Author Q&A by Carol

April 26, 2018

Chatting with Shana Galen…

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Hi Shana,

Shana Galen is three-time Rita award nominee and the bestselling author of passionate Regency romps, including the RT Reviewers’ Choice The Making of a Gentleman. Kirkus says of her books, “The road to happily-ever-after is intense, conflicted, suspenseful and fun,” and RT Bookreviews calls her books “lighthearted yet poignant, humorous yet touching.” She taught English at the middle and high school level off and on for eleven years. Most of those years were spent working in Houston’s inner city. Now she writes full time. She’s happily married and has a daughter who is most definitely a romance heroine in the making.

Shana loves to hear from readers, so send her an email or see what she’s up to daily on Facebook and Twitter.

Welcome to my site today, it is so lovely to have you here. I know this is extremely exciting for you!
Hi Carol! Thanks so much for having me today.

How many unfinished, or half-finished books have you written?
This is a great question. I would have to estimate, but I’ve probably started and not finished at least a dozen and maybe closer to twenty books. Most of the time a book goes unfinished because I submit the first few chapters for publication and the editor doesn’t buy it. I end up abandoning it and working on a project that will sell. Readers might be surprised to learn that I’ve started and abandoned contemporary and even YA books. One was an alien romance! Maybe some of the books I’ve abandoned should stay abandoned…

What is the first book that made you cry?
I think it was probably Katherine Paterson’s Bridge to Terabithia. My 4th grade teacher read it aloud, and I remember being very affected. It was probably the first book I’d read that dealt with death. I think it’s good for kids to read books that make them cry sometimes. I remember being about 23 and teaching 8th graders in the inner city, and I want to say we were reading “Flipper.” It was a story about an animal, at any rate. I started to cry at a sad part and the kids were so disturbed they went to get another teacher to check on me. Many of them had never seen anyone cry at a book before.
Some of the books that have made me cry over the years are Wonder, Marley and Me, The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini, A Tale of Two Cities, By the Shores of Silver Lake, and Peripeteia by Sarah Lyons Fleming.

What is the most unethical practice in Publishing Industry?
In my experience the publishing industry has always shown itself to be pretty ethical. I’m operating from a place of privilege, so that undoubtedly colors my perceptions. I do see some practices as skirting the line. I know literary agents who are also authors, and I fail to see how there isn’t a lot of room for conflicts of interest. I wouldn’t be comfortable with an agent who was also an author representing me.

How many hours of Research did you put into this book? What made you think of hedgehogs, and how much time did you spend on mating habits?
I’d say I put the same amount of research into this book as most of my others. I probably spent 8-10 hours researching over a period of a couple of months. I’ve written so many books set in this time period that I don’t need to research major points, only details. I did enjoy adding the heroine’s preoccupation with hedgehog mating habits. I thought it made her unique and also relatable. Who hasn’t rambled on about something at a party and then later wished they’d kept their mouth shut? I found a great thesis paper on the mating habits of western European hedgehogs and that was my primary resource. Why hedgehogs? They’re just so cute!

When a Reviewer, does not like your book, do you read it, it just shake it off?
I try not to read reviews as a general rule. I find I can’t win because good reviews make me feel like an impostor and bad reviews make me feel like a loser. But when I do read negative reviews I try to take the criticisms constructively. I’ve received numerous reviews that said the ending of this book or that felt rushed. Over the years I’ve tried to be aware of my tendency to want to rush the ending (i.e. finish the damn book!) and worked to fix that issue. So if a review isn’t a personal attack then I often do consider what the reviewer has to say quite seriously.

When a Reviewer finds a mistake, would you prefer to be notified first, and how does it make you feel?
I’m torn. I mean, I want to know but most of the time there’s nothing I can do about it at that point. So then I kind of don’t want to know. Of course, when I make a mistake I’m embarrassed, but I try not to be defensive. We’re all going to make mistakes and I know people who tell me about mine are trying to be helpful because they like my books. Otherwise, they probably wouldn’t take the time to email me about the issue.

If you could tell the younger you, when you wrote your First Book, what would it be?
I would tell myself to trust my instincts. I took risks that I wasn’t comfortable with because others advised me to do so. They’ve never worked in my favor. I should have trusted myself and not gone along with bad advice because I didn’t want someone to be upset or not want to work with me. Now, eighteen years later I trust myself much more.

What is your guilty pleasure?
Naps. I really like naps.

Do you Google yourself?
No. I’ve done it a couple times over the years to make sure my webpage is coming up at the top of the search, but otherwise I don’t see the point.

What book, if any, do you read at least once a year?
I don’t usually re-read books. I’ve read most of Jane Austen’s books more than once and most of Julie Garwood’s historicals more than once. I’ve read books I’ve taught, like A Tale of Two Cities, Lord of the Flies, etc. many times, but otherwise I have a lot of books on my nightstand wanting my attention.

