Interview with Tanya Agler

PLEASE WELCOME DEBUT AUTHOR TANYA AGLER!!

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Tanya Agler

How does it feel to be a debut author? I’m so thankful to Harlequin Heartwarming. I love the imprint, and I couldn’t be happier my debut novel is published in this line. It’s been an incredible journey to get to this point. Since my first writing critique, I’ve loved networking with other authors, attending workshops, and going to conferences. Throughout the long journey, writing and creating stories has been a dream come true. Knowing others might find hope and joy from Georgie and Mike’s story is an amazing feeling.

 What did you do when you got “the call”? Fortunately, my husband and older daughter were home the morning my agent called me with the wonderful news that Harlequin Heartwarming made an offer. I remember my agent telling me to enjoy the moment as “the call” only comes once and to take the rest of the day off. The latter was great advice. My husband went to work and I picked up my other three children from school. I called them into the living room and told them we were going out to dinner because Harlequin made an offer, which I had verbally accepted. That night we celebrated at an Italian restaurant.

 Where did you get your idea for your book? When my family goes on vacation, we usually drive to our destination and we stop for a family picnic at a state park or another scenic spot. One vacation, there was a car show going on at the state park we had chosen ahead of time and classic cars kept going past the picnic pavilion. I thought about one of my favorite classic television shows, which featured a tomboy who loved working with engines and machines. From there, I kept asking questions. Why would a car need to be restored? Why would a relationship need restoring? Why would someone return after a long absence from a small town? By the time the vacation was over, I knew this would be my next book.

How long does it take you to write a Heartwarming novel? About four months. I’m a plotter so from my first rough idea to a finished synopsis takes about two weeks, but then I write the first draft in about two to two-and-a-half months. Then I work on another book for two weeks before I begin editing that book, and that takes me about a month.

Tell us a bit about your debut novel? Police officer and single dad Mike Harrison no longer believes in second chances until his former best friend, Georgie Bennett, arrives back in town. She’s a mechanic, who has also worked as a car restorationist. When the auto garage where Georgie works is burglarized, Mike is the lead investigator and all the clues point to Georgie as the main suspect. In spite of the evidence, Mike knows Georgie is his best chance to restore his grandfather’s classic Thunderbird. Like the Thunderbird, Mike finds he has some rusty parts, namely a rusty heart. They have to work together to restore the car, and that makes them wonder whether relationships also deserve second chances.

The novel takes place in Hollydale, a fictional small town in North Carolina. Tourists come to see the fall foliage and fall in love with the gazebo, the Holly Days Diner, and Miss Louise’s Ice Cream Parlor.

What is your typical day like? Oh, wow. A typical day? I have four children and a husband whose schedule changes from week to week. It depends on if it’s summer or if school is in session. My critique partner and I laugh about the fact I get more done during the school year and she’s a teacher so she’s productive on breaks. So, on a day when my kids have school, I drop my older son off at school and go write. I usually write for three hours, and that could mean plotting, writing a first draft, or editing. Then I alternate between exercising as I love to get ideas on the treadmill and spending time on critiques or social media. I do that for a couple of hours before I pick up Cupcake and Chunk from school, which is when I begin cleaning the house or folding laundry. Then the rest of the day is usually a blur of whirlwind activity. I love reading at night and throughout the day.

When did you start writing? As far back as I can remember, stories have always twirled about in my head. However, writing those stories down came later.

In my basement, I still have the first book I wrote in first grade. The teacher cut all the pages into the size of a real book and bound all of our books together with a cover made of cardboard and fabric that each student was able to choose. In high school, I loved writing stories and won an award as a junior when my teacher entered my short story in a contest.

When my two oldest were in elementary school and preschool, I started writing novels. Then I found out I was pregnant and then I found out I was pregnant with twins. When they were babies, I kept thinking about the characters in the romance I had been writing before they were born. Then they started preschool and I started going to Panera after I dropped them off to write. In 2013, I joined RWA and my local in-person chapter, GRW. Then in 2014, my critique partner and I exchanged our first chapters of our then current works in progress and I’ve been writing full time ever since then.

