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. So happy to have the warmer weather here. What would you order?
Heidi: I’d go for an iced decaf soy latte. Yum!
Rae: For those that are unfamiliar with your writing, you write western romance for Harlequin that include rodeos, cowboys, cowgirls, and a whole latte love. In your own words, please share with us a little bit about your backlist.
Heidi: I have five Harlequin Westerns (the line has closed … boo!) along with a novella that I published. The Harlequin books are connected through family and friends with three of the stories set in the fictional mining town of Angel Crossing, Arizona.
I have five Harlequin Westerns (the line has closed … boo!) along with a novella that I published. The Harlequin books are connected through family and friends with three of the stories set in the fictional mining town of Angel Crossing, Arizona.
Rae: What inspired you to write western romances?
Heidi: I regularly visited Arizona to see my mother in Scottsdale, Arizona, as well as family who’d settled in Tucson. Visiting that state for more than 20 years is what inspired me. I loved the desert (even the heat), the slower pace of life, and the ruggedness of the people.
Rae: How many research trips have you done to get all the little details?
Heidi: Well, my “research” trips were the various day and weekend drives I took around the state when I was there on visits. I had a chance to visit wonderful places like Sedona, Carefree, the Painted Desert, Nogales, and Bisbee.
Rae: Your prior career as an Inn Keeper sounds amazing. Where was the Inn and why did you decide to retire?
Heidi: The bed and breakfast inn is in my hometown and was owned and operated by my family. I helped start and run the B&B right after I graduated from college. I only did that job for a few years before other work called to me.
Rae: What was the craziest request you had from a guest?
Heidi: I think the craziest request we regularly had was from a guest from New York City was for a hose so he could wash his car! Seemed odd to me that you’d want to do that while you were on vacation.
Rae: What was the most exciting thing you experienced as an Innkeeper?
Heidi: For me, the most exciting part of the inn was helping with opening the business. My mother, sister-in-law, and I scoured antique stores for items for the B&B as well as working with local furniture stores to find just the right decor. We also worked hard on creating a menu for guests, which meant a lot of trial and error.
Rae: You also spent time as a talk show host, what market was it in and what did you “talk” about?
Heidi: I did a lunchtime call-in talk show on WHVR 1280AM in Hanover, Pa. (my hometown). I was working as a newspaper reporter at the time, so I usually talked about local news that had appeared in the paper. Callers also brought up topics that ranged from national news (President Clinton’s impeachment) to why a whoopie pie was called a whoopie pie.
My boss told me that the funniest program she ever heard was the time I got the hiccups on air. The callers tried to help me out with all kinds of remedies, including dropping a lit match into a glass of water then drinking from the far side of the glass. That didn’t work, by the way.
Rae: Have any prior work situations or experiences found its way into your stories?
Heidi: Actually, my first book, THE SURGEON AND THE COWGIRL, was inspired by a story that I wrote for a local magazine. I interviewed a rodeo trick rider who’d retired to the Gettysburg, Pa., area and opened a therapeutic horseback riding program. My cowgirl is a retired rodeo trick rider with a therapeutic riding program, but that’s where the similarities ended.
I still write magazine articles and I am regularly inspired by stories I hear doing that work. Not all of them will ever make it into a story but it gives me a large list of ideas.
Rae: You recently spent time with the Florida Romance Writers on a cruise – how were you able to get any writing done while sailing to beautiful ports and hanging out with other writers?
Heidi: I’ve written all over the place – including a hotel room in Iceland (while on vacay there). It’s all in the attitude and the deadlines! It helps that my day job is being a freelance writer and editor, so I’m used to having to work even when I’m on vacation. If I don’t work, I don’t get paid :).
Rae: Would you recommend this to anyone looking to get away and get “all the words” done in a beautiful setting?
Heidi: I would say being around other writers is definitely an inspiration. They are so encouraging as well as holding me to account. That’s what really has helped me to write in beautiful (and not so beautiful) locales.
Rae: When you sit down to write, do you write the old fashioned way or type away at the keyboard?
Heidi: I write on my laptop most of the time and I’m a touch typist. I taught myself on a manual portable typewriter when I was in junior high because I could not write fast enough to keep up with the stories in my mind. That means I’ve been using a keyboard for my writing for decades.
