Author Speed Dating – Christie Ridgway

I love discovering new authors, so I wanted my blog to be a place where readers and my author pals could come together. Only we like to do this Speed-Dating style. Check out a new author and her work here every Wednesday, and if the spark is there, you’ll have a match. 

This week’s guest: Christie Ridgway

 

 

 

 

1. Which ALICE IN WONDERLAND character would best describe you when you’re writing on deadline?

I immediately thought of the Cheshire cat because I’ll hold onto my grin no matter how deadly I feel about the deadline!

2. Have you ever based a character, at least in part, on a real person you knew, and was that person able to see himself/herself in your story?

I have a friend whose (French) last name I used (because I needed a French last name), and he was certain he was starring in the book because I unwittingly used his real first name too! (I didn’t know he went by a different first name.) He bought several copies of the book and shared with his family too. Lucky for him (and me) he was a cheerful walk-on character with no bad traits. 

3. Hot rockers over 50: Lenny Kravitz, Bruce Springsteen or Bono?

I suppose Bruce, because my dh and I are always quoting/singing the line from “Dancing in the Dark”: “I’m sick of sitting ‘round here trying to write this book.”

4. What is “dressed up” for you: a designer dress and stiletto heels or clean yoga pants, a sweatshirt and tennis shoes without holes?

Of course it’s the clean yoga pants. And flip flops, not real shoes. SoCal resident, yo.

5. What was the most unusual comment you’ve ever received in a fan mail letter or a review?

Once someone mentioned my stories had “snappy today-ness” which my husband often delights in quoting back to me.

6. What do you do when you’re in the middle of a book and a new idea pops into your head?

Jot it down, of course. But usually a new idea pops in my head at the very end of finishing the current book. It’s weird, how you might think your brain is tired of creating, and yet a new idea just starts knocking on the door.

7. If you could invite three of your favorite authors over for a summer barbecue, who would be chowing down on hamburgers and brats (or veggie burgers) in your backyard?

Tough! I have many of my favorite authors as friends. So I’ll pick 3 I do not know personally, and all in the mystery genre, which I don’t write (so I’d enjoy picking their brains about their process).

Meg Gardiner (new to me, writes a series set in Santa Barbara where I went to college).

Loreth Anne White (who writes with a great sense of place).

Kendra Elliot (her heroine, Mercy Kilpatrick, has an interesting background that makes her unusual and compelling).

8. How old were you when you had the first inkling you might be a writer, and what gave you that hint?

I don’t recall ever not wanting to write, but the bug bit hard when my mom typed up one of my stories for me at about 8 or 9. I was now in print!

9. Do you ban all pets from your house, tolerate them for your family’s sake or are you a pet lover, typing with a dog, cat and maybe a bird sitting on your lap right now? And if you are a pet lover, list your brood.

I love pets (we now have a dog, Hank, and a cat, Goblin). However, I told the family I banned anything that needed to be fed something alive. Need it be said that despite my ban, we had several pets over the years that needed to be fed live crickets or small feeder fish?

10. If you could write a novel containing any generally “off-limits” element, what would we find in your story?

Yikes. Now I have to admit I can’t think of anything “off-limits” that I want to write about! The boundaries these days are so wide!

11. Name a hero or heroine from one of your books you loved a little more than all the others. (Yes, it’s like picking a favorite child.)

Poppy Walker, from ONE LOOK (One & Only series, Book 1). She’s an incurable optimist and I love her for that.

12. Name the most unique vacation you ever took, and what was your favorite thing about it?

Twice we’ve gone on a boat-bike tour in Europe (just got back from a trip between Bruges and Amsterdam). You ride all day and then hop back on the boat at night. It was great for the dh, who needs action, and you get to see beautiful sights and small towns up close. Also, meeting people from all over the world who are your fellow passengers on the boat. We became fast friends!

