BBAW Interview Swap – Page Turners


This year I had the pleasure of swapping questions with a new to me blog, Page Turners.  Co-owners, Pixie & Stacey, both answered my questions. I hope you’ll take a few minutes to get to know these gals and to check out their very cool blog.  I am convinced that I have to read Hunger Games and I LOVE that they both chose an 80’s movie as their favorite.  You all know how I love my 80’s 🙂  And I might have to add the Dr. Seuss quote to my favorite list.

1. Tell us a bit about yourself and why you started blogging.

I am a stay at home mom; life can get pretty boring (especially when the kids are at school).  A few years ago, I picked up Twilight and fell in love with the story.  I started reading more YA, thanks to Twilightmoms book of the month; and I was enjoying everything I read.  My preteen daughter and teenage sister-in-law were also into the books, it was fun to discuss the books with them.

Then at a book signing the Forrest of Hands and Teeth was mentioned.  I read it and LOVED IT- for the first time I needed to know what happened next.  I started researching how people get ARC’s and found that you can get them from blogging.  So I asked around and my friend from Twilightmoms (Stacey) was willing to co-run the site with me. Other Twilightmoms wanted to join in and review for us; so, we jumped in head first and started Page Tuners a little over a year ago. Didn’t get the arc I was originally wanting, but have had an amazing year.  The Dead Tossed Waves was worth the wait.

2. As a blog with multiple contributors, how are the posts divided up?  How often do you blog?

We blog at least once a day, if not more.  I do most of the weekly blog post and Stacey handles our twitter account.  We don’t really have a schedule; read a book, post a review is the basic set up.  Anything else (contest, promos, interviews) Stacey and I discuss on a daily basis.

3. You list The Hunger Games as your favorite book.  I’ve never read it (gasp!), tell me why I need to rush to the bookstore and buy it.

Oh man you are missing out.  The lead Katniss is a dream character for a female lead. She shows that she is feminine, strong, and doesn’t lay down a take what her government is doing to her. The story makes you think, it isn’t something you can just read and move on.  It makes you ask questions, to pay attention to what is going on around you.  This is something that could happen, and possibly is happening in other countries to some extent. Not the games, but how the area is set up, how the country is run.

4. Who are some of your favorite YA authors

Carrie Ryan, Kami Garcia & Margie Stohl, Cassandra Clare, JK Rowling, Stephenie Meyer, Beth Fantaskey, Julie Kagawa,Kimberly Derting,Kody Kelpinger, Suzanne Collins, Kelly Armstrong

We could go on forever….

5. Aside from YA what other genres do you enjoy reading?

Pixie ~ Usually adult sci-fi or paranormal romance. Basically what I read in YA, only in the adult form. I have read a few Jodi Picoult’s books and have really enjoyed those. Classics like Jane Eyre and Pride & Prejudice ~ I also like to read the “spoof” rewrites of these books.

Stacey ~ Black Dagger Brotherhood, Sookie Stackhouse Series, Outlander Series, Tom Clancy & Historical Fiction.

6. What’s your favorite movie?

Pixie ~ GOONIES! I love cheesy 80’s flicks.

Stacey ~ Top Gun

7. What’s the last book you read and would you recommend it?

Pixie ~ The Duff (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) – Bianca, the lead is a very realistic teen voice; who is an easy character to relate to.

Stacey ~ the last book I “read” was Dead in the Family – and yes I would recommend it – I love getting back to the books after watching True Blood

8. I love quotes.  Do you have a favorite?

 Pixie ~ Umm. I have a few. I quote a lot of movies, or TV shows.

You’re killing me smalls.

I don’t think so Tim (my son likes to remind me that his name isn’t Tim)

I believe whatever doesn’t kill you, simply makes you…stranger

But some of my favorite “to live by” quotes are ~

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”  ~ Dr. Seuss

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

Stacey ~ War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.
John Stuart Mill

9. If you were trapped in the life of one fictional character who would you

Pixie~ Man this is a hard question. I think I would choose Wanda/Wander from The Host ~ she has a man who loves her for her. She is able to forgive and see past the bad; see humans for who they really are, loving, caring individuals.

