Editor/Author Alicia Raisley is in the house!
I have known Alicia for years because of our visits at Romance Writers of America conferences over the years. I can't believe I got her here. A special offer will appear at the end. You DON'T want to miss this.
Welcome to our blog. Pull up a chair or back up to the fireplace and warm up. It's a cold morning in Georgia. (shiver) Have some hot tea or coffee? Maybe some hot chocolate?
The End of the Beginning
I'd like to thank Mary Marvella for asking me to guest blog here! She asked me to blog about openings to stories—that is, how to effectively start your story. It's a subject big enough, I could write a book about it, and probably will! (Here are some posts on my own blog that discuss openings.) So to keep this relatively short, I want to focus on the all-important last paragraph.
The beginning of a story has a lot to do, and it might be most helpful to write your opening, write the rest of your story, then come back and revise the opening so it is more effective in setting up the plot questions and themes. I was helping a friend with a story just today, and we discussed the "end of the beginning." This book is about a girl raised in Europe who was forced by her parents to study piano for years. She is disillusioned by music and eager to get far away from her parents, so she chooses a college in the US that has lost its music program. That's the opening, setting up her college story.
I suggested that the author think about what is going to happen later in the book. The college is going to resuscitate the music program and recruit the protagonist to be the first major, and in the end of the book she's going to found her own punk band, showing that she has chosen her own way (not the parents or school). Boy! This is good, because it forces her to change, to learn to value her own talent, to choose rather than just react.
The end of the opening, however, could set up the "praxis" of her journey, by posing a bit of a conflict or question. In a way, the last paragraph in the opening could serve as a "hinge" to the rest of the story, actually helping to open up to the rising conflict and rising action of the middle, and hinting at the theme that will be resolved in the ending.
His first chapter has her choosing a college, deliberately selecting the one that has lost its music program. I suggested a final paragraph that would emphasize what he wants the reader to think about. But to achieve that, he must identify what that is! Does he want the reader to think about her disorientation at being in the US after Europe, a fish out of water? Or her sense of her musical talent being trapped by the expectations of her parents even as she arrives in this new place?
He agreed with the latter, that her journey should start with her resistance to those expectations, and so he wanted to draw the reader's attention to this. So he ended the first chapter this way, "My first class was History of Culture, in the Humanities Quad. Shoved into a corner of the lecture hall was a grand piano, swaddled in a gray quilted cover. I hurried past and took a seat in the center, directly in front of the professor."
This sets up the conflict between her desire to be "merely a student" and her musical talent and provides a concrete action (hurrying past the piano) to symbolize the beginning of her journey from resistance to self-acceptance. If the author wanted to emphasize her "fish out of water" aspect, how could that be achieved with the same situation (entering her first class lecture hall)?
Another way to use that final paragraph in the first chapter is to set up a motif (a recurring thematic image or concept) which the rest of the story will develop. For example, in my Regency novel Poetic Justice, the first chapter pits the hero John against an enemy, who tries to trick him by offering an alliance and then trying to kill him. I was worried that the adventure of this opening would conflict with the quieter aspects of the rest of the story. But when I realized that no matter what the situation, John was always being "tested," especially by the class system that scorns him as a tradesman.
By the time his shipmates arrived panting, daggers drawn, the light was gone entirely and the dock was slippery with blood. Two of the bandits had fled, and the third lay unconscious on the dock. John loosed his death grip on the saddlebag, let his first mate take it, let his steward peel his fingers from around the knife and put it away. He nudged the bandit with his foot. "Tell your employer," he said, then paused to drag in a breath, "that I passed that test too."
Thus, in the final paragraph of the first chapter, I emphasized this motif to connect this scene with the rest of the story, which develops and finally resolves the recurrent pattern.
Look at your own first chapter and think of how you might use that last paragraph to wet up the rest of the book, by establishing the context or conflict, by posing a question the rest of the story will answer, or by connecting the first scene with the rest of the story using a theme or motif. Any examples from your work?
Alicia Rasley is a RITA-award winning novelist who has been published by major publishers such as Dell, NAL, and Kensington. Her women’s fiction novel The Year She Fell has twice been a Kindle #1 bestseller in the contemporary fiction category.
Her articles on writing have been widely distributed, and many are collected on her website The Writer's Corner. She also blogs about writing and editing at Edittorrent. Her Regency romance Poetic Justice is currently available as a Kindle Select book. She is also the author of the plotting guidebook The Story Within, available for the first time in electronic format.
It’s soon time to start my seedlings.
I know what you’re thinking. It’s January. Are you nuts?