 13. What book are you reading right now, and what is the best book you’ve read in a long time?

I’m reading ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE [by Anthony Doerr], which was recommended to me by fellow passengers on the aforementioned boat after I recommended to them THE NIGHTINGALE [by Kristin Hannah] (set in France in WW2). That was the best book I’ve read in a long time, and it hit me hard as I read it while visiting France. I recently finished GOING DARK, the start of a new romantic-suspense series by Monica McCarty, and I loved it!

14. Which of your books gave you the most trouble, and what helped you make it to “the end”?

Whatever project I’m currently working on is the book that gives me the most trouble. To make it through, I have writing friends who I call who talk me through it. They’re the best!

15. What has been your scariest moment as an author?

I remember submitting my first book to New York publishers. In those days, you sent a print book via mail. I had my (then) little sons “sprinkle” lucky “fairy dust” on the package just before sliding it into the slot.

***

 

 

 

The Secret

By Christie Ridgway

 

 

Charlotte “Charlie” Emerson returned to the kitchen to deal with the dishes and restore the pots and pans to their proper place. She liked tidiness and order in all things—emotions included. Her friend and fellow butler, Emmaline, sometimes accused her of capping off her feelings, and Charlie didn’t disagree. Or find anything wrong with it.

“In my book,” she murmured to herself now, “compartmentalizing isn’t a sin.”

“What’s not a sin?” a masculine voice questioned.

Charlie whirled around, instant heat crawling up her throat and cheeks. “Um, hi, Ethan.” Why hadn’t she taken the time to change into something other than cropped leggings and a matching T-shirt? When was the last time she’d brushed her hair?

Her boss, the man who employed her as a butler and as a caregiver for his young son, smiled, softening the lines of his lean and handsome face.

“Charlotte,” he said now.

She pretended to scowl at him and told herself that she found his use of her full name—he was the only one who ever did use it—irksome. It made her feel too…feminine, and she was supposed to merely be a functional feature in his life. A Charlie.

“I didn’t hear you come in.” He’d been on a business trip for two weeks.

“You were lost in thought.” A heavy pause. “Something about sinning?”

At the amused and inquisitive tone, she glanced up at him. He looked back, one dark eyebrow winged up and the hint of a smile on his firm lips. A shiver tried working its way down her spine, but she ruthlessly held back the sensation.

“It was nothing,” she said.

“I’m disappointed to hear that.” He laughed again, sounding slightly chagrined. “For a moment I thought one of us was breaking out of our rut.”

Meaning…? Then a clatter of running footsteps sounded on the stairs.

With a grin, Ethan braced and managed to catch his six-year-old son who launched himself into the air.

“Dad!” Wells hugged with exuberance.

Ethan placed his cheek against the top of his son’s hair and closed his eyes. “Wells,” he said, voice full of satisfaction. Then his eyes flipped open and they met Charlie’s. “Home.”

Wells chattered away about everything. “It sounds like Charlie took good care of you,” Ethan replied when the boy wound down. “I’m glad I brought her back a present from Paris.”

Charlie froze. A present? For her? From Paris? For some insane reason, her mind instantly leaped to thoughts of chocolate. Perfume. Then silk. Lace. Designer lingerie that would cinch her waist and give her small breasts actual cleavage. She swallowed. Surely not.

“Here.” Ethan crossed to shove a soft item into her hands.

She looked down, rattled. It took a moment for the words printed on the fabric to sink in. Je t’aime.

I love you.

“What did you get?” Wells asked.

Speechless, Charlie shook her head.

“She needs to unfold it,” Ethan said.

With unsteady hands, Charlie unfurled the fabric.

“It’s a sweatshirt,” Wells said, clearly unimpressed.

Je t’aime Paris,” Charlie read, now that all the words were exposed. “I love Paris.”

The hoodie material was a medium blue, and the inside surfaces felt buttery soft. She pulled it over her head and then slid her arms into the sleeves. They hung over her hands, almost to the tips of her fingers, and the hem hit her at mid-thigh.

She looked down at herself. The sweatshirt could fit two or three of her.

