Category Archives: Conversation

3 QQ for Victoria Dahl

3QQ is an ongoing blog feature in which we ask authors joining Nora for an upcoming Turn the Page Bookstore signing some questions about their current release, upcoming books and anything else that strikes our fancy

This Saturday, October 26, from noon – 2 pm Turn the Page will be lit up with love and magic.  Nora is signing Dark Witch, the first book in her brand new Cousins O’Dwyer Trilogy.  And she’ll be surrounded by magickal writers, including Victoria Dahl who brings her own brand of small town magic and love to contemporary romance.

VictoriaDahl15percentVictoria will be flying in for the signing from her home in Utah to sign copies of her books, including So Tough to Tame the third book in her Jackson Hole, Wyoming trilogy.  In So Tough to Tame, Charlie Allington is supposed to be on the fast track to the top—a small-town girl who was making it big in her career. Instead, she’s reeling from a scandal that’s pretty much burned all her bridges. Now, out of options, she needs a place to lick her wounds and figure out her future. True, working at a ski resort in rugged Jackson Hole, Wyoming, isn’t her dream job. But if there’s one perk to coming back, it’s a certain sexy hometown boy who knows how to make a girl feel welcome. 

Walker Pearce never expected a grown-up Charlie to be temptation in tight jeans. She’s smart and successful—way out of league for a man like him. But he’s not about to let that, or his secrets, get in the way of their blazing-hot attraction. Yet when passion turns to something more, will the truth—about both of them—send her out of his life for good…or into his arms forever?

Victoria was willing to answer the 3 QQ’s plus a bonus!

1. Like a certain other author who’ll be at this signing, you write trilogies — most recently the third book in The Jackson Trilogy — So Tough to Tame.  What appeals to you about telling individual stories linked by an overall arc?

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Trilogy writing feels very natural to me, but I’m not sure why. I really enjoy writing secondary characters, and connected books are a great way to flesh out characters that even I don’t know much about when I first start writing. It’s also fun to get a perspective on a new couple from someone you already know from a previous book. But my short attention span and terrible memory mean I could never pull off one of those epic fifteen-book series that some authors write. I would forget SO many things! 🙂 

 2. You capture small towns so well — do you live in a place where everyone knows everyone else or do you just like to imagine them?

I was actually raised in cities. Minneapolis, Dallas, Tulsa, Denver. But my family is from a very small town in Minnesota. There are about 2000 people total, and I lived there during the summers with my grandparents. My experience with that, and the perspective I think I bring to it, is that there are good and bad people in any community, whether you live in a small town or a city. And even though you might think you know everyone else when you live in a small town, people still have secrets. Big secrets.  

Small towns can be charming and sweet and cozy, but they can also be claustrophobic and unforgiving. I like to be fairly realistic about that. 

All that said, I live in a fairly small town right now. It’s hard to run to the grocery store with unwashed hair. You’re guaranteed to run in to someone you know. 

 

3.  What’s your favorite part about meeting up with readers?

It’s like a party! I’m very much an introvert, with all the awkwardness that entails, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve kind of given up on that. Instead of worrying that I’ll say the wrong thing, I just treat everyone like I already know them. After all, at a book signing, we’re almost all introverts, but we all have something great to talk about. Books!

 
Bonus Q — What’s your favorite Halloween candy?
 
Almond Joy! And my kids HATE them! Yaaaaay!

Even if you can’t make it to the signing, you can take advantage of Turn the Page’s Virtual Signing feature by ordering a book and having your favorite author personalize it for you before the event is finished.

Where else can you find Victoria?  Word is that she posts on her Facebook page when she can but Victoria rolls right along on her Twitter feed and her Tumblr.

 

 

3QQ for Kate Quinn

3QQ is an ongoing blog feature in which we ask authors who are joining Nora for an upcoming Turn the Page Bookstore signing some questions about their current release, upcoming books and anything else that strikes our fancy.

kate quinn-210TTP’s next event is this Saturday, September 14 from noon-2 pm.  Joining Nora is historical romance author Kate Quinn, a lifelong history buff who has written three novels set in ancient Rome: “Mistress of Rome,” “Daughters of Rome,” and “Empress of the Seven Hills.” She recently made the jump from ancient Roqk_mistress-150me to Renaissance Italy for her fourth and fifth novels, “The Serpent and the Pearl” and “The Lion and the Rose,” detailing the early years of
the Borgia clan.
Let’s learn a little bit more about Kate:

1. You’ve set books in the Roman Empire and Renaissance Italy.  Have you been to Italy?  If yes, what were your favorite places and food?

