Interview with Lee Tobin McClain

I met Lee at the 2018 ACFW conference in Nashville. It seemed that every time I turned around I ran into her. After a while, it became a bit of a joke. Sad to say, I hadn’t read any of her books before then but have become a huge fan since.

Lee's MemeThank you, Lee, for taking the time to join us.

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Hi Sami, thanks for having me on your blog!

Where did you get the idea for your books? I have always loved the idea of starting over… and starting over on a warm beach in the low country sounds even better! That’s the core of my upcoming release, Low Country Hero.

How long does it take you to write a trade novel versus a Love Inspired novel? If I’m really focused, I can write a Love Inspired in 2 months and a trade novel in three. If I have a lot going on with my teenage daughter, or my pup, or my day job, writing either kind of book can take a bit longer.

What did you go with ABA publishers and not CBA? I still write for Love Inspired, a CBA line of books, but I wanted to reach a wider audience with sweet and romantic stories that include just a dash of faith. I’ve always gotten along well with atheists, people who have religious doubts, and people who’ve been hurt by the church—probably because of my mother who sadly was not a believer. People say “Oh, Lee’s a Christian, but she’s not one of those scary Christians.” Since God made me this way, I feel like I’m well suited to reach out to readers who wouldn’t pick up a CBA novel because they have a horror of being preached at. Secretly, though, I hope to draw some of those readers to my Love Inspired books!

I hear Low Country Hero releases this month. Do tell! That’s right, it releases on February 26th. It’s the story of two wounded people who turn to each other out of need and end up learning to trust and love again. The heroine has five-year-old twins who are struggling with selective mutism due to the upsetting things they’ve witnessed in their short lives. There’s a secondary love story between an older waitress with amnesia and her handsome, macho, sixty-year-old boss. And there are a slew of fun minor characters who contribute a lot of the book’s humor. It’s a big, sprawling story that was really fun to write.

Tell us a little bit about your typical day. Up around 5:30 for bible, devotional, and prayer time. Then I fix breakfast for my daughter and walk Nash the Goldendoodle. Then I get to work on my current novel at the local Barnes and Noble café, my favorite place to write because I’m surrounded by books. In the afternoon, I usually tend to my online classes; I teach in Seton Hill University’s MFA in Writing Popular Fiction, so I get to mentor talented, highly-motivated students who dream of being published authors. It’s a terrific day job. Evenings, I might help my daughter memorize a Shakespeare sonnet, or have dinner with my gentleman friend, or spend a couple of blissful hours reading a novel. I generally crash by 10 p.m. Definitely not a party animal.

Who is your favorite author? Jane Austen, of course, with Georgette Heyer a close second. Or, wait, maybe William Shakespeare… or George Eliot… or Lee Smith. Too many to choose!

What is your favorite book? I definitely can’t choose!

Anything you want to brag about? My smart, talented daughter! She’s so much more well rounded than I’ll ever be. She’s a gymnast and cross country runner, edits her school newspaper, and is a social butterfly who’s resilient and hilarious. She’s off to college in the fall—wants to be an English teacher like Mom—and I can’t wait to watch her soar.

Now for the important questions:

Pepsi or Coke?  Pepsi!

Candy, cookies, or cake?  Chocolate chip cookies—warm if possible

Favorite food? Lasagne

Coffee or Tea? Coffee!

Favorite vacation?  A warm beach

Favorite TV show?  Big Bang Theory

Favorite Movie?.  Casablanca

Any hobbies? Pets? Activities? Aside from work and family, my life revolves around my nine-month-old Goldendoodle, who requires a ton of exercise and attention. I love him to the moon and back, and everyone should follow his Instagram: Nash_the_Goldendoodle.

I hope your readers will sign up for my newsletter; they’ll get a free novella as well as news about my books and the occasional contest or giveaway. Here’s the link:

Thank you, Lee!! And give Nash a big hug for us!

Please join me in March for a Giveaway and Interview with Rachel Dylan!!


lenora giveaway

Sign up for my Newsletter or follow my blog for a chance to win Her Amish Child and Undercover Memories. Already signed up? Leave a comment for Lenora. (Ships to U.S. only)


Where did you get the idea for Undercover Memories?  I got this idea by putting two “hooks” together to see where they’d take me: A Vice Squad detective who is also a cowboy and a female private investigator who has amnesia. I wanted him to be gritty but still, a hero and I needed her to be strong but still vulnerable.

How long does it take you to write a Love Inspired Suspense novel? It takes me about four months from the first page to edits and final manuscript.

Who’s your all-time favorite character? That’s a tough question. I actually like my Vice Squad Cowboy in this book—Ryder Palladin. But one of my very favorites is Eli Trudeau in Heart of the Night, which I wrote several years ago. I also love Jeremiah Weaver in Their Amish Reunion.

I hear you have a new release in February. Do tell! (Shameless plug time!) I do have a new release. It’s the second book in my Amish Seasons book, titled Her Amish Child. It’s kind of a Ruth and Naomi story about two widows but it begins when they discover a baby on their porch. The hero shows up next door and things take off from there.