Stacey ~ Claire Randall/Fraser from the Outlander Series

10. What’s your favorite non reading and writing hobby? 

Pixie ~ Photography, LOVE IT. I could spend the day driving around taking pictures, if I didn’t have kids to tend to & books to read.

Stacey ~ hanging with friends and a good road trip

Aren’t they great?  Head on over to Page Turners and check them out.

10 in ’10 with Susan McBride and a giveaway

I’m on the blog tour for Susan McBride’s latest, The Cougar Club, and you’ll see my review on February 17th.  But today she has agreed to stop by an answer 10 questions for us and to offer an autographed book for one lucky commenter.  Details at the end of the interview.  She was so gracious and sweet that she is offering this book even though I already had one to give away (this second one will be offered when I post my review).  Stop by Susan’s wonderful website and you’ll find information on all of her books and upcoming events, I only wish she was coming a bit closer to Cleveland 🙂  On to the questions…

1. In your YouTube video you say that you wanted to write about women like you. How are the women of The Cougar Club like you and which one is closest to the real Susan?

The women I know in their 40s and 50s are vibrant and funny with rich, full lives.  Some have raised kids, gone back to school, suffered through divorces, or had to pick themselves up after losing a job, and yet they always hold their heads high and move on.  I love that spirit.  It’s inspiring.  That’s what I wanted to infuse into the characters of Kat, Carla, and Elise in The Cougar Club.  I definitely share Kat Maguire’s desire for true happiness and her need to surround herself with people who love her unconditionally.  She’s far braver than I am though when it comes to taking risks in relationships.  Carla Moss is a 45-year-old anchorwoman who’s feeling the pressure to maintain a youthful appearance for her audience.  I don’t think I could ever live in the public eye like that.  I’d hate to be judged by the lines on my face rather than by the quality of my work.  Elise Randolph is much softer than either Kat or Carla.  She’s put her heart and soul into raising her son for 18 years, and now he’s off at college.  She doesn’t realize till he’s gone that there’s a big empty space between herself and her husband. She loves being a dermatologist but doesn’t want to feel married to her work. Hmm, all the women are 45, and I’m 45; but while there may be bits and pieces of me in each woman, none of the three IS me.  Although my husband would like to think that the cute hockey player in the book is him!  So, shhh!  Let’s not tell him anything different.  😉

Probably one of the driving forces behind my writing The Cougar Club was my disgust at how the media depicts women over forty.  We’re either Botoxed-to-death Barbies desperate to stay young or faux-tanned, cleavage-bearing nymphomaniacs.  I have a true Cougar sister who’s 46 and fabulous and has never dated anything but younger men (or so it seems!).  I’m an “accidental Cougar,” having met Ed–who’s nine years my junior–when I was a St. Louis Magazine “Top Single” in 2005.  We were married two years ago on February 24, and we’re incredibly happy.  Age isn’t an issue with us.  My wish would be that readers of The Cougar Club come away with the idea that you’re never too old to follow your heart, whether it be in your personal life or your career. 

2. You’ve written mysteries, young adult, and women’s fiction. Which one interests you the most right now?

I will never say “never” as far as writing in any genre again, whether it’s mysteries or young adult (and I do have one YA book left to write on my Random House contract), but right now I’m in love with women’s fiction.  I had such a blast telling the story of women my age in The Cougar Club that I’m dying to do it again.  I’m working on a proposal now, so we’ll see how things pan out! 

3. I’ve read that you wrote many manuscripts before getting published. Have you gone back and tried to publish them now that you are established or are they safely tucked away in the bottom of a desk drawer?

Oh, gosh, I wrote 10 manuscripts in the 10 years after I graduated from college, and none of those were published.  But they were all great practice for me.  I tried my hand at a variety of genres and different points of view, and it helped me better learn my craft.  I haven’t had a chance to resurrect any of those unpublished manuscripts as I’ve had such tight deadlines these past 10 years.  But you never know!  There are a few I’d like to revise one day if I ever get the chance.

