Archive for the ‘Jen’s Jewels’ Category

Jen’s Jewels with Candis Terry

Monday, June 30th, 2014

Summer is the perfect time for a hot, new romance. Don’t you agree? There’s just something about the warm weather, cool breezes, and gorgeous sunsets that spark new relationships.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a trendy teenager or a sexy senior, when the stars align magic can happen. Yet, sometimes relationships have a way of becoming complicated especially when two strong personalities are paired together. But, the end result of finding the ideal match is well worth taking a chance.  

This month’s Jen’s Jewels Candis Terry addresses this very topic in her latest release, Something Sweeter. Recently, I had the opportunity to chat with Candis about her amazing career as well as her new summer read. As part of my interview, Avon Books has generously donated five copies for my trivia contest listed below. (Winners will be randomly drawn. Offer void where prohibited.) Be sure to stop by www.jennifervido.com, follow me on Facebook JenniferVido.com, or on Twitter and Pinterest @JenniferVido for the most up-to-date news in the publishing world.

Jen: As a multi-published contemporary romance author, your personal journey to publication is a story in itself. So that my readers may catch a glimpse into the life of the woman behind the words, please briefly share with us your educational and professional background.
Candis: My educational background is a mish-mash of the arts—music, art history, design, drama, creative writing. As a kid I was the one orchestrating the neighborhood talent shows. So it was pretty clear early on that I’d never be a person who sat behind a desk pushing numbers around. My professional background is just as diverse. After high school I was a hairdresser, then I worked as a recording engineer in Hollywood, I designed MTV type of costumes for 80’s hair bands, then I discovered the world of graphic design and I worked in the advertising/marketing industry for over 30 years. I took me 22 years of working hard to become a published author. I think discovering long ago all those arts that weren’t widely accepted in the business world helped me develop the patience and stick-to-itness to finally realize my dream.

Jen: Please describe for us your “Aha!” moment when you decided to take the plunge and pursue a career as a writer.
Candis: Well, I didn’t actually decide to take the plunge into the career. I sort of morphed into it. For years I dabbled in writing (angst-riddled teenage poetry!). I had many teachers encourage my writing, including my college drama professor who highly recommended I give up the idea of acting and stick to storytelling. When my daughter was an infant who refused to sleep through the night, a friend handed me a stack of romance novels to read. Reading and rocking that nocturnal baby girl a light bulb went off, but I didn’t begin to write until four years later. From there I developed an unshakable passion for writing. It just took me a while to figure out where I fit in. I always wrote stories that were either before or behind the newest genre craze. It began to wear on me. I’d decided to just write one last book (after 10 manuscripts that never sold) to see if I could get it published after that I’d just write because I love to. But I was going to write that final story in my own way, in my own voice, and to heck with what anyone out there was actually looking for. I never imagined it would sell. I’d almost given up. Until my good friend NYT bestselling author Rachel Gibson laughed at me and said, “I almost gave up too. Right before I sold.” And guess what? That’s exactly what happened to me. Moon and stars perfectly aligned? I think so.

Jen: In terms of nuts and bolts, approximately how long does it take for you to complete a novel? And, what is the most challenging part of the process?  
Candis: Generally it takes me a solid four months to write a single title book and about two to three weeks for a novella. Without a doubt the most challenging part is digging deep beneath all the witty banter, the hot bodies, and the sexy grins to find the “real” motivations and backstories of the characters. I’ve often started out in one direction with a pretty solid outline of the story, and somehow the characters always take me in another direction. The weirdest thing is when I’m writing a series, all these little nuances come together throughout each book and work like stair steps into the next book. It’s like I planned it! I’m humble enough to know I’m just not that savvy. My characters (and my amazing editor) are smart enough to help me figure it out. For instance, something pretty major is revealed in Something Sweeter and after it happened, I realized the events that had taken place in the previous two Sweet, Texas books had been leading up to it. I totally didn’t see it coming! Even after I typed the words, I looked at them several times, wanting to delete them because they didn’t fit into what I had originally planned. In the end, I let it go because it made total sense. Bu it still shocked me!

Jen: Your latest release Something Sweeter is the third book in the Sweet, Texas series. For those readers not familiar with the previous titles, what is the premise of the series?
Candis: The series is based on five brothers who are all former or current Marines, except for their oldest brother who was killed in Afghanistan. The overall storyline is based on how each of them deals with the loss and tries to move on and find his way back to the real world. Of course with the help of the woman who’s strong enough to take him on. The Sweet, Texas books are more than just about a romance, they’re about family (even the four-legged furry members), a town, and a community that all come together to help each other out. Most of the time it’s done in a very humorous fashion. But there are plenty of tears to be shed, too.

Jen: Please give us a sneak peek behind Allison and Jesse’s story in your fabulous summer read.
Candis: I’d just finished writing Anything But Sweet with Reno Wilder, the strong, silent, sexy cowboy with a tragic past that has left him unable to move forward. And Sweetest Mistake with Jackson Wilder, a hot, strong-willed fireman with a sensitive heart who always manages to say the wrong thing. Jackson and I went head-to-head every single day I worked with him. By the time we wrapped up his story, I needed a break. Jesse Wilder was my fun guy, who, of course, was harboring a heartbreaking secret. They never make it easy on me. His troubles really start when Allison Lane, the daughter of the man about to marry his mother and who is also the woman who blew Jesse off the night before, pops into his life. Allison might be a wedding planner, but that doesn’t mean she has to believe in the whole happily ever after thing. For whatever reason—maybe because of the way she fills out a pair of jeans—Jesse takes it upon himself to change her mind. Even if personally he has no intention of ever saying wedding vows. It’s a pretty fun ride.

Jen: As you were writing the book, did you feel a certain connection to one of the characters?
Candis: I always do. I guess that’s what makes the books so special to me. Allison’s past haunts me in many ways. The hardest scene to write was the conversation she had with her father about her past. When I reach deep into the characters, I need to find something from real life to relate to. Whether it comes from me, a friend, or a story I’ve heard from somewhere, I need to give that extra connection to my characters. I hope that’s why I get messages from readers who tell me how a characters story resonates in them. That’s very important to me.

Jen: Let’s switch gears now and talk about your promotional plans. Please take us on a brief tour of your website highlighting points of interest.  
Candis: I’ve really tried to give my readers and potential readers everything I’ve ever wanted to see on a website. I offer the ‘buy’ links to all the books for easy access. I provide a healthy excerpt along with the Playlist for each book. I also offer recipes from the characters. I always post my blog tours, my upcoming appearances, and there’s also a press kit just in case. I do blog and sometimes run a contest giveaway from there though I’m more likely to do that on Facebook these days.

Jen: Are you present in social media? And, what is the best way for my readers to keep abreast of your latest news?
Candis: I’m all over the place! Staying in touch with my readers is vital. They are number one. My website is www.candisterry.com Twitter is @CandisTerry and Facebook is https://www.facebook.com/pages/Candis-Terry/131817443567853?focus_composer=true&ref_type=bookmark

Jen: Are you currently at work on your next book? If so, what may you share with us?
Candis: I just finished Sweet Surprise (Fiona Wilder’s story—February 2015 release), and now I’m actually working on two new books. Sweet Cowboy Christmas is a Sweet, Texas novella that will be published through the Avon Impulse line in early December 2014. And after that will be baby brother, Jake Wilder’s story (a yet to be named late 2015 release).

Jen: When you take a break from writing, how do you like to spend your free time?
Candis: Away from a computer! I have a large country garden that challenges me to keep my flowers and vegetables alive during the scorching summers. Also my family and I take our trailer out to the Idaho forests to ATV, fish, and enjoy nature. It’s how I refill my creative well. I write small town romances and we are always stopping in small towns. So I get plenty of food for heart and imagination.

Jen: Are you involved in any charitable causes that have influenced you in a personal or professional way?
Candis: I’ve always been involved in community/charity support and over the years have created many projects to support causes such as the Special Olympics (I had a brother who suffered severe brain damage and muscular dystrophy), the Humane Society, http://www.nowzad.com an organization that rescues strays and abandoned animals in Afghanistan and often reunites the animal with their adoptive soldier, and the Women and Children’s Alliance (safety, healing and freedom from domestic abuse & sexual assault).

Jen: Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to chat with my readers. Best of luck in all of your future projects! Happy summer!
Candis: Thank you so much for having me here. I’m never to busy to meet and chat with people. That’s how I meet my newest best friends! Wishing you all the very best!

I hope you have enjoyed my interview with Candis Terry. Please stop by your favorite online retailer or local library branch and pick up a copy of Something Sweetertoday. Better yet, how would you like to win a free copy instead? Okay, send me an email at jensjewels@gmail.com with the correct answer to the following trivia question and you’ll be entered to win. Good luck! (Offer void where prohibited.)
What is the title of Candis’ next project?
Later this month, I will be chatting with Kate White, editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine about her new release, Eyes on You. You won’t want to miss it. And as always, thanks for making Jen’s Jewels the ultimate source for news on today’s hottest authors.

Jen’s Jewels with Elin Hilderbrand

Friday, June 13th, 2014

Let’s be honest. We’ve all tried our hand at matchmaking. Who can resist the temptation of pairing a close friend or co-worker with a potential mate? Not this hopeless romantic! With some careful planning and good ol’ fashion luck, the stars have been known to align. Many of these relationships have even blossomed into happily-ever-after unions. Whether it’s a match made in heaven or a horrid dating disaster, it’s definitely worth a try.    

This month’s Jen’s Jewels Elin Hilderbrand addresses this very topic in her latest release aptly titled, The Matchmaker. Recently, I had an opportunity to chat with her about this fabulous summer read and much more. As part of my interview, Little, Brown & Company has generously donated five copies for my trivia contest listed below. (Winners will be randomly drawn. Offer void where prohibited.) Be sure to stop by www.jennifervido.com, follow me on Facebook JenniferVido.com, or on Twitter and Pinterest @JenniferVido for the most up-to-date news in the publishing world.

