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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?

 

Coffee With Historical Romance Author Lori Ann Bailey

Coffee With Historical Romance Author Lori Ann Bailey

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?

Lori Ann: Black coffee and an ice water.

Rae: First, the Olympics were amazing. In my house we DVR’d everything else, it was all about the Olympics. What about you, did you catch any amazing sports events? What about the opening ceremony?

Lori Ann: I always enjoy the opening ceremony. This year, I especially felt emotional when the Korean artists sang Imagine and the people around them formed a dove. I tried to record the events I enjoy watching, but I didn’t go out of my way to see the rest. We did have it on it the back ground each night as we got ready for bed. I’m so impressed by all the amazing athletes.

Rae: Did you sit and watch any of the events as a family?

Lori Ann: With four kids, it’s hard to coral them all to watch at one time. We had moments with all of us watching at different times.

Rae: A few months ago you had your first Facebook live and took us inside your writing lair, are there plans for another video? I loved the peek inside your writing corner and sharing with fans where you sit so your characters can come to life.

Lori Ann: I have plans to do another Facebook live video soon. I want to do a reading because I’ve not yet had a chance read a passage from one of my books in front of others. I’ll probably do it in my office too, I just have to build up the courage, although I am finding it easier to put myself out there now that I’ve done it a couple times.

Rae: How has writing full-time changed your life?

Lori Ann: I’ve had to learn to let go of control of a lot of things. My dishes aren’t always done right away, the laundry sometimes sits in a basket for a couple days before I can fold it, but I think the biggest change is positive. My children are learning to take on more responsibilities, something I realize now, I should have encouraged earlier on.

Rae: Can you tell readers a little bit about your Highland Pride series? 

Lori Ann: Yes, the Highland Pride series is centered around the clan Cameron and a few characters outside the clan who have direct contact with them. The series takes place around the English Civil War and involves the political dynamics of the time and how Scotland was ripped apart and forced to choose sides, those loyal to King Charles or those faithful followers of the Protestant Parliament.

Rae: How many books do you have planned for the Highland Pride series?

Lori Ann: I am contracted for five books, but there are endless possibilities for new stories running around in my head.

Rae: What is next in your writing world?

Lori Ann: I’ve already started a new series, but I can’t tell you much yet. I will say that it will be called the Highland Misfits and will be around the time of the clearances in Scotland.

Rae: How many research trips have you made to gather all the bits to give the readers all the real feels in your stories?

Lori Ann: I’ve only been to Scotland twice, but money is an issue or I’d go every time I needed new information. I took lots of pictures and have great memories, but I do have to look up videos and other information to get some of the details I need. Youtube and Wikipedia are always helpful. I can’t imagine how much time it would take to do the proper research without the internet.

Rae: What was it like to walk along the same path as your heroes and breathe the same air? I hope one day to travel to Scotland, for now I will enjoy the pictures and videos from those who have shared their experiences.

Lori Ann: I had been to Edinburgh and fallen in love with it before I started writing. One of my favorite places is the abbey ruins by Holyrood Palace. It was a magical place for me and I included it in, Highland Temptation, book three, which comes out June 25th.

Just before Highland Deception came out, I was lucky enough to be able to go back to Scotland, this time to the Highlands and my husband and I made sure to tour as much as we could of the Cameron lands.

Rae: We’ve chatted a bit about your next trip this Spring to Paris, I hope you have a fabulous time. I loved my honeymoon in Paris and hope to travel back one day soon! Be sure to see all the museums, walk the streets, eat the foods, drink the wine, and take it all in. It’s truly a magical place and life-changing. We walked everywhere and made sure to travel out to Versailles and Chartres, two of my favorite day trips!

Lori Ann: I can’t wait. My husband and I lived in London for a little bit and had the opportunity to go for a long weekend once, but we are thrilled to be able to take the kids and see everything we missed the first time. Thank you for all the Paris advice and I can’t wait to share my pictures.

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? 

Lori Ann: Funny you mention this because some friends of mine informed me that they come up with a “word of the year” each year, so of course, I had to do it too. My word for 2018 is “Succeed.”

First, I try to keep work to the week, so I can spend time with my family on the weekends. I’ve been a stay at home parent for seventeen years, so it’s been a challenge learning to juggle my responsibilities as a caregiver and accomplishing what I want as a writer. As a result, my children have had to learn to become more independent. I think in the long run that will be good for both them and me.

Rae: Are you a planner girl or digital calendar queen?

Lori Ann: I used to use a Franklin Planner, but over the last few years, I’ve used Google calendar. I recently purchased an Erin Condren paper planner to attempt the switch back. I think I’ll need to keep up both for a while, but I’m still working on figuring it out. I’ll let you know at the end of the year how it goes.

Rae: You also blogged about the importance of lists, do you use post-its or paper and do you have separate lists or keep it all on one sheet?