4. Do you have any rituals or routines when writing?

I do like to write in my pajamas or sweats so I’m comfortable.  If it’s gray or rainy outside, all the better!  I concentrate best when it’s kind of dark in my office.  I like to get emails and business other than actually working on a novel done in the morning then do the creative part after lunch.  I used to love to write at night, but that kind of bit the dust once I met Ed.  But I do wake up in the middle of the night fairly frequently when I’m in the middle of a book.  My brain just doesn’t stop.  So I keep a notebook on my desk, at my bed-side, and in my purse.  Like the Boy Scouts, I’m always prepared.

5. Who is your favorite hero in literature?

I have to say that I adore Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind.  The girl does whatever she has to in order to survive. She gets her heart broken over and over, but she picks herself up and moves on.  If she screws up, she tells herself, “tomorrow is another day,” something I need to do more often!  She’s a bulldozer disguised as a Southern belle, and I love that!

6. What’s the last book you read?

I’m in the middle of reading According to Jane by Marilyn Brant, and I’m thoroughly enjoying it.  I’ve recently read The Sugar Queen and Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen, which I’m crazy about.  The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein had me sniffling back tears at the end.  So many good books out there!  I wish I had more time to read.

7. What is your favorite non writing and reading activity?

Anything I can do with Ed!  We love going to movies, to hockey games, or out to dinner, poking around flea markets, bowling, roaming the Botanical Gardens, or visiting Big Cat Country at the zoo.  We have a lot of fun together, even if we’re watching DVDs at home.

8. I love quotes.  Do you have a favorite?

I’m gazing at a plaque I have hanging over my file cabinet that says, “Well behaved women rarely make history.”  I’m trying to make that my motto!

9. Who would you choose if you were trapped in the life of one fictional character?

Wow, that’s a tough one.  I think I’d want to be Eloise from the Eloise children’s books. She is a cool chick and very smart.

10. And finally, what are you working on now?

I’m finishing up a proposal for my next women’s fiction book, and I’m waiting for word on a few young adult proposals that I turned in awhile back.  So I’m trying to enjoy this brief time when I’m not under the gun of a deadline, because it happens so rarely!  Although I’m equally anxious to get started on something new.  I just love to write!

Okay, now for the giveaway.  Susan will be sending one lucky commenter a free autographed copy of The Cougar Club. The Cougar Club by Susan McBride: Book Cover How easy is it to enter?  Leave a comment with an email address and you are entered.  I’ll randomly select a winner on February 17th when I will start a second giveaway for this book 🙂

9 in ’09 with Barbara Delinsky

Barbara Delinsky, NYT bestselling author, has graciously taken some time to answer a few questions.  I reviewed her book, While My Sister Sleeps here and the book is out in paperback just this week. 

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and Barbara is a survivor and continues to fund research.  You can visit her website for more information about her books and her wonderful blog. 

Here’s the nine with Barbara…

1. While My Sister Sleeps is the story of a family in crisis and each of the characters travels a personal journey that leads the book full circle.  Which character do you think grew or changed the most?

I’d have to vote for Molly, partly because that’s how I conceived of this book.  I see it as a coming of age story about a 27-year-old who has always lived  in the shadow of her star sister and felt secondary in the eyes of her Type A mother.  Suddenly, with her sister comatose and the rest of the family unable to act, Molly rises to the occasion.  In speaking for her sister, she finds her own voice, helping even her mother grown in the process.

2. When I posted my review of this book, commenter Violet asked if it were a movie.  I know it’s not, but there are so many wonderful characters in this book that it would make a great one.  Who would be your dream cast if While My Sister Sleeps made it to the big screen?

Honestly?  I have no idea.  I’m so not a movie or TV person.  Given that I spend so much time writing, what free time I have is spent knitting, talking with friends, and doing things like laundry.  I’m always curious to know, though, who readers would choose.

3. You have a big presence online with a website, blog that you started in 2005, and many other social outlets.  How has your life as a writer changed over the years since the explosion of online social networking?

Oh my, a loaded question there.  I have to confess that at times I do pine for the old days, when all a writer had to do was write her books!  Today, I spend roughly one-third of my work time maintaining that online presence – website, blog, and now Facebook and Twitter – meaning that I have to work even longer hours to get each book done on time.