Yes, I love Italy.  I did a few of those whirlwind high-school trips that whip you through the whole country in three-to-five days, and then later my husband-to-be and I took our very first trip together, and spent a week in Venice.  That might very well have been the trip that sealed the deal for us: wandering hand in hand over the canals, feasting on risotto and bellinis at a little trattoria around the corner from our hotel.  We were so broke we had to stuff our pockets with rolls from the breakfast bread basket because we couldn’t afford lunch, but we were incredibly happy – Italy is magical that way!

2. The Serpent and the Pearl is your current release and first one set in  Renaissance Italy.  Challenge question: what’s your four sentence  synopsis?

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Take one Renaissance beauty with floor-length hair and the undying love of a Borgia pope.  Add a cynical dwarf on the hunt for a serial killer, and a fiery cook with a secret past and a mummified hand in her pocket.  Throw in one papal election, three Borgia weddings, a French army, and enough delicious food to throw anybody off their diet.  Light on fire and serve for a fun, fast-paced Renaissance romp!

3.  What’s your favorite part about meeting readers at events?

It brings the other half of the writing experience so suddenly and wonderfully to life!  Typically I see only my half:  curled up for hours in my yoga pants with a lap-top balanced in my lap, working on a book which I hope readers will enjoy.  But for the most part I don’t meet those readers; the book goes into their hands completely independent of me.  Getting to meet readers face to face, hearing them talk about what they liked best from my book or what part made them cry – suddenly I get the chance to see my book from the readers’ side of things, and it’s wonderful!

For more information about Kate check out her websiteFacebook page or Twitter feed.

And even if you can’t make it to the signing, you can order books now and the marvelous Turn the Page staff will have the authors sign the books before the event is over.

3QQ for Elaine Fox

3QQ is an ongoing blog feature in which we ask authors who are joining Nora for an upcoming Turn the Page Bookstore signing some questions about their current release, upcoming books and anything else that strikes our fancy.

TTP’s next event is this Saturday, September 14 from noon-2 pm.  Joining Nora are the other authors who contributed to the Mirror, Mirror anthology — all of whom are good pals.

elaineToday’s conversation is with Elaine Fox, a newcomer to the JD Robb anthologies, but an author with an impressive list of books that cross romance subgenres from historicals to romantic comedies.  A creative soul, Elaine’s varied interests include needlework, jewelry making, wine, and yoga.  And writing.

1. All the stories in Mirror, Mirror are loosely linked by an overarching fairy tale theme.  You chose a classic in your novella “Beauty, Sleeping.”  Were you a fan of fairy tales growing up?

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Of course I loved all the Disney versions, and had a book of Grimms’ with some wonderfully gruesome and detailed pictures, but I chose this one in kind of a backwards way. In trying to choose my fairy tale, I joked about how hard it would be to use Sleeping Beauty because one of the main characters is unconscious throughout the nearly whole story. (“Darling, at last I’ve found you!” cried the prince. “    ,” said Beauty.) Talk about a challenge!

But the more I thought about it, the more intrigued I became, and once I decided that the ‘sleep’ could be metaphorical, I hit on the idea of a ghost – ghost stories being right up there with fairy tales in my pantheon of childhood muses.

2. Could you tell us a little about “Beauty, Sleeping?”

Sure. So, the ghost idea. Instead of sleeping, my character would be a ghost – but not a dead-person ghost. No, in keeping with the original fairy tale, my character was cursed by an evil fairy because his parents didn’t invite her to his christening. (Really. Evidently fairies hate not being invited to parties.) But instead of being sentenced to sleep for a number of years he was turned into a ghost.

In a further twist on the tale I made my sleeper the hero, and it isn’t until the heroine buys the house he’s caught in that he has a chance to be made ‘real’ again.

