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.)
Who hasn’t talked about writing a book someday? I mean, seriously. At every party I’ve ever been to, with the exception of pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey soirees, I’ve been entertained by those who “say” they want to write a book or will–someday.
Someday never comes as today is where we’re at, no matter what our wishes for the future. (That’s no slam against dreams or those who, for whatever reason, prioritize life and leave off those elusive words. Writing a book is no easy thing. Try it if you don’t believe me.
But I digress. My way and you know it. On to introducing Melanie Waterbury. Woman, wife, mother, and devoted daughter. Here’s a gal undaunted by life’s variety and the need to dig in her heels if she wants to accomplish something. (A successful marriage is no easy thing either :^)
Onward. Being a recent home schooling empty nester, I’ want to know about family. Are they a help or a hindrance, Melanie?? I’ve avoided that question myself by way of the 5th amendment. (Don’t want to incriminate myself). But how about you?
Well I have four kids, so they are definitely a distraction, and possibly part of the reason I haven’t published anything until now. I love them, they are my life, but of course it also makes it hard to get dedicated time that I won’t be interrupted during to write.
You know that even if Dad is right there, they’ll come find you for whatever they need. Which of course means they know you’ll be able to help them and will help them, but still!
I hear EVERYTHING you’re saying, woman to woman. What’s your solution, Melanie? There are countless like us who, despite our beloved burdens, want to reach our goals sooner rather than later.
I’ve started trying to get up earlier than the kids to get things done but with two early risers, and of course they are the 4 and 2 year old, that’s not really a thing. Still, I’ve been managing to get things done around the chaos, especially since I’ve really committed myself to doing this.
Okay, so a combo of true GRIT and legitimate work arounds. Can’t be easy getting up earlier as I’m sure your work load demands far more wakeful hours than not. No bon bon eating chaise fainters in your house–mine neither, although I always fantasized about being Camille.
But now that you’ve broken that barrier–publication!!!–what’s on the horizon for you, Melanie? Books? Projects? Whatever? (Warning. Emptynesting former home-schooling moms tend to be nosy and pushy about encouraging others to reach for the stars!!)
Oh my gosh, I have a million things I want to do! But the one I grabbed at first was a romantic suspense I’ve been playing around with for a while. It’s about an action film start who is targeted by a fanatic cult and the female security specialist hired to protect him. It plays at insecurities about masculinity, and with both characters being an alpha there is some fun ways to go with it.
You had me hooked at fanatic cult. Masculine insecurities pings my radar, too, as again, helping others reach for the stars is what real women do. At least in my circle. No wonder we’ve gravitated toward the same tribe. So do tell, Melanie. More deets, please! How does this new suspense compare with Healing Her Heart for the Holidays?
It’s definitely steamier than the novella for this collection as both hero and heroine are naturally more physical characters. And the fight scenes! My Dad raised me on action flicks so I love writing a fight scene. There’s going to be a lot of them, so if you like action and steam and high stakes danger, you’ll probably find this a good read.
It’s tentatively titled Chased Down, and I’m hoping to have it out shortly after the New Year.
Wow. A worthy goal and I LOVE your timeline. New Year, new career!
Okay, total fluff question next, Melanie. I always like to ask. Probably because I can never seem to answer myself. But what would you do if you won the lotto? A BIG LOTTO?
Oh I would buy a house. That’s our dream right now, to buy a house that’s big enough for our family. So it would be a big house but not a monstrosity. And we’d take a vacation to Hawaii because my Mom always wanted to go and my parents were trying to get a trip together as part of her bucket list, but she got too sick too fast and they couldn’t make it happen for her. So, my siblings and I have all committed to going in honor of her. Sorry, that’s a little sad, but it’s true.
That’s not sad but a tribute to your mother’s successes. She obviously stirred love and loyalty in the hearts of her children. A very beautiful thing. Like the image I have of your mother–right now–being SO proud of your accomplishments. All of them. I know I am.
If you’d like to learn more about Melanie Waterbury, please, follow her on:
Thank you, Melanie, and thank you readers for checking out the latest at Ann Malley Books. As always, feel free to follow me here for updates, inspirations, cationary tales, book news, and assorted rambling. You know I’m good for it.
If I can help one person avoid the pitfalls I’ve wasted too much time exploring, I’m GREAT. You reading my work is pure gravy, although I’ll admit I’m an addict. Some habits are impossible to break.
With shared prayers and well wishes for all of my readers. I’m SO grateful for each and every one of you who, I hope, is striving for his or her dream right this second!
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.
All right, guys, the countdown to Christmas is ticking. LOUDLY. It seems that way with deadlines, real or self-imposed, going blizzard in the confines of an otherwise calm headspace.
But I’m the nervous type who often imagines things being far worse than they are–could be why I write Romantic Suspense in between sweeter, contemporary romantic offerings like Her Toronto Tycoon!(Mercy Nation: Diamond Dogs Book 3 and a host of other sweet, but deadly romances are on the horizon.)
