Coffee With New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Gina L. Maxwell

Coffee With New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Gina L. Maxwell

Rae: Welcome to the blog Gina L. Maxwell. I’ve got a spiced Latte with Almond Milk and a drizzle of chocolate in my mug. What’s in your cuppa?

Gina: I have an iced Boston Latte with whipped cream. It’s a drink that my local coffee shop makes; it’s just espresso, honey, and milk. It’s my favorite thing to drink while writing. That or Diet Cherry Pepsi. 😉

Hook2 1600x2400 200x300 Coffee With New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Gina L. MaxwellRae: Congratulations on your recent release of Hook, the second installment in your Neverland Series. A modern day twist on a childhood classic, what was the inspiration for this series?

Gina: Thank you so much! I actually got the idea to write a book about an NA hero who doesn’t want to grow up (in other words, be a mature adult) when I heard the country song “Peter Pan” by Kelsea Ballerini. Originally that’s all it was going to be: a friends to lovers trope with a hero who was responsibility challenged. I have no idea when or how it morphed into what it is today; I honestly can’t remember. But it went from a single book based on the idea of a Peter Pan type hero to a planned 10-book series that takes the original book by JM Barrie and twists those stories and characters to make them fit into a contemporary and modern world. I actually read the original book (which is not an easy read) to make sure I have all the characters and iconic moments included. I’ve never had so much fun with a book as I did writing Pan (book 1), and I’ve never fallen in love with a hero more than I have with Captain Hook. I’m not sure I’ll ever top him.

Rae:There is trigger content, without spoilers how you prepared yourself from plotting to writing Hook’s story.

Gina: As for how I prepared, I’m not even sure I did. When it comes to storylines, I’ve become a loose plotter. Before I start writing, I at least have to know the basics of what happens in each chapter so I know where the story is going. But when it comes to my characters, I only know the bare minimum about them before I start writing, then as I go along, they reveal things to me about who they are and what’s in their pasts. So I didn’t necessarily know about Hook’s past when I started writing him in Pan, I only knew that he was going to have some kind of bad relationship with Croc, because in the original, the crocodile has it out for Captain Hook. But when I wrote that first chapter, I suddenly knew, and it was bad. It had to be to explain the 43094164. SY475  200x300 Coffee With New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Gina L. Maxwellcomplexity of his character. So I don’t think there was any sort of preparing I did or could do. I’ve learned to let my characters lead me through their stories. It feels very much as though they’re simply showing me what happens, and I’m merely the person who transcribes those scenes for others to see as well. It wasn’t easy writing some of the chapters in Hook, but the hard parts are necessary to understand him and they make you long for his HEA even more, because he deserves it so badly.

Rae: For fans of your Neverland series, how many books do you anticipate?

Gina: As I mentioned, I have ten books planned for this series. I’m operating on a strict No Lost Boys Left Behind policy. That includes Tink, Tiger Lily, the two Pirates, Smee and Starkey, who were originally Lost Boys, and the honorary Lost Boy, Chief, who is Tiger Lily’s older brother (the only character I made up that’s not in the original books).

Rae: Are you releasing any new series or finishing up others?

Gina: I’m not releasing any new series as of now, but I have a couple of ideas in the works. Eventually I’d love to write books for the other 4 guys in my Boston Heat series (right now Hot for the Fireman is acting as a stand-alone), and maybe one or a few more in my Playboys in Love series, but none of those would happen for a few years yet, if at all.

Rae: With all the that, how do you keep all of your worlds and characters from crossing over?

Gina: I don’t have to worry about my characters and worlds crossing over because I’m not the kind of author who can work on multiple projects simultaneously. I start a book and finish it before I move on to something else. I’m a horrible multi-tasker. LOL

Rae: As a reader who appreciates a well crafted book cover, are you active in the creative design process? The covers capture your books – love the models ;).

Gina: 100%! I’ve been really lucky that I’ve always had a lot of creative control when it comes to my covers, and now that I’m self-publishing the Neverland Novels, I have all the control when I work with my designer. I feel very strongly about having great covers because it’s the first thing that attracts a reader. They’re super important.

Rae: Writing all the words is a challenge, do you have a writing ritual or secret location to get the work done?

Gina: I’m the least ritualistic person ever. In fact, I’m closer to a hot mess. LOL The closest I get to something like that is going to my local coffee shop (my town is too small to have a Starbucks) to write. I can usually focus better there than I can at home.

Rae: How do you tackle plotting your series? Is it on a massive board, sheets of paper or just write as you go with a simple outline?

Gina: It’s a combination of handwritten notes and an excel spreadsheet. I first start putting my ideas on paper, but then to actually plot the chapters, I write brief summaries of what happens in the spreadsheet. As I finish writing the chapters, I change their color to mark them as done.

Rae: Your backlist is impressive and inspiring with multiple series and standalone reads both from traditional publishing houses and self-published. What can we expect to see in e-reader shops and bookshelves in the last two months of 2019 and early 2020?

Gina: From me? Nothing. LOL I’m an incredibly slowwww writer, and like I said, I only work on one project at a time. Hook was the most complex book I’ve ever written and it took me 9 months to complete, so I need a bit of a break. I’ll be starting Tink’s book in January (with the hopes of releasing it in the Spring of 2020), but in the meantime I’ll be working on chat fiction stories for the Hooked app (I’ve written several of those in the past) and a proposal for a new idea for my agent to shop around after the holidays. I might write a bonus scene for Hook that I can release around Christmas time, but other than that, I won’t be doing much until the New Year. I do have plans to collaborate soon on a fun new series with my friend and super talented author, Lorelei James, but I have no idea when the first book will be releasing.

Rae: Thank you for hanging out in the cafe today.

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1. What is your must read book and why? The Last Letter by Rebecca Yarros is the most brilliant book I’ve ever read. The%name Coffee With New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Gina L. Maxwell%name Coffee With New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Gina L. Maxwell way Rebecca weaves the letters between the characters in with the current timeline is sheer genius, and the story itself is so beautifully heart wrenching and true to real life. If I could physically put it in the hands of every woman, I would.

2. If I visit your hometown, where am I going and what’s the best place to grab a bite? I grew up and still live in Fort Atkinson, WI. For some amazing Italian food, hit up Mangiami.

3. Do you take-in or cook? If so, what is your “go-to” dish? I hate cooking. HATE. IT. If I’m getting delivery, it’s usually pizza.

4. What is one thing readers would be surprised to know about you? I hate writing sex scenes. This usually surprises readers because I’m literally known for them. But they’re hard to write because they involve so many different aspects, so I usually put off writing them and then complain the whole time when I finally do. LOL

5. Hard Rock or Classical? Favorite Band or Artist? Hard Rock. Pink Floyd is one of my favorite bands.

6. If you had an all expenses paid trip anywhere in the world for research, where would you go? Some place like Bora Bora or Figi.

7. What is your guilty pleasure? I can’t think of anything that would be considered a guilty pleasure, but my favorite dessert is tiramisu. I suppose if I had it every day I’d have to feel guilty about it. LOL

8. What are you afraid of? My kids dying before me.

9. Tats or No Tats? If tats, how many and what did you choose for your first one? I love tattoos. When I was 19, my friend and I had plans to get our first ones together. Three days before our appointments, he was killed in a car accident we were in together. So I combined our designs as a tribute to our friendship. It’s the blue and purple crescent moon with a sleeping face that I wanted and the lizard that he wanted curled up on the inside of the moon and the word PALS with the infinity sign.

10. Organized or Free Floating? Definitely free floating.

11. Binge watcher or weekly viewer? Which show(s)? Binger! I really like Stranger Things, Schitt’s Creek, The Ranch (only Parts 1-5, after that I hate it), The Magicians…uh, I’m not sure what else. It’s been ages since I’ve had time to watch anything really. My “to be watched” list is just as long as my TBR list.