Rae: Writing all the words is a challenge, do you have a writing ritual or secret location to get the work done?
Heidi: I have a ritual but it changes as it needs to. For example, right now, I’ve been writing in the afternoons at Starbucks. Before that I wrote in my office recliner early, early in the morning.
I heard author Harlan Coben speak and he talked about needing to move writing spaces. It’s almost like all the creativity of that space gets used up.
Rae: Are you the writer who has a notebook for all the words that flow while driving or do you dictate into your phone?
Heidi: I would love to start dictating because I think it would be a great way to get words in while I go for a walk, clean, or fold laundry. I haven’t done it yet. I guess that’s on my TBDP (To Be Done Pile).
My other idea is to get a waterproof note pad (which they have) for the shower because that’s where I get my best ideas.
Rae: How do you tackle plotting your series? Is it on a massive board, sheets of paper or just write as you go with a simple outline?
Heidi: I’m a planster – so I do some plotting but it’s very loosey-goosey and not very detailed. Since my series are just connected through people and place, I did not worry about a lot of series plotting. I did my usual plotting that includes five-point outline: first meet, first complication, second complication, big black moment, resolution. That’s about all I really did as well as keep a list of characters.
Rae: A lot of authors use Pinterest and make awesome boards to tease readers, are you one of them?
Heidi: I have used Pinterest boards but that’s more to have some visuals for myself as I’m writing. When I read and write, I usually see the action, so having some pictures of places, people, and the various animals is a good thing.
Rae: I love following your posts on Instagram of your Siamese cats, how many pets do you have and what adventures can we expect to see from your fur babies? They are super cute :).
Heidi: I have two Siamese cats that I affectionately call the Feline Overlord and the Double-Fanged Terror. They definitely keep writing life exciting, especially when DFT tries to chew on the electric cords under my desk (I’ve told him he’ll end up like the cat in National Lampoon’s “Christmas Vacation” if he doesn’t stop.) FO is very vocal like many Siamese are, and, in particular, she insists on “talking” every time I get on the phone – a little embarrassing when I’m interviewing someone for a magazine article and they ask: “Is that your cat?”
I have a few adventures in mind (that they don’t know about). The first is trying to get them in harnesses and on leashes for a little outdoor time. I’m still looking for a perfect pattern for a knitted cat coat for FO who is always cold (she actually loves the heat vent way more than me).
Rae: There has been a lot of chatter on social media about planning and organizing to stay focused and succeed in personal goals for 2019. How do you keep it all from spiraling out of orbit between the family life and writer life? Are you a planner girl or digital calendar queen?
I do live by a digital calendar now – I never kept a paper calendar which led to a few missed appointments.
To be honest, there are times when life gets way out of balance. I love to volunteer with local groups, especially my theater, and that can suck up a lot of time. I’ve gotten better at saying no, but if I get overwhelmed with work and family, then I look at ways to clear my calendar. Sometimes that can’t happen immediately, but knowing there is an end to the craziness in sight, usually is enough to keep me sane.
Rae: Where can readers find you in 2019?
Heidi: I will be at RWA’s National Conference in New York City, although I won’t be at the big book signing this year as an author. I’ll be there as a reader to squee over my fav authors.
I often have a chance to sign or to hang out at Cupboard Maker Books in Enola, Pa. It’s a huge used and new books store with the best book store cats. In fact, I’ve written two stories for anthologies about the cats.
Rae: What can we expect in 2019? Do you have other projects in the works?
Heidi: I do have projects in the works – I always do. I’ve been working most recently on a medical romance set in Helsinki, Finland, with two doctors, an orphan, and a goat. Other projects include: cozy mystery-romances with a little Pennsylvania Dutch folk magic and a story about the over 60 crowd, living, loving, and fighting in a tiny house community as they try to figure how to reconcile their “I feel like I’m still young” age with their chronological age.
There could be other stories that pop up, but those are the plans for now.
Rae: Thank you for hanging out in the cafe today.
Heidi: Thank you so much for having me and being so patient with the length of time it took me to answer your awesome questions.