More subtly, I wanted to play with the idea of other beautiful things sleeping too, such as the house – which stood empty for decades – and my heroine, who had never found love before, etc., so the story is about a kind of beauty in general, sleeping.

3. You’ve written romances with a fair amount of history, romantic comedies and romances with dogs as important secondary characters.  What compelled you to try different types of stories?  And what are you reading now?

I started out writing time travel romances, which can have the benefit of being both contemporary and historical. So for somebody who’s indecisive like me they’re perfect! Which makes the short answer: I just change my mind a lot. But mostly I like variety because it keeps my writing fresh. Time travels offer a writer the challenge of creating a story the reader has to recognize as ‘real’ (because they’re living a contemporary life too), and turning it into the fantasy world of the historical. After that, writing a straight historical – which requires a different kind of voice – was another challenge. Writing a completely contemporary story was for me the final frontier.

The dog books were a way to indulge my love of dogs, and to appeal to people who, like me, love their pets. Using dogs as devices to either get the hero and heroine together or keep them apart also made for great comic opportunities, which I am always looking for (and not just in writing!)

Right now I’m reading Beautiful Ruins, by Jess Walter, who is so creatively uninhibited it’s inspiring. I also just finished reading Secret Sister, by Emelle Gamble, a book that makes you believe in the magic of love even in the complicated, confusing and messy world of modern life.

For more information about Elaine check out her website and  Facebook page.

And even if you can’t make it to the signing, you can order books now and the marvelous Turn the Page staff will have the authors sign the books before the event is over.

 

 

3QQ for Mary Kay McComas

3QQ is an ongoing blog feature in which we ask authors who are joining Nora for an upcoming Turn the Page Bookstore signing some questions about their current release, upcoming books and anything else that strikes our fancy.

TTP’s next event is this Saturday, September 14 from noon-2 pm.  Joining Nora are the other authors who contrimary_kay_mccomas3_smbuted to the Mirror, Mirror anthology — all of whom are good pals.

Today we’re chatting with Mary Kay McComas, a long time Nora pal.  Mary Kay spent the first part of her career writing Loveswepts for Bantam.  She’s been a frequent contributor to the JD Robb anthologies with novellas that take the overall theme and tweak it to Mary Kay’s point of view.  Her first two books from William Morrow/Harper Collins Pub

have garnered positive reviews and she’s hard at work on her next book.

Oh, and her math skills go in some interesting directions.  Read on!

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1. The stories in Mirror, Mirror are loosely connected by a fairy tale theme.  You chose to retell The Little Match Girl — what drew you to that story?

Actually, I’ve always thought that particular Hans Christian Andersen tale was pretty grim –hardly the sort of story I’d tell my children before bed. I’ve never liked it. So when I saw it on a list of potential fairy tales I curled my lip at it and moved on. Until I remembered that the Brothers Grimm also wrote a story about a little orphaned girl, poor and homeless, who kind-heartedly gives away what little she has to those even less fortunate and ends up naked, starving and freezing in the woods. Then, as she clings desperately to her last ray of hope, a bright star passes overhead and rains down a great fortune to repay her selflessness. Yes, okay, another dark story but it has a more upbeat ending … and a moral!

Also, as it happened, I had just read about the Once in a Civilization comet ISON that is due to appear around Christmas time of 2013. It’s predicted to be 15 times brighter than a full moon and in some places visible to the naked eye in daylight — it seemed like a sure fit for the magic in my story.

And there you have my 6 – 4 + 7 – 2 + 4 = 10 process for storytelling. My tale is a mix of The Little Matchstick Girl and The Star Money and my fascination with ISON, The Christmas Comet.

2. Could you share a little of the story of “The Christmas Comet?”

Sure. Natalie was a child of the streets until she was adopted by a family who gave her love and taught her that any kindness given to others would be returned to her 10 fold. She’s caught in the giving phase of this theory, and while there is peace in her soul and joy in her heart, her tangible returns are exactly nil and she’s dug herself into a financial and legal pit that’s about to cave in on her. There’s an adorable policeman who watches over her while she tends to the indigent and a happy ending that’s more Grimm than Andersen, so to speak.