12. What’s on your playlist? While writing Hook I listened to a lot of Billie Eilish.

13. What play or musical do you want to see next? I have yet to see “Hamilton.”

14. Are you a crafter? I’ve been known to be crafty for certain things, but I wouldn’t say I’m a crafter, no.

15. What’s your favorite TV show and why? “Scrubs” would be my favorite comedy. The writing was amazing and so funny. All our cats are named after Scrubs characters, and I even made a reference in Hook. John’s undercover alias is John Dorian McRae. John Dorian, aka JD, is the name of the main character in Scrubs. I also absolutely love “Schitt’s Creek” and David is probably my favorite TV character of all time. My favorite drama was a Netflix original that has only 2 seasons called “SENSE8.” It’s absolutely brilliant, I could discuss that show for hours, and I recommend it to everyone.

16. If you could pick a book you’ve read and make it into a movie, which book would it be (besides yours 🙂 )? The Last Letter by Rebecca Yarros

17. What’s your favorite movie of all time and why? “The Sweetest Thing”%name Coffee With New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Gina L. Maxwell%name Coffee With New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Gina L. Maxwell

18. Would you rather see a movie in the theater or at home on DVD and why? I love going to the theater, especially for action and fantasy movies.

19. What is the one thing you can’t live without? My kids.

20. If you could invite 5 people to dinner (not friends and family – that’s too easy) who would be at your table? Where would you eat? Gena Showalter, Dan Levy, Jason Momoa, Reese Witherspoon, Ellen DeGeneres. We’d eat somewhere super fancy with amazing steaks that cost ridiculous amounts of money and they’d foot the bill because they’re all rich. LOL

21. If you could try any career for a day, what would it be? Dolphin trainer at Sea World

22. Person you admire and why? I admire anyone who lives as their authentic selves because in this day and age, the world isn’t making it easy on anyone who is different or “atypical”. I also admire those who are in the process of their self-discovery and working up the courage to embrace who they are. These are the people I admire the most. <3 Thanks again for hanging out! Happy Reading Dear Readers.

 

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Gina L. Maxwell is a full-time writer, wife, and mother living in the upper Midwest, despite her scathing hatred of snow and cold weather. An avid romance novel addict, she began writing as an alternate way of enjoying the romance stories she loves to read. Her debut novel, Seducing Cinderella, hit both the USA Today and the New York Times bestseller lists in less than four weeks, and she’s been living her newfound dream ever since.

When she’s not reading or writing steamy romance novels, she spends her time losing at games to her high school sweetheart, hanging out with their adult teenagers as they learn to fly on their own, and dreaming of her move to someplace warm once they finally do.

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Coffee With Author Heidi Hormel

Coffee With Author Heidi Hormel

Coffee With HH May 28 300x300 Coffee With Author Heidi HormelRae: Thank you for hanging out with me. First, if we were meeting at a coffee shop I’d be drinking an iced coffee with Coconut Milk. So happy to have the warmer weather here. What would you order?

Heidi: I’d go for an iced decaf soy latte. Yum!

Rae: For those that are unfamiliar with your writing, you write western romance for Harlequin that include rodeos, cowboys, cowgirls, and a whole latte love. In your own words, please share with us a little bit about your backlist.

Heidi: I have five Harlequin Westerns (the line has closed … boo!) along with a novella that I published. The Harlequin books are connected through family and friends with three of the stories set in the fictional mining town of Angel Crossing, Arizona.

I have five Harlequin Westerns (the line has closed … boo!) along with a novella that I published. The Harlequin books are connected through family and friends with three of the stories set in the fictional mining town of Angel Crossing, Arizona.

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Rae: What inspired you to write western romances?

Heidi: I regularly visited Arizona to see my mother in Scottsdale, Arizona, as well as family who’d settled in Tucson. Visiting that state for more than 20 years is what inspired me. I loved the desert (even the heat), the slower pace of life, and the ruggedness of the people.

Rae: How many research trips have you done to get all the little details?

Heidi: Well, my “research” trips were the various day and weekend drives I took around the state when I was there on visits. I had a chance to visit wonderful places like Sedona, Carefree, the Painted Desert, Nogales, and Bisbee.

Rae: Your prior career as an Inn Keeper sounds amazing. Where was the Inn and why did you decide to retire?

Heidi: The bed and breakfast inn is in my hometown and was owned and operated by my family. I helped start and run the B&B right after I graduated from college. I only did that job for a few years before other work called to me.

Rae: What was the craziest request you had from a guest?

Heidi: I think the craziest request we regularly had was from a guest from New York City was for a hose so he could wash his car! Seemed odd to me that you’d want to do that while you were on vacation.

Rae: What was the most exciting thing you experienced as an Innkeeper?

Heidi: For me, the most exciting part of the inn was helping with opening the business. My mother, sister-in-law, and I scoured antique stores for items for the B&B as well as working with local furniture stores to find just the right decor. We also worked hard on creating a menu for guests, which meant a lot of trial and error.

Rae: You also spent time as a talk show host, what market was it in and what did you “talk” about?

Heidi: I did a lunchtime call-in talk show on WHVR 1280AM in Hanover, Pa. (my hometown). I was working as a newspaper reporter at the time, so I usually talked about local news that had appeared in the paper. Callers also brought up topics that ranged from national news (President Clinton’s impeachment) to why a whoopie pie was called a whoopie pie.

My boss told me that the funniest program she ever heard was the time I got the hiccups on air. The callers tried to help me out with all kinds of remedies, including dropping a lit match into a glass of water then drinking from the far side of the glass. That didn’t work, by the way.

Rae: Have any prior work situations or experiences found its way into your stories?

HH Western Book 1 190x300 Coffee With Author Heidi HormelHeidi: Actually, my first book, THE SURGEON AND THE COWGIRL, was inspired by a story that I wrote for a local magazine. I interviewed a rodeo trick rider who’d retired to the Gettysburg, Pa., area and opened a therapeutic horseback riding program. My cowgirl is a retired rodeo trick rider with a therapeutic riding program, but that’s where the similarities ended.

I still write magazine articles and I am regularly inspired by stories I hear doing that work. Not all of them will ever make it into a story but it gives me a large list of ideas.

Rae: You recently spent time with the Florida Romance Writers on a cruise – how were you able to get any writing done while sailing to beautiful ports and hanging out with other writers?

Heidi: I’ve written all over the place – including a hotel room in Iceland (while on vacay there). It’s all in the attitude and the deadlines! It helps that my day job is being a freelance writer and editor, so I’m used to having to work even when I’m on vacation. If I don’t work, I don’t get paid :).

Rae: Would you recommend this to anyone looking to get away and get “all the words” done in a beautiful setting?

Heidi: I would say being around other writers is definitely an inspiration. They are so encouraging as well as holding me to account. That’s what really has helped me to write in beautiful (and not so beautiful) locales.

Rae: When you sit down to write, do you write the old fashioned way or type away at the keyboard?

Heidi: I write on my laptop most of the time and I’m a touch typist. I taught myself on a manual portable typewriter when I was in junior high because I could not write fast enough to keep up with the stories in my mind. That means I’ve been using a keyboard for my writing for decades.

Rae: Writing all the words is a challenge, do you have a writing ritual or secret location to get the work done?

Heidi: I have a ritual but it changes as it needs to. For example, right now, I’ve been writing in the afternoons at Starbucks. Before that I wrote in my office recliner early, early in the morning.

I heard author Harlan Coben speak and he talked about needing to move writing spaces. It’s almost like all the creativity of that space gets used up.

Rae: Are you the writer who has a notebook for all the words that flow while driving or do you dictate into your phone?

Heidi: I would love to start dictating because I think it would be a great way to get words in while I go for a walk, clean, or fold laundry. I haven’t done it yet. I guess that’s on my TBDP (To Be Done Pile).
My other idea is to get a waterproof note pad (which they have) for the shower because that’s where I get my best ideas.

Rae: How do you tackle plotting your series? Is it on a massive board, sheets of paper or just write as you go with a simple outline?

Heidi: I’m a planster – so I do some plotting but it’s very loosey-goosey and not very detailed. Since my series are just connected through people and place, I did not worry about a lot of series plotting. I did my usual plotting that includes five-point outline: first meet, first complication, second complication, big black moment, resolution. That’s about all I really did as well as keep a list of characters.

Rae: A lot of authors use Pinterest and make awesome boards to tease readers, are you one of them?

Heidi: I have used Pinterest boards but that’s more to have some visuals for myself as I’m writing. When I read and write, I usually see the action, so having some pictures of places, people, and the various animals is a good thing.