No. I love flowers and want to enjoy them as soon as possible and as for all as possible, so I start my seeds in early February and transplant them outside in early May. But since I have a few weeks before I start, I decided to take on another plant project--my Poinsettia.
My DH and I received this poinsettia as a gift from the Cancer center of which he is a patient. I’ve never had one this big. It is absolutely gorgeous and I want to keep it year around, and hopefully enjoy it again next holiday season, so I did a little research.
Poinsettias (euphorbia pulcherrima) are actually desert plants and are native to Mexico and Central America. The Aztecs called them cuetlaxochitl. Poinsettias were introduced in the United States in 1825 by Joel Poinsett, the first U.S. ambassador to Mexico, and quickly caught on as a popular Christmas plant.
Poinsettias are not poisonous. However, the sap is a little caustic and may cause skin irritation, and certainly can cause indigestion if digested. So if you’re handling the plant, it would be a good idea to wear gloves.
You can keep your poinsettia in full foliage well into February if you place it where it will get at least six hours of bright indirect light and where it is out of drafts, both hot and cold—not near windows or heaters. The flower of the poinsettia is actually the yellow centers. The red or white are actually leaves. After the flowers start to drop off, gradually decrease watering the plant until the bracts all drop, then allow the plant to dry out completely (the poinsettia is a desert plant). Now, store the plant somewhere with a cooler temperature around 50 degrees. Remember we are trying to recreate a Mexican Winter, so a 50 degree basement or garage makes a fine location.
When the temperature in your area warms, around 50 degrees overnight, you should repot your plant, using the same pot with fresh soil and start to gradually water again. Remember, gradually is how you stopped watering. Also, start to fertilize every three weeks.
In mid-August, cut the plant back. Cutting back to three to five stems will produce a bushy plant with big flowers. Don’t prune your plant any later than September, if you wish it to bloom for the holidays. Bring plant inside when temperatures become too cool.
To get a poinsettia to reflower you have to keep it in total darkness at least 14 hours a day for eight to ten weeks in a cool place (55-65 degrees). If you start this procedure around October 1st, color should return to the bracts by mid-December. IMPORTANT; Any exposure to light will prevent flowering. Cover the plant using a light-proof bag or place it in a closet. Night time temperatures above 70-75°can decay the plant or prevent flowering.
Here are some tips for making your poinsettia last during the holiday season.
• Place the poinsettia in a sunny window.
• Do not let any part of plant touch cold window panes.
• Indoor temperatures, from 60 to 70°F, are ideal for long plant life.
• High temperatures will shorten the life of the colorful bracts.
• Water only when the soil is dry.
• Placing your poinsettia in a cool room 55 to 60°F at night, will extend blooming time.
• Do not fertilize when plant is in bloom.
• Avoid temperature fluctuations and warm or cold drafts.
There you have it, all that I’ve learned. Now, to put it to practice. We’ll see if I have the same beautiful poinsettia next Christmas season.
Excerpt from Chapter Three:
October 1789, the King’s Arms, Dover, England
With a petition to the Blessed Virgin that Captain Evans might find her très adorable, Cecile Beaumont lifted her burgundy-striped skirts and swished down the narrow steps from her second floor bedchamber to the scrubbed flagstone entry.
Fortune smiled on her and determined seamen had salvaged her trunk before The White Rose sank and bore all her worldly possessions to the bottom of the sea. That the forceful captain persuaded them to surrender her goods, she did not doubt. They’d plundered some of the cargo.
Uproar followed, soldiers arrived, and shots were fired—a minor distraction to Cecile after the upheaval in France.
Her all-consuming focus centered on her doubtful ability to masquerade as Mademoiselle Devereux. What other choice had she? She must remain in England!
Robust voices assailed her from the thronggathered in the main room of the King’s Arms. She paused outside the arched doorway framed with darkened oak, then stepped uncertainly inside. The massive hearth, flickering white tapers, and oil lamps shed light on the guests, mostly men, quaffing ale and recounting the adventure of the day in lively animation. One man even stood on his hands— comical if Cecile hadn’t been so taken aback. And hardly a female was to be seen. Those women she spotted were serving wenches or more common folk. Surely it was improper for a young lady, whom Cecile made every effort to emulate, to progress unescorted among the boisterous assembly?
Her rescuer had invited her to meet him here whenever she was ready. Or was he her guardian, host?
