Who is doing NaNoWriMo? I am! That’s National Novel Writing Month (November) where those people plagued by words take a moment–a month–to jot down as many of the wily buggers as we can. And voila. A story emerges.
That’s the plan.
I’m digging into another Romantic Suspense. Something a little different than my inspired romantic suspense series, Diamond Dogs, but not too different. I hope you all will enjoy it.
It’s only been two days, and inspiration has already lit me. Yee ha. That alone makes the mad dash worth it. What has you motivated this month? Fall colors? The promise of Turkey Dinner? Family? Friends? Has the craft monster bit you?
I’m using the rest of my Bernat Velvet Yarn–YUMMY–to make Graham slouchy beanies. A his and hers for my daughter Melanie and her SO. (Significant other :^) The pattern comes courtesy of Ravelry designer Jennifer Adams. Thank YOU very much. But then I’ve only ripped out beanie #1 the first time. We’ll see what happens as the rows go by.
Whatever you’re doing, friend, I’d love to hear it. Caring means sharing. So, spread the love and let us know what’s moving you today. And, please, please, sign up for my newsletter if the spirit moves you.
Click the Kitty and know that you’re helping me out to no end. My goal is to help you by delivering delicious reads that tempt you to indulge in self-care and a little more downtime. If only to find out what happens next.
You bet. No cancelled flights. No runway delays. And no wrong turns. Yay. I’ve been dying to get out of the house, too …kind of like Rollie, the little potato rocket pug I had the pleasure of doggie sitting.
He loves outside! I love his cuddles. And my kiddos loved taking a Las Vegas break from the rigors of a startup business. Yes, my oldest and youngest are wrangling a startup. We like challenges in this family. Work hard. Play harder.
In the absence of grandchildren, young Master Roland–Rolando if you’re in a mood–put me through my paces. Not sure I could handle actual little people running around. Puppies are exhausting. (I’ve reached that play hard, poop out harder stage. LoL.) The wee spud took plenty of naps. Me, too. Easy enough to do in a sun drenched yard with no one the wiser. I miss his conspiratorial snorts already.
What have you been doing during 2020 zombie-time? Digging into a new business? Visiting family? Indulging hobbies?
I just delivered the crochet blanket I’ve been working on forever, too. Homemade gifts aren’t rushed. If you like this one made of Bernat Velvet Yarn, click the picture for the pattern available at Yarnspirations. The plush yarn is a joy to work with and heats your lap while you work. My computer is pulling that duty now but its time for bed. Jet lag has to end.
Life is ripe with choices, spilled out like a Horn of Plenty. Cornucopias if you’re putting on airs. And why not? Accents and attitudes are fun. Entertaining, absolutely, but often necessary.
Who hasn’t changed their tone for that critical interview? The BE-THERE party or that dreaded public speaking encounter? (Raise a hand for keeping it real!)
But kid-me loved drawing cornucopias at the kitchen table when the leaves began to fall. Why? I could select my favorite things–grapes with fanciful tendrils, bumpy gourds, and yummy artichokes–and stuff them inside. Favorite things, in whatever color I chose, could spill out or hide in the tip.
The more the better.
There’s nothing like a jumbo box of Crayolas and a kid–of any age–eager to decide for herself. To choose her friends. Select her surroundings. And engage fully on the path chosen or change course with unflagging courage!
That leads me to today’s guest. The delightful and ever demonstrative, Ash Keller. Chock full of talent, brimming with personality, wholly accessible, and a consummate professional in terms of career and the care she extends everyone in her circle. She’s almost too dang fun.
Ash writes romantic comedy from experience, folks, and how sweet it is.
This SASSY SCRIBE is one to watch for antics, information, and FIERCE mother-love. The bear type that roots out injustice, slays snarling or suited beasts, and plucks that thorn from your paw with the gentlest touch. (Okay, I’m thinking bear costume. I know Ash has a weakness for those lovely ones. Wild, YOU BET, and bad to the bone. I dig bears, too!)
If you like your heroes broody and your heroines skilled, self-aware, and determined not to let moods or men ruin time spent in FORCED PROXIMITY, get thee to Amazon. NOW! The .99 cent pre-order price is days away from ending.