Rae: I love following your posts on Instagram of your Siamese cats, how many pets do you have and what adventures can we expect to see from your fur babies? They are super cute :).

Heidi: I have two Siamese cats that I affectionately call the Feline Overlord and the Double-Fanged Terror. They definitely keep writing life exciting, especially when DFT tries to chew on the electric cords under my desk (I’ve told him he’ll end up like the cat in National Lampoon’s “Christmas Vacation” if he doesn’t stop.) FO is very vocal like many Siamese are, and, in particular, she insists on “talking” every time I get on the phone – a little embarrassing when I’m interviewing someone for a magazine article and they ask: “Is that your cat?”

I have a few adventures in mind (that they don’t know about). The first is trying to get them in harnesses and on leashes for a little outdoor time. I’m still looking for a perfect pattern for a knitted cat coat for FO who is always cold (she actually loves the heat vent way more than me).

Rae: There has been a lot of chatter on social media about planning and organizing to stay focused and succeed in personal goals for 2019. How do you keep it all from spiraling out of orbit between the family life and writer life? Are you a planner girl or digital calendar queen?

I do live by a digital calendar now – I never kept a paper calendar which led to a few missed appointments.
To be honest, there are times when life gets way out of balance. I love to volunteer with local groups, especially my theater, and that can suck up a lot of time. I’ve gotten better at saying no, but if I get overwhelmed with work and family, then I look at ways to clear my calendar. Sometimes that can’t happen immediately, but knowing there is an end to the craziness in sight, usually is enough to keep me sane.

Rae: Where can readers find you in 2019?

Heidi: I will be at RWA’s National Conference in New York City, although I won’t be at the big book signing this year as an author. I’ll be there as a reader to squee over my fav authors.

I often have a chance to sign or to hang out at Cupboard Maker Books in Enola, Pa. It’s a huge used and new books store with the best book store cats. In fact, I’ve written two stories for anthologies about the cats.

Rae: What can we expect in 2019? Do you have other projects in the works?

Heidi: I do have projects in the works – I always do. I’ve been working most recently on a medical romance set in Helsinki, Finland, with two doctors, an orphan, and a goat. Other projects include: cozy mystery-romances with a little Pennsylvania Dutch folk magic and a story about the over 60 crowd, living, loving, and fighting in a tiny house community as they try to figure how to reconcile their “I feel like I’m still young” age with their chronological age.

There could be other stories that pop up, but those are the plans for now.

Rae: Thank you for hanging out in the cafe today.

Heidi: Thank you so much for having me and being so patient with the length of time it took me to answer your awesome questions.

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1. What is a must read book and why? So my must-read book changes regularly, but for 2019, I would say: “The Gentleman from Moscow.” I loved that the entire book took place in a hotel, which obviously presented some challenges for the writer as far as keeping the story interesting, and it is.

2. What is one place that I should see if I visit your hometown? The Utz Potato Chip outlet – they have the best deals on snacks. Honestly, they have the best chips on the planet.

3. Do you take-in or cook? If so, what is your “go-to” dish? I am a cook (one of my jobs when I was an innkeeper and I also worked with my sister when she had a catering business and café). At Christmas, I make the best Chex Mix in the World (although I’m not sure that’s really cooking). One of my fav dishes to make for a Hormel family crowd is my mother’s potato salad that uses a cooked egg dressing rather than mayonnaise. It’s a big pain to make, but so good.

4. What is one thing readers would be surprised to know about you? I’m an awful horseback rider. I took lessons as a young girl and a 26-year-old horse ran away with me. That told me that being a cowgirl was not in my future.

5. Hard Rock or Classical? Favorite Band or Artist? I would say alternative and pop rock are my jams (how old does that make me sound). Rather than a fav band or artist, I have favorite songs, like “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked” by Cage the Elephant, “Kandi” by One Eskimo, and (on the newer vein) “Havana” by Camila Cabello.

6. If you had an all expenses paid trip anywhere in the world for research, where would you go? For research … hmmm … that’s tough because I most of my books are set in the U.S. But if I could got to dream destinations, it would be a toss up between Japan and Australia/New Zealand. I guess if I got paid to go to either or both, then I’d be forced to set a book(s) there, not such a terrible problem.

7. What is your guilty pleasure? Napping all day on a Sunday.

8. What are you afraid of? I’m not good with heights so totally would not bungee jump or fly in a helicopter (although I’m good with small planes and have even been in a glider).

9. Tats or No Tats? If tats, how many and what did you choose for your first one? No tats. I thought about it but worried what it might look like once I got really, really wrinkly (apparently, I’m planning to live to be ancient).

10. Organized or Free Floating? 
I float between the two. I am uber organized in how I save and file items in my computer system but my desk is a mess.

11. Binge watcher or weekly viewer? Which show(s)? Binge watcher now that I’ve discovered streaming. My recent favs are: “Sex Education,” “Dead to Me,” and “The Crown” (I don’t know how much longer I can wait for the next season).

12. What’s on your playlist? 2000’s alternative rock along with some classics from David Bowie, ZZ Topp, and Stevie Ray Vaughn.

13. What play or musical do you want to see next? “What the Constitution Means to Me”

14. Are you a crafter? Absolutely. My mother owned a craft store for more than 20 years when I was growing up. I can do most any craft but my favs are knitting, crocheting, and making flower arrangements and wreaths.

15. What’s your favorite TV show and why? My all time favorite show is the original “Star Trek.” Why? TRIBBLES.

16. If you could pick a book you’ve read and make it into a movie, which book would it be (besides yours 🙂 )?
Since I rarely enjoy the movie version of a book more than the book, this is a toughie, but … I would say Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ series featuring the Stars football team.

17. What’s your favorite movie of all time and why? “Moulin Rouge” because of the music (as badly as much of it is sung), the amazing cinematography/visuals, and the over-the-top story.

18. Would you rather see a movie in the theater or at home on DVD and why? I’d rather see it in a theater because at home I’m always doing something else (like knitting or reading magazines) while watching the TV so I end up missing things.

19. What is the one thing you can’t live without? My glasses — I am blind as a bat or one of those cave fish.

20. If you could invite 5 people to dinner (not friends and family – that’s too easy) who would be at your table? Where would you eat? Authors Kate Atkinson and Nora Roberts, Queen Elizabeth II, New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Arden, and Elizabeth Taylor (you didn’t say they had to be alive). Since these women are from all over the world, I think we should meet somewhere in between — Hawaii and anyplace that includes Spam on its menu.

21. If you could try any career for a day, what would it be? I would love to try being a doctor.

22. Person you admire and why? 
Gayle King (maybe I should have included her for dinner?) because she is smart and sassy. She also seems completely genuine and says the things all of us are thinking but most news reporters/broadcasters wouldn’t say.

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For more information about Author Heidi Hormel please check out her website.

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Coffee With Digital Producer and Journalist Nathalie Basha

Coffee With Digital Producer and Journalist Nathalie Basha

Nathalie Basha V 2 150x150 Coffee With Digital Producer and Journalist Nathalie BashaRae: Thank you for hanging out with me. First, if we were meeting at a coffee shop I’d be drinking a Mocha Latte with Coconut Milk. It’s time to switch to something a bit warmer. What would you order?

Nathalie: A dirty chai!

Rae: First, congratulations on the 2018 Gold Telly Award for “Colombian Women’s Prison” story. Everyone needs to watch this – what you show us is so powerful and moving. Despite how exhausted you said you were in a behind the scenes video it tugged at my heart long after I watched it. If that program is so successful, I wonder if other countries might start something similar? I don’t want to spoil it for readers so if you’re interested go here.

Nathalie: Actually this program is a copy of a similar program that started in prisons in Milan, Italy. So, clearly, the model works. I just wish more countries and justice systems approached criminal reform this way.

Rae: How did you get your start in journalism? A while back you shared clips from your earlier days of reporting on social media and I hope it was well received.

Nathalie: I studied broadcast news at University of Colorado, Boulder, and started off in entertainment reporting in my hometown of LA. I hated it, though, so I moved onto reporting for local tv stations in lifestyle content, as well as traditional reporting when they needed it. It’s a long process to get started in broadcast journalism – all in all I was hustling in those two arenas for about four years.

