Author Interview, Blogging, Book Love, writers life, writing

MEANT TO BE YOURS by Susan Mallery Blog Tour

Meant to Be Yours cover

In Happily Inc, love means never having to say “I do”…

Wedding coordinator Renee Grothen isn’t meant for marriage. Those who can, do. Those who can’t, plan. But she never could have planned on gorgeous, talented thriller writer Jasper Dembenski proposing—a fling, that is. Fun without a future. And the attraction between them is too strong for Renee to resist. Now she can have her no-wedding cake…and eat it, too.

After years in the military, Jasper is convinced he’s too damaged for relationships. So a flirtation—and more—with fiery, determined Renee is way too good to pass up…until his flame becomes his muse.

Renee is an expert at averting every crisis. But is she finally ready to leap into the one thing that can never be controlled: love?

Q&A with Susan Mallery

 

What was your favorite part about writing Meant to be Yours

Ohhh, that’s a hard question! I love everything about writing romance. The first kiss is still magical to me. The passion, the emotional intensity. It’s a moment that changes the course of a person’s life. When you fall in love, your life is bisected into before and after. Love is transformative, and the greatest pleasure of my life is to write about it.

 

Jasper and Renee in particular were a lot of fun to write because Renee is just such a mama bear when it comes to protecting her brides. She’s a wedding planner at Weddings Out of the Box, a theme wedding venue in the town of Happily Inc. Jasper is a bestselling thriller writer who wants to set his next book at a wedding. Renee’s response made me laugh so loud that I’m pretty sure I scared my pets.

 

Jasper continued. “I thought I could follow you around for a few weeks, learn about the business and—”

 

“No,” she said firmly, as all thoughts of them having another close encounter faded from her mind. “You’re not getting your serial killer cooties on my weddings. I’m a big believer in keeping the energy positive and flowing forward. Do you know what a serial killer would do at a wedding?”

 

He stared at her, his gaze intense. “That’s what I was thinking. I want the serial killer to be a wedding crasher.”

 

“No,” she said firmly. “Just no.”

 

When Jasper goes behind her back to get intimately involved with one of her weddings, Renee vows to keep him from bringing darkness to her bride’s special day.

 

I also adored the animals in this book. In the beginning, Jasper doesn’t trust himself to let a woman into his heart. His simple but profound act of kindness to a dog who needs a home leads to him finally being ready to fall in love. The dog, Koda, is based on a reader’s real-life dog. I gave Koda the same adorable quirks and characteristics that make him special—and I gave Renee the reader’s last name in her honor.

 

Did you find out any funny or interesting facts about wedding planning when writing this book?

 

I have learned that brides and wedding planners are some of the most creative people in the universe. I can’t tell you how much time I spent on Pinterest, looking at pictures from theme weddings. There are some really beautiful themes, and some that are charming and humorous. Every theme uniquely reflects the bride and the groom in the most beautiful way. In Meant to Be Yours, Renee designs several lovely theme weddings with beautiful touches I think readers will enjoy. Here’s a snippet from one:

 

Jim and Monica Martinez were a sweet couple with a fun firefighter theme for their big day. There was a long tradition of firefighters on both sides of the family and plenty of cute touches in the wedding and reception.

 

Monica’s dress laced up the back and instead of white ribbon to cinch her gown, she’d used bright red. The centerpieces were ceramic boot vases painted to look like firefighter boots, filled with red, orange and yellow flowers. There was even a walk-through fountain at one end of the reception area, created with fire hoses, a pump and a lot of engineering.

 

Pay attention to that last sentence because I also discovered that a lot can go wrong when you invite a few hundred people to a party. Imagine a room filled with people who aren’t used to dressing up, plus a fountain made with fire hoses, and a wedding planner who will do anything to protect her bride.

 

Did Renee or Jasper surprise you while you drafted this novel? 

They did! When I started this book, I thought Jasper was the more wounded of the two. But as I wrote, I discovered that Renee’s scars went deeper than I thought. She’s been keeping a secret from her friends in Happily Inc, a secret about her mother that has cost her jobs, friendships and romantic relationships. Just when she starts to feel safe and accepted in her new home, her mother comes for a visit. . .

 

Can you share about what you’re working on right now? 

I’m working on revisions on the next Happily Inc book, a Christmas book that will be out next year. No title yet. It has all of the humor and heartfelt emotion readers love in my books—plus Christmas! I invited members of the Susan Mallery All Access group on Facebook (www.facebook.com/groups/susanmalleryallaccess) to suggest random items for me to incorporate into the story. When the book comes out next year, I’ll share a scavenger hunt list with my readers so they can find the objects as they read. It’s just a fun way for me to stay connected to my readers as I write. 

063-Susan Mallery Head Shots 2015-Annie Brady-mass market

SUSAN MALLERY is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of novels about the relationships that define women’s lives—family, friendship, romance. Library Journal says, “Mallery is the master of blending emotionally believable characters in realistic situations,” and readers seem to agree—40 million copies of her books have sold worldwide. Her warm, humorous stories make the world a happier place to live.