What is the hardest part about being an author? My answer depends on the day. If it’s when I’m plotting, it’s the day before the book comes together and clicks. While I’m writing that first draft, it’s the first couple of days when everything’s in my head and I can’t seem to make it work in actual words. And, of course, there are days when you receive a rejection. Overall, I think the rejections are the hardest part for me. That’s one reason I’m thankful for a journey to get to this point. I’ve been blessed to meet some amazing authors, including my wonderful critique partner, a great accountability partner, and my supportive Writing Sisters. My critique partner helped me when I received a judge’s feedback from a contest where the judge wrote that she “hate, hate, hated” my heroine. Having writers I can email or call at a moment’s notice has helped me through rough contest feedback and rejections.

Who is your favorite author? My favorite author of all time is L.M. Montgomery. I’m such a big Anne of Green Gables fanatic. Otherwise, I have favorite authors for different genres and subgenres. When it comes to cozy mysteries, I’m a huge Carolyn Hart fan. Then when it comes to romance, it depends on my mood. When I want to laugh, I reach for a Mary Connealy book or Sally Kilpatrick. When I want my heartstrings tugged, I reach for Rula Sinara’s books or Jodi Thomas or Raeanne Thayne novels. When I want to sit on the edge of my seat and read late at night, I’m a huge fan of Love Inspired Suspense novels as well as Lynette Eason. For historical romances, I love Kristi Ann Hunter and Julia Quinn. I’m a romance author and there are so many great authors out there. I could go on for hours….

Now for the important questions:

Pepsi or Coke? Coke. I live in Georgia, and I’ve visited the World of Coke in downtown Atlanta. I don’t drink soft drinks very often. If I’m drinking ginger ale, I’m either at a conference or have a sore throat.

Candy, cookies, or cake? Yes, please. Saving the hard questions for last! I’m the person in my family with a sweet tooth, especially anything chocolate. While it depends on my mood, I’m a huge fan of cupcakes with chocolate frosting. And while they’re hard to find in Georgia, I love black and white cookies, the type that have vanilla icing on one half and chocolate on the other half. Hmm, I see a recurring motif of chocolate frosting running through that answer!

Coffee or Tea? Tea all the way. My favorite everyday drink is unsweetened ice tea (caffeine in the morning, decaf at night).

Favorite vacation? I hope it’s one I haven’t been on yet! Next year my family is planning to go to Canada (yes, Prince Edward Island!) and my husband and I are already planning to go to Europe after Cupcake and Chunk graduate.

I have different vacations that have been especially memorable. With my parents, I’m thankful we were able to visit family and go to a great theme park called Kennywood. My husband and I went on a cruise before our children were born, and that vacation holds a lot of sweet memories. And now some of my favorite vacations have been when all four of my children are together, and I loved spending the day at the City Museum in St. Louis.

Favorite TV show? My Three Sons. I love the episodes that involve romance, like when Robbie courted Katie or Steve fell in love with Barbara or Polly and Chip met. I’m also a huge fan of Petticoat Junction, Ellery Queen, and Psych.

Favorite Movie? Anything with Cary Grant or Irene Dunne or Jimmy Stewart. I love Sullivan’s Travels.

Any hobbies? Pets? Activities? Five years ago, a Basset hound named Vera adopted us as her family.

I love classic movies, reading, walking, and hiking to waterfalls.

Thank you, Sami, so much for hosting me today!

Check out Tanya’s website at https://tanyaagler.com/

Thanks for joining us, Tanya!

Please come back next month for an interview and giveaway with Christy Barritt.

Interview and Giveaway with Lisa Carter

I met Lisa at MurderCon this past August. We sat together on the bus and got to know a little about each other. I am most familiar with Lisa’s Love Inspired books, so needless to say I was a bit surprised to see her at a crime scene conference. Come to find out, this wonderful romance writer has a suspense side to her. I can’t wait to read her “other” books.