Do you really want to deprive yourself? I hope not if you follow this blog or happen to stop by. Whatever your catnip–GO FOR IT. Life is short and the chief reason to make this go-round count.
So, forgetting the serious, what’s your favorite time of year, Ash, and why?
Everyone loves fall, right? Sweater weather, pumpkin spice lattes, bonfires! And Halloween is my very favorite holiday. My husband and I always throw a Halloween party (except this year…Covid is a party pooper) and I have tons of fun choosing a theme every October.
CHOOSING!!! Great theme, Ash, anytime of year, but we’re racking it up for #teampumpkinspice! Here’s a how-to from one of my favorites. The Mom Life Balance!
Then again, there’s a reason spring green is my favorite color. There’s nothing better than watching the earth come back to life after a harsh winter. And it’s the best time of year to put my pink kayak in the water.
But it’s hard to beat summer. Fireflies, camping, lake days…need I say more?
The only season I’m not a fan of is winter. I hate to be cold. But that’s why God gave us electric blankets, hot chocolate, and snuggly cats! (YES, YES, and–hmmm–heck, YES!)
This talented must-read author has another romantic comedy on Amazon that you’ll really like. If close proximity and fake relationships–putting on attitude?–tickle your funny bone, check out Not Happy Campers, included in THE FUNNY THING ABOUT LOVE. A collection of feel-good sweet, romance stories by Enchanted Quill Press. How enchanting!
What’s your favorite animal, Ash? Do you have ONE??? This choosing business is difficult sometimes.
I’m a crazy cat lady. It’s a good thing I’m married or I’d have enough cats to form a kitty baseball team. My husband says no more than two…so we have three.
OMG. Crazy cat lady. Can you feel the fur, peeps? The love? There’s a reason Ash and I gravitated toward one another along with our SASSY SCRIBE sisters!
So, tell us more. I *KNOW* that can’t be all. Animal fans could use some assurance about sharing the cuddles with all God’s creatures. Empower us!
I also LOVE chickens and have a backyard flock. In exchange for eggs, I hand-feed them grapes. They spoil me so I spoil them. It’s only fair.
Oh, yes, bring on the feather babies. Hens are the BEST!! And with you giving them grapes, they will follow you to the ends of the earth. (Mine used to follow my shovel to get earthworms!)
Okay. Final question. Do you feel the pressure??? Think Miss Universe and tell me, would you strive for world peace? Why or why not?
Of course. What kind of monster wouldn’t want world peace?
FULL MARKS, Ash. Direct, impassioned, and too true. That must be why you pursue precisely that in your Horn of Plenty. That is the colorful embrace of life, love, GOOD HUMOR, and those little things that bring true joy. Your example is the best and something I’m determined to promote. Why? There are so many readers, writers, women, and men who will benefit from the go-for-it spirit that surrounds you. ((HUGS)) And thank you.
It’s been a pleasure, Ash, as always. And as I always do, I ask you dear readers to communicate with Ash and myself and all the SASSY SCRIBES. We’re determined to brighten our individual corners and yours, too. So, drop us a line. Help us help you. It really can be a win/win for world peace and a lot of laughs along the way there.
Jack-of-all-trades equals Master-of-None. That’s the saying. But that saying has featured “Jack” for far too long.
What about Jill, our unsung heroine?
Or in our case, Heather Scarlett?
Professional career woman, ENGAGING wife and dear friend, ON IT MOM, and romance writer. Hello!! (Satisfying role reversals go far beyond fiction.) Doing it all is no easy thing, however. Nobody ever said it would be, but the faint-hearted need not sideline themselves.
Not in Heather’s world. One of the sassiest of the SASSY SCRIBES, Heather advocates going for it on every level. That and being yourself. (If you note, dear readers, a renewed sense of mojo in yours truly, look to Heather and the SASSY SCRIBES. Follow her and you’ll encourage yourself…whatever your dream may be.)
Here’s one of her secrets.
Can you FEEL those pages? The potential? When you write dreams down–plan what you want to achieve–you make dreams real! And how.