Whatever he was, her chest pounded like the surf when she spied Captain Evans seated alone at a corner table. His bearing instantly set him apart from the others. His companion, Sir Thomas Archer, must still suffer from his malady, poor man. The captain stared into the hearth as though oblivious of the surrounding commotion. His blond head shone in the mellow glow. He’d changed into a reddish-browncoat, fresh linen—not in the least frilled—fitted leather breeches, and boots buffed to a high gloss. His attire emphasized his rugged masculinity while declaring him a gentleman of the first order. And so he was, his late father a lord, she’d been told.
Should she hurry to his side, or remain as shewas? Calling out to a gentleman in public was unthinkable except under the most grievous circumstances. Hovering inside the doorway while male eyes roved over her didn’t qualify as dire, but she squirmed under their open appraisal. One bold man winked at her. Another made a gesture obscene in any language.
Cecile shrank back. Maybe she should hasten to her room and await a knock on the door. Her empty stomach protested and her heart drummed in expectation of meeting with the captain.
As if sensing her predicament, he glanced around. His blue gaze locked on her and the rowdy assembly faded into the background. A giddy swell surged through her middle, more potent than when she’d met the finest of French aristocracy, and stronger than any emotion she’d ever known—except fear. A goodly measure of that mixed in with the current coursing through her.
If violent emotion seized the captain upon sighting her, he gave no indication. Acknowledging her arrival with a nod, he got to his feet and strode to where she waited. The hint of a smile, reflected in his eyes, provoked a rush of hope in Cecile.~
Historical romance Into the Lion’s Heart is reduced at The Wild Rose Press and available in various formats (even ePub) to suit any e-reader or electronic device. So if you haven’t popped into the Wild Rose Press lately, or ever, give it a try. But it's also available at: Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other online booksellers.
First snippet—I know not where: Why did they laugh when they wanted to cry? Why not tell each other the horrible things that had happened in the winters, springs and summers since they parted?
A short poem I wrote for my first web site, now abandoned for the newer version http://www.lindanightingale.com/:
Do not trust what your ears hear
Or what your eyes may see
The taste on your lips may lie.
Here things are not what they seem.
So you may speak your mind clearly
But must be warned that
We may not understand or
Yet choose to reply….The Others
Visit my website for a hot vampire story starring Morgan.
This I know is from Sinners’ Opera, my vampire paranormal and is from the hero’s (Morgan) POV: I am beautiful. This is not vanity, but a statement of fact merely. And beauty is power. I am also wealthy. Another statement of power. And yet with all this, I cannot have the thing I want most. I can’t buy it. I can’t seduce it with my charm, aristocratic breeding or command it to me with the power of beauty. There are other dark powers I could use to bind love to me. But I refuse to use them on her. I want her to love me, the real me, and so I ask you, Ladies, would you shun a proposal of marriage from a man who can offer fortune, fame (I am a world-renowned pianist), a title (I am a British lord), power and beauty.
Share your snippets?
I have one more free download of The Unrepentant Rake to give away, and it has to be used by the end of this month. But much as I adore the toe bone, I'm tired of blogging about it, so I'll switch topics -- sort of. Any idea what this is? If you're a southerner, you probably do.
When I was in high school, our English teacher gave us a public speaking assignment. We were supposed to talk for one minute (whew -- plenty long enough for me) about any subject we chose. The catch was that we had to pick an entirely different subject from a hat. We were given only a few seconds to think about a way to segue from the subject we drew from the hat to the one we planned to talk about.
How about this:
I learned from that teacher that it's possible to connect anything to anything (particularly if a whole bunch of your peers are staring at you -- although more likely they're worrying about their turn, but what teenager thinks of that?). I have to mention my story to let you know about the free download, but I'd rather talk about The Destruction of the Demon Wisteria, bwa-ha-ha.
I don't know what's in that first picture. It spooks me out. In theory, there's a dead tree under all those dead-looking vines (shiver -- they're very much alive), but I'm not going in there to look.
When I first moved to Georgia, I had no idea wisteria was a demon. I come from the Pacific Northwest, where wisteria grows SLOWLY. In Georgia, it runs rampant if given a chance. Southerners know this, but as an innocent northwesterner, I had NO idea. Consequently, the demon took over. A few weeks ago, we finally hired some people to cut it all down. They had machetes and chainsaws and did a great job. The second pic is of Wisteria Rampant after a haircut.
But that doesn't mean it's all gone. No, it's lurking now, and the battle will begin again in spring.
Here is a pine that's still alive and has a chance:
How does this connect with The Unrepentant Rake? Only loosely, in that I can't help but look for magic in everything. I can't help but see the wisteria as a demon, or a cat as the Faerie King in disguise. And when a holy relic -- the toe bone of a saint -- showed up on the pages of my story and paved the way to True Love, who was I to resist?
