Coffee with Author Kelly Maher

Coffee with Author Kelly Maher

Rae: 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.

 

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!!

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

Rae: 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?

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.

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 🙂

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

On Facebook

On Twitter

 

Coffee With Author and Photographer Golden Czermak

Coffee With Author and Photographer Golden Czermak

Rae: First, if we were meeting at a coffee shop I’d be drinking an iced Coffee with coconut milk. I’m so happy summer is here 🙂 ! What would you order?

Golden: Iced Americano with coconut milk, or if I’m splurging an Iced Caramel Macchiato.

Rae: Ok, so I have to ask… how does a Chemical Engineer shift careers and find himself a working as a professional photographer taking pictures for book covers and building clients that appreciate a skilled eye behind a lens?

Golden: Over a loooooong time. LOL. I’ve always had an artistic flair to balance out the uptight nerdiness. However, it wasn’t until I got a new camera and decided to start taking stock photos for myself that the door swung fully open.

Rae: For those who are not familiar with your FuriousFotog brand, can you tell us how this evolved?

Golden: Certainly. It started off small and on weekends – portraits, newborns, even weddings (and bridezillas) to occupy my time. However, by December 2012 – after opening in August – I was approached by Alexis Alexander with the question “Do you shoot book cover photos?” Not knowing what exactly to do, but knowing a few good looking men, we did a full custom shoot for a cover and teasers for her book “Strong Enough.” The rest is, as said, history.

Rae: Readers, you need to check out his on-line store: 

For photo prints, canvases, phone cases 

For all my books 

Rae: How do you find your models?

Golden: I used to stalk… I mean scout them on Instagram and Facebook. Social media (before the big swing toward making profit off posts) was a great tool for the industry. Similar to how books in the 2012/2013 era saw author careers blossom. Now, most approach me due to my status though there are still a few that I want to shoot badly but the oceans lie in between. haha

Rae: If you could shoot your dream book cover, who and where?

Golden: Chris Pratt… anywhere

Rae: So, we’ve established that your a successful and sought after photographer, how do you have time to write contemporary romance, erotica, science fiction, fantasy, and paranormal? Was this an easy transition from your Engineering work?

Golden: I would say the writing was easier than the photos – since it’s a technical craft that doesn’t require direct human interaction (just words and planning). However, as time went on, my peopleling skills developed and I think I am okay with both at this point. I guess speaking in front of hundreds at the old job embedded those skills I am thankful for.

Rae: Which genre is the easiest and which one is the most challenging?

Golden: Easiest for me is fantasy. Most difficult is contemporary, with its lack of fantasy lol.

Rae: Where do you draw your inspiration for your stories?

Golden: Personal imagingings and old daydreams, but mainly a case of “what if…”

Sometimes the models aid in character development – Gage Crosse for example (from the Journeyman Series) being a good representation of the model playing him – personality wise.

Rae: Do you plot your book before you sit down to write?

Golden: Yes, thanks to the engineer in me. I don’t do a hugely detailed outline, but for Cooper (my longest book) I took the approach I’ve used since:

General Arc > Chapter listing > General “must happen here” / “the point of this chapter is…” > writing.

This approach lets me hop arround too, instead of having to go in order. That doesn’t always work though… as characters do have a mind of their own and like to toy with me.

Rae: Do you use tools like a whiteboard or notebook to jot down all the details?

Golden: Note book.

Rae: Writing a book takes time, how do you carve out that pocket of time to write all the words and balance between photographer and writer?

Golden: Late nights, early mornings, and sometimes when sitting at the gym.It all fits in somehow, but don’t expect me to take on a full time designer job as well. lol

Rae: I appreciate how much you connect with your readers on social media, what is the most challenging aspect of sharing with your readers?

Golden: I think, for me, limiting myself. While we all love sharing ourselves and details, some aspects of everyone’s life should remain private. It becomes hard to do when a lot of people become friends, but not everyone has your best interest at heart, so it’s good to tread lightly.

Rae: Are you still able to maintain some privacy in your personal life?

Golden: Yes, but it is a challenge being so visible in a society that demands attention – always glued to the phones, etc. Private time is something I do cherish and just like my old job it’s learning a constantly adjusting balance.

Rae: What can we expect in 2018?

Golden: The rest of this year will focus on releasing the A Song of Ages Duet (following on from the Journeyman Series but 20 years later), along with Swole 6 on June 6 and Swole 7 later on. Ending the year will be The Steam Tycoon 2 and leading next year will be Cooper Bennett 2. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rae: Where can readers find you in 2018?

Social Media:
Facebook Facebook Author 

Twitter ~ Instagram  ~ Amazon Author Page ~ GoodreadsBookBub  ~ Newsletter 

Rae: Thank you for hanging out in the cafe today

1. What is a must read book and why?

Mine: The Secret Life of Cooper Bennett. It just has the right mix of everything!
Others: Stephen King’s IT. Looooong and challenging to read, it’s a real classic (and one that I read when I was 9…. lol)

2. What is one place that I should see if I visit your hometown?

Definitely the Space and Rocket Center. Huntsville is known for its role in the space race and has a large NASA presence.

