After reading introductions by the fabulous authors of this blog I wonder how to present myself. Most of you are small town girls who really belong to Main Street in Quaint County. I’m the odd ball here. Are you sure you want to keep me?
Born in a foreign capital, I grew up in a big city on the Mediterranean Sea, lived in too many places, and traveled to more countries than you could discover on your map. Ten years ago while I was still working as a Director of Chemistry in an International Environmental Company, I drove to the airport at least twice a week. Boarding a plane was as easy for me as taking the bus for any of my neighbors.
Someone mentioned that we were “international” on this blog. Sweetie, you came to the right person here. If you need advice on how to pack a suitcase in ten minutes, don’t hesitate to ask. If you want to learn how to say good morning or I love you in French, Italian, Spanish, Greek, German, Russian, Arabic, don’t hesitate to ask.
During my trips abroad, I toasted with vodka in Russian countries (See my contemporary romance, TO LOVE A HERO); exchanged a romantic kiss with my husband on the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris (See RIGHT NAME, WRONG MAN); slept in a chateau in the Loire Valley (See my romantic suspense FRENCH PERIL); strolled overdressed in bathing suit along a nude beach in Greece (HER GREEK ROMANCE); rode a camel around the pyramids and sphinx in Egypt and fed giant turtles in Seychelles Islands (included in my hilarious paranormal OSIRIS’ MISSING PART).
I experienced more exciting adventures that I plan to incorporate in future books: sailed through the Norwegian Fjords; photographed the penguins in Chili; swam with baby sharks in Tahiti; smoked the narghile in Tunisia; and many more…
And yet, this big metropolis girl has always longed to be part of a group, or a place where people know your name, say hello, and recognize you, where you’re not an unknown entity, a blank face they pass on a big avenue. Yes, my secret wish has always been to belong to a cheerful neighborhood. So I hope you’ll keep me and I’m here to stay.
But with such a background is it any surprise that I use international settings for my romances? My heroes are: French count who gives bisous and perfect French kisses as in RIGHT NAME, WRONG MAN; Greek mogul who takes you on a sun-set cruise on his yacht in HER GREEK ROMANCE; Russian general who toasts with vodka in TO LOVE A HERO; Egyptian god from the mythology who treats his heroine as a goddess, in OSIRIS’ MISSING PART.
Hi, I’m Carol and send you a big Southern welcome to Authors of Main Street!
Authors of Main Street photo at the top of this page reminds me of the town in Tennessee where I grew up. The town was so small; Main Street was about all we had for shopping. I loved our town and its warm friendly people. Of course we had challenges like any other small town across America. Many of the characters I write about could come from any range and mixture of possibilities.
The local drugstore was two blocks from our high school, where a group of us often slipped away for lunch when we didn’t get caught. Ah, the swiveling stools, cherry cokes, milkshakes and hamburgers were worth the risk, because we were getting away with something. The theatre was next door and probably held a whopping 100 people, max. No, we never gained access to the theatre during school hours. Think Andy Griffith on this one. The manager was a tough guy, nice, but tough. Half the time I wondered how my mom knew where I was and what I did. Well, her knowledge came from the small town family. I will admit, sometimes their interest was a blessing. Other times I wasn’t so happy eyes followed me around and reported back to my mom.
I love my characters. I love basing them on the good and the bad personalities that make up life. That’s what makes them real. I visualize characters and jump right on the page with them. Often the theme I write about is forgiveness. Whether planned or not, forgiveness sneaks its way into my stories. That’s okay, because I believe forgiving others is an important part of living.
A Smoky Mountain Christmas was set in The Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, a favorite place of mine. There’s something about the cool crisp air and the feeling of freedom associated with mountains and being caught in a snowstorm with a handsome gentleman. This book was a lot of fun to write, because it’s filled with humor and the heroine finds herself completely out of her element.
Perfect Match was set in the Tennessee mountain fictitious town of Crossroads. There, in my minds eye, I found quirky characters that make up most small towns. I almost didn’t finish this book, but the characters kept calling me to complete their story. Two characters at odds with each other, must decide if they can work out their problems and learn to forgive and fall in love again.
My books are available at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Sony, Kobo, Apple, Diesel and Smashwords.
You can find links to check them out at http://caroldevaney.weebly.com/my-books.html
I’d love you to visit Authors of Main Street again to see what we’re up to. Please don’t forget to comment all month for a chance to win the big prize at the end of the month.
(Not quite up there with “Who is John Galt?” as far as literary references go, but give me time.)
To begin with, my literary career began with an elephant story in second grade inspired by nuns back when nuns used to wear those very intimidating—I mean inspirational—habits.
