Archive for April 29th, 2008

Confessions of a virgin (a virgin guest blogger, that is)

Isn’t it wonderful how life can be counted on to give you new experiences just when you’re feeling old and uninspired?

When the lovely Fatin (who looks a lot like Jon Bon Jovi, I’ve noticed) asked me to be a guest blogger, I didn’t hesitate. I believe my exact words were: “Yes, yes, thank you so much, nobody’s ever asked me before and all my friends send out notices of their guest blogs and I was feeling so left out.”

Pathetic, huh?

But this is what happens when you live in relative isolation and spend your days with imaginary people. You sometimes forget that a big world is out there and you’re supposed to interact. Mingle. Make small talk. Ask questions. Sip your cosmo without slurping.

Oh, and you’re supposed to do this without taking notes. I guess that’s kinda rude. So, here’s my promise: what happens in this blog, stays in this blog. (Unless one of my characters just happens to have something very similar occur in their—no, no, I can do this. Really. Trust me.)

So, how ‘bout we start out with a safe conversational subject: books. I love books, but there are times when I resent them. I start feeling that my stack of TBRs is judging me. I picture them talking amongst themselves when I leave the room:

“Hey, first book below me, how long have you been in this pile?”

“Long enough. See the dust on my cover?”

“Oh, dear. It’s very thick. I can barely make out your title. Maybe that means she’s forgotten why she bought you in the first place and she’ll read me first.”

“Hmph. Don’t count on it. I’ve been here on the bottom since before you were printed. I think she’s forgotten how to read.”

“You? Seriously? You’re like a New York Times bestseller, aren’t you? Good grief. If you can’t get read, I’m doomed. I’m just a series romance. But I did hear her say I was written by one of her friends so maybe that will help.”

“Don’t count on it, honey. I was written by one of her friends, too. She claims to love my author’s writing, but here I sit. Unread.”

“At least, she can see my cover. No dust.”


So, my first conversational question is: how many books are in your TBR stack?

Unfortunately, I have to refuse to answer on the grounds the books might revolt. Plus, I don’t really know. I keep the piles in separate rooms. A few in my office. Four beside my bed. Two in the sauna. (Where I do Sudoku when I should be reading. Sigh.)

Have you ever bought a book then gotten it home and asked yourself why you bought it?

This happens to me all the time. Usually with books I buy at Costco, and mostly with “women’s fiction” books. I’m often drawn to the premise described on the back jacket but then find the writing is too much. I like stories where the characters live on the page. I hate getting jerked out of a story by something the author needed to get off his or her chest.

Do you finish every book you start?

I have to admit, no. I used to feel guilty about this. I used to clean my plate at every meal, too. But then my pants didn’t fit so hot. Now, I embrace the philosophy: Life is short, eat dessert first. And I don’t even finish my dessert if I don’t like it.

Have you ever read a book DESPITE the cover, the title or the back jacket copy?

I ask because my book, A BABY ON THE WAY, won a lovely award last year, and one of the judges commented that she hated the cover and the title, but thoroughly enjoyed the book.

And with my most recent book, BABY BY CONTRACT, a reviewer said she didn’t think she’d like it given the back cover copy, but wound up loving the book (and giving it a 5-star review with great pull quotes).

I buy books for lots of reasons—to support my friends, because the premise interests me, for the cover, and, most typically, because someone recommended it.  So, if you’re unsure about whether or not you’d like BABY BY CONTRACT, call my daughter-in-law. Seriously. She’s a tough critic and when she finished this book, she told me it was my best to date and she would have been royally P.O.ed if it hadn’t been the first in a series because she wasn’t ready to say goodbye to Libby and Cooper. Now, that’s a grassroots review. J

And since this blog is supposed to be about my new book and not my lack of social graces, I suppose I should mention a few things about BABY BY CONTRACT.

I grew up in South Dakota. Although I moved to California twenty-seven years ago, I still think of that state as home. And I always planned to set a book in the Black Hills. Why? Because it’s a truly special place. Go there. You’ll feel it, I promise. And there’s an immense wealth of history, geography and humanity to tap into for your characters living in this area. I had so much fun imagining Sentinel Pass. And last fall, I took a trip back to the Black Hills to find the exact location of this imaginary town. I’ve posted photos on my website that give visual hints of where it can be found.

I will admit, though, the series didn’t start out in the Black Hills. My first idea was to write a family saga about five brothers who return to South Dakota to take over the family farm after their father dies. My editor at the time wasn’t crazy about the idea. She wanted to see some other options. I dumped the eastern part of the state in a heartbeat and zeroed in on the Black Hills. The question that came to mind was: what happens when a small town that truly isn’t ready for its close-up becomes the focus of a TV show? Think: The Bachelor meets Northern Exposure. All sorts of fun ideas started to percolate and my editor was pleased.

The five books in this series are scheduled for release at 4-month intervals between now and Sept. 2009. Are they all plotted? Absolutely not. I know the main characters—three are Libby’s bookclub friends and the fourth story belongs to her brother, a widower with a young daughter. I also have a pretty clear grasp of the main conflict in the stories. And, of course, I have the setting, but the rest is floating around in muse land at the moment. Where I should be, actually. I feel a deadline coming on.

Any other questions? Is it too early for that cosmo?


****Don’t forget to leave a comment. Deb has offered six readers a chance to win one book off her backlist. Check out her books here and her website here.

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