I cried during one point, the beautiful story of the little girl, going to visit her father in the hills! Moved me to tears, I was never loved like that as a child, extremely moving. Did you create that yourself?
I did create it myself. My daughter checked out a picture book from the school library a few years ago. It was an African fable about a little girl that endures a lot of obstacles to bring her father lunch, and it inspired the story Collette and her father share in An Affair with a Spare.

Thank you for being my guest today!
Thanks for having me, Carol, and for asking such great questions!

I am an enormous Shana Galen fan, however, my Reviews are extremely honest! I am honored to have her visit with me today. 👒 I truly enjoyed our conversation this morning. I now know more than I ever dreamed about Hedgehogs!

Be sure and follow Shana:

For a chance to win one of two copies ( one ebook; one print) of An Affair with a Spare, please answer this question:

What is the first book that made you cry?

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February 24, 2018

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Chatting with Maddison Michaels…

Hi Maddison,

Welcome to my site today, it is so lovely to have you here. I know this is extremely exciting for you! I saw your video when your books arrived, my heart was pounding with all of your excitement, it was contagious!
Thank you so much for having me Carol!! And yes, it was such a wonderful moment for me to hold my book in my hands for the very first time…an absolute dream of mine for over twenty years! So it was super exciting. 🙂

Indoctrinated into a world of dashing rogues and feisty heroines when she was only 14-years-old, Maddison Michaels is a prolific reader and writer of romantic suspense and historical fiction. She gets her daily dose of suspense from working as a Police officer, prosecuting real life villains in the Local Courts of Sydney, Australia.

A member of the Romance Writers of America and Australia, Maddison is as passionate about her writing as she is about her other two loves; her family and her cups of tea. Maddison’s debut novel ‘the Devil Duke’ is due for publication with Entangled Publishing in February 2018, and her second novel ‘The Fiancé Fiasco’ is due for publication with Entangled Publishing in October 2018.

The Devilish Duke (a stand-alone novel)

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Devlin Markham, the notorious “Devil Duke” of Huntington, needs a woman. And not just any woman. If he can’t woo one of the most eccentric bluestockings of the Ton within the month, he can kiss his hard-earned fortune goodbye. But he’s always thought love a wasted emotion and marriage an inconvenience at best. And oddly enough, Lady Sophie Wolcott seems unmoved by his charm…
When Sophie learns her beloved orphanage is in imminent danger, she will do anything to save it. Even marry a ruthless rake who takes what he wants in business and pleasure. A man who’s everything she’s always feared most—but whom she reluctantly begins yearning for.
Then Sophie becomes the target of a killer lurking from the dark shadows of Devlin’s past. And they find not only their lives in jeopardy but their very hearts.

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Let’s get started…

When did you know that you wanted to be a writer?
Gosh, I know most writers say ‘for as long as I can remember’, but that’s true of me too. I do remember very vividly that when I was eleven and my school teacher mentioned a writing competition, it was like a light-bulb went off in my head, and these ideas for a story started to flood into my brain (I’d never really written a story before then either). Since that moment though, a part of me has always wanted to be a writer, which is why I have been writing on an off for years… but life always seemed to get in the way – at least it did until I became serious about my writing.

What made you decide on the time period that you chose to write in?
The ball gowns!! Lol! Actually that did play a part in it though, as I’m a huge fan of full ball gowns with crinolines underneath, that were customary in the Victorian Era. Although I’ve got to say, the Victorian Era itself had so much going on, with so many industrial advances, and not to mention that the monarch was an extremely savy female. It was a really exciting time in history, and I love immersing myself and my readers in that period. Also it’s a bit different to the Regency period, and there’s not as many books set in that time frame, so that always makes it appealing to me.

Do you have a set time to write? If so, what is it, or do you wake up dreaming about the Duke? Trust me, I know that I would.
LOL! Yes the Duke is rather delicious… But alas, many other equally wonderful heroes and heroines call to me, demanding their story be told. In terms of writing, I have certain periods throughout the year where I’m either in pre-writing mode, writing mode or editing mode. Usually I spend about 1-2 months in pre-writing mode; which is where I plot out my book and really develop the characters in my head and heart. Then when it comes time to write, I roughly spend about 12 weeks writing the first draft; this is composed of generally writing for one hour per night during the week, and then on the weekends I try to spend about 6 hours a day writing (depending on family commitments) – although I must say that I go by word count more than hours, and my goal is to write 10,000 words per week.