3. Do you take-in or cook? If so, what is your “go-to” dish?

I love oriental food and try to cook it whenever I can.

4. What is one thing readers would be surprised to know about you?

That I’m gay… lol! Seriously, a lot of people don’t realize when they find out. I’m not sure if thats a good or a bad thing. haha

5. Hard Rock or Classical? Favorite Band or Artist?

Mix of both – I like all kinds of music.

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

Old Europe (like Norway, Amsterdam, etc.) I just love the vibe from those cities.

7. What is your guilty pleasure?

Carbs. All of them.

8. What are you afraid of?

Disappointment and failure.

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

I’m covered…. haha. My first is a tribal “tree” on my back that has a lot of alchemy symbols used to create the philosopher’s stone. My mother was going through her battle with cancer at the time so it was my way of dealing with that issue.

10. Organized or Free Floating?

Organized to a fault.

11. Binge watcher or weekly viewer? Which show(s)?

Binge!

12. What’s on your playlist?

Random tunes mostly, but mainly EDM for the gym.

13. What play or musical do you want to see next?

I want to see Wicked again.

14. Are you a crafter?

I want to be more of one.

15. What’s your favorite TV show and why?

Gosh what a tough one. I would say Stranger Things now; just hearkens back to the 80s.

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

Haha damn! I would say it’s already being done with IT (Chapter 1 out last year; Chapter 2 coming next year)

17. What’s your favorite movie of all time and why?

Lord of the Rings – just geeks me out to the max.

18. Would you rather see a movie in the theater or at home on DVD and why?

The theater experience is a must for some… just the large screen and sound is an amazing experience.

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

Goals and love.

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?

I would invite my favorite authors (who are spread across genres) to talk shop. That would be interesting to see what is similar/different. Oh, and Chris Pratt because anyone who knows me knows of my obsession with the man. If I could get ONE official photo with him I would be in heaven.

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

Is billionaire from a romance book an option? LOL

22. Person you admire and why?

My mother… her strength and battle with cancer are my daily drivers. Even though she lost the second fight, my goal is to do her proud first.

In the beginning, Golden worked the standard corporate rat race, completed college for a Chemical Engineering Degree, and began a small photography company on the side.

Since then, and the growth of the FuriousFotog brand, Golden became an internationally published modeling/fitness photographer and eventually began working as a book cover model.

Having been in the industry for at least six years, he has interfaced and networked with countless authors and other clients. As part of his work as a photographer, he worked with them to create book cover images – now numbering over 550 at the beginning of 2018.

Learning the ins and out of the book world, along with being an avid reader and storyteller himself, Golden finally decided to write and publish his first book, Homeward Bound, in 2016.

www.onefuriousfotog.com (Photography)
www.goldenczermak.com (Books)

Coffee With Author Geri Krotow

Coffee With Author Geri Krotow

Rae: Welcome to the cafe Geri! 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?

Geri: Thanks for having me over, Rae! I’d order either an iced Early Grey latte or a cappuccino.

Rae: For those that are unfamiliar with your writing, you write romantic suspense, military romance and have a handful of standalone romances. Can you tell us a little bit about your backlist?

Geri: I started writing women’s fiction, which my first two books sold as to the Harlequin Everlasting line (I won the publisher’s contest for it in 2006, and thus began my published career). I truly think that all of my work is women’s fiction, with some of it definitely romantic suspense. While I write military characters and draw on my navy background for that, I think my stories are still more romance than military based.

Rae: Your prior career in the US Military is inspiring and fascinating. How does one transition from a career in the military to writing romance? Have any work situations or experiences found its way into your stories? What is the biggest challenge to keeping military representation true and “real” for readers to believe while still writing fiction?

Geri: I’ve always been a writer, so for me there wasn’t a transition with the writing mindset. What I found difficult was going from people immediately validating my career (Naval Officer) to asking “are you published yet?” As if what I was doing, pouring my heart onto the page, didn’t count until I made money for it. I learned that as long as I’m certain about what I’m doing, that’s all that matters.

Rae: I know that you have a passion for baking and knitting, is it easy to find time when writing? I imagine your house smells yummy from baked goods and your wardrobe must be fabulous from all your handmade items! What are your favorite savory or sweet dishes to bake?

Geri: Sadly the knitting can take a backseat when I’m under deadline, which is pretty much all the time. But I do try to knit if even for ten minutes, each day. It’s a way to unwind my plots in my mine, to engage in “free thought.”

I love baking, yes, and my most recent favorite was a vanilla pound cake for Easter. It didn’t last long—a reason to keep baking as a special treat. 🙂 Otherwise I won’t fit into my clothes!

Rae: In our last conversation you mentioned you were busy with a book deadline. Now that your book baby Fully Dressed is out for readers to enjoy, what are you working on?

Geri: I am working on revisions for Bayou Vows, Book 3 in the Bayou Bachelors, and I’m getting ready to begin a new Silver Valley PD novel (book 7). I have 5 books out this year, most likely 5 next year, which makes for a very full writing schedule. I am so grateful for this!

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?

