher, Archway. Also, while attending various writing conferences I developed a strong desire to become one of the pack.

Betty: What do you think is your greatest strength in your writing?

Claire: What a great question for me. I have to say that I am tenacious and to my detriment a perfectionist! I never lack for story ideas and will find myself with too many stories I want to write about.

Betty: What comes first when you’re brainstorming a new story: setting, situation, characters?

Claire: I like to develop my characters and place them in a situation. I usually do these two things almost simultaneously. The situation evolves from my primary character.

Betty: Do you have a structured time to write or is it more fluid/flexible? Do you have to write between family obligations or do you set aside a block of time?

Claire: Fortunately, I have a lot of flexibility when scheduling my writing. I was forced into an early retirement and my husband encouraged me to take the leap and write full time since I had been wanting to do that. I had been what some call a professional student: bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies following by one in English; a master’s in history followed by one in library and information science. In 2010 after completing my 2nd masters I started taking online writing courses which led me to writing full time.

Betty: What is one recent struggle you’ve experienced in your writing?

Claire: My recent struggle has been comparing myself to other writers and their success. I step back and tell myself – “they have been writing longer and have published more books than myself.” I also marvel at authors that manage to publish more than one book a year. I try to figure out how they do that but so far, no magic bullet I have found. I question, why I can’t pump those books out like they can.

Betty: Do you participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)? Why or why not?

Claire: I have started NaNoWriMo a couple of times but drop by the wayside. I have found myself doing other things i.e. developing a character, story, revising, self-editing etc. It doesn’t seem to fit my personality although I must say being held accountable for the number of words written in a given day is a great impetus.

Betty: What are you reading right now?

Claire: I just finished Grace in the Wings by Kari Bovee. I usually am reading more than one book and have started Tessa Arlen’s Poppy Redfern and the Midnight Murders (A Woman of WWII Mystery) and The Munich Girl by Phyliss Ring.

Betty: What is your favorite genre to read?

Claire: Historical fiction set in the 1930s and during WWII. I also like to read mysteries.

Betty: What are your keeper books? How often might you reread them?

Claire: All of the books that I have read about the 1930s and WWII? Unfortunately, I don’t reread them as there is always something new out that I want to read.

Betty: When you’re writing, do you read in the same genre as your work in progress or something else?

Claire: I read in the same genre as my work in progress because I like to immerse myself in that time period along with other writers.

Betty: Do you have a “day job” or do you write full time?

Claire: I am thankful I can write full time.

Betty: What do you wish readers knew about the publishing industry?

Claire: This is a good question. I knew very little about the publishing industry with respect to fiction. My aunt has had a publishing business for many years but her focus has been on non-fiction so I didn’t get much help from her. I have learned a lot on my own and one thing that sticks with me is that it is much harder than I thought. There is so much competition and one should never take for granted that it is easy to break into the publishing industry. I tried for a while and decided that if I wanted to publish my work that I needed to be flexible. There are many options out there besides traditional publishing. Not to be discounted are self-publishing and hybrid publishing – they both deserve more respect.

Betty: What advice do you have for new writers?

Claire: Most would say to write every day which is a good mantra, but it comes down to one thing: don’t give up – keep pushing forward and know you can do it.

Betty: Any hints of what you’re next writing project might be?

Claire: I have ideas for two WWII novels which I have been working on for a couple of years, but the research is daunting at times and I get pulled into writing contemporary. I often find falling down the rabbit hole when it comes to research which I love doing and have an idea for a book that takes place in my hometown of Pasadena, CA – turn of the last century!

Betty: What kind of writing would you like to experiment with? Or what’s a different genre you’ve considered writing but haven’t yet?

Claire: I want to write more in the historical genre especially the Victorian period.

Thanks so much for stopping by, Claire! I hope everyone enjoyed getting to know this interesting author along with me.

Are you all starting to think about the upcoming holidays? Have you considered giving the gift of reading, of good books? Reading is so important not only for its educational benefits but also for the enjoyment of visiting other places, other worlds, other ways of life.

Thanks to all of you for reading my blog as well as my books. I deeply appreciate your time and support.

Happy Fall! And happy reading!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I send out most every month, including news like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers, along with recipes and writing progress. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit www.bettybolte.com for more on my books and upcoming events.

Getting to know Regina Jeffers #romance #author #historical #regency #cozymystery #JaneAusten #amreading #fiction

I’m delighted to introduce my next guest author, the amazing, talented romance author Regina Jeffers. She’s had quite an interesting career to date with much more to come. Let’s look at her bio and then move on to the interview, shall we?

Regina Jeffers, an award-winning author of historical cozy mysteries, Austenesque sequels and retellings, as well as Regency era romances, has worn many hats over her lifetime: daughter, student, military brat, wife, mother, grandmother, teacher, tax preparer, journalist, choreographer, Broadway dancer, theatre director, history buff, grant writer, media literacy consultant, and author. Living outside of Charlotte, NC, Jeffers writes novels that take the ordinary and adds a bit of mayhem, while mastering tension in her own life with a bit of gardening and the exuberance of her “grand joys.”

You can learn more about her books at www.rjeffers.com, or follow either of her blogs Every Woman Dreams and Austen Authors or her Amazon page. She’s also on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Betty: How many books have you written and published?

Regina: I have written 48 books.

Betty: What genre(s) do you write in and why?

Regina: I write Jane Austen-inspired variations, Regency era romance, romantic suspense/cozy mysteries, and the occasional contemporary.

Betty: What themes or motifs did you use in your recent release and why were they important to your story?

Regina: I used Public Betrayal and Family Lies That Come Back to Bite to drive the story forward. The Heartless Earl is set in the Regency Era when divorce was a VERY public affair.  The Church of England only permitted a “legal separation,” which was termed a “divorce,” a fact that blows the mind of the modern reader. To claim a divorce (the right to marry another), the man first had to seek the “legal separation” on the ground of adultery on the part of his wife. He also had to sue the wife’s lover for “criminal conversation” (alienation of affection) in a different court. The “lover” would be found guilty of “illegal intercourse,” and the court would award the husband damages. The next step would be to petition Parliament to end his marriage. Testimony would be taken regarding the circumstances. This testimony would be published in the newspapers, which meant a quiet end to a marriage was not possible. At length, the bill/petition would be agreed upon, and the couple were free to marry others. 

STERLING BAXTER, the Earl of Merritt, has married the woman his father has chosen for him, but the marriage has been everything but comfortable. Sterling’s wife, Lady Claire, came to the marriage bed with a wanton’s experience. She dutifully provides Merritt his heir, but within a fortnight, she deserts father and son for a baron, Lord Lyall Sutherland. In the eyes of the ton, Lady Claire has cuckolded Merritt.