 

Jen: As a bestselling author with thirteen books in print, your personal journey to publication is a story in itself. So that my readers may catch a glimpse into the life of the woman behind the words, please briefly share with us your educational and professional background.
Elin: I went to the Johns Hopkins University undergrad, then took 5 years off to live in both New York City and Nantucket, and then I returned to school to pursue my MFA at the University of Iowa.

Jen: Please describe for us your “Aha!” moment when you decided to take the plunge and pursue a career as a writer.
Elin: When I was seven years old, I won the second grade “Top Author” award, and that’s when I decided to take the plunge.  I never wanted to do or be anything else.

Jen: In terms of nuts and bolts, approximately how long does it take for you to complete a novel? And, what is the most challenging part of the process? 
Elin: Start to finish it’s about a year.  I compose for nine months and then I revise for 6-8 weeks.  The revising is very, very difficult because at that point, you have a completed novel so it’s a logic problem as to how to rearrange and rethink the elements to maximum advantage, suspense, and readability.

Jen: Which novel has been your personal favorite to write, and why?
Elin: Bizarrely, my favorite to write was WINTER STREET, my Christmas novel, which is coming out October 14th.  I think because I had been doing “summer,” for so long it was a nice change to hang out inside by the fire.

Jen: Your latest release The Matchmaker is the perfect beach read about losing and finding love. How did you arrive at the premise?
Elin:  I wanted to write a novel about a successful matchmaker who wanted to find matches for her husband, her lover, and her grown daughter before she died.  The way this one line evolved into the novel is too Byzantine to explain.

Jen: Your main character Dabney Kimball Beech has a natural gift for matchmaking. Why did you choose to incorporate that into the storyline? Have you ever tried your hand at matchmaking?
Elin: My last novel, Beautiful Day, was a novel about a wedding, and about marriage in general.  At the end of that novel, I, as a person, concluded that marriage is ultimately about luck.  In this way, Dabney emerged.  You’ll note she does not have any scientific reason for setting up her couples.  It’s all done on the basis of “auras,” or in other words, her gut instinct.  Which is as good a barometer as any I know.  I personally feel that every human being probably has the power for matching up one other couple in their lives, but my time hasn’t come.

Jen: As you were writing the book, did you feel a certain connection to one of the characters?
Elin: I was really fond of Clendenin.  He had just come back from Vietnam, a place I adore, and it was fun for me to write about his memories there.  He’s a very complex, very wounded individual.

Jen: Let’s switch gears now and talk about your promotional plans. Please take us on a brief tour of your website highlighting points of interest.
Elin: I have hit a bump in the road with my health, so some of my early tour has been postponed.  However, I will be in Chicago at the end of June.  Then I am on Martha’s Vineyard, in Cohasset, Philadelphia, Bergen County, the Jersey Shore, and down in coastal Delaware, which is always a highlight.

Jen: Are you present in social media? And, what is the best way for my readers to keep abreast of your latest news?
Elin:  I normally tweet a couple of times a day @elinhilderbrand and my Facebook page tells where I’m going to be and when.  For excellent photos of my kids, one might follow me on Instagram @elinhilderbrand

Jen: Are you currently at work on your next book? If so, what may you share with us?
Elin:  I finished WINTER STREET in March, then started on my novel for next summer, which is called THE RUMOR.  It’s going to be scandalous.

Jen: When you take a break from writing, how do you like to spend your free time?
Elin: I go to the beach.  I read.  I cook.  I travel – this past year, I’ve been to Hawaii, Cabo, and St John, Boca Raton, Houston and San Diego, where I stayed at the Coronado with my kids.  I always love Manhattan; it’s my home away from home.

Jen: Are you involved in any charitable causes that have influenced you in a personal or professional way?
Elin:  I have supported many Nantucket non-profits over the years, but my favorite is the Nantucket Boys & Girls Club; I served on the Board of Directors for 12 years.  I’m also involved with PASCON (Hospice) and A Safe Place.

Jen: Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to chat with my readers. Best of luck on your book tour! Happy summer!
Elin:  Thank you for reading!

I hope you have enjoyed my interview with Elin Hilderbrand. Please stop by your favorite online retailer or local library branch and pick up a copy of The Matchmakertoday. Better yet, how would you like to win a free copy instead? Okay, send me an email at jensjewels@gmail.com with the correct answer to the following trivia question and you’ll be entered to win. Good luck! (Offer void where prohibited.)
What is the name of Elin’s upcoming Christmas novel?
Stay tuned for more in-depth author interviews coming this summer. And as always, thanks for making Jen’s Jewels the ultimate source for news on today’s hottest authors.

 

Jen’s Jewels with Adrianne Lee

Monday, June 2nd, 2014

If you are looking for a fun summer read, I highly recommend the popular Big Sky Pie series by Adrianne Lee. Recently, I had the chance to catch up with this prolific author to talk about her fourth book in the series, Decadent. This latest e-book release will be available for download starting on June 3.

As part of my interview, Hachette Book Group has generously donated five e-books for my trivia contest. (Winners will be randomly drawn. Offer void where prohibited.) Be sure to keep up-to-date on all the latest news in the publishing business by stopping by www.jennifervido.com, following me on Facebook jennifervido.com, or on Twitter and Pinterest @JenniferVido. And as always, thanks for making Jen’s Jewels the ultimate source for news on the web for today’s hottest authors.

Jen: As a multi-published author, your personal journey to publication is a story in itself. So that my readers may catch a glimpse into the life of the woman behind the words, please briefly share with us your educational and professional background.

Adrianne: I took a half semester of fiction writing my senior year in high school, and two decades later, I enrolled in a junior college writing class. It was in this class that I met three other writers who were all writing romance novels. After taking the same class four times, we outgrew it and formed a critique group, meeting every week for many years. I started out writing mysteries, but thanks to my critique group, veered into romantic suspense. I’ve sold 2 romantic suspense novels to Kensington, then 14 Intrigues to Harlequin, and 1 novella to St. Martin’s Press. I’ve published 1 original e-book—the first in my Jack B Smart mystery series—and 2 previous titles as e-books with plans to put out 4 more back titles. Currently, I’ve just finished writing 4 Big Sky Pie books.

Jen: Please describe for us your "Aha!" moment when you decided to take the plunge and pursue a career as a writer.

Adrianne: My daughters were all in their teens when I decided to take that writing class I mentioned above. I’d always loved books and writing, but my high school experience hadn’t ended well and I put ideas of writing my own stories on a back burner. But once I began the class, I felt such a connection with all of those other writers, it was like finding "my people." So of course, I was hooked. I started out thinking to publish some short stories for Ellery Queen or Alfred Hitchcock mystery magazines. I soon discovered, however, that I don’t write short stories. I always have too much plot. I kept writing and submitting and learning the craft and eventually an editor called and bought that first book.

Jen: In terms of nuts and bolts, approximately how long does it take for you to complete a novel? And, what is the most challenging part of the process?

Adrianne: Plotting is the most challenging part for me because I like solid conflicts and a plot that I would want to buy if I were not writing the story. Once I know the conflicts and have a strong idea of the story, and a general overview of the plot, I can write it sort of fast. I’m really slow, though, compared to most. I’d like 4 to 5 months to write each book, lots of time to think about each scene and motivation. But I’ve been writing the Big Sky Pie books in about 3 1/2 months. My editor wanted them quicker, but she’s been patient and understanding about my process.

Jen: Your latest release Decadent is the fourth book in the Big Sky Pie Novel series. For those readers not familiar with the previous titles, what is the premise of the series?

Adrianne: The Big Sky Pie books are about going after your dreams. Molly McCoy has always wanted to own a pie shop. After losing her husband of many years, she realizes life is short, and if she doesn’t make this dream a reality now, she never will. But before she can launch Big Sky Pie, she has a serious heart attack, and must rely on her irresponsible, grieving son and his soon-to-be-ex-wife to follow through in her stead. The books feature the pie shop going through its launch, its floundering early days, a few great successes and a few failures. Of course, each book offers a love story or two via the pie shop personnel. Plus yummy pies and sexy guys!

Jen: Please give us a sneak peek behind Wade and Roxy’s story in your fabulous summer read, Decadent.

Adrianne: Wade Reynolds, a widower of four years is buttoned tighter than the fly of his favorite jeans. Shy, inexperienced, married young, he doesn’t date now for fear of embarrassing himself. Chef Roxy Nash is fresh from a divorce that cost her the restaurant she loved and her self-confidence with men. She doesn’t want a romance, just affirmation that she’s still attractive to the opposite sex. When she realizes that Wade wants more, a lifetime more, she determines to ignore the irresistible tug she feels for him. But his kisses make her feel as decadent as her chocolate meringue pie. All she has to do is figure out some way to have her pie and eat it, too.

Jen: As you were writing the book, did you feel a certain connection to one of the characters?

Adrianne: Actually, just the opposite, at first. I had trouble connecting with Roxy. My original plan was that she would be brash, a "take no prisoners" kind of sexy minx who was determined to seduce uber-shy Wade. But as I was writing, I realized that Roxy wouldn’t be a heroine readers could relate to. She sounded like a predator. But Roxy wasn’t that. She was coming home to Kalispell feeling vulnerable. Once I switched that around, I really connected with her, and she paid me back for taking so long to figure her out by bringing her naughty cat, Tallulah, into the story.

Jen: Let’s switch gears now and talk about your promotional plans. Please take us on a brief tour of your website highlighting points of interest.