Rae: I discovered you on YouTube as The Travel Muse where you shared some inspirational, informative, and exciting videos from your travel adventures. I’ve also added a few destinations from your video, thank you :).

Nathalie: Yaaay! That’s a labor of love and the thing that started this whole digital travel direction in my career. It’s tough to maintain with my real job, though. I wish I had more time to dedicate to it.

Rae: I look forward to watching more videos from The Travel Muse. What sparked your desire to start your own channel?

Nathalie: I had always wanted to do travel journalism, and when I was working for CBS in San Diego I got really fed up with traditional broadcasting, so one day I quit my job. I started The Travel Muse channel right away, hoping that it would position me in the travel space moving forward. It indeed worked that way, but even that process took a really long time! I worked a side job at a dental office and simultaneously ran The Travel Muse for three whole years before anything happened in my career.

Rae: How much writing do you do before you film your segments as a travel journalist for Circa? When you are traveling, do you take an interpreter?

Nathalie: My job is 90% video based, and I only do writing on the back end for the circa.com website, after the story has been edited together. Before I go, though, I research A LOT. I have general ideas and storyboards for how I want to accomplish a story before I do it, but you can’t plan too far ahead. Shoots very often don’t go the way you planned or envisioned, so you have to be adaptable on the fly. And yes, I hire what’s called a fixer for international shoots. Fixers are people who help and facilitate every step of the production process, including translating. They also find sources, conduct pre-interviews, arrange transport, make sure the team is fed…basically, they’re my right hand people. They are the experts in their own countries, and without their help I’m totally dead in the water.

Rae: I love how you connect with travel enthusiasts on social media. I love your Instagram stories, especially the ones with all the animals. Are you ever worried that something will go wrong, animals are not predictable ;)?

Nathalie: No they’re not! But not really. The interactions I have with animals are usually through my fiance Evan, who is a veterinarian and super duper animal expert. After 11 years with an animal expert I’ve gotten used to animals, but still I keep in mind they could decide not to cooperate.

Rae: How often do you travel?

Nathalie: So this varies A LOT. For Circa, I used to travel a ton – maybe once every 6 weeks. That has slowed down as Circa is going through some huge transitions, so it’s been many months since they sent me out anywhere. I’m hoping that changes soon! For my personal travels, I usually do two international trips a year (provided I have enough vacation time!). This year, I’ve already done two (quick) trips to France, and will be doing Spain in a few weeks!

Rae: Any tips on packing or how to prep for a trip?

Nathalie: I have a packing tips video on my channel, but it’s old now. I actually have plans to shoot an updated version, based on how I pack for Paris!

Rae: I look forward to that video. I love Paris and hope to return for another trip soon. Recently you offered up the chance for a handful of people to travel with you on a trip to India if I recall, will you be documenting that trip? 

Nathalie: This trip didn’t end up happening, unfortunately. It’s tough to partner with outside companies for travel – in this case, it was a charity. For many reasons, the trip fell through, but it has always been my goal to do this kind of thing where I invite people to join me on a trip. And yes, I document all my travels!

Rae: I hope one day I can join you on a group trip. I find your trips to be everything and more. When you sit down to write for your segments, do you have a writing ritual or secret location to get the work done?

Nathalie: Nothing special – my desk. If I have no other distractions it tends to come out more easily. I’ve tried writing at home in front of the TV or when I’m just lounging around, but I get easily sidetracked that way. Sometimes I get brainstorms in random places, like on a plane, and then I start jotting down script notes in my phone. But generally, having the set intention of sitting down at my desk TO DO WORK is the best bet for me.

Rae: How do you tackle plotting your videos? Is it on a massive board, sheets of paper or just write as you go with a simple outline?

Nathalie: I do what’s called “writing to video” meaning, I review what video elements I have after a shoot, and write based off that. It makes it much more streamlined and makes sure that the story is entirely driven by the visuals. If I’m having trouble seeing a story structure, I like to use color coordinated post-it notes and put them up on a wall, with each color representing a different stage of the story. That’s a SUPER efficient way to see if you have holes in your story structure, because the colors show you where you need to flesh out or pull back.

Rae: I belong to a few Facebook groups for planners and organizing to stay focused and succeed in my personal goals for 2018. How do you keep it all from spiraling out of orbit? Are you a planner girl or digital calendar queen?

Nathalie: I’m an obsessive to-do list person! I feel like I can’t function if I don’t have my lists. I try to be a calendar person, plotting out my events and tasks in a cute calendar book I buy every year, but I always end up not using it. I have to-do lists of every kind: big life goal to-do lists, daily to-do lists, Circa to-do lists, personal to-do lists….I feel like if it’s not set out as an intention on paper, my mind can’t organize it. I do them before I go to bed, or when I feel stressed out. Someone once said to me that it would actually cause them stress to write a to-do list before bed, but for me it’s the opposite. It’s like putting it on a to-do list frees it up from swirling around in my brain, so I no longer have to remember it or stress over it. It’s on the paper, therefore my mind can let it go.

Rae: What can we expect in 2019?

Nathalie: My goals in 2019 are to get more focused on my personal projects through The Travel Muse. I want to breathe new life into my Youtube channel, which is sorely neglected. I have ideas for merch, and possibly holding journalism workshops. I’d love to also partner with other journalists who are many steps ahead of me and learn more from them and grow my craft. Evan and I have plans to work together. And much more traveling! I have three destinations for personal travel already kind of planned out. Lots to look forward to! And then of course, there’s all the other unplanned stuff that will happen, because life really couldn’t give a damn about our plans!

Rae: That sounds amazing! I look forward to hearing more about your merch, workshops, and watching your videos to add to my ever expanding travel destination wish list. Thank you again for hanging out. Safe Travels :).

 

Tasty Tidbits 300x169 Coffee With Digital Producer and Journalist Nathalie Basha

1. What is a must read book and why? Eat, Pray, Love. Don’t roll your eyes! It’s the bible of all ambitious women with a bug to explore the world and themselves. Elizabeth Gilbert is one of the most gifted writers of our generation.

2. What is one place that I should see if I visit your hometown? Malibu! There’s so much nature and stunning view points to visit. I think most people don’t associate LA with nature, but we’re a very outdoors-y city.

3. Do you take-in or cook? If so, what is your “go-to” dish? I do not cook, but I used to. When I had more free time outside of work, I loved to cook dishes I discovered during my travels. Italian is the best food on earth. But today, I don’t eat meals, just snack on all kinds of prepared foods or salads I buy from Trader Joe’s.

4. What is one thing readers would be surprised to know about you? Hmm. I’m super shy, and it used to be a big problem when I was younger. It’s something I’ve had to consciously work on and it gets easier as I get older (I”m 33 now) but still there are times when all I want to do is melt into the wallpaper! Also….I used to be a ballet dancer. How’s that for a non-sequitur!

5. Hard Rock or Classical? Favorite Band or Artist? Classical. I don’t have a favorite band or artist, I kind of listen to all of it. I love 60’s Motown, Bossa Nova, early 90’s hip hop, lots of electronica.

6. What is your guilty pleasure? Some trashy TV shows 🙂 I LOVE a show called 90 Day Finance on TLC, plus a whole slew of Bravo shows. I really do feel guilty after I watch them, though, so I usually follow them up with CNN or Vice News. HA.

7. What are you afraid of? Other people. Break-ins, and the like. I both love and hate change, but I usually approach initial change with fear. It’s not good, and I’m trying to change that.

8. Tats or No Tats? If tats, how many and what did you choose for your first one? No tats for me 🙂

9. Organized or Free Floating? Both. Life is all about balance.

10. Binge watcher or weekly viewer? Which show(s)? Binge! If I love something, I can’t break away from it.

11. What’s on your playlist? Right now? I’m rotating Marian Hill, Maluma, J Balvin, Tove Lo, Big Black Delta, Lil Silva remixes….

12. What play or musical do you want to see next? I’m really not into musicals or plays 🙂 I prefer concerts, especially those at the Hollywood Bowl. They have gorgeous summer concerts under the stars. The last I saw was a classical concert with pieces from Spain.

13. Are you a crafter? Not arts and crafts, if that’s what you mean. My craft is solely in video, professionally and personally.