EBBA MAYER, longs for love and adventure. Unfortunately, she’s likely to find neither. As a squire’s daughter, Ebba holds no sway in Society; but she’s a true diamond of the first water. Yet, when she meets Merritt’s grandmother, the Dowager Countess of Merritt creates a “story” for the girl, claiming if Ebba is presented to the ton as a war widow with a small dowry, the girl will find a suitable match.

LORD LYALL SUTHERLAND remains a thorn in Merritt’s side, but when the baron makes Mrs. Mayer a pawn in his crazy game of control, Merritt offers the woman his protection. However, the earl has never faced a man who holds little strength of title, but who wields great power; and he finds himself always a step behind the enigmatic baron. When someone frames Merritt for Lady Claire’s sudden disappearance, Merritt must quickly learn the baron’s secrets or face a death sentence.

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Black Opal Books     Amazon

Betty: Do you have a specific place that you write? Revise?

Regina: I still hand write my books in spiral notebooks. I customarily sit in the same chair in my sitting room while doing this, joking saying my inspiration is hidden in the well-worn cushion. Then I type the manuscript. Think about it. That is actually my second draft, not my first.

Betty: Do you have any writing rituals while you write? Did you have a special drink, or music, or time of day that you gravitated toward?

Regina: I write best later in the evening, somewhere between 5 and 11 P.M. By that time of the day, there is no longer annoying spam callers or other interruptions to break my concentration. Sometimes, I play classical or baroque music, but it is not necessary. That being said, I can write anywhere, waiting in the car pool line at my grandchildren’s school, doctor’s offices, etc.

Betty: What helped you move from unpublished to published? A mentor or organization or something else?

Regina: My road to claiming a publisher was a fluke. When I was still teaching school, I was complaining about a particular book to my students. One student said: “If you know how to do it, do it yourself.” Therefore, I took up the challenge. I rewrote Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” from Mr. Darcy’s point of view. I self-published it in a time when self-publishing was still called “vanity press.” I had one of my other students draw the cover so she could add “published artist” to her resume for college, and then forgot about it. By word of mouth, the book rose to #8 on Amazon’s sales’ list, and a traditional publisher in California contacted me and offered to publish that book and asked for more.

Betty: What do you think is your greatest strength in your writing?

Regina: I think, first and foremost, being a voracious reader provides me the advantage of knowing what works and what does not work in writing. Having lots of experience in both amateur and professional theatre, my strength lies in using dialogue to advance the story—not depending on narration.

Betty: What comes first when you’re brainstorming a new story: setting, situation, characters?

Regina: The situation is always first for me.

Betty: Do you have a structured time to write or is more fluid/flexible? Do you have to write between family obligations or do you set aside a block of time?

Regina: I have family obligations, but not as many as when I first started writing. I am a retired school teacher, having spent 40 years in the public school system. I prefer to write in the evening. I work out my story issues with a good round of weeding my flower gardens.

Betty: What is one recent struggle you’ve experienced in your writing?

Regina: Last year, I had several health issues, the most pressing, at the moment, is being diagnosed as a Type 2 diabetic. I am 72 years of age and suddenly I had to start pricking my fingers 3-4 times a day, which really is painful when one spends the majority of her day on the computer. I have solved that problem by claiming a Free Style Libre device that can take a blood glucose reading as many times a day as I choose, and, unless something is significant, no finger sticks are necessary. The only drawback is the device is not covered by Medicare, so it is a bit expensive for out-of-pocket funds.

Betty: Do you participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)? Why or why not?

Regina: I actually have participated in NaNoWriMo in the past, but it is not something I do regularly. Generally, I am fairly regimented with my writing and do not require reminders nor a “cheering section” to spur me on. I am too much of a type-A personality not to recognize my weaknesses and my strengths. [As proof I am a type-A, notice I listed “weaknesses” first, or, perhaps that is because I am also a Virgo.]

Betty: What are you reading right now?

Regina: As I said previously, I am a READER. I read everything from cereal boxes to bestsellers. I am very fond of cozy mysteries, family sagas, etc.

Betty: What is your favorite genre to read?

Regina: I, generally, read historicals. I write Regencies, but I also read Westerns, Edwardian, Victorian, Revolutionary War, Civil War, etc. I really enjoy the history of a book. I recently read a book (title and author shall remain unnamed) about the Pony Express. I found myself more interested in the history of the routes taken and the numerous rest stops than I was with the story. History geek all the way!

Betty: What are your keeper books? How often might you reread them?

Regina: I am a Jane Austen fan, reread Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion every year, and her others regularly. I also have books from when I was still teaching that I reread. There is a young adult series from Ellen Emerson White on the Vietnam War that I keep on my shelf. My students, especially the males, loved the series, and I saw more than one kid become hooked on reading through them. White used the name Zack Emerson for The Echo Company series. They recently came out in eBooks after being so long out of print. I contacted a number of young men who loved the series and told them of the release so they could finally own a copy of the complete set.

Betty: When you’re writing, do you read in the same genre as your work in progress or something else?

Regina: As I am rarely not writing, I am sometimes reading and writing in the same genre, but I like to mix up my reading to keep my stories fresh.

Betty: Do you have a “day job” or do you write full time?

Regina: I am a retired school teacher, but for several years I was both teacher and writer. Now, I spend several days a week volunteering at our local Department of Social Services, helping with projects for kids in foster care, Medicaid claims, food stamps, the Christmas Bureau, etc.

Betty: What do you wish readers knew about the publishing industry?

Regina: The publishing business is not for the faint of heart, nor for those who think they are going to become a best-selling author right away. It happens, but those incidences are few and far between. One must have a thick skin and not permit reviews to bring grief and sadness. You cannot write a book that will please everyone. It is more important that you are happy with how the book turned out.

Betty: What advice do you have for new writers?

Regina: You must LOVE what you do. You must WRITE every day, even if you end up throwing the scene in the trash. You must have the type of personality that you would write even if no one ever saw your story. Write for yourself.

Betty: Any hints of what your next writing project might be?

Regina: So far in 2019, I have released two Austen-inspired pieces: In Want of a Wife and Mr. Darcy’s Bet. Book 3 of my Twins’ trilogy, Lady Chandler’s Sister, arrived in March. A novella, originally published last year as a part of an anthology, Letters from Home, came out in June. Courting Lord Whitmire arrived in July. It was part of the Regency Summer Escape Anthology. On November 7, another holiday themed anthology arrives. It is entitled A Regency Christmas Proposal. My novella, Last Woman Standing, is one of six stories included.