Adrianne: My website is https//www.adriannelee.com. I post book release information there. It lists my backlist books and the current books. I will be posting upcoming blog tours, speaking engagements, etc. soon. The site had a facelift this past winter, and it still needs some tweaking. I’m doing some blog tours right now, and I have an upcoming speaking engagement at a local readers group, neither of which is posted at the website yet.

Jen: Are you present in social media? And, what is the best way for my readers to keep abreast of your latest news?

Adrianne: I am on Twitter, Facebook, and GoodReads. Twitter: @akaAdrianneLee FaceBook: https//facebook.com/adriannelee.author I post on twitter and FB several times a day.

Jen: Are you currently at work on your next book? If so, what may you share with us?
Adrianne: I’m just starting a new romantic/mystery series. The stories will all be set in the small town of Weddingville—where they sell all things wedding related. It’s a wedding planner’s dream. A WEDDING TO DIE FOR is the first book. It introduces readers to family who owns Blessing’s Bridal. The stories are told in the POV of Daryl Anne Blessing, and will have all the fun and complications associated with finding true love and getting married. Of course there will be a mystery of some sort, including murder, to solve along the way. Daryl Anne’s best friend, Meg Reilly, is getting married in the first book. . .or is she?

Jen: When you take a break from writing, how do you like to spend your free time?

Adrianne: Writing is such a lonely profession that what I most love to do with my free time is have lunch with writer friends to laugh and discuss our books and the industry. My husband is into hotrods and we often go on runs during the summer in our ’50 Studebaker pickup. And I play with my two adopted cats, Spooky and Fuzzy Wuzzy, who are at that getting acquainted stage. So far that isn’t going well. Spooky is not liking the new interloper. We’re hoping that will change at some point.

Jen: Are you involved in any charitable causes that have influenced you in a personal or professional way?

Adrianne: I can’t say that I’m actively involved in any charitable causes per se, but losing our oldest daughter in 2009 to cervical cancer—that was detected too late—is something I try to tell people about in order to keep this from happening to someone they love. This is a cancer that is not familial. It can occur in any woman at any age. A pap smear will find it early and when caught early it can be stopped in its tracks and vanquished. Since losing Kim, I find I write more lightness into my stories. The darkness of that real life battle makes me long for something to smile about. Kim wanted me to keep writing and when the writing seems tough, I remember that.

Jen: Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to chat with my readers. Best of luck in all of your future projects! Happy summer!

Adrianne: Jen, I’m so honored to have this opportunity to chat with you and your readers. Thank you so much. Wishing you and your readers a summer of fun, sun, and great books!

I hope you have enjoyed my interview with Adrianne Lee. Please stop by your favorite online retailer or local library branch and download a copy of Decadent today. Better yet, how would you like to win a free e-book instead? Okay, send me an email at jensjewels@gmail.com with the correct answer to the following trivia question and you’ll be entered into the contest. Good luck! (Offer void where prohibited.)
What is the name of the town in Adrianne’s upcoming release A WEDDING TO DIE FOR?
Later this month, I will be bringing to you my interview with Elin Hilderbrand, author of The Matchmaker. You won’t want to miss it.

Jen’s Jewels with Jan Elizabeth Watson

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

As the school year comes to a close, many seniors will be saying goodbye to extraordinary teachers who have touched their lives throughout their academic careers. These special relationships between teacher and student will have a significant impact for years to come. But, what happens when a tragedy strikes a small community putting into question these special bonds? How do we determine if boundaries by association have been crossed?

This month’s Jen’s Jewelsaddresses this very topic in her new release What Has Become of You. In this clever psychological thriller, Vera Lundy, a long term substitute teacher, develops a peculiar relationship with one of her pupils. When a tragic occurrence rocks their quaint New England town, her student suddenly disappears causing all eyes to turn to Vera for answers. With superb writing and plot twists that will keep you on the edge of your seat, this sensational novel will surely become one of this summer’s must-read picks.

As part of my interview, Dutton, a division of Penguin Books, has generously donated five copies for my readers to win in the trivia contest that follows the interview. Winners will be randomly drawn. Be sure to keep up-to-date on all the latest news in the publishing business by stopping by www.jennifervido.com, following me on Facebook jennifervido.com, or on Twitter and Pinterest @JenniferVido. And as always, thanks for making Jen’s Jewelsthe ultimate source for news on the web for today’s hottest authors.

Jen: As an established author with two books in print, your personal journey to publication is a story in itself. So that my readers may catch a glimpse into the life of the woman behind the words, please briefly share with us your educational and professional background.

Jan: I received a BFA from the University of Maine at Farmington and a Masters of Fine Arts from Columbia University, where I was also a Teaching Fellow. Though initially hesitant to pursue fine arts due to the practical question of "What can one do with such a degree?," I have been fortunate to work in areas related to my field. I worked as an editor in New York City for a few years after completing my Columbia degree, and after relocating to my home state of Maine, I have consistently found work teaching composition and creative writing at the college level.

Jen: Please describe for us your "Aha!" moment when you decided to take the plunge and pursue a career as a writer.

Jan: On my website I recently wrote a blog post about my first-grade teacher, Helen Jackson, who unwittingly was the catalyst for my determination to become a writer. I had started writing short stories when I was about four years old, and when I was about six, I decided to give my teacher a short story I had written. She liked it so much that she read it out loud to the entire class, and as she did, I noticed a catch in her voice, and she was actually wiping away tears from behind her glasses. My written words had made my teacher cry—a good cry, like when my mom used to weep while watching Little House on the Prairie! Knowing that I could have such power over a grown-up was a heady, intoxicating feeling, and I resolved to never stop writing stories after that. A year later, when we were focusing on future careers and making construction paper crowns with our future professions on them—Doctor, Firefighter, Mommy—I scrawled the word ‘Novelist’ and wore that proudly on my head all day. I was very specific about it even then—not just a garden-variety writer, but novelist.

As I grew older, it seemed that writing was the only thing I was really good at, or perhaps it is just the craft that I cultivated at the expense of all others. I won numerous awards for essays, poetry, and stories, and I won some kind of a national writing award in high school—probably the only reason why I was ever accepted at a college, since I didn’t apply myself and my grades were atrocious. But when it came time to go to college and select a major, I was realistic enough to know that most writers cannot support themselves on their writing alone. I decided that Psychology would be my career and writing would be my vocation. About a dozen Psychology courses later, I got sucked into the Fine Arts major and never looked back. My path has been a very steady and even one, even if it has taken me a long time to arrive.

Jen: In terms of nuts and bolts, approximately how long does it take for you to complete a novel? And, what is the most challenging part of the process?

Jan: That’s a funny question because the process of writing Asta in the Wings and the process of writing What Has Become of You were like night and day. It took me approximately five years to complete writing Asta, although I wrote it in many fits and starts, with long months in-between where I didn’t add a word to it. I wrote the first version of What Has Become of You within five months; once I had the characters in mind, the writing almost took care of itself. Having finally slogged my way through one completed novel, I had learned a lot about the process and was able to avoid some of the first-draft mistakes I’d made the first time around, which speeded things up quite a bit. For me, the most challenging part of the writing process is when I am in the beginning stage of writing a novel and the story’s characters have not revealed themselves fully to me yet; they are still partly in the shadows, whispering in my ear. I need to have a full grasp of who my characters are before I can write with momentum.

Jen: Your latest release What Has Become of You is a compulsive, psychological thriller centering on a teacher-student relationship. How did you arrive at the premise?

Jan: When I first conceived of the novel, my intention was to make it all from the perspective of fifteen-year-old Jensen Willard, as seen through her journal entries. But when I was about eighty pages into the manuscript, I realized that the story needed a narrative counterweight, and that is when I thought of bringing a teacher into the picture—a teacher with some maturity issues of her own who would identify with what Jensen had to say. Once Vera came into the landscape, it became obvious that the story would be more hers than Jensen’s. My own teaching experiences and teaching anecdotes I’ve heard from former colleagues informed some of the classroom scenes and, I think, added notes of realism to them. The plot became darker and darker the deeper I got into the story, and that was a lot of fun for me. It was fun to give myself permission to not ‘play nice’ but to work on creating an atmosphere of menace in the story.

Jen: Vera Lundy is an aspiring crime writer who is grappling with her own identity. What motivates her to apply for a long-term sub position at an upper crust New England girls’ school?

Jan: When we meet Vera, she is still trying to get used to the fact that she relocated to her home state of Maine a couple of years before, and she has yet to get her professional bearings there. She has had some significant community college teaching experience and is under a great deal of pressure to appease her student loan creditors; she applies for the position at The Wallace School because it would be a good opportunity, even though she also thinks that’ she didn’t ‘have a chance in hell, despite her interesting credentials.’ She is surprised to be offered the position and wants to make the best of it, even though she is concerned about her lack of experience teaching teenaged girls specifically.

Jen: How do the memories of her own teenage insecurities affect the way in which she relates to her students and how she views her own instructional skills?

Jan: Vera had a terrible time of it in high school. Not only was she an unpopular girl, but she became a pariah and a scapegoat following the death of one of her classmates, whom Vera had antagonized in her journals. Additionally, there are strong suggestions that Vera had been quite a depressive teenager and had had a life-threatening eating disorder as well. Though an extremely bright woman, Vera’s troubled adolescence is something that has stayed with her—something she has never been entirely able to get past, or even grow past. She is technically old enough to be a mother to her students but does not perceive herself as being that much older and wiser. When she finds a kindred spirit in her student Jensen Willard, she finds herself identifying deeply in a way that goes past the boundaries of a typical student-teacher bond.

Jen: Immediately Vera is drawn to Jensen Willard, a dark teen with peculiar tendencies. Through the class journal assignments, the two develop a teacher-student relationship. When Jensen begins to exhibit signs of troublesome behavior, why does Vera choose to remain silent rather than reporting it to her superiors?