That one free download from e-harlequin is up for grabs, so please comment for a chance to win. :)
It's the fourth week of 2012, have you kept your resolutions? Did you even make them?
I live to write down my resolutions, I look forward to writing my resolutions list and making copies of it that I place in strategic places throughout the house. I check it daily and smile nodding my head at the good resolution keeper that I am. I usually put a tick mark next to the date on my datebook. Check! Another day that I stayed on track!
I tell myself that I rule, and that this year is going to be 'the one'. The euphoric time usually ends by the second week of the year, when I begin to wait longer between visits to my list and when I do, I sigh more than smile at how behind I am and how bad it is that I didn't reach my goal...again.
Finally the list will be forgotten, I'll accidentally happen upon it and again I will sigh and pat the piece of paper as if it is the one that needed reassuring.
Not this year by golly. This year I'm super successful! I am making strides. Not sure where I'm headed except to say that for once in my life, I'm not disappointed. I'm not dejected and I'm not sighing.
Because I forgot to write down my resolutions! Ooops.
If you did make a list, I hope you're sticking to it and doing well. I may still sit down and write a list, I suppose it's still January.
Oh My God, just had a thought! If I make my list now, then next year I can say I made it past the first month!
Bye Ya'll - I gotta go - - Going to make my resolutions list...
Since Donna and Stacy were so entertaining yesterday I felt you would want to now more about them. I invited them back. I love their covers and their excerpts! (Pssst, More prizes, too!)
Hey, Donna! This cover is HOT! Tell us about the book, please.
There’s Only Been You by Donna Marie Rogers
The Wild Rose Press/Champagne Rose
“...wonderfully heartwarming...” ~ 4-Stars* Romantic Times BOOK Reviews
"There's Only Been You is a heartwarming story of family and a second chance at love.
Reading Donna Marie Rogers is like coming home." ~ Best-selling, Award-winning author Tori Carrington
Lies, drugs and a videotape are the reasons young lovers Sara Jamison and Mike Andrews have spent the last eight years apart, each believing the other betrayed them.
Sara has no clue where Mike's been all these years, but she knows where she's been—busy raising their son. Two weeks after he accused her of cheating and disappeared from her life, Sara discovered she was something she never expected to be—an unwed pregnant teenager. But with the love and support of her annoyingly alpha-male family, she's managed to make a good life for herself and her young son. She even owns her own business, Sara's Bakery, which she's built into a thriving success. Sure, she works too hard and her social life is nonexistent, but for the most part, she’s content.
Until the day Mike walks into her bakery and back into her life.
Sara was in the kitchen when she heard a truck pull up in front of the house. She ran into the living room and peeked out the window. Mike. She ran back into the kitchen and checked on the meatloaves. The cheese hadn't melted yet so she'd give them a few more minutes. She glanced at the table. Perfect.
"Ethan, are you ready? He's here!" she called out. When she didn't get a reply, she hustled down the hall to his bedroom and rapped on the door. "Ethan?"
"Come in," she heard him mumble.
Sara opened the door and saw him sitting on his bed with a Power Ranger action-figure clutched in his fist.
He looked scared to death and Sara's heart gave a little lurch. She sat down beside him on the bed. "You have the same look on your face as when you're going to the dentist." He had on a brand-new pair of jeans and his favorite Spiderman T-shirt.
"I was just thinking," he said.
Sara waited for him to elaborate, but he didn't. He's so much like Garrett. "About...?"
He turned his head and gazed up at her. "What if my dad don't like me?"
"Oh, sweetheart!" She put her arms around him and gave him a reassuring squeeze. "Your daddy is going to think you're the best thing since chocolate chip cookies, I promise."
"But his dad didn't like him."
Sara frowned. "Where did you hear such a thing?"
He shrugged one shoulder. "I heard Uncle Garrett and Uncle Nicky talking about it."
"You were eavesdropping? What did I tell you about that?" she gently chided him.
"Sorry. It's just that I wanted to know more about my dad, and I accidentally heard 'em talking. Then on purpose, I stayed and listened."
"Ethan, when you're older I'm sure your father will tell you about his own father. But in the meantime, I promise, your daddy already loves you and can't wait to meet you."
"Really?" He looked so hopeful Sara felt her heart swell with love for this incredible little person that was her son.
"Really and truly, honest to God. Now," she rose to her feet and motioned toward the door, "ready to go meet your father?"