On October 31, Black Opal Books released The Heartless Earl. This is a Regency romantic suspense and part of the Commons Elements Romance Project. More than 70 authors will release books in a variety of genres, each with the same 5 common elements included in the plot.

2020 will see my re-releasing several of my original titles. I recently got back my rights to the books from Ulysses Press, so those will be inserting into my release schedule for next year.

Currently, I am writing I Shot the Sheriff, which will have its release in Winter 2020. This book is part of the Tragic Characters in Classic Literature Series. Each of the authors involved in the project will write a Regency based on a story from classic literature. My story comes from the tales of Robin Hood. The point (no matter whether the original tale was set in a different era) is to give the hero’s nemesis a happy ending. Therefore, in my tale, the Sheriff of Nottingham will receive a different type of “just deserts.”

Betty: What kind of writing would you like to experiment with? Or what’s a different genre you’ve considered writing but haven’t yet?

Regina: I have been asked of late by a large publisher to write a few contemporaries, and there is the possibility of my writing a historical biography of a real-life WWII hero and the romance that lasted more than a half century. Nothing is set in stone at this time, but I am looking forward to doing both. I have also being toying with the idea of a family saga for the past two years. It is time I took on the challenge.

What a varied and prolific career, Regina! Thanks so much for stopping by to share your experience and give other authors some solid advice.

I hope you enjoyed hearing from Regina today. Do you have any questions you’d like to ask her? Or comments on any of her stories you’ve read?

One last reminder, my recent release Charmed Against All Odds is one of the stories at the Common Elements Romance Project website. You can find out more about the many subgenres of romance and the many authors and titles you have to choose from there, too.

Until next time, happy reading, everyone!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I send out most every month, including news like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers, along with recipes and writing progress. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit www.bettybolte.com for more on my books and upcoming events.

Getting to Know LaVerne St. George #romance #author #contemporary #historical #PNR #SweetRomance #amreading #Christmas

My next guest author is a woman I have a great deal in common with although I’ve never met her in person. LaVerne St. George writes in several subgenres of romance and has been writing since she was a child, just like me. But there I go getting ahead of myself again! Let’s peek at her official bio and then we’ll get to the interview.

Award-winning author LaVerne St. George has been writing since elementary school, but when she received a college care package from her aunt including Kathleen Woodiwiss’ The Flame and the Flower, she caught romance fever and never looked back. She’s known for her delightfully satisfying romances with sweet intensity and her believable characters. A librarian by training and a consultant for over 15 years in the pharmaceutical industry, LaVerne’s instinctive answer to almost any question is “Let’s go look that up!” She grew up in Western Pennsylvania and has either lived in or visited 40 of the 50 United States (guess what’s on her Bucket List!). A fan of sea turtles and happy endings, she now lives with her husband in the piedmont of North Carolina halfway between the ocean and the mountains, just where she likes it.

You can find out more about her and her books at www.LStGeorge.com or follow her on Facebook, Pinterest, Goodreads, or her blog Writing in the Spirit.

Betty: How many books have you written and published? 

LaVerne: I’ve written four books, traditionally and self-published. I also self-published a book in a chapter-a-month format which didn’t work out very well. Romance readers, of all genre readers I learned, prefer to binge in their reading and aren’t very patient. I reformatted that book into a submittable manuscript, and it’s now being considered by several traditional publishers.  

Betty: What genre(s) do you write in and why?

LaVerne: I write historical, contemporary, and paranormal romance, all either sweet/warm or Christian inspirational.  I write sweet/warm stories (defined as either the bedroom door closes or we join the lovers in their emotional reaction to lovemaking) because I love reading books where the tension comes from conflicts and attraction that lead up to the ultimate sexual union. Some of my characters have shown themselves to be people of deep faith or broken faith. When that happens, I develop the story into an inspirational romance.

Betty: What themes or motifs did you use in your recent release and why were they important to your story?

LaVerne: There were two themes I wanted to explore in RESTORE MY HEART. One is the fact that Christmas, for many people, is filled with sadness and painful memories. It takes real effort to overlay the older memories with new, brighter ones. In this story, Jeff has been more successful at this than Sally. The second theme is the critical role our childhood plays in shaping how we will approach relationships in later life. For Sally, her fear of abandonment has interfered with her friendships and finding support from Jeff helps her to move forward.

This is Book 3 in my contemporary romance series Pittsburgh Connections. It stands alone very well; readers won’t need to read the previous books to enjoy this one.

With an alcoholic mother, Sally Meyers never celebrated the holidays. Her father and all the men who followed abandoned her, leaving her broken-hearted before she knew what whole-hearted felt like. Despite this rocky start, Sally has built a successful professional life but guards her heart against romance and love.  Enter appealing newcomer Jeff Campbell, a traveling restoration craftsman, just the wrong type of guy for her. In the hours of striving together to meet holiday deadlines, Jeff reveals himself to be both attentive and trustworthy. Maybe he could be the right man for her after all.  Longing to believe in the miracle of Jeff’s love, Sally drops her guard. When he leaves for his next project, her biggest fear is that he’ll never come back. 

Amazon      Barnes & Noble       Kobo US

Betty: Do you have a “day job” or do you write full time?

LaVerne: Great timing on this question. I’m in the middle of a huge transition. I’m selling my consulting business to my partner, and as of January 1, 2020, I’ll be writing full time. I’m excited and thrilled and scared all at once. It’s a dream come true!

Betty: Do you have a specific place that you write? Revise?

LaVerne: I do have a home office where I can have quiet and solitude to write first drafts, characters sketches, make content edits, and add to my “idea factory.” But I’m finding that I like to mix it up. I write and revise at my local library, at a table in my living room, on my back deck (lovely woods out there), at coffee shops, empty classrooms at church, and I do keep an office-share space for business activities and for writing.

Betty: Do you have any writing rituals while you write? Did you have a special drink, or music, or time of day that you gravitated toward?

LaVerne: My best writing time is in the morning, and I’ve made some changes in my schedule to make that happen. I love brewing a mega cup of “cocoa coffee” – rich, dark Kauai Coffee with a good portion of milk, raw sugar, and a heaping tablespoon of baking cocoa powder mixed in. Yum! I love writing to instrumental music (song words get in the way), most especially favorite movie scores like “Gettysburg,” “The Last of the Mohicans,” and “Robin Hood” (Kevin Costner version).

Betty: Do you have a structured time to write or is time more fluid/flexible? Do you have to write between family obligations or do you set aside a block of time?