Please Welcome Lisa Carter!!

Enter to win Stranded for the Holidays

Sign up: Giveaway Link (click here)

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INTERVIEW WITH LISA CARTER

Where did you get the idea for Stranded for the Holidays?  I started out wanting to write another Christmas story and the plot evolved from there. The standalone novel is part of an ongoing series set in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. The fictional town is Truelove—Where True Love Awaits. And three elderly matchmakers take the town motto a little too seriously. They’ve made it their personal mission to help everyone find their happily-ever-after. Whether the recipients of their efforts want them to or not!

In regards to Stranded for the Holidays, would you think I was weird if I said I heard AnnaBeth’s “voice” in my head?

A former debutante, she is running away from her own wedding when her car breaks down in the middle of a snowstorm on an isolated mountain road. And of course, who happens along to rescue her? Who else, but a handsome cowboy and his young, mini-me cowboy son.

AnnaBeth’s character type is one of my favorite to write. The banter and chemistry between the never-met-a-stranger, social butterfly and the pay-for-every-word, stoic cowboy was fun to create. When the town matchmakers get a hold of these two—by novel’s end, snowflakes aren’t the only thing falling between AnnaBeth and Jonas.

How long does it take you to write a long novel?  I love to have eight months to write one of my suspense novels. I don’t always get that, however. I’m usually writing one book, editing another and often marketing yet a third novel.

 Who’s your all-time favorite character? I’ve written three dual timeline romantic suspense novels, which is my favorite type of story to read and write. But my favorite character is probably Aaron Yazzie in Under a Turquoise Sky. There was such brokenness in him at the beginning but by the end, his character arc went through such an amazing transformation. Readers tell me that his journey touched them in a profound way. That entire project was such a joy. I may never write another book like it, but the story was a gift and an affirmation to me as an author.

 Stranded for the Holidays released December 1st. Do tell! (Shameless plug time!)

Running away led her right where she belonged.

A new mom for Christmas? She’s everything they’ve wished for.

Runaway bride AnnaBeth Cummings needs shelter for the holidays when a blizzard leaves her stranded, and rancher Jonas Stone’s happy to help. But his son’s been wishing for a mommy for Christmas, and town matchmakers are convinced Annabeth and Jonas are perfect for each other. As the storm clears, city girl AnnaBeth will have to decide: does her heart now belong in the country? 

We met at MurderCon (A conference offered through The Writer’s Police Academy). I’m used to seeing your romance novels, it’s nice to know you are part of the dark side and write suspense?  My ninth suspense novel set in the Appalachian Mountains, A Sound of Falling Leaves, will release in the Fall of 2020.

My contemporary Blue Ridge Matchmakers romance series keeps me busy, too. I’m currently writing my 25th novel—another fun Christmas story also releasing Fall/Christmas 2020. 

Tell us a little bit about your typical day. I am a morning person so I do my best writing early. My day usually begins at the computer by eight a.m. I don’t have daily word count goals. My goal each day is to write the next scene or chapter. When I finish the scene or chapter, I stop for the day. Usually, I’m done—creatively, mentally and physically—by three p.m. I may tackle other tasks like marketing or business-related obligations for a short period. Or, most days I have tea and watch the next installment of one of my favorite British mystery series.

 When did you receive your first book contract?  I received my first book contract in 2011 and a 3-book contract soon followed. Eighteen months later (2013), my first suspense novel, Carolina Reckoning, released and my first contemporary romance, Aloha Rose, released a few months later. It’s been a whirlwind ever since. 

What is the hardest part about being an author?  Working in isolation. The blank screen, a mocking cursor, and juggling the demands the publishing industry places on authors today. Keeping work and family in their proper order of importance.

