Ok readers, the e-book is still up for grabs as the prize has yet to be claimed.
Per the rules, a new name has randomly selected.
Rae: Thank you for hanging out with me.
Tawna: Thank YOU for inviting me! I always love chatting about book stuff.
Rae: First, if we were meeting at a coffee shop I’d be drinking a Spiced Latte with Coconut Milk topped with chocolate drizzle.
What would you order?
Tawna: I’m a serious tea fanatic, so I’d order a big mug of whatever black tea sounds interesting, plus sugar and milk to mix in after it’s steeped for just the right amount of time.
Rae: Let’s talk books – Happy Book Birthday for The Test releasing today. Not only do we have the usual drinks being served up by our barista, we’ve got cake because no birthday is complete without cake!
Tawna: Thank you! I am sadly devoid of a sweet tooth, so you get all the cake, but can we order a big pile of tater tots to share?
Rae: Of course we can order tater tots! That sounds yummy. While we’re waiting for those to cook up, can you please tell us what type of books you write for readers who are not familiar with your books? Are they standalones or part of a series?
Tawna: I write romantic comedies that run the gamut from fluffy beach reads, to longer books that straddle the line between women’s fiction and romance, to holy-cow-I-hope-my-boss-doesn’t-see-this erotic romantic comedy. THE TEST falls into the latter category, with equal parts humor and steamy-sexy fun. Though it’s the second book in a series, I write all my books as standalones, so you can totally nab THE TEST even if you haven’t read THE LIST.
Rae: Tawna, I was unable to put The Test down. An opposites attract story that proves love happens in the least likely of places to people who may never have thought they were compatible. I wonder how many readers will connect with Lisa and feel the urge to come out of their comfort zone to tackle a fear or two. Discover what they truly need to live their best lives with passion and love. Perhaps we’ll see a movement with readers posting their own lists and tests?
Tawna: Awww, thanks so much for the kind words! I’m so glad you liked the book! I had a blast writing buttoned-up Lisa and finding ways for her to step out of her comfort zone, either sexually or by trying other things that made her uncomfortable (volunteering to wash dogs at an animal shelter or trying karaoke). I would love to see readers’ own lists of things they want to try that force them to tackle fears or try something new and scary.
Rae: The books you write for Entangled are laugh-out-loud funny with the perfect amount of spice, sometimes even more than I thought was possible. Often, your characters like to push boundaries, and defy stereotypes. Have you ever had a character do something that shocked you as the words appeared on the page?
Tawna: Definitely! I’m very much a seat-of-my-pants author, so I’m constantly surprised by my own characters. I just finished writing the yet-to-be-titled follow-up to my holiday rom-com STUDMUFFIN SANTA (which is slated for release in May) and a twist came from out of nowhere about two-thirds of the way through writing the book. I was sitting there at my desk going, “Sean, I had no idea, why didn’t you tell me?!”
Rae: When you set out to write this story what research did you do? Without giving away too much, Dax has a fascinating career, and I love how uninhibited his character is ;).
Tawna: I have to admit, Dax is one of my favorite heroes I’ve written. Researching Dax’s career was a combination of internet searches and some of what I already knew about Hydro Flask (a company based in my town that makes the sort of steel-walled reusable drink containers Dax’s imaginary company makes). As for his secret hobby, I actually wrote a hero in another book with that career (my RITA Award finalist NOW THAT IT’S YOU) and did a lot of research at that time. I was so fascinated by that world that it just made sense to add another dimension to Dax’s character.
Rae: Do you plot your book before you sit down to write?
While I prefer flying by the seat of my pants, I’ve learned the hard way that I do better when I have at least some sense of where a story is headed. I’m also contractually required to have a synopsis for all my books with Entangled Publishing, so I don’t meander as much with those stories as I tend to with some of my others.
Rae: Do you use tools like a whiteboard or notebook to jot down all the details?
Tawna: I’ve never tried the whiteboard thing, and usually have a Word doc with a bunch of rambling ideas and miscellaneous words that probably read like they’re written by a drunk chimpanzee.
Rae: As a reader who appreciates a book with well crafted covers, your team at Entangled keeps delivering stunning work. How involved are you in the design process?
Tawna: I always fill out a cover worksheet with details like my characters’ hair and eye colors and whether they have tattoos, but I don’t usually contribute much beyond that for the covers. I’m not a super visual person, so I prefer to leave book covers to the experts. Entangled is so great at it that I always know I’m in good hands.
Rae: Writing a book doesn’t happen overnight and you have a day job that keeps you busy. How do you find the time to write all the words and balance between career, family, and writer? Is there a secret formula?
Tawna: I use an old-school paper planner instead of tracking things on my phone, and it’s made a world of difference. My Erin Condren Life Planner is divided into sections for author stuff, day job, and family/personal so I can see where things overlap and if there are certain weeks where I’ll need to dial back commitments in one area to make time for the others.
This is my fourth year using that method, and I can’t imagine doing it any other way now.
Rae: Have your two worlds ever crossed and what happened if it did? Meaning, do your co-workers or clients know you write, and have they ever read your books?
Tawna: I work part-time as the PR and Communications Manager for my city’s tourism bureau, and while I keep the two worlds separate as much as possible, it’s never been a secret what my “real” job is. Social media and marketing are a huge part of my day job, and when I first applied almost eight years ago, the bosses spent quite a bit of time perusing my social media feeds. If I remember right, the day they visited my author blog was a day I’d posted a piece titled, “My hole got plugged and my jugs aren’t full” (an innuendo-laced post about grape stomping as research for a book set at a winery). Suffice it to say, they know exactly what I write, and as long as I never mistakenly post nekkid pictures on the company Facebook page with 185,000 followers, it’s all good.