What do you like to snack on while you are writing?
Does tea and coffee count??? Hehehe – although I do need them on ready supply during my writing phase. But generally I’ll have some fruit or crisps, depending on what I feel like. And if I’m stressed (particularly when the characters are being a bit stubborn), then I must have some chocolate!

What did your previous jobs bring to your incredible writing skills? After all , this is your first book, and you have done an outstanding job with it!
Why thank you, Carol!! I’m a police prosecutor, so I do like to add an element of suspense or mystery into my books. I also have to write a fair bit for my job, though not creative writing… although sometimes the law can be a bit creative as opposed to being simply black and white…

How did your family react to this new direction , your career has taken?
They have been the absolute epitome of supportive. My husband is so amazingly supportive, as is my daughter. Honestly, they are real troopers when I’m in my writing mode; Hubby makes sure I’m supplied with tea and coffee (I told you that’s what I snack on right), and my little girl comes and gives me a cuddle, and l knows to be patient while I’m ‘studying’ as she calls my writing 🙂

I personally, love Historical Mysteries, or Suspense, this is absolutely incredible. What made you go in this heart pounding direction? Should we be looking for a follow up to this book, or will this be the end of the Devilish Duke?
Probably because of my work background I’ve always loved mysteries and suspense. So of course when I wrote a book I had to include some of it in there! To me, as much as I love romance, I love it even more when there’s something to be solved, or some secondary plot going on. My second book THE FIANCE FIASCO, is Sophie’s brother Daniel’s story, and it too has an element of suspense, although it’s slightly more of an adventure too. I like to say its a cross between Pride and Prejudice and Romancing the Stone!

Thank you for taking the time to spend with us today. We would like to giveaway a book, or ebook, to whomever makes a comment on one of our Questions and Answers.
Thank you so much for having me Carol. It’s been a pleasure! And good luck to everyone that comments!

Be sure and follow Maddison –

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February 22, 2018

Chatting with Cecelia Mecca…

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Today, I have the pleasure of talking with the talented Cecelia Mecca. Read what she has to say then comment and add your email address for a chance to win an eBook of —–.

Cecelia Mecca is the author of medieval romance including the Border Series.

Born and raised in Northeast, Pennsylvania, Cecelia spent fifteen years as an 8th grade ELA teacher and currently works as a curriculum specialist by day, small business owner by night and romance author when most people are sleeping. She has always loved both romance and all things medieval, so when introduced to the likes of Kathleen Woodiwiss and Jude Devereux, it was the start of a 20+ year love affair.

Although she began a manuscript in college, it would be a degree in Education/English, two children, a PhD in Curriculum, two jobs and a marketing business later before she resumed the story which became The Thief’s Countess. The Border Series is a labor of love which she’s excited to share with historical romance readers.

An unapologetic fantasy geek, she discovered Frodo in middle school and is still awed by Tolkien’s talent. When not reading romance she is learning the fate of Rand al’Thor and waiting anxiously for Winds of Winter. On a typical day, Cecelia is immersed either in the world of Waryn (Border Series) or is scoping out the next epic historical on Netflix.

Let’s get started.

How do you get into the mind of the person that you are creating to be the hero/heroine of your book?
By the time I start writing, I’ve spent some time with the H/H in my head. I know their likes and dislikes, their first real disappointments and what makes them tick. I have character profiles that I refer to every day before I begin to write, especially in the first week or so until they begin to feel like old friends.

What made you decide to write in the Medieval time period?
I’ve loved all things medieval for as long as I can remember. I concentrated on medieval studies as an English major in college and have been especially fascinated with England. I am an unabashed Anglophile and am so thankful to call researching the medieval time period a part of my job.

If you could live in any time period, what would it be?
Oddly, not medieval! I am aware the Border Series is a highly fantasized look back at what I would imagine was a difficult time period, especially set against modern standards. For the medical advancements and treatment of women especially, I would actually have to say I would stay in our current time period.

What is your favorite food to eat while writing?
Chocolate. I have a little bit every day. . . just a square. But more importantly, I simply can not work without chai tea. Love it!

Do you wake up at different hours of the night and write? Or do you have set hours?
As soon as the kids are on the bus at 8:00 am, I’m off and running. Typically I write in the morning and work on other book marketing and publishing tasks in the afternoon, but that schedule can change depending on deadlines, book launches, etc.

What is your favorite quote of your latest Book?
This one actually comes from the readers. They picked out this one from the hero, Garrick Helmsley, and I have to admit that it’s a pretty good one. “He wanted her more than he wanted to breathe.”
Will Lady Emma’s Brother, have his own story?
Her twin, Neill, will absolutely have his own story. His reputation has been building, and with a combination of his Geoffrey’s loyalty and Bryce’s stubbornness, not to mention his sister Emma’s impetuous nature, he will be the most complex and compelling Waryn of all.

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