Geri: I’m a HUGE fan of Stephen King, and he wrote a book On Writing in which he describes our work as…work. I don’t have anything special except to put my butt in the chair and get to it. My job is to put words on the page, everyday.  I write in my office, all over my house, on the back patio, in a coffee shop (my husband is a barista so sometimes I go work where he is, which is fun!). But no matter where, or when, I write. The words need to get done, deadlines must be met.

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

Geri: I have never dictated a book, ever. Speech-to-text software is popular and I’m not saying ‘never,’ but for now I’m happy with my keyboard and a screen.

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?

Geri: Yes, I have Pinterest boards for each of my series but they’re for the reader more than me. I plot on paper and use my past books in a series to keep my series straight.

Rae: When you are not busy writing, you keep readers updated on social media, I need to thank you for sharing about Seth Meyers recent birth of his son. I’m so busy reading and writing that I sometimes miss the newsworthy posts that make me laugh. What are your favorite types of posts, pics, or tweets?  

Geri: I’m so glad you liked that Seth Meyers video! I adored how unabashedly joyful he was about his newborn child, and how he clearly adores his wife. The vast majority of my social media posts are original, and my favorite platform is Instagram. When I share social media I try to keep it positive and uplifting whenever possible.

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?

Geri: I have a ‘word’ each year, that usually shows up in November or December, and I focus on it throughout the year. While I use a calendar app, my go-to is a Levenger (or Arc system, Staples) planner with calendar. I’m not hyper on using it to perfection, but as a guide and gentle reminder. My deadlines are on my white board in my office, along with book releases and author events. As you can imagine, that whiteboard has very little empty space!

Rae: Where can readers find you in 2018?

Geri: Five more books, at least, to include Silver Valley PD books 7 and 8 from Harlequin Romantic Suspense, Bayou Bachelors book 3 from Kensington Lyrical Caress, and a new Colton book from Harlequin Romantic Suspense.

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

Geri: My agent is the BEST in the world and we are hard at work on a very special project I hope to be able to talk more about in 2019. Stay tuned!

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

Geri: This has been so wonderful, Rae. Thank you again for opening your heart to my stories and my writing world!

1. What is a must read book and why? On Writing by Stephen King—a reminder that this is a job and it’s my job to get the story down each day.

2. What is one place that I should see if I visit your hometown? The Appalachian Trail, which runs through it.

3. Do you take-in or cook? If so, what is your “go-to” dish? Both, but mostly cook at home. Baked chicken breasts or salmon is a frequent meal on our table.

4. What is one thing readers would be surprised to know about you? If they haven’t read my bio, they are always surprised that I was a Naval Intelligence Officer.


5. Hard Rock or Classical? Favorite Band or Artist? I love all music and my favorite band is from my native town of Buffalo, New York—The Goo Goo Dolls!!!

6. If you had an all expenses paid trip anywhere in the world for research, where would you go? This is tough, I’ve lived in so many places around the world. Tibet, maybe.

7. What is your guilty pleasure? I don’t feel guilty about any pleasures—life’s too short! I enjoy mani-pedis, and knitting with very nice fiber (cashmere, silk, alpaca).

8. What are you afraid of? Not being true to myself.


9. Tats or No Tats? If tats, how many and what did you choose for your first one? Nope, nada, none.


10. Organized or Free Floating? Both!


11. Binge watcher or weekly viewer? Which show(s)? I adore Blackish, Modern Family. We stream a lot of great shows to
include The Alienist, Penny Dreadful, I Love Dick, Catastrophe


12. What’s on your playlist? Chris Stapleton Midnight Train to Memphis, Bruno Mars 24K


13. What play or musical do you want to see next? Anyone that my daughter gets us tix to!


14. Are you a crafter? Yes, I’m a rabid knitter as it says on my website. I also love planting flowers and veggies. But not mowing the lawn!

15. What’s your favorite TV show and why? I can’t name one as there is so much great content right now.

16. If you could pick a book you’ve read and make it into a movie, which book would it be (besides yours 🙂 )? A Discovery of Witches, by Deborah Harkness, and I’m thrilled to say I just saw that it’s in production.


17. What’s your favorite movie of all time and why? If we go by the one I never tire of watching, it’s Sweet Home Alabama. There are some stereotypes in there that need to go, but the love story gets me every time.


18. Would you rather see a movie in the theater or at home on DVD and why? It depends on my mood and time constraints. I love seeing a new release in a full theater, feeling the emotion of the crowd.

19. What is the one thing you can’t live without? My husband and family. Our pets—a dog and parrot. My dear friends. My daily quiet time and meditation. Time with nature. A hot cup of tea. Oh, you said one thing!

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? I’d have Stephen King, Tracy Ellis Ross, the Pope, the Dalai Lama, Oprah. Because why not? I’d have them for tea, and have incredible homemade scones, fresh strawberries, homemade whipped cream. And I’d serve it in the Russian porcelain tea set I bought when we lived in Moscow.

21. If you could try any career for a day, what would it be? Lead singer in a rock band—or just a duet with Johnny Rzeznik and the Goo Goo Dolls. Did I mention I love the Goo Goo Dolls?