Ethan slid off the bed and eyed the Power Ranger figure clutched in his hand as if trying to come to a decision. Finally, he set it down on the bed and said, "Okay, I'm ready."
Meant To Be by Donna Marie Rogers (sequel to There’s Only Been You)
"Witty and heartfelt, with an unforgettable cast of secondary characters. Meant To Be is a definite page-turner!" ~ Lori Foster, NY Times bestselling author
Donna Marie Rogers inherited her love of romance from her mother. Romance novels, soap operas, Little House On the Prairie--her mother loved them all. And though it wasn't until years later Donna would come to understand her mother's fascination with Charles Ingalls, Donna's love of the romance genre is every bit as all-consuming.
A Chicago native, Donna now lives in beautiful Northeast Wisconsin with her husband and children. She's an avid gardener and home-canner, as well as an admitted reality TV junkie. Her passion to read is only exceeded by her passion to write, so when she's not doing the wife and mother thing, you can usually find her sitting at the computer, creating exciting, memorable characters, fresh new worlds, and always happily-ever-afters. Donna also writes erotic romance as Liza James.
Donna Marie Rogers ~ www.DonnaMarieRogers.blogspot.com
Good morning, Stacy. Welcome. Your cover has such impact! I must know more.
Trust In The Lawe, Book 1 in the Colorado Trust Series by Stacey Joy Netzel is published by The Wild Rose Press.
Love without trust cannot survive ~ but there's more than their hearts in danger...
Kendra Zelner has three brothers: Eight-year old Noah she's determined to protect, Joel who has no clue she exists, and Robert who wants her dead.
With reason to be distrustful of cops, she takes Noah and flees their Manhattan home for Joel’s ranch in Colorado. Under the pretense of needing a job, she plans to hide out until her twenty-fifth birthday, when she’ll inherit her trust fund and legally gain custody of Noah away from Robert’s greedy hands. Unfortunately, her brother’s sexy, infuriating ranch manager insists on demolishing her defenses and digging into her past.
Colton Lawe has good reason to suspect Joel’s beautiful, long-lost sister isn’t what she seems—the little liar stole from him! He silently vows to expose her secrets, but long hours together on the ranch fosters a closeness and fiery attraction neither of them expects. Can Kendra trust Colton with the full truth before Robert finds them?
In the darkened bedroom, Kendra sat straight up and strained her ears to pick up anything unusual. Any sound to explain why she suddenly found her eyes wide open in the middle of the night without having had the dream.
A glance at the clock brought her up short. It was only ten-thirty. In the absence of any other explanation, she began to imagine that Robert had found them. Her heart pounded so hard in the acute silence, she heard the thump of each beat.
Then she heard a sound that chilled the blood in her veins—the muted sounds of footsteps on the kitchen linoleum. They were too heavy to be Noah’s…
She flew out of bed and peered into the hallway. All clear. Pressing against the wall, she scurried to the entryway between the living room and kitchen. A quick glance revealed the living room to be empty.
In the dim illumination from the light above the sink, she saw the kitchen was, too. Whispering across the floor in her bare feet, she grabbed a butcher knife and went to check on Noah.
She froze at the sight of a hulking shadow backing out of his room. If he hurt Noah…A blinding red wave of anger swept through her and she sprang forward, the knife raised high. “Leave him alone, you monster!”
The shadow’s arm rose to deflect her attack. He was definitely real, not a dream.
Flesh and blood after her brother. She had to stop him.
That single thought screamed inside her head. When his hand closed over her wrist, the one with the knife, the one thing she’d mastered in self-defense class flashed back.
She dropped the knife and seized his wrist with her free hand. Pure adrenalin gave her the strength to twist her back to his chest and plant her feet. Using his own weight and forward momentum against him, she bent at the waist and heaved him over her shoulder.
He landed flat on his back with a loud thump. The breath whooshed from his lungs. She heard a strangled gasp and squatted down, scrambling to locate the knife. The bite of the blade had her reaching with her other hand for the handle.
Ironically, a rush of temporary relief shook her knees even more.
She braced her free hand against the wall for support as she rose with the knife extended in front of her.
Slightly crouched, she swept her hand back and forth along the wall until she located the light switch. One flip and she’d confront Robert face to face. Her heart clogged her throat, but she forced her fingers to move.
The hallway lit up. Kendra nearly dropped the knife again as her other hand flew to her mouth in astonished horror.
He lay on the floor in front of her, squinting in the bright light. Then his gaze fixed on the nine-inch blade in her hand, and he scooted to sit against the wall.