Lori Ann: Lists do keep me on track. I write them on paper and keep them all over the place, sometimes having to add from one to the another. But I find the more often I write something down, the sooner I’ll get it done.

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?

Lori Ann: On the computer, although I’m tempted to try out the Dragon speaking software. I download an album from an artist each time I start a new book. I only listen to it when I’m writing that particular book, so that helps me to focus. Other than that, I can write almost anywhere and sometimes it helps to move around to a new location. When I’m stuck, I go to the quiet room at the library. There, I’m forced to focus and can’t be distracted.

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

Lori Ann: I carry a notepad everywhere because you never know when inspiration will strike. I also keep one by the bed. There have been a couple nights that I’ve had to jump up, sneak out of the room and jot down something.

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? 

Lori Ann: I was using three pieces of poster board and taping them together, but my parents bought a white board for me for the holidays and my husband recently hung it in my office. It’s a huge help. I’ll admit though, that I’m a little protective of it and don’t want people in my family to read what I’ve plotted out. 🙂

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

Lori Ann: I do use Pinterest occasionally, but I find the time it takes to find perfect pictures is better spent writing. I currently have a secret board for another series I’m working on, but that’s because it’s in a new time period and I have more to learn about it.

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

Lori Ann: Anything with kittens or positive uplifting messages.

Rae: Where can readers find you in 2018?

Lori Ann: I’ll be doing the Literacy signing at RWA Nationals in Denver, Colorado

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

Lori Ann: I have a secret project in the works. I’ll make an announcement as soon as I can, but I may not be able to until March or early April. If your readers want to stay tuned for updates, they can friend me on Facebook.

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

Lori Ann: Thank you for having me.

1. What is a must read book and why?

Scottish Historical Romance – Sweet Revenge by Lynsay Sands – I laughed out loud so many times my husband had to know what was going on.

Non-Fiction – The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker – This book changed my life and the way I look at my surroundings. I highly recommend it.

Suspense – Books by Greg Iles – Most of them took place not far from where I grew up. It’s enjoyable having a connection to the places and events that happen in his books.

2. What is one place that I should see if I visit your hometown? Windsor Ruins. A Southern plantation house that survived the civil war only to be burned down by a guest not long after. The magnificent columns are the only things left standing on the house.

3. Do you take-in or cook? If so, what is your “go-to” dish? A combination, but we try not to order out more than twice a week. My “go-to” would be spaghetti and meat sauce.

4. What is one thing readers would be surprised to know about you? When my kids have all made their own lives, I would like to move back to New York City. Although I grew up in small town, Mississippi, I miss the convenience of living in the city.

5. Hard Rock or Classical? Favorite Band or Artist? I’ll listen to almost everything, but my favorite is Country. 😉

6. If you had an all expenses paid trip anywhere in the world for research, where would you go? All of Scotland. I’ve been to Edinburgh and a portion of the Highlands, but there is so much more I “need” to see. I can’t wait to go back.

7. What is your guilty pleasure? Cheez-It Hot and Spicy Grooves. They are so addicting.

8. What are you afraid of? Spiders and ventriloquist puppets.

9. Tats or No Tats? If tats, how many and what did you choose for your first one? Not for me, but if you want me to go cheer you on while you get one, I’m happy to do it.

10. Organized or Free Floating? I thrive on organization.

11. Binge watcher or weekly viewer? Which show(s)? Binge watcher. I just caught up on Netflix with Supernatural. I’m thinking about The Marvelous Mrs Maisel next but I haven’t had a chance to start yet.

12. What’s on your playlist? I have a different playlist for each book I write, but the playlist that keeps me motivated is my gym playlist. My favorites on it are Fight Song by Rachel Platten, Hall of Fame by The Script, Brave by Sara Bareilles and I Lived by OneRepublic.

13. What play or musical do you want to see next? I still haven’t seen Hamilton, even though my whole family knows the soundtrack by heart. I’d love to see it, but we are still waiting on the prices to come down.

14. Are you a crafter? I tried, but I failed miserably. I settle for appreciating those that are crafty.

15. What’s your favorite TV show and why? Mysteries at the Museum. I love the tidbits of history and I can have it on no matter what child is in the room and they all learn and are drawn in with me.

16. If you could pick a book you’ve read and make it into a movie, which book would it be (besides yours 🙂 )?
The Scot Ties the Knot by Tessa Dare

17. What’s your favorite movie of all time and why? Romancing the Stone. I love the combination of comedy and romance. This one was one of my favorites when I saw it growing up and I watched it again recently and fell in love again. The hero and heroine are both flawed and their character growth makes the end rewarding.

18. Would you rather see a movie in the theater or at home on DVD and why? In the movie theater, because my kids save their questions and comments until the end of the movie and I can actually watch it.

19. What is the one thing you can’t live without? I’m assuming family is a given, so I’m going to say cozy socks.

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? Johanna Lindsey, Hannah Howell, Paula Quinn, Lynsay Sands, and Karen Marie Moning. A tapas bar – I love the variety and the intimacy of sharing with others.