 Who is your favorite author?  It depends on the genre. I read widely. And as soon as I name favorites, I realize I’ve left someone out. But initially in my career, I was inspired by Catherine Palmer’s romantic suspense adventure series, Treasures of the Heart, set in Africa. I still love those books. I continue to re-read them over and over.

Anything you want to brag about? This year one of my smaller, contemporary romance novels, the first in the Bue Ridge Matchmaker series, His Secret Daughter, was on the top 25 best-seller list. I was on the same list as Nicholas Sparks and Debbie Macomber. May never happen again. J But it was fun to see my name there.

Under a Turquoise Sky won the 2015 Carol Award for Romantic Suspense. The Stronghold won the 2017 Daphne du Maurier. Beyond the Cherokee Trail was a 4.5 star Romantic Times Top Pick.

Now for the important questions:

Pepsi or Coke?   I like Diet Pepsi because it is sweetened with stevia, a natural ingredient versus the chemical preservatives found in Coke products.

Candy, cookies, or cake?  Do I have to choose? My favorite cookies are a cinnamon chip cookie recipe I acquired from the Biltmore Inn in Asheville. My favorite cake is—for real—pig pickin cake. No pigs in the batter, but it is a favorite summer dessert at Southern cookouts. My favorite candy would always involve chocolate and/or peanut butter.

Favorite food? I love barbecue chicken.

Coffee or Tea? I’m an equal opportunity coffee or tea drinker. My favorite coffee is Kona from Hawaii. My husband’s favorite is Blue Mountain from Jamaica where we spent our honeymoon. We’ve spent the last seven years working summers with a Guatamalan orphanage and then several small communities in Costa Rica. Central America is all about coffee so we have definite opinions on what constitutes the best coffee.

My favorite tea varies per season. This autumn I’ve been drinking a lot of pumpkin spice tea and chai. My December favorite is Christmas Eve tea by Stash. My recent favorite tea finds include—a fabulous strawberry tea from France; a delicious, apple, it’s-so-fall tea from Normandy; and two teas I purchased in October from the British tea shop Whittards on a quick trip to Wales—English Rose and a strawberry mint. 

Favorite vacation? I love to travel. I’ve had the opportunity to visit so many wonderful places over the years. The most exotic—Thailand. The biggest adventure—the Amazon jungle. The greenest—Ireland. The most fun—Hawaii. The most ancient—Egypt. The most awe-inspiring—Macchu Picchu in Peru.

And then there’s the United Kingdom, Italy, France . . .

As Dr. Seuss said, so many places to go. And yet, so little time. I am addicted to travel. J

Favorite TV show? This Is Us and far too many British mystery/detective shows to name.

 Favorite Movie? Absolutely any Indiana Jones movie and The Last of the Mohicans

 Any hobbies? Pets? Activities? I read, I write, I travel. I quilted for over 15 years. I teach at a lot of writer conferences. I love teaching music at church with the preschoolers. We have a great time. I also love doing lunch with friends.

 

Lisa Carter

 

Connect with Lisa at http://www.lisacarterauthor.com/ 

Keep up with her new releases and other fun information.

 

Thank you, Lisa!!

Join me in January for an interview and giveaway with debut author Tanya Agler!!

Interview and Giveaway with Sharee Stover

I met Sharee at a writer’s conference a couple of years ago. We hit it off and have been friends ever since. I’m a big fan of her work and excited to have her as a guest.

Please Welcome Sharee Stover!!

Enter to win Silent Night Suspect

Sign up: Giveaway Link (click here)

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INTERVIEW SHAREE STOVER

Silent Night Suspect is your 2nd Love Inspired book. How does it feel to crossover from Debut author to official LIS author?  Writing for LIS is a dream come true for me, so I’m still pinching myself to make sure it’s really happening.