14. What’s your favorite TV show and why? My all-time favorites are Mad Men and Downton Abbey. Both are poetry in their perfection of writing, casting, acting, etc. They hit every mark on the head. I’ve watched both through so many times I can remember lines now.

15. If you could pick a book you’ve read and make it into a movie, which book would it be? Oh geez that’s a tough one. I can’t remember reading a book that I haven’t adored that hasn’t already been made into a movie/tv show…

16. What’s your favorite movie of all time and why? There’s a rotating crop that includes Raiders of the Lost Arc, Star Wars (eps. 4 and 5), Dances with Wolves, Midnight in Paris

17. Would you rather see a movie in the theater or at home on DVD and why? At home. I like to get cozy with blankets and pillows and my favorite snacks.

18. What is the one thing you can’t live without? The ability to travel! It’s so cliche, but it’s true. I feel stiffed and uninspired when I don’t travel.

19. If you could invite 5 people to dinner (not friends and family – that’s too easy) who would be at your table? Where would you eat? This answer changes on my mood. Oprah, Anderson Cooper, Lisa Ling, Mozart, Christiane Amanpour. We’d eat at some gorgeous Italian restaurant on a gorgeous outdoor patio with gorgeous views, warm sun, birds chirping, and endless handmade pasta and bread that didn’t add a single pound no matter how much we ate.

20. If you could try any career for a day, what would it be? Funny thing – I’ve never once fantasized about a different career. I don’t even know how to answer this question!

21. Person you admire and why? Evan. He is drive, a total go-getter, and he sees his dreams through to fruition. It’s very inspiring.

Author Bio CW 300x169 Coffee With Digital Producer and Journalist Nathalie Basha

Nathalie is trying to get dual citizenship with Spain! .

Nathalie is a digital producer and journalist with a beat in travel and human interest. She tells stories of travel through the behind-the-scenes human experiences on the ground, in countries like Thailand, Colombia, Japan, Georgia, and New Zealand. Besides filming on the ground, editing is her favorite part of the process because that’s where a story really comes to life!

A country that Nathalie hasn’t been to, but is dying to explore and report on, is Morocco (…and Peru, and Zanzibar…the list is long!).

Before working as a travel journalist, Nathalie was a news reporter for TV stations in Dayton, Ohio, and San Diego, California. She briefly worked in entertainment reporting for companies like E! and Entertainment Tonight, but always knew she’d follow her dream of travel journalism. She lives and works in her hometown of Los Angeles.   ** Bio from www.circa.com ** Picture from The Travel Muse

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Coffee With Coastal Magic Featured Author Ashlyn Chase

Coffee With Coastal Magic Featured Author Ashlyn Chase

34842552 1529313173846976 7982978811685765120 n 300x216 Coffee With Coastal Magic Featured Author Ashlyn Chase
Welcome to the cafe readers. I’d like to introduce you the first of five Featured Authors for the Coastal Magic Convention that I’ll be chatting with before the Convention kicks off February 27, 2019.

This is my first time attending Coastal Magic and I’m excited to also be a Featured Blogger. 

Grab a cup and join us!

pattern 4 elements 0009 Layer 2 copy 3 300x290 Coffee With Coastal Magic Featured Author Ashlyn Chase

Rae: Thank you for hanging out with me. First, if we were meeting at a coffee shop I’d be drinking a Mocha Latte with Cindy 2 color adjustment cropped 300x261 Coffee With Coastal Magic Featured Author Ashlyn ChaseCoconut Milk. It’s time to switch to something a bit warmer. What would you order?

AC: I like coffee flavored coffee, with non-dairy cream—soy, almond…whatever they have.

Rae: I’m excited to meet you at the Coastal Magic Convention in Daytona Beach in February. New to the world of Coastal Magic? Click here for more info.

AC: I look forward to meeting you and all the fans of paranormal romance!

Rae: On your website you describe your books as comedy. Can you tell us a little bit about your backlist and if the books all have the same level of heat?

AC: It’s funny, I began writing erotic romance, but as the genre got hotter and hotter, I remained the same. Next thing I knew, I was writing mainstream! LOL I didn’t change—the genre did!

More than a Phoenix 183x300 Coffee With Coastal Magic Featured Author Ashlyn ChaseRae: Your next release is out this month, what can readers expect to find in this installment of Phoenix Brothers?

AC: I like to keep readers on their toes and surprise them with something different in every book. This one actually has two heroes and two heroines! My phoenix shifter brothers are best friends, roommates, and work in adjacent firehouses. It was impossible to separate their stories, so I didn’t! Readers get a two-fer!

Rae: What are some of the challenges to writing paranormal romance?

AC: Probably just the same challenges any writer faces… For me the worst is deadlines, and the screaming, hair-pulling panic that comes with them, if the book isn’t cooperating. I plot as much as I can, but the characters always come alive and kidnap the story, taking it places I never expected. Fortunately, because I write paranormal I can get them out of whatever pickle they’ve created for themselves. Flying motorcycle needed? No problem. I enjoy being as imaginative as readers will allow.

Rae: How do you find inspiration for your books?

AC: I blame my muse, Thalia. She whispers some crazy idea in my head, and then I have to write it, or she won’t leave me alone.

Rae: Prior to writing romance you were a Nurse, how does one transition from nursing to writing romance? 

AC: One didn’t have much to do with the other. In fact, I was a creative soul who didn’t get to express much creativity as an RN. I began writing as a way of satisfying that creative urge without hurting anyone.

Rae: When you sit down to write, do you write the old fashioned way or type away at the keyboard? 

AC: I actually dictate my books now. I never learned to type. (I know…I hunted and pecked my way through 30ish books, before I discovered dictation. Gaaaa!) Now I don’t have to sit at a computer.

Rae: Writing all the words is a challenge, do you have a writing ritual or secret location to get the work done?

AC: I love sitting outside on my deck with my little handheld Dictaphone, and as long as no one can see me talking to myself, I’m free to ‘write’ more and faster than I can type.

Rae: Are you the writer who has a notebook for all the words that flow while driving or do you dictate into your phone?

AC: Neither. I used to, but a near accident will kill your inspiration faster than anything. I get ideas in the shower that make me jump out, dripping wet, and run to my computer.

Rae: How do you tackle plotting your series? Is it on a massive board, sheets of paper or just write as you go with a simple outline?

AC: I do what is called ‘storyboarding.’ I have an actual cork board behind me, divided into 3 rows (3 acts,) and 6 boxes in each row (6 chapters per act.) I’m now doing basically the same thing with a chapter by chapter outline, but it all goes on the computer. It’s easy to move scenes around or change them completely when the characters do their own thing.

Rae: I belong to a few Facebook groups for planners and organizing to stay focused and succeed in my personal goals for 2018. How do you keep it all from spiraling out of orbit between the family life and writer life? Are you a planner girl or digital calendar queen?

AC: I write the olde timely way on a calendar. I know. It’s primitive.

Rae: Where can readers find you in the next few months?

AC: I have 4 major appearances in 2019, beginning with Coastal Magic! Then in April, Barbara Vey’s reader/author luncheon, then in May I’ll be at the new Book Lovers Con in New Orleans. In October, readers will find me putting my blood, sweat, and tears into my own conference! Fall in Love with New England is the only 2 day Romance Reader/Author conference in New England. We didn’t have one I could drive to, so I started one myself! 2019 will be our third, and it will be better than ever. 

Rae: What can we expect in 2019? Do you have other projects in the works?

AC: I expect to move from NH to FL, so my writing will be on hiatus for a time. As soon as we get settled, I imagine Thalia will begin beating my funny-bone with a stick. I already have ideas for four series. Who knows which I’ll write first? Any requests? Chic-lit; YA fantasy; paranormal bodyguards; or Witches?

Rae: Thank you for hanging out in the cafe today.

AC: Thanks for having me!

Tasty Tidbits 300x169 Coffee With Coastal Magic Featured Author Ashlyn Chase

1. What is a must read book and why? Outlander. Because it’s captivating, intelligent, and full of adventure.

2. What is one place that I should see if I visit your hometown? Boston. My hometown, Reading, is pretty boring unless you hop on the train heading into the city.

3. Do you take-in or cook? If so, what is your “go-to” dish? I’m a terrible cook. But I have a go-to dish. Chicken, apples, and leeks. That’s it. The whole recipe. You’re welcome.