LaVerne: I took the “Chunky Method” course from Allie Pleiter last year, and it really helped me structure my writing time. I learned that I can write about 1½ to 2 hours; then my brain fogs over. This is my “chunk,” and I happen to be a “big chunk” writer since this is about 1450 words.  I have scheduled 7 of these chunks during the week and maneuver the rest of my obligations and schedule around those. So far, it’s working well.

Betty: What comes first when you’re brainstorming a new story: setting, situation, characters?

LaVerne: Any of the above. I’ve created stories from a spark from and expansion on all of these. The most important next question is always “What if?”

Betty: Do you participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)? Why or why not?

LaVerne: I do if I’m in the right spot for a particular project. If I’m on an editing deadline, then no. But if I’ve got to fill up pages quickly for a first draft, then I dive in. I’ve participated before, and it kept me on track, so I’d recommend it.

Betty: When you’re writing, do you read in the same genre as your work in progress or something else?

LaVerne: Always something else. If I’m reading in the same genre, the words and the style get in the way. And if I’m reading a fabulous author, I can have a “crisis in confidence” LOL. Really don’t want to be creating when I’m thinking “I’ll never be that good!”

Betty: What is one recent struggle you’ve experienced in your writing?

LaVerne: Understanding the difference in the energy I use for writing versus the energy I used for consulting. In creative work, like writing, I learned that the energy comes from the same pool as the energy for making any life decision. And that my writing job requires time for recharging. I’ve banged up against “decision fatigue” (yes, it’s a true psychological issue) and was frankly baffled. I never had trouble with this in my consulting, so this fatigue was new to me. I’m learning how to manage my creative energy better.

Betty: Any hints of what you’re next writing project might be?

LaVerne: I smiled at this question because it will depend a lot on when a traditional publisher will offer me a contract on the projects now under consideration. When a contract comes in, I’ll be working on that project – a warm Regency spy novel, an inspirational about the US Life-Saving Service on the Great Lakes, and/or a sweet Regency for Harlequin. As I’m waiting, most likely, I’ll work on the next book in the Pittsburgh Connections series. This will be Peter Jameson’s story. He’ll move on from his experience in Book 1 to meet a young fabric artist in Michigan whose work he’d like to sponsor. Juliana, hoping for success with her art, fights to keep her past a secret, especially from the attractive Peter, but the past catches up with her and threatens the new love they’ve found.

Betty: What are your keeper books? How often might you reread them?

LaVerne: My keepers come from all over the romance genre and span back into the 1970’s. I also have a few paranormals, science fiction, non-fiction, and mysteries which have made my list.  I have a tall bookshelf of those books which touched me emotionally, made such an impact on me, that years later, I can still see the whole story in my head. I’ll choose a Keeper to read when I want to relax with old friends, when I need inspiration for my own writing, when I crave a reliably wonderful story. You can find my keepers listed on my Goodreads Keepers bookshelf.

Betty: What advice do you have for new writers?

LaVerne: My advice comes in a handy acronym: WELL. Write, Edit, Learn and Listen. WRITE whenever you can. Make time for it. My favorite writing quote comes from Nora Roberts: “I can fix a bad page. I can’t fix a blank page.”  Then EDIT. Edit again. And again. Don’t be afraid of the changes; that how we all get better.  LEARN your craft. The best writers say they are always trying to improve. Attend writing craft classes. The Romance Writers of America and its chapters provide ample opportunities to learn. LISTEN deeply. Listen to readers, editors, and agents who read your work and give you feedback. Don’t argue, don’t justify. Listen and consider that at least some of that feedback will make you a stronger writer.

Thanks for joining me today!

So there you have it, some great advice and stories to enjoy from LaVerne St. George. Thanks to her for stopping in today to share her writing process and inspiration for her stories with us.

I’ll have another author interview on Monday as a special shout out to a fellow Common Elements Romance Project author. Stay tuned for more on her story and writing process.

In the meantime, thanks for spending some of your valuable time with me. Happy reading!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I send out most every month, including news like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers, along with recipes and writing progress. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit www.bettybolte.com for more on my books and upcoming events.

Getting to know Debra Whiting Alexander #womensfiction #author #MentalHealthMatters #mustread #fiction #nonfiction #books

Please help me welcome women’s fiction author Debra Whiting Alexander to my interview hot seat! Debra has quite a background and education to bring to her amazing, and interesting, books. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Here’s Debra’s official bio and then we’ll jump right into the interview.

DEBRA WHITING ALEXANDER, Ph.D., won the prestigious 2018 WILLA Literary Award in Contemporary Fiction along with three other awards for her debut novel, ZETTY. Debra is also the author of numerous books related to her expertise in post trauma treatment for children and families. Raised in San Diego, she grew up on a steady diet of western movies and musicals. She developed a love for the ocean, cowgirls, pianos, golden retrievers, and art. She currently lives in Oregon with her husband and two labs where their home backs up to lush green fields, horses, stunning sunsets, and hazelnut orchards. The beaches of southern California were the inspiration for ZETTY, but it’s in the landscapes of the Pacific Northwest that she found inspiration for her next novel.

You can find out more about her at www.debrawhitingalexander.com or follow her on Facebook, Twitter, or Amazon.

Betty: How many books have you written and published?

Debra: Prior to making the leap into women’s fiction, I authored sixteen non-fiction books, including Loving Your Teenage Daughter (Whether She Likes it Or Not), and Children Changed by Trauma: A Healing Guide. As a mental health clinician, my most meaningful project, The Emotional Recovery Resource Kit, was written for my publishers in New York in response to 9/11. ZETTY was published in 2017 and my second work of fiction is currently out on submission.

Betty: What genre(s) do you write in and why?

Debra: Early in my career, I wrote non-fiction related to my work. Today, my passion is to write fictional stories about the humor, spirit, and strength of unconventional women. I relish the opportunity to write about friendship, motherhood, mental health, and to do it with spiritual substance —matters of the heart and soul. It’s important to me to write about issues I feel inspired by and care deeply about. Women’s fiction allows me to do that. I’m hooked!

Betty: What themes or motifs did you use in your recent release and why were they important to your story? 

Debra: Overcoming loss and finding joy, even in the midst of sorrow, are central themes found in ZETTY. This story shines a light on the stigma of mental illness and the shame that often accompanies it. It was important to me to present an accurate, realistic view of what it means for a child and family impacted by an illness that is as legitimate as any other medical condition.

THE POWERFUL STORY OF A MOTHER LOST TO A RARE FORM OF SCHIZOPHRENIA, AND A DAUGHTER’S QUEST TO FIND HER.  “…a master piece of heartache and joy…” Jane Kirkpatrick, NY Times best-selling author

Amazon

Betty: Do you have a specific place that you write? Revise?

Debra: Anywhere my ideas form. Literally, anywhere! But most revisions happen at my desk at home.