Heather’s debut contemporary romance, Joy of the Season, is coming to you inside SNOW IN LOVE: Sweet Romance Holiday Collection–still ONLY .99 cents on pre–order–so don’t miss out. Not on the holiday feels and certainly not on the concrete example of going for it!!! (Remember, SNOW IN LOVE features 8 diverse new voices, a variety of holidays, and the tropes you love! Thank you Readertainment, our breakout publisher.)
Now here comes one of my favorite questions.
Tell us, Heather, Jill-of-All-Trades, are you a panster or a plotter? And why? (What does method bring to your stories? Can you feel the tension, my peeps???)
As in most things in life, I’m in the middle. I do a fair amount of pre-writing to get to know my characters and major plot points. Then, I dive in to write. I often am surprised right along with my characters when the story takes an unexpected turn. I often don’t know the black moment until I’m well into the first act, then it all starts to come together.(Oh, sweet reason. Mixing it up is often how life sorts us!)
Do you prefer city or country living? Does this impact the settings of your stories? (It certainly does for me.)
I grew up in a large city–Los Angeles–and lived in Montana for six wonderful years and that experience has absolutely influenced my stories. I write small town western as well as urban settings. There are aspects of both settings I love.(Oh, YES, and another reason why Heather speaks to me. Being reared on the West Coast but living in the East–small towns and BIG ONES–adds levels of insight. People are people, but background and context has a definite effect. I’ve had the pleasure of reading some of Heather’s edgier romances, urban settings, and wow. Just wow. Another reason to follow Heather Scarlett…very closely! She aims to PLEASE!)
So, what’s your favorite time of year, Heather, and why?
All of them! Living in New England, I especially love watching the leaves change in the fall. I am a warm weather girl, so summer is my all time favorite season. I love that each season has a different pace and different things to enjoy.(Another shot across the bow for those struggling with the unavoidable. Try to find something good in that which you cannot control. Goes far in translating that smile into a joyful heart.)
Now that Joy of the Season is nearly released, what’s on the horizon for you? Books? Projects? Whatever? You did not buy that planner to leave it blank, Heather, so do tell.
I have a few projects coming up! My next story, Snowed In for a Second Chance, will be available January 8. This story is set in Wildwood Falls, starring a character, Sarah, who readers will meet in Joy of the Season. I have a few more story ideas for 2021 and beyond!
Since this interview, Heather has penned a short, short romantic tale that can be YOURS. Just click the pic with the scrumptious gingerbread!
That’s some momentum, Heather. What writer’s organizations if any have helped you achieve successes in your writing life? Aspiring writers need to know.
I am grateful to have found my fellow writers in Sassy Scribes. We are such a wonderful and supportive group of women who encourage each others’ success. I am so excited for my debut story to be with this group of amazing women!
Now, what does your desk look like and what do you “think” it says about you? (Notice I tend toward the weighty issues? But, hey, understanding context is fundamental…. and can help YOU achieve your goals, too.)
My desk is anywhere and everywhere. I write in the living room, dining room, outside on the deck. Anywhere I can find a quiet space. I am also an avid coffee shop writer. A hot cup of coffee and a sweet snack makes for a happy writing session. (Animal Crossing may be just the thing for the organizationally challenged to find peace!)
What’s your view on character flaws for heroes/heroines, Heather?
Being human means no one is perfect. It’s our imperfections that make us interesting. I like exploring character’s flaws and developing characters whose flaws are naturally in conflict with each other. For me, that makes for an engaging story! (AMEN!)
Is there anything else you’d like readers to know, Heather? Only serious insights, please. )
I’m Team Pumpkin Spice in the Fall!!
Awesome. You know what that tells me? Heather is all about the specifics of what make us happy. Those simple pleasures that put a smile on your face and fuel you through your day. Whatever is on the agenda. Viva TEAM PUMPKIN SPICE, and long live self-empowerment.
Thank you for sharing with us, Heather. Yourself, your wisdom, and your precious time. Thank you, too, my faithful followers and those of you recently stopped by. It’s a pleasure…always.
We’ll get there–TOGETHER! Connecting is the way ahead.