The plus side, of course, is that online social networking has given me a vehicle to communicate with my readers, which is – and always has been – hugely important to me.  My readers have put me where I am today.  Their enthusiasm and loyalty keeps me going.  I love communicating with them!

4. You are a breast cancer survivor and wrote the book Uplift: Secrets from the Sisterhood of Breast Cancer Survivors in 2001.  I love that all the proceeds from the sale of this book go to your own charitable foundation.  Can you tell us a little about the foundation?

From the very beginning, I knew that I didn’t want to personally pocket a single cent from the sales of Uplift, and was able to shamelessly shop it from publisher to publisher for this reason.  The entirety of my proceeds from Uplift go into the charitable foundation, which has, to date, funded four years of a breast research fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital.  Each May, I have the joy of meeting the fellow just finishing her year and hearing about the work she’s done.  How awesome is that?

5. Who or what inspires you?

People do.  I take a gesture here, a physical characteristic or manner of speech there, and create characters that interest me.  As for what those characters do?  My plots are almost always inspired by current events.  When I’m in the process of writing a book, I keep a file on my computer for “Next Book Ideas.”  Inevitably, the idea I pick is either the most recent one entered, or an idea based on news occurring since then.  My agent calls me a prescient, in that I write more about things that are about to happen, but it’s truly just being attuned to people’s concerns in the here and now.

6. I love quotes.  Do you have a favorite?

Here’s one from my father.  When faced with different people having different opinions or preferences, he always said, “That’s why there are menus in restaurants.”  I think of this often, when readers say that they loved my latest book but that their favorite is still – and then they name one of my other books.  Another thing my dad always said was, “Taxation is the price of civilization.”  I agree with him there, too.  Some folks don’t – but, hey, that’s why there are menus in restaurants.

7. What are you currently reading?

Homer’s Odyssey by Gwen Cooper.  It’s a gem of a book about a blind cat.  Being a cat person, I’m loving every page.

8. If you were trapped in the life of one fictional character who would you choose?

Given that fictional characters have to experience some form of angst to keep the reader turning pages, I’ll opt out of this choice.  I have enough on my own plate, thank you!

9. What are you currently working on?

Just finished, actually.  Not my Daughter – not to be confused with an earlier book of mine, For My Daughters.  This new one, Not My Daughter, tells the story of three high school girls, all good students from good homes, who make a pact to become pregnant.  I know, I know, TV is currently loaded with shows about pregnant teens, but this book is different.  The heart of the story is the fallout of the pact, with accusing fingers pointing to the girls’ mothers.  Here is an exploration of what it takes to be a good mother, whether at 17, 35, or 45.

Thank you so much for stopping by, Barbara!

9 in ’09 with Hallie Ephron

A few weeks  ago I reviewed 1001 Books for Every Mood by Hallie Ephron and really enjoyed it.  Hallie took the time to email me after seeing the review and offered to send me a copy of her newest book The Bibliophiles Devotional: 365 Days of Literary Classics.  I mean how can a list lover like me resist a book from a great list maker?  I couldn’t resist and I’ve been reading about a new book every day and loving it.  Thanks, Hallie! 

Anyway, Hallie is the author of 4 books and you can visit her website here

And now the nine questions…

1. My first question has to be about growing up in a house full of writers.  What was your childhood like with parents who were writers and three other sisters (Nora, Delia,Amy) who are writers too? It must have been wonderful to grow up in such a creative home.

Our house overflowed with books – wall to wall bookcases, bedside tables stacked with books to be read and re-read (cookbooks and children’s books on my mother’s; history and economics on my father’s), and as kids we were read to early and often (the Oz books, Little Women, The Little Princess…).  My mother recited poetry after dinner, and we grew up cherishing words.

2. I loved your book 1001 Books For Every Mood, probably because I love books and lists.  How long did it take for you to decide what books to include and did you have to cut any favorites?

Thank you!  I love books and lists, too.  It took me months to decide which books to include.  I started, of course, with my favorites, and then talked to booksellers and librarians and readers and anyone who had the temerity to cross my path holding a book.  I also cherry-picked from many great lists out there, like Sports Illustrated list of best sports books, Business Week’s list of best business books, TIME’s list of great books, and of course the ones that Oprah has recommended.  If someone mentioned a book I hadn’t heard of I found it to decide if I thought it was gem worthy including.