22. Person you admire and why? My husband. He’s humble and modest, two things I could use more of.

Geri is the bestselling author of the Silver Valley, PD for Harlequin Romantic Suspense, where she also contributes to the Coltons continuity series. The Bayou Bachelors with Kensington Lyrical Caress. She also penned the Whidbey Island series for Harlequin Superromance.  A U.S. Naval Academy graduate and former Naval Intelligence Officer, Geri left her Naval career to pursue a writing career two decades ago. Geri enjoys creating sexy contemporary romances and tingling suspense, preferably with settings that she has personally experienced in her global travels. Geri loves to connect with readers! Please find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and at her website, where you will find a complete book list and can sign up for her newsletter, at  www.gerikrotow.com

Coffee With Author Rowan Worth

Coffee With Author Rowan Worth

Rae: Thank you for hanging out with me. First, if we were meeting at a coffee shop I’d be drinking a spiced Latte with Coconut Milk with caramel drizzle, what would you order?

Rowan: I’m fairly simple in my coffee needs. I’m in love with hazelnut lattes, iced or hot. Just make sure it’s a large.

Rae: I can’t believe it’s March, where has the year gone? Last month the Winter Olympics were held and in my house all other TV shows were automatically DVR’d. How about your house, did you watch? Was it a family gathering with food and conversation watching historical moments? I always hope that the key games and “must watch” events are not in the middle of the night or everyone has a crazy sleep schedule for three weeks.

Rowan: We’re not huge watchers of the whole thing. The events we’re fans of don’t usually get coverage on TV, and when they are, invariably right when things get interesting, the broadcast cuts over for a human interest story or leaves the medal race in luge to cover the round six eliminations in speed skating because there’s an American in that heat. When I first saw this question, I realized that we cut the cord with cable, and are living off Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc. We had to figure out how to watch these via the Internet this year! That worked somewhat—I was able to custom watch a few of the things I wanted, and caught others on replay.

One of my best friends is from a tiny town in Wisconsin, and one of the “kids” there, Matt Antoine, was on the USA Skeleton team, so we were tracking those races!

Rae: What were your thoughts on the opening and closing ceremonies?

Rowan: I did catch a replay of the Opening Ceremonies, and thought they were amazing.

Rae: How has serving as the President of WRWDC chapter changed your perspective of the writing industry?

Rowan: I can honestly say it hasn’t changed my perspective of the industry (yet). It is interesting living the changes being President has made in how people see me. It has been eye-opening to be one of the people who the Board Members approach at Nationals, or other chapter presidents flag down to chat with about various issues. The RWA National staffers have been a joy to work with, and are always there to answer the basic or out-of-left-field questions.

Rae: What has been the most challenging part of the job?

Rowan: The challenging part has been trying to maintain a balance among a giant and hugely diverse chapter—we’re 270 members strong, and have writers ranging from fresh-out-of-college newbies to over-75 established best-sellers. They write everything from Young Adult or New Adult romance to Fantasy romance to Science Fiction romance to Romantic Suspense to every era of Historical Romance to LBGQ Romance, and do so in every heat level from Christian sweet romances through mid-level heat to ménage/BDSM erotica. There’s a wide range of common ground, but there’s no making everyone happy all the time.

Rae: What has surprised you about the position?

Rowan: The surprising part? There’s actually less bureaucratic paperwork than I expected. There’s some, but it’s not overwhelming, boring or annoying. The parts that were unpleasant surprises were things like the unrelenting phishing attacks on the Treasurer using the names of the Board members and the complete inability of the U.S. Postal Service to track a package—and its total lack of interest in trying.

Rae: What advice can you give to an aspiring author or published author that is considering joining their local chapter?

Rowan: Don’t be scared. Go ahead and join—we’re actually very nice people who want to help. This is especially true of Romance Writers of America chapters. We’ve all been where you are.

When I joined RWA and WRW, I had been jotting down scenes and stories for years without quite realizing I was trying to write books. I had majored in English in college. I knew about “real” authors—Shakespeare, Austen, Faulkner, Hemingway. Books that were hard to understand and not particularly fun to read. And the authors were all dead. I saw major roadblocks on that career path.

When I realized I was writing romance, and there were really groups out there like RWA, I was both elated and terrified. I joined, and went through the chapter membership list and wondered what the heck I was thinking. It read like a Who’s Who of the NYT Bestseller List. My second event with the chapter was the WRW Retreat, and I gathered the nerve to ask one of my favorite authors to sign a book for me. It blew my mind to discover she was just as excited about it as I was, and spent the rest of the Retreat telling folks someone had asked for her autograph! I quickly learned that all of these authors were real people who were thrilled to share what they have learned—and to keep learning themselves.

Rae: For readers who are not familiar with your book can you tell us a little bit about what genre you write and how you found yourself writing in that genre?

Rowan: I’ve got one series with my agent that is Contemporary Romantic Suspense. My Indie series is Paranormal Romantic Suspense—wolf shifters. It’s set in modern day North Carolina, with shifters and wizards operating under the radar of regular human society. And the odd thing? I started writing that genre by accident.

Rae: What was the inspiration for your Foresters series and how you would categorize the books you write?