So, please, DO follow Heather and myself. (Can’t end a blog without a shameless plug. LoL. But that’s me keeping it real. I wish you all the same in every avenue that lies ahead. Hugs and happiness in every step.)
Okay, you all knew it was coming. More interviews. SASSY SCRIBES–my diverse and DRIVEN collective of women writers supporting personal best and writing the stories YOU WANT TO READ–is on the MOVE!
SNOW IN LOVE–our debut collection of sweet holiday romances brought to you by Readertainment–is on pre-order for a scant .99 cents at Amazon. (Isabelle’s ‘Mistletoe and Holly‘ is included among 8 great and diverse new voices.) Amazing, you say? Impossible? How is it that eight sassy stories that are sweet and full of heart can be selling for a scant .99 cents??
Temptation, baby. Women’s empowerment. Needs MUST! Sassy Scribes want you to know we have your back. And would very much like to get to know you better. Specifically, what YOU want in romance and women’s fiction. Communication is key and so is this unbeatable deal.
But .99 cents won’t last forever. Much like summer has morphed into Autumn, it just happens. Overnight. Look to October 14th for holiday romance to turn tension-riddled frowns upside down. But only if you jump in like the SASSY SCRIBES and order now. (You know you want to!)
Now it’s on to Isabelle Grace, a most gracious lady and one of the most dedicated teachers I’ve encountered. True love? You bet.
Caring is at the core of this woman who takes whatever she attempts to heart, right along with those individuals blessed to become part of her circle. That’s why she takes such care in crafting tales for readers. She knows what feels are like and wants YOU to experience them in full with every flip of the page. But let’s begin at the beginning for those who’d like to know if they should follow the teacher.
What moves you to write and what do you write, Isabelle? (Fiction? Poetry? Screenplays?) Students of life and love want to know.
I’m motivated to write by many things – words from a song, a scene from a movie, a catchphrase, something I’ve read or seen. Although I have written a few articles years ago for our local paper, now and since college, I’ve concentrated on contemporary romance.
I hear you, Isabelle. Focus is critical and something I struggle with too often as you know. So tell this reformed panster what you prefer. Are you a panster or a plotter? (What does method bring to your stories?)
I am primarily a pantser. I do a little character background plotting and have a basic idea in my head when I start, but I don’t outline. I just write and let the characters guide the story. Impatience is the main reason for being a pantser. I like to get in and get started. As to what it brings to my stories – I’ve had some interesting turn of events crop up either in the rough draft or during edits. I hope they enhance the story.(Sounds a lot like life. The guy you never thought you’d fall for leaves you jumping off love’s cliff with a sloppy grin you never suspected was in you!)
What’s your favorite movie/music? You’ve admitted to finding inspiration in varied places, Isabelle, so what is it that moves you?
My favorite movie of all time is The Wizard of Oz. (YESSSSS!) On a more contemporary note, it’s Pretty Woman – the ultimate Cinderella story in my opinion. I saw it in the theaters eleven times, pre-ordered the video, and wore it out! (Now that’s FOCUS!)As for music, I listen to a variety of music – mostly soft rock, country, classic 80’s, top 40. In high school, one of my favorite songs was Barry Manilow’s Weekend in New England. So romantic.(Viva la Barry!!!)
What’s on the horizon, Isabelle? Books? Projects? Whatever? (We’re nosy here. LoL!!)
I have a 4-book collection I want to publish – The Blackwood Brothers Series. Each brother has his own book. A veterinarian, a best-selling author, a widowed farmer, and a construction worker, Drew, Jack, Reese, and Holden Blackwood are each paired with a strong, independent woman who ultimately make their lives complete. As I wrote the series, I fell in love with each brother and wanted to be the heroine lucky enough to become a part of their life. I am hoping readers will feel the same.(You’ve got something there with brothers, Isabelle, seriously. Rugged, able, and needing just the “right” match. What’s not to love??)
What writer’s organizations if any have helped you achieve successes in your writing life? (Not a shameless plug, but a serious question, people. You know me.)