Jan: There are a variety of reasons why Vera does not respond as any professional should, and all of these are rooted in her complex psychological makeup On the one hand, Vera sees so much of her younger self in Jensen that she attempts to treat Jensen the way she would have wanted to be treated as a teenager—with dignity, respect, and without intrusive, hands-on adult intervention. There is also a narcissistic part of Vera that makes her think that maybe she is the only person who could actually understand and appreciate Jensen. She feels that she and she alone might be able to reach her, and even ‘fix’ her, and that anyone else who attempted to do so would simply botch the job.

Jen: After school hours, Vera frequents a local drinking hole oftentimes imbibing to the point of blacking out. How does her reckless behavior mirror her professional inconsistencies?

Jan: As we see in the novel, Vera is probably not someone who should be drinking at all. I am not a specialist in addiction psychology by any means, but to my thinking, Vera is not a bona fide alcoholic but is going down a dangerous path toward dependency. She already has a knack for making poor choices, and when is drinking these choices become even more disastrous. Near the last section of the novel, the reader may notice there is a suggestion of hope for Vera when she tells a friend she has ‘kind of gone off drinking.’ Unfortunately, this aversion to alcohol only came about after a drinking binge leads Vera into a shocking and horrifying discovery.

Jen: When one of Vera’s students is involved in an ill-fated incident, how does Vera’s relationship with Jensen change?

Jan: Vera has many opportunities to observe the way her students respond to the latest tragedy in Dorset, and she notices that Jensen’s response is not in line with the other girls’. She even begins to notice some behavior that she perceives as threatening or taunting, and this makes her see her prize pupil in an entirely different light. She still identifies with her student, but now she has a wariness that she hadn’t had before—a concern that all might not be what it appears to be.

Jen: Let’s switch gears now and talk about your promotional plans. Please take us on a brief tour of your website highlighting points of interest.

Jan: I have started up an author website at www.janelizabethwatsonwriter.com, and I am admittedly new to the blogging world but have had fun starting to put this site together over the past couple of months. I have links to various media and reviews pertaining to both my novels, and with more reviews coming in every day, this feature will be growing exponentially over the next few weeks. I also have an Events section where people can keep an eye out for future readings and engagements. I haven’t written a lot of blog entries yet, but now that What Has Become of You is out, I plan to do more frequent updates that cover news and fun facts about the book’s journey.

Jen: Are you present in social media? And, what is the best way for my readers to keep abreast of your latest news?

Jan: I do have a social media presence. I’m still pretty new to Twitter, but I do have a Twitter handle @Jan_E_Watson. I also have a Facebook account and have started to receive messages from readers in my Inbox there, which is a nice development. In general, though, the best way to keep on top of reviews, events, and media is through my website.

Jen: Are you currently at work on your next book? If so, what may you share with us?

Jan: I tend to keep things pretty hush-hush until I’ve completed a first draft, but I am excited about the new novel I’m working on. It’s another work of literary psychological suspense, this time with a larger cast of characters whose storylines intersect. The victim is a pretty intriguing character in his own right!

Jen: When you take a break from writing, how do you like to spend your free time?

Jan: I am an avid reader, which goes hand-in-hand with writing. I’m also an old-movie junkie (I worship at the altar of Turner Classic Movies) and have been trying to learn ballet over the past year. I’m getting better with my attitudes, though balance is still somewhat of an issue! When not writing, correcting my students’ essays takes up a great deal of my time, so I tend to be a bit of a homebody. But I do love traveling and hope to do more of it this year! Whether it’s a different country or just a state I haven’t explored yet, I love to soak up local culture wherever I am.

Jen: Are you involved in any charitable causes that have influenced you in a personal or professional way?

Jan: Recently I have been involved in a reading program for ESL students in elementary school. I’ve gone to local schools and read a book to a child, and then, in turn, the child reads a book to me. It is a good way to connect to beginning readers one on one and to help inspire their self-confidence and love of language. Something I have often thought about doing is volunteering at a no-kill animal shelter in some capacity. I am a crazy cat lady in the making and would love to do more to help those who look after hard-to-adopt felines. I am especially interested in blind cats because my own cat, Nadia, is a congenitally blind kitty and a wonderful pet.

Jen: Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to chat with my readers. Best of luck in all of your future projects!

Jan: Thank you for featuring me! I’ve enjoyed answering your questions.

I hope you have enjoyed my interview with Jan. Please stop by your local bookstore, library, or online retailer and pick up a copy of What Has Become of You today. Better yet, how would you like to win a free copy instead? Okay, send me an email at jensjewels@gmail.com with the correct answer to the following trivia question and you’ll be entered into the contest. Good luck! (Offer void where prohibited.)
What is the name of Vera’s troubled student?
Next month, I will be bringing to you another exciting author interview. You won’t want to miss it.

Jen’s Jewels with Nina Stibbe

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014



As mothers, we always want what is best for our kids. This especially applies when searching for a suitable caregiver. Whether it’s a temporary babysitter or a full-time nanny, this specially selected person undertakes the responsibility of nurturing our children in our absence. Being able to forge a unique bond with this individual enables both parties to feel loved and respected. After all, we are in it together as one family, so to speak.

This month’s Jen’s Jewels Nina Stibbe addresses this very topic in her new memoir, Love, Nina: A Nanny Writes Home. In a collection of unedited, original letters written to her sister, Nina shares her real-life experiences as a nanny to a prominent family in London in the 1980’s. With humorous stories of the two mischievous boys in her charge peppered with tender moments shared with their mum, she gives a brutally honest account of her unforgettable adventures.

As part of my interview, Little, Brown and Company has generously donated five copies for my readers to win in the trivia contest that follows the interview. Winners will be randomly drawn. Be sure to keep up-to-date on all the latest news in the publishing business by stopping by www.jennifervido.com, follow me on Facebook jennifervido.com, or on Twitter and Pinterest @JenniferVido. And as always, thanks for making Jen’s Jewels the ultimate source for news on the web for today’s hottest authors.

Jen: As a commissioning editor, your personal journey to publication is a story in itself. So that my readers may catch a glimpse into the life of the woman behind the words, please briefly share with us your educational and professional background.
Nina: At age 15, I was somehow entered for the less academic school examinations and left school in a huff without taking any exams at all. I already had a pocket-money job cleaning in a geriatric nursing home so I extended my hours there and joined the adult world. A couple of years later many of my friends were preparing to leave our village to go to university and I came to regret my hasty decision to leave school.

I realized – a bit late – that without my end of school exams I couldn’t go into higher education – – so I answered an advertisement in a magazine to be a nanny in London, which was the next best thing and at least meant I could leave home and have an adventure.

Once settled in my nanny job I met people who inspired me to catch up on my education and study in my spare time. I did this and eventually got a place at college and got my degree.

I then applied for assorted jobs and ended up working for Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich – an American company with a London office and finally became a commissioning editor. I’ve only ever worked in educational publishing (textbooks for teachers and students) and have had no experience of literary publishing, until now.

Jen: Please describe for us your “Aha!” moment when you decided to take the plunge and write a memoir about your experiences as a nanny in London.
Nina: There was no “Aha!” moment really. My book is made up of the letters I wrote to my sister between 1982 and 1887. Luckily my sister kept them and found them again years later when she moved house in 1999. She and I read many of them and found them charming and funny. They were put away again then until 2007, when Andrew O’Hagan (the British author) contacted me to ask if I’d contribute to a book of tributes to Mary-Kay Wilmers (editor of the London review of Books) who I had nannied for. I dug out one of the letters (one which offered an amusing and naïve description of Mary-Kay). Andrew included it in his collection. People liked it and it was then that I wondered about the possibility of publishing the letters as a book. So, maybe that was the “Aha!” moment.

Jen: In terms of nuts and bolts, approximately how long did it take for you to compile the letters? And, what was the most challenging part of the process?
Nina: I wrote the letters over a period of five years. Once Penguin, my UK publisher, got hold of them, my editor was determined to publish them unedited as far possible. I had imaged all kinds of tweaking, but no, we left them pretty much as I wrote them.

Jen: How did MK, Sam, and Will react to the news of being featured in this memoir? Did you meet any resistance?
Nina: The most challenging part of the publishing process was convincing Mary-Kay (who features significantly in the letters along with Sam and Will) to agree to the publication. At first she said “No way!” I think Sam and Will were cool with it. But Mary-Kay had serious misgivings. I’m not sure what changed her mind. Maybe me badgering her.

Jen: As a nanny back in 1982, what was your biggest challenge in terms of adjusting to minding two young boys, Will and Sam, in a busy city?
Nina: I suppose, if anything, the cooking. Not that I had to do all of it. But when it was my turn, I produced some very ropey meals. But I loved the family and being in London pretty much straight away. I came from a bustling chaotic household and so none of it felt particularly challenging.

Jen: Your relationship with each child was quite special; however, it seemed as if you and Sam shared a special bond. What brought you two together as cohorts in crime, if you will?
Nina: It might seem like that because I spent slightly more time with Sam due to him sometimes being off school and I may have mentioned him more in the letters. Actually Will was equally a partner in crime.

Jen: I was especially taken with MK’s witty repartee and hilarious comments (about your driving skills, for example) throughout the book. How did your relationship evolve over the years?
Nina: I settled in and was comfortable straight away. I got along with Mary-Kay because she was honest, straightforward and funny. There was no hierarchy or grandness. I felt like one of the family. I was an equal.

Jen: The cast of real life characters you encountered during your nanny experience was rather notable. Who among the crowd made the biggest impression on you?
Nina: There were lots of interesting people such as: Alan Bennett, Clare Tomalin, Michael Frayn, Karel Reisz, Deborah Moggach, Jonathan Miller, Stephen Frears but to be honest, I didn’t take much notice of them – in terms of their accomplishments – I just noted which of them could reverse-park a car or make a decent cup of tea or read a story to Sam when he was feeling poorly. Looking back though, it was an incredible group of people to live among.