21. If you could try any career for a day, what would it be? Quality control taste tester at the Lindt/Lindor chocolate factory.

22. Person you admire and why? Eliza Knight – She’s an amazing mentor, author, and friend, who gives her time to help others, but somehow manages to juggle multiple publishing projects at one time, all while raising, caring for, and loving her three children and husband.

Coffee With Bestselling Author Siera London

Coffee With Bestselling Author Siera London

Rae: Thank you for hanging out with me.

Siera: It’s awesome to sip and talk with you this morning.

Rae: First, if we were meeting at a coffee shop I’d be drinking a spiced Latte with Coconut Milk with chocolate drizzle, what would you order?

Siera: Give me a strawberry acai tea, light on the ice. Sorry, Books I Love A Latte—I never acquired a taste for, “the bean”.

Rae: Before you began writing romance you were a Nurse in the Navy for over twenty years. Do you miss working as a Nurse and the frequent moves? What was the biggest challenge you faced early on?

Siera: In all honesty, I do miss engaging with the patients and caring for families. What I don’t miss is the pace required of healthcare workers by our current system. As far as the moves are concerned, it’s exciting to relocate to a new community. Mr. Awesome is still on active duty and we’ve grown to cherish the next adventure rather than dread it.

My biggest challenge early on in my naval career was learning to be a military officer. Military leadership has to be planted from day one in uniform. You can’t buy a Navy Lieutenant or an Army Colonel. Like a seed, a military leader is cultivated through systematic training, mentorship, and experience. I’m grateful I had great teachers, civilian and military, who invested in my professional growth and development.

Rae: Speaking of books, congratulations on the release of Forbidden Attraction: A Bachelor of Shell Cove/Fiery Fairytales Crossover Novella Forbidden Series) that released last week. Can you tell us about the series? How many books do you anticipate? 

Siera: Thank you! The Forbidden series consists of two are standalone novellas. Both are loosely tied to my longer series, The Bachelors of Shell Cove and Fiery Fairytales. In Forbidden Distraction, Vivianne Sloan is a sex therapist who’s incapable of any bedroom action except with her boss. In Book 2, Sarah Jones is a scandalized 40 year-old divorcee who slams into a 20 something year-old stranger and doesn’t want to let go. I wrote three books, but…the third one is a surprise.

Rae: For readers who are not familiar with Page Tyler’s Dallas Fire & Rescue (DFR) Fiery Fairy Tales in Kindle Worlds, can you tell them how your characters crossover? What’s it like writing in another author’s world?

Siera: Sure. My firefighters, Nathan, Cutler, and Trace participate in a cross training program with Paige Tyler’s Dallas Fire and Rescue Station 51. I loved linking my three fairytale adaptations to the DFR world. Paige did the heavy lifting by creating this exciting story world filled with sexy firefighters and first responders. All I did was keep the readers burning for more DFR!

Rae: Every so often I add another city to my bucket list and the Florida Keys is close to the top. Living footsteps from the ocean air sounds peaceful and relaxing. Do the beautiful beaches help inspire your writing? 

Siera: As a Florida native and a Navy veteran I’m practically a land-based mermaid. Being near the waters gives me a sense of home; it relaxes me. So yeah, I guess water is my inspiration.

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? 

Siera: I’m spiraling as I type!  Seriously Rae, you ask a lot of questions, hehe. I’ve been writing full-time for 18 months, and I still struggle to find balance between projects. I used to write everyday, but now I reserve the weekends for my family and friends.

Rae: Are you a planner girl or digital calendar queen?

I’m a cheap planner girl.

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?

Siera: All I need is a keyboard and a quiet space. After our Hurricane Irma evacuation, my writing ritual went the way of the Boy George bangs…bye bye.  

Rae: What is your writing process? Do you have a notebook for all the words that flow while out of your office? Do you dictate into your phone? Or, do you remember it all and make a mad dash to your desk when you return home?

Siera: When we arrived in San Diego last November we lived in a hotel for two months. There were too many disruptions for me to focus on what my characters were saying. I’ve been writing in a private study room at my local library for the past three months. Notebooks for jotting down ideas are in my purse, at my bedside, in the kitchen, and in the family room. Yep, there’s lots of paper around my house.

Rae: While writing, how do you tackle plotting your books? Is it on a massive board, sheets of paper in a folder, or do you write it all as you move with the story? There is such a huge range from the simple outline to vision board!

Siera: My longer stories, like the Bachelors of Shell Cove series, all have Pinterest boards. I usually add character avatars, cars, houses, bedroom furniture, and their favorite foods.

Rae: For readers who want to meet up with you in person, where can they find you this year? 