What was he—her gaze narrowed before she spun around and hurried inside Noah’s room. Assured he was unharmed and still sleeping soundly, she returned to the hall to find Colton picking himself up off the floor.
Dizzying relief gave way to anger. He’d scared the living daylights out of her! “What the hell are you doing here?” she demanded.
His green eyes narrowed. His attention dropped to the hand at her side and then, without a single word, he strode toward the kitchen. She rushed after him and he whirled to face her. She jerked the knife up in automatic warning. “Stay there. I asked you a question.”
His gaze caught hers and held. The challenging glitter in his eyes held her immobile as he took a deliberate step forward and slowly reached to close his hand over her fingers on the handle. Heat from his touch radiated up her arm and through her entire body. She tried to pull away and his gaze darkened in tandem with the tightening of his grip.
“Threaten me again, and you’d better be damn sure you succeed the first time.”
Buy Links: The Wild Rose Press, Amazon Kindle, B&N Nook, ARe
Trust In The Lawe, and the other two books in the series, Shattered Trust and Shadowed Trust, all received 5 Stars and a REVIEWER TOP PICK from Night Owl Reviews. want to read. Well done, Ms. Netzel!” Read full review.
Thank you for reading!
Stacey Joy Netzel
Blog and Website: www.StaceyJoyNetzel.com
COLORADO TRUST SERIES
Love without trust cannot survive ~ but there's more than their hearts in danger...
Wisconsin native Stacey Joy Netzel fell in love with books at a young age, so for her the graduation to writing them was natural. A member of Romance Writers of America (RWA) and Wisconsin Romance Writers (WisRWA), she credits her parents for encouraging her dreams of becoming a published author, as well as the very talented friends she’s made in WisRWA since joining in 2004. Her books have received numerous 5 Star reviews from reviewers and readers alike, and her Christmas anthology, MISTLETOE RULES, took 1st place in WisRWA's 2010 Write Touch Readers' Award. Check out her romantic suspense Colorado Trust Series, Trust in the Lawe, Shattered trust, and Shadowed Trust. Other titles include: Lost In Italy, Ditched Again, Welcome to Redemption Series, Chasin’ Mason, Dragonfly Dreams, If Tombstones Could Talk.
An avid reader and big fan of movies with happy endings, Stacey lives in Wisconsin with her husband and three children, a couple horses and some barn cats. She works part-time as a travel agent, and in her limited free time she enjoys gardening, canning, and visiting her parents in Northeastern Wisconsin (Up North) at their cabin on the lake.
NOW FOR THE PRIZES! Drum roll, please.
Donna, you said there were more prizes?
Stacey and I will give a download each of our stories to one commenter.
Comment more than once for a better chance to win.
If you missed yesterday's blog, go back and read it!
I'm glad you made it to this special event. Help me welcome Donna Marie Rogers and Stacy Joy Netzel, authors of the fabulous Welcome to Redemption series. They promised an interview that will entertain and give us the scoop about certain people in Redemption. Grab a cup coffee, tea, or hot chocolate and find a seat up front. Erin Barnes should be out any minute.
(They also promised a prize for one lucky commenter.)
*Spoiler: If you haven’t read Home Is Where the Heart Is, Book 5, you may want to save this for afterward.
Erin Barnes: “Hi – This is Erin Barnes from Channel 5 news in Green Bay, reporting from Coffee To Chai For in the neighboring town of Redemption. You all know from my book club that I’m a huge fan of romance novels, and today I’m thrilled to welcome New York Times bestselling author, Katelynn Meadows. Fans of Katelynn’s will be surprised to learn Meadows is the pen name for Melinda Spalding, daughter of Spalding Industries CEO Jacob Spalding Sr. So let me start with, do you prefer Katelynn or Melinda?”
Melinda Spalding: “Lindy, actually.” [small smile curves her lips] “It’s been my nickname for as long as I can remember.”
Erin: “Lindy it is. And you’ve been in Wisconsin for how long now?”
Lindy: “Just a few months.”
Erin: “How do you like it here in—”
Erin: [laughs] “I was going to say Redemption, but maybe that answers my question…?”
Lindy: “Mayberry is my affectionate name for Redemption.”
Erin: “Ah—okay. Now, I know you grew up in L.A., so what brought you here to the Midwest?”
Lindy: “Spalding Industries opened a new plant here, and I was in charge of the start-up.” [smiles proudly] “SI provided the area with over five hundred new jobs.”
Erin: “I remember reading about that. How wonderful.” [tilts head thoughtfully] “So your move had nothing to do with your brother?”
Lindy sits silently, clearly uncomfortable with the question.