Jen: If you could turn back the hands of time, what, if anything, would you have done differently?
Nina: I might take more of an interest in the above cast of characters and all their amazing achievements as they happened.

Jen: How has the book’s publication affected your relationship with MK, Sam, and Will?
Nina: I’ve been to London more often (I now live in Cornwall, the far south west of the UK and about 5 hours from London) for literary events, so I’ve seen Mary-Kay and Sam more often. Not Will though as he lives in the US. But, they’ve been so pleased and excited about it, it’s been good.

Jen: Let’s switch gears now and talk about your promotional plans. Please take us on a brief tour of your website highlighting points of interest.
Nina: My website is www.ninastibbe.com was created by my partner a year or so ago. I promised him I’d keep it up to date… it currently features some articles I wrote for the UK press and some reviews of Love, Nina in the UK. It’s a work in progress!

Jen: Are you present in social media? And, what is the best way for my readers to keep abreast of your latest news?
Nina: I’m @ninastibbe on twitter. I love Twitter and tweet lots of nonsense and pictures of my family and our cockapoo, Peggy. I’m less good at facebook and only follow one person, Sam (Frears) (so that I can see pictures of him rock climbing).

Jen: Are you currently at work on your next book? If so, what may you share with us?
Nina: My novel, Man at the Helm, comes out next year with Little, Brown.

Jen: Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to chat with my readers. Best of luck in all of your future projects!
Nina: My pleasure. Thanks for having me.

I hope you have enjoyed my interview with Nina. Please stop by your local bookstore, library, or online retailer and pick up a copy of Love, Nina today. Better yet, how would you like to win a free copy instead? Okay, send me an email at jensjewels@gmail.com with the correct answer to the following trivia question and you’ll be entered into the contest. Good luck! (Offer void where prohibited.)

What are the names of Nina’s two charges?

Next month, I will be chatting with Jan Elizabeth Watson about her upcoming release, What has Become of You. You won’t want to miss it.

Jen’s Jewels with Barbara O’Neal

Monday, March 17th, 2014

As a seasoned blogger, I am never more gratified than when I connect with my followers. Oftentimes, special friendships blossom simply from the exchange of ideas between two strangers with a common interest. No matter what your hobbies may be, there is no shortage of blog options available. From wine enthusiasts to specialty chefs and even high-end dog groomers, you never know what you might find on the web.

This month’s Jen’s Jewels Barbara O’Neal addresses this very topic in her latest release, The All You Can Dream Buffet: A Novel. It’s the story of four women bloggers with varied interests and ages who come together in the beautiful Oregon wine country for a life-changing reunion. Despite their professional prowess, the Foodie Four are each at a crossroads in life. Together they unite in this unforgettable tale of friendship, love, and heartfelt emotion.

As part of my interview, Random House Publishing Group has generously donated five copies for my readers to win in the trivia contest that follows the interview. Winners will be randomly drawn. Be sure to keep up-to-date on all the latest news in the publishing business by stopping by www.jennifervido.com, follow me on Facebook jennifervido.com, or on Twitter and Pinterest @JenniferVido. And as always, thanks for making Jen’s Jewels the ultimate source for news on the web for today’s hottest authors.

Jen: As a six-time Rita award winner, your path to publication is a story in itself. So that my readers may catch a glimpse into the life of the woman behind the words, please briefly share with us your educational and professional background.
Barbara: My goal was always to be a novelist, but my father wanted me to be sensible, so I studied mass communications with a goal of being a journalist. It was great training—I learned to write to a deadline, to write on demand, to tone done my (very baroque!) language. I worked for a newspaper for eight months as an intern and realized that was not at all what I wanted to do. Novels were—and are—my love.

Jen: Please describe for us your "Aha!" moment when you decided to take the plunge and pursue a career as a writer.
Barbara: There were two. When I was in the 5th grade, I read an author bio at the end of a book I’d been reading and it occurred to me that people wrote books. Like that was their job. And my thought was, very clearly: why would you do anything else?

The second was as I was finishing my internship and university degree. I tended bar to make ends meet, and one night I over heard my favorite reporter telling her friend that one day she would quit the paper and write her novels. My heart seized—and I knew I’d be her, at 40 telling my friends that if I didn’t give novels a shot right now, while I was still poor and used to it. So I talked to my husband and asked if he’d give me five years to see if I could sell a novel. He took a big gulp (we were about to NOT be poor, finally!) and said yes. I will be grateful forever.

Jen: Besides writing books in various genres, you also have a blog, www.awriterafoot.com. For my readers who may not be familiar with its content, please tell us how it evolved.
Barbara: The blog came out of my experiences as columnist, actually. I’ve always loved the simple, ordinary conversation that can evolve around women just talking about their lives, and wanted to establish a place for that. I love talking about travel and food and showing off my photos, so it was a very natural, very happy habit to develop.

I have to admit I’ve been distracted by blogging elsewhere over the past couple of years, so have neglected my own. The past year, I’ve given up all the other blogs and will be bringing everything back to A Writer Afoot.

Jen: In December 2010 your delightful novel How to Bake a Perfect Life, which I was thrilled to feature on my website, was chosen as a Target Club Pick. How did that recognition affect your career? How did you handle the pressure of such an honorable distinction?
Barbara: That was a big, big moment in my career—as it is for any writer who is lucky enough to be chosen. It brought in a lot of new readers and it was so much fun to see the book featured in stores, and I am very grateful to have had the chance.

The pressure in writing doesn’t come from the good things that happen, at least for me. It comes from the unexpected bad things. So it was so much happiness and fun. I loved it.

Jen: In terms of nuts and bolts, approximately how long does it take for you to write a book? And, what is the most challenging part of the writing process?
Barbara: It takes anywhere from a year to two years to write a book. Most of that is the brewing process—it seems that I have to run the movie in my head over and over and over and over again before I can write it. I’ll gather a few bits, a character, a situation, something that’s magical, a possible food and let it all brew for awhile. When it starts to shove other projects out of the way, I’ll sit down and start trying to capture it. The actual writing doesn’t take as long, probably because of all that journalism practice. I’m very methodical about the actual writing: I show up 4-5 hours a day, 5 days a week and write. No internet, no email, no drama, just writing. I often get a draft done in a few months.

It does help to have all that brewing time, knowing the story before I start.

Jen: Your latest release The All You Can Dream Buffet: A Novel centers around four foodie bloggers on a journey of self-discovery. I absolutely devoured this book. What a gem! What inspired you to write this book?
Barbara: I am so happy to hear that you loved it. It was such a great journey for me!

The magazine Artful Blogging triggered it. I love food blogs, of course—who doesn’t these days, and for a foodie like me, they are heaven. All those photos! All that potential for great food and drink!

But I’m also a fan of the magazine, and one night as I was reading it, I started wondering what it would be like if your life really was turned upside down by a blog. It struck me that all the women in the magazine had discovered their own voices, themselves, with the blogs they created, and that’s powerful stuff. Ginny walked into my imagination shortly afterward.

Jen: Lavender Wills is the owner of Lavender Honey Farms situated in the Oregon wine country. Nearly eighty-five years old, she manages a successful organic farm. What is her motivation for bringing the ladies together?
Barbara: She’s a powerful woman, and not given to leaving life to chance. The lavender farm is her dream and her legacy and she’s not about to let it just pass into the hands of people who will not understand what it means and how it matters. She brings the other bloggers to the farm to evaluate if one of them might be right to inherit.

Jen: Ginny from Kansas is a baker who photographs her own culinary treats. Her decision to make the trip is more than just a desire to meet her fellow bloggers. How does her decision to attend affect her relationship with her husband Matthew?
Barbara: Ginny’s life was transformed when the people in her world found out she was a modestly famous, well-known blogger. She discovers that the relationships she thought were sustaining her are really containing her, and she needs to find out what she’s made of, really. Her marriage is in trouble even before she sets out, and it only becomes more strained as she travels.

Jen: Ruby, a vegan from the California Bay area who is pregnant by her ex-boyfriend, arrives in her food truck ready for an adventure. How does her vivacious personality rub off on the others?
Barbara: Ruby is one of my favorite characters ever! She stole my heart with her mix of joy and longing, her yearnings and her exuberance. She is a person just bursting with the pleasure of every day living—and for a good reason. Her childhood was overshadowed by painful, extreme illness, and just being alive is a pretty good deal, even when it sucks. Even if your mother left you and your boyfriend doesn’t love you anymore.

Jen: Valerie, a wine blogger from Ohio, surprises the group by arriving with her daughter Hannah despite recently suffering a tragic loss. How does her unexpected presence bring the ladies together?
Barbara: It unites the Foodie Four—and Ginny, especially, needs her friend to be there. Ginny and Val are very close through email, but have never met because Ginny has not been brave enough to step up before. Meeting Val in person makes a big difference for her.

Plus, Val has a connection that allows them to live out a fantasy for Lavender’s birthday.

Jen: Noah, Lavender’s handsome farmhand who served 4 tours of duty in the military, is hiding from his own demons. How does the women’s arrival help him come out of his shell?
Barbara: I live in a military town and one of my friends likes to say that we need to reestablish a temple that used to be part of the ancient world. Women were trained as priestesses to help a soldier through the transition of being a man who kills to a man who loves. The priestesses would heal the returning soldiers with sex and talk, and send them home to their families whole and reconnected. Noah is reconnecting with life through the farm and all his tasks, but he needs a certain exuberant someone to shatter the last of his soldier self and bring him all the way home.