Siera: Romantic Times in May

Cilla’s Maniac Book Extravaganza in June

A Reading Warrior Retreat in October

AC Arthur’s Reader Appreciation Event in November

I think that’s all…hmmm

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

Siera: In June, you get TWO new stories featuring single dads. Look for the Men of Endurance series around Father’s Day. If you’ve my Fiery Fairytales series, you know I love tinkering with childhood classics. Cindra, my first paranormal urban fantasy hits the digital shelves in November. Also, checkout The Last File, a suspense thriller in the Death & Damages Boxed Set this fall. 

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

Siera: I appreciate the free drink and great conversation. Ciao, Books I Love A Latte

1. What is a must read book and why?
The Servant by James C. Hunter. We’re all called to some form of leadership, on the job, in our families, and in the community. I like Hunter’s message and his storytelling.

2. What is one place that I should see if I visit your hometown? We are stationed in San Diego for now, so I recommend the Mount Soledad National Veterans Memorial. It’s the only memorial in the country to honor veterans, both living and deceased, that includes their photographs.

3. Do you take-in or cook? If so, what is your “go-to” dish? Homemade meatloaf is my favorite. I have a smokin’ good recipe that calls for steak sauce in the mix.

4. What is one thing readers would be surprised to know about you? I still like to play dress-up! I can put on and take off fancy dresses, shoes, and costume jewelry for hours.

5. Hard Rock or Classical? Favorite Band or Artist? Neither. Soft Rock and Norah Jones are my catnip.

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

7. What is your guilty pleasure?
Fine milk chocolate

8. What are you afraid of?
Not recognizing when I can meet someone’s needs

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

10. Organized or Free Floating?
Organized, or everything goes down hill in a blaze.

11. Binge watcher or weekly viewer?
Total binge watcher

12. What’s on your playlist?
A two and a half minute meditation track

13. What play or musical do you want to see next?
Hamilton is coming to San Diego, but I need a small business loan to get a four tickets.

14. Are you a crafter? Absolutely…not

15. What’s your favorite TV show and why?
I’m not a TV junkie. By the time I discover a show, its on DVD and being sold at the Dollar Tree.

16. If you could pick a book you’ve read and make it into a movie, which book would it be (besides yours 🙂 )?
The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

17. What’s your favorite movie of all time and why?
Thelma and Louise
I love that these two best friends grew in their sisterhood and stood up for themselves. Personally, I’d leave out the cliff diving, but it worked for them.

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

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

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? Colin Whitehead, Rebecca Skloot, Kristan Higgins, Former First Lady Michelle Obama, and Thad Allen
I would ask my guests to recommend one dish from each food group.

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

22. Person you admire and why?
Maya Angelou inspired others with her words and she expressed compassion for the human condition.

Thanks again for hanging out! Time for another spiced latte 🙂
Happy Reading Dear Readers.

 

Coffee With Author Taryn Leigh Taylor

Coffee With Author Taryn Leigh Taylor

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

Taryn Leigh: Chai tea latte with extra chai and no water. Starbucks baristas now just ask me, “The usual?”

Rae: First, are you watching the Olympics? Did you catch the Opening Ceremony? I love watching to see what each country is wearing and the excitement on the players as they walk into the stadium. I’m planning to watch the hockey games as the rules have been changed for the US Team.

Taryn Leigh: I do love the spectacle of the Olympics, though I will admit, they opening and closing ceremonies can get a little esoteric for my tastes. My favourite part is the same as yours–the parade of athletes. And I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who loves checking out the Olympic fashion. 😉

Rae: What are your favorite sports to watch? I feel like it’s so hard to choose between the extreme snowboarders, the bobsled, the skating. OMG I swear I’m not going to get much sleep for the next few weeks! It’s so wonderful to watch athletes come together and go for gold.

Taryn Leigh: It’s funny, because the Olympics are the one sporting event where I end up watching stuff–and caring about stuff!–that I never thought I would! I become that girl who’s enthralled by the biathlon! LOL. But my go-to winter sports are definitely hockey, ski jump and half-pipe, and I’m with you on the bobsled! Why is that so compelling?

Rae: Have you always aspired to be a writer?

Taryn Leigh: Having my name on a book has been a dream since I joined the Young Authors’ Club in the second grade, so I’ve always dabbled in writing.

Rae: How did you fill your days before your debut book Kiss & Makeup released back in 2015?

Taryn Leigh: I still have the same day job I had before I got the call. My life before getting published wasn’t so different than it is now, except for the deadlines! The biggest between being published and unpublished is that now I have to write even when the words aren’t coming easily.

Rae: So far your releases have been contemporary romance with what I like to call a bit of spice and a dollop of sweet. Do you have any plans to write in another genre?  

Taryn Leigh: “A bit of spice and a dollop of sweet.” I love that! That’s kind of my wheelhouse, to be honest, although it is my dream to write a YA book one day. Right now, though, I’m happy to be in Romancelandia.

Rae: Can you tell readers about your backlist?