Tell us a little bit about your typical day. My typical day starts with breakfast and watching the morning news, then checking e-mails, maybe going for a walk on the beach since I live near the Gulf of Mexico. Then I get to work on edits and starting the next chapter. I usually work from eleven a.m. to around six p.m. Then I rest my ornery back and catch up on television shows or read. I do a lot of social media after dinner, too.

When did you start writing? In grammar school. I sold short stories on the playground. I kept at it all through high school and my one year of college. Finally sold my first book in March 1993.

Tell us about your first book contract? I was in bed with the flu so when I got the call, I thought I was hallucinating! But it was real. Sold that first book to Avalon and wrote two more for them. I’ve been writing consistently since—mostly with Love Inspired Books.

What is the hardest part about being an author? The hardest part is trying to get the story in my head down on paper. I want to write a good, well-developed, well-researched book and sometimes I don’t think I hit the mark. But I try very hard to make it work. I hate disappointing readers.

Who is your favorite author? I love Mary Kay Andrews because she writes the best true-to-life Southern books. I have several favorites—Marta Perry comes to mind, too—but it’s hard to list all of them!

What is your favorite book? Well, since I was born and raised in Georgia—Gone With the Wind. It has its critics, I know but that book had everything—a vast backdrop, a political struggle, the history of our country and a love story that was messy but worth fighting for.

Anything you want to brag about? Hmm. They say it ain’t braggin’ if it’s the truth. The truth is that I’ve written close to ninety books, short stories, and novellas and made The NY Times, PW and USA Today bestsellers lists but it took many years and many people to get me where I’m at today. I guess I can brag about being a survivor in a brutal business. I’m proud of that, at least!

Now for the important questions:

Pepsi or Coke?   I don’t drink soft drinks but I used to love a good cold Coke.

Candy, cookies, or cake?    All three!!!

Favorite food? Cheesecake

Coffee or Tea? Coffee

Favorite vacation?   The beach

Favorite TV show?  NCIS

Favorite Movie?.  Steel Magnolias

Any hobbies? Pets? Activities? No pets now. I like to walk on the beach, read, shop, bake when I have time, lunch with friends and travel with my husband.

Thank you, Lenora, for stopping by!

Join me in February for a giveaway and interview with Lee Tobin McClain.

Christmas Traditions Author Style

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Christmas Traditions Author Style

It’s that time of year when family traditions tend to rule. Some get modified over the years, but the foundational tradition remains the same. Some of our favorite authors have chimed in on their most loved traditions.

Sami: My favorite Christmas tradition is the surprise of presents from Santa—Okay, maybe not Santa, surrounded by presents. The tradition continued into our teen years and adulthood. Even as adults, right before bedtime, we would help gather the presents from the secret/not so secret hiding place on Christmas Eve. The wow factor remains on Christmas morning when we get up and turn the tree lights on. That quiet moment of awe before the chaos of family begins.

Lenora Worth: I always make gumbo on Christmas Eve. If we attend Christmas Eve services, we drive around to enjoy Christmas lights and then go home and have gumbo and cornbread!!

Virginia Vaughan: A few years ago, I started doing my own book tree out of all my books at Christmas. It’s become a favorite tradition in our house.

Mary Alford: My favorite Christmas tradition is attending the Christmas Eve service at my church. The service is usually very simple, but a wonderful reminder of why we celebrate this time of the year. We sing Christmas carols, and the pastor reads the Christmas story. We have one lady who sings Oh Holy Night acapella every year, and it gives me goosebumps. Then, the lights are lowered, and every person’s candle is lit. A sign that each of us must keep God’s light shining to a world in need.

Lynn Blackburn: Our family attends the Christmas Eve service at our church, then we grab a quick bite to eat at one of the few restaurants still open, and then we drive around and look at Christmas lights and listen to Christmas music. It’s one of my favorite nights all year.  And then, of course, there’s turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy (my Mom’s is the BEST), fruit salad, mac and cheese, and rolls…my perfect Christmas dinner plate!

Robin Patchen: Aside from the typical things—decorating the Christmas tree, opening the presents, the Christmas Eve service—I think my favorite tradition is when our family drives around to look at Christmas lights. The season is so busy, and now that my kids are getting older, it’s hard to get everybody together. But one night every season, we drive around to look at lights, then go to dinner together. It’s such a simple tradition, but Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without it.

Dana Mentink: Here at Mentink Manor my favorite tradition is our whole Christmas Eve celebration. When our girls were toddlers, we started making pizza dough and allowing them each to create their own “personalized” pizza. They prepare them in the late afternoon, slapping on the toppings with enthusiasm, and then we go to church. After service, Papa Bear bakes up the pizza, and we all sit around the table and chat while eating our personalized pizzas. Then we cuddle up and watch a movie and maybe open one special present like fun pajamas or slipper socks. This will be the first year one of our bear cubs is living away at college, but hopefully, she will be home to enjoy our Christmas Eve family time!

Thanks, ladies!!

Join me in January for a giveaway and interview with Lenora Worth!!

Merry Christmas!!