3. Your new book The Bibliophile’s Devotional is 365 Days of Literary Classics.  Can you tell us what defines a classic for you?

Hmmm…I’d say one that’s stood the test of time.  One that influenced the way we think, like books that were the first of their kind (did you know Oliver Twist was the first book in English with a child protagonist?).

4. You write book reviews for the Boston Globe.  Do you think  blogs and websites devoted to books have changed newspaper reviews or do you think they serve two different purposes?

I think blogs and web sites can give books visibility that is so very hard to garner right now since there are so many books out there and so little is spent on advertising.  They can build buzz and community.  Book reviews serve more of a critical purpose, I thin, to select and highlight quality (good and bad).

5. Have you discovered a favorite new author in the last year or two?

Oh, gosh yes.  Where to begin?  Leonie Swan (“Three Bags Full”); Carolyn Wall (“Sweeping Up Galss”); Josh Bazell (“Beat the Reaper”); Alan Bradley (“The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie”); Spencer Quinn (“Dog On It”)…I could go on.

6. I love quotes.  Do you have a favorite?

Not so much a quote as a paragraph…I LOVE Carl Sandburg’s “Rootabaga Stories” – read it to revel in the words and images.  It’s pure joy.  One of my favorite stories in it is “Three Boys with Jugs of Molasses and Secret Ambitions.”  SO FULL of wonderful lines!  Here’s just a sample: “Eeta Peeca Pie grew up with wishes and wishes working inside him.  And for every wish inside him he had a freckle outside on his face.  Whenever he smiled the smile ran way back into the far side of his face and got lost in the wishing freckles.”  Don’t you love that idea of “wishing freckles?”

7. What are you currently reading?

For myself I just read Sheila Wellers’ “Girls Like Us” – it’s a meaty nonfiction about Carole King, Joni Mitchell, and Carly Simon, and the generation they exemplify.  Loved it.

8. If you were trapped in the life of one fictional character who would you choose?

Anne Shirley (Anne of Green Gables)

9. And finally, what are you working on now?

I’m finishing a novel – psychological suspense like my last one “Never Tell a Lie.”

Thanks so much for stopping by, Hallie!

9 in ’09 with Preetham Grandhi

Preetham Grandhi, M.D. immigrated to the United States from India and graduated from Yale.  He is the chief of service for House 5 at Bronx Children’s Psychiatric Center and also has his own private practice.  So, he speaks from experience when telling the story in his new book, A Circle of Souls, reviewed here.  Visit his website for more information about Preetham and the book.  You’ll also find links to his blogs.

I want to give special thanks to Preetham for being the first author of the male persuasion to agree to answer 9 questions on my blog.  He may have also tied with Carla Neggers for the quickest response time.  I think it took less than an hour for Preetham to send me his answers.  Without further fanfare…

1.  I love your novel A Circle of Souls.  Is it true that the idea for this story came in the aftermath of 9/11 and in what way?

It was a few months post 9/11, and I was looking at the biographies of the people who had lost their lives.  I began to wonder if there was a larger meaning to their lives.  Are we predestined to interact with each other in a certain way.  All of a sudden, a story flashed into my mind, and I quickly wrote it on a piece of paper.  I knew then that I needed to write a story that was larger than life.  It needed to communicate the essence that there is a bigger purpose and meaning to our passage on earth.

I knew that in order to capture and convey such a message, the book needed to be captivating, interesting, and thrilling.  I realized that a story based on the work I do would be the right place to begin.  I am a child psychiatrist and had just started a new job.  During my fellowship, I worked with children with numerous psychosocial issues and many life stories to tell.  It was at that moment that I decided I could write a book that would capture all these thoughts.  That was how A Circle of Souls was born.

2. I am impressed that this is your first novel!  What is the best writing advice you have ever received?

Never to give up, was the best advice given to me.  I think being patient is very important.  In the end you have to do your half and hope that the other half will happen.

3. You work at a children’s psychiatric center, have a private practice, are working hard to promote your book, have several blogs, and are blessed with a family.  When do you find the time to write?

