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.
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.)
Yes, we love our holidays, but sometimes they don’t share until after the melt down. So prep yourself for winter blues or just catch the holiday spirit. Order now. With a snuggly blanket and/or bubble bath when the time is right, you’ll be glad you did.
(Self-care is ESSENTIAL all year round but especially when we’re expected to shine.)
So, Hana, to mix it up, here’s a different question. Do you prefer city or country living? Does this impact the settings of your stories? (I’m in a country mood myself what with life becoming increasingly complex. Ugh.)
Tough choice. I’m a city girl, born and bred. But I would love to move to a small town, and a part of me even dreams to own a farm or ranch. Silly, but I think it’s the idyllic peace the country offers that can be too much to resist. In reality, the closest I get to country living is when I stop by at my local farmer’s market to do my part supporting smaller, family-owned farms.
For my debut novella, Kwanzaa at His Castle, the country setting is important because it gives both my hero, Tyson, and my heroine, Imani, that rare opportunity to be snowbound in a castle. It’s extreme as far as “one-on-one time” goes, but it has to happen! I love my forced proximity stories.
Bring on the close-quarters…the perfect setup when your secret crush owns a castle. Well done, Hana. What motivated you to write this latest novel? And what would you like readers to take away from the experience of your words? (Those things that move us move me, so I have to ask!)
I work retail, and I’ve worked it on and off for a decade. Working retail through the holiday season, I’ve encountered customers who’ve wished me a “Happy Kwanzaa”. My family and I don’t celebrate Kwanzaa, but it’s a pan-African (non-religious) celebration that has its roots in the American civil rights movement.
I won’t go into a social history lesson, but to keep it short, I wanted more diversity out there. Being a black author, and loving my holiday romances, I just HAD to write a Kwanzaa romance! And I’m hopingto get the opportunity to write more Kwanzaa romances in my career, but for now, I’m giving you Imani and Tyson’s love story this Kwanzaa and holiday season.
I’m hoping readers get to learn more about Kwanzaa, and ultimately, get a chance to be whisked away by a millionaire to a country castle this holiday.
Okay, Hana, you’re doing great. History lesson or not, you’ve got me wanting more. Couldn’t help noticing Imani, your heroine, takes her name from the 7th day of Kwanzaa. Cool beans.
But onto the SERIOUS question: What does your desk look like and what do you “think” it says about you? (Can’t help the sarcasm. Mid-Covid has me crazy. Thanks for your patience!!)
As you can see, my desk space/“office” is pretty bare. I do like it this way—call me the Marie Kondo of writers! I prefer the minimalist approach.
Besides, I’m like a squirrel. Any little thing can drag my attention from a day’s work of writing, so I keep my desk clutter-free of distractions. (Says my opposite twin!)
And don’t get me wrong, I collect my fair share of office supplies. I gotta have the Post-It notes, the highlighters in five different colours, the fancy pens, the abundant pencils, etc. Also when I say “collect”; I mean hoard. Ha! (I knew it!!!)
But as of now, my plotting happens digitally. So, all my notebooks to sketch ideas and brainstorm are tucked away and waiting for the day that I return to them. Again, just my preference.
I do like to keep photos of my family nearby. They’ve been supportive of my writing aspirations and career from the very start, and I keep their photos close by as a reminder of how truly blessed I am to have such an amazing support system.
You are blessed, Hana. Family is supposed to help on the journey of discovering exactly who we are. And who we’d like to become. I’m so happy your dear ones support your craft–your career. In that we are very much alike and likely why I consider you part of my family, too.
SASSY SCRIBES are the bomb, the BEST, and we’re on a roll. Empowering one another to reach goals and go for it! Whatever “it” may be. Thank you, Hana, and thank you, Readers, for staying tuned.
Feel free to comment or lurk as you wish, but know that I’d dearly love to engage with my audience. If only to better know what you want to hear. Let’s talk! And let’s talk about it.
For those who’d like to know more about Hana Sheik and keep her on their radar, please, follow her at:
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.
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!!
I’ve been hunkered all summer penning Christmas romance. FUN much?? YESSSSSSSS! Covid has brought about a shift in yours truly. And getting my humor on has taken the forefront.