3. What are you writing now?

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Presently, I’m working on a third novel set in the same town as my last two stories — What Happened to Hannah and Something About Sophie. So far I have a title, Don’t Ask Alice, and that’s about it. All I have to do now is figure out what not to ask her. So here I am again 3 + 5 – 4 ….

For more of about Mary Kay, though I can’t promise more math, check out her website and  Facebook page.

And even if you can’t make it to the signing, you can order books now and the marvelous Turn the Page staff will have the authors sign the books before the event is over.

3 QQ for R.C. Ryan (aka Ruth Ryan Langan)

3QQ is an ongoing blog feature in which we ask authors who are joining Nora for an upcoming Turn the Page Bookstore signing some questions about their current release, upcoming books and anything else that strikes our fancy.

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TTP’s next event is this Saturday, September 14 from noon-2 pm.  Joining Nora are the other authors who contributed to the Mirror, Mirror anthology — all of whom are good pals.

First up is Ruth Ryan Langan who also writes as R.C. Ryan.  Nora and Ruth met at the very first Romance Writers of America conference in 1981.  Both were newly published and very starstruck by the authors attending.  Fortunately, they found each other and a friendship that’s spanned three decades and counting was born.
Nora and Ruth have roomed together at RWA since 1983 — and the stories they have to tell about those conferences would take days to finish.  Unfortunately, they banished juiciest ones to the cone of silence, so you’ll just have to take my word on the subject.

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1. Mirror, Mirror is the 14th time you’ve teamed up with Nora and other writing pals for an anthology.  What’s the appeal for you in writing stories that are loosely linked by a theme?
I love the challenge of writing a story set to a  ‘theme’.  Whether it’s my version of extreme Twilight Zone,  what lies on the other side of this life as we know it, or my own take on a  familiar nursery rhyme, it challenges me. 
Writing shorter stories is an art form all its  own.  The author has to establish the characters quickly, engage the reader  immediately, and, of course, tell a satisfying story.  Since I cut my writing teeth on smaller books, I learned how to pare down my work and still satisfy my readers.  It’s all part of this on-going creative process.
And then, of course, there’s the chance to do all this with good pals.  These are people I love and respect. That makes it so much more fun. 

2. Can you tell us a little about “Stroke of Midnight”?

Sydney has had some hard knocks in life.  After  losing her mother at an early age, her artist father married again, to a  woman with older twin daughters, believing his beloved Sydney would be surrounded by women who would make up for that painful loss.  He was wrong.  Upon his death his widow dissolves his estate, selling his paintings for a quick infusion of money to start her twin daughters on their road to fame and fortune. 
In a poor section of New York City Sydney becomes a teacher, and to feed her artistic soul, teaches art in the evening at a local community center.  When her stepmother drops off a box of her father’s old  things, Sydney discovers something in the pocket of his favorite shirt that will change her life.  It is enough money for a visit to his hometown in Ireland. 
Thus begins a saga that will introduce her to a delightful man who could be the lover of her dreams, or a charming con-artist.  And it all happens in a magical place where, if you truly believe, dreams do come true.

3. Your books written as R.C. Ryan feature the patented Ruth Ryan Langan loving families, but with a more Western flavor.  What’s been the most fun about cowboys and what’s up ahead now that we’ve finished with Quinn, Josh and Jake Conway?

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I just can’t help myself.  I love a sexy cowboy. Even more, I love writing the family saga.  Long, three-part series about several generations of cowboys and the women in their lives just  satisfies my soul.  There’s just something special about the rugged people  who live on the land, dealing with everything from the fickle weather, to  the demands of every-day life on a sprawling  ranch. 
For me, the most fun is that these are real  people.  They don’t dress up and go to fancy dinner parties.  They’re  not interested in Gucci bags and Manolo Blahnik shoes.  They wear faded denims and plaid shirts and wide-brimmed hats.  And that’s just the women. < g> 
They’re smart and savvy and read good books and travel, but their hearts are always centered on the things that matter to a  rancher – family, country, and doing the right thing even when it hurts.
As much as I love QUINN, JOSH and JAKE, I’ve already moved on.  I’ve just completed Book 2 of my next 3-book series for Grand Central Publishing.  We haven’t settled on a title for the series.   But as soon as we do, I’ll have it up on my website and on my Facebook page.  I hope all my readers will be as happy with this crazy, sexy, loving family as they’ve been with my earlier ones.  I can’t wait to hear from them.
If you can’t make it to the signing, you can always place an order for the books available at the event and have your copy of any of RC Ryan’s books as well as Mirror, Mirror signed by the authors.