It is hard, I mostly write while driving (I don’t mean literally).  I get my ideas while driving to and fro from work and put them on paper when I get the chance at home.

4. You found the world of traditional publishing a challenging one.  What has your experience been like with Sweetwater Books?

It has been wonderful to work with and I am grateful to having met Cedar Fort.  They were very reassuring and have been easy to work with.  They designed such a great cover that fits the content of the book and taking into consideration what I had in mind.

5. Who or what inspires you?

To travel and see the world some day.  I think life is too short and there is so much to do.

6. I love quotes.  Do you have a favorite?

“The world is yours so turn it around,” is actually a dialogue line from the movie Scarface.  It had kept me going during some hard times in medical school.

7. What are you currently reading?

Terror by Joseph J Neuschatz M.D. and am looking forward to reading The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown.

8. If you were trapped in the life of one fictional character who would you choose?

I would enjoy being Tintin, from The Adventures of Tintin.  This is a series of comic strips created by Belgian artist Herge.

9. And finallly, what are you working on now?

Hoping to start my next novel once I get this one on it’s own feet.  I thought writing was difficult only to find out marketing in even more challenging.

Thanks Preetham!  To enter to win an autographed copy of his book, click HERE.

9 in ’09 with Nina Vida

NINA VIDA This week I asked the author Nina Vida to answer a few questions.  She is the author of seven books and gives hope to anyone who thinks it is too late to start a writing career.  Visit her website and her blog to learn more about Nina and her books.

Thanks for stopping by Nina!

1. You began your writing career after your children were out of the house and some encouragement from your husband.  Can you tell us a little about how you became a published author?

When the children went to college, so did I, majoring in English, with no thought of writing anything more complicated than a grocery list.  As part of my course work I was required to take a creative writing class.  I said to myself, oh, no, creative writing, what do I do, what do I say.  But I was stuck with it.  So I wrote an essay about my sister, who had had heart surgery at age 38 and how it had affected the way I looked at life and health and everything else.  The professor loved it, said it made her cry.  My husband (who had been a Navy journalist) read it and said he thought I should try my hand at writing a novel.  I had always been a fanatic reader, but reading a book and writing one are two very different pursuits, and I couldn’t conceive of myself as a writer, so I resisted.  I told my husband that writers were born writing, they wrote books and poems in the cradle, that writing was a sacred profession, not to be taken lightly.  He wouldn’t give up.  Finally I agreed to try, and that was how it began.  Every evening my husband read what I had written that day, and then we discussed it, and after a while I began to get the hang of it. 

2. How was the writing experience different from your first book to your last?

The writing experience from the first book to the seventh was a tremendous learning curve.  Whatever talent a writer has, nothing worthwhile is accomplished without craft, and craft only comes with writing, writing and more writing.  Which is what I did.  I kept writing, and with each book I struck out farther from shore, began exploring stylistic tropes, began thinking in terms of imagery and metaphor, but always wanting to tell a story and tell it beautifully.

3. What is the best writing advice you ever received?

The best writing advice I ever got was from my husband at a time when prospects for getting my first novel published looked bleak.  “Your time will come,” he said, “and in the meantime where else can you get all these cheap thrills?”

4. How do you feel about the new electronic readers?  Do you have a Kindle or plan on buying one?

I don’t have a Kindle, but my husband does, and he loves it.  I’ve learned never to say no to anything new, but right now I still like the smell of a book and the feel of the pages turning beneath my fingers.  I even like the dog-eared look of a well-read book. 

5. You’ve written books in a few different genres.  What is your favorite genre to read?

 I read mostly literary or mainstream fiction, but an author who uses language distinctively, who has genuine insight into his characters, who uses dialogue in a realistic way, and who knows how to tell a story without padding the book to death with unnecessary exposition – that’s my kind of author, my kind of book.

6. I love quotes.  Do you have a favorite?

A favorite quote:  Take nothing on its face; take everything on its evidence.

7. What are you currently reading?

I just finished “The House on Fortune Street” by Margot Livesey.

8. If you were trapped in the life of one fictional character who would you choose?

Elizabeth Bennett in “Pride and Prejudice,” because she’s so smart!