Erin: [undaunted] “It’s no secret he moved out here to escape the scandal of actress Amanda Ames’ death.”
Lindy: “My brother was cleared of all charges, and I’d prefer to not discuss my family, please.”
Erin: [pauses, gives a quick nod] “I can respect that. Back to Redemption—did you find it difficult to transition to small-town life after having grown up in the big city?”
Lindy: [shrugs one shoulder] “There was a time when I couldn’t imagine living here. Winter snow storms and below zero temperatures?” [playful shudder] “No thank you. But somehow I fell in love with this beautiful town…and everyone in it.”
Erin: “Does the ring on your left hand have anything to do with your change of heart?”
Lindy: [coyly bats her eyelashes] “Let’s just say home is definitely where the heart is.”
Erin: “I certainly can’t argue with that.” [leans forward, intrigued] “So is he here today? Will we get to meet him?”
Lindy: “No, I’m afraid he had to work. He owns and operates DP Tire & Auto, just down the road.”
Erin glances out the window and reels back in surprise at the crowd gathered outside.
Erin: “It seems you have quite the fan base here in Redemption. Suddenly, it feels like The Today Show.”
Lindy: [looks over her shoulder; eyes widen in comical dismay] “Oh, my God…”
Erin: “Sure is an interesting looking crowd.” [leans forward again] “Wait…Is that a pig?
Erin: [surprised laughter] “The animal in that lady’s arms, wearing the plaid sweater.”
Lindy: “Oh, that’s just June and Sweet Pea. She’s a little touched, but sweet.” [with a long suffering sigh, Lindy gets up and pushes opens the coffee shop door, gesturing everyone inside] “Well, let’s go. You all might as well come in.”
Everyone excitedly files in, filling every seat in the small shop.
Charlie Russell: [looks around the coffee shop] “Where the hell is Drew?”
Lindy: [eyes grow suspiciously bright; blinks rapidly] “He had to work.”
Lindy returns to her seat; Charlie scowls and slips out the door.
Erin: “So…I take it these are all friends of yours?”
Lindy: [Lindy nods, affectionately scanning the crowd] “Friends, family, and everything in between.”
The crowd erupts into applause and shout-outs. Lindy grins, but shushes the room.
Erin: “Lindy, readers just love your Magville series, and Moonlit Encounter has been receiving rave reviews. When I posted on my blog about this interview, the number one overwhelming question people asked is: When is your next book coming out?”
Lindy: [smiles into the camera] “My fans are amazingly supportive, I’m so lucky. And grateful. And I’m happy to announce that Moonlit Seduction is scheduled for an October 1st release.”
Erin: “Excellent news! I’m going to pre-order my copy tonight. Okay, the second most asked question: Where do you get the inspiration for your heroes?” [looks around the room] “Maybe that answer is obvious.”
Camera pans the crowd.
Hannah Porter: “Ask her about Sir Andrew Portland!”
Snickers erupt from the peanut gallery.
Carrie Lowell: [cocks a teasing brow at Lindy] “Seriously? Sir Andrew Portland?”
Allie Daniels: “I don’t get it—what’s so funny?”
Erin: “Lindy, would you care to explain?”
Lindy: “No comment.”
The bell above the door rings; Charlie enters dragging a reluctant Drew Porter by the collar of his oil-stained overalls.
Wes Carter: “All hail Sir Andrew Portland!”
Male guffaws and feminine giggles fill the room.
Drew Porter: [jerks free of Charlie’s grip] “Dammit, Charlie, let go!”
Erin: “And who is this?”
Lindy: “That would be my fiancé, Drew Porter.”
Allie: “Oh! Now I get it.” [chuckles self-consciously]
Erin: [looks Drew up and down] “You and me both, sister.”
Rick Wilde: “Good Lord, his ego barely fits through the door as it is. Could you women quit feeding it?”
Allie: “Don’t worry, hon, I only have eyes for you.” [twines her arms through his and smiles up at him]
Carrie: [as she pulls an empty tray from the display case] “Oh, please, spare us.”
Dana McClain: “Yeah. Go eat your lunch at home.”
Raucous laughter ensues; Charlie snuggles up behind Dana.
Max Frazier: “Why? They can eat lunch here.”
Caleb Hunter: [gives the kid’s shoulder a playful nudge] “Not what’s on Allie’s menu.”
Lauren Frazier: “I can’t believe you just said that…he’s only eleven!”
June: [tries to cover Sweet Pea’s eyes and ears] “Oh, my poor baby.”