I’m absolutely not alone, though. My boxed-set sister, the multi-published, prolific Sydney Winthrop is right beside me in the metaphorical trenches. So let’s get to it.
(Warning: This is going to be a quickie. My black sheep family reunion in Vegas–a real nail biter–is under a week away.(That’s a shout out for prayers in case you were wondering. I’d prefer a Merry Christmas instead of headlining the news.) **********************************
1.) So, Sydney, are you a panster or a plotter? And why? (What does method bring to your stories?)
I am totally a panster. I have a friend who completely outlines her story before she writes a word. One day I asked her, “How did you know who the murderer was?” She looked at me in astonishment and quipped, “How can you NOT?” (Team panster scores – AGAIN!)
My characters speak to me as I go. In Fibers of Freedom, I thought Brutus Keller was the bad guy and figured I’d either kill him off or he’d go to jail! He turned into a good guy, fortunately for Duo of Death and Romance, as he’s one of the billionaires! (I‘m glad this Brutus didn’t get in close for the kill!)
2.) Do you find family to be a support, a distraction, or an integral element of your writer’s life?
Two days ago, I would have said they were a support. Today, I have to say, they are not all in support. My husband is, unequivocally. So is my mother! (That’s experience talking.)
One of my daughters has voiced the opinion I’d make more money in a real job and should do so. (OUCH!) Well, true. I would make more money. It’s up to us as writers, however, to make writing a real job.
3.) Tell us a little about the method you bring when you sit down ‘not to work.’ My sweet spot for invention is between 2 and 5 in the afternoon. Mornings I edit. Around those times, if writing is a real job to me, I need to update my book bibles. File. Blog. Market. Research. Learn what other authors in my genre are blogging. That is all work related to my job. (And clearly visible to those like your husband, good man, and your dear mother who likely know better what constitutes a real job!)
Does it pay real money? And how long do I continue before I decide I need a real job? That answer is different for each one of us.
No, kidding, Sydney. Self-determination gives rise to GREAT authors, fantastic fiction, and worthwhile experiences. Gray has its place, but not globbed over everything. So, good on ya, Sis, for the amazing display of patience, wisdom, and restraint–qualities that are required in any startup when dealing with those “frenemies” who would get close to better position the knife. (Et Tu, Brute?)
But it’s that time of year. My gift to my readers, my sister Stacey, and to those naysayers who may foolishly believe that real jobs are all about paychecks, are the wise words of Jay Plemons, a very talented author who is seasoned in following where the spirit leads. This charitable soul lifted me up from my own puddle of WHAT when I was splattered by friendly fire only last month. (Out of the mouths of babes.)
Jay’s words: I support you all the way. Never give up a talent that makes you happy. You’re awesome! (Isn’t THAT awesome?Talk about finding your tribe.)
And the message? We’re each tasked with a variety of jobs. One of which is the primary care and feeding of our true selves. Jay’s writing is raw and real. But if you’re keen to explore the edgy depths of a dystopian world to find exactly what faith can do, read him. Meanwhile, Sydney and I will tool the avenues of inspirational romantic suspense–and sweet contemporary–taking readers on our journey of self-discovery, wherever that may lead. A job, yes, but also a joy. Much like my writing and reading family!
I’d like to thank Sydney, Jay, and each and every one of you. Thank you for being yourselves, frenemies included. To discover more about the works of Sydney Winthrop, stop by her author page:
The Holiday Season is a time for family. But family can come in many forms. Friends, coworkers, those with whom we commiserate as we navigate self-check out at Walmart. The grocery clerks may not know my name, but they recognize and indulge my bumbling on sometimes a daily basis.
So here we go. Meet Stephanie Guerrero–talented, terrifically prolific, and finer than wine in delivering great, inspirational romance with royalty and billionaires to boot. You’ll find her latest, The Billionaire’s Unexpected Assistant inside the set. But let’s dig a little deeper and maybe you’ll get to love the woman behind the words!
What all do you to write, Stephanie, and why? I currently write Christian fiction of many varieties: historical, romance, suspense. I have written a couple of Bible studies for an online Bible study group in the past, but I love fiction! Jesus often taught using stories or illustrations. I find that I learn a lot from Christian fiction. I can learn and relax at the same time! I LOVE to share the truths of the Gospel in a happily ever after setting!
2. Are you a plotter or a pantser? And why? (What does method bring to your stories?) I will say that for life reasons, I am a total pantser (as in fly by the seat of your… ) I wear many hats. I am the children’s minister at my church; I teach 7th grade. I write, I’m a pastor’s wife who mentors and leads women, and I write. Sometimes, I just get 20 min. to write. At my core, I am an organized person who gets bored easily, so sitting down to write when I have time is my mental outlet. 🙂 When I have time, I like to plan a bit more. However, I find that the books I write spontaneously keep my readers guessing! Do you know why? Because, when I write spontaneously, even I don’t know the direction the story will take. I’ve often surprised myself! 🙂
3. What’s your favorite movie/music? Do you find inspiration in film or music for your writing? Great question! I love Superhero or Hallmark movies! I love Christian pop or rock, Broadway musicals, or Disney soundtracks! My Shades of the Orient and Shades of Redemption novels both drew inspiration from music.