4. What is one thing readers would be surprised to know about you? Maybe that I’ve been married 3 times? I finally got it right. Mr. Amazing and I will celebrate 25 years of marriage in January. Our song? You Make Lovin’ Fun!

5. Hard Rock or Classical? Favorite Band or Artist? Classical, instrumentals, new age, or any music without words.

6. If you had an all expenses paid trip anywhere in the world for research, where would you go? New Caledonia. Not sure why. I’ve just felt this weird pull to that island. But if I’m going all that way, I’ll stop off a New Zealand and Australia too.

7. What is your guilty pleasure? Watching HGTV

8. What are you afraid of? Horses (no joke)

9. Tats or No Tats? If tats, how many and what did you choose for your first one? I only have one. It’s a 5 inch lotus blossom nestled in my cleavage.

10. Organized or Free Floating? Organized Chaos

11. Binge watcher or weekly viewer? Which show(s)? Never binge. Everything in moderation. Shows—eclectic mix of dramas and comedies.

12. What’s on your playlist? I don’t have one.

13. What play or musical do you want to see next? Trans Siberian Light Orchestra

14. Are you a crafter? Yes. I make jewelry and decorate seashells.

15. What’s your favorite TV show and why? Project Runway. I love to see creativity at work, and that show really pushes people to their creative limits.

16. If you could pick a book you’ve read and make it into a movie, which book would it be (besides yours 🙂 )? Well, Outlander has already been made into a movie (TV series) but Gerry Bartlett has a series: Real Vampires. With titles like Real Vampires Hate Their Thighs; Real Vampires say Read My Hips; Real Vampires Don’t Wear Size Six; Real Vampires Have Curves; I would be SO up for watching that!

17. What’s your favorite movie of all time and why? Chocolat. (Spelling is correct.) Johnny Depp as a gypsy, Juliette Binoche as a chocolatier… A message about tolerance. What’s not to love?

18. Would you rather see a movie in the theater or at home on DVD and why? Home, where my fridge and bathroom are nearby and my remote has a pause button.

19. What is the one thing you can’t live without? Entertainment!

20. If you could invite 5 people to dinner (not friends and family – that’s too easy) who would be at your table? Where would you eat? Do they have to be real people? I think I’d like to sit down with some of my favorite Disney characters in a field of lavender with a picnic prepared by a French chef.

21. If you could try any career for a day, what would it be? Cruise Ship Captain

22. Person you admire and why? My mom. She lived about a dozen lives and overcame challenge after challenge. She was so incredibly mature, but still had a wicked sense of humor.

Author Bio CW 300x169 Coffee With Coastal Magic Featured Author Ashlyn Chase

Ashlyn Chase describes herself as an Almond Joy bar.  A little nutty, a little flaky, but sweet, wanting only to give readers satisfying stories that leave them smiling. 

She worked as an RN for 20 years, but now writes full time. She’s a multi-published, award winning author of paranormal romantic comedies, represented by the Seymour Agency.

She lives in NH with her true superhero husband Mr. Amazing (who looks like Hugh Jackman if you squint.)

Where there’s fire, there’s Ash

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Coffee with Author Kelly Maher

Coffee with Author Kelly Maher

KellyMaher HR Headshot 196x300 Coffee with Author Kelly MaherRae: Thank you for hanging out with me. First, if we were meeting at a coffee shop I’d be drinking an iced coffee with Coconut Milk. What would you order?

Kelly: Sadly, I never developed a taste for coffee, so I’d probably go with a juice offering or cold water. For me, hanging out at a coffee shop is very much about the company I’m keeping!

Rae: For those that are unfamiliar with your writing, you write contemporary romance with heat. Can you tell us a little bit about your backlist? What do you find the most challenging about writing erotic romance?

Kelly: I think the hardest thing is finding the right way to develop the characters and the story. Sex scenes should serve a purpose in the development of characters, story, or both no matter how hot you write. I think one of the best examples of this is comparing the two stories I wrote for the Rogue series of anthologies. In “Dissent and Desire,” my story in Rogue Affair, the story is as centered on Frankie’s exploration of her sexuality and burgeoning understanding of her domme preferences as it is about resistance through science. Hence, there’s a *ton* of sex in “Dissent and Desire” for it being only around 12,000 words. On the other hand, “Coming Up Rosa” in Rogue Hearts, is around 18,000 words and there’s only one sex scene in it. While the sex scene is pivotal to the story, it’s not the focus of the development of Ian and Rosa and their relationship with each other. When I write sex, I like to write hot, but I also feel comfortable in letting the characters guide me in how they’re progressing along that front and don’t rush them if that’s what they’re telling me.

Rae: Many authors have a second career, do you and if so, are your co-workers aware you write romance? What is the biggest challenge to balancing two careers? Do they overlap?

Kelly: I do have a second career as a librarian, and my immediate coworkers are well aware that I write romance! I think a couple have even read a story or two. In some ways, the great blessing for me is the overlap in the careers as I have a lot of contacts in the publishing industry from the librarian side of things and being involved in Romancelandia has also assisted me in my librarian career as I can speak to librarians very knowledgeably on self-publishing and the challenges authors face. But, the biggest challenge is that as much as the careers overlap and the fact that many people know both of my egos have an alter ego and what the alter ego does, few people know about both *names*. This is because I actively avoid publicly linking the names for family reasons. So, while I’d love to take better advantage of the platform my alter ego has as Kelly, I can’t. That being said, I’m being more open as alter ego that people can ask me privately about Kelly’s identity.

Rae: I know that you have a passion for knitting, is it easy to find time when writing? What was the most complicated project you have taken on? Years ago I attended a Stitches convention for knitters and yarn enthusiasts, I highly recommend it!

Kelly: STITCHES!!! I went to the Midwest one a couple of years when I was living in Chicago and loved it! It’s honestly not that easy for me to make time to knit when I’m drafting a story. What I’ve started doing in the last few months, however, is to put in my planner that I need to knit at least a couple of rows on whatever the current project is per day. I think the most complicated project I’ve done recently (well, most complicated that I’ve completely finished ever as well), are cabled berets that I made for myself and my mom. I took a class with Norah Gaughan last fall through my local yarn store and I finished my beret just after Thanksgiving. When my parents visited in December, my mom saw the hat and said “I want one exactly like that.” We did come to an agreement on a different color of the same yarn, but I managed to send it off to her just before St. Patrick’s Day this year. I would share the pattern, but you can only get it if you take Norah’s “Choose Your Own Adventure” cabled hat class.

Rae: A few weeks ago you posted about a HUGE giveaway at Penzey Spices and their generosity, I must thank you. While I’ve visited their store, it’s been a while. I made sure to get out to a store and purchase the fabulous blends for cooking. What’s your favorite spice blend and what do you use if for? For readers who love to cook can you share your favorite blends with us? Oh, and no readers, they are not sponsoring this shout out.

Kelly: Ha!! I told everyone I knew about that and if they had affiliate links, I’m betting I would have made a nice chunk of change from that weekend! Picking a favorite spice blend is hard! I’m going to make it easier on myself and choose one each of “sweet” and “savory.” I *love* their Baking Spice blend and use it in all of my baked goods even when no added spices are called for. It’s my secret ingredient in my apricot oatmeal bars that I bring to a lot of conferences. I have people who will come at me with pitchforks if I don’t bring the AOBs with me! I also love their Original Taco Seasoning. If you’re going to go with a preblended taco seasoning, this is the one you should get.

Rae: When you sit down to write, do you write the old fashioned way or type away at the keyboard? Writing all the words is a challenge, do you have a writing ritual or secret location to get the work done?

Kelly: I’m very much a keyboard person. This is mainly because I’m a trained touch typist and I really dislike writing by hand for extended periods of time. However, when I’m brainstorming, I often do this by hand as it seems to work better for me. It helps that I’ve found paper (28 lb. and heavier) and pens (InkJoy gel pens and my Lamy Al-Star fountain pen with a medium nib) that I adore using. The closest thing I have to a ritual is routinely using the same playlist of stored songs on my phone or the station I’ve curated on Pandora to listen to with headphones and drafting in 15-minute sprints. I usually write at home on my desktop, but I can also write using my iPad as I use Scrivener to draft and the files are linked through Dropbox. Before I had this setup, I drafted in Google Docs, so I would write on my old laptop, iPad, or phone as I found the time.