Sassy Scribes for sure. I have been a member of other more official groups, but the Sassy Scribes have offered more support, inspiration, motivation, insight, and knowledge than anything else on the writing front I’ve been affiliated with.(Okay, shamelessly true and I agree 100%. Readers can expect to hear more from SASSY SCRIBES in future as we plan to take personal empowerment and the power of the pen on the proverbial road. Fair warning. It’s gonna be bumpy but never boring!)
Now, just for fun, an absolute must during Covid-19 crazies and frankly anytime. What’s your favorite animal, Isabelle? Do you have one???
I like dogs and horses and have had both. Currently, though, I have Bella, a Pomeranian rescue.
What would you do if you won the lotto?
Pay off my bills and help out my family and friends. I’d also give money to a few charities, and establish a foundation to provide scholarships and grants primarily for education. And, of course, the Sassy Scribes could become their own publishing group. (SEE WHY I LOVE THIS WOMAN??)
Okay. Time to channel Miss Universe, Isabelle. Would you strive for world peace? Why or why not?
I would like for all people to live in harmony. Yes, we’ll have differences in looks, opinions, ethnicities, genders, belief, and everything else under the sun, but we won’t feel threatened by it. We can be accepting and get along peaceably. We can appreciate the diversities and celebrate accomplishments. The world could be where kindness, unity, love, understanding, and grace could prevail.
What’s your view on character flaws for heroes/heroines?
I think they’re wonderful and realistic. Makes the books more interesting and the characters more human! Sure, we’d all like to find the gorgeous male with rock hard abs, a killer smile, and bedroom eyes who is just perfect, but in real life, that’s next to impossible, right? Let’s create heroes and heroines that are like the rest of us in the world!! We’re lovable, too!
What would YOU like to tell readers about yourself? Think Jeopardy and give me the answer and the question.
I have lived in the same county in WV all my life. From middle school through college, I worked on my uncle’s dairy farm where I learned a lot about things I now realize some folks won’t ever have the opportunity to experience firsthand. For that, I feel very lucky.
Personally, I am blessed with a wonderful family and awesome friends. Though I have no biological children of my own, I have a spectacular nephew who is like a son to me. He is my heart as well as my pride and joy. I have two beautiful nieces, two bonus great-nieces, a goddaughter, and one great niece or nephew on the way. And thanks to my sister by heart, I am also fortunate to be an honorary aunt to her granddaughters.
I teach at the same high school from which I graduated. I’ve been there for many years, first as a special education teacher and not as a Family and Consumer Sciences teacher (formerly Home Economics). I teach Parenting, Foods and Nutrition, and Personal Finance. Though education has changed dramatically since I began teaching, especially in the last six months, I am honored to have the opportunity to educate our youth with skills that will be useful to them all their lives.
Plus, I’m blessed to see the potential in our teenage population and hopefully, in some small way, to help cultivate it.
WOW. Just wow. It’s the story behind the romantic lines that makes them resonate. Yes, you’re blessed, Isabelle, but so are we. Thank you for sharing yourself with me, with the SASSY SCRIBES, and now you’re reading public.
Time for a cover reveal. Yes, I’ve chatted about SNOW IN LOVE, the sweet collection of holiday stories brought to you by #Readertainment available for pre-order on Amazon. (The woman to the left is how I envision myself. Darker hair, a far better red lip, but the caffeine is spot on! Glasses, too.)
But, now, here’s the tease for my story. Drum roll and wham:
ALL HE WANTS FOR CHRISTMAS…
A Greek god meets his match in his soon-to-be-ex unless a holiday hiccup that strands them both on a deserted Fijian Island provides them the chance to do more than talk!
What’s a love-starved mortal, hot for her husband but not the family demands better suited to Mt. Olympus, supposed to do?
So now, my question to you, is are you TEMPTED? Teased? Encouraged to click? Crafting ads is such a different beastie than writing stories. Try it and you’ll know exactly what I mean.
That said, please, if you’re a reader, I want to hear from you. What did I miss? What did I hit? And how HARD? (Inquiring minds do nothing but ask endless questions. Sorry. Kinda.) The idea here is to please YOU. So consider that open season on letting it all out. Claws, too.