“Perfect,” Ethan said, beaming with approval. “It keeps you all covered up.”

“I…thank you.” She folded back the right sleeve, and the left. “It’s a thoughtful gift.”

One that you could give a maiden aunt, a kid sister, or that favorite niece her friends said Ethan treated her as.

Yanking it over her head, she called herself all kinds of a fool. Ethan didn’t think of her as someone who wore lingerie.

The man was a father first and a widower grieving for his late wife second. In his life, Charlie was a convenience, like a can opener or a toaster oven.

Not a woman.

***

 

THE SECRET, Book 6 in the Billionaire’s Beach series and an Aug. 15, 2017, release, may be purchased from these retailers: Amazon, iBooks, Nook and Kobo.

 

***

About Christie

Christie Ridgway is the USA Today bestselling author of over 50 contemporary romances for Harlequin, Avon, Berkley, and Kensington as well as the indie-published Rock Royalty series and of KNOX (now a USA Today bestseller), book 4 of the very successful 7 Brides for 7 Brothers series. She is a six-time RITA finalist and the winner of awards for Contemporary Romance of the Year and Career Achievement from RT Book Reviews.

Connect with Christie through her website, www.christieridgway.net, or on Facebook or Twitter. Sign up for her newsletter here.

 

Praise for Christie’s sexy, sunny romances:

  • “Emotional and powerful…everything a romance reader could hope for.”  — Publishers Weekly (starred review).
  • “Ridgway’s feel-good read, with its perfectly integrated, extremely hot, and well-crafted love scenes, is contemporary romance at its best.”  — Booklist (starred review).
  • “Sexy, sassy, funny, and cool, this effervescent sizzler nicely launches Ridgway’s new series.” — Library Journal.
  • “Ridgway rocks romance!” — Bella Andre, New York Times and USA Today Bestseller.
  • “Christie Ridgway writes a sizzling combination of heat and heart.” — Barbara Freethy, #1 New York Times Bestseller.

 

 

 

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Author Speed Dating – A.J. Norris

I love discovering new authors, so I wanted my blog to be a place where readers and my author pals could come together. Only we like to do this Speed-Dating style. Check out a new author and her work here every Wednesday, and if the spark is there, you’ll have a match. 

This week’s guest: A.J. Norris

 

 

 

 

15 Questions

1. Which ALICE IN WONDERLAND character would best describe you when you’re writing on deadline?

“Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!”  The white rabbit.

I normally don’t write on deadline, but I’m currently writing a Christmas story with a deadline. I feel like I’m scurrying around, even though I have plenty of time.

2. Have you ever based a character, at least in part, on a real person you knew, and was that person able to see himself/herself in your story?

Um…yes and man, I hope not. 

3. Hot rockers over 50: Lenny Kravitz, Bruce Springsteen or Bono?

I’d say Lenny Kravitz because he doesn’t look 50.

4. What is “dressed up” for you: a designer dress and stiletto heels or clean yoga pants, a sweatshirt and tennis shoes without holes?

I’m a jeans and T-shirt gal. I do own dresses and heels, but I try to avoid wearing them for the most part. “Dressing up” takes me out of my comfort zone, but so does wearing sweat pants.

5. What was the most unusual comment you’ve ever received in a fan mail letter or a review?

I don’t know if this would be considered unusual, but I got a random request for an autograph from someone in another country. I was so flattered that I sent off a couple signed posters of my book covers right away.

6. What do you do when you’re in the middle of a book and a new idea pops into your head?

I immediately write that new idea down. I have an app called Evernote that I use to store story ideas.

7. If you could invite three of your favorite authors over for a summer barbecue, who would be chowing down on hamburgers and brats (or veggie burgers) in your backyard?

J.R. Ward: I love her, and she’s the reason I started writing.

Stephen King: I don’t necessarily subscribe to his writing methods, but he’s so creative, and I can imagine he would be very interesting to talk to.

Gena Showalter: Love her, nuff said.