Rae: Are you the writer who has a notebook for all the words that flow while driving or do you dictate into your phone?

Kelly: Thankfully, my commute doesn’t involve driving myself and I, in fact, no longer own a car. But, I do keep a “Brainstorm” note on my phone that I’m frequently adding to, and I do periodically do a voice recording when a story idea smacks me upside the head as I’m trying to fall asleep.

Rae: How do you tackle plotting your series? Is it on a massive board, sheets of paper or just write as you go with a simple outline? A lot of authors use Pinterest and make awesome boards to tease readers, are you one of them?

Kelly: I have actually been on Pinterest since almost the beginning, but mainly as alter ego who has a crapton of boards dedicated to food and recipes (people can email my privately for the link ). As Kelly, I could never get the hang of using it as a vision board since I’m not a vision board kind of person. I tend to keep my plotting as simple as possible as I started my writing life as a pantser and tend to prefer the plotting to be loose. With “Coming Up Rosa,” I played around with a variation of Cherry Adair’s Post-It plotting method. It seems to have worked well enough (though I *always* need to go deeper in revisions), so I’m going to keep playing with it for longer projects.

Rae: There has been a lot of chatter on social media about planning and organizing to stay focused and succeed in personal goals for 2018. How do you keep it all from spiraling out of orbit between the family life and writer life? Are you a planner girl or digital calendar queen?

Kelly: This is one of the areas where I do appreciate being single and sans children–the only calendar I have to worry about is my own. As for planning tools, I have gotten *SO* hooked on the Cocoa Daisy planner kit! While I said I disliked writing fiction by hand, I actually prefer to do planning on paper. I think part of it is due to the way my memory works and how it’s often tied to where things occur in space. Writing down something helps to cement it in my memory. That being said, I’m also working on being more proactive with my marketing efforts and am building an editorial calendar using Google. And when it comes to conferences, you’ll have to pry my phone with the digital calendar and any apps out of my cold, dead hands.

Rae: Where can readers find you in 2018? A: 2018 started off quiet, but, man, is it going to be a busy summer! 

Kelly: In July, I’ll be speaking at the Orange County Chapter of RWA on July 14th, signing at the Indie Author signing during the RWA conference in Denver–which you do have to be an attendee to get into–and at the Readers for Life Literacy signing which is open to the public on the 21st. There is another possible event in the works for early July in the DC area, but it hasn’t been finalized yet. In August, I’ll be at the Book Obssessed Chicks BBQ Beach Bash on the 25th. In September, I’ll be in Canada for the Toronto Romance Writers Northern Hearts conference on the 22nd, and back in Baltimore, MD, for the Baltimore Book Fest the 28th to the 30th. I’ll probably be spending the rest of the year recuperating from all of that!

Rae: What can we expect in 2018? Do you have other projects in the works?

Kelly: Rogue Hearts released on May 8th and contains my story “Coming Up Rosa.” I’ll be in the Reindeer Games holiday anthology which will be releasing later this year and is organized by Andie J. Christopher. In addition to that, I’m working on a nonfiction project for authors on using librarian skills to better market their books, and then I’ll be tackling the next novels in the Capital Kisses series so that Stacey and Jorie can quit yelling at me. Stacey in particular needs to get her story straight as I’ve already started two drafts and chucked them 😉

Rae: Thank you for hanging out in the cafe today.

Tasty Tidbits 300x169 Coffee with Author Kelly Maher

1. What is a must read book and why? In the last six months, I’m going to go with Alexis Daria’s Take the Lead because I read it over my Christmas break and loved it so much that I immediately dove into the second book in the series, Dance With Me, and loved that, too!

2. What is one place that I should see if I visit your hometown? My hometown is Chicago, and I’m going to go with the Museum Campus because it’s got the Field Museum, the Adler Planetarium, and the Shedd Aquarium, along with having a killer view of the skyline and lakefront.

3. Do you take-in or cook? If so, what is your “go-to” dish? I do both, and lately it’s been takeout from a nearby pizza joint that also does subs. I get the chicken fillet sub that has provolone cheese and I have lettuce and mayo added. When I get it home, I sprinkle on some smoked paprika and…:finger kiss:!

4. What is one thing readers would be surprised to know about you? How utterly dark my sense of humor can be. Many people are taken aback when I tell them my undergrad degree is in how to hide the bodies. It really is. Anthropology with a focus on forensics, and a minor in geology.

5. Hard Rock or Classical? Favorite Band or Artist? FOO FIGHTERS!!! I had to restrain myself from heading up to Boston during their 20th anniversary tour as I already had tickets to see them in Chicago and DC.

6. If you had an all expenses paid trip anywhere in the world for research, where would you go? Australia and New Zealand. Those locations have been on my travel wishlist since I was in college.

7. What is your guilty pleasure? Grapefruit juice. Some people need coffee in the morning. I need my ice cold grapefruit juice.

8. What are you afraid of? Heights. Even just watching them on TV (Valkyrie sitting on the edge of her ship to watch the fight between Thor and Hulk in Thor: Ragnarok gets me every time).

9. Tats or No Tats? If tats, how many and what did you choose for your first one? Tats! I only have one right now that’s celtic knotwork on my back. I know the concept of what I want next, but I have to identify someone who can bring that concept to life. Which I’ll probably do after I decide *where* I want it.

10. Organized or Free Floating? A bit of both. If I’m too organized, I rebel and do nothing, but if I’m totally free floating, I get nothing done that needs doing.

11. Binge watcher or weekly viewer? Which show(s)? More of a weekly viewer, and mainly of QVC’s cooking and food shows (my poor wallet!). I do have Netflix and Hulu, so I’ll binge on the shows that I don’t get regular access to since I don’t have cable. Those tend to be crime shows, particularly American Greed. I probably watch that most after QVC.

12. What’s on your playlist? Mainly rock, pop, and dance. If I’m using it to work, I prefer songs with an upbeat as they seem to be the best at keeping me on track.

13. What play or musical do you want to see next? Hmmmm…I don’t particularly keep abreast of plays and musicals, so I have no idea what’s currently in development. I’d love to see Hamilton, but I haven’t managed it yet. The last play I saw was Danai Gurira’s “Familiar” and, oh, man, that was *amazing*! I’d definitely love to see a production of the next one she writes.

14. Are you a crafter? Yep! I mainly knit these days, but I’ve also done jewelry making and scrapbooking.

15. What’s your favorite TV show and why? Hmmmm…this is a hard one to pick. I’m going to go with American Greed because I find financial crimes to be fascinating, and I love Stacey Keach’s narration. I do miss City Confidential which was another winner thanks to the narration work done by Paul Winfield and Keith David after Paul’s death.

16. If you could pick a book you’ve read and make it into a movie, which book would it be (besides yours 🙂 )? I think The Rook by Daniel O’Malley. The premise is so twisty, it might actually be better served by being a TV series, though. There’s so much intrigue with a mix of supernatural abilities that it’s an utterly absorbing story.

17. What’s your favorite movie of all time and why? Clue. Flames, flames on the side of my face. To make a long story short…too late. Seriously, how in the hell can you beat that cast?

18. Would you rather see a movie in the theater or at home on DVD and why? It depends on the movie. I do love the experience of going to the theater with like-minded people, but I hate being in a completely crowded theater. I do love going to outdoor movie showings, and TCM’s anniversary and other special reason showings of older movies in theaters is fabulous!

19. What is the one thing you can’t live without? My family. They help keep me rooted and have always been there when I’ve faced challenges.

20. If you could invite 5 people to dinner (not friends and family – that’s too easy) who would be at your table? Where would you eat? Beverly Jenkins, Caitlin Doughty, Michelle Pfeiffer, Michelle Obama, and Mark Ruffalo. I think we’d have to eat at a family style restaurant because we’d be so caught up just talking about stuff that we wouldn’t be able to sit and make a decision on what exactly to order.

21. If you could try any career for a day, what would it be? Forensic accounting. Which is weird because I once spent five hours with my dad’s accountant and my brain is still hurting over twenty years later, but I find the work they do to track down where the money has gone in the commission of a crime to be so fascinating.