Writers, props all around, please throw a fellow a bone. Preferably with a lot of juicy meat on it because I tend to be low on iron. What a wonderful flaw considering red meat is my favorite. But hey, we can’t be perfect. Took me long enough to give up that crazy train. (Props to Ozzie Osbourne!)
Thanks for being here every last one of you. You’re needed and APPRECIATED, whether you leave a comment or not. Silent types are often the very best of friends. ((HUGS)) I look forward to hearing from you!
The bathroom remodel is well underway. Yippeee. But along with life’s lovelies comes a reality check–aching backs. Try necks, ankles, short-hairs? Well, maybe not that bad, but you name it, it’s sore.
Is this why we prolonged the remodel for so long?
Yes and no.
Anything worth having–even a stone and porcelain wonder palace–merits the struggle. The PAIN! Like the words we writers wrestle down, snag from the sky, and chip out of Moria’s mines, daring man and beast to bring you joy. Us, too. Never underestimate that sense of accomplishment? DIY therapy is addictive and handy. Especially when other duties require getting grout done right, quartz seated, pipes sealed just so, and carving custom baseboards. Hello! (The aches and pains brought on by my ergonomically challenged workstation don’t even compare.)
SO, if you have any well wishes, prayers, or positive thoughts to spare, please, give it up for the BEST BIL EVER!!!! (Names are withheld to protect those with superhero capes and secret squirrel eye-wear. Or is that the mask of Zoro?)
Thank you to one and all–whatever your craft–who suffer the slings and arrows so we don’t have to!!
Okay, people. BIG changes going on at my house. Depression? NO. That’s SO last season and thank God. Thank you all, too. Very much.
I’m here with big news. Really big. Life altering for me and about dang time. (Feel free to chime in below and tell me all about it. A kick in the skirts from good friends, delivered with LOVE, is better than any prescription. But I digress.)
Prep yourself for SASSY SCRIBES. My tribe–a fabulous collection of honest, emotion-filled, unashamed ladies who know precisely what to do when faced with life’s dramas–have a debut collection.
SNOW IN LOVE. It’s a sweet gathering of DIVERSE holiday romances that reflect us, the woman in all of us and the myriad voices that make us each unique. All in on place. And ALL FOR ONLY .99 CENTS … provided you order now. But, seriously, what is there to loose? (Anxiety? Disinformation? A Grinchy spirit?)
8 DYNAMIC romances
8 FRESH voices
8 REASONS to celebrate the SEASON (Cuddling up with those touching tales–and touchable heroes–that stir our hearts is a needs-must whether snow is flying or sun is baking. Am I right?)
More to the point, I’d like to ask your patronage and support for our little tribe. Growing and, God willing, growing STRONG not only for ourselves but all of us. SASSY SCRIBES will bring you SWEET HEAT all-the-way! Want to see somethng? SAY something. We’re listening.
Look for more promos to come. More ENERGY. Collections. And all the tropes you love and more, explored from different points of view. But always with love. Empowerment is for EVERYONE.
Write on and huge HUGS!
p.s. Do drop the pairings you’d like to see in the comments below. Our bathroom remodel has me thinking harried career woman and the oh-so-capable craftsman next door! Helllo!
Okay. Rene and I don’t write exactly the same genre. She’s sassy comic romance where I’m trying to be strictly sweet. Trying. She’s flirty with the lines–steamy in places–where I’m firmly drawing some. For a change. Bedroom doors weren’t always shut in my earlier writing ventures, but life brings many changes. Although I could be fooling myself entirely. Done that before. But good buddies, who should always be supported, are there for the reality check.
And Rene SO gets me. I hope I get her, too. I sure dig her snappy chick-lit vibe and the easy comedy that makes reading her a joy. A believing, practicing Christian, Rene lends a touch of worldly realism to her tales. But in the pursuit of happily-ever-after, her heroes and heroines always try to do the right thing. Tricky business in this maze called life. So while we’re not boxed-set-sisters, Rene and I are absolutely connected where it counts. In spirit. A spirit I’ve come to rely on and feel compelled to share if only to offer my readers encouragement, self-empowerment, and an example of how we all benefit from supporting one other even if our voices aren’t exactly the same.