Taryn Leigh: Currently, my backlist consists of a trifecta of Blazes:

 

My first, KISS AND MAKEUP, is the story of a make-up artist and an ad exec who get stuck in a blizzard and a fake relationship.

 

PLAYING TO WIN is my first foray into hockey, and tells the tale of a serious sports journalist who gets the biggest break of her career…so long as she acts like a ditzy hockey-dunce, and the handsome team captain who isn’t buying her puck-bunny disguise for a second.

And finally PLAYING DIRTY, is about a prickly bar owner who wants nothing to do with hockey and a cocky defenseman trying his best to convince her otherwise.

 

 

 

 

 

Rae: Can we expect more from your hockey heroes?

Taryn Leigh: As for hockey heroes, you know the Canadian in me isn’t ready to give up on them yet! That’s why I’m thrilled to give Books I Love a Latte this exclusive scoop:

This April, I’ll finally be releasing Eric Jacobs’ book, PLAYING FOR KEEPS! I’m so excited to get this book out in the world. Eric was written as part of my Portland Storm hockey trilogy with Harlequin Blaze, but because of the line closure, only two of the three books fit into the publishing schedule. Chronologically, Eric’s book belongs between Luke’s book (Playing to Win) and Cooper’s book (Playing Dirty), and I couldn’t be happier that the sexy centerman is finally going to get his HEA.

I’m also working on a whole new team of sexy hockey players, which will be released through Entangled’s Brazen line, and I think readers are going to love the men of the Montana Wolfpack. No release dates yet, but watch for them during the course of next year’s hockey season! (And if you enjoyed the Portland Storm books, you might see a familiar face or two pop up in the first book of the series…)

Rae: I am honored that you chose my blog to share with your readers the details on your next release! Readers check out this cover and rumor has it we’ll have an EXCLUSIVE Excerpt that you’ll only find in The Extra Shot so be sure to subscribe (Top right sidebar. Don’t worry we don’t spam or share your e-mail and we promise to send mail more than once a week.) You won’t want to miss that!  OMG, Taryn Leigh…I can’t wait.

Can we just reflect on that for a moment and look at the beautiful cover. I have a feeling this is going to be one hot hero and one sexy book ;)! Hopefully we can all wait patiently. Ok, who am I kidding? When is the release date Taryn Leigh?

Taryn Leigh: Awww! I’m excited too! The release date is April 24, 2018.

Rae: Last year you posted pictures on Facebook of your trip to Rogers Place. How did you get onto the ice? What was that experience like?

Taryn Leigh: I have a one-seventh share in Oilers season tickets with some co-workers, and the team runs some really cool events throughout the season for their ticket holders. When the opportunity to do a couple of laps in the new building came up, I couldn’t resist. I’ve been on skates since I was 4 years old, so I was dying to check out a professional rink. It was an awesome experience to be down there and see things from the players’ perspective, sit on the bench, check out the penalty box. It was a blast.

Rae: In our last conversation you mentioned you were busy with a book deadline. What are you working on and when will it be ready for readers to consume?

Taryn Leigh: The project I was working on when last we spoke is one I’m really excited about. I’m honoured to have a four-book series coming out with the sexy new Harlequin DARE line. The first book, FORBIDDEN PLEASURE, drops in August, and I can’t wait for people to meet Max and Emma. DARE books have a darker, sexier tone, and it was so fun to push myself out of my comfort zone and tell the story of a woman who decides to throw caution to the wind and really start living life to the fullest. In her quest to do so, Emma quits her job and seduces her boss. After all, she’s headedto Europe, so what harm is there? It’s the perfect plan…until Max discovers that his tech company has been hacked…and all signs point to Emma as The two of them are stuck working together to uncover the hacker, but all that sexual tension isn’t so easy to ignore now that they know how good giving into the heat between them can be!

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?

Taryn Leigh: I’m old-school all the way, and I have a thing for stationery products, so planner’s make me feel much more connected to the task at hand. I love crossing things off a to-do list. Though I definitely appreciate my Google calendar and the pop-ups that keep me on track. But don’t let my answer deceive you. Staying organized and on top of things is a daily struggle for me, planner or no planner. It’s something I’m constantly trying to get better at. As a result, my writing and family life spiral into each other on a semi-regular basis. 😉

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?

Taryn Leigh: Typically, I do a lot of keyboard writing, because honestly, it needs to end up typed into the computer anyway, so why not cut out the middle man? But that being said, when I’m stuck, or if I just need a break, I find taking my pen and notepad to Starbucks and writing long-hand is a great way to jump-start my brain. No secret ritual or location, but ambient-mixer.com is the best way I’ve found to keep myself from being distracted by outside noise. I spend a lot of time writing in the Gryffindor Common Room. 😉

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

Taryn Leigh: I keep a notebook in the car, and beside my bed, and pretty much wherever I am, to catch those rogue thoughts. I’m definitely the type of author who thinks in snippets–a joke or a piece of dialogue will hit out of nowhere, and if I don’t capture it right away, I know it will be lost forever. That being said, I’d love to get more into dictation. I have grand dreams of using my daily commute to plot more books!