Rowan: I’m splitting the previous question with this one in regard to my answer. The inspiration for this book was a late-night experience. My husband used to work for the U.S. Park Service, and was working at a national park far enough away that he usually only came home for his weekends (Sunday/Monday). It was me, the kids, and the dogs (two border collies and a shepherd-elkhound mix that looked like a black wolf) most of the week.

In the middle of the night one night, I sat bolt upright in bed, alarmed and on edge without any clue as to why. Two seconds later, there was a huge crash of thunder that shook the house. And another flash of lighting, and more thunder—there was a really bad storm moving in. I’m guessing the first bolt of lightning and/or previous thunder was what woke me up. Right as I started to calm down, something moved on the bed next to me. I jumped about three feet before it registered that all of the dogs had moved into bed with me, and me being awake was making them stir. (The kids slept through the whole storm.)

The storm raged, and I had one of those “what if?” writer moments. I grabbed the notebook next to the bed, and started scribbling. That was at about 2 a.m. The scene grew into an unexpected love scene, and the dialog kept going off in all tangents. At a pause where I was trying to figure out how to up the stakes, I thought the only thing that would make it more intense was if he wasn’t human, and then went, Ohhhh… At 6 a.m., I typed those pages up, and sent to my critique partner and said, “Well, I don’t write super hot, and I don’t write paranormal, but tell me what you think.” She sent back a brief, “Shut up and keep writing.”

Rae: Rumor has it that the second book will be released soon, can you confirm when readers will be able to one-click it?

Rowan: *wince* Yeah, that rumor mill is something. I still don’t have a firm one-click date for Perfect Stranger, but hope to have it out in early April.

Rae: As the year is well underway, there has been a lot of chatter on social media about planning and organizing to stay focused and help us succeed in our 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?

Rowan: I love electronic calendars and try desperately to use one whenever I can. I also have an app called ToDoist on my phone (and there’s a website as well) that sends reminders via email.

I also love hard copy calendars/organizers, however, I could be the queen of distraction setting up, color coding, and clipping inspirations for my planner. I would never actually get anything INTO it, because I’d lost the correct color pen for that entry—or needed to change the color palette and re-enter everything. And I’d be too busy doing stickers, decorations, color coding, etc., to actually write.

Rae: Your blog post at the end of 2017 spoke about resolutions and how you prepare for the new year. Can you share with the readers your letter? It’s a fabulous idea. We are three months in, are you able to stay true to those goals?

Rowan: I forget where I first heard about the Holiday Letter to Yourself, but I do love it. At the end of December, instead of compiling a bulleted list of New Year’s Resolutions, I write a letter to myself pretending it is New Year’s Eve of the FOLLOWING year. So, this one was dated December 31, 2018. It reads like one of those holiday letters you get in December greetings cards, talking about all the fabulous things that have happened that year as if they’ve already occurred. Instead of saying:
• Lose 30 pounds
• Write 1,000 words a day
• Clean the study

It says things like, “Had such fun at the RWA Nationals conference in July. I got a wonderful new dress for the RITA Awards since the one I had planned on wearing was too big with my new bicycling routes. I talked to two editors about my next book, which just flowed out of me after I donated a ton of clutter from my den to Goodwill and set up a new workstation in my redecorated study.”

Hey, we’re fiction writers! That’s what we do. The theory on the way this works is your brain sees you write this down as fact and starts going, “Uh oh…none of this is true. But it’s here in writing as having happened. I need to get on the ball!” and subconsciously starts making the connections to have things start happening to make this reality. And, overall, I’ve found it pretty successful—more so than the stern lists.

After writing and signing it, you put it in an envelope somewhere to read in the next December. And that will inspire you to do your next one.

Just keep in mind. The biggie: It HAS to be hand written. Typing it out does NOT make the same connections in your brain. And try not to lose it—you can read it midyear if you want a reminder, but sometimes it’s fun just to open it cold and see what matches. Also keep in mind to keep it to things you have control over—you don’t want to start with, “I spread my wings as my dragon form glides across the British Crown Jewels I’ve recently added to my hoard.” But I’ve heard stories of people who wanted to get married, and were engaged by the following year; or started a business; or moved to a better house. Sometimes things you DON’T expect to match up connect and open up new opportunities. You put in “It’s great to open the bank statement and see high balances in all my accounts.” thinking to yourself, “from the sale of my book!” but three months later, run into an old friend at a company looking for someone just like you and suddenly get a job offer that doubles your salary.

Rae: Do you find a need for lists or post-its to keep you on track? Or, do you just post that letter somewhere to remind you of your path for success in the new year?

Rowan: I review the letter once in a while—when I fall off track. A lot of that letter exercise is subconscious as well—you suddenly find you’re doing things that you don’t remember you wanted to. I try to put a few major deadlines/goals on my calendar to try to keep me on track. Lately, life has made things challenging—I was startled it took nearly a full year to recover from helping my Mom clean out her house (the family home of 50 years) and move into a senior apartment. I was drained both emotionally and physically. I was hoping to do a big dramatic push to get book 2 out at the end of 2017, and my Mom ended up in the hospital with flu and pneumonia, then the rest of the family came down with the flu. Suddenly it was February…March…

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?

