I need your opinion! I can't decide if I like Crystal Lake or Diamond Lake for the setting of my new story. I'm taking a vote. I'll use the name that gets the most votes.
You’ve recently written a wedding themed duet for Harlequin. When you wrote the first book, Slow Dance with the Best Man, did you automatically have the idea for the second book, Proposal for the Wedding Planner?
My editor suggested that it might be time for me to write another duet – which made me very happy as I loved writing my last one (A Groom Worth Waiting For & His Very Convenient Bride). With my first duet, the second book started at the same moment the first one finished, so they ran into each other. This time, I decided I wanted to take that one step further and have both books happen at exactly the same time!
Because of this structure, I planned both books carefully before I even started writing the first one, to make sure I knew which scenes would appear in both books, and when the hero and heroine from the second book would make cameo appearances in the first one, and vice versa. It got a little tricky in parts, and the planning involved a lot of post it notes, but I’m really pleased with how the duet turned out!
What has been the most memorable/fun wedding you’ve attended?
I’ve been lucky enough to attend a lot of wonderful weddings of friends and family over the years – too many to pick a favourite! But my cousin’s wedding that was held in the fantastic Welsh-Italianate village of Portmeirion was certainly very special indeed. (Also, we got to sneak out for ice cream while the photos were being taken…)
What books do you love to read? Do you have a favourite author?
I love reading all kinds of stories, although anything with a romance in always wins me over most! I’m re-reading some of my favourite novels at the moment – M M Kaye’s historical epics, The Far Pavilions and Shadow of the Moon. I also adore anything by Jenny Crusie – and, of course, all the other fantastic books in the Harlequin Romance line! I’m so fortunate to be published in the same line as such a talented bunch of authors.
Can you tell us what you’re working on now?
I’ve actually just started writing my next women’s fiction novel for HQ Digital – tentatively titled ‘The Wedding On Mistletoe Island,’ which should hopefully be out in e-book form this autumn. I’m really excited to be writing this one – it’s been buzzing around in the back of my mind for quite some time, and it’s lovely to be getting it all down on paper at last.
Proposal For The Wedding Planner
From one proposal…to another!
Laurel Sommers’s world crumbled when she discovered her
father’s other family.
Now she’s been roped into organizing her famous half
Plus, Laurel’s ex-fiancé is invited. So when the groom’s
gorgeous brother proposes he play her convenient boyfriend,
Stuntman Dan Black’s relationships are like the roles he steps
But it’s soon clear his and Laurel’s chemistry is here to stay, and
Dan starts considering a more permanent proposal…
Connect with Sophie!
Meet Jen Gilroy, author of The Cottage at Firefly Lake.
I had the honour to talk with Jen about her move to another country and what she's currently reading.
Last year, you moved from England to Canada. Was this the first big move you’ve ever done?
First of all, thanks so much for inviting me to guest on your blog, Charlene. It’s a pleasure to be here and chat with your friends and readers.
I’ve moved often and that’s probably why the search for “home” runs through what I write. Indeed, my author tagline is “Romance to bring your heart home.”
Although I’m Canadian by birth and have lived across Canada, I’ve spent much of my life in England, first as a student and then because of my husband’s job. The UK is my second home and while it will always be special to me (not least because my daughter was born there), the pull of Canada remained strong.
My family and I moved to a small town in Ontario’s Rideau Valley in 2015. My Irish ancestors settled in this area in the nineteenth century, and it’s also where I spent childhood summers. I’m now rooted in a small-town world that’s a lot like the communities I write about.
There must have been some adjustments for you, settling into your new home. What were some things that took getting used to?
The biggest adjustment for me was an emotional one. It’s taken time to settle into a place that after so many years away was and wasn’t familiar. I also travelled a lot for my last day job so I’ve had to adjust to a new, homebody life.
In practical terms, I continue to hunt for a proper English digestive biscuit and also miss that quintessential British tea room favorite, the Victoria sponge cake. However, my daughter, known in our town as “the little English girl,” has taken to poutine (French fries topped with gravy and cheese curds) like a native, and we all feel blessed with the warm welcome we’ve received here.