9. And finally, what are you working on right now and do you have a book hitting the shelves soon?

I’ve recently finished work on a novel about Jewish refugees in Shanghai during World War II.

Books by Nina- The Texans, The End of Marriage, Between Sisters, Goodbye Saigon, Maximilian’s Garden, Return from Darkness, Scam

9 in ’09 with Emilie Richards

This Friday I invited Emilie Richards to answer 9 questions.  I am almost finished with my first Richards novel, Fox River, and have enjoyed it so much I contacted her before I even finished it.  I sent her the questions Wednesday night and she had sent me her answers by the time I checked my mail Thursday morning!  Thank you, Emilie!

Emily is a  minister’s wife, mother of four, and author of the the popular Ministry is Murder mysteries and the Shenandoah Album novels.  I’ll post my review of her novel, Fox River, on Sunday and I can assure you that I will be reading more of Emilie Richards.

Visit Emilie’s website ( for a list of her books, quilts, and upcoming events.  And now, the questions…

1. You have written over 60 books.  What is your writing routine?  You must be very disciplined.

I am disciplined, but that’s easy enough since I love writing so much that I look forward to my time at the computer.  I usually do email or blogging over coffee, then after breakfast I launch into whatever I need to work on that day.  I try to take care of promotion, research, editing, brainstorming etc. in the morning because I actually write best between about 2 and 6.  I save that time for the most concentrated work and try to avoid interruptions.  I set aside Mondays as my day off, but I do write at least half a day each on the weekends.

2. You have been a minister’s wife for many years and write the Ministry is Murder mystery series.  How has your congregation responded to your books?  Any fun stories?

I learned some time ago that people will see themselves in my books whether I put them there or not (and you can bet I don’t).  Strangely, though, nobody seems to think I’m writing about anything that could actually happen in a real church, nobody except ministers’ families, of course.  My best mail comes from fellow clergy wives and clergy of all denominations, also lots of PKs (preacher’s kids) who recognize my characters and sympathize.  Their real life stories put mine to shame.

I do have to say that our congregation has been totally supportive, and the church I loosely base the series on (and the town of Emerald Springs) invited me for a book signing last year.  They love it.

3. I just visited your blog for the first time and fell in love (  You cover a range of topics from the inauguration (made me teary eyed) to swine flu (made me happy you’ve recovered – you have to read it for details, readers).  As a relatively new blogger what has surprised you the most and do you have favorite blogs that you visit?

I was dragged kicking and screaming into the blogosphere.  I’ve never kept a journal, never wanted to, and doing it online seemed pointless and excruciating.  How wrong could I be?  I adore blogging.  I’ve gone from wondering what on earth I’d talk about to how on earth can I fit everything in?  It’s a joy and a journey.  In the very near future I’ll be running my next contest there (for Happiness Key) and anybody who comments on my “happiness” blogswill be entered to win a beach bag stuffed with gifts chosen by my characters.

I am a big fan of my friend author Diane Chamberlain’s blog, and nothing beats Lee Lofland’s The Graveyard Shift for great research on police procedure.  I visit many others, but I’m trying not to become addicted.

4. What is the one thing you could not live without?

My imagination.

5. Who or what inspires you?

I love stories about the “little guy” or “gal” who have overcome adversity, or stood up for their values against impossible odds and won.  There are so many, and we see so few of them.  But I am always inspired.

6. I love quotes.  Do you have a favorite?

I fall in love with quotes and immediately forget them.  But here’s one from Milton that I saw today in the NY Times, and I really like it:  The mind is its own place, and in itself/ Can make a heav’n of hell, a hell of heav’n.”

7. What are you currently reading?

I just finished Mansfield Park by Jane Austen.  I have Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell on my bedside table and Blood Bayou by my friend Karen Young, plus I’m listening to Storm of Swords by George Martin.  There’s a new Diane Mott Davidson mystery on my list, and I’ve downloaded the new Harlan Coben and Lisa Scottoline to listen to once I finish Storm of Swords.  Is that eclectic enough do you think?  I also received a Sony reader for my last birthday (love it) and last night I downloaded three of L. Frank Baum’s Oz books, and three Sherlock Holmes to go along with other classics I’ve already downloaded.  Life is good.