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?

Taryn Leigh: I’m a bit of a minimalist when it comes to plotting, which has a lot of challenges. Sheets of paper are my go-to, and it’s a pretty fluid process. I try to keep notes and build a series bible as I go. This works pretty well for loose series like my hockey teams. I can already tell that my Business of Pleasure series with Harlequin DARE is going to take a bit more effort, so I’m doing a little experimenting with note cards and colour coding. So far, so good!

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

Taryn Leigh: I do love me some Pinterest, although I tend not to post things specific to each book. I’m always disappointed when an author tells me that a hero or heroine is based on someone I’m not that fond of, so I like to let readers cast my characters on their own. Of course, I have a running tally of hot guy pins, and savvy followers will probably be able to figure out who I’m thinking of in the role of my heroes if they pay attention.

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

Taryn Leigh: Instagram is probably my favourite platform, because it’s fun to tell a story with a picture as opposed to words. Especially since writing words is how I spend so much of my time. That being said, you can definitely find me on Facebook and Twitter as well.

Rae: Where can readers find you in 2018?

Taryn Leigh: If you’re looking for me, here are some good places to check:

Website: http://www.tarynleightaylor.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tarynltaylor1

Twitter: https://twitter.com/tarynltaylor

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tarynltaylor/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13696147.Taryn_Leigh_Taylor

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

Taryn Leigh: This is stacking up to be my busiest year yet! I’ve got seven books due in 2018, so be ready for some fun, steamy reads coming at you from Harlequin DARE and Entangled BRAZEN.

And everything kicks off with PLAYING FOR KEEPS, which as previously mentioned, will be hitting your favourite etailers this April.

 


1. What is your must read book and why?

I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak. It’s got a killer concept, and whether you love it or hate it, it’s the kind of book that makes for a great discussion afterwards.

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

Oh. That’s easy. West Edmonton Mall!

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

Cooking is not my favourite activity, I won’t lie, but if I’m going to do it, it’s lasagna all the way. (Lots of leftovers, and it’s great hot or cold. Which means I don’t have to cook again for a while.)

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

Hmmm. I have double cousins, so that’s kind of cool. My mom’s sister married my dad’s brother. (I’ll give you a second to map that out. *wink*)

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

That completely depends on the day, but I’d probably say I skew more classical than hard rock more often, just because it’s earlier to write to, honestly. An artist I admire lyrically is John Mayer. Love him or hate him, he says things in the most interesting, thought-provoking way. (My fave example, from “Tracing”: And if you want to know the moment/I knew that I was still alone/I found I never learned your number/I only stored it in my phone/You’d think by now I’d know the shape of calling home)

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

I love to travel, and there are a million places that I’d love to go…Australia is right up there on the list. If someone wants to fund my trip to Australia, I wouldn’t say no.

7. What is your guilty pleasure?

I don’t know if I feel guilty about it, but I do love the movie Newsies, and it’s soundtrack, with more fervor than I probably should. 😉

8. What are you afraid of?

Failure.

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

I am currently tat-less. Probably a direct result of my fear of commitment. 😉

10. Organized or Free Floating?

Free-floating, though I wish I were more organized.

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

Mostly binge watching right now, because of tight deadlines. (Writing is really cutting into my TV time!) One of my favorite binge shows is Black Mirror. Just devoured the latest season on Netflix.

12. What’s on your playlist?

Whatever music makes me think of the novel I’m working on. I find music very helpful to set the vibe of a book, so it changes a lot. But for something specific, while writing my first Dare, I was introduced to the music of Bryce Fox, and both “Horns” and “Voodoo” are playlist staples now.

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

Hamilton is definitely on the list! Though I get to see Les Mis again soon, and I can’t wait.

14. Are you a crafter?

Not with any regularity. Because I have a day job, I tend to put my free time into book writing. But one day I will learn to knit!

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

It’s a toss-up between Serenity and Veronica Mars. Both of them inspire me so much…great dialogue, great characters, great actors, great storytelling.

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

This one is tough, because so many movies fall flat, and I would hate to see it happen in this case, but I love JD Robb novels so much, that if I could see Eve and Roarke done well on the big screen…take my money.

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

Oh man. Too hard! One of my favourites, though, is the CBC version of Anne of Green Gables. I rewatch it on a regular basis, usually over the Christmas holidays. The source material is one of my favourite books of all time, and it’s so impeccably acted. I’ll go with that. That’s a movie I never tire of. It hits all the emotions, and gives me the hit of romance I crave. What more could I ask for? (It really hurt me not to say The Cutting Edge. LOL. I’m so bad at picking just one thing!)