Are you a “Norist?”

During a chat with Nora’s British editor at RWA, we discussed the upcoming Cousins O’Dwyer Trilogy and wondered if Ashford Castle would see a bump in reservations from the series, the way Inn Boonsboro did on the heels of The Inn Boonsboro Trilogy.  (In fact, Little Brown UK plans a contest around the release of Dark Witch in October and the prize will be a stay at Ashford Castle!  Details to come.)

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Nora and Antonia Hodgson from Little Brown UK

Antonia, Nora’s Little Brown UK editor, said she liked to call that boost in guests at the Inn — and potentially Ashford Castle —  “Norism” while the readers who arrange travel based on Nora’s books are “Norists.”  It seems to me that Norists probably have more fun than any other sort of travelers: they are visiting places they loved reading about, they usually travel with like minded friends or (at the very least) patient family members.

Now that we’ve finished with the Italy travelogues, as the summer draws to a close in the Northern Hemisphere while spring dawns in the Southern Hemisphere, I have to ask:  Have you ever set a vacation around one of Nora’s books or series — for instance Ireland, Maryland’s Eastern Shore, Boonsboro?  Or do you plan to?

Please share in the comments. If you have any, please send along any photos of such a trip to me at LMReeth@gmail.com and we can create an album.

 

The Garden Report (Mother’s Day edition)

Nora sent photos from this weekend’s forays into the garden, including an update on growth in that well-loved face pot.  When I’m up at her house, it’s always fun to find the fanciful figures tucked in among the flowers.  There are so many that I’ve completely missed the face table (that’s missing it over more than five years, y’all)!  So she kindly sent a photo of that as well.

nr garden md 15 The goddess of the garden oversees all.

nr garden md 14 Look how the flowers have filled in.

nr garden md 13 Broken flowerpot?  Plant it!

nr garden md 12Barrel of flowers and grow bags at the ready.

nr garden md 11The higher planter holds Nora’s prized Meyer Lemon Tree.  The lemons she’s harvested have been wonderful!

nr garden md 7 Hidden in the garden…

nr garden md 3 See the face???

nr garden md 2 Garden wellies.

 

 

Nora’s Kentucky Derby recap

We love Derby! We’re so grateful to be asked to come, and to support a wonderful cause like Blessings In A Backpack. For one wonderful weekend in May I can support that cause, enjoy an amazing tradition, and have nothing but fun doing both.

Bruce, our daughter-in-law Kat and I arrived in Louisville on Thursday afternoon to glorious weather–and our traditional stop for lunch at the Dizzy Whiz with our pal and escort–the delightful Kathy Conway, and our cop for the weekend, the fabulous Brian.

Then it’s off to the hotel, to unpack, to unwind before suiting up for Club Night. This is our ninth Derby, so it’s a lot like a family reunion, catching up with friends we only see once a year. A poker tournament is a big part of Club Night, but since we’re lousy at Texas Hold ‘Em, we opt to just hang out, reconnect with those friends, enjoy the spread.

Friday is Oaks Day–for the guys in our group. Our son Jason arrives bright and early (he had work on Thursday). He and Bruce dress up for a day at the track–and looked pretty spiffy! Kat and I head out with our Kathy for a girl day. Manis and pedis–and I opt for bright green toes to match my Derby dress. More fun! And fun, too, as we’ve been going to this salon for several years, and can catch up with everyone there.

Off to a pretty ladies lunch–champagne for me!–relaxing, talking, then to the big part of the afternoon. Shopping. I know when I spot a bag I HAVE to have the minute I walk into my favorite store in Louisville, it’s going to be a good day. Following tradition, I find a cool pair of shoes for Bruce, and Father’s Day is now taken care of.