8. If you were trapped in the life of one fictional character who would you choose?

Stephanie Plum, because even though she’s in constant danger, cars explode when she’s not inside them, and she has both Ranger and Joe to keep her life interesting.

Of course I’d also love to take up permanent residence in the Land of Oz, so the choice would be tough.

9. And finally, what are you working on now and are there any books we’ll see on the shelves soon?

Happiness Key, my latest Mira, will be on bookshelves June 30th, along with the new paperback of Sister’s Choice, last year’s hardcover.  Happiness Key is in trade paperback, a new venture for me, and I’ll be offering a $1.50 off coupon on my website, and in my newsletters.  It’s easy to sign up for my email newsletter on my website.  Happiness Key  is the quintessential beach book, set on the Florida Gulf Coast.  It’s a friendship novel, about four very different women and I adored writing it.  Fortunate Harbor, the sequel, is in progress now.  Once it’s finished I’ll launch into A Truthfor a Truth, the fifth book in my Ministry is Murder series.  I think I’m supremely lucky to have two different kinds of books to keep my work fresh, and I never tire of either.

Happiness Key

Thank you, Emilie!

9 in ’09 with Sherryl Woods

This week I have the New Times Bestselling Author Sherryl Woods answering nine questions.  She writes wonderful romances and has a great website with a blog that covers some really fun topics.  You can visit her website here.  And she also happens to be a part-time neighbor and full-time friend to my Aunt Carol in Colonial Beach, Virginia.

1. You have written over 100 romance and mystery novels.  What is your secret for staying so productive after all these years?

I think my journalism background has been a huge influence on my ability to keep coming up with stories.  I’m always looking around at the world and wondering why this happened or what would change if somebody did this, instead of that.  As Mary Higgins Clark once put it, I spend a lot of time asking what if…?

2. You are my second featured author who earned a journalism degree from Ohio State (Go Bucks!).  Do you think aspiring authors should go to college or are there other avenues that can be just as helpful?

I don’t think college is ever a mistake.  However I certainly don’t think it’s necessary to have a degree in creative writing.  Lots of writers I know have wildly different backgrounds, everything from mine in journalism to drama and law.

3. When you first started your writing career you used a few different pseudonyms before using your real name.  Why did you decide to use one and why did you stop?

I was barely out of my newspaper job when I sold my first books and friends (mistakenly I now know) thought I should preserve my “real” name for “serious” writing.  When I went with my agent, she advised me to use my own name and stick with it, so I could build an identity as an author…and no publisher could ever let others use the name, which can happen if you’re not careful with pseudonyms.

4. It has always been a dream of mine to own my own bookstore and you actually did it!  What were the best and worst aspects of owning your own bookstore and would you recommend it to others, like me?

The ten years I spent owning a bookstore were absolutely wonderful in many respects.  I loved getting to read catalogues, order books and open the boxes every week.  Even better was getting to talk about books with my customers.  It was a book lover’s dream.  However, it was also so demanding, especially with a writing career, that I almost never had a chance to actually read.  And in this economic environment with even the big chains having difficulties, I don’t know that I’d try it unless the circumstances in your community are just right…meaning no major competition for miles and miles.

5. Who are your favorite authors?

I have a slew of them in many genres.  I love Carla Neggers’ romantic suspense, Heather Grahams’ suspense novels, Jayne Ann Krentz (and her Amanda Quick persona), Susan Wiggs, Nelson DeMille, Joan Mendicott, Jan Karon, Dorothea Benton Franks, just for starters.

6. I love quotes.  Do you have a favorite? 

No, not really.

7. What are you currently reading?

Maeve Binchy’s Heart and Soul.  She’s another of my favorites.

8.  If you were trapped in the life of one fictional character, who would you choose?

Just about any female in a book that has a happy ending.

9. And finally, what is your current project?

I’m now writing three more Sweet Magnolias books, beginning with a much-requested story for Ty and Annie.  I’m so delighted by reader enthusiasm for this series.  Writing more is like getting to visit with old friends.  These are scheduled to come out back-to-back in spring 2010.

Thank you so much for stopping by, Sherryl!