Jen: Let’s switch gears now and talk about your promotional plans. Are you active on social media? And, how would my readers go about connecting with you?
Barbara: I am active on social media. I’m on Facebook as BarbaraSamuelONeal and Twitter as barbaraoneal.

Jen: Will there be a sequel? And, are you currently at work on your next book? If so, what may you share with us?
Barbara: I’ve had a number of requests for a sequel and admit I thought there might be. Not yet, however. I’m currently working on a story about two women who come together over a mysterious little girl. Peaches and pickles and a legend that caught me by the throat…..

Jen: Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to chat with my readers. I absolutely loved The All You Can Dream Buffet. I highly recommend it to my Jen’s Jewels readers.
Barbara: I’m very honored to be invited, and so thrilled you enjoyed the book!

Please stop by your favorite library branch, local bookstore, or on-line retailer and pick up a copy of The All You Can Dream Buffet: A Novel today. Better yet, how would you like to win one instead? Okay, send me an email at jensjewels@gmail.com with the correct answer to the following trivia question and you’ll be entered into the contest. Good luck! (Offer void where prohibited.)

What is the title of Barbara’s blog?

Next month, I will be chatting with Nina Stibbe about her upcoming release, Love, Nina: A Nanny Writes Home. You won’t want to miss it.

Jen’s Jewels with Melanie Shankle

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

Whether you are newly married or have been in a relationship for decades, it comes as no surprise that marriage takes work. Finding a way to blend two unique personalities under one roof can be challenging for some couples. Yet, when the stars align, there is no better feeling than the comfort of falling asleep in the arms of your soul mate. Being in a faith-based relationship filled with love and respect is truly one of life’s most cherished blessings.

This month’s Jen’s Jewels Melanie Shankle addresses this very topic in her latest release, The Antelope in the Living Room. This popular blogger and New York Times bestselling author of Sparkly Green Earrings is back sharing her hilarious perspective on the ups and downs of marital bliss. Through her tongue-in-cheek wisdom and hilarious advice for surviving difficult times in today’s real world, Melanie encourages the reader to embrace the joys and conflicts involved with finding your one true love.

As part of my interview, Tyndale House Publishers has generously donated five copies for you to win in the trivia contest that follows the interview. Winners will be randomly drawn. Be sure to keep up-to-date on all the latest news in the publishing business by stopping by www.jennifervido.com, follow me on Facebook jennifervido.com, or on Twitter and Pinterest @JenniferVido. And as always, thanks for making Jen’s Jewelsthe ultimate source for news on the web for today’s hottest authors.             

Jen: As a New York Times bestselling author, your path to publication is a story in itself. So that my readers may catch a glimpse into the life of the woman behind the words, please briefly share with us your educational and professional background.
Melanie: I graduated from Texas A&M with a degree in Speech Communications.  I chose that major because it required the least amount of math classes, but it turned out to be a good choice because I really had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up.  Ultimately, I took a job in financial sales right out of college (I was horrible at it.) and that eventually led me to a career in pharmaceutical sales that lasted for twelve years.

Jen: Please describe for us your “Aha!” moment when you decided to take the plunge and pursue a career as a writer.
Melanie: I don’t know that I had one big “Aha!” moment as much as just little moments along the way.  The first step was when I started blogging in July of 2006.  It was totally on a whim, but I rediscovered a part of myself that had been dormant for a long time.  Writing again was the creative outlet I needed and as the blog grew I began to realize that I might have the chance to do it for a living and not just a hobby.

Jen: In 2006, you started the Big Mama Blog. For my readers who may not be familiar with its content, please tell us how it evolved.
Melanie: I originally started the blog with the sole purpose of keeping track of family memories.  My daughter Caroline was two at the time and was growing and changing so fast that I wanted a way to keep track of our lives and writing seemed like the natural way to do that.  And so the blog is truly just about our everyday life.  Or as my dad says, “It’s the Seinfeld of blogs.” Which means it’s a blog about nothing.

Jen: Please take us on a brief tour of your blog highlighting points of interest.  
Melanie: There isn’t much to highlight.  It really is just a journal of our everyday life.  However, if you’re a fashion lover, then you might enjoy Fashion Friday.  Each Friday I post ten things I’ve found that week in stores and online.  I try to make it a good mix of price points and styles.

Jen: In 2013, your first book Sparkly Green Earrings: Catching the Light at Every Turn was published. How did you arrive at the premise?
Melanie: Sparkly Green Earrings is a memoir of my days of early motherhood and it seemed like the natural choice.  The whole reason that I initially began blogging was to record memories of the time in my life when I was raising a toddler and the book was a natural extension of that.  My family is the heart of my blog.

Jen: In terms of nuts and bolts, approximately how long does it take for you to write a book? And, what is the most challenging part of the writing process?  
Melanie: It depends.  If you factor in all the time I waste on Facebook and Twitter and watching funny videos on YouTube and alphabetizing the ingredients in my pantry, then it takes me anywhere from six to eight months to write a book.  But if you take all that away and just factor in real writing time?  I would guess about three months. 

So much of my productivity depends on the day and my mood.  There are times I can write a chapter in one day and other times that a chapter takes two to three weeks.  I wish I knew why because I far prefer the former over the latter.  Ultimately the key is to make myself sit down and write something every day, even if it all ends up being terrible.  Writing is all about the discipline, which has never been one of my strong suits.

Jen: Your latest release The Antelope in the Living Room: The Real Story of Two People Sharing One Life is an addictive, humorous read about your marriage. What inspired you to write this book?
Melanie: When I was writing SGE, I kept thinking of so many funny moments from my marriage that didn’t necessarily fit into a book about motherhood.  And I feel like there are so many books out there that tell us how to be better wives or how to pray for our husbands, but what about just something funny that can make women laugh about how absurd it sometimes feels to share a house and a life with a boy.

Jen: How do you manage to balance your work, marriage, and faith with such a demanding schedule?
Melanie: I don’t know that I always do it well.  My goal is always that my faith and family are my top priority and everything else falls in line behind those things.  Part of achieving that is that I really try to stay off the computer and social media when my people are around.  I write when my daughter is at school and after she goes to bed at night.  But it’s a constant push and pull to figure out how to manage it all.  Some days I get it right and other days I don’t.  The key is to give myself grace.

Jen: What has been the most essential life lesson you have learned from being in a committed relationship?
Melanie: That it’s not all about me.  I think one of the most humbling things about marriage is realizing how selfish you can be.  I always feel like Mother Theresa until things don’t go my way and then I feel that thing rise up in me where I just want things to be the way I want them.  And that doesn’t always happen when you’re sharing a life with another person.  But in the long run, the payoff is huge because being married to my husband has made me a better person than I’d be without my husband.  He sharpens me and makes me better.

Jen: Are you currently at work on your next book? If so, what may you share with us?
Melanie: I just signed a contract for a third book.  I’m still not sure of all the details but I believe it is going to be about my journey of faith from the time I was a little girl until present day.  It will be the stories of how I’ve realized God finds us no matter where we are and draws us to him.

Jen: Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to chat with my readers. I absolutely loved The Antelope in the Living Room. I highly recommend it to my Jen’s Jewels readers. Best of luck in all of your future projects!
Melanie: Thank you!

I hope you have enjoyed my interview with Melanie. Please stop by your favorite library branch, local bookstore, or on-line retailer and pick up a copy today. Better yet, how would you like to win one instead? Okay, send me an email at jensjewels@gmail.com with the correct answer to the following trivia question and you’ll be entered into the contest. Good luck! (Offer void where prohibited.)

What is the title of Melanie’s first New York Times bestselling book?

Next month, I will be chatting with six-time RITA Award winner Barbara O’Neal about her upcoming release, The All You Can Dream Buffet: A Novel. You won’t want to miss it.

Jen’s Jewels with Melody Carlson

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

As the holidays come to a close, we start to prepare for the next big thing…Valentine’s Day. Whether we are in a relationship or in search of Mr. /Ms. Right, this special celebration warrants our full attention. Plain and simple, we all want to be loved. Being able to find one person and commit to a long-term relationship filled with love and respect can seem like an overwhelming proposition. Yet when the stars align, the feeling of pure contentment is priceless.

This month’s Jen’s Jewels Melody Carlson addresses this very topic in her latest release, Once Upon a Winter’s Heart. When Emma Burcelli’s grandfather, a true romantic, passes away, she moves back home to help her grandmother grieve. Upon her arrival, she is surprised to discover her parents’ relationship is at a crossroads. As she tries to play matchmaker, she soon realizes that perhaps it’s her own heart that needs to be mended.

As part of my interview, Center Street, a division of Hachette Book Group, has generously donated five copies for you to win in the trivia contest that follows the interview. Winners will be randomly drawn. Good luck! Be sure to keep up-to-date on all the latest news in the publishing business by stopping by www.jennifervido.com, follow me on Facebook jennifervido.com, or on Twitter and Pinterest @JenniferVido. And as always, thanks for making Jen’s Jewelsthe ultimate source for news on the hottest authors today.             

Jen: As a bestselling author with over 200 books in print, your path to publication is a story in itself. So that my readers may catch a glimpse into the life of the woman behind the words, please briefly share with us your educational and professional background.

Melody: Although I’ve always loved writing and got encouragement from teachers throughout school, I never took it seriously. I think it’s because the writing process came so easily to me. I graduated from high school a year early and when it came time to pick a college, despite a couple of full ride scholarships at private schools, I decided to attend the local community college. And a year later, at the ripe old age of eighteen, with an associate’s degree in early childhood education in hand, I went overseas to teach preschool in Papua New Guinea for a year. After that I traveled around the world and when I got home I couldn’t get motivated to return to college. I taught preschool, got married, had children, and worked at a diverse variety of other jobs. But nothing ever challenged me enough to make me want to stick with it. Except for writing. 200 plus books later, I’m still taking it seriously. And I still love it.