Back to the hotel where the talented Sarah will give us gala hair. The men come back–my filly didn’t come in–but they had as good a time as we did.

Now it’s get glam time for Unbridled Eve’s fabulous gala. The men look so handsome–but I have to say my Kat is just awesome. Kathy and her equally handsome son–in his ROTC uniform–are joining us for the evening.

BW and I walk the Red Carpet–also fun but always just a little odd for me considering I spend most of my time in pjs or sweats in front of a keyboard. But tonight’s special, and again for a wonderful cause. It’s fun to see what everyone’s wearing, too see the beautifully decorated venue. It’s such a happy weekend, and it pumps you up to be around such good, positive energy.

The silent auction benefits Blessings In A Backpack, and I’m happy to bid on items that catch my eye. Even happier when my bids hold up on several. We don’t stay too late–tomorrow’s the big day!

And it dawns chilly, rainy, windy. But we’re not going to let that dampen our spirits. It’s time for hats! Mine is made–as it is most years–by Hats By Penny–and this year is the best yet. I’m in love with it. I’m also glad I have a reasonably warm jacket to go over my spring green dress. I needed it.

There’s really nothing like seeing the Downs, each and every year. Nothing like the look and feel of it, the sounds of it, and all those happy people braving the rain to be a part of this first Saturday in May.

More familiar faces, more hugs–a challenge with big hats–and the incredible sight of the track, the sound of the horses, the pageantry.

The betting!

My luck is down. Race after race I can’t pick a horse to save me. I’ve had some tips on the Derby race, and consider all of them. I put a little on Goldencents–a local favorite, and some on Rosie, the female jockey. But Orb catches my eye, so I decide to put a chunk on him across the board.

You can actually feel the sizzle as the big race approaches. And the rain stops; the sky lightens a little. Everyone’s buzzing now, and piling out onto the terrace to wait and watch. The minute the gates open I forget–as I always do–the bet. It’s all about the horses, the incredible beauty of them, the speed–even on the sloppy track–the thunderous sound. Everyone cheers, shouts, whistles–it’s a wall of noise, and in that moment I don’t care who wins. I just want to watch the majesty of the moment.

But I do see a horse coming in from behind. Who is that? Just look at him, he’s glorious. I don’t realize until right before the finish it’s Orb. I pull for him then as much, probably more, due to his magnificent run than the bet.

Even when it’s done, the buzz continues. Cheers and more cheers–from winning bets and losing ones. I go inside to watch the race again on the TV, hear the announcers as that wall of sound during the race blocks everything else.

Then I cash in. Thank you, Orb!

We stay for the last two races–for the fun and to give traffic a chance to calm. The Surrounding games have loads to offer the gambler, it seems I’m solicitated just as much as online, things like “ CompareTheBets’ List of Promo Codes” can be heard from well dressed young men and such… But I remain focused on my current luck, and I hit the next two races as well. It’s fun to win, but the real thrill is Derby, and everything surrounding it.

How do you feel about…

spoilers?  

It’s so interesting to see how readers react to spoilers — even the idea of them.  Some people actively search them out, avidly piecing together a book before they have it in their hands.  Some people don’t even read jacket copy on a book in order to preserve the surprise and let the book open up to them naturally.

It appears to me that readers seek spoilers more when they deal with a series like the In Deaths, rather than stand alone books like Whiskey Beach.  Is that because a reader is more familiar with the In Death world and wants to know what’s going on as soon as possible?  And I noticed that a lot of people were avid for details of the last book in The Bride Quartet and The Inn BoonsBoro Trilogy because they wanted to know about the last happy ending. Whereas nobody really knows Eli and Abra in Whiskey Beach and therefore they may be more willing to let the book surprise them.  I’m not sure. 

A small perk in this job is that I read the books a little early so I already know the spoilers.  And I don’t normally share them because it seems a little like teasing, but I do have a little insider information about Thankless in Death (September) that will please a lot of people.  

As we figure out the ins and and outs of a blog about Nora’s books it seems to me that there can be a place for spoilers, carefully concealed from easy view.  But I thought I’d gather some opinions and then see where we go.

Thoughts?  ~Laura