8. How old were you when you had the first inkling you might be a writer, and what gave you that hint?

When I was about 37, I was wanting to deal with some old baggage that kept creeping up on me. So, I decided to write a fictionalized story of some things that happened to me. The book was more of what could’ve been if I’d made different choices. The experience wound up being cathartic, and I’ve been writing ever since.

9. Do you ban all pets from your house, tolerate them for your family’s sake or are you a pet lover, typing with a dog, cat and maybe a bird sitting on your lap right now? And if you are a pet lover, list your brood.

I’ve loved dogs for as long as I remember. I’ve never considered myself a cat person, even though my husband and I have had a couple of cats in the past. We now have two Yorkie mixes named Reese and Rollo. They are often snoozing in my office when I write.

10. If you could write a novel containing any generally “off-limits” element, what would we find in your story?

I want to write a horror romance, even though I can’t watch horror films. LOL. Is there such a thing?

11. Name a hero or heroine from one of your books you loved a little more than all the others. (Yes, it’s like picking a favorite child.)

I love Harry Hunter from TATTOO KILLER, Book 1 of the Tattoo Crimes series. He was the hero of that book although not the romantic hero. Harry is a 55-year-old, two-fisted coffee drinker and a grumpy but loveable police detective. I loved him so much I wrote book two in that series, INKED KILLER, about him. (Note: INKED KILLER releases in October 2017.)

12. Name the most unique vacation you ever took, and what was your favorite thing about it?

Yikes! I don’t vacation much. So, any vacation is unique for the simple fact that I took a vacation. I recently went to Orlando for the RWA national conference and brought my husband and son along, and I enjoyed traveling with them. It was also my son’s first trip to Disney, and he was so excited. I loved that I could give him this trip.

13. What book are you reading right now, and what is the best book you’ve read in a long time?

At this moment, I’m not reading anything. I also work full-time and have many writing projects I want to finish before the end of the year. This leaves very little time for anything else, and my family comes before reading.

14. Which of your books gave you the most trouble, and what helped you make it to “the end”?

They all gave me trouble. Sometimes the characters don’t want to do what I tell them to do. I’m a pantser for the most part. However, whenever I get to about the 20k – 30k word mark, I tend to hit a wall. Although I never start writing a story unless I know the ending.

What helps me make to the end is plotting out the climax of the story and working backward.

15. What has been your scariest moment as an author?

Release days are always the scariest moments. You never know if readers will connect with your characters or give you a bad review.

***

 

 

 

Tattoo Killer

By A.J. Norris

 

The expression on his face melted her insides. His eyes burned for her. She swallowed hard. That crooked smile of his made an appearance. The tiny bathroom grew larger and suddenly he seemed so far away. An easy fix. She removed her shirt and stepped closer to him, then slid her jeans down her thighs. Now it was his turn to undress. Luckily for her, he was only wearing gray plaid flannel pajama bottoms.

He gripped the waistband and ripped them down his legs.

 

***

TATTOO KILLER, Book 1 in the Tattoo Crimes series and an October 2016 release from Limitless Publishing LLC, may be purchased through these retailers: Amazon US, Amazon Canada and Amazon UK.

Bonus:

TATTOO KILLER is also part of a boxed set, MY SECURITY: PROTECTION AT ITS FINEST, from Limitless, featuring stories from seven romantic-suspense authors.

***

About A.J.

A.J. Norris is a romantic suspense and paranormal romance novelist. She began writing as a way to dim down the voices inside her head. She enjoys being able to get inside someone else’s head, even a fictional one, and see what they see. Watching how her characters deal with difficult situations or squirm with the uncomfortable ones make the hard work of writing all worth it.

She is a movie buff, especially book adaptations, loves watching her son play baseball and communing with other writers. She lives with her family who are extremely tolerant (at least most of the time) of all her late nights behind the computer.

Stay in contact with A.J. through her website, www.ajnorrisauthor.com, and on Facebook and Twitter.