Now that you are writing on deadlines, when do you write? Do you have a schedule?
My move to Canada coincided with taking redundancy at my day job so for the first time in my life, I’m a full-time author. My writing schedule, though, is almost as structured as the one I had when I went out to an office every day.
I write during school hours and around my daughter’s activities. As I did prior to being a contracted author, I set daily word counts (although now in relation to my deadlines) and work toward those. I start my day by responding to emails and dipping into social media, and then it’s offline to make the most of what are for me the productive morning and early afternoon hours.
While my daughter does homework after school, I dip back into social media. I enjoy chatting with readers and writing friends and, since I work from home, Facebook and Twitter are like a virtual “front porch” linking me with the wider world.
Unless I’m on deadline, evenings are family time and often include reading as my daughter is a keen reader too. Mindful of the hazards of sitting and the dreaded “writer’s bottom,” I also go for a walk most days. Some of my best ideas (as well as solutions to tricky plot problems) come when I’m out walking.
What are you reading, or what’s on your bookshelf to read?
I’ve just finished reading The Magic of Ramblings by Kate Field. Kate is also a debut novelist and, like me, she’s a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association in the UK. The Magic of Ramblings blends contemporary romance and women’s fiction. With a compelling hero, an evocative north of England setting (including a fabulous Victorian Gothic house I want to visit), and a brave heroine who touched my heart, it’s a book to savor.
Next up is Family Tree by one of my favorite authors, Susan Wiggs. She writes so movingly about women’s lives, loves and family relationships, and I’ve been saving this book as a winter weekend treat.
Tell us about your new book!! What is it about?
The Cottage at Firefly Lake is my debut release and the first in a three-book series. It’s an emotional, second-chance love story about redemption and finding your way home.
I set it in a fictional small-town in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, a beautiful, unspoiled corner of the US where my husband and I spent several happy vacations.
For me, it’s a book that encapsulates everything that’s wonderful about a summer vacation, including that first love you never forget. It’s also about life challenges, family secrets and the often-tangled relationships that test us, but also help us figure out what truly matters.
The Back Cover:
Some mistakes can never be fixed and some secrets never forgiven . . . but some loves can never be forgotten.
Charlotte Gibbs wants nothing more than to put the past behind her, once and for all. But now that she's back at Firefly Lake to sell her mother's cottage, the overwhelming flood of memories reminds her of what she's been missing. Sun-drenched days. Late-night kisses that still shake her to the core. The gentle breeze off the lake, the scent of pine in the air, and the promise of Sean's touch on her skin . . . True, she got her dream job traveling the world. But at what cost?
Sean Carmichael still doesn't know why Charlie disappeared that summer, but after eighteen years, a divorce, and a teenage son he loves more than anything in the world, he's still not over her. All this time and her body still fits against his like a glove. She walked away once when he needed her the most. How can he convince her to stay now?
Connect with Jen!
You can order The Cottage at Firefly Lake in mass market paperback or digital/e-book format on all Amazon platforms, as well as Barnes & Noble, Kobo and Chapters-Indigo.
Fine out about what Roxanne Snopek says about her go-to home remedy and what's in store for 2017.
First of all, I had to ask her about chocolate.
What’s your favourite kind of chocolate? Do you have one?
Roxanne: Favorite chocolate: dark chocolate covered salted caramels (just like in the book! I’ll attach the recipe!)
Charlene: Do you have a go-to, home remedy, or does chocolate cure everything? :)
Roxanne: Chocolate is good. Very, very good. Nibbling on a piece while soaking in a hot bath with Epsom salts and a good book will cure pretty much everything!
Charlene: Do you have any new year’s resolutions?
Roxanne: New Year’s resolutions... this year I want to get back into painting. I’ve done watercolors before and love it. This year, I’m going to try oils! I’ve already bought my supplies... now I just have to get brave enough to open them and start! Yikes!