You could say that I’ve had enough time already (to become as famous as John Galt) (I see many of you scratching your heads wondering who the heck is John Galt— that’s the point), but I’ve done a few other things between second grade and now, XX years later (XX refers to a forever undisclosed number who’s divulgence is punishable by…something—maybe I’ll consult with those nuns on that).
The story goes like this:
Long ago and far away (not too far, but not down the street either), little Stephanie princess, who wore pink and ruffles…and also liked to climb trees and beat up the neighborhood boys (she was a renaissance princess), didn’t necessarily feel like she fit in. Actually, she thought she was a real princess, misplaced. So she created her own royal world inside her head. And thus it began.
Flash forward XX years later (once again, do not even spend a molecule of curiosity on how many years XX refers to because you will never, ever, never know. By royal decree.) and Stephanie Princess has grown up to Stephanie Queen and has been thanking her lucky stars and those nuns for her landing in this Queendom of story writing for her career.
What did she do in all those XX intervening years you ask?
She did plenty. After all, she needed some experiences to write about, even though she makes all her stories up. Wait, that makes no sense. What was all that experience for anyway? Oh, you say maybe the emotions are real. Sure. I’ll go with that. I/She had to go through life and experience emotions in order to share them on the page with her readers.
So here are some of those emotional experiences:
Stephanie Queen was a college co-ed at UConn (go huskies!). She loved this experience so much she would have stayed there forever, except it’s not the kind of role you can do on a permanent basis. But she did take her college co-ed legacy with her. You’ll recognize her enthusiastic tone and her upbeat storylines with happy endings born of the relentless cheerfulness honed as a UConn cheerleader. (Go Huskies!)
Stephanie got married and had two robust handsome sons who are now fabulously take-over-the world-ambitious (but not in an evil villain way). Her sons help with concocting the “flawed” heroes in her stories.
Stephanie held many different jobs and careers ranging from Keebler elf/cookie sales girl to Math teacher (I was voted the least serious math teacher ever to factor a polynomial).
One thing Stephanie is not into: routine. Not even when I want to be. The only routines I can handle are dance routines. The only schedules I can follow are marked by loud bells via intercom. But that’s a good thing. My compulsion to mix it up in life translates to lots of plot twists in my stories and a dearth of boring middles—so someone told me. Okay, it was my editor who mentioned this.
And here I am.
Welcome to the Queendom of Stephanie Queen where lighthearted romance mixes with mystery in story worlds you never want to leave (but I will let you leave—it’s not a prison or anything). I’m lucky to be one of the storefronts at Authors on Main Street, a neighborhood of fabulous and kindly tolerant romance authors.
p.s. I do NOT write fairy tales about princesses and frogs. Where would anyone get that idea anyway?
I have a confession to make. I love books—reading and writing them. I also love food—eating and cooking it.
According to my family, I’m a good cook. I’m the kind of wife and mother that I always—okay, just about always—have dinner on the table in the evening. The downside of this is that the family likes what I cook better than restaurant food so I’ve created my own enslavement in the kitchen.
Connecting Food & Romance Novels
You may be wondering what this has to do with romantic comedy which is the genre for which I’m known. Well, food provides a sensual experience, and so does sex. There’s something downright sexy about many of the male chefs on TV, don’t you think? (My daughter and I call them food studs.) I won’t even get into all the scenes in books and movies that pair food and sex!
As an author, I was published first in print. In my print books, I usually ended up editing out the food parts of the stories, leaving just minor references to what people were eating.
When I embraced ebooks—and, happily, ebook readers embraced me in return—I decided to start leaving in those food parts. After all, I didn’t have an editor saying, “Take that out.” I mean, you’ve all heard the old saying, “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.”
(I have to interject here that I have a character in my romantic comedy JANE (I’m-Still-Single) JONES quoting that aphorism, and then saying that anyone who believes that doesn’t know much about male anatomy. But, I digress.)
In my last romance Old Enough To Know Better, which I call a cougar-licious romantic comedy, my heroine is Stormy Clarkson, and her hobby is making artisan cheeses.
Men Love Cheese
I chose cheeses specifically because my husband thinks he can’t live without cheese. I mean it’s fattening so what man doesn’t like cheese? When we were in Italy, we had some of the most delicious fresh cheeses. I told hubby then that I’d learn how to make a cheese like that. Naturally, if I want to learn something, I write about it. Thus Stormy’s talent was born. She became an artisan cheese maker. I guess you could say she taught me how to make mozzarella. In the opening scene, she’s demonstrating how to make this cheese.