Jen: Please describe for us your “Aha!” moment when you decided to pursue a career as an author.

Melody: In my early thirties, I decided to take writing seriously. I’d been writing in various capacities prior to this (newspaper, PTA newsletters, job-related…). But it was a funny incident with my twelve year old son that gave me the “push” I needed. My son was an avid reader who had devoured all the “good” books we could find and wanted to read Stephen King. I was concerned he wasn’t ready for King and took him to a bookstore to peruse the young adult shelves. What I found there (in the early 90’s) seemed dark and twisted and poorly written. I held up a book to my son and said, “I could write this badly.” Of course, it seemed silly, but I thought if the bar to get published was that low, I might be able to get over it.

Jen: Your prolific writing career includes titles in more than just one genre. Which category is your most favorite to write and why?

Melody: I know my writing diversity is a frustration to some of my publishers. I would make their lives easier if I could just pigeonhole myself into one genre and stay there. However, that is not how my mind works. I love having the freedom to write some serious issues-based novels (like Finding Alice or my TrueColors series). But I’m sure I’d get depressed if that was all I wrote. I also enjoy creating feel-good stories that simply take the reader away. I heard a quote that people read for two reasons: 1) to forget and 2) to remember. And I suppose my books are like that too. Some of my books will transport a reader to a happier place by helping them to forget about their daily stresses. Other books will remind a reader that there is pain out there and they are not alone. In answer to my “favorite” genre—it is always whichever book I’m writing at the time.

Jen: In terms of nuts and bolts, approximately how long does it take for you to write a novel? And, what is the most challenging part of the writing process? 

Melody: I write extremely fast. Most writers probably think I’m crazy, but it’s simply how I work. When I try to slow the writing process down, I get bored and frustrated and I drop threads out of the story. I usually complete a novel in less than two months. The most challenging part of writing is accepting and respecting that the way I work is unique to me—and that’s okay. I can admire and respect how other writers work, but I need to remain true to who I am as a writer—I am a storyteller and that’s enough.

Jen: Once Upon a Winter’s Heart is a heartwarming novel about a young woman in search of true love. How did you arrive at the premise?

Melody: To be honest, I can’t remember the initial impetus behind the storyline, but in retrospect, I can see that there’s some Dickens’ influence. My protagonist, Emma Burcelli, is a bit of a Valentine’s Day Scrooge. She’s cynical and disillusioned and when her beloved grandfather dies (the last true romantic) Emma concludes that “love is dead” as well. Naturally, it takes a wonderful guy and some Valentine’s Day “magic” (along with Dean Martin, chocolate and wine) to restore her faith in love.

Jen: When Emma Burcelli arrives home for her grandfather’s funeral, she discovers her parents’ marriage is in shambles. How does this crisis alter the dynamics of her relationship with her mother?

Melody: For starters, it helps to confirm her belief that ‘love is dead.’ But because Emma has a stronger relationship with her father, her first response is to blame her mother for their marital problems. It doesn’t help matters that her mother intrudes into Emma’s world by parking herself at Nona’s house or by taking sides with Emma’s younger sister Anne. Like many families, Emma’s has its own forms of dysfunction.

Jen: At first sight, Emma is smitten with the handsome bachelor Lane Forester. When she discovers her sister Anne has already staked her claim, Emma is deflated. Why does she allow her sister to call the shots when clearly Emma is attracted to him?

Melody: A big part of the sibling back story (that might not all show up) is that Emma has been catering to her slightly spoiled baby sister for most of her life. Emma’s personality type is more quiet and serious, the kind of person who doesn’t mind being backstage and who will sacrifice her own happiness to maintain peace. Meanwhile her gregarious younger sister loves the limelight and thrives on drama and attention. It’s a combination that’s ripe for disaster.

Jen: How does Lane’s sudden interest in Emma change her perception of the present situation?

Melody: Sweetly blindsided by love, Emma is forced to develop a bit more backbone in dealing with her baby sister. And yet Emma must remain true to herself. It’s a bit of a tightrope walk, but fun.       

Jen: How does Emma’s eagerness to reach out to her nephew Tristan serve as a way in which to connect with her beloved grandfather who recently passed away?

Melody: I love how Tristan and Emma connect so naturally—and how they serendipitously help each other through their grief. I’m sure it’s because they’ve both been loved by Poppi, they’re both similar to Poppi, and they both miss Poppi.

Jen: Let’s switch gears now and talk about your promotional plans. Please take us on a brief tour of your website highlighting points of interest.  

Melody: My website melodycarlson.com (designed by my son) is not terribly fancy. My son and I are both still learning as we go and we hope to add a blog to it this year. I tend to be so caught up with writing books that I neglect the website. But readers can contact me through it or sign up for monthly newsletter (I give away prizes every month!). Also, I’m available on Facebook and am trying to improve my social network skills.

Jen: Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to chat with my readers. I absolutely loved Once Upon a Winter’s Heart. I highly recommend it to my Jen’s Jewels readers. Bravo! Best of luck in 2014!

I hope you have enjoyed my interview with Melody. Please stop by your favorite library branch, local bookstore, or on-line retailer and pick up a copy today. Better yet, how would you like to win one instead?

Send me an email at jensjewels@gmail.com with the correct answer to the trivia question and you’ll win!

What is the name of Emma’s sister in Once Upon a Winter’s Heart?

Next month, I will be chatting with New York Times bestselling author Melanie Shankle about her upcoming release, The Antelope in the Living Room. You won’t want to miss it.

Jen’s Jewels with Carly Phillips

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

Being part of a divorced family can have its rewards and challenges depending on the circumstances of the separation. Oftentimes, when a parent remarries the kids are able to mesh while finding a voice of their own. However, now and then strong personalities and resentful feelings can make the blending of two families a bit difficult. Finding a harmonious balance among family members while embracing the realm of possibilities for the future is the key to happiness.   

This month’s Jen’s Jewels Carly Phillips addresses this very topic in her latest release, Dare to Love. Ian Dare has been hurt by his father’s betrayal and resents his half siblings. Along the way, he falls in love with Riley Taylor, his half brother’s best friend, which causes familial strife. Once again, Carly delivers a compelling romance with just the right balance of steamy love scenes and suspense.

As part of my interview, Carly has generously donated five copies for you to win. So, be on the lookout for the trivia question. Contest winners will be randomly drawn. Good luck! Be sure to keep up-to-date on all the latest news in the publishing business by stopping by www.jennifervido.com, follow me on Facebook jennifervido.com, or on Twitter and Pinterest @JenniferVido. And as always, thanks for making Jen’s Jewelsthe ultimate source for news on the hottest authors today.             

Jen: As a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author with over thirty books in print, your stellar career as a romance writer speaks for itself. What is the driving force behind your literary success?

Carly: Good fortune, hard work, fantastic readers! I seriously couldn’t explain it any better.

Jen: Your latest release, Dare to Love, is the first of a three-book self-publishing venture. Why did you choose to step away from your mainstream publisher for this project?

Carly: I have been very fortunate over the years to be published by wonderful people in New York/Traditional publishing.  Everyone I worked with has been wonderful to me – nothing about my experience there played a part in my leaving.  In the end, the decision came down to the fact that I felt I wanted to write books that I could put out quicker, were a little bit shorter, and that readers could get at a lower price point, something NY Publishing just couldn’t do.  In my heart I felt I was missing readers who wouldn’t try me as a “new to them” author at 7.99.  It’s a scary gamble, but I am loving the control over covers and pricing and content

Jen: What has been the most challenging part of the process thus far? And, the most rewarding?

Carly: The most challenging is time.  Every day, there are more things added to my To Do list/plate and I need to balance that with writing and family and life.  The most rewarding ties into that.  Every day something new (and exciting) comes up that I hadn’t thought about before. I learn something every day and I love that. So it may be more time consuming, but I’m thriving on it!

Jen: Dare to Love is by far your most steamy romance to date. How did you arrive at the premise? And, did your interest to write a romance with more explicit love scenes come from readers’ requests, or was it sparked by your own desire to test your writing chops?

Carly: I am a massive and fast reader and for the last year or so I’ve been devouring the hotter, steamier romances.  I started to see it translating to my regular writing.  I think it just was time for me to write what I wanted and was starting to come naturally. I loved writing Ian and his more dominant traits.

Jen: Ian Dare is a dominant man afraid of falling in love. Yet with one glimpse, he is captivated by the sheer beauty of Riley Taylor. Is his attraction to her purely lust, or does Riley’s association with his half-brother whom he despises makes her more appealing?

Carly: Ian sees Riley for the first time on the arm of his brother.  No doubt that sparks intrigue but I believe Ian is at heart, a better man than to go after her for those reasons.  Initially it’s lust but within a very short time there is such a deep connection and they find so much in common despite her fear of dominant men, neither can resist the other.

Jen: When Riley accepts a position in the Dare’s family business, how does her relationship change with Alex, Ian’s half-brother?

Carly: Alex wants what is best for Riley.  But Alex wanted to be the one to help her the way he has always done.  So it was inevitable that Ian’s help would hurt Alex’s pride, as she’s always turned down his offer to help her with a job, an apartment, etc.  Their relationship went through a rocky period but there is no way Alex would abandon her.  No matter what he will always be there for her.  He needed to put his pride aside and eventually he does.  Not without a major misstep along the way!

Jen: When Riley and Ian’s relationship heats up, she soon realizes his need to dominate applies to not only the boardroom, but also the bedroom. In what way does this revelation alter her view of the relationship?

Carly: Riley had an abusive childhood, directed more at her mother than her – mostly – hers was emotional until something extreme happens. When Ian’s dominant nature coincides with an angry moment, she has cause to reconsider what she’s doing with a man like him.  She has to reconcile who he is with her past.  Not an easy feat.