Charlene: Can you tell us what’s in store for 2017?
This year I’ve got four releases scheduled: two books coming out with Tule Publishing – THE CHOCOLATE CURE, which as you’ve mentioned is now out, and tells the story of Maddie Cash and Mick Meyer! And then THE CHOCOLATE COMEBACK, which features Maddie’s twin sister Deirdre, another reforming party-girl and the stern Isaac Litton – and Isaac’s brother Mark, who has Down Syndrome. THE CHOCOLATE COMEBACK comes out in April. Both these stories are part of a 12-book multi-author series called Love at the Chocolate Shop, with Tule Publishing’s Montana Born Books. While each book stands alone, there’s also an overarching storyline about a mysterious character who gets her own story in the final book. These are the books so far:
Oct/2016: Melt My Heart, Cowboy, by CJ Carmichael https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01K6UYXCO/
Nov/2016: A Thankful Heart, by Melissa McClone https://www.amazon.com/Thankful-Heart-Love-Chocolate-Shop-ebook/dp/B01MA0G2RC/
Dec/2016: Montana Secret Santa, by Debra Salonen https://www.amazon.com/Montana-Secret-Santa-Love-Chocolate-ebook/dp/B01M1AO5RM/
Jan/2017: The Chocolate Cure, by Roxanne Snopek https://www.amazon.com/Chocolate-Cure-Love-Shop-Book-ebook/dp/B01MDPHP6I/
Feb/2017: The Valentine Quest, by Melissa McClone https://www.amazon.com/Valentine-Quest-Love-Chocolate-Shop-ebook/dp/B01N3MPTH7/
Mar/2017: Charmed by Chocolate, by Steena Holmes https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01N0TBDEO/
Apr/2017: The Chocolate Comeback, by Roxanne Snopek (not yet available for pre-order)
I’m currently developing the next book in my Sweetheart Hunter series, by Tule Publishing. SERIOUSLY, SWEETHEART, scheduled for fall/17, follows the first novel FOREVER YOURS, SWEETHEART, and the novella SHAMELESS SWEETHEART, which came out in 2015.
And finally, SUNSET BAY SANCTUARY, the first book in my Sunset Bay Sanctuary series, with Kensington/Zebra books, is scheduled for release in December 2017. Set in a wellness ranch on the rugged Oregon coast, it features a surgeon with PTSD, a dog trainer, an adopted daughter looking for her mother, a bunch of characters with secrets, horses, dogs and scenery that makes me want to move there. I love this series, as you can tell!
The back cover:
The Chocolate Cure
No more chocolate! No more meddling! No more men!
New Year’s resolutions are great. Announcing them in a crowded bar, with a chocolate martini in her hand? Not Maddie Cash’s finest moment. It’s time this new realtor got serious about her life and this time, she means it.
But when hospital volunteering lands her at the bedside of bruised and battered Mick Meyer, who has no knowledge of Maddie’s reputation – and no memory of the kiss he begged from her during that long, pain-filled night, her best-laid plans are put in jeopardy. It’s not just his sweet tooth that’s tempting her.
The hunky bush pilot with the concussion has an old family property to unload. Making this sale could be Maddie’s professional salvation. But when Mick turns on the charm, she’s in danger of forgetting all her best intentions… on chocolate… on meddling… and especially on men
It's the count down to Christmas in our house.
Presents are bought, baking is done and I have a book that I'm looking forward to reading, accompanied with a steamy cup of tea. I've read some memorable books this year and there are ones that are still on my reading list, that I didn't have time to get to, but I will.
I am so lucky to be part of a book club that reads a variety of books. It challenges me to read something I wouldn't normally pick up.
Between my personal picks and those I read for my club, here are my top five reads for this year. Not in any particular order.
1) The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah
2)When Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalanithi
3) Me Before You, by Jojo Moyes
4)Another Piece of My Heart, by Jane Green
5) Sleigh Bells in the Snow, by Sarah Morgan
I wish you and your family a blessed holiday and all the best in 2017!