I hope you’ll enjoy the laughs and the ticklish situations that have provided me with the escape needed to exercise ‘true charity’ at home. Where it counts the most.
So here we go:
Career climber, Victoria “Tori” Barkley lied about being married to keep promotions coming and offers best refused off the table. A girl’s gotta eat and eat well. But when her mistletoe mistake—a Finnish meat bus with a full beard and hair to spare—presented himself as Santa Claus with a tempting sprig, instinct said, “YES!” And with all the passion she’d pent up far too long.
Must be why she got pregnant!
But when Edvin Arn Auliksen, shunning career crazies and gobs of cash inherited by a family whose lifestyle he hates, discovers he’s a father, the high-mountain hermit swaps snowy peaks for New York City. Victoria won’t get away with her lies. Or her attempt to have a fake “husband” show up at a corporate Christmas party where he’ll be paid to make a scene and quietly agree to a divorce. Edvin will play that part but with a different end in mind.
The question now is if Victoria will recognize her baby’s father. Tall as ever. Clean shaven. Mountaineer skills and rippling muscles wrapped in Armani instead of red velvet. The meat bus is on a roll. And he’s not stopping until he secures a very Merry Christmas. For his baby girl and Victoria, the only woman he ever thought of marrying. If she’ll let him.
I hope you are reading. Reading and relaxing in this run-up to Summer. Calm is what I need, that and some sense of peace. (Always the case as you all know ;^) If you’re in-search-of, or would like to try writing yourself, meet my latest guest.
Take it from here, Teresa.
My name is Teresa Ives Lilly. I’m so pleased to be part of this newsletter.
We’re pleased to have you. No kidding. With lock downs and strife all around, its even more critical to make connections and get to know what makes others tick. I prefer the truth beneath the stereotypes that too often are anything but. So, tell us, what moves you to write and what do you write?
My original motivation was basically the sad moments in childhood.
So writing was a refuge? I get it. I can also relate. Yes, I do write happy things, but the deeper emotions that need expression are what calls the loudest. Tell us more, Teresa. Pull of the metaphorical mask–and the one that may be keeping you oxygen deprived. (Lord knows, I border on panic attacks when forced to wear one.)
I wrote many poems, but when I got older and discovered Janette Oke…. I was ignited to become a Christian writer.
Life is like that. An unexpected transformation that often takes us where we think we’ll NEVER go. Good for you, Teresa, moving toward what speaks to your soul. What’s on the agenda today? What’s your process?
For books I write now, I just have to see a picture I like, think of a title, or meet someone with a great name. That gets me started.
Creatives are like that! And inspiration takes so many forms; a random thought, an archaic word, a wink from an unexpected ally. What moved you to write Carousel of Love? (One of four sweet historical tales featured inside Carousel Dreams available on Amazon!) More importantly, what would you like readers to take away from the experience of your words?
I was trying to think of a subject that I’d never read in a Christian Romance and happened onto the concept of Carousels. Then as researching I discovered one in a town close to where I met my husband. From there, it was all just the fun research about the times and the area. I want readers to feel content with my stories, and hopeful they want to read more.
Contentment is in short supply even when things don’t come across as crazy on the news. Thanks for actively addressing this issue and spreading the love. What’s on the horizon for you? Books? Projects? Whatever? Readers and writers want to know.
I’m currently under contract with Barbour Books for a mystery set called Tea Shoppe Mysteries. I’m also working on a Keepers of the Light book called The Loggers Hope, and a Christmas series called Evergreen Cottage.
Wow. Sounds like you’re full up on getting the message out. Look for the light, be inspired, hold out for hope. Thank you for sharing your words and wisdom. And, please, thank your award winning co-authors, Cynthia Hickey, Susanne Dietze, and Patty Smith Hall for pulling together to pen this much needed dip into history. Times change but human nature, not so much. It’s critical to remember or else history repeats itself.