As I was writing this book, I procured all the ingredients and cooked up a few batches of cheese to see how it was done. I mean, how can I tell others, in a scene, how to make mozzarella at home if I haven’t done it myself? Naturally, I included the recipe as one of the Bonus Features in Old Enough To Know Better.
Want Stormy’s Recipe?
I’m not going to be mean and say buy the book (only $2.99 this month!) if you want to learn how to make mozzarella. Of course, I’d love for you to buy Old Enough To Know Better, available at all major ebook sellers, but I’m easy. I’d post the recipe here, but that would make this blog post way too long.
If you don’t want to buy the book to get the recipe and instructions, just send an email to me: Joan at JoanReeves dot com (In the Subject box, put Real Live Person – Stormy’s Recipe). I’ll send you the recipe by return email.
I love writing. I love including Bonus Features in all my books. And I love this cheese I learned how to make. So does my darling hubby!
I erased the first line of this blog three times before settling on this one. Not much of a first line, you might say, and that would be true if it weren’t a commentary on who I am and why I love writing romance. I read my first romance: DEFY NOT THE HEART by Johanna Lindsey in the summer after my first year of law school. My husband and I were heading out to the Rockies to camp and get away. It was the only novel in the gas station I hadn’t read that wasn’t about how to save my soul.(Which arguably I could have used.) We got stuck in a dust storm in Nebraska and had to stay in the back of the pick-up for the night. I finished that book by flashlight.
That was twenty-three years ago. I never looked back. Devouring romance kept me sane through law school and during the twenty-one years of practice that have followed.
After my first week practicing law, I joined a karate school because I wanted a way to exercise my mind, body and spirit that had the added benefit of allowing me to punch and kick without being arrested. I think it’s fair to say that advocacy, romance and Okinawan Shorin Rhu keep me balanced and whole.
In January I left the full-time practice of law. At that point I’d published SPARRING PARTNERS Book 1 of the Dojo Chronicles and SECOND CHANCES. I also had a major portion of FIGHTING FATE Book 2 of the Dojo Chronicles completed (available June 2012).
All of my stories feature strong heroines who are at a point of transition in their lives, whether by choice or circumstance or both, they are really in the soup of uncertainty. I love writing about the flawed yet heroic ways they get themselves out. My heroes help or hinder my heroines on their journey, most of the time as in real life, they do both. I love funny, poingnant and steamy romance, so that’s what I write.
This is a wonderful time to be a reader. There are so many wonderfully written books out there to enjoy and so many magical places to visit within them. It’s also a perfect time to be a writer. The marketplace is exploding, demand is more accessible to those of us with product, and cost is low, especially for indie books. With great products, low consumer cost and wide distribution outlets the world just became a more magical place for all of us who love to read and write romance.
I’m happy to be here and I can’t wait to share this writing, reading, and living journey with all of you. This is a great group of authors. I hope in the posts to come we will all entertain, inform and add a little magic to Main Street.
Peace and Happy Spring,
I’ve lived in Ottawa, Ontario, most of my life – but when I began writing romance novels, intending to submit them to mainstream publishers, I thought setting my stories in the United States or England would improve my chances. Over time, though, I’ve realized that my own country is a more comfortable fit for the stories I want to tell.
I find the setting often inspires the tone and flow of the story, and once I’ve chosen a location, the rest seems to fall into place much more easily. The true challenge comes in conveying the visual appeal of the setting in my descriptions.
I set Divided Hearts in the western province of British Columbia, feeling its lush, unspoiled coastline provided an ideal backdrop for a love story. Immersing myself in the location as I wrote, I could easily envision myself there; I could almost feel the wind in my hair and smell the ocean air as I described Faye’s afternoon on Simon’s sailboat. I’ve been to Vancouver many times, and never tired of gazing up from the beaches of Spanish Banks toward the mountains rising across English Bay.
Wine & Roses was in large part inspired by a trip to beautiful Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, where my husband and I toured several wineries and dined at a reputedly haunted inn. I knew I had to use these two elements in a novel, while incorporating the town’s history involving the War of 1812.
My latest novel, Healing Anna’s Heart, is set in Nova Scotia, a coastal province that is as stunning as B.C. but offers a unique East Coast atmosphere. Though most of the action takes place in the city of Halifax, I couldn’t resist having the characters venture down to Peggy’s Cove, a small fishing community famous for the lighthouse perched on its rocky shoreline.
From the breathtaking natural coasts to the diverse small towns and big cities between, Canada has endless amazing locations to choose from, and I look forward to exploring more of them in my future writing.
Please visit my website susanrhughes.weeby.com to learn more.