You’re writing for Harlequin and Tule Publishing. You must have a busy schedule. Can you tell us what your writing regime is like and where you write?
I am also writing single titles for Berkley Intermix so, yes, it is a bit crazy. I wrote my first ten books while holding down a full time job and I used to grab whatever free time I had but now that I write full time, my time is a lot more structured. I’m awake early and I take my daughter to school at seven (schools start at 7.30AM here in South Africa) and I head home. Though, admittedly, some mornings I do have a quick cup of before-work coffee with my friends at a local coffee shop but I’m generally in my office by eight. I do a quick run around social media and then I work, most afternoons until about three. Then I do school run again and ferry my daughter to her other after school activities.
Depending on my word count and deadlines, I might do a few more hours at night.
I have my own study that I spend my hours in, sometimes I share my desk with #writerkitty and #orangecat. I always write to music and most people respect my writing time and know not to call me until after lunch. My darling husband is the only person I have yet to train in the art of “not disturbing the writer.”
Charlene: What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
Joss: Reading, of course. I spend a lot of time travelling on weekends, my son is at boarding school and hour and a half away and I collect him most weekends after watching him play sport. I love spending time with my two teenagers (my daughter is thirteen and my son is fifteen and a half) —chatting, cooking, watching movies or just chilling.
Charlene: I’m fascinated that you live in South Africa. I imagine you living amongst elephants, zebras and giraffes. Have you had an experience with a wild animal? And do you have a fear of any of them?
Joss: Oh, I am such a bush baby! As a child I lived on the edge of a game reserve and grew up with tall game fence just separating our yard from elephants and lions and buffalo and other wildlife. My uncle owned a game farm in Zimbabwe and I spent an enormous amount of time there and my husband and I have visited all the major game reserves in Southern Africa and a lot of the minor ones. I have many stories about wild animals…including one about a PO’ed honey badger and a bottle of red wine!
And yes, I am scared of elephants. When I was very little, I visited a sanctuary for orphan elephants and I was slapped across the face by the trunk of a baby elephant. I developed a full blown phobia of elephants. I remember being with my family in game reserves and climbing under the seats when there was a mention of an elephant. I’m better now…but not great. They still scare the pants off me, probably because they are so big. But so quiet. They make absolutely no noise walking through the bush, did you know that?
I still live in a semi-rural part of South Africa, surrounded by game farms. Up until a few years back, before we had a rash of rhino poaching, it wasn’t unusual for me to see rhino’s and giraffes on my way to visits friends or my parents in neighboring town. And I live close to a huge mountain range— South Africa is a stunning country!
Charlene: You have several new releases. Can you tell us a little bit about one of them and your inspiration to write it?
Joss: I’ve had four books released over three months so it’s been a bit wild.
In June, the first book, Trapped by the Maverick Millionaire, from Maverick to Married series for Harlequin Desire was released and the second book in the trilogy, Pregnant by the Maverick Millionaire was released in August. Mac, Kade and Quinn, are ice hockey playing, panty- melting, commitment phobic heroes who work together, play together and are fiercely loyal to each other. They also, as guys do, believe it is their moral duty to tease each other mercilessly! Quinn’s books, Married to the Maverick Millioniare will be released in December.
In August I also saw the release of my first single title for Berkley Intermix, called Inescapable. I loved writing this book, it was such fun. In this series I introduce the readers to Mercy, a smallish town just outside of Washington DC where gossip is a national sport. Sawyer, Kai and Axl are three best friends who own a security company called Caswallawn. They are all hard, tough and sexy ex-Special Ops soldiers and love and commitment are way down on their list of priorities. Undaunted, Axl’s story will also be released in December.
Also in August, my follow up book to Claimed by A Warrior (Tule Publishing) was released. It’s called His Toughest Call. In Claimed I left the hero’s sister sitting in jail, in her wedding gown, on her wedding night. At the time, I had no idea why Leah was in jail on her wedding night and why Seth, Jed’s best friend and boss, was with her. He was just there…
The inspiration for that scene came from a photograph I saw of a beautiful, tear stained bride in jail and I wondered what could have led to that? And that scene led to His Toughest Call and Leah and Jed’s romance.