Rowan: I used to write my first drafts long hand. When I worked outside the home, I used to write a lot of things longhand when I could squeeze in writing time. Now, I find I need reading glasses, and I find it’s annoying to have to wear glasses to write. I do a lot more drafts on the computer. I don’t really have a ritual or secret location. I can tune out a lot of things when I’m on a roll.

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

Rowan: Before the dictate-to-the-phone days, I bought a little hand-held recorder to keep next to me while I drove, and set it to voice activated. I was startled to find I had 90 minutes of recording when I got home. Turns out, the radio counts as a voice for activation. The 10 minutes of my actual story telling was buried in there somewhere.

I used to commute from Fredericksburg, VA, to Washington, D.C., every day, 56 miles each way. Most of the time, I drove. There were often other people in the car (vanpoolers, slugs, etc.). When I wasn’t driving, I would write longhand and hope I could translate the bumpy chicken scratch when I got home. There were usually too many prying eyes for a lot of computer work. I mostly did major scene exploration in my head, so when I got to my destination, I could actually focus and write.
These days, I go straight to the computer most of the time. I have files, flash drives, etc.

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? 

Rowan: Plotting. Cute theory. I am NOT a plotter. Seriously not a plotter. I get scene ideas and I write them out. Usually, the story starts growing as I write. And it usually works—or I can make it work. The book I started in the storm just flowed for ages. Then I had a scene idea and went, “Hm…that seems later than this story…” so I stuck it in a different file. And realized I had the sequel started. I worked on those two for a while, when I realized I was using flashbacks to cover A LOT of material—and realized that storm book was NOT book 1, but book 2. And a new character showed up in Book 1 that had to be worked into what I had of Books 2 and 3—but to make sense sequentially, that character needed to have his story in book 3, so book 3 became book 4…

Luckily, fairly early in the process, I learned of Scrivener, and created a master series file that let me work on the entire series in one file, moving scenes around as needed. That was a lifesaver.

I’ve created a series bible (currently in Excel, but that may need to grow to something else soon), and did write down a list of major external story arc points I wanted covered in each book. The series is romantic suspense with a couple of serial killers, so I actually had to start keeping track of the dead bodies in a separate file.

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

Rowan: My plan—and my Holiday Letter to Myself—have me getting at least one more book in this series out in 2018 (Books 2 and 3, total). I’ve also been giving serious thought to going through the books currently with my agent and maybe going indie with those as well.

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

Rowan: Thank YOU for having me! It has been wonderful, and I truly enjoyed it.

1. What is a must read book and why? How do I chose a romance for this category? I love them all?? Right now, I’d say EDGE OF MIDNIGHT by Shannon McKenna. Her McCloud Brothers series is amazing, and book one, which just sucked me in and made me want more. She’s got a way of keeping you on the edge of your seat, has amazing plots and characters you don’t see anywhere else, and super steamy intimacy.

John Scalzi’s RED SHIRTS is a great book for an author to read. Picture STAR TREK, where the characters suddenly realize they’re in a book, and all their problems are caused by the author…so they start tracking down the author to make him stop. It is funny and moving, and I don’t think there’s an author out there who doesn’t think their characters are really real.

David Drake’s PATH OF THE FURY is one of my favorites—it’s Sci Fi, with a female Special Forces officer as the lead. Her entire squadron has been killed, and her family wiped out. As she is dying herself, she cries out for vengeance so strongly she connects with the final bit of energy of the last Greek Fury, who saves her life and accidentally possesses her and the AI of her spaceship. It’s a truly unique look at possibilities, and ties in science fiction and Greek myth with action, adventure, and a hint of romance. The author also has a great sense of humor and amazing world building.

2. What is one place that I should see if I visit your hometown? I live in Fredericksburg, Virginia. There’s a lot to see here! The Civil War battlefields are the easy answer—we have five in the immediate area. For the unexpected tip, I’d say the stained glass windows of the church I was married in—St. George’s Episcopal Church. Six of the windows are Tiffany, and absolutely gorgeous.

3. Do you take-in or cook? If so, what is your “go-to” dish? Take in, I like mooshu pork, pad Thai, or sushi. I enjoy cooking; I’m pretty proud of my lasagna, which I’ve also adapted to use in filled shells. A quick specialty is eggs Benedict.

4. What is one thing readers would be surprised to know about you? I took a trapeze class from a retired circus performer in Denver during college.

5. Hard Rock or Classical? Favorite Band or Artist? My tastes are eclectic. I got into Country music after a bad breakup, and still enjoy that. I’m a sucker for ’80s rock—ABBA and the BeeGees. Growing up, my Mom was into classical, so our home radio listening was always classical or opera. I love Gilbert and Sullivan. Mom still holds season tickets to the Kennedy Center ballet and symphony. She used to also have an opera series. My sister and I trade off going with her regularly.
Luckily, my husband also has eclectic tastes. There was a mix CD in the car that had a rider looking at me oddly once. It had everything on it from Johnny Horton to bagpipe rock to Pat Benatar to ZZ Top to Gregorian Chants.