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Author Speed Dating – Kristin Bartley Lenz

I love discovering new authors, so I wanted my blog to be a place where readers and my author pals could come together. Only we like to do this Speed-Dating style. Check out a new author and her work here every Wednesday, and if the spark is there, you’ll have a match. 

This week’s guest: Kristin Bartley Lenz

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. Which ALICE IN WONDERLAND character would best describe you when you’re writing on deadline?

Oh my, I can’t even answer the first question without doing research! I’ll go with the obvious – Alice – because I get confused and stuck multiple times during the process of writing my novels. 

2. Have you ever based a character, at least in part, on a real person you knew, and was that person able to see himself/herself in your story?

No, in early drafts my characters might have a trait or experience from a real person in my life (or myself), but through revising they grow into someone completely new with their own personality and history. That doesn’t stop my friends and family from constantly guessing who is based on who in my stories though!

3. Hot rockers over 50: Lenny Kravitz, Bruce Springsteen or Bono?

Lenny! I saw him in concert at the Filmore in Detroit a few years ago. It’s a small venue, and he left the stage and roamed through the audience. Incredible show.  

4. What is “dressed up” for you: a designer dress and stiletto heels or clean yoga pants, a sweatshirt and tennis shoes without holes?

Stiletto heels, hahaha. I have a pair of flip flops with a bit of a heel… 

 5. What was the most unusual comment you’ve ever received in a fan mail letter or a review?

I’ve received such heartfelt letters from readers who have related to my character’s journey – especially the grief of moving across country and having to start over. But the most unusual comment was from a 90-year-old grandmother. The letter arrived in the mail on stationary, and I could hardly read her handwriting. She wrote, “I’m not a rock climber, but I do like rocks.” And then she went on to tell me about her experience growing up on a farm that had a ton of rocks which they used to build structures, walls, fences, etc. I was so touched!

 6. What do you do when you’re in the middle of a book and a new idea pops into your head?

 I keep notebooks everywhere – on my desk, next to my bed, in my car. When I have an idea about my current project or a new one, I jot it down. If I don’t, it’s gone – poof!

 7. If you could invite three of your favorite authors over for a summer barbecue, who would be chowing down on hamburgers and brats (or veggie burgers) in your backyard?

Maya Angelou – I was fortunate to see her speak many years ago when I lived in California, and I named my daughter after her. 

Marcus Zuzak – I recently re-read THE BOOK THIEF, one of my all-time favorites – narrated by Death as a character – how did he come up with that?! Such a powerful, moving story.

Judy Blume – my childhood favorite!

8. How old were you when you had the first inkling you might be a writer, and what gave you that hint?

Eight years old. I wrote a poem in 3rd grade, “If I Could Fly”, and it won a contest. I got to read it in front of the entire school and go to a Young Authors event where I met real authors and got their signatures. 

 9. Do you ban all pets from your house, tolerate them for your family’s sake or are you a pet lover, typing with a dog, cat and maybe a bird sitting on your lap right now? And if you are a pet lover, list your brood.

I have terrible allergies and asthma, so I thought I could never have a furry pet. My daughter researched hypoallergenic/non-shedding dogs and begged for nearly ten years before I finally caved. Henry is a two-year-old Bichon-Poodle, and we have a new puppy too – Harper, a Havanese-Poodle. We love them so much – I wish I had done it sooner!

10. If you could write a novel containing any generally “off-limits” element, what would we find in your story?

Is there any such thing nowadays? I am amazed and inspired by the depth and honesty and topics explored in the young adult novels currently being published. 

11. Name a hero or heroine from one of your books you loved a little more than all the others. (Yes, it’s like picking a favorite child.)

I really grew to care about Cara in THE ART OF HOLDING ON AND LETTING GO. She’s an introverted, nature lover like me, but much more confident and brave.

12. Name the most unique vacation you ever took, and what was your favorite thing about it?

Sixteen years ago, before we became parents, my husband and I traveled to Bhutan, a small country in the Himalayas by Nepal and India. At that time, the country was still very traditional and just beginning to open up to the Internet, etc. We spent one day hiking up a mountain and slept at a monastery. The peace and beauty of the next morning’s sunrise with the monks chanting will always be with me. 