Susan grew up in California and now lives in Seattle with her husband. She’s passionate about animal welfare, especially that of the two ragdoll cats and adorable poodle who think of her as mom.

Author Website

Twitter: @susanmallery

Facebook: @SusanMallery

Instagram: @susanmallery

Goodreads

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You can pick up a copy here:

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Author Interview, Blogging, Book Love, writers life, writing

Gravemaidens by Kelly Coon – Blog Tour and Q&A

gravemaidens_cover

The start of a fierce fantasy duology about three maidens who are chosen for their land’s greatest honor…and one girl determined to save her sister from the grave.

In the walled city-state of Alu, Kammani wants nothing more than to become the accomplished healer her father used to be before her family was cast out of their privileged life in shame.

When Alu’s ruler falls deathly ill, Kammani’s beautiful little sister, Nanaea, is chosen as one of three sacred maidens to join him in the afterlife. It’s an honor. A tradition. And Nanaea believes it is her chance to live an even grander life than the one that was stolen from her.

But Kammani sees the selection for what it really is—a death sentence.

Desperate to save her sister, Kammani schemes her way into the palace to heal the ruler. There she discovers more danger lurking in the sand-stone corridors than she could have ever imagined and that her own life—and heart—are at stake. But Kammani will stop at nothing to dig up the palace’s buried secrets even if it means sacrificing everything…including herself.

Author Q&A

I would like to welcome amazing YA fantasy debut, Kelly Coon to my blog. I’m on her street team, the Skeleton Crew ❤ She answered some of my questions about her inspiration behind Gravemaidens, her writing process, and more. Let’s get started 🙂

Loie: Did Gravemaidens change a lot from the first to final draft? 

 

Kelly: What a good question! As a matter of fact, it DID. I’d say the finished hardcover is close to the 35th draft of this story. I dropped a POV character—the Boatman—and rewrote nearly every single scene from the book. It was a massive undertaking! 

 

Loie: When you’re brainstorming a new project, what do you start working on first? Do you like to research, think about the plot, or work on your characters? 

 

Kelly: I tend to start with my characters, because until I know who they are, I can’t know the plot. The decisions they make in their character arc will change the course of the plot, so I have to nail down what they want, what they need, the ghosts in their past, and the truth that they need to hear. I also need to know things like how they solve problems, how they view the world (because that impacts their voice), who they have conflicts with, and their values.   

 

Loie: Can you give us a hint at what you’re working on right now 🙂 ? 

 

Kelly: Yes! I just finished the last round of developmental edits on the GRAVEMAIDENS sequel (I cannot wait until I get to introduce you to some of the new characters) and am working on a contemporary stand-alone with speculative elements. It’s a daunting book, because one POV is written in verse and another POV is written in prose. =)

 

Loie: When were you first inspired to write Kammani’s story? 

Kelly: I wrote two completely different novels set in versions of Kammani’s world from 2013-2015, but the characters and plots did not work at all. I hadn’t yet gotten to the heart of the story she should be in. So, I scrapped those two novels completely and started over from scratch in 2016 with new characters, a new premise, and a whole new world. I queried it in early 2017 and got my agent, Kari Sutherland, who is amazing, in April of 2017, just a couple of weeks after she read it. =)

 

Loie: When you’re writing, do you need complete silence or do you listen to music?

 

Kelly: I actually listen to white noise for the most part. I’ve written six novels (and much of a seventh) with white noise, but the poetry I’m writing for my WIP has been written to loud, screaming, pulsing music. Haha

 

Loie: What was your favorite part about writing Gravemaidens? 

 

Kelly: There’s one scene near the end of the story where I felt myself let loose. Like I untied all my strings and allowed my imagination to take me wherever it wanted to go, plot outline be damned. This scene is still one of my favorite scenes in the whole book because it’s imaginative and weird and exactly the right fit for that part of the story. 

 

Sometimes writing this book was an absolute struggle, but other times—like that night—it was magic. 

 

Thank you a million times, Loie! These questions were amazing! =)

Loie: Thank you so much for answering all of my questions 🙂 If you’re interested in pre-ordering a copy of Gravemaidens, you can find it here. It releases next Tuesday, October 29th. I’m anxiously awaiting for my own copy to arrive in the mail! 

Until next time,

Loie xo

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Blogging, Book Love, fairy tales, Nature, October Poetry Challenge, Poetry, writers life, writing

October Poetry Challenge: Day 13, 14, 15, & 16

ocean wave
Photo by Simon Clayton on Pexels.com

A Calling

 

Every month

the mournful wind calls

and I must endure it-

for the town that ignores my presence,

for the ones who aren’t yet born.

*

Want

 

If you asked me what I wanted,

I would sit back, stumped.

Other than escaping this tower,

I have no idea of what I should want-

could want.

*

Let’s Go to the Sea

 

If the wind wails a horrible tune,

then the sea promises to heal.

Or this is what I believe.