6. If you had an all expenses paid trip anywhere in the world for research, where would you go? I love travelling! I was a military brat, and we lived in Germany and Thailand, as well as in various places in the States. I’m torn—I’d love to go back to Europe, but I have to say an all-expense paid trip would have me going to Australia/New Zealand/the Islands. I’d love to see Fiji and the Great Barrier Reef.

7. What is your guilty pleasure? Reading and sushi.

8. What are you afraid of? Oh, toughie. Failure is a biggie. Now that I have kids, I worry that we won’t be able to provide for them the way I want to, both now and after my husband and I are gone. Trying to go Indie is a big leap of faith.

9. Tats or No Tats? If tats, how many and what did you choose for your first one? No tats. And no plans to get any. Ever. I like temp tattoos. Does that count? It’s a combination of things—I change my mind a lot, so fear I’d regret whatever I got in six months, much less 60 years. And I don’t do needles well. I even made a big deal of my shifters not being able to do tattoos. Tattoos are sooo popular right now, I wanted to do something different.

10. Organized or Free Floating? Mostly free floating, but I do feel like I have my own way of tracking stuff. My computer files are pretty darn organized. Except my photos. *sigh*

11. Binge watcher or weekly viewer? Which show(s)? We finally got rid of cable because we weren’t watching regular TV. I used to be a TV-aholic, but lately, nothing has appealed. I binged some of the Marvel series—Flash, Agents of SHIELD, Arrow—but everything got so dark—or so preachy political—I stopped enjoying it. I loved Supernatural, but that got bleak as well, so I’m a season or so behind. Right now, the family is watching The Goldbergs and I’m finding that far funnier than I expected.

12. What’s on your playlist? I love Michael Bublé’s first album, and write a lot to that. Sway, Moondance, etc. I love the duet by Pink and Nate Ruess, Just Give Me A Reason. Hozier’s Take Me to Church is amazing. And I enjoy the heck out of Best Friend’s Brother, but the cast of Victorious. I’m also an 80s music fan, so lots of ABBA and Bee Gees.

13. What play or musical do you want to see next? It’s been eons since I’ve seen either live on stage other than a school production.

14. Are you a crafter? Oh, yeah. I’ve always done crafts. Painting, lapidary (jewelry making), clay. Everything looks interesting—lately, a lot of my friends are doing crochet and knitting, and I’m thinking of dabbling. I have done crochet before, but never really finished anything. I have the needles; I may get some yarn and give a smaller project a try. I’m also trying out some custom beadwork on bookmarks as prizes.

15. What’s your favorite TV show and why? I’m still a fan of a lot of the classics from my childhood. We’ve made the kids watch everything from Gilligan’s Island to Adam-12. I’d say probably classic Star Trek.

16. If you could pick a book you’ve read and make it into a movie, which book would it be (besides yours 🙂 ) ?
Oh, HARD choice!! Romance? Other? I’d love to see Ann McCaffrey’s Dragonriders series made into movies. And J.D. Robb’s In Death series.

17. What’s your favorite movie of all time and why? Raiders of the Lost Ark! Adore that film. Action, adventure, romance—how can you go wrong? The hero has brains, a whip, and a revolver and the heroine is a hard-drinking, well-travelled business owner with a brain.

18. Would you rather see a movie in the theater or at home on DVD and why? Tough one…I hate paying movie theater prices, but love the giant screen and real theater popcorn. Mostly, these days, we get the DVDs.

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

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? Dead or alive? Shakespeare. Leonardo da Vinci. Queen Elizabeth II. Kate Middleton. Homer.
Where to eat? I might do a bunch of take in from various favorite restaurants. Or maybe my favorite sushi place.

21. If you could try any career for a day, what would it be? Astronaut. (Or pirate, if there’s time travel available.)

22. Person you admire and why? Leonardo da Vinci—he could paint, sculpt, build machines… He made up codes.

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

Rowan: It was a great time! Thanks again.

Coffee With USA Today Bestselling Author Sara Ney

Coffee With USA Today Bestselling Author Sara Ney

 

 

Rae: If we were meeting at a coffee shop I’d be drinking a spiced latte with Coconut Milk. What would you order?

Sara: I’d order an Iced Latte with Hazelnut and Soy milk. ((Not because I’m lactose intolerant but because it takes delicious)).

 

Rae: For those who have not read your backlist or current release, can you tell us a little bit your books?

Sara: I really love quick witted, natural humor and banter between my characters. All my books have it—I love focusing on dialogue and build my books around that…

Rae: Where do you find your inspiration?

Sara: Chemistry is my inspiration. Between the characters and my own relationships.

Rae: How do you keep all of your characters from crossing over into other books? Do you use a series “bible” or have files of notes?

Sara: I don’t, LOL. I interweave them when I can, sometimes because I forget the names I’ve used in previous books. It’s not always on purpose.

Rae: The release of How to Date A Douchebag: The Learning Hours was kept tight under wraps regarding the hero and heroine. I read an ARC and loved it. I enjoyed reading about a group of college kids finding their way and the insanity that unfolded. What sparked the concept for this series? 