What moves you to write, Rene, and what ‘all’ do you write? (Interviews are the perfect time to dig for deets! LoL!)
I write fiction, specifically romance, mainly because I love reading it. I get my kicks from writing romantic comedy. I love the humor, the snarky comebacks, and the hilarious situations and interactions. Life can be very serious and full of challenges. Writing and reading rom-com is like a great escape. (No wonder we click!)
I also dabble in screenwriting, because I enjoy writing dialogue. I co-wrote an indie web-series in 2006 and wrote another web-series in 2009. Working in another genre can be a refreshing change that re-energizes the fiction-writing process. (Absolutely true. I hope we can hear more when you come back.You ARE coming back ;^)
Are you a panster or a plotter, Rene? And why? (What does method bring to your stories?)
I’m a plotter who likes to veer off into pantser-ville. (YES! YES! YES! I’m not alone!) I don’t want to be so rigid with my outline that I ignore my characters’ instincts. With each story I plot, the characters usually lead me in a new direction as I’m writing Act 3. I follow their lead, and the new direction is a nice surprise for me.
I use the Romancing the Beats to make sure that I hit the right notes and expectations for my romance readers. And I rely on The Emotion Thesaurus to enrich my language. (Those two sources are very helpful in my creative process, too. Hmmm. Looks like we’re sharing some DNA here despite divergent spice levels.)
What’s your favorite movie/music? Do you find inspiration in film/music for your writing?
Movies are very important for me since I write romantic comedies. I want my readers to feel like they’re watching my stories unfold like a movie. So for every story, I choose a movie for inspiration.
What’s at the bottom of your craft bag? (This is often more telling than a junk drawer!)
I like to make my own jewelry, especially earrings and necklaces. And I have a small 8” x 11” multimedia notebook where I use watercolor painting, crayons, and color pencils. I’m not a good artist at all, (doubt that) but I love creating something that takes 30 – 45 minutes. A quick sense of achievement and gratification is important while working on writing projects that take months or years to complete. (I use vintage pattern crochet bookmarks for this pop of Serotonin. Accomplishment–its where its at!)
Do you find family to be a support, a distraction, or an integral element of your writer’s life?
I’m lucky that husband and parents are extremely supportive. Without my husband, I wouldn’t be able to pursue this writing journey full-time. Some people I know, I thought they wouldn’t read my work—or that they’d look down on the fact that I write romance. But they’ve been a big part of my support system, leaving reviews, spreading the word, and encouraging me to keep writing. (You’re truly blessed, Rene. Thumbs up on that score all the way!)
Do you prefer city or country living? Does this impact the settings of your stories?
I used to prefer city living, big-time. But that’s changed over the last seven or eight years. Now, I prefer the ‘burbs! But my stories are usually set in an urban environment, because that’s how I spent my 20s and early 30s. My holiday novel, Santa Bring Me a Ryan, is mostly set in Montana, because I wanted to capture that kind of cold, scenic setting. I have a personal connection with Missoula, and immediately knew this story needed to be set there.
What’s on the horizon for you? Books? Projects? Whatever?
My next book is called The Celebrity Look-Alike. It’s about a small-town girl who gets the role of her life to become a movie star girlfriend’s look-alike. My goal is to publish it in February/March. (Insider’s tip: This is a fabulous project. An absolute must read when it hits the cyber-shelves.)
Do you indie-publish or traditionally publish? I indie-publish, and it has been challenging and gratifying. I like being able to make all of the decisions and having carte blanche on the creative process. But it’s hard when you’re a one-woman show. There are a lot of balls to keep in the air, and I feel like I can’t always juggle them. A virtual assistant is an option that I may consider in the future.
What challenges have you faced? Ads are a hard nut to crack: How many to run? How often? And for how long? And staying on top of social media is tough, too. It’s hard to balance hey-this-thing-I-saw-was-cool posts with me-me-me posts and buy-my-book posts. I’m still working on the right formula. On my to do list: looking into a social marketing tool like Buffer or HootSuite so I can schedule posts. (Later is also good. I’m trying to get to that–but later seems to be all I can manage. LoL!!)