Betty: Do you have any writing rituals while you write? Did you have a special drink, or music, or time of day that you gravitated toward?

Debra: Early mornings are always my preferred time to write. I used to write regularly late into the night, and still do if I’m on a deadline. However, I prefer the early morning sunshine to awaken my thoughts and revisions.  It’s good to be rested.  (Yes. Oregon does get sunshine!)

I try to keep fresh flowers and a diffuser streaming essential oils on my desk. In the winter I have a lit candle near me too. And with each novel, I like to express the theme of my current work-in-progress on the wall above my desk. I tack up photos, art, and quotes that reflect the inspiration and theme of the story. There are days I want music and days I want total silence. Music often helps me develop scenes and go deeper into an emotional point of view. But I only listen to the music my characters listen to! Finally, breaks are essential. For me, walks, healthy snacks, and surrounding myself in nature keep inspiration fresh.

Betty: What helped you move from unpublished to published? A mentor or organization or something else?

Debra: Persistence. I never gave up on the projects I felt most driven by. It requires so much patience. Years of it. And it’s true; being a writer requires a thick skin. Always does! When I made the leap from nonfiction to fiction, it also required practice, educating myself with books about the art and craft of writing a novel, and it meant allowing multiple editors and beta readers to pick things apart. It truly was a learning process for me, but I never minded—I considered it all healthy aerobics for my aging brain!

Betty: What do you think is your greatest strength in your writing?

Debra: I hope it’s that I’m able to bring my experiences as a mental health practitioner into my work with honesty, compassion, and fresh insights for my readers. Because of my professional work, I’ve developed an appreciation for a wide-range of qualities, quirks, strengths, and weaknesses in my characters and for our ability to overcome hard things in life. In every story I write, my goal is to bring hope and understanding to the issues I shine a light on.

Betty: What comes first when you’re brainstorming a new story: setting, situation, characters?

Debra: For me, the message (or main issue) of the story comes first—meaning I become aware of something we all experience or know about, but may not fully understand, talk about much, or know how to cope with. The main character usually stands out as I flesh out the message, and then the setting follows naturally. The supporting cast of characters forms as I develop the main ideas of the story. That being said, every story is different. Inspiration comes from so many things I think about, see, or hear. The bottom line is if anything touches my heart, I listen to it. Those moments end up in my novels.

Betty:  Do you have a structured time to write or is more fluid/flexible? Do you have to write between family obligations or do you set aside a block of time?

Debra: When I have a deadline, I schedule writing time on my calendar like I schedule clients at my job. It’s blocked out and protected at all costs. I crave expanded chunks of time to write and I love it when I have a full week of uninterrupted days. Sometimes it means I have to take vacation time to make that happen. I don’t mind though because it’s a luxury to have the time and space to go deep into my story and spend a “vacation” with characters I love.

When I’m not on a deadline, I write whenever I can. Sometimes I pull over to the side of the road to capture my thoughts, descriptions, and dialogue on scraps of paper. Or you’ll find me between appointments jotting down scenes in my calendar book. Whenever I find days in my schedule that are free, I use that time for writing.

Betty: What are you reading right now?

Debra: The Overstory by Richard Powers. Terrific writing!

Betty: What is your favorite genre to read?

Debra: Literary Fiction. It’s a plus to read about strong female characters, but not a must. I just want to be moved by whatever it is I read.  I really enjoy historical fiction as well.

Betty: When you’re writing, do you read in the same genre as your work in progress or something else?

Debra: My preference is to read nonfiction when I’m writing fiction. When a manuscript is out on submission I’ll pick up novels again. Otherwise, I find it distracting to go deep into another author’s voice and then shift gears to go back to my own. In order to stay true to my own voice, and keep it consistent, I’ve learned it works best for me to read outside my genre.

Betty: Do you have a “day job” or do you write full time?

Debra: I work as a clinical supervisor in a mental health agency a few days a month. I’ve gradually decreased my hours over the last couple years to allow more time for writing and for more time with my granddaughter. I love what I do in my “day job” and will continue for as long as it works. With deadlines though, I go right into full-time writing mode.

Betty: What do you wish readers knew about the publishing industry?

Debra: It’s a long, long process from beginning to end. One book can take years of ongoing hard work on many different levels. Once it leaves my hands, even more work begins. Because it is such a competitive market I hope readers know how important their reviews are. Authors appreciate each and every one of them!

Betty: What advice do you have for new writers?

Debra: Believe in your beta readers and editors! Your success depends on both. I’ve been fortunate to have talented friends and editors by my side who always (!) make my work better.

Betty: Any hints of what you’re next writing project might be?

Debra: My second novel is out on submission right now. It’s about a neurodivergant young woman with an indomitable spirit who refuses to give up on a dream she has. I hope to be working on a screenplay soon with a movie producer who contacted me, and I have a story about three sisters in the works, too. Both involve issues I care deeply about. Stay tuned!

Betty: What kind of writing would you like to experiment with? Or what’s a different genre you’ve considered writing but haven’t yet?

Debra: Writing a screenplay is a new goal I have just embarked on. And I have a number of manuscripts in my files for children’s books. But as far as novels go, upmarket women’s fiction is my passion right now.  Another perk for writing women’s fiction is being invited to some amazing book clubs. Love them!

I agree that visiting book clubs is a lot of fun, Debra. I’m glad you’re doing well with your writing career and telling some needed stories at the same time.

Check out her work and settle in for a good read! Thanks for stopping by!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I send out most every month, including news like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers, along with recipes and writing progress. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit www.bettybolte.com for more on my books and upcoming events.

Getting to know AD Ellis #author #contemporary #romance #fantasy #scifi #fiction #books

My next guest author, A.D. Ellis, is from a place I used to live for 10 years, Indiana. But I’ll let her tell you more about herself and her fiction! Here’s her official bio and then we’ll get to the interview questions.

A.D. Ellis is an Indiana girl, born and raised. She spends much of her time in central Indiana teaching alternative education in the inner city of Indianapolis, being a mom to two amazing school-aged children, and wondering how she and her husband of almost two decades have managed to not drive each other insane. A lot of her time is also devoted to phone call avoidance and her hatred of cooking.

She loves chocolate, wine, pizza, and naps along with reading and writing romance. These loves don’t leave much time for housework, much to the chagrin of her husband. Who would pick cleaning the house over a nap or a good book? She uses any extra time to increase her fluency in sarcasm.

You can find out more about her and her books at https://adellisauthor.com or follow her on Amazon, Facebook, or BookBub.

Betty: How many books have you written and published?