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

Lately, I’m more of a homebody, to be honest. I’ll still drag myself out for the full immersion of a big spectacle like Star Wars, or a good superhero movie, but for most movies, I’d rather be curled up on my couch at home with a soft blanket and a warm drink.

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

My phone. I’m addicted. It’s true. I didn’t want to be this person, but I totally am.

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?

JK Rowling, Nora Roberts, Edgar Wright, Joss Whedon, and Rob Thomas. Just a bunch of people I admire, sitting around a big table in Tuscany, eating family style and talking storytelling. Heaven

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

Paleontologist. No question about it. Dinosaurs are the BEST!

22. Person you admire and why?

I admire people who put themselves out there and do the hard work that is needed to make their dreams come true. It’s something I struggle with on a daily basis, and there’s nothing I find more inspirational that people who get up after they get knocked down. In a world full of pretty social media posts, it’s too easy to think people just “make it,” that their lives are magical as their filtered Instagram pictures, but the truth is, being good at anything takes a lot of patience and reevaluation and hard work. So I admire anyone who is passionate enough about something to just keep working toward the finish line. That’s the kind of person I am striving to be.

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

Taryn Leigh: Thank you so much for having me! It’s been my pleasure.

Coffee With Stoni Alexander

Coffee With Stoni Alexander

SONY DSC

Rae: Thank you for hanging out with me.

Stoni: Thank you for having me, Rae! It’s always a pleasure anytime we get together.

Rae: First, if we were meeting at a coffee shop I’d be drinking an spiced Latte with Coconut Milk with chocolate drizzle, what would you order?

Stoni: That sounds yummy! A warm drink if it’s cold outside and a smoothie with vanilla if it’s summer. I can’t be specific because I don’t have a favorite coffee drink. And you thought you’d start with an easy question…HA!

Rae: Before you published Erotic Romance you wrote a newspaper column and worked in the TV, Film and stage. How does one make the transition into writing Erotic Romance after that? 

Stoni: Great question! I loved being an actor, especially because it’s how I met my husband. And I enjoyed writing my family-oriented column. The desire to pen a novel had been with me for decades, but I never found the time…and the thought of writing a book terrified me. More importantly, I didn’t believe in myself. Then, one evening after a particularly intense and unusually crappy month at the dreaded day job, I had this life-changing conversation with my husband. That evening, a storyline came to me and, three months later, I’d penned my first novel. It was one hot mess, but it was my beginning. I continued on that path and never looked back.


Rae: What was the biggest challenge you faced writing romance?

Stoni: The biggest challenge I faced as a writer was—and still do face—is learning the craft. There’s always room to grow. I read fiction and books on craft. Being in a critique group is key, and I glean a nugget or two from workshops, classes, and industry meetings.

Rae: Speaking of books, congratulations on the release of The Loving Touch tomorrow. It’s the third installment in your Touch Series, what was the inspiration for this series? 

Stoni: Thank you, Rae! I’m super excited to share Taylor and Jagger’s love story. THE LOVING TOUCH is my first novella. Lesson learned here is that a shorter book does NOT mean less time and effort exerted. While there are fewer characters and a simpler plot, I still brought my A-Game.

Stoni: The inspiration for THE MITUS TOUCH (Book One in The Touch Series) came from the erotic, masked scene in Stanley Kubrick’s film, Eyes Wide Shut. The eerie underworld haunted me for years. The second book morphed when Crockett and Alexandra jumped off the page and wouldn’t stop “talking” to me. Crockett became my first book boyfriend. 🙂

Rae: How many books do you have planned in this series?

Stoni: As of now, I’m plotting the fourth (and another full-length) novel in The Touch Series. THE HOTT TOUCH is Maverick and Red’s love story. I’m also working on a project that includes short stories. The final story will be the jumping point for a new novel and the start of a different series, TBA.

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? 

Stoni: I’ve always been goal-oriented, so this year is no different. But as far as keeping everything from spiraling out of orbit (LOVE your phrase)…I can’t! Life is messy and crazy and unpredictable! Some days, my focus is my family. Other days I write. I also appreciate days that are a mix of this, that, and everything else.

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

Stoni: I use a keyboard, but there are pads of paper and pens scattered around my house. Often times, as soon as I step away from the keyboard, I’ll have that “aha” moment and I’ll need to jot it down. Even if I tell myself I’ll remember, I might not. I’ve recorded stuff on my phone, too, but sometimes it makes no sense! When I wake in the middle of the night, I’m careful to write clearly. I’ve heard horror stories from writers not being able to read what they’ve written in the dark!


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

Stoni: Yes, writing can be a challenge, but I’m grateful every moment I live my dream. My writing ritual is simple. I work in my home office on a computer with a large screen, or out somewhere on my laptop. I turn OFF (yes, off) all social media and stay off the Internet. The exception? When I need to do research or use Merriam-Webster.

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

Stoni: When I’m driving, I’m driving. Period. But if something comes to me, I wait until I’m stopped to dictate into my phone and cross my fingers it’s not some garbled mess I can’t make sense of later.