Now for some soul searching. How should a writer define his or her success, Rene? I think the measure for success varies for each writer. For some, success may be the act of publishing a book on Amazon–of simply getting a book written and “out there”–and the amount of sales may not be a concern. For others, finding an agent and getting traditionally published is the measure for success. And for indie authors, success may be getting on a bestsellers list like Amazon or generating a certain amount of sales or revenue per month. For each writer, establishing a definition for success is key, especially one that is measurable. It provides a goal, which turns into a game plan, and keeps you moving forward. We just can’t be discouraged if we miss our mark. Being flexible and gentle on ourselves is important–we can’t forget that writing is supposed to be fun! (And if you wonder why I’m keen on passing on the wisdom and wit of Rene Penn, there you have it. THE answer!)
Now for grins and giggles. What’s your favorite animal?
I love dogs, but I’m allergic to most. As a child, I was scared of them. Now, I try to pet all of the dogs in the neighborhood! (I try petting the squirrels. LoL. But getting to know the furry ones is fun, no? I hope your allergies go away.)
What would you do if you won the lotto?
I’d be selfish at first. (Three cheers for honesty!) I’d want to buy a house—my husband and I are house-hunting now since our big move to southern California recently. (Prayers for Rene here. House-hunting–especially after a cross country move is daunting. We need some prayer warriors to engage God’s grace and plead mercy for this darling couple.) I’d also want to help family members with mortgages. Then, it would be nice to start creative writing scholarships at colleges and make large donations to writing centers, YMCAs, rescue animal centers, and cancer treatment centers. (YES! YES! YES!!)
Well, we’re at the end of this interview, people, but the yesses absolutely have it. Thank you Renee. You’re the bomb. A shot of joy and humor fans of rom-com and down-to-earth realists can’t afford to miss. (I’m missing you already since you moved to California. Sniff, sniff.) If you’d like to learn more about my soul sister, here goes:
Feel free to follow us both. Write us. Comment. Tell us WHAT YOU’D LIKE TO READ. We’d be tickled if you did whether you’re a reader, writer, or both. Interested parties of any persuasion are always welcome as information and a communicated exchange of ideas is where its at.
Let me start by saying THANK YOU for the well wishes, prayer, and positive thoughts offered for a happy family reunion. Las Vegas was the bomb. A complete success and an entree to more of the same–warm family gatherings where “being there” for each other is the top priority.
In between Black Jack successes — the Grinch is seriously blessed in this way — slot machines, “Staying Alive” with the Australian Bee Gees, and Beetles LOVE (an utterly amazing experience at the Mirage one must witness to believe), our family moved forward to a new understanding. A new bond of acceptance, support, and mutual appreciation. (That happens when you get old. LoL.)
Much like my experience here with my extended writer’s/readers community. Being real is so much better than the false fronts we too often come to believe we need. (I still have some old habits to shed, but I’m working on it ;^)
So here’s a taste of the fun we had:
Of course, there was plenty of GOOD EATS! We dined at Sinatra’s at the Encore (The Vegas must have for the Paisan in all of us) and Gordon Ramsay’s Steak House at the Paris–if you’re into MEAT, this is the place to go. And the Mob Museum–a relatively new addition to the Vegas experience–proved to be highly educational.
The colorful display of softcover, hard-boiled mystery novels from HARD CASE CRIME in the Mob Museum gift shop touched my core.
I absolutely love the straight-shooting, first person narratives of what “could” happen to a regular Joe in a big, bad city. HARD CASE is dedicated to revisiting the era of pulp fiction classics, providing reprints of cult classics from authors like Donald E. Westlake and new infusions by today’s talented authors–Stephen King to name a more popular contributor.
Books are a lot like people. You may not relate to every one, but each has a unique something to offer. A tale to tell. A lesson to teach. A voice Taking the time to listen–sans judgement–can be the best way to grow and find that elusive peace that we all seek this time of year. And all year round.
Thank you all. Merry Christmas. Peace be to you. And blessings for one all–all year long.