A.D.: At the time of answering these questions, I have 22 books published. Number 23 should be published the end of April. Twenty-four and twenty-five are in the works, and a co-written book will round out at number twenty-six.

Betty: What genre(s) do you write in and why?

A.D.: I began writing in contemporary romance because it’s what I’d loved reading the most. Thanks to one of my characters in my Torey Hope series (small-town romance), Sawyer, I started reading Male/Male romance so I could write Sawyer’s story true to who he was. From that point, I fell in love with M/M (gay male) romance and all of my books have been in that genre since.

Betty: What themes or motifs did you use in your recent release and why were they important to your story?

A.D.: The book I’ll be publishing in April (What Blooms Beneath) has a theme of accepting differences, having an open mind, and loving a person/soul rather than a specific sexuality or gender.

These themes are important in my stories (many of my stories have the same type themes along with being true to yourself, standing up for what is right, growth/change, and being kind) because I feel these themes are something we should all be incorporating into our daily lives.

Kellan considers himself lucky to have an adequate existence on earth where, in the year 2044, common citizens toil under the oppressive thumb of a corrupt and unscrupulous government. Kellan dreams of becoming part of the Department of Paranormal, Supernatural, and Fantasy Sciences, but his application is continually denied because he has no extra-sapien blood. Kellan’s simple reality shifts when Rhône unexpectedly enters his life.

Rhône, living in a camouflaged, underground village, never planned to get involved with an individual from the outer world. When Rhône and Kellan cross paths, there’s no denying the attraction and pull between them. But there’s something else, something more, just beneath the surface.

A hidden world and painful secrets are a potentially complicated blend. However, with Rhône by his side, enlightening details and unexplored powers provide Kellan with an opportunity for deep self-discovery. Will Kellan’s open and accepting heart allow for an extraordinary love to bloom? Or will the vast differences between Kellan and Rhône take root and strangle any hope for a flourishing future?

All of A.D.’s books are available on Amazon and many of them are also on KindleUnlimited.

Betty: Do you have a specific place that you write? Revise?

A.D.: Most of my writing/revising is done on my laptop while sitting on the couch or at my desk. Sometimes I take a trip to the local Starbucks to get some words written.

Betty: Do you have any writing rituals while you write? Did you have a special drink, or music, or time of day that you gravitated toward?

A.D.: I need to have at least an hour to write (preferably two hours.) I usually have hot tea by my side and a playlist of music with songs from a variety of decades and genres. I laugh that my playlists could possibly give whiplash as songs switch from one genre to another.

Betty: What helped you move from unpublished to published? A mentor or organization or something else?

A.D.: I had recently learned of the self-published option so I challenged myself to do it. A lot of authors helped me with the steps and process. After publishing two books, I joined Romance Writers of America and gained an invaluable group of fellow authors who support each other.

Betty: What do you think is your greatest strength in your writing?

A.D.: I think writing real-life characters/problems, bringing tough issues to light, snarky characters, and making readers fall so in love with a series that they never want it to end.

Betty: What comes first when you’re brainstorming a new story: setting, situation, characters?

A.D.: I most often have a character and/or situation or problem pop into my head, and then I work out the setting.

Betty: Do you have a structured time to write or is more fluid/flexible? Do you have to write between family obligations or do you set aside a block of time?

A.D.: I’m a full-time teacher and mom so my writing has to be fit in between those obligations. I often try to write for an hour or so each evening and for 2-3 hours on weekend days.

Betty: What is one recent struggle you’ve experienced in your writing?

A.D.: My April release is a new genre for me. I’ve always written contemporary romance, but I veered from my normal and wrote a fantasy romance. It was scary to dive into a new genre and I had some challenges, but I had a lot of fun writing that story.

Betty: Do you participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)? Why or why not?

A.D.: November is NOT a good time for me to write. School obligations, my children’s school events, several birthdays, holidays, and upcoming holidays always seem to take precedence over writing in November.

Betty: What are you reading right now?

A.D.: At the moment of this interview, I’m reading Speak No Evil by J.R. Gray. When this interview posts I’ll likely be reading something from an author buddy or any variety of male/male romance I can get my hands on.

Betty: What is your favorite genre to read?

A.D.: Male/Male (gay male) romance. Usually contemporary but I veer off to paranormal/fantasy and historical from time to time.

Betty: What are your keeper books? How often might you reread them?

A.D.: I honestly don’t reread books very often.

Betty: When you’re writing, do you read in the same genre as your work in progress or something else?

A.D.: I switch the genres I read from time to time, but I mainly read the same as what I’m writing. If I’m writing multiple stories, I usually try to make them be a different subgenre so as not to get the characters/settings/situations too similar.

Betty: Do you have a “day job” or do you write full time?

A.D.: I’ve been writing since the fall of 2013 (published April 2014) but I’ve been teaching for 20 years.

Betty: What do you wish readers knew about the publishing industry?

A.D.: How much blood, sweat, tears, effort, and money go into our stories, and how harmful it is when some readers download pirated books instead of buying our books so we can continue writing.

Betty: What advice do you have for new writers?

A.D.:
* build your social media presence
* find your “circle” of authors who will support you (joining a reputable writing organization is a great start)
* take constructive criticism to heart
* have your book edited (not by your neighbor or Aunt Sue—unless your neighbor or Aunt Sue are highly qualified and experienced editors)
* have your book formatted (whether by you or someone else—formatting matters!)
* your cover is one of the most important things a reader is going to see…make sure it looks professional (compare it to the covers in your genre)
* stay away from drama, don’t read reviews (or at least not the nasty ones)
* write the story you want to read
* realize early on that your writing won’t be everyone’s cup of tea and that’s okay

Betty: Any hints of what you’re next writing project might be?

A.D.: At the time of this interview, I’m writing a M/M romantic suspense, a M/M contemporary, and a co-written M/M small-town contemporary.

Betty: What kind of writing would you like to experiment with? Or what’s a different genre you’ve considered writing but haven’t yet?

A.D.: My April release was my first foray into fantasy romance and my current WIP is romantic suspense. I’m pretty open to writing in different romance genres, but I also enjoy the comfort of my tried-and-true contemporary romance.

Thanks for stopping by, A.D.! Very impressive total of books and interesting career so far. Wishing you all the best in the years to come!

Now that fall has officially arrived, I trust you all will find some good books to curl up with and read. Maybe with some spiced apple cider or hot tea? Sounds pretty good to me… Until next time!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I send out most every month, including news like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers, along with recipes and writing progress.

Visit www.bettybolte.com for more on my books and upcoming events.