Jen: Ian struggles with accepting his step-siblings as members of the family due to his father’s unforgivable act of betrayal. How does his relationship with Riley cause him to reevaluate his familial situation?

Carly: Ian will do anything for Riley, including extend an olive branch to his half siblings.  It’s really a function of his feelings for her that allows him to put his pride aside, something he’s had trouble doing.  Deep down Ian has wanted a relationship with them but he couldn’t admit it to himself or get past his pride.  Until Riley.   

Jen: Let’s switch gears now and focus on your career. Due to the major advances in technology over the past ten years, the publishing business has drastically changed. As an author, how has it affected your nuts and bolts approach to writing a novel?

Carly: The nuts and bolts of writing romance haven’t changed.  My voice, what I like to write about, that’s all the same.  I keep up with reading in my genre, so I know what readers like, what they are saying about different books and authors, etc. I try to stay current and grow with each book.  The changes are to the way books get to readers, but it’s more behind the scenes.

Jen: E-books have revolutionized the way in which we read. How have they impacted your career? Which do you prefer…a book or e-book?

Carly: eBook.  I read on my iPad mini with the Kindle app.  I love my mini. I never leave home without it and I am never without a book to read!

Jen: Marketing is a vital component to an author’s success. Your presence on the web is truly remarkable. How do you balance your writing schedule with promotional obligations?

Carly: Thank you! I just … do it.  There’s no real answer except multitasking.  The web and social media is something I truly enjoy so it’s never a nuisance or a hassle.  I just have to put the writing first and prioritize.  If I do that, all the rest falls into place!         

Jen: Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to stop by and chat with my readers. As always, I wish you the best of luck with your new series. Happy holidays and happy New Year!

Carly:  Thank you, Jen. It’s always a pleasure to talk to you! I appreciate that you ask me back.  Happy holidays and happy New Year to you and your readers!

I hope you have enjoyed my interview with Carly Phillips. Please stop by your favorite bookstore, online retailer, or library branch and pick up a copy of Dare to Love today. Better yet, how would you like to win one instead? Okay, send me the answer to the following trivia question to jensjewels@gmail.com and you’ll be entered to win!

What is Riley’s last name?

In January 2014, I will be bringing to you my interview with bestselling author Melody Carlson. You won’t want to miss it. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year!

 

Jen’s Jewels with Lorraine Zago Rosenthal

Friday, November 15th, 2013

During the holidays, there is nothing better than gathering with family and friends. Often, this is the only time when we are able to come together due to the hustle and bustle of our daily lives. From long-lost aunts and uncles to newborn babies, the entire family looks forward to spending time as one. Yet imagine what it would feel like if this year you discovered you had siblings you never knew existed. Oh, my! Rest assured this holiday season would be one you’d never forget.

This month’s Jen’s Jewels Lorraine Zago Rosenthal addresses this very topic of newfound family in her latest release, New Money. Set in two of my favorite destinations, New York City and Charleston, SC, it’s the story of Southern belle Savannah Morgan who inherits an immense fortune along with two obstinate, spoiled siblings. While climbing the social ladder of corporate America, Savannah must learn how to navigate her newly inherited fame and fortune.

As part of my interview, Thomas Dunne Books, a division of St. Martin’s Press, has generously donated five copies for you to win. So, be on the lookout for the trivia question. Winners will be randomly drawn. Good luck! Be sure to keep up-to-date on all the latest news in the publishing business by stopping by www.jennifervido.com, follow me on Facebook jennifervido.com, or on Twitter and Pinterest @JenniferVido. And as always, thanks for making Jen’s Jewelsa part of your holiday reading.       

Jen: As a successful writer, your path to publication is a story in itself. So that my readers may catch a glimpse into the life of the woman behind the words, please briefly share with us your educational and professional background.

Lorraine: I was born and raised in New York City, where I went to high school at St. Francis Prep. I graduated from the University of South Florida in Tampa with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a Master’s degree in Education. I also earned a Master’s degree in English, with a concentration in American and British Literature, from Northern Kentucky University. My first novel, Other Words for Love, was published by Random House (Delacorte Press) in January 2011. My second novel, New Money, was published by St. Martin’s Press (Thomas Dunne Books) in September 2013.

Jen: Please describe for us your “Aha!” moment when you decided to take the plunge and pursue a career as an author.

Lorraine: I wanted to become a writer very early in life. I developed a love of books as soon as I learned to read, and I read fiction constantly. I was also highly influenced by my interest in film and TV. I have always enjoyed watching movies and TV series, and from a young age I studied character development, pacing, dialogue, and plot. After a while, I wanted to create my own characters and stories, so I started writing.

My desire to write began so early—in grammar school—that I wouldn’t say I actively chose it. It’s really just innate. I continued writing while I attended high school and when I was in college and graduate school at the University of South Florida. My B.A. in psychology greatly benefits my writing skills, because an understanding of the human psyche is necessary to get into the minds of characters and to portray the characters and their actions in a realistic way.

Jen: In terms of nuts and bolts, approximately how long does it take for you to write a novel? And, what is the most challenging part of the writing process?  

Lorraine: It can take between several months and a year to write a novel; however, that doesn’t include the time I spend contemplating the story and characters before I begin writing. Ari Mitchell (the main character in Other Words for Love) and her family were in my mind for a few years before I fully understood Ari’s story and began to write it.

In general, writing a novel is challenging. It requires a great deal of dedication, effort, and focus on the characters and their individual stories. I think that in any work of fiction, the most challenging aspect for an author is to create characters who are complex people with positive and negative traits.

Jen: New Money is an addictive, humorous read about Savannah Morgan, a plucky spitfire on a journey to find her true calling in life. How did you arrive at the premise?

Lorraine: When I was asked the same question about my first novel, I answered that it was inspired by many things—such as observation, experience, and imagination. I think this applies to all novels, including New Money.

Jen: The story takes place in both Charleston, SC and New York City. Why did you choose these particular locales?

Lorraine: I’m originally from NYC and know it well, so I enjoy writing about that setting and its subcultures, as I did in Other Words for Love. In New Money, Savannah Morgan moves from a quiet town to a chaotic city, and Manhattan vs. Charleston (North vs. South) is a contrast that sparks a lot of conflict.

Jen: When Savannah learns of an inheritance from her billionaire father she never knew, how does it change the dynamics of her relationship with her mother?

Lorraine: It causes problems between Savannah and her mother, Joan. Joan is an independent and grounded woman who rejected Savannah’s father’s money and glamorous lifestyle. So when Savannah accepts her inheritance and moves to Manhattan, Joan doesn’t approve.

Jen: Upon her initial introduction to the Stone family, Savannah stands her ground despite the frosty reception. From where does she find this inner strength? 

Lorraine: Savannah was raised by a strong mother and has suffered years of being snubbed by wealthier people. This has toughened her up, and she calls upon her inner strength to deal with the Stone family. She understandably feels anxiety and fear, but she does her best not to show it to the people who would use any signs of weakness against her. When she enters into her new life in NYC, she always tries to remember (as she tells her new siblings) that she deserves to be there just as much as they do.

Jen: Is her sister-in-law Kitty’s willingness to take Savannah under her wing merely an act of kindness, or simply a way to get back at the Stone family?

Lorraine: Her kindness is genuine, but the dose of revenge on some people is a bonus.

Jen: How does the arrival of Savannah’s best friend Tina taint her reputation in the Stone family’s eyes?

Lorraine: The Stone family has a preconceived notion of Savannah’s character, and their brief observation of Tina strengthens these inaccurate opinions.

Jen: When Savannah starts dating Alex, a debonair writer, how does this relationship change her perception of her present financial situation?

Lorraine: This relationship makes her realize that having money hasn’t solved all of her problems. In fact, it has created new ones.          

Jen: Of her two new siblings, Ned and Caroline, which one needs Savannah the most? And, who has the most to lose?

Lorraine: Certain incidents cause Ned to need Savannah’s cooperation. Without it, he has a great deal to lose.

Jen: Let’s switch gears now and talk about your promotional plans. Please take us on a brief tour of your blog highlighting points of interest.  

Lorraine: I have been fortunate enough to participate in many features to promote New Money, including interviews with Examiner.com, Long Island Woman, USA Today, and the Gulf Coast Times. Links to all of my interviews can be found on this page of my website: http://lorraine-zago-rosenthal.blogspot.com/p/news-press-and-appearances.html

Jen: Are you present in social media? And, what is the best way for my readers to keep abreast of your latest news?

Lorraine: I am definitely present in social media! Readers can visit my website: http://lorraine-zago-rosenthal.blogspot.com/ and follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/lorrainezr.

Jen: Are you currently at work on your next novel? If so, what may you share with us?

Lorraine: My next novel is Independently Wealthy—which is the sequel to New Money. It will be published in fall 2014.

Jen: Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to chat with my readers. I absolutely loved New Money, especially the references to my favorite city Charleston. I highly recommend it to my Jen’s Jewels readers. Bravo! Best of luck in all of your future projects!

Lorraine: You’re very welcome, Jen! And thanks so much for your kind words. I’m thrilled that you enjoyed New Money, and I hope your readers will, too!

I hope you have enjoyed my interview with Lorraine Zago Rosenthal. Please stop by your favorite bookstore, online retailer, or library branch and pick up a copy of New Money today. Better yet, how would you like to win one instead? Okay, send me the answer to the following trivia question to jensjewels@gmail.com and you’ll be entered to win!

Where does the story take place?

In December, I will be bringing to you my interview with New York Times best-selling author Carly Phillips, author of Dare to Love. You won’t want to miss it. Until next time…Happy Thanksgiving!