 

I can only see the pale stretch of sapphire

lined with white foam,

of what I imagine must be waves.

*

Alone

 

The dance of the leaves

reminds me of swaying trees

and forgotten friends.

*

Hope you’re all having a great week!

Loie

Blogging, fairy tales, Nature, October Poetry Challenge, Poetry, writers life, writing

October Poetry Challenge: Day 4

avian beak bird blur
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

My teeny winged friend

brings me young yellow roses

on a dismal day.

*

Happy poetry writing, friends! Check out my first post if you’re just arriving. My dear CP, Shelby Kisgen, started this poetry challenge 🙂

Loie

 

 

 

Blogging, Book Love, fairy tales, Nature, October Poetry Challenge, Poetry, writers life, writing

October Poetry Challenge Day 2 & 3

sky space milky way stars
Photo by Miriam Espacio on Pexels.com

The Stillness Becomes Too Much

 

I press flowers and leaves in between my only book.

For what can I do until the dusky night

and the symbols of another voice

speckle the sky?

 

I flip through the yellowed pages,

pausing at the bud my dear sparrow brought me

years ago when I first arrived at this wretched tower.

 

I’m not alone, I’m not alone,

I whisper to the silence.

*

The Song of the Wind

 

On storming days, when the sway of the wind shakes my prison,

I lay flat on my back and try to breathe.

Counting the flecks of white on the stonewall,

I wait until the swell of the gale hurls away to the next town.

 

Has the Autumn King had his fun?

Slowly, I’ll sit up and gaze outside my window,

taking in the naked trees and the gilded leaves

littering the ground like thin pieces of gold.

 

I want to shout at the wind to come back,

to take me away,

but it has already left.

*

Happy poetry writing, friends 🙂 !

Loie

 

 

Blogging, Book Love, canadian authors, fairy tales, national novel writing month, October Poetry Challenge, Poetry, writers life, writing

October Poetry Challenge: Day One

white ceramic teacup with saucer near two books above gray floral textile
Photo by Thought Catalog on Pexels.com

Hi everyone!

My dear writer friend, Shelby Kisgen, started a poetry challenge 🙂 You can check out her original post here. She’s inviting everyone to pen a poem every day this month. You can read her first poem!

I’m joining the challenge 🙂 I hope you will too! I’ve decided to write from the perspective of my characters from my NaNoWriMo project. Hopefully, this will help me understand their motivations, desires, and struggles a bit more.

Today’s poem is from my main heroine. I still don’t know her name yet 😀

*

Starlight

With reverence, I study the night sky.

I read the stars dappled across the ebony expanse

analyzing, translating, listening

 

I scrutinize until my eyes are dry, my fingertips worn

from transcribing the message over and over again

onto parchment paper she will burn.

 

All of this is for her.

Will she let me leave this tower, this prison without doors?

*

There you have it 🙂 A short piece for now. Happy writing, friends! I can’t wait to read your poems.

Loie xo

 

Blogging, Book Love, canadian authors, writers life, writing

Rewriting and Querying Update

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February 21st

Hi friends, it’s been a while since I’ve written a personal post. I’ve had a lot of interviews, cover reveals, and reviews so I thought I’d change it up today.

Firstly, how is everyone doing 🙂 ? Have you had a good winter/summer season so far, wherever you might be?

I’m going to share about my writing journey today.

Rewriting

Right now, I’m rewriting my creepy Bluebeard retelling. You can find one version of the fairy tale here.

This was actually the first novel I ever attempted to write. I began it when I was 20 years old and living in Toronto. I went to a local cafe every day, dutifully putting in my hours, haha 🙂 I remember thinking to myself, if I don’t start writing, I’m never going to!

I decided to try my hand at a fairy tale retelling. That year I had been inspired by Marissa Meyer’s ingenious futuristic fairy tale, Cinder.

I began writing that story but came to a dead end at around 30,000 words. That fall, I started a story that would later become THE LOST SAGES, my seafaring fantasy I’m currently querying.

Alas, as I query THE LOST SAGES, I’ve decided to rewrite my Bluebeard story. It’s been so much fun to dive back into that world. I feel excited when I get to the computer. It’s a nice change and helps with the querying angst, hahah!

Querying

Querying isn’t easy. It can be discouraging and upsetting at times. I have to remind myself why I write. If I forget, I get caught up in striving and ruminating about finding an agent.

I’ve read many interviews, and a lot of authors say it only takes one yes 🙂 Don’t give up, friends! Remember why you write ❤ Also, make sure you research the publisher or agent you’re sending your manuscript to.

I hope you feel encouraged. We’ve got this! We can ALWAYS keep improving our craft.  We can work hard and write the best story possible. Find critique partners and swap novels or chapters.

Yesterday, as I reread a chapter from the middle of TLS, I grinned to myself. It read like a real book 😀 What a nice feeling and boost to keep going.

Have a good week. I’m going to return to regular blogging. I’d like to keep posting more calls for submissions and interviews with authors.

Let me know what you’re working on in the comments below 🙂

Until next time,

Loie xo