1. What is a must read book and why? So my must-read book changes regularly, but for 2019, I would say: “The Gentleman from Moscow.” I loved that the entire book took place in a hotel, which obviously presented some challenges for the writer as far as keeping the story interesting, and it is.
2. What is one place that I should see if I visit your hometown? The Utz Potato Chip outlet – they have the best deals on snacks. Honestly, they have the best chips on the planet.
3. Do you take-in or cook? If so, what is your “go-to” dish? I am a cook (one of my jobs when I was an innkeeper and I also worked with my sister when she had a catering business and café). At Christmas, I make the best Chex Mix in the World (although I’m not sure that’s really cooking). One of my fav dishes to make for a Hormel family crowd is my mother’s potato salad that uses a cooked egg dressing rather than mayonnaise. It’s a big pain to make, but so good.
4. What is one thing readers would be surprised to know about you? I’m an awful horseback rider. I took lessons as a young girl and a 26-year-old horse ran away with me. That told me that being a cowgirl was not in my future.
5. Hard Rock or Classical? Favorite Band or Artist? I would say alternative and pop rock are my jams (how old does that make me sound). Rather than a fav band or artist, I have favorite songs, like “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked” by Cage the Elephant, “Kandi” by One Eskimo, and (on the newer vein) “Havana” by Camila Cabello.
6. If you had an all expenses paid trip anywhere in the world for research, where would you go? For research … hmmm … that’s tough because I most of my books are set in the U.S. But if I could got to dream destinations, it would be a toss up between Japan and Australia/New Zealand. I guess if I got paid to go to either or both, then I’d be forced to set a book(s) there, not such a terrible problem.
7. What is your guilty pleasure? Napping all day on a Sunday.
8. What are you afraid of? I’m not good with heights so totally would not bungee jump or fly in a helicopter (although I’m good with small planes and have even been in a glider).
9. Tats or No Tats? If tats, how many and what did you choose for your first one? No tats. I thought about it but worried what it might look like once I got really, really wrinkly (apparently, I’m planning to live to be ancient).
10. Organized or Free Floating? I float between the two. I am uber organized in how I save and file items in my computer system but my desk is a mess.
11. Binge watcher or weekly viewer? Which show(s)? Binge watcher now that I’ve discovered streaming. My recent favs are: “Sex Education,” “Dead to Me,” and “The Crown” (I don’t know how much longer I can wait for the next season).
12. What’s on your playlist? 2000’s alternative rock along with some classics from David Bowie, ZZ Topp, and Stevie Ray Vaughn.
13. What play or musical do you want to see next? “What the Constitution Means to Me”
14. Are you a crafter? Absolutely. My mother owned a craft store for more than 20 years when I was growing up. I can do most any craft but my favs are knitting, crocheting, and making flower arrangements and wreaths.
15. What’s your favorite TV show and why? My all time favorite show is the original “Star Trek.” Why? TRIBBLES.
16. If you could pick a book you’ve read and make it into a movie, which book would it be (besides yours 🙂 )?
Since I rarely enjoy the movie version of a book more than the book, this is a toughie, but … I would say Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ series featuring the Stars football team.
17. What’s your favorite movie of all time and why? “Moulin Rouge” because of the music (as badly as much of it is sung), the amazing cinematography/visuals, and the over-the-top story.
18. Would you rather see a movie in the theater or at home on DVD and why? I’d rather see it in a theater because at home I’m always doing something else (like knitting or reading magazines) while watching the TV so I end up missing things.
19. What is the one thing you can’t live without? My glasses — I am blind as a bat or one of those cave fish.
20. If you could invite 5 people to dinner (not friends and family – that’s too easy) who would be at your table? Where would you eat? Authors Kate Atkinson and Nora Roberts, Queen Elizabeth II, New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Arden, and Elizabeth Taylor (you didn’t say they had to be alive). Since these women are from all over the world, I think we should meet somewhere in between — Hawaii and anyplace that includes Spam on its menu.
21. If you could try any career for a day, what would it be? I would love to try being a doctor.
22. Person you admire and why? Gayle King (maybe I should have included her for dinner?) because she is smart and sassy. She also seems completely genuine and says the things all of us are thinking but most news reporters/broadcasters wouldn’t say.
For more information about Author Heidi Hormel please check out her website.