13. What book are you reading right now, and what is the best book you’ve read in a long time?

X: A NOVEL by Ilyasah Shabazz, Malcom X’s daughter, and Kekla Magoon – it’s captivating. Two completely different, but completely satisfying stories that I read in recent months are THE TEA GIRL OF HUMMINGBIRD LANE by Lisa See and THE HATE U GIVE by Angie Thomas.

14. Which of your books gave you the most trouble, and what helped you make it to “the end”?

I have a New Adult novel in progress that I’ve abandoned many times, stuck in the middle, unsure where it should go or how it should end. After discussing it with my agent, I think I should stop trying to make it NA. My voice is more YA, and books like FANGIRL by Rainbow Rowell are showing me that you can have slightly older, college-age characters in a YA novel. 

15. What has been your scariest moment as an author?

Speaking at the NTCE/ALAN annual conference in Atlanta to a room of 500 teachers/librarians. I was so honored to be invited, but intimated to be amongst so many of the acclaimed authors I’ve admired for years. But of course, everyone was so nice and welcoming.

  ***

 

 

 

The Art of Holding On and Letting Go

By Kristin Bartley Lenz

 

PART I: ECUADOR

I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all the kinds of things you can’t see from the center. —Kurt Vonnegut, Piano Player


CHAPTER ONE

The waiting was the worst. I gripped my worry stone from Uncle Max, turning it around and around in my hands. My fingers probed its golden grooves and contours. The sharp edges shimmered.

My teammate Becky sat next to me in the isolation tent examining her red, white, and blue–painted nails. It was the second day of qualifying rounds, and we’d been waiting two hours for our turns to climb. Tiny stars dotted her thumbs. I didn’t understand why she bothered—the polish always chipped by the time she finished her climb.

My own nails were cut as short as possible, my fingers rough and calloused. A crosshatch of red lines spread across the back of my right hand where I had wedged it into a crack last week, the rock scraping my skin. I couldn’t tell yet if it would leave a scar like the other white marks on my hands, the crooked gash on my thumb, my pitted palm.

“Ugh,” Becky said. “I want my phone. Seriously, I’m, like, twitching. Look.” She pointed to her eye.

“Maybe you got mascara in it.” Her lashes were so clumped and coated, they looked fake.

She’d scrolled through her phone at breakfast, tilting it toward me so I could see the picture of her hand placed over her heart like she was reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. She’d managed to display our USA team logo, her cleavage, and her patriotic nails all in one close-up shot. Four hundred likes.

No phones allowed in the tent, and no checking out the routes before we climbed; the canvas walls blocked our view of the competition area. A collective groan came from the bleachers outside. Someone had fallen.

“Another one bites the dust.” I tumbled the stone faster and faster in my hands. I swear I could feel its heat, its fire.

“It’s pyrite. Fool’s gold,” Uncle Max had said. “Named after fire. It’ll spark if you strike it against steel, so they say. Want to try?”

For the rest of the day, we struck it against anything metal we came across—tent poles, car rims—startling ourselves and giggling every time we saw the tiniest spark.

***

THE ART OF HOLDING ON AND LETTING GO, a September 2016 release from Elephant Rock Productions, Inc.,  may be purchased through these retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Indie Bound.

 

***

About Kristin

Kristin Bartley Lenz is a writer and social worker from metro-Detroit who fell in love with the mountains when she moved to Georgia and California. Now she’s back in Detroit where she plots wilderness escapes and manages the Michigan Chapter blog for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). Her debut young adult novel, THE ART OF HOLDING ON AND LETTING GO, was a Junior Library Guild Fall 2016 Selection and was chosen for the Great Lakes Great Books 2017-2018 state-wide literature program. Learn more at kristinbartleylenz.com and find her on Twitter and Instagram.

 

 

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