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?

Stoni: Plotting, ah, plotting. I do a lot of brainstorming with my amazing, intelligent, and handsome hubby. I plot alone. I run things by trusted friends or fellow writers. Once I’ve got the foundation, I write it all out on index cards. It’s archaic, I know, but my system works for me.


Then, I let the characters fill the blank pages. Many times, they direct the subplots as I get to know them and the story unfolds.


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

Stoni: I have a Pinterest account that I used for MITUS, but I’ve been too busy to keep up with it lately. Tsk, tsk, I know.

Rae: As a reader who appreciates a book where the cover just screams “read me” despite not reading the blurb, I love your covers. Did you select the cover models and design them yourself?


Stoni: Thank you, thank you! I am completely biased, but I love my covers, too. I hired a fantastic graphic artist for MITUS because I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. When it was time to focus on the cover for WILDE, my husband and I decided to give it a try. We had a blast working together! I scoured through so many pictures of men I started to go bleary-eyed. The second I came across the photo that turned out to be the cover for WILDE, I knew that was my Crockett. My husband, Johnny, learned basic Photoshop, and together we created the cover. I repeated the process of finding Jagger. Once I found the right man, the rest was easy. 🙂


When I saw the photo of the man who looks exactly like Maverick Hott (THE HOTT TOUCH), I swooned. It’s how I envision Maverick. I can’t wait to reveal it!


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


Stoni: I share pics when I’m at writer-events or if I’m doing something fun with the hubs!


Rae: Where can readers find you in 2018?

Stoni: As of now, I’m planning on attending the Washington Romance Writer’s retreat, I might head to Denver in July for the national Romance Writer’s of America meeting, and I’ll be at the Baltimore Book Festival in September with the Maryland Romance Writer’s.

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


Stoni: THE HOTT TOUCH, will release late summer or early fall. And then, a book of short stores leading into my next series.


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


Stoni: Thank YOU for having me, Rae. I love your energy, your beautiful smile and can’t wait to see you again! If your
followers want to visit, I welcome them to stop by my website



1. What is a must-read book and why? Oh, goodness, I’m crumbling under the pressing of coming up with one.

2. What is one place that I should see if I visit your hometown? I call Northern VA my home, though I moved around a lot as a child. If in NOVA, head into DC. The Kennedy Center and the National Gallery of Art are great places to visit for art.


3. Do you take-in or cook? If so, what is your “go-to” dish? With so many healthy and quick options, I’m all about cooking these days. Pasta & salad. Chicken is an easy go-to. In the winter, we use the crock-pot. One-dish meals are super easy!


4. What is one thing readers would be surprised to know about you? I learned to read while living in England and spoke with a British accent. When we returned to the US, a teacher called me out and corrected me, again and again. Besides being humiliated, the beautiful accent faded, over time.


5. Hard Rock or Classical? Favorite Band or Artist? I love so many types of music. Love love love rock, but lately have been enjoying classical, too. All time fave: Pachelbel’s Canon in D but I also love Darth Vader’s theme music in the Star Wars movies. I listen to everything from Sinatra to Sia.

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

7. What is your guilty pleasure? Potato chips!

8. What are you afraid of? FAILURE.

9. Tats or No Tats? If tats, how many and what did you choose for your first one? I love ‘em but don’t have any.


10. Organized or Free Floating? Organized.


11. Binge watcher or weekly viewer? Which show(s)? I’m into This Is Us and The Brave has snagged my attention.


12. What’s on your playlist? Everything from Aerosmith, The Black Eyed Peas, and Imelda May to movie scores by the amazing composer, Danny Elfman.


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


14. Are you a crafter? Does writing count? If so, then yes. Otherwise, no.


15. What’s your favorite TV show and why? Seinfeld makes me laugh.


16. If you could pick a book you’ve read and make it into a movie, which book would it be (besides yours 🙂 )? Hmmm, I have to get back to you on this one…I’m still thinking…


17. What’s your favorite movie of all time and why? I have a handful of faves, but if I had to pick just one: The Princess Bride.


18. Would you rather see a movie in the theater or at home on DVD and why? At home, but it depends on the movie. My son took me to see Interstellar and that was better on the big screen.

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

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? Rae…Rae, I’m thinking. JK Rowling, Steven King, Malcolm Gladwell, Emma Thompson, and Oprah pop to mind. But if you asked me on a different day, I’d come up with a different list of attendees. Where would we eat? Maybe the Inn at Little Washington.

21. If you could try any career for a day, what would it be? I’ve been a corporate trainer, a marketing rep, an account manager, an actor, and a temp. I’ve sampled plenty, thank you. I’ll stick with being a novelist.

22. Person you admire and why? My son. He’s a pretty amazing young man and, yes, I’m totally biased.


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


Stoni: Thanks for inviting me, Rae. I love spending time with you. You’re the best!