 Tell us about Silent Night Suspect. (Shameless Plug Time): Suspected of a crime she knows she didn’t commit…
All she wants for Christmas is to remember.
Blood on her blouse. A gun in her hand. A cartel leader’s dead body in front of her. Widow Asia Stratton can’t remember what happened—just that she’s been framed. The only way to prove her innocence is to work with her ex-sweetheart, Nebraska state trooper Slade Jackson. But can they clear her name before this Christmas turns even deadlier?

What was your favorite part of this story?   Silent Night Suspect touches my heart because it’s all about forgiveness and second chances. I love that God is so generous with both of those things, and I wanted to share that message in Asia and Slade’s story.

What were the key challenges you faced when writing Silent Night Suspect?  I once heard it said the second book is the hardest to write. That was definitely the case for me. My first draft of Silent Night Suspect was terrible. Really terrible. And it required a complete rewrite which took me a year to do. My internal editor would not be quiet, so it was a wrestling match right to the end.

You live with a LEO (Law Enforcement Officer). What’s that like? (Writing or otherwise):  LEO wife life is never dull. I’ve found bullets in the laundry, had people text me that my husband was doing a TV interview before I knew about it, and had family events invaded by an in-progress manhunt, hostage situation, or other critical incidents. You can’t count on uninterrupted family or holiday time. Crime and emergencies do not conform to a normal work schedule.

It’s also a different world because folks may have strong opinions good / bad /otherwise when it comes to law enforcement. The negative generalizations frustrate me. The troopers I know are very involved with their community events and educational programs. Not to mention, life in rural America where helping a cow out of a ditch is a real thing. We’re blessed to be surrounded by dedicated and wonderful troopers here in Nebraska.

As far as the writing side of it, my husband reads all of my books and he’s my litmus test. He’s brutally honest and doesn’t water down his comments if I’ve written a scene incorrectly, or failed to use the correct terminology. “We don’t talk like that,” is one of his sayings. 😊 But he’s also been a great sport and even allowed me to tie him up to a chair and force him to escape. He’s demonstrated fight scenes with me and walked through scenarios to help me better understand how a situation might be handled. Plus, he’s super handsome. What woman doesn’t love a man in uniform?

I’ve heard through the grapevine you have a new series planned. Do tell.   Yes! After Silent Night Suspect releases December 1st, I have a new three book series. The first, Untraceable Evidence releases May 2020. I’m super excited about them! I can’t give too much of the story away…so stay tuned!

 How do you develop your plot and characters?  I’m still trying to figure that out myself. I’m constantly changing the way I create my plot and characters because I like to experiment with different methods and I’ve test-driven several over this past year. Because the bottom line is you have to do what works for you. I believe in studying craft all the time and try to use the techniques I’m learning about. However, one consistency is that I always start with a picture of my hero/heroine/villain. I need to see them to write them. I also like to use Susan May Warren’s method of writing the Dark Moment Story.

Describe your writing space. (Ducks head embarrassed) One word. Messy. It’s a disaster area. But I know where everything is and it works for me. As long as I can dig my keyboard out from under the piles of books, notepads, and files, I’m good. I try cleaning it up on a regular basis, but as soon as I start to write again, all that stuff comes out. Sigh. It’s a never-ending battle.

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?   Hm…I’m not sure I have an interesting one. I’m pretty boring. I have to be alone and I like Christian music playing in the background. I love cinnamon gum. I’m pretty sure it helps me think. And when I finish a book, I treat myself to a Milky Way Midnight as a reward.

Do you prefer printed books or eBooks?  Printed always! Although there’s something to be said about being able to make the print larger on a Kindle book.

What dream location would you like to visit?  Hands down, Australia. They have the coolest animals!

Share something your readers wouldn’t know about you.  I have to eat Oreos in multiples of three. If there’s only four left in the package, it’s a problem.  

Check out Sharee’s website: www.shareestover.com

Visit Sharee on twitter and facebook: @shareestover AND https://www.facebook.com/authorshareestover/

Thank you, Sharee!!

Join me in December for an interview and giveaway with Lisa Carter!!