Rae: I appreciate how much you connect with your readers on social media, what is the most challenging aspect of sharing with your readers? Are you still able to maintain some privacy in your personal life?
Tawna: I’ve always been a pretty open book on social media, so what you see is what you get as far as photos and posts about my social awkwardness and random absurd things that happen to me (which is part of why I write comedy, but I digress). I love connecting with readers on Facebook in particular, though there are times I catch myself spending too much time there and needing to step back for the sake of a book deadline. I suppose that’s the downside of being an author whose day job career is focused on marketing and social media—it’s hard to shut it off!
Rae: What can we expect in 2018?
Tawna: I’m super-excited about the release of THE TEST, and February is such a fun time to have a new book out. After that I have a Kindle in Motion title called GOING UP, which is a fun little rom-com novella about two strangers who meet in an elevator and find each other again thanks to a mischievous packrat. The story itself is a kick, but the added visuals are going to be really cool. That comes out in April, and then the book that follows STUDMUFFIN SANTA will be out in May. It’s a busy first quarter!
Rae: Where can readers find you in 2018?
Tawna: I’m most active on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TawnaFenskeBooks, but readers who want to keep up with all my new releases, sales, exclusive excerpts, giveaways, and of course, my famous videos can subscribe to my newsletter at www.tawnafenske.com/subscribe
Rae: Thank you for hanging out in the cafe today.
Tawna: Thanks so much for inviting me! Er, are you going to eat those tots?
Rae: I’ve had way too many, you enjoy the tots. Readers, enjoy these Tasty Tidbits from Tawna!
1. What is a must read book and why?
Mine or someone else’s? 🙂
One of my favorite books of all time is Judy Blume’s SUMMER SISTERS. I love the altering viewpoints, the coming-of-age details, and the way the romance unfolds differently than you might expect.
Of my own books, I’d say THIS TIME AROUND holds a special place in my heart. The single dad hero is a lot like my husband, and his daughter is based on my own stepdaughter.
2. What is one place that I should see if I visit your hometown?
I would take you standup paddleboarding on the Deschutes River. My dog usually rides on the front of my board, and I’ve taught lots of friends to SUP over the years.
3. Do you take-in or cook? If so, what is your “go-to” dish?
I looooove to cook, and I’m a total foodie. I make a salmon chowder that’s to-die-for, but I’m always experimenting with new recipes.
4. What is one thing readers would be surprised to know about you?
Probably not much, since I’m pretty open on social media. I suppose people are usually surprised to learn I’m an introvert, since I’m very outgoing on Facebook or when you meet me in person.
5. Hard Rock or Classical? Favorite Band or Artist?
I love all kinds of music, and every book I write has its own musical playlist. I listen to a lot of Ben Folds, War on Drugs, Mumford and Sons, and Lord Huron. I also adore ‘80s butt rock.
6. If you had an all expenses paid trip anywhere in the world for research, where would you go?
I was lucky enough to spend my 20s and 30s globetrotting all over the world, so I’ve covered a lot of ground already. Asia is one continent I’ve never touched though, so I’d love to spend several months roaming there. I wouldn’t mind going back to Australia or New Zealand, either.
7. What is your guilty pleasure?
I never feel guilty about pleasure of any kind!
8. What are you afraid of?
Needles. I can handle vaccinations, but I will completely lose my mind if you come near me for a blood draw or an IV. I can’t even handle a blood pressure cuff. Pretty sure I died of some sort of weird blood-letting ritual in a past life.
9. Tats or No Tats? If tats, how many and what did you choose for your first one?
I have five total. The first was a starfish on my ribcage, and I got it not long after my divorce because I admire the fact that you can rip their limbs off and they’ll regenerate new ones. It’s also because I’ve always loved the Starfish Story: https://starfishproject.com/the-parable/
10. Organized or Free Floating?
Free floating by nature, but forced to be more organized or I could never balance everything between my author life, day job, and family life.
11. Binge watcher or weekly viewer? Which show(s)?
Not a TV fan at all. I have no idea how to even operate the television in our home.
12. What’s on your playlist?
I listen to a lot of Pandora internet radio, and I’m constantly creating new stations and finding new artists. I mentioned before that all my books have playlists, and the one for THE TEST features The Shins, Radio Citizen, Morrissey, J Minus, The Smiths, and several others.
13. What play or musical do you want to see next?
We have tickets to several plays at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland in a few weeks, but I can’t recall what we’re seeing.
14. Are you a crafter?
Nope! I’m creative in lots of other ways. Er, that wasn’t supposed to sound pervy.
15. What’s your favorite TV show and why?
Sorry, I’m always lame at this one. I don’t watch TV.
16. If you could pick a book you’ve read and make it into a movie, which book would it be (besides yours 🙂 )?
Maybe something by Kristan Higgins? I’m just not a visual person, so TV and movies don’t do much for me.
17. What’s your favorite movie of all time and why?
I watch It’s A Wonderful Life every Christmas. It’s my dad’s favorite, and it always warms my heart.
18. Would you rather see a movie in the theater or at home on DVD and why?
I would rather sit quietly on the couch reading a good book while my husband watches a movie and maybe tells me later what it was about.
19. What is the one thing you can’t live without?
Sex. You’re sorry you asked now, aren’t you?
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?
Lucille Ball, Ben Folds, Jane Goodall, Barack Obama, and Betty White. We’d eat at my house so I could cook and also drink lots of wine without needing to drive anywhere.
21. If you could try any career for a day, what would it be?
Shepherd. Or maybe pirate.
22. Person you admire and why?
My parents are pretty much one person, since they’ve been together since sixth grade, so I’m going with them. They’re funny, smart, caring, hard-working, and did I mention the whole been-together-since-sixth-grade thing? #LifeGoals
** GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED **
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E-book provided generously provided by Entangled Publishing