The series was built around the series title HOW TO DATE A DOUCHEBAG and developed from there… I loved how it sounded and liked how it looked, and love guys who talk s#$t and pairing them with girls who can give it right back.

Rae: How many more books will there be?

Sara: Right now I’ve written a 4th novel and plan to keep it at 4….

Rae: When you are writing a book, do you plot it out page by page, chapter by chapter? Or, do your characters guide you?

Sara: I have a rough outline of the story and how I want it to look, but for the most part, I fly by the seat of my pants…

Rae: What was the defining moment that you realized you wanted to write?

Sara: I’ve always dabbled in it; journaled. I have tons of notebooks from when I was younger, the stories crack me up. So I guess in a way I always have been a writer, I just never knew I’d want to turn it into a career.

 

Rae: What are you releasing in the first half of 2018?

Sara: THE COACHING HOURS!!!! February 5th, Switch Hitter March, 15 – and Jock Row coming in May (TBD)

 

 

 

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

 

 

1. What is a must read book and why? The book that I’m always recommending people read, that I absolutely love, is Stupid Girl by Cindy Miles. To me, it’s the quintessential “opposites attract” story; the male hero is flawed to perfection. The inner dialogue is spot on… There are a few scenes in the book that I know are coming, and I wait for them, heart pounding.

2. What is one place that I should see if I visit your hometown? We have a small ski hill in town that’s lit up at night. And in the winter, you can see the lights glowing for miles around.


3. Do you take-in or cook? If so, what is your “go-to” dish? My husband is the cook in our house, and if he didn’t feed us, we would all starve. For real.


4. What is one thing readers would be surprised to know about you? I have really random collections that make no sense. History fascinates me; I lay in bed at night and take photo tours of abandoned landmarks and homes from the Gilded Age. I’m obsessed.


5. Hard Rock or Classical? Favorite Band or Artist? I love Spotify; I always hit the “Discover” button, and my favorites are undiscovered artists that re-create covers by popular singers.


6. If you had an all expenses paid trip anywhere in the world for research, where would you go? I have no idea. I’d probably want to rent an old English estate, ala: Pride & Prejudice, and stay in the middle of no-where.


7. What is your guilty pleasure? Binging on Netflix.


8. What are you afraid of? I’m afraid if I every had to tell someone off, I’ll free up and not be able to. Is that a weird thing to be afraid of? I talk a good game, but I worry deep down inside, I’m a huge wimp.


9. Tats or No Tats? If tats, how many and what did you choose for your first one? None, I’m so boring and afraid of needles. But I love when people have them; I love them all and find them very attractive, especially on men, LOL. Can I say that?


10. Organized or Free Floating? I have what I refer to as “organized chaos.” My husband keeps me organized… I’d be better at staying on task if the voices inside my head would leave me alone.


11. Binge watcher or weekly viewer? Which show(s)? Binge watcher! Because I usually forget to watch whatever it is I love watching: Schitt’s Creek, Shameless, 90 Day Fiance. Leah Remini.


12. What’s on your playlist? Kiss You Now, by Andy Grammer. Hailee Steinfeld. The Pitch Perfect Soundtrack. Alex G. Kelsea Ballerini…. Its an eclectic mix


13. What play or musical do you want to see next? I’m taking my daughter to see Les Miserables in Spring!


14. Are you a crafter? You wouldn’t even believe the amount of crafting supplies I have in this house…I don’t why, but there is glitter on my front walkway.


15. What’s your favorite TV show and why? I don’t watch a ton of tv, but if I happen to catch something I love, its reality. Below Deck. Other than that… I’m terrible. Friends, The Office. Comedies, mostly


16. If you could pick a book you’ve read and make it into a movie, which book would it be (besides yours)? I’m going with Stupid Girl. I would give anything to see that turned into a movie.


17. What’s your favorite movie of all time and why? When Pride & Prejudice is on (the Kiera Knightly version) I drop everything and go wild for it. I’ve also seen Anne of Green Gables 8,000 times. How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.


18. Would you rather see a movie in the theater or at home on DVD and why? At home, because there just aren’t enough offerings at the movie for me to eat. We like to sneak food in, and sometimes it’s impossible to walk in with containers of steaming hot Noodles, or a salad.


19. What is the one thing you can’t live without? My flat pillow (I mean, besides my family), my black, Papermate Flare Pens.


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? 
This is a tough one, and I had to give this some serious thought. Couldn’t come up with anyone but family/friends so: I would collect a small dinner party cast of complete strangers, from the various cities I’ve visited. For example, I bet the guy driving the horse drawn carriage in Central Park has some amazing stories to tell. We’d eat somewhere Italian, and loud, at a big round table eating pasta and drinking wine. Then I imagine we’d part ways and always look back on that unusual dinner that only happens once in a lifetime.

21. If you could try any career for a day, what would it be? First I was going to say “Starbucks,” because I bet I could whip up an amazing Coco. Then I was going to say, “Any career where I could talk through a microphone.” My mind kept going to retail, but I’ve already done that (I used to own a children’s boutique). So I’m not sure. Why is this question so hard?