As to what inspires me, everything or anything! It could be a line of dialogues, a situation, a song. A photograph, as mentioned. Really, I’m not picky where they come from; I’m just so grateful the ideas keep coming in! If they don’t I might have to go and raise llamas or something equally odd.
I love meeting new people, even if it’s only by cyberspace, so chat with me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram
Thanks, Charlene, for having me here.
Dani knows what she wants to write and is successful doing what she loves to do.
I asked Dani about her writing routine and what she does on her downtime.
I do write everyday. Typically I fool around on social media and answer any urgent emails first thing, while I drink my tea. Then I make a pot of coffee and attack my word count (or revisions.) If it’s a first draft, I shoot for 2k/day. Some days are better than others. Midday I come up for air and go for a walk to get the mail (about 5 km round trip) or I go to the gym and get the groceries. Then I either finish my word count or attack things like blog posts or other admin tasks. When things are running smoothly, I knock off around five and make dinner, then sometimes work after cleaning the kitchen or, if I’ve been a good girl, I binge watch Netflix. I do write on the weekends and I work 10 or 12 hour days if I’m running behind. It’s a juggle, but my youngest just graduated high school so we’re basically empty-nesters and I can give my writing career a lot of time and I like to! It’s actually hard for me to stop working.
Charlene: What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
Dani: Well, um, as I inferred above, I don’t do much except work. I do have a vegetable garden that I quite enjoy, but I’m not above neglecting it if I’m on deadline. It’s a jungle at the moment.
Charlene: What really inspires me about you, is that you write for two publishing houses and you manage to consistently put out new books. How do you do it? Are some books easier to write than others?
Dani: Absolutely some books write themselves and others are two steps forward, one back. But those don’t fall neatly into one publisher or genre. Some just arrive as fully formed ideas and others have to be worked out along the way.
I feel very lucky to write for two different publishers because the books are quite different, stretching different muscles so I don’t get burnt out on one genre. All of my book are quite sexy and emotional, but I write the glitz and tycoon alpha male for Presents, then I switch it up with something more down to earth and small town for Montana Born.
One thing that has helped me put out so many books is the fact it took me so long to publish. I literally have a backlist that no one has seen. I’ll actually be putting out two single titles later this year as indie titles because I have them and what use are they sitting on my hard drive? But when I was writing around little kids and a day job, I learned to focus and get the words on the page. That training has served me well and now I show up and do the work and sometimes it’s great and sometimes it’s horrible and I have to make it great another day. And then I have wonderful editors who definitely help me hammer the stories into shape when I’m struggling.
Charlene: I enjoyed your book, Scorch, published by Tule Publishing. Can you tell us about your new Harlequin novel, The Secret Beneath The Veil? What’s it about?
Dani: Thanks! I loved helping Jacqui and Vin find their HEA.
In The Secret Beneath the Veil, Viveka takes her sister’s place when her sister is about to be married off to a stranger with a bad reputation, Maksym. No one knows until Maksym lifts the veil and discovers the wrong girl. Viveka runs away, but nearly drowns, Maksym saves her, then he kidnaps her onto his boat. Maksym is the grandson of a notorious criminal and he’s trying to prove the family has gone straight. The marriage would have accomplished that and Viveka has ruined things. She is also now in danger of retaliation from her stepfather for helping her sister escape, so Maksym ‘keeps’ her and persuades (seduces) her into becoming his mistress. He’s very much a scarred hero who doesn’t know how to love and she’s very much an innocent who deserves to be loved. It's a rough road to their HEA, but so worth it.
Find out more about Dani...
My third book, Practice Makes Perfect was published by Kensington/Lyrical press, last August 18. I'm proud of this series as it helped me understand the hard work and energy that goes into each and every traditionally published book. I was lucky to have a strong team behind me to help launch my writing career and for that, I'll be forever grateful.