Getting to know Nancy Lee Badger #author #contemporary #firefighter #romance #fiction #mustread #Christmas #novel

Two months until Christmas! I have an author with a story to help get you in the mood, too! I’m happy to welcome Nancy Lee Badger to the interview hot seat today. I think you’ll be glad I did! Here’s more about her background and then on to the interview…

Nancy Lee Badger grew up in Huntington on New York’s Long Island. After attending Plymouth State, in New Hampshire, she earned a Bachelor of Science degree and met and married her college sweetheart. They raised two handsome sons in Rumney, New Hampshire, where Nancy volunteered as an EMT and firefighter while working full-time. When the children had left the nest, and shoveling show became a chore, she retired from her satisfying job as a 911 Emergency Medical Dispatcher and moved to North Carolina, where she writes full-time. She and family volunteer every fall at the NH Highland Games.

Nancy is a member of Romance Writers of America, Heart of Carolina Romance Writers, Fantasy-Futuristic & Paranormal Romance Writers, and the Triangle Association of Freelancers. She loves to travel with her husband and is never far from her laptop. She finds story ideas in the most unusual places.

You can find out more about her at her website, via her blog, or follow her on Facebook.

Betty: How many books have you written and published?

Nancy: Rescuing Christmas is my 27th novel: 7 with small presses and the others I self-published. This book is a self-published novel, and since I am currently writing other books for a publisher, I am considered a Hybrid.

Betty: What themes or motifs did you use in your recent release and why were they important to your story?

Nancy: I wanted to try something different so my readers will find the plot and the characters at the heart of the story without the heat of physical love. Well, other than kissing or heated looks across the fire department truck bay. I also used my former small-town living, where I volunteered with the local fire department and rescue squad, to give the story life.

A Manhattan businessman in a Vermont ditch meets a muddy female firefighter. No snow since November might ruin the town’s annual fire department fundraiser. Can Elinor and Bradley stop their squabbling long enough to Rescue Christmas?

Buy Links are listed on her blog:  https://nancyleebadger.blogspot.com/p/books.html

Betty: Do you have any writing rituals while you write? Did you have a special drink, or music, or time of day that you gravitated toward?

Nancy: My favorite place is my dining room, where I can spread out my notes while watching people walk by the front window. It is a bit too close to the kitchen, which is why I am seeing a nutritionist. I try to drink lots of water every day. My cat. Blaze, watches me to make sure I continue working and not go off to watch Murder, She Wrote reruns!

Betty: Do you have a structured time to write or is it more fluid/flexible? Do you have to write between family obligations or do you set aside a block of time?

Nancy: I wish my writing life was more structured! Although I no longer work full-time outside the home, I am busier than ever. Travel, volunteering, and taking care of family takes time away from my writing. I seem to get less writing done when hubby is home from work!

Betty: What is your favorite genre to read?

Nancy: I love regency historicals followed closely by Highlander historicals. I have written several of the latter, and I have dabbled with the former, but I have no plans to release one of those as yet. Things change!

Betty: Do you have a “day job” or do you write full time?

Nancy: I am lucky to have a husband who agreed to my retirement from the State of New Hampshire 911, selling our home, and moving closer to my family. Now, I am able to write full-time.

Betty: What do you wish readers knew about the publishing industry?

Nancy: Since I submitted my first manuscript, trying desperately to get an agent or a publisher interested in my work, things have changed. There are only a few ‘Big Publishers’ and they do not look at un-agented manuscripts. The smaller publishers do have some perks such as free editing and book covers but generally do not offer much in the way of promotion except by posting my book on their website. The rest of ‘getting the word out’ is up to me. Facebook, Twitter, and other social media outlets can be a time suck, but you have to get the word out somehow.

Betty: What advice do you have for new writers?

Nancy: Do not feel you need to do this alone. Join a writing group, check out your favorite author’s YouTube craft videos, enter a writing contest. Listening is a big part of learning this craft. And…don’t forget to read!

Betty: Any hints of what you’re next writing project might be?

Nancy: I am in the midst of editing Heaven-sent Flame, the third book in my Warriors in Bronze series. This paranormal romance set at an art museum in North Carolina will be released sometime in April 2020 by Soul Mate Publishing.

Sounds like Nancy has quite a lot on her plate! I hope you’ll check out her latest Christmas story featuring a firefighter out to rescue the holiday, too.

Okay, I’m off to ignore the idea of Christmas planning…for a little while yet anyway! But it won’t be long I’ll be grabbing a cup of hot chocolate and a good holiday story…

Wishing you all a Happy Halloween and Happy Reading!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I send out most every month, including news like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers, along with recipes and writing progress. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit www.bettybolte.com for more on my books and upcoming events.

Getting to Know Chloe Flowers #contemporary #WomensFiction #historical #romance #author #fiction #books

I’m pleased to introduce you all to Chloe Flowers, who writes contemporary women’s fiction and historical romance. She’s also a beekeeper! But I’m jumping ahead. Let’s find out more about her and her writing process.

Chloe Flowers is an award-winning author and the recipient of the University of Akron, Wayne College 2018 Writer of the Year Award. She writes small town contemporary women’s fiction, and historical women’s action and adventure romance novels about scoundrels, pirates, and spunky, independent heroines.

Chloe keeps bees, and identifies her hives by the different flowers she paints on them. Her pets have always been named after her favorite characters or action heroes: Indiana, Luke, Gimli, Thelma, Rocket, Forrest, Severus, Mushu, Mérida, Gibbs, Jack…Dead Pool (he’s a goldfish).

Chloe has a weakness for good red wine, Calvin & Hobbes comics, pie, dark chocolate and brown-eyed guys with beards, which is probably why she digs pirates, men in uniform, and treasure hunters, and writes about action and adventure and, of course, romance, which is the greatest adventure of all.

You can learn more about her at www.chloeflowers.com, or by following her on BookBub, Goodreads, or Facebook.

Betty: How many books have you written and published?

Chloe: There are 5 books in the Pirates & Petticoats series. This year I released a clean and wholesome version of Pirates & Petticoats called The Hearts of Adventure Sweet Romance Series.

Betty: What genre(s) do you write in and why?

Chloe: I love reading Regency but I have a passion for United States history and action and adventure. I enjoyed learning about the War of 1812, largely because it happened during the Regency period. I read a few books about the Battle of New Orleans, and when I found out how many strange and downright crazy things went wrong for the British, I had to use it as the backdrop for my 5th book: If You Give a Spy a Scheme. Truth really is stranger than fiction!

According to Amazon, the genres are called: American Historical romance, Women’s Action and Adventure romance.

Betty: What themes or motifs did you use in your recent release and why were they important to your story?