TERESA IVES LILLY’s ninth grade teacher inspired her writing by allowing her to take a twelve-grade creative writing course during the summer. After that, it has been her passion and dream to write, however until her Salvation in 1986 when she discovered the genre of Christian Romance, Teresa did not even try writing. Since then, she has gone on to write over twenty-five novellas and novels including two published by Barbour Books. Teresa lives in San Antonio, Texas where she and her husband are close to their three grown children and one grandson. Teresa believes God let her be born “at such a time as this” to be able to write and share her stories of faith.
Click here for a sneak peek at the Carousel Dreams collection. But buy the book if you’re eager to read…
Carousel of Love by Teresa Ives Lilly 1910 – Conneaut Lake, Pennsylvania
For Tamara Brand, spending the summer at Expedition Park impersonating her wealthy debutante employee seemed like a dream come true until she meets Blake Conner; just a Carnie who runs the carousel. He seems to be the type of man she would like to get to know better if she weren’t pretending to be someone she isn’t. But, is Blake who he appears to be?
Thank you, dear readers, for being out there and providing us creatives a venue to share, soul search, and empower ourselves and others via the written word. Plumbing the depths of hearts and minds can be a scary thing, but please, do. And share. Comments, suggestions, and varying points of view are so welcome.
A second chance for her sleepy small town or Sarah Jane Minton, Montana’s mouthiest spinster?
Sarah Jane has a life, a hidden one she can’t help comparing to the romance novels that helped her overcome childhood disappointments. And the adult variety that left her married to a failing pie shop/tavern.
But with a big, bad secret she dare not share in gossip central—small towns are the worst—romance novels are the lesser of two evils. Aren’t they?
Brazilian billionaire, Vidal Herrera, is determined to test that theory when the obligation to clean up the mess he’s created spills over into Sarah Jane’s beloved safe space. Wild Horse, Montana. But can he ignore the tasty, plus-sized pastry who once shut him down? The same savory dish Providence seems determined he should box up and take home even against her will.
I am, too, but with all the lovelies that come with writing, advertising, living, etc, it’s a challenge. Whatever your challenges may be, dear reader, I hope you revisit Wild Horse and let me know what you like or don’t like.
I’m writing for YOU!
For myself, too, okay. You get the idea. With a recently empty nest, I’m seeking adoptees. Funny, not funny. Another development that will effect this writer’s bottom line. So if you’re into some serious tending, feel free to drop me a line and let me know what you’d like to read. That’s kind of how I began this venture. Telling stories out of necessity! (Caracas Cowboy has an inside joke I hope you’ll appreciate. And, no, Caracas is not in Brazil!)
If you missed Rodeo King, Book 1 of Wild Horse Montana, here she blows. An engaging summer read if plot is your candy and hard won happily-ever-afters bring on that satisfying smile. Whatever you do, I pray you’re smiling your way through Covid crazies and getting on with what brings joy!
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.
So here we are, finally, getting cozy with the last of my Romancing the Billionaire Boxed-Set Sisters, Anne Greene. (That’s for the year 2019. I’m onboard for Winged Publications MISSletoe Mistakes, another boxed set, due out Christmas 2020. Stay tuned.) For now, it’s spotlight Anne.
What moves you to write, Anne, and what do you write (fiction only? poetry? plays?)
I write Suspense and Mystery and Historical and Historical Romance. Since I was small, as long as I can remember, I’ve written plays and stories. I believe I was born to write. I write for the Lord. (Can’t beat that motivation, and there’s something about feeling that niggle from childhood.)
Are you a panster or a plotter? (Why am I stuck on this question?)
Once my characters are born, I turn them loose and sit back and watch what they do. It’s like enjoying a movie. This keeps the story spontaneous and fresh. I’ve tried to plot and found that avenue boring. So, I write the way I’ve always written.
If you have a craft bag–what’s in it? And/or if you don’t do crafts, what leisure activity or hobby is sitting there waiting for you? (Or is Anne on top of it all?)
I love doing crafts, but only with a group. I sing in our magnificent two-hundred-person church choir and I paint with oils.
Do you find family to be a support, a distraction, or an integral element of your writer’s life?
Interesting question. My children love my books as do some of their children. But family is a large part of my life and they come before any book deadlines and as such they are somewhat a distraction. But a loved distraction.
My husband is a huge support. He does the final proof on all my books before I send them to my editor. (Good man. Smart, too!) He designs my website, takes my publicity pictures, and the sweet man frames the cover of each book my publishers have published. My office is lined with pictures of my book covers. (Okay, our next interview will definitely revolve around cloning. LoL!)
Do you prefer city or country living? And does this impact the settings of your stories?
I like a town of 150,000. Where I live in McKinney, Texas has grown from 35,000 when we moved here to 200,000 in fifteen years. My lovely town is now too crowded.
Yes, I’ve written about McKinney in two of my books, Mystery at Dead Broke Ranch – when McKinney was 35,000 and Red is for Rookie, the lst book in my Holly Garden Detective series now that McKinney has grown and become a suburb of Dallas.
What motivated you to write this latest novel? And what would you like readers to take away from the experience of your words?
Romancing The Billionaire, the title intrigued me when my publishers proposed this anthology. My book is Hatteras Island Mystery. Wedding photographer, Misty Gordon, photographs a man at a late December wedding. He disappears before she can discover his name. Next morning as she walks the beach, she discovers his body floating in the ocean. As Misty summons EMT, the man wakes but has no memory. After he disappears from the hospital, Misty discovers him aboard a million-dollar yacht. As she talks with him, two assassins try to kill them both.
Is this a murder for hire, a revenge killing, or a political assassination? Is the man with no memory a drug dealer, an FBI agent, or a billionaire?
Can Misty solve the mystery before they both end in the morgue? (I’m betting Misty can, but its how that’s hooked me. I love suspense!)
What’s on the horizon for you? Books? Projects? Whatever?
I’m working on a book now titled Trail of Tears. This novel follows the nephew of John Ross, chief of the Cherokees, and what happened to a 1/16 Native American as he traveled the Trail of Tears after having lost his plantation, slaves, and parents to the US Government. Trail of Tears is packed with action, adventure, surprises, and history. The reader will feel as if he had traveled the Trail herself.
What’s your favorite animal—do you have one??? I’m a real animal nut so I have to ask.
My little brown and white Shih Tzu sits at my feet every day as I write. I often insert her picture into my newsletter. I use many pictures in my newsletter so my readers can know me better. If you’d like to join my newsletter, (and catch a glimpse of your furry friend) visit me at www.AnneGreeneAuthor.com and sign up.
Where do you find your heroes?
My dear husband doesn’t like me to call him a hero, but he is one. He served in the Army forty years and retired as a Colonel, Special Forces. I’m sure each of my novel heroes has some of my husband’s fine qualities.
What’s your view on character flaws for heroes/heroines?
I like character flaws. (Me, too!) None of us is perfect and revealing a character flaw, shows the character is human.
What’s your least favorite character type?
I don’t have a least favorite. I love to write villains and heroes. I sometime find my secondary character tries to take over the story, then I use him as hero of his own story. (Wrangling secondary characters can be tricky!)
What would you like to tell readers about yourself? Channel Jeopardy and give me the answer and the question. LoL!
I’d love my readers to stay in touch with me via my newsletter. The letter arrives once a month and is contains pictures of new books, recipes, family photos, some of my oil paintings, and pictures of my workspace as well as my travels. I have giveaways and contests. And you will definitely get to know me better by reading my newsletter!
Well, cool beans! That was fun. Thanks for stopping by, Sis. I appreciate the reveal of the woman behind the suspenseful, historical, romantic tales. And the opportunity to share your works and wit with my readers.
“The Mob Museum offers a bold and authentic view of organized crime from vintage Las Vegas to the back alleys of American cities and—increasingly—across the borders and networks of the entire world. Explore the real stories and actual events of Mob history through interactive exhibits and one-of-a-kind Mob and law enforcement artifacts found inside our restored 1933 former courthouse and post office building located just minutes from Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas.”
The perfect place to explore my resident Grinch’s Sicilian roots. And my own bootlegging backstory from Depression Days gone wild.
Read on, people. Enjoy this run up to Christmas. Family. Friends. And…