Mrs. Langhart (of the local book club): “For heavens sake, June, she’s had babies of her own!”
Erin: “I hate to interrupt the fun, but can we please get back on track?”
Lindy: “Yes. Please.” [gives everyone in the room the stink eye]
Erin: [consults her notes] “Several of your readers would like to know where you get your ideas from?”
Lindy: [thinks about it for a moment] “That’s sort of a difficult question. Just about anything can spark an idea. For example, last summer I discovered a beautiful old church on Green Bay’s east side, and it completely captivated me. I took a few pictures, and within a week I’d written a thirty page synopsis for a new series I hope to get started on next year.”
Erin: [perks up] “A new series? Do tell.”
Lindy: “Well, as a little girl I used to watch Little House on the Prairie with my mom, and I always wondered what it would’ve been like to have lived during those times. That old church sparked an idea, and I finally decided to find out for myself by plotting a frontier series set in Northeast Wisconsin in the late 1800s.”
Erin: “I grew up watching Little House myself, so I am definitely looking forward to that. Since you write historicals, the answer to this next question might seem obvious: Do you find all the research tedious, or do you enjoy it?”
Wes: “Hey, shouldn’t that be a question for Sir Andrew Portland?”
Charlie: “Yeah. Because if she finds it tedious, he’s doing something wrong.”
Masculine chuckles overflow the room.
Tara Russell: “Come on you guys, ease up.”
Wes: “Ah, honey, you have to admit it’s pretty funny.”
Drew: [shakes his head] “Morons. Trust me, the lady is perfectly satisfied. Aren’t you, Hot Stuff?”
Lindy: “At the moment, I’m mostly annoyed.” [suddenly looks a little green around the gills and turns to the waitress hovering on the fringe of the crowd.] “Jenny, could you please bring me a Sprite?”
Jenny Adams: “Of course.”
Drew frowns, straightens and moves in closer, careful to stay out of the way of the cameras.
Lindy: “To answer your question, Erin, I do enjoy research. Especially when I can travel to the location I’ve set my books in and get a real feel for the area.”
Erin: “And will your fiancé travel with you now?”
Drew and Lindy eyeball each other.
Lindy: “Obviously, we haven’t talked about it yet.”
Erin clears her throat as she scans her notes. Jenny sets the soft drink on the table with a nervous glance at the camera before quickly moving out of the way.
Erin: “Here’s something I’ve always wondered. Do you set a schedule for writing, or do you—”
Lindy: “I’m sorry…I’m going to need a minute.” [stands, sways on her feet]
Drew: [rushes forward and catches Lindy in his arms] “Are you all right? Is it the baby?”
Lindy stares up at him in stunned, wide-eyed silence.
Erin: “Did you say baby?”
Hannah: “Oh my God, I’m going to be an auntie!”
Chaos ensues as everyone starts chattering at once.
Lindy: “What part of ‘ I’m not ready to tell anyone yet.’ don’t you understand?”
Drew: “I’m sorry, damn it. But you looked like you were about to pass out, and I panicked.”
Lindy: [lays her head against his chest with a long-suffering sigh] “It’s a good thing for you I feel like utter crap or I’d kick your sorry ass right now.”
Carrie and Matt turn to each other in stunned silence; Allie wraps her arms around Rick as they share a bittersweet smile; Wes kisses Tara on the forehead as he holds her tight; June Dolinski’s squeal drowns out Sweet Pea’s; Motor-mouth Marv high-fives Hutch, who then pulls Hannah into a bear hug; Caleb hoists Emma up on his shoulder as Lauren ruffles Max’s hair…
Carrie: [rushes out from behind the counter] “Drinks are on the house!”
Everyone cheers; a couple of smartasses yell, “Norm!” Jenny digs into her apron pocket for pen and pad as orders are called out.
Jacob “Matt” Spalding Jr.: [hollers from behind the counter] “Dammit, woman, I swear you do that just to annoy me.”
Carrie: “She’s your sister, Ebenezer Scrooge, get over it. And let me just remind you, this is my coffee shop. If I want to treat the whole freakin’ town to a coffee or an iced mocha or—”
Carrie’s rant is drowned out by the rest of the crowd.
Erin: [looking a little shell-shocked into the camera] “Needless to say, I have clearly lost all control of this interview. Good night from Redemption and thank you for watching. Don’t forget to tune in next week when I sit down with the Phipples, who claim to own the world’s largest collection of Smiley Meal toys.” [she leans over and taps Jenny on the arm] “l’ll take a Chai, please.”
The ladies promised to return tomorrow with more good stuff!