Chloe: The challenge of turning the villain in previous novels into the hero of book 5 intrigued me. How does a pirate-turned-French-agent have enough redeeming qualities for him to hold water as a hero? Enter the young Sauvage twins, who wreaked havoc in book 4 (to everyone’s glee) and a maimed young woman who believes she is too hideous to love. She has to learn a couple things we already know: first–there is someone for everyone, and second–the person you are inside shows your true beauty. We see them through their own eyes: He is unredeemable, she is unlovable.

Or are they?

If You Give a Spy a Scheme
He’ll Fight to be Redeemed

He steals for the French crown.
She heals for the Catholic church.
He will heal her heart.
She will steal his.

“Dramatic, engrossing, suspenseful, exciting.”

French Privateer and former pirate Captain Drago Gamponetti is given one final mission from his employer, the king of France: reclaim religious relics from a New Orleans cathedral. Trouble begins when he’s forced by a mysterious, veiled, novitiate nun to swear on the Bible to protect the very items he was instructed to steal.

Church healer Eva Trudeau hides more than her face behind the veil. The convent has been her safe haven since she crawled, beaten and bloody, to its door nine years ago. When an old enemy resurfaces and threatens to drag her back into the dark underworld, both she and her dark pirate captain stand to lose everything they’ve fought so hard to protect…including each other.

BookShow

Betty: Do you have a specific place that you write? Revise?

Chloe: When the weather permits, I love writing on my back deck overlooking 30 acres of wooded parkland. I get frequent visits from a family of wild turkeys as well as plenty of fearless deer. When I can’t write outside, I head over to Cool Beans, my local coffee shop.

Betty: What helped you move from unpublished to published? A mentor or organization or something else?

Chloe: I joined RWA (Romance Writers of America) in 2010 and also joined my local RWA chapter as well as The Beau Monde (an online RWA chapter that is everything Regency). The conferences and workshops available through those organizations have been invaluable.

I also started the Sunshine critique group in 2011, and I couldn’t have succeeded without the fabulous ladies I befriended there. There is something uniquely solidifying about having 2–3 other writers who will be honest and tell you like it is. My writing improved because they challenged me to write better.

Betty: What do you think is your greatest strength in your writing?

Chloe: When I read, a motion picture takes place in my mind. My subconscious is busy acting out what my conscious mind is reading. That ability becomes invaluable when I write. Characters and settings become three-dimensional. Readers “see” Spanish moss dripping in spiral ringlets from gnarled tree branches, “smell” the thick, acrid smoke from a ship’s gun, “hear” the soldiers running through the marsh grass and the wet slimy suction gripping their boots, belching as they broke free.

Can you “see” Miss Kalia in this description?

The old woman approached the wagon, swaying like seaweed with the tide, perhaps due to aching joints, but on a night like this, it was bewitching and unnerving, like an adder mesmerizing prey. The moonlight subdued her brightly patched skirt into shades of grayish-reds, greens, blues and yellows. Colorful feathers poked out in every direction from the silver hair piled high on her head. A streak of white paint trailed from one ear, ran along her jawline, across her chin, ending at her other ear like a gruesome grin.

Betty: What comes first when you’re brainstorming a new story: setting, situation, characters?

Chloe: I’ve learned that I produce my best writing when I start with a well-defined, three-dimensional character. Once I know their fears, flaws, and secrets, I can put them in situations that expose their secrets, poke their flaws, and make them face their fears.

Still, there are times that “what ifs” pop into my head, like: “What would make a nun desperate enough to kidnap a pirate?” That weird question popped into my head one day and started me on the path to book 5.

Betty: Do you have a structured time to write or is it more fluid/flexible? Do you have to write between family obligations or do you set aside a block of time?

Chloe: In a perfect world, I have a routine. I get up, make a smoothie, check email while I drink it. Spend 30 minutes on marketing while it settles, then do my daily 30-minute workout. After I shower, I spend the rest of the day writing. My kids are all in college this year, so the distractions come from Indiana or Hobbes (dog & cat). But this is not a perfect world, is it?

Betty: Do you participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)? Why or why not?

Chloe: If the timing coincides with my writing schedule, I do. If I’m editing, I just cheer on my author friends.

Betty: What are you reading right now?

Chloe: Paranormal romantic comedy: From This Fae Forward by A.E. Jones. Contemporary Romantic Comedy: Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren.

Betty: What is your favorite genre to read?

Chloe: Anything with an exciting plot! Lately, I’ve been reading romantic comedies because I’m writing a contemporary series and my writing naturally has a lot of humor in it anyway. I love good paranormal and Regency romance. I’ll read thrillers and suspense novels as well.

Betty: What are your keeper books? How often might you reread them?

Chloe: I LOVED reading Kathleen Woodiwiss when I was younger. My favorite is A Rose in Winter, which has a bit of a Beauty and the Beast motif. More recently, I’ve enjoyed Amanda Bouchet’s Kingmaker Chronicles, mainly because we have a similar sense of humor and love of action and adventure romance.

Betty: When you’re writing, do you read in the same genre as your work in progress or something else?

Chloe: You’ve heard of actors like Jim Carrey staying “in character” during filming as well as off screen? I always read in the genre I am writing for the same reason. It keeps me in the right mindset.

Betty: Do you have a “day job” or do you write full time?

Chloe: I spent several years working for a few different consumer products companies in marketing, I taught marketing to MBA students for 3 years, but now I write full time and couldn’t be happier.

Betty: What do you wish readers knew about the publishing industry?

Chloe: I think if readers better understood how important reviews were, they’d be sure to leave one after reading a book. Good writing takes time.

Betty: What advice do you have for new writers?

Chloe: Keep learning. You can do this many different ways.

Find your tribe. The Romance Writers of America has dozens of chapters both geographically based as well as online. Don’t ever think you have to go this alone.

Be kind. The writing community can seem huge, but in reality, it can be very small.  There is no “un-send” button.

Give. Give time, encouragement, support. It will be returned to you many times over.

Betty: Any hints of what your next writing project might be?

Chloe: I’m always working on multiple projects at the same time. If I get stuck on one, I just switch to another for a while. I have finished the first draft of a contemporary romantic comedy and am outlining the second. It features an ornery nanny goat, a young woman with a crappy driving record, the sheriff (her ex-high school crush), a quirky small town, and a jar of peanut butter…

I also have 2 more books planned for the Pirates & Petticoats series.

Betty: What kind of writing would you like to experiment with? Or what’s a different genre you’ve considered writing but haven’t yet?

Chloe: I’d love to take a dip into the paranormal pool someday…

Sounds like you have a lot going on, Chloe! Thanks for taking a few minutes to share with us your stories and your writing process. Wishing you all the best!

Happy reading!

Betty

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