22. Person you admire and why? My mom because she built a career for herself in work she enjoyed doing, while balancing the demands made on her by having a family of five children and a husband whose schedule was erratic due to his own career.

Rae: Thank you again.

Kelly: Thanks so much for having me!!

Author Bio CW 300x169 Coffee with Author Kelly Maher

Kelly Maher is the author of contemporary romances that feature smart
heroines, witty heroes, and settings that make you feel like you’re
living there. A city girl at heart, Kelly currently lives in DC where
she works as a librarian when not writing.

Website

Coffee With USA Today Bestselling Author Suzan Tisdale

Coffee With USA Today Bestselling Author Suzan Tisdale

smallheadshot 202x300 Coffee With USA Today Bestselling Author Suzan TisdaleRae: Thank you for hanging out with me. First, if we were meeting at a coffee shop I’d be drinking an Iced Spiced Latte with Coconut Milk with caramel drizzle, what would you order?

Suzan: Black coffee please. None of that ‘froofy” coffee. lol

Rae: I want to take a minute and thank you for the videos, e-mails and posts addressing what is going on in the book industry right now. In particular, the issue of Trademarking a word, page stuffing, and all the other areas that are of concern to many readers, authors and others in the industry.

How can readers and authors educate themselves to stay on top of current issues in the publishing industry?

Suzan: It’s just as important for readers to know what is going on as it is for authors. Readers can research, listen to what authors are saying, and perhaps follow some blogs on the subject. David Gaughran has been an outspoken leader to us. You can follow him here.

Rae: For new authors just dipping their toe into the industry, what words of encouragement and advice can you give regarding these issues?

Suzan: Gird your loins. Seriously, this industry, this business is not for the faint of heart. Keep your eyes open, take advice from people you respect and admire. Stay clear of all the ‘get rich quick’ schemes that are plaguing the market right now. Write from your heart, with fervor, zeal, and passion. And get a great editor!

Rae: I was watching one of your Facebook live videos where mentioned quickly how you became a published author. Can you share with us how that happened and how it impacted your writing career?

Suzan: That’s a long story. The short of it is, I wrote my first novel, Laiden’s Daughter, for my mother. I never thought it would be as successful as it was or that it would launch my writing career. I published it in December of 2011 and by February 2012, it was #3 at Amazon. It has been a beautiful journey ever since!

Rae: For those who are discovering you for the first time, can you share a little bit about your books, how many series you have, and what you love most about writing Scottish Historical Romance? Will there be more adventures in the near future?

Suzan: I write about perfectly imperfect heroes, strong heroines, and bad guys I kill off in wickedly delightful ways. There is always intrigue and mystery, sometimes more than just one bad guy, and almost always a happily ever after. I’ve lost track of the number of series I have! And yes, there is always another book in the works!

Rae: What is your latest release?Rodrick the Bold Kindle 200x300 Coffee With USA Today Bestselling Author Suzan Tisdale

Suzan: Rodrick the Bold is my most recent release. 

(Blurb and cover image provided by Suzan Tisdale)

A beautiful lass with hair the color of fire and eyes of emerald green would be a dream most men would happily invite. But these dreams, of the lass calling to him, begging for his help, haunt Rodrick the Bold. When the nightmares become too much, he sets off to find the lass who calls to him nightly. Not known for his warm heart nor eloquent way with words, he seeks to rescue her if only to be free of the torment.

Held as the pawn in a plot of treachery and deceit, Muriel MacFarland does not know who to trust or believe. Her once quiet, ordinary life is torn asunder when she is kidnapped and sold. Tormented and abused, she gives up all hope of a rescue by her brother and believes her life is no longer worth living.

Can Muriel put her faith, trust, and life in the hands of the stranger who comes to rescue her?

Will Rodrick the Bold’s wish for a family of his own come true?

Available at:

Nook ~ KOBO ~ iBooks ~ Amazon

Audio book available at:

iTunes ~ Audible

Rae: How often do you travel for research, and what is your favorite city to visit to enhance the worlds you write about?

Suzan: I’ve never travelled for research before. However, in July of this year, my husband and I are going to Scotland for two weeks! This is a dream-of-a-lifetime trip, one we’ve saved up for to take. I plan on doing lots of research while we’re there!

Rae: There has been a lot of chatter on social media about planning and organizing to stay focused and succeed in personal goals for 2018. How do you keep it all from spiraling out of orbit between the family life and writer life? Are you a planner girl or digital calendar queen?

Suzan: Well, up until Cockygate and Tiffanygate, I was a dry erase board planner! The last two months have upended my writing schedule. It seems there is a new fresh hell waiting for us every morning!

Rae: Writing all the words is a challenge, do you have a writing ritual or secret location to get the work done?

Suzan: Nope. I simply sit down and write. I must have peace and quite while writing. Although sometimes, when I’m writing a battle scene, I will listen to the Game of Thrones or Hobbit soundtracks.

Rae: How do you tackle plotting your series? Is it on a massive board, sheets of paper or just write as you go with a simple outline? A lot of authors use Pinterest and make awesome boards to tease readers, are you one of them?

Suzan: I have my wall of insanity. I now use poster board with colored post its to help me plot. I did a video on that a few weeks ago.

Rae: When you are not busy writing, you keep readers updated on social media, what are your favorite types of posts, pics, or tweets?

Suzan: I love using Facebook most. However, I’ve just launched a new app for my readers. Twitter is good, but man, do the trolls like to bite your ankles! You can find more information about my app here

Rae: Where can readers find you in 2018?

Suzan: Leading the Indie Resistance! Lol I’ll be going to InD’Scribe in Burbank in October. 

Rae: What books will you be releasing in 2018?

Suzan: That’s top secret! I have not made a formal announcement yet about next release 😀

Rae: Thank you for hanging out in the cafe today.

Tasty Tidbits 300x169 Coffee With USA Today Bestselling Author Suzan Tisdale

1. What is a must read book and why? That list would be too long! Anything by Kathryn Lynn Davis, Glynnis Campbell, Tanya Anne Crosby, or Kathryn Le Veque!

2. What is one place that I should see if I visit your hometown? It’s quite small, so nothing really to ‘see’.

3. Do you take-in or cook? both


4. Hard Rock or Classical? Favorite Band or Artist? Blues – old blues. Old jazz, hard rock (OLD hard rock) and country.

5. If you had an all expenses paid trip anywhere in the world for research, where would you go? Scotland

6. What is your guilty pleasure? ID TV.


7. What are you afraid of? Spiders


8. Tats or No Tats? If tats, how many and what did you choose for your first one? Nope.


9. Organized or Free Floating? A happy blend of both.


10. Binge watcher or weekly viewer? Which show(s)? NCIS! Modern Family, and Homicide Hunter.


11. If you could pick a book you’ve read and make it into a movie, which book would it be (besides yours 🙂 )? Maya Banks’s Highlander Series!


12. What’s your favorite movie of all time and why? The Color Purple. It’s epic!

Rae: Thanks again for hanging out! Time for another iced latte 🙂

Author Bio CW 300x169 Coffee With USA Today Bestselling Author Suzan Tisdale

USA Today Bestselling Author, storyteller and cheeky wench, SUZAN TISDALE lives in the Midwest with her verra handsome carpenter husband. All but one of her children have left the nest. Her pets consist of dust bunnies and a dozen poodle-sized, backyard-dwelling groundhogs – all of which run as free and unrestrained as the voices in her head. And she doesn’t own a single pair of yoga pants, much to the shock and horror of her fellow authors. She prefers to write in her pajamas.

Suzan writes Scottish historical romance/fiction, with honorable and perfectly imperfect heroes and strong, feisty heroines. And bad guys she kills off in delightfully wicked ways.

She published her first novel, Laiden’s Daughter, in December, 2011, as a gift for her mother. That one book started a journey which led to fifteen published titles. To date, she has sold more than 350,000 copies of her books around the world. They have been translated into four foreign languages (Italian, French, German, and Spanish.)

You will find her books at Nook, iBooks, Kobo, and Kindle. Paperback and hardcover versions are available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  You will find her audio books at Audible and iTunes.

Suzan’s Website

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