The Shades of the Orient from a Steven Curtis Chapman song called “Bring It On”. Shades of Redemption drew inspiration from a Colton Dixon song entitled “Back to Life”. I will add that I drew a bit of inspiration as far as character personality types from “Iron Man” Think Christian brilliant Tony Stark and supportive Pepper Pots. 🙂
4. Do you have a craft bag– what’s in it or what’s waiting for you to finish it? I LOVE crafts. I’ve been so busy with everything this year that I’m just trying to get back into hobbies. (I need something hands on to get out of my brain on occasion!) I currently am attempting to renovate my great-grandfather’s old desk, and have a bunch of stained glass supplies waiting for me to grab a moment!
5. Do you find family to be a support, a distraction, or an integral part of your writer’s life? ALL of the ABOVE! My family, my husband and mom in particular, are extremely supportive in my writing! God told me when I first started on this journey that my family comes first. A couple of great, successful authors have mentored me and told me the same. You would know their names. During this last book, I was squeezed for time, the laundry and ministry items were backing up, and I was typing furiously. But… I stopped, got up, set the book aside, and proceeded to get a bunch of laundry done. One of my older kids came home, saw the laundry folded on his bed and came to give me a hug as I was furiously typing again. He leaned over and whispered, “Mom, I know your busy. I would have done the laundry for you.” I am blessed… (I changed the main hero’s name to a variation of that son’s name, and he doesn’t even know it yet.)
6. What’s your favorite time of year?I love the fall! Cozying up to my man, a warm fire with cocoa and a book are amazing! (We get that visual, Stephanie. Lucky you!)
7. What’s on the horizon for you? Books? Projects? Whatever? I’m looking forward to tinkering on my stained glass and desk project over the holidays. I’m excited to continue with a couple more billionaire books! This last year I wrote books encompassing tough historical moments, two novels that aside from name changes are basically autobiographies on my own romance, so writing “clean billionaire romance” has been a lot of fun! (although everything I write is “happy ever after!)
That’s my question. It all began – well, recently anyway – with a Friday fish quest. Youngest kiddo and I – that’s Nick aged 20 – set out early to Wegmans. A great place for food if you don’t get lost and hungry on the way. Needless to say, yours truly, driving our red Dodge Ram sans GPS got lost. I’m not admitting for how long, but it took me a while to heed Nick’s encouragement to retrace our route and head for Harris Teeter. Virtually down the street, a straight shot albeit a long one. (My son would make an excellent hostage negotiator, psychiatrist, etc., etc., etc. Brag off.)
Anyway, afternoon came and Greg—my beloved mattress thieving Grinch—fried up our catch of the day. Gak. That was my reaction coming down from my writing lair to a cloud of unmentionables. How could it be? The fish looked good. Nothing like the lurid aroma wafting up the stairwell crept over the counter when the fish-man smiled and wrapped it up. Like a good soldier, though, I proceeded to eat what was set before me. (I always do having been the youngest of eight.) To my delight, my husband admitted the fish was awful. Gag worthy. Both the tuna and the swordfish steaks. Thank God, my effort to down the stuff ceased. But…
How could this be? I’d tried so hard to bring home the proverbial bacon. Suffice to say, after I trotted plastic wrapped lovelies out to the garbage can, I was burning. Not angry so much as frustrated. The house wreaked. The reminder of my failed quest lingered and I wasn’t going to stand for it. Greg wasn’t either. Getting lost all the time is bad enough, but when your husband barks Lysol like a Navy emergency drill it doesn’t make mom happy.
So, after the disinfectant, I lit up. That’s candles. Plumeria, Violet Fields, Honey Something, and a double-discount blue discount thingie that transformed everything. I was in control. Maybe out of control considering the odd combo of scents driving bad fish back to the sea. But it felt GREAT. It smelled fabulous. It still does as I’m on a burning roll.
But I ask you. Is it the benefits of aromatherapy working its magic here or am I simply gleeful about having a positive effect on my environment? To burn or not burn is now the question. Greg is on the verge of hiding candles. (He won’t admit that’s what he was doing when he removed the two I had on the kitchen counter and relocated them to places unknown until I asked.) Older daughter—Melanie my self-care angel—suggests the solution is a DIFFUSER.
Say what? I can get those lovely scents without reaching for
my extendo-flex Bic lighter? I’ll be finding out. That is if Melanie decides to
send that diffuser she insists will keep both Dad and I happy. The closet full
of candle jars awaiting repurposing is overcrowded.
What do you use? Candles? Diffuser? An open window? What? Inquiring minds—